Friday, 30 December 2016

Reviewing book in 2017

As you know, I took December off from pretty much everything (except getting better). This gave me a little extra time for doing some of those thing I never get to do...

...like indulge in books.

Not Wanting To Go Out meant I couldn't raid a library or bookstore, so I stayed at home and downloaded a whole lotta freebie novels.

I'm into Fantasy and Romance, so I got a whole bunch of those and started reading.

Since I am an advocate of posting book reviews, I am going to review those books I start.

Be warned: I plan on being honest.

Having started at least twenty books,  I have this one thing to say about indie freebies: a lot of them were not ready for publication. Some of them were, and they held my attention to the end. A couple of them even enticed me to buy more in the series, and one of them is seriously pushing my "Kobo-preferred" policy by being good enough to get me to buy the rets of the series on Amazon, though I dislike reading on a laptop.

Of the ones that weren't ready, if I couldn't see any value in my reading on, I didn't finish the book. There's far too many books out there for me to waste time finishing a bad book. If I didn't finish, I will explain why.  Also, I reserve the right to refuse a book purely because of taste. I might not like a book other readers love. If so, this doesn't necessarily reflect on the quality of the book.

I plan on posting reviews here, and, depending on reasons, will do the author a solid and post reviews to Amazon. While it can hurt hearing not-so-good things about a book, every author needs to hear that sort of thing. It's just best if said author can hear it before the book is published and not after.

__________________________________
Her Grace has a few beta mss she needs to read as a favour to a couple of fellow authors.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

What Her Grace Has Been Up To

Hello Gentle Readers,

Apologies for the long period of silence. I've been busy.

I recently had a gastric sleeve procedure. This was to correct a long-standing issue I had with the overproduction of the hormone ghrelin.  The surgery went well, though recovery has had a minor complication, which I've mostly recovered from. Due to the impact this surgery has for my whole system, I've not had much energy to do much of anything over the past few weeks, much less get online and blog.

So as I stuff my tiny little tummy on a jar of Beef Casserole with Quinoa baby food, I'm hoping you all have a Happy Holidays.

Wishing you a Happy Solstice for yesterday. I had solstice plans, but with a splitting headache with accompanying photophobia, those plans came to naught.

Speaking of light, wishing many of you Happy Hannukkah for Saturday and the rest of the week. May your hope and faith endure.

Wishing my fellow Christians a Merry Christmas and everyone a Happy New Year.

One of the few things I have been able to do is read.  I got the first few books of a series called "Legends of Dimmingwood" by C. Greenwood.  I've grown attached to the main characters. It's my kind of escapist fiction. I like what I've read so far and am happy to recommend this series to other fans of Fantasy

Unfortunately, the rest of the series is exclusive to Amazon only, so I've got to figure out if I'll be able to read it via a Kindle reader on my laptop without my eyes going spare from the light emissions. I tend not to read books on a laptop or computer because my eyes can't stand the electronic screens. eInk or paperback is much kinder on my aging eyes.

I love my Kobo eReader because of its eInk. It does have self-lighting, but this is reflective, which is kinder on eyes in the long-term.

Here's a  thought: does the Kinder reader app on a laptop do out-loud text reading? If so, I'd totally be in to that. Must investigate further. Or does calibre? I am fond of audiobooks, though I can't alter the pacing like I can when reading text.

Are you fine with reading books on a computer screen, or do you prefer something less... bright?

Anyhow, I'm rambling so I'll wish you a safe and sane Holiday season and I'll see you in January 2017.  In the new year I hope to post more Tuesday's Tales and have more publishing news.

_____________________
Her Grace believes in taking the holidays easy, not rushing around like a madwoman. She advocates this approach.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Her Endearing Young Charms - Yours for 99c

To celebrate the new cover of Her Endearing Young Charms, we've gone on sale.

Grab your ebook version of Her Endearing Young Charms from your favourite retailer this week (8 - 15 November) for only 99c.  

Amazon | B&N | Kobobooks | Smashwords | iBooks

If you do pick up Her Endearing Young Charms on sale, please do me a favour and post an honest review on Amazon or GoodReads. This helps other readers find great books.

Meanwhile, I'm going back to working on The Charm of Truth, the second book in the series. These books don't write themselves (okay, sometimes they do).

Meanwhile, A Lady of Many Charms is still free, if you haven't grabbed it yet.  A | B&N | K | SW | iB

________________________________
Her Grace wishes to contribute greatly to your need to escape real life through fiction.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Tuesday's Tale - The Sanctity of the Trick or Treat Bag

Today's Tale is inspired by Halloween last week. While not as big as it is in the US, Trick or Treating is gaining a steady foothold by kids who'll do anything in pursuit of lollies. Not every house is prepared, however, so you can often catch a surprised yet well-meaning adult at home who'll grab whatever is lying around. My daughters once came home with 2-litre bottles of juice, artificial flower arrangements, jars of salsa and a can of lentils.


Auntie says we're too old for Trick or Treating. But Mama doesn't care. Any good excuse to get us out of the house is fine by her.

So Brody and me grabbed whatever black jumpers and capes we could find, pulled the cases off our pillows and ran whooping into the night. Other mamas must have felt the same as ours, because a whole lot of Brody's friends were also out. He joined up with them and I had no choice but to tag along.

Brody's tall like any other fifteen year old, but I'm short for my age. I figure I've got another good five or six years before people start giving me the same scornful looks he and his friends got from door to door. Still, the people handed out candy to a bunch of teenage boys and me.

Tall boys got an advantage: long legs. Boy, do they know how to use them! Brody and his friends ran from house to house. Me, I could barely keep up. Still, I followed them from street to street, sometimes making it to the back of the group before they ran off, other times, missing out on a house because the door had closed and the boys were already on their way to the next.

Mama would have killed me if I went off on my own. Don't think I wasn't tempted.

Someone in Brody's group must have had brains, because they by-passed the houses in our neighborhood and took us the next one over. Best. Idea. Ever.

This was the nice neighborhood, the one with all the guys who wear ties to work and carry briefcases, not lunchboxes. Big houses with nice yards and too many steps to climb to get to the door. It was worth it, though. These places handed out the big candy bars.

