The One Where I Had a Bit of a Problem…

Reading: Twitter
Watching: Horrible Histories
Listening To: Oh, Sherrie by Steve Perry

Gilles Marini as Marco CorelliSo after I handed in my latest book (AJ and Matt’s story for those of you following at home), I dove straight into my next one, the one I’d dubbed ‘Hot Marco’.  Marco Corelli is cousin to my hero in Bed of Lies and made a brief appearance in that book.  And as soon as he did, I knew I had to give him his own story. The visual for Marco was immediately obvious to me – Gilles Marini (right), who you may have seen in Brothers & Sisters and Sex & The City.  So with him in mind, I wrote a synopsis and began to write the story.

And then something went wrong.

I’ve been reading a lot of fan fiction and Twitter role playing accounts and as I got drawn into these varied characters and scenarios, suddenly, Marco was not Gilles anymore.  He was… someone completely different.  I saw Marco as a bit of a womaniser, a guy with commitment problems, a guy who’s pretty much in it for the good time. And yes, a guy with some complicated emotional issues.  But also he is an incredibly fierce friend, a guy who outwardly, is tough as nails but inside is a vulnerable guy who’s deathly afraid of showing weakness.  aidan turner as marcoThis was not Gilles Marini.  It was… Aidan Turner.  Aidan Turner the vampire from Being Human.  Aidan Turner from The Hobbit.  Aidan Turner with all his crazy emotional issues, his struggles, his casual regard for relationships.

aidan turner as marco3It’s amazing what the change of visual can do for your story.  Aidan became Marco in all his charming, swaggering, damaged glory.  I loved how he’s just taking over the story, running with his role and shaking up my heroine’s life.

To give you a bit of a teaser, this story is about best friends turned lovers, a sudden pregnancy and decades-old secrets suddenly uncovered.  It’s set in Queensland, Australia, one of my favorite places, on a fictional tropical island that just happens to be owned by Marco.  Lots of emotional sparks fly between my hero and heroine as they battle to overcome their own relationship problems to get their happy ever after!

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Fan Girl Friday – Antici-pation by Yvonne Lindsay

yvonne 9Ha, every time I hear that I have a visual image of that scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show between Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss, where Dr. Frank-N-Furter strings out “anticipation” in the perfect illustration of the term.

I love looking forward to things. I think the anticipation of an event or something special is often so much better than the actual occasion. Maybe it’s because I look forward to things so much, I set myself up for disappointment sometimes but overall for me, the journey is way more fun than actually arriving at the destination.

Take Christmas as a child, for example. The whole ritual of going to the tree farm, choosing a tree (thankfully we didn’t suffer any major allergies beyond a touch of hayfever in those days,) driving home and setting it up, the lounge room being redolent with the scent of pine. Mmmm, I can smell it even now. Then there would be the careful decorating of said tree, the anticipation of Christmas Even when miraculously unmarked gifts would appear beneath it. I’d usually wake at some obscenely early hour, gather my pillow and my bedspread and traipse up the hall to the sitting room and lie in front of the tree on the floor, eyeing up all the parcels. I still remember the year when I got there and the parcels were in neat stacks, which certainly didn’t appeal to my visual expectation of what beneath a Christmas tree should look like and I scattered them everywhere because clearly Santa hadn’t had the time. I just couldn’t understand why my mother was so put out and had to squeeze and examine each individual parcel carefully before handing it out to its intended recipient! I don’t even remember what gifts we received that year because for me, it was the looking forward to things that was the most important.

ONE SECRET NIGHT official jpgIn my experience, the only time I enjoy the event more than the anticipation of it, is when one of my new books comes out and I’m so excited to have my third The Master Vintners book out this month in both New Zealand and Australian market as well as in the North American market. ONE SECRET NIGHT gives readers the story of what happens when Mr Uptight and Totally In Control crosses paths with Ms Free Spirit and Here Today, Gone Tomorrow. Ethan Masters and Isobel Fyfe’s story gave me so many challenges, not surprising really, given how different they are as people. Readers also get to see a little bit more of Tamsyn Masters, Ethan’s sister, whose book I’m writing at the moment (due out December 2013.)

One Secret Night Australia-NZ

So what about you? Are you like me, and relish the anticipation of things, or are you more of an in the moment kind of person? Leave a comment and go into a draw for one lucky winner to choose their choice of book from my back list (stock permitting.)

It took many years and many jobs before USA Today Bestselling author Yvonne Lindsay realised what she really wanted to be when she grew up—a romance author. Once she figured that out, it took 13 years of false starts, rejections, encouragement, and yet more rejections to achieve that goal. Since her first sale in 2005 to Harlequin Desire (then Silhouette Desire) she has contracted 25 titles with her publisher. Yvonne is thrilled to be living the life she always dreamed of and bringing her stories to her readers and can be contacted through her “contact me” page on her website.   You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

yay! We’re live and ready to talk alphas!

