Tag Archive | Mills & Boon

Weekend Update on Reading, Writing and Life

I have this strong urge to do a blog today and post it today. Without the internet (which is coming soon I’m promised) I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to pull it off, but we’ll give it a shot! *I didn’t so I’m posting on Monday – all still stands though*

Writing:

Well I’m trying to get through ‘Holiday,’ and the deadline I’ve given myself to finish it is 31st October. This is to coincide with the beginning of NaNo, so I don’t leave it on 1st November and take another six months to get back into it – as has been the case for the last two years.

I’d really like to see it finished because I think it’s the one that has more legs than any other (definitely The Dating Project that was my NaNo novel in 2010, and a little more so than Italian Infatuation, which is the only novel I’ve finished, but as it was done in NaNo 2009, it needs SO much work that quite frankly, it scares me).

When I was at the Jane Fallon event on Monday, a few people asked me if I’ve sent the first few chapters off to an agent. Of course I haven’t because the first few chapters of ‘Holiday’ aren’t finished (chapter one is acutlaly just notes, damn), and because when I submit Italian Infatuation I’ll do it directly to Mills & Boon, not through an agent.

But it kind of got me thinking. If I could finish and the first few chapters of ‘Holiday’ (and think of a better title) I could do that. It would be scary as hell, but I’ve got to do it at some point, so why not early next year (with finishing the first draft of it, NaNo, hopefully NYC and Christmas there is no way I could get it done this year)?

I have made a little realisation though. I don’t think I’m going to get it finished by the end of October. Reason being that most of it is stored on my laptop. Because I’ve been writing it a little at a time, different scenes at a time (not consecutively) there’s about 14 documents that make it up at the moment. Some are finished, some aren’t. Unfortunately I don’t remember which ones on my laptop have been finished, and which haven’t.

And my laptop is still dead (ish). We were going to go to the boyfriend’s dad’s in a few weeks – he’s a computer expert so could  have seen what was up, boyfriend thinks it’s the cable, but not sure – but now we can’t afford to. As we can’t afford to go there, we definitely can’t afford to get my laptop fixed this month. November, definitely, but not October. Which means, unless I can find every document somewhere else (which I think is kind of possible – Ubernote, different email addresses?) I can’t do it this month.

Part of me is annoyed by that, but another part of me is a little relieved. It means I don’t have to hurry with this goal of finishing hanging over me! Yay! Only, I do want to finish it. I really really do. Or have it as done as I possibly can. So I am going to try. ROW80 Round Four (A Round of Words in 80 Days) starts again tomorrow. I’m in again. I thought I had goals for it, but I think I might be re thinking them. I’ll update tomorrow, but for today I’ll leave the writing section of this post saying I’m going to do my best to do as much of ‘Holiday’ as I possibly can by the end of October. I promise you and I promise myself.

Reading:

Last weekend I had to read The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon before I went to the party on Monday. It was great, I loved it, and I will get a review up as soon as possible (it’s half written, so I just need to finish it). Since then I’ve been out so much that I’ve not really had a chance to read much more.

The book I’m on is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a non-fiction story of how Rubin took a year to get happy. My cousin went to US this summer and came back raving about it, and said I HAD to read it. Fine I said.

Then I read the intro and it was all about how to make yourself happy. Acutally no, it is all about how she did it, it’s not a ‘You should do this… You should do that…; it’s more ‘this is what I did and it worked for me because…’ I read that and was like ‘Nah, this isn’t for me, I’m happy.’ But then I thought I’d give it a go.

I’m only of February, but already I’m very glad I’m reading it. January was about Boosting Energy and February is about Remembering Love. It is very American in the way we think very differently about some things to the way they do, but I don’t think that’s always a bad thing. I think this book is brilliant because it’s making me think a lot about what I’m doing, and made me realise that I can be happier than I am (away from this, I’ve actually realised I’m not that happy, I just think I am. But more of that later). 61 pages in and I’ll definitely be recommending it. Already I know a few people who I think will benefit from reading it.

The A to Z Challenge

I’ve not written much about this recently, but it’s going pretty well. The next book I read will be T. Although I’m only half way through O and about quarter of the way into L, but I’ll probably ignore those, at least I’ve started them. It means I’ve only got 7 books to read until the end of the year. Which is ok. Only, I’m not really gong to be reading in November (I need to focus on NaNo not reading) and I’m currently reading another book. So that gives me Oct and Dec to read 8 books. It’s not a totally unobtainable goal, but it’s going to be hard.

