The Butterfly

Last weekend I was at the RNA Conference and I was privileged to attend a talk by Catherine Fox. She has a wonderful wry humour and held us all spellbound. But what really inspired me about her is that she’s putting her writing out there free on her blog in  weekly installments. You can see her blog here: Catherine’s blog

Now I don’t have her talent, discipline or ability to write every week without serious preparation and editing and I don’t currently have a story that I could do that with- or the inspiration for one as I’m a bit emotionally depleted. I’m also a slow writer so I’m not even going to go there.

However I am inspired by the idea of putting my writing out there and not being miserly with it. I have some of it sitting round in files in virtual space and I don’t have the time or energy to try placing it in competitions etc. So I’m going to dust off stuff that I’m happy with but that doesn’t have a home and I’m going to put it out there. Some of it will be romance. Some of it won’t be.

Whatever it is I hope you get some pleasure out of it.

So here is a piece of flash fiction please remember that copyright is mine.

The Butterfly Monarch Butterflies flying in Michoacan, Mexico

He traced the path it took, as it fluttered and wavered, its yellow and brown wings gilded in the harsh sunlight that streaked across the floor of his cell. A bible fell unnoticed to the floor, its delicate, unread pages creasing in the dust as he rose to his feet.

The butterfly danced and danced, just beyond his reach as he leapt clumsily about the tiny space, his child mind unable to coordinate his adult body. The butterfly evaded his fingers, remaining just beyond his grasp and he laughed at the game.

‘Jim boy,’ the sheriff’s voice was gruff but not unkind. ‘Come on son, it’s time.’

Jim watched the butterfly meander through the bars as they bound his hands behind his back.

‘Murderer!’

‘Devil’s spawn.’

The words passed over him their concepts too much for him to understand and he lost interest, unaware he approached the scaffold, his eyes searching the sky above their heads.

The noose around his neck and still he searched the sky his eyes finally focusing on a growing glimmer of gold.

The door opened and, in the sudden rush and snap, the sky filled with butterflies.

 

Author Interview-Angela Wren

AEWBlackWhite

Today I’d like to welcome author Angela Wren. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing Angela.

 

What is your favourite season and why?

I love all the seasons.  They each have their own magic and their own colours.  If I had to choose only one it would have to be a snow covered winter.  I love winter because it means Christmas is around the corner and Christmas, to me, is always about being at home.  I once had to spend Christmas away from home and it was so miserable that I’ve never repeated the experience.  I love the snow too and I’m a great builder of snowmen.  I think it was the winter of 2010 that I had enough snow in my garden for a whole family of snowmen.  I called them Mr and Mrs Snow and Little Snow.

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Cevennes- winter

Do you listen to music when you’re writing or do you prefer silence?

No I don’t.  I can’t listen to music when I’m writing because the words have their own rhythm and to have a different one plaguing my ears is too confusing.  I think all language has its own natural rhythm and I like to let that flow freely as I write.  This is especially so when I’m editing as that’s usually when I find the lumps in the rhythm of the words from a previous draft.

 

What food is your naughty indulgence?

Chocolate, of course!  I thought that was every girl’s naughty indulgence.  And I take my indulgence in every possible form, (cake, mousse, cheesecake, biscuit, chocolate per se), colour and flavour.

 

What’s your favourite part of writing?

There isn’t really a bit I don’t especially like.  The planning at the outset is necessary and can be a bit tedious at times, but I write through my characters.  So in my head there is a constant conversation going on as I write and my characters do sometimes do totally unexpected things – which can be a bit scary!  I love putting words on the page, always have and it doesn’t matter whether these are business words for strategy documents, for example, or ordinary words for fiction.  The action of choosing those precise words, putting them together in that specific order is really great fun as far as I’m concerned.  And in fiction, you can make anything happen – and I think that is awesome.

 

How did you come to write your genre of choice?

By accident.  My first story was a romance and I thought that was the genre I wanted to, and would be best at, writing.  That first story has now been shredded!  My second story also went along the romance theme but I peopled my fictional village with such fascinating secondary characters that, when I finished it, I realised that I could do so much more with it if I changed the focus of the novel.  My third story, Messandrierre, I knew from the outset would be a dark tale.  There is still a romantic thread running through it but the primary plot is the one surrounding the disappearances of the tourists and the investigation to catch the killer.  And it was a discussion at a three-day workshop last April that clarified my thinking for me.  Why, I asked myself, am I here on a crime writing workshop and yet believe I write romance?  I wasn’t the only person there asking that question either!  After the workshop I revised my story and submitted it and now it is published.

 

What are you working on now and what can you tell us about it?

