Friday, 29 August 2008

Exciting news from my writing buddy!

Saskia's first Spice Brief is out on the 1st of September!

Caught in the Act is the first in a trio of linked stories... so there are three fabulous reads to look forward to!

For a tantalisingly hot excerpt, nip on over to her blog and savour some delicious writing! You won't regret it... :)

Caught in the Act - Saskia Walker

Thursday, 28 August 2008

moody guy

Gosh, he looks a moody guy, doesn't he? My Jay... This is a hero with some heavy issues, but I think in my first draft of the first 17K or so of Kiss It Better, he was a bit too downbeat and angsty... In my reworking of this first portion of the book, I've lightened him up just a little bit, and made him a tad more philosophical and positive. Yeah, there's stuff he's got to deal with, but he's more of a survivor now and someone who looks for a bit of life affirming fun along the way. And meeting Sandy, even though there are major complications to their relationship, is a key to his new outlook...

I have so much work to do at the moment! This novel to progress with, a longish short story to do before the 8th Sept, an author spotlight thingoid to sort out, promo to begin for IN TOO DEEP, which is out in the UK on 4th Sept... boy, how that one snuck up on me! Have little features and excerpts to get ready and review copies to send out... eek, agh! I'd also like to work out some other ideas... and I have web design things to do too. Am feeling slightly in danger of drowning in it all, but I'm managing to stay positive and plod on. :)

What's on your to-do lists, guys?

Monday, 25 August 2008

Here's a nice piccie...

... of Kuffer, posing as only he can! Note the magnificent 90 degree tail, cutely tucked front paw, and classic hind leg drape on the edge of the bed. Eek, I've obviously been watching far too much of the Olympics because I'm grading my cat on his sleeping positions now!

Anyway, now that the Olympiad is over, I'm hoping I'll get more work done. I've found myself getting drawn into watching sports that normally I'm barely aware of, but now that temptation is gone and I need to focus on my writing, on writing related activities and web design stuff when it comes in. I think I'm going to try and cut down some of my web surfing activities too. I love visiting blogs and sites and boards, and being part of communities and making friends, but sometimes, just sometimes, I come across things while I'm surfing that irk me out of all proportion to the degree they should... and that's not good for my temper or my general health. I'm one of these silly old sods who has a tendency to get in a state about nothing, so giving myself slightly less exposure to these 'nothings' has got to be a good thing, eh?

And I need to concentrate on Kiss It Better. This is proving to be quite a challenging book, because there's a lot of character history, character psychology and complexity to get into it... all without compromising the degree of sensuality in it that I know the publisher expects! I love writing super hot, and the characters in KIB are sexy, imaginative people... but there's a part of me that would have loved to write this story as a deeply emotional, character driven *romance* instead. There would have been sex in it, of course, as sex is a crucial key to the story, but I'd like to have had carte blanche to dwell much more on other aspects of the plot and characterisation, making up as much as half or even three quarters of the wordcount. I've always been interested in the bigger picture in my stories, and one of these days, I'd like to be in a position where I'm writing works that allow me this freedom.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

watch out, I'm in a Patrick Bateman mood

A few things are bugging me today... none of which I can really talk about for fear of being branded a total Bitch Queen from Hell. I am having a real battle with myself, but winning so far.

But I may have to break one or two inexpensive and easily replaceable household items to siphon off my vexation. Managing anger and prudent silence is really bad for my constitution.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Trouble with 'the wall' again...

Ack, I'm having trouble with 'the wall' again. The barrier that I have to break through to make myself start writing. I always have this if I don't write for a day or two, and the longer I leave it, the harder and more impenetrable the wall becomes.

It's fear, really. And mostly unfounded fear. I'm literally afraid of my own work in progress. Afraid that it's rubbish, and that I can't progress with it because I've no idea what to write next. Ninety nine times out of a hundred, the fears are groundless, because once I open the document and get the first sentence down, I *can* do it and I find things to write, and I start enjoying the story and become one with the characters.

But it's agonising, breaking through that wall... I've done it today, but I wish the damn thing would go away for good.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Yesterday was a cool day!

Didn't do much in the way of writing, but lots of nice things happened! :)

First was my first post RWA lunch out with my buddy Saskia... and as always, it was totally brill!

[this is her at the Passionate Ink Party, but she looks just as stylish in Cafe Revive!]

We had a good long natter and enjoyed the opportunity to review and reflect on our experiences in San Francisco. The highlights, the tougher aspects such as jet lag, the people we met, and the value we think we got out of the trip. We both concluded that we got lots of the latter! We also compared notes on the projects we have ahead and how we're going to approach them...