I'm completely coming here again next year.

My bag got heavier and heavier and the boys got faster and faster. They must have cut in to their stash, though we're not supposed to until we get home. The only thing worse than boys on sugar was boys on alcohol.

They zoomed up a hill and knocked on a really nice door. I hefted my bag up the steps, those big candy bars taking their toll.

They must have been handing out some really nifty stuff, because the boys all whooped and hollered and ran off, leaving me behind on the steps.

Maybe ditching them was the best idea, seeing they looked to be ditching me. Mama would never know the difference, unless the night ended up with me in a ditch.

Still, greed and tiredness stopped me from following them. I stood there, two steps below the porch and watched them run off.

"Abandoned you, did they?" came a strange voice. I looked up into the brightness of the porch.

The lady of the house stood there, her skinny arms folded across her well-dressed chest. She held no bowl of candy. Her hair was a mess and her eyes were red. She sniffed. "Get used to it, honey. They're all like that."

Did her words have to sting so much?

I didn't want to follow after Brody and the others. But it felt shallow and greedy to hold open my bag to her. We stood there and stared at each other, her and me.

Eventually, she looked around inside. Then her gaze fell to her hand. With a tug, she pulled off a diamond ring. "Might as well take this. Save you the pain of having a man give you one."

She dropped it into my bag. Before I had the wits to say thank you, she closed the door and turned off the porch light, leaving me in darkness.

It was a miracle I got down those steps without breaking my fool neck in the dark.

The boys were long gone. Even their sugar-fuelled noise had faded away.

I sighed. My bag was heavy, but I couldn't go home. Auntie'd chew me up for going out in the first place and Mama might ask questions why I was home early and where was Brody. (Answer: don't know, don't care.)

So, I struck out on my own. Amazing how nice people were to a lone girl. You by yourself? they'd ask. No, I'd reply, gesturing behind me. Mama didn't want to climb the stairs. Not that they could see anything peering out into the dark. Sometimes they'd be nice and throw in an extra candy bar for Mama.

This stash will last me to Christmas, if I can keep it well-hidden.

By the time all the porch lights were turning off, my bag was so heavy I had to stop every half block to set it down and rest. No way was I abandoning my loot.

Brody had gotten home before I did and Auntie let loose her sharp tongue on me. Where had I been, why was I late, why wasn't I with Brody, and so on.

Naturally, I blamed Brody. He's too tall, he's too fast. I couldn't keep up, though I tried. Then she turned on him, 'cause it was his fault, and I was able to escape. Had to hide my well-gotten gains. The candy went into my usual hiding spot, but the ring?  I rolled it between my fingers, studying the glitter of the light off the diamond. I think it was a diamond, though I didn't think they got that big.

Maybe it wasn't. Who'd give a diamond to a kid?

The same person who'd give a car to a teenage boy.

Brody never could keep a secret. It wasn't a candy bar that lady gave to him, but a set of car keys. Brody took 'em to school and bragged about 'em all day. That lady gave away a whole lot of other fancy stuff to the other boys: mobile phones (which they wiped), fancy ornaments, (which they broke) and one even got a bottle of alcohol. What kind of idiot gives a bottle of hooch to a teenage boy?

But Brody, he got the best thing. I'm sure if he had had two wits about him last night, he would have driven off in the thing then and there. But nope, not him. Got the keys, said she said he could have the car, it was all his, and he forgot to take it with him. (Not that he can drive.) Later on today, he said, he'd go claim "his" car. Drive around like he owned it.

But he didn't. That afternoon he chickened out and went home on the bus like the rest of us. He never did shut up about that car.

Me, I said nothing about the ring. I stuck it on the little crystal tray where I kept all my cheap trinkets, the broken steel necklaces, the peeling little rings that turn your finger green. Maybe nobody'd notice.

The next day we got a knock on our door. The police work fast if it's rich people complaining. Work even faster if your envious mates grass on you.

Someone had.

At least the police were nice about it. Maybe because one of them was a woman. Mama answered the door and called for Brody. Brody showed up. Moment he saw the police all his bravado hissed out of him like a balloon. "I didn't steal 'em," he whined.

"We know," the woman officer replied.

But Mama didn't tell Brody to go get the keys. (Not that he had to. They were in his pocket.) "May I ask what this is about?"

"No, ma'am," the man officer said. But the woman officer ignored him. "Domestic dispute. Baby girl thought it'd be funny to give away her cheating boyfriend's stuff to Trick or Treaters." Naturally, the officers were here to collect it back.

They made Brody give back the car keys. (Would he have actually gone driving?) Not that he'd have been able to keep the car. He claimed he had no idea what the other boys got, or what they did with it. I believed him. I suppose the moment she dropped those keys into his bag, he completely forgot about his mates, the way he'd forgotten about me.

To our relief, once they got back the keys and took down a few details, they went away. Never said they'd be back.

Me?  I kept my mouth shut. I kept the ring.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

You NEED fiction.

Get absorbed by a good book.
So here I am in the first week of NaNoWriMo and not doing too bad. (Check out my progress.)  As a professional author, my time is not only about the wordage. It's about the rest of the craft as well, from editing to publishing to marketing to developing a relationship with my readers.

As I'm reading through a marketing blog, I came across this quote from the (non-fiction) author:

"Nobody NEEDS fiction. It doesn’t solve any of life’s problems – other than an escape from boredom."

At this, my eyes bugged out, my jaw dropped and my inner child threw a toddler tantrum.

THAT IS SOOO NOT TRUE!! We need fiction very much.
Fiction serves a very necessary need in our society. It provides a very necessary mental health benefit. You ask many a dedicated fiction reader and they will tell you why they read. It certainly is not to relieve boredom. No way.

Reading fiction provides the following benefits:

  • Escape from reality. Reading a book is like taking a little mental vacation. We have work, we have school, we have housework, paying bills, driving in traffic, parenting and a whole slew of Adulty things that need doing and that demand our spoons. Losing oneself in fiction lets you refill the cutlery drawer--essentially, recharging one's mental batteries.
  • Outside-the-Box thinking. The reason we love fiction is because it is so different to our lives, and yet so similar to our lives. Here was have different characters in different situations, maybe even different worlds, yet they have problems just like us. Problems they need to solve. By looking at how they solve their problems, we might learn different methodologies or different approaches, solutions we could take back into reality with us and possibly apply in our own lives.
  • Stimulates our Creativity. When we read fiction, we need to imagine the characters, their world, their situation and more. This exercises our creativity. Creativity is a necessary life-skill for problem solving and personal growth.
  • Improves brain connectivity and function. Or so say the neuroscientists, especially if the book has a strong narrative line.  (Note to self: construct strong, intricate plots.)  Here's the study.
  • Develop a better understanding of Humanity. To be strong members of society, we need to have a strong understanding of our fellow human beings. Fiction helps with that, especially if you read a variety of genres. Thomas and Ernestine get this.
  • Teaches us the skills of Empathy, Curiosity and the Acceptance of Change. The plot of a book is all about change. It's inevitable. By reading fiction, we learn that Change is normal and to be expected. When you read, you're curious about what's going to happen. Curiosity is a good thing. It makes you pro-active. Change is going to happen to the characters. As we undertake this journey with them, we might recognise elements of them within ourselves. This empathy improves our inter-relational skills.
To that non-fiction author who thinks that reading fiction is merely a boredom reliever, fie on thee! Do thyself a favour and go read more books.

Here's a few to get thee started:

As Good As Gold | For Richer, For Poorer | Marry Me | A Lady of Many Charms (free!) | Her Endearing Young Charms | The White Feather


Question of the Day: Why do you read fiction?

______________________
Her Grace has just polished off a 40g bag of Jelly Belly.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Ellen Harris-Braun - Enjoy your well-deserved rest

I was sad to hear of the passing of Ellen K Harris-Braun, a beautiful lady whose actions were instrumental in the development of my writing career.

Ellen and her husband Eric ran the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.  I've belonged to this workshop since it first started as the Del Rey OWW, oh, nearly twenty years ago. Ellen and Eric took over from Del Rey and turned it into an extremely useful and well-respected writer's workshop.

Many a successful author passed through the OWW's digital doors and I've met many wonderful people because of it. More than half my apprenticeship and the first part of my journeymanhood was served there. I honestly can't think of any one class or group or anything else that made such a profound difference in my career.  Dr Anne Wingate got me started on my career, but Ellen & Eric's OWW kept me going.

While I've not had much time these past couple of years to spend on the workshop, My heart still belongs there. Ellen put a lot of hard work into the place and I, as well as countless other authors, are better for it.

Cancer happens. We all have someone close to us who's been affected by it. Sometimes you win the fight. Sometimes you don't. One thing cancer can  never do is erase the impact someone had on the world.

Ellen's impact was huge. I am a better person for it.  Thank you, Ellen, for your hard work.

_____________________________
Her Grace

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Tuesday's Tales - The Thesis

Today's Tuesday's Tale is inspired by a chilling story of some dropkick (soon to be ex-) boyfriend who attempted to delete his (probably now ex-) girlfriend's Honor's Thesis. Dude, you just don't do that. Also inspired by this semester's essay, which is nearly done. Nearly.


Amanda stared at her computer. Maybe she didn't see right? Or maybe she clicked the wrong link?

No. Maybe it got accidentally renamed?

Search: no result.

Amanda's stomach sank. The hum of the dorm outside her doorway faded into the rushing sound in her head. She drew a deep breath before it overwhelmed her. "Where the hell is my thesis?"

"Oh," said her boyfriend Tom. "I deleted it." He sat on the bottom dorm bunk, his thumbs twiddling over his phone.

Amanda blinked and turned around. "You.... what?"

His gaze didn't leave his smartphone. "C'mon. You didn't need it."

That rushing sound came back. "Didn't... need...?" She had to put her head between her knees. Surely he didn't...

His thumbs stopped tapping. "Look, Mandy. You're spending too much time on that crap. You really should be spending more time on me."

That made her whirl around in her desk chair. "More time? We spend enough time as it is."

"Seriously?" he replied. "Look. I'm sitting here on the bed playing Angry Birds while you poke at that keyboard. We should be going out for drinks or something."

She flung a hand in the direction of her computer. "This was due in three days. Three. Days!"  Tears filled her eyes before spilling down her cheeks. "My degree--" Her throat closed up.

He shrugged and went back to his game. "So?  Now you have three days to spend with me."

Amanda's breath shuddered as she drew it in to her chest. Slowly she rose from her chair. "You want to spend more time with me?"

He didn't reply; his focus was on the phone.

"How about this? I kill you. We have you cremated, and I keep your urn on the table here."  Her hand moved across the formica of the dorm desk.

Tom didn't react until he'd won level 37. Then he looked up. "What was that?"

* * *

Google Docs had saved Amanda's life. Nothing could save Tom's. Two days later, she emailed her advisor asking if it was okay to turn in her thesis a day early. "I've had some bad news. I need to attend a funeral on Friday."

Her advisor granted her request. Even offered to extend the date of her defense.

Amanda turned it down. "It wasn't as if we were close."


_________________________
Her Grace is grateful for modern technology.

Friday, 28 October 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 18

Last chapter!
Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Eighteen: The atmosphere at breakfast the next morning was quite different from their usual scattered conversation.

I wonder why.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace thanks you for following First Sentence Friday. Now go read her books!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Comparisons - the Bad and the Good

The other day I was doing a regular review of my career path. (This is a good thing, if one wants one's career to go in the direction one wants it to.)  I asked myself these questions:

Where am I?
Where do I want to go?
What do I need to get there?
What's stopping me?

This last question is rather important. It reflects upon those things that keep me from where I want to be. Without stoppage, any career would be stellar and magnificent.

Right now, mine's not.

It's a necessary question, but comes with pitfalls. One of those is comparisons.

Comparison can be a useful tool, but only if applied correctly. It is all too easy to fall into a false comparison trap. Fr'ex: one of your peers had three books released last year, one of them award-winning. It's too easy to look at that, look at the pathetic one book you just managed to eke out and wonder why your career's in the dumps.

