The writing life is hard. And some parts of it are harder than others. [Yes, I know. Cue violins?]
When i do talks for readers, they regularly ask me, “Where do you get your ideas from?” I answer. Of course I do. But for me — and, I suspect, for a lot of other writers — the challenge isn’t finding new ideas to write about. My challenge is turning the zillions of ideas fizzing around my brain into words on the page. Thousands and thousands of words.
If you’ve read any great books recently, the chances are that you raced through thousands of words in a few hours. Perhaps you missed out on several hours’ sleep because you just had to keep turning the pages? That’s really pleasing for the writer. But it’s also daunting. Because you, dear reader, may well want another book by the same author. Now. Immediately.
It takes a few hours to read a great book. It takes months, or years, to write one.
My discovery of the week: hearing is a crucial sense. A novel needs a soundtrack just as much as any movie does.
I’ve always known that the sense of smell is important when I imagine the worlds of my novels.
But I’d never previously thought much about sound, though I savour it enormously in other people’s writing. (There may even be another blog on that!) I think I did put it in, mostly. Well, a bit. And not just conversation, either.
But somehow I’d forgotten when it came to my latest novel. So over these last few days I’ve been on a roller coaster of exploration and experiment – and revision! Continue reading →
The first thing my agent ever said to me was, “Readers hate first person narrative.” I had sent her a thrilling escape-from-the-bad-guys romantic suspense set in Greece under the Colonels. And, yes, it was told in the first person.
Still she’d read the thing. And then taken me to lunch.
So I nodded politely and murmured that it seemed to have worked all right for Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, P G Wodehouse and Mary Stewart.
“Yes, but they’re great,” she said impatiently.
I couldn’t deny it.
“What you need to do is forget all this ‘I think, I feel’ stuff. Readers won’t buy it. Concentrate on what people DO.” Continue reading →
By pure serendipity, this last week has turned out to be all about editing.
It wasn’t supposed to happen. I had finished the substantial edits needed on my new book, The Prince’s Bride. I felt they made the story hugely better. The publisher’s editor accepted them. The book went up on Amazon for pre-order. It should all have been done and dusted.
As some of our readers will know, Sophie and I gave an editing workshop — complete with black panther — at the RNA Conference in mid-July 2017. (Fantastic conference, by the way.) About 70 people attended. That’s a lot — we normally limit our workshop numbers to 12!
Our topic was editing to add Sparkleto our writing in order to hook and hold readers. Since we only had an hour, rather than our normal 2 full days, it was more of a twinkle. But it was fun. And we hope that those who attended found it useful.
We certainly did. It taught us some salutary lessons which I’ll share in a moment. First, let me introduce you to Rose… Continue reading →
A dozen published and aspiring authors attended the HOOK & HOLD (Sparkle1) full-day workshop in London on 17th June and they loved it! Sparkle2 — BLING IT UP! — will be held in London on Saturday 21st October. Bookings are now open. Details on the flyer below
A few years ago, in company with a Very Distinguished Author Friend, I ran a session at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference on The Romantic Scene. It was a delight. We had a ball. Our participants were enthusiastic, completely engaged. They enjoyed it and talked about it for ages afterwards. Yet it had been one of the most thought-provoking tasks I’ve ever tackled.
If the Libertà hive ever needs a household god, we may well plump for the Roman Janus, god of beginnings and transitions. Janus usually appears with two heads. That means he not only tells you where you are, he can tell you where you’ve been, too.
Janus is also the god of gates, doorways, passages and endings, the sort of god who is useful for showing you, and us, the way.
So here we have a god of beginnings, middles, endings. Readers like all of those, and they’re pretty useful for writers as well. At Libertà, we’ve come to think that Janus is probably our guy. Continue reading →