INTO THE BLACK
First off I'm introducing Shehanne Moore, only then will I launch you into her post, which is delicious!
Shehanne writes rampant historicals; hot, emotionally intense, witty period pieces in which the characters bleed blood not ink, lungs are inflated rather than flat, and the conflict is humanity at its best...and worst.
Her first offering, The Unraveling of Lady Fury hits at the end of March 2013.
Her post which now follows features her characters, Fury (Lady), Flint (yum, yum) and the lovely Susan
Callaloo Chicken and Caribbean Delights.
My first guest blog. I not only want to thank the lovely Incy Black for being brave enough when she never knows what is going to come out my mouth –I seldom do either, which is why I have no control over it. But a first guest blog on Incy’s fabby new website? I want to bake this great girl a cake. But as you can see cooking isn’t my strong point.
The last time I baked the icing sugar by mistake.
But it was all right. I had them photo shopped so I could stick them on my blog and show what a great cook I was/not.
The other week I made a book trailer for my forthcoming debut, The Unraveling of Lady Fury. (Here) I also made steak with what I thought were mushy peas, until Mr Shey went looking for the broccoli soup he’d set by for his next day’s lunch.
You might be surprised therefore that I’m going to share recipes with you. Incy suggested aphrodisiacs such as my heroine and hero might have used. I have to say getting them to lay off is the problem.
But food does feature actually quite prominently in the story. Never mind Flint has a taste for the highlife while Fury would rather die than admit—certainly to him -- that a scrap of bread is about as much as she’s got, so talking scraps it leads to many. The setting is Italy. Hmm... hot marinara sauce, melted mozzarella cheese, soft Parma ham. Then there’s the business of their shared Caribbean past. Fried shrimp, caramel flan, conch chowders and fritters anyone?
Flint often asks for his favourite dish.
While Fury’s favourite dish, not that she will ever admit it, looks like this....
Oh alright... there is a mention about the fish being off, so plainly she eats that. There is also a menshie of the maid Susan’s roast lamb.
It’s her specialty apparently according to this extract:
“Making you hungry, am I?”
“For my lunch, yes. Do you know what time it is? Nearly afternoon. And Susan’s making roast lamb. It’s her speciality.”
He raised his head and narrowed his eyes. She wished she could say it was in that hot, glazed way she remembered. Because that she would have been comfortable with. But something undercut it. The tiniest trace of longing. It was ridiculous. He’d had her several times. But perhaps, the thought flickered, not entirely to his satisfaction.
“Then how about you adhere to that other rule?”
“The three-minute rule.”
“Now you’re making this up. There is no three-minute rule.” She was not having this.
“Yes, there is. It comes under the heading of no talking.”
Three minutes? Of this? She would never last three minutes.
Coming March 29th 2013 from Etopia Press: The Unraveling of Lady Fury
Rule one… There will be no kissing
Widowed Lady Fury Shelton hasn’t lost everything yet. So long as she produces the heir to the Beaumont dukedom, she might keep her position and her secrets. But when the callously irresistible man she’d rather rot in everlasting hell, than bed, threatens to expose her, she invents bedroom rules to stop herself wanting the one thing she knows he can never give her.
Rule two… There will be no touching
Only when it comes to rules, ex-privateer James Flint Blackmoore is a master at making his own. Soon he’s playing with fire. Both know future happiness can only lie in keeping each other at arm’s length. Yet they’re torn by old hurts and the promise of new passion.
But some rules are made to be broken…
Why is she so determined to hate him? Will her secret truth make it easier or harder for him to abide by the rules? Or will Flint finally convince her he can give her the one thing he never has?
Aw hell, I am so screwed...
To date, I have studiously ignored all attempts to 'tag' me, not because I mind participating but because the guilt of inflicting the same sense of panic on those whom I must 'tag' in return, twists me into knots tighter than tangled dental floss.
I should probably confess that I've yet to master the art of 'tagging' others so the chain might well stop here.
What is the title of my current work in progress?
'Compromised' - which sums up in a single word, about the only thing Will and Angel have in common.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
From a strange and violent world far, far away, known as Planet Incy.
What genre does your book fall under?
