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Special Guest Author Interview: Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan visits today for a special interview…

1. Welcome Jenny! Can you tell us a little about your latest book, ROSIE HOPKINS’ SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS?

It’s about Rosie, a nurse. She has to go and look after her elderly great-aunt in the countryside, and wind up her affairs, which is when she realises that her aunt’s old sweetshop could be brought back to life.

2. You also have a book called MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE. What do you love about writing stories with a food theme?

Oh I’m just greedy, really. It’s a nice way to incorporate two things I love to do; baking and books!

3. Did you always dream of becoming an author? When you were little was there anything else you wanted to be when you grew up?

Ha, I wanted to be a nun. Or a writer, yes. But I never really thought it would come true, I still pinch myself sometimes.

4. Is food a big part of your family’s life, and what do you love cooking the most?

I never used to cook at all, I was absolutely awful, until my first child was born and then I thought, no, I must cook for him, I don’t want him having too much processed food. So I have learned, but it’s been very touch and go. Some things are better than others! I make a great lemon chicken and my stews are good but the less said about my bernaise sauce the better 🙂 I am not a natural chef, that’s for sure, I have to work at it.

5. If you could name three essential ingredients that make up a great novel, what would they be?

Characters you care about is sometimes the only thing I think is important. If you like/ care about the people, it almost doesn’t matter what they get up to after that, you’ll follow them anywhere. If you don’t care about them, the cleverest plot in the world won’t help you.

6. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

Ooh does it matter if they’re alive? I would have LOVED to have met Douglas Adams, he was such an inspiration. Richard Feynman too. Alive, I suppose the Obamas would be SO interesting, if they could actually tell you anything. Ha, and Stephen Moffatt, because I want him to give me a job 🙂 .

7. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

YES! But no-one ever listens to me! The only thing that ever works is typing every day. Not research, not editing, not playing about on the internet. There’s no such thing as the muse and there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Bum, seat, words- 1000 is a good starting point- every single day. That’s the job. Doesn’t matter if you think it’s rubbish, fix it in the edit, that’s what editing is for. But until the words are on the page, you have nothing to work with, and you can’t get started. I always say this and no- one ever wants to believe me, but it’s a universal truth I’m afraid.

8. Are you working on another book, what’s next for you?

Yup, I am working on a book about lovers in Paris who work in a chocolate shop, and I have a book coming out in July for Doctor Who, called Dark Horizons. Then Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe comes out in October, and I’d like to write a sequel to Sweetshop, so we’re very busy!

Thanks for being on the blog, Jenny!

Jenny Colgan’s books have been described as ‘sharp and witty’ (Observer), ‘funny, magical, and moving’ (Time Out), and ‘hugely entertaining and very funny’ (Cosmopolitan).Visit Jenny’s website  and check out her books here .

 

…Remember, as part of the Mouthwatering May special event, you could win prizes simply by commenting below and on any of the posts during May. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too, to be eligible for prizes 🙂

Special Guest Author Interview: Dianne Blacklock

I’d like to welcome accomplished Australian author of women’s fiction novels, Dianne Blacklock to the blog!

1.       Welcome Dianne, can you tell us a little about your book, THE SECRET INGREDIENT?

Thanks for having me! THE SECRET INGREDIENT centres on Andie, who gave up her dreams of being a chef when she married Ross. He left a wife and three kids for her, so Andie feels she must put their relationship first – but in reality that translates to putting Ross first. After ten years she’s feeling restless and dissatisfied, Ross seems distant, and not a little secretive … After her marriage implodes, Andie sets about to take back her life, and fulfil her original dream, whatever the obstacles – one very large one being Dominic Gerou, the head chef in the restaurant where she finds work.

 

2.       What do you think attracts readers to stories with a food theme?

Perhaps it’s because it’s something we can all relate to – we all have to eat! Our lives revolve around food to a greater or lesser extent, we celebrate with food, families come together around food, people romance each other over food.

 

3.       How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a novel?

Probably about  5-6 months of ‘real’ writing – now that I don’t have young children. But there can be anything up to 3 months of faffing about.

 

4.       Do you think there is a ‘secret ingredient’ to having a successful career as an author?

If there is, can you share it with me? Basically I think it’s a mixture of talent, discipline, and just plain luck!

