Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Sickness and Sevens

Many thanks to my charming and entertaining guest, Toni Sands, for visiting Home Thoughts Weekly. Actually, you had quite a long stay, Toni… I hope you managed to find the coffee and biscuits whilst you were here. 

The reason I’ve been such a poor hostess is that my normally rude health took a battering from the most debilitating sinus infection and industrial-strength antibiotics, both of which have left me feeling pretty wrung out. Home Thoughts? Mainly, ‘Ooooh, I feel soooo ill.'

It’s lucky, then, that new Twitter friend @voula invited me to join in a game for writers, published and unpublished. The instructions for Lucky 7 are:

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript 
  • Go to line 7 
  • Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating 
  • Tag 7 other authors to do the same 

‘Current manuscript’, for me at the moment, could apply to the several levains fermenting on my desktop, including a novella and my third novel. I’ve mentioned before that I’m quite a secretive writer. I’m reluctant to talk about work in progress, but only because I believe that giving too much air to the mix at this stage can make it flat and stale. This is also the stage where my manuscript is subject to some pretty brutal culling as scenes and characters are taken out and thrown into a limbo file where they may languish forever or be resurrected when their proper place becomes apparent.

That said, I’ve gone to page 7 of what, hopefully, will be my third novel, Clearing the Decks. To set the scene, kind, responsible May Starling has had enough of clearing up after everyone else. Acting on impulse, she responds to a personal ad on a yachting internet site for a female cruising companion to assist with a delivery trip. May’s plans change tack the moment she arrives in Little Spitmarsh. The retired gentleman she’s expecting to sail with is far younger, twice as big and much angrier than she anticipated. In fact it’s his nephew, Bill Blythe, who meets her from the train with some unwelcome news.

May longed for the ground to swallow her. How many more double entendres had her drunken brain found amusing?
    ‘Since this boat means so much to Henry, I’m going to make sure that it’s waiting for him as soon as he’s better,’ he continued. ‘It’ll give him an incentive to get well.’
    ‘That’s kind of you.’ May was relieved Bill sounded so sure of Henry’s recovery. He might even give her a lift back to the station instead getting her charged with attempted manslaughter.

So, by page seven, I know that May’s unhappy with her old life and wants a change, but how big a change is she seeking? Will she accept that her attempt to breakaway has failed and get on the next train home? Or does Bill have something else in mind?  I guess I’ll just have to finish the book to find out.

Now the next part of the game requires me to pass it on to seven more writers, but I’m struggling to find friends who haven’t already played, so this is where I throw it over to you. Anyone out there like to join in? Come on, don’t be shy…

 The epainting's by Tom Tomos and very nice it is too.        

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A Warm Welcome to Toni Sands

By way of a very refreshing change, I’m delighted to welcome as my guest this week fellow Carmarthen RNA member Toni Sands, an accomplished short story writer, whose debut e-novel Orchid Pink has recently been published by Xcite Books… oo-er! Here’s Toni sharing her thoughts about writing romantic fiction and why you don’t necessarily need to wear six-inch stilettos and black velvet to write erotica!

My mother regularly borrowed Mills and Boon romances from the library. For me, an inquisitive pre-teen, these books sparked an interest in love and relationships that still hooks me. But after my father found me engrossed in a sizzling story about a landlady and her lodger, I had to make do with the Chalet School books for a while.

My own writing progressed from boarding school tales to romance and gentle supernatural stories, some of which appeared in women’s magazines. Years later, at the first writers’ group I joined, the organiser told me he recognised a sensuous quality in my work. Editor Elizabeth Coldwell published my first stories then I met a well-known author at a library presentation and she recommended I pitch to Black Lace. I still recall jumping for joy when Xcite Books accepted my story Marie, Marie. Since then, Xcite has published much more of my work and Hazel Cushion and my two lovely editors are very supportive and great to work with.

One of last year’s highlights, apart from attending the Romantic Novelists’ Conference at Caerleon, was being asked to appear on a panel, hosted by the bubbly Jane Wenham-Jones, author and presenter. In her view, confided Jane to the audience, erotica writers looked just like librarians. Well, I have received the comment, ‘I’d never have thought it of you,’ when mentioning my erotic publications. But I confess to a slight attack of the vapours when I find myself semi-apologising for boldly going where others fear to tread. Do readers really believe crime authors go out to slit throats and throw dismembered corpses into bottomless pits in the cause of plotting a darkly murderous novel? I don’t think so. Yet, the mention of writing erotica brings a ‘naughty’ frisson especially when a member of the opposite sex is involved.

I don’t set out to shock. My characters dictate the pace and if the writing’s flowing, who am I to complain? I always like to create a happy ever after or at least the promise of one and it’s difficult for me to write anything unless it’s tinged with a smidgeon of humour.

Chris has kindly mentioned my debut e-novel and first historical romance, Orchid Pink, set in the late Victorian era. I’m chuffed that my other half has created a Facebook page for my heroine, Adelaide Beauchamp, who communicates from 1900. 

I’m also one of a team of Xcite authors commissioned to write for The Secret Library, a sumptuous new imprint. My story of Rebecca and sexy smuggler Jac is called Traded Innocence  also the title of a collection of three novellas, each by a different author, launching 16th April. I used material from my 2006 dissertation for this story set on the beautiful Gower Coast of Wales.

Currently I’m pitching a women’s contemporary novel and preparing to run some creative writing workshops. Next project is a gentle WW2 romance, aimed at the pocket novel market. What, not erotica, I hear you say? I think writing only erotic fiction would be rather like living on a diet of chocolate and mangoes!

Thank you, Chris, for inviting me to drop by. And thank you anyone who’s taken time to visit. Now I shall paint on another coat of scarlet lipstick, wrap myself in black velvet, smooth on silver lace fingerless gloves and teeter off in my six-inch stilletos to drink champagne. I wish! 

Mind how you go in those heels, Toni!  Thank you so much for being my guest here today.

There’s more about Toni on her website: and you can follow her tweets on Twitter @tonisands

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Everything Stops for Tea

Look at these beauties!  

When my daughters were little, I used to collect odds and ends of china. Some of it was given to me and some, like a pair of very beautiful ’thirties vegetable tureens, I had to save very hard for. Then life took a difficult turn and I had to part with some of my treasures and I lost heart in my collection. 

When Tom and I set up home, I was about to put what remained of my china safely in the back of a cupboard when Tom said, ‘why don’t we just use it?’

Use it?

Once I’d got over the shock, I realised what an utter joy it is to use beautiful things rather than look at them. Yes, sometimes they get broken, but at least they’ve had a life rather sitting unused where no one ever sees them.

It was for that reason, at the weekend, that MiL presented me with this incredibly pretty tea set that’s been stored in her loft for too long. There’s six of everything, except for a missing cup and, since I also have a bit of a tea fetish - especially when it’s accompanied by a slice of cake - they’re going to be well-used.

And as for everything stopping, well our car, The Biscuit Tin, is currently roaring like a Ferrari thanks to a broken exhaust so we’re off to Carmarthen at Crack of Doom tomorrow hoping that the very expensive and very rare (apparently) exhaust the garage has ordered actually does the job. Wish us luck!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Choc Lit Author's Corner

At the start of the Easter holiday, I'm over at Choc Lit Author's Corner today, blogging about getting away from it all. Do come and tell me about what makes a perfect break for you.