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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, 29 September 2009

Taking off Tight Shoes

Other than essays I still have no idea what I'll be writing next, but I can feel my whole system relaxing now that I've said openly that I'm not even going to try to write romance anymore. It could be that I'll end up writing romance, of course. But I'm not going to try to be commercial any more.

I have been mulling over the concept of morning pages, and I'm not sure that I'm up for the idea as a permanent discipline. It conflicts with GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen) which is a much better way of making sure that your mind isn't wasting energy. However, I'm sure that it would be a great way into a new project. I suspect it will be Christmas before I get time to read any more of Julia Cameron's book.

I got a lovely fat, unexpected royalty check today. There is no glow like it! Real money from one of my books. I shall buy some new clothes to teach in.

I've observed my new class and thoroughly enjoyed it. Do not believe those who say standards are declining. They are smart, sophisticated, hard-working and competent young people who will easily get A-grade A-levels. I was deeply impressed by some of their insights. And what joy to be talking about English at work!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Bookworms Rule OK

How wonderful to be in a job where my lifelong habit of curling up with a book when I should be doing something else is a help and not a curse. Today I was given the book list from the English department where I will be doing my teaching practice. I'd read better than 80% of the books on the list - some of them several times. I knew this was a good move.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


Did you know that we have false vocal chords? And that they can clamp down when a person is stressed, meaning that the true vocal cords can't work? Very, very interesting.

Relaxation is often the key to good writing. When you go away and someone or something else does all the work and you come back and there it all is - pages and pages of much better writing that you could ever do by yourself.

You can see where I'm going with this, can't you? But itsn't it interesting that we say 'voice' about writing and that it's so closely linked with the real voice.

Learning to control false vocal chords is like wiggling the ears. It feels impossible at the moment, but this is a trick I must get the hang of!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Voice and Morning Pages

I've done a few morning pages - not regularly, and not in the morning, but freewriting for 3 pages and yes, I'd say it was a valuable exercise. My head is in full monkey mode at the moment, whirling and chattering, so unless it's siphoned off, there is no clear pool for a story to well up from. Blogs are good, but necessarily censored - the value of morning pages is that nobody sees them and they are not for re-reading, so you simply let blow.

I've been thinking about voice these last few days - once again I've lost my voice. I wonder if the world is mirroring my writing? Have decided to take action. Tomorrow I'm seeing a voice coach. Some books from the library confirmed that technique and exercise affect how your voice performs, and I certainly can't teach with a sore or missing voice. It will be interesting to see if the two improve together.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Massive Clearout

Stuffed my Micra as full as it would go and went to the tip with:

The very first books I wrote - long hand in exercise books: Tyger Tyger - 150K fantasy; Australia Cruise, written while on a boat in Australia and clearly demonstrating that I didn't understand Mills & Boon. Balina; a clueless romance (but probably more alive than the ones I was straining to make commercial), Hobson's Choice, an attempt at a serial and a ton of ideas, false starts and general jottings.
Boxes of copies of my old books.
Mountains of romances that I kept meaning to read and study so that I could find out how they did it.
A depressing pile of folders full of books that didn't sell. Music School, Olympic Obsession and Penny among others. I did like the title and high concept of Gypsy Remedy, but I threw the old MSS away.
A remarkably persistent box of attempts at Mills & Boon. Some less than thrilling erotica, and attempts at horror novels and fantasy. Also a pile of short stories.
Folder after folder of work from writing courses, Open College Units, A-Levels and my degree.
Piles of Romantic Novelists Magazines, British and American.

Chrystal Rose and I have agreed to part company as well. There hasn't been an enthusiastic response to the book/script as it is, and I don't want to spend time on a rewrite. It must be a nightmare trying to produce a movie. I wish her all the best.

I may not know exactly what I'm going to do next (All the more so as Point Horror is no more) but at least I've cleared the decks for the next stage.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Janice Radway's Structure of a Romance

After a workshop on romance in Todmorden on Saturday, I promised to post my notes about the structure of a romance.

Reading the Romance by Janice Radway (University of North Carolina Press) Verso 1987 is an interesting read. It's mostly about what readers get from reading romances, and although I took pages of notes, I've mostly forgotten what she said. (Time for a review?). What I have remembered, and often refer back to, is Radway's work on the structure of a romance.

Joseph Campbell realised that most stories have the same outline, which he identified and called the hero's journey, but all the stories he looked at were stories about and for men. Vladimir Propp looked at folk tales, again mostly about and for men, and he too found that the same features or functions popped up over and over again. Functions are a way of looking at the underlying structure of a story. If a hero gets a magic ring, which takes him to an island, or a flying carpet which flies him to another country, or a white horse, which gallops him off to the mountains, then although the details are different, the same thing is happening. A magical agent takes the hero to another place.

So far as I'm aware, neither Propp nor Campbell spent any time on women's stories. Radway did, however. She wondered if the same functions would pop up in every story from Jane Austen to Barbara Cartland and everyone in-between - and sure enough, they did. If you follow the structure below, and take the female character to be the hero of the story, you can consider that the movie the Terminator is a romance. The male character is a donor (literally!) rather than a hero.

Here are Radway's functions of the romance. The first five functions are the reverse of the last 5 functions.

1. (pairs with 13) The heroine's social status is upset
2. (pairs with 12) She reacts antagonistically to a powerful male
3. (Pairs with 11) She interprets his behaviour as evidence of purely sexual interest in her.
4. (pairs with 10) She responds sexually and emotionally to him
5. (pairs with 9) She responds to his behaviour with anger or coldness
6. He retaliates by punishing her
7. They are physically or/and emotionally separated
8. He treats her tenderly
9. She responds warmly
10. She reinterprets his behaviour as the product of previous hurt
11. He proposes/commits/show supreme acts of tenderness
12. She responds sexually and emotionally to him.
13. Her social status is restored.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Yet Another I Don't Know What to Write Blog

Here's some ideas:

Do the Morning Pages, as suggested by Julia Cameron.
Look into a new genre - Point Horror springs to mind.
Concentrate on another income stream!
Continue the review of all the writing text books I've read - there are 6 huge notebooks full!

I didn't get far with the workbook - but I am wondering about morning pages. The idea is to get up and write 3 pages every day, about anything, in order to clear the mind.

But then what happens to the commitment to morning exercise? If it doesn't happen first thing, it so does not happen!

Incidentally, Julia Cameron encourages one to play around - artist's dates, she calls them. So I wasn't wasting time with Wordle after all.