 

5.       What do you enjoy most about being an author?

I love most when I’m totally in the zone, writing as fast as I can to keep up with my characters. Oh, and being able to wear tracksuit pants to work!

 

6.       Is food a big part of your family life? Do you have a signature meal or recipe that’s a favourite in your household?

With four boys, food was certainly a big part of family life, but it was generally about quantity not quality! Fortunately as they grew older they began to appreciate more variety, though on birthdays and special occasions they still always ask for a regular baked dinner. But I reckon I cook a mean baked dinner, exactly like my mum’s. My ‘signature dish’ would have to be the plum pudding icecream I have been making in vast quantities for extended family and friends every Christmas for more than twenty years.

 

7.       If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

Gosh, only one? I had to go through a whole list in my head first: George Clooney or Brad Pitt, so that I could ask them all about their humanitarian work (translation: so I could stare at them); Meryl Streep because I adore her; Barack Obama would make an interesting dinner companion, I would imagine, and Jon Stewart (U.S commentator & comedian) would be fascinating and hilarious … Too many interesting, intelligent, stunning people to choose from! But if I must narrow it down to one, I think it would have to be Aaron Sorkin, who is my favourite living writer. No, he doesn’t write novels, he writes for film and television (most notably The West Wing). I would love to hear all about his process, gather any tips, and just hope some of the magic rubbed off!

 

8.       Do you find it difficult to keep coming up with new ideas for books?

It does get more difficult – there are plenty of ideas floating around my head, but executing them in an original way is the challenge. I am wary of writing the same characters, treading the same ground, repeating myself.

 

9.       Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

Read and write. Read as much as you can, then think about what worked in the book, and also what didn’t work. Try to establish a writing routine. Timetable it like anything else – paid work, exercise, housework, whatever you spend time doing on a regular basis. If you can’t find the time to write regularly, you’re not really serious about it.

 

10.   Are you working on another book, what’s next for you?

Speaking of establishing a routine, I’m settling into one after an extended break spent selling up and moving house. I’ll be doing little else for the next few months. For several years now I have had a book out in the second half of the year, but the move made that schedule impossible. So I’m working towards a March 2013 release, all going well.

 

~ Dianne Blacklock has been a teacher, trainer, counsellor, check-out chick, and even one of those annoying market researchers you avoid in shopping centres. Nowadays she tries not to annoy anyone by staying home and writing. She is the author of Call Waiting, Wife for Hire, Almost Perfect, False Advertising, Crossing Paths, Three’s a Crowd, The Right Time, and most recently, The Secret Ingredient. Visit Dianne and check out her fantastic books on her website here. 

Thanks for visiting the blog, Dianne!

…Remember, as part of the Mouthwatering May special event, you could win prizes simply by commenting below and on any of the posts during May. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too, to be eligible for prizes :)

Special Guest Author Interview: Trisha Ashley

I’m thrilled to welcome author Trisha Ashley to the blog today as part of my Mouthwatering May special event.

1) Welcome Trisha! Can you tell us a little about your new book, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues?

It’s set in rural West Lancashire, like several of my recent books. I didn’t start out to write a series – they’re all stand-alone novels – but there’s some overlapping of places and characters.  The village in Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is Sticklepond, where A Winter’s Tale and Chocolate Wishes also took place.

My heroine, Tansy, inherits a run-down shoe shop from her great-aunt and, when her life goes all Cinderella without a happy ending, she throws herself into recreating it as a bridal shoe emporium.

It is a huge success, which is a bit unfortunate for reclusive Shakespearian actor Ivo Hawksley, who has moved next door in search of some peace and quiet.  Like Tansy, he has a few demons from his past to deal with – it’s all about coming to terms with what has happened in the past and how it has shaped you, so you can move on.

I suppose I’d describe  my books as romantic comedy, though the humour arises from the characters themselves – I don’t try and write in a funny way, I just write.

2) You also have a book called Chocolate Wishes.  What do you love about writing stories with a food theme?

The research, of course!  The idea for the Chocolate Wishes of the title came about when I remembered making chocolate Easter eggs for my son when he was small and putting in a message from the Easter Bunny: I thought suddenly that fortune cookies would be so much nicer if they were made of chocolate…

Food is often a strong theme in my books because  it can be comforting, exciting, reassuring, celebratory or simply an expression of love.  I have no cookery training, it’s all just recipes I picked up along the way, or learned from my mother.