Romance Writers of Australia

Welcome to a conference spotlight from the Riding the Waves conference!

Today we have Shannon Curtis and Paula Roe who will be presenting the workshop MASTER OR COMMANDER ~ Getting from Alpha Hole to Alpha Hero.

 BiosShannon Curtis (681x1024)

Shannon Curtis has worked in diverse roles such as office admin manager, customer service rep, logistics supervisor, distribution coordinator, dangerous goods handler,  event planner, switch bitch and betting agent, and decided to try writing a story like those she loves to read when she found herself at home after the birth of her first child. Now she spends entirely too much time daydreaming about hunky heroes and malicious murders – for her books, of course! She loves reading, loves writing, and loves hearing from her readers, so visit her at www.shannoncurtis.com and say hi!

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Paula Roe is an experienced workshop presenter, devising and delivering workshops for RWA, Australian Romance Readers…

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Fan Girl Friday – when you get unstuck

Hi everyone!  I hope you’re all enjoying my guests on Fan Girl Friday!  They’ve all been wonderful so far and there’s more fabulous authors coming up in the weeks ahead.

So, on to today’s post.  Because I’m at the tail-end of my current book (due Monday) I didn’t have to look far for today’s inspiration: the wonderful joy of getting unstuck when you hit a wall.  Okay, so it’s not a place or a product or a shiny thing you can stroke but it is something I am a HUGE fan of.  Let me explain…

this wall... I hit it

this wall… I hit it

I’ve been writing my current book since October and I was steaming along quite nicely up until Christmas.  I had around 5K to go and had spent a few nights writing around 2K. I was enthused, I loved my characters, the story was good, I was on a roll.

And then I hit that wall.  I got distracted by Christmas, by a brand-new Doctor Who DVD, by my son’s obsession with watching back-to-back Horrible Histories episodes.  I suddenly lost all enthusiasm for my story.  Every other project on my computer held more attraction, including rearranging my iTunes playlists (what the hell?) and cutting out old recipes from Super Food Ideas.  I honestly had no idea why I’d lost the love, but with the deadline penciled in angry red on my calendar, I had to do something.

sorry, Eric - you'll have to wait for another story...

sorry, Eric – you’ll have to wait for another story…

The first thing I looked at was my characters.  I loved everything about AJ, my heroine – she was feisty, straight forward, determined. She had a purpose, she had a goal and she was actively going for it.  I also loved my hero – he was driven, smart, attractive. He was a doctor, for heavens’ sakes, and I’d already picked out some gorgeous photos of Eric Dane (Dr Mark Sloan in Gray’s Anatomy) as my inspiration.  His name, however, turned out to be a problem.   I still really like ‘Mitch’ as a hero’s name, but it had always reminded me of a particularly awful boy at my son’s school.  Bad mistake.  So Mitch had to go.  But who to replace him with?  Well, thanks to my son’s holiday viewing habits, I’d been watching A LOT of television and I’d decided to base my hero’s looks on one of the show’s actors.  And give him his name.  And basically make him my poster boy.

And by changing those things, it meant all sorts of other add-on considerations.  I had to change his hair and eye color, hair length and texture, eye shape.  Face and nose shape.  Physique.  Even the way he dressed.  He had to dress like a Matthew, not a Mitch.  He had to walk and talk and command himself as this new person, not the old one, and with a background that fitted him.  Thankfully, those changes were relatively minor and easily fixed.  Mitch (the awful boy) had morphed into Matt (the gorgeous, dreamy-eyed doctor) and I was thrilled.

And because my hero had changed, I had to look at my choice of  writing music.

Some writers like total silence when they write.  Some listen to classical.  Some make playlists to suit the tone of their story. Now, as I write during the day at a public library, I don’t have the luxury of silence 🙂 so I got myself a good set of noise-cancelling headphones and some music to write by.  I have a standard ‘writing’ playlist on my iPod that I’ve used for the last three books, but this one was obviously not going to get written using my standard list.

This book had a slightly angsty feel to it, a bit alternative, acoustic and romantic.  So I went through my entire iTunes library (5000 of them!) and checked out some recommendations and came up with… a hours’ worth of writing music.  Yep, one whole hour.  I couldn’t use any from a prior playlist, and I had to match songs that complemented each other, that flowed well and were in keeping with my brand new hero.  Here’s what I ended up with (okay, you may not have heard of most of these bands.  That’s okay.  You should check them out anyway!):

  • penny flanaganDog Ears – The Howling
  • Dog Ears – Like Rain
  • Dog Ears – Mrs Winchester
  • Dog Ears – Onwards Onwards
  • Penny Flanagan – When You Were Mine
  • Penny Flanagan – Inseparable
  • Penny Flanagan – Common Heart
  • Penny Flanagan – Swallow Me
  • Penny Flanagan – Lap It Up
  • Penny Flanagan – Dig
  • Bic Runga – Drive
  • dog earsThe Unwinding Hours – Solstice
  • My Latest Novel – I Declare a Ceasefire
  • Snow Patrol – Chasing Cars
  • Owl City – Meteor Shower
  • Snow Patrol – Just Say Yes
  • Grovesnor – Dan

I can’t tell you how much I LOVE these songs.  I get little chills every time I hear them, even after a hundred-plus repeats!

