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

Monday, 31 December 2007

What I am NOT going to do in 2008

Inside my head it is still October, but since so many worthy and successful authors have blogs today on what they have on their To-Do-List for the coming year, I have spent time over the weekend to work on the objectives.

There is a master list of some ten key projects. Plus some lifestye goals.

Here is a snippet from the writing section.

1. I will no longer be satisfied with substandard touch typing. Right first time. Speed and accuracy. I have the Mavis Beacon DVD. I used to be better than this. Not good enough.

2. Output. I have so many story ideas there is a box file full to bursting. Time to create those tales and get them onto paper. No matter if they are not sold tomorrow - they will be one day and in the meantime I have lived in the story moment. Write fast. Write passionately.

With one, single, HUGE condition before any new file is opened.

3. I have to work more FUN into the writing process. I want to laugh out loud every day. If the writing is not enjoyable, I have to be brave enough to recognise that it is not working, and fix it or shelve it and move on to something which does give me pleasure - and hopefully will give a reader pleasure.

I love to get up every day excited and enthusiastic about what I am working on that day - and still be excited and dreaming about that story late into the night. It is a fantastic feeling.

Rather like being in love in fact.

Hold that thought.

Because I do know one thing.

Unless I want it enough, it simply will not happen. And I have the boredom threshold of a toddler in an empty room.
I know what excites and interests me. What I love to read and write.
2008 is the year when I focus on what makes me happy.
And if that sounds self-indulgent, then so be it. My life, my choices.
Now. All I have to do is identify the barriers between where I am now, and where I want to be, work out how to trample down/jump over those barriers, and make those objectives happen.
And there is only one person who can do that.
On with the show.

No YouTube at the moment. Listening to the soundtrack from the movie 'Amelie' on my PC.

Saturday, 29 December 2007


Thought that would get your attention.

No. Alex Romano is not my secret hero. But...A piece of trivia for you.

I have owned and ridden a series of motorbikes over the years.

The first bike was a student's dream - a Honda 90 called Wendy.
She did 120 miles a gallon and was useful to getting home about late sessions at the university. I actually drove from Yorkshire to the Dorset coast and back on that bike!
Wendy was stolen in Bradford and I received more back on the insurance that the bike cost to buy.

Now there is a Triumph Trophy 1200 in our garage - but I am definitely the pillion.

So there you have it - Ray-Anne has been a biker girl. There are photos but you are all too young and sensitive for that kind of horror.

And I never, ever, had a plastic skull between the handlebars.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Bad to the Bone with Jensen Ackles

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Back to Work

Here we are again. Full of Yule Tide spirit [ Tawny 20 yr old Port] and Chocolate trufflalicious.

And on with the show.

Before I return to my revisions, I have taken time out today to:

* go to the shops for more post-Christmas writer's trousers. [ Baggy bottom, wide leg, elastic waistband. Say no more.]

* catch up on a few sites I have neglected for a while. One of these was J A Konrath+ who has been musing on Resolutions for Writers - past and current. He has some excellent suggestions, and one of these stuck with me.

'I Will Feed My Addiction.
Life is busy.
There are always things you can and should be doing, and your writing career often comes second. So make it come first. Right now, you're reading A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Not A Newbie's Guide to Leading a Content and Balanced Life.
You want to get published and stay published?

That means making writing a priority. That means making

A sacrifice involves choosing one thing over another.
If you can't devote the time, energy, and money it takes to
pursue this career, go do something else.

He is right. There will ALWAYS be something easier to do with your time than create a career, a business if you will, from your writing.

Of course, if this was some type of PROPER Sole-Trader business, eg. shop owner or tradesman, then yes, surely you would expect to work all of the hours to get it up and runnning so that your customers obtain precisely the product they need ahead of schedule.

So why do we not always look at our writing in this way?

I find that very interesting.

No YouTube today. Radio playing in the background.