Or maybe you did release three books, but none of them won awards, or sales weren't that great, or you have no idea when your next book will be written, nevermind come out. Or maybe you realised you needed a Pullman option for your ticket for the Query Train as you watch fellow travellers hopping off left-right-centre.

I gave in to a moment of self-pity. Why is my writing career not where I wanted it to be? We all have twenty-four hours in our days and I only spend eight of them sleeping. What have I been doing instead of turning out high-quality books at a phenomenal rate?

Then I look at the products of my Twenty-Year Plan. They have grown up to be strong, capable, respectful and respectable members of society.  When I compare them to the products of others, the real truth comes out. All the energy I've been pouring into this project rather than into my books has paid off better than if I'd turned it the other way.

I have five more years left of the Twenty-Year Plan. Then, when that's done, I can turn myself fully to the Fifty-Year Plan.

But for now, I shall be mostly content with the process I've got now.

(Mostly.)

________________________________
Her Grace is doing NaNoWriMo this year. She will have a publishable book at the end of it.

Friday, 21 October 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 17

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Seventeen: The more she thought about it, the more Merrybelle didn't want to go to the Blandfords' ball.

C - H - I - C - K - E - N. That am the way you spell chicken.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace knows what to do when the rent comes 'round.

Friday, 14 October 2016

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 8

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 8 - Final chapter!

The day of their wedding delivered on its promise of rain.

Is it a spoiler to announce a wedding at the end of a Romance novel?

I hope you've enjoyed First Sentence Friday for The White Feather. If you've had the opportunity to read it, I ask a favour; please leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads or wherever you purchased your copy. Honest reviews help authors more than you know and help your fellow readers find great books.

If you haven't read it yet, get The White Feather now from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out now from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

Never be afraid to tell me what you think of my  novels. Loved it? Great! My job here is finished. Didn't love it? Any reason why? Any feedback you give me helps me improve on later books.

_____________________________
Her Grace thanks you.

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 16

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Sixteen: Alexander stared at the worksheet before him.

Today's FSF brought to you by Randomosity.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace is random.

Friday, 7 October 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 15

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Fifteen: Lord Alexander entered the Boar's head with Sir Peter Andrews, the local Magistrate.

Pre-orders are up for my next book. Grab yours now!


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace will keep writing them as long as you keep reading them.

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 7

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 7

His future bride was not the only lady in his life he needed to keep happy.

Here's a brief word about Church of England Special Licenses. It seems that nearly every Regency Romance novel features Our Hero fetching a special license for marriage.

In reality, they were rather rare. In novels, it seems that Special Licenses were more a way to get married quickly--say, that day.

Historically, when getting married in the Church of England, There were three ways of going about it:

1. Calling the Banns: this was the cheapest (free) and easiest way. In your parish of residence, announcements of your forthcoming marriage were made each Sunday for three weeks. If nobody objected, you and your betrothed could get married.

2. Common License: issued by an bishop, archbishop or archdeacon, a common license waived the three-week bann-calling period. However, you could only get married in the jurisdiction of the clergy who issued it. All licenses cost money. Sometimes a couple got a license for no other reason than a financial status symbol.

3. Special License: these could only be issued by the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but allowed the wedding to take place in any parish.

How do you think James went about it?

Get The White Feather now from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out now from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

Friday, 30 September 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 14

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Fourteen: Alexander blinked at Merrybelle. What did she say?

Okay, so that's two sentences. I'm cheating.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace wishes she could share the whole book with you. Oh wait. She can. Go buy my books.

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 6

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 6

James couldn’t get away from St. Mary’s soon enough. While the village’s derision of him wasn’t news, the vicar’s opinion was a surprise.

Don't be afraid of change in your life. Change happens because it needed to happen. For good or ill, change brings an opportunity for personal growth.

You are guaranteed XP when change enters your life. Take advantage of it and level up.

_____________

Get The White Feather now from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer. If life's getting you down, grab a book and escape for a few hours. You'll feel better for it.

Out now from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

Friday, 23 September 2016

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 5

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 5

The next morning James woke with the impression of being watched.

The White Feather is suitable for book clubs. A list of questions for book club discussion is available on request. Also, if you order your copies directly from The Wild Rose Press, a discount is available. Contact Lisa for more information on book club discounts.

Get The White Feather now from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out now from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 13

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Thirteen: As they rode back, Alexander was grateful for the silent company of the others.

So glad Spring is here. Looking forward to the warm weather.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace will take weeks to get the cold out of her bones.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Thursday Interview: Rebecca Laffar-Smith

Y'all welcome Western Australian author Rebecca Laffar-Smith to Romance Spinners. Her official biography reads:

"An author; a publisher; a mother. Rebecca loves bringing the joy of reading to children, exploring magical words of wonder and darkness, and fairy tales of happily ever after romance. As you can imagine, that leaves her torn between her three passions. She writes science fiction and fantasy under the name Rebecca Laffar-Smith, romance under the name Serenity Bly, children's books under the name Bec J. Smith, and publishes books for children with language and literacy difficulties at Aulexic."

Today we're having a bit of a chat about the genres we like and the importance of reading for everyone. If you have a reluctant reader with literacy difficulties, consider having a look at her P.I. Penguin series.

_____________________________________

HWK: You're known for writing SFF but I hear you've got a secret soft spot for Romance. What is it about this genre that you like?
RLS: I've always been a devourer of romance. I'm a big fan of Mills & Boon and in my twenties I imagined joining the ranks to pen some of their Sweet, or Sexy, or Temptation lines. I love to read romance, when I'm experiencing a physical and emotional low due to my Bipolar, because they're written in a way that isn't too demanding for the reader. They're light but powerfully emotional and that sense that love conquers all is uplifting. It brightens the mood and sometimes I need that, especially because my SFF writing is usually pretty dark and emotionally fraught.

Having said that, the first attempts I made into writing Romance in my twenties were absolutely terrible. I probably didn't have enough emotional maturity or experience with love and loss and even heartbreak to be able to write a convincing happily ever after. My characters didn't have much life and body. Thankfully, the writing I've done over the years has helped significantly but I'm still only just exploring the genre again as a writer.

