What every aspiring writer needs to know

I read this post by Luc Reid and know from experience that everything in it is true so, thanks to his generosity, I am reposting it.

11 Essential Things to Know If You Want to Write Fiction for a Living (via http://www.lucreid.com)

My 16-year-old son Ethan recently wrote his first short story intended for publication, and my niece, a high school senior, is visiting colleges like Middlebury, Williams, Wesleyan, and Bennington looking for a school that can help her develop a career…

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Serendipity is alive and well!

photo-2 copyWhen I go on holiday I rarely read the books I take with me. Instead I read the books that previous holiday makers have left behind. Crammed onto shelves in the reception area, scattered on tables in the guest lounge, stacked beside the TV in the villa or apartment…wherever we happen to be staying there are always abandoned books. And what treasures they are. On holiday I’ve discovered authors I’ve never heard of, learned new things, been reminded of  long forgotten stories, looked at situations in a different way and, in the reading, remembered why a new book is always such a joy.

Of course reading on holiday has an added bonus because it’s one of the few times it’s possible to read a book  from cover to cover in an afternoon.  This week I have read The Color Purple by Alice Walker and in the process learned a whole lot more about the American Deep South in the early part of the twentieth century. By the time I finished it I was so entranced that I followed it up by listening to the actress Whoopi Goldberg being interviewed on the UK Radio programme Desert Island Discs. Whoopi Goldberg won so many acclaims for acting in the Steven Speilberg film of the book that I wanted to find out more about her, and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I did just that. Apparently she was so deeply affected by the story that she wrote to the author asking for a part if a film was ever made of the book. Alice Walker wrote back about two months later to tell her she had sent  the necessary paperwork to the studios. The film script for The Color Purple was then written specifically for Whoopi Goldberg. It was her first big motion picture. The rest is history.

After I’d allowed myself enough time to think about what I’d just read, I turned to something that I thought would be very different but which turned out to be linked in the strangest way. This was Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeannette Winterson who is a well known British author. It is a semi-fictional autobiography. I know this sounds like an enigma but I assure you it’s true. To understand what I mean, however, you’ll have to read it.

Like Celie in The Color Purple, Jeanette Winterson is someone who lives on the edge and who has also spent much of her life searching for love as well as for a lost love. I didn’t see the similarities while I was reading because  one was about a black community in the American Deep South in the 1920s while the other was set in the 1960s in a poor northern town in the UK. In both books, however, the main character was lonesome and abandoned, and immensely brave.  It was only afterwards that the similarities became clear, and that is another benefit of this random holiday reading…there is far more time to think.

There have been other books too, more random choices, and while I’ve been reading them an amazing thing has happened. In each one of the holiday books I’ve read, I’ve discovered a fact that is crucial to the next story I’m going to write.

I set off on holiday determined to develop the outline for Book 3 of my Pathway Trilogy. Before I write any book I have to ‘see’ the characters and develop the back story. Within days I had all this clear in my head. What I didn’t have, however, was the detail. I needed to research a lot of things if I was to get my facts right but, happy that I had the outline, I decided to concentrate on my holiday and worry about the detail when I returned home. So with my selection of random books I settled down to do just this. I had no plan when I chose these books…I knew very little about them and  wasn’t even sure I was going to enjoy them… yet despite this they seemed to have a plan for me. In every book I read I discovered a nugget of information that I needed to flesh out my own story. I was also confronted by a new way of looking at a situation, something that has made me reconsider how one of my characters is going to react. After two weeks of reading random stories my research is complete without any effort on my part…so to every writer whose book I’ve read in this villa in the sun, thank y0u. And to every holiday maker who has left a book behind, thank you. Random reading has much to commend it.

