When Lizzie Aitchison meets John Smith in the Lawns Bar of the Waverley Grange Hotel she doesn't realise at first that he thinks she's "working". The chemistry between them is dynamite from the very first glance exchanged across the room, and she can't resist the allure of his fallen angel face and the way his lean body looks in a sharp business suit. Pretty soon, she's playing a dangerous game with him. John's a no nonsense guy who seems to be set on engaging an escort for sex rather than simply meeting a pretty girl to chat up in a bar, and if that's the only way she can get this gorgeous, irresistible man, Lizzie decides to act the part. Over just one drink, she becomes "Bettie", the high class call girl...
To agreeing to live with the man she loves...
Having met under unusual circumstances when he first mistook her for a high class call-girl, Lizzie Aitchison is now enjoying a passionate relationship with brooding multi-millionaire, John Smith.
However, haunted by the demons of a past he won't talk about, John seems unable to offer her more than a no-strings-attached affair. Generous to a fault, he still holds his secrets close.
Can Lizzie pierce his emotional armour, or will she never be anything more than a rich man's mistress?
To taking the ultimate step, and wearing his ring...
Now living together, Lizzie and John enjoy a state of blissfully uncomplicated pleasure, and an increasingly tumultuous sex life in their luxurious new home. Physically they're a perfect, loving match...
But John is still a man of emotional secrets, and when an old flame from the past turns up unannounced, his and Lizzie's relationship is suddenly thrown into question... even though he's asked her to marry him and join his aristocratic family.
Despite his proposal, Lizzie still finds it difficult to tell exactly where John's heart really lies and whether he's able to abandon the past and start anew. In the craziest of circumstances, she accidentally fell in love with him... but will it be just as easy to accidentally lose him?
The entire steamy, emotional saga in one juicy hit is now available from:
Blargh! I'm poorly, and I have been for a week and a bit now. I feel better than I did, but this bout of what I suspect is Swine Flu, has really knocked me out of the great groove of productivity and positivity that I've been in recently.
There's not a lot I can do about it. I'm not one of these super focused, super determined writers who can push on through in situations like this. I just have to give in and wait out the virus, hoping that it doesn't dig in too hard and linger with me too long.
So, I'll be cosseting myself, keeping warm and hydrated and rested for a little while yet, and I'm hoping it won't be too long before there are more reports from the Dumpster Office of Doom and updates on the progress of Her Lover's Secret.
Here's a photo of the Dumpster Office of Doom that shows real improvement!
I now have a desk. With a phone. And a lamp. There's still a mass of stuff to sort and get rid of, but it's sort of homey and more comfortable in there. I have a basket chair to sit in, with a proper back rest and a lovely purple velour seat cushion on order, as well as a pink faux suede footstool. I'm starting to go in there to eat lunch and read, as well as to shred paper and decide what to throw away. Haven't really worked, as such, in there yet, but I'm moving towards that.
I think when I make some more significant progress in the clearing out, and possibly get rid of a huge table that's still in there, and replace it with something smaller, I might indulge in a comfy office/gaming/recliner type chair too. I've bookmarked a few likely ones on Amazon.
Writing progress is still very stately. I don't have the attention span and focus I used to have [and I didn't have much at the the best of times] so my word count, though daily, is very modest. I'm still working on Her Lover's Secret, filling in the gaps I left in the first draft. I wish I could write faster. I wish I could spend more hours a day on it. But I just can't, at the moment. So I plug on at a very steady rate, and hope for the best.
As you know, I've been writing a thing called Thing, a sort of generally romantic women's fiction non-plotted writing exercise just to keep my hand in. I've done about 8K of this 'thing' so far, and while I like it, it's not really going anywhere as, of course, it has no real structure, no angst, no conflict, and none of the other things that constitute a good piece of fiction. But, I'm not writing it to sell. I'm writing it to keep writing, in the hopes that soon I'll return to writing something readers will actually enjoy.
However, I'm now starting to feel inklings of an urge to return to the project I was working on when I stalled, which is a sensual romance romance novella, #4 in my Secret Pleasures series. It was called The Boss's Secret, but I've decided that doesn't really fit right. Lawrence, the hero, is more than Rachel's boss. He owns the company and quite a few others. I see 'boss' as someone that a character interacts with every day, on site, whereas Lawrence is a distant, lofty figure who only very occasionally might visit her workplace. So, a new tentative title is Her Lover's Secret, which I think is evocative and fits the story better.
Her Lover's Secret started out with one hero template, and now has a different one, probably just as unlikely. He's a gorgeous man, but not conventionally so. As Lover's Secret is an older hero story, he has white streaks in his hair, and he's in his late forties. He's also about 6' 7" tall!
