The Wednesday Wondering – Where’s Your Character Gone?

Welcome to my last Wednesday Wondering! Before you all sob helplessly and call The Samaritans, the slot isn’t going anywhere and neither am I. Having been the nosey parker who has quizzed the other Write Romantics with 30 questions (including this one) since we started this slot in late June last year (although I’ve had help with about a third of the questions coming from the other WRs), I suggested we all take it in turns to host a month and, bless them, the other WRs agreed to it.

For my final Wondering (for now), I have gone back to a writing-themed question:

Have you ever developed a major character and then scrapped them?

This could be cutting them out entirely so they never see the light of day, removing them from one book but re-incarnating them elsewhere, or killing them off. A few of the group have dipped out this week as it simply hasn’t happened to them but here’s what the rest have to say …

 

HELEN R:

After my last NWS critique I almost got rid of a character. I didn’t remove her completely, but I certainly reduced the focus on her. My reasons for doing so were that she didn’t really add to the story, but she did help some scenes to form and move forwards for other characters.

It’s always tough to do this I think, and I really liked this character too. Maybe one day I’ll tell her story 🙂

 

JO: 

Not a major character, but I have scrapped quite a lot of secondary ones and the main characters in my first novel, currently in what feels like its twentieth edit, have undergone an almost complete metamorphosis so that  they practically feel like totally different people.  Character development is something I want to work on a bit more in the future, though, and I might be about to scrap at least one major character in my current WIP… so watch this space.

 

JAXX:

The book I really slaved over and finished (just finishing it was a first for me) had a young girl in it who was pivotal to the hero and heroine meeting, but I decided to kill her off half way through. I think I just liked the idea of ramping up the emotion and stupidly though it was a good way to do it. My NWS reader tentatively suggested it might not be a good idea to have a romance with a major death in it (!) so I left it at that, because I realised I’d have to write the whole book again and basically was too idle to bother! I’m now re-writing it as I always promised my younger daughter that I would get it published. She was only seven and told her teacher that her mum was a writer. Bit embarrassing really! (Mind you, she also told the teacher her mum was too busy planning her new kitchen to bother with homework, so I guess the teacher had already formed an opinion of me by then). Have to say the book is coming on a treat and is better for not having anyone die in it – Oh, hang on, there is a death in the first chapter – but he was already dead before it started. So that’s ok, then.

 

DEIRDRE:

I haven’t scrapped a major character from any of my books that I think of as potential go-ers but I was very fond of a builder called Steve who featured in my very first book that I’ve now binned.  I used his love interest, Millie, from the same book, in ‘Remarkable Things’ as she was too good to lose, but blue-eyed Steve with his hopelessness over money, his van that he gives a vicious kick to every morning, and his guilt over the death of his alcoholic ex-wife, hasn’t yet found his place in my current writing life.  Perhaps he never will, bless ‘im.

 

JULIE:

In book one of my trilogy, I wanted my protagonist (Sarah) to meet Mr Right quite early on in the book but dismiss him as Mr Wrong. I also wanted her to meet Mr Wrong and think he was Mr Right. Originally I envisaged my Mr Wrong (Simon) as a really nice guy who’d get on well with Sarah and treat her well but she’d realize that something was missing. I hadn’t planned out the book; I just wrote and, unfortunately, Simon took this as a licence to do whatever he liked. He turned into a bit of a disturbed and very nasty character eventually stalking Sarah then holding her at knife-point in her shop unless she agreed to take him back. Not quite sure where all that came from but I knew it wasn’t right for the story at all. This was meant to be a romantic comedy and, although the next two books start exploring deeper themes, stalking and knifes were not what I intended. So Simon came out the book and I had to start over again. I was intrigued by him and his backstory, though, so he may make a re-appearance in a future book although perhaps without the knife!

 

Over to you. If you’re a writer, have you ever scrapped a major (or even minor) character. If you’re a reader, have you ever flinched when a character has been written out of a story in which you’re engrossed? Please join in and share your experiences by clicking on the heart at the top of the post which will open up the comments section at the bottom.

That’s all for me for the Wednesday Wondering until later in the year. I will, of course, be responding to the questions so I haven’t fully disappeared. Next week and for the rest of February, I leave you in Jo’s capable hands. She’s come up with a set of cracking questions and I can’t wait to read how the rest of the WRs have responded to them.

