....welcome to my blog on writing, reading and living in London ......

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Singapore Cats

I am at present writing a romantic suspense with a hero, Danny, who is a Singaporean policeman. I had a wonderful week in Singapore last year and saved up loads of memories. One of the things I saw behind the lovely Scarlet Hotel where we stayed, was a backstreet with loads of healthy stray cats. My detective hero is a good guy, and has taken in a stray who helps to stop ease his loneliness (see what I did there guys, I made him a super caring but lonely guy - you're just desperate for him to meet the woman of his dreams!). I have yet to find a suitable oriental name for my kitty character, but it will come. The most amazing thing about the real strays I saw was they had these small stubby wierd little tails. Some of them were fan shaped - most odd! I used to take a stroll behind the Scarlet Hotel very early in the morning and one day, I encountered the reason why the cats gathered there. A young woman, would pop into the local supermarket on her way to work and pick up food for them. The cats would gather really early as they knew exactly where she would feed them, and a little crowd would wait for her. I understand there is a programme of sterilisation in Singapore so that the street strays don't get out of hand. All the same, they were lovely to look at because unlike some of the strays I have seen on the streets of Istanbul who were very ill and quite distressing to behold, in the main the Singapore strays were pretty healthy. I understand the stubby-tail thing is genetic, they are just a species of cat in the way that gingers or jellicles or manx cats are a species. Anyhow, here's a photo of a cat like Danny's.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Lucky 7 meme

Wahay, I've been tagged by super writer Kate Jackson Bedford to do the Lucky 7 meme. Here's what you do......: go to p77 of your current work, 7th line down, and paste the next 7 sentences. Then tag 7 others. This is open to adjustments. If it's a short story make it 7th paragraph etc. So here we go, my book is set on a desert island near the Seychelles (hence the gratuitous photo of a lovely palm fringed beach). ' Business had always provided him with a diversion, he loved the cut and thrust of it but he never had time to stop and stare. But stare he did, at Nancy. At her coffee coloured limbs, like a newly frothed cappuccino. At her long undulating hair which cloaked her shoulders. At her feet where she had kicked off her sandals to feel the soft moss underfoot and squeeze her pretty toes into the greenery as if she were part of it whilst she wrote her notes as if her life depended upon it. He thought of the flowers which covered and surrounded the sanctuary that was her hut. None of them glowed like she did.' Thank you Kate. I now have to tag 7 others. Here's 3 to start with, anyone else who'd like to have a go, let me know and I can go and check it out. It's fun and it does force you to put a microscope to your work - not always comfortable, but a good exercise in self examination for writers! So, I'm now tagging: http://carolmaclean.blogspot.co.uk/ http://jeanbullswritingblog.blogspot.co.uk/ http://ros-readingandwriting.blogspot.co.uk/

Ryan Gosling and Tumblr

It is difficult to get to grips with all the different social networking sites, so one needs some sort of incentive. As far as I'm concerned the gorgeous Ryan Gosling has got to be a pretty good reason, so I have finally managed to sign up to Tumblr only really so that I could view this wonderful Tumblr site entitled, 'Is Ryan Gosling Cuter than a Puppy?' I have to admit I STILL don't understand Tumblr, I tried to create a post myself but couldn't find anywhere to save it. Nevertheless, every time I go to that site it makes me smile. Puppies and Ryan Gosling, what could possibly be a better combination?!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The London Book Fair

I've never been to this mammoth exhibition of books and everything to do with them. But, as the Earls Court Exhibition Centre is only down the road and costs are quite reasonable at £30 for a 3 day ticket I thought I'd give it a try.

It was EXTRA-ORD-INARY!!! Truly, I've never seen an exhibition so massive, I got lost just looking for the loos. It's incredibly high tech and a free app downloaded to my phone (get me, all technological) gave me floor plans, lists of exhibitors, timings, the whole kit and caboodle. I needed it because without it the whole thing would have been difficult to navigate. Getting lost was all to the good because I stumbled over things I might not have aimed for. Trying hard to avoid such fripperies as jewel encrusted pens (just beautiful) and super wibbly-wobbly postcards with pictures which change as you walk past them I finally ended up at the stand of Andrews UK.