Above is a draft cover I designed for Her Lover's Secret, but I'm not sure I'll use it. I may even go mad, and get a pro designer to do me a cover. It's rather difficult to find cover images when you have a very specific looking hero with silver streaked hair, so you generally have to go with a 'headless' cover in these cases. And show his chest rather than his face and hair! LOL
I'm sure you'll all think this is a 'before' picture, but it's actually taken just now. LOL I'd estimate about 50% of the 'stuff' has gone, but as you can see, the task ahead is still monumental. Even when I've got rid of as much as I can, arranging what remains in a usable fashion is still quite a job.
But, having said that, this room has been accumulating books, paper, DVDs, CDs and all manner of other crud for around 30 years now, so it was never going to be an endeavour achieved overnight to sort it out.
But I'm getting there! :)
ps. Back in 2010, I said I was going to sort this disaster out... but it's taken me this long to do something!
Yes, I am writing. But I've had to put aside the WIP I was working on. Again. Even though I love the characters and their story, and have introduced some really fun elements, there are some aspects of the story that I just don't seem to be able to write well at the moment, so I'm giving myself a rest from it. Another rest.
I'm sure that mojo will come back in its own good time, but for the moment I'm tinkering with a different story. One that I'm really writing just for fun, as an experiment and to keep the writing muscle exercised. I refer to it as 'thing' and I'm not really sure what genre it is, and I'm not sure I'll ever publish it. It certainly would never be accepted by a publisher, as it's not commercial or in a hot category. If pressed, I'd say it's sort of romance, but with a side of very light women's fiction. It's just a 'thing'. :)
At the moment, I'm enjoying 'thing' and just puttering along, writing a few hundred words a day in this new world. Which is better than not writing at all, as I did on my recent 'hiatus'.
In other news, I like to think I'm being creative in another way. For a long time, I've talked online about the Dumpster Office of Doom, my office which turned into an episode of Hoarders, more or less. Well, I finally decided to do something about it. I mean, really do something rather than pick at the edges of the horrible mess of books and papers and general crap. I've been filling black rubbish bags, and bags of books/bric a brac etc to send to charity, and bags of paper to recycle. I've also bought a swishy new shredder, which is doing sterling service with the more sensitive stuff ie stuff with addresses and drafts of copyrighted work.
And I'm really making progress! I can see huge areas of floor that haven't been visible for at least 10 years! I got rid of one of the 3 large tables that were taking up space, and I'm roaring through the heaps of paper and magazines and whatnot. I'd estimate I've maybe done 40% of the job so far, and my goal is to reclaim the office as a usable space by the end of 2016. It's very tiring work, especially for an oldie like me, who also has fibromyalgia and some arthritis. But it's like the writing. A little bit of meaningful work each day on the task will get me to my goal eventually. :)
I'm also keeping up with my Mini Habits of reading each day, and journaling each day, and I'm delighted to say that my calendar with glittery stars for each achievement has never been lacking. I've always been able to stick on my full quota of stars each day. I've also added a new 'habit' of one promotional/online presence thing per day. It doesn't matter if it's the tiniest, most unobtrusive item, maybe just one Tweet, but it's just a way to let people know I'm still around, and even if I'm not publishing much, I'm still working towards it, in my own way.
This blog post is today's promo/presence 'habit'. :)
When financial executive Joanna Darrell loses her temper with a client it sets in motion a chain of erotic events beyond her wildest most fevered imaginings.
At work Joanna is feisty, capable and supremely confident in her abilities, but when she takes a forced sabbatical she quickly discovers a new and shocking side to her sensual nature. She's a sexual submissive, and who better to guide her, coax her and initiate her than the sybaritic members of the mysterious society of the Continuum. The more she samples, the more she likes, and she's soon hurtling headlong towards the very heart of this exotic association of hedonists and devotees of erotic power-play.
Fascinated by the idea that the Master of the Continuum has singled her out for his special attentions, Joanna still finds herself falling in love with her naughty 'boy next door' fellow worker, Kevin Steel - who might be a computer geek but who still finds time for sensual experiments of his own.
How far can Joanna go? How much will she learn? Who will she choose? Can her decadent experiment really become a way of life?
MASTER OF THE GAME is a new reprint of my 1990s erotica title CONTINUUM. It's one I'm particularly proud of... although ironically, after all these years, the precise details of the plot and characters are decidedly fuzzy to me. I do know that there are a lot of erotic shenanigans, a bit of a mystery, and the heroine, Joanna, gets a full on but rather exotic happily ever after, with the man of her dreams. :)
January has been a reasonably productive month. Not stellar, but at least I've made some progress on a variety of fronts. THE BOSS'S SECRET is moving forward; fairly slowly, but at least it's moving. Which it wasn't at all for the last third of 2015. I'm not sure how long a story it's going to end up being. Probably between 40K to 45K words, which is a chunky sized novella.
I've also done a lot more reading in January 2016. I've read quite a few Jean Plaidy novels, but I'm taking a rest from them now. Historical novels very often feature figures from history who had very imperfect lives that do not end up happily. And while this makes for fascinating reading, it's also a bit depressing too. So sue me if I like happiness and good outcomes! That's why I like romantic stories with 'happily ever after' endings.
I've also been reading non fiction, especially the Mini Habits book, and another book from that author, How to be a Perfectionist. Both these have been enormously helpful to me in my outlook on productivity and life in general. They both promote acceptance, rather than being hard on oneself. And help one to develop a realistic and more contented way of dealing with the past and moving forward. It's all so simple, and many thanks to Stephen Guise!
I've also been thinking about redoing my web site. I decided that I'm not going to pay ridiculous annual license fees to Adobe in order to continue using Dreamweaver, so I've had to look for alternatives. Mac alternatives now that I'm a thoroughly committed Mac user. In the last week or so, I discovered Rapidweaver, and this seems to be the solution I've been looking for... and fun to use! I'm only footling about with test sites at the moment, but sometime in 2016 I hope to produce a new Portia Da Costa site. It won't be swish and glamorous like some author web sites. Not a 'cult of me' site. One of the reasons is that I don't have much in the way of author photos, and I won't be getting any new ones. I'm a fat, haggard old blob now, and due to allergies, I can't wear the makeup that might make me look marginally more presentable. That means the only pix of me going forward will be the horrible truth, in the form of goofy selfies, taken with my iPad! LOL
Things I'd like to do in coming months are finish BOSS, hopefully start something new, and maybe get some of my self published work into a print format. Maybe by bundling short things together. I've also got stuff I really, really need to get out there. It's no good to anybody just festering on various hard disks of mine.
I'm sure progress will still continue to be snail like compared to most writers, but I do feel positive and optimistic, and I hope to enjoy myself. And that's what's important to me! :)
These are my new glasses for computer use. The slightly golden tint helps to reduce glare and eye strain and they seem to be working quite well on that score. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't get on with my new MacBook because it has a shiny Retina screen, and up until now I'd always had matte screens, but I don't seem to be experiencing any special problems with it. In fact I think it might actually be easier on the old eyes than my previous matte screen.
As for the spectacles, I think they give me a bit of a sage old George Smiley look somehow. Well, sort of...
Am making slow but useful progress on The Boss's Secret. It's crawling along really, but some progress is better than no progress at all, so it's all a plus.
I'm reading an interesting how to book at the moment, about outlining, called Take Off Your Pants! It basically offers guidance on how to use clever outlining to help you write the book and write it faster. Which makes sense. I always used to be an outliner, but never felt very good at it, because I'm crap at plotting and you need a plot to make an outline. So, over the years, I became more of a hybrid plotter/pantser, leaning towards pantsing more, lately.
The trouble with pantsing, at least for me, is that I tend to write myself into pickles, and into stories that don't make sense, have no conflict [I hate conflict!!!!] and end up going nowhere or sounding suspiciously like something I've written before. At least once.
So I thought I'd give outlining a whirl again, specifically to help me revamp Boss.
Although I don't agree with everything in this book, it's good because it's got me thinking about the characters more, and their issues and their personality flaws etc, and the way these drive the [rudimentary, in my case] plot. I've got what I think are some workable flaws and issues for Lawrence now, but Rachel is proving harder. I realise that in the old version of Boss, she was a bit of a cypher, but I'm getting glimmerings now, of how she can be a stronger character.
The problem for me is that I don't like just picking an 'issue' out of thin air, to make a romantic conflict or whatever. I know characters have to have them, but I feel uncomfortable taking something serious and 'using' it, just to create artificial angst in what I consider a fairly lightweight piece of writing. I know my own level. I write to entertain and to provide escapist fun reads. I'm not setting out to make some great point on the human condition and all that, so I feel guilty using issues that are pretty terrible and agonising for people in real life, just to make a character arc for my fictional people.
But, having said this... this is my issue, and every writer and every reader has a different take on it, and I suspect I'm a bit of an outlier here. :)
I read this book years and years ago, probably when I was in my teens, so I'd forgotten almost everything about it... and forgotten how good it is.
The style is a bit old-fashioned, but nevertheless it's a real page turner. Although we can't know for certain how the characters really thought and felt, Jean Plaidy does a fantastic job of making Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard believable. She creates sympathy for the women, without making them saints, and paints a particularly vivid portrait of the monster that was Henry VIII, a basically weak, self serving, self deluding egotist who had virtually no empathy. Okay, so Tudor times were radically different to ours, and the pressures of being a king were very real, but Jean Plaidy perfectly reflects the opinion I've formed of this notorious monarch, based on extensive reading.
She shows us a man who was constantly banging on about his 'conscience' while effectively not possessing one at all. He didn't give a **** about anybody but himself. A psychopath.
Sorry for the rant, but I really do dislike Henry VIII with extreme prejudice!
Our lad Mork is a bit under the weather at the moment. It's a combo of a recurring cough, caused by a viral thing he caught from his mum, originally, and a sore tooth that the vet discovered on examining him. He's had a jab for the cough, and when that settles down he'll be back to the vet's next week, for a dental. He's not too bad in himself, just a bit under par and not quite his usual wacky self.
Last night, I couldn't sleep very well, because I was concerned about him, so I fell to thinking quite a bit about The Boss's Secret. I think I've figured out what at least one of his secrets might be, but in many ways, he's a man of mystery, so he might have a few! I've also realised that the 'template' I had for him wasn't working, so I've switched to a new one. One of the things about Lawrence is that he's an older man. I seem to quite like writing about those, for instance, John Smith in The Accidental Trilogy was 20 years older than his lover, Lizzie. The age dynamic is fairly similar in 'Boss', although unlike John, Lawrence has prematurely white hair. And it's not quite as easy to find 'templates' for that. But as luck would have it, I've happened upon another hunk who has at least some white hair, and picturing Lawrence has him is increasing my enthusiasm for the story!
I won't say who the template is, because he's a rather unlikely one, and it's only in some photos and clips that he fits the bill. ;)
I think I might be getting a migraine today, which is a bit annoying, because I've been doing quite well so far in 2016 achievements-wise. With luck though, I might be able to fend off the worst with meds. Fingers crossed.
I was looking at my publishing schedule this year, and I discovered that I don't really have one! The only firm title is a Black Lace reprint, MASTER OF THE GAME, which comes out on the 11th February.
Master of the Game is really Continuum, an older title of mine, but hopefully a new name and a fresh new cover will bring it to the attention of readers who haven't discovered it before.
But apart from this, I have no firm publication dates. Nothing. Nada. It's my own fault, because of my hiatus and the problems I've been having with motivation, but it's still a bit of a shock for me after all these years of steady output and releases.
I'm currently working on The Boss's Secret, which is part of my Secret Pleasures self published series. I've been working on this a long, long time. I wrote a fair chunk of text before my hiatus, but all the time I was writing it, I knew it wasn't coming out right, so I ditched the whole lot and started again, completely from scratch, switching from an alternating first person present viewpoint to third person past, again alternating between the heroine Rachel's POV and that of Lawrence, the hero. I haven't done all that much yet, but it seems to be working okay. I've also altered the plot a bit, such as it is. I was getting myself all tangled up with the old version. Even for an unlikely romantic fantasy it was a bit stupid.
I think what I really need to do now is write a proper outline, so I know where I'm going... and I also need to work out what the boss's secret actually is!!! LOL
In an attempt to jumpstart my commitment to writing in 2016, I treated myself to a new Macbook Pro for Christmas. My old one is still working well, but it's using an old OS, and I fear that if I try to upgrade that to El Capitan, I might lose the use of some of my older programs. So I'm using both machines at the moment, and enjoying the benefits of a newer OS, so I can use iCloud and some newer apps that I've been fancying for a while.
Lest you think I'm made of money [I'm not!] splashing out on new tech, this new Macbook is a refurbished item, from the Apple store. It's not the very latest release, with all the bells and whistles, but as a refurb, it's a lot of goodies for a significantly cheaper price than a brand new model. I'm very pleased with it so far. :)
Flipping from digital to analogue writing tools, I also treated myself to a nice new pen for Christmas too. I use fountain pens for all my notemaking, lists and personal journaling, because I love the action of writing with them. It's a simple pleasure and I enjoy experimenting with different nibs and colours of inks. This pen is a Bexley Monarch, in Lapis Blue, and has the sweetest, smoothest nib you can imagine. I love it!
In 2016, I'm trying to motivate myself by using a system called Mini Habits. This amounts to setting ridiculously tiny goals for myself each day. They're so small that it's almost impossible not to achieve them... and once they're completed, kidding myself that I might as well just do a little bit more, while I'm about it.
The system is outlined in this book and on this web site. I read the book recently, and immediately knew it could help someone like me, who's struggling with motivation. It's one of the most useful books I've read in a long time!
As part of the Mini Habits adventure, I'm reinforcing them by awarding myself stars on a Mini Habits calendar each day, if I manage to:
Write 100 words
Read for 15 minutes
Throw away one piece of clutter/junk
See, I told you they were very small and achievable! And I've got my three stars already today, and it's only 2.24pm.
ps. blogging isn't included in my Mini Habits, but I'm going to try and do that a bit more often too. :)
Edited to say.... 'it's almost impossible not to achieve them'. Mind you, there will still be days when I'm so useless I can't even meet those minuscule goals! LOL