Snuggles

Julie xxx

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Mega Monday Annoucement from Rachael Thomas

I’m so excited to be able to be here today with an extra blog post to our usual line up. Those who have been following us recently will know I entered Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition and at the end of last year made it to the Top 10 with my entry, Behind the Scandalous Façade.

I’m absolutely thrilled to say that last Thursday I got ‘The Call’. I am now a Mills and Boon author. My dream has come true.

Valentine Story Book

That dream didn’t start with the competition. That particular manuscript was my thirteenth attempt at writing for Harlequin Mills and Boon. From the remaining twelve manuscripts there are a further eight that are complete, four of which have been rejected and the other four have been through NWS. So what about the remaining four? Well they are ones that just didn’t work, but each and every one is part of my apprenticeship and a massive learning curve.

So if you ever feel despondent when another ‘no thanks’ lands in your in box, just remember nothing happens overnight. It’s taken me seven years since I first decided I wanted to write for Mills and Boon. Seven years of ups and downs, but best of all a time in which I’ve made wonderful friendships and of course, joined this fabulous group!

Look out for my Saturday Spotlight in March when I will have release dates and will be able to tell what happens after you get ‘the call’ – apart from writing the next book!

Never Mind the Quality – Feel the Width! says Deirdre Palmer

Image

I had better begin by explaining the title of this post, in case, ahem, you are too young to remember.

Never Mind… was a TV sitcom broadcast from 1967 – 71.  It was about two tailors, one Catholic and the other Jewish, and featured some great actors who would go on to become well-known faces of comedy and drama.  It would never get made today – far too un-PC – but it was a huge success at the time.  The title worked its way into the culture of the day as a saying referring to all kinds of things, some, as you might imagine, more polite than others…  I’m borrowing it now to talk not about cloth but about books.

Something odd has happened to my reading habits, a change that crept up on me while I wasn’t paying attention.  Now, as I’m scanning the shelves in a bookshop or library for my next fix, I’m not only waiting for an author’s name, an intriguing title or a fetching cover to jump out at me, I’m also considering, a bit shame-facedly, the physical properties of the book itself.

How much space does it take up on the shelf?  Has the publisher had the luxury of fitting several lines of large-font text on the binding?  How heavy does it feel in my hand?

In other words, how long is it?

Because therein lies the rub.  If the book still appeals I’ll flick to the end to check that appearances are not deceptive and it does indeed run past the 400 page mark or thereabouts, and if it does, then back it goes.

It’s a nuisance really because I may be missing out on some cracking reads but even if the story’s truly gripping and the writing pacy, by the time I get beyond 350 pages or so I’m just wishing it would be over.  If it’s an actual book, I’m constantly checking the depth of the remaining pages for signs of serious thinning out.  If it’s an ebook, I become weirdly obsessed with the little slider at the bottom of the screen and am stupidly relieved when it gets to 80% and I know I’m on the homeward straight.

 Actually there’s some literary merit to be drawn from this because all too often I come across books which are woefully over-written and make me want to shout ‘You’ve told the story, now stop!’ to the author, but that’s another topic entirely.

So why is this happening?  Is it pure physical stamina I’m lacking due to the short, dark days of winter, or a sharp dip in concentration brought about by my ageing brain cells?  Could it be that there are so many other distractions my attention span has shrunk faster than a woolly jumper on a boil wash?

Or am I, subconsciously, simply following a trend?

To name-drop shamelessly here, I was lucky enough to meet the eminent novelist Fay Weldon recently, and the first thing she said was that readers today want short books with short chapters; quick, satisfying bites they can devour along with their Pret sandwich and take-out Americano.  She was generalising, of course, but it’s easy to understand the logic.

As an aspiring author I see this as a gift; I can at last set aside my worry that 80,000 words do not a novel make because, after all, it is all about the quality and not the width.

As a reader, I don’t have to feel guilty that there are lovely books on my own shelves that remain unread purely because of their length.  There’s The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton which has no less than 645 pages, and the print’s not that large either.  Yet it’s not so long ago I sailed through The House at Riverton by the same author which has 599 pages with no trouble at all.  My collection of Catherine Alliott’s novels (such pretty covers!) all stretch almost to the 500 page mark but I suspect if I re-read them now I’d find them about a hundred pages too long – no disrespect to CA intended.  I’m dying to have a go at Jeffrey Archer, as it were, as I’ve never read any of his and people tell me he writes great stories but the one I have is near enough 600 pages, so dear Jeffrey will have to wait a while longer for my verdict.

