You are invited to a wedding

I am so in love with this cover.

I’m really excited to  invite you all to a wedding in Coorah Creek. Wedding Bells by the Creek is the fifth book on my Coorah Creek series.

Isn’t the cover just lovely? It really captures the spirit of the book.

The novella picks up the story of The Creek and its residents after the events in Little Girl Lost – the book that won the Romantic Novel of the year Award for an Epic Romance. I realised there had yet to be a wedding in The Creek – and what is better than a Spring wedding?

Here’s the blurb….

How do you forgive what you can never forget?
Helen Walsh has never stopped searching for the daughter who ran away from home when she was just fifteen. Now, her daughter has found her. Face to face with the woman her child has become, Helen longs to be forgiven for her mistakes.
Ed Collins has walked Helen’s path, and he knows that she needs more than her daughter’s forgiveness. He would help her if he could.
Ed’s wife Stephanie returns – thirteen years after she deserted Ed and their young son. Now Ed is being asked to forgive. Steph was his first and only love… but are some things impossible to forgive?
In the tiny outback town of Coorah Creek, secrets are hard to keep.
What will happen when Ed learns the truth about his wife?
And as Helen plans her daughter’s wedding, dare she dream of her own?

I’m so please to send this story out into the world. It’s available for pre-order now, and will be officially released on May 2nd.

You might not want to read my latest book…

That seems a strange thing for an author to say – but the book I just finished writing is a bit … Well… it has lines in it like…

10 0 * * * root /exc/dbdump Cdiv –f + | gzip –c >      and so on.

I guess this is where I confess that I am a bit of a geek. Or nerd. Or techie… there are a lot of words for it.

In my day job I do database and workflow design with large computer systems for making TV programmes and films. I’ve just finished writing a training course for system administrators, including some pretty advanced IT ‘stuff’. The book is almost 400 pages long. I think that’s longer than any of my novels.

The cover is definitely not as pretty as my novel covers.

Although it’s a totally different type of writing, as I did it, it occurred to me there are some similarities between writing a technical training course book and writing a novel.

First – good grammar and spelling and sentence structure are essential for both. Punctuation too.

A novel has to show an unfolding story – provide some background and explanation – otherwise what happens next won’t make sense. The same is true of a training manual. The early chapters (well… lessons) prepare the attendees for what’s ahead and give them the knowledge they need to carry on.

There’s no dialogue in a training guide, but it does have to contain explanations of various things – presented in much the same way as the trainer does when speaking.

Part of me wants to open the technical book at random and turn something like this…….

… into this and see if any of the students notice.

You have to maintain the reader,s interest in whatever you write – a novel or a technical manual. It’s probably easier in a novel, because the reader is there for enjoyment. Although, a lot of people enjoy learning new things as well.

And of course, there has to be a climax… That’s easy in a novel – the moment of greatest conflict and resolution.

In a training course – it’s the exam. And the happy ever after comes when you pass and get the certificate. And you may even catch the glimpse of a promotion or pay rise in your future.

In totally honesty, I enjoy writing novels more than writing technical manuals – but both provide their own challenges. That’s what I like to do all the time – challenge myself. And I do believe that whatever you write, if you do your best to write it well, the experience will make you a better writer for all things.

And now – it’s back to the Aussie bush and my next novel.

A night to remember

Candles and chandeliers. And books. It’s a fabulous setting.

Last night the Romantic Novelists Association held their Romantic Novel of the Year Awards Ceremony. This is a glittering evening of canapés and bubbles in the wonderful Gladstone Library in Whitehall Place.

It was particularly special for me this year, because my book Little Girl Lost was shortlisted for the Epic Romantic Novel of the year – a category that includes books with a central romance at the heart, but that cover broader issues and themes as well.

To cut a long story short – I WON!!!!

Yes.. I cried. In fact, the lovely Prue Leith who was handing out the awards gave me her tissues. Thank you Prue.

I was so excited, I can barely remember my acceptance speech – but a few people have told me it was very nice.

Also very nice is the beautiful glass star that now sits in my office.

 

It is so pretty!!!!

