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Friday, 31 May 2013

A regurgitated novel that was originally meant for the Mills & Boon market.

When I get an idea I don't automatically head to my computer. I'll play with it in my head and if it sticks around, gets bigger or I develop a character out of it, I'll write a couple of chapters and see if it gains momentum.

With my latest release, The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch therefore I am was originally for the Mills and Boon market. I wrote it years ago (somewhere in the darks ages of 1990s), but today's Misanthrope you wouldn't recognise from yesterday's. Back then it was called Please Don't Fall in Love, only 55,000 words and my leading lady, Valerie, was roll-over-and-smile type of woman who'd do anything for her man. 

When it was rejected, I stuck it in my drawer and forgot about it. Then, years later in a house move I discovered it and felt I could do something with it. Instead of a roll-over-and-smile woman Valerie became as hard as nails and suffered no fools... unfortunately she became wrapped up with her inner demons and allowed the 'fools' to run her life but with surprising consequences. 

The male lead isn't cold and 'aloof' as most Mills and Boon characters were back then, but cheeky and flirty. Because Valerie is such a dark character I needed that balance of fun, fun, fun!

My leading man, Lex Kendal, is rich and successful (I kept that from M and B) but he stopped being a caricature character and more of a blokey bloke: he got things wrong with women, including his daughter. He tried to be romantic with Valerie and 'woo' her but kept getting it so wrong.

Then, I injected my third character: Ellen. Even though she's one of the minor characters she is the book's glue. She introduces Valerie and Lex and she sorts them out when the relationship goes pear shape. She's the one who also discovers something mystical about Valerie and Lex's 'destined to meet' relationship.

I also added an epilogue and a prologue. They say that readers, agents and publishes don't like these, but I've done something different with mine that I've not seen done before and I'm a little proud of it (self congratulates). 

The opening epilogue is Valerie as a child and the closing prologue carries up where it left off and completely wraps up the book with a little twist.

I could say this book took thirty years to write, but I won't. You wouldn't recognise the old M and B book to this one, so from the moment I pulled the old MS from the drawer in the house move I say it took two years of rewrites and editing using Cornerstones and Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau for editing and advisory services.

I labelled it 'dark chick lit' but it's been slow to build its audience in that genre, so now I've labelled it as 'dark contemporary romance' and slowly but surely it's moving.

Chick lit has a dark side:

The Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch, therefore I am

Valerie Anthrope doesn't believe in happy-ever-afters and has no time for relationships. Her heart is as hard as her acrylic nails. She runs a small back-street brokerage, happy with her own company and financial reports.

But she has a secret. She doesn't admit it to anyone--even herself. She's depressed. And her lack of sleep and too many caffeine pills are beginning to have an effect. She has dreams that don't make sense, but know they hold the key to her illness.

Ellen Semple is a middle-aged busy body who thinks a 'nice cup of tea' is the cure to all ills.

Lex Kendal is sexy and rich, and thinks he can have any woman he wants--and he wants Valerie.

Would a one-night stand matter? After all, Valerie isn't into relationships. Could she remain disinterested enough, and keep her secret away from the ever-prying Ellen?

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Unconditional love, but what does it mean?

Carol McKibben

How Do I Begin to Write a Book?
One might consider me strange, but my ideas come to me in dreams or in messages from other people. The premise for Luke’s Tale came to me in a dream about a year after I wrote my first book. Around that time, I went for a psychic reading for my birthday. I told the psychic nothing about myself…yet; she told me that the angels around me, my guardians, were urging me to write a book about unconditional love. This freaked me out! Then, afterward, I had the original dream again. So, I really had no choice in the matter.

On top of everything, my yellow lab Luke is/was my hero. He was a therapy dog and so dedicated to me. When he was six, he was diagnosed with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) for which there is no cure. Complete blindness was the result. Even after that, he continued to bravely go everywhere with me, gently feeling his way with his paws and sticking to me like Velcro. He continued his therapy dogging long after he went blind and brought joy to hundreds of hospital and nursing home patients. He was my inspiration. I made him the narrator of Luke’s Tale, because the book’s message is unconditional love. What other creature except a dog exemplifies unconditional love?

The book I am currently writing, entitled Snow Blood, came to me as the result of a dog named Snow that I had fostered and placed in his forever home, along with a conversation I had with my daughter about vampires. We both love vampire stories…and contrived this one together.