By now you might be thinking, why doesn’t she just read short stories and be done with it?  Strange as it may seem, my tastes aren’t working their way towards those, and yes, I may read the odd one that draws me in for some reason, but generally speaking I’m not a great fan of the short story, which is probably why I don’t find them easy to write either.

Novellas, then?  Call me prejudiced but there’s something about the word ‘novella’ that I find distinctly off-putting, although in reality I’m sure there are some excellent reads in this format by some brilliant writers.  The novel’s little sister may be sweet but she’s not what I need right now either.

Luckily there are plenty of books of just the right width to keep me happy and if all else fails I can re-read some old favourites.  Joanna Trollope tends to nudge the 400 page mark but the large print keeps them turning fast. Deborah Moggach hovers gracefully around the upper 300s and some of hers, like the hugely enjoyable In the Dark, are even shorter.  When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman has 335 pages – now there’s an example of the perfect novel if ever there was one.  And then there are absolute gems like Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn and Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal, each less than 250 pages.   

 ‘She’s going through a phase,’ as my mother used to say, all mothers, in fact.  Well, phase or trend, it looks like I’m stuck with it for the time being.  But that’s fine because I’ve never fancied War and Peace anyway.

The Wednesday Wondering – January Sales: Love ’em or Hate ’em?

It was New Year’s Day three weeks ago today. Did you realize that?! It would appear that 2014 is picking up pace and will soon pass us by!

January is a funny month. Some love it for the fresh start and all the hope and possibility that brings. Many hate it. I’ve seen many references to the January Blues on my Facebook feed from friends and family and have to admit that I think I’ve succumbed to them myself recently. 

January is also traditionally the month of “the sale”, although we all know that Boxing Day is when the chaos starts so I posed the question this week:

“I love the January sales!” Discuss!!!

What do The Write Romantics really think? Are they outside Next in a sleeping bag from 11.00pm the night before or do they avoid it at all costs? Let’s find out …

 

RACHAEL:

I have never got up early to head for the sales. I just can’t do it. I dislike the crowds, hate the rails of clothes packed so tightly that ultimately they end up on the floor.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not adverse to a bargain. I’d rather wait a while, let the mayhem of that first wave of shoppers go first then go out and see what can be found. It might be an entirely different story one day if I wanted something really badly!

 

HELEN P:

January Sales – I hate them! I’m always the person who never finds a bargain – well rarely. Plus after buying for my lot for Christmas, by the time it comes to January it’s bread and water for the rest of the month, so usually no spare money to buy anything with should I ever find that elusive bargain 😉

 

HELEN R:

I love the January sales! I’m afraid I’ll have to change that to “I hate the boxing day sales!” The shops start their sales here in Australia on boxing day – I think it’s tradition for the men to go to the cricket and the women to go to the shops. I’ve tried it a couple of times though and it’s only marginally better than the sport option. The crowds are horrendous, lots of pushing and shoving, and then there’s never very much I want. I think the only year I really appreciated them was when we wanted to upgrade our TV from the huge box-like one (we were one of the last families to do this I think!) to a plasma and we nabbed a real bargain.

 

ALEX:

I’m a big fan of the January sales.  After opening my credit card statement today, I’m starting to think I’m actually slightly too big a fan.  I had a bit of a splurge on new clothes this year and who can resist 50% discount in Fatface and White Stuff?  Well, I can’t anyway which is why I came home with half of a new wardrobe.  I have been to the sales on Boxing Day once.  I’ve never got up at 6am though.  But then there’s very few things that would prompt me to get out of bed that early!

 

DEIRDRE:

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with the sales.  Love them because they give me an excuse to wander about the town for hours, stopping off for a coffee and a Krispy Kreme, without feeling guilty about the time-wasting because I’m looking for bargains that will surely save me mega-bucks throughout the year.

Hate them because while I’m searching for next year’s Christmas presents and boring but useful things like pillow-cases, I’m eyeing up another warm jumper that I really can’t pass up as it’s half price or a 70% off t-shirt that looks awfully like several I’ve got already, and I really do not need any more clothes!  I did get some great boots with buckles on though, to which the reaction of the OH was: ‘Where did you park the motorbike?’

