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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, 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.