The online diary of a dreamer creating Contemporary Romantic Fiction - because Every Woman needs Love and Laughter in her Life.

Friday, 30 November 2007


Hide and seek.

Liz tagged me to do this.* So it is all her fault.

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, just make one up...or use the one you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Well, I don't have a middle name, but my family have always simply called me 'Ray' for as long as I can remember, so I'm going with the second part of my name - Anne.

A. Acting out the role created for me by my place within the class system in the UK. Stuff that. I have always walked my own path and made my own choices. I suspect that my parents often thought that there had been a mix up at the maternity hospital and they had come home with someone else's child.

N. Nuns. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to a Roman Catholic Convent High School at my 11 plus = swotty child- and I adored every minute of it. Head girl. Sack load of CGSEs. The lot. Forget horror stories of tormenting sisters, these women and the lay teachers were totally brilliant and I owe them more than I can say. And I certainly was not alone. Go Sisters of Mercy.

N. No regrets. Only look forward.

E. Education and Expectations. For many years my goal was to become a University Lecturer, and I worked hard to make that happen. The two years I spent in teaching taught ME a lot, and the students were excellent. I truly believe that without education a person can never realise their potential. Life long learning is real. [One of the reasons I support UNICEF] Education taught me that the only limits are those you set for yourself.

Since I have no friends and am a total recluse, I chose to ignore part 4 of the rules and not impose my tag on anyone else. [ see under A]
Take care world and have a good one.


What's playing on my YouTube right now? Snow Patrol

Wednesday, 28 November 2007


I find myself struggling with how to describe the dream location for my WIP.

Imagine if you will an Austrian coffee shop. In Vienna for example.

There will be patisserie. Hand made chocolates and cakes galore. At least 10 different types of coffee. And a sunny courtyard. Newspapers and black apron waiters.

Only it has to be in London.

And I don't want to distract from the romance. Or scoff any more cake.

Must write faster. Bye.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Blast from the past - Simple Minds. Don't you forget about me.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Hero Archetype - The Swashbuckler

According to Tami Cowden there are 8 main Hero Archetypes in Romantic Fiction.

I thought I would test this theory with a few examples, and today's example is:

Hero Archetype 3: The Swashbuckler

The SWASHBUCKLER: Mr. Excitement, he’s an adventure. This guy is action, action, and more action. He's physical and daring. Fearless, he’s a daredevil, or an explorer. He needs thrills and chills to keep him happy.
It almost makes me want to write an historical. Almost.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Power Songs

There are some pieces of music which take me directly to the emotional core of the writing.

This is one Song and Video combination which takes me to that place - the kind of music which is personal and universal at the same time - and what technology was made for.
For me, this is a novel captured in 4 mins 6 seconds.

pic = A door to the Fantasy Land by Sakura Juna

Friday, 23 November 2007

Head down, no nonsense, mindless boogie

Must write, write like the wind....

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Sam Cooke. A Change is Gonna Come.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Loving your characters

I want my heroine to be my best friend - she's great.

The hero is so gorgeous that I can't stop peering over the top of the monitor to look at him. Swoon. And did I mention that he is rich, lonely and she will fill the empty space in his heart?

And now I have to throw rocks at them and make them cry and go through the mill.

Yes, I am on chapter 6. mid point. no going back.
See Ray-Anne strapping on her sturdy boots and clutching her Leki Poles. Kendal mint cake is sticking out of her Gore-tex pockets.
Marvel as she shoulders her rucksack loaded with Craft books and print outs from articles which she will probably use to light her fire on the trail.
Wonder at her bright confidence and courage - then Prod her back out of the door and onto the editing trail as she scrambles to get back inside the house so she can drink tea, eat choc and procrastinate JUST A LITTLE LONGER before facing the uphill climb.
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Songs of the Auvergne sung by Kiri Te Kanawa. The movie is 'In My Father's Den' staring Mat MacFadyen which hopefully will be released in the UK next year. Gorgeous.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Because sometimes you just need it

I have 200 pages of printed paper. Double spaced. 12 Times New Roman. Manuscript format.
Now all I have to do is make sense of it and start editing. Today.
Now where did I hide the Green and Blacks?

pics= Chocolate by TeddyChan, Cholove by Topinka, Stock Photo Image
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Jerry McGuire and Bruce Springsteen - secret garden.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


How to Induce the Fictive Dream

Notes from 'How to Write Damn Good Fiction: Advanced Techniques for Dramatic Storytelling,' by James N. Frey

James M. Frey, in How to Write a Damn Good Novel II, says, "As a fiction writer, you're expected to transport a reader. Readers are said to be transported when, while they are reading, they feel that they are actually living in the story world and the real world around them evaporates."