Other strong themes in my novels are gardening, especially roses and knot gardens, family (even if sometimes a little dysfunctional) and friendship, from which can grow all kinds of love.

 

3) How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a novel?

On average, I suppose about four months, though the ideas for the next book will have been fermenting gently on the backburner while I was finishing off the last one.  I have twice written a first draft in a fortnight in an unstoppable outpouring, which was exhilarating even if a trifle exhausting.

 

4)  You share recipes in your books.  Do you have an all time favourite recipe?

The rich dark fruit cake recipe in Wedding Tiers: I use it for birthdays, book launches, Christmas… It’s easy and always works.  The very worst that can happen is that the edges catch a little, or the fruit sinks to the bottom, but it will taste wonderful anyway.

 

5)  If you could name three essential ingredients that make up a great novel, what would they be?

The obvious answer would be: a beginning, middle and an end.  By that I mean that a book should immediately transport you to a different place and then take you on a journey through it, with stop-offs to see the sights and have a few adventures.  If a reader writes and says that I have provided them with that escape hatch, that Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience, then there can be no finer compliment.

6)  What do you love most about being an author?

 I usually write in first person and I adore becoming someone else and slipping off into a different world.  But when all the characters have taken on a life of their own and start having conversations in your head when you’re trying to go to sleep at night, that can be annoying.  I know if I don’t put the light on and write it all down, I’ll have forgotten it by morning.

I also enjoy taking two very different people, building the chemistry between them and then finding a way to bring them together.  There have often been traumas in their past lives that make this outcome difficult to achieve, but I find that challenge exciting.

But the bottom line is, to quote Stephen King (I do love his book called On Writing!), writing is the most fun you can have on your own!

7)  Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

This may sound very obvious, but it has to be said: writers write, it’s in the nature of the job description.  You write every day and feel guilty and bereft if you have finished a novel and not started on the next.  So, don’t just think about it, do it. Get in the writing habit, if only for ten or fifteen minutes a day and then build on that.  However busy you are, if you really want to write, you will find the time.

1) If you can’t get started at all, read Natalie Goldberg’s book, ‘Writing Down the Bones’.

2) Once you’ve got into the daily writing habit, then do read Stephen King’s book, ‘On Writing ‘ – he really tells it like it is.

3)  Read my novel Happy Endings – the heroine, Tina Devino, is a novelist who also runs a manuscript critique service and there are letters  to and from aspiring novelists throughout the book.  You will learn a lot about what – and what not – to do!

4)  Read a lot of recently published novels in the genre you are aiming at.  Consider what length they are and what the readers of that kind of book expect from a novel.

5)  You will know your main characters are three dimensional when they start having conversations with each other in your head.

But if you never get beyond chapter three don’t despair and give up, but try short stories instead: some of us are built to be sprinters and others for the marathon, you just have to find the writing form that suits you best.

*

Thank you so much Trisha for taking the time to visit the blog, you’ve given some valuable advice for aspiring authors, and your book cover is beautiful!

~ Trisha Ashley was born in St. Helens, Lancashire, and now lives in the beautiful surroundings of North Wales. She has written twelve romantic comedies and her last novel, The Magic of Christmas, was a Sunday Times bestseller. A Winter’s Tale and Wedding Tiers have been previously shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for romantic comedy. Every Woman for Herself was voted one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years.Visit Trisha’s website here, and twitter here.

…Remember, as part of the Mouthwatering May special event, you could win prizes simply by commenting below and on any of the posts during May. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too, to be eligible for prizes 🙂

How To Bake A Novel – a recipe of words

I got to thinking recently that writing a novel is a lot like cooking, so I thought I’d create a little recipe for all those writers out there…

 

How To Bake A Novel:

Preparation time: Varies, from months to years.

