Monday, 30 May 2011

A Frank and Fearless Kiss from Katie

Did I mention I won a critique from Katie Fforde?  Through the Authors for Japan fundraiser, I had the winning bid for a critique on the first 1000 words of a manuscript.  Yes, Katie Fforde, the best selling British romance novelist, with a staggering 16 novels penned, and counting, she is a living legend!  Was I over the moon?  Ahem, hanging from the rafters, swinging from the chandeliers, dear friends.

When anyone else reads your work, what you want is an honest opinion, what works, what you need to improve on. It's not every day you get the opportunity for a great lady like Kate to read your work.  What I got was a frank and fearless critique, which quite frankly, had me both excited and nervous.  Of course, there was slapping of forehead in recognition of where I needed to improve, but it also left me grinning like a Cheshire cat, above all, it's spurred me on.  Thank you Katie!

Editing is about improving our WIPs, making them the best that they can be.  I'm reviewing the beginning of mine with this in mind.  The beginning of your story is crucial because you need to set a little of the scene, and create enough interest to keep your reader...well, reading?  In the first 1000 words of your story, do you have a hook?  If not, how soon do you bring it in, and also do you think the genre you write dictates the timing of the hook?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Frivolous Friday: A Nod to Bea's Hat

The Princess and the hat

Love it or hate it, Bea's fascinator, ahem...'ribbon pillarbox' has been auctioned off for the princely sum of £81k.  And for a good cause, Unicef.  Who says it isn't inspiring?  I mean, really it was the talk of the town, the world over, it moved newspapers, magazines...people couldn't get enough of it!  Why, Bea's hat even has it's own facebook page with 144,000 followers, and counting.  Aside from the bridesmaid's derriere, which also has its own facebook page, it was the most tweeted topic on the Royal Wedding day.  See, a frivolous hat is all you need to set tongues wagging and fingers tapping. Think what you like, the spaghetti-gaga-esque-toliet roll hat has provided funding for Unicef and Children in Crisis.  Who's laughing now?  Even before the auction, I thought it was fabulous, now I just adore it!  How about you?

photocredit via riverthroughit

A/N:  It's a very flighty Friday post, our beloved blogger is up to its usual tricks so I'm posting while I can.  We have a long weekend here, I am excited.  I was meant to be in Stockholm, like, ran out of time to organise le ticket and I don't have a PA...yet, and of course that volcano has erupted once more.  *Mutters to self*  Anyhow, writing, and relaxing, are in order.  Have a fabulous weekend, where ever you are on this beautiful planet.
Talei x

Monday, 23 May 2011

Yamamoto & The Cult of Beauty

A gaudy peacock shower cap, one bar of V&A Lavender soap, and a tiny pot of lipgloss, housed in a miniature plastic pink tigerlily.  My frivolous purchases on exiting the gift shop post exhibitions yesterday at the V & A Museum in London.   After viewing Yoji Yamamoto's installation, what I really wanted was...his gorgeous emerald green winter coat,  a fabulous full length black cape, and the most vibrant yellow hat.  I say 'hat' but actually you could probably launch this 'piece' from the nearest port, its that big!  If you're a lover fashion and a fan of all things Japanese, like myself...then, I recommend Yamamoto's exhibit.  It's just the right size...not too much, not too little. An incredible artist, designer, filmmaker, philanthropist, and writer...did I mention his biography?  'My Dear Bomb', I'm on chapter one and the writing is quite beautiful.

Adjacent to Yamamoto's hall, is the the Cult of Beauty exhibition, which focuses on the Aesthetic Movement circa 1890-1900.  I won't tell porkies here, I got lost.  It's a little labyrinth of rooms where I felt the wistful gazes of beauties, frozen in time....their eyes followed as I wove through the ambling enthusiasts, searching for the exit.  I felt sorry for the ladies, stuck on the walls, framed in gold, for eternity.  Desperate for an escape...  What I enjoyed in here?  My favourites were the book cover designs.  Oscar Wilde, Geoffrey Chaucer spring to mind.  It's a large exhibition, if you are keen, I suggest you leave your pocket watch at home, you could be some time... 

