Thursday, 13 December 2012
Henriette Gyland. Set in Norfolk, with a delicious old flame who may not be all he seems, this is mystery at its chilling best. Henri is one of publisher Choc Lit's latest authors. Choc Lit is a rising star in the publishing firmament and I'm impressed by how their novels appear on the shelves and tables of all the leading bookshops - yes folks there are thankfully still some left. Choc Lit is right up there with the big boys. They produce romance, but always with a twist, sometimes humorous, sometimes with a mystery and a murder or two, and always readable. They do this by selecting their books by tasting panel - 80 odd readers around the world take part in choosing which of the many manuscripts submitted to them reach the shelves. Many thanks to Waterstones in Uxbridge who hosted last night and what fun it was to be surrounded by books and friends, and to be buying and holding a beautifully produced novel like 'Up Close' with its super atmospheric cover of mists and mystery combined. I understand Henriette has already been long-listed for a Crime Writers' Association award and good luck to her! I really can't wait to get into this book and am locking it in a cupboard until Christmas so I can sit down in front of a log fire and read it from cover to cover. Pure. Heaven. Pictured above at the launch are Evonne Wareham, a fellow Choc Lit author and Henriette (on the left).
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Well, yes Winter Wonderland is, if you take it for what it is - one great big glorious fun fair. Don't expect it to be elegant and refined, it's a blousy barmaid laughing too loudly and showing her knickers, and all the better for it! We went yesterday, 8 December. There were dire warnings on the web about how crowded it would be. Yes, it was insanely busy and the rides were overpriced. However, you can enter and soak up the atmosphere for free and still have a fabulous time. Entrance costs you nothing, you only pay for the rides and food which wasn't bad quality - we had an excellent rich hot chocolate. We saw fabulous live bands includingThe Houndogs - check out their website. They are three brothers - Robert, Ian and David Wilson - playing terrific rockabilly who kept us all warm as we danced in the freezing cold to Elvis, Johnny Cash and other high energy favourites. They played like demons, and were lovely to chat to after. We bought a CD for a fiver, the best bargain of the day. As well as the bands there were gallons of mulled wine, expensive at £4.20 a cup but we needed it to chase away the cold. The fairground rides were spectacular just to look at, a huge big wheel, a small big dipper (if that isn't a contradiction!), a lovely traditional helter skelter and this star-shaped ride flinging people round and round in the sky.
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Why not pop over to the Pocketeers blog today where we are counting down to Christmas with a heroine for
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Singapore cabbie returning nearly 1 million dollars left in his cab would be remarkable in most cities, but not I feel in Singapore. I had a wonderful visit there a year ago to see my husband who works on cruise ships. The ship was in dry dock and I flew in the night before my husband became free. I therefore arrived on my own, after a 12 hour flight, at night time. When I came up the escalator from the MRT station at Tanjong Pagar I had no notion what to expect. If I had ascended at Green Park station at midnight looking lost and confused I doubt whether I would have felt at ease. Nor I imagine would I have been approached by not one, but two people, separately asking me if I needed help. But that's what happened in Singapore. I was politely and kindly directed to my hotel and had the feeling, that had I asked these kind strangers would have probably carried my cases and bought me coffee too! During the week we were there, we walked the length and breadth of the streets at all hours during the day and felt 100% safe. That's why I'm not at all surprised at this story. It's also why I'm set my latest police procedural story in Singapore. I'm over 10,000 words in and half in love with my Chinese detective Danny who looks remarkably like Aki Fukutomi on the recent Junior Doctors TV series. It's looking gooooood!
