Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Bad Blogger

Okay, so I've been a bad blogger. That's because I received a 4th set of revisions, so decided to get my head down and do them. So today I sent them back to Mills and Boon again. Just as the lovely editor I'm working with emailed to let me know she was off now until 4th January.
So I am hoping that when she returns from holidays, mine will be the first email she opens!
In the meantime I will work on the other story I've been writing Pelican Cove. I've signed up at Sassy Authors for their EditPalooza course for the month of January. It fits really well, because editing is exactly what I need to do right now for this story.
So in the meantime blog friends, lets look forward to 2011, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and here's hoping 2011 is the year some of us get The Call!!!!!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

What's in a name?

So today I want to consider character names.  How do you pick yours?
I am a little sad and keep notes on all the Mills and Boon/Harlequin books I've read.  One of the things I keep notes on is the names.  Now I read mainly Medicals but also some Romance, some American Romance and some Modern.  And I have a little list of the favourite names.  For heroes it is Max, Nick, Mac, Luke, Jake and James.  For heroines Maggie, Francesca, Izzy and Annie.  And GULP I've used one from each list in stories that I've written.
This year, during Romance is Not Dead it was one of the things I noticed about the first chapters.  The character names.  Sometimes, they really threw me out of the story.  When I see a name, I can hear myself saying it in my head.  But, quite often, during Romance is Not Dead, particularly in Historicals and Paranormals, I came across some strange names.  Some I couldn't even have pronounced no matter how hard I tried.  Whilst I am sure there was a good reason for the names, it really threw me out the story.  I stumbled every time I read a name that I couldn't even begin to pronounce and I lost the flow of the story.
It is also interesting that this year one of my comments from the New Writers Scheme, run by the RNA, was that the person giving feedback on my story hated my heroine's name.  And she told me.  Even though she didn't know why.  And she particularly hated it when my hero shortened the heroine's name.  Her name was Melissa by the way, occasionally shortened to Missy.
So I have to put my hands up and admit that I know that sometimes I am put off a story by a name.  Particularly when it reminds me of the school bully, or someone I really don't like.  And no matter how good that story is, it will never be a keeper for me.
When I was writing my latest story I had a name hurdle.  My heroine's name didn't sit quite right.  Then one day, as I typed, I just changed it mid chapter.  And suddenly the story just felt right.  Has that ever happened to you?  Tell me how you feel about names.  And if there are any you really, really hate!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


The revisions are finally finished and have flown off to Mills and Boon again.  But I really felt as if I couldn't post a picture of the flying books for a THIRD time.  That would have been really lame.  So, instead I found a nice tranquil picture, to try and show a nice, calm, patient, waiting attitude.  But those of you who know me, know that that's never me in million years.  (Incidentally, this is actually wallpaper.  Would be a nice feature wall in a room somewhere, but since my beloved has just decorated our bedroom with a lovely red feature wall - pictures on facebook! - I think I might not be able to suggest it!)
This is me...
So, now comes the question of how long you wait.  Incidentally SO appears to my favourite word in a manuscript, Rachael Johns found a multitude of them that had all passed me by... Therefore I have to say thank you to her and my lovely critique partner Nancy (AKA Sheandeen on eharlequin) for their help in the past week. 
What do I think about the revisions?  At first, I have to admit, I wasn't sure.  After all, I was tearing 'my baby' apart and putting it back together again.  At one point I really didn't like my characters anymore, and would have hated to be stuck in a lift with them.  However, things moved on and I learned to love them again and I do think the story is stronger.  But is it strong enough?  Here's hoping.
The competition for today is HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WAITING?
Most of us will have heard of Soraya Lane, who got the Call recently after around 8 months.  Maisey Yates had a 20 month wait all in.  However, the lovely Wendy S Marcus, returned her revisions on the Monday and got the Call at the end of the week!
I know that another blogger Janette has been waiting a while too.  So the question is everyone, how long has it been?  Move over, there's plenty of room on the waiting bench!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Light Relief

