Monday 24 February 2014

"My Writing Process" Blog Tour #mywritingprocess

I could barely remember my way here, but Kathryn Eastman has nominated me for "My Writing Process" blog tour, and it was a good reason to find my way back to my blog.
I'm going to answer four questions as part of the blog tour:

What am I working on?
I'm in the middle of my fifth novel. I was aiming for a Gothic novel, but I'm not sure if this will be the end result. I think the Spanish summer sun isn't helping with the dark atmosphere I was looking for. In any case, there's a mystery and romance.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm hoping it will stand out for one reason or the other, but don't ask me, I'm not a good saleswoman! I write romantic fiction, but I try to provide it with a dark, sinister atmosphere and it's usually set in different parts of Spain.

Why do I write what I do? 
Because I love reading romantic fiction as a whole, but I particularly enjoy Gothic novels and romantic suspense, so I want people like me to enjoy what I write one day.

How does my writing process work?
Basically, I know the beginning and the ending of the story, but nothing of what is going on in-between, so the story pops up as I write and hopefully heads in the direction I'd first thought, but I'm not bothered if it decides to change direction. I don't plot, and haven't tried it, because I think I'd get bored with it if I knew what was going to happen.
I set myself a daily wordcount and force myself to reach it even when I'm not inspired (which tends to happen towards the middle of my work in progress, i.e. now).
I love reading and mentally editing other people's work, but when it comes to mine, I dread it, especially when it's the third time I'm reading through it. I already know who the baddy is and who's going to kiss the heroine!

I now have to think of three people to nominate for the "My Writing Process" blog tour and there are so many people I'd like to nominate, it will take me a while to decide, but I'll be back soon to let you know who they are.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Small pleasures make a big treasure

Maybe I should be blogging about my experience with writing, but to be honest, there are so many brilliant blogs out there on the subject, and written by real literary authorities that I wouldn't be contributing much. 

What I really want to write about today is small details in life. We hear too much moaning nowadays. The prices, the service, the traffic... and yes, I'm not saying that these things aren't a pain, but I'm trying to look at all the positive things that surround me. All those small details we forget to notice as we run to school, go shopping or push ourselves into a stuffy underground (OK, finding pleasures here might be pushing it a bit too far, or even weird). But if we start taking more notice of our surroundings, we can draw snippets of happiness from those small pleasures, and after all, lots of little happy moments may add up to make a big treasure. 

So here are a few things I like:

  • I like the waxing moon against a brightening blue sky with the early morning light.
  • I like to hear the cheerful (or demanding) tweet of a Robin welcoming me back home in the winter. A flash of red hopping from one branch to another.
  • I like standing with my back to the fireplace and having to give a step forward when it becomes too hot.
  • I like noticing how the cake has risen in the oven and anticipate the taste by the smell (just before my very annoying oven burns it; then I know exactly how it will taste).
  • I like the excitement of children the night before their birthday or Christmas.
  • I like reading something I can't remember having written and feeling quite proud of it.
  • I like happy endings and books that leave me with a smile after I've finished it.
  • I like the evening sky tinted in vivid reds, purples and oranges in the winter.
  • I like opening my window in spring and hearing the distant sound (and distant is the key word here) of children in the school playground.

I could probably go on and on, but now it's your turn... 

Saturday 5 November 2011

Seasonal Writing

My mood drops with the temperature as the cold seasons arrive. I only realize this when the sun comes back and the green shoots start to appear. That's when I can compare my new sunny mood to the gloomy cloud hovering above me during the winter.

I'm sure this isn't very professional, but my mood influences my writing. The story becomes darker during the overcast months and lighter as the days become brighter. In fact, it's lucky I don't write romantic comedy. The upbeat nature of the story might turn into a tragic or angry one if I haven't finished it before the leaves begin to fall.

There are many other factors that influence my writing, like tiredness, what I'm reading, what I've just learnt... I admire the writers who can sit in their writing bubble and block out the outside world while they plunge into their own imaginary one.

I do admit, however, that this is a two-way path for me. I have found that what I'm writing can influence my mood too. I've even ended up laughing as I wrote a scene, so hopefully I will be able to find a balance between my seasonal moods and what I write. Otherwise, I will have to write horror novels during the cold seasons and romantic fiction during the other half of the year.

What influences your writing?

Wednesday 14 September 2011

If I could be anyone I'd be...

My dog. Even if I do admire many people, I can't think of a single human being who'd live a better life than my dog. Lazing around all day, I'd get my food brought to me, I wouldn't have to clear the table or wash dishes, I'd get tickled by raising my eyebrows into a don't-I-look-cute pose, I'd get to be told I'm a good girl for just sitting down or lying down... And as for my duties, when I feel like it I'd just have to shout at someone. If I got really lucky I might even get the chance to bite them.

