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Louise's current project is to make all her sweet romances available on the internet.
Look out for her new Regency romance, Regency Fortune, coming soon!


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Winter Dormance

Cheered to read Joanne Harris saying that she's often dormant in winter. So long as you come to life in spring and write a best seller...

Monday, 15 December 2008

Flat Solar Battery

Reading Writing Magazine and messing about. Not working at all - and can't see myself changing until the sun turns around. Good job I'm not Scandinavian!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

And In Fourth Place...

Narrowly missing a medal, is writing. Poor writing, but there's no help for it. Not being a burning genius I've no intention of destroying my ordinary home life, which gets gold, followed by the day job that underpins everything, which scores silver, and bronze goes to the college work that will take me into a new career and support me in my old age. (I plan to work for Voluntary Service Overseas or similar).

No wonder writing gets squeezed out!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Faint Progress

Of a sort.

  • Posted 'So Far Away' to the large print people at Magna. Fingers crossed.
  • Finished and posted the filmscript for Debbie - all we need now is a competition and some luck.
  • Critiqued a chapter for Jen.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Lost voice

I've lost my voice - I mean really, truly, in real life. What is the universe trying to tell me? Or what am I trying to tell the universe?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

And more interesting! The DVD on the construction disaster arrived. I can feel my whole story cracking apart and rearranging itself. My own plot seems very thin and dull compared with reality. There are four hours to watch - and I'll need to make notes and watch it all several times - so my knitting will make progress as well! My own plot won't be wasted - this is an addition, not a replacement.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Well, no, she doesn't, actually!

I do do GANTT charts, budget sheets showing variances and calculate NPV. In other words, the latest college project is done.

And will it help me be a better writer? Who knows, Grasshopper?

Little things are bubbling away:
  • My sister and I might try a Mills & Boon together - she loves them.
  • I have 3 chapters and a synopsis ready that might revamp as a Little Black Dress
  • I have a complete novel (about a florist) that needs SOMETHING doing with it - revamping perhaps.
  • Maybe it's time I rang up My Weekly Story Collection. They have had a novella for nearly 18 months - and have ignored 3 emails and a snail mail. What is happening to it?
  • I am determined to get a place at college to do a PGCE in Creative Writing, which means passing my degree, which means GANTT charts etc were the right thing to do this week. Maybe.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Maybe I don't Want to be a Writer?

Or maybe I need a holiday. The beach is my favourite writing place. I can do 6,000 words a day! Honestly! Here's how it works. You go to somewhere gorgeous like Bali and find a place to stay costing between £1 and £4 pounds, including breakfast, so you are not worrying about money. (Okay, it's been a few years since I was able to manage this! It may cost more now.) You have a ticket home with no fixed date on it. You get up and write. Then you have an excellent lunch, not cooked by you and no washing up afterwards. Then you lie on the beach and swim all afternoon, falling into a pleasant half trance. Ideas and scenes for the next day pop into your head while you sunbathe. Then it's home for a shower (cold, of course, but really not a problem in this climate) a sunset walk, dinner somewhere cute and home for an early night.

Perfect writing conditions = 6,000 words a day.

Life at the moment = 0 words a day.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

This Week I have been mostly...

Editing - my sister sent the film script she's made from a novella called Whirlwind Marriage. I think she's done a great job, but the spell checker on her Final Draft is set to US usage, and she has never mastered the fine art of punctuation, so there's lots to do.

Have also been to a PGCE interview workshop, to make sure of the best chance of a place, spent a lot of time making a GANTT chart for college and less time on a budget, because I can do them. My share of the project work is about finished now! Hurray. Although there's a finance assignment coming up soon. Boo!

Have also been to a maths class. I've been thinking about why I have to go to maths in order to be able to write more, and there does seem to be a kind of poetic justice to it. I said I wanted an education, and the universe has obligingly made sure I get a good one.

And no, I haven't written a word this week. I have put in my order for a DVD of a construction project that went horribly wrong - I think (suitably altered of course) it will make a good background for this novel. I find business settings fantastic for novels. Whirlwind Marriage came about because of a documentary I watched - Trouble at the Top or Blood on the Carpet or one of those strands. It was about rival sausage manufacturers. Industrial espionage was rife and they hated each other. I started to think: what if a couple fell in love and then discovered one of them worked for one sausage company and the other had a good job in the second company?

