Monthly Archives: October 2012

Help, I’m Haunted! Why a ghost is in my novel & how it’s freaking me out!

Seriously, I don’t know how thriller and horror writers do it.

Write scary stuff that is.

As soon as I write or even think about something scary my mind becomes hypersensitive to anything and everything around me. I jump when the phone rings. I flinch when a strand of hair falls loose onto my cheek. I even gasp when the toast pops up (C’mon, I bet you’ve done that too, right?). Yet for some reason I’ve decided to create a ghost character in my new work-in-progress.

Don’t worry, I haven’t gone over to the dark side to write horror novels, I’m still writing humorous and heartwarming fiction. It’s just that I’ve thrown a ghost into the mix to liven things up in my story, appropriately titled: Haunted Housewives.

This is the second in my ‘Touch of Magic’ themed romantic comedy books, the first being Fast Forward (which involves time travel). My aim with these books is to create fun stories of modern life but with some sort of magical or paranormal twist.

So I thought a ghost would be a perfect inclusion into one of these stories to spice up the tension and create some funny scenarios.

Until freaky things started happening.

Since starting this story I have almost started a fire in the kitchen, had a plate slip right out of my hand and break even though I was sure I was holding it firmly, and opened the fridge to find the drink tray on the door filled to the brim with milk (almond milk – we don’t do dairy, but that’s another and totally irrelevant subject!). And my cat is acting like he’s possessed, biting me for no apparent reason. Okay, so those things could just be because I’m a worn out mother going on little sleep (and the milk was probably my son despite insisting he put the lid back on tightly and closed the door gently), but I’m a writer. I like to stretch the imagination a little. Or a lot. 🙂

But this is interesting... When I was deciding on a name for the main character, a name popped into my mind. I liked the first name but the surname didn’t feel completely right. I asked myself ‘What would a better surname be?’ and instantly another one came to me. I googled it. The name was the same name of a murder victim, and (with tears in my eyes) I read about her terrifying ordeal in an online newspaper. Then I gasped. The article mentioned a street name not far from her house which had the same name as the original surname I’d thought of.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

I decided to keep the first name (Sally) for the character but change the surname to something different. However, I am thinking of dedicating this book to the woman who died to honour her memory.

So for the next few months or so, ghosts will be on my mind. I’ve always loved ghost stories and movies and television shows with ghosts in them, so I’m excited to be writing this ghostly character and seeing what mischief she gets up to and what challenging and funny situations she puts the main character into. It’s definitely not a spooky story by nature, but I hope there will be a few shocks and surprises throughout.

Do you have a favourite ghost story or movie?

Do you have any spooky experiences to share?

Oh, here’s another one… I didn’t even realise this blog post would be on Halloween! How appropriate. Happy Halloween! (And don’t visit my house for Trick or Treating because I’ve already eaten all the goodies. 😉

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Novellas: The Writer’s Quick-Fix

Writers often slave over their manuscripts for months, sometimes missing out on sleep, and the writing is only half of it. Then comes editing, revising, editing, and so on. But because we love our craft we keep going – book after book after book. There is nothing like the reward of a finished book and a story well told.

Another option for those who need a writing ‘fix’ is to try your hand at writing a novella. Longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, novellas allow us to tell a story in a shorter amount of time but with that same thrill of creating characters and scenes that will take us (and the reader) on an emotional journey.

Shorter doesn’t necessarily mean easier though – you have been warned! You still need to work on characterisation, goal, motivation, and conflict, and be able to show enough character growth through the shorter word count. But they are usually much quicker to write and edit, and because of the advance of e-publishing and self-publishing, novellas seem to be more widely available nowadays.

Novellas can be produced more quickly, you can explore certain ideas that may not be sustainable through an entire novel, they are good for seasonal stories (eg: Christmas), and they can also be used as prequels or sequels to longer works of fiction. For the reader, they are a bite sized read that can be devoured in one go during a lunch break or before bed, but often still providing that same sense of emotional satisfaction that comes from reading a novel. They are a good way to discover new authors too, without committing to a full length book.

I recently wrote my first novella, STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE; the first in a series of novellas linked by a quirky character named Lulu. It took me about three weeks to write the first draft. And when I say three weeks, I don’t mean three full-on weeks, I mean snippets of writing time here and there around motherhood and other duties! So if I didn’t have much else to do, I could probably have written it in about a week (says the optimistic part of me 😉 )

How did I come up with the idea for my novella? Sleepless in Seattle was on television and because I am a sucker for stories of ‘fate’ and romance that is ‘just like magic’, an idea about an online matchmaker and Love Coach came to me. But in this case, the matchmaker has a little secret. Here’s the blurb for the story…

Actress Anna Hilford has a major crush, but not on just any guy – Karl Drake, the leading actor in the television drama on which she works as an extra. Sick of being loveless and second best in the shadow of her famous sister, Anna seeks the help of Lulu from LuluTheLoveAngel.com to give her the courage and determination to follow what she believes is her destiny and transform from ‘extra’ to ‘leading lady’ in both life and love. What she doesn’t realize however, is that Lulu really is an angel and destiny has other ideas.

I found writing this novella fun and rewarding, though still a bit of hard work here and there! And in case you’re wondering, Lulu’s website does exist, though she told me she’s having a little vacation on Cloud Nine and will hopefully be back soon 😉

~ Have you written a novella? Feel free to give yours a plug in the comments.

~ Do you read novellas? What are some that you’ve enjoyed reading recently?