However, Talli Roland's new heroine, Willow Watts, gets pushed into being Marilyn Monroe and she doesn't get the chance to laze around, it fact she finds herself in the most extraordinary situations...

About Watching Willow Watts
For Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop and nights watching TV, as the pension-aged residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when a YouTube video of Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits after a viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image in a frame.

Instantly, Willow's town is overrun with fans flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers -- whose shops and businesses are cashing in -- Willow embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves.

But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village's newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

Tuesday 23 August 2011

How do your characters sleep at night?

A few nights ago I was planning to rob a bank with a bunch of thugs (none of them George Clooney unfortunately). I won't disclose the details in case I ever decide to take up that career, but when I woke up I felt as if it had all been real. For a whole day, I had this burden on my shoulders that only lifted when I remembered that it had only been a dream. I kept reminding myself that I didn't have to feel bad about going into a bank and shouting at the bank manager -although that could happen even if I wasn't robbing the bank. I didn't have to feel anxious in case I got caught, because there would be no grand escape or car persecution. It was only a dream.

However, my conscience had something to say about my dream's scenario. It was telling me it was wrong. So I keep wondering how swindlers, robbers, murderers and any other offenders can sleep at night. Don't they feel bad about it? Isn't there a little voice telling them that that's wrong?

I've been reading Nicola Morgan's fantastic Write to be Published and it has a whole section on characters. One of the things she mentions is villains and how they should have some redeemable feature (she says it much better than I do, of course, but I've paraphrased her). And the truth is, that hopefully the baddies in our stories have a conscience too, the little voice reminding them that they're behaving badly. We will have a rounder character if they hesitate before acting and have doubts eating them up. If there is a believable reason behind their behaviour.

So, I'm going to dig into my baddy's behaviour, make him think about it (maybe he should sit on the thinking step) and I hope he will feel bad about it.

Monday 11 April 2011

Finding hope in our friends' success

The past weeks have been full of good news for several writer friends. There's been a bout of joy rippling through twitter triggered by writers being taken on by fantastic agents, astonishing book deals, successful book launches... 

The bearers of these good news received congratulations from all corners of the world sent by people whom they've never met in person, but they were honest messages. At least I think and hope they were, despite having recently read an excellent blog post about jealousy among struggling writers which got me thinking about this. In these cases, however, I'm convinced that we were all genuinely over the moon with their success. 

Most of our happiness lied in the fact that they are very nice people whom we even consider friends, but I believe that part of our delight lies in seeing hope in their examples. These writers have worked hard, suffered rejections and been eaten by self-doubt for years, but they found the light at the end of the tunnel and they have shown us that it's worth all that effort and tears in the end. Their well-deserved success is the encouragement we need when our faith flags and despair casts a shadow over our expectations.

I can say that I'm truly delighted for those people and I hope that one day they will be as happy for me.

Monday 7 March 2011

A foreigner in your own country?

I've been reading Head over Heel by Chris Harrison this weekend. It's his witty account of life in Italy through the eyes of a foreigner and it got me thinking about my life in Spain.

I've lived here all my life but I still consider myself a foreigner in many ways and there are things I find difficult to get used to.

For instance, Spanish people are extraordinarily welcoming. If they invite you to pop in for a coffee or drink whenever you want, they mean it. In fact they'll give you a bright smile when you knock at their door early on a Sunday morning and say "Hi, we've come all five of us and the dog for lunch today" and stay on until twelve at night. Even if their fridge is completely empty they will fabricate an edible meal with an egg and a potato (also called tortilla). 

Now this sounds idyllic if you're the one knocking on the door, but if you're the one answering it in your pyjamas which you had planned to keep on all day whilst lounging on the sofa with a book and eating nothing but crisps, the scenario may not be as ideal. Maybe that beaming grin is actually a muscle spasm caused by the shock of opening the door to the couple with the hyperactive children who were so kind as to decorate your walls with inedible ink while you had to look through 500 photos of their trip to the beach. "Oh, look there's the little one with a full bucket. Look, here he is with an empty bucket. Ah, look at him filling the bucket..." 

You just know you will have a stiff neck the next day from all that nodding and you will probably not be able to recover your usual mouth shape after stretching your lips into a smile for so many hours. The subtle hints in the form of a yawn or "Hey, is it that late?" gradually lose their subtlety, "Such a pity we've got to work tomorrow," "I'm exhausted and we've such an early start tomorrow", "Don't you have to work tomorrow?" until you finally get up, say goodnight and ask them to lock up after they leave.

But then of course, I'm still a foreigner and I've got lots to learn about hospitality.

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