Hacking A Limb Off – Otherwise Known As Editing.

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*Stands up*

“Hi, my name is KT and I have a real problem deleting my words. Thanks.”

*Sits down*

A few days ago I read a tweet from one of my favourite authors, Melissa Blue, saying that she’d deleted a whole scene while editing a draft. I nearly had a panic attack on her behalf.

I have come to realise that I have a serious problem… deleting big chunks of my words. I will do almost ANYTHING to not have to do it. My thought process goes something like this:

‘I spent bloody ages writing that. Blood, sweat and tears, a ton of chocolate, pounds of nuts and every other thing I nibble on when I’m writing will not have been nibbled in vain, Goddammit! I am NOT deleting it. No way. No.’

The editing process for me is more about adding and tightening things up than getting rid of much. I write quite slowly, editing as I go, so I don’t ever come to edit a draft that is a disaster.

So far I haven’t deleted a whole scene, I have only added them. I’m girding my loins for that day, I tell you.

Obviously, this is not the best approach to editing. I’m working on it. Slowly but surely I’m realising that they’re not wasted words and it wasn’t wasted time. They’re training, practise, experience.

I have thousands of words stored on my computer from unfinished stories, early short stories and flash fiction that will probably never see the light of day. Every single word was practise; every paragraph was me finding my style and learning how to do this thing called writing a novel.

More importantly, every word brought me closer to my first big goal. Finishing!

Hopefully the more I write, the faster I’ll get. So I foresee more mistakes or changes in future editing sessions on this second manuscript. This will mean more deleting I’m sure, so deep breathing may be necessary, but I’ll get through it…

I hope!

Thanks for reading,

Kx

 

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O’Shea’s #6 – Kate

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the sixth one. Friends to lovers… I hope you enjoy it.

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The early summer sun felt good on his back as Jay pushed through the doors to O’Shea’s. He’d worked up a thirst during the twenty-minute walk from his house. While he walked, he’d been running through some work issues, trying not to think too hard about who he was about to meet.

He wasn’t happy about the low-level nerves that had kept his stomach tight and his thumbnail short for the past week since she’d emailed him about meeting up.

It was just Kate.

They’d been good friends through university and they hadn’t seen each other for a few years but it would be fine. They’d have a catch up over a few drinks, maybe call for a curry on the way home.

It would be fine. Great even.

Images of her had been flickering through his mind all week, but along with images of her had been images of Dan. By the time Jay had laid eyes on her at uni, they’d already hooked up and they never unhooked. Together. Forever.

He’d been too late and the bittersweet taste of that had haunted him for months. Until he’d wrangled that ghost into submission. So he’d fully committed himself to trying as many different tastes as he could at uni. He’d been determined that she’d never know. If you can’t have the girl, then have some pride and all that shit.

Yeah, he’d managed that for the most part. Although, he was pretty sure he hadn’t always been one hundred percent successful. That irked him, but what could you do? Too many nights drinking too much booze and pining for your best friend’s girl. There were bound to be some slip ups, right?

So here he was, searching O’Shea’s for her tell-tale red hair, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest, hoping he didn’t look too pathetically eager to see her.

There!

He caught a brief glimpse of ruby red and like a heat-seeking missile started threading himself through the after work crowd. He saw her tuck a thick, glossy strand of hair behind her ear and remembered a hundred other times she’d done the same. Her little crescent moon tattoo appearing like magic on her neck, just below her ear – taunting him and testing him at the same time – his loyalty, his self-control – testing his self-respect.

He had never and would never blame her for his feelings. She’d never led him on, nor given him any idea that she’d felt even remotely the same. That wasn’t Kate. She was in love with Dan and she’d let the whole world see it.

Now he was close enough to see the sweep of her eye lashes and the freckles dotted over her cheek.

“K-t-.” The first attempt came out completely scrambled. He coughed and tried again. “Kate.”

She turned towards him and he watched her face light up. It was like the sun rising. His gaze swept over her, sparkling green eyes, rose coloured lips – the bottom one fuller than the top, soft pink in her cheeks. He saw them shape his name in a low whisper as she pushed her chair back to stand up.

She stepped into his arms. He felt the warmth of her body, smelled the wildflowers in her hair and closed his eyes. He needed to hold her. Just for a moment. Then he’d let her go. Well, he’d let her go in a minute or ten.

“Jay,” she laughed with her face pressed against his shoulder, “it’s so good to see you.”

“You too, Kate.”

Then he asked the question that had been drilling a hole in his chest for the past week.

“Where’s Dan?”