From Russia with love

EmptyHearts300No, this post doesn’t have anything to do with the James Bond film, it’s about Empty Hearts, a romantic novel I wrote in the early 1980s. It’s set in Moscow even though I’ve never been there. How did I research it? Well I certainly didn’t use the Internet as at that time it wasn’t available for home use. Nor did I type it on a computer because I didn’t own one. Every word was produced on my old portable typewriter, in triplicate, using Tippex when I made a mistake. It was a slow and tortuous process, made even slower by having to research everything via the reference library and an encyclopaedia as well as something more specific – the National Geographic magazine. Someone gave me a bundle of back copies and for a while they remained piled, unread, on the bookshelf. Then, one rainy day when I was looking for inspiration for my third book, I happened to pick one up. Pretty soon after that I was engrossed in an article about Moscow. I was enraptured by the descriptions and wanted to use them, but how? While I was pondering, two things happened. First I met someone who was very decidedly hero material. Secondly I read a newspaper article about a writer who, to make ends meet, combined caring for other peoples’ children with research. With those two snippets it wasn’t long before the book began to take shape.

Would I dare to write the same story now? Definitely not. Although I frequently use exotic backgrounds for my stories, these days I only use those I’ve visited first hand, which means I can write from the heart. Thanks to National Geographic I think I got most of my facts right in Empty Hearts but nowadays, with the Internet linking almost every town and city across the world, I would worry that my readers would see right through me.

And what of the man who was the inspiration for my hero? Well he never found out, even when I met him again a couple of years later and he asked me if I ever based my characters on real people. And who is he?  Well I hate to admit it, but all these years later I can’t even remember his name!

So there you have it. The inner workings of a writer’s mind.

A short excerpt about a visit to the open air ice rink at Moscow’s Gorky Park where Holly, already disturbed by the fraught relationship she has observed between her employer, Dirk, and his young son, Peter, is determined to find a way to help them bond. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen at Gorky Park, not now she has very stupidly  flirted with Dirk in the hope that it will make him want to spend more time with her and Peter.

Dirk was still grinning as she stood up. “Do you want a hand?”
“No thank you, I can manage perfectly well.” She took a tentative step away from the bench, anxious to avoid his outstretched arm. The boots gripped her ankles like giant hands, displacing her weight, unbalancing her, and she stumbled slightly.
“You ought to help her,” Peter looked anxious.
“No, don’t.” Holly gestured him away indignantly, and the sudden movement proved to be her undoing. Flat on her back, she glared up at Dirk who was laughing openly.
“I think this is one occasion where pride has to take a back seat,” he chuckled, hauling her to her feet. “Peter will be disappointed if you don’t skate, and you can’t do it alone.”
Holly gave up. The vast frozen pond filled her with alarm and she knew he was right. She held out a reluctant hand.
Peter grabbed it, unable to understand her fear. “It’s easy, really it is. Let me show you.”
“Don’t Peter!” Holly’s voice rose to a shriek of alarm as he threatened to unbalance her. “Let your father help me. He’s stronger,” she added weakly as Dirk slipped an arm around her waist.
“An invitation and a compliment!” he teased. “It must be my lucky day.”
Holly didn’t answer as she moved stiffly beside him, concentrating on remaining upright, anything to avoid closer contact. But as they stepped onto the ice her legs shot from under her. Forgetting her intention of keeping Dirk at arm’s length, she clutched at his coat in alarm.
“Just relax,” He dropped his bantering tone and held her tightly. “It will take you a while to get your balance, so put your arm around me. That’s better, now we’re doubly secure.”
His hand was warm across her back, firm at her waist. She concentrated on his instructions, willing herself to ignore his hands and to forget her unexpected reaction to the touch of his fingers when he’d laced her boots.
“You’re skating! You’re really skating!” Peter darted round their rather jerky progress in excitement, his cheeks as red as his bright woollen scarf. “Can’t you let go now Father? See if she can do it on her own.”
“I doubt it,”Dirk looked down at Holly with a grin, relaxing his hold slightly.
“Don’t!” She clutched at his coat, her sudden panic-stricken movement swinging her round to face him.
Dirk tightened his grasp and grinned over her shoulder at Peter. “You can see my problem, can’t you? Perhaps you’d better skate off on your own so as not to waste the morning.”
“All right,” Peter darted off in the direction of several small boys playing tag.
“He’s too young to be alone.” Unsuccessfully, Holly tried to move away from Dirk, her skates skidding awkwardly on the ice. This wasn’t what she’d planned at all. Dirk should be skating with Peter.
“Nonsense! He’s perfectly safe. And, besides, I don’t want him to see how much I envy him his nanny.”
Holly was startled by the declaration.
“Don’t look so surprised,” he told her. “I’m only following up last night’s invitation.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh yes you do.” He tucked an escaping curl back into her hat before letting his fingers trail down her cheek, coming to rest on the straight line of her mouth.
“Ah, don’t Holly.” He rubbed his thumb gently across her lips. “Such a pretty mouth to look so stern.”
Holly forgot that they were still on the ice and turned away, her cheeks scarlet with mortification. She was right out of her depth and it was her own fault. She had behaved stupidly.
She ceased her regrets as a passing skater jogged her, sending her legs in wildly opposite directions. Instinctively she grabbed at Dirk, allowing him to pull her close again.
“See, you can’t resist me!” He settled his arm round her waist, laughing at her gasp of indignation. “But as Peter is about to rejoin us, you’ll have to wait.”