I’m working on the second Jacques Forêt book, entitled Merle.  This is a story about long-plotted revenge, and there is a murder too and Jacques has to find the killer.  I’m also working on an anthology of unusual fairy tales, which I plan to self-publish.  I’ve seen an early sketch for the artwork for the cover, which is fabulous.  The stories are well on the way to being complete, so ‘Tall Told Tales’ will be available later in the year.

 

Author Bio

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

 

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Novel Blurb

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Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.

 

But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.

 

Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?

 

Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

 

Universal link : Amazon

 

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Angela. I wish you every success with your book and your upcoming collection.

 

January Monthly Medley

I’ve been enjoying rooting through my keeper shelf prior to packing it up to move to my new home. Although I give my keeper shelf books regular airings it’s still nice to go through them one-by-one and fondle them and browse through all the best bits. So here are my keeper shelf recommendations for January.

A totMoonspinners_smallal classic, Moonspinners by Mary Stewart is a winner. First of all she captures the atmosphere and the countryside of Greece so well, that you could almost be there. I love the characters, the suspense- in general everything. Her stories are also full of nostalgia for me because they were among some of the early romances I read when I was about 14 and living in Greece.

My next recommendation is Slightly Tempted by Mary Balogh. Although this is number six in the Bedwyn series, it stands alone quite comfortably.Slightly_tempted_small

The classic sort of story where the hero sets out to seduce the heroine for revenge is soon flipped when the heroine sets out to punish the hero for his behaviour. She does it so well that I never get tired of reading their story.

My next recommendation is for those of you interested in writing romance is Katekate walker_small Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. For anyone setting out to write romance it’s a valuable head start that I wish had been about when I started writing. It would have saved me a lot of grief.

 

Finally I bring you Warprize, the first in a fantasy trilogy by Elizabeth Vaughan. Her excellent writing frames a story that is primarily about a clash between two cultures when a princess is given as tribute to a Warlord. I loved the characters and the plot but what really blows me away is the detailed and realistic world she creates. Awesome!warprize small

December Monthly Medley

Merry Christmas. Grating card. Holiday post card templateSo there’s still time if you’re wondering what to buy the romance reader in your life. Alternatively you might wish to investigate these books yourself if you have any lovely vouchers to spend.

So this month these are the four choices (in no particular order) off my keeper shelf:

First of all here’s a romance that I couldn’t let go. Wife for a Week has kept its place on my Keeper shelf because it is a little out of the ordinary in terms of the plot (even though it looks as though it’s going to be pretty standard).

Book 1

Don’t be taken in by its cover. This book is out of the ordinary and very good.

I found this book funny, quirky and different. The dialogue was sparky and the characters great and I certainly never saw the twist coming. A definite must have.

Next you might want to consider Agnes and the Hitman. Another book with sharp dialogue and a light quirkiness, it’s populated with incredible characters and a heroine who has anger management problems and yet still manages to get you rooting for her.

2015-10-27 11.43.08Think Jennifer Cruisie’s usual style elevated to a higher level with Bob Mayer’s input. Think murder, mayhem, weddings, sabotage, hitmen, mafia and flamingos. Brilliant.

So that’s two lighthearted reads to keep you busy.

Now for something a bit more serious. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie is an exceptionally detailed historical romance by Jennifer Ashley.

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The hero has some form of Autism and is lovable and beautifully drawn and the heroine a lovely match for him. Throw in some intrigue and wonderful supporting characters and this is a winner.

My final choice is a paranormal called Archangel’s Consort. This whole series has me intrigued and addicted. This is a gritty romance with wonderful erotic scenes and a strong heroine who can hold her own against the Archangel. The author has built an excellent world and wonderful supporting characters that will keep you coming back for more.

If you do read any of these I’d love to know if you enjoyed them.

Book 4

 

 

 

 

 

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November’s Monthly Monday Medley

November’s Monthly Monday Medley

So for the next couple of months on the first Monday of every month  I shall be posting a medley of four books that are either:

a) off my keeper shelf

b) interesting or useful

c) current reads

I’m not writing reviews- these are quite simply recommendations. This is about me wanting to share a read that I enjoyed or found noteworthy for some reason.

The books will be predominantly romance but not entirely. They will be predominantly fiction but not always. I haven’t linked these but they should be easy enough to find on Amazon. Have you read any of them? What did you think of them?

So, in no particular order:

The_House_of_Memories

The House of Memories:  Although I don’t really read much that isn’t clearly genre romance I occasionally pick up something different. This is one of those books. I wept all the way through. It’s a beautiful book, with a HEA (happy ever after) and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Ultimate_Weapon

Ultimate Weapon: Gritty romance with a kick ass heroine who makes jewellery for women that contains secret weapons. A hero who can match her as an equal and scorching sex- need I say more?