Romantic thriller with a hint of chilli heat.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
They would have to be new, undiscovered and able to make the characters their very own. In terms of physical attributes, Damon from TVD might serve as Will but for Angel, I'm not convinced that female has yet been born.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Ummm...sexy, commitment-phobe with his eye firmly on the top job, falls for an ice queen set on sabotaging his career by keeping secrets that could get them both killed.
Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither. My WIPs languish happily in no-man's-land until completed. Only then do I start searching for the most appropriate home for them. (This changes recently when I secured a 3 book contract with Entangled Publishing (Suspense) for the Black Ops Heroes series.)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Hey,, its not finished yet!!! But I edit and re-edit as I go along (must be the Virgo in me) so I don't think in terms of drafts (probably because I can't count that high). As to time-scales, much depends on the number of interruptions life tosses at me.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
How about James Bond tangles with The Snow Queen only to find out she's really Suzy Wong playing hard, fast and loose with both their lives in a game of Russian Roulette. (Best not to pigeon hole me)
Who or what inspired you to write the book?
The hero, Will Berwick, himself. Having played a supporting role in two previous books and given the punishment he took in both, I felt he deserved a story of his own by way of compensation. Aside from which, he would probably have hunted me down and shot me had I not given him his chance in the spotlight.
What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Hmmm...it's fun watching two complicated characters push each others buttons to see who will be the first to surrender. Oh, and that is without the conspiracy, murder and mayhem and the very ill-conceived honey-trap.
Not As Bad As You Think
Amid the debris littering my desk (scraps of paper, half-drunk cups of coffee, pens so old and mashed they vomit red, blue and green and lie in little lakes of their own making, war-torn Lego men courtesy of my son...and yes, I do believe that is a regurgitated fur ball, courtesy of the cat---eewwww), I am determined to find a prominent place for the notice 'It's not as bad as you think'.
Why? Because, trust me, over-writing can suck the life blood from your work, leaving it in much need of a laxative.
Try to remember your reader is reading your story for the first time. Their eyes and minds will be fresh and eager rather than bleeding. Chances are they won't give a flying 'F' about the correct usage of the Oxford comma, or occasional lapse in the sequence of MRUs, not if your story flies, not if your characters rip free from the page and not if you have succeeded in transporting them into a world they never want to leave.
If you have done a half decent job on your story (getting the GMC up front and central helps), they will not be bored stiff to the point of applying leeches to their eyelids and throbbing temples. Chances are they will be too engrossed and therefore, forgiving of little tics and errors. (Best to avoid sloppy typos and poor spelling though, they'll skin you for that or worse, abandon your book.)
So, don't hate your manuscript. Recall the verve that rushed through your veins as you punched out the first draft, because that is what it means to write from the soul. That is what will give your book its unique personality. All over-writing ever achieves is frustration on your part as a writer, and a Mogadon-effect in the reader.
Hence my new mantra: It's not as bad as it looks...maybe? (bites knuckle)
Caveat: This mantra does not excuse crap writing!
Second Caveat: Those elipsey things
We are who we are. Statement of fact. But as individuals, do we really know who we are? Are we aware of the traits that irritate the hell out of some, and compel others toward us? I'd suggest not--thank God!
If you think you truly know yourself, then I'd venture you've spent too much time naval gazing and whilst you might have the fluff-freest belly button on earth, I won't want to know you. Not only are you unnatural (not a sin in itself) but you are most likely the most boring person alive. That's the real crime.
Faults shape us, like the facets on a gem, they reveal the flame within. Without faults to distort perfection and refract light you are about as interesting as a pane of glass with a view--of any kind.
This relates to writing, how? Well, nothing is more deadly than reading about the piously angelic, Ms or Mr Perfect, that's point 1. Point 2 is, if your heroine/hero has faults and flaws, then they are unlikely to be aware of them. Keep your story real. Make sure your characters flow with blood not ink. Too much introspection on the path to self-knowledge is just not authentic. It's also filthy boring for the reader.
A lack of self-awareness sparks friction, you should be able to feel the rub of sand against sand in the interaction between characters as they blindly bumble through life, trying their best, but largely getting it wrong.