Thank you to the RNA, and the judges and the award organisers and everyone involved. I am thrilled and honoured to hold this award. I have now written three Coorah Creek novels – and all three are award winners. It’s going to take a long time for the smile on my face to fade.

The three Coorah Creek novels. I am very proud of them.

 

Award nominated books – give away

Hi everyone. I just wanted to tell you that there is an #instafreebie giveaway of books shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

There are some wonderful books on the shortlist – covering many different genres. My own book Little girl Lost is among them.

If you want to sample some new authors, head over to the giveaway page and check them out. Click on any book cover to download a free sample.

I hope you find some you love. The awards are announced next week – fingers crossed.

 

Plotting with dialogue

The closest I usually get to plotting is a few scribbled notes on odd bits of paper. And usually this starts when the book is half done.

The closest I usually get to plotting is a few scribbled notes on odd bits of paper. And usually this starts when the book is half done.

Whenever a few writers get together, at some point the age old question is going to come up…. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

This of course refers to our way of working. Do you plot the novel in detail in advance or do you just sit down and fly by the seat of your pants. I tend towards the latter, but in either case, the hope is that the result will be a novel. A good one with realistic characters and a gripping plot.

Last week I was confronted by a sort of third option – plotting with a few lines of dialogue. This a really intriguing idea came from Sophie Weston, who has sold about 12 million books world-wide. That’s a very nice number. Lots of zeros involved. She was speaking at a workshop in London. This is what I took home from that workshop.

Let’s start with the traditional idea of plotting. This involves mapping out the action of the story. I know people who do it on a spreadsheet. Others do it in a document. Post it notes all over a door is another popular method, or a roll of wallpaper and a handful of coloured pens.

In this way, events are mapped out, scenes are described, characters actions and of course the all-important conflicts and resolutions. All good stuff.

At that point, if it were me, I would stop. If I know all that, there’s no reason to write the book. For me the joy of writing is the exploration: the unexpected idea that seems to just flow out of my fingertips without me really thinking about it; the way the characters slowly reveal themselves to me as I write and the times when even I start to wonder if this conflict will ever be resolved. I could never be a plotter.

But Sophie Weston suggested another idea. Dialogue. Not too much of it. Just a few lines where the characters reveal something of themselves, or react to an event. These are the key turning points of the story defined – without the detail.

Think about this moment in Star Wars….

Darth Vader holds a hand out to Luke Skywalker and says.. I am your Father.

Darth Vader holds a hand out to Luke Skywalker and says.. I am your Father.

What a moment. It’s a turning point for the film. It changes everything for Luke. And for Vader. It adds new levels to both characters and to their conflict.  Four words. That’s all it took.

In Jerry Maguire, Tom Cruise says to Rene Zellweger – ‘You complete me.’ It’s the moment when he admits he loves her. When planning the story, you could write …. he goes to her house where she is with a group of female friends and then he tells her he loves her. Or, in the outline you could just write three words and let the rest flow naturally as you write.

‘You’re gonna need a bigger boat. ’ In Jaws, this is the sign of worse trouble ahead. You don’t have to decide in advance when and where and to whom that is said. It’s just a line that tells us here is a place where the stakes must be raised.

‘I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.’ In On the Waterfront, Marlon Brando gives us his whole character in just two lines of dialogue.

Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy.

Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy.

And let’s not forget Casablanca – with Bogie and Bergman. ‘All the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.’ I don’t have to write a backstory.  That line gives me all the backstory I need to know when I start writing. I can discover the details as I write.

All my books start with the opening scene in my head, and the closing scene. My job is to get my characters from scene one to the last page in a believable and interesting and moving way. I’m going to have a go at writing a key line of two of dialogue before I really get into writing the book. I need lines that say a lot about my story and characters. If I can come up with a great line, I can build the story to that point, without having to map it out scene by scene. I will know where I am  going without writing so much detail that the story looses its freshness and spark.

It’s plotting, without plotting. And without giving away too much of the story to myself.

Thinking about the work in progress, I can see and hear my central character saying ‘I need your help.’ I know who she is saying it to, and just how hard it is for her to say it. That’s already telling me things about her back story and her character. I’m off now to write the next chapter.

Thank you Sophie Weston for the idea. I’ll let you know how I go.