Author Archive for Glenys O'Connell

14
Sep
14

Book Review – Winters and Somers by Glenys O’Connell

Nice review – thank you!

wilsonthblog

imageCiara Somers is an Irish PI who has her own independent agency. However, she hasn’t gotten any real cases yet, so she is keeping busy checking out the “temptability” of spouses suspected of cheating. This isn’t the kind of cases she really wants to do, but it pays the bills. Everything is working well enough until