Monday 17 March 2014

My Writing Process...

Thanks so much to the very lovely Eve Devon, who tagged me in this blog hop. Eve writes Romantic Suspense for Entangled Publishing and Contemporary Romance for HarperImpulse, and you can read all about her writing process here and find out about her new release, Her Best Laid Plans.

What am I working on?

I'm currently two thirds of the way through my latest contemporary romance for Harlequin KISS/Mills & Boon ModernTempted, working title Reality TV War. My heroine Evie is a rich socialite, star of reality show Miss Knightsbridge, up against ex-soldier Jack Trent's survival skills documentary-style show in the ratings. When a stray comment from Evie to the effect that Jack is actually sleeping in hotels and scoffing a la carte when he's supposedly sleeping under the stars and foraging for food is made public, she is invited to take part in his show so she can eat her words on-screen and restore his reputation. Cue river crossings, hiking through the great outdoors and food challenges with nature's bounty. Can Evie prove herself to be more than vacuous party girl? Jack and Evie find that although they are from different worlds, they have more in common than they think. You can see some of my story inspiration by checking out my WIP Pinterest board here.

I've also just finished the final touches to a continuity, again for Harlequin KISS, due out later this year. I LOVED writing this book. The series is called The Flat In Notting Hill, the stories revolving around a group of flatmates in London, and my story will be the second in a series of four, with the amazing Nikki Logan, Joss Wood and Louisa George having written the other three. Lots more details about this later in the year!

After I've finished with Evie and Jack I will be writing the fourth novella in my Do Not Disturb series for HarperImpulse. These are funny, romantic, steamy stories linked by the same setting - a chic London boutique hotel.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I think the unique slant that all writers bring to the table is voice, your own unique way of telling a story. Particularly with category romance, where many tropes and themes have been done many, many times, voice and character is what keeps them fresh and new. All my books have a fun, light-hearted feel about them, - if I can brighten someone's day with one of my stories, that's good enough for me.

Why do I write what I do?

Mainly because I love the escapism of it. I read widely across all genres, but there are times when the sheer, delicious, happy-ever-afterness of romance is exactly what I want. The romance reading/writing community is also fantastic- there is a real buzz of support and interaction on social media and I really value that, because a lot of the time it's just me and my laptop.

How does my writing process work?

Erratically, is the unfortunate answer to that question. You'd think I'd learn from my mistakes now I've got a few books under my belt, but I still have some books that write like a dream (almost as if they're just flowing through me), and other books that are hateful marathons of teeth-pulling, and make me wonder why the hell I put myself through it!

I keep a running notebook of story ideas - these are mainly just interesting hooks at this stage. Then when I've decided to run with a particular idea, my process starts with a week of planning. First I develop my characters - I use goal, motivation & conflict charts for this, as well as Pinterest and some general character questionnaires to work out their background. One character is normally much more clear to me than the other (usually the heroine, they feel like my best mates!) and I ask myself, who would be the worst person for her and why? And then I look for something about him that would make him perfect for her if she could just see past that initial prejudice. I think about external conflict - how are these two people going to be thrown together? And then I start plotting.

I use a three-act structure, based around Blake Snyder's Save The Cat beat sheet, to come up with the main scenes - turning points, pinch points and a general idea of what the black moment might be - and then I brainstorm events that might happen in between to get the characters from one point to the next. I concentrate hard on keeping them in character - every move they make MUST be in character and relate to their goal/motivation. I might write a loose synopsis at this point to keep me on track. Even with all this planning, things can still go awry along the way - in this current WIP I just realised that the hero's conflict isn't quite right and I'm going to have to go back and rework it. Hopefully it won't take too long!

Once I have all this, I start writing. I write at least 1000 words every weekday and anything extra I get down at the weekend is a bonus. If on a roll I can easily write 10k a week. Other times just squeezing out that 1k a day takes forever. I've learned that Chapters 1-3 usually take me a while to get sorted, but once done they are usually pretty much on the money. I struggle at Chapters 4-6 every single time. This is where most of my revisions and rewrites have been in the past. The second half of the book is usually a bit easier again. I try to just keep pushing on, even when it's really tough, and then I go back and fix later on.

Depending on the book, all this can amount to days where I feel absolutely brilliant and love what I do, interspersed with head-crashing-on-desk days where I loathe the book and drive my family crazy. So far it's always worked out OK in the end!

I was last to the table for the Writing Process blog hop and I have tried to find someone who hasn't yet been tagged to pass the mantle on to, but have epically failed. So unfortunately the chain ends with me! But if you are reading this, haven't taken part yet, and would like to pick up the gauntlet, consider yourself tagged! Just leave me a comment so I can link to you :0)

Saturday 1 March 2014

My First Hot Harlequin KISS/ModernTempted!

My latest Harlequin KISS (Mills & Boon ModernTempted in the UK) is published today, and if you picked up my previous stories for Harlequin on the basis of their heat level, it might make you choke on your coffee!

When I wrote my first book for Harlequin, it fell under the RIVA imprint which was subsequently relaunched as KISS. At that time there were a wide range of sensuality levels offered under the same imprint - some books in the line were smoking hot, others (like mine) slammed the bedroom door after a snog and cut to breakfast. It soon became clear that this was confusing for the reader and as a result KISS/ModernTempted books are now sexy across the board.

The Plus-One Agreement is no exception - it has some pretty steamy scenes in it, so be warned. It also has my usual brand of fun, sassy storytelling and a quirky supporting cast that threatened to take over at times! I had so much fun writing it. For a sneaky peek at some of my inspiration, check out my Pinterest board here.

The blurb...

Successful job? Check. Swish wardrobe? Check. Mr Right?
Not so much...

Emma Burney might not have a man, but she has a very practical solution for that: the plus-one agreement. A guaranteed date for any occasion. The problem? Her date is the gorgeous Dan Morgan – the man she lusted after for years.

Dan is all about keeping it casual, so when Emma decides to call it quits on their arrangement he isn’t bothered. Well, maybe there’s just a little bit of dented ego. After all, he’s always prided himself on his plus-one prowess. So when Emma begs for just one last date…suddenly he’s got something to prove!

The excerpt...

'I could have spent this weekend working,' Dan said.

'Like you don't spend enough of your life doing that.' Emma led the way into the gallery. 'You can easily afford an evening and I need this opportunity to draw a thick, black and irreversible line under the two of us for my parents and undo the tissue of fibs I've told them.'

They walked slowly down the red-carpeted hallway, his hand pressed softly at the small of her back - the perfect escort as always.

'I really don't see why I need to be there for you to do that,' he said, smiling politely at other guests as they passed, maintaining the perfect impression. 'Especially since it's only a fake relationship.'

Even as he piled heavy sarcasm on the word fake he wondered why the hell he was turning this into such a big deal. Why should he care? It had simply been a handy arrangement, nothing more.

'Because the problem with it being a fake relationship is that it was a pretty damn perfect one,' she snapped. 'And so now I need a fake break-up.'

The links...

THE BOOK DEPOSITORY (Free Worldwide Delivery)