How Do my Ideas for Materials Develop?
This will make readers laugh, but it’s true. William Faulkner said it best: “It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” For me, that’s the way it works. Once I know my characters, they come alive and are a life of their own. They move through the story and fall out of my mind onto the page.

How long does it take to write a book?
Riding Through It, my first book, took several years. My second book, Luke’s Tale, took just a little over a year. I think I should be able to finish Snow Blood, within six months. I am making progress!

Where do you find the time to write?
I am a working writer. By that, I mean I have other authors with whom I work to develop their stories as well as corporate clients for whom I write everything under the sun. So, writing for myself occurs after work and on weekends.

Do you have a desk? An Office?
I definitely have a desk and a formal office. But, the office is littered with the sleeping bodies of my two dogs, so it’s not normal by any means! All one can hear is their soft snoring and the clacking of my fingers on my computer. Wait! Does that mean I’ve bored them to death? Let’s hope not!

Here’s a final thought. We all have great stories within us, but some of us have no other choice but to write them. It’s part of breathing for us. The things that we experience, feel and think compel us to write. For me, there’s no other way.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Cindy McDonald

 People are always asking me: where do you come up with the ideas for your Unbridled series? I always chuckle a little bit and then I explain: Well, hanging around the backside (stable area) of a racetrack for twenty or so years will give you plenty of fodder for story lines—trust me!

It’s true. So many characters hang out at the racetrack: gamblers, liars, jockeys, agents (yes, jockeys have agents), liars, horse trainers, exercise riders, veterinarians, crazy blacksmiths, and did I mention liars?  There are lots of liars. Oh yes, the racetrack is a treasure trove of characters, and if you are paying close attention (I’m a watcher by nature) they will give you as many storylines as your little heart desires.

Now just to be clear, I have never seen anyone murder anyone else, nor have I been murdered myself at the racetrack, so there is quite a bit of exaggeration placed in the Unbridled books. And although the Unbridled books are fiction, there is a lot of truth that lies between the lines.

Another question people are always asking is: Cindy, where do you find the time to write? The answer is quite simple, I make time. I write everyday. Sometimes I feel as though I am handcuffed to my computer, but like anything else that you want to do well, writing is a commitment.

I love to write in the evenings. It is the quiet time of day, and after I have finished cleaning up dinner, I pour a glass of wine—usually a chardonnay—I never drink red, it makes me sweat. Wait a minute.  Maybe I should reconsider—the sweating might help with those love scenes that I pen.

My stories are taken from the original telescripts that I wrote for the TV drama series, Unbridled. Warner Brothers sniffed around it, but the show never got sold, so my telescripts are excellent outlines. Even with the scripts, it takes me approximately ten to eleven months to write an Unbridled story. After months of writing, rewriting, thinking, and yes banging my head off my desk the manuscript is read to upload it to my editor, right?

Whoa, not so fast—not for me anyway. This is where my writing and publishing habits may differ from other authors. This, my friends, is where patience must persevere, and sometimes that’s a mighty big order.

Okay, take a deep breath, because it's time for the marinating process to begin. Yep, that’s what I said “marinate”. You’re probably wondering if I’ve hit my head off the desk one too many times, not really. When I’ve finished a manuscript I do the same thing most authors do—I start over from the beginning and read, tweak, read, tweak, and then read and tweak some more. And after I’ve gone through this procedure several times I close the file and let it marinate.

I let the file sit for up to six weeks without opening it, without re-reading or tweaking it. But I never stop thinking about it. I keep a notepad close by to jot down thoughts during those six weeks that the manuscript is becoming juicy and succulent. It is definitely an exercise in fortitude, but hey, ya know what? It always pays off in a very big way because when I open the file to re-visit the story, I’m reading it with fresh eyes and fresh thoughts and the results are always well, fresh.

Hurrying my manuscript is never an option for me. I want to make sure that it is a story that my readers would not be able to put down. Every author has their writing rituals, for me it is contemplation. Beyond marinating my manuscripts, I usually take short breaks during the writing of a book as well. Sometimes, I will walk away from a manuscript for a week or so. If I find that I am becoming frustrated with my story, I know that it is time to take off my glasses, turn off the computer, and go for a walk or take my dog, Harvey, for a nice long run. The sunshine clears my head and it feels good to stretch my legs for a while—I was a professional dancer for twenty-six years, I need to move around a bit! But if I return to the problem pages and nothing has been resolved, then its time for a break from Unbridled for possibly a week or so. Honestly, it doesn’t take long until I’m missing my characters and I’m back in the saddle tapping at the keyboard once again.