One week, two books!

Well it’s been an amazing week. By chance rather than by design, two of my books have been published 

Claydon-PathwayToSuccess-1333x2000

Pathway to Success – Finding Bella Blue is Book 2 in my Pathway series, while Empty Hearts is a Retro Romance that was first published more than 25 years ago. There is one downside to such excitement, however, which is all the promoting that has to be done once a book is published. While both the publishers involved will do their bit, I, like every other writer out there nowadays, will have to do a great deal of my own marketing. This means blogging, appearing on guest blogs, showcasing the books on various promotional websites, using twitter, facebook and a whole host of other social media sites, and that all has to happen while I write the next book.  Oh…and I mustn’t forget to carry on promoting past books either. The only writers who escape this are the big names and those lucky people whose books rise to the top to sell in large numbers, and even they have to spend a great deal of their time being interviewed, making author appearances and going on tour. Long gone are the days when a writer could just write. I’m not complaining though. Far from it. Through all this promotional activity I have made many friends, not just in the UK but across the world, some of whom are also fans of the books I write – something that all writers cherish.

So what about these two books? Well I gave you a sneak peek for Finding Bella Blue last week, just before it was published. What I didn’t tell you though was that the story takes place 10 years on from Book 1: Pathway to tomorrow,  and is set in a number of different places. During the course of the story the heroine, Izzie, spends time in London, Los Angeles, in a 500 year old historic home on a 2,000 acre estate, in hospital, and at her sister Jodie’s home, which readers of Book 1  already know is on the northwest coast of England. Not a great deal is written about some of these settings. They are just a background to what is happening in the story. In London, for example, the reader will make a brief visit to a hotel and to an arena where a musical extravaganza takes place.  Later that same reader will visit a dressing room back stage before spending longer in a hospital room.  In Los Angeles it’s mainly about a garden, and when Izzie travels to the northwest of England it is to revisit the home that was first introduced in Book 1, something that needs  very little explanation. Most of the story takes place somewhere very different. The setting is the imaginary Corley Estate, whose owner, Lord Corley, the Earl of Faversham, can trace his family back to the Domesday Book. With a crumbling 500 year old house as a backdrop to the 2,000 acre estate, the story mixes the past with the present, so all in all, it’s an eclectic mix.