And to be honest, a lot of what I like about it as a writer is the strength of the market and the emotionally rewarding writing experience. When I'm writing SFF I find I get into the grit of what I'm working on. It can be emotionally draining, and I find myself dragged into the darkness with my characters. Writing Romance does the opposite, it pulls me up out of that hole and makes life a lot more fun and shiny. Obviously there are stages of the writing where I'm dealing with conflict, but there's always a sense of destiny in the story where I know things will turn out for the best in the end. When I'm writing SFF I don't have the confidence of that certainty.

And that same confidence and certainty is true for being able to find readers. The romance market is huge and ravenous. As a romance reader myself I know I can power through about four romances in the time it takes me to read one SFF. So I can go to market with a romance and be relatively confident it will find readers where are SFF is often a lot more hit and miss. I have to hope that my kind of SFF appeals within a niche of the SFF market and because it takes longer to write and requires more emotional and physical investment in its production it can feel good to break that up with the occasional romance where I know I'll find readers who love the story. Romance readers are a lot less critical in reviews so long as you satisfy the key emotions.

HWK: I also love Pride & Prejudice. You explore Elizabeth & Darcy's first married Christmas in your novella "Christmas at Rosings". What is it about the Darcy/de Bourgh family dynamics that caught your imagination?
RLS: Lady Catherine is a monster. As an antagonist she was an obvious choice, especially because Darcy's loyalty is something to really play upon. Of course he loves his aunt and he has been raised to respect, even admire her. Elizabeth's standing in that dynamic is shaky at best. She doesn't have the breeding to give her any sort of status in Lady Catherine's eyes and it's easy to let Darcy's past respect for his aunt clash with his still emerging loyalty to his new wife. Their relationship, having had a rocky beginning, is easily shaken by the foibles of their past.

I think that's very true of relationships. The things that tear couples apart or make it hard for them to come together in the beginning, will continue to rock the foundations of that relationship. They'll continue to be tested by them, and it takes work to strengthen the foundation to withstand that kind of ongoing turmoil. I liked the idea of building that stronger foundation with Darcy and Elizabeth because I always felt like they didn't have enough strength to keep their relationship together after the final declarations in Pride and Prejudice. 

HWK: You've got works in several genres. What makes you want to explore different ones instead of focusing on a single genre or age group?
RLS: Well, the children's books surprised me. I honestly never imagined myself a children's book author and it was only the homeschooling I was doing with my son that lead me down that path. Now I can't imagine not working in children's fiction but I'm still always drawn back to SFF which is my first passion. And somehow, even in my SFF there is a degree of Romance. I think love is such a central theme in life that we find it in every genre.

These days, because I'm working so much with my publishing house I don't have as much time to write as I need and I try to keep my focus to just those three genres, Children's, SFF, and Romance. As I said before, the SFF tends to be heavy writing so it's time consuming and emotionally taxing. I tend to think of Romance writing as a palate cleanser. It's a way to declutter those dark thoughts and emotions so that I can come back to the other work with a clearer head.

Of course, having said that, I can tend to have a short attention span and just love to flit from project to project. I let the ideas lead me and sometimes those ideas take me outside of what I've already done. I love to challenge myself to keep growing and developing as a writer so I'll throw myself down the rabbit holes of wild ideas and see where they take me. Thankfully, for now at least, they've gravitated around just three genres, but I'm not ruling out someday exploring crime, and I definitely know I have some non-fiction waiting in the wings, although I'm fairly confident that I won't go near thriller or literary fiction.

HWK: You've been doing a fair bit of work with Aulexic, an imprint that brings interest-appropriate books to readers with literary acquisition difficulties. How did you identify the hook (simple language, advanced ideas) as a successful gateway into reading for this particular literacy group?
RLS: I tend to focus on what has worked in my own experience and in the experiences of those I've talked to directly. It's not particularly scientific, although I have done a lot of research into the science of learning disabilities and language acquisition, I find anecdotal evidence tends to hold greater weight in that we can see it's effect directly on the people that matter. Especially in situations where the science doesn't hold up to what I've seen in the real world.

In this case, our family has first hand experience. I'm dyslexic, my mother is dyslexic, and my son is both dyslexic and autistic. So we're very familiar with language and literacy challenges. Aulexic began as a homeschool project to make books that would entice my son to want to read. He had become disenchanted with books when he was attending school. He had been forced to read boring school readers that had no story or substance but were a jumble of words on the page so he had begun to assume that all reading was pointless. We had to find a way to convince him that reading can be powerful and fun.
I knew that, as a dyslexic myself, the only time I read is when I'm absolutely interested in the material or I'm gaining a particular benefit from the information or communication. And I know a lot of non-dyslexic adults who are like that too. If it's not gripping our attention, we'll put it down and walk away. Today, children have even more choice when it comes to reading or not and we need books and resources that give them a reason to want to read.

Then, of course, we take the ideas of compelling, interesting, and story-rich concepts even further by incorporating aspects of layout and formatting that improve readability for all readers, but have shown particular improvement for dyslexics. And I like to incorporate a degree of reality, logic, and science in our books so that they'll appeal to autistic children as well.

HWK: A friend is visiting you next week and bringing a guest who's a scientist. However, they have warned you that their guest can be a talker. What kind of scientist do you hope they're not?
RLS: Wow, that's actually a hard question because I tend to be fascinated by everything. I could tell you I'd love to talk with people in genetics, space flight & astronomy, and psychology. I don't know that there is any particular science I wouldn't find interesting but I might not be too keen to spend an evening with someone who talked incessantly about bugs. Entomology, while interesting, can send shivers down my spine because I'm not a fan of insects.

In fact, I think I've found one I would like to avoid, a Melittologist! They study bees and I'm deathly allergic to bees. Just thinking about them gives me anxiety attacks so spending a whole evening talking about them would put me off my food and make for a very unpleasant evening. Although, even having said that, the insatiable curiosity of my brain wants to learn more so while it would be physically taxing because of my emotional response to the subject matter I think I'd still find the evening mentally stimulating and interesting.

HWK: Preach it! If you could convince the world of *anything*, what would it be?
RLS: Possibility is infinite.