Maybe next week I'll get time to watch the programme and decide exactly which of my characters is going to work where. It will be better.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Rewrites and Copy Editors

I have not done any work on my novel - not on paper, anyway. Inside I can feel that I am working on the new idea and it will be all the better for it.

My latest romance has been quite heavily edited. If I had time, I'd print out the original and compare them two versions.

I did this once with a novella, and I learnt a lot. Copy editors are a mixed blessing. It's true that they make your text easier to read, and I picked up some great tips on managing pronouns etc, but sometimes I could kill them. In the novella, an American character says: 'Hey, you got one hundred twenty! You did real good' and a diligent copy editor changed it to 'Hey, you achieved one hundred AND twenty. You did very well.'

I have to finish a pile of college work and then I can go back to the novel.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

A bright idea - which means a rewrite

I'm so glad I read that line of John Gardener's about 'writer's impatience'. When I stop now, instead of stressing about what's wrong with me, I am asking: 'Does the story need changing?'

Yes it does! It won't mean too drastic a change, but I've suddenly realised that the background is too fuzzy. I've written about a building company with lots of sites and projects. It would be much better if I narrowed the focus to one company - one project, one set of villains.

Having said that, college with all its demands is feeling like a pain! Not to mention numeracy once a week. I'm finally going to learn my tables - after only one lesson I decided it was time to stop counting on my fingers!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Null Points Again

Not a word. No how! No place! No sir! No ma'am! No words here.

Why? Because I'm too busy with degree work. This course feels like one spinning plate too many in the party trick of life! Deadlines loom. Nobody is forcing me to meet them, of course, but if I goof off I waste the efforts (and expense) of the last 5 years. And I won't get to take a PGCE and I'll stay in my new and not-where-I-want-to-be office for ever instead of being a creative writing teacher and the pig won't get over the stile and I'll NEVER get home tonight.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Chapter Three is Done!

No writing yesterday - the whole morning vanished at Learn Direct. I'm now all assessed and signed up for Numeracy classes on Friday mornings - which is another morning that I won't be writing. I sometimes wonder at the mad circle of events which mean that in my quest to be a better writer I end up spending less time writing, especially seeing as its difficult to fathom exactly how I ended up needed a Level II Numeracy qualification in order to teach Creative Writing, which I need in order to support me so that I can write. But I'm not writing because I want to be a better writer so I spend time...

I just have to have faith that it is all going to work out!

This morning was good. I rewrote the end of chapter three and I'm pleased with it now. Next comes work on the synopsis, then I can send it off.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

New Look People's Friend Pocket Novels

There's Bright! Let's hope lots of people take it off the shelf.

Unlike many authors, who say they never reread their own books, I always drop everything and read my new stories when they arrive. I read them again if I get depressed as well - if I've done it once I can do it again! My own title for this was 'Ecological Engagement' because the heroine is an eco-warrior who wears combat pants and cycles everywhere, but So Far Apart sums up the situation quite well.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Wonder of Blogs

Yesterday, without knowing it, I wrote down the answer to my problems. The end of chapter three truly isn't right. Jen commented that the chapter was 'episodic' and I think that's because the last scene isn't dramatic enough and it doesn't tie in with the rest of the plot tightly enough.

Blogging is so great.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


Not as exciting as finishing a book - but my accounts are done. And I had a better year last year than I suspected - partly because I spent the whole lot on root canals (the specialist said he'd never met anyone who needed three at the same time before) and partly because the money came from books I wrote some time ago - both of my Black Lace titles sold to Germany. What a nice surprise.

So far as Glass Cliff goes, I've had two very short sessions on it. Blogging is great - there's no hiding the fact that one hour in 5 days is an abysmal work record.

John Gardner said that writer's block is actually writer's impatience - maybe a part of me knows that the end of chapter three isn't right yet. It needs to be an exciting cliff hanger that's going to make the purchasing editor sit up and say: my, this is going to be thrilling! I can't wait to read the rest of it. Dear author, here is your contract....

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?

