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This blog is the often amusing, sometimes dangerous den of two British writers of contemporary and paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. Most of our stories are based in the UK and our heroes and heroines are passionate Brits - yes, passionate Brits exist! Come on in out of the cold, pull up a chair and see for yourself...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

A writing slump, "the ring", and a new infatuation (which I hope is temporary).

It's been a funny month for me. I've found it ridiculously hard to get going this month in most areas of my life, as if my mind and body have just gone, "Nope. I ain't getting back to work, not yet - I need a longer break."

On the writing front, well, it's certainly happening, but at a pace about 66% slower than I'd like. I write 500 words and then I stop. It's like my brain chooses to shut down after just half an hour or so of writing. It's not fun; it's not productive, but there seems to be not a lot I can do about it at the moment. I've spent many hours analysing it and trying to come up with a solution - maybe it's burnout, maybe it's distraction, maybe it's writer's block - and I've come up with nothing, because it doesn't feel exactly like any of those things. There's a chance that it's partly grief, but I don't really want to talk about that. And grief is such an elusive bugger it doesn't a hundred percent feel like grief either.

I have hit the 10% mark with Disgraced. Like I said, I should have hit 30% by now, but it's just not happening. The story is there, but writing anything feels like trudging through mud. However, I usually post an excerpt for readers every 10% or so, so here is the first one...

Ooooo ... exciting, huh? Yes, I did - I got very excited about this excerpt :) Despite what I've just said above, I am still confident about getting the book out to you by the end of April. I'm just going with it and trusting that somewhere in here, I know what I'm doing and it'll all work out.

Other non-writing things

I will not harp on, again, about how I've just got engaged to my ten-year partner, but I did promise you all a look at the ring. Well, I've taken over ninety pictures of the ring and I'm not one little bit ashamed of that :D

I've included one mosaic picture for you to see, and two pictures where I managed to catch the diamond's "glow"...

Glow #1 (unfiltered)

Glow #2 (unfiltered)

All taken under natural light, then put into a mosaic, then filter added to soften the edges of overall image.

In other non-writing news, I have been replenishing my make-up. This sounds very boring, and I was expecting it to be very boring, but I haven't really even LOOKED at make-up for twenty years (all my old make-up that I threw out was twenty years old - I barely ever wear the stuff, which is why it lasts so long), and my gosh! Make-up has changed a lot since I last shopped for it! The variety now seems even greater than it was then, and I found myself lost in this massive sea of beautiful craziness. A lot of high-end brands have upped their game, too, in the last twenty years, taking out a lot of nasties from their ingredients, and the selection of natural make-up (from smaller, unknown cosmetic companies) has also grown. It remains really hard to find natural / (mostly) organic make-up that actually looks good and stays on, but there are some successes if you bother to take the time to look and try them. I have also become rather infatuated with make-up palettes (from any brand, high-end or drugstore; I'm not being fussy in this instance) - they're so PRETTY. When did that happen? Make-up used to be so boring to look at - not any more!

Anyway... yes, bye-bye twenty-year make-up; hello new pretty world of bad-for-my-pocket fun.

Back to writing... 

Look out for the blurb and cover reveal for Summer's End on 13th February, hosted by Hot Tree Promotions. While there's an outside chance I might not get this book written this year (it's last on my list of three), I do want the cover and blurb out there - it's very motivating for the writing to have it out there.

So, this is my plan: chill out, relax, don't worry. Everything will work out eventually, because it always does.

Have a great rest of the week and weekend, everyone :)

Dianna xx

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

I'm just a secret creative genius

I don't know about any other authors, but I have to say my brain works in a funny old way. Sometimes I will get a story idea and it can be quite easy to follow, but only in the sense that sometimes certain ideas will linger and links will start to appear as the story forms. If only it could always be the case because naturally it would make writing, not necessarily faster, but somehow smoother.

Other times I can have an idea that is more like a segment of a story; a small seed that needs to be nurtured and left to grow. These ideas I get a lot. I get seeds. I get segments. Teases of possibilities which I then become obsessed over only to have to leave them alone.

This is kind of what happened with the Blood Series. I had an idea way back in the beginning and I kept thinking, and thinking, and planning, and scrapping those ideas, until I came up with a story that I ended up throwing away. I took the parts that I thought worked and started again. Now, I think it took me possibly two months of severe planning to put together the version of Cranberry Blood that is indeed on sale, and during those months I naturally went into depth in regards to the characters - that I knew would make an appearance in Cranberry, or be mentioned because they play an important part somehow - and the general structure of the world.

When I wrote and eventually finished the book I obviously knew there would be another couple of books because it is a plot that will stretch across a few books, and although I know how this particular plot - the main plot that is hinted at in She-Wolf: Blood Series Prequel, but kicks off in Cranberry Blood: Blood Book One - is going to end, I wasn't entirely sure how the characters were getting there.

(I have said it before and I will say it again, I am a punster. I improvise, and when I say improvise I mean I have notes of things that have to happen or be tied up, but I pretty much dive in and follow the characters. It isn't easy, but it's just how I write. So, I kinda make things up as I go, or as the characters show me.)

As you may know by now - especially if you are a regular visitor to this blog - She-Wolf: Blood Series Prequel, was indeed written after Cranberry Blood: Book One as you would expect a prequel to be, but I hadn't expected to actually write it. I had an idea about Clare and Owen due to the character profiles and backgrounds, but it wasn't until Owen demanded I tell their story that I realized I had too because the events that take place during/around their story were important in linking to Book One, and the same realization happened yesterday.