He saw a rainbow of emotions cross her face: pain, sadness, acceptance and held his breath.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

 

Top 10 Romance ‘Oldies But Goodies’

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The beauty of reading Romance is that their are millions and millions of books out there. Sub-genres abound: historical, contemporary, paranormal, LGBTQ, erotic to sweet, dark to funny just to name a few, and some authors are writing five or six books a year. The reading potential is endless, and I’d like to bet that anyone could find something that they like in Romance. If you need any pointers just let me know and I’ll help if I can.

But as brilliant as the books are now, I still love to read books that were written 10 to 20 years ago. Some of them are historical romances, so they age really well. The writing styles these days might not be quite the same, but the historical settings are, so they’re a good bet.

Some contemporary romance can age badly, or if not badly, a bit weirdly! I read an old Nora Roberts recently called ‘Night Shift’ and the heroine smoked like a chimney and called the hero ‘Slick’. I enjoyed the book, but it felt really dated and all the smoking was off-putting.

But there are some books that never age; the stories are perfect, the romances timeless, and they draw me in every time I read them.

Here are my top 10 oldies but goodies (all with a HEA):

  1. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer (1989) – set during the Second World War this book is beautiful, tender and heartbreakingly good.
  2. The Return of Rafe McKade (The McKade Brothers #1) by Nora Roberts (1995) – the bad boy returns to town. I loved the whole series except for the last one.
  3. Sea Swept (Chesapeake Bay saga #1) by Nora Roberts (1998) – the playboy gives it all up to care for a troubled young boy not unlike he once was… and a social worker brings him to his knees. Brilliant series.
  4. Pretty much anything by Lisa Kleypas who has been writing since 1987 but in the spirit of this list I’ll choose Suddenly You (2001) – set in a world where appearance means everything, passion simmers just below the surface, and a respectable Englishwoman is willing to risk scandal for one night of love.
  5. Slave To Sensation (Psy-Changling #1) by Nalini Singh (2006) – it’s amazing that this wonderful series has been on the go for over 10 years! In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed.
  6. Simply Irrestible (Chinooks Hockey Team #1) by Rachel Gibson (1998) – my first, but by far the last dip into Sports Romance. I loved this whole series.
  7. Hummingbird by LaVyrle Spencer (1983) – The Bandit and the Gentleman and Abigail McKenzie has to choose between them. Brilliant historical novel – funny, tender and wonderful.
  8. Taming Natasha (The Stanislaskis #1) by Nora Roberts (1990) – fiery heroine lowers her guard for music professor and single father.
  9. It Had To Be You (Chicago Stars #1) by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (1994) – a woman who knows nothing about sports inherits a professional football team. The sparks fly between her and the head coach.
  10. Making Chase (Chase Brothers #4) by Lauren Dane (2007) – this one’s not really that old, but I’m just sneaking it in. Well-off guy falls for a woman from the wrong side of the tracks.

Happy reading!

Kx

 

Musings About Querying Agents…

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Just moo-sing about this waiting game

So I finished my contemporary romance. Now I’m in the process of trying to find a literary agent. Cue entering a world of fear and uncertainty. Okay, well, maybe it’s not that bad, but it’s definitely not pleasant.

I’ve done hours of research on the web. How to write a successful query letter; how to write a synopsis; how to feel, what to do, what to expect… Still, nothing can really prepare you for sending your baby out into the world for the first time, and to some of the most demanding, critical readers too.

What the hell am I doing? I must have a masochistic streak a mile wide!

I triple and quadruple check every email before I send it, terrified that it’ll have the wrong name or date on it. Every agent seems to want something slightly different. So each one has a new set of documents, with everything needing tweaking and re-tweaking. Some want attachments, others want everything pasting into the email, some have online forms to fill in.

Nothing is too much to ask, but everything sets me on edge.

My partner, Alex, says that’s a good thing. I want it badly, so I need to use the nerves and stress to motivate me. I am for the most part, but there’s always that moment of weakness when everything seems insurmountable, when I start to question every word I’ve written, every idea I’ve had, along with every arrogant thought that I’ve had that I could actually do this.

A week after I’d submitted a dozen queries, I get two rejections. One appeared to be a generic response, the other said she just wasn’t excited by what I sent her. I thought I’d prepared myself for the rejections, but nothing really does I think. I didn’t cry or breakdown (although I may have been tempted), but I did start to quietly doubt myself.

Instead of carrying on with the planning for my next book, which had been going so well, I went to my default position and picked up my Kindle. I read when I’m stressed or sad. I read when I don’t want to have to think or make decisions. Over the past four or five days I’ve read – A LOT.