How did I research the background for each setting? Well my website boasts that my books are a ticket to romance, so for this to be true I have to take my readers on a physical journey as well as into the journey of their imagination, and for this to happen the content has to be as authentic as possible. Sometimes this involves a great deal ofIMG_0022 judicious research but often I just write about the places I’ve visited, which is what I did in this book.  London was easy because I’ve worked there and stayed there, so it is very familiar, as are its hotels. I’ve also attended just the sort of musical extravaganza described in the book, so another tick. I’ve visited a lot of hospitals too, both as a visitor and as an employee, so no surprises there. Los Angeles  was  a little more problematic but not much as I’ve spent time in California, although not in LA itself, so I’ve seen the sort of plants that thrive there and asked questions about them. My own home is in the northwest of England so I relied on local knowledge for that. Only Corley Hall, the crumbling historic home on its 2,000 acre estate required any real research because I don’t move in the sort of circles where I’ve ever stayed in one (although I did once stay in a castle that had been turned into holiday apartments!) In the end though, even Corley Hall was relatively easy because there are a lot of ancient historic homes open to the public in the UK. In the very recent past I have wandered around  several of them and admired their beautifully manicured gardens and  the wonderful landscaping that makes them such works of art, so all I had to do was to collect together as many facts as I could and amalgamate all of them into an imaginary home like the one pictured. This is where the imaginary Earl of Faversham lives in my story. So if you like history, and travel, and music, you’ll find a little bit of all of it in Pathway to Success – Finding Bella Blue

EmptyHearts300

Empty Hearts was an entirely different challenge, however. For a start it’s set in Russia and no, I haven’t been there yet. I am visiting this summer though and it will be very interesting to see how much of the research I did over twenty-five years ago, holds up now. In those pre-Internet, pre-computer days writing was a whole different ball game and one I’ll talk about next week when I give another sneak peek. This one will be from Empty Hearts. In the meantime, here is the blurb.

By trying to make a new start, Holly just may find a family of her own.

Holly is struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life when she is offered the chance to travel to Moscow to research a new book. That she will also have to look after diplomat Dirk Van Allen’s five-year-old son, Peter, seems a small price to pay…until she meets them both.

Determined to find a way into Peter’s stony little heart, Holly thinks that softening his father’s attitude towards her might help. When Dirk sees through her ploy and starts to play her at her own game, she realizes she is way out of her depth with this mysterious, intriguing man.

 

This Retro Romance reprint was originally published in 1985 by Woman’s Weekly.

A sneak peek!

Claydon-PathwayToSuccess-700x1050Last week I promised to tell you more about Book 2 of the Pathway Trilogy – Pathway to Success: Finding Bella Blue. The final edits are now finished and it will be published very shortly. It’s not before time either, as some of my lovely readers have been at pains to tell me.

Although I’m sorry that I’ve kept them waiting, I love their impatience. I also love the fact they are prepared to tell me to hurry up. Why? Well because  the one thing a writer loves above all is readers who like their books, and especially readers who are waiting impatiently for the next one.  So for all those fans who want to read more of the Pathway series, here is a sneak peak. I promise it’s not a spoiler, it’s just a short extract to keep you interested.

When the book is published I’ll let you know via my blog and also  on Facebook at facebook.com/SheilaClaydon.authorI’ll probably mention it on https://www.facebook.com/groups/153824114796417/ the Books We Love Facebook page too, as well as a few other places. In the meantime, here’s the taster. I hope you enjoy it.

* * *

An extract from Chapter One – Pathway to Success: Finding Bella Blue

 His dog found her first and with all the joyful abandon of a half grown puppy decided the stranger on the grass wanted to play. Jack yelled moments before it pounced but he was too late. By the time he was close enough to grab it’s collar the girl was shrieking for mercy as a wet, pink tongue slathered her face with slobbery kisses.

He gave an inward groan as he hauled his dog off and began a systematic search through his pockets for a clean handkerchief. What was the girl doing here anyway? Why couldn’t she stay indoors with the rest of them? He was going to have to insist that Amelia insert some sort of access clause into future contracts if people started treating the place as if they owned it. Finally locating a wedge of tissues, he thrust them at her with an apology. 

“Sorry about Cora, she…you surprised her.”

