The Creative Well Christmas Special

The Creative Well Christmas Special

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I couldn’t leave this mini-series without mentioning one of the most important means of refilling my creative well, especially not at this time of year – being with friends and family – in the case, The Romaniacs.

Last weekend six out of the eight Romaniacs gathered in Church Stretton for a weekend of writing, workshops, planning, laughter and fun. We chatted about our work-in-progress, discussed plot problems, ran ideas passed each other, ate, drank, laughed, and took a cultural trip into Shrewsbury.

Lucie, Vanessa & Debbie
Lucie, Vanessa & Debbie

On the second and final night, we opened our secret Santa gifts, ate even more food, sipped Prosecco, and enjoyed spending some rare and quality time together. Our two fellow Romaniacs, Celia and Jan were very much missed, and we hope they will be able to make the next Sparkle Weekend, as it became known.

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Being with other writers and sharing in a creative process is a great way to refill that well. I returned home fired up and focused, and keen to complete the first draft of book 3.

On that note, I should get my head down and get Griff, my hero, out of a sticky situation …

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy and healthy 2015, filled with friendship and fun, and maybe just a few books.

RS Paperback
Photo courtesy of Sue Fortin

See you in the New year.

Take care.

Laura x

The Creative Well: Part 3. The Fall

The Creative Well: Part 3. The Fall

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In my third and final part of The Creative Well, I’m sharing my love and enthusiasm for The Fall. BBC 2 Thursdays.

I came to this drama late, having read positive comments about it on Facebook. It’s a police thriller, starring Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson, and the man who is to play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades film, Jamie Dornan, as the serial killer, Paul Spector.

As viewers, we are shown the murderer from the first scene. We are treated to watching DSI Gibson and her team unravel the clues that hopefully will lead to an arrest. We are yet to see if she catches her man.

It is an absorbing drama, excellently acted and superbly written. Gillian Anderson has very little dialogue, yet I’m certain I know what’s going through her mind, such is her skill.

I’m drawn in by the intensity. I’m totally focused on the visuals, and listen to every single word spoken. There is no stuffing – no padding – everything in the script is there to move the story forward, create suspense or explain motives. I’m watching every action and reaction, as each expression and every tiny movement has meaning. I find myself wondering how the writer, Allan Cubbitt, describes this within the script.

It’s a master class in how to write, act and portray great characters and plotlines, and I find it hugely inspiring.

Which TV shows or films have topped up your creative well?

Laura x

The Creative Well: Part 2. Paloma.

The Creative Well: Part 2. Paloma.

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I am a huge Paloma Faith fan and there have been many times I’ve turned to her music for inspiration. On occasion, lyrics have triggered thoughts that led to me solving plot problems in my novels, and I’ll quite often play particular songs from her albums to set the mood and tone of the scene I’m writing.

Paloma is one of the artists I would travel miles to see and hear perform live.

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Our trip to Bath at the end of November was built around a Paloma gig at the wonderful art deco Bath Forum. As soon as my friend and I arrived and parked the car, we went in search of the Forum, only to discover the car park was right next door. The crew was unloading the lorry with the instruments and set and there was a part of me that wondered if we’d see Paloma enter the building.

The Forum Seats 1800
The Forum
Seats 1800

The gig was outstanding – beautifully crafted, with endless energy and excellent musicianship from Paloma and the band, delivered with humour, passion and emotion, all of which drew me in. I admire Paloma’s creativity and her ability to connect. For me, she achieves in the music world all that I strive to achieve in the writing world.

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Once again, a plot problem I’ve been struggling with was resolved by listening to Paloma, only this time it wasn’t through the lyrics of a song, but in her funny and chatty link to Ready For The Good Life. I’m trying to work out why this happens. Is it because we both write about romance and relationships?

How have your plot problems been resolved?

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We didn’t see Paloma enter the building, but I live in hope that I will one day meet her to thank her for helping keep my creative well topped up.

Did I mention I’m a huge Paloma faith fan?