Here's the answer - a whole filing drawer full of them. As part of the year end tidy up, I'm about to weed this drawer. Each file is an idea for a book. For example, watching the TV show, Who Do You Think You Are? I thought it would make a good romance premise: she is a history geek, he is a successful businessman, over in the UK for a short time to research his roots - so you get them thrown together and they can't walk away because she needs the money and he needs to use his limited free time. Let's say he has to get back to work in three weeks (and there's the obligatory parting before the happy ending). They can travel to different areas, following the trail and they can discover different sides of themselves during the experience. So, I opened a file marked: Who Does He Think He is? and any time I read something about tracing your roots, or a female who works as a researcher, or I read about a man who wants to trace his family tree - then I hurl the cutting into the file. And there it sits, along with all the other idea files. Sometimes a file sits there for years. Sometimes a book emerges. And sometimes I sell the written book. If I sell a book, then I throw out the ideas file - it's served its purpose.

I did write yesterday. Mostly revising Chapter Three bearing in mind the comments from Jen and my sister.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Getting Started

I am reading the Green Mile by Stephen King. His character was talking about writing and comparing it to an old Ford that was hard to start, but always ran well once the engine was going. Then the metaphor is extended into a great bit of advice for writers:

"As with most dirty jobs, however, the hardest part is just getting started. It doesn't matter to an engine whether you use the key or have to crank; once you get it going it'll usually run just as sweet either way."

It so impressed me that I did sit down and write on Saturday. Stephen King's books on writing are excellent. Of course he's good and popular, but I also think he's a much better writer than some experts give him credit for - there's real poetry in some of his lines.

I went for a Bowen treatment on Friday. I'm recording it here because I'm beginning to see a link between my output and when I had a treatment.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

D - u - l - l spells dull

I wasn't sure how interesting blogging about writing would be. I can say that blogging about not writing is a non-starter!

Other than it keeps me tuned in to the fact that I'm not writing.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Null Points

No words today. I have read the critique from Jen Black -as usual full of useful stuff. Some of the things she points out are so obvious that I can't believe I missed them. For example, I describe a floor as grubby, then have a female kneel on it to pick up a voodoo hex. Jen's right. It wouldn't happen. The female would crouch, or stoop, or bend down - especially as the character likes clothes. No way she'd let her new skirt touch a dirty floor. Obvious - but do I see it? That's why good critique partners are above rubies.

Also got to the point where my next job is to open a new spreadsheet and label it: 2007/2008. Sigh.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Am I Working Hard Enough?

Here's a question that I read some time ago. I can't remember where, or in what context, but as I sort through the year's accounts and think over what happened, it's coming to me in this form:

'If you had employed you to advance your career as a writer last year, would you have have been satisfied with your performance?'


As an example, this is how my conversation with the boss would go this week: 'Well, I don't think I'll bother showing up this week because I'm feeling a bit wimpy and it's dark and I've my accounts to do and college work to get my head around, and you do understand, don't you, that I couldn't possibly fit in any work?'

Put it that way and I don't think I'd get a bonus this year.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Null Points

I think I'm going to have to give this week away - adding degree work to an already overstuffed life feels like one spinning plate too many!

This week I'll get all my course notes and text books organised, do my books, finish planting the garden and tidying up generally, then next week, get back to writing.

I rang Bury College this week and I can do the PGCE there in Creative Writing for FE and HE next year - selection process and government bursary all falling into place, that is. I thought I might have to teach English, which I'd like, but apparently it's being phased out as a subject - they were much keener on Creative Writing and there'll be no trouble finding placements etc in it, so that is absolutely brilliant. I have to wait until March to begin the application process, which is frustrating.

I'm also going to send Chapter Three to Jen and my sister for their comments.

Friday, 10 October 2008

I blame BT for three days' zero output.

But I do have email again now. It took a trip to the loft, three hours and a call to India. For my benefit and to improve security, BT had disabled my passwords. I had to open the hub manager, enter the serial number of the router, then reset the passwords, then bingo, everything worked again. They had not sent an email to let me know what they had done. Oh well.

Today I wrote a synopsis for the script treatment my sister has done for Whirlwind Wedding.

And that was it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Day Off

It's college tonight (hopefully!) so I've decided to do chores today - but ideas are simmering, oh yes they are.

For example, I have one person tell the heroine about a death in an empty corridor. Heroine is shocked, feels faint.