Saturday, 22 December 2007


This is the fireplace in my living room.
It comes complete with a sofa, and a coffee table straining to hold up the To Be Read Pile.
All I have to do is nip outside for more coal and logs now and then.
Tea and mince pies are optional extras.
Signing off now until after the holiday.
I hope you have everything you wish for. Health and happiness. Love and laughter.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blatherings. Ray-Anne

Friday, 21 December 2007

Digital Metaphors

I was looking through some holiday photos from September in Austria, and came across a series which seem to capture the journey of a pre-published author perfectly.

* It all looks lovely from up here

* This map must be wrong - been wandering around here for ages and no clear path ahead

* That gorge is HOW deep? And this is the only way across?

* Holding on for dear life and shuffling forward one step at a time.

Anyone reading this post is more than capable of adding clever captions.

Any suggestions??

PS. Yes I know I look daft in that outfit. And somewhat bewildered.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Word Stew

Nicola Marsh has an excellent post today on the merits of allowing your work to 'stew' so you can return to it with fresh eyes before submitting.

I find this a very hard thing to do, but my current WIP needs it.

I can already see gaps in the hero's internal conflict and one section needs work on pacing - it seems flat. The opening chapters need more angst. Everyone is too 'nice' to eachother.

So the whole file, notes, print-outs, post-it stickers, everything, is now inside the box file.

Sitting there.

On my desk.

Taunting me.

Calling me a wimp for not soldiering on.

I shall now punish it by storing on the top shelf of the bookcase for a week before going back to it.

This work needs to be submitted. I need to feel it is the best work I can create.

In the meantime...there are one or two other things to do around the place this week.

Excuse me while I look for a roasting tin large enough for a brace of wild rabbits.

Whilst stirring the home-made tangerine marmalade.

And sorting out the contents of the freezer which seems to have a lot of smoked fish. And preparing a shopping list for tomorrow's supermarket dash.

And glancing longingly at the TBR pile. A week may not be long enough.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Multi-Media Options

Because Santa is so busy, Mr Ray-Anne has my new Darren Hayes CD to wrap. I have his 5 disc [ yes, I did say 5] special edition Bladerunner DVD set. There are probably 10 films and shows recorded from the TV waiting to be watched. Plus DVDs of the latest blockbusters from Amazon.
The TV guide for the holidays is sitting on the breakfast table and we idly flick through and circle a few things. For every day. Including some most excellent BBC radio programmes.
The local Cinema is showing 'Enchanted.'
I was struck this morning by how much technology has changed the way we celebrate the Christmas holiday and approach our leisure time - in our culture at least.
Cable Tv. DVDs. Cds. Radio. Video. Home Cinema. Big Screen out with the popcorn sitting with other people cinema. The theatre. Live concerts. Your local Pantomime.
Is anyone besides myself exhausted yet?
I can imagine folks arguing about what, when, how it can all be fitted in. Then cross words when they miss it, or, perish the thought, someone wants to watch the other channel!
Except of course, you probably have more than one TV, and the children watch their own progs and talk to their friends on cell phones in their own rooms. Away from the family who are so BORING.
They might have a point.
No YouTube today. In the spirit of this post, I am going to work away from the PC and study story structure.
My WIP is at what I call the 'Reasonable' Draft Stage. 52k. 12 chapters. Now it's time to challenge myself and my characters. Time to dig even deeper.
Miner's helmet on. Ice axe in hand. I'm going in.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Hero Archetype- The Chief

The Chief: a dynamic leader, he has time for nothing but work.

He might have been born to lead, or perhaps he conquered his way to the top, but either way, he’s tough, decisive, goal-oriented. That means he is also a bit overbearing and inflexible.

The bad news is - this hero is going to have a lot of backstory conflict to overcome. And with that comes all of the Alpha Male characteristics as a top layer.

The good news is - who doesn't love a boss and secretary story? The self-made billionaire who is looking for the right woman to break his heart and his lonely existence? The prince. The sheik. All have responsibilities and accountabilities.
And potential for great heros.
Got to love the chiefs.
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Wake-up POWER music. Matrix/Stargate Sci-fi action comp. LOUD!! with brilliant graphics.

Sunday, 16 December 2007


Literacy is everything.