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In my final part of the mini series, I’ll be taking a look at a recent TV drama that has my mind buzzing.

Take care.

Laura x

 

 

The Creative Well: Part 1. Bath.

The Creative Well: Part 1

Welcome to the first in my mini series about The Creative Well.

Bath, preparing for its Christmas markets.
Bath, preparing for its Christmas markets.

This is a term I first came across having joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and it was quite possibly one of my fellow Choc Lit authors who drew the phrase to my attention.

Having spent an intense few months nurturing Follow Me Follow You, writing short stories for anthologies, and attempting to complete the first draft of book 3, I reached a point where my creative well needed refilling. Normally I would turn to books for that injection of inspiration, but I’m so deep into my draft and so fully invested in that fictional world, I’m avoiding entering others.

Last week, a friend and I took a trip to Bath, a beautiful Somerset city, full of history, grace and elegance. I had never visited before and was keen to look around.

The Pump Room

On our search for the Roman Baths, and much to our delight, we discovered lots of stationery stores. I wondered if this was down to Bath’s literary connections, but didn’t question it beyond that, enjoying ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the glorious array of pens, notebooks and pencil cases.

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We struggled to locate the Baths, expecting signposts to point our way and for the entrance to be obvious. A kind cyclist took pity on us and gave clear and precise directions. Once we reached the building, we were told all the signposts had been taken down … We didn’t feel quite as daft after that.

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The Baths are fascinating and inspirational, and if you ask me what a strigil is, I can tell you. I learned the difference between Turkish and Roman Baths, that the water in the main bath is warm, and that you shouldn’t touch the water in the main bath …

I did wash my hands thoroughly, especially as I was told a grim story from 1979 about a person dying from the bugs in the water.

It was a wonderful day, full of history, exploration and discovery, and like the baths, a natural spring – in this case of ideas rather than water – started to refill my creative well.

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Next week I’ll be reporting on what we did in the evening in Bath, but in the meantime, I’d like to know what fills your creative well.

Take care.

Laura x

 

The Purr-fect Writing Companions

The Purr-fect Writing Companions

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Daisy, Dr Livingstone the doorstop, and Rascal

I enjoy working from home with its many advantages.

Preferring a quiet and still working environment, I rarely turn down offers of coffee from Gajitman, plot analysis from my daughter and the chance to laugh with my son at his wordplay jokes, but during the day in the school term, I have six hours in which to write, blog, complete tax returns and process admin.

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Daisy and Rascal

My cats, Daisy and Rascal, are my quiet companions at these times. Their coffee skills could use a little polishing, and the only plot they’re concerned about is their territory in the garden, but they do make me smile and laugh and provide excellent cover when I’m talking to myself – ‘That? Oh, I was just talking to Rascal.’

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Rascal, assuming his SplatCat position

As I write this, Rascal is tearing through the house. I don’t know why. Possibly to do with the rain and wind outside. It would be easy to believe a herd of elephants have charged upstairs …

SplatCat Rascal
SplatCat Rascal

Daisy is more refined, prim and proper, and she saves most of her affection for my daughter. However, if I’m the only one home, I’ll do …

Daisy
Daisy

We are huge cat lovers in the James household – they bring so much love and laughter to our lives, and they are as much a part of our family as our flesh and blood relatives.

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'In yer face'
‘In yer face’

Now to teach them how to make a decent cup of coffee …

For more photos of refined Daisy and SplatCat Rascal in all sorts of weird and wonderful poses, please check out my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Take care.

Laura x

 

 

 

 

An Irish Promise: Isabella Connor

An Irish Promise: Isabella Connor

An Irish Promise
Click on the cover to visit the Amazon page

On Sunday 2nd November 2014, my daughter and I attended the launch of Isabella Connor’s second Choc Lit novel, An Irish Promise.

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Liv & Laura

Arriving promptly at 14:00 hours, I was jubilant at having reached our destination sixty miles from home on time, despite a long wait for a bacon bap, and a traffic jam somewhere near Lyndhurst.

