Thursday, February 21, 2008

A bit of a buzz for me!

I was coming home from work this evening, waiting for a connecting bus at the bus station, when a lady from the village where I live shouted, "You've been on my mind this week!" I turned around expecting that she was speaking to someone behind me, but there was no one there.

Oh dear, I thought, what have I done?

"I couldn't remember your surname," she said enthusiastically, "I want to get your books from the library!"

So of course, I gave her the correct spelling of my full name and both books. Now you might think, what's the point of that because I'm not going to earn anything from it, but I think libraries are a good thing. I've taken out books by new authors and then gone on to purchase further copies of their books.

I know there are authors who don't like having their books sold in charity shops or passed around for others to read, but I'm not one of those. To be honest, I'm flattered when I'm told someone has enjoyed one of my books so much they've passed it on to their next door neighbour or posted it their daughter-in-law who lives on the other side of the world. As far as I'm concerned, my name is getting out there.

So, I hope that lady from the village manages to get both copies of my books and if she enjoys them, she'll tell others. After all, wasn't it Donald Maas that said: "It's not reviews that sell books but word-of-mouth."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Inspiration for A Taste of Honey

A reader asked me the other day where I got my inspiration from for my latest release, A Taste of Honey.

The concept came to me initially from a newspaper article I read in one of the national dailies, here in the UK. It was about a woman who worked for a private detective agency as a honey trapper. Now if you don't already know, a honey trapper is a woman who sets up men on behalf of their partners to see if they are capable of cheating or not.

Now I got to thinking: What would happen if one of these so-called honey trappers accidentally set up the wrong guy? And so, a germ of an idea for 'A Taste of Honey', my romantic comedy was born.

I knew that I wanted the hero, Travis O'Connell, to be a little different from the usual male Alpha hero with the bulging biceps and rippling six pack. For a start he's Irish and I've never written about an Irish man before, but I know some Irish people and I've read a lot of works by Irish author, Edna O'Brien. That aside, it's one of the accents I do best, but that would be debatable in some quarters!

Travis is a free spirit. He doesn't like to feel hemmed in. That's probably why he lives on a delapitated caravan park where his only friends are a stray dog named, Buster, and a neighbour called, Marge. Marge's lorry driving hubby ran off with a young bimbo from the bingo hall some years back leaving her to look after her brood of kids. 'The old woman who lived in a shoe' would be a good analogy for Marge.

In my eyes, I see her as someone looking and acting like, Janet Street Porter.

Someone who's forthright with her tongue, but beneath that steely exterior beats a heart of gold.

Fran Santini, I knew would be someone who loves life. She wouldn't be one of those skinny size zero women who loves to nibble on a lettuce leaf to keep her looks in check. Fran enjoys her food and working at the family Italian restaurant, she needs to. Of course, totally complicating matters is the fact that as a respectable Catholic girl, she moonlights as a honey trapper for The Peace of Mind Agency. If Mamma and Papa, and her brothers come to that, ever find out, there will be hell to pay.

I got the idea for the two elderly, cantankerous sisters at the restaurant from watching two old women who dine in the same hotel restaurant, where my mother and myself go from time to time. They always seem to order the same food!

I developed the character of Ronald Santini, restaurant owner and Fran's Papa, from an Italian restaurant I visited in Cardiff. As soon as my mother and myself went in through the door, the man I based him on was throwing his hands in mid air and shouting: "Beautiful ladies, please sit here." He made such a fuss over us that we ended up ordering a lot of food and wine and got quite a hefty bill because of it. Oh well, you live and learn. I would definitely return to that restaurant but only for special occasions.

So, there we have it, that's how my baby, A Taste of Honey was born!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I'm running a competition for you to win a free paperback copy of my romantic comedy, A Taste of Honey.

Here is the blurb:

Honey is not far from the sting.

Fran Santini has a secret she keeps from her family. During the day, she works as a waitress, but at night, she is a honey trapper for the Peace of Mind Agency, working for women who suspect their partners are cheating.