For those of you who don't already know I've just received my 3rd set of revisions for my medical romance and am going to have to and retreat into the Bat Cave for a while.
Meantime Heidi Rice got me crying this week when she put a clip of 'The Way we Were' on her blog, I haven't even seen the film but the last seven minutes had me crying buckets.
So for some light relief I decided to compile a little list of my favourite films.  Now not all my favourite film actors even feature in some of these films, so hats off to Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage who are nowhere to be found.  I am also about to reveal myself as a true eighties girl. 
I tried to compile a list of ten, failed miserably, and only got it down to 13 by amalgamating some together.
I make no excuses for some of the stuff I like, I only know that if any of these films are on the TV there is a strong possibility I'm going to sit down and watch.
So, in no particular order, here goes
  1. Back to the Future - everybody loved Marty McFly and I really, really wanted a shot in that car....
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark.  One of my absolute favourites, with one of the best lines EVER "Snakes, why did it have to be snakes?"  I loved Indy, and none of the other Indiana Jones films ever matched this one.
  3. Star Wars.  Because I'm a Sci-fi geek and I always will be.  I could watch this again and again and again.  And oops!  there's Harrison Ford again - how did that happen?
  4. Star Trek First Contact.  Do you see a theme here?  Captain Picard is my all time favourite Star Trek captain and I do think I should be cast as his daughter.  But this film had the best baddies ever - The Borg!  Even the name sends a chill down my spine.
  5. E.T  I told you I was a sci-fi geek and I do have son called Elliott.  The reason I chose this picture is because there is a ride at Universal Studios where you climb on Elliott's bike, go up in the air, and ET appears in your basket!  It is magical and I felt a tear in my eye as I sat next to all the kids on that ride.  And I really loved the glowing finger...
  6. Dirty Dancing.  "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" yet another great line, delivered by a man who will always have a special place in my heart.  The tunes in this film were beyond fabulous and no, I didn't like Jennifer Grey, but then again, that's because she was dancing with MY man!
  7. Pretty Woman.  What a fabulous story.  How beautiful, vulnerable and fiesty was Julia Roberts in that part?  She nailed it!  And I really, really loved it when she back into that shop and gave them what for, go girl!
  8. Beverly Hills Cop.  Okay so I know that Victoria Beckham has now nicknamed him Beverly Hills C*ck because he done the dirty on her friend, but this film was magical.  The theme tune was fabulous and even my six year old hums it.  The one-liners were great too.  Watched Daddy DayCare the other day and he had me in stitches for that too, but this was definitely the best.
  9. Die Hard.  The common theme here is that none of the follow up movies have ever trumped the first ones.  Bruce Willis was the perfect hero for this, reluctant, hard ass and definitely fit.  Everyone should have a Bruce in their corner when the chips are down.
  10. It's a Wonderful Life.  Because I love Jimmy Stewart and I loved the fact he was so despondent in this film, absolutely rock bottom and he learned the value of life.  I loved the message behind this movie.
  11. Musicals - The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music and Singing in the Rain.  Because I spent hours and hours watching these as kids and they don't make films like these any more.  And because I played the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz at dance school.  Remember Donald O'Connor running up that wall in Singing in the Rain, and the fabulous scene with Gene Kelly dancing in the rain - do you know how much of a perfectionist he was and how many hours he spent practising that?
  12. The Slipper and the Rose.  Does anyone remember this Cinderella story with Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven and really snide singing.  Well I loved it!  Every second of it and I don't care if you are all screaming with your heads underneath your pillows.  We are all allowed one really bad film on our lists and this is mine.
  13. White Christmas.  So I know that I've done musicals but this one is special too.  And I have to watch it every year because I love schmaltz and this one does it to perfection.  And do you remember the little girls on pointe at the end, who were WAY to young to be doing that??
Okay, so that's me.  So what gets your vote?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

How do you pick your setting? Or how I discovered Pelican Cove

So I had a rough idea of what I wanted my next story to be about.  The only thing was - this medical had a little twist.  And this twist required the story to have an American setting.  So, since I don't live in America, how was I going to pick a setting?
Then it appeared, via Murder She Wrote.  Shown at present every afternoon on British TV.  Cabot Cove.  Perfect.
Then I discovered that the Cabot Cove set at Universal Pictures was also where they filmed Jaws and that kind of put me off.  Then I made another discovery - although Cabot Cove was set in Maine, some of the outside settings were actually filmed in Mendocino, California.  So that made me think a little harder and do a little research.
And here's what I found

Gorgeous!  Absolutely gorgeous!!  And just perfect for my setting.  So I did a little more research and found out about the nearby medical facilities, what was available, what would fit with my story.  I found out about the surrounding area and the beautiful nearby housing stock.
so I'm loving it.  Perfect.  My characters have the perfect setting for falling in love.  And now I find out about the local industry so I know what kind of accidents can happen that my characters can deal with!  Then it happens - I find out about the Pelicans.
The pelicans that are native to Mendocino valley.  And now I have my name for my fictional setting PELICAN COVE.
Now, just be glad I didn't want to tell you about the research I did for The Venetian Doctor, all set on a cruise ship!
So how do you pick your setting for your story?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Early NaNo Writing Month

