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Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Being a complete and utter panster I never know how a book is going to pan out. I always start with the kernel of an idea and expand from that. For example, my NV entry arose when I was daydreaming in the kitchen whilst cooking dinner. An image came into my head of a nutty Irish woman sitting on a bench under a plum tree being asked what had brought her to Tuscany; and the woman theatrically replying that she was suffering from a broken heart. From that tiny kernel the whole book sprung. I knew the Irish woman (who I called Meghan), was funny and outspoken but it was not until I was half-way through writing it that her real inner conflict came to the fore. And that is what I call my Eureka Moment.
Today, I had my Eureka Moment with my current WIP and, for me, it is such a fantastic feeling. This story also started with a kernel - a woman handcuffing herself to a man's desk. I am just over 20,000 words in, the story is flowing beautifully (at least in my head ha ha ha) and I have felt comfortable knowing exactly who my heroine is and what her inner conflict is (she revealed herself early on). But, even though I knew what kind of a man my hero is today, I have been waiting for him to reveal his backstory to me, the story that made him the man he is today. I got 1,500 words done this afternoon and then, just minutes before I had to collect the boys from school, my hero's past came to me in a flash, along with how this affects his and the heroines future.
And now I cannot wait to sign off from this blog and plough on with the story confident that all the tools are there for me to get happily to the end without tearing my hair out waiting for the Eureka Moment to come. For me the, the next best bit is doing the second draft and making sure that everything I now know about my characters shines through for the reader. But I will save that for another post.
Take care all xxx

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Death by Revision

I did debate leaving a post last Monday when I got an email from the editor with my full MS but to be honest I was far too excited to do anything but to tweet and leave a brief message on the eHarlequin site - I wanted to get stuck right in! And now, six days later, the revisions have been sent.

The email was wonderful. The best part said: "You've done a great job with these and they've worked really well in making your story stronger - fantastic!". Oh yes, I was euphoric, head in the clouds, the lot.

But there was also three main points (tweaks as she called them) that she thought I needed to tackle to make the story even stronger still. On the face of it none of the tweaks were major - for example one of them was for me to "feel free to keep her (the heroine) strong and sassy throughout". There were also three further minor points she thought needed clarifying a bit further.

So why Death by Revisions? I printed my MS off and sat down with a pen and notepad to go through the whole lot line-by-line. I then made my revisions and printed it off again. And sat down with a pen and notepad to go through it line-by-line. And then I made the further revisions... By this point I was starting to panic. The editor had asked if I could get the revisions done by the "beginning of next week" and -I had faithfully promised they would be in her inbox by the time she got to the office Monday morning (tomorrow).

I truly felt - and still do feel - that I have done the best job I can. But... there is a big siren ringing out that maybe the changes I have made are not strong enough and that she is going to read it and throw it out of the nearest in window in disgust.

But now it is too late. I have hit the send button and my fate is now out of my hands. All I know for certain is that doing the revisions felt wonderful and that no matter what doubts I have now, I wouldn't swap this feeling for anything.

Friday, 14 October 2011

NV - the aftermath

New Voices 2011 was, for me, an absolute blast. I never made it into the top 21 but apart from a slight twinge I was nowhere near as gutted as I thought I would be. Let's be frank here: the amount of talent on display made it an impossible task. When it was time to collect the boys from school and I'd had no email, I knew then that I hadn't made it. I was also lucky enough to have a friend and her two kids over to play after school so I didn't have time to wallow; by the time they left I was feeling pretty philosophical and excited to see who had made the finals. So I had a look and was overjoyed to find three of my favourites - Honeymoon with a Stranger; Secrets and Seduction; and Beguiling the Enemy. All three would have made it into my personal top 20. I have no idea how I'm going to decide which to root for so will wait for the second chapters to be posted and take it from there. On an emotional level I am so rooting for Charlotte Phillips to get through the next round (she is the author of Honeymoon with a Stranger).
I would also like to use this post to say how disappointed I am with some of the reactions on the NV discussion board. There has been a lot of sour grapes that leave a nasty taste in the mouth but luckily that has been counteracted by the warmth of the vast majority all wishing, like me, the finalists the best of luck.
Go finalists - knock us all out xxx

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Competition So Far

The first round of New Voices is fast coming to a close, the rosebombers are out in their multitudes and the comments are coming thick and fast. I personally believe the standard of entry this year is far higher than last year and, although there are a few rather 'rusty' entries, there are also some genuine gems. I do not envy the judges trying to whittle it down to a top 20 - the competition is wide open.

