Saturday, 30 March 2013

There's Only So Many Plots...

Quite a few romance writers were surprised to read that Mills and Boon author Kate Walker and Harlequin had recently been the subject of a copyright violation case; and were happy to hear that Kate (and her publisher) had been cleared of any wrong-doing.

Kate revealed the news on her blog earlier this week. You can read it here.

Kate ran a Romance Writing workshop for Nottingham Writers Club in 2012 that I arranged, and I'd have no doubt of her innocence.

She would never infringe another writers copyright.

And the judge agreed...

Please read the judgement that you can find here you will learn a lot about the elements in romance writing that are not considered protected, and those that are. The detailed analysis starts around page 9.
It really is worth the time reading this judgement if you want to write romance...

The link was available on The Pink Heart Society blog, whose post 'A Troupe of Tropes' has an explanation of tropes and archetypes in relation to copyright, by the editor of the PHS blog, Michelle Styles, who is also an Harlequin Historical author.

It is sad that this case even came to court in the first place.(My personal opinion only.)

As a reader of category romances of over thirty years, I can recall a number of Mills and Boon novels that used scenarios and plots that 'the plaintiff' used in her unpublished synopsis, and first chapter (that formed a part of her claim for copyright infringement).

There are only a limited number of plots, whether you are writing a contemporary romance or an historical. They even apply to futuristic stories.

The scenarios of Star Wars and Harry Potter share many similarities, and it occurred to me today, that even Pip in Charles Dickens, Great Expectations has shared scenarios...Nothing is new, just the uniqueness of your story and the characters you've created.

We all want our heroes and heroines to fulfil certain demands in a romance. Whether you go for the tall dark and handsome man, or prefer the blue-eyed blonde, they are all recognisable.

And red hair does often genetically go with green eyes, like blue eyes with blondes...

My novella uses a returning character to resolve a past situation in the story. But so do a lot of romances...

The only essentials, with stories and characters, are what you do with them and the details that make them yours...

It's all just a variation on a theme...

Do you have a particular plot or scenario that you find yourself regularly using in romance writing? Or are there any you don't like, or wouldn't use?

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Temporary Halt in Progress...

I've been making steady progress on my novella but have now come to a temporary halt.


Because my floppy disk reader has gone astray - I know one of the family borrowed it, but can't remember who, and I know they'll all deny they ever had it, or if they did they gave it back.

If they'd given it back then I would have known where it was!!!

When I first got the idea for the novella I had a scene in my head, which I wrote down, and saved for later. At the time I was still using floppy disks as my computer tower didn't have a Cd/DVD drive.

Now I intended to transfer everything over, but just didn't get round to it, and yes, you've guessed it, the scene that I saved onto the floppy (at least it's on one of them) is now needed to refer to...

This week I've been dealing with a lot of introspection with my heroine, Sarah. She's at a turning point both emotionally and mentally, which makes writing tiring. Plus I'm having to jiggle the content on a couple of chapters around because of how the story has actually developed around the scenes in my mind.

No doubt some of Sarah's soul searching will eventually be edited out, but this missing scene belongs here at the point I have now reached in my manuscript. I know I'll rewrite the scene anyway, but the details are being elusive.

The version on the floppy is from about 8 years ago, and my brain seems to work like this: once it's typed onto the screen, and saved, the details go into brain deep storage- perhaps my memory just deletes them entirely because it knows the information has been recorded somewhere, so it's no longer in stand-by.

Weird idea, I know. But that's how it seems to me... :-)

With Easter week almost here and the family being around, my opportunities for concentrated writing will be brief, so I think I better make sure I get these floppy disks sorted, so as soon as my normal routine can be restarted, I'll be able to get on with the story.

So my total so far this month, 4, 553 words, but I have to admit that 200 of those were for a flash fiction piece for the March, One Word Challenge on the writers-online Talkback forum. And the character in that story has more tales to tell but that's for another day- they're contemporary rather than historical...

The 5,000 words a month remains unfulfilled, but it continue to be an on-going target. Smiley

smiley from:

Friday, 22 March 2013

Reality Strikes Back...

In more ways than one.

You know those weeks when everything is progressing nicely and then you find you have a long to-do list. Well that's been this week for me.

I'm getting through the list, and still managed to write 1400 words this week, but the 5,000 word March total is looking doubtful. Well there's always April... :-)

The charming and talented Patsy Collins has nominated me for the Reality
blog award.

Now it does come with responsibilities- there are always rules to follow.

Visit the blog of the person who nominated you and link to them on your post. Then answer the questions and nominate other bloggers- and tell them of course...

If you could change one thing, what would it be?