When I parted from Saskia, promising we'd get together again soon, I moseyed on down to the local Waterstones and found 2 copies of Gothic Blue in stock. Now, in San Francisco, bolstered by Saskia urging me on, I'd signed some books in a Borders there, but I wasn't quite sure I could do the signing thing alone in a local shop. I circled the store two or three times, buying an AA mini guide to Washington in the process, but eventually, I plucked up courage to ask the man on the desk if he wanted me to sign my books. I'm glad to say he was really pleased and delighted, and I managed to adorn each copy with a fairly reasonable PDC autograph... and slip in a promotional postcard plugging IN TOO DEEP [which is out in the UK on 4th Sept, eeek agh!]

Speaking of IN TOO DEEP, some author copies of the same arrived yesterday too.

I must admit it looks absolutely fabboo 'in the flesh' and even more deliciously pink! Which pleases me no end, as pink is my favourite 'accent' colour. :)

I also received another foreign edition. A German version of THE DEVIL INSIDE.

The German title translates as "I see what you need"... which actually makes quite a lot of sense in respect of the plot! The eagle-eyed amongst you might notice an 'extra' piece of lace above the girl's right wrist... Although this is a fairly tasteful cover compared to some of my continental editions, there was a nip on show, and as I don't want to get want to get a government health warning on my blog for rude pictures, I thought I'd better be cautious and hide it. ;)

Oh, and to round off a pretty splendid day, in the evening I had a jolly good online chat with my other RWA travelling companion, Madelynne. This was another chinwag about writing projects and general juicy gossip... and the Z word was not uttered even once. ;)

Thursday, 14 August 2008

rain, rain, everywhere...

Look at all that naffing rain! Teeming down right where I live... sigh. It wouldn't normally worry me all that much, but I need to nip out to the shops today and buy some stuff, because I can't get into the garage to get things from the freezer. :(

And as if it isn't bad enough, when I turn in the telly it's raining hard in Beijing too!

Did quite well, writingwise, yesterday, with another useful 1.3K again. It's a bit of a dog's dinner, but it's a dog's dinner that can be edited and improved. My only worry about Kiss It Better is that it's story, issues, emotion and romance heavy, and I'm now wondering if there's going to be enough sex in it. There will be quite a bit, but basically, as I've said before, it's a romance... and you just can't shove in 'extra' sex scenes willy-nilly [LOL!] They've got to be relevant to the plot and the story... well, they have for me. I'd rather write slightly less sex these days, and more emotion and general character interplay. And I do think that this approach actually makes the sex more meaningful and electric when it happens...

Readers... writers... do you see a trend towards erotic romance becoming 'harder' and more sex heavy? Do you see 'erotic romance' becoming slightly sidelined in favour of actual 'erotica' again? Is that a good thing? Bad thing? Or just the way of the reading/writing world? A swing one way... which will eventually be swung back against the other way?

What do you want from Portia Da Costa? Rampant shagfests... or erotic lurrrrve... or a fusion of both?

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

No Olympics all day for me today!

Not that I'm not patriotic, and not that I don't enjoy brave and brilliant performances from athletes from all nations in all Olympic disciplines... but watching big sporting events like this just sucks me in and makes it hard for me to focus on my own challenges ie. writing, catching up after RWA, and doing a zillion other jobs!

I'm just going to dip into the Olympics now and then, today, and catch highlights segments for all the best bits and standout performances.

On the subject of catching up after RWA... basically... I'm not. Still tons to do. Still stuff in my case even! Still washing festering in the laundry basket. I've got to get on that as well as push ahead with Kiss It Better. I did get around 500 words done yesterday, in between mending the garage door which I'd managed break, and dealing with a pipe leak in the bathroom. Himself is away on his own jollies at the moment, in France, so it falls to me to handle these small domestic crises. I think I'm doing quite well, especially with that m***********g garage door, but it's still all time spent wrangling with 'stuff' instead of focusing on writing!

So today I will be mainly:

Writing some more of KISS IT BETTER
Catching up on to do list
Doing some web design bits
Not going anywhere near the garage
Doing a little bit of static cycling to get back into it
Trying not to spend too much time on Twitter
Generally trying to behave like a committed and professional writer [stop laughing!]

Monday, 11 August 2008

More RWA frivolity!

Cathleen Ross, Madelynne and me! Think this was at the Harlequin Party... and that's cola I'm drinking, honest!

more gratuitous Ed... and thoughts

Here's another choice and moody piccie of Edward Norton in American History X... aka Jay Bentley in my WIP, KISS IT BETTER. Have just been watching the movie and discovering scenes I hadn't expected to see... very, very powerful stuff, and definitely disturbing.

Have been thinking me some about KIB. It's going to be romantic, but I'm definitely determined not to sell it short in terms of hot sensual action too. There's got to be a good mix, a good balance of the two aspects of my writing... strong eroticism melded with a real, believable, perhaps even slightly prickly love story.

