Screw You, Inspirational Quotes!

 

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“I can’t even… just don’t ask, ok?”

 

I have decided that this whole writing thing is designed to break you and the only people who survive in this game are the ones who say, “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.”

You’ve got to be up for a bit of a fight, or a good scrap as they say round where I’m from.

My social media is full of inspirational quotes. I read them and at the time I think, ‘yeah, that’s so true’ or ‘I really need to absorb that thought and remember it next time things don’t go well.’

Right now, I just want to say to all those people who came up with those snappy little phrases that say so much, but give you absolutely no idea how to achieve them:

“Screw you!”

The hardest days are the days when you doubt what you’re writing (that’s my inspirational quote for you!)

When you believe in your story and how you’re telling it, rejection from outside sources is bearable, because this is a subjective game and you believe that someone out there will like what you write because it’s at least half decent, right? But on those darkest of dark days, when you don’t like your own words, it just feels like you’re typing them into a black hole and what’s the ever loving point in that?

Basically, the point of this rant is that I had a plan. That plan is no longer working for me, so I’m thinking about changing it. I’m also questioning the need to change it, because isn’t the point of having a plan, to stick to it?

Excuse me for a moment, while I just go and bang my head against a wall somewhere.

Ok, I’m back.

So…. it’s pretty clear that I’m having a crisis of confidence. I don’t know what the answers are at the moment. What I do know, is that I’m driving myself a little crazy vacillating between getting on with my planned writing project or changing course completely.

I’m giving myself today to weigh up the pros and cons, then a decision WILL be made.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I’m saying “Fuck you, world! I won’t be beaten.” (There’s another inspirational quote for you!)

Yey, me. *Half-hearted fist pump*

 

 

 

 

 

O’Shea’s #7 – Silver Fox

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 seventh one. May to December or older man / younger woman… I hope you enjoy it.

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A man. A tall man, with broad shoulders that currently shaped his expensive looking overcoat to perfection, was stood in front of her at the bar. A flash of silver and white caught and held her attention as he turned his head. The contrast between the silver and black hair was startling. She squinted a little trying to see better and found herself taking a slow step towards him.

Yes, now she could see other silver hairs shimmering through the thick black and oh Lord! His stubble was mainly silver and white, with a bit of dark grey shot through for good measure.

Wow. She’d never realised that was a thing for her, but from the way her eyes were glued to his head, she thought she’d better take a look at the silver-fox romances in the library on her break. She could even do a quick Twitter shout out to ask for some recommendations from her book buddies.

Biting her lip in excitement (the thought of new books did that to her), she stepped around him and gave the bartender a shy nod as he gestured that he’d be with her next.

Standing next to the Silver Fox, she made sure to give herself plenty of space but couldn’t help looking at his hand that rested on the dark mahogany of the bar.

Left hand. No ring. Also no tan line.

Ok, he was probably divorced because if he was married he’d wear one. He’d want everyone to know that he was taken. His skin was tanned and she could just make out some callouses on the thumb that he was tapping against the wood and a few scars across the back.

He probably sailed the world on his yacht and had beautiful women in each port.

“What can I get for you?”

Abruptly yanked back into the real world, instead of making up plot bunnies, Jackie quietly ordered a pint of Black Sheep and looked around for a place to sit. Her feet were aching like nobody’s business after working all day at the library. She kept hopping from one to the other, trying to take the weight off. Twenty-eight was too young for bunions, right?

It was busy in O’Shea’s tonight, she’d be lucky to get a booth. Checking the time, she rolled her eyes. Her sister was always late, so she’d brought her Kindle. She’d learned her lesson there years ago. All her introvert anxieties about being alone in public magically disappeared when she had her nose in a book.

“Busy in here tonight, hey?” a deep voice rumbled next to her.

Taking a quick peek up and to her right, she met a pair of deep, deep blue eyes spanned by a wealth of lines. She managed a small nod and some kind of sound that she hoped he’d take as affirmation.

The lines around his eyes deepened as he smiled gently. “There’s a stool here if you want a seat.” He nodded his head to the opposite side of him and she tore her eyes away from his to see the empty stool against the bar.

She really wanted that seat. “Do you mind?” she asked quietly.

“Not at all. Here,” he stepped back a little, protecting her from the jostling crowd, so she could sidestep to it.

Her eyes went a little wider when she brushed against the front of him. She coughed and got comfortable, tucking her throbbing feet onto the rest. She didn’t know where to look. God!

“Better?” he asked drawing her eyes back to him.

This time she thought she saw a twinkle in his eyes but quickly talked herself out of that one. She nodded instead. “Thank you, I really needed that.”

“Long day?” He angled towards her, taking a drink from his glass of Guinness.

She sighed. It looked like they were going to have a conversation. This never went well.

“Yes, and I was on my feet for most of it. So…”

“So… Why are you here and not at home taking a hot bath?”

She shrugged awkwardly, her mind blanked out. She had nothing.

Warm blue eyes roamed across her face. “Sorry, was that a little too personal?”

Rolling her shoulder, she rubbed her nose and tried not to blush. “Kind of, yeah.”

“I guess we should really share our names before I tell you off for not looking after yourself, huh?”

She snorted out a surprised laugh and tried to figure out the ratio of anxiety and excitement she was feeling. Amazingly, excitement seemed to be winning 60 / 40.

“Well, yeah, I suppose.”

“Ted,” he stuck out his hand.

Jackie looked at it for a few seconds before she slowly raised hers. She had to swallow pretty deeply when his big, warm hand engulfed her own. She’d had no idea that that little circle of skin in the middle of her palm was an erogenous zone.

Apparently, she’d had no idea about a lot of things.

She couldn’t take her eyes off their hands: his so tanned and big, hers pale and small.

She tried to remember the last time she’d chosen to touch a man, but her mind was too busy computing the different sensations of his skin and the light dusting of dark hairs on the back of his hand.

Her heart thudded hard but steadily, this was attraction, she was sure, she’d read about it enough, but a strange sense of calm also settled around her allowing her to think about raising her eyes to his. She needed to see what he was thinking.

Her eyes were struggling to move past his amazing chest when she suddenly realised that she’d been holding his hand for ages, just staring at it. God! He must think she was a total weirdo. She tried to jerk her hand away, but his tightened and held her firm. Her eyes flew to his.

“Tell me,” he murmured.

Jackie shook her head a little dazedly. “What?” she whispered unconsciously moving closer.

Her eyes danced over his face. She couldn’t get enough of looking at him. She felt her lips moving into a smile to mirror his.

“Everything,” he said.

****

Thanks for reading.

Kx

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

 

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.