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Sunday, 27 October 2013

I announce my attendance at the Festival of Romance, accompanied by industrial scaffolding and three make-up teams from the B&Q Make-Up School

Well.  Not long after last week's blog post winged its way into the ether and blasted itself onto your eyeballs (I'm working on a way to deliver it straight to your brain. I've got as far as wrapping it in marshmallows and delivering it direct to your digestive system, but that's not working out as well as I would have hoped), there was An Announcement. That Announcement was the shortlist for the Reader Award for best Romantic Read at the Festival of Romance (which takes place in a couple of weeks in Bedford and, dear reader, I shall be in attendance!  My attendanceosity was placed in a certain amount of doubt for a while, much as I was placed in a certain amount of debt, but borrowfication and a lenience on the part of my bank manager (just as well because I also had to buy a washing machine) has enabled me to go) - and here is an exclamation mark which you may apply to the part of the above sentence, plus parentheses, as you see fit. !

For Hubble Bubble is upon that list. And here, for your edification and delight, is the rest of it! The list I mean, not Hubble Bubble, if you want to read that you can buy it. In fact, I think my bank manager may insist on you buying it...

Reader Award for Best Romantic Read - for contemporary set romantic novels

Just for Christmas by Scarlett Bailey (Ebury)
Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson (Avon)
A Cornish Affair by Liz Fenwick (Orion)
Hubble Bubble by Jane Lovering (Choc Lit)
Is This Love? by Sue Moorcroft (Choc Lit)
Playing Grace by Hazel Osmond (Quercus)

And I truly don't mind who wins the actual award in question, since everyone on this list is absolutely delightful and should definitely win.

And, since I am attending said Festival, I may be found there on the Saturday morning, 9th of November, in Waterstones, from 11 - 1, signing copies of said book, so, you know, if you're there and you want to see me (warning, probable bed-hair and a cross expression and possible half an egg sandwich hanging out of the side of my mouth) then do come! Usual caveats regarding poking with sticks apply.

I am also doing a reading at the Royal Baby Shower 3.15 - 4.30 on the Saturday, which, since the Gala Dinner is at 7.30 really doesn't leave me much time for scraping off some outer layers and replacing them with cleaner, tidier ones, does it? Three hours? I'll have barely got started. Note to self, take extra-sharp scrapers...

This sort of thing. Gets in the nooks and crannies a treat.

My make-up artist, at work.

And, for now, it's half-term, so if you'll excuse me I have to go and inflate and deflate my body in order to get into the dress (also borrowed) I wish to wear to the dinner.  It's only a couple of weeks away and I can't remember where I put the pump or the spare nozzles...

Sunday, 20 October 2013

You can't put your toffees in a headless man; the Festival of Romance; no need to panic but it's almost Christmas.

 Several things have been lurching like thought-zombies to the forefront of my consciousness today, and I couldn't choose just one from the crowd of Walking Dead Ideas to lay before you in all its rotting gorgeosity, so I thought I'd just splurge.  Yes, today is to be a day of splurge-blogging, whereby I shall just splat all those ideas and thoughts into this blog and let you pick amid the eyeballs and organs to find inspiration and/or dinner, depending on how you are feeling today.

Firstly: during our RNA Chapter Meeting (I still love saying that. It makes me sound a bit Hell's Angel I always think. Maybe I could get a Romantic Comedy Novelists' jacket, all black leather with 'Born to Pun' on the back in studs) we were discussing the trend for the headless torso covers, by way of objectification of women.  I am not in favour of headless torsos, I should say, because I like my men with eyes. I'd worry about my readers fantasising about my heroes not having tops to their heads, and being able to use them as convenient containers for things like toffees. Containers with amazing (and somewhat unlikely) abdominal formations, admittedly, but still.  Men are people too, they are not something in which to put your left-over sweeties.

This sort of thing is what I mean.  I make no judgements about the book behind the cover, but this cover just screams to me of a hinged forehead concealing a conveniently large interior into which to place cotton buds or sherbet lemons.  Incidentally, this picture came from here, a place where no cover is safe from ridicule, and quite rightly so.  Is it just me, or does it look as though his torso is trying to crawl up his body to a place of safety between his shoulderblades?

Also, I have finally...FINALLY, made arrangements to attend the Festival of Romance! I always intended to go but, you know, food and everything, but I WILL BE THERE! In Bedford! Oh, I'm not doing anything, obviously, just walking around and seeing things, but I do get to go to the Gala Dinner thingie, which means I'd better start canvassing all my friends of a similar size in order to borrow a frock and shoes. But I am looking forward to it, and also seeing lots of my writing friends and chatting to them, so, it's a good thing.

Another Thing, there are only 10 useable days left in October, this means that Christmas is looming ever closer, like a big cloud of panic, wrapped in bacon. However, I always love Christmas because it's one of the few days in the year when I actually know what we're having for dinner and don't have to rake around in the depths of the freezer for something which will, when defrosted, turn out to be the owl pellets left over from last term.  Also my birthday is in November, which is a day on which nobody is allowed to throw things at me or poke me with sticks, so it's almost like having a holiday really! Isn't it?