“Not as much as she surprised me,” the girl was sitting up now and laughing. Despite his irritation he noticed she had the most amazing eyes. Then Cora lunged again, distracting him. When he finally had the dog under control he saw that the girl was shaking biscuit crumbs out of the tissues.

“The mark of a true dog lover,” she grinned at him as she wiped her mouth and the smear of dribble drying on her cheek.

“Or maybe a dog owner who still has to bribe his dog into being obedient,” he surprised himself with a wry smile.

She seized the excited dog by the ears and looked into its eyes. “So you’re called Cora are you? Well it’s time you learned some respect. Sit!”

To his utter amazement, Cora sat.

“Now lie down…good dog.” Without a murmur Cora slumped onto the grass beside her and pretended to go to sleep.

Jack stared at her. “What are you, a dog whisperer or something? She barely does what I tell her, let alone a complete stranger.”

“No, nothing like that. I just grew up with animals so I know all about letting them know who’s in charge.”

“Well that’s lucky for Cora. Her bad manners could have put you off dogs for life.”

She shook her head. “It would take a lot to do that. Most of the time I like animals more than people.”

“You and me both,” he was surprised into another smile. “Is that what you’re doing here? Playing hooky from people. I thought everyone involved in these photo shoots had to stay within shouting distance.”

“They do, but I wangled a special dispensation today by persuading everyone I was superfluous to requirements. Once they’d agreed I made a hasty escape before they changed their minds. I intended to go for a walk but then I saw this tree and it sort of asked me to lie down under it and stare at the sky through its branches.”

He nodded because what she had just said made total sense to him. Then, realizing he was in danger of breaking his own self-imposed rule by being halfway friendly to one of Amelia’s clients, he poked Cora with his toe. “Come on lazy bones. No more chatting. We’ve work to do.”

Sighing heavily, she ignored him.

The girl laughed. “Seems her training has a way to go yet. What have you got to do anyway, and is Cora an absolutely indispensable part of it? If she’s not then maybe she’d like to come for a walk with me instead?”

When the word walk percolated Cora’s apparently moribund brain cells she forgot she was playing dead and leapt to her feet, barking excitedly at the pair of them.

“You have taught her something then,” folding her long legs beneath her the girl stood up surprisingly quickly, pushing the soggy tissues into her pocket as she did so.

 “Oh she knows all the nice things, you know…biscuit, walk, dinner, ball…it’s the other stuff she has trouble with…the rules! Isn’t that right Cora? It’s the rules you ignore.” He bent down and patted the dog’s head as he spoke because now that the girl’s wide turquoise eyes were almost level with his, his heartbeat seemed to have inexplicably speeded up.

When he straightened up she was still standing next to him and was looking almost as expectant as Cora. Despite himself, he laughed. “I don’t know why I’m saying this but yes, you can take her for a walk around the estate on the absolute understanding that you teach her something useful. In the meantime I’ll get on with my work.”

“Done!” She held out her hand as if they were sealing a major agreement. Shaking it, he was surprised by how firm it was, and how small and slim it felt, and how much he wanted to keep holding onto it. 

 

I’m getting there

In November 2013 I reviewed my blogging prowess, decided almost everything was wrong, and promised to put it right. One of the things I was going to do was blog more regularly, the second was to update my website. Well, with a little (lot) of help from my friends, I’ve managed to update the website except for working out how to let readers subscribe. That’s my next aim. The blogging, however, has been sadly neglected.  Why? Well if you revisit that blog at http://sheilaclaydon.com/2013/11/01/blogger/ you’ll see I was trying to do too much at once and all of it very soon after an incredibly busy summer.  Then, after only a few more blogs and before I could fully collect my thoughts, my husband was scheduled for a very serious back operation. This was such a worry as there was the possibility of paralysis if things went wrong, that my blog dropped way down my priority list, as did writing, using social media to promote my books and all those other things that writers do.

