🎃Happy Halloween!🎃

👻 I’m not very good with ghouls and ghosties, believing as I do, that if there are good forces there must be bad, so I prefer not to mess.

♏️ Being a Scorpio I have a fascination with the afterlife, so it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that I may at some point send my imagination in amongst the Shades to take a snoop around, and who knows what may come of that?

🔎 Have I had any unusual experiences? Yes, but none I find easy to share. Let’s just say my mind remains open to possibility.

Stay safe on this All Hallows’ Eve, and may your Shades be guardian angels, who protect you in everything you do.

Love to all,

Susan xx

In praise of November

“November’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear.”
– Sir Walter Scott

I beg to differ! And not just because November is my birthday month, but because the weather, even up here on the Yorkshire moors, can prove Sir Walter Scott’s view of things unnecessarily pessimistic…

Take that and stick it up your Ivanhoe, Sir Walter!

Also, we have our lovely books to keep us warm.

I’m particularly excited by two releases this month. First, the long-awaited bundle of naughtiness that is 4 outrageously naughty bad boys in Blood and Thunder novels back to back – and at a special bargain price 😋

Now all you need is 🍫 and 🍷, and possibly 🛀, and you’re all set 😀

And of course the book I set in Amalfi after the Sailor’s wedding, which has a very naughty prince, and a girl called Callie from the north of England, who proves to be more than a match for naughty Prince Luca.

     

And the word for this next month of November is, of course…🎺 NAUGHTY🎺

Don’t forget the bedsocks❣️

Love to you all 😘😘😘

Susan xx

Unplug

 

Seriously, this is just as important working.

Gives you time to think and prepare for the week ahead calmly

Give those ideas chance to brew

And breathe

I’m out walking on the moors with Mr S and her royal Betster.

Wishing you the same freedom from stress  with those you love

Love
Susan xx

How long are your paragraphs?

And the hemline for this season will be…???

Who the flip knows. Or cares! And to some degree that goes for your paragraphs too. Your writing style is your writing style. But, in the same way that I like my revision letters to be bullet pointed because:

* I can tick each point off as I work my way through the manuscript

* I can see at a glance what needs to be done

* I, like you, live such a busy life, I neither have time to stuff a mushroom, nor wade through page after page of subjective opinion, that frankly needs some serious editing.

I suspect that page after page of subjective opinion may be another way of saying – not to me, but to a rookie editor’s PTB – look how hard I’m working – look at all these pages of thoughts. Or it could be laziness – give a vague opinion, but lots of it, rather than be specific as to exactly where the story fell down and why.

I would prefern a flat: this book doesnt work. Followed by: for the following reasons, bullet-pointed, of course!

But… a good editor like a good reviewer, is a pearl beyond price. And, yep, you guessed it: deserving of another Blog!

As a reader, I don’t want to wade through great chunks of text, so why would I write them?  And yes, I am still sometimes asked to consider breaking up a long paragraph by the excellent editors I’m lucky enough to work with now. I don’t have some special magic touch that allows me to get everything right first time. I have only known 2 authors in my life who have that magic touch, and I ain’t one of them.

How to change up an overly long paragraph?

Consider whether those lengthy thoughts might be better delivered as dialogue? Now you’ve got immediate action, which is far more gripping than indigestible globs of introspection. Give it a go at least, and see if it works for you. Be visual as welll as literary when you tell a story. How does your story ‘look’ on the page…?

And now I have to consider how my toenails look. It is Saturday, after all! So I’m off to get the hooves filed and the shopping in, so I can work on my most excellent revisions next week. And, yes, I honestly feel excited about working in collaboration with my editor to produce a better book for you, rather than the brain-numbing sense of dread I have sometimes felt in the past.

As with everything else in life, ladies, don’t accept second best. Fight for what you know is right, whether that be getting your hemline just right, those paragraphs snappy, and so addictive you have to read on, or making sure that those working on your book actually know what they’re doing.

No second best for us. Ever.

Have a great Saturday with those you love,

Love Susan xx

Only child syndrome? And spiders.

👻🎃👻 Okay, as it’s almost Halloween let’s start with Mr Fazakerley, as spiders were always fondly referred to at home, when I was a child. And we all know you never kill spiders, don’t we? Spiders are good. At least, according to my mother, who, quite literally, wouldn’t harm a fly. (not sure my pals in some parts of the world would agree!)

🍭🍬🍭So yesterday a friend gave my grandies packs of Halloween sweeties in black nets…and there I was, wallowing in the bath, (reading, of course) wondering why one of them had dropped their empty net in my bath instead of putting it in the bin…

 Yeah, I got lucky with my bathing companion 😉

🕷🕷🕷Yep. You know the rest. Believe me, I have never moved so fast in my life. Usain Bolt has nothing on me when I discover I’m sharing my bath with a spider!  But then I discover Mr Fazakerley is dead, and guilt wracks me, because I’m responsible for his demise. But at least he met his end in a cloud of fragrant foam.

Only child syndrome?

Are my characters real to me?

As real as anything else in this world that I can touch, see, hear and smell. When I was small I had a chair where I would sit and dream up friends, as well as scenes where I’d be outgoing me, instead of painfully shy me. And those dreams were absolutely real, and far more enjoyable than ‘frightened of her own shadow’ me, let alone, ‘scared to enter a room full of strangers’ me.

When I played the piano I would think up scenes to back with a soundtrack of my music, just like the movies. The characters responding to whatever emotion I invoked were also absolutely real to me.

So yes, my characters are real to me, which is why I know the heroines for my next four books, because they already inhabit the world inside my head.

Scoop

My next 4-book series (maybe more, we’ll see), in my head, at least, is called,

💙💎💙 THE SAPPHIRE SHEIKHS 💙💎💙

Hope you like the title! And will (eventually)  have its own web site for you to browse.

( attached to the SS site so you can navigate there easily.)

And those real characters?

(Little Pot of Gold? That’s Tumeric tea to stop our joints creaking, gals 😜)

I keep thinking about Rosie, a secondary character in my next release, A Night of Royal Consequences, who plays a tiny role, but does so with such spirit and selflessness,showing herself to be a true friend to the heroine, Callie. Man, Rosie needs a sheikh! And boy, is she going to get one!

And that’s more than enough for today or the writing will never happen!

May your bath water be spider-free, your joints well-oiled, and your imagination as boundless as the ocean.

Love to all,

Susanxx

Bad Reviews

A tickly topic.

And one I never challenge.

We’re big readers in this family. There are several ereaders, and several more piles of library books (renewed each week), as well as paperbacks and hardbacks both old and new. Like most of you, our bookshelves are heaving. Heartfelt thanks for libraries and librarians, by the way. Having played such a huge part in my life, they have to be the subject of another Blog.

My point? Mr S will often read a book, and then pass it on to me with the comment, ‘You must read this!’ And maybe I agree with him, and think ‘Wow’! And say the same to someone else. It’s a great way to discover a new author, as we tend to read in different genres. Sometimes, I think, ‘Hmm’. Though I always, always, appreciate the work that has gone in to each book, I know that every book isn’t to each individual’s taste.

Would I post a bad review? Never. Because, well, why would I? Someone loved that book, or it wouldn’t be on the shelves. Tens of thousands, and maybe more, agreed with them, read it, and lapped it up. There’s nothing wrong with me, or the author who put everything they’d got into writing it – it’s just that our tastes don’t coincide.

There is good humoured acceptance amongst publishers that the motive for writing a ‘stinking’ review isn’t always what it seems. There are a lot of axes to be ground in this world, and writing is an outlet as we all know. So, rather than feeling personallly attacked or affronted if this should happen to you, sit back and think about the person writing it, and feel some sympathy with whatever it is they’re going through, which maybe be disappointment, a desire for revenge, or simply constipation.

No author or publisher sets out to upset a reader, quite the contrary. I set out to entertain, whilst accepting that the story I tell won’t hold the same appeal for everyone.

But here’s the good news. In writing many books I have had 2 that really set the cat amongst the pigeons. One was set in a dream, rather than reality and infuriated the readers as they, quite rightly, I now am more than happy to admit – I tried it and it didn’t work – weren’t expecting that from me. Another written years before Shades of Grey, had BDSM content – quite mild, but it was definitely in there! Outraged from just about everywhere in the world had something to say about that one! I think those two books garnered around 40 1-star reviews between them. And the good news? They are amongst my bestselling books.

Now it’s easy for me to write this and appear so accepting, but when I started out my first bad review really knocked me for six. *I’m doomed* (please imagine SS in her most theatrical state, wailing and beating her chest at this point). It does hurt like hell in the early stages of a writing career to put your ‘baby’ out there and have someone, not only dislike it, but actively hate it, AND tell the world that they do. But can I tell you one last thing to reassure you. Better that than you get no reaction at all. There’s nothing like a 1-star review to draw people’s attention. It goes back to that old saying, ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’. Believe me, it’s true.

And good reviews? Well, they are treasures beyond compare, as are the reviewers who write them, so I’m not going to tag on a piece about good reviews, because they also deserve a Blog of their own!

With my love and huge hugs to all of you out there – don’t let anything shake your belief in you. Someone – many many people, I’m sure, are going to love what you do, whether that be writing books, cooking a wonderful meal (not to everyone’s taste, maybe? 😉), or gardening (someone’s bound to be allergic to your roses) etc etc The list truly is endless, but there is only one message here:

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

I believe in you.

Love

Susanxx

 

 

 

 

Rejoice!

The books’s in! And is now in the care of one of the really great eds, at

who works on the on-screen manuscript directly, and will send notes separately, all of which are crystal clear. And by notes, I don’t mean 4 or 5 pages of waffle, which, yes, I have had in the past, but concise bullet points. The nightmarish waffle days are long gone, thank goodness, and if by chance they should ever return, those waffly notes are going straight back to the source.