 

JAXX:

When the children were small I loved the ‘Next’ sale because you could buy a ton of clothes for them to grow into for a fraction of the price. But those days are long gone and my enthusiasm for queuing up on a cold January morning has gone with it!

Nowadays I’m more likely to be scanning PC World for a new printer or John Lewis for something ‘notepaddy’ or writing related, not because I need it but just because!

I’m not such a big spender these days as my house is full (!) and my waistband has expanded, so clothes shopping is more ‘what will fit me’ rather than the exciting days of buying something new to go out in. Sigh!

However-I did convince myself that I needed the iPad Air as I blamed my tennis elbow on the weight of my old iPad which I read in bed. Good enough reason to me. Now I’m broke and luckily the sales are finished and that means Spring is on it’s way. Hurrah!

 

JO:

The January sales are not for me.  As much as I love a bargain, all that pushing and shoving and the risk of being trampled to death to try and grab the last marked down Jasper Conran dress in an elusive size 16 from the rail does not appeal to me at all.  In fact, I hate shopping; full stop.  Maybe if I was a size 10 I’d feel differently, but those 360 degree mirrored changing rooms with the neon lights, the faint aroma of desperation and someone else’s body odour drifting in from the next cubicle along is not something that sets my pulse racing.  Maybe it was my first ever job, as a Saturday girl in Top Shop where I seemed to spend all day picking up crumpled clothes and Febreezing after another smelly customer that put me off? Who knows but, either way, give me online shopping any day!

 

JULIE:

I can’t be bothered with the sales. I have never, and will never, queue up to be the first to bag a bargain. The thought of all those people pushing and snatching brings me out in a cold sweat. I hate clothes shopping at the best of times because, being outsized, this is not a pleasurable experience and I’d far online shop and be mortified in the space of my own bedroom when nothing fits! As for other bargains, I do like to browse round shops like Boots, WH Smith and Clintons (my hometown isn’t huge so we don’t have many options!) but my purchases are more likely to be half-price wrapping paper, cards, tags and Christmas decorations that I usually then re-purchase later in the year when I’ve forgotten I bought them in the sales! I was particularly pleased this year in Boots to pick up some gorgeous half-price Tatty Teddies in winter and Christmas clothes to add to my growing Christmas cuddlies collection and a couple of half-price Monster High dolls for my daughter. These are things that don’t get reduced often so I felt quite pleased with myself. Still avoided the clothes shops like the plague, though!

 

So we have mixed feelings about the sales I think. Most of the stuff has probably gone by now and, if it hasn’t, it probably isn’t stuff you’d want to buy anyway!

Do leave a comment by clicking on the heart at the top of this post. We’d love to hear your views on loving or hating sales. Next week will be my final Wednesday Wondering for quite a while. Don’t panic if you love following it as it’s not going away; we’re just shaping things up a bit but I’ll reveal more next week!

Julie xx

Much Ado about Alison

Alison May is a good friend to the blog and some of us were lucky enough to share accommodation with her at last year’s RNA conference.  So we’re delighted to welcome her back for a second chat, now that she has had not only her first novel published, but also a Christmas-themed novella.

AliMay

Hello again Write Romantics. It’s lovely to be back. I come to bestow the wisdom of the published writer. Much Ado About Sweet Nothing has been published for nearly 7 whole weeks, and therefore, of course, I now know EVERYTHING. Literally EVERYTHING. What do you want to know?

We are really all keen to hear about your experience of the marketing side of things – particularly how much you do and how much help you’ve had from your publisher.

I’m published by Choc Lit (www.choc-lit.com) and they are great, but obviously things will vary from publisher to publisher. I’ve had lots of support on social media, not just from the Choc Lit team themselves, but also from other Choc Lit authors. Choc Lit also do things like setting up local media interviews and sending out press releases on your behalf.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be at the centre of your own promotion though, especially on social media. And marketing and promotion are hard – that’s why people who are good at marketing get paid the Big Money. It’s particularly hard if, like me, you’re fundamentally a bit reserved and English. I use twitter and facebook a lot (you can find me here: www.twitter.com/MsAlisonMay and here: www.facebook.com/pages/Alison-May/310212092342136) and constantly worry that I overdo the promotional tweeting and am massively annoying people or that I underdo it and should be selling more books. It’s definitely an acquired skill.

Do you read your own reviews and how do they make you feel?