I think I'd better go and write another book now...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Beverley Lit Fest, where I was allowed without my Special Restraints....

Well!  Yesterday I was on a panel... no, that doesn't mean that someone finally snapped and nailed me to a door, it means that I was at Beverley Lit Fest, sitting on a chair.  And sitting alongside me were Rhoda Baxter, fellow Choc Liteer, Val Wood, who was 'chairing' us, and Melinda Hammond, so it was all very glam and professional and everything.  We even had proper radio mikes! Normally when I do this sort of thing (well, maybe not this sort of thing, it's more usually a small room in the back of a shop) I'm just told to 'speak up, really loudly, and don't mind the dog, he wanders off half way through anyway'.  But no!Proper voice-loudening devices were worn!  And there wasn't even a dog!  Just lots of lovely people who asked real questions and laughed and didn't say things like 'well, who's she then? I've never heard of her,' during the talks.

I'd never been to Beverley before. Although on a map it's only about half an inch from where I live, when you translate that into real miles it's quite a long way. And it's up and down all the way which, even in a car, is a bit offputting, it gives me the impression that I'm going into space, just really slowly.  But it seems a very nice place, and I'm sure I'll go back, especially now that I know they've got an M&S which is, let's face it, the really important thing about a place. Cultural sights of interest are all very well but sometimes what you really want is a good-quality sandwich and proper pants.
Some of it, I am led to believe, looks like this

And we talked about writing romance and being published and stuff like that, and it was very grown up and I only did one obscene gesture and I didn't mention incontinence or wee or anything even once!

I think everyone may have forgotten my last debacle and I may gradually be allowed into polite society again.  Like a Victorian lady coming slowly out of mourning...

Sunday, 6 October 2013

'I Don't Want to Talk About It' - my sticky middle. A writing one, not my personal one. And I talk about it rather a lot...

It may come as a surprise to those of you who drift through this blog, that I am, actually, a writer.  A real one, with books published and everything.  And Being a Writer means that, occasionally, I have to sit down know, write things.  There's only so long that you can breeze about, all trailing scarves and flakes of chocolate falling from your scarlet lips, muttering "I am an artiste, I should not be burdened with earthly things...' before flopping down onto the sofa to watch 'Cash in the Attic' whilst calling it research.

So I have been doing just that.  The writing thing, I mean, not the wafting and the chocolate and the Cash in the Attic thing. And I have to report, rather proudly, that I have now officially reached the half-way point in 'I Don't Want to Talk About It'.  The characters are all there (one main character, Daniel of the biker boots, chaos tattoo and long black coat, has only just appeared in person, having been mostly there in thought alone up until now), the story, a woman whose ex tried to come between her and her identical twin and who is now cautiously attracted to a man with a stammer and a niece who is obsessed with her hobby horse, is settling down and beginning to turn the corner into the build up to a rather nasty reveal which turns the whole thing upside down.  So far so hoopy.

But I have become afflicted, people.  And all those of you who've ever tried to write a novel will start to nod, sympathetically I hope although maybe with an element of schadenfreude, at the following words.  Sticky Middle.

Oh, I wish it were as delicious as the name - and this picture - implies! But no! Having a sticky middle is rather like having one's own personal middle becoming sticky - there is a lot of explaining to do and one has to be rather careful how one goes about it in order not to provoke cries of revulsion and horror from nearby onlookers.

I know what has to happen, it's a romance, so girl gets boy and they go off to, if not a happy ever after, at least a happy for now ending. But, before that there is a lot of sorting out to do... And because there are a lot of complicated motivations, unreliable narrators and downright lies going on, it's got to be carefully sorted so that the reader (hopefully you) knows were everyone is coming from, why they behave the way they have, and why there are no miraculous solutions or 'cures.  Without rushing, and ending the whole thing at around the 50,000 word mark (most of my novels are about 80,000), or dragging out the whole 'going out, coming back, trying on new dresses and shoes and cooking lovingly described meals' and then ending abruptly with a quick ' he lied, she lied but they all love each other now, so that's all right isn't it?' (You may think I am exaggerating, but I have read books like this! Yes, really! Books that people paid real money for!).

So, in brief. I need to write another 40,000 words (yes, that is quite a lot. Yes, it is more than two pages. Yes, I completely understand that you once had to write 500 words when you sent that Round Robin to your family at Christmas and that it took you all day, and I feel your pain, but perhaps you can imagine writing 80 times as much without ever mentioning Your Nathan and his incredible success with the trolley collection service).  They have to tell the rest of the story, but not too quickly, not too slowly and they have to be amusing and yet tear-jerking too.

Oh sod it. I'll just go and watch 'Cash in the Attic' a couple more times. For inspiration, you understand, because I AM an artiste, you know...