What I did for a Duke:This book has quick, bright dialogue, funny parts to it but also a poignancy. It’s a relationship between an older man and a woman quite a few years his junior and although when it starts out you think it’s going to be a typical revenge seduction, that is quickly scotched because the heroine is too clever. Lovely lovely book.What_I_did_for_a_Duke

Exotic_AffairsExotic Affairs: A collection of Michelle Reid’s stories. They are all originally published by Mills and Boon. Anyway you’ll see more of her books in my monthly Monday medleys.  She is my favourite Mills and Boon writer. Ever.

Enjoy!

Choosing a new WIP (or Work in Progress)

Windfalls and mushrooms

Windfalls and mushrooms

I’ve just sent my anthology of four short erotic romance stories for a final edit, to sort out punctuation and other errors, and to try and make it as good as I can prior to launching it on Amazon. (In case you’re thinking of looking out for it, it’ll be published under a different name, I’ll let you know what it is at the end of the post.).

Anyway, to get back to the point, since that project is now nearly complete I am looking for another one. I have several in mind, some quite well thought out, some just tiny kernels of half formed ideas.

Doing chores helps me think, so I went outside to collect apples (mostly new windfalls that came down in the rain we had yesterday)  and think about my WIP. This reminded me of picking a pomegranate off the tree just last week in Greece.

Then it struck me that, like fruit, a story idea has to be at the right point exactly to be capable of maturing into a decent read.

This was the only decent pomegranate left on the tree after the neighbours stripped it. We were too late although with a lot of jumping we managed to reach this last one.

This was the only decent pomegranate left on the tree after the neighbours stripped it. We were too late although with a lot of jumping we managed to reach this last one.

Pretty much like an apple or a pomegranate really. Getting to them in time is crucial. They need to be just ripe; ripe enough to drop into your hand but not so ripe that they drop to the floor before you get there. Once they hit the floor they bruise and rot sets in very quickly or creatures nibble on them. They don’t seem to last as long as those picked off the tree and they seem to be just past the point where they are at their best.

Like fruit, the new project idea I pick has to be  fresh, ripe, and capable of going the distance. For best results it has to go from ‘tree’ to either mouth or pot.

There’s something very satisfying about collecting fruit and then eating it just as there is in selecting a new WIP and then getting on with it. In the end, whichever WIP I decide to follow through with has to fill me with enthusiasm and curiosity and make me, the writer (or the cook) keen to reach the final product.

So for the next couple of days I’ll be gently twisting each potential WIP idea to see if it drops off into my palm,  I’ll be deciding if it looks as if it might ripen too far if I leave it on the tree which would make it a priority to deal with. I’ll be tentatively checking it for mileage with lots of ‘what if’ questions and checking out the characters to see if they can develop.

I love this point. Whether I’m looking at the apples and deciding what delicious dish they’re going to become or whether I’m sifting through all the ideas in my mind, and deciding which one is going to be my next romance – it is one of the parts of writing that for me is full of potential and  joy.

Here they are, glowing in the sunlight just waiting to fall into my hand and be turned into pie. Yum.

Here they are, glowing in the sunlight just waiting to fall into my hand and be turned into pie. Yum.

Btw- the other name I mentioned above? Queenie Black.

Thanks for reading this far. 🙂

Why writing a novel is like filé crocheting

So what do the following two things have in common:

My new project

My new project

Filé crochet

and….

Superstructure- slightly adapted

Superstructure- slightly adapted

a new work in progress?

Well, both are projects that I’ve started recently.

The crochet will hopefully become a nice table runner for my dining room table and my novel will hopefully become a record smashing block buster. (Don’t laugh! At least one of the two is likely to be true).

But the truth is that both are extremely difficult, time consuming and require discipline, no matter how excited or enthusiastic you are when you start them.

To get my crochet to the point at which it is in the photo, I actually had to unravel it about three times and redo several rows more than once. Goodness knows how many times I’ll have unravelled and remade rows before I finally reach the end.

This is what I have also had to do with my novel. The working title is ‘The way to a man’s heart’, and I have had to re-write sections of it several times. It just hasn’t been coming together. Finally I came across ‘Superstructure’, by James Scott Bell and for some reason, out of all the books on plotting that I have read, this clicked for me. It’s given me a ‘pattern’ somewhat akin to the one I have for my table runner. A frame work that I can work with and that will guide me in to a finished product that I’m satisfied with. I have therefore gone on and plotted my story according to his fourteen points and I now have a much better idea of where the story is going and what needs to be done.

Hopefully both projects will come to fruition quickly, painlessly and successfully.