So many things, both personally and in the outside world, but even the bad things can make us stronger. But if I really had to choose, then it would be my fear of spiders.

If you could repeat an age, what would it be?

Definitely my teens. I didn't fit in at school, and was persistently bullied by a few girls because I was different. I was tall, broad and wanted to learn and to do well in my exams to be able to have a career. If I could do that time again - but with the knowledge that everything will eventually be fine.

What one thing really scares you?

Getting Alzheimer's and losing my ability to create characters and give voices and personalities to my characters; and eventually losing that link of reality with my family.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would it be?

I honestly don't know. Because whoever I temporarily became I'd still have to do their job, and if I was going to be anyone then I'd be selfish and want to be someone who doesn't have any demands to be made upon them, or have any responsibilities- it is only a day after all...

So here are the bloggers I'm nominating for the Reality Blog Award:

Lizy-expat writer

Maxi- Scribbler Maxi's Musings

Keith- Dream it, then do it

Lorraine- From the Top of the House

Alan- snailmale-chez l'escargot

Saturday, 16 March 2013

A Costume Book I Couldn't Resist...

Now I have to admit I do have a weakness for books on historical costume.

If it's a full size beautifully illustrated book and the content will be helpful in my research, then I will probably buy it- though I will look for the best price...

Some people collect pottery, and no one blinks an eye at how much they might pay for a teacup. I like costume books. :-)

So my most recent purchase came about via a post on Facebook by Rachel Knowles. Her blog, Regency History can be found here, and will be a useful starting resource for anyone wanting to find out more about this time period...

Go to Amazon and use the look inside option
- image from
The book reproduces a selection of the fashion plates that were published in Ackermann's Repository and covers plates from 1809 to 1820, with the description and spelling of the time they were published.

I suppose you could consider Ackermann's the Regency version of today's Vogue, or Harper's Bazaar.

The book was inspired by romance author Candice Hern who has a large collection of Georgian and Regency antiques and a great selection of images and information on the objects on a section of her website, here.

I have a few favourites in the book. There's a lovely ball dress of April 1812- " A round Circassian robe of pink crape, or gossamer net, over a white satin slip, fringed full at the feet." The "peasant" bodice was clearly designed to show off the fuller bossomed woman...

And there's a fantastic "Spanish lappelled coat of fine orange Merino cloth", part of a Promenade Dress from January 1814 that I adore.

Mantles and capes, I would happily wear them today if they were made in my size.

So that's enough, or I'll be talking for days.

Do you have a favourite costume style - from any time period?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

I'm Moderating Comments for a While...

Good morning all you polite blog readers and bloggers.

Just wanted to let you all know that I've had to switch to moderating all comments at the moment, due to anonymous spam comments getting through the filters and being published.

My blog seems to be getting more spam than usual, and despite the spam comments clearly being spam they are not being recognised as such.

So until the filters start picking these up, I've decided to temporarily move to moderating comments.

Sadly there seems to also be an issue with genuine comments not appearing too- despite the dashboard saying they are published.

So if you have commented and your comments haven't shown up within a couple of days, please let me know via one of the contact methods shown on the right of my blog page.



Edited to add: I've had to disable the ability to comment as anonymous. Apologies to any blog readers that used this facility previously to leave genuine comments.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Bonus Material in Bookshop Books- Will it Get You to Buy?

I was interested to read an article in The Telegraph online today, about bookseller Waterstones offering exclusive extra material in books, and according to The Independent online, they have signed exclusive deals with some authors for a version of their latest book with extras, which can only be obtained by buying from Waterstones (or other bookshops that authors may have contracted to)...

Which authors you ask?

"Anyone who buys the new Joanne Harris paperback Peaches for Monsieur le Curé from Waterstones will find it contains an extra chapter not included in copies sold elsewhere."

The hook in this case is that "The chapter, which Harris says can be read either as an epilogue or as “the prologue to an as-yet-unwritten story”"

(Both quotes from The Independent article.)

They mention other recent exclusives from Claire Tomlin, author of the biography published last year about Charles Dickens; and Alexander McCall Smith who included and extra short story in a booklet with his last book.

Now forgive me for cynicism, but the mainstream publisher/author has a big advantage with a bookshop- they can get their books distributed to all the branches, and are guaranteed to be stocked, and Waterstones would probably let themselves be walked over if the writer was able to go instore and do book signings.

E-book buying is increasing, and the book shops are coming up with these ideas because so many are buying their books digitally.

Why go to a book shop looking for a particular book only to find: they don't stock it; they will have to order it and it will take a week, or even more- so that would be another trip; when with a few clicks of a mouse, or press of buttons/symbols, that book can be on your e-reader and ready to start reading within a few minutes..It's the one big advantage that e-books have over a bookshop.

So what can self-published / e-book authors do to compete? In fact, do they need to compete?

It is as easy for them to include an extra short story, or the first chapter of their next book too.

If Waterstones want to make it more attractive to buy a solid book from them, then they'll need to do a lot better...

So, what do you think about extras to attract book buyers? And what extras would tempt you?

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Would We Marry Our Fictional Heroes if They Were Real?

I ask this because apparently there has been a trending topic on Twitter this week- #FictionalCharactersIWantToMarry.

In the short piece in the Guardian Bookblogs section 'Want to marry a fictional character? You could do so much better', Alison Flood makes some interesting remarks, read it here.

So who would I choose?

The first one that springs to mind is Alex Randall from M M Kaye's 'Shadow of the Moon' (I mentioned this book in my glomming post). There he is trying to do a tough job in a volatile situation, falling in love and then having to watch her marry another man, but maintain a co-existence, only to have everyday life violently fall apart with the Indian Mutiny, and then keep not only himself alive, but the woman he loves and one of her friends too... He's strong, compassionate, dutiful and emotionally torn by the circumstances.

Mr Darcy? No, I think I'd want to kill him after a week!

I suppose I do have a soft spot for my hero, Hugh, from my current work in progress. He's considerate but not a push-over; he can be tough when needed but not a bully, dependable and intelligent.
I've just realised that I've been borrowing a few characteristics from my OH for Hugh, but I won't tell him that. :-)

Fictional characters are just that, fictional, but to be believable to the reader, they have to display characteristics that we recognise and can relate to, whether they are things that you like, hate or are indifferent about.

Perhaps you could liken reading to a series of short relationships; some are disasters, others are fine while you're together, and a few stay in the memory and become longtime friends.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Have you Been Glomming?

No, it isn't euphemism. :-)

As part of my new regime I've been trying to catch up on all the websites I haven't looked at for months to see what interesting items I've been missing, and this was one of them from

If you've found a new to you author, and then started buying all their books . then you've been glomming.

The article above asked who was the first author you glommed?

But I'm going to expand on this, for those slightly older individuals, who like me, started off borrowing book after book from the local library...

I can remember working my way through every Jean Plaidy on the library shelves. It was only a couple of years ago that I discovered my other favourite authors of that time, Victoria Holt, and Philippa Carr, were actually all the same writer!

This article gives a fascinating insight into her books and personal life, read it here.

Obviously my early reading experiences must have sunk in, hence my preference for historical romances.

My reading broadened out, and surprisingly I didn't start reading Georgette Heyer until much later, and while I have a few of her books, there's many I still haven't read.

The next author whose books I bought and avidly read, is M M Kaye. Her book 'The Far Pavillions' went on to be made into a mini-series for television. There's a very interesting piece in the above link about the authors determination to ensure the story was done right, by the right people when the film rights were on offer...

Of her novels my two favourite stories are 'Shadow of the Moon' which centres around the fight for survival (during the Indian Mutiny) of the main protagonists, Alex and Winter.

The other story, 'Trade Wind', whose story takes place in Zanzibar- the hero Rory Frost, is a trader, who pulls the heroine Hero Hollis, (an American) out of the sea after she is swept off the ship she is travelling to Zanzibar on.

And finally from this time period, the Poldark books by Winston Graham. He's probably best known for his Poldark books, but he did so much more, including 'Marnie', the thriller filmed by Alfred Hitchcock. Find out more about Graham here and here.

So those are my first few glomms.

Who were yours?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy- Making Plans...

Yes, it's Sunday night and I've not blogged for a few days.

Life is getting so busy that I've decided to reduce my regular three posts a week, to two regular slots.

I've been missing from Twitter too, so I'm going to try for a drop-in there a few times a week, just for ten minutes...

I have to admit it's easier to pop into Facebook, during a quick break, and link up with other writers, than on Twitter where the stream of Tweets is constant...

As for all the other tasks I have to accomplish this month, I think I better make a list and put it within eye range so I don't forget to tackle them too.

Even reading has taken a step back, so I may have to set myself a target there too. :-)

The aim for this coming week is for the next blog post to be posted by Tuesday evening, with writing time slots Tuesday and Wednesday for sure.

March is going to be the start of a new routine for me. There will be hiccups I'm sure, but I have to make changes now if I want to get the novella completed and ready for either sending out, or e-publishing myself early next year- if not this year.

I've a few longer projects that I want to make progress on this year too, so I can work on them intensively in 2014...

All those characters and plots waiting...

Each new idea has to go to the back of the queue, and there are at least half a dozen firm ideas awaiting attention. It's good, but I need to be strict with myself.

And don't even mention the cobwebs...

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles and