Saturday, 22 June 2013

Discovery of the Day: Write Like Jane Austen

Thanks to one of the lovely authors at Crimson Romance for sharing this bizarre but brilliant resource.  Have you ever struggled with writing a period story and wondering whether the language you're using is appropriate?  Struggle no longer!  For any word you care to enter, this website will tell you how many times Jane Austen used the word, and which related words she used, or did not use.  It's probably more of a game than a serious resource since it doesn't differentiate between different meanings of the same word (just try entering 'flowers' or 'red' and you'll see what I mean) but it's enormous fun and could certainly help steer a historical author in the right direction.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Steampunk Doncaster

Sorry this photo's a little fuzzy, but I grabbed it on a whim at Steampunk Doncaster as Jonathan Green was about to start reading from his latest Pax Britannia novel, Time's Arrow.  The novel, featuring dapper daredevil Ulysses Quicksilver (a James Bond-meets-Oscar Wilde kind of hero) sounds like an absolute delight, but it may take me a while to get to it, partly because of my already huge TBR pile, but mostly because it's number 8 in a series I know I'm going to want to savour! 

Jonathan was a great speaker, as was Meg Kingston, whose novel Chrystal Heart is now gracing my Kindle (if you're in the UK, grab it quickly at a bargain £2.99 as it will be back up to full price soon).  The heroine is a 188-year-old cyborg vampire, the cover features a hat almost as delicious as Meg's own, and I can't wait to crack the virtual spine on this one.

I can't get over the excitement of having a Steampunk festival on our doorstep, and it was lovely to meet one of the organisers, Craig Hallam, in the flesh at long last (some time ago I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of his debut novel Greaveburn which I had the pleasure of discussing with Sheila North on local radio show 'Book It').  I notice Greaveburn is currently retailing on Kindle at a whole £1.02, and definitely worth the price, although the paperback's prettier! 

My major purchase of the day was of a rather less literary bent.  This morning I was lamenting the lack of a pair of Victorian style ankle boots to wear to a fancy dress party.  (I used to have a fabulous pair from Clarks but I wore them to shreds).  Buying shoes was the last thing on my mind when I set out today, but then I spotted the Alternative Footwear stand and that was it... I now have the most perfect pair of black boots.  So all in all, a successful day! 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Writer Wednesday Interview: Sarah Grimm

Today I'm delighted to welcome Sarah Grimm, author of 'After Midnight' and 'Not Without Risk'.  Hi Sarah!  I'm looking forward to hearing more about you and your books.  ‘After Midnight’ is a contemporary romance with a musical theme. Are you musical?

Growing up our house was constantly filled with music. Whether it was The King and I or Anne Murray, Styx or Simon & Garfunkel, there was always music playing. We are a music loving family.  And on those rare occasions when the stereo wasn’t going, one of us was usually practicing for an upcoming band or orchestra performance.

Me, I played the bass (string and electric). I was good at it, first chair. But what I always wanted to be good at—hell, great at—was playing the piano. I adore the piano, and it is that love that I put into AFTER MIDNIGHT.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the story?

Honestly? I have no idea where the story came from. One day – many, many years ago – Isabeau (the heroine) just began ‘talking’ to me. She lived with me for a long time before I wrote her story.

You’re working on a book called ‘Midnight Heat’. Did you know when you started writing ‘After Midnight’ that it would have a sequel?

I had no plans to write a sequel to After Midnight, let alone turn it into a four book series! But then Dominic Price – the best friend and band mate of After Midnight’s hero – walked onto the page and I instantly fell in love with him, something that most of my readers have told me happened to them, too. LOL  It quickly became apparent to me that Dominic would need his own happily-ever-after. 

Not Without Risk‘Not Without Risk’ sounds very dramatic and suspenseful. Do you have any tips for us on how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat?

Hmmm…I guess my advice would be read the genre. The best way to learn to keep the reader on the edge of their seat is to read and see what it is about the books that keep ‘you’ on the edge of your seat.

You’ve won or finalled in several contests. Which accolade for your writing are you most proud of?

It sounds clichรฉ, but the accolade for my writing which means the most to me is when my sister told me she read After Midnight in one sitting because she got sucked into the story and couldn’t put it down. Why? You see, my sister is both brutally honest, and has a severe dislike of the romance genre. By dislike, I mean she hates romance fiction. The morning she called me to ‘yell’ at me for her not getting any sleep because she was reading my book and ‘It’s fantastic. I mean, it is so much more than what you said it was!’ still makes me smile when I think about it.

What have you found most useful in learning your craft, and what would you recommend for new writers?

I always dread this question – probably because I’ve learned by making mistakes and breaking the genres ‘rules’. I guess what I would recommend to a new writer is to seek out other writers. I’ve learned the most from fellow authors, and the most useful learning tool that I only recently discovered is having a couple of writers who will go over your writing with a fine tooth comb and pick it apart…er, I mean point out what does and doesn’t work for them and where the holes in your plot are.

You have a day job and a family and still manage to write and blog prolifically. How do you fit it all in?

Lately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to fit it all in. Working 14 hour days…my writing has suffered, especially my blogging, which I really need to get back to. Usually how I fit it in is I wake up at 4:30 in the morning and write before anyone else in the house is awake. It’s the only way I get anything done as by the time evening rolls around, all I want is sleep, no matter how loudly my characters are talking.

When you do get a spare minute, what do you like to do besides write?

Read!  I also like spending time with my husband, who makes me laugh, and my two teenage sons.

Besides romance, what do you like to read?

Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense

Where should we go to find out more about your books?

I also have boards showing my inspirations and how I picture my characters on Pinterest:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Tomorrow is Wednesday

So... my second round of edits for 'The Santa Next Door' has gone, and I'm waiting for the MS to come back marked up with round 3...  Which means I have a day or two's breathing space, and time to talk to talented Wild Rose Press author Sarah Grimm in tomorrow's Writer Wednesday interview.  Don't forget to drop by tomorrow and see what she has to say about writing, rule-breaking, and early rising...

By the way, I'm now booking Wednesday interviews for the rest of June and July, so if you're a published author and feeling chatty, please get in touch via my comments page, or facebook or twitter. Don't forget to include an email address so I can send you questions (and preferably a link to your blog, website or books on Amazon, so I have some idea what to ask!).

Just in case you've missed them, this is my facebook writer page:

And this is my twitter profile:

See you there! 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Am Editing

I've never quite got to grips with twitter hashtags, but there are two I follow regularly: #amwriting and #amreading.  The third of the literary set, which I'm now finding more reason to pay attention to, is #amediting, which is used to post updates and tips on the editing process.

The reason I'm paying attention to this tag (and the reason you may find my blog unnaturally quiet for the next week or two) is that I'm deeply embroiled in round two of edits for 'The Santa Next Door.'  If I get the time, I'll update my progress on twitter... using, of course, the hashtag #amediting!