Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Jeanne McDonald’s blog, don’t forget to check out her fabulous book, Compass.
This week we are answering the question: What did you Google?
The internet is an invaluable research tool for writers, but sometimes we google some searches that would raise more than a few eyebrows if seen out of context. We’ve all heard the tales of the thriller writer whose Google history has led to a visit from law enforcement, and the erotica writer whose searches have raised more than a few eyebrows. I bet if anybody (including non-writers) looked at their history they’d see a huge range of eclectic sites that are a mixture of the mundane and the embarrassing.
Nowadays it’s not only interesting facts that we Google, but anything and everything. I’d lay my hat on the fact that anybody going on a first date has almost certainly googled the other person before they meet them, and probably knows far more about them than is their date would want them to!
So what’s the last thing I Googled? Well I’m sad to say I can’t think of a single thing I’ve searched for that would either alarm the police, or my husband. So instead, let’s have a bit of fun.
What comes up if I Google “why is”…
Um, I have no answer to that one. And I don’t think I want to see what Google has to say on this!
What comes up if I Google “can i m”…
Great Advert for the UK there. By the way the answer is no!
Finally, what comes up if I Google “do q”…
So there you have it. Google has an answer for everything, and it pretty much looks as though everything has been searched for. If you ever find yourself wanting to marry your cousin, but your poop turns green, perhaps a duck can help you.
Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Kristi Rose’s blog, don’t forget to check out her fabulous book, The Girl He Knows
This week it’s Sarah Hegger’s chance to ask us a question: What’s your secret passion? I have a thing for shoes and B-grade fantasy movies, what are some of your guilty pleasures?
Okay, so I thought long and hard about this one. Maybe I should come clean that I am a gym bunny, constantly working out my iron-hard abs. Or that I’m a secret artist, creating installations that people pay millions for. But anybody who knows me (and that means most of you) would laugh loudly, poke me in my squashy stomach and remind me that I can’t even colour inside the lines.
So yeah, I won’t bother with those then!
Instead I’m going to come clean about an honest-to-god secret that I try to hide from everybody. A skeleton in the cupboard that I’ve tried to keep there for the past nine years. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be pleasant, but maybe it’s my chance to get it out in the open.
Deep breath, rolling drums…
I’m a Real Housewives addict.
Wow, that was hard! It’s also the truth. I’ve been a fan since the first series of the Real Housewives of Orange County (or RHOC for those of us in the know) back in 2006. From the very first episode I was hooked, my mouth agape by the antics of Kimberley, Jeanna, Laurie, Vicki and Jo. Not to mention the ever-so-aptly named Slade Smiley. If any of you recognise the names above, you need as much help as I do.
2 years after RHOC first aired (see, you know what I’m talking about – it’s only a few more steps until you’re hooked, too), my addiction was fanned by the first series of the Real Housewives of New York (RHONY – see what they did there?) It was like the Orange County series but without the sun, plus a whole lot more crazy. With an ex-model turned French duchess, a cosmopolitan-sipping entrepreneur, and the amazing, social climbing couple of Alex and Simon, RHONY was like a little piece of heaven for a people watcher like me.
I think that’s why I like the episodes so much. They’re made up of a mixture of real-life action and commentary, and each one is like being at a party, watching the guests mix together and then talk about each other behind each others’ backs. It’s intensely fascinating, and a gift for those who want to find out what makes people tick.
Since 2010, more franchises have been added. Now Atlanta, Washington DC, New Jersey, Beverley Hills and so many more have been added. They’ve even spread abroad, including Vancouver, Melbourne and Cheshire in the UK. But it’s the earlier ones (the originals) that still hold my heart. I’ve grown up with these guys. They’re like friends you love to hate, yet compulsively stalk on Facebook to see what they’re up to now.
In short, they’re a guilty pleasure. And I’m (almost) not afraid to admit it.
Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Teresa Keefer’s blog, hi, and thanks for clicking! Teresa’s one of our newest members so don’t forget to show her some love.