Travis O’Connell is minding his own business, enjoying a pint of Guinness at his local pub, when he is accosted by Fran who believes he is her intended target. After all, he has a goatee just as his “wife” described.

Fran, a hopeless honey trapper, fails to realize she has set up the wrong guy. What’s more, when the penny finally drops, she is forced into a compromising situation, begging the question: can Fran’s job stay a secret for much longer?

At the risk of incurring the wrath of Fran’s brother, Antonio, Travis finds himself attracted to sultry Fran Santini. Will the secret draw the couple together or drive them apart?

All you have to do is post here at my blog by telling me what your favourite romance novel is and why. Oh and don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win. If you're uncomfortable about leaving your contact details here, then please also send a copy of your post here along with your e-mail address to:


Friday, February 15, 2008

Picture Board: A Spoonful of Sugar

This is Suzie's shop, All Things Nice. She creates special occasion cakes for weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.

I imagine Antonio Santini to look like the actor Mark Bannerman. This is probably subconsciously because the character of Antonio is a chef at The Vine Tree restaurant, which also featured in A Taste of Honey and Mark worked in his family's Italian restaurant in Eastenders.

Suzie Frampton, I pictures as a larger than life character. She's not a super skinny girl, but a well rounded size 16 wh enjoys her food and life!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The galley for WATCHING YOU

I received the galley this morning to check over for my latest book, Watching You. I'm really excited about it as it's my darkest novel yet. I go into the mind of a serial killer who is out there watching the heroine -- hence the title.

In my three published novels so far, I have only used the hero and heroine's point of view but in this book I also use the villain's pov which was interesting. This allowed me to be as nasty and evil as I could possibly be! I think authors put a little of themselves into their novels often without realising it, but I promise you I am not about to go around stalking or killing anyone.

A Taste of Honey goes into 801 Borders stores at the end of the month. I'm really over the moon about that!

Monday, February 11, 2008

A cautionary tale for authors

I was surfing the web last night when I ended up at the New York Times website and an article written about the recent so-called plagiarism by a well-known romance author, Cassie Edwards. Apparently, someone had posted a blog about this in January when they had discovered upon feeding some of Ms. Edwards text from her novels into Google, she had blatantly lifted text from the works of three different novels. If you want to read on further about this, here are the links:

A Romance Novelist is Accused of Copying

First Article about issue at Smart Bitches Blog

The PDF Document at Smart Bitches Blog that indicates the plagiarism

When I read the above my eyes widened with surprise that a well-known author of Ms. Edwards standing in the romance community and of course, the writing world, would do such a thing.

She was questioned about this issue but apparently made out it was 'historical research' and she had no idea what she was doing was wrong. Now come on, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that if you lift someone's work almost word for word that you need to attribute it to the source. At least that's what I was taught in college. We used quotes and references. And if someone researches they don't normally write word for word.

I had to carry out research for a recent historical romance I've written. I just read widely on the subject and wrote things in my own words. In any case, most of the topics I researched were written by professors and the like and their writing voices would have sounded totally out of place with my own. And I definitely didn't go taking my research from other similar works of fiction. The books I used were local history books.

So far, Ms. Edwards publishers and the Romance Writers of America [she used to be a member] aren't committing themselves to saying she actually plagiarised stuff. Yet a magazine journalist has even found his own words in one of her books when he wrote about Meer cats.

This is a cautionary tale for authors. Big Brother is out there, watching and waiting, and this time he has a name -- Google!

Monday, February 04, 2008

What are you reading at the moment?

I have this habit of reading three books at the same time. No, I'm not an octopus, but I like variety. Downstairs on my coffee table is a copy of Shirley Jump's book, THE MARRIAGE MIRACLE, which I read when I get the time [I've almost finished it by the way!] On my bedside cabinet, the bedroom is where I read mostly, is a copy of Michael Winner's autobiography, WINNER TAKES ALL: A life of sorts, and INDESTRUCTIBLE SELF-BELIEF by Fiona Harrold [that came free with a magazine a couple of years ago!]