Serves: Potentially millions (if you’re lucky)

 

Equipment:

  • One working computer, word processor, or large notepad and pen
  • One committed writer
  • *optional but highly recommended: truckloads of beverages and snacks

 

Ingredients:

  • One main plot
  • A handful of sub-plots
  • One to a few main characters
  • Several minor characters
  • At least one setting, add more to taste
  • One large cup of emotion
  • A splash of humour
  • A teaspoon of mystery (or more depending on genre of the recipe, er… novel)
  • One or two cups of cold-pressed extra virgin (or not) organic dialogue
  • One or two goals
  • One heaped tablespoon of motivation
  • Two cups of conflict
  • One cup of resolution mixed with a happy ending (depending on genre)
  • A sprinkling of hooks and cliffhangers
  • *optional but highly recommended: a twist of sexual tension and a dollop of romance

 

Method:

1. Prepare by opening a new word document or a new page on your notepad, and give it a title, eg: ‘Best Novel Ever’, or ‘I’ll Think Of A Title Later’.

2. Write the opening sentence, or the last sentence, or any words you can think of so you can officially say, “I’ve started writing my novel.”

3. Consume beverages and snacks.

4. Introduce one main character, a goal, and splash in some conflict (save the rest for later).

5. Sprinkle a hook or cliffhanger at the end of chapter one to entice further devouring of the story.

6. Add some of the other characters and sub-plots, and stir in some emotion and mystery.

7. Consume more beverages and snacks.

8. Splash in some humour and keep drizzling in the organic dialogue throughout the whole baking/writing process.

9. Combine the motivation with some more of the conflict for a spicy mixture.

10. If adding the optional ingredient of sexual tension, squeeze a little in now.

11. Continue stirring the plot and the sub-plots together so they combine well, making sure to keep topping up the emotion.

12. Consume beverages and snacks.

13. Add in the remaining conflict, sexual tension, mystery, and hooks.

14. Finish by placing the cup of resolution and happy endings on top, and decorate with a dollop of romance.

15. Bake in a closed drawer or backed-up file on your computer, and leave completely alone for at least a couple of weeks, or more if you’ve forgotten to attend to necessary tasks such as showering, cleaning, feeding the family and pets, seeing real live people, checking the mail…etc.

16. Open the file and give it a taste test. Read through it and make any obvious changes and improvements, adding more of the ingredients as needed.

17. For best results, get a trusted friend to taste test it too.

18. Make further improvements.

19. Bake it for a little longer if necessary.

20. Pull bits of it apart and throw them out. But just in case, wrap them up and store them safely away for future reference.

21. Remove the excess words and overused ingredients.

22. Repeat steps 11 and 13.

23. Add extra sweetness to the dollop of romance if required.

24. Decorate and plate-up the finished piece with all the pizazz you can find.

25. Hand it over to a professional, who’ll probably get you to start over at step 20 again.

26. Repeat steps until it tastes just right, or a deadline forces you to serve it up.

27. Consume beverages and snacks to reward yourself for all the hard work.

28. Attend to the necessary tasks that you’ve once again neglected.

29. Smile politely at people who say, “The novel was great, I read it in one day. Hurry up and write the next one!”

30. Begin at step 1 all over again.

 

*Note: Results may vary between people. Recipe not suitable for freezing.

Thanks for reading! And remember, all comments left on blog posts during May will go into the draw for some tasty prizes! Click on the ‘mouthwatering may’ tag below to see all may blog posts, or click on the category on the right side menu. Also, make sure you subscribe to the blog to be eligible 😉

Mouthwatering Moment… by ME!

Today I thought I’d share one of my own Mouthwatering Moments with you! This scene is from THE JANUARY WISH, and unfortunately it is not published, but I hope it will be one day.

‘You never got to eat any Death by Chocolate,’ Mark said, a smile oozing from the corner of his mouth. ‘There’s still an hour and a half left of your birthday, how about we try and catch Café Lagoon before they close, and grab something to take-away?’

Sylvia’s smile grew wider. ‘As Grace told me today, ‘every birthday is a gift worth celebrating’, so I think it’s my duty to make the most of it.’

‘Especially at your age,’ Mark said, spicing his words with sarcasm.

Sylvia twisted her lips to one side and gave him an evil glare. ‘Watch what you say, mister, or –’

‘Or what?’

‘Or…I’ll thump you with my walking stick.’

Mark snorted. ‘In that case, I better think before I speak.’ It felt good to muck around with Sylvia, especially after the stress of tonight. ‘Anyway, in all seriousness, I think Grace is one wise girl.’

‘She sure is,’ Sylvia replied, accepting Mark’s offer of his outstretched hand.

At ten minutes to eleven they pulled up outside Café Lagoon, and Mark jumped out, before ducking his head back in the car. ‘What can I get the birthday girl?’

‘I’ll have a hot chocolate,’ Sylvia replied.

‘And to eat?’

‘Um… surprise me.’

Mark smiled and rushed inside. A staff member was wiping down tables and the last of the customers were filtering out. He paid for his order and then got back in the car, placing the cardboard tray containing the hot drinks on Sylvia’s lap, and the paper bag containing her ‘surprise’ between the two front seats.

‘Let me guess…a dandelion chai for you?’ Sylvia asked.

‘Of course.’

She tried to peer into the paper bag but he stopped her. ‘Uh-uh, wait till we get to the lookout. It’s a surprise, remember?’

~*~

My favourite meal: It’s hard to choose one favourite meal, but a meal I cook often that I love is lamb cutlets with sauteed bok choy and mushrooms, drizzled with toasted pine nuts and mustard dressing. The combination of flavours is beautiful.

My favourite treat: Guylian Belgian chocolate seashells (but I usually only have them a couple of times a year – birthday and Christmas!)

My favourite drink: A frothy soy hot chocolate 🙂

As well as this blog, I have a website you can visit here. And remember to leave a comment below and subscribe to the blog to be in the running for the Mouthwatering May prize draw at the end of the month! (You can see the prizes and rules here.)

Fiona Palmer answers Juliet’s Ten Awkward Author Questions!

In this segment, authors will be subjected to a list of awkward questions that may reveal more about themselves than they really wish to share, and they will receive a score on the ‘Braveometer’. If they choose to answer only five questions, they are a ‘Brave Author’, if they answer 6 to 9 questions they are a ‘Mega-Brave Author’, and if they answer all 10 questions they are an ‘Ultra-Brave Author’!

Please welcome Fiona Palmer to the blog! Not only is Fiona brave for answering these questions, she is also generous, as she is giving away a copy of her new book, THE ROAD HOME!

1.      If only one of your books could have been / could be published, which one would you choose? (C’mon, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, I love them all, there’s no way I could choose.’ Time to be ruthless, these are the Ten Awkward Questions after all!)

Hmm, I’d have to say the fourth book I’m writing as I’ve grown so much as a writer and I’ve learnt so much now, whereas my first book I was a complete novice. I look back at my first book and cringe with what I know now. LOL

2.      Okay, now which one of your children/family members would you… nah, just kidding! Which of the following words most accurately describes your best personality trait (you must pick only one!):

Punctual. Good listener. Neat.  Graceful. Generous. Cheerful.

I’d like to say cheerful, but there are days where that just doesn’t happen (I have kids!!) so I’d have to stick with punctual. I just hate being late. If someone says, meet me at 7, then I have to be there by that time, even a little early so I’m not leaving them waiting. My watch is my best friend. 🙂

3.      Which of the following words most accurately describes your worst most challenging personality trait (even if you’re perfect, you must pick one):

Always late. Blabbermouth. Slob. Complete klutz. Scrooge. Grumpy pants.

Well we can rule out the first one. I do like a bit of goss…(I work at the local post office, it’s practically the grapevine lol) But I’d have to go with klutz. But more a klutz in my mind. I can be totally gullible and sometimes just be on a whole other wave length. (I could blame having kids, but I was like this at high school. I have stories, one was ironing my face…I know I hear you all going WHAT, but it happened…and don’t get me started on the other things!)

4.      Have you ever had a romantic crush on one of your characters? Who and why?

It was Will from my first book. Who wouldn’t want the hunky wealthy next-door farmer? I always wanted to marry a farmer, until I realised the farm would come first LOL.

5.      When writing an important scene, do you act it out to allow you to better describe what’s happening?

No.  Well in a way, it’s acted out in my head like a movie. I’ll be staring at a wall as I become lost in my head as the characters come alive and I watch them go about their business. Then I come to and realise my kids have been yelling at me for the last ten minutes! Kids+writing=hard work.

6.      Do you talk to yourself when writing or coming up with plot ideas?

Again I do, but internally. I’m not a verbal person, I’d much prefer typing emails than phone calls.  Just as well I don’t do it out loud because I think I’d scare a lot of people. And it’s a lot faster just letting my mind whizz through the words and ideas. Talking them would slow me down. (Oh and I also have this problem where my brain and mouth aren’t connected very well. I can think of something to say but it comes out my mouth different! It’s a curse.)

