Friday, 29 April 2011

How things could have been more interesting at the royal wedding

Katie Price turns up for her wedding to Prince William

Prince William marries Kate Price, alias Jordan. She insists upon bringing her own throne; a chavvy, fluffy pink one.

Prince Harry turns up at the Cathedral hair eschew, bleary eyed and clearly hung over and says: ‘F*** sake, is that the time?’

Prince Philip nods off during the ceremony and can be heard snoring loudly. When the Queen gives him a nudge, he snaps,’ Give me peace, woman.’

When the happy couple cut the cake, Fergie jumps out, completely starkers. (see my post on pop out cakes to read how that can be done)

Princess Michael of Kent can be heard offering to pave the way for a world first exclusive interview with the newly wed ‘for a fee.’

Prince Andrew turns up in a chopper, very late and lands it right in the middle of the wedding pics. 

What would have happened if Cameron had said ‘calm down, dear’ to me...

I've thought long and hard about it, and this is what I've come up with....

Things I hate/don’t understand about computers…

Have you ever felt like doing this?*

Okay, the technological revolution has made many things easier. The world has become a smaller place thanks to the World Wide Web.

There’s no need to pick up the phone to talk to people. No email, chat, tweet or IM instead.

And, if we really want to know about corrupt regimes throughout the world, we can hear from the people who suffer under them.

Yet, there are things about computers that have you wanting to chuck them out the window. Like computer messages for instance.

Hate the things. Especially when they make no sense or muck up my computer like these -

‘You have a storage device connected.’
Where? Is some clandestine organisation wirelessly spying on my computer? I have NO storage devices connected. Get lost you creepy message you.

‘You have Windows Updates.’
Supposedly they’re meant to make your computer run smoothly (especially those ‘crucial’ updates, which are needed because Microsoft thought wouldn’t it be a jolly good idea if people could access their computers from other computers using ‘remote access’ which funnily enough also allows other people to access their computers too), but whenever I download any, a few things tend to happen –
My computer slows down
My computer crashes
My computer slows down
My computer crashes

‘The following drive is in use.’
I usually get this when I try and remove a flash drive, going through the rigmarole of disconnecting it the way you are meant to, by stopping the drive and then taking it out. It’s not in use, yet it says it is. What a pain.

‘Windows is shutting down.’
Only it’s taking ages. In that time you have had a bath, done the washing up and sorted out that problem with the Ozone layer, and still that message is there for no apparent reason. Mad? It makes me want to give the computer a kicking.

*Note - This post is in no way an endorsement that you smash your computer in with a hammer. Do it and you are on your own,

Friday, 22 April 2011

I'm not planning a real murder, honest.

Research for a novel can be varied. So far this month, I have looked into the following:

·         how easy it would be for a woman to jump out of cake (these cakes are called pop out cakes)
·         where a woman would keep a gun as she jumped out the cake
·         whether a garlic press can be used on a certain part of the male anatomy
·         how to dispose of a body in a way it can never be found

It’s no wonder that I permanently carry my Society of Authors card around with me.

Well, if you caught someone doing that kind of research would you not think they were up to no good?

Only writing, honest officer.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Increasing the word count of your novel

I’m currently scribbling away trying to bring the word count of my novella How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks up by about 17,000 words. At first it seemed like an arduous task.

How do you expand on a high octane thriller, without dragging the pace down to snail level? 

Then I had a few Eureka moments. Hopefully they may be of some help to you if you find your word count is too short -

1-Think what could I have done differently in that scene to add an extra twist?  For instance, what if instead of escaping she’d fallen at the last moment? What if she saw someone or something she shouldn’t have?  Trip your character up and let them find a way out. 

2-Use Stephen King’s advice and think ‘what should happen next’ and do the opposite of what you’ve done. This may take you down a whole new story arc. 

3-Could you introduce a new character? Someone who could shake things up a bit? I did just that and it took my book down a different road.

4-Have a blast from the past. Does someone, or something come back to haunt your character? A previous crime or misdeed, an abusive parent or partner, someone who should be dead (possibly because your character killed them)? Be as creative as possible without making completely unrealistic.

5- Expand on a subplot. Have you really gone as far as you could with that plot, or did you abandon it too soon in favour of your main one? 