These three words have such broad reaching implications in every area of our existence. I believe that the potential for every individual is limited only by their dreams. You can achieve anything you decide to set out to achieve. It will take hard work and patience, but if you truly believe in what you set out to do and continue working toward that goal, eventually you'll accomplish it.

That then of course extends to things like space flight, time travel, extraterrestrial life, genetics, metaphysics, longevity of life and health, even love. I believe anything and everything is possible. Scientifically it may require adjusting some of our commonly held beliefs or changing the rules, but we've been proving that even that is possible, especially when you consider the vastness of our universe. We've only just scratched the surface on what we think we know and we're having to adjust that view all the time.

So yes, I'm preaching, "Possibility is infinite."

HWK: Thank yo so much for joining us on Romance Spinners.

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Interested in Rebecca Laffar-Smith's books? Get your copy now:  Romance | Science Fiction/Fantasy | Children's

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Over on The Wild Rose Press blog...

Today I am featured on The Wild Rose Press blog: The Origin of Silver War Badges

On the back of every Silver War Badge is a Roman numeral explaining the reason for discharge under King's Regulations. These range from dishonourable to regular to heroic.

Which one do you think James Cowper from The White Feather was discharged under?


(i) References on enlistment being unsatisfactory.
(ii) Having been irregularly enlisted.
(iii) Not likely to become an efficient soldier.
(iv) Having been claimed as an apprentice.
(v) Having claimed it on payment of £10 within three months of his attestation.
(vi) Having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment.
(vii) Having been claimed for wife desertion.
(viii) Having made a false answer on attestation.
(ix) Unfitted for the duties of the corps.
(x) Having been convicted by the civil power of_____, or of an offence committed before enlistment.
(xi) For misconduct.
(xii) Having been sentenced to penal servitude.
(xiii) Having been sentenced to be discharged with ignominy.
(xiv) At his own request, on payment of _____ under Article 1130 (i), Pay Warrant.
(xv) Free, after ____ years' service under Article 1130 (ii), Pay Warrant.
(xvi) No longer physically fit for war service.
(xvii) Surplus to military requirements (having suffered impairment since entry into the service).
(xviii) At his own request after 18 years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xix) For the benefit of the public service after 18 years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xx) Inefficiency after 18 years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xxi) The termination of his ____ period of engagement.
(xxii) With less than 21 years' service towards engagement, but with 21 or more years' service towards pension.
(xxiii) Having claimed discharge after three months' notice.
(xxiv) Having reached the age for discharge.
(xxv) His services being no longer required.
(xxvi) Surplus to military requirements (Not having suffered impairment since entry into the service).
(xxvii) At his own request after 21 (or more) years' service (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xxviii) After 21 (or more) years' qualifying service for pension, and with 5 (or more) years' service as warrant officer (with a view to pension under the Pay Warrant).
(xxviv) On demobilization.
(source: Wikipedia)

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Her Grace is thankful the KRs were not printed on the front of the badge. That would have meant more trouble.

Friday, 16 September 2016

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 4

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 4

Just like that, the ghost disappeared. No warning, no fading away, no last words.

Okay, I cheated. That's two sentences.

In The White Feather (and many of my other books), items can hold magic. How much is influenced by the material.

Iron is anathema to magic. It simply cannot hold it and in many traditions, can even negate magic.

Iron is even strong enough to kill stars.

Young stars are formed when a cloud of hydrogen collapses under its own gravitational weight and starts thermonuclear fusion. The hydrogen of a star fuses together into helium. When all the hydrogen is used up. the star undergoes a helium flash and starts fusing helium. Then it gradually works its way through the Periodic table until it gets to FE (iron). Iron does not undergo thermonuclear fusion the way the lighter elements do. When a star reaches iron stage, it pretty much blasts away its outer shell, leaving a slowly cooling core of iron. This is how many stars die.

As for elements heavier than iron (such as gold and uranium), these are create when certain types of stars go supernova. the powerful blast of a supernova fuses some iron into the heaver elements.

Interesting note: the shockwave of a supernova can trigger star formation in a nearby nebula (cloud of hydrogen). Circle of life.

Love astronomy? So do I.

Get The White Feather now from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out now from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 12

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Twelve: Throughout the day, Alexander heard his various relations arrive, their carriages rattling on the stones outside.

Happy Book Birthday, The White Feather. Grab a copy and celebrate.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace loves a good ghost story.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Happy Book Birthday, The White Feather


The White Feather
14 September 2016

The White Feather is out today! Have you got your copy yet?

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press | GoodReads


Crippled by a fear of firearms, James Cowper is rejected by the draft during the Great War. For this, the villagers mark him as a cowardly pariah. Cruelly shamed by them, James attempts a desperate deed by the tombstone of the village's most famous lady, Georgia Palmerton, also known as the Stoweham Ghost.

A hundred years ago, a romantic rival cursed Georgia Palmerton. Since then, she's wandered in phantom form, naked and alone, watching generations grow up, marry, live, and die. Georgia could be restored back to life, if someone had the courage to help her.

Freeing Georgia from physical death is a simple matter. Freeing James from social death is altogether more challenging, especially when he is asked to give up everything he's ever known. Now that the ghost and the pariah have found each other, will love and courage be enough to save them both?




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Her Grace asks that after you've read The White Feather, please leave an honest review on Amazon, GoodReads or wherever you purchased your copy. This helps more than you know.

Friday, 9 September 2016

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 3

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 3

Several painful hours later, a contrite and tear stained James Cowper made his way through the grounds of Stoweham House to the wall that separated the far garden from the older part of St. Mary’s cemetery.

Acrostic jewelry is when a secret message is encoded in the gemstones set in the piece.

For example, a ring could be set with the following stones.

Hematite
Onyx
Peridot
Emerald

or 

Lapis
Opal
Vermeil (garnet)
Emerald

An acrostic ring makes a subtle appearance in The White Feather. Do you know what message it spells?

Pre-order from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out 14 Sept 2016 from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press

First Sentence Fridays: HEYC Ch 11

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Eleven: Alexander's father slipped away in the still of the night.