7.      Who would be ideal to play YOU in a movie of your life?

I’d have to say Sandra Bullock – Her character in Miss Congeniality is close (I’m a tomboy) and she played that so well, she’s not afraid to be a dork.

8.      If you could be any book character for one day, who would you be and why?

Elizabeth Bennet. Because I love her spirit and hey, she’s married to Mr Darcy and gets to live in a gorgeous old house.

9.      You’re about to be left on a deserted island for a year, and while your basic food and water needs will be met, you can only bring one extra thing from the following. Which would you choose?

a) A pen and notepad that never runs out

b) An unlimited supply of books

c) An unlimited supply of chocolate, coffee, or alcohol (your choice)

d) A gorgeous man/woman depending on your preference

Wow all of them together would be perfect. Okay just one. Hmm I’d have to say the books because then I could escape to all different places and not have to worry about running out of ideas!

10.  If you had the attention of the whole world for two minutes what would you say?

Really I think I couldn’t do it, the pressure would be too much. Trying to figure out what would be the perfect most useful thing to say would fry my brain. Even now I’m thinking OMG what would I say!!

Thanks Fiona, you have been awarded Ultra-Brave Author status on the braveometer!

 

 

 

You can visit Fiona at her website, Facebook, and Twitter (@fiona_palmer)

 

*To be in the draw to WIN a copy of Fiona’s brand new book (released this week!). THE ROAD HOME, please comment below and answer the following question:

“What would YOU say to the world if you had everyone’s attention for two minutes?”

(Winner drawn Monday 26th March)

Fiona Lowe answers Juliet’s Ten Awkward Author Questions!

In this segment, authors will be subjected to a list of awkward questions that may reveal more about themselves than they really wish to share, and they will receive a score on the ‘Braveometer’. If they choose to answer only five questions, they are a ‘Brave Author’, if they answer 6 to 9 questions they are a ‘Mega-Brave Author’, and if they answer all 10 questions they are an ‘Ultra-Brave Author’!

Please welcome Fiona Lowe to the blog! *applause*

 

1. If only one of your books could have been / could be published, which one would you choose? (C’mon, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, I love them all, there’s no way I could choose.’ Time to be ruthless, these are the Ten Awkward Questions after all!)

Logically, if my very first book hadn’t  been published then perhaps none of the others would have been. An author learns with each book she writes and I doubt I could have written Boomerang Bride without the foundation of the previous eleven medical romances. I love this book for a heap of reasons….it is my first single title, it is a completely different style of book from my category romances, it struggled to get published and now it is a RT Book Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee and Harlequin are going to print publish it for their NA Reader Service.

 

2. Okay, now which one of your children/family members would you… nah, just kidding! Which of the following words most accurately describes your best personality trait (you must pick only one!): Punctual. Good listener. Neat.  Graceful. Generous. Cheerful.

Ohhh, hard choice between generous and cheerful. Better go with cheerful.

 

3. Which of the following words most accurately describes your worst most challenging personality trait (even if you’re perfect, you must pick one):

Always late. Blabbermouth. Slob. Complete klutz. Scrooge. Grumpy pants.

This one is much easier to answer.  Blabbermouth in that I like to talk, but NOT in disclosing secrets because I can be a vault of information if required.

 

4. Have you ever had a romantic crush on one of your characters? Who and why?

LOL, EVERY single hero I write. I think you have to love him to write him so you can show him warts and all and make your reader fall in love with him.

 

5. When writing an important scene, do you act it out to allow you to better describe what’s happening?

If it features a lot of movement then I act it out. I have even hung upside down from a window to replicate a scene.  Once when I wrote a dinner scene with eight people, I drew a seating chart so I knew who was sitting where.

 

6. Do you talk to yourself when writing or coming up with plot ideas?

I often find myself having the conversation between my characters. It was only embarrassing when I did it in the supermarket. Got a few odd looks!

 

7. Who would be ideal to play YOU in a movie of your life?

Alyson Hannigan who plays Lily in How I Met Your Mother.

 

8. If you could be any book character for one day, who would you be and why?

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice because she gets Darcy AND Pemberley. I love me an English country manor house.