Yes it’s true, marinating and contemplation is a long process, however I am always pleased with the outcome. I am usually able to publish two Unbridled books per year. How? Well, I am always a book ahead—sometimes two books ahead of what you are finding on Amazon.  Example: the fourth book of the Unbridled Series, Against the Ropes, will release on June 1st. I am almost half-way through the fifth book, Shady Deals—it will be marinating by July. 


I must admit that no dust ever settles on my computer and those handcuffs come in darn handy, too. ;}

Other posts on WWBB from Cindy McDonald:
Memories of Presque Isle
When writing romantic scenes where does one draw the line?
When reviews count for nothing.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Henry Sienkiewicz's talks to us about his writing technique.

From tiny idea to the book shops. What is your writing process?

First, I want to thank you for the chance to have a conversation with the readers of WWBB. This month’s topic, “from tiny idea to the book shops. What is your writing process?”, is a fascinating theme. I looked at the theme in two ways. The first way was as one who wanted to create a work, and then as one who wanted to find an audience for the work. 

For Untangled, I started with the classical premise that the unexamined life is not worth living. However, given the constant flow of the entanglements of modern life, is it even possible for us to examine life? Stimuli bombard each of our senses every second. The enablement and empowerment that comes with technology has the potential to make the world fundamentally better. We can’t cast aside the connectivity and the technology. However, social media and the like also have given us dozens of new ways to grab our attention.   We can barely go a minute without our phone buzzing at least once. We constantly check our Twitter feed. Active contemplation, the type of contemplation I focus on in Untangled, lets you find the distance to focus on the things that ultimately matter.

I still struggle to think of myself as a writer. I’m very much an observational, heterogeneous integrator. As an observer, I like to be highly aware of what is going on around me. As a heterogeneous writer, I pull inspiration from diverse sources. But, at the end, I try to integrate all of this into a comprehensive, and hopefully approachable, work.

Three years ago, when I began the process of writing Untangled, I wrote a lot of notes. I mulled through a bunch of ideas. I jotted things down. I eventually transcribed them onto one massive document, although I kept one idea per page. After a few months of writing and transcribing, I spread the individual ideas out on a large table and sorted them. 


I searched hard to find the narrative arc, a backdrop, within the ideas. I searched even harder to make the arc approachable. I know that I’m following in the steps of some the most profound thinkers in human history. I realized that it was critical for both myself and my readers to have a narrative arc by which to follow the ideas.

I also made a conscious decision to let the ideas rest on their own. I didn’t want to put forward specific concrete steps. I didn’t want to mentally lock the reader into thinking that there was one path to take. Many writers offer definitive, universal steps that lead their readers to a pre-set destination. I wanted to avoid that fallacy.

As I start the actual writing and then subsequent editing process, I remember that one of my college instructors gave me some great advice. He told me that I needed to write it down, and put it down. He specifically told me to edit, and re-edit, and then re-edit again. He was right. Writing can be painful for me. It takes me time to find the narrative and construct the words to go with the ideas.

For an overall approach to finding an audience, I marvel at the changes within the book publishing industry over the last decade. My first book, Centerlined, was published in 2006. My approach to finding readers was significantly different than it is today. The disintermediation of the traditional publishing houses and the ability of an author to directly connect with the readers is ground-breaking, or maybe better said, wall-breaking. Venues like WWBB, on-line communities such as Goodreads, the acceptance of ebooks, all of this allow writers to join with readers in way that was not imaginable in 2006. Print on demand solutions, from independent presses to providers like Espresso, offer outlets that allow ideas to be widely sown. My YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_A3Trh5BlEw) has generated enormous interest. All of these channels allow writers the privilege of engaging with their readers.

I would like to thank WWBB again, for the privilege of connecting with readers here. If they readers wish to order the book directly from the website (www.untangledthebook.com) they can use the 20% off discount code.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Reginald Gray - the oldest murder fiction author in town!