Then Thursday evening, I was in the kitchen clearing away the dinner stuff when my phone pinged. It was an email from an agency in New York requesting my full manuscript, she said she was intrigued and wanted to read more. God, I was so excited I could barely get the words out to Alex. I just held the phone up so he could read it, while he had his hands in the sink doing the pots. I let it course through me for a few minutes, all the possibilities, everything I’ve been working for, before I reigned it in.

I know this is only the 2nd step. I know that it could very easily come to nothing. So I have well and truly wrangled that excitement under control. It is stuffed in a box and even though it keeps banging on the lid, I’m not letting it out.

Absolutely not. No way Jose.

Now I just have to wait 6-8 weeks to find out the next step.

It is the ultimate waiting game…

PS – this whole experience has been made so much easier using QueryTracker it’s a free, brilliant way of keeping track of everything to do with the querying process.

Musings On The Epilogue…

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Just moo-sing about the epilogue…

So I just finished a book by one of my favourite authors. I was in love with the heroine and hero, totally immersed in their story, and so glad that they’d worked things out for themselves and their relationship. During the last 10% I found out she was pregnant – a much wanted baby, awesome! So I reach the end and gleefully turn the page for the epilogue, wanting a little snap shot of them both with the baby…. only to find, no epilogue.

Wait! What?!

The romance epilogue is like finding you’ve still got a piece of your favourite chocolate left. You eat it as slowly as you can, savouring it because you know it’s nearly the end of a beautiful thing. The epilogue gives us a brief glimpse of the heroine and hero in the future, letting us know that they’re still together, living and loving their happily ever after.

When you don’t get an epilogue, it’s like someone nicked your chocolate *eye twitch*. There aren’t many books that don’t have one these days. I was starting to think they were pretty much a prerequisite. I’ve got one in mine.

I’m stating right now – it should be illegal not to have an epilogue!

Dear romance authors – please don’t steal my chocolate.

 

O’Shea’s #5 – Reading Guy

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fifth one. A chance meeting… I hope you enjoy it.

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O’Shea’s was just getting over the lunchtime rush when Sophie sat down. She chose a window seat, wanting the warmth of the Spring sun on her face.

Pulling out her e-reader, she tucked her phone in her bag and put her glasses on while doing a little internal jig of excitement because a long awaited book had zapped onto her device that morning.

She was just about to take a sip of her beer when she saw him.

She couldn’t help smiling a little at how engrossed he was in his book. Broad shoulders, hunched, thick tattooed forearms framing the book. His hands were huge. She could see a sprinkling of dark hair across the back of them, their knuckles rough and red, and wondered if he’d hit anyone recently, maybe in the ring. No, that wasn’t fair, she was making judgements due to his size and build. She saw the delicate way in which he turned the page and imagined them dancing over her skin.

Whoa!

She shuffled on her seat and switched on her e-reader, determined to stop perving over the poor guy who was just looking for some peaceful reading time. Maybe she needed to switch to a good thriller and give the romances a rest for a while.

She started to read, but found herself frowning and re-reading the same paragraph over and over.

Seriously?

Nudging her glasses back up, her eyes mysteriously found their way back to the Reading Guy.

She wondered what he did for a living? Whether all those muscles were the result of hard manual work or a gym membership. It shouldn’t matter, but it did. It was a far more appealing thought to think that he was sweating over cutting down a tree or something rather than lifting dumbbells. She rolled her eyes at her blatant objectification of him.

Thank God he couldn’t read her mind.

She wondered what it would be like to be with a guy like him, someone she could talk to about books; someone who appreciated some quiet time, alone, to read and… just be. The world was so hectic, so difficult to negotiate. What would it be like to not do it alone?

God! Really? You’re going there, now?

Pressing her nails into the flesh of her hand, she dragged her eyes back to her e-reader and tried to ignore the urge to keep looking at the Reading Guy. There was no way in hell she was ever going to do anything but look at him, so feeling sorry for herself wasn’t going to help at all.

Taking a deep breath, she turned back to her much anticipated novel and began to read. She found her rhythm, sipping her beer every now and then as she immersed herself in the fictional world she was reading.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been reading before she felt a tingling heat on the side of her face. She tucked a dark, curly lock of hair behind her ear and placed a cool hand over her flushed skin, a little frustrated that she’d become distracted during a key point in the scene she was reading.

Without thinking her eyes flashed to the Reading Guy to find his eyes on her. Her heart kind of stopped, then stuttered on.

No, maybe he was looking out of the window or someone was behind her. She casually looked over her shoulder while she pulled her long hair around her face.

Nope, no-one there.

Drawn back like opposing magnets, she slowly turned to face him.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

O’Shea’s #4 – Hard To Be Brave

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fourth one using the enemies to lovers trope. I hope you enjoy it.