Now, however, it’s a new year and I have a newly refurbished husband!  I’m glad to be able to report that the operation was successful beyond the surgeon’s dreams, let alone ours, and that he is regaining his strength day by day. With full mobility now within reach he will soon be playing sport again and that will leave me time to write and blog.

Claydon-PathwayToSuccess-700x1050So now you know what stopped me blogging again so soon after my new resolution, what have I got to tell you today. Well, despite the worries of the past months, I have managed to finish the second book of my Pathway Trilogy. This happened while my husband was convalescing and the completed manuscript is with the editor at Books We Love. I’m waiting for final edits and then it will be published. In the meantime, here is the cover. Like all the covers produced by Michelle Lee at http://eroticdesign.eroticpen.net, it is fabulous. Michelle always seems to know exactly what I want and this one for Pathway to Success – Finding Bella Blue is no exception.

After all the delays and problems, I got there and, more than that, like the result. I had to re-read every word I had already written before I could start writing again though. When I did, Izzie, Luke, Jodie and Marcus were waiting to welcome me because I already knew them from their appearance in the first book of the trilogy, Pathway to Tomorrow  – but Jack, Amelia, Erica, Leo, Sebastian, Tony, Connie and, most importantly, Cora, these were the characters I had to get to know a little better before I could complete the second book. And what characters some of them turned out to be. Leo is larger than life, Cora too, and as for Jack, well you’ll just have to read the book to find out about him.

Now of course, I have the third book looming over me. So far I’ve written two pages. I already know who the main characters are, though, and when you read it, you might be surprised by the hero. That’s quite a long way into the future, however.

In my next blog I will tell you a bit more about Book 2.

Welcome to my website

Life is complicated, which means I sometimes write while I’m travelling. Many of the places I visit appear in my books. I hope you enjoy reading them. Buying them is like buying a ticket to romance.

How to find a story

Claydon-KissingMaggieSilverI’m revisiting one of my earlier blogs today to remind myself what it is that prompts me to write a particular story. Every one is different. An idea can be triggered by a photo, an overheard conversation, a personal experience, a snippet of news, a throwaway remark by a friend…the list is endless.  In the case of Kissing Maggie Silver it was two things.  The first happened when I was on holiday and I visited a nature reserve in New Zealand. It is a place where seals, penguins and sea birds are allowed to breed and feed naturally without any interference from the rangers who protect them. The peace and the wild  beauty of the place is magical, and especially memorable is a spectacular beach of pale sand that belongs to the tiny blue penguins that live there. No human have walked on it for many years. Instead the penguins and visiting seals  are viewed from camouflaged hides that are built into the surrounding cliffs. Although I didn’t know it when I visited, it would eventually  become the place where Ruari, the hero in the book, would live, work and learn a lot of lessons about himself.

The second inspiration was a photograph of a lovely red-haired model whose clear gray eyes seemed to be full of wistful  longing. Although I can’t remember what she was advertising, I couldn’t get her face out of my head and thus Maggie Silver was born.

Once I’d found Maggie Silver I knew she, too, would visit that beautiful beach in New Zealand one day; the problem  was how to get her there. I knew it was so far from her own life experience that she had a long way to go…much further than the geographical distance she would have to travel…to reach it. As soon as I understood that, then her whole personality clicked into place.She was the youngest of a large family, the only girl, used to being teased and treated as little more than a child. She was also kind, helpful, sparky and full of life. Deep down, however, she was still immature and lacking in confidence. I also knew she was someone who was actually more comfortable with her own company than she realised.

Ruairi was far more difficult.  I knew he was the person who would open up the world for her, but how? His face came to me long before I knew he was a wildlife photographer and there were no prompts. He just appeared, fully formed, in my imagination, the absolute counterweight to Maggie. After that it was only a matter of time before his tan skin, his size and strength and his casual confidence turned him into a world traveller, someone who could quickly be at home wherever he was.

After that it was easy because I already knew that Maggie had fallen in love with him when she was far too young to know what her feelings meant. I knew, too, that she had always had a special place in Ruairi’s heart, so all I needed to do was to find a way for them to meet up again, and with Maggie’s large and ever present family ruling her life, it wasn’t difficult. What was difficult was finding a way for them to be alone.