Thursday, 22 November 2012
I have been contacted by the wonderful Ian Howorth. He is working on a truly exciting project to create a Brighton based music video involving two local bands. They are collaborating to perform Ella Fitzgerald's "When I Get Low I Get High". The bands being 'The Speakeasy Three' and 'The Swing Ninjas'. Proud Ballroom formerly the Hanbury ballroom click here for some great photos on flickr, a superb venue pictured above which has finally fulfilled its potential as a performance venue. The music video will be very much a performance based one, centred around the collaborating groups but also focusing on the 20 or so lindyhoppers and jive dancers taking part, not to mention the 80 or so extras on top of that. Production wise, they've already secured all equipment, venue is paid for, make up, hair , costume and art dept is all sorted as well, so things are progressing well. They are shooting on motion picture cameras (Sony F3 and FS700) and will be employing industry standard grip equipment to allow a truly cinematic feel (think track and dollies and cranes) Here's where you come in. They've set up a kickstarter page to help them reach the last bit of funding they need to pay for a few expenses and catering for the shoot. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/344516429/the-speakeasy-three-are-doing-a-music-video If you could consider digging (deep as possible - sausage rolls don't come cheap you know!) in your pocket to help them along you will contribute hugely to a fantastic independent project promoting lindy hop and dance, which brings so much pleasure to so many people. Some of my happiest moments have been spent on the dance floor and I set my book 'Tango at Midnight' partly at a tango class. I've supported this film project myself as I love the whole idea, and can't wait to see the finished video. Good luck to all involved! By the way, it's a marvellous song, sung by the incomparable Ella who was one of my father's favourite singers.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Kate Jackson Bedford who writes pocket novels and is a prolific short story writer for D C Thomson's People's Friend has invited me to take part in THE NEXT BIG THING blog event. This asks a series of questions about what is coming next in our writing life. So, here goes..... What is the title of your book? Yikes I don't have one yet! One will come to me, probably out of nowhere. Singapore will probably appear somewhere in the title as that's where the book is set. How did you come by the idea? I like books that pitch opposites together. My lady detective, Jessica is no nonsense, kick arse and likes to break the rules. Her new Singaporean partner, the rather gorgeous Danny plays by the rules and does his best to keep her under control - a difficult task. What genre does your book fall under? Definitely crime but with some romance to spice it up. Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie? That's a difficult one because Danny's Chinese and I don't know many Chinese actors. If I want to feel inspired though, I'll always think of Ryan Gosling, so here's a totally gratuitous photo of him! Sandra Bullock would play Jessica really well. Will your book be self-published or traditional? I'm aiming it at a traditional publisher but whether they'll accept it, who knows? How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It's a work in progress that I started for National Novel Writing Month at the beginning of November. It's going too slow to be completed by the end of the month but I hope perhaps to have it half done by then. Who or What inspired you to write this book? A trip to Singapore to see my husband who was working out there made me fall in love with the place. It's an ultra modern city which has somewhat engulfed the past. But I like history and much of the book is set around the older parts of Singapore, in the shophouses of Chinatown. I also loved the stray Singapore cats, all very well behaved and clean and tidy like the rest of Singapore. They have the most curious fan shaped tails and my hero Danny has saved a lovely one upon which he dotes. I shall now be passing THE NEXT BIG THING baton on for 27 November to Hywela Lyn who writes for the Wild Rose Press and to romance writer P D Strange both of whom I met at the Festival of Romance. Over to you ladies....
Monday, 19 November 2012
Gilli Allan with her books 'Torn' and 'Life Class'. She writes romance which is out of the ordinary. Then there was Caroline Bell Foster with her Carribean set books such as 'Saffron's Choice'. Also, poet Oscar Sparrow and Emma Calin who writes hot police romances. We were a wonderfully mixed bunch - thank you for your company! In addition, we did readings at a local coffee bar and in the shopping centre and there were costumed characters from historical novels both in Bedford and at the historical afternoon tea. It was a fabulous opportunity to network, great fun and I hope it will become an annual fixture as it has grown so much since last year. Many thanks and congratulations to Kate Allan, Festival Director for achieving so much.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Saturday, 3 November 2012
Yes folks, 'The Sanctuary' has been shortlisted in the Best Short Romance category and I can't wait to go to the awards ceremony. I am in very good company as other excellent writers and friends such as Liz Harris (The Road Back AND Evie Undercover), Phillipa Ashley (Miranda's Mount), and Talli Roland (Build A Man) are also nominees. There is to be a glittering awards ceremony - HOORAY, any excuse to buy a new dress and shoes!!!! This will be held at the Festival of Romance Gala Dinner on Friday 16 November. If you haven't already booked for the weekend, do take a look at the website here where you can get details of all the fantast events such as a Romance Readathon and a Meet the Authors for coffee and cake where I will be present (I'm never far from a piece of cake!) I hope to see some of you there! Do let me know if you're coming, it should be a fabulous weekend.
Friday, 26 October 2012
I have not posted for a while because I have been on holiday. As usual, I have found that being in a new place has inspired me with ideas for a new novella. I visited Kalkan in Turkey which has its own feral cats which are protected by the government as are the dogs which wander over the town as if they own it. thepocketeers.blogspot.com.
