Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Next Big Thing

What a wonderful title! If only (she goes off into her dream world....) 
The wonderful Laura E James tagged me for this Great blog round. Funnily enough, I have been SO busy, I haven’t been checking things (naughty girl – I’ve already slapped my own wrist) and only discovered this tag in the very nick of time. How’s that for intuition? Laura must have been sending me her cool vibes….

So, on to my questions and next tagged writers, who should post next Wednesday – 17th October, 2012. Lovely to read your responses, Laura.

Q: What is the working title of your next book?

I am currently working on a secret project. I could tell you, but then you know what I’d have to do to you… (so let’s not go there). However, all will be revealed in time (as they say).

But I will talk about another work-in-progress.

The working title for this is "The Journey". This is very vague as I just hate giving the game away at such an early stage    - and the real title will do that, no question. OK, I know, I should have been a spy.

Q: From where did the idea come?

The original idea for this one came from a documentary series I saw on TV

Q: Under which genre does your book fall?

This is most definitely comes under the Historical Romance banner.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters for a movie?

I’m such a geek, I never know the names of many actors. Someone strong, dark and earthy, like Colin Farrell or Gerard Butler for my romantic hero (drool) and someone a bit quirky but gorgeous, like Keira Knightley for my bloody-minded, but sometimes fragile heroine.

Q: What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

A vague one – He needs to go on a secret journey and she tags along! Sorry

Q: Will you self-publish or be represented by an agent?

First I will probably try submitting directly to a publisher who will accept such submissions.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft?

This one isn’t written yet. It is still in the early planning stage. I have been hideously waylaid by my secret endeavour… Suffice it to say, I have now cut my teeth on 3 full novels and several partials. This is all “learning my craft” stuff.

Q: With which books within your genre would your story compare?

 Not entirely sure as it isn’t realized yet and we all know how these things change from the drawing board to the movie rights ( so I’m thinking big. So sue me!). Anything Bernard Cornwell would suit me. And how!

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Being a prolific reader inspired me to write in general. The RNA and its wonderful authors inspired me to write romance. Historical? Simply because it’s my favourite genre. But the TV documentary and its vibrant presenter, inspired me specifically to start this one.

Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

That age-old desire of humankind to travel onwards; to right a wrong and to seek a destination of the soul.

The next 5 writers I am tagging are (to be announced – as it’s 3 am but who needs sleep anyway?) Watch this space:



Hopefully this has been vague enough to either pique your interest, or drive you insane. Either works for me (Laughs out Loud - sleep deprived)

Thank you for including me, Laura. This really got me going!

Take care everyone.

Susan x


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Accepting the Earl's Invitation

[I claim this title for a future historical romance novel - so hands off!]
Hopetoun House Edinburgh Scotland
         How did you celebrate the opening of the London 2012 Olympics on Friday, 27th July?
The Invitation
I did it in grand style!
Here, on my knee, you can see my very special invitation.
I have just arrived at the Earl’s country estate, Hopetoun House, Edinburgh, Scotland. Of course, I’ve removed the RSVP details for His Lordship’s privacy. How it makes me smile to declare such things.
For avid readers and writers of historical romances, using terms like ‘His Lordship’ and ‘the Earl’s country estate’ always resonates with history, adventure, trials, tribulations and happy ever afters.
My invitation delivered all of these things, but in a much more contemporary and unexpected way.

Eyes wide shut!
I began my special evening by having drinks with the delightful Earl and his wonderful Countess in their amazing ancestral home: Hopetoun House just outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. Hopetoun was built between the very end of the 15th Century into the beginning of the 16th, on the site of a much earlier manor house.

The little black cocktail dress was the order of the day.

I freely wandered at leisure through their stately residence considering life in past times, surrounded by the rich history of the many generations of Hopetouns that have owned this wonderful domain. I even posed for a cheeky picture next to one of the ‘ladies’ of the house. As you can see, I couldn’t bear to look too closely!
The Earl's desk in the small library (they have a large one too!)
Formal dining

Amazing staircase
Walk through rooms

The large library (and pool room!)

Don't you just hate it when people stand in front of the screen!

Later, as dusk fell, our select party removed to the gardens at the front of the house, where an enormous screen had been set up to project, live to us, the wonderful Olympic opening ceremony direct from London.

We wrapped in our warmest coats against the cool night breezes blowing off the Forth of Firth, ate, sipped our fizz, laughed and partied as we were royally entertained – you saw James Bond delivering the Queen (without her corgis) didn’t you?  The Earl was relieved. They are connected after all.
Queen safely delivered by 007
But this was just the beginning of a wonderful weekend at Hopetoun House for me.
The Hopetoun International Horse trials with dressage, show-jumping and cross-country eventing with 3* competitors (those that weren’t away representing their country in the London Olympics, that is) was just getting under way.
Dressage with the Forth Road Bridge in the background

But that’s a post for another day…

I'll certainly never forget the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics!

The London Olympic Flame

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Who can't wait for the London 2012 Olympics?

           Big cheers for the synchronised swimmers. 

You don’t have to wait. It’s already happening right now. An annual competition for families has taken this year’s London Olympics as their theme, with tremendous results. Despite the torrential rain, they are all still standing - like true champions!
The weight-lifters are looking pretty strong this year, too (although a little de-fuzzing wouldn’t go amiss!)

Those rapids are really testing one competitor’s resolve!

Whilst Jenny’s just hanging about for a moment, warming up and waiting for the gymnastics to begin.

Team GB always does well in equestrian events.

And here’s another medal under the belt, in the 100 metres freestyle (I think his label’s showing).