How dull is that?

Suppose heroine had just walked into the finance department to meet a load of new staff AND then she gets the news and reacts - more fun, I think.

I also have to go back and change the doors in the office - they all need to have keypad locks on them.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

800 Words and Stars

The Glass Cliff is an interesting book for me to write because I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen! This week a character has popped up in my head - he's called Ivor and he collects the essence of stars. I saw a man doing this on TV - maybe a few seconds, probably 20 years ago - and that fragment has stayed with me all this time to appear now in a novel. I do not know why he's appeared, and what his purpose will be. I find that scary because I usually plan my books carefully.

This book is also going more slowly than usual. I wrote 800 words today, which is good, but I also have gaps and days off, which is unusual. Probably the average is around 500 which is low. Part of the reason for that is that I am researching carefully. When the heroine meets Ivor, at night in the cemetery, he teaches her a few constellations, so I had to look up where they would be at this time of year and what colours of stars to look for. It's fun.

I do not know if anyone but me will ever read this book - but by trying to be commercial I've never had much success, so I might as well enjoy myself. I watched a TV programme on Pink Floyd (which brought back memories of my hippy days!) and Dave Gilmour said that art is something you have to do. You're just lucky if other people happen to enjoy it, and pay you so that you can go on doing it. I heard the creator of the Simpsons say much the same as well. He said: people say I'm lucky because of the success of the Simpsons, but what you have to realise is that I'd be doing this anyway. It's just chance whether it brings in enough to live a bedsit in Florida or a much better lifestyle. He also said, laughing, that he wouldn't get a job on the Simpsons now, so rigorous is the selection, so high the standards. He doesn't draw well enough.

Isn't TV wonderful? It's great to hear what these guys think.

Monday, 6 October 2008

16,637 Words in Total

I've lost my little tally sheet, so I don't know how many that was today - quite a few. I didn't write at the weekend, but I was turning over ideas and improvements in my mind. Still no email. Trying not to get stressed!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Motivation is All

See how many noughts there could be in this cheque? A tiddler like this is better than nothing, but one day I'll get nice, big, fat cheques that I can live on. Cheques with numbers not stars. It will happen.

In the meantime, I could do with throwing my email out of the window. It still isn't working, and it's eaten up hours of valuable time - not to mention the frenzy of frustration that despite my best efforts to stay calm, has wound me up into a frothing, moaning wreck.

It's a good thing I live in peace time. If I can get this undone over email, I don't know what state I'd be in if I was being shot at! Vow to cultivate sense of proportion.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Better News Today

A nice cheque from BBC Audio Books - still only £78, mind you, but I can work on getting all those noughts filled in as I get better.

I'm not writing today because it's my first day back at uni and I want to keep my brain fresh for that - but I am still working on my horrible files and getting my books into some kind of order.

Last year I got a scary letter from the Inland Revenue saying they were keeping an eye on me and describing all the penalties for fraud. The letter had a distinct flavour of 'something lingering with boiling oil' about it, but I never heard anything after that, so maybe it's just a random scare tactic - or maybe they didn't believe that I earn so little? I wasn't too worried because I keep all my paperwork and I can prove that, yep, that was it, mate. No JK Rowling style royalties for this writer. And don't I just wish I had a tenner for every time somebody says: 'I bet you wish you had her royalties!' On second thoughts, make that a hundred pounds! I deserve it for the aggravation factor.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Good Progress

I improved chapter one (I often go back and do this, because the story has to fit in with where I now know it is going) and blocked out to the end of chapter three today. Nearly 200o words. Wonderful. Yesterday I'd have killed anyone who tried to make me work, today I'd have knifed anyone who interrupted me. Odd how the mind works.

John Gardener in his book on writing a novel says that you shouldn't write anything but your books - no letters to the paper, no notes to friends, but to save all your energy for your work. It does make sense, but I think I've been getting on better since I started keeping this blog - probably from a sense of shame! I don't want to admit to not working!

At the weekend my sister showed me the first part of my book, which she had turned into a film script using Final Draft software - it looked so wonderful! Somebody said the best way for a British writer to sell a film was to have a bestseller, and I truly believe that - but it can't hurt to have a script knocking about - paperbacks have such short shelf lives these days. How else could anyone see it?