This week Susan Scott Shelley asks – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Given the choice of any authors in the world (living or deceased), who would you want as a guest?
This question isn’t as easy to answer as I first thought. My initial problem is there are so many authors I’d love to meet (including all of those who are part of the wonderful Romance Writers’ Weekly group) that it would end up being one hell of a feast!
How to narrow it down? Especially when I’d love to see Dorothy Parker sharing some bread with Jane Austen, while Alice Walker pours the wine. The image alone makes me want to smile…
But if I can’t have everybody, and I have to stick to one person, I guess I’ll go for somebody I think I’d get on well with. Maybe someone I could fan girl, while still finding some things we have in common. While I’m at it, why not shoot for the stars? So let me introduce you to my dinner guest, Mrs Joanna K Rowling.
I first discovered the Harry Potter books when my daughter was a baby. His adventures got me through some dark times, and were the only company I had on those late night feeds. Her writing drew me in from the start, as well as the world she managed to build, and I have to admit there were some times when I felt more at home at Hogwarts than I did in my own world!
It isn’t simply her writing that draws me to her, however. She’s also a true philanthropist who has been through some hard times herself. She wrote the first Harry Potter book whilst being supported by the State, and in spite of her riches has never forgotten where she came from. Like many of us, she has suffered from depression, and some of her most memorable words are those of support to fellow sufferers.
Her story is an inspiring one. Like me, she was born in a small village near Bristol and also like me, her father was an engineer. She suffered a lot in early adulthood, but her rise to fame was meteoric. If we were sharing a bottle of wine I’d like to ask her whether she’d do it all again, give up her privacy for the pride of her achievement. And whether she had any advice for an aspiring author like me.
In the meantime I shall be eating dinner with my lovely family instead, and pondering on more of her wise words like these ones…
So what do you think? What famous author would you like to share a meal with?
Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Sarah Hegger’s blog, hi, and thanks for clicking! Don’t forget to check out her new release – Nobody’s Fool.
This week Jeanne McDonald asks – What is one of your favorite quotes from your book(s). Explain the reason why it’s your favorite and its significance to the story and characters
This week I decided to go old school, and talk about one of my favourite books, Pride and Prejudice. I’m not alone in my love of this book, although back when I was a fifteen-year-old student I was the only one in my class who actually enjoyed reading it for English. Why did I love it so much? Let’s take a look at my quote and I’ll tell you…
This quote says everything about the first part of the book. Although they are words of love, it’s a ‘gritted teeth’ admission rather than a passionate declaration. From the start Mr Darcy has looked down upon the Bennett family, and Elizabeth Bennett has felt disdain for his prideful ways. Then when Elizabeth is staying with her cousin, Mr Collins, and Darcy is visiting his aunt at Rosings, they come into contact with each other. Mr Darcy tells her how he loves her in spite of her background, and pretty much against all his better judgement. Exactly what a girl wants to hear! Way to go, Darcy.
Of course Elizabeth declines his favour, and tells him to go and take a running jump. In the BBC adaptation he does exactly that. If you’ve not seen it before, I can highly recommend the ‘lake’ scene (insert gratuitous clip here, because you can never get enough Darcy!!)
The thing I love about Pride and Prejudice (apart from Mr Darcy, of course) is the character development. Elizabeth and Darcy start out hating each other – she dislikes his pride, and he dislikes her family. But as the two get to know each other better, something deeper grows between them. Though Mr Darcy is the first to realise that this connection might be love, Elizabeth eventually catches up. That’s because Darcy finally realises he doesn’t love her IN SPITE of who she is, but BECAUSE that’s who she is. An important difference. When he carries out his final act of chivalry–saving her sister from a fate worse than death–Elizabeth, too, realises that she’s fallen in love with him.
P&P is full of so many beautiful quotes it was hard to narrow one down. But this one is perfect, because it is truly the watershed of the book, taking us from their unfortunate beginnings and deep into the middle, where attachment starts to form. That’s the best part of any romance in my opinion!
Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Kristi Rose’s blog, hi, and thanks for clicking, and don’t forget to check out her book The Girl He Knows – currently on sale for 99c.
This Fiona Riplee has posed the following challenge:
Your hero & heroine are playing an “old-school” board game (one with an actual board or pieces old or new – just not a video game). The winner gets a special prize. 1000 words or less.
“Okay, so we have Clue, Monopoly, and I think there’s a really old chessboard somewhere back here. Any of those appeal?”
It takes a moment to realise he’s asked a question. I’m too busy staring at the sliver of skin between his belt and the hem of his shirt, revealed when he bent over to sort through the games closet.
“Kirsty?” he prompts again.
Jesus, when did he grow up? The last time I saw Nate Matthews he was still losing his battle with puberty, his voice spanning two octaves with a vocal range an opera singer would be proud of. That was ten years ago. The man kneeling in front of me bears only the faintest resemblance to that long-ago teen.
“I can’t play chess.” My reply is as dumb as the rest of me. I’m too transfixed by his long, thick eyelashes to think of anything else. Calm yourself, woman. He’s your best friend’s little brother. Completely verboten.
Therefore all the more alluring.
“I could teach you.” He sits back on his haunches, flashing me a dazzling smile. “It’s not as if we have anything else to do.”
He isn’t wrong. The rain battering against the windows of his parent’s holiday cottage is a reminder of why we are here alone. His sister, Cara, plus her boyfriend Dean and our other friend Marie should be on the last ferry tonight. But with the weather being as it is, there’s no way the ferryman will chance the crossing. So it’s me and Nate, plus a closet full of board games.
And a whole host of my raging hormones.
“How’s college?” I ask him. Cara keeps me up to date with her family’s news, and I know Nate’s studying Physics at MIT. I graduated last year, being two years older than the kneeling Adonis, and am currently interning at an advertising firm in New York. That’s why I jumped at the chance of a week’s cheap vacation at the Matthews’ lake house in Michigan. Nate and I flew in this morning, hiring a car to cover the 200 miles to the lake, while the others were driving up after work.
Of course they’ll be sleeping on the other side of the lake tonight, while Nate and I weather the storm here. Alone. Just the two of us.
He sets up the chess board with nimble fingers. How many times has he done this? He lays each piece in sequence as if it’s his second nature. There’s something unbearably sexy about his nerdiness.
“Is it hot in here?” I ask. “This storm hasn’t gotten rid of the humidity.”
He looks amused. “I was just thinking how cool it was getting. Do you want me to find a fan? I’m pretty sure Mom keeps one here somewhere…” Nate looks around, his brows dropping into a frown. He rolls his bottom lip between his teeth, and it sparks a memory. Twelve year old Nate trying to explain why the Theory of Relativity was really cool, while Cara and I laughed uproariously at him.
I’m not laughing now.
“I’m okay. Maybe I’m having a hot flush,” I tell him. “Premature menopause or something.”
Nate starts to laugh. “I know you’re older than me, but I don’t think you’re quite middle aged yet. You’re way too young and pretty for that.”
Is it stupid that I want to jump up in the air and scream when he calls me pretty?
“You go first.” He gestures at the board. I reach out for a black pawn. “No, white always goes first in chess.” There go those long eyelashes again. “And you can move two spaces forward if you want.”
I lift up the white pawn and place it two squares ahead. “Like that?” I smile when I ask.
He grins back. “Perfect.”
Nate plays his next move and then I take my turn, both of us flirting to the soundtrack of the storm. When I lift up my knight and slide it diagonally across the board, Nate wraps his hand around mine to show me the right way to move it.
“He moves like that?” I raise my eyebrows. “What kind of game is this anyway? I knew we should have played Monopoly.”
“I’d have kicked your ass at that too.”
“I don’t doubt it,” I say. “But at least I’d have known what I’m doing.”
