Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Harlyn Bay

I ventured onto the beach this morning to take a photograph of the cave. (see previous blog) Sadly the sun wasn't shining, but hopefully the above picture paints a clearer view in your mind's eye of the cave where I set a scene in one of my chapters.

This is my Brittany spaniel called Harlyn, enjoying the beach at Harlyn Bay. We named her after our favourite place in Cornwall, and as you can see, she's the same colour as the sand! Harlyn also plays a part in Lies and Linguine. She belongs to my hero, the troubled but talented artist, Daniel Cavanagh.

My other dog is called Brook. She's a springer spaniel but never stays still long enough to have her photograph taken! I've taken a few pictures of her this Christmas break, but they're either of her rear end disappearing into the distance as she runs after a stick, or she's swimming in the sea. Harlyn on the other hand, is a natural born poser!

Being days away from a new year, I believe it's time to mull over some changes/resolutions which I'd like to achieve in 2011. I don't so much want to change anything major. If anything I'd like to accept who I am and what I do. I'm a writer - I write.

But it's so easy to compare myself with other writers and find myself wanting. How do some writers turn a fish soup into a rich warming bouillabaisse? They add ingredients to a story which I wish I'd created. But I know this doesn't really matter - writers should never compare. How boring would bookshelves be if we all wrote alike? The bottom line is, I love the process of writing and become engrossed with my characters, their storyline and more importantly - my hero. My life merges into theirs, they become 'friends' which I can communicate with through my pages. It's so important to feel that connection. To be best friends with my protagonist and to have a crush on my hero makes dialogue so much easier to write.

Now my manuscript for Lies and Linguine has been sent away to my agent, the new year heralds the introduction of new friends in Sugar and Spite, my second novel. I'll fall in love with a new hero and I'm relishing the thought! What is his name? What will he look like? What will he do for a living? How will he and Erin meet ? (my new protagonist - I love that name) It'll also be a lot easier to use a possessive apostrophe without the name ending in an 's', like Tess, my previous heroine!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas in Cornwall

This Christmas the family are spending ten days by the sea in Cornwall. We've spent the last 15 years visiting this beautiful house over-looking Harlyn Bay. (far right of photo) As I type, I'm sitting by a crackling fire, mulled wine by my side and a box of Turkish Delight within arm's reach! If I can't find inspiration here, there's no hope for me!
I always think it's so much easier and more descriptive if a writer describes a place where they've visited. This morning I walked my spaniels along the beach. We stopped at the cave in the cliff which my protagonist, Tess, used to play in as a child. In one scene, Tess re-visits the cave whilst struggling with the dilemma of staying with her sick boyfriend or guiltily leaving him for the man she's fallen in love with. Guilt has a lot to answer for. How many lives have taken a different direction to the one which was desired, because of guilt?
The final scene to Lies and Linguine also takes place on this beach. I shan't elaborate - just hope that one day it will be published and you can read it for yourself!
I was thinking that if my novel was one day published, I'd like to print a few photographs in the back of the book. I read one of Freya North's novels where she'd done the same. I loved looking at the places she'd written about. It added a new dimension to the experience. With that in mind, on the next sunny day we have here, I'll be taking my camera down to the cave.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Mixed Blessings

Oh my goodness! What have I done?
I received an email this week from a relatively small publishing company. They wanted to meet and talk in January about publishing Lies and Linguine. I was over the moon and informed my agent immediately. As I'm new to all this, I needed advice from a professional. She wisely advised me to let them know that I now had an agent who was intending to put my novel out to larger publishing companies mid-January, but that I'd be happy to meet them anyway. This I did.
Unfortunately, this changed everything for the publishers. They said that they'd want me to sign the contract in January in order for my book to be published early 2012. This would be before my agent had tried to find a larger publisher who might be interested in my work. She obviously couldn't promise to find me a better 'deal' and could I take the chance at losing a publishing contract?
The bottom line is that my agent had faith in my work and I have faith in her. I've made the decision to see what 2011 brings with her help. I've said no thank you to the offer and they have now offered the contract to their next choice of author.
Very nerve-racking, but very exciting too.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Relief With A Hint Of Pride.

Well I've done it!
As another writer succinctly put it last night, I'm nolonger a public speaking virgin! I stood up and read my first chapter of Lies and Linguine to a crowd of novelists, poets, muscians, publishers and members of the general public. In the darkest recesses of my brain, I was half expecting to be pelted with rotting fruit and booed off stage. However, after hearing the first tinklings of laughter from the audience, at what I'd hoped was a witty remark by my protagonist, I started to relax, and actually enjoy it.
To be congratulated by talented writers was incredibly encouraging and a little seed of something strange stirred inside. Was I a little bit proud of myself? Remember the Grinch when his heart grew a little bigger and it shocked him? (Hopefully that's the only thing I have in common with the green creature!)
So now it's back to the final editing before my agent (still can't believe I'm writing that) puts it 'out there,' mid-January. PLEASE let 2011 be the year..........

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Beautiful But Disruptive

No, I'm not talking about my spaniels! It's the snow which is causing havoc - and not just to motorists.
My first public reading was cancelled due to the fact that the snow prevented a full show of staff at the venue, so they closed the building early. It can't be helped, and at least I have longer to rehearse. I'm not sure if my silly spaniels are good critics or not as they listen to me read out loud in my writing room. On the one hand they don't criticize or suggest a re-write, but on the other hand, they invariably fall asleep and start snoring whilst I'm still mid-flow! I don't think contemporary women's fiction holds their attention.
Talking about not holding dogs'/people's attention, when I do read my first chapter at Antenna, do I suggest the men sidle off to the bar whilst I'm reading romantic women's fiction, or insist that they stay put and perhaps learn how a woman's psyche works?
No you're right.
They'll be happier with a pint of beer!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

First Public Reading! Ahhhh!

I've worked hard for my dream and thanks to a wonderful agent called Juliet, it has come true. Thank you Juliet for having faith in my work.

I know that finding an agent isn't a ticket to publication. Having read Natalie Whipple's blog, I know how difficult it is in the publishing world right now. Plus, you only need to read the papers/writing mags etc. But I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to find a professional in the business who sees something in my work, and that they're willing to put their name next to it.

I'm a member of two writing groups in Nottingham. Tomorrow, Nottingham Writers' Studio are holding a Word Of Mouth event at Antenna. I am reading the first chapter of Lies and Linguine, and although I'm very proud, my stomach flips each time I remember that I'm doing it! Will the public like it? Will the male audience yawn as I read contemporary women's fiction? Will it stand up against the wonderful other writers who are reading?

I suppose all writers have moments of doubt. But reading my work out loud for the first time is a bit like the nightmares I have when I'm naked in public!

I hope my next post is letting you know that I didn't fall over my words or even worse - chicken out!!!