My email is dead. A quick look on the Internet informed me that the 'enter your network password' bug is well known. I tried three of the many cures on offer, but they haven't worked. I might have to call my IT savvy friend and hope he's willing to come over.

Monday, 29 September 2008


This weekend I was asked if I could teach a creative writing evening class- exactly what I want to do. And you know when it was? The exact time of the class I have to take to finish my last year of my degree so that, wait for it, I can qualify to teach creative writing. In fact, the only two hours in the week that I can't reschedule.

What would you have done?

I decided to finish my degree - there will be other jobs, and I'll be properly qualified to take them and then move on into even better jobs. But I got so stirred up that I haven't written a word today. My email has died as well. That doesn't help.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Pitching The Glass Cliff

I already blogged about what a great screenwriting book Save the Cat is. Visit http://www.blakesnyder.com/ to meet the author. Blake Snyder advocates pitching your idea to anyone and everyone - if they don't get it, it's not strong enough. Apart from to my writing buddies, I haven't done this yet, through fear, I think. I already invested a couple of months in the Glass Cliff. I don't want to hear that it's lousy!

But last night my hairdresser, male, and another client, male, asked me what I was working on. I took a deep breath and said: 'It's a story about a female chief executive who takes over a company and the bad guys use voodoo to try to get rid of her, but she doesn't believe in voodoo (of course not: she's a CEO!) so she thinks she's going crazy.' And they liked it! They both said things like: Wow, so it's like is she/isn't she crazy? and yeah, something spooky happens and it's like: do you believe the scientific explanation or not? And what if not believing gets you killed? I told them it was called the Glass Cliff - I know this is not a very well-known concept, but they hadn't come across the glass ceiling idea either, which did surprise me. They are both bright guys, so I will put a an explanation of both concepts somewhere in the text.

It looks as if I only did 100 words yesterday - but I did quite a lot of work - I cut a lot of dead wood and cut a lot of woolly descriptions. To start with I write down a lot - there were pages about illegal immigrant workers swarming over the fence of the building site and running away, and the police just watching because they have nowhere to put all these guys if they arrest them. I condensed that to half a page and a couple of good images - but I couldn't have selected the important stuff if I hadn't written it all out first.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

1000 Words Today

After yesterday's depression I woke up sneezing with a sore throat and all the rest of it. Ah! That explains it. I knew there was something wrong! Because I was feeling so weary I booked a week's leave for next week, which I intend to throughly enjoy.

And despite the lurgy I wrote a thousand words today. At last I know who the hero is - now I have to decide what kind of love story theirs will be. Romance is very, very hard. Here I have two fabulous, lovely people who are exactly right for one another, and I have to keep them apart until almost the last page.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

I Need a Holiday

Writing is hard work - and it's just as hard if you're good or you're bad - it takes me exactly the same amount of effort to write a book that earns nothing, or a few pennies, as it takes other people to write best sellers.

What's triggered this sudden avalanche of gloom? My Virgin statement. Admittedly it's about 10 years ago now, but I wrote two erotic novels for their Black Lace imprint. The royalty statement came today - and I owe them £2.97. Add this to my ALCS result of £11.90, and I'm averaging even less than my usual penny an hour.

I'm stuck in the poverty trap of needing to have a day job, which takes time, energy and attention, which slows my writing, so I don't earn enough money to support myself, so I have to have a day job, which...

But, day jobs do have advantages, and one of them is paid leave. I can have a whole, glorious week at home, with pay! And, over the last ten years, what with foreign sales and reprints, my Black Lace titles did pretty well. So, I'll have a holiday and cheer up. I might look into getting Final Draft software as a kind of holiday project, oh, and do my books. I know they've extended the deadline, but they still need doing.

750 words today. Jen Black sent her critique of chapter two back, so I rewrote that again and then began chapter three - where the hero walks in. I know who he is now - he's the site manager of the only well-run site in the company.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Weekend Off & Updates

Friday I wrote another 500 words, but then I made the mistake of allowing my computer to install the updates it's been whinging about for days now - afterwards I couldn't get into Blogger, find my Google toolbar (both solved now) but I still need to find my picture wizard! Next time it can whinge! I like everything where I can find it.