The Times newspaper here in the UK had a report yesterday on the petition handed into our Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street pleading for more government action on helping our children to read before they leave school.

How is it that some British children cannot read before they are sent to High School? Or, worse, they leave school and face the adult world not able to function with the written word which dominates it.

I cannot imagine NOT being able to read the label on a tin of food, or the gas bill, or being embarrassed to fill in a job application or operate a computer, or write a Christmas card. It is something else I simply take for granted.
As for the cultural and educational impact? Horrific.

Well shame on me.

The petition was signed by more than 500 well known authors, including many familiar names from the world of Romance Fiction such as: Joanna Trollope, Katie Fforde, Sophie Kinsella, Rosamunde Pilcher, Adele Parks, Marion Keyes, Fiona Loakes and Michelle Styles.

The full article is here:

and the campaign continues here:

Let's hope that the momentum continues.
No YouTube at the moment. My Sunday morning treat - Radio 4. Desert Island Discs. Paul Weller today.

Friday, 14 December 2007

New Year Resolutions?

I am still reeling from the recognition that it is now DECEMBER and I have no clue what happened to November. Some folk are already thinking about their plans for 2008.

Michael Angier ( has a list of 101 best end of year questions and 101 best new year questions.

They include:
• If I had this year to do over, what would I have done more of?/ Less of?
• What would make my life more enjoyable?/meaningful?/comfortable?/challenging?

• how much am I willing to invest in my personal and professional growth this (coming) year? Where and how will I make this investment in myself?

• In what ways can I have more passion in my life?

• To whom do I need to express my thanks and appreciation?

If you want a copy of his questions, go here:

Jurgen Wolff [] has used these challenges to come up with (and answer) some similar questions specifically about writing.

For example:
* What single thing did I do this year that most advanced my writing?

* Who or what inspired me the most?

* What is my writing goal for next year?

* What is the single thing that is most likely to help me achieve that goal?

* What can I do TODAY to move even one tiny step to move me toward that goal?

I shall put this to one side until the current WIP is finished, but food for thought, especially when we are running around during the next two weeks.

No Youtube. Radio 3 this morning. JS Bach Double Violin Concerto.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

It's all about the Brand

Danuta Keen has a very interesting and comprehenisve article on her blog today on the subject of Author Branding.

'If you want a lasting career as an author you need to become a brand. It’s a message on which book trade and advertising professionals are united.'
“The strongest driver for sales of books is word-of-mouth and publishers should be thinking of books as communities more than things that sit on bookshelves. Books can be living things.”
To me, surely this is something readers and authors of romance fiction, and particularly category romance already know and participate in? Bizarre that non-genre books and 'literary fiction' are only now making the connection and looking for readers.

Title? 'It's the Brand, Stupid'.

Worth saving for your quiet moments when you think about your CAREER and not just the amount of stubble on your hero's manly chin.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Final Fantasy animation. Bittersweet.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Almost There

Still working on the 'Black Moment' and 'Resolution' chapters, but I was re-reading notes from the Writing Course run online - and free- by Jenny Crusie and Bob Meyer, and one section struck me which I shall take the liberty of paraphrasing here.

'Does the climactic scene show the protag and antag in direct, active conflict, fighting to the real or metaphorical death, delivering on the promise made in the beginning and satsifying the reader through catharsis?
Is the pay-off enough?
Have you run a scene analysis on it to make sure it can stand up to the scrutiny of being the most important scene in the story? Is it followed by a short resolution that returns the protagonist to a stable world?

If not, don’t give up.

But the tighter and more focused you make your narrative, the more clarity you’ll have in your storytelling and the more likely you are to keep your reader.

Remember in the final edit, it’s all about the reader. Not you, not your vision, not your deathless prose, not the stuff you want the reader to know, just the stuff the reader wants to know, the story that’s going to take her to another world and give her the emotional release she craves from a good book.

Cut away everything else. Then send it to your editor.'

For the full article go here:
Warning - since there have been lessons every WEEK so far - there is a complete library of useful material for lateral thinking on this course. It is a personal view from two very experienced authors and may not be the way YOU work, but it certainly kick starts my little grey cells, especially when developing a new story idea.