Sunday, 14 October 2012
I crawled out of bed this cold, wet, Autumn morning NOT a happy bunny. For today I have to do edits on a story I am finding incredibly difficult. I thought it was going fine, my editor thought not - so I have to make a major plot change and rewrite. That and a couple of rejections lately have made me feel it might not be worth carrying on writing. Then, there was a Google alert. It took me to this, completely unsolicited review of my book The Sanctuary, on the review site Paperbacks and Frosting by Juliette Brandt. "This was an absolutely wonderful story. Everything about it made me feel like I could go out and do something to improve my life. I really enjoy stories like this that make you feel inspired. I wanted to go out and start taking care of animals even though that’s really not something I would have ever seen myself doing before! I felt like I was in Kimberley’s shoes and I could feel how the stress of everything else in her life was weighing down on her. This story was short and I read it in one sitting, but it was definitely worth the read. If you’re looking for something that you can read to escape your own life for a while and something that will make you feel better and more inspired to go out and do the things you want to do, then pick this book up.........I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for something sweet and quick to read. I’d love to read more by this author." That, to an author, is like getting a shot of adrenalin straight to the heart. It is so nice to know that someone has read and enjoyed one of my books and taken the time to tell people. I cannot tell you how it has inspired me to get down and tackle those edits. Juliette's review which you can read in full here, came at just the right time to turn things around for me. I can now go off with a lighter heart knowing that with some hard work and hard editing it will all be worth while!!!! Thank you so much Juliette and all you hard working reviewers out there.
Saturday, 6 October 2012
Okay, so I admit, I am addicted to the Great British Bake Off. For those of you who haven't succumbed yet, this is a TV programme where 12 home bakers are pitted against each other in a variety of tasks from baking an innovative upside down cake (I liked the one with passionfruit myself) to making the best rum baba. This week the bakers had to construct a gingerbread house but were instructed to come up with something sensational. The winner built a Roman colosseum of over 100 separate biscuit pieces glued together with caramel. If you can't get enough of the programme, here is the link to watch clips from all the series
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
I recently saw a report in the paper about Mini, reputedly the smallest puppy in Britain. Pictured sitting on an iphone (you can see her by clicking this link) she isn't much larger than a mouse. I am constantly thinking about writing and what makes a story something we want to read and this tiny dog made me think. Of all the millions of puppies which are born every day, why did this one make national newspapers? Obviously because it is different. I am at present critiquing a manuscript. It is well written, it flows, there are some nice touches of humour, some excellent observation, some well drawn characters. But, it has one major problem and that is that neither the characters nor the plotline is remarkable. These are the sort of people you might have as neighbours and what is happening to them is what could happen to anyone any day. In other words it is too reflective of real life and generally people read to take them away from real life. They are seeking something out of the ordinary. This is such a shame because the writer has real promise. They just need to make their story a bit more like the story of Mini. The reason that Mini the tiny puppy is remarkable is that she is different. If you can make your characters special, different, do extraordinary things, be extraordinary people you will be more likely to reach publication. Last night I watched the excellent British drama, 'Accused' written by the superb Jimmy McGovern, a BAFTA award winning British scriptwriter. Beware if you have recorded it to watch later, because there are spoilers coming up. In last night's episode the person we were most rooting for, a young prisoner who was ill rather than bad ended his life in his cell - a total shock, I didn't see it coming. His suicide had major repercusssions for the prison guard, a woman, who had asked one of her colleagues to keep the boy on suicide watch. The programme had me on the edge of my seat because the characters were remarkable. Faced with difficult situations, they made extraordinary decisions - in the end the prison officer released a new young prisoner in her charge because she finally cracked and believed that the prison, was an unsafe place. One thing you must do however, is make these untoward actions believable. The boy who took his life had lost his mother, become ill and ended up in prison. The prison guard had been betrayed by her colleague and the system. Both characters had motives for acting the way they did. Build your situations and characters carefully so that their actions fit with their personalities and echo their situations. This series involved crime and high drama. But even the gentlest of romances needs to have something out of the ordinary to make it remarkable enough for the reader to keep turning that page. Make it real, but make it remarkable too...