In this altered state of consciousness, the reader can become so absorbed that you must shake him to get his attention.

Absorption is probably the better word: the reader is absorbed/transported into the story world.

This experience is often called the "Fictive Dream," and that is as good a name for it as any. It's like a daydream, except that the reader isn't its author. It occurs at a subconscious level.

How do you induce the Fictive Dream?

1. Use vivid, sensual details to begin the dream state. Let your reader experience the world of the character first-hand, through the character's senses.

2. Gain the reader's sympathy for your character by making the reader feel sorry for the character. Loneliness, lovelessness, repression, embarrassment, humiliation, privation, danger--any situation that brings physical, mental, or spiritual suffering will make your reader sympathize with your character.

3. Engender reader identification with your character. Give your character a noble goal that the reader can support, and the reader will take his side, no matter how much of a slime he is or has been.

4. Create sympathy for your character by providing sensuous details in the character's environment--the sights, sounds, pains, smells, etc., that the character is feeling--that will trigger the reader's emotions.

5. Inner conflict--misgivings, guilt, doubts, remorse, indecision--will lead the reader to side with your character in the decisions he is forced to make--decisions of a moral nature that have grave consequences for the character (such as putting their honor or self-worth at stake).

Inner conflict can be thought of as a battle between two voices within the character: one of reason, the other of passion--or of two conflicting passions. One of a protagonist, the other of a protagonist. (The little devil and angel on the character's shoulder.)

These voices engage in rising conflict that comes to some kind of climax, where a decision is made that leads to action. This debate produces tension and suspense about what the character will decide to do.

This participation in the decision-making process is what transports the reader into the fictive dream state.

A lot of this advice has been stated in other classic work on creating emotive fiction, and especially genre fiction, but I find it interesting that these five elements are being proposed for ALL fiction.

Now all I have to do it make it happen. Sigh.

pic = Dream On by AndreInacu

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Damien Rice The Blower's Daughter.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Hero Archetype - The BAD BOY

According to Tami Cowden there are 8 main Hero Archetypes in Romantic Fiction.

I thought I would test this theory with a few examples, and today's example is:

Hero Archetype 2. THE BAD BOY

'The BAD BOY: dangerous to know, he walks on the wild side. This is the rebel, or the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s bitter and volatile, a crushed idealist, but he's also charismatic and street smart.'

Um, I can think of a few hero candidates that could apply to...

Now. Back to the WIP and creating one of my own.

What's playing on my YouTube today? Annie Lennox. Cold.

ps. apologies for the format of the post - Blogger is playing up.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Hottest Toy

Judy Jarvie has been blogging about the pressure on parents to find THE TOY for their child for Christmas.*

In a turn of serendipity I have just read Jenny Crusie's novella in the compilation ' SANTA BABY'.

'Trudy Maxwell goes looking for the Hot Toy of 2006 on Christmas Eve to keep her nephew's faith in Santa Claus and life in general, and runs into toy hijackers, the CIA, Chinese spies, and the lit professor who dumped her after three dates. Then the shooting starts.'

For an extract of the first chapter -

Highly recommended. And a masterclass on how to cram what the reader needs to know to set up the story before the heroine meets her hero. Brilliant.

And apologies to all parents who are now going through the pain, but is this not just another part of our current cultural Zeitgeist?
And therefore, of course, all food for the writer's imagination?
Happy shopping.


What's playing on my YouTube right now? SugarBabes

Thursday, 15 November 2007


The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920

pic - Choices by NBC Skellington

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Wake up music - Foo Fighters.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Garrison Keillor

Following from my post on Positive Thinking, purely by chance I came across an article by Garrison Keiller, the American author and radio personality, quoted on Jurgen Wolff's site from May 2007.*

'In a piece on the Kansas City Star's website, Garrison Keiller gave some advice about writing.