His hand is still holding mine. “Don’t you like me telling you what to do?”
I’m about to reply when a crash of thunder echoes across the lake and the lights flicker three times before going out altogether. The sudden blackness makes my chest tighten with panic and I reach out, my hand opening and closing until I grab hold of Nate’s top. My fingers close around it in a vice grip.
“Nate? I hate the dark.” Fear strangles my words.
A moment later his arms circle my waist. “Hey, it’s okay. I’m here. It’s just a power cut.”
There’s something warm and reassuring about his embrace, but my heart is still racing. “Do you have a generator or some candles?”
“There’s a whole bundle of them in the kitchen, but I’m gonna have to leave you to get them.” He’s so close I can feel his breath on my ear. “Will you be okay?”
“No! Take me with you.” I stand up, my sudden movement knocking the chessboard. I can hear the pieces scatter across the wooden floor. “Oh shit.”
“Let’s call it a draw.” Amusement is laced through his words. “Or we can have a rematch tomorrow.”
He guides me into the kitchen, one hand circling my waist, the other holding my hand. He’s warm, he’s strong, he makes me feel safe. He may be Cara’s little brother but he’s all man, and I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than lose to chess to him every night this week.
Every day, too, if it comes to that.
“A rematch, definitely.”
Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Fiona Riplee’s blog, hi, and thanks for clicking!
This week I got to set the question (yay!):
Stephen King famously said that it’s necessary to ‘kill your darlings’ when editing your work. Do you have anything you had to remove from a book that you’re still proud of? Or something that embarrasses you so much it will never again see the light of day? If you’re feeling really brave, share some of it with us!
There was a reason for asking this question. That reason is I’m currently neck-deep in ‘editing hell’, or what I like to call ‘DID I REALLY WRITE THAT?’ I’m the type of writer who doesn’t edit as they type, which means in my first read through I usually have a lot of surprises awaiting me. So when Stephen King tells me to ‘kill your darlings’ I find I’m not only following his advice, but I’m also kicking their sad, dead souls for weeks afterwards.
So what are my darlings? It depends on the book. In Fix You I had a lot of ‘lip biting’ I had to stamp out (thanks Ana and Mr Grey), and in Coming Down I found that every other sentence had something ‘curling’ in it. There was hair, hands, even the air curling around them. It made my manuscript one frizzy mess, I can tell you!
Broken Chords had some trouble with breathing. It got short as the characters became excited, it became a sexy alternative for ‘said’ (as in “Do you want some tea?” she breathed… – sexy, right?) It’s almost ironic because in the story there really is an issue with breathing, but it’s a medical problem, not one related to word over-usage.
Joking aside, there’s something almost depressing about having to cut out hundreds or thousands of words that you’ve slaved over for days or weeks. That’s where having a good editor helps. They can cut through your heartbreak and show you how a simple line makes for a better sentence. To quote Hemingway (who always said the best things about writing) – “Write one true sentence.”
The second part of my challenge (what was I thinking?) was to give you a little look at a deleted scene. So below is a scene from my book Fix You which never made the final cut. It joins many thousands of other words I’ve deleted over the years. They’re currently buried deep below my river of tears!
This scene comes in between chapters 6 and 7 of the book. It’s one of my favourites because it shows the lighter side of the Larsen family before things start to get heavy for them in the following chapters. In spite of my enjoyment of this family portrait, it wasn’t necessary for a few reasons, the most important of which – it didn’t move the story on. So it had to go, but here, for one day only, is your brief glimpse of the Larsen family gathering!
After dinner, the Larsen family gathered in the cozy den Claire had created in the basement of their elegant townhouse. Richard sat back on the sofa, watching Nathan getting beaten by Ruby on the PlayStation. His father sat next to him, talking of California.
“Claire and I hope to visit you in November, if you’ll have us?”
“That would be great. I’m not sure if we’ll have a lot of room in the apartment, but there are a couple of hotels nearby.”
