Thursday 30 September 2010

Clothes and the Writer

When I'm creating a modern character in a story, clothes are a way of showing their personality or even their profession.

A suit worn by a modern man could be Marks and Spencer or Armani. It wouldn't neccesarily tell you whether the guy wearing the designer suit is rich, or a man who likes designer gear and has bought it on his credit card- or saved for it. (There could be a story there.)

So when I'm faced with my historical heroes and heroines of the 18th/19th century I have to remember that clothes are very important. They reflect social class and status, how they move and how they sit.

If a girl in your story turns up in a silk gown when you know she normally wears a plain wool dress and can't afford silk there's got to be a reason- the reason could lead anywhere, or to anyone.

As to female underwear, I don't think my heroines would be able to run very far or for very long in corsets or stays, or a hooped petticoat. So if my heroine is being chased she's at a disadvantage and needs to use her wits to escape- or not.

When you get to working on scenes of intimacy, how the characters get out of their clothes between the kissing and carressing has erotic potential.

Whatever time period your characters inhabit you'll find a costume book to cover it, from basic to detailed info, and some with beautiful colour pictures of surviving outfits.

Here's a few of the costume books I have in my reference collection:

Costume in Detail 1730-1930- Nancy Bradfield. (2007 Edition) ISBN: 978-1-85882-038-5

Costume 1066-1990's-John Peacock (Reprinted 2000) ISBN: 0-500-27791-5

The Art of Dress: Clothes Through History 1500-1914- Jane Ashleford/ National Trust-
ISBN: 9781905400799

The History of Underclothes-C.Willett Cunnington and Phillis E. Cunnington-(1992)

Two major costume collections that can be seen are at The Costume Museum in Bath, in the basement of the famous Assembly Rooms, and in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

If you ever have the opportunity to try on hooped petticoats, cages or bustles I would recommend it. Try walking around and you will quickly be very appreciative of the clothing we wear today.

Now all this talk of clothes has given me an idea, and a couple of characters have just popped into my head to go with it...

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Very very short stories

I've been writing today and actually sent off a story by e-mail.

Well it was only 60 words in total.

This is the third time I've submitted very short stories this year, and as a break from longer projects they are satisfying even if the rewards are small.

Yes, every word has to count just as it does with a standard length short story or novel, but how you use those limited number of words is the important bit, and it certainly works your brain to be original- hopefully.

Currently, I and a lot of other writers are waiting to hear the results of the Arvon Foundation 6 Word Story. Though with only 6 words I'm sure there will have been a large number of  entries, so I don't expect to get anywhere.

Though it is a good excercise in summing up a story in a few words and still making sense...

Monday 27 September 2010

Monday snippets

Another writing week and the Mills and Boon New Voices shortlist is on their competition website.

Sadly my writing friends who entered didn't make the shortlist, but I hope they will keep working on their tales as there were certainly some intriguing openings and characters that I wanted to find out more about.

I hope that many of the stories that didn't get beyond Chapter 1, will eventually find their way through the normal submission process, or life elsewhere.

Good luck to the final ten.

Friday 24 September 2010

Get Your Stiletto in the Door Competition

Thanks to Van on the 'Writers' News' Talkback Forum for providing information on this competition.

It's being run by the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and the Chick-Lit Writers of the World (CLW) and you don't have to be a member of either organisation to enter.

There are a number of categories, with explanations if you're not sure which one your story fits into.

You need the first 5,000 words of your manuscript for judging,and an optional 500 word synopsis which is recommended you include, though it won't be judged.

Entries must be sent electronically (RTF file) with your entry number. Payment can be made by PAYPAL. Entry fee is $25 for non members.

The prize is a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

Entries must be received ELECTRONICALLY NO LATER than 2nd October 2010, 11.59PM EDT.

(EDT is Eastern Daylight Time-so you'll need to do some calculations.)

Guidance and entry rules are available on a downloadable PDF on the website:

The good aspect is that entrants will receive their score sheets from the four first round judges. So even if you don't get shortlisted you get something useful back.

Good luck to all who enter...

Thursday 23 September 2010

Romance is certainly NOT dead

Last night the first stage of the Mills and Boon New Voices competition closed with a total of 824 entries.

The judges now have to produce a shortlist of 10- a hard task when the entries ranged from historical and paranormal to the very popular contemporary category.

A number of writer friends have entered and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them all- you know who you are (Good luck).

Romance writing often gets derided by those who have never read it, not understanding or realising how much skill it takes to write good romance.

Just like any other genre, there has to be a good story. Characters have to be believable, the conflicts and the problems recognisable to the reader, while still being an entertaining read.

After all writers are in the entertainment business, our stage is our stories, the reader our audience.

So good luck to all 824 writers. If you don't make the shortlist I hope you'll persevere as there is clearly talent out there.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

E-Book advantages

Yes, I'm a convert to e-books, but I do still buy them in paper form too- though I tend to reserve that for my favourite writers, rather than newer authors who I've not read before.

In May I bought a basic e-reader, after saying I wouldn't for more than a year, and my reading landscape has expanded into books I wouldn't have tried. I've dipped into Alan Bennett's 'An Uncommon Reader', and classics by Jules Verne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that I've always meant to find time for but never have. I can now appreciate Douglas Adams 'A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy'.

Researching my preferred market of Romance has become easier and certainly more enjoyable. I can wallow in any historical era I want, read short stories or category fiction, even related non-fiction like 'Georgette Heyer's Regency World' by Jennifer Kloester, a must read for any romance writer.

My Billy bookcases no longer overflow...

My OH does not look in dismay as he sees another half dozen books lingering on the sofa or chair...

They are all in my e-reader- bliss...

Thursday 16 September 2010


I've been considering starting a blog for some time and decided today was the day to begin. So here I am...

I'm based in the East Midlands, belong to a writers' club and when I'm not writing or feeding the family I enjoy a couple of excercise classes- aquarobics and belly dancing (I've promised my class mates that I will write a story involving belly dancing one day- I have a vague idea for it already).

Carol's Corner is here to not only showcase my writing, both Contemporary and Historical Romance fiction, but also interesting snippets of writing related news, and any other items that get me writing.

My first literary efforts (written as a teenager) were Science Fiction, but no matter what stories I created- and some of them were sagas- there was always a romance involved somewhere in the story.

A few of my stories don't have romance in them, but variety is good for a writer...
In May 2009 my story ' 'Do You Want to Know A Secret?'  was published on the brilliant Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers blog- a must see for anyone who reads or writes thrillers, crime, horror and/or mystery stories.

Sometimes my writing does produce amusing items and even I'm surprised.

A few months ago I recorded for audio, a piece of flash fiction 'Positive Exposure' which you can listen to here Audio and hopefully it will make you smile.
250 words from a mixture of ideas- a radio interview with an actress who'd had costume problems and the number of awards ceremonies, at the time, where the female celebrities had chosen to wear strapless dresses.
They went together so well that it won a club competition judged by members attending on the night.

My first published short story Goose Fair Past appeared on the local BBC website in 2003 and romance was involved in the end. I'd only been seriously writing for four years when this story was posted, and I've learnt so much since then.

Currently I'm working on a novel set in Dorset. A couple of novellas and a few short stories that I hope will eventually get published and paid for. When it happens you will hear about it.