Then there were the small glitches in their personalities that I had to overcome; Maggie’s temper and her tendency to feel sorry for herself, and Ruairi’s obstinacy. Maggie had to grow up and Ruairi had to learn that sometimes he was wrong. Fortunately they had good people on their side, people who wanted the best for them because they loved them, and because they knew, even if Ruairi and Maggie didn’t, that they were absolutely right for one another.

To find out what happened read the excerpt below to see how mixed up they are. Then go to Kissing Maggie Silver 

 * * *

Forty minutes later, still not sure how she had been talked into it, Maggie was adding items to a shopping list while Ruairi overtook a couple of drivers who were looking for parking spaces in the town centre, and turned into a side street.

 “As long as you don’t mind a short walk there’s bound to be a space down here,” he said. 

“Walking is fine,” she stowed the shopping list in her bag. “It’ll be good to move a bit faster than child’s pace for a change.”

He smiled as he slotted the car neatly into a gap between two parked cars and killed the engine. “Are you getting fed up with your domestic responsibilities?”

She shook her head as she opened the passenger door. “Not really. I love the children… it will just be good to stretch my legs.”

As they set off towards the town centre her hand brushed against Ruairi’s. Despite all his good intentions, and without allowing himself to think of the consequences, he seized it and pulled her close to his side. She didn’t look at him as she curled her fingers into his. Instead she tried to make a joke of it.

 “I’m not Sophie or Amy you know. I can walk safely on my own.”

He slowed them both to a stop. “I’m not in any danger of ever confusing you with Sophie or Amy,” he said quietly, and then he did the one thing he’d told himself he was never going to do again, he kissed her.

It was a tentative kiss, no more than his lips brushing hers, but this time the connection was immediate. It felt as if a thousand volts had surged through him as she responded, and forgetting they were in a quiet suburban street, he let her soft lips become his whole focus. For what seemed to be a very long time they explored one another’s mouths, their breathing erratic as they pressed against one another, the fact that they were on a public street the only thing that stopped their feverish hands from roaming across bodies suddenly hot with desire. Ruairi didn’t come to his senses until a couple of teenage boys cycling past made ribald comments. When he heard them he drew back from Maggie with a wry smile.

 “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean that to happen.”
Her face was flushed, her lips still slightly parted as she looked up at him.


“I know you didn’t,” she said, her voice and her gaze steady. “I know you are going away again Ruairi, and I know there won’t be a place for me in your life when you do but…but can’t we pretend it’s not like that, just for today.”

At a complete loss for words, he stared down at her. She was keeping whatever was going on inside her head to herself. All he could see reflected in her wide grey eyes were his own feelings of desire and frustration. It brought him to his senses and, his heart heavy, he shook his head.

“You know it doesn’t work like that Maggie. If we take today, then we’ll want tomorrow too, and the day after that.”

 “And would that really be so terrible,” she whispered, her face pale now, her body rigid in the circle of his arms.

 “Yes, because then I’d break your heart,” he said, letting his hands drop to his sides.

 

The Hollywood Collection will leave you guessing…

The Hollywood Collection

The Hollywood Collection

Sheila Claydon writing as Anne Beverley
(eBook)

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I wrote this book a very long time ago and it was originally published by Silhouette as a Sapphire Romance. Now that it is due to be republished by Samhain Publishing under its Retro Label I have revisited it, and the reasons I wrote it. After more than 25 years it’s hard to remember but one thing is the memory of a magazine shot of young man who was being hailed as the next big fashion designer. He was tall, slim and very handsome and he had a shock of tight dark curls. It was that picture that triggered the story although the young man is not the hero. Instead, he is the heroine’s brother and the catalyst for the book. As an up and coming young fashion designer he is the person who designs the Hollywood Collection and persuades a bevy of beautiful film stars to model it for him. Then he hands over to Samantha who as well as being his sister is his office manager, fashion show organiser and general dogsbody. I can’t actually remember where she came from…she is probably an amalgam of a whole lot of people fashioned into someone who is the complete opposite of her brother.