It's time to admit I've been lazy.  It's very nice to have a story sitting the midst of Mills and Boon somewhere.  But this is the point where I should have been rapidly writing the next one.  And I haven't.  So it's time to get my head down and start writing.  Last time around I definitely had a slow start.  It took three attempts to write the first chapter, probably because I kept starting in the wrong place.  However I finally had something I was happy with.  This time around I've planned my storyline, worked out my conflict (well some of it anyway), did my lovely character profiles (courtesy of Kate Walker) and have a good idea of what I want to achieve.  I have also spoke to my lovely critique partner and my blog friend Wendy Marcus as this story is set in America, so I have two lovely American nurses who can point me in the right direction when I have any queries.
I have also been HEAVILY distracted by New Voices.  (Note to slap the back of my hand and stop going on to the website everyday).
So it's time to set a goal.  So I've decided to set October as my own personal NaNo Writing Month.  Yes, I know that I'm a month early, but this is a good time to start.  I'm going to aim to have the little word counter moving in an upward direction on a daily basis.  Hopefully by the end of the month I will (almost) have a dirty draft and spend the next few weeks editing after my critique partner has given me her thoughts.
It will also help to keep my mind off of Mills and Boon land.  So if I get a YES I can scream and shout and say, Yes I have written something else.  Or if I get a NO I can smile sweetly and say "Well that one might not have worked, but what about THIS one."
Time to get writing.  If you see me anywhere, tell me off and send me back here!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

HELP! Disc Assessment

Now this may be completely unrelated to writing but someone out there has to know how to help me. I'm getting interviewed for a new job and have to go through an 'enhanced selection process' Part of this is carrying out a DISC assessment. I will be sent an online password and have to do the assessment on Tuesday, after 24 hours the assessment closes and you are no longer allowed to complete it.

I've never done one of these and need any advice you can give me. Is this where they find out I'm secretly nuts, have true OCD tendencies and am a stalker?? I've looked online but am getting more and more confused by the minute. Another friend completed one for a job interview and did it 'from the heart'. She says she will never EVER do that again and advises me to find another method.

So can anyone give me some advice? Please?

And does anyone wish it was the 22nd already so we knew who the final 10 are in New Voices?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

New Voices - What have I learned?

So it's only been two days but I feel as if I have been on a huge learning curve. I am absolutely determined to read every single entry and give it a grade.  Here's what I've learned so far.
  1. Everyone who has submitted is very brave.  I have the utmost respect for anyone who has put their work out there for the world to comment on.
  2. Now I understand the premise of having a REALLY good first line.  Something that makes you sit up and take notice.  Something that throws you into the start of the story straight away.  I'm not too good at first lines and it's definitely something I could work on.
  3. Funnily enough, now I understand the premise of having a really good last line, or 'hook'.  I've got to the end of some chapters and screamed NO!  I want to read more!  I've also read some last lines that totally intrigued me and made me want to turn the page.  I also read some last lines and thought HUH?  is that it?
  4. Backstory dump is a disease that is widespread and is in danger of becoming an epidemic.  I always find it so much easier to see this in someone else's work than my own.
  5. Getting the hero and heroine on the page together as soon as possible is the most important element of the story.  No excuses.  I don't want pages and pages of blah blah blah I want to see them reacting to each other and I want to see the conflict.
  6. I'm not a huge fan of historicals or paranormals but I've read a few chapters here that I've really enjoyed.  I mainly only buy historicals from Michelle Styles and Michelle Willingham as they live in blogland quite a lot, have lots of good advice and show support to all aspiring writers.  But I've found some chapters that have sparked my interest and made me curious.  That can only be good.
  7. My crit partner Nancy, helped me immensely with my punctuation and grammar, she practically held my hand.  Some submissions could do with a little hand-holding themselves.
  8. Some chapters SPARKLE.  I don't want to show favouritism but Rachael and Jackie's ROCK.  You know when you read something and just think Wow! well if you haven't read them yet ladies, then go and hunt them down.
  9. Names.  I want to give comments on what I've read, I want it to be constructive criticism or praise.  I also want to vote honestly.  When I registered I wasn't sure if people would know who had given them what % vote, and I don't want to offend some of the brave soldiers, so I am currently voting under an alternative pseudonym that I've used when writing.  And to be honest, now I feel a bit crap about it.
  10. Now  I really feel for the Editors when they read through the slush pile.  In a way I think I can understand.  You don't know what genre or style you're getting, or the standard of everyone's writing but you read anyway.  Then if something stands out from the crowd you just KNOW it.  And it terrifies me, because I'm not sure if any entry I put in would do that.
So there we go, after two days that's what I've learned so far.  What about you?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Ten things you didn't know about me