Richard looked at his father. The two of them had always maintained a solid relationship, despite the upheavals of divorce, remarriage, and overseas living. It was only as Richard got older that he realized just how much effort Steven must have put into seeing his son, and making sure that Richard always realized he was loved.
“Will you bring Ruby?”
“I hope so, as long as she doesn’t miss too much school. Otherwise Nathan has volunteered to stay and look after her.”
Richard looked at his dad and burst out laughing at the thought of leaving Nathan in charge of a twelve year old child. This was the guy that had lost his passport, wallet and ID somewhere in the Andes, and didn’t realize until he tried to board a plane. It was highly likely that he would forget to pick Ruby up from school, or wander off on a whim, leaving her home alone, like a female version of Macaulay Culkin.
“How was Hanna? Did the two of you have a good time today?” Claire asked, walking over to join them. She was carrying a small glass of white wine in her right hand. Sitting down on the easy chair opposite, she leaned towards him, her face animated.
“She was good, she seems very happy,” Richard answered.
“That’s what I thought too. Josh seems to have brought out the best in her.”
Richard looked at his step-mother, as he put his bottle of beer to his lips and swallowed a mouthful. He knew that his family was completely oblivious to anything that had gone on between Hanna and him in New York, but Claire’s easy acceptance of Josh rankled.
“Do you like him?” He knew he was asking a leading question, but a part of him wanted to hear something negative about the guy.
“He seems very nice. A little wary of us, I guess, but friendly over all.”
“Why is he wary?” Richard’s brows knit in confusion. Why would anybody be wary of the Larsens?
“I think the location of our house might have something to do with it. From what I’ve gathered from Hanna, he’s not that keen on people with a lot of wealth. I’m not sure whether we intimidate or infuriate him.” Claire smiled gently.
“Does he treat her well?”
“I think so, darling. I haven’t heard any different. I’ve only met him once, when Hanna first came back to London in July. She brought him over to meet Ruby. And by the way, Ruby isn’t keen on him.”
Richard tried to resist the grin that was threatening to creep across his face.
Hearing her name, Ruby’s head whipped around. Her momentary lapse of concentration allowed Nathan to crush his on-screen opponent, and he let out a whoop as her character died. Having the innate ability of a twelve year old girl to do three things at once, Ruby pressed restart, hit her brother’s leg, and demanded of her mother, “Ruby isn’t keen on what?”
Claire and Richard replied at the same time.
Ruby’s nose screwed up, as she hit the pause button, ignoring Nathan’s cries of frustration. She put down her controller and moved closer to Richard and Claire.
“I don’t like him at all. When they came over he treated me like a kid, and every time Hanna tried to tell me something, he just kept on interrupting.” Ruby crossed her arms firmly in front of her chest. “And then he started to kiss her neck as she was trying to play Monopoly with me, even though she kept telling him not to. He was all grabby and horrible.”
Richard’s good mood only lasted a moment. He wanted to grab hold of Josh Chambers’ grabby hands and twist them until they hurt. Maybe until he could hear a crack.
The violence of his own reaction surprised him.
“Why can’t you be Hanna’s boyfriend, Richard?” Ruby continued with her complaints, her face turning to look at him plaintively.
“Yeah, Rich, why can’t you be Hanna’s boyfriend? I noticed the two of you getting cozy on the underground.” Nathan laughed as he poked fun at his step-brother, ignoring Ruby’s dirty look.
“Leave your brother alone, you two,” Claire interceded, placing a gentle arm on Richard’s shoulder as she leaned towards him. “We all know that Richard and Hanna are good friends. And Richard is moving to California next week, do you really think he could have a relationship with somebody so far away?”
“He has a relationship with me, and I’m this far away.” Ruby piped up.
Fair point, Richard thought, interested to see how Claire would respond to her daughter.
“But being a brother and sister is different to having a boyfriend or girlfriend. You two are family; you’ll always have a bond, no matter where in the world you are.”