The last thing I did was talk out my story with a writer.  Thanks to the wonderful Keziah Hill who offered up some great suggestions for a new scene I needed (but was clueless about)!

So, with those three things – hero, music, scene issues – I got finally unstuck and powered through the last 4K.  I AM SO HAPPY!!  And after I do just one more proofread, my hot doctor story is away!

Have you ever come unstuck?  And what do you do to fix it?  Would love to hear your suggestions and advice!

Inspirational words for 2013

Welcome to the new year, everyone!  This is the time I normally take stock of what I’ve done the previous year and blog about my goals for the upcoming one.  More on that in a later post: I want to do something a little different and talk about my four words for 2013.

They’re going to be four inspirational words that will be prominent in both in my personal and writing life.  Words that can be as broad as I want to make them, but will ultimately keep me on track to achieve my goals.  So let’s take a look at the first one:

productivityiconThis one is a given, I think.  To me, it means butt-in-chair-hands-on-keyboard and doing work.  And not just writing either – blog posts, emails, website content, anything where there will be a tangible result.  I love Dorothy Parker’s quote, “I hate writing but I love having written”, and I also love to see proof of my efforts i.e. page count.  The key for me is to have the next project on the go at the same time I’m finishing up the last, because if I’m not sure what my next is, I tend to flounder and stuff around and end up shopping at the Book Depository instead of writing 😀 So productivity is my top goal this year.

patienceicon

I think this one will be a biggie for me this year, because I am not naturally patient (I am quite at home with the iPodGen, thanks very much :smile:).  This year my boy starts high school (!) which means lots of changes to his learning and thinking.  Definitely will need patience for that!  Also, with my planned projects, I will need patience when submitting, waiting to hear back, editing, (possible) rejections, etc.  I will need to take time to understand that sometimes things are out of my control, decide which things matter and pursue those, then let the others go.

peaceicon

Another biggie.  I think everyone needs to pursue areas in which you can quieten your mind and find peace, be it a bath, an afternoon shopping without the kids or a writing retreat for one.  Stopping to appreciate what I have, realize there’s some things I just never will have (like a fast metabolism or the willpower to resist books and handbags :grin:) and coming to terms with that is important for optimum productivity.

joyiconLast one – not a P word this time!  I love this word.  I love all the connotations it conveys, like fun, delight, good times, laughter, happiness and optimism.  Sometimes when you’re in deadline hell, everyone wants your attention, work sucks, a family member is ill, you hate your new book cover or you just keep getting rejection after rejection, it’s hard to find joy.  Which means I turn to stuff that makes me happy.  For you it could be walking your dog, an intimate dinner with your loved one, music, surfing the internet or checking out your next story inspiration pictures.  There’s lots of opportunities to experience joy so go ahead and seek them out!

Do you have any inspirational words for the new year?  Want to share them?

Shiny new book!

moonlit encounters FINAL book pageIt’s here, it’s here!  FINALLY, after months of hard work, I can announce my first foray into novella writing AND indie publishing.  Moonlit Encounters is a collection of eight sweet romantic novellas and is available via our new writing venture, TWC Press. (and yep, that website AND the cover are my designs :grin:)  I am just so damn proud of my fellow authors and so thrilled we get to see this anthology out on the shelves.

My story, Damsel In This Dress, is a fish out of water story, and features Annie Ellis, a Christmas phobic New Yorker who ends up jilted and penniless in the middle of Aussie Yulefest.  Enter Noah Greene, a fancy-dress wearing alpha Aussie hero.  Noah and Annie were so much fun to write and I especially loved the chance to write Annie’s story in her viewpoint.

I’m talking about the book at the Desire blog, plus ARRA have kindly let us have a slot on their Release Day announcement schedule.  Drop by and you could win a copy.  Or you can snap it up for just 99c, which is a total bargain, considering the entire book is over 96K!!

new contract, new books!

Reading: Aftertime by Sophie Littlefield
Watching: Bob The Builder
Listening to: Break The Spell by Daughtry

Hello, gorgeous people! As you may be aware, I’ve been a little scarce with my posts, on account of… well.. lots of stuff – school, writing books and various workshops I’ve been developing.