Not that people don't change, they do, they grow (not necessarily towards sainthood) but only in response to some trauma or challenge. Something they don't like, something that disrupts their peace of mind and prevents them from getting what they want, now! Even then, it's more a compromise than an outright change of who we once were. if you have a stinging temper and your current love interest reacts adversely, then the chances are you'll try and dull the sting. That's not self-awareness, that's compromising to get what you want, but the temper that is a part of you will still hold strong and there are times, even in the happiest of ever afters, that it will out.
If you've written a bitch or a bastard, chances are they are going to stay a bitch or a bastard. But in romantic fiction the reader expects someone to fall for the lead characters regardless. And if, as a writer, you've done your job properly, the reader will love them too, flaws and all.
If I've got this right, then a story spins more on convincing reaction than long term changes in personality. Maybe that's why series are popular. Readers go back to see how their old friends are faring handicapped as they are by faults and flaws, within a new dynamic.
Got it wrong? Be Proud!
First off I'm an appalling blogger. Hadn't posted in ages. Why not? Well, because I've really had nothing to share, nothing half meaningful anyway, and most of the time Silence is Golden and there is too little of it about. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)
What has struck me though, is the level of insecurity and lack of confidence expressed across the forums by unpublished writers who are terrified of getting something wrong. (I include myself in this crowd.) Questions that keep me awake at night include: Did I screw up the submission guidelines? (Probably). Am I using Social Media enough? (Much more and I won't have time left to write.) Is what I've subbed complete crap? (Ouch, this could be excruciating.)
My point is that we need to take solace in having subbed in the first place. It takes BALLS. Huge, shiny ones. Hanging down to the knees ones. And like testicles, they are vulnerable to a kicking and, boy, is it going to hurt!
But at least, we are putting ourselves out there. That takes courage. So help yourself to a medal--
Cocking the Halo
You know you are not a bad person:-
This list could continue but frankly, reading it back, its a little too navel gazey. Think I'll take my tarnished halo, twirl it round my forefinger as a stripper might a g-string, release and leave it wherever it falls (hopefully close to a pub or, for a laugh, on a bald bishop's head.
Sweet heroine, modestly decked out in frilly doilies with a Pollyanna smile and nought but pure thoughts - hate them, they make me want to barf!
Altruistic acts of kindness are great (and more convincing) if random. I am never going to believe a heroine (it's usually a heroine and sadly there are a good few about in romantic fiction) who spends every night cooking apple pie for the elderly whilst abandoned puppies, shaved kittens and adoring orphans play at her sensibly shod feet, and the homeless make free in her neat studio apartment.
Saccharine only works for me if used as a weapon, more usually against fat, but acceptable when combined with sarcasm to score a point against an opponent. In fact, 'nice and sugary' offends me. It's a cheap and lazy way to attempt character 'likeability' - sorry, but I'm not that gullible.
If the heroine must work for/help out at a charity, at least show her fighting for a cause or deep rooted belief. If she is one of the sainted, how about ramping it up a notch by having her eat one of those puppies or accidentally food poisoning the hungry (no one has to die), or getting rat-arsed on the communion wine. I don't mind paragons of virtue if they are set up for a fall of monumental proporti
Paper Cuts - Minor but sting like a SOB
I don't care what people say or how brave a face they put on it, receiving a rejection is akin to a full body flay of tiny nicks from and exploding paper mill. Paper cuts hurt, so do rejections and all the sage advice in the world--don't give up, sub to another house, start a new ms, take solace from the many thousands who have suffered likewise--isn't worth a damn whilst the cut is still smarting.
I know, I received one and I very much pretended to be brave whilst privately wishing I'd booked a bed at the local ER. God it hurt--for days!
Only thing that made me feel better was receiving a request for a full at the end of the same week...so maybe the sage advice isn't totally wasted, sub far and wide, because publishing is subjective and if the force be with you--luck by any other name--you will get a break...eventually.
My moment of sagacity
Rejection = Pain
Pain = Heart (you need a heart because without one, you're a sociopath)
Painkillers (balls + bloody mindedness) = Relief (maybe)
Relief = Bad hangover!
Bad Hangover = Hair of the Dog (get back to writing)
The What and the Warnings
I flit around in cyber space prospecting for hints, tips, comments and advice on all things pertinent to one day landing a publishing contract. Should you decided to follow (please do) or occasionally just drop by this blog, you should know what you are getting into, hence:
Hard Men the Hard Way
Photo used under Creative Commons from LetTheCardsFall