The 500 words was a rewrite after feedback from my sister - which has much improved the scene where the car gets attacked by voodoo - well you try writing one! It's not easy, especially the heroine must think all the odd events are due to other, normal causes at this point.

My sister has decided she likes scriptwriting - she has Final Draft software now and is really going for it. She sent me her children's novel to critique and the first chapter, which she'd done as a script, then rewritten back into a book, was fabulous - the improvement was quantum. I might have to invest in Final Draft - partly because I've sent her a romantic comedy (Whirlwind Wedding, my favourite of the romances I've written)to see if she can turn it into a film script, but also because I want my own writing to improve that much!
When I looked for this cover, I realised that the editor had changed the title to Whirlwind Marriage. I still think of it as WW.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Chapter Two is Finished!

Bundled it off to my critique partner, Jen, and my sister for criticism. My sister has discovered that she lives near a scriptwriter - and the kind neighbourly scriptwriter has offered to have a look at the Glass Cliff for me - great! I'll wait until I get to the three chapter stage and ask her to have a look before I send it off.

I stopped at the building site last night - much to the chagrin of the security guard. He noticed me straight away, and came out of his little cabin. I could see him wondering why I was walking around the perimeter of the site making notes. I was making him so unhappy that I didn't go all the way around. I've been reading so much about migrant labour that I began to wonder if he was worrying that I was checking up on him. He looked so miserable that I went away.

The visit was worth it in terms of information and scene setting. I was interested in the safety structures - the scaffolding had coloured safety barriers on the higher platforms and safety nets were strung below as well. The last scaffolding that caught my attention was bamboo scaffolding in Hong Kong - rickety beyond belief. This was before 1999 and we were looking for work. I think they paid £3.50 an hour for casual labour. I said 'How about that scaffolding, Andy? Add to your building experience?' He said: 'Being a film extra is the same money. I think I'll sit around all day pretending to be a journalist instead.' Definitely the right decision, because we heard later that the scaffolding was as unsafe as it looked and often collapsed. Hurray for health and safety!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Deliberate Day Off

I wasn't fine at all! by the time I'd put in a busy afternoon at work and been shopping, my head was in a place any good children's nanny would recognise as 'overexcited'. Today I'm pottering and not writing, but I am going to stop on the way home because I pass a building site, and I want to observe and write down the kind of barriers they have and where they park the vehicles etc, so we'll call it a research day.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Every Post Needs a Picture

I think blogs without pictures are a bit dull, so here is the cover of a foray into another genre - the Black Horse Western. I enjoyed writing this book, and the publishers, Robert Hale, are a joy to deal with, but Lou Armstrong might never ride again. I had the one wonderful idea, truly enjoyed the writing of it, and have never been attracted to the genre again.

Today I did 800 words on the Glass Cliff (end of chapter two) and feel fine. I have increased the view on all my computer screens and increased the font in Word to 16. Hopefully this will help to prevent eyestrain.

I didn't stop and do my relaxation exercises - and I got tense and cross when I had to spend 45 minutes getting into the new version of Blogger - but I will do 50 minutes yoga now before I go to work.

PS: That is one sad horse, right? I promise that my hero never, never, never rode his lovely palomino, Sunshine, into the ground that way.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Small Steps

Nearly 500 words today.

It is freezing! I had to give up and put the heating on (despite socks, long skirt, cashmere vest and sleevless down doona). I got up and had frequent breaks. And tried to relax as well. Can you try to relax? Or do you just relax? And if you can't try to relax, how do you relax if you aren't relaxed to start with?

I'll have to work on that one, along with the idea that less is sometimes more. If I can stay fresh and relaxed, then my writing productivity will increase. A regular 500 words adds up to more than mad creative highs followed by months of writer' block.

Today I read more about raids on construction sites. It only took about an hour. The most interesting source was an article in the Guardian - the journalist considered all the human issues which are so interesting for a novel.

I've never written like this before - it's like stitching a patchwork. First I have an idea, then I go hunt up some info, then I turn the info into fiction.

From this week I need to finish writing at 11:30. This is so I can exercise after writing and before I go to the day job. I'm hoping it will act as a break between mental states.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Thank you ALCS

It's nice to know that they collect money on one's behalf. And it's nice to know that people in Germany are taking my books out of the library. £11.90 isn't going to buy me much of a pension, though. Must work harder!