OK, so I'm still waiting.  And I think I could be waiting a while.  The editor I'm working with will have been busy with the medical fast-track all through the month of August, and she is part of one of the teams for New Voices, Romance is Not Dead which starts on the 6 September.  So I think that will keep her pretty busy too.
So in the meantime, here is an idea blatantly stolen from Jane Holland.  So here it is...

Ten Things You Didn't Know About Me

  1. I wrote my first book age 8.  It was called Shirley and the Magic Purse and I was very proud of it.  My favourite part was the full page describing an army of mice all with names beginning with M....
  2. I am an absolute sci-fi fanatic.  Especially Star Trek The Next Generation.  In my dreams I am Captain Picard's daughter, which means I get away with anything.  But I enjoy all forms of sci-fi and yes, I do have a Star Trek outfit which I have been known to wear on occasion.  But the biggest giveaway is my son, Elliott, who was named after the little boy in ET.
  3. I had a spat with J-Lo's manager.  My friends and I had tickets for TFI Friday in London and managed to blag our way into the bar where Chris Evans did all the interviews.  J-Lo was a guest (it was before she was HUGE) and came with an entourage that almost filled the already packed bar.  Her manager was standing behind me and was a hideous, frantic woman.  As J-Lo walked in and sat down next to Chris this woman was wittering behind me in my ear "Is she okay?  Is she okay?  Do you think she's okay?"  The bar was free at TFI Friday's and I'd had a few.  I couldn't hear the interview for this daft woman so eventually I turned round and said "OF COURSE SHE'S BL***Y ALRIGHT, SHE'S ONLY WALKED FIVE STEPS AND SAT DOWN.  NOW SHUT UP SO I CAN HEAR!"  I think the thick Scottish accent flummoxed her and she shut up.
  4. As a child I was a great singer and had star parts playing Joseph in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat and the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.  Today I could clear the room by singing the first few lines of any song.  I am AWFUL.
  5. I am a learning junkie.  I trained as a nurse, then did a BSc degree at night school while working.  Then I trained a health visitor and did a BA degree.  I started an English Literature degree with the Open Uni.  Then did a Masters.  Finally, last year I did a few extra modules in the Masters in Public Health, Epidemiology and Communicable Disease, because I thought they would be interesting.
  6. I've been diabetic since age 8 and do 4 injections a day.  I was a boring teenager and never did any of the rebellion stuff and have always did my injections the way I should.  I had a wonderful Diabetic Liaison Nurse who gave me a reference to do nursing, then spent the next few years trying to persuade me to be a Diabetic Liaison Nurse too, as there aren't any in Scotland who actually have the condition.  I love chocolate and as long as I don't use it as my sole food source there is no reason I can't eat some.  The experience of being a patient is VERY different to the experience of nursing someone with diabetes.  And I firmly believe, that no-one can know everything.  I generally keep well, but like anyone can have spells where things are difficult.  For a control freak like me that can be hard, however I've been blessed with 2 healthy children, so I must be doing something right.

  7. This is my dirty confession - I am a Radley-a-holic.  I can't resist them and firmly believe that a girl can never have too many Radleys.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
    8.  I spend an absolutely ridiculous amount of money on books.  I am a book addict.  I subscribe to the medicals, but buy everything else I see recommended anywhere.  In the last two years I've catalogued every Mills and Boon/Harlequin book I've read.  That's 223.  Taking notes on conflict, black moments, story arcs.  The bonus is that I registered for Gift Aid at the local Oxfam, where I donate all my books.  In the last six months I've made them over £300, so even though you can't find a surface in my house without books on it, I can smile.
    9.  I have absolutely NO patience.  A bit of sad confession for a mother of two and a nurse.  It's kind of strange because as a health visitor I had lots of patience for other people's children and as a nurse I had all the patience in the world for my patients.  But put me in queue and I'm guaranteed to flip my lid.
    10.  Finally, I really, really want to write Medicals and hope that one day, the dream will become a reality.
    Last thing, I want to say a HUGE congratulations to Joanne Coles and Suzanne Jones who both submitted to the Medical Fast-track and received requests.  GO GIRLS!  (Jo also gave me an idiot's guide to learning to link names in blogging, so if it hasn't worked....)

