The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Happy News! 'Angel Heart' is to be published.

I am delighted, over the moon, jumping with joy... all of these and more! 'Angel Heart' is to be published by Canadian e-publisher Muse It Up Publishing in September 2012 as part of their mainstream romance line. 

What a wonderful Christmas present...

I'm now looking forward to working with the editors, a completely new experience for me since 'Angel Heart' is my first novel. I really don't know what to expect and I'm a little nervous but very excited too.

Joyeux Noel!







Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Don't you just...?


Don’t you just love it when...

Ideas seem to spring into your mind from nowhere and problems in the plot or the characterisation get solved without you having to work hard at it?

You find a great song or a piece of music which helps you bring characters or feelings to life?This becomes the only music you listen to when writing your story (and who cares if everybody at home moan and complain that they are really bored with it?)

You can see your characters as clearly as if they were standing in front of you? They have the power to make you happy or sad (yes, really!). You even talk about your hero or heroin as if they were real people, friends ask you for the latest news and you don’t even notice that they are joking. 

Your characters start talking to one another and all you have to do is jot down what they are saying? They take a life of their own and force you into a completely new direction.

Breathless, blushing and feeling rather pleased with yourself, you put the last touches to what is surely the best, the ‘hottest’ love scene of the story? You never knew you had it in you to be so inventive.


Don’t you just hate it when...

You read your manuscript for the hundredth time after a few weeks or months and you find embarrassing errors or clumsy sentences or things you now wish you'd never written? This is particularly bad if you have already sent it to a publisher or an agent, because a few weeks or months ago it seemed so perfect you just couldn’t wait a minute longer to share it with the world!

You saved some fantastic new work on a stick or on the hard drive of your computer and you forget in which file you saved it in and you spend hours trying to find it? And when you finally find it, it wasn’t so great after all.

You re-read the ‘hot’ scene which you were so proud of when you typed it up last night and think, ‘Oh my God, did I really write that? What will my boss, neighbour, my children’s teacher or the butcher take me for?’ (That’s if they ever read the story, of course).

A great new novel has just come out featuring a plot, setting or character you KNOW you had thought of FIRST, that you had practically invented and believed to be unique. How dare the author have the same ideas as you (and get her / his book published when you are still languishing in the aspiring writer's world)?


However...


This lovely picture of a rose made me think of ‘Mon amie la rose’ (My friend the rose), a beautiful but very sad song Françoise Hardy sang in the 1960s. Here are the words with the  (English translation below).



Mon amie la rose
My friend the rose, a beautiful song Françoise Hardy used to sing in the 1960s.
On est bien peu de chose
Et mon amie la rose
Me l'a dit ce matin
A l'aurore je suis née
Baptisée de rosée
Je me suis épanouie
Heureuse et amoureuse
Aux rayons du soleil
Me suis fermée la nuit
Me suis réveillée vieille

Pourtant j'étais très belle
Oui j'étais la plus belle
Des fleurs de ton jardin

On est bien peu de chose
Et mon amie la rose
Me l'a dit ce matin
Vois le dieu qui m'a faite
Me fait courber la tête
Et je sens que je tombe
Et je sens que je tombe
Mon cœur est presque nu
J'ai le pied dans la tombe
Déjà je ne suis plus

Tu m'admirais hier
Et je serai poussière
Pour toujours demain.

On est bien peu de chose
Et mon amie la rose
Est morte ce matin
La lune cette nuit
A veillé mon amie
Moi en rêve j'ai vu
Eblouissante et nue
Son âme qui dansait
Bien au-delà des nues
Et qui me souriait

Crois celui qui peut croire
Moi, j'ai besoin d'espoir
Sinon je ne suis rien
Ou bien si peu de chose
C'est mon amie la rose
Qui l'a dit hier matin


And now for the English translation...

We are truly insignificant
And that's what my friend the rose
Told me this morning
I was born at dawn
Baptised in dew
I blossomed
In the rays of the sun
Happy and in love
I closed my petals at night
And when I awoke I was old.
Yet I had been beautiful
Yes, I was the most beautiful
Of all the flowers in your garden

See, the God that made me
Now makes me bow my head
And I feel I'm falling
And I feel I'm falling
My heart is almost bare
A foot in the grave
Already, I am nothing
Only yesterday you admired me
And I shall be dust
Forever, tomorrow

We are truly nothing
And my friend the rose
Died this morning

Last night the moon
Kept vigil over my friend
And in a dream I saw
Her soul, dancing
Dazzling and naked,
Above the heavens,
Smiling on me.
Let those who can, believe,
But I need Hope
Or else I am nothing.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Hope, determination and happiness...

After much writing, re-writing and agonising, I have entered Chapter One of my new historical romance 'The Lion's Embrace' in the the New Voices competition. Here is a short overview of the plot.

Algiers 1845 - Harriet Montague desperately needs Lucas Saintclair to help her rescue her father, an archaeologist who has been captured by Tuaregs in the Sahara. Determined, brave and unconventional, Harriet may be unlike any woman Saintclair has encountered before but there’s no way he will risk her life, and his, to take her to Tamanarasset. That is until she makes him an offer he can’t refuse.

The competition closes on 10th October. There are already 400 entries... Chances are slim, almost non-existent, and yet I thrive on the hope that may be, just may be something good will come out of it.... Why do I do this and put myself through this? Am I mad, or deluded like some people very close to me believe? Yes, I am probably both.  But most of all, I love my story, my characters and the setting of the Hoggar mountains in Southern Algeria just makes me dream...  And most days, it's enough to make me very, very happy!

Take a look at the entries (not just mine!) at http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/
'The Lion's Embrace' is a historical romance.


 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

An (aspiring) writer's guilt


I feel guilty because …

I didn’t write enough today and went for a walk with the kids.

I spent most of yesterday on the computer typing away, ignoring the children or pretending to listen to their stories, and making a great fuss about their drawings or papier maché sculptures without really looking at them.

Sometimes I don't really listen to people. I smile, but my head is full of others stuff, you know, important things like 'Should she have her tantrum now? Should he kiss her now or later? And what about that treasure map hidden in the palace?'

I spent too long looking at my favourite fashion websites instead of getting that chapter written.

I fudged some of the research in my story, because it was easier that way. If the journey takes a few days less than it should, if that particular event happened a few years later, surely it won't matter too much. Will it?

I haven’t talked to my friends in a long time. They must think I’d rather live in a fantasy of my own making than in the real world.

I went mad and bought far too many books in that great second hand bookshop in Southport on Monday, but it's all for research, of course.

I spent hours looking at maps, studying fascinating but totally irrelevant treatises and copying beautiful old poems. All of which I don’t think I’ll ever use.

I was so taken by a twist in my plot that I forgot all about the pork steaks under the grill and we all had to eat really tough meat tonight. So tough my little girl lost another of her milk teeth. That makes four teeth in two weeks.

Because I …

Any more guilt?






Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Several Stories on the go? Does it work for you?


For the first time ever, I am writing two historical novels set in different periods at the same time. One I’d started a few months ago but had come to a complete standstill with. I simply ran out of - I don’t know what ... not ideas exactly, but I seemed to have lost touch with my characters. I couldn’t hear their voices or picture them as clearly as before.   

At the same time, new characters literally sprung out to life and a plot started taking shape in my mind for a new story. At first I pushed them all aside. It wasn’t time yet. I had to finish the story I’d started first. 

Had to? Who said?

May be I needed a break. If I left the story alone for a few weeks, I might come back to it refreshed and able to see and feel what I couldn't see or feel any longer.

So I opened the door to new characters, new sceneries, new sensations...

I don’t know if I was right, but I am really enjoying my new characters and their antics. Funnily enough, the ‘old ones’ have come back to whisper a few changes. Well, major changes, actually. Like cut out one storyline completely and rework the heroin and her relationship to the hero.

So now I am pulled between the two stories, two periods, two countries and there are not enough hours in the day (or night).


Saturday, 30 July 2011

So disappointed... Embrace is closing down

Embrace, the romance imprint of Salt Publishing which was going to publish my historical romance, has closed down.

It's hard to stay positive and optimistic about the future. It's hard to believe 'Angel Heart', or any of my other stories are ever going to get published, and yet that's what I have to do. I love writing too much to give up now, and I have so  many ideas for new stories and characters I just have to do something with them. I also have to keep going because frankly once you stop believing it will happen, what's the point in doing anything?  

I had started the next instalment of 'Angel Heart' a few weeks ago, blissfully unaware that 'Angel Heart' wasn't going to be published. Let's change the end to that sentence. ... blissfully unaware that 'Angel Heart' wasn't going to be published JUST NOW.

So I will try and find another publisher for 'Angel Heart' and carry on with my new story which is located almost entirely in Algeria, a country which I always found fascinating and where my mother's family was from.  Hence the photo!

Good luck to all Embrace authors!
xxx






Sunday, 10 July 2011

Health Warning for Mills & Boon

Ladies, it's official! Reading too much romance is bad for your health!


Mills & Boon
Detail from cover illustration of Mills & Boon romance. Photograph: Graeme Robertson

According to an article in the Guardian on Thursday 7th July 2011, 'a huge number of the issues' addressed by psychologists in therapy rooms 'are influenced by romantic fiction.'  Women are encouraged by psychologists to 'put down the books and pick up reality.'


Apparently being addicted to romantic novels is bad for women. It distracts them from the issues affecting their relationship and 'often promotes dissatisfaction with their partner'. Romantic novels could condone casual sexual encounters of the non-protected kind (only 11.5% of all Mills & Boon's novels tackle the issue of condoms), and encourage women to abandon themselves 'joyfully to a life of intercourse-driven multiple orgasms and endless trouble-free pregnancies in order to cement their marital devotion.'

According to psychologist Susan Quilliam, 'if readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves – and then they bring that trouble into our consulting rooms. When it comes to romantic fiction, the clue's in the name; the genre is fiction not fact, and while romance may be the wonderful foundation for a novel, it's not in itself a sufficiently strong foundation for running a lifelong relationship.'



Well, what do you think of that?

Are women really so silly that they cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy?

Do we love our husband or partner any less because he's nothing like the dark / macho / romantic / talented / brooding / wealthy hero of the novel we are reading? The one we enjoy so much we just have to hide in the bathroom to read one more page (or ten), and try and ignore the children's pounding fists on the door as they invariably ask the same question come six o'clock: 'Mummy, what's for tea?' 

What about men reading too many crime, SAS or action fiction? What is that doing to their brain, I wonder...

View complete article here and make up your mind.

 


Friday, 10 June 2011

Thinking space?

Where to get some thinking space?
If, like me, you have a full-time job (teaching, planning, marking, meetings, etc...) and a busy family life (3 loud, boisterous, children), where do you get the thinking space you need to develop your ideas? Move the story along? Come up with clever / sexy / humorous / dramatic repartees? Or just indulge in a little bit of dreaming about your characters and what they might be thinking and feeling?
Driving into work is good for finding thinking space. It takes me about 45 minutes on fairly quiet country roads every morning to get to work, during which I often, but unfortunately not always, come up with at least ONE new idea! In the evening, however, my head is too full of work related stuff to take advantage of the drive home.
I also snatch a little time when I cook the family tea in the evening (I keep a notebook handy next to the cooker, just in case a great line crops up).
The best time, however, is at the week-end. Saturday and Sunday mornings. Early. Even if it rains, as it usually does up here in the North of England.
I leave the noisy household behind...

For one hour, all this is mine. And it usually does the trick.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Inspiration... How does it start? How will it all end?

Sometimes it’s a song. A line from a poem.
The memory of a place I went to. Or I dreamt of.
Words I heard. Yesterday. A long time ago.
A face. A smile. Dreamy eyes.
That’s how a story starts for me.
The plot, the characters, the places are interlinked from the beginning. The characters come to life, the ideas change and the storyline meanders, shifts, stalls, starts again. I write and rewrite. It becomes complicated - too complicated. And I get stuck. How will it end? How can it end?

I have reached that painful stage with my new story. Almost there, but still a long way before the end.
Time to go for a walk.

This is the poem I've loved since I was sixteen. The inspiration for my new story. It sounds better in French, but there you are... And this is the place where it all takes place! Sadly I have no photo of the hero since he only exists in my mind. For now.











AN OLD TUNE
GERARD DE NERVAL.
There is an air for which I would disown
Mozart's, Rossini's, Weber's melodies, -
A sweet sad air that languishes and sighs,
And keeps its secret charm for me alone.

Whene'er I hear that music vague and old,
Two hundred years are mist that rolls away;
The thirteenth Louis reigns, and I behold
A green land golden in the dying day.

An old red castle, strong with stony towers,
The windows gay with many coloured glass;
Wide plains, and rivers flowing among flowers,
That bathe the castle basement as they pass.

In antique weed, with dark eyes and gold hair,
A lady looks forth from her window high;
It may be that I knew and found her fair,
In some forgotten life, long time gone by.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The perfect hero? It's all in the eyes...

The perfect hero...




He is the man I dream about. The man who lives in my head for weeks and months until the story is completed.


I'm afraid I'm rather predictable when it comes to my hero. He is usually the tall, moody type. He is brave, confident, a little cynical and he knows how to turn on the charm. And since I write historical romance, let's not forget the boots, the horse, the sword or the pistol!


But the first, most important step is to picture his eyes.








And find the right name.






Two of my all time favourites French men. Singer Jacques Dutronc and actor Bernard Giraudeau.


















Friday, 22 April 2011

S is for... Sisters!



S is for... Sisters. I have two of them. Sabine and Christiane. They're beautiful, funny and brave. Sadly as they are in France and I am in England, we only manage to see one another a couple of times a year, but we talk on the phone most days.



It's funny how things changed between us over the years. Being the eldest one, I used to be so bossy... I thought it was my place to tell them what I thought about their clothes, their hairstyles and their men, whether they wanted to hear it or not! I know... I was the big sister from hell.



Now I turn to them for advice, reassurance or a good laugh at the end of a horrible day! We have been through sad times together, losing our mother when we were still quite young, then coping with our father's depression and health problems. We argued a lot. We shouted horrible things at each other. We swore we'd never talk to each other again... And yet, they're here when I need them. And they'll always be able to rely on me.



S is for Sisters. My best friends.



Marie Laval