Friday, 31 August 2012
(here's a short history from Wikipedia). I've heard of this dance so many times but have shied away mainly because learning a new dance is thoroughly daunting. You just know there's going to be that horrid bit where you look like a an elephant in a tutu with a great big sign, 'learner dancer' strapped to your wobbly behind. Well, not exactly, but that's how it feels. Then there's the other yikes bit where you sit in the corner hoping, just hoping that someone might come and ask you to dance. Well, now that I am a lady of a certain age I've got to the point where I swallow my inhibitions and just go and grab someone myself. I was told by a very nice guy last night that he appreciates being asked so that made me feel better. The two of us hopped and jumped (sadly due to my inexperience, not at the same time) but had a nice chat too - dancing is so civilised and such fun. He goes to lindy hop because of the music. If you want a taste of what lindy hop is all about, check out this you tube video I defy you not to smile while you're watching this. All the moves in hold are lindy hop. The thing I like about this video is it shows that this sort of dance goes on all over the city, off back streets, behind ordinary residential homes people are just out there having fun, keeping fit, meeting each other and enjoying themselves. Dancing is a great antidote to all the negative stories in newspapers. It's also fantastic for beating writers' bottom. Needless to say, I shall be out dancing again tonight - this time up in South Kensington at a nice, easy ceroc do.... PS the photo above is of my daughter dancing with last night's most fabulous dancer, she was great at it although she didn't think so (she doesn't read my blog so I'm safe posting it!)
Thursday, 23 August 2012
London Drum gives you a flavour of what's happening. "Swing and jive to the sounds of the big band in an authentic 40s-style dance night at the National Army Museum. Ladies can get themselves made-up at the 1940s make-up stand, and gents can treat their girl to a sepia-toned souvenir photo. So get your dancing shoes on, defy uncle Adolf and party through the Blitz!" So, we'll all be going a bit Betty Grable My own book, a romance set in the present day, The Sanctuary can be bought by clicking this link.
Wednesday, 22 August 2012
Rivoli Ballroom. The Rivoli shines like a twinkling diamond in the pile of dust and crowded dwellings that is South London. In the otherwise unremarkable area of Brockley you can spot guys and gals on a Saturday night in 40s and 50s gear sweating out on the street trying to recover from their exertions. Buy yourself a ticket for a mere £15 and hear a live Big Band, get a lesson (beginners VERY welcome) and then dance until you drop till 1am in the morning. h ttp://www.therivoli.co.uk/
Friday, 17 August 2012
Hi Independent publishing has always been tough. But, we have a fantastic independent publisher in Britain which has won awards and is run by an amazing woman, Hazel Cushion. She owns Accent Press, and one of their imprints is Xcite. Now, here is where you should look away if you are of a sensitive nature because Xcite produce erotica. They had been doing so before 50 Shades of Gray was even a twinkle in its author's eye. Xcite have produced a new range called 'The Secret Library'. This is designed with a strong romantic element in mind, basically they are romantic, whirlwind, crazy love stories with the bedroom door open. The print books have wonderful velvety and discreet covers. Here's a peek at 'The Thousand and One Nights' which contains three novellas. Please note the print novella is called 'The Thousand and One Nights' but, as that is also the title of the three-novella anthology, it has in addition been issued as a single title under the title 'Dark Nights' (because the hero is Sebastian Dark geddit!). here's the UK Amazon link to download it and the US Amazon link and here's the cover.
Thursday, 16 August 2012
this website which gives photos. Fascinating as there was still building work going on and although I and my husband wandered around (here's a photo of him standing outside)
Friday, 3 August 2012
You, though, can buy The Sanctuary from Astraea press by clicking this link..... I thank you!