Monday, 16 August 2010

It's away Part 3

So the revisions are done and have flown away to Mills and Boon land.  And I know they've landed because I've had a lovely email to tell me.  So what now?  Because this is the time that the crows of doubt usually land.  And they've been known to heckle me quite a lot.  So I'm looking back through my lists and thinking "Did I capture what they want?" and "Will I be in with a shot?"
Then there is the really big question - WHAT IF THEY HATE IT?  What if they think we've given her two chances, she hasn't delivered, let's just ditch her.  In the meantime Harlequin has a medical fast-track until the 24 August.  If I hadn't had this opportunity I would have submitted. 
Then there is the New Voices contest.  Would I be brave enough to submit a chapter for the whole world to read?  In the meantime I have decided to plan ahead.  I have last year's story to rewrite.  This time with a POV.  I've done the first three chapters but will continue with the rest.  It's good practice in rewriting and editing.  I am also doing Shirley Jump's online class From Good To Sold.  Halfway through and it's proving quite inspiring.  It really nice to read the whole classes homework and the changes she suggests.  I am also planning towork on something else and try and put a synopsis together.  So this is me trying to be calm while I'm waiting, what do you think?

And finally, a big congratulations to two Australian Medical Romance Authors who won a R*BY for their stories.
Sharon Archer for Marriage Reunited: Baby on the Way Winner of Short Sweet
Amy Andrews for A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby Winner of Short Sexy
It's lovely to see medical authors getting recognition for their work, sometimes medical books aren't eligible for some awards, or are overlooked, so I was delighted to see some medical authors waving the flags.  Well done Ladies!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Revisions received, time to get to work! this is me.  Stuck between plain terrified and stressed!  I've received my revisions from my editor and it's time to get to work. 
The truth is they are fine.  Five pages of notes and a genius action plan which is very concise and just what I need.  It tells me in one page and a few bullet points exactly what to change.  Some things are going to need a little thinking through.  My problem here is the time scale.  I need to give some indication of how long I think the revisions will take me.  Of course I want to do them all NOW.  But right now, I'm really not that sure how long they are going to take me.
Plus on top of all that - I'm scared.  There I've said it.  I'm scared I might do these wrong.  You know what I mean.  I'm a data nerd and posted on eharlequin about getting some stats, and someone gave me some.  I wondered how many people who submitted partials were asked for fulls.  Then how many fulls got revisions. Then how many get second revisions and how many go on to be bought.  I've seen lots of people on the eharlequin boards who've got to this stage and then got a big fat R.  So that's what I'm afraid of.  But on to better things...
Jenny Harper who I met at the RNA conference sent me a sparkly pic of my black dress.  Who said black was boring!  I was also invited to join an email group for Writers Scotland which seems very informative and supportive.  And last but not least I heard Rachael Johns talking about an online course on her blog and decided to join in, so Shirley Jump's From Good to Sold (I'm rubbish and don't know how to do things that link) now has myself, Rachael and Joanne Pibworth on board.  It seems we apparently are the bad girls at the back of the class, some things never change!  It's proving to be value for money already and it lasts until the end of August.  So I'm listening to what she says as I'm plotting my revisions.
Last of all, good luck to everyone at the Romance conference in Australia - I'm expecting FULL reports on your return!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Holidays....and waiting...

So we have just got back from a fabulous Mediterranean cruise on a beautiful ship with Swarovski crystals in the stairs.  Yes, you will have to look hard at the picture to see them but I swear they are there!  I could also tell a few tales about a terrifying visit to the Medina in Tunis and a very annoying man at Heathrow who rebooks your flight when you've been delayed.  But this is not an adult only blog and swear words are definitely not allowed!
So a week spent in Genoa Italy, Pompeii, Palermo Sicily, Tunis, Palma Majorca, Barcelona and Marseille was certainly something to dream about.  Can I pretend it was all research for my next story, which incidentally is set on a cruise ship?  Actually, I wrote it last year and am currently revising it.  Not because any of the geographical details are wrong, just because I managed to write a whole romance novel with no POV.  Yes, I did.  55,000 words of it.  Actually I think there should an award for that and I do mean a raspberry type award.  Never mind, revising is fun and it gives me something to do, it also means I can see improvements in my work which I am eternally grateful for.