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Jason Monroe angry was a sight to see.

“What the hell are we doing here, Emma?”

“Well, you said you needed a drink. So…” she said, trying to keep the smug out of her voice.

He unbuttoned his coat and yanked it off his broad shoulders. “I meant a coffee and you damn well know it.” Throwing it onto the seat, he slid into the booth and grabbed the beer menu. It was a relief not to have his eyes on her.

“Why don’t I surprise you?” She suggested, turning to walk towards the bar before he could complain again.

She blew out a breath, hard enough to lift her thick dark fringe, and jumped onto a stool at the bar while she waited for Ben to make his way down to her.

She was uncomfortably aware that she was winging things at the moment. The man with unlimited control had finally snapped. She couldn’t believe her luck. Jason had been lording it over her at work for months; then to top it off the job they both wanted had just been advertised.

Smiling at Ben, she ordered two pints of Guinness, needing a little more time to settle her thoughts before heading back to him. They actually worked well together when they weren’t fighting over who held the dominant position. Their skills balanced out: she took the lead on customer relations; he leaned more towards data and analysis.

Unfortunately, she’d been late to their meeting with a big client today after her mum’s doctor’s appointment had run over, and things hadn’t quite gone to plan. She took a sip of the first glass of Guinness that Ben set on the bar and tried not to think about what lay ahead for her mother and herself. Rolling her shoulders, she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and focused on the six foot two problem in the booth behind her.

The second pint glass landed in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she nodded at Ben. “Start me a tab, will you? I think we’re going to need a few.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Like that is it?”

“Worse,” she deadpanned and walked away as Ben chuckled. She always wished she was attracted to him; he was such a great guy, but for some reason there were zero spark between them.

She really wished she could say the same about the guy in front of her. Unfortunately working with Jason Monroe ignited sparks in her mind and in her knickers. A double whammy which just pissed her off immensely.

Why was his intensity such a turn on  when she’d always gone for laid back types in her past? Why did she feel like her eyes were glued to his arse sometimes? Why did she feel like high-fiving herself whenever she made him smile or laugh? She felt like a beggar crawling around for scraps of food the way he doled those out.

“About bloody time,” he muttered, his head back, his eyes closed. “What were you doing, brewing it?”

“No, Jason, I wasn’t, but I’m more than happy to pour it over your head if you don’t stop moaning.” She threatened as she stood holding the drinks.

He opened his eyes and rolled his head to look at her. “Sit down forgodsake. I’m about to expire from dehydration.”

There was a weariness about him that disturbed Emma. She was so used to his rigid control, his strength, that seeing the cracks appear knocked her own precarious stability.

Sliding into the seat opposite him, she watched him take a long drink and lick away the creamy Guinness from his lips. Swallowing thickly, she dragged her eyes away from him and gave herself another good talking to. The problem was, these talks didn’t seem to work so well these days.

She felt his eyes on her and tried to plaster a convincing smile on her face.

“So…”

He raised his dark eyebrows. “So…”

“We need a new plan, don’t we?”

Jason shrugged. “All my current plans are shot to shit, so I’m currently re-evaluating.”

His intense gaze was making her want to fidget. Picking up a beer mat, she started turning it and took another drink. A truly awful thought flashed through her mind, making her sit up straight and smack the mat onto the table. “You’re not going to leave are you?”

The glass rested on his lips as he paused, he slowly took a drink and carefully placed it back on the table. “Would that be so bad?”

“Yes… I…” She stuttered to a halt, on the precipice and unsure which way was safety.

He sat forward, resting his forearms on the table. “Why?”

Staring at her hand on the beer mat, she realised the tips of his fingers were mere inches from her own. She watched his middle finger twitch and held her breath.

Do it! she thought, touch me.

The small distance stayed the same. It might as well have been the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

Exhaling quietly, she let herself really look at him before she met his eyes again. She saw the strain around his eyes, the firm set of his mouth and wanted to kiss it away.

Was she brave enough? Could she handle his rejection? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, abject shame and humiliation, which was never good, but she thought she could survive it. It might mean a long distance move or plastic surgery but she’d deal with it. Right?

She looked back down to their hands and willed her own to move. God, it was hard to be brave sometimes. Her pads pressed down onto the table before she flexed her fingers and moved forward. They stopped as she felt the heat of the skin from the very tips of his fingers.

She wanted to look at his face and really see him, but she’d used up every ounce of bravery that she had. Her heart thudded hard in her chest and she felt the heat prickle across her chest, knowing she’d made a mistake.

She looked away and felt her fingers separate. She closed her eyes as he pushed his between hers, taking a shaky breath as his thumb stroked across the inside of her wrist.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx