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Happy Belated Mother’s Day

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A glimpse into the fun times at Sami’s house

Overheard conversation:

Princess:  Look, it’s an aeroplane

Cherub: Is it a Tiger aeroplane?

Princess: I can’t see. But if it was it would be full of tigers grrrr

Cherub: And if it was a virgin plane, it would be full of virgins.

(That’s not what I heard)

 After eating all of her spaghetti bolognaise:

Cherub: I ate it all up. Even the marshmallows!

(I put mushrooms in my bolognaise, in case you were wondering)

 Looking at the clouds:

Princess: Mummy, those look like serious (meaning cirrus) clouds.

Me: yeah, I heard they had no sense of humour

Princess: (blankly) No, that must mean something serious is about to happen.

(her sense of humour will develop over time, I’m sure)

 Exact conversation that took place between me and my four year old Cherub

Cherub: Do you want to play shops mummy?

Me: Ok, sure

Cherub: What would you like?

Me: (knowing what plastic food is available) I’ll have a banana split—that’s banana with ice cream on it.

Cherub: I can’t do that

Me: Then I’ll just have a plain banana

Cherub: Ok. Would you like ice cream too?

Me: I thought  you didn’t have… oh okay I’ll have banana and ice cream.

Cherub: Would you like chocolate or vanilla

Me: Vanilla

Cherub: I only have chocolate

Me: For goodness sakes. Don’t offer me something you don’t have! What kind of joint are you running?

Cherub: I told you I only have chocolate or vanilla

Me: And I want vanilla

Cherub: With your banana?

Me: Yes! With my banana. I want vanilla ice cream with my banana.

(Finally my meal is delivered. One banana with… a chocolate ice-cream cone. All day of this and people wonder why I drink)

And then it begins again with the drinks

Cherub: Would you like milk or juice

Me: Milk please.

Cherub: I don’t have any milk

Me: Can’t you pretend to have milk?

Cherub: Nope

Me: But you’re pretending to have juice

Cherub: Can’t pretend to have milk

Me: All right I’ll have some juice but when I drink it I’ll pretend it’s milk

Cherub: Nooooooo!

I will never understand the rules of pretend shops.

 HAPPY BELATED MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL

Sami

Five Dodgy Lessons From Cinderella

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We took the girls to the movies on the weekend. They’ve been playing all the classic Disney films at reduced prices. I’d never seen the original movie of Cinderella and the kids needed to get out of the house so off we set.

Well, I had a shock I tell you. I’d read the story as a kid of course, and always sensed there was something a little off about the whole glass slipper fits=true love scenario, but at a young age I couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong with it. Seeing this story retold as an adult woman and a mother who’s trying to teach her kids to be independent, smart individuals, I was caught between hysterical laughter and concern over the messages this movie inflicts on young minds:

  1. If a handsome prince gets to be in his twenties and has shown so little interest in women that his father organises aball to push the women in the kingdom onto him, it’s because he hasn’t met the right girl. Not because he’s secretly gay or anything.
  2. If life – or an evil stepmother – beats you down, you must remain sweet and kind at all times, doing nothing to get yourself out of the bad situation. Just sit on your ass and believe that your fairy Godmother will show up and fix it all for you.
  3. When said FG shows up and proves to be capable of the most amazing magic, you should use it on a pretty dress, a carriage and a trip to a dance. Not to take you out of town and away from your bitch of a stepmother. That doesn’t make any sense.
  4. Magic powerful enough to turn a pumpkin into a carriage and mice into horses, is not powerful enough to last beyond the stroke of midnight. You must never question this.
  5. The only way out of a bad family situation is to marry the first guy who kisses you. Within 24 hours of meeting him. Even if the guy has so little memory of your face from the night before that he needs a shoe-fit comparison to know you’re the girl he’s looking for. Even if this knowledge and interest in shoes seems to be conclusive proof that he is secretly gay, after all.

Yeah, those are the messages I want my girls to takeaway from their moving going experience. Not.

I think the tale of Cinderella is in serious need of an overhaul. Surely we can build a better path to HEA than this.

Sami

Top Five things I learned at ARRC 2013

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  1. You can team a pair of pink heels with an orange dress, but no matter what colour the shoes, eventually you’ll have to take them off.Divas at ARRC13
  2. It’s okay to trawl the internet for pictures on half naked men in the name of romance research. Kristan Higgins said so (which justifies my man pics pinterest board nicely, thank you Kristan)
  3. Erotic romance readers and writers are the most awesome people around. Not everyone is willing to volunteer to do the most awkward and embarrassing things all in the name of fun (thank you to the lovely lady whose Sally-in-the-sandwich-shop demonstration really added spice to our erotica panel on Sunday)
  4. It’s all right to struggle every time you write a book. It’s normal. Painful and frustrating, but normal.
  5. Getting together with other romance writers, especially my fellow divas, never gets old. And we never have enough time together before planes, trains and automobiles force us apart again.

Until next time, let’s keep writing girls!

Sami

 

Sex and Violence–Why Do We Love It?

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I’ve been a long time fan of the James Bond films. I’m not in the minority. The Bond franchise has been going for 50 years. The most recent film, Skyfall (which I saw last week and yehah wowza, it was good), looks set to be one of the highest grossing films of all time. Yet the movies at their core are about the most base of concepts. Violence. Sex. Winning. Killing bad guys without remorse.  Bond is the typical alpha male and the movies are designed to appeal to men.

So I understand why men like these movies. But why do women like them? Why do I?

It doesn’t hurt that the actors playing Bond have historically been pretty darn hot. I’ve been fairly vocal in the past about the fact that Daniel Craig floats my boat. The sex appeal is a factor, but ultimately I wouldn’t sit through a movie I didn’t like just to perve on someone’s body when I could just go to the internet and download pictures. I like the movies themselves, even though they are almost entirely devoid of strong female characters (damsels in distress anyone?) and there’s very little exploration of deep emotion in the movies, which is what I like in a book.

And maybe that’s the crux of it. I want different things out of a movie than I want out of a book. When reading I want complete immersion, I want to be taken into the lives of the protagonists and experience events vicariously through them. When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained. I want to switch my brain to the ‘off’ position and simply receive input. I don’t want to think about how sexist the movies are or how that kind of violence in real life would be distressing, let alone why I find that kind of stylised violence entertaining (there’s probably grounds for a therapy session in there somehwere). And I definitely don’t want to worry about how the new Bond is really a pre-Connery Bond who living in the new milenium because that’s just a head spin. Going to the movies is not an interaction the way reading a book can be. It is a chance to let somebody else do all the thinking for me while I sit there and say ‘gimme gimme gimmie!’.

Skyfall was wicked entertainment. Rumour has it Daniel Craig has been contracted to play Bond in two more films. All I can say is—

Gimme gimmie gimmie!

Anyone else seen the movie? Do you love or hate action films?

Cheers,

Sami

A Little Note to Say Thank You

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I was talking to a couple of other authors recently about book reviews, specifically how an author goes about getting them. A book tends to sell better if it has a list of positive reviews—and increased sales of books mean increased potential for further reviews, further sales and so on. So as authors we LOVE to get good reviews, for this reason and also because it gives us a warm fuzzy feeling. All that time spent alone with our characters, all the critiquing and editing and proofreading, all of it has at last been acknowledged in the best way possible. Somebody liked my book! And they liked it so much they bothered to post a public review to tell everyone how much they liked it!

 That acknowledgment is arguably the best part about being a writer.

 So how do we obtain these shining pearls of happiness-inducing praise? I don’t really know. Stories abound about authors paying for reviews, getting their friends to post them or even creating fake accounts under different names and posting their own reviews. I’ve never done any of these things, but I can understand the desperation some writers feel which drives them to do so. To me though, a review wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t from a genuine reader who hadn’t been in any way coerced or remunerated for their opinion. Which means that when it comes to getting reviews for my work, all I can do is send my baby out into the world and hope for the best. 

When Erica’s Choice was first released, I had a really lovely twofer review over at Guilty Pleasures, which absolutely made my release day. However it took weeks for anything to appear on Amazon, where it tends to make the most difference to sales on that site. At last they started trickling in, and I’m so happy to say all feedback there has been positive. Now I have a nice little collection of feel-good comments and the book has been selling fairly consistently which is so, so satisfying, and has restored my faith in my own story telling ability. Let me tell ya, when it’s 5am and it’s just you and the computer and the sparrows chirping their morning song, faith is all you’ve got (I mean, I don’t even have caffeine anymore—wwwaaaaaa!!!!).

 So what’s the point of this post? I didn’t tell you all this to steer you toward my book and get you to buy it (but did that work????). My main point here is to say THANK YOU to every reader who has ever genuinely loved a book so much they leave an honest, glowing review on the site from which they bought it, or on a review blog or even on an author’s facebook timeline. This means the world to authors (yes, I have the power to speak for ALL WRITERS EVERYWHERE). So if you’re a review leaver, please keep doing what you’re doing.  

And if you’ve never left a review before, consider giving it a shot. Click the ‘Like’ button or agree with the tags if they fit. All this helps get an author’s book in front of other readers, which enables us to continue doing what we do. Even the smallest thing can help restore that all important faith in our writers hearts.

And that’s what keeps us going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers,

Sami

 

Habit? What Habit?

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Last week a couple of posts went back and forth between Jess and Lexxie about writing habits. They had opposing opinions of Stephen King’s much repeated writing advice—to paraphrase, the general idea is to do nothing with your writing time, except write. Lexxie gave up checking her social media pages during writing hours. Jess absolutely REFUSED to throw our her thesaurus (in fact I’m kinda ok with keeping a thesaurus by the computer. I don’t think looking up a word here or there is as distracting as the big bad internet).  Then Jess sent out a challenge of sorts—Sami should post her thoughts on this! (I think she wanted to break the deadlock :)).