🌶🥕🌶

Authors work too hard to spend hours trying to decipher someone’s subjective notion of what ‘your’ book should be. That’s surely the point. It’s your book. And of course we all have continuity issues, or a scene that needs fleshing out, or even deleting. Maybe there  is too much emphasis on secondary characters, which series writing with its tight word-count doesn’t allow for. There are myriad reasons why I welcome revisions, and I truly do, because I know a good editor’s intention is to help me to improve my book, not saboutage my efforts. But I don’t welcome notes when they don’t make immediate sense, or, as happened on one infamous occasion, I had to ask a fellow author to try and decipher, and then bullet point what the editor was trying to say. Five pages of waffle led to 3 short bullet points. QED.

And of course, my book wouldn’t be in (almost) on time at all, if it weren’t for my wizard’s hat…

Thanks to my grandies, for recognising when grannie needs an extra bit of help❣️

It’s always problematic when deadlines coincide with school holidays, but like everyone else in this hard-working world, I’m certainly not complaining. I’m only too grateful to have the opportunity to share my dreams, and if I have to pull some all-nighters it’s more than worth it, to serve my wonderful readers and my publisher, and have that valuable time to share with family.

📚As I said in a previous blog – I’m hardly the only person working at night, and I like to think that someone somewhere is reading a romance, and feeling uplifted as they escape for a few hours into a fabulous passionate story, set in some exotic and opulent location. That’s certainly how I choose to spend my time, when I’m not writing. 😀

And now I’m going to 🥂celebrate🥂 sending my book in, by… cleaning the Aga.

Love to you all, and may your revisions be few and your books – whether you are reading or writing them – truly A-Ma-Zing!

Love

Susan xx

All-nighters

I’m not sure that pulling an all-nighter is a good thing, but it is in one respect, because it reminds me how many people are working right now, especially those in the emergency and caring services, so this is a great opportunity to thank you for all that you do.

And now its back to the writing I love enough to sit in a cold room with my feet wrapped in a blanket as I revisit the desert and my H and h for the last time before sending to my ed on Wednesday. Tuesday is for grandchildren. Family always comes first, as I know it does for you.

My love to all of you, especially those whom we rely on to be awake when the rest of us are fast asleep.

Susan xx

Ahead of the game

Note the cheery face pic – to convince me and you, that I can do this!!!! *see below*

Ahead of the game? Yes. For once! And only because I’m way behind! 🤓

I’m writing this on Sunday night to post on Monday morning, only because I don’t want to my wonderful reader friends down, and I’ve promised my editor that my book will definitely be in on Wednesday, though I still have a scene and an Epilogue to write. The tight timing means no going back and angsting over every comma, capital letter, and use of words. The story’s down. The words are – more or less, I hope – in the right order, and I need to stand back and let go.

But that ain’t easy!

The hardest thing in the world for me is pressing ‘Send’ on a book, because I know if I read it through just one more time, I could maybe add this or perhaps a little more of that. What I still have to get through my head after writing umpteen books, is that those ‘other’ words can be used to good effect in another book – and the sooner I very reluctantly pass the characters I love over to the care of my editor, the sooner I can write that exciting new story blazing a trail in my head.

Writing has certain similarities to an artist painting on canvas – you have to know when the last brushstroke has been laid down, and then stand back and allow your ‘baby’ (book or painting) to go out into the world to be judged by everyone else.

So, yes, I need to be organised in the next couple of days. And as it’s half term I have grannie duties also, which I love. Write a list, Susan!

Let’s all stride in to this new week feeling buoyed up, energetic, and absolutely optimistic.  I’ll feel a lot better, just knowing we’re all in this  together, whatever the tasks that lie ahead of us might be. 💃🏆💃

So – no time for that stiff gin tonight – just a read of my new Jean Plaidy, book 8 in the Georgian series, Indiscretions of the Queen, and then it’s off to sleep for me, so I can wake up really early and start working at the crack of dawn.

 

I hope you all have a fabulous week- far better in every way than you expect❣️

Love to all,

Susab xx

Sunday sermon

 

It probably is a bit of a cautionary tale today, but maybe the most important of all. What I must do is walk  I know that sounds obvious, but I have the most sedentary occupation, so it is absolutely vital – for my eyes and for my joints – to peel myself away from the desk every 40/45 minutes or so, to reboot my thoughts, stretch my limbs, and give my eyes a rest 🤓

I read somewhere that Jeffrey Archer goes for a long walk every couple of hours. I do that too. These shorter breaks are when I rehydrate – another necessity.

I’m lucky really – having the attention span of a gnat, I never really got the measure of a ‘proper’ camera, so mobile phones have been an absolute boon to me. I love recording images that are special to me, to share with you as I walk through the Yorkshire countryside.

Photography gives me every reason to notice the world I inhabit, as well as the world in my head! Healthy to have a good balance of the two, I’m sure you’ll agree!

So: exercise, observation, hydration, and, last but not least, of course, a lovely companion to take those walks with 😀

Keep your eyes peeled for a special Christmas surprise and a contest to go with it, coming soon!

Clue: it might have something to do with these guys 😉

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, everyone❣️

Love Susan xx