It's difficult to categorise them apart from to say that they are distributors, but so much more than that. For they will take an author's book and format it for any electronic reading device on earth. In fact they said if someone found one they didn't know about they would put their technical boffin hats on and jolly well work out how to format a manuscript so that it would be downloadable onto it. That could be particularly useful if you want to sell in as many countries to as many devices as possible. As I spoke to people at the Fair who had come from places as far flung as Nigeria and Haiti that could be a distinct advantage as I guess different devices sell more or less strongly in different localities.

I along with many others have pondered the great debate as an author of whether to publish oneself or not. What I do know is that it is very time-consuming if you are non-technical to put your books up there, find a cover, present a finished product that is pretty near perfect given all the glitches that can creep in. They do not do a full editorial process although they do a bit of copy-editing if they see obvious spelling eg mistakes. If you go with them, of course they require their cut and you as the author do not get 100% of the revenue but to my mind it would be worth it rather than having to do the technicals myself. Many established publishing houses use Andrews so often you will have downloaded one of 'their' books without knowing it.

It's a strange new world, that of the e-book and to paraphrase Shakespeare and Huxley a brave new world - at least you have to be brave nowadays to function in it. Still, I think with outfits like AUK, things can be a little easier for authors who want to get their e-books out there.....

Friday, 13 April 2012

Guest blog by American author Joanne Tropello

Today, I'm really pleased to welcome to my blog, American author, published with Astraea Press, Joanne Troppello.

Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels. She has published three books: Shadowed Remembrances, Mr. Shipley’s Governess and Bella Lucia. Currently, she is working on her new writing project, The Paradise Redeemed Series. Joanne is married and loves spending time with her husband and family. She enjoys interacting with readers at The Mustard Seed Blog

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Hi Joanne, what Makes a Love Story Great?

Plain and simple, the formula for a romance novel is man meets woman and they fall in love. Of course, they run into various obstacles along the way, but there is always a happy ending. However, what sets a romance novel apart and makes it irrefutably memorable?
Think about one of the most dramatic love stories through the ages—Romeo & Juliet, young love of the forever kind. Yes, this story ended tragically, but it shows the ingredients of a great love affair. Even death could not keep them apart.

Let’s look at a more contemporary example, The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. Two young people experience a passionate summer romance and life threatens to pull them apart. The heroine goes away to college while the hero enlists in the army. The hero wrote to her but she never received his letters and she thinks he doesn’t want to be with her. She gets engaged to a man from an affluent family and finally, circumstances bring the hero and his heroine together again. They marry and have a family, living a good life. Eventually the heroine has dementia and her loving husband stands by her, trying to help her remember the happy life they had. Even when she has lost her mental capacity, he stands by his wife. They die together in their sleep. Now that is a true testament of an everlasting love affair.

So how do you create such an unforgettable love affair that breaches the limits of the run of the mill romance novel? You start by thinking outside the box. The formula is the same, but you need to make the plot your own. I write inspirational romance, so I bring an element of faith into my stories. In my opinion, that adds the cement to hold the romance together. If a couple wants to weather the storms of life, they need a higher power to give them the foundation to succeed. I believe that foundation is God at the center of their relationship.

Now, I don’t want to get too preachy here—and I never do in my books either because I believe in real life. Not everyone believes the same way or has a strong faith in God, yet many people experience a great love affair in their lives. So, even if you don’t add an element of faith to your novels, you too, can write a memorable love story.