But huzzah! Good news time! I’ve just signed a two-book contract with Desire, so next year I’ll have one (or possibly two!) new books out 😀 The first, if you follow my hashtag #babyplan on Twitter, is Baby Plan B (working title). If you’ve read Promoted to Wife? you will already have met AJ, (sister to Wife’s heroine, Emily). And my hero? Well, let’s just say he’s an old flame – and AJ’s own personal McDreamy 😀

The second book is yet to be decided, but I’m confident Marco (Luke’s cousin in Bed of Lies) will be the hero.  His perfect match is also his best friend, which should make for some great fireworks!  He has his own hashtag too (#hotMarco)  if you want to follow my progress.

I also have a bunch of other stuff in the works but I think I’ll leave the details out until I have more news 😉

Mid-week Technique: shifting goals

Keep those awesome writing questions coming! Today’s query: “what to do when your character goals change mid-story?”

So, let’s talk about the two types of character goals: internal and external. The external is a tangible thing, a want that the character is pursuing at the start of the story. This can be a wife, money, status, boyfriend, a new job, an object, escape from a terrible relationship, etc. In my latest book, A Precious Inheritance, both my hero and heroine desperately want the unpublished manuscript of a deceased best selling author. In my first book, my hero needs answers to his past.

The internal goal is something deep inside that character – a need, a desire – that drives them to action. Your characters are more often than not, unaware of this internal goal – to them, it’s all about the external. Your hero is not going to stop and think “I need a wife to gain control of my father’s shares and in the process will fulfill a deep-seated need for love and loyalty I’ve been lacking.” 😀 The internal is an emotional, unseen, driving force that enhances and feeds into their external goal. For example, your heroine may want to buy a home because deep down, she craves that sense of security and belonging that were lacking when she was growing up. I made a comprehensive list of goals (or wants) ages ago, so here they are:

  • Freedom
  • Adventure
  • Unconditional Love
  • Honour
  • Acceptance
  • Money/wealth
  • Family
  • Status quo
  • Status
  • Respect
  • Revenge
  • Justice
  • Power
  • Security/home
  • Knowledge

I have more on my Write a Novel in 3 months articles here and here.

The internal goals do not shift. That is the whole point of your character’s journey, their driving force that gets them from Chapter 1 to The End. Their internal goal has been formed and shaped throughout their lives, driving their choices.

What can change is their external goal. For example, a girl desperately wants to seduce her hot neighbor, so gets her male best friend to give her seduction techniques. At some point in the story, her external goal (the hot neighbor) changes to the best friend. In one of my works-in-progress, my warrior hero’s external goal is to escape captivity to live a life in solitude. Of course, this goal changes after he meets the heroine and they have to battle together to overthrow the evil king. What doesn’t change is his internal goal, which is peace and acceptance.

The other thing to consider is WHY their external goal changes. Is it because your character’s beliefs have changed? Has something happened? Have they gotten new insight or new information into a previous situation or happening that prompts the change?

Changing your character’s external goal is not bad. It can enhance and enrich your story, provide plot twists and keep your reader hooked. But be aware of why it’s changing. As long as it is in keeping with your character’s core beliefs then go for it!

Mid-week Technique – Deep POV

So here’s a question from a writer: “should I put everything into deep point of view when the heroine is doing stuff or only when she is thinking. Where is it good to keep 3rd person?”

Okay, let me preface this by saying I sometimes have NO CLUE what I’m doing when it comes to technical, writerly stuff 😀  That said, I’ll attempt to answer this question by providing insight into the way I write.  It may work for you, it may not.

So, what is deep point of view?  Simply, it is where you are in one character’s head so deeply that you’re no longer the author telling the story, you are your character.  It also means the absence of tags e.g. she thought, he wondered.  It’s a technique that adds an extra layer of emotional depth and punch to your story.  For example:

BEFORE:
John looked at his father, angry roiling through him.

AFTER:
You bastard.  Anger roiled, thick and all-encompassing.  I hate you.  I’ve always hated you.

By removing ‘his’ and ‘him’ which can distance you, I’ve focused on internal dialogue and the physical/emotional impact of that anger.

DPOV is also about using signature actions/reactions unique to your character, and can include phrases, internal thoughts, particular movements or ticks.

Should you put everything into deep POV?  And where is it good to keep third person?  You’re not gonna like this answer but… it depends on the story.  Told you :smile:.  I like to use DPOV at highly emotional moments – love scenes, black moments, emotional revelations – to create greater impact for the reader.  I like the immediacy of DPOV and the fact that we’re in the character’s head, thinking and feeling their emotions.  Anything that is done well, and creates a better way to tell the story is all right by me!

For further reading, I’d recommend this most awesome article at the RT BookReviews site.

And finally – anyone care to share your before/afters?