In part, he wrote:
"Writers get obsessed with a project and lock the doors and sit and work at it, like animals in a leg trap trying to chew through the leg, which is not good strategy.

My advice is to get out of the house and take a walk, a good first cure for the depression that hits after you’ve been working for a year and it dawns on you that your book is not The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but you must finish it anyway because the publisher’s generous advance has been spent on a new pair of shoes for the baby and she has worn a hole in them already, so you press on — on — on — though it strikes you that the world has a great many books already and does it need yours?

A long walk also brings you into contact with the world, which is basic journalism, which most writing is. It isn’t about you and your feelings so much as about what people wear and how they talk. The superficial is never to be overlooked."
"Walk briskly and it will improve your circulation and your brain will remember the basics of good writing: Cut to the chase. Cut the introductions. Cut the agonized introspection. When in doubt, write something that is fun. Write on a computer if you must but correct by hand on a typescript with a yellow No. 2 lead pencil."

Not surprisingly, these musings were prompted by the fact that he has a deadline for delivering another book very soon.'

I am currently chewing off my own leg with the WIP.

I bow to Mr Keillor.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Darren Hayes


Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Lurv scenes

Some people adore reading love scenes, dreaming about love scenes, making up love scenes with their fav actors and actresses on Tv and movies. Watching kissing scenes on YouTube.

Some people have even been known to fast forward DVDs and Videos to their favourite 'kissy bit' [ end of North and South. YOU know what I'm talking about!]

So why is it so hard to describe them on paper?
Is there a checklist of components you need to put it all together?

Setting.- Yes, tropical sunkissed beach. Moonlit gardens, they can help. Arabian desert. No mosquitos or sand flies or other biting insects on bare bits of course, unless someone has to kiss it better. Or you are a vampire/ chimera in a graveyard.

Sensory detail - only so much you can do without it becoming a cliche = smell 1, touch 2, skin 3, taste 4, sounds 5 [ no squidge thank you]. Repeat for hero and heroine as required.

Physical detail - imagination required to make it special instead of anatomical tab a into slot b
[see squidge above]. Paranormals have some advantages here. [ Think about it....]

Emotional detail - ah. Tricky. What has brought these two people here at this moment in time? What happened before- and what is going to happen after? How has this scene changed them?

Whether you are writing erotica or sweet romance, don't we all want to add more tenderness and, well, love, into our love scenes?

Back to character again. Always back to character.

And nobody said it was going to be easy.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? The 'kissy bit' from Lost

Monday, 12 November 2007

Hero Archetypes - the Professor

According to Tami Cowden * there are 8 main Hero Archetypes in Romantic Fiction.

I thought I would test this theory with a few examples, starting with:

Hero Archetype 1. THE PROFESSOR

'Coolly analytical, he knows every answer. He’s logical, introverted, and inflexible, but genuine about his feelings.
At work, he likes cold, hard facts, thank you very much, but he's also honest and faithful, and won’t let you down.'

Examples? Sherlock Homes, Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, and Harrison Ford as Dr Jones or in 'Sabrina' is a classic - but what ab0ut

Hero Candidate: Matthew Goode.

Born April 3, 1976 in Exeter, England.

6' 2" and blue-eyed, actor Matthew Goode landed his first breakout role as Mandy Moore’s love interest Ben Calder in the romantic comedy Chasing Liberty (2004). The theatrically-trained actor followed it up with more prominent roles in Woody Allen’s Oscar-nominated Match Point (2005), Imagine Me & You (2005), Copying Beethoven (2006) and The Lookout (2007). He will star as Captain Charles Ryder in the upcoming film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's 1945 novel, Brideshead Revisited.

Um. The Professor has potential!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Agony Aunt

Trish Wylie has switched to Agony Aunt mode, to come to my aid on a couple of Very Sticky personal problems I have been having.

You can find her answer to my Dear Trish letter on her blog today - click here – for her most excellent reply.
Thank you Aunty Trish. I think I owe you a pint. Or two.

By chance Annie West is also sharing her pearls on Time Management over at the Pink Heart Society.

Now all I have to do it put the great advice into action. Um.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? George Winston.