As for the other characters…well they are all pure Hollywood, but you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are and after so long it might be impossible to guess. Nowadays that young curly-haired fashion designer is bald and the film stars who triggered the characters are all very old. They are still around though, and I know who they are. I wonder if you will too when you read the book.

The Hollywood Collection is due to be published next week by Samhain Publishing. It is already available for pre-order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jazz Band Hero

Claydon-PathwayToTomorrowAfter a break from writing and blogging due to family commitments, I am back. It’s not all good, however. As I said in last week’s blog, the visit to my website after a two month break has been a salutary one, as has the experience of revisiting my latest work in progress, Pathway to Success. The website needs improving, the WIP has been pared back to a mere skeleton of its former self, and I am  working hard to improve both of them as quickly as possible.  Today, however, I want to talk about something else.  Pathway to Tomorrow is the the first book of my Pathways Trilogy and it was published by Books We Love earlier this year. I want to tell you how I found the hero for this book…because until I find my hero, I can’t write the story.

Every book is triggered by something. In the case of Pathway to Tomorrow there were two ‘somethings.’ The first was a house and the second was a jazz band.

I live close to a beach fringed with pinewoods and wonderful, wild vistas. The area is criss-crossed with bridleways that are well used by horse riders and dog walkers alike. Consequently, when a wealthy business man purchased a derelict farmhouse and then closed the bridleway that edged his land, it caused a great deal of local upset. Horse riders and dog lovers who had used the path for years all protested. In the end, common sense prevailed. The new land owner opened up the bridleway again and dealt with his own privacy by planting hundreds of trees and bushes and installing a lot of fencing, so nowadays everyone is happy. In my imagination, however, there isn’t a businessman. Instead, Marcus, my hero, lives in that hidden house.

And that brings me to another equally important part to this story. The trigger that helped me find Marcus in the first place.

More than a year ago I was invited to listen to the The Red Stripe Band a fantastic and fun jazz band that has played all over the world and been feted by many big names but, when I happened on it, was performing at a small venue in the Yorkshire Dales. Go to my blog post Serendipity to read about it.

On that evening I ‘discovered’ Marcus when the pianist began to play, although to save his blushes I must make it clear that Marcus is not the pianist. He is actually an amalgam of the whole ethos of the band; someone who lives and breaths music and loves to share it with others. He changed during the writing of the book too. It always happens when a writer lets the hero take over which is what I do. And when he ‘told’ me he couldn’t perform any more but had to concentrate on composition and film scores…well I had to let him. Who am I to argue with someone as single-minded as Marcus? I still owe many thanks to the Red Stripe Band, however. It was there at the right time, when I needed some inspiration, and I have dedicated my book to it. Thanks for the music Red Stripe.

But what about Marcus’ story?

Well, when he bought the derelict farmhouse next to Jodie’ Eriksson’s riding school he didn’t know whether to be amused or irritated by her angry reaction to his plans. Then her sister Izzie visited him and made things a whole lot worse…or was it better…because now he had an excuse to see Jodie again.

Although, when he sees her, it’s not exactly a meeting of minds, they do discover they have one thing in common; they both believe they know what’s best for Izzie, and for Marcus’ son Luke. It turns out they’re wrong. The children they thought they were protecting need to be set free. It’s Jodie and Marcus who have the problem; but can two broken hearts ever make one whole one? The battle lines that were set when they first met have long since been breached, but the war won’t be over until Jodie learns how to trust again, and until Marcus allows himself to believe in his son.

Next week I’ll be talking about The Hollywood Collection my latest book. It is being published mid November by Samhain Publishing under its Retro Lable and  is now available for pre-order. I also hope to get my subscriber link up and running shortly.