Your hero and heroine need to love each other unconditionally. That is real love. They love body, soul and spirit, every part of each other. A great love affair is one that begins in the realm of friendship or at least intellectual or emotional connection, before any inkling of physical intimacy enters the picture. Passionate connections are wonderful, but passion eventually fades. When it lessens, what remains? That agape, unconditional, love remains. It’s a love that knows no bounds. They overcome hurts and offenses and learn to forgive. It’s not about winning, but learning to compromise and serve one another’s needs first. A great love affair turns from friendship into a passionate love with your best friend. Physical intimacy obviously comes into play, but depending on the type of genre you write in, will determine the amount you show the readers.

Your novel may not span the length of your hero and heroine’s years like in The Notebook, but you need to convey the same sense of long-term commitment. Your readers must get the sense that your characters are in it forever. However, if you write a sappy romance novel, most readers won’t appreciate that and it won’t be a memorable love affair. In real life, we face problems. Make your novel real and add reality to your story. If you do that, it will be believable and readers will relate. Own your own story. If you believe the love affair you are creating, your readers will believe it too.

Currently, I’m enjoying the release of my newest book, Bella Lucia, and I’m busy making the rounds in my blog tour. I mentioned two great love stories—Romeo & Juliet and The Notebook. What is your all-time favorite love story?

Joanne Troppello
Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels. She has published three books: Shadowed Remembrances, Mr. Shipley’s Governess and Bella Lucia. Currently, she is working on her new writing project, The Paradise Redeemed Series. Joanne is married and loves spending time with her husband and family. She enjoys interacting with readers at The Mustard Seed Blog.

You can purchase Bella Lucia by clicking here

After being married for six years, Gwen and Lucas DeStefano are dealing with the pain of a childless marriage and trying to trust God for their future. On a weekend getaway to the Poconos, they attempt to relax and renew their marriage, but witness an event that turns their lives upside down. They see a body dump in the woods while they are on a hike and their lives become entangled in a web of suspense and God’s ultimate blessing in the form of a little baby girl, named Bella Lucia. Will Gwen learn to trust God with childlike faith and wholeheartedly accept His plan?

Det. Marc Abrams is assigned to the murder investigation of Sabrina Reysen and he will do whatever it takes to find her killer. He has his suspicions and is pleasantly surprised when he meets Samantha “Sam” Collins, the attractive US Marshall assigned to protect one of the witnesses in this case. Will Det. Abrams find the killer before it’s too late and is the attraction between him and Sam strong enough to survive?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Helllooooo, I'm back!!!!

After ages and ages away, I'm finally back again in the blogosphere. I know that isn't world shattering info for most of you but it's a huge step for me because I've been away so long. I've been doing other things like writing, mainly. But also helping to set up another blog of pocket novel writers called thepocketeers.blogspot.com.

I have really missed doing my own blog though, so here's a new post to start me off again and my mission is to blog regularly and hopefully about interesting stuff! So, here goes.... Over Easter, I visited Jane Austen's house at Chawton in Hampshire. It really is a fantastic small museum which has been beautifully looked after. The village it is in has barely changed since Austen's time and being inside that superbly proportioned house surrounded by things like a patchwork quilt which was worked by Jane's own hand really did make her era come alive. I was struck by how modest the house was in comparison to the people Jane often wrote about. Here was not a country estate, or even a small stately home. It was just a reasonably generous family home which she shared with her sister, mother and family friend. Even though she was earning something from her books, she still had to accept the loan of this house from her brother and moved many times in her life, being at the mercy of others to house her and her dearest relatives. There was no room for dances or grand dinners and Jane must have felt very much the poor relation compared to her brothers some of whom had done really exciting things around the world in the navy or had been given the advantages of a large country estate.

I often think that seeing where someone lives tells you so much about them. The thing I loved most was a tiny little wooden table at which Jane purportedly wrote. This was placed next to the window and it was lovely to think of her scribbling away and watching the world pass by her door - a world about which we still love reading today.

Here are two photos of such personal things that I thought they were rather touching. First of all some babies bonnets lovingly and delicately worked by ladies of the day, all the more poignant because Jane died unmarried and childless. Secondly a patchwork quilt, still vibrantly colourful with fabric that may have been worn by Jane herself.