 

9. You’re about to be left on a deserted island for a year, and while your basic food and water needs will be met, you can only bring one extra thing from the following. Which would you choose?

a) A pen and notepad that never runs out

b) An unlimited supply of books. 

c) An unlimited supply of chocolate, coffee, or alcohol (your choice)

d) A gorgeous man/woman depending on your preference

An unlimited supply of books.

 

10. If you had the attention of the whole world for two minutes what would you say?

Treat all people from all nations like you treat your child… care for them, expect the best of them, champion them,  encourage them, care for them, give them skills, share your wisdom and love them.

 

Thanks Fiona, you have been awarded ‘Ultra-Brave Author’ status on the braveometer!

 

 

 

Visit Fiona at her website.

Boomerang Bride Out Now! Top Pick by RT Book Reviews! Published by Carina Press

Nominated for an RT Book Reviewers Choice award!

Sydney Harbour Hospital: Tom’s Redemption April 2012

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It was a dark and stormy night… (First Sentences)

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. That is how Jane Austen started her book, Pride and Prejudice in 1813, and made it into the top 100 best first lines from novels according to the American Book Review.

A knockout first sentence can immediately draw a reader in, and helps set the tone of the story, so I think it’s important to create the best first line possible. Having said that, a good first line means nothing if the rest of the book is terrible! So of course the second sentence, and the third, and right up till the end all matters too.

When I’m in a bookstore choosing a book, not only do I go by cover design, author name, and the blurb on the book jacket, I always read the first sentence, and often the whole first page to see if it grabs my interest. If a writer can come up with the goods on the first page I know they’re more likely to keep me interested throughout the whole book.

As a reader, how important is the first sentence to you? As a writer, how easy or difficult do you find it to come up with a winner of a first line?

I love writing first sentences. I usually write them first before working out a detailed plot, because I find if I just let the words flow it’s easier to get a feel for the story idea and the protagonist.

Here are a few of my first sentences from completed stories, short stories, and works in progress…

Some first sentences are short:

Birthdays suck. (The Big Four-O, short story)

And some first sentences are long:

For most people, the worst time to get an attack of the hiccups would be at the dentist just as the drill is approaching your mouth, or on a date, just as he leans in for The Kiss, but for me, the unfortunate diaphragmatic spasm came when Channel Four news crossed to my live broadcast at the Sydney Travel Show. (February or Forever, work-in-progress)

And others are somewhere in between:

Damn you Barbie! You and your size four figure, all over tan, and legs to the moon! (The Life Makeover Club)

Dr. Sylvia Greene had never done anything like this before in her life. (The January Wish)

‘Oops’ is not the word you ever want to hear from your hairdresser; scissors in one hand, a large section of hair in the other. (Untitled, work-in-progress)

 

And here are some great first sentences I’ve found from other authors:

If a road could look welcoming, then Summer Street had both arms out and the kettle boiling. (Past Secrets, Cathy Kelly)

Under normal circumstances, Faith and I should not be home when my mother calls and invites us to come see her brand-new coffin. (Keeping Faith, Jodi Picoult)

What would you do if you thought you were about to die? (Heaven Can Wait, Cally Taylor)

Of all the crap, crap, crappy nights I’ve ever had in the whole of my crap life. (Remember Me, Sophie Kinsella)

 

Why not comment and share a favourite first sentence or two, or maybe you’d like to share the first sentence of one of your novels, or a work-in-progress? I’d love to hear some more 🙂

 

Sue Moorcroft answers ‘Juliet’s Ten Awkward Author Questions’!

Welcome to the first ever post in my new blog segment, ‘Juliet’s Ten Awkward Author Questions’!

In this new segment, authors will be subjected to a list of awkward questions that may reveal more about themselves than they really wish to share, and they will receive a score on the ‘Braveometer’. If they choose to answer only five questions, they are a ‘Brave Author’, if they answer 6 to 9 questions they are a ‘Mega-Brave Author’, and if they answer all 10 questions they are an ‘Ultra-Brave Author’!

Welcome to my first victim, Sue Moorcroft…

1. If only one of your books could have been published, which one would you choose? (C’mon, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, I love them all, there’s no way I could choose.’ Time to be ruthless, these are the Ten Awkward Questions after all!)

Love & Freedom. The reason is simple—it has just won an award and so I love it best, at the moment! Also, it’s my most recently published book, and I do think that I improve as I age. Like champagne.