Of course I read them – I’m human! Generally I’m pretty chilled about reviews either way. It’s lovely when someone loves something you’ve written, but inevitably not everyone will, and either way, it’s just one person’s opinion.

I actually find ‘middling’ sort of reviews more troubling than really terrible ones. At least someone hating your book is a reaction. If they just find it a bit ‘meh’ that’s quite hard to deal with.

Has anything that’s happened since being published surprised you in either in a good or a bad way?

Well, obviously it’s a bit disheartening to discover that I’m not suddenly rich beyond my wildest dreams, and that I don’t automatically earn the right to lie on a chaise longue in my nightie and dictate my next book to a topless male model who, for reasons never fully explained, moonlights as an audio typist.

I am slightly surprised, and disappointed in myself, to discover how obsessed I am with checking my amazon sales rank. One piece of advice – just don’t start down that route. It’s weirdly addictive, occasionally deeply depressing and it’s almost impossible to kick the habit once you’ve started.

MAASN_small final cover

We’ve all heard about the difficult second album scenario and we wondered how true that’s turning out to be in relation to the writing of your second full-length novel?

Well just in case my publisher reads this, I’ll start by saying that novel 2 is coming along absolutely fine. Completely fine. It’s totally going to be submitted soon. Definitely. Almost certainly. Probably. Errr…

Honestly, for me writing novel 2 is properly hard work. There are all sorts of reasons for that. Much Ado About Sweet Nothing was my first completed novel, and while I was writing the first draft I basically knew nothing about how to write a novel. Now I know a little bit, and a little knowledge is, as the cliché goes, a very dangerous thing. Having completed and edited one novel you know more than you did when you wrote novel 1, and ignorance is really helpful when writing a first draft. It stops you from trying to correct stuff as you go along, and stops you tying yourself up in knots of anxiety over whether it’s good enough. That tiny bit of knowledge can be paralysing.

So yeah, novel 2 = really hard. Sorry about that.

How are you finding the development of new characters and new themes, do you have any concerns that you might find yourself inadvertently sticking with ‘favourites?’

This is something I’m very aware of, but I’m trying not to think too hard about it, because it’s another anxiety that can become paralysing. If you look at every character, every plot point, every choice you make about narrative voice or tense, or about setting or structure, and think ‘Oh, have I done that before?’ it stops you from progressing. I think you just have to write the best book you can and put everything else out of your mind.

What are you most looking forward to/most anxious about as you move onto the next phase of your writing career?

Looking forward to finishing book 2! Hopefully that will be published in paperback as well as ebook, which would be great. Print publication is a big outstanding ambition. After I’ve finished novel 2, I’m committed to writing a sequel to Holly’s Christmas Kiss, which I’m excited about. Holly really exceeded my expectations in terms of the sales and reaction over Christmas, so I’m looking forward to revisiting that world again in time for next Christmas. I’m also excited about building up work alongside the writing. I used to teach creative writing and I’m really keen to get back into teaching and critiquing.

In terms of anxiety I guess it’s just the awareness that my current situation could change. Novel 2 might not be good enough. All sorts of stuff could go horribly wrong. Again, you can’t spend time thinking about all the stuff that might go bad, because it’s another of those paralysing voices. You’ve just gotta keep writing.

So there you go. Sorry it got a bit long but there are my honest answers to your very insightful questions. I hope you found them enlightening, or if not enlightening at least passably interesting. That sounds more realistic. I hope you found them passably interesting.

And now you should all go and buy my book. If you want to. Or not.

Much Ado About Sweet Nothing is in the current Kindle 100 deal and is only 99p during January!

About Much Ado About Sweet Nothing

Is something always better than nothing?

Ben Messina is a certified maths genius and romance sceptic.  He and Trix met at university and have been quarrelling and quibbling ever since, not least because of Ben’s decision to abandon their relationship in favour of … more maths! Can Trix forget past hurt and help Ben see a life beyond numbers, or is their long history in danger of ending in nothing?

Charming and sensitive, Claudio Messina, is as different from his brother as it is possible to be and Trix’s best friend, Henrietta, cannot believe her luck when the Italian model of her dreams chooses her. But will Claudio and Henrietta’s pursuit for perfection end in a disaster that will see both of them starting from zero once again?

This is a fresh and funny retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, set in the present day.

