Sunday, 23 June 2013

Regency Regrets for 'Ridiculous'

Sorry folks, but A Sense of the Ridiculous has been delayed through forces beyond my control. The new release date from Musa is now November. In the meantime, enjoy the following snippet. Heather

As Richard closed the yard door, a tiny sound somewhere above his head made him stop and listen. There was a rustle and a miniscule snap, as manifest as a gunshot to his ears—which were straining for the least sound—though he doubted he would have noticed it ordinarily. Holding his breath, he waited again. The night was cloudy and there was no moonlight, but he could make out the shape of the garden door as it very slowly began to open. She certainly did not lack courage, this girl. He stood with legs apart and arms folded across his chest, right in front of the door. He surmised that, expecting him to have gone to bed, she had climbed down the creeper, which grew up the wall around her window.
Slipping through the garden door, she closed it behind her with a tiny click and turned straight into his chest. Her screech of alarm died in her throat, curtailed in an instant by his calloused hand over her mouth. As she pressed back against the rough wood of the door, her fear gave him a somewhat wicked relish. He stepped closer in as menacing a manner as he could summon. Her chest heaved, her heart thumping loud enough for him to hear, and she tried to edge along the wall towards the house. Grinning into the darkness, he barred her way with a brawny arm and leaned against the stone. Putting his hand in a similar position on her other side, he pinned her against the wall. He waited while several seconds elapsed before he spoke, a deliberate strategy to punish her a little. When he did speak, it was in a conversational tone.
Do you ever do as you are bid, Duchess? What is to be gained by this? Setting aside the gross impropriety of your conduct, did you not think Ned and I would notice you asleep in the stable? Or were you planning to hide every time one of us came in?” He sighed, rubbing his face. “I sincerely pity the poor man you marry. I doubt he’ll have a moment’s peace. Now take yourself off to bed and stay there, or I shall remove from your room every stitch of clothing, saving your nightdress.” Her sharp intake of breath informed him that his words had at last gone home. He pressed his advantage. “And don’t you think I won’t, either. I shall have no compunction, I assure you.”
Standing back, he made way for her to return to the house. White-faced in the grey light, she glared at him.
You are no gentleman,” she said in a lofty tone, marching past him with head held high. As the yard door closed behind her, he shook his head, and chuckling deeply, he crossed the cobbles to the stables.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Tips For Writers

I am indebted to my friend and mentor Sue Johnson for the following guest post. She is an amazing teacher and a remarkably talented lady. For all you budding writers out there, who perhaps are afraid of being told off or shouted at, she is encouraging, positive and will boost your confidence without you even noticing! You can contact her via her website, which is at the bottom of the post.


Poet, novelist and creative writing tutor Sue Johnson shares her tips for successful writing.

1.         Carry a notebook wherever you go. Use it to jot down brief descriptions of people and places and fragments of overheard conversation. You will find these useful for creating poems, stories and scenes from novels. You may think you’ll remember every detail until you get home – trust me, you won’t!

2.         Write every day even if you only manage ten minutes. It will help to keep the thread going with the story you are working on. Time spent visualising (otherwise known as staring out the window) is never wasted either. The more clearly you can ‘see’ a story before putting pen to paper, the better it will be for your reader.

3.         If you’re working on something historical, find out as much as you can about what life was like during the period you’re writing about. Read as much as you can, visit stately homes, find out about fashions, food and customs. Check any facts with at least three different sources.

4.         Get to know your characters as well as you can. (You need to know them better than some members of your own family!) Create biographies for each of them and find magazine pictures or photographs that look like them. As you go through your day, visualise them in a variety of situations – e.g. getting out of bed, getting dressed, eating something.

5.         Make sure there is enough action in your story. What does your main character most want? What is stopping them from getting it? Don’t allow problems to be solved too easily.

6.         Where is your story set? Don’t forget to allow the seasons to change. Use weather as a means of causing additional problems for your characters – e.g. a flooded river or a snowstorm.

7.         What do your characters sound like? If they speak with a particular dialect, give a flavour of this. It can be tedious to read if written too exactly!

8.         Use the senses as much as you can! Colours, sounds, smells and textures all help to bring a story to life – and to give your reader a full picture.

9.         Set a date for completion of your first draft. Keep going no matter how bad you feel the writing is. As Australian novelist Kate Grenville says: “It can all be fixed later.” You cannot edit a blank page!

10.       Reward yourself for the effort you put in.

Sue Johnson

I hope you all find this useful, I know I do. Anybody got any questions/comments?

Keep Writing and Good Luck!