Well, that dear friends, was my artsy Sunday afternoon.  Now, if you'll excuse me I need to christen the gaudy shower cap... £15 well spent?  We shall see...   How was your weekend?

Photocredit: Talei Loto

Friday, 20 May 2011

Tag You're It!

This week, a game of tag has ensued throughout the writerly bloggersphere,  Carol Kilgore of the famed Tiki Hut threw a coconut at my blog on Wednesday, and our own Golden Eagle swooped on me yesterday.  I am honoured, and I do love to play.  Game on!  There are questions to be answered:

1.  Do you think you're hot?
Um, like - yah, but no but... Is that a trick question?  As if!  *raises eyebrows, flicks hair, applies lip gloss*  Can I borrow your hairbrush?

2.  Upload a picture or wallpaper you're using at the moment.
Just a minute...  *hastily closes semi-clothed demi-gods*   I need to find a clean one that won't crash your PCs.

3.  When was the last time you ate chicken meat?
Three Sundays ago, BBQ.  Rosemary and garlic chicken thighs... yum!  *licks lips*

4.  The songs you listened to recently.
I've been listening to these gems, from my 'cruise' playlist...
Desert Rose - Sting
Ride wit' Me - Nelly
F***ken Perfect - Pink
A little less conversation - Elvis
Come away with me - Norah Jones

5.  What were you thinking as you were doing this?
That I better get this done before someone else tags me!  And, where am I going to find a clean screensaver at this hour of the night...

6.  Do you have nicknames?  What are they?
Yup.  I had a few...Giraffe, Long Tall Sally, Bambi, Lamb...chop? This is embarrassing....there's others but I'll stop now.   *mutters to self* 

7.   Tag eight blogger friends.
Liz Fichera
Shirley Wells
Talli Roland
Melissa Marsh
Danette Baltzer
Jen Daiker
Francine Howarth

Who's listed as No.1?  Liz - She's fab!  She hikes in the desert and fights off rattlesnakes...wait, was that true?
Say Something about No.5.  Melissa M - A lover of all things vintage.
How did you know No.3? Talli - She was one of my first followers on twitter and here!
How about No. 4? Melissa E - Wonderful and supportive writing buddy!
Leave a message for No.6.  Danette - "More champagne, darling?"
Leave a lovey-dovey message for No.2.  "It was a dark and stormy night...perfect for conoodling in front of the fire place, when suddenly...."  Did I mention Shirley is a crime/mystery writer? 
Do No.7 and No.8  have any similarities?  Jen & Francine - They're both lovely ladies with a passion for writing.

A/N:  It's been another eventful week, shall I ever catch my tail?  This weekend, there will be a spot of fearless editing, training for a charity walk (ah yes), a birthday party, and hopefully I will get to check out a little of London's Festival of Britain at South Bank!  What's on your diary?  Have a wonderful weekend all! Talei x

Monday, 16 May 2011

Chaise Love

'If you want more love, why don't you say so?"  - John Mayer

Why do we always feel sorry for ourselves when we are sick? Poor, unloved soul.  Yesterday, I lay incapacitated, on my favourite sofa, doing my best impersonation of a dying maiden.  Yes, okay...very sick lady. Anyhow, it got me thinking about our literary heroines on chaise lounges and how they would easily expire if main love interest did not appear within the hour.  Cue Emily Bronte's classic, 'Wuthering Heights'.  Catherine has always annoyed me.  Why?  Because she married the wrong man, of course.  It's ridiculous.   And then, it occurred to me, in my drowsy state of cocktail induced meandering, that chaise lounges, beautiful they may be, are actually dangerous pieces of furniture for our historical heroines... alot can go wrong whilst reclining.  A lady may be ravished, that wrong?  Perhaps...depends on who's doing the ravishing.  She might die of thirst, waiting for tea...if she is so ill she cannot reach the bell to summon the staff.   Also, Jane Austen's wallflowers have seen their fair share of chintz lounges, infinitely subjected to tedious card games or, god forbid...needlepoint.  Fixed smiles, powdered bosoms, high bouffants.  If I have to listen to another bleeding sonata.  