About Me

Alison May last visited the WriteRomantics in September. Since then her first novel, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing, and her Christmas-themed novella, Holly’s Christmas Kiss, have been published by Choc Lit Lite, and she has almost learnt to say ‘I’m a writer’ when people ask her what she does for a living. Her next goal is to be able to say it without giggling uncontrollably and spluttering drink all over poor innocent question-asking strangers.

Wednesday Wondering – Resolutions: Success or Bust?

It’s 15th January which means we’re halfway through the month. There’s a statistic (although I’m way too lazy to Google it right now) around how many people will already have given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by now – particularly the ones around diet and fitness – and it’s a huge proportion of them. So I thought I’d ask the Write Romantics how their resolutions are going. Here’s what some of the group have to say:

 

JULIE:

I’m a great believer in not setting resolutions that start on 1st or 2nd January as mine are always the same (lose weight and get fit) and I’m afraid there is still a lot of chocolate, crisps and Christmas goodies left in the house at that point. I’ve been trying to get fit for the past year and have joined a beach-based bootcamp which has seen my fitness levels soar. I can’t get any better, though, until I lose some weight. I lost 3 stone but I really relaxed my eating in the autumn and gorged over Christmas so I’ve probably put a stone back on. I need a more controlled approach to my diet but I don’t want to do the extreme approach that my bootcamp recommends so I’m joining Slimming World tomorrow and just hoping I can motivate myself enough to step away from the lard and just go for it.

Writing wise, I didn’t really set any resolutions; just an aim to write more often. I think I may have failed that already as I did some last night but the last bit of writing had been the previous Tuesday. To be fair, I’ve had 2 days away with work but I have also had a few days faffing about with emails and Facebook.

 

RACHAEL:

Making resolutions is something I do each year. As is breaking them! So this time I took a different approach and made the resolutions more achievable.

For instance, I bite my nails and have done since I was a toddler. I always make the resolution, stop biting my nails. I always fail. This time it was, try and grow my nails. So far, so good.  I’ve even managed to break one, which is a totally new experience for me.

My other resolutions are, to eat less rubbish and eat healthier. This one didn’t get off to a good start due to the amount of Christmas sweets lingering around the house.

Also to do some writing work each day, whether that is blogging, editing or writing. This one I’m doing really well with.

 

DEIRDRE:

I didn’t so much set resolutions as lay out a few vagueish plans – I like to play myself into the new year gently!  The writing plans I detailed in an earlier post but basically I have two novels to finish, one of which will go to the NWS, so in that respect my plan is to work harder at the writing, up the daily word count and stop checking emails every five minutes.   Other than that it’s the old chestnut, eat less and move more.  Nothing much has happened on either count as yet but then I haven’t really been trying. I did set out intending on having a long walk but ten minutes on a monsoon started and I nipped on a bus!

I’ve also decided that this year my garden is going to have more colour in it.  I made a start on that before Christmas by turfing out shrubs that had gone woody and cleared some space ready for new stuff so now I’m scouring the gardening columns for ideas while relaxing by the fire, so no effort required there, then!

 

ALEX:

My writing related New Year’s resolution is to get Beltane submitted. I’ve made the final changes to it and the lovely Julie and Jo are kindly proof reading it for me. I’ve got a list of publishers that I intend to submit to and I’m now researching agents that accept speculative fiction. Next up is writing the covering letter and writing CV.  Any advice on those would be very gratefully received! 

As you all know my other New Year’s resolution was to start dating again. Inspired by the advice I got from my blog on Saturday I have now joined an online dating site.  And that’s all I’m going to say about it on here…

 

HELEN R:

With summer in Australia starting in December, January is a difficult month to make any resolutions especially as we were away for the first ten days, on holiday. So, I guess my resolutions started on the 11th of this month! I’m afraid that they are not very original: eating better, continuing regular exercise and procrastinating less with writing. So far, two days in, it’s going well…
 
I find that with exercise, I can get stuck in a rut, and to keep exercising, I must enjoy myself or it becomes a real chore. So last year I did spin classes, step and Pilates. Don’t worry, I ‘m not an exercise nut, these sessions were scattered throughout the year! I want to do more walking this year but I have to change my route from the usual “near home”, which is around the houses and not all that scenic. I have downloaded some new routes and I will try the first this Wednesday morning before I start writing. The track starts in a suburb near here but goes through a ferny gully near a waterfall and the waters of Sailors Bay. I’m thinking that if the sun is shining and the water glistening, it’ll put a spring in my step and my writing will flow when I get home, so that’ll help with reducing any procrastination. Fingers crossed 🙂