I have enjoyed this challenge, it’s introduced me to some authors I never would have found otherwise (some good, some not so good), and it’s made me read some of the books on my TBR pile that I probably wouldn’t have got to otherwise. So I’m glad I’m doing it. But, I totally hate it too. As it’s 26 books in a year, I know it doesn’t give me much scope to be able to read much else. SO there’s loads of books I’ve got that I’m desperate to read, but know I can’t because of this silly challenge. And you know now I’ve started and got this far, I HAVE to finish. I’m really looking forward to January when I can read what I want when I want. Also, I’ll be able to buy more books – I haven’t been allowing myself to unless it’s a book I really really want, or it’s one of the next letters.

I am however, making a list of the books I want to buy in 2012. Yay!

Life

Quick little bit about life cause I’ve just realised how long this blog is.

I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been, but can’t seem to stop eating, and after weeks of thinking about it I’ve realised it’s because I’m not really that happy. My relationship is brilliant, so brilliant that I’ve been on such a high from that, that I haven’t really noticed how unhappy I am in other aspects of my life.

Job – I hate it , with a passion. I hate getting up and going to work, and I’ve never had that before. Money – for the last few months, and the next few weeks, we’ve been totally broke. Which obviously has been getting me down. Weight – I’m too fat, which you know, has been making me eat more. Exercise – I’m not getting enough.

Now that I’ve identified these, I’m making a plan to get them back to a good place. For instance I talked to my boss last week about moving up, and he agrees I’m ready, so we need to find a position that’s available and talk my way into it. I’m making plans for the other areas too.

What I’m hoping is that when I’m happier myself, it will lead to me writing more because I won’t want just come home and slump in front of the TV all night. And there was you thinking this way nothing to do with writing weren’t you!

Have a great week everyone. Those of you starting ROW80 tomorrow – good luck. Or, and there’s a Twitter party on 5th October for ROW80 – all day (ET time, Eastern Time is that? US timezone anyway) under the hashtag #ROW80. Go have a look, join the party. Yay!

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Sunday 14th ROW80 Check-In

Another check in day, and another check in (again writing up on Sunday, and I’ll post when I get internet tomorrow). Awesome. Just a shame about the writing.

I’ve done nothing. Nowt, nada, nothing.

I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to get into it since I’ve been back. I was ill last week, so not feeling that up to it, but it was more than that – I didn’t even think about writing. Yesterday I should’ve done some, but again, I didn’t really think about it until it was too late and I headed out to a wedding. Today I’ve been hungover, then since I started feeling better I’ve done a full roast dinner, and baked a cake.

I was also going to go on a diet this week. My boyfriend said I had to have no excuses on eating bad things – I always make excuses to be able to let myself have a chocolate bar here, muffin or something there etc etc. I’m just the same with writing. I find a reason and go with it. I need to have NO EXCUSES this week with writing and the diet. NO EXCUSES.

I think I’ll start tonight by typing up what I wrote in Sweden last week, that should work by reigniting my interest in the story. I hope.

Although I’m not writing, I’m reading! I’m still going with the A-Z Challenge, and have just finished P. Of course, I’ve not finished L or O and have had to miss Q. L is a book that I’m a little embarrassed to read on the tube – Girl with a One Track Mind by Abby Lee. It’s chockablock full of sex, and I don’t want people reading that over my shoulder, I’d be so embarrassed. I’m reading it at home, but it’s taking a while.

O is the book I left on the airplane. I need to go to the library to get it replaced, then re-borrow it, but until I get paid, I can’t afford it (rubbish eh!). That’s on my list for next week, then I’ll get back to O sometime.

I’ve missed Q completely cause I finished P last night and really want to start another one on the way to work tomorrow. I’m a little torn on my R though.

I’ve got a choice of Trans AM by Rob Ryan, or Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger by Heidi Rice. I’ve had Trans AM for years and not read it, it sounds really good, and I’ve not read a thriller for ages and really fancy it. But then I went to a Mills & Boon workshop with Heidi Rice a few months ago, so kind of really want to read that too.

Writing this I’ve just realised which one.

It has to be Trans AM. SSSS is a book I should read just before I edit Italian Infatuation, to get my mind into the Mills & Boon place. Trans AM then. Can’t wait.

P was brilliant. It was Still Thinking of You by Adele Parks. Of course it was going to be great, I’ve enjoyed every single thing I’ve read of hers. I want to read another of hers – now! In some ways I’d love this A-Z challenge thing to be over!