In any case, dear friends, I did not expire on my sofa, in fact I managed a little of the ladies pursuits, such as reading an entire book, and writing.  Alas, not letters.  I'm excited to say, I sent off the opening 1000 words from my current WIP for a critique by a seriously uber author.  *bounces up and down in seat*  So, there you have it, occasionally, chaise lounges are useful for work.  And, I've waffled long enough about my weekend.  Now, do please tell me about yours? 

A/N:  For the record, I am feeling better.  And, I've refrained from all alcoholic tonics today.  Just.  Have a lovely week everyone!
Talei xox

Friday, 13 May 2011

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides

Last night, I skipped along the 'blue, red carpet' to see the London Premiere for Pirates of the Caribbean, On Stranger Tides.   The carpet was an experience in itself, the media and PR machine at its finest, photo journalists with cameras flashing, stars striking poses, and adoring fans standing over each other just to get a glimpse.  Did I mention the bodyguards, managers, and security in the background?  In a word, entertaining.  Circus.  Love it!

On Stranger Tides, sees the return of Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as the wittiest, wiliest, pirate on the high seas! And this time, its all about the teams.  Team Blackbeard vs. Team Barbossa for the English King and Country vs. Team Espana for the Catholic Army.  Capt. Sparrow, of course pledges no allegiance to any of the aforementioned teams.  What's the contest, I hear you ask?  The coveted prize?  Well dear friends, the plot is firmly anchored around the quest for the fountain of youth.  Oh yes, that old acorn.  Throw into the mix, a sassy-female-pirate- previously-scorned-ex-lover of Sparrow(Penelope Cruz), toss in several god-ugly-badass Zombies, and Vampiric Mermaids with the most amazing fishtails, and as they say, 'let the games begin'!   It's a roller coaster ride from start to finish, lots of acrobatic turns, twists but jolly good fun with splattering of pirate superstitions. I enjoyed the ride and judging but the six deep fanatical pirates screaming for their beloved Captain, am sure many others will love it too.   

Photocredits via yours truly iPhone

A/N:  Happy Friday the 13th!  In a time honoured tradition, our beloved Blogger goblins wreaked havoc...something had to give, right?  This week has been seriously busy, I'm focusing on my edits this weekend, as well as sending off critiques, and if I'm lucky, I can squeeze in an art show or two along the way.  I hope so.  What's on your diary this weekend? 
Talei xox

Monday, 9 May 2011

Read What You Write - A Conversation With Betty

Do I feel lucky?  Oh yes.  Yesterday, I met up with the delightful Betty Herbert, author of erotic fiction, and wise lady of the all things bedchamber related.  I had 'won' a critique of a 'love scene' from Betty via the wonderful Authors for Japan fundraiser in March this year so I was excited when she offered to meet with me in London in the wilderness of St. James to run through my feebly attempted love scene.  I felt like an ingenue being received into court of an experienced Duchess.  She is that good.  We discussed numerous topics, Sex, Filthy Books, Positions...oh wait, not really, well okay, kinda...  And, then we talked about my chapter, and her feedback was invaluable, I blushed furiously whilst she flattered and then I took notes!

One thought stuck in mind whilst we talked and I want to share it with you.  When writing amorous scenes, it's best to get comfortable with the subject, and the only way to do that is to confront it face on, read up on it!  Figure out what you're going to call 'those bits' of anatomy. I know it's stating the obvious, but sometimes... you need that reminder. Read What You Write.  So, at the end of our lovely discussion, I headed off in search of the filthiest books...all in aid of research and well, okay...who am I kidding, it could be useful in other areas of life.  Who knows?  

A/N:  Sometimes, I feel bombarded with a wealth of online writing tips, so much that it leaves my head spinning ala spooky child from 'The Exorcist'.  Tis hard to know who or what to listen to.  Without doubt, the time spent with Betty yesterday was more valuable than me wading through many links.  If you get the opportunity to meet with an experienced author, face to face - do it!  I thoroughly recommend it.  Happy Monday all, and have a wonderful week!  Catch you on Friday.
Talei xox

Friday, 6 May 2011

Gold Stars for Your Writing

Remember those dreaded End of Term School Reports?  The ones you prayed against all things evil, would contain at least a couple of  'A' grades to take home to your mother?  Please let Mrs E remember that I helped clean the blackboard last week, and oh, I knew the answer to that really, really, really difficult question about Brazil, I mean...come on, I rock at Geography!  That's gotta be worth an A?  Yup.  Deluded.

A few nights ago as I shut down my beloved MAC, I thought to myself... mmm not bad on the writing today, I'd say an E for Effort, as in Excellent.  I'd completed a chunk of edits, avoided twitter for at least thirty minutes, ignored Facebook for the entire day, it felt good.  However, we all know that some days, you just can't get that Writing Muse out of bed.  Witch.  This week, I've decided to start grading my writing efforts, and dear friends - I insist you join in.  Here's my A to F grading system for our school report, - this one is like an honesty box, only it's a report - but like, you get the picture right?  Go ahead, grade yourself.  How well did you write this week?

A.  You exceeded your daily word count, revised and re-submitted at least 2 queries, drafted a new WIP, put a roast in the oven, dusted the piano and even had time to trim the herbaceous borders in the walled garden!  Your Writing Muse has taken a vacation, you don't need her.  You, dear friend -are an angel!

B.  In between phone calls and emails to sort out the next family holiday, you have updated your top five list of agents and publishers, and researched all of  their favourite brand of coffee, whiskey and chocolates.  Recommend you increase your daily word count in the upcoming Summer term.

C.  Your concentration span is aligned with the stars and planets, and in direct response to your caffeine intake, which can result in a performance as volatile as the Indian stock markets.  You may want to consider yoga classes and start drinking decaf!

D.  You are passionate!  Your drive to there; the execution, however needs tweaking.  Recommend studying the habits of an 'A' grader for tips.  (see A above).   Extra stars for your fabulous dress sense though.

E.  Excellent effort this week, you have managed your edits well, but need to 'kill a few more darlings', this will be hard but its a necessary evil.  You. Can. Do. It!

F.  Flippery afoot, must stop downloading iTunes, shopping for soft furnishings and searching for THE latest deals on Jimmy Choos.  Suggest a writers weekend retreat to faraway island somewhere...warm...

So, tell me - how did you rate your writing efforts this week?

A/N:  Good evening!  I hope you've all have a lovely week.  On the writing front, the editing is progressing, and I have to be honest, I've not been able to catch up on my blogging until now.  This weekend, I'm working on critiques, in between birthday parties and shopping.  What's that saying about work-life balance?   Have a wonderful weekend all!

Talei xox

Monday, 2 May 2011

Awards Galore: Creative Blog, Versatile Blogger, & I Survived the A to Z Challenge!

The A to Z Challenge provided much entertainment in April, and although it's over, I do miss having the easy prompt of the next letter for which to craft a post.  Shall, we start it again, but in reverse?  Ahem, perhaps not...  During the challenge, five fabulous awards flew my way, which put a great big smile on my face!

Thank you, Dierda!
Thank you to Kieran,
Magpie and Melissa B!!
Thank you, Elizabeth

Now, the serious part... for there are strings attached to 'The Versatile Blogger Award'.  I must reveal seven interesting facts about myself.... hmmm, well if you insist!  Actually, if you are curious, you can pop down this rabbit hole here   And, the best part of receiving? It's that warm fuzzy feeling you get, when sending the award on it's merry way to more lovely souls, not that I'm assuming my dark and troubled soul is lovely...  I would like to pass the award to these fifteen champions of the blogging universe, whom I recently met via the A to Z Challenge:

Words Crafter  @ The Rainy Day Wanderer 
Sarah Allen @ From Sarah, With Joy
Trevor Peck @ Love in the truth
Heather M. Gardner @ The waiting is the hardest part
Mooderino @ Moody Writing
T.S. Henrik @ The Non Review 
Rebecca Bradley @ Life in Clarity
Angela Felsted @ My Poetry and Prose Place

A/N:  Ever have one of those days where you feel like you've fallen down a rabbit hole?  Please nod, so that I'm not the only one... Today has been a little crazy, topsy-turvey doesn't cover it.  Am still recovering from yesterdays editing marathon, I completed 50 pages, and pole vaulted through an entire novel last night.  Reading until the wee hours... and my eyes are no longer speaking to me.   How are your writing projects coming along?  

Talei xox