2. Okay, now which one of your children/family members would you… nah, just kidding! Which of the following words most accurately describes your best personality trait (you must pick only one!): Punctual. Good listener. Neat.  Graceful. Generous. Cheerful.

Cheerful. Not all the time, naturally, but mainly. Except when the WIP has turned to treacle, of course. (But that’s quite understandable, right?)

3. Which of the following words most accurately describes your worst most challenging personality trait (even if you’re perfect, you must pick one): Always late. Blabbermouth. Slob. Complete klutz. Scrooge. Grumpy pants.

Got to own up to blabbermouth. I prefer to say ‘a good communicator’, though.

4. Have you ever had a romantic crush on one of your characters? Who and why?

Of course! All of my heroes! I fall in love with them and actually feel guilty about moving between them. Ratty, from Starting Over holds the largest part of my heart (and other bits) and has actually attracted fan mail of his own.

5. When writing an important scene, do you act it out to allow you to better describe what’s happening?

Not completely, but I do speak dialogue aloud. I found myself doing this in the park, recently and got an odd look from a passing guy with a dog. (From the guy. The dog didn’t seem to mind.) And I kind of discuss awkward scenes with myself on paper. For this process, it has to be pen and paper, not keyboard and computer screen. And, of course, I often try things my characters are doing, in the name of research. I’ve just learned to drive a 28’ river cruiser.

6. Do you talk to yourself when writing or coming up with plot ideas?

Yup! See above.

7. Who would be ideal to play YOU in a movie of your life?

Marge Simpson.

8. If you could be any book character for one day, who would you be and why?

I would be Jean Paget from Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, because I have long been in love with Joe Harman, the man who was crucified for her. Although I’m not sure I could survive the two years as a prisoner of war that she suffered.

9. You’re about to be left on a deserted island for a year, and while your basic food and water needs will be met, you can only bring one extra thing from the following. Which would you choose?

a) A pen and notepad that never runs out

b) An unlimited supply of books

c) An unlimited supply of chocolate, coffee, or alcohol (your choice)

d) A gorgeous man/woman depending on your preference

b) Books! But I would cry, daily, for the rest, except the coffee. Oh, and the woman.

10. If you had the attention of the whole world for two minutes what would you say?

Please stop killing each other. And buy my books.

Sue Moorcroft’s website is here.

Thanks Sue, you have been awarded ‘Ultra-Brave Author’ status on the Braveometer!

Manuscript Monogamy – are you an adulterous author?

Many authors advise writing only one manuscript at a time, so you can completely immerse yourself in the world you’ve created and the lives of the characters. This ‘Manuscript Monogamy’ makes sense, however in reality while writing a manuscript you may be editing another, and planning a future story simultaneously.

But what about writing more than one manuscript at a time? Not writing one while planning another, but actually writing scenes in one story, and then writing scenes in another story? In other words, being an Adulterous Author (gasp!).

Are you guilty of this? And if so, is it really a sin, or is it possible that two different stories can be written simultaneously and still have a convincing plot and strong characters? Who knows, but I think it depends on the writer. If you’re the sort of writer who’s able to switch your mind easily from one story to another and stay true to the characters, then I say go for it – go ahead and cheat on manuscript number one with manuscript number two, and even (heaven forbid) manuscript number three! Just don’t tell your characters 😉

But, if the thought of this horrifies you and you think being the monogamous type is the right way to go, then repeat after me; “I (insert name here), promise to love, honour, and obey my current manuscript, till ‘the end’ do us part.” Sure, you can jot down some simple ideas for other stories as they arise, but be warned; one thing may lead to another and you could find yourself in a compromising position at third base when you only intended to go to first. Try explaining that to the revenge-driven gun-wielding action hero you created in manuscript number one.

Anyway, what do you think? What works for you? I personally am filled to the brim with ideas I want to pursue, so it would be detrimental to my family and friends, and possibly anyone within a five kilometre radius of my house, if I didn’t at least do some work on these other ideas while writing my current manuscript. I would quite likely explode if I didn’t. Having said that, I try to work mainly on one manuscript, but allow myself to write scenes in another when the inspiration strikes. Inspiration is such a random and beautiful thing, and like the Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston movie, sometimes it’s good to ‘Just Go With It’.