Thursday, 2 August 2012
I'm no great fan of sport so I thought the Olympics would leave me cold. However, dinner with friends reminded me that everything, even sport, can be interesting once you understand it. A friend had been to see the cycling road race & regularly visits the Tour de France. He explained the intricacies of the sport and now I am fascinated by it. The really interesting thing is the peleton - this link courtesy of Wikipedia explains it. Basically (and here I apologise to anyone who REALLY knows what they're talking about because this is very much a layman's explanation) the peleton injects a very strategic element into cycling. Peleton means little ball in French and is related to the English word pellet. It refers to the process by which cyclists will bunch together in order to cut down on the amount of wind resistance. Cyclists in the middle of the little ball or cluster of cyclists can experience 40% less wind resistance, thereby resulting in them getting a rest from the amount of work their muscles have to do. Then, when it is their turn, they will return to the front of the cluster and take their turn dealing with the wind and having to cycle harder. The extraordinary thing about this process is that opponents will make this formation together, benefitting everyone until that is the time comes to seek victory. However there are times when opponents do not act as suspected. I understand that what happened the other day when Mark Cavendish failed to win an expected gold medal for Britain and said, "it just seems like most teams are happy not to win as long as we don't win." As occasionally happens in life, we witnessed a serendipitous moment in relation to this. We were at the seaside recently and were mesmerised by a shoal of fish where the front runners would swim for a few seconds, then zip to the back of the group. This ritual happened over and over again during the ten minutes we watched them. I can only assume that they were practising a similar formation to racing cyclists, fascinating. So, now I know more about it, I am finding cycling a fascinating sport. Something I had never imagined it would be!
Wednesday, 1 August 2012
I have read many reviews of 50 Shades and by far the best is this one by Victoria Coren in the Guardian. Look away now folks if you are of a tender disposition because I am going to quote from Victoria's review when she says that, 'this is a book that puts the "b" into anal.' She also points out tongue in cheek that one of the main reasons the abusive Christian Grey is meant to be so attractive is his constant urging of Ana to eat! Buttermilk pancakes, syrup, bacon. Yeah Victoria, you're right that would do it for me too! A straw poll of the two ladies at present reading 50 Shades in the office also reveals that his million, squillionaire status and his tendency to do outrageously extravagant things like whisk Ana off in his private jet might have something to do with the fact that he still appears attractive whilst doing the sort of thing which would make your toes curl. Same straw poll came up with Bradley Cooper as a possible tip to play the piercing-eyed Christian. I do hope it isn't Bradley, gentle-eyed gorgeous hero of a number of delightfully funny comedies. I don't want him to turn into some control freak wierdo! For those who do not know of Victoria Coren by the way, she is the sharp-tongued, champion poker playing, journalist and presenter sister of the wonderful Giles Coren. His spiky column in The Times is one of the best things about the British weekend. I actually came to read both brother and sister through firstly being hugely entertained by the columns their father wrote in Punch decades ago. Alan Coren used to do a fabulous satirical column on Idi Amin which I would sneak away from lessons to read in the library at school. Here, courtesy of Wikipedia is a quote of his about Margaret and Denis Thatcher visiting the Falklands: 'Does not even the most sexually democratic of us, among which number I unquestionably count myself, not choke back the tiniest sob at the sight of poor old Denis stumbling along behind, struggling pitifully to hold his trilby on, as the PM strides across Goose Green with the wind managing only to make her hair look more Medusan, and the very mines praying she will not crush them under-heel?' The Corens - great fun, lovely to see the kids carrying on where their esteemed father left off. You thought for a moment there I had forgotten to plug my book. No such luck! Here goes, my book The Sanctuary, totally unlike 50 Shades, has nothing that would offend even your dear old maiden aunt. You can buy it by clicking this link.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
The Sanctuary. Her exact words were, "I was touched by your story, to the point of tears." Now that could just have been because it was so bad, but I hope she was crying in a good way. I love a good cry at a book or at the movies. I remember sitting in a cinema and wailing over "West Side Story", it's heart wrenching after all that exuberance - singing, dancing and falling in love when it all comes crashing down after the shooting. Then, of course, there was the bit in Bambie where his mother gets shot. That was so sad. Plus, don't even mention 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', where they go and find that poor cat, soaking wet in the rain. Here's a link to that scene which still does it for me, every time! What films or books have made you cry I wonder?
Akram Khan's totally moving choreography remembering those who couldn't be with us, reflecting a somewhat darker side of terrorism which occasionally blights our wonderful city.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
The Sanctuary at seaside locations. By the way, it's still on summer sale at only .99 cents or .77 pence from Amazon. There's a donkey in my story which is about a girl who inherits an animal sanctuary. The donkey in the photo above is one of a group which gives children rides on Weymouth beach and I am indebted to writer Laura James who tells me that the lady who owns them has won awards - they certainly looked very happy as they mooched up and down the sands.
