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Monday, 31 August 2015

What constitutes a trashy novel?

I always thought the answer was gratuitous sex scenes amongst shallow characters, but others have told me it's an insignificant plot.

I Googled the answer and (palpitations!) it brought up chick lit. Chick lit! Surely not. Other answers are a formulaic book written for scandal or simply a badly-written book. It seems no one really knows the true answer. Maybe it's an easy-reading book that you've enjoyed?

When I brought up this question with a group of writers, a gentleman answered: ‘Any book written by a female.’

Yeah, I know, idiot, and not because the group was mainly made up of women. So the question is still out there—what constitutes a trashy novel?

Meanwhile, my own trashy, chick lit novel (with no gratuitous sex scenes or insignificant plot) is now free in the Amazon lending library. Feel free to check it out:
A Proper Charlie

 What’s a girl to do when she discovers her boss is a wanted man?


She's losing her job.
She's losing her boyfriend.
She can only afford to eat spaghetti hoops on toast.
She's called Charlie... Charlotte, ginger, ginge, Duracell or carrot.
Yet with all these odds against her, she pushes forward to take the lead story on her paper at London Core.

Shame no one knows.

Shame she's the office general assistant and not a real journalist. Shame it's on missing prostitutes and Charlie thinks pretending to be a 'tart with a heart' will get her that story.
She doesn't just get a story.
She becomes the starring role.

 Unashamedly trashy!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Confessions Of A Liar

Confessions Of A Liar – Confessions Of A Writer
Helen Hollis

I am a liar. Not a vicious liar – I’m not inclined to tell the kinds of lies which get other people into trouble (I’ll leave that to the politicians), or spread untrue gossip and rumors about my friends. I’m more of an embellisher, a self-mythologiser, a teller of impromptu stories involving fictional characters, made up on the spot and passed off as true. I’m also a writer. It is my humble opinion that these things are connected.

Telling Tales

My tale-telling generally occurs during casual conversation with friends. Something will be mentioned, and the part of my brain devoted to telling stories will light up, begin to construct an elaborate story around the subject matter, made up pretty much on the spot. I reel it out calmly, telling my friends that this event happened to me, or that these people (who do not exist) are known to me personally. I’m also inclined to elaborate, embroider, or straight-out make up details of my actually rather humdrum life. Of course, it is often said that there is no such thing as absolute truth, only personal context – but this probably does not excuse my persistent (and apparently uncontrollable!) self-mythologising. It’s also worth noting, for the record, that my motivation for such pathological lying is not born of narcissism or a desire to be adored. I simply want to tell stories – and if the social context will not allow me to do so in a fictionalised frame, I will pass them off as true anecdotes. Why? I’m not sure, but I strongly believe that being a writer has a lot to do with it. The question is – what came first? The lying or the writing?

Lying And Creativity

The urge to write has always been strong with me. Telling stories is the stuff my soul is made of. The connection, here, with lying is pretty clear – after all, what is a lie but a story which pretends to be true? It seems that I am not alone. Studies have found a definite connection between lying and creativity. Those who habitually lie tend to be more creative than those who do not. Is this a causal connection, however, or a simple correlation? Do liars become more creative as a consequence of their lying, or do creative people feel the urge to lie as an aspect of their creativity? Perhaps those who lie successfully throughout their lives do so because they are better – more creative – at constructing the tales they tell. Or perhaps those who lie successfully do so because they learn an element of creativity through their lying. Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s an accepted fact that the psychology of writing and the psychology of lying are often intricately connected. Writers the world over, from Byron to T.E. Lawrence have been noted for their tendency to self-mythologise, embellish, and outright lie about their exploits.

The Writer’s Psyche

Of course, every writer is different. It would be wrong to make generalisations about writers as a group – we’re an incredibly diverse bunch of individuals. However, having said this, it has been noted that there is an unusually high incidence of depression and other such mental conditions among those who write. The connection between creativity and madness has been debated for centuries, and scientists now think that there may well be something in it – that the areas of the brain responsible for creativity may also encourage the kind of rumination and self-analysis which can precipitate a variety of mental illnesses. How does this relate to lying? Well, it has been noted that both liars and creatives (as already discussed, lying and creativity share many of the same mechanisms) have abnormalities in the white matter in the prefrontal cortex of their brains. The same area has been observed to deviate from the norm in those with non-hormonal depressive disorders – depressive disorders caused by hormonal surges notwithstanding. Perhaps those with depression feel the need to lie about their lives in order to distract themselves and others from the perceived horrific banality of their existences. 

Perhaps those with depression are constantly lying to themselves about the state of their lives, and this accounts for the correlation with lying. Perhaps it’s all completely unrelated. Whatever the truth of the matter, it certainly makes for interesting reading to one who is creative, a liar, and has struggled with depression in the past.