One thing that has really struck me this year is the range of comments. There are the people who read everything and say a variation of 'fantastic chapter, good luck' no matter how good or not-so-good the chapter may be. Then there are the people who write really gentle and well thought out critiques. And then there are the nitpickers who are determined to see a flaw in everything they read. A personal bugbear of mine, for example, is Point of View (POV). I personally see no problem in switching POVs on a semi frequent basis. Of course it would be a nightmare if it changed in every other sentence, but provided the changes are necessary and well executed, what is the problem? For example, one commentator who has made it clear in every comment she's made that she dislikes POV changes, said of mine that she had trouble with a couple of POV switches in the middle of my chapter so in the end she "gave up and just read it. And enjoyed it!" But before she could just enjoy it she had to turn her blinkers off first.
I genuinely believe that you should approach stories with an open mind. Turn the blinkers off, forget preconceived notions and let the story take you on a journey. If, by the end of the first chapter, you want to hurl the book/kindle/laptop into the nearest quarry for whatever reason then the author has a problem. If, however, you get to the end of the chapter and find yourself emotionally invested and desperate for the next installment then the author has done her (or his) job.
Good luck to everyone who has entered xxx

Monday, 19 September 2011


Enough of the dithering! On Sunday my index finger finally pressed submit on my entry for the New Voices competition. My finger figured that seeing as I had already become obsessed with the competition I might as well go for: after all, if I'm commenting on books that people have commited blood, sweat and tears into writing then it is only fair the authors be able to reciprocate. I have managed to read dozens of the entries but have only commented on the ones I really like or can see that spark in. So far my favourites are The Courtesan Duchess; The Isle of Sensuality; Coming Home, Married in Haste and eWife. All five are fabulous reads and I'm hoping all get through to the next round.
My entry is called A Quirkey Affair and can be found (if I do this correctly which will see after I hit 'Publish Post') at

Good luck to all the entrants xxx

Saturday, 3 September 2011


Ok, I know I have (severely) neglected this blog. What with one thing and another it's been low on my priorities and something I intend, from this moment forwards, to amend. At least that is my intention. Whether I stick to it or not...

During the first week of August I received a wonderful email from the editor who has my full MS. She had some lovely things to say (a great tone and real intensity, amongst others yippee!) Unfortunately there were two main issues that needed addressing, namely too much focus on the past/characters backstory, and too much narrative as opposed to dialogue. There were also a handful of much more minor issues. This email made me so happy - I wasn't blown out of the water! The editor wanted me to revise it!

It took me nearly four weeks but yesterday I finally hit the send button and off it went. I cut at least 15,000 words from the original and the changes threaded through every last page.

It was hard work but do you know what - it made the story so much tighter. All of the advice and suggestions made so much sense. You see, when I originally wrote this MS (the first three chapters were originally submitted May 2010) I was still very much in the 'formulaic Mills & Boon' mindset. The revisions allowed me to take the path I had originally wanted to take but been too wary, not realising that M&B want charcter arcs that are different. My heroine was a bad girl but I tamed her history thinking she would be too much for M&B. Quote: "It would be really interesting if she has actually been a proper bad girl!". Well, now she really has been a proper bad girl just as I originally wanted - let's just hope she hasn't become too bad for M&B!

Now to settle down for another long wait and if this story is ultimately rejected I already have two other manuscripts ready to send.

Take care all xxx

Monday, 9 May 2011

Love Scenes

Hello There

Having just reread an old MS I wrote eighteen months ago to send off to Carina Press (it originally got a revise and resubmit from Harlequin but was never heard of again...) I noticed that the sex scenes felt rather rushed, as if I had hurtled through writing them. This, along with a post on Kaily Hart's blog, got me to thinking about my own personal inhibitions when it comes to writing the lurve scenes. Since writing that particual MS I have completed three more (and abandoned a couple of others half-way) and so I've had a read of the sex scenes in those. The more recent ones certainly felt, to me, a lot more confident and I think the main reason for this is that I've finally managed to get the image of my mum reading them out of my head. I honestly do not think my mum will ever read any of my books whether they get published or not. My mum is not a 'reader', which in itself is weird as I've been a bookworm since I chucked my dolls out of my cot and cuddled my books to sleep!
Anyway, now that I have ridded myself of that mental image, I've found tackling the sex scenes less of a terrifying event to be dreaded and more of a natural part of the storytelling process. I've always preferred the steamier romances - I once read a 'straight' romance and felt very short-changed when there was no bedroom action so it took me a long time to understand why I felt so daunted writing about such a fundamental, natural part of life. Not any more!
So, was it just me? Or has anyone else had a stumbling block over a particular writing issue?