Saturday, 10 November 2007



Enjoying the journey. Taking pleasure in life. Waking up each day and being excited by what you are doing that day.

That. Is the toughest thing. You cannot buy positive, motivating energy.

We chose to be writers. We chose to spend our precious life doing this.
But why not make it exciting and invigorating? Even wonderful?

Motivational and Self-Help Books are everywhere and there is a HUGE Market. Just go into Amazon and you will see hundreds of titles, from ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, which was published in 1952 right through to Paul McKenna in 2007.

Clever people observe the way we lead our lives in the western world, and how the people and events around us SUCK our energy and emotional power until we are drained and exhausted with nothing left to give to our creative side.

Buzz words include: ENERGY VAMPIRES [ the job or other people], TECHNODESPAIR [ the overwhelming battery of technology, TV, music, noise, emails and blogs], INFORMATION OVERLOAD [ mags, TV, How to books- there are so many people telling you HOW to live/lose weight/bring up the kids- but how do you choose which ones to believe?]

I find these depressing. Some people have found them very valuable.

All I am looking for are some techniques to help JAZZ me up.

Here are a few I have used and I make NO excuses for that fact that I am pathetic.

1. Choose to have fun. Force yourself if you have to , but say the words out loud - I am going to have the best fun in the world today with my characters and my writing.

SMILE when you say it, maybe chuckle and say it over and over until you mean it.

2. Positive affirmations do work. For example:

I am excited about my life

I love who I am

There is noone better than I am, or cleverer than I am

I cannot wait to start writing, this is so much fun

Writing is the most enjoyable thing I can do on my own [!]

3. Get outside the house and find somewhere else to work.

Laptops are good, but all you need is a blank side of junkmail and a free pen that came with the junk mail. Cafes in shops are good and cheap but there are usually loads of free public spaces you can find in winter. And they are heated.

4. Exercise can get the blood flowing to the brain, so walk if you can.

5. Write what you want to write. What chapter or scene interests you most? It helps if you have some idea where this is going to fit, but it will set the brain moving to what happened before and after that scene.

6. Forget the Target wordcount, or the deadline and just write anything you like.
Sometimes you have to accept that trying to write to a deadline when you are not in the mood is an exercise in futility and will only make you fed-up and frustrated.
Scribble about the back blurb. Work on the synopsis. OR forget the book for an hour, and write your Christmas round-robin letter, your analysis of your favourite book, an article. **

7. Set the Kitchen Timer and write under the clock. Most folk cannot study and focus for more than 30 or 40 mins tops. The brain is not geared up that way. So work with it.

8. Collect together all of the hats in the house and place them ALL on top of your head and try to type or write.
Any hat with a bird or creature on it is especially good. Think Jester hats.
If anyone sees you, tell them that these are your 'thinking caps' and they are yours and yours alone and they are precious.
Your inner child will thank you.
PS. If you have crayons and a large piece of paper/card, then writing your scene with the crayons while wearing the hats might also help.
AND - if all else fails, think about going back to your day job, for the rest of your life. Then laugh.

ACTION: Through the magic of RVWT (Ray-Anne’s Virtual Resonic-Wave)* testing of the brainwaves you are beaming out as you read this, I have been able to confirm that you are the most creative person I would ever want to meet, possibly the most creative person IN THE WORLD.
What new thing are you going to do with your amazing talent this week?

*Stolen from Jurgen Wolff who has a great site and e-bulletin.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Nothing. Radio 3 in another room.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Things you cannot buy

QUESTION FIVE: What Common Features define Successful Business People?

There are lots of motivational books on how the best got where they are - but there are some common threads. IMHO these are:

PASSION. If you driven by a passion for what you do, then you are not working, you are doing this for love. Best advice ? Find your passion in life. Easy to say, hard to do. PLus the passion you had in your 20s is not going to be the same passion you have in your 40s. That's life.

WORK. You are going to get out at least what you put in, if not more. Of course if you are doing something you love, being a workaholic is actually FUN.

FOCUS. You become the BEST you can be, by FOCUSING on one thing and working as hard as you can to build your talent and skill. Never ending improvement to be as good as you can be in that focus area.
And that could be anything from structural analysis of the bestselling 50 paranormals to perfecting your recipe for lemon tart - it's the quality of the eggs you know.
[This is a tough one for me, personally, since I would love to write for more than one genre, but my head knows that this is not the way to build a career, and any agent or publisher would just shake their head in despair].

PUSH. Pushing yourself, challenging yourself. And keep pushing. No complacency. Healthy sense of insecurity.

IDEAS. What makes you different and special? There are lots of other folk out there who have ideas which could work. What makes yours special?

PERSISTENCE through apparent Failure, and Criticism, Rejection and Pressure = [CR*P]. If you look at some of the lives and career paths of the rich and famous, it is a wonder they could get out of bed in the morning.

CONNECTION to other people, and customers, where you are offering them something of value or a service.
In this I feel blessed that the romance writing community is so welcoming
And one more feature which the books don't mention a lot. They just take it as read.
And I am going to talkabout that tomorrow, because it is so important.
Now, back to Focusing on my Work with a Passion for my original Idea that only I can bring.
Only good times ahead - hope everyone has a great day.
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Aqualung. If I fall. The lyrics are stunning.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Thinking Ahead

QUESTION FOUR. How can you grow your business so that THE BUSINESS takes on a life and identity of it’s own and you can scale it up?

You have a talent or skill, and you can use that skill as a writer and create a business.

You are a self-employed entrepreneur. CONGRATULATIONS!

What does that mean for you as a business person?
At the beginning you might be making the pitches to publishers and agents, and running everything from your kitchen table/backbedroom/cupboard under the stairs.

Which is fine if your vision sets that as the limit of your business. But to GROW and BUILD that business, you may need a lot more. Start working on the skill sets you need to grow THE BUSINESS.

Think of any small business in the UK making a product for sale.

Think of the skill sets needed to run and develop that business. These could include:

DESIGNERS. They design a product to meet the needs of a particular customer. That is you - with a clear understanding of what each publisher is looking for, and how it fits with the product/ product range you want to create.

PRODUCTION. Someone makes the product according to the design agreed with the customer. That is you - the creative genius.

. They talk to customers, create and initiate business ideas and sell those ideas to their customers. Then track sales. Delivery. Customer satisfaction. Do you need a Literary Agent who can be your Sales Person - an expert who knows the customers you want to sell to, and what they are looking for at the moment. The agent only earns money when you sell - so this is a win/win partnership. OR - you can do it yourself.

. What makes you different from other writers? What makes you unique?

This is where BRANDING comes in. What is your Brand? Why should anyone in the publishing world, from the girl on the bus on the way to work, to the editor, remember and associate with you?
Oh yes – this girl specialises in Tudor Seafaring/ Paranormal Erotica. Let’s call her.
IF you are working with a publisher - they will clearly play a crucial part in the promotion for your work. But there is a lot that YOU can do to market your work.
This is a HUGE topic which depends on what you are trying to sell and to whom. Readers? Or professionals? The whole team has to come together to decide the type of platform you want to create.

FINANCE. Tax. Balance Sheets. Salaries. Do you need an accountant? At what point do you inform the Tax office? Do you need to start paying National Insurance to make sure you have a State Retirement Pension? Do you have your own personal pension? Health insurance [ if you cannot work and you are the only designer/manufacturer that could be a problem.] Who is going to complete my tax returns?
FUNDING. Investment in the business. Do you need to put together a business plan and arrange a loan?
LEGAL. Do you need to form a company -a legal entity? Who is going to advise you about that? This may only become important when you have reached a point in your income, but it is still worth having in the back of your mind.
Each one of these is a specialised skill - and a complete new blog entry, not for here.
At the start, you are doing all of those tasks. Alone. Or with help from friends.
YOU are the team. But there may well be a point where it makes sense to get other people to be part of the team which makes up your business - effectively become your business partners, which is why you have to select them with just as much care as in any other business.
Why would you go into business with someone you don't like? Or respect?
You are still working for yourself - your own boss. But you may want to focus on what YOU do best. The writing.
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Toxic and the Guys from Roswell.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Who is your Customer?

QUESTION THREE. Who is your Customer? Who is going to buy your wonderful work?

Market Research companies would tell you that it is essential to know your customer and what they want. This is a common theme of many ‘How-to’ Books on writing. Know your Market.

To me, there are THREE levels of customers.

1. Literary Agents
2. The Submission Editors and Readers at Publishers
3. The bookseller and readers who will buy your book.

You will only reach the readers who will love your work when you pass the first two gatekeepers.
In true mythological style these folks are employed to challenge you, and make sure you are worthy of entering the golden land, sorry, worthy of time and energy and money to publish YOUR work when there are thousands of other hopefuls all lined up outside the gate.

So. How?
First. I am assuming that you doing this work yourself, so you need to use a few shortcuts to save days of time – and focus on key elements to maximise your success.


Marcus Sakey wrote an excellent article on how he carrys out his own market research on Literary agents, and you can find it here :

WHO are your favourite authors, where have they been published, and WHO ARE THEIR LITERARY AGENTS?

You will find that most authors will thank their agents in the acknowledgements section at the front of the book. Or on their website.
If they have an agent.
Many Harlequin MB authors do not have Literary Agents because they write solely for that publisher who has a standard contract. This makes perfect sense and means more income for the author who is quite capable of managing her own career.
I want to write for more than one company and expect different contracts with different sales strategies for multiple markets/media. I believe I need an agent.

WHO publishes the kind of books you love to read as a whole group/subgenre.

The most common sense advice is to identify the kind of books that you love to read for pleasure, choose the ones that particularly delight you from your keeper shelf, or at your local library or bookshop, and make a list of who the publisher is/ are AND Who the literary agents are.
These are the agents who SOLD that book to that publisher for that author.

After three or four fairly boring hours, you should have a sizable list. To find their addresses, turn to the Internet.

You can Google search, using quotes around their full name.

The Online Version of The Writers and Artists Yearbook for the UK is here:
This has the links to the websites etc and the info you need. The Yearbook is worth buying since you can search for specific genres – and there are craft sections.


DOES this publisher look at Un-Agented, Unsolicited Submissions?

Many do not. They want a literary agent to pre-screen the submissions for them, and love your work before they will look at it.
These editors can move of course, but there will always be submission guidelines on their website.

The publisher of the books you love will define the length of the book, the subject matter such as the subgenre, and the format of the book.
It would be pointless to send a teenage romance book to a publisher who only produces paranormal erotic e-books.

WHO is the Editor for the Book you love from that publisher?
Find out from:
* the front of the book in the acknowledgements section of a single title book
* the author’s website or blog

For a general list of Romance Publishers and Markets, go to the Internet on sites like: This is a detailed resource on the US market with submission guidelines.

Well that should keep us all busy for a wet weekend - and determine our career.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Gary Jules, Mad World, from Donnie Darko.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Where Do You Want to Go?

Career Week. Writing as a Business. Some questions.

QUESTION TWO. What is your Vision for your Business?

Yes, I know this sounds terribly American and ‘Business-speak’ but it does make sense to think through what you want in your life and your work.

In this context ‘Vision’ means asking hard questions about:

*Where do I want to be in two years from now? Five years? Ten years?
*How far do I want to go?
*How big do you want to be?

Let your imagination go wild.

For example:
* Do you want to write one single title book a year?
* Or three short category books a year? Or five?
* Or both? Or non-fiction and fiction?
* Or one blockbuster thriller every two years?

How far do you want to go? RITA winner? Paperbacks on supermarket shelves? Or not? It does not matter where you see yourself going – as long as you CAN see it.
Only you can decide that.

These flippant questions actually link to a far more fundamental one.

Why do you want to be published?

*Personal Validation? To feel significant as an individual?
*Validation as a creative person and writer?
*Validation of your talent and skill or knowledge to others?
*Because you want to hold a book you have written in your hot little hands and send copies to the people who said that you were bound to be a writer some day/ that you were a talentless fool who should stay quiet and keep serving fries?
*Because you want to tell tales and your stories to be read?

For me, the answer to that question will set the answers to the others. This is also the question some agents ask prospective clients in order to determine whether that author has a career plan and is someone they can work with in a win/win partnership.
It always makes me think hard. How about you?

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Nothing. Listening to CD of Andrea Bocelli.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Hobby or Career?

Career Week. Writing as a Business. Some questions.