Old writing and ROW80 Check-In

I had a plan for today. I’m still off work ill (as I was yesterday), but started feeling better at lunchtime, so I did some writing. I decided I’d get up, have some lunch, do some more writing, start finding and getting together all my stuff for ‘Holiday’ (the novel, unfortunately I’m not off anywhere) and then write a blog.

I did the first two then jumped ahead to getting all the stuff together for Holiday. I say get it together because so far I’ve been writing a bit at a time, a scene here, scene there etc. Sometimes on one computer, sometimes on another. Therefore, I know not everything is in the same place.

I logged on to my computer (a rarity these days as we use my boyfriends as that has built-in internet and mine doesn’t) and I started looking for stuff. I’ve got a folder labelled ‘Old Laptop.’ This is where I thought most of the bits of the novel would be.

They weren’t.

Panic.

I started looking in sub folders, and unusually titled folders, and I found one called old writing. What could be in here? I thought. Well, apparently one day, well back in July 2007 (!!) I thought that Holiday would be a Mills & Boon type book. How do I know this? I found a document called ‘M&B 2 – Chapter 1.’ The document is only 404 words long, but it’s one of the most crucial scenes in Holiday. And I wrote it back in 2007. I honest cannot remember doing that.

The funny thing is, it’s pretty much word for word what I then wrote for the scene in 2009/10. The story idea is that set in my head.

The only difference really is that in 2007 the MCs were Amy and Charlie. Over the next few years they changed to Kate and Dan. I’m happy with the names they currently have, and really chuffed that I’ve found this bit of writing, cementing the idea of the novel in my head well back then. Those 404 words were the sum total of any work I’d done on it then, but still, I must have been thinking about it.

July 2007 was before I even moved to London. Wow! I was living in Newcastle at the time and hating it, but had just decided to move down here.

In January 2007 I wrote a lot more of another novel (I say a lot more, only around 1,600 words total) of another novel which was to be Mills & Boon story, which over the next nearly three years was to change a little and become Italian Infatuation.  Wow. Again, I totally don’t remember writing that. Isn’t it weird how you forget.

 

Changing the subject drastically – ROW80. We’re getting close to the end now. 7 days to go in fact. My mini goal for 300 words (or 30 mins editing) a day from 9th June to 22nd is going… ok.

I did a little on Sunday as I wrote about on my blog that day, on Monday I did a little editing of something I was going to read that night at writing group, but then I got ill. A really heavy cold literally came from nowhere and beat me to the ground.

That night I was too ill to go to writing group (after I actually edited something – takes the you know what doesn’t it!), yesterday I was too ill for work, and actually to ill for anything other than lying in bed trying not to die (and reading). Today I’ve made up for it. So far I’ve written 831 words. I plan to write more.

Because of all this I’m on the way to catching up with where I should be right now. I’ve got a quiet weekend coming up, so I know I can reach, and exceed the mini goal.

My goal for the whole project is slightly further out of reach. I was aiming for 24k total words (or 2,400 minutes editing or on my writing course), I’m currently on 13,302 (which is made up of 11,852 words, 115 minutes editing and 30 minutes on my writing course).

I possibly set my goals too high. But you know what? I don’t care. This project has encouraged me to write and edit more than I possibly would have done without it  – I’m guessing I would have written about 7,000 in that time, had I not have been doing it. So therefore those extra 5k (so far) words are a result!

ROW80 – Round Three starts on 4th July. Am I in? You bet I am!

Ooh, one final thing. I started reading Faking It by Lotte Daley yesterday. I finished it this morning. After the previous two weird novels I read, I knew I needed something pink and fluffy to read, and what could be better than a pink novel with a cover picture of a girl… with her dress tucked in her pants. Perfect eh? If you need a really good chick lit novel I recommend this 100%.

ROW80 Check-in 1

I’m rather annoyed at myself for missing the first check in! I was going to try to do this post this morning so that at least it would be Wednesday still somewhere in the world… but at 13.08 GMT, I’m pretty sure it’s Thursday everywhere (if not Friday). 

Now I’ve finished beating myself up about not checking in, I’ll get on with the purpose of this blog – to look at my ROW80 progress.

Monday started really well with 250+ words written. Yay! I started a short story I’d been thinking about since reading the prompt for Fiction Friday last week. I didn’t get time to write it to post on Friday, but the idea was strong enough to keep me thinking about it all weekend. It’s nowhere near finished, but I know I want to carry on with it. Maybe tonight.