It was only when I asked my daughter to check the invitation to ensure we were most definitely and absolutely at the right building, I realized we were an hour early …

What can I say? I was keen.

Isabella Connor is the pen name of Liv Thomas and Valerie Olteanu. With Val

Liv Thomas
Liv Thomas

in Canada, the launch was hosted by my lovely friend and fellow ChocLiteer, Liv, who ran a cryptic quiz, raising funds for charity, answered questions from the floor, and signed copies of An Irish Promise.

With orange, white and green bunting, food and drink-a-plenty, and live music from the excellent Kat Sinclair, it

Kat Sinclair
Kat Sinclair

was a fab event.

As a proud and contented owner of a signed paperback version of An Irish

Promise, and having spent the afternoon with Liv, her family and friends, other writers and my daughter, I’d say it was time well spent.

Even the spare hour between two and three.

Isabella Connor’s An Irish Promise is available now.

Laura x

Blurb:
A promise is a promise …
Art historian, Rachel Ford has returned to the Irish village of Kilbrook intent on keeping her promise to take revenge on the school bullies who ruined her childhood and destroyed her family.
Australian actor, Finn MacKenzie sets hearts fluttering when he turns up in sleepy Kilbrook to help his aunt with a school production. He seems to have a charmed life, yet his confident façade hides heartbreak and tragedy. Although Finn isn’t looking for love, when he meets the mysterious Rachel, there’s a definite spark between them.
Rachel is torn between her desire for revenge and this new love affair. She doesn’t want to deceive Finn, but can she trust him to keep her real identity a secret? And will he understand why she must keep her promise, no matter the cost?

Kindle Daily Deal: Truth or Dare?

Morning all and happy bonfire night!

My Choc Lit debut novel Truth or Dare? is a Kindle Daily Deal today, November 5th 2014.

‘Really enjoyed this book – couldn’t put it down and read it over 3 nights. There were elements of the characters I could really relate to, especially Rosie. After about 2 years of not reading anything at all it was the perfect story to get me back into books and I’m looking forward to the next one.’ – Amazon Reviewer.

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Click on the cover to visit the Amazon page

For 99p, this first book in the Chesil Series will take you on a journey from Bedfordshire to Dorset, to the spectacular Chesil Beach, as you meet Kate Blair, Rosie Jenkins, Josh Willis and Declan O’Brien.

Would you know when to do the wrong thing for the right reason?

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Truth or Dare?

Love’s a dangerous game …

Kate Blair’s sick of unrequited love. She’s quietly waited for Mickey for the past six years and finding a compass-carved heart, with their initials scratched through the middle, only strengthens her resolve: no more Mickey and no more playing it safe.

It’s time to take a chance on real love and Declan O’Brien’s the perfect risk. He’s handsome, kind, and crazy about her so it’s not long before all thoughts of Mickey come few and far between.

But old habits die-hard. Kate may have started to forget … but has Mickey?

 

Laura x

What’s Another Year?

What’s Another Year?

What’s another year? I remember it as a 1980 Eurovision Contest winning song from Johnny Logan. It gave me shivers at the time.

Another year this time round sees the first anniversary of the publication of my debut novel, Truth or Dare?, book 1 in the Chesil Series. Plenty has happened in those twelve months. TOD revised fix

TOD_FRONT largeThe book had a cover makeover for a start.

 

ToD was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s Best Romantic eBook, my short story, Mulled Wine and Cupcakes, was accepted by Choc Lit and published in the Love Match Selection anthology, I was invited to and attended Weymouth’s SandWorld to celebrate their Books and Author theme for 2014, and my second book, Follow Me, Follow You, book 2 in the Chesil Series, went into print – my first paperback, which I’m thrilled and relieved to say has been exceedingly well-received.FM_thumbnail new

Romaniac Shorts CoverThe Romaniacs, of whom I’m a member, went digital, forming Romaniac Press, and publishing our first anthology, Romaniac Shorts, with proceeds donated to the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Dyslexia Action. It’s a collection of twenty-two stories, some dark, others quirky or funny, which has received lovely reviews.