As you also may know by now, I have had a gap between writing the Blood Series Prequel and Book One and writing Book Two, which I'm working on at the moment. Now, a fact you don't know is that the epilogue at the end of Book One wasn't in my original manuscript. The book did end on a cliff-hanger - I realize that the ending of Cranberry Blood is still left open, but that is simply because the opening of Book Two overlaps with the epilogue. Each book in this series is an instalment of one big story. So, it has been purposely done - but the epilogue didn't exist until the submission coordinator of my ex publisher suggested there was something missing at the end. I'm glad she did say that because she was right, something was missing, and voila the epilogue was born, and from that epilogue a smaller sub/side plot was created.

What am I getting at?

Well, when the sub plot emerged it became obvious there was going to be a Book 1.5 coming into play, but I wasn't sure at the time what on earth was going to happen. I mean, I know which characters are in here, but what is this plot which has appeared and veered slightly away from the main story arc? How is it all going to work out?

I started working on Blood Book Two in December - didn't write as much as I wanted due to Christmas, but I got 10k done, which I'm happy with - so naturally, my muse is at work, I'm throwing ideas about and I start asking myself questions and write down the logical and appropriate answers, but still nothing has clicked, I need the click. How can I make this idea work when this and this is happening in the main plot?

Yesterday, CLICK. My god, how did I not see that? It makes perfect sense. It's totally possible. It fits. It works. I have no idea where this magnificent little slice of excellence has come from but I love it!

I started work on the original Book One in 2009. In 2010 I took what I wanted from that original idea and threw the rest away. In 2010 I had a foundation for the world, an idea for the overall story arc, and a Book One I loved. 2010 I figured out the Prequel. 2011 both books were contracted. 2011 the prequel was published. 2012 Book One was published. 2012 things were going wrong so I made the decision to not continue with the series until I had the rights back and could self publish. 2013 I got the rights back. 2014 I self-published the Prequel and Book One in the Blood Series. 2015 working on Blood Book Two and planning Book 1.5.

Seven years this series is in the process and I'm still technically planning it. I'm still having light bulbs popping on in my head. I realize it takes some authors years to put a book, or a series together and god, I respect that. Writing is never easy, not really. And this post hasn't been about the length of time it takes to write, but simply how funny and wonderful ones imagination can be, because as I said, you can sit and think, and obsess, and drive yourself crazy trying to put a story together, trying to figure out the flow of a series, or how a world works, and you can feel so stuck, like you're hitting wall after wall, and yet in truth, you already know how the story will go. It's all up there in your mind, already written, just waiting to be wrote down.

I have tried forcing stories to work and I end up blocking myself. So, if I can't figure one out I put it to one side, because I already know that I have it all sorted, it's just not ready for me to see that yet. And yes, I love when writing flows, I love when I know where I'm going with a story, but I have to say I actually really love the clicks; I love when an idea hits me and has the ability to blow me away, excite me, but more importantly shows me that I don't suck, and that I'm not stuck... I'm just a secret creative genius, or well, my muse is lol

Belated Happy Monday! I hadn't realized it was already Tuesday. Oops. Have a great week!

Friday, 16 January 2015

What inspires you?

This is probably the question I get asked most as an author: what inspires you to write? The answer isn't complicated and one word sums it up: beauty. I am inspired by beauty. The tricky bit is that I find many things beautiful (and not just objects, but actions and thoughts), and sometimes they are things that other people might not find beautiful...

photo: afternoon beach © Dianna Hardy, 2014
  • nature - almost any landscape or scenery
  • historical buildings
  • daunting, modern skyscrapers
  • innovative design - new gadgets for practical things really press my beauty button
  • colours and paints - in fact, I used to paint and draw quite a lot. Watercolours, pastels and graphite pencils were my favourite mediums. I also love make-up palettes. Looking at a beautifully laid out, pigmented, shimmery palette fills me with nice feelings, even though I only wear make-up less than half of the week, if that
  • body art - tattoos, especially, are beautiful!
  • the colours of nature - they simply can't be replicated or reproduced by man
  • people - looking at an attractive man or woman (what I consider attractive) is always pleasurable - yes, man OR woman. Eyes capture me more than anything else, followed by how they wear a smile, followed by how they carry themselves as a person. And yes, I firmly believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is unequivocal. Everything we see is a perception
  • people's thoughts - words, quotes, and the thoughts they keep hidden; the ones they do not say but that you can see between their words
  • open-minded intelligence, coupled with sensitivity
  • circles - I love circles, balls, spheres, domes
  • the earth and the moon - especially when you can see the shadow of the moon making it spherical
  • shadows - they are both mysterious and beautiful
  • the way children play and act, so filled to the brim with unsuppressed life - I wish we would never lose this as we grow up. Having said that, I think I was an "old" child, and got younger as I got older
  • raw emotion - this is beautiful to watch unfold when it is led by pure intention, whether it's anger, love, or fear
  • conflict - this can be beautiful for the above reason, but it is also painful to witness. However, I am one of those people who can find beauty in pain and vulnerability. This doesn't mean I wish it in others, just that I see the beauty in it
  • passion - for the same reasons as 'raw emotion'. Too few people are brave enough to be passionate about life, and to follow their passions
  • travel, and others' stories of travel - I am a wanderluster at heart and always will be
  • animals - every single one. (Although I'm less partial to furry caterpillars - I'll take spiders over furry caterpillars!)
  • can I say nature again? I so love nature - everything we need can found in it. It provides for us and nourishes us, and that is beautiful in every respect
I find beauty in all the above, and more than can be listed, and writing is the tool I use to express that beauty. I also love trying to capture it in photographs - a hobby I shall be spending a little more time doing this year if I can.

What inspires you? Let us know!

Dianna xxx