Detective Inspector Harty mysteries

Best Indie Book Store
Detective inspector Harty and his partner, detective sergeant Tully, investigate their second major case together in the fictional English rural area of West Town. 

The murders of shop staff at the local supermarket, with no obvious motive and too few clues, give considerable cause for concern not least because of the short time between killings. 

The police are very aware that answers must be found quickly but are hampered by the lack of evidence and too many suspects. After several false trails and conflicting reports a piece of unexpected information eventually puts the two detectives on the path to the solution.
Reginald Gray
Reginald Gray

Reg Gray, born 1930 in East outer London, happily married for over 60 years, now in his 80s but not ready to be written off!

He published two murder fiction novels, much to the surprise of family and friends. There may even be a third on the way. Watch this space!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Are you an 'organic' artist? Zackery Humphreys explains...


Zackery Humphreys

I consider myself a very organic artist.

Many of my ideas come from dreams or inspirations from other artists: Salvidor Dali, Ray Bradbury and Walt Disney are some good examples. When I get an idea, whether it is a character, an ending, or even just a line, I write it down either in my notebook or on my phone for later use. After that, I think about it quite a bit, usually as I'm lying in bed trying to sleep (which doesn't help my sleep schedule!) until I have a rough outline in my head with a few more ideas, which I, in turn, write down in my notes. After that, it's off to writing. 

Author Zackery Humphreys

I prefer this more organic way of creating as it bleeds into my writing. Each sentence inspires the next, and the next, which can sometimes lead to the creation of more ideas as I go along. It's like stream-of-consciousness with punctuation. I prefer this to a solidified outline I may have already thought about ahead of time. It's more exciting to write organically and it's hopefully more fluid for the reader. 

For the entire process, I continue lying in bed thinking, jotting down notes, and writing until the project is finished and I'm dead tired!

Speaking of “finished,” the question I've been asked probably more than any other is, “How long does it take you to finish a book?” Well, it took me seven years to write Epsilon A.R., from the first word to the final product. Enough time to nearly get through all of high school and college.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

T. M. Shannon's writing process

T. M. Shannon

From tiny idea to the book shops. What is your writing process?

Having the idea: 
It’s not always "sit down and let the ideas flow". Ideas pop up when you least expect it, and need to be written down or at least remembered (luckily my memory is good). 

Sometimes an idea would come with such a burst of energy that it’s not only writing an idea down – but twelve pages of the beginnings of a story that goes nowhere. But it’s still saved, idea 001 so to speak, left to return to and either bring to life, or leave to give to dust. 

My other dream is to write a Role Playing Game. Sadly, I don’t know coding, but I know writing. Either way, these blunt ideas were the conception for The Torment, The Shadow, The Heart. 

Author T.M. Shannon
At first, I had such a urge to write that I did a lot of Hero of Talbadas (Vol 1) on the fly. I began on the PC, creating the idea of the world - what became the Verity in the published version, but then, like most writers, I had a day job to go to. I would leave work early, and take my time getting home just so I could write in an exercise book. Afterwards, I’d re-write it on Word, improving the narrative as I went. The project stalled near the end of the third book in the fantasy trilogy, all motivation gone. What I needed was to look at getting published for that final push.

To get an agent or just to publish yourself you need to get the book up to a high standard. It starts making sure you have the book that you want. Revising is simply making sure your work makes sense. As I went with The Torment, The Shadow, The Heart I ended up removing some chapters and putting them in book two, took the start of book two and used it as the denouement for book one, and re-wrote a few things in between. It was just a matter of improvement.

Past revising, editing is like “cutting the fat” off a steak. Go through and find proofing errors (I missed some of them and had to go again). Go through and ensure the formatting is good. Go through and make sure it makes sense i.e. delivers the narrative well. And after that, it pays to get it checked out by a fresh set of eyes.

This last step I actually haven’t done with The Torment, The Shadow, The Heart but intend to soon. It’s a bit of a monetary issue, but I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of my dream of becoming a published author

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Oh no, not another competition to win a book!

No, it's a competition to win having your name (book or website link) credited in the acknowledgements of my next book. 

Eden is my bestseller at over a 10,000 downloads since its release (as an eBook) and fans of Jenny and Fly have asked if Eden 2 is on the horizon. I'd not even thought of a second book. Their story ended and I moved on to contemporary romance.