Finding The Truth

While I cannot seem to help myself from lying every now and again, I am trying to stick to the truth whenever I can. Partly this is to keep my life running on simple and honest terms. Partly it is make sure that I am treating myself with honesty and respect. And partly it is simply because this is the Right Thing To Do. Being a writer, I find that I can expunge many of the tales which leap into my head during conversation within my writing. Perhaps this is, ultimately, why so many liars are writers – because writing down the tales we would like to tell as fiction saves us from displaying them in public as fact.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

How do you plot your novel? #whatnottosaytoawriter @SharonStruth

A Stop in the Confessional Booth
Sharon Struth

"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
E. L. Doctorow

I’m pretty sure my family and friends think I walk around with my head in the clouds. Well, here’s a little confession...
I actually do.
Ever since I started writing full-time, everything that goes on in my mind seems to be about writing. I don’t mean to do it, but sometimes when a noisy child in a public place begins to get under my skin, I think about how I could write that sensation. Or when my eyes well up with tears at a commercial and I try to hide my ridiculous over-emotion from my family, I grab onto each reaction in my body so I can remember it for possible use in a future book scene.
Setting is a constant source of distraction for me, too. On a trip to Seattle, I couldn’t help but notice how the weather was a far cry from the conditions I’d left in my home state of Connecticut. My plane had landed through droplets of cool rain at the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Throughout the week I’d get an occasional peek at the sun, but clouds always quickly reappeared and showers resumed. I admired the stunning, lush landscape of the region, a fact that made the inconvenient weather worthwhile. But then I realized Seattle was the setting for Fifty Shades of Grey. I couldn’t recall once when Christian thought, “Oh dear, I hope Anna closed her car windows in case it starts raining while she’s tied up.” Hmmm, did that author think about setting? Maybe not.
And I hate to tell you where I do my best plotting, but I will. It’s behind the wheel of my car. Don’t worry… I’m paying attention to the road. Yet the fastest way for me to get beyond a stuck plot point is to run an errand or visit the gym. For some reason, on the car ride over, the missing link to my story is usually found.  
Being a writer is an all-consuming affair of the mind. Even off-duty, the brain never quits. As Isacc Asimov is quoted as saying, “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
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Share the Moon

Sometimes trust is the toughest lesson to learn.

Sophie Shaw is days away from signing a contract that will fulfill her dream of owning a vineyard. For her, it’s a chance to restart her life and put past tragedies to rest. But Duncan Jamieson’s counter offer blows hers out to sea.
Duncan still finds Sophie as appealing as he had during boyhood vacations to the lake. Older and wiser now, he has his own reasons for wanting the land. His offer, however, hinges on a zoning change approval.
Bribery rumors threaten the deal and make Sophie wary of Duncan, yet she cannot deny his appeal. When her journalistic research uncovers a Jamieson family secret, trust becomes the hardest lesson for them both.
"Heart-tugging small town romance with real emotion. Struth is an author to watch!" —Laura Drake, author of The Sweet Spot.

Novelist Sharon Struth believes you’re never too old to pursue a dream. The Hourglass, her debut novel, is a finalist in the National Readers' Choice Awards for Best first Book. Her next release, SHARE THE MOON-Book one in the Blue Moon Lake Novel Series-is published by Kensington Books/Lyrical Press.

She writes from the friendliest place she’s ever lived, Bethel, Connecticut, along with her husband, two daughters and canine companions. For more information, including where to find her published essays, please visit http://www.sharonstruth.com or visit her blog, Musings from the Middle Ages & More atwww.sharonstruth.wordpress.com.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

I said I wouldn't do it again. But I have. #freekindlebook

It's FREE!!!!!

Oh no, I've Fallen in Love! has been entered into Select again. Last time, sales fell so it's a gamble it won't happen again. But since big A changed the rules with KOLL (Kindle Owners' Lending Library) payments have changed for authors.

It's exciting times. 

Full-sized novels are no longer paid the same as short stories as it's paid per page read and that means the reader has the control. They don't like the book and stop reading, and guess what, we don't get paid (or get paid for the amount of pages read).

I think that's fair.

Oh no, I've Fallen in Love! is now completely and uttering free to members of Amazon's Lending library. But a word of caution, this book will make you cry, that I can guarantee. 

A story of how love can destroy--and heal.

When she was eight years old, Valerie Anthrope’s world changed forever. Her childhood dissolved in an instant. She had to survive her brother’s death and her subsequent mother’s mental health illness, and later her suicide.

Faced with the new reality of her life, she must find a way to survive the horror that became her childhood and answer the question—how do you get back to normal, when everything normal has gone?

Her answer was to hide her feelings behind a mask of self-sufficiency and hold would-be friends at arm’s length. She tells herself she doesn’t need anyone.

Love was too painful to risk again.

Then why can't she get client Lex Kendal out of her mind? If life has taught her anything, it's that she has to keep looking over her shoulder because sooner or later the curse that destroyed her family would find a way to sabotage any happiness she was to find—and Valerie couldn’t risk that.

Not again.
Oh no, I’m Falling in Love! is a book to make you smile, cry but mainly to remind you to hold on tightly to those you love.

 Praise for Oh no, I've Fallen in Love!

There are good, funny sparky dialogue, and a nice balance of light and dark throughout. Wise uses dialogue as it should be used; to bring the narrative to life. I especially liked the clever little prologue and the way it was picked up again at the end. Polished and accomplished.

I feel that anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression due to past trauma, or is close to someone who has, will find that this book deals sensitively with the subject.
It illustrates the redeeming power of love.

Despite the serious subject matter, Oh no, I’ve Fallen in Love! is a very funny love story, the humour ranging from light to dark. The author's descriptions of how Ellen bursts into Valerie's `grey' world and adds shades of colour to it are hilarious.

Over all, this is a well written and entertaining story with a clever ending that brings everything together. 

It has all the ingredients to make the basis for a comedy-drama series on television. Are you listening Sky TV?