My short story, Bitter Sweet, was selected for the RNA anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply, appearing in the extended digital edition, and last week saw my first foray into the world of judging, as I attended the Bridport Story Slam.

It’s been busy.

And I managed to feed my children! Although on occasion, they kept my IMG_5130engine running smoothly, particularly following my wrist surgery at Christmas. IMG_5142My daughter made a delicious gluten-free, vegetarian pie for my Christmas lunch, and my son took care of my scar, rubbing Bio Oil in at every opportunity.

Gajitman kept the supplies of coffee and chocolate coming. No mean feat, I can tell you.

And, in time for the RNA’s summer conference, I made gluten-free gin and tonic cupcakes. Oh yes.

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Looking ahead, I shall be at SandWorld for the third and final time this season as an attending author on Wednesday 29th October 2014, signing copies of FMFY and enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the staff. It’s been an absolute pleasure spending time there, and I highly recommend it for a trip out. The sand sculptures are incredible.

I am 30,000 words into book 3 in the Chesil Series, provisionally titled, What Doesn’t Kill You, and have set a new deadline of 24th December 2014 to get the first draft completed. My intention is to sign up to NaNoWriMo this year to encourage me to push through to the end of the novel.

A teaser photo for 'What Doesn't Kill You'
A teaser photo for ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’

Towards the end of November, the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society are kindly running a giveaway of FMFY. I wrote an article which appeared in February’s magazine reflecting on how I achieved a life-long dream of becoming a published author. It’s a great organisation, which is currently running a Remission Mission. I’m on the wall. I wonder if you can tell what my remission mission is …

My mission for today is to thank everyone who has made my writing dream come true, and salute those who have been kind enough to buy, read and review the books.

Thank you.

Take care.

Laura x

Bridport Story Slam III

Bridport Story Slam III

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What an honour it was to be at last night’s Bridport Story Slam, attending as a judge – my first time in this role as a writer.

Part of the Bridport Open Book, the event was held at the Beach & Barnicott, a wonderful, intimate grade II listed bar and restaurant in the centre of Bridport, Dorset. Supported by The Dorset Writers Network, the slam was organised by the lovely Frances Colville, and compared by Declan Duffy, a charming and humorous MC who ensured the proceedings were seamless.

Twelve brave souls entered the fray, and when their name was pulled from the hat, they stepped onto the stage and entertained us with stories no longer than five minutes each.

From the foreboding tale of Hide and Seek, to a plum fedora, and ending with the death of Cock Robin as told by the sparrow, I was delighted with the diversity of the new writers.

Kate Kelly, Penny Deacon & Laura E James
Kate Kelly, Penny Deacon & Laura James

With my two colleagues, Kate Kelly and Penny Deacon, I retired to the Judges Chambers to consider the verdict.

The winning story was A French Tale, a glorious, witty, well-observed account of a seven-nearly-eight-year-old girl’s burgeoning curiosity about the world around her. It was written and read by Wendy Breckon.

Writing for a slam is a different art form to that of writing for a mail-in competition. There has to be a performance at a slam. The reader has to put the physical energy and life into his or her words, get up in front of a room of waiting listeners, and entertain them. There’s something very traditional about that. Something familial. As if we’re snuggled around the fire in the warmest room in the house, holding our breath as our grandparents, mothers, or fathers tell us their greatest tales.

Wendy achieved this. Her descriptions put me right in the middle of her scenes and I could visualise the story from start to finish, and her delivery was divine. But had I received her tale to read for myself, it would still have worked – proof she had written a great story.

Book Table

Many thanks to the organisers, performers, my able assistant, my daughter, who handled book sales, the venue and my fellow judges. It was an excellent evening and I hope a positive experience for everyone who took part.

I’m already looking forward to next year.

Take care.

Laura x