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Sunday 26 July 2015

Guest Post: Lindsay Debout Talks About Writing Warming Stories...

Warming Stories
Today I'm welcoming an old friend of mine, Lindsay Debout. Lindsay has just self-published a book for the first time. That's an exciting and nerve-racking time in anyone's life, and Lindsay's here to tell us a bit about it.
I'm pleased you invited me to drop by, Christina. Thank you! I juggle a full time job in computing with home and family life, so writing is very much an occasional pastime for me. At the beginning of the year I had an idea for a short story, and Christina persuaded me to write it down. More stories followed, until I had enough for one volume and the beginnings of a second. It's that first volume, Warming Stories, which I've just self-published on SmashWords. 
Tell us about Warming Stories...
Warming Stories is a collection of erotic short stories for an adult audience. Each one is centred around a different female character and her reaction to the situation in which I've put her. Although I classify my stories as 'erotic', sex isn't the main focus of most of them; as in real life, sex is an important part of the journey but not the only part.
I've done some sexy scenes in my books, but not to that extent. Is the sex very explicit in Warming Stories?
Depends on what you mean by 'explicit'.  I wouldn't call it hard-core, but there's no doubt what's happening.
So, on the scale from vanilla to kinky, where do your stories fit?
I'm not sure these days anyone would call any of it 'kinky'. My stories are more about the relationship between the individuals rather than what they're doing to each other. If my readers want anything at all extreme, they should look elsewhere. None of my stories feature drugs, children, animals, cruelty, or anything like that. 
How can we find out more?
Warming Stories is free to download here It's in the Smashwords Premium catalogue, so it is available through several outlets including Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and it's in some libraries as well. I might charge a small amount for the second volume, but we'll see how popular Volume 1 is first.
Why did you want to write in the first place?
I loved writing the first one so much, I got wrapped up in the whole idea of telling more stories. I hope people will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I'm sure they will, Lindsay! Your first volume of Warming Stories is already available free here,  so how about giving us a taster of your current work in progress?
I'd love to. These are the opening paragraphs from my next short story, 'Skater Man':
Pippa gazed up at the misty San Francisco sky. What just happened?
Mentally she reran the last few seconds. I was walking towards Fisherman’s Wharf. There was a clang behind me, then a shout, then something hit me in the back and spun me around.
She was lying on a very lumpy mound. Strange. It’s all pavement and benches around here. An arm lifted and waved in the air. I’m not wearing anything yellow. And I don’t have tanned hands.
Her brain finally connected the dots and she hurriedly rolled sideways. The figure she’d been lying on grunted and sucked in a lungful of air. “That didn’t go well,” he gasped.
No doubt about it, he was a local. Rollerblades, knee and elbow pads, helmet, disgustingly healthy teeth and the fashionable amount of sun tan. He was probably tall, probably fit and probably healthy, but right now he was sprawled full-length on his back. The impact and then Pippa’s weight on his chest had knocked the wind out of him.
Pippa scowled down at him. “What the Hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Trying to breathe,” he wheezed. “Give me a minute.”
Slowly he eased himself up onto his knees. Pippa parked her indignation for the time being and helped him clamber to his feet. Between them they got him to a bench and he took off his helmet.
“Sorry about that. I was trying a reverse slalom around the bollards and I got the timing wrong. Are you okay?”
He was definitely tall – she’d found that out when guiding him to the bench. The T shirt stretched over the unmistakeable shape of a muscular torso.  His hair was curly. At a guess he was early thirties. Not quite Greek God material, but definitely in a pantheon somewhere.
Pippa’s analysis was interrupted by his raised eyebrow. “Oh! Sorry. I think I’m all right.” She gave herself a quick once-over. “It feels like my hand smacked the ground and my dress must have got caught somewhere.” She sighed as she inspected the rip. “Looks like I’ll be making more dusters.”
“We can sort that out. Can I buy you a coffee? It’s the least I can do.” Without waiting for her answer he stood up and offered his hand.
Pippa hesitated for a moment. He’s a complete stranger, and a hooligan on skates. Why on Earth should I trust him? And yet… I don’t get the feeling he’s making a pass. I think this is just his way. She took his hand and he pulled her to her feet.
“There’s a restaurant right across the street. I can recommend it. I often eat there.” He led her across the boulevard. Pippa followed – not that she had much choice. He hadn’t let go of her hand, and she hadn’t tried to pull free. For some reason it felt fine.
Anyway, it’ll be more interesting than what I had planned for the day. So long as I’m sensible, what can possibly go wrong? Don’t answer that.

Thanks for visiting my blog, Lindsay. Best of luck with Warming Stories!

Tuesday 14 July 2015

The Most Writing-Related Fun I've Had With My Clothes On—The RNA Conference, 2015

One Of The Peaceful Places To Write...
I've belonged to The Romantic Novelists' Association for years, but it was only when my local chapter (the Marcher) persuaded me to attend the annual conference on a day-ticket last year that I realised what I'd been missing. After that, I made sure I signed up for the whole three days of the 2015 adventure as soon as the list opened. This year's conference was held over a long weekend, 10th-12th July. I got back home yesterday, and my brain is still 100% Conference Custard.