Tuesday was a fail. No, not a fail, because my goals are weekly not daily, so I just need to catch up at some point before Sunday.

Yesterday I was on a course that finished an hour and a half before my usual work end time – I was thrilled to get home (via the supermarket) about the time I usually start packing up. Great, I thought, I’ll do some editing/writing/course work.

But then I got distracted by washing, washing up, friends, dinner preparation and eating. When I finally sat down to do something, I discovered a Mills & Boon workshop, so of course I got sidetracked with finding out about that.

In the end, I did get half an hour of my writing course done, so that’s a result.

While I was cooking I also concocted a way of tracking how I do on ROW80.

I decided I need a chart to track everything, so then I can (geek it up) produce graphs from it (I had a go at my other half the other day for turning me into a geek – he thinks my geekiness was always there – I’m not so sure). However, I have multiple possibilities for goals. 250 words or 30 minutes on the writing course, or 30 minutes editing. They don’t sit well together to be comparable. UNLESS, I changed the word count goal to something that looks like 30 minutes… like… oh I don’t know… 300 words? Result! So… from now on, 10 words are equal to 1 minute editing/writing course.

With this comparable amount I can easily see if I’m hitting my weekly target from whichever type of action I take. I feel very proud of myself for devising this. So sad, but I’m so proud!

Now, I’ve just got to make this table. I promise I’m not procrastinating, and I’ll prove it by doing a lot tonight!

Writing Group Member

I’ve finally done something I’ve been talking about doing for probably years and joined a writer’s group.

The Magnetic North meet in a pub in London every Monday (presuming enough people can attend that week). I decided after a sudden spur of enthusiasm (at work – maybe that’s why) that it was time. I googled groups in London and found one very close to my new flat. I emailed the co-ordinator and that’s it. I was added to the list, and tonight was my first attendance.

I was really scared going. I was going to have to read something I’d written out in front of people I didn’t know. Actually the fact I didn’t know them probably didn’t matter, it was the fact I was going to have to read some of my work. Out load. And get criticism. Ok, so it was just the reading out loud I was worried about. Oh, and commenting on other people’s work.

I’m not a good public speaker. In fact, I’m a terrible public speaker. To such an extent that if there are 5 people around listening to me, I go all red and nervous. Even if they’re people I know. But, despite this, I knew I had to join a group. My mum used to go to one (or many over the years) and found it really helpful. And you know what, just from one week, I think I will.

I read the end of the first chapter of Italian Infatuation – my Mills & Boon novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2009. The one that has sat on my computer since then, only resurrected last September for the polishing of the opening chapter for a competition.

Reading it out wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was 5th out of 6, so by the time I got to read I’d already said a few comments about other people’s work, so it wasn’t that bad. I stuttered a little over what I’d written, but I think that means that sentence didn’t flow well, rather than I was messing it up.

So the feedback. I was slightly worried about that as the other 5 members tonight were men. Ah. But I’d been told that there used to be a M&B author among them, so they knew about the style etc (although her series is Historical and mine is Romance – or whatever it’s called now – fluffy and comfy or something!). They had some really good comments. Negative comments which I found really useful.

But also some good positive comments. For instance they pretty much all said that they could sense the attraction between Diane and Giovanni – even though they’d not been together in that scene. Awesome. I always worry that I’m not all that good at building the attraction between them (one of my biggest things I feel I need to edit in the story is the amount of time they spend together – there’s just not enough) but apparently I did.

I said earlier I was also worried about giving advice before I went. But I managed quite well and the other writers seemed happy with what I said.

Fiction Friday definitely helped with today – having to showcase my work to an audience, then read and comment on other people’s stories. It’s almost like a writing group – but hiding behind a computer and a fake name (I’m sorry to say, but Newtowritinggirl isn’t my actual name!).

I do sometimes wish that the people who read my Fiction Friday pieces would give more negative comments as well as positive. I know when I’m commenting I tent to pick out the things I like and leave the negative bits out, because, well quite frankly, not many people give negative criticism. When I say negative, I don’t mean ‘I don’t like it’ (although I wouldn’t mind hearing that a bit – not everyone has the same taste – although saying that I prob would go and cry if someone said that – ha) I mean more, ‘X didn’t really work’ or ‘Y sounded a little unrealistic. But, I guess it is only the first draft of anything, and if the stories get taken anywhere, they’re going to get edited massively.