Well lately I have to say my writing habits have sucked. I had the realisation several months ago that  the only time I would be able to write was when the house was quiet… which is before everyone gets up. So most days during the week I rise at 5am to write, I have til around 7am before mother duties call. And for a while that was working a treat. Even if I got 1000 words down in those two hours that was better than nothing. But the last 6-8 weeks? It hasn’t been working. Nothing has been working. I can’t seem to get the words to flow. I’m distracted easily—and I don’t have the internet on during those two hours (I learned my lesson there long ago). It’s just me and the computer. I turn it on, open my document and stare at it. Even now I’m writing this blog post when I’m supposed to be working on my manuscript.

And I keep thinking—I’m missing sleep for this?

I think it’s time I reread Stephen King’s phenonemal book On Writing. And yes I am very pro King in this regard. Three years ago, it pulled me out of a writer’s block that had lasted almost two years. I may have to go back to pen and paper for a while, as I’m once again approaching that point where I’m about to grow afraid of the computer and it’s intimidating blank page and that taunting, flashing cursor (blast that damn cursor!!!).  I know that book taught me a lot about fear and why we writers are so often plagued by it. It reminded me why I love writing so much, and I think right now I really need to be reminded why I’m getting up at the crack of dawn to do this to myself.

I’ll report back soon and let you know how I go.

(word count for the past two hours? 467 and this blog post. Sigh. But I’d like to focus on the positive. I made myself laugh once:

Are you talking about women?”

Summer rolled her eyes. “Don’t try to tell me you haven’t had a great time being free to date whomever you want all these years.”

“I haven’t been a monk, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“I’m not asking anything.”

“Seems like you are. So what is it you want to know? How many? My usual type? What positions I prefer?” He held up his hand and used his fingers to check the answers off. “I haven’t exactly kept count. I like women who make me laugh and I can stay friends with after. And I’ve always been partial to a good hard screw against the wall.”)

*snort*

 Sami

Writer on Strike

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Advice so good I put it on my desk calendar

As writers we bang on a lot about word count. We tweet, post and otherwise discuss the number of words we get down on any given day, and chastise or congratulate ourselves accordingly. This kind of thing, some say, can be a great motivator, a real kick up the butt when we need one.

I’ve come to realise that for me it’s not a positive thing. I find it demoralizing and I think I’m going to go on strike. DEATH TO POSTS ABOUT WORD COUNT (that’s a picket sign, by the way). When a writer is stuck in manuscript quicksand, it can be utterly soul destroying to see how fast others are moving forward. It can cause much self-flagellation, panic and self-doubt. If writer X can write 5k a day, why can’t I?

The answer to this question is fairly simple: we are all different. In obvious ways of course—we have varying levels of family responsibility, some people have day jobs some don’t—but it goes deeper than that. Just as people are all individuals, each writer has their own unique process. Number of hours spent writing does not necessarily equate to a certain number of words on the page, it varies for the individual writer from day to day. Between one author and another, it varies even more. And speaking as a ‘slow’ writer, I think I’m finally okay with that.

My process seems to involve getting stuck on a scene part way through a work in progress (never at the beginning, I love writing beginnings) when suddenly telling the story becomes about as simple and fun as pushing a wheelbarrow full of cow manure up a very steep hill. I can see the vision in my head of how the scene is supposed to go, I sit down to type and some other crap comes out. This disconnect between what I envisage and what I can actually do is incredibly frustrating. But I’ve come to accept it as part of my process. There’s always a reason to be stuck, and it’s usually because the scene I’m trying to write is pivotal, and once I get it right it will tell me everything I need to know about how to finish the book.

In Sunset Knight it was the wedding scene I kept coming back to–I have twelve versions of it on my hard drive. In

Voice is what differentiates us from the typing monkeys

Moonlight Mirage there’s a scene in the pool that sat unfinished for a good month before I could finally come out the other side of it. And in Erica’s Choice…well, every freakin scene was a struggle, but most especially the one showing the first time Corey and Griff become intimate, because I’d never written MM before and, hell, I’m a chick. So that stumped me. At the moment, I’m floundering around the scene where my hero and heroine first have sex, and it’s a very important moment. It needs to show all the yearning of their years spent apart, all the love they’ve held onto but are trying to deny, and all the conflicts that will keep them apart for the rest of the book. And of course the heroine has a sexual hang up. You didn’t think I’d make it easy on myself, did you?

So yeah, not so simple. It means my word count per day is averaging 600wds and a lot of those are rewrites. But I’m working through it, making the scene better bit by bit until it matches that image in my head. I am following my process, which means I’m being true to my voice. This does not  make me a very fast writer. But it does make me the writer I was supposed to be.

So yes. I am definitely okay with that.

Love,

Sami

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