I wanted to post some really cool pictures of Pompeii but when I looked at them all I realised that I had lots of pictures of the artefacts and practically no pictures of the family.  Ooops. 

So decided to take a bit of artistic licence and show you a picture from Chateau D'if in Marseille.  It was the prison that inspired Alexander Dumas to write The Count of Monte Cristo and was absolutely fascinating to visit.  See, it is connected to writing! The cell I am pictured in held one prisoner for 19 years.  All the prisoners names and length of stay were above each of the individual cells (including the one that inspired the story and - no - he wasn't a Count).

And now for the waiting.  Because that's what I'm doing.  I'm still waiting to hear about the revisions that they want done on the current book.  Patience is a skill I have never been very good at (and being a nurse and a mum that almost seems a criminal offence) so I guess it's time to learn.  I know that right now M & B are fast-tracking all medical submissions in the month of August. So I think I might have to wait until that is completed.  I actually would really like to submit the other story I've revised but I know that I can't.  I also would like to try and submit to the New Voices Romance is not Dead competition - have you seen the fantastic prizes??  But I know that I won't do either of these things.  Both seem like fabulous opportunities but I've been really lucky and am currently working with an editor so I think it wouldn't seem fair to try and do this too.  I remember the furore last time around and wouldn't like to be part of that when right now, I have an opportunity of my own.  I also wonder if I really have the guts to submit a chapter that everyone in the world gets to read.  I mean, really, what if everyone thought that it was rubbish and said so??
So I'm going to sit here patiently waiting.  But I'm not back at work for the next ten days and my fingers are itching to type.....
Anyone else submitting?

Monday, 12 July 2010

Fun, fun and more fun!

There's something really fabulous about spending a weekend with other writers.  No-one thinks you're crazy for wanting to write and no-one thinks you're wasting your time.  In fact everyone offers complete support and is interested in what you're currently writing.
I had the opportunity this weekend to meet some people I've only ever spoke to online and some people who write work that I totally love.  So hello to Gemma Jackson, the minxes Lorraine, Romy and Joanne, everyone who stayed in the fabulous Scots corridor in part 15 of the building, Jane Holland (who has had a gorgeous haircut) and all the other great people I met this weekend.
Special hello to Kate Walker and her lovely husband Stephen, Kate Hardy with the great ipad, Sarah Morgan, Nina Harrington (who told me how she got her writing name) and Anne Fraser.  Thank you for your support and great advice you all gave to me over the weekend.
Here's a pic of me looking starstruck with Kate Walker.

I learnt loads at the conference but although all the workshops were great the best part was definitely the socialising with the other writers.  I had arranged a 10 minute appointment with the editor I've been working with at Mills and Boon but she actually took me out for a drink later and spent a lot of time talking to me.  This week I will get some more revisions from her, she was very enthusiastic about my writing and hopefully I will have good news in the future.

I also had a real shock when Katie Fforde gave me an honorary mention at the Saturday barbeque for the short story I had written with an anniversary theme.  I choked on my wine and sat with a smile plastered on my face thinking to myself  "I can tell people that Katie Fforde read my story."
However here is a picture of Elizabeth our worthy winner and Jo.  Followed by some of the Scots contingent Jenny and Lorna.

Can't wait for next year!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

The Wedding Part 2

Yesterday was a glorious day in Scotland even though we had a forecast for rain.  So the sun shined brightly on my niece Carissa and her new husband Norrie.  Right up until Elliott my son, threw up over the famous Brig o Doon bridge where the wedding photos were being taken!  It's a shame, I had the dreaded bug a few days ago, my youngest Rhys had it two days ago and I honestly thought everyone else would be okay.  Bless him, he never complained and just went and lay down in the room my mum and dad had at the hotel, then like a brave soldier came and sat through the dinner.  He was a star, honestly.  I couldn't move out of my bed for 24 hrs when I had the bug.  And then at five this morning I was awoken by the sound of??? You've guessed it.  My beloved Kevin is currently away to work with a basin sitting in the passenger seat of his van.

All this and I'm trying to pack for the most exciting weekend in the world - RNA conference.  I've waited a whole year for this and am determined to enjoy every second.  Even though I know my train coming home arrives back in the middle of the World Cup Final.  So who will pick me up?  A girl's best friend - my mum!  So if you are going to the conference, please, please, come and say hello to the mad Scotswoman who will be delighted to meet you.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

It's away Part 2!

Woo hoo! Well the revisions are completed and it's away! One chapter completely rewritten, another partially rewritten and some "onion" layers a la Kate Walker added. So the picture is my book flying off to Mills and Boon London on it's merry way (and YES Joanne Pibworth I did Google Street the building after you told me about it!)
So now I'm all aquiver. What a good word that is. Jackie Ashenden always tells us not to read anything we send in. So I'm going to try and follow her advice. No, really I am. I'm already wondering if I've really captured exactly what they were looking for. Do I think the manuscript is better? Yes, I do. Do I think it's perfect. No, not yet. But hopefully someday....
Never mind. At least I can't start wondering if they received it or if it's lost in cyber space. Since I got a lovely email acknowledging receipt. Thought about replying to that - but then decided that might make me a bit of stalker. Now I need to focus on the next WIP. Haven't decided yet whether to rewrite last year's attempt or to try something completely new.
I've also got an appointment to meet the editor I'm working with at the RNA conference in London in July. So I'm really looking forward to that. A little nervous at the prospect, does anyone think 11am is too early for wine????

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Wedding Day

Thursday was my nephew Jordan's wedding day and it was a gorgeous day. Hayley the bride, was beautiful and the family had a wonderful time. Couldn't post all the pictures I wanted to, so had to put them on facebook instead.

In one month's time my niece Carissa gets married too, so will have lots more pictures!

Have been amazed by the amount of emails I've received about newbies at the RNA conference. I think yesterday alone there were around 40 flying back and forth between us. It seems everyone is just as excited as I am. I've picked my workshops (how hard was it to choose? I want to go to them ALL!) and I've also got an appointment with the editor I'm currently working with at Mills and Boon which will be fabulous to get the opportunity to meet her in person.

I will be finished my revisions this week, which means I've done it in the time frame I wanted to. Now I'm just wondering whether I should send them in as planned, or wait until I've spoken to her, just in case there is something I haven't quite nailed. Decisions...decisions.

If anyone else is going to the conference, I look forward to meeting you there. Unfortunately I think I'm going to have to leave just a little early around 12.30pm in order to get the train back to Scotland, but never mind, I know it will be great.

By the way does anyone know how to change your background? I saw a FABULOUS background on someone else's blog that looked like shelves of books. I SO want it, but don't know how to get it!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Jumping for Joy

So.... my children are demonstrating what their mother is doing right now (I couldn't post a picture of myself jumping on the trampoline as there are somethings that other people should just not see!) I got a lovely email back from the editor at Mills and Boon asking me to revise and resubmit my full. Again the revisions are entirely manageable. It will mean rewriting one full chapter and around one quarter of another. Along with that there are some general comments that I will have to check throughout the manuscript. So am I happy? Yes I'm jumping for joy.
She also asked for an approximate return date so I guess I have to realistic. Some items in the day job have recently swollen in size. I've had to bring some work home this weekend and I can predict that this could happen a few times this month.
What I really want to do is put my head down and focus on the revisions and nothing else. However life sometimes get in the way. Overall I am delighted to have some feedback and I also have to say that the feedback has been super quick. Most of the boards have people waiting for over 6 months for feedback (whether it's an R or revisions) so I do appreciate how lucky I am.
I also got my feedback from RNA New Writers Scheme. It was very positive and suggested a few changes, most of which were pretty minor. It is interesting to say that the suggestions don't match the ones which the editor has given me, but I can see where they have come from. And of course, it is all constructive criticism which I can learn from. I guess it just goes to show how subjective writing can be. I know that on occasions I have read book reviews that I just didn't agree with and I suppose it just supports the learning curve that tells me "you can't please every reader, every time." But guess what? There's one person that I certainly do want to please!
And finally, how glad am I that I booked a train for the RNA conference and chose not to fly Ryanair? After wanting to go to the RNA conference for nearly a year I would be devastated if I'd book a flight that never took off. And to think the only reason I went for the train is that my Radley flight suitcase didn't meet the hand luggage restrictions on Ryanair... It must be fate!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

It's away!