The other great thing about the group, is that it’s really given me the want to write again. As I was leaving someone asked if I’d be bringing the next chapter next time. I said it’s not ready for public viewing – but having this group might kick my ass a little to get it ready!

All in all, I had a really good night. I heard a poem, part of a game review, the beginning of one short story, and the end of another, and a clip from a novel; I got some great crit of my novel; and hopefully gave some too. I’m looking forward to next Monday already. Now there’s something I never thought I’d say.

Fear?

I went to the pub on Tuesday night and when I got home knew what I wanted to say in a blog. But, I was a little dunk (only a little) so didn’t think it was a good time to write it. So I didn’t. I did however send myself an email to remind me. Despite this email, it’s taken nearly 48 hours for me to put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard should I say. 48 hours. Shocking.

That night in the pub, I got chatting to a couple of friends. One of which has read the 1st novel I wrote for NaNo 2009. When I say the first novel I wrote for NaNo 2009, I don’t mean that I wrote more than one for NaNo ’09. I mean the first novel I wrote; the one I wrote during NaNo 2009. Talk about going off the subject.

Somehow we started talking about the novel (Italian Infatuation) and how I was very proud of myself for writing it. But then my friend, lets call him Jason (because that’s his name!) starting telling me off. Telling me off!! What for? Well, apparently he thought it was really bad that I haven’t done any editing, other than the first chapter, when I finished it 15 months ago. Ah, well yeah, you can see he had a point there.

He was also being very positive about it, saying he really liked it (not bad, when it’s totally not a book for a man – it’s a Mills & Boon type novel). Except the ending. He said the ending was too cliched. Hmmm. Lets just focus on him liking it bit!

He thinks it’s such a shame that I’ve done this amazing thing and finished draft one of a novel – and it is an amazing thing, not everyone does that – and just left it. He’s right. I think it’s a good story. I remember when I read it in Feb 2010, I’d get really into it and forget I’d written it. But editing. It’s just such a monumental feat. When I was drunk the other night… uh… slightly drunk that is… I wrote this Why not to? Fear of completing it and having to try to sell it? rejection? acceptance? what if I actually did it and sold my novel? what what what? What does that tell you? First of it, it tells you I’m a lot more open (honest?) when I’ve been drinking.  I think the key word here is FEAR. When I think about it, I am scared. I’m scared of editing it because then what? Well then I’d have to start subing it. And then what? I get rejected (I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic). Then what happens? I get down because I get rejected lots? I get a tough skin because of it?

Imagine if… I got lucky and SOLD the novel. What the hell would I do? I want to more than anything, but it’s a really scary prospect. Does that make sense? Writers out there, does it make sense? There’s a book one of my friends has read a few times called Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. She’s always said it is really really good at, well doing what it says. She also thinks there’s no need for me to read it. But I think maybe I should.

Yes, instead of doing the editing, I should read another book. Uh no. Well, maybe.

Well, that’s what I have to say. Bit of a different blog for me in that it’s about just one thing, instead of jumping back and forward through lots of different subjects. Different isn’t necessarily bad though is it. I’m off now to write a story for Fiction Friday. Get me!

Mills and Boon New Voices Competition Entry

It’s in. Oh yes, I’ve submitted my story. The deadline was 23.59 GMT last night. I handed mine in at about 23.10 BST. Gotta say I’m really glad BST is an hour ahead not an hour behind GMT, because I totally forgot we were in that not GMT. Doh!

When I signed up to the competition I used my real name. Without thinking of the implications. The implications are that I’m going to tell my readers where my chapter is, and to go read it. Thus meaning my real name can be seen. I’ve been thinking about ‘coming out’ (so to speak) for a while, but I’ve always thought I’d write Mills and Boon novels under one name, and Chick Lit under my real name. Like Madeline Whickham/Sophie Kinsella I wanted to keep a difference between the two writing styles.

Ah well, it looks like my Mills & Boon career (!!) will be under my real name too. Not the worst think in the world!

When I first logged on to the competition website this morning, I had a VERY positive comment, and a story rating of 79%. Woop! That’s really high. It came from 2 votes. I’ve now had 5 votes and my rating’s gone down to 40%. That’s still in the top half though. I’m well pleased. Even if no one else votes or comments, I’m going to be very happy because I got a couple of good ratings and one awesome comment.

So here we go, if you fancy a read of the first chapter of Italian Infatuation go take a look here:

http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/Entries/958-Italian-Infatuation

If you like it, a comment or rating would be just fabulous!