“Hanna’s family, too. You said so.” Ruby was starting to look confused, and Claire was definitely looking perturbed. Richard played with the label on his beer bottle, trying to keep the amusement from his face.
“I know she is darling, I know.” Claire downed a huge gulp of white wine. Putting her glass on the table, she glanced over at Richard with her eyebrows raised, as if she was asking him for some help.
Richard could feel his father shaking in amusement at Claire’s discomfort. Claire turned to look at Steven, her lips pursed and her eyebrows lowered in response to his laughter.
“Perhaps your father would like to explain it, Ruby.”
“Hey, you’re on your own with this one, Claire. I can’t wait to find out how Hanna is different to Ruby.” Steven winked at his wife.
“Yeah, Mom, how is Hanna different to me?”
Nathan muttered something below his breath. Though his words were inaudible, Richard could hazard a good guess at what he was saying. It almost certainly had something to do with tits and ass.
“Well, put it this way, Ruby. We wouldn’t be having this conversation at all if Hanna were really Richard’s sister, would we? Then they wouldn’t be able to be boyfriend and girlfriend.” With that, Claire stood up and wandered over to Nathan, cuffing the top of his head with her palm. “And don’t think I don’t know what you just said, because I do. And it was rude.”
“Aw, Mom!” Nathan rubbed his hair with his right hand, his bottom lip pouting as he complained. “That hurt.”
“You deserved worse. Now entertain your sister before she asks me any more questions.” Claire hissed, glancing behind her briefly before leaving the room, her skirt whipping out behind her as she beat her hasty retreat.
Finishing his bottle of beer, Richard leaned back and looked at his family, enjoying the warm, happy feeling that suffused his body. They may have been a little weird, and they were definitely annoying, but they were all his.
And he was going to miss them.
Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Leslie Hachtel’s blog, hi, and thanks for clicking!
This week the wonderful Tracey Gee has asked us the following question:
As we all know, authors put real people and situations into their books. Let’s look at the times we’ve pushed through the pain by putting bad experiences or relationships into our works whether for therapy, or just as a way to close the door.
As a child, I used to ‘escape’ into a book, using the printed words as a way to escape the problems of everyday life. I preferred to read about others’ troubles, able to diminish my own worries by comparing them to Frodo’s in Lord of the Rings, or rationalising them when I read Anne Frank’s diary by realising things could be so much worse.
I have no doubt that some of that escapism has spilled over into my writing life. There’s something so lovely about being able to put aside your own fears and thoughts for a while, letting the excitements of a fictional character take over, allowing them to act in a way that perhaps you wouldn’t in real life.
Somehow I’ve always found solving other people’s problems is so much easier than solving my own, and that feeling definitely extends to the characters in my books, too. There’s something quite satisfying about putting your heroine through the ringer, only to see her emerge victorious on the other side, having solved her problems, got her man and found a way to live happily ever after all in one foul swoop.
For example, when I was writing Broken Chords, I truly empathised with the character of Lara, a new mother suffering from Post-Natal depression following her return to work and her rock-star husband’s tour of America. Though I was fortunate enough not to suffer from PND myself, some of my very close friends were, and it was therapeutic being able to share their story, and also try to make the important point that suffering from depression is nothing to be ashamed of.
As well as finding salvation in a story, there’s another therapeutic aspect to writing which I’ve been able to take advantage of. That’s finding pleasure in the craft, from learning new things and experimenting, and being able to sit down and see what you’ve achieved. At my darkest times–and yes, there have been a few–I’ve been lucky enough to gain some confidence from these achievements, to allow them to bolster me when otherwise I’d be very low. In addition to this the community feeling that being a writer can give you, and the support from other writers, readers and bloggers, can also bring a ray of light to bleaker times.
So all in all, I feel very lucky indeed to be a reader and a writer. Books may be inanimate objects–simply paper imprinted with ink–but they’re also responsible for so many good things in my life. For that I’m truly thankful.