So the revised manuscript was emailed on Friday afternoon to the far away office in London. Now the waiting game begins. I only hope I get a return email to let me know they received it, I have horrible visions of things being lost in cyberspace.
But on to other things check out This is a website for an American Romance Author who has an auction every year in aid of diabetes. Her son suffers from diabetes and she is keen to raise money for research. This is an area close to my heart as I have had diabetes since the age of 8. There are some fabulous things to bid for. For writers there is a chance to bid on critiques from various published authors around the world. This includes our own Kate Walker, Heidi Rice and lots of others. There is also autographed books and goody bags from various authors. The auction starts on 1 May with bidding similar to how it is on ebay. Have a look ladies!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Request for a Full!

I am officially the happiest girl in the world! I received an email tonight from one of the editors at Mills and Boon. Let me have a dreamy moment and quote "Susan, we absolutely love your voice - it's contemporary, lively and really fresh, and there are some utterly unique fabulous moments in your story such as the brilliant ending to chapter one!"
Have I told you yet that I'm happy? She has given me lots of detailed feedback - I've just printed it and it's three pages - asking for some revisions and requesting a full by the beginning of May. The revisions sound completely manageable and I'm going to start straight away.
I am so happy to have this opportunity. Someone from Mills and Boon has read my work and likes it! I didn't get a form R! I didn't think I was going to hear anything as I knew one my counterparts in the Medical Pitch had heard back already with a request, so I was sure mine must be heading for the bin.
Thank you, thank you and Please, please, please just let me do this right.....

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Medical Pitch

This has been an eventful week. Took part in the Medical Pitch at eharlequin. Managed to get my times mixed up, it was set for 10am a question and answer session with Sheila Hodgson and 11am for the medical pitch with Lucy Gilmour. Tried to convert the american times into UK times and I thought I had done it, being 3pm and 4pm. But when I logged into the chat room at 250pm I found myself at the end of Sheila'a hour long chat with the pitch about to start! I got the fright of my life. Asked some of the hosts what time it was in their part of the world and it turned out they were all at different points in America and it was 8am, 9am and 10am respectively. Don't think I'm ever going to the hang of time conversion. One of the pitchers never showed for her pitch and I just can't help thinking about the missed opportunity. Haven't seen her on any of the boards since, so I hope she's OK. Anyway the pitch went well, and I emailed my synopsis and three chapters the next day direct to Lucy Gilmour. I know she's received it as I got an email back from her, plus another email later from the eEditors at Mills and Boon with a reference number, so at least I know my email isn't lost in cyberspace.
In the meantime I've sent my manuscript in to the New Writers Scheme at the RNA. It takes around 8 weeks for feedback so I hope to hear before the conference in July.
Now time to start something new......

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Harlequin Medical Pitch

Finally managed to put a pitch together for the Harlequin Medical Editor Pitch and sent it in. Had reread it too many times and fiddled continously for days - so it's probably rubbish. Currently trying to write the most hated synopsis. I think I want to employ somebody to do that part for me as I hate writing them. Once I've finished that I'm going to have final read over my manuscript and send it in to the RNA New Writers Scheme. It can take three months to get feedback and I would kind of like to have it before I go the conference in London in July. Have heard back on all my chapters from one of my critique partners and am just waiting to hear back from the other who has the first three chapters. Isn't it amazing what a fresh set of eyes can see? And why is it when you get comments back you think.....of course, why didn't I see that!
I'm going to have to think about a new project and I've no idea where to start so I think I better do a little research, I've currently got about 20 medicals to read and that sounds perfect!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me!
I'm now 37 and feel absolutely ancient. Never mind, good news is I've booked up for the RNA conference in London in July and am really excited about going. Can't wait to meet everyone.
The writing is ticking along nicely 35,000 but am kind of stuck around Chapter 8. I know how the book finishes - I just have to get there. Deadline is end of February as I need to prepare a pitch for the Harlequin Medical Pitch by 12 March. Could be really exciting...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Plans for 2010

Plans for 2010

This year I plan to submit more than once to mills and boon and will continue to target the medical line. The Independant Midwife is coming along nicely 17,034 (34%!!!!!!!!!!!!) I love seeing the percentage go up and up. I am aiming for around 5,000 words a week and hope to have revised the first three chapters for the end of Jan to send to my crit partners for some feedback. Have also rejoined the New Writers Scheme which is part of the Romance Novelists Association in Britain. Loved the feedback last year and who knows maybe this year I will get a second read? Also going to attempt the pitch for the medical line on eharlequin in March this year. Busy, busy all this plus a full time job and two demanding boys, there is just not enough hours in the day!