Monday, 30 June 2014

Deadline Day

I've always worked better with a deadline. Without one I tend to find other, more important, things to do.
Like filing. Or baking. Or reordering my bookshelves.
It's not that I don't try. I sit down, type some words. Delete them. Type some more. Read them. Panic that they're flat, lifeless. Delete them. Type some more. Read them. Panic that they're flat, lifeless. Leave them cause I need something concrete to show for my time.
A deadline takes away that luxury. I have to get those words down. Flat and lifeless? So what? They can be rewritten later. Filing? Let it pile up. Baking? Buy it. Bookshelves? Well, a girl has to have some standards.
This last deadline was tight even by my standards. I had three months. That was the smallest amount of time I'd had to turn in a book so far.
So of course I frittered away a month. My bookshelves looked lovely.
And then I wrote five chapters. In a month. Half the book done. Great.
Only they were flat. Lifeless.
So I started again. From scratch. With a month to go.
50,000 words. One month. 12,500 words a week. That was 1700 a day. Written and edited. Easy!
A weekend away with the daughter, some busy days at the day job. The actual day job. RSI (officially tennis elbow. Who would have thought watching tennis could be so dangerous?). All ate into my schedule. The daily word count went up and up.
Until it was 6 days, 16,000 words and a line edit to go.And Wimbledon was on.
Somehow. With late nights, constant words, editing during my lunch time at the day job. No Wimbledon.
Somehow I got it done.
I have no perspective. No idea if it's good, bad or just plain ugly.
It's with my editor. There will of courser be edits. They may well be substantial. But I made my deadline and that feels pretty damn good.
And in time for the second week of Wimbledon... (ignores new tighter deadline.)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Meet Minty

Oops! Just over a week ago I was tagged by the lovely Janice Preston in a 'Meet your Main Character' bloghop - promised faithfully I would do it that Friday and promptly forgot all about it. I blame my current WIP which I decided to totally rewrite a month before it was due - cue many late nights and total hermiting.

I first met Janice at the 2012 RNA Conference where we shared a kitchen - and I was completely delighted when she sold her historical romance to Mills & Boon; as a failed regency romance novelist I know just how hard it is to do and can't wait to read her first book. Her debut, Mary and the Marquis, comes out in August, perfect timing for my holiday reading list.

This month Summer with the Millionaire was released and to my utter joy (and spawning a dangerous new obsession; rankings-checking) it made it all the way to the dizzying heights of number one on the Harlequin Romance list and all the way to 59 in the Series chart - so it I thought I'd celebrate by telling you a little about Minty, my beloved heroine.

So, without further ado here's Minty:

What is the name of the main character? Is she real or fictitious? 
Formally she is Lady Araminta Davenport - but although the press love to use her title she usually goes by Minty and she is completely fictitious. I can't even remember what or who inspired her - I think it was an image I had of a girl weaving her way along a cobbled street at midnight, shoes in hand. That scene was (reluctantly) cut in one of my many, many rewrites but it absolutely set the tone for Minty's entire character and background.

Where is the story set?
In an idyllic Italian summer, mainly in the fictitious area of Oschia, a blend of Tuscany and Umbria. During the book Minty and Luca, the hero, visit some of my favourite places in the world; Florence and the Sorrento coast. It was lovely to write such gorgeous settings.

What should we know about her?
Minty is the archetypal poor little rich girl, beautiful, titled and with a Trust Fund her life seems charmed. But underneath she is desperately searching for acceptance, to prove that she is worthy of being loved. Her mother left when she was little and her father is absorbed in his new, much younger family leaving his fragile oldest daughter to navigate her way through life alone.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
After Minty's third engagement is publicly called off her father finally decided he needs to help her sort out her life - and does so by cutting off her Trust Fund. Emotionally battered and. for the first time in her life, broke, Minty returns to Italy, to the house where she spent many of her childhood summers. Her beloved aunt died several years ago, leaving Minty shares in her husband's company. Minty gambles everything on getting a job - and a home - from her childhood adversary, Luca Di Tore. But Luca isn't at all happy to see the former wild child...

What is the character's goal?
Minty is desperate to prove that she is more than a scandalous headline and a Trust Fund - but is terrified that she might discover that that is all she is. After three disastrous engagements she is determined that she has to make this journey alone, but it's hard when she's sharing a home with the one man who ever really got under her skin.

That's Minty! Summer with the Millionaire is available from all the usual places! I am going to tag two other M&B authors who make their debuts this year: Christy McKellan and Nina Milne. Over to you, ladies. x

Sunday, 1 June 2014

A much needed break...

 We just spent the last week in an incredibly beautiful part of the world. Kippford is a small village on the Solway Firth surrounded by coastal paths and woodland and equipped with all the essentials (two pubs). We were lucky enough to stay in Bell's View which is a fantastic house with spectacular views.
The view from the terrace

Look at all these beauties

The house belongs to the family of Pamela Hartshorne who wrote the amazing Time's Echo and Memory of Midnight (if you haven't read them do so instantly!). Pam also write Mills & Boon as Jessica Hart   and the
bookshelves are full of her books. If romance isn't your thing (in which case why are you on this blog?) then there are another four or five
shelves of classic holiday reading from Sayers and Christie to Le Carre and Mary Stewart. A huge fireplace, stacks of games and puzzles and plenty of sofas ensured we were ready for the rain and cold we confidently expected - we weren't quite so prepared for the blazing sunshine we actually got!

back on the level after some
 strenuous climbs
Five days of walks, wildlife and relaxation was exactly what we needed; with all my daughter's activities, my day job and deadlines and the husband's commute it sometimes feels that we are only just hanging on. A 12 mile walk through breathtaking cliff tops (and breath taking away climbs), the sighting of red deer, red squirrels and red kites (spot the theme), shell hunting on the beach and sitting in front of the pub watching the boats bobbing on the estuary as we supped a pint of the local pale ale was exactly what we needed. One grey day we went second hand book shopping, picking up several Judy Blumes for the daughter, another blazing afternoon we just took a picnic blanket into the garden and enjoyed the novelty of sun beating down on us. And I finally worked out why book 4 isn't working and began a rewrite...

So it's back home and back to the old routine but refreshed, revitalised and with achy legs. We can't wait to return to Kippford - and as Bell's View is available to rent I highly recommend you do too. Books, walks, and good beer. It's a winning combination!