I think I can do it. I believe I can do it. It'll be a fun challenge. :)

On the 'recovery' front, I'm still battling with a degree of fatigue. Was quite strong yesterday, and did 1.3K words on KIB, but today, I'm flagging again. The trip to San Francisco really took a bite out of me, I've got to admit. I think it's my age, and a few bits and pieces of health issues that I have... I'm okay, basically, but I do have stamina issues sometimes and RWA demanded a *lot* of stamina, even for the young and sprightly!

But having said all that, it's the brilliant, lovely, fun parts of the trip that I remember. The very, very positive stuff. And no amount of jet lag and weariness can deter me from wanting to repeat the experience!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Getting back to normal?

Yes, I think I'm gradually beginning to return to the everyday world of my normal writing and non writing life... at last. It's been a strange and wonderful interlude, this RWA experience, and though I must admit it's been a tad physically challenging, in terms of jet lag and fatigue and whatnot, the positive aspects have far and away outweighed any slight negative bobbles.

I find it hard to look back and form a truly coherent picture. It's more little vignettes that float in my mind, bobbing in a delicious and fondly reminiscent soup. Dazzling flashes that illuminate an overall landscape of warmth, friendship and welcome. I can't begin to describe the awesomeness of how kind people were. Both my existing friends, and new friends. Also, what it felt like when people knew me, recognised me, rushed up to me and hugged me... and said heartwarming things about my writing and my books. For someone who's always waiting for the other shoe to fall, and for someone to say 'it's all a mistake, we take it back... return to square one', this kind of affirmation is like a pure gold dream. It just blows me away!

Attending RWA was an A1 experience for me, completely invaluable for any number of reasons. And I want to thank my dear buddy Saskia for encouraging me, and making me brave enough to make the trip, and for guiding me through the entire process and helping me and making me laugh and enjoy myself every step of the way. Never mind Alcatraz, she was my rock. Also, I want to thank my other wonderful travelling companion Madelynne for the same reasons. Her calmness and unflappability were a real steadying force for me, and her sense of humour really pepped me up when I was flagging sometimes.

But now, it's back to work. KISS IT BETTER is my priority, with a deadline of 1st of December. Sounds a long way away, but if the first part of this year is anything to go by, it'll be on me in a flash. KIB will be a challenge, too. It's very, very much a romance book. It has a romance type structure, and will definitely have a full on happily ever after... but... it still has to be full of the hot, hot sex that people expect in a Portia Da Costa novel. Melding the two things can sometimes be a tall order, but I'm prepared to strive my best to do it, and do it as well as I can.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Read these accounts!

Here's a cute photo of me with [L-R] my buddies Saskia, Shelli and Karen at the Harlequin Party at RWA.

I'm being very lazy, and not really writing proper accounts of my recent trip, but Saskia is doing some fabulous recaps of RWA. We didn't go to *all* the same things, obviously, but her lovely summaries do contain quite a bit about yours truly, so check them out for a wonderful flavour of the event, the people and the ambience.

The Naughty Lady from Shady Lane

Thursday, 7 August 2008

The Hat... yes, I wore it!

As my brain is still totally fried and I have the creative capabilities of a mollusc at the moment, here's a piccie instead.

It's me in 'The Hat' in San Francisco! Yes, I wore it quite a lot when I was out in the sun and it was just the ticket for keeping rays off my lily white face. So, am really pleased with the way it turned out.

You'll also notice one of the famous San Francisco cable cars in the background, and shortly after Saskia took this shot, we boarded one and rode back from Fisherman's Wharf to Union Square. It was a blast! We felt like we were in the movies... LOL

Note also the nifty Adam Ant tee shirt! Tee shirt lover that I am, I brought three back for myself from the City by the Bay, plus one for himself.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

My first Literacy Signing

Here's me hiding my nerves behind a grin! Was terrified nobody would stop by, but in fact lots of people turned up to say hello. :)

Photo by Saskia

Yes, I am back...

.... I didn't get lost or detained in San Francisco!

This is a piccie of me, taken in the Fisherman's Wharf area, during a sight-seeing trip with Saskia, with the infamous island of Alcatraz there in the background.

And here's me again with the gorgeous and lovely Michelle Buonfiglio at the Bellas' Breakfast, one of the highlights of my RWA experience. I think Madelynne took this piccie...

I don't think I'm capable of writing a proper account of my trip, as it's all pretty overwhelming and my poor jet lagged and sleep deprived brain just doesn't seem to be able to process it properly. Suffice it to say, though, that our RWA really was the adventure of a lifetime, and totally crazy, exciting and fun from start to finish. Met some lovely, lovely people and returned happy and inspired!