There is a plethora of ‘How-To’ business books for entrepreneurs in the shops at the moment, and many of them have become bestsellers.

There are common principles in most of these books, which have been reframed for a specific audience – including women.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the key business principles and work through how they could apply to the Fiction Writer.
So this week I am going to ask myself one question each day.
Let's dive in with the big one.


Is writing your hobby, or are you doing this to MAKE MONEY and make it a business?

If you want to write for yourself and love doing it – that’s brilliant, and you should be proud.

But it is not a business. It is a hobby [at least at the moment] and you have to be brave and acknowledge it is a hobby.

Let’s assume that you want to write fiction that you can sell to a publisher, who will GIVE YOU MONEY for the honour of putting your words onto paper inside covers and sending them out into the world.

They are in business.

They want to MAKE MONEY so that they can GIVE YOU MONEY.
It’s as simple as that.

Some women seem to have a problem expressing the fact that they want to make MONEY.
They will happily talk about their lives, family, kiddies. But not about how much MONEY they want to turn over this year.
And I don’t think this is simply an example of British culture where we are taught that talking about money is vulgar. I think it is more widespread than that.

FACT. A lot of unpublished writers - fiction and non-fiction alike, create a manuscript and then look around for a publisher where it would be a good fit in the hope that an editor will love it and buy it.
FACT. Published writers know the precise market where they want to submit - because they are looking for CUSTOMERS for a product they are making.
FACT. Your writing, your WORK, is a product and you are going to have to sell it to another human being if you want readers to have access to the world and the characters that you have created.
I make no excuses if that sounds cold. I know some people find it difficult to accept that the blood, sweat and tears that went into the work is boiled down to that truth.
You are creating, designing and fabricating something wonderful and special. But if you want other folk to read it- then you have to think of it as a commodity.

Congratulations. You are now in Show Business.

So. What is YOUR answer to Question One?
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Anastacia, Left Outside Alone.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

And where do you get your story ideas from?

Business Opportunity - Ghostwriter.*


"Very busy executive would like to hire a writer to send emails on his behalf on personal dating websites. And do a few emails back and forth to get the ball rolling.
This person needs to know how to write in a masculine, but romantic way and at the same time create a challenge for the reader of the emails."



Does it surprise you that this ad appeared in Los Angeles?

What is that rushing noise?

Ray-Anne working on a story idea while HER brain engine turns over the possible implications of that one.

Now. What kind of heroine would apply for the job?

Then of course fall for this executive who is too busy to write his own letters to prospective dates.

I can already hink of a couple of scenarios where this situation could be worked up - can't you?

I love this. And who said that truth is stranger than fiction.

Now excuse me while I print this one out for my ideas file. I may even use it.

Unless of course you do first. Except there are so many others like this out there that you would never get around to writing them all.

So, next time someone asks where you get your ideas from - you can tell them, the job ads.

*This was listed on craigslist , which lists all kinds of creative writing and other jobs by city, and quoted by the most excellent Jurgen Wolff

What's playing on my YouTube right now? West Wing to Quando, Quando, Quando. Classic.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

The hazards of sitting in front of a computer all day

I now have an entry in my diary for the annual posh Xmas company dinner evening.

Think luxurious country estate, walled gardens, a library larger than the public library in the small town where I grew up, and pampering with wonderful food and wine. Gorgeous open fires and huge sofas. Magical.

And one of the very few times in a girl's life when she has the chance to wear SERIOUS frocks and bling. Shoes with heels and thin soles. Make-up from department stores which cost more than your first wage packet.

In other words, all of the items which do not form part of normal life.

Writer's grunge. I shall say no more.

So I now have about six weeks before deciding between :

1. I have lost SO much weight and look SO fantastic that none of my current collection could POSSIBLY do the event justice -new cocktail dress, and shoes coming up!

2. This mince pie is only 100 calories. And home made are so much nicer. And yes, of course I will come along to your Xmas party and scoff sausage rolls and trifle - it would be rude not to. Those hand made fresh cream dark chocolate praline truffles are just for me? How kind.
I already have outfits - I'll be fine.

Um. Tricky one. Any ideas?

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Morning Adrenaline Power Song. Listen with coffee before writing. Repeat as necessary. Foo Fighters. The Best of You.