Things not to do –

1-Change abbreviations like he’s and she’d to he is and she had. This sounds clumsy, not to mention too wordy. 

2-Pad out with tonnes of description. There’s nothing more liable to put readers off than two pages describing one tree. What makes you skip a page will make you reader skip too. Every word needs to earn its place. 

3-Come up with something that simply doesn’t fit just for the sake of it. This could be a character who died coming back to life or acting completely out of character. Anything you write has to be realistic and not pie in the sky or too contrived.

Monday, 11 April 2011

6 of the Best TV Kill Scenes

One of my all-time favourite characters in any TV show, is Omar Little. Man, was he a fantastic creation. He was on one of the best ever scenes on TV when he and Brother Mouzone went after Stringer Bell and gunned him down.

Omar and Brother Mouzone

I included that scene in a piece for Shadowlocked about the best TV kills -

What kill have I missed?

If you're not familar with Omar (boy have you missed out big time) then read about him here -

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The nightmare of submitting to agents

I sent the first two submissions off to agents today and now the long wait begins. I know people say that getting an agent is more difficult than getting a publisher. I know it's like being a needle in a haystack. 

But, your work is doing nothing lying on that desk or filed away on your computer.  There comes a time when you have to let your baby go.

I've started biting my nails and eating lots of chocolate (hey, it should be available on the NHS). The terror of the 'send' button is with me every step of the way. But, we authors must be brave as our manuscript takes its tentative steps towards publication.

P.S. While I was searching for agents, one of the sites kindly put up a sample agency contract. It's here if you want a peek.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Who inspires your characters?

When I was writing How Kirsty Got Her Kicks, I wanted my main character to be gutsy; the kind of woman every women wants to be - who doesn't take any nonsense from anyone.

There are women on TV who I looked to for inspiration. Women like Nikita from La Femme Nikita and Sydney Bristow from Alias, and believe it or not, Janice Soprano. Yes right. Who can possibly resist someone whose response from her brutal boyfriend who says 'what ya gonna do now, cry,' is to reach for her gun?

Relive her proudest moment on YouTube

In celebration of this I wrote an piece for on Kick Ass Angels. Who have I missed?

Dealing with backstory

It can be so easy to fall into the trap of writing too much backstory. Aren't we all a product of what has gone on before in our lives? Therefore, it would follow that our characters are the same.

Liz Roberts who whittled down the Debut Dagger entries – ‘Many entries started off very well – and then ran the reader into the literary equivalent of a brick wall around page 3 or 4, because they couldn’t resist putting in a lot of backstory.’

The best piece of advice I have read came from literary agent Carole Blake in From pitch to publication -
'In order to illustrate a character trait, or a backstory element, demonstrate it with a scene, a snippet of dialogue, but don’t have the narrative address the reader like a newsreader reading facts.'

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Editing that novel

I’m now at that scary stage of writing where the story is all done and the plots have come to a conclusion. Now it’s for the scary part – the final edit. 

I say scary because after this it will be time to actually submit the thing. That means contacting agents and publishers.

Here are some of the things I have learnt about editing –
  • DON’T over edit. It can be easy to fall into that trap and lose the power of what you have written.
  • ALWAYS keep your work before the edit. That way if you want to change it back to how it was, you have your original and don’t end up having to resurrect it from memory.
  • LIMIT the use of words like well like, only, just, had, seem, seemed, seems (better to say something is) and adjectives with ly at the end (trust me, they get monotonous).
  • If you keep on having to say who is speaking when it’s a regular character, then you need to work on your characterisation. People should know who is speaking by how they say what they say.
  • Take time out from editing to read. Good writers need to read.
  • ALWAYS print out for the final edit and edit by hand the old fashioned way, with a pan. You will be amazed at what you miss when you do it on a computer screen. Very amazed.
  • READ OUT what you have written to yourself to make sure it reads right. You can spot things that way. I try a bit of method acting as well reading it as though as though I am that character and try and act as they do (in my head). Weird and I may be nuts, but it works for me.

DI Duncan Waddell - Detective in a Coma Book 2

What to do when your phone is stolen

I've been lucky in that I've never had my phone stolen, at least until last weekend. At first I thought I'd droppe...