Take care, Michelle x

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Back to School!

Hello All

Finally the kids are back at school/playschool! They went back yesterday and are there for three whole days (or half days for the youngest who's only at playschool, but still that's four hours of freedom). Then we have another long weekend for the Royal Wedding and May Day Bank Holiday. I must admit, the Easter holidays were brilliant but now I'm ready to get back in the saddle and do some proper writing - while trying to wear the kids out I ended up exhausting myself and kept falling asleep at the laptop!
Anyway, on to the bad news - my Nocturn Cravings blurb was not selected as a pitch, but I can't say I'm particularly disappointed. I enjoyed writing the MS but I never really found my mojo with it.
The good news? My full MS has still not been rejected. I've also completed my other Modern MS, bar the final edits which can wait for a few weeks so I can return to it with fresh eyes. I've now started a new WIP and last night I managed to get into the groove with it which felt brilliant.

I know I promised to name my favourite authors but have found the task too tricky to narrow down so must mull it over some more. In the mean time, I've compiled my top ten favourite 'heartbreak' songs that are a must for me to listen to when writing my black moments.

In no particular order (prepare to throw up at the cheesiness) ...

Mika: Happy Ending
Phil Collins: Against All Odds
U2: One
Jon Secada: Just Another Day
Billie Myers: Kiss the Rain
Harry Nilsson: Without You
Fleetwood Mac: Go Your Own Way
Air Supply: All out of Love
Tracy Chapman: Baby Can I Hold You
Florence & the Machine: Blinding
and... (new entry)... Adele: Someone Like You

Whoops, that's eleven.

Anyway, they're mine - anyone want to share theirs?

Take care all, Michelle xxx

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Favourite Books

Today I'm wondering what everyone's favourite books are. As a complete bookworm I have, literally, over a thousand books and I refuse to be parted with any of them (except those I lend out - I do get very upset when they're not returned).

So, without any further ado and in no particular order, I give you my top ten favourtite books:

Little Women (Louise May Alcott)
The Time Travellers Wife (Audrey Niffenburg - or however you spell it!)
The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
Rivals (Jilly Cooper)
Twilight saga - although maybe not New Moon as I found the Jacob stuff boring (Stephanie Myers)
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoeniz (JK Rowling)
The Brightest Star in the Sky (Marian Keyes)
Cell (Stephen King)
Lisey's Story (Stephen King)
Hannibal (Thomas Harris)

Ok, so I cheated a little with Twilight (my game, my rules so ner ner ner ner ner). And I'm pretty sure I'm going to hit the 'post' button and think of a different book I would have added.

Anyway, that's my list - would love to know everyone elses favourites. Next week I'm thinking I might do favourite authors.

Enjoy the sun, Michelle x

PS: Another rejection free week!

Friday, 8 April 2011

School Holidays!

Today is the first day of the boys fortnight off school for the Spring Break, previously known as the Easter Holiday. I adore having the boys at home but it does mean my writing time is going to be severely restricted to just the evenings (I can normally get a couple of hours in most mornings when the youngest is at PlaySchool). Is there anyone out there with any ideas on how to mute a nine and four year old? Or any ideas on how to get two boistrous boys to sit still for half an hour? I've contemplated superglue but my eldest is quite liable to report me to Childline ha ha ha.
Anyhoo, I submitted my Nocturn Craving Blurb last weekend and then promptly forgot all about that particular manuscript as I was itching to get back to my other WIP for the Modern Romance line. I figure that if they do select me to pitch (highly unlikely) then at least I'll have four days to polish it off before the pitch... oh, do I hear the sound of SCHOOL HOLIDAYS? Doh. In that case I'll have four evenings to polish it off before the pitch!
Before I sign off I would like to pass on the excellent news that yet another week has gone by without a rejection on the full MS requested by M&B.
Take care all, Michelle

Friday, 1 April 2011

Is There Anybody There...?