The most absorbing of these three books has to be Michael Winner's. I love it. He hooked me from the first paragraph. His life has been so varied and interesting. As well as there being some extremely amusing parts, there are also some poignant ones. Like the way he describes how Burt Lancaster spent his last days following a stroke and how Oliver Reed had a smallish funeral in Ireland attended by ordinary folk [the type of friends he had in life] and how he, Michael Winner, was the only celebrity in attendance.

I can well believe this. I met Oliver Reed unexpectantly once at a friend's wedding. We arrived for the evening do and someone said that Mr Reed had turned up in the middle of the wedding with just a sheet wrapped around him. Then he picked up a drink, emptying it over his head, saying, "Here's a toast to the bride and groom!"

So, I wondered if he would show up for that evening as I heard he was staying for the week at the hotel. We hadn't been in the bar for more than a half hour when he showed up with his girlfriend, Josephine, who was later to become his wife and who stayed with him to the end. He was a marvellous character, he spoke to us in a normal way, as if he had always known us. I felt very comfortable in his presence. I asked him what he was doing at the hotel and he said that Josephine had always wanted to see Wales. Then he asked me if I wanted to see his tattoo--which I firmly declined--I knew it was on a certain part of his anatomy!

Anyhow, I digress, back to the books...which type of books do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Writing Association Snobbery!

As I write mainly romantic suspense, so there are crime elements in my novels, I thought it might be an idea to join the Crime Writers Association

So I e-mailed someone at the website and was told to qualify for membership I would need to meet certain criteria. Fair enough. The main thing being that my book was not vanity published [that I should not have paid for publication.] I haven't. Also that I receive royalties, well I do. I thought my application would have been straightforward. Not so.

It was taken to some sort of committee and the upshot is that my publisher is not 'big enough', so I was told in so many words to come back when I have a more well known one. This really makes me mad. The reason I wanted to join in the first place is to network with other crime fiction authors and find out more about meetings etc.

Of course, my Samhain novel, A Taste of Honey, is with a much larger publisher as that book will retail at 801 Borders stores across the US, but that's a romantic comedy. My other books are with The Wild Rose Press. Why should TWRP get penalised because of petty minded individuals who only want their organisation to serve the elite few?

The upshot of all this is, I looked at some of the member pages at The Crime Writers Association and noticed that one of the members recently published, has self published both his books at Lulu! So it appears there is one rule for one and one for another! At least I know all my books have been properly edited and copy edited. Who knows about his.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking Lulu. I think it's great. I've even self published there myself. The books look great and it's a reasonably priced publisher.

In the meantime, I've contacted The Mystery Writers of America
who informed me that I am welcome to join them as an affilate member because TWRP does not appear on their list of approved publishers at the moment. I'm happy with that as at least I will receive most member benefits.

The kind of attitude they have at the CWA reminds me of the kind of people who say they only read 'literary' novels. Surely, all novels are literary in some form or another.

Snobbish behaviour pi**es me off. At the end of the day we all break wind and excrete, but perhaps some people's faeces is 22 carat gold plated!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

To outline or not outline, that is the question!

I was asked yesterday whether I outline when planning one of my books or not?

This is a very good question.

The answer is both yes and no.

Before you you shake your head with disapproval. I'll explain...

I'm a bit of an inbetweener. The only outline is in my head. I'll start off with a story idea, maybe something I've heard on the news or read in the paper. This leads me to a certain scenario, usually the moment something big is about to happen to the protagonist. I'll mull this around in my bonce for a few days and will also construct an ending.

Then I create a picture board. I cut out pictures from magazines or something I've seen online that gives me an impression of the characters and settings I wish to create [sometimes I take actual photographs of settings], and I stick the board up near my computer.

Then I write that first scene and work towards the ending I have planned.

This seems to work for me because I like to surprise myself. I'd hate to know too much about my novel before I started it. So some events are as much as a shock to me as they would be to the reader and I believe this helps when I want them to turn that page!

So, what do you do? Are you a plotter, a pantser, or an inbetweener like me?