Are you in a book club? Consider my title "The White Feather" for your next book selection. Discounts available for bulk purchases of "The White Feather" from The Wild Rose Press.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace also has Book Club questions available for download.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Pattern of a Scarf

A couple of years ago I hand-crocheted a Doctor Who Scarf for a friend for Christmas. I wanted to get it as patternally accurate as possible, so I had a look online. (Okay, the original scarf was knitted, not crocheted, but I am not as fast a knitter as I am a crocheter. Sosumi.)

I found not one, but several patterns, as The Doctor had a couple of incarnations of scarves (as well as bodies).

Turns out the pattern of scarf I wanted has a name: Acheson Hero.  (Who knew?)

Costume designer James Acheson (oh, I get it...) wanted a scarf for the Fourth Doctor. He handed a bunch of wool (yarn) to knitter Begonia Pope, who went to town.  Result: a twenty-foot scarf.

To look at the Acheson Hero scarf, it's hard to see if there's a pattern. It's like Begonia started knitting and lost count. Is the Acheson Hero pattern completely random?  Seem so.

This year I came across the remaining skeins of yarn. I thought, why not make a mini-version of the scarf for myself? I started off wanting to be true to the pattern, but in the end, I just started measuring out random lengths. I tried to keep the colour sequence as true to the Acheson Hero pattern, but in the end, just gave up as I ran out of yarn, spoons and firetrucks.

As I hooked and looped my new scarf, it was an ideal time to think. What if there is a pattern to the Acheson Hero, but it's not one we can quantify mathematically?  Why are there fifty-six rows of Yarn Colour 165 (bottle-fed baby poop) and only ten of Yarn Colour 113 (breast-fed baby poop)?

Then I wondered: what if the pattern of the scarf is the pattern of Begonia's life? Surely she didn't just sit down and crank out twenty feet of scarfy goodness in one sitting. If she's like every other woman I know, she's got a life, probably a husband, few kids, a dog... what if she fit this scarf-making in between everything else she had to do? What if the number of rows is the amount of time she had to work on that one section? See, she could have knit up six rows of one colour, repeat until out of yarn. But she didn't.

What if she used only a single colour per sitting? She'd knit and knit in that one colour until she ran out of time. Then the next time she picked up her needles, she swapped to another colour. What colour to choose? Maybe whatever matched her mood, or maybe whatever she laid her hands on reaching blindly into her yarn bag.

I'm thinking that row of ten was waiting for a pot to boil on the stove. That row of twenty, her waiting for the bus. The row of forty-four? In church on Sunday. The row of 56? Waiting at the doctor office. Row of eight? Kids' naptime (not long enough).

If this is her pattern, you can see where her life is busy and where her life is quieter.

Maybe instead of trying to follow her pattern, I should have followed her pattern and included colours to mark time for my own life.


__________________________
Her Grace has one little leftover ball of yellow yarn (100% Aussie wool) and she's not sure what to do with it.


← This spot right here: early bedtime.





← Right here: suppertime.





← Here: picking kids up from school.



← I hope someone read the paper to her while she knit.



← I also hope someone told her what a good job she did.

Friday, 2 September 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 10

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Ten: Alexander's father slipped away in the still of the night.

Do you like Ghost love stories set in WWI?


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace knows of a book you may like.

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 2

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 2

A loud noise rumbling through his splitting headache brought James to consciousness.

Crippled by a fear of firearms, James Cowper is rejected by the draft during the Great War. For this, the villagers mark him as a cowardly pariah. Cruelly shamed by them, James attempts a desperate deed by the tombstone of the village's most famous lady, Georgia Palmerton, also known as the Stoweham Ghost.

A hundred years ago, a romantic rival cursed Georgia Palmerton. Since then, she's wandered in phantom form, naked and alone, watching generations grow up, marry, live, and die. Georgia could be restored back to life, if someone had the courage to help her.

Freeing Georgia from physical death is a simple matter. Freeing James from social death is altogether more challenging, especially when he is asked to give up everything he's ever known. Now that the ghost and the pariah have found each other, will love and courage be enough to save them both?


Pre-order from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out 14 Sept 2016 from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press


Saturday, 27 August 2016

First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Ch 1


First Sentence Friday - The White Feather Chapter 1

James Cowper’s hand shook as he reached for the knob of the Stoweham Community Hall door.


Less than a month until the release of The White Feather from The Wild Rose Press.

Pre-order from Amazon or your favourite ebook retailer.

Out 14 Sept 2016 from The Wild Rose Press.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | KoboBooks | The Wild Rose Press


Friday, 26 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 9

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Nine: As Alexander's horse stepped up the gravelled path of Bromley Park, a heaviness settled upon him.

The Quarterly Newsletter comes out next month. Here's how you can get one.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace shares cool news with Quarterly Newsletter subscribers first. And she does have cool news. And a giveaway.

End of PitchWars and I didn't get in

The odds were never in my favour. Out of 1700+ entries for 130-something mentee spots, you can do the math.

That I didn't get in didn't hurt. For me, the biggest disappointment was that I didn't get a single ms request from my query & Ch1. That's what stung.

During the submission/selection window all the mentors were reading the entries and requesting partials/fulls.  My query letter and Chapter 1 wasn't hooky enough to get anyone's attention.

I suspect it's voice, but I honestly don't know. The reason I suspect voice is because during the window everyone on #PitchWars was raving about voiceVOICEvoice and how that was the one thing that caught their attention. Everything else, they reasoned, was fixable.

But if you didn't have voice...

Now the feed is full of congrats for the lucky mentees and half-glass-full reassurances for the 99% of the rest of that PitchWars isn't the end.

Of course it's not the end. The wise not-mentees will go on to QueryKombat and PitchSlam and the good old-fashioned query train. Anything to achieve their goals of publication. Also, there were many interesting people and resources and CPs and FB groups and lots of stuff. Plenty to be learned from PitchWars.

But the biggest thing I learned is that I can't hook. Could be the query letter (which I desperately rewrote thanks to feedback 12 hours before the submission window), but most likely is the voice in Chapter 1.  I don't base this off of this one contest, but off the dozens and dozens of agents I pitched prior without a single request and this one contest. PitchWars simply confirmed for me that there's something wrong with my hook.