600 words today.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

750 Words Today, Hurray

At last I got going again. Just a short session to see how it goes.

I now need to look up how the police get a warrant for a search of a building site, and how much notice, if any, they would give to a company suspected of employing dodgy workers. And who would lead on an joint operation - the DWP or the police?

Friday, 12 September 2008

The Blog Never Lies

I've written nothing, so there's nothing to blog about. It's wonderful - because there is the evidence of how hard, or otherwise, I'm working.

Although I suspect that the eyestrain I get comes from working too hard - straining and pushing my muscles, which is counterproductive. Today the Bowen Therapist taught me a relaxation technique to use at the computer. Tomorrow I'll try it and see how it goes.

Can you guess what book the mind map above is illustrating? No? Well, mind maps are very personal records! (I'm a huge Tony Buzan fan. I don't think he'd mind that my mind map looks nothing like a mind map - I started off with the little spider structure, but this mind map wanted to be a jigsaw.) The book is 'Think and grow Rich' by Napoleon Hill. Initially I flicked through it idly, because it's not just money I want, but then I got interested and feel that actually, the process for becoming a good writer is exactly the same. At the moment I feel like a large heavy bird - trying to lift off towards successful strata and splashing back into the bottom mud.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Finding the Story

The trouble is that things can't just happen. The police raid has to woven into the fabric of the story. The police are going to charge in and the other directors refuse to cooperate. Here's where I am at:
  • Suppose a secretary wasn't quite a whistle blower, but forgot on purpose to cancel the boss policeman's visit. In retaliation, the gang will kill her father. I have an image of a man floating in a bottle of whiskey with pins stuck in him. He's an alcoholic, then. It would make a screen saver too.
  • Suppose the police boss was the hero? Now there's a thought.
  • And for sure in the row about the raid, the heroine can make her position clear - she's on the side of the law.

My eyes are too tired for much writing - have made an appointment with a Bowen therapist to see if they can help. I'm sure it's muscular.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Thank You, Raymond Chandler

'If you get stuck,' said Raymond Chandler, 'have a man with a gun walk in.

A night's sleep coupled with yesterday's research has shown me the way. My heroine was stuck in the boardroom, staring at her new team, and I had no idea what they were going to say to one another. Talking heads are boring anyway. So, I'm going to send in a man with a gun. In this case, it will be a police and DWP raid on on of the company's building sites. At least 40 of the hundred workforce will prove to be illegal or benefit fraudsters.

But, I've spent too long on computers this week and my eyes are tired, so I'm having today and probably tomorrow off.

This is why I'll never be rich and famous.

Friday, 5 September 2008

More Fraud Than any Author Needs!

I've spent a solid morning researching into fraud for the Glass Cliff. Oh my paws and whiskers! I now have far more material than could possibly fit into one novel! I'll now have to spend some time thinking about the different types of fraud carried out on building sites (there's a great US Highways website that details this) and deciding which types of fraud my heroine is going to uncover in which part of the plot.

I've only ever researched snippets of information before, not a huge subject like fraud. Thanks to the Internet I didn't have to leave home. Newspaper articles alerted me to several examples of different frauds, but law reports are the best - you get all the details.

It's depressing reading though! Especially the cases where public money has been stolen from hospitals or roads. I already know that I'm going to enjoy the scenes where my heroine catches the baddies. How dare they!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Slow Progress

I spent more time on my blogs than the Glass Cliff this morning, and no, I didn't get up early! I had a quick look at chapter 6 for my critique partner: http://www.jenblackauthor.blogspot.com/ and then I went back to the Save the Cat structure and worked through that. I realised that because I want to keep the heroine wondering if it's voodoo or a nervous breakdown that's affecting her, then there must be a scene where she goes to a head doctor, right? And then I realised that the real reason I'm stuck is that as yet, I'm not sure what her exact job is, what the company she's been sent to boss does, and what scam the baddies don't want her to discover.

Research, then. I'll have a look on the Internet for really great swindle ideas tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

I'm Stuck Already!!!