Robin Baseball-Cap is going for gold in the archery.

Marion Maiden is determined to beat him though!

Here's a champ determined to give a knock-out performance.

Getting ready for that tricky turn…

                                 … Or taking a high dive.

He may have had ‘one for the road’, instead of the cycle lane!

                       But it’s this chap that’s for the high jump.

What a parade of world-class champions!

Monday, 19 March 2012

New Writers' Scheme Weekend

I have just returned from the New Writers’ Scheme weekend away in North Yorkshire, tired but buzzing with ideas about how to improve my writing. There is no better way to learn than from the experience of other writers, especially one who is currently enjoying publishing success with her own novels. And we couldn’t have been in safer hands than those of Jean Fullerton.  http://www.jeanfullerton.com/
Getting to know her was a real pleasure! The lovely Jean gave generously of her time, helping our group to discover ways to develop and improve. The friendly and practical advice we explored together, covered topics such as characterisation, pacing, marketing and my own cardinal sin – OVER-WRITING! I’m cringing in horror, even as I think about it (not that Jean made me feel that way for a single solitary second).
Jean was a delight. She couldn’t have been friendlier or more helpful and made the entire group feel comfortably encouraged in their own literary endeavours (I think I’m doing it again - OVERWRITING!). She gave everyone an individual review of some of their current work, including a typed report, which must have taken her ages to complete. I left with 3 of her wonderful novels to sit and enjoy (whilst taking a sneaky peek at how it can be done well).
Perhaps Tomorrow was shortlisted for the 2012 RNA Historical Romance of the Year Award.
As well as getting to know Jean, I had the opportunity to meet other lovely writers on the New Writers Scheme, some of whom came from the Border Reivers’ Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Most of us had only ‘met’ before on ROMNA, the cyber chapter of the RNA. Everyone got on so well.  They really are super people at the RNA and as I’ve always said, you won’t meet finer than a Romantic Fiction writer. Not only are they masters of their craft, striving to improve and innovate, but they are wonderfully generous to a fault.
Talking of wonderful, none of this would have been possible without the efforts of one special member, Lin Treadgold, who came all the way from Amsterdam and had the whole weekend mapped out for us. Thanks to her organisational skills, not only did the event get off the ground in the first place, but amidst our writing workshops, we enjoyed a host of marvellous meals out and trips to places of interest.
One of the highlights of these was a splendid three course lunch taken in the elegant setting of a period Pullman Dining Car. The period carriage was attached to a restored steam locomotive run by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It left from Grosmont, a 1950s style rail station. More inspiration for all those historicals!
The group stayed up on the romantically windswept, North Yorkshire moors on the working Fowl Green Farm. We resided in converted farm buildings known as the barn, the cow byre and the piggery. Despite what their names imply, we were warm, comfortable and had every convenience at our disposal.
Our hilly, heather-covered location, replete with grouse and wandering sheep, would inspire the romantic in all of us. A brilliant weekend. The first of many, I hope.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Walk on the Wild Side

There is such beauty in the countryside around us. I have taken a few photographs around the house today which I would like to share with you. I hope you enjoy them. These are the ones that did not get away...

These are a small herd of deer that live in the fields around the house. I have counted as many as sixteen, but more usually eight or nine. They go up into the hills in the summer, but spend the winter grazing at lower levels.

Great flocks of around a hundred geese appear in the fields and stay for a day or two to rest and feed, before setting off on their great journey again.
Here are some more common visitors, though none the less beautiful for that.
And lastly, sunrise up the road at the front of the house (happily in January, it rises at a civilised hour!)

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Working Writers

                                                  How do/did YOU do it?

We all know that perennial term ‘Working Parents’ and the diverse opinions that fly around on the subject: their poor progeny, driven to delinquency or freed to foster independent life-skills.

But what about Working Writers?

They come in all varieties: full-time writers, part-time writers with part-time employment and the full-time employed who write only in ‘leisure’ time.

How do the latter group manage? Presumably their output must be severely curtailed? When one hears of writers completing 2,500 words a day (I know! You do so much more/less – delete the extraneous), it must surely be discouraging for those who work full-time and can never compete on an equal footing?

With such prolific writers (Barbara Cartland, notwithstanding) of three, four (MORE?) published novels a year, might it make those, not so time-fortunate, want to throw down their pen (OK laptop – but frankly, who is likely to throw down their laptop? They’d have to work an extra week to replace it. Let’s keep this real!).

Bad enough to have to wage-slave in any employment, that detracts from the passions of a writer (books!) but what of those working in particular professions? Those all-consuming, “it’s a vocation” type employments?

Doctor:  72 hour shifts, on-call, keeping up with medical developments...

Teacher/lecturer:  lesson prep, marking, exam assessment, Outdoor-Ed trips, CPD...

Police:  all leave cancelled, sleep-disrupting shift patterns...

Army:  deployment to war-zone, Green Goddess coverage for Fire-Service industrial action...

Inn-Keeper:  Late licence, Sky Sports Coverage Saturdays, Karaoke Nights...

Working Mothers:   OMG Eeeek!!

You get the picture... Another hour, day, week, month without putting         (m)any words to paper. No time to write the first/next blooming novel let alone blog, tweet, pester agents, publishers, anyone that might read your book (if it ever gets written) PLEEESE... (pretty)

Many published authors started off in this working category, even if they have now successfully thrown off the shackles of servitude. Or at least swapped service to others, to that “free servitude” to the one-eyed, hypnotic lap-dweller, that demands you tap its keys constantly with your creative little digits.

Help us all by revealing just how you did/do manage your time in those darkest of days? Then return to see how others do it! [comments gratefully received]