This is more important that one realises. The success of a book at every level depends on the hook. At first the hook is to catch an agent. The agent uses the hook to catch an editor. The editor catches the acquisition board's attention and marketing uses the hook to catch the readers. Readers gush about this one great book because the hook caught them and they had a great time.

Even if I was to go the indie route, I still need that vital hook, more than ever. If I can't hook potential readers, I'm not going to get any sales, never  mind reviews.

Essentially,  I can't go on until I figure out how to make this hook work.

How does one fix voice? Everyone's advice has been, "Write another book."  Okay, great, if you're an apprentice who's just finished their first novel. But what about the journeyman working on their twenty-first?

I wish I could figure out what it was about my voice that sucks.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Amazon offers free previews!

Totally awesome news: Amazon.com now offers a funky new doohickey called Kindle Instant Preview.  Now you can have a quick'n'easy look at all my books.

Sample, like, order, read, love! If you do read one (or all) of my novels, please be kind and leave an honest reveiw on Amazon. They help more than you know.

Never tried my books? Pick one and enjoy.


(A Lady of Many Charms is free to download and read the whole thing.)
_______________________________________________________


My latest release.
______________________________________________________


______________________________________________________

(Marry Me is my most popular book!)
_____________________________________________________


My first The Wild Rose Press release.

__________________________________________________

What, you say? Where is The White Feather?  Alas,  no Amazon preview for that until 14 Sept 2016. Feel free to pre-order it.


What to wear this [Northern] Summer

I've got a guest post on the Long and Short Reviews blog about Summer Reading and what to wear (hint: Hefty.). Comment on the entry for your chance to win an Amazon gift card.

Want to sample Her Endearing Young Charms?  Here you go:



_____________________________________
Her Grace encourages you to read, love and leave an honest review.

Friday, 19 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 8

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Eight: The Windermeres' town residence, by daylight, was very tasteful indeed, all light curtains and fine-legged chairs.

Happy Birthday to a whole bunch of people in my family.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace likes birthday cake.

Friday, 12 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 7

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Seven: Xavier dumped their takings across the wooden table.

August is a tease. It threatens to be spring, then it dumps more cold rain on you.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace is sick of fickle weather.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Sad Tale of a Lost Voice

Actually, this has nothing to do with being sick. This mezzo-soprano doesn't have a meltdown at the first sign of laryngitis. Rather, she treats it as the perfect reason not to answer the phone.



Instead, today I am going to mourn the sad little wet blanket of my author's voice.

I just spent a year pitching a novel I love very, very much to just over a hundred agents. Ignoring the unresponsive NORMANs, every agent who replied (except for one)* gave me a form reject. No personalisation, and certainly no requests for more pages. Absolutely no one was hooked enough to want to read more.

But I love this book to bits and really want it to go out in the great, wide world and do well. So I entered #PitchWars and stalked the feed.

The one thing the mentors are looking for? Works with voice. Or rather, V O I C E. Voice is the one thing a manuscript must have. They're confident they can fix anything else--craft issues, plot issues, character issues.  But voice is the must-have.

They're all raving about voice, which I find a bit depressing.

I'm thinking my author voice sucks.

How do you tell? Agents send you form rejections. Lots of 'em. And no requests for further material. They're just not interested in reading more.

I can't see my voice, I can't hear it, I can't define it. So how do I fix it?

I've had over two dozen critters and beta readers go over this, at at least five sets of eyes read the whole project straight through. They focus on characterisation, plot, everything. Rave about it, even. But nobody has ever said anything about voice.

"It's one of those things," others say. "Keep writing until you find your voice."

I've written twenty fricking books. If I haven't found my voice by now, how on earth is the twenty-first book going to help me find it? It's not like craft, where you can study up on how to do it, analyse others' works and take the gears apart to see what made it tick. It's not something that can be taught, they say.

I wish it was. I really wish I could look at my writing, see my voice, and see what made it work, or not, as the case is. I wish I could file the rough corners, tighten the rhythm, drench the words with liquid crack.

I want to keep readers up all night with my books because they don't dare put it down.

How do I do that?

________________________________________
*the one agent who gave me personalised feedback does so because I always query her, and she knows how hard I'm trying. She's a real sweetie and I respect her a lot professionally. Still, her reply does, to a degree, support the issue I'm having. My voice isn't so overwhelmingly alive it grabs her and she absolutely must consider adding me to her list.
I wish it was.





Sunday, 7 August 2016

Being sick sucks

I'm sick.

I developed a chest infection last week. Despite the best of 21st Century medicine, it hasn't gone away yet. So annoying.

I was able to get my #PitchWars entry in before the illness consumed me. Thank goodness. Since then, I've been coughing so hard I'm surprised my eyeballs haven't popped out.

I wanted to start working on "The Charm of Truth" (and got a good 2.5K words done) before this chest infection claimed my full attention. Since then, it's a hassle to drag my pain-wracked body out of bed and carry on some semblance of real life.

At least Their Ladyships are old enough to feed themselves and The World's Most Boring Cat doesn't have to be taken for a walk.

Cold drinks feel better on my shredded throat than hot and the wheat bag is my friend.

Still, why couldn't I have some bog-standard rhinovirus instead?

_________________________
Her Grace hates those people who never get sick. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 6

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Six: By now, guests filled the ballroom floor a whirl of colour.

#PitchWars is coming up. I'm throwing my hat in the ring.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace has been keeping company with the God of the Dark.

Friday, 29 July 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 5

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Five: "I will have my  locket back now," Merrybelle demanded.

Winter has been very cold here. Can't wait for Kambarang.


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace dreams of summer warmth.

Friday, 22 July 2016

First Sentence Friday: HEYC Ch 4

Her Endearing Young Charms
Chapter Four: Merrybelle was of two minds about the Coming-Out ball of Lady Jane Windermere.

Quick quiz: Coffee, tea or chocolate?


On sale now in ebook and paperback from Amazon.com and wherever all good ebooks are sold.

______________________
Her Grace prefers chocolate.