Sunday, 22 July 2012
the link. The Sanctuary is described as a warm and uplifting story in the review. What's more, my publisher Astraea Press are having a summer sale and all books are only 99 cents or just .77p. So, if you haven't already got your holiday reads on Kindle etc, do go and have a look today. Astraea do sweet romances, romantic suspense etc. Perfect beach reads. Enjoy!
Friday, 20 July 2012
Romantic Novelists Association conference this year. However, one of those who did attend, Kate Jackson Bedford has posted up a really useful blog about one of the talks. Maggie Seed who is the editor of My Weekly pocket novels gave a presentation about what she looks for in a pocket novel. I have had six pocket novels published by My Weekly and People's Friend. These include 'The Sanctuary' a romantic mystery with a rescue dog and a troubled teenager thrown in. This is on the special low price of .77p for the summer!!! Buy now! Like all genres, to keep up with the times, pocket novels are changing to include more mystery, murder and mayhem but essentially they are still heartstopping romances. Kate's blog gave a very good round up of what they're looking for in submissions. They are a wonderful antidote to Fifty Shades of Grey! You will also find tips at The Pocketeers Blogspot. Happy reading and writing! PS - the photo above is of Douglas Booth and outrageously good looking young actor who has been the model for many of my pocket novel heroes. Sigh...
Thursday, 19 July 2012
Giselle Green - an incredibly talented writer - invited me to a writing retreat with her and a couple of friends. I was sceptical. How on earth would I cope somewhere which had no connection to the internet, no telephones and no TV. Did such places still exist on earth? Well, they do and they can be fabulous for a writer. It's an opportunity to get away completely. Most retreats are either in the country or by the sea. Our retreat is in amongst wonderful gardens and here they are. my book, The Sanctuary at this retreat. If you're sitting in front of a PC people never feel you're working and writing time can be so easily curtailed by a phone call or other work and pressures. We each have our own little self-catering room so that tea and coffee is on tap whenever you want. It also means that one of us cooks and invites the other over in the evening. So, after an isolated day writing, reading and making notes we can get together for a gossip and a laugh. I'm a very early riser and do my best writing between 5 and 10am but by then I'm pretty pooped. When I'm on retreat I can have a nap and then be ready to write again in the afternoon. I simply can't follow that pattern when all the demands of house, children etc crowd in on me at home. I had a truly wonderful time. I managed to iron out a lot of the difficult areas of the crime story I'm writing and now have only 10,000 words to go till the end. What's more I made a new best friend while I was there. That's his picture above. He's a red siberian pedigree cat with an amazing yowl of a miaow, and the skinniest cat I've ever seen. Anyhow, I should be off writing those 10,000 words now so, goodbye and if you get a chance to go on retreat, grab it!
Saturday, 14 July 2012
'The Sanctuary' I have an inheritance, a family mystery and a marital breakdown THINGS HAPPEN. Make things happen in your writing and you are sure to be published. Good luck!
Thursday, 12 July 2012
www.astraeapress.com Or from Amazon Books: www.amazon.co.uk If you enjoy it, please review it on Amazon or leave a favourable comment on Astraea's facebook page. Thanks! carolmaclean.blogspot.co.uk
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Festival of Romance, yaaaayyyyy! In November in Bedford, this is a wonderful chance to meet and chat to romantic novelists. I'm really looking forward to it!
Friday, 6 July 2012
E L James worked in television first so had a background in PR and had built up a sizeable following on social media networks when she supplied her book initially on a print on demand basis. This meant that once it started selling, the publishers knew it was worth taking a risk. Then, her book was originally written as fan fiction, a genre I had to explain to my dear mama. This, I told her is where people cannot get enough of their favourite genre. Fan fiction is a sort of homage to things people already love like Dr Who or the Alien films. 50 Shades was a homage to the phenomenally successful Twilight series and so neatly jumped on that bandwagon. It was very clever of E L James to put together two protagonists - Christian who is a millionaire and into some seriously adult stuff with Anna who is somewhat virginal and unworldly. The two would be unlikely to get it together in just the way that the two protagonists in Twilight had their seemingly insurmountable difficulties. This is ideal for a searing romance. Give your couple huge differences and then find a way to get them together, it's classic Romeo and Juliet stuff. Why erotica? Erotica is already selling big time particularly with the advent of Kindles. E L James was extremely savvy to pander to that trend even though authors such as Kitti Bernetti , Lucy Felthouse , K D Grace and Kay Jaybee have been writing and selling it for years. I explained to my aged relative that 50 Shades is therefore a perfect storm which has come together in our interesting age of social networking, self-publishing and the advent of bookselling in the supermarkets so that you can now buy erotica with your frozen vegetables. I haven't read 50 Shades myself but have read reviews of it, good and bad. The amazing thing for me is what a fantastic story there is behind its success. Even that respected newspaper The Independent is running an article claiming 50 Shades might start off a baby boom. If you'd written a novel about a woman who decides one day to write a smutty book that would be read around the world by grannies and twenty-somethings, readers would never have believed it!