 

JO:

I set a few resolutions for this year.  The first was to read at least four times a week with my little boy and we’ve kept up with that– we’re reading Horrid Henry and the Haunted House at the moment!  I also said I’d exercise at least four times a week, which I’ve just about managed, although it’s been dog walking rather than high impact aerobics in the main…  I wanted to write four times a week, too, but due to my current workload marking university papers and it being one of the key submission points for my students, I’ve had to postpone that resolution until February.  My final resolution was to try to capture some joy in every day, even the most challenging and stressful of them.  To date, I’ve managed to do that and focussed on everything from laughing at an Adam Sandler comedy with the kids to watching the sky turn pink whilst walking my dogs on the beach – so all in all, it’s been a pretty good year so far.

 

It seems that exercising is a pretty strong theme across the Write Romantics so maybe we can give each other a bit of support and encouragement. I love the images created by Jo’s “joy capturing” and Helen R’s proposed new walk; the joys of living in Australia where it’s sunny at the moment! I’m having a down day so I think I may need to do something to capture the joy. Not sure what, though!

Good luck with the online dating Alex!

How are you getting on with your resolutions? Do comment and let us know.

Julie xx

New Year, New Romance? by Alex Weston

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Despite being a member of the Write Romantics I found the romance bits of Beltane the hardest to write. Magic, action and even the occasional bits of comedy were all much easier for me. Maybe that’s because, for various reasons, I’ve got a bit out of practice when it comes to romance. So encouraged by my fellow Write Romantics one of my New Year’s resolutions is to try to change that.
At my age internet dating seems to be the main way in which people meet. I have to admit it fills me with a certain amount of trepidation. I’ve heard a lot more horror stories than happy ever afters. A couple of weeks ago I started reading Here’s Looking at You by Mhairi McFarlane. In the first chapter the heroine goes on a disastrous first date with a man she’s met through an internet dating site. Before they’ve finished their starters he’s told her about the many and various ‘unusual’ sexual practices he likes to indulge in. After reading that I shuddered, put the book down and thought there’s got to be another way.
So I turned to the books I’ve read recently to see if they could give me some good ideas on how to meet members of the opposite sex.
Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace
We’ve got a male hero here and the books starts with him holding a girl’s bags while she gets into a taxi. She smiles and in that moment he feels an amazing connection between them, a feeling of recognising his soul mate. She accidentally leaves a disposable camera behind and he gets the photos developed and uses them as clues to try to track her down.
I get the moment of connection thing, I really do. But what he does next seems a little too much like stalking. And then when he finally sees her again it turns out that she’s newly single. How lucky is that! Though I guess it wouldn’t have made anywhere near such a good story if he’d gone to all that trouble and then, when they meet at the end of the book, she’d said, ‘Sorry but I’ve got a boyfriend.’
When I fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson
Elsie meets the hero when she’s caught accidentally shoplifting from a certain well known high street chemist. He’s a lawyer and manages to make sure she doesn’t get arrested. As one of the items that she’s taken is haemorrhoid cream (apparently for her father) I can only hope that nothing this embarrassing ever happens to me.
The Ghost House by our very own Helen Phifer
Annie meets Will (who is lovely. I do like a man who wears a lot of Berghaus) because there’s a serial murderer in town. She’s a PCSO and he’s the detective investigating the murders. I can think of any number of books where a romance starts during a murder investigation but, to be honest, I’d rather not discover a body or meet a serial killer.
And the classics are no help. Elizabeth and Darcy meet at a ball. I’ve not been to a ball since university and they were absolutely nothing like the ones in Pride & Prejudice. Jane Eyre meets Mr Rochester when he falls from his horse and then (would you believe it!) he turns out to be her employer. Well, let’s be honest that was pretty improbable in the 1840’s and it’s never going to happen in twenty first century York. And seeing as he’s got a mad wife in the attic Mr Rochester is really not the kind of guy I’m looking to meet! Then there’s Cathy and Heathcliffe who meet as children but let’s not go there because that doesn’t end well for anyone.
So I’m back to square one. Any ideas? I’d love to hear how you met the special person in your life.

Photo by Maynard Case http://www.maynardcase.co.uk