I've named the title of this post as above because I'm currently wondering how the heck to get some more followers. Maybe I should be shamelessly promoting myself but I can't help but wonder what I've got to promote? My startling wit? Hmmm.... Maybe I should start by actually telling people that I have a blog, such as my family and friends?

Anyway, that is enough procrastination. The first draft of the Nocturn Craving is complete. I now have exactly two weeks to work through the second draft, think of a title, and come up with a two paragraph blurb that will make the editor go 'oh isn't she marvellous, we must select her to pitch for us!' rather than 'who is this woman and will she ever stop darkening our door?'

I decided against submitting for the Desire contest. As soon as the Nocturn is finished I'm keen to get going on the second draft of my other manuscript. This is the one that has taken over my brain, the characters living in my head (rent free may I add) ready for me to make the adjustments that will bring them to life. I don't know if the way I write differs to other writers, but I find that I have to get the whole story down first, the layers adding themselves as I write, until the first draft is complete. By this point I know my characters intimately and can go back and add more layers and also remove sections that no longer fit.

On a personal note, I now have another niece and two nephews all born in the past ten weeks. Well done Jennie, Lulu and Jo (not that any of you read this blog, mostly because I haven't told you about it ha ha). Love you all xxx

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

16th March 2011

First for the good news: the first draft of my new manuscript is complete.

Now for the bad news: still not heard from Mills & Boon.

I had been planning to go back over the new manuscript but then I noticed on the eHarlequin site that they are having a 'pitches' competition for their new Nocturn Cravings line (eventually to replace Nocturn Bites, or so I think). I've always fancied having a go at the paranormal lines and, as they only want 15,000 - 25,000 words, I thought I would give it a go. I've been plotting the story in my head for a few days and last night I actually started writing it and got the first 2,000 words done. I have no idea if it's going to be any good but it keeps me quiet.

Anyway, disaster then struck. The eHarlequin site has also got a 'pitches' competition for their Desire line. I have an old manuscript that I have been planning to submit to Carina Press (it's been sitting in Mills & Boon Land for 10 months - I would chase it up but don't want them to think I am a pain in the bottom especially as they have a full manuscript currently under consideration). The old manuscript was originally submitted in 2009 to Mills & Boon and was rejected with proper revision suggestions and lovely words of encouragement rather than the generic 'R'.

So now I'm in a bit of a quandry: do I send the old manuscript to Carina Press as planned or do I give it a go with the Desire line as, with a bit of tinkering, it should fit into their brief. Decisions, decisions. I think I'll crack on with my nocturnal, and make up my mind over the weekend about the other one.

Be happy, Michelle

Thursday, 10 March 2011

I'm in Misery

Thursday 10th March 2011

Seeing as I started this Blog last November I thought now would be a good time to actually blog something. On Friday 7th January I almost fell off my chair (alright, the sofa) when I received an email from Sally Williamson, an editor at Mills & Boon. The subject was 'Marco & Pippa', the exciting title I had given for the first three chapters and synopsis I had submitted to them. To be honest, I thought she was emailing me another rejection (I've had two outright rejections from them before) and didn't think I was worth the price of a stamp. Not this time. Oh no - she wanted my full manuscript. Yipee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As she had a few revision suggestions, I spent a couple of weeks polishing it off then on the 18th January I submitted the full MS.
Since then...
Well, my nails are being worn down and I have repetitive strain injury on my index finger from hitting 'refresh' so often. As she had said she would get in touch with me shortly, after a month I decided to email her to see if she'd had a chance to read it (this was the 16th February - patience has never been my strongest virtue).
Alas, she had not. However, I do have to give her enormous Brownie Points for responding to my email within 20 minutes! She kindly told me that it was printed and sat on her desk and that she thought she would be able to tackle it within the next couple of weeks. It's now been three weeks and two days and I'm in agony. Today I discovered the e-harlequin forum for tortured writers and have learnt that this time frame is peanuts. There is every chance I could be waiting for months for the next response. Oh Boo hoo.
So, now I have given my dear followers, who so far number the grand total of zero, an update of my misery, I shall say cheerio and get on with my current manuscript.