This year's conference was held at Queen Mary's University, Mile End, in East London. Delegates could stay in student accommodation on the campus. The rooms were perfect for a short stay–clean, functional and within yards of the campus shop, laundry, cafe and bar. Oops—I nearly forgot. The residential blocks are all handy for dropping into the lecture theatres, too! I'm not sure how the students manage for whole terms, though. The racket echoing around the concrete canyons of the campus from revellers straggling back from the pub each night made it impossible for this country mouse to sleep with the window open. The double glazing shut out almost all the noise, so with the window closed I managed some writing until it got too hot inside the room. At first light there were some peaceful places around the campus for working. Luckily most of my stay was cool and cloudy, but for a couple of sultry nights I didn't get any sleep, or any writing done either, as there was no rest from the racket! 

Jan Jones, Roger Sanderson, Jenny Barden and their RNA team plan these events years in advance, so the strike of London Underground workers called for 9th July was a real pain. It was the day when most people would be arriving at the campus. Worse still, mainline trains running from the west of the country into London were cancelled, too. People like me who live right out in the shires hadn't a hope of getting to the university, as the total lack of parking space there meant bringing a car wasn't an option. I went up to London a day early to avoid the problems, and spent the extra time helping distribute complimentary tea, coffee, milk and sugar around the delegates' accommodation. 

Canary Wharf From The Green Bridge
On Thursday, while other people were battling their way to the university on foot, in taxis or by bus, I went for a long walk in an oasis of calm called the Jubilee Greenway. At Mile End, it's been formed from previously derelict land. I particularly liked the Green Bridge, which goes over the main A11. I'd walked straight across it before I realised I was crossing only a few feet above a busy arterial road! Traffic sounds are muffled by plantings of gorse and birch trees on the Green Bridge. Its greenery supports a lot of warblers, wrens and other birds, while crickets sizzle in the grass beneath the plants. 

I was already having a whale of a time, and the conference hadn't even started! Friday was an industry special. There was a panel of agents discussing their part in an author's career, and talks by editors, publishers, mass book buyers and reviewers. 

Workshops on character development, finding your writing voice, how to promote yourself, your brand, and your book filled the rest of the weekend. You could learn to punctuate with confidence with Jenny Haddon and Elizabeth Hawksley, experience the intricacies of dressing like a Geisha with Pia Fenton and Sue Moorcroft, or  discover the ins and outs of Victorian clothing with Mireille Weller. 

John And Friends (with champagne!)
Saturday Evening's Gala dinner gave the 300 delegates a chance to dress up and glitter. Everyone looked fantastic. The heels of Christina Courtenay's beautiful stilettos were exclamation marks of elegance. John Jackson, star of Twitter, the New Writers' Scheme, RNA Blogs and much more, came dressed for the Duchess Of Richmond's ball. If that wasn't heroic enough, he brought all sorts of wonderful things with him and created champagne cocktails (the best I've ever tasted) right there in the university's sun-drenched plaza. Actually, it might have been pouring with rain— John's cocktails stop you noticing the weather. They are that good. Believe me. 

The Gala Dinner was held beneath the spectacular vault of books contained in the university's grand Octagon library. Putting faces to the names of people I've only met online, or on the cover of their books, was amazing. 

My Souvenir!
I loved every second of the conference, so picking a favourite session is almost impossible. Two, though, stand out in my memory. Jane Wenham Jones did a workshop based around her book Wanna Be A Writer We've Heard Of? which was full of tips and wrinkles for promoting your work. To put them into practice you've got to look confident and outgoing (even if you aren't). This is where Janie Millman's session Present Yourself was a real help to me. Among other things, I learned to project my voice by jumping up and down and grunting like a Neanderthal. Doing this along with thirty other people—most of whom I'd never met before—was a crash course in shedding inhibitions. 

In the penultimate session I went to, Alison May urged us to get out of our comfort zones. Normally I shrink in my seat when anyone says that, but this time Alison was preaching to the choir—I'd already left my inhibitions back in Janie's session, the day before! 

One of the many important things I learned from the RNA conference is a fancy trick with Amazon links, which you can do via Booklinker. If you click on this link: getBook.at/Her_Royal_Risk you should see details which work for all Amazon stores, in whichever country you live. That sounds like magic to me. Could you try it out for me, and let me know if it really works? Thanks!

Wednesday 8 July 2015

RNA Conference 2015—A Writing Holiday

Find out more at http://bit.ly/1C0CxOU
I'm off to London today as the Romantic Novelists' Association Conference starts at the end of this week. I'm going to be incommunicado for a while, as I don't have any designer gadgets, or even a smart phone, so I'm going to use the time away from my desk as a writing retreat—at least until the conference fun starts in earnest on Friday afternoon.

I'll miss chatting online, but I hope to meet lots of you at the conference!