But after yet another enquiry Jenny and Fly began to stir in my mind. Their story wasn't over! It was very much alive and I began writing . . . 

And writing.

The book took just over a month to write. It was amazing. Like pulling on a favourite pair of slippers that were snug and comfortable. My fingertips buzzed over the keyboard.

The rewrite has taken longer but now Eden 2 is in the hands of my beta reader, then in May in the hands of my editor and finally a proofreader.

But I need a title and I'm out of ideas. If you have read Eden (and you may need to to come up with a title for this one) please enter my FREE competition for a chance of winning having your name, book/link mentioned in the credits.

Leave your name, title and contact details in the comment section of the link below: http://www.louisewise.com/p/eden-best-selling-sci-fi-romance-on.html?spref=tw

Competition ends July 1st.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Writing Process of Daitoku Daiichi - Summaries

Daitoku Daiichi

"In this busy, dusty world, having accomplished nothing, I suddenly recalled all the girls I had known, considering each in turn, and it dawned on me that all of them surpassed me in behaviour and understanding; that I ,shameful to say for all my masculine dignity, fell short of the gentler sex." - from the Dream of Red Mansion.

As I have interests in books, film, television and video games, they are often major influences on my work. Although I like to write something innovative, I am also aware of respecting the work of others before me. It can also be fun and more meaningful to the reader when my novel references some other work.

One of the main things I do before planning a story is to narrow down on these 'selected works'. For 'Hot Spring', the first in the series of Godfrey and Chucky's adventures, I spent two months 'drawing out the essence' from the Chinese classic 'Dream of Red Mansion'. Since this revered classic had a common theme with my story idea, I wanted to make sure that I don't write a scene only to discover it had been done before. Both my story and "Dream of Red Mansion" deals with the growing up phase of a young boy in an affluent household. In both stories, the young boy is uneasy with his father and fascinated by his aunt. The adolescent is also discovering his conflicting feelings for two of his female friends. But enough of the similarities for now.

The original work has 120 chapters and about 2500 pages. I have the English translation from Foreign Languages Press. I remember taking 6 months to finish reading this, and I was sure I didn't want to write something of that length. So I did a summary of the timeless work, which helped me to remember some of the major plot themes I had read before. You have to know how something is approached traditionally, before you can give it a twist, don't you?

In short, the Dream of Red Mansions describes the slow decay of the esteemed Jia family, and how the young heir Jia Baoyu awakens to spiritual discovery. Stripped bare of all details, the classic is about a boy living in a large house with plenty of women.

On the other hand, in 'Hot Spring', the Gao family is prospering, and the story is about how they overcome a threat to their business. There is still the wonderful dynamic of a young boy living with many beautiful women in the hotel and at school. On top of that, the Gao family hotel hosts wealthy tourists Godfrey and Chucky, and even assists them on the adventure. The hotel's name, Red Jade Palace Hotel, is an allusion to the classic novel, and provides an extra layer of amusement for its fans.

Doing the summaries beforehand can really help an author to plan out the story well, and ensure there is no unwanted repetition with a more famous cultural work. For my second book I am already summarizing the films that I hope to pay homage to. The same applies when a TV series or a video game inspired your writing passion. If you want to read a fresh, innovative novel inspired by 'Dream of Red Mansions', you should definitely catch your copy of 'Hot Spring' at Kobo books.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May - from tiny idea to the book shops. What is your writing process?

Have you ever wondered how a writer begins a book? Where do they get their ideas?

Where do they find the time to write if they have a full-time job, a family and all the other stuff that goes with real life?

Do they lock themselves away in an office, roaring log fire, classical music in the background with the other half nervously knocking (don't want to disturb the master/mistress at work)on the door with a steaming cuppa?

Or do they write at the kitchen table in between wiping snotty noses (the kids, not their own. Could be their own, I guess), with a family that thinks their 'hobby' would be best suited to knitting/golf/horse racing/whatever?

If you're a fledgling writer -- hey, ANY writer -- check back here because this month writers will be revealing their writing process.

Do YOU want to write for WWBB? Feast your eyes on the button to the right of the screen and click on Monthly Themes for WWBB, pick your month and then let me know by contacting me via the 'contact me' button top left of the screen.