Rewriting the first chapter was easy, but now I'm back at the point in chapter two where I got stuck last week. And I still don't know what's going to happen, so what to do? Send for help, that's what! Save the Cat is a great screenwriting book that my critique partner, Jen Black http://members.lycos.co.uk/jenblack/biography.htm, recommended. Blake Snyder's views on structure are easy to understand, and he's a funny guy. Nice too. He suggests emailing him with comments and ideas, so I sent him a description of my least favourite film genre, which I call: "geezers shouting at one another in a small place." And I got a reply!! The wonders of connectivity and the modern world!

The text books I encountered at my convent school were all printed before 1800 and something, and they had teeny-tiny print, foxed covers and a damp smell. The authors were all dead (preferably martyred). They were fixed, unchanging, and not to be argued with. This is way more fun.

Anyway, rather than staring at a blank screen, I'm going to see if I can lay out my plot over Blake Snyder's structure. Maybe some ideas will come though. In the meantime, though, here is my original paragraph:

It makes me cringe, now, to think how thrilled I was about my promotion.
I don’t have time for much socialising, or any close friends, come to that, but the day the news about my new appointment was announced, I took two colleagues to a bar overlooking the Thames. We chose a table with a heater because the autumn day was bright, but chilly. I splurged on a celebratory bottle of champagne. Nicola insisted on topping up her bubbles with Guinness. Her dark eyes met mine over the top of the fizzing glass as she saluted me.
‘You couldn’t pay me enough to live in Lancashire.’
I visualised the figures on my new contract and couldn’t stop a laugh. ‘I’d move to Siberia for this money.’

And here is the rewritten version:

I floated out of the boardroom, my heels brushing the plush carpet of the corridor and into my office. I closed the door carefully, then I flopped back on the wood and grinned. My secretary eyed me with a sour look.
‘You couldn’t pay me enough to live in Lancashire.’
I met her dark eyes. ‘You mean you didn’t see my salary when you read the contract?’
‘Are you saying that I’ve been snooping, Kari?’
‘No, but you seem to know all about my promotion.’
‘Oh, Come on, Sherlock! You spend all that time preparing to boss the Italian factory and they give it Matthew Duke. You don’t sue. They have to be throwing you a bone.’
‘Better than a bone,’ I said mildly. ‘Operations Manager of Cleggs Lancashire Builders.’

I may rename that company yet! Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The Message Received is the Message You Sent

Who said that? I can't remember now, but I think it's one of the most important points to absorb if you want to write. All my ideas, plans and intentions count for nothing if the person who picks up the text then finds a different meaning on the page.

I once heard the composer Philip Glass on the radio saying that he refused to tell musicians how to play his music. The musicians were very disappointed with him, because they'd been looking forward to working with a real live composer - but so far as Glass is concerned, his ownership of the music finishes when he puts it out into the world. He doesn't mind what people find there, or what interpretations they create.

But he's a genius! And both my critique partner and my sister said similar things about my first chapter, so I decided it needed changing. One problem with writing in the first person is introductions. I wanted to avoid the cliche of our hero looking in the mirror, but I'd avoided it so thoroughly I'd left out her name and gender. But even though lots of vital facts were missing, I'd still succumbed to the sin of telling not showing. And that in turn led to another problem. How do you feel about people who tell you how horrible their parents are? Exactly! It doesn't help build sympathy for the character.

So, this morning I rewrote the opening scene of the Glass Cliff, where we meet our heroine at work and tried to put as much information into action as possible. And then I rewrote the next scene which takes place at her parent's house. I changed her 'voice over' type of narration for a family row over the dinner table, and you know what? I think both scenes are much better for it.

Every writer needs a critique partner!

Monday, 1 September 2008

How Interesting is Writing about Writing?

I don't know! But if nothing else, having a blog will help me keep track of progess.

Here's one of my romances - I think this cover captures the fun and warm feeling that I tried to create - but for whatever reason, I've decided to try something different - a horror novel. Still with a female central character, and still with a happy ending, because that's the kind of fiction I like, but my new book is going to be very different in content.
I need to rewrite the first chapter - there's too much telling and not enough showing in it. I have the main character (whose name isn't quite decided yet) tell us how horrible her parents are in a kind of voice over. My sister quite rightly, pointed out it would be better to show them being horrid and have the heroine struggle to put up with/handle them etc. I'll think about it today and have a go tomorrow.