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Jensen Ackles, Bad to the Bone. I know. And it's only 7am. The shame!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Hero Archetype - The Charmer

The CHARMER: more than a gigolo, he creates fantasies.
He’s fun, irresistible, a smooth operator, yet not too responsible or dependable. He might be a playboy or a rogue, but he's doesn’t commit to a woman easily.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has captured the Market with Dean Robillard in ‘Natural Born Charmer’ of course, but there are plenty of examples in her other books.

Janet Evanovich and Jenny Crusie tend to focus on Charmers too.

And of course that leaves the movies. Rufus, Hugh and perhaps Jude Law in Alfie and Closer? Bruce Willis? Leonardo di Caprio?
Rather a challenge to pin that man down into a committed long term relationship!

What's playing on my YouTube right now? Darren Hayes - I love his new album.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Jared - bless him

Now who would have thought that a charming chap like this would cause me such grief?
I mean, how could he be holding back on a secret like that without blabbing it out to this great girl who has bared her soul to him?
Was it that obvious?
You did?
Well you were right. And now I have to go back and rewrite from the beginning.
Inhale. Slowly, through the nose. Hold for four seconds. Breathe out through the mouth over eight seconds. Repeat as necessary.
Then look at your hero and give him one of your special smiles. And start throwing rocks at him.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Still Editing

There is a story in here.

I just have to create the right shape. That's all.
I am going out now. I may be some time....

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

What to do with your old Books

Jonathan Callan is an artist who transforms paper and particularly bound books into works of art. Some small and intimate, some huge.

No – that is not a slice of a huge tree, is it an assemblage of coverless books, drilled together.

What's playing on my HeadPhones right now? BBC Radio 3.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Hero Archetype - The Best Friend

The BEST FRIEND: sweet and safe, he never lets anyone down.
He's kind, responsible, decent, a regular Mr. Nice Guy.

This man doesn't enjoy confrontation and can sometimes be unassertive because he doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But he'll always be there.

Ah – but can a Best Friend become a Lover?
What's playing on my YouTube right now? Soundtrack to Harry Potter - Order of the Phoenix.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

To Do List

I did have a plan of things I HAD to complete by the end of November.

What happened to November?

It was there one minute, and now... SIGH

The extra time I had allowed for my edited WIP to sit to one side before submission has vanished into the ether.
Send it anyway?
No. That would be not be fair to an editor who already has a workload with PUBLISHED authors. And we are now into December in the publishing industry.
AND it would not be the best possible version of the story I want to create.

So I have to bite the bullet and send it in later than I would have liked.
Not good.
But a learning exercise in just how long it takes me to re-write.

Go here to find out what swallowed up Jenny Crusie's November. I suspect she got the better deal.

and here for fun in the shape of an advert:

What's playing on my HeadPhones right now? Darren Hayes. The Tension and the Spark.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Christmas Movies

There are two hot Christmas movies this year -

* Enchanted. The Disney re-worked version of Cinderella. Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey star in a clever combination of animation and live action.

* The Golden Compass. The mega blockbuster version of the Philip Pullman book, which we know as 'The Northern Lights'. Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman and top cast with amazing effects to recreate the fictional world.

Both are intended for family audiences. Both have popular stars and both have been written and directed by big names.

Serious money has been spent by the studios.

Except for one thing. You cannot buy MAGIC.

And only a live audience can tell you whether a particular movie has that spark, that touch of delight which will bring a smile to children and adults. Make us watch it twice. Buy the DVD. Jostle for the merchandise for Xmas stockings.

And to me, that does not necessarily have to be expensive CGI polar bears or animated singing animals.

The reviews are already in from professional film critics on both movies.

Time to decide for ourselves.
The trailer for 'Enchanted' is here:

It will be my personal duty to report back on the viewing experience for your education and delight. And of course, RESEARCH for creative writing! Nothing like a powerful movie script to get the muse working! See the plucky heroine, hiss at the nasty villain, swoon at the handsome hero. Lights! Action! Camera.