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Huffington Post, to the New York Daily News is focussing on his marital difficulties. His fiftieth just made me think of how many of his films I have thoroughly enjoyed. My favourite with an 86% rating on the film site Rotten Tomatoes is Collateral. Cruise plays the mean, driven, psychopathic but at the same time incredibly attractive contract killer Vincent perfectly. The best thing about this film is the juxtaposition of Jamie Foxx's sweet, shy, thoroughly decent taxi driver, Max - a decent guy pitted against a ruthless one who has nothing to lose. Max, who is kidnapped by Vincent to act as his driver during a spree of killings has everything to gain. Right from the start, you are desperate for Max a warm but weak man to become stronger and conquer Vincent. It's a classic fairy tale like George and the dragon or David and Goliath. True, Cruise's character is the attractive, smooth-talking, brisk alpha-male and Max the mild-mannered taxi driver is totally beta in comparison. But as the story unfolds, Cruise's character forces Max into standing up for himself. Max NEEDS those lessons in life so badly and you know that without Cruise exploding into his life he would never have found the impetus to stand up for himself, grab the girl and attain alpha male characteristics himself. The film was an object lesson in good story telling. Above all, as we're saying Happy Birthday to Mr Cruise, it was a great acting tour de force from both men. A thoroughly satisfying use of two hours of my life which is all you can really ask from a film. As a writer, (my latest is The Sanctuary published by Astraea Press) this film was an object lesson in characterisation with two leads at totally the opposite end of the spectrum. I could watch it again and again. Thank you Tom, and Happy Birthday!!
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
The Sanctuary available here from Astraea Press were jotted down in a Moleskine. Team them with a bunch of coloured pens and I am in stationery heaven. Long live the Moleskine!
Sunday, 1 July 2012
There was some truly wonderful art at the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London's Piccadilly which I visited recently. These paintings evoked emotions and kickstarted the imagination - wonderful fodder for a writer. Hope you like them. It goes on until 12 August so you still have time to visit. by clicking on this link.
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Absolutely delighted and jumping up and down to say that Jan Sprenger, a wonderful writer I am lucky enough to number among my friends has been placed in the prestigious Novelicious comp! Competition was extremly stiff. There were 200 entries and 20 were shortlisted. I read many of them and the standard was very high. Jan has won the Public Vote Runner Up place for 'Vicki's Work of Heart'. I am not surprised in the least that Jan did so well, she's bright and bubbly and has a terrific sense of humour that comes out in her writing. Hers is a very original voice. I remember her talking to me about this book and it's always fascinating to hear about something in the early stages and then see it come to life. Well done Jan!!!! The champagne's on me next time we meet. You can read her brilliant entry here.
Monday, 25 June 2012
People often ask writers, where do you get your ideas from. Occasionally, you can just be lucky... It happened to me and my husband this weekend. We were popping across to London to visit friends and as we came into Victoria we spotted the most beautiful train. Cream and brown with little lamps at the windows. It was the stately, legendary Pullman carriages of the Orient Express. We sprinted around to the platform to find it had just arrived from Venice (sigh). Now I know the Agatha Christie story, 'Murder on the Orient Express,' but my husband turned to me and said, 'what about Love on the Orient Express as a book title?' Immediately I could see all sorts of possibilities and was desperate to look inside. Luckily, the kindest, nicest Orient Express train manager was standing there and he showed us inside and let me take photos. Each carriage - they have names like Lucille, Ione and Perseus - has its own individual design featuring hand wrought marquetry, lush carpets and beautifully upholstered seats. The train manager, gave us a potted history of the train and a deluxe brochure to take away. My dream would be to go to Venice but at £2000 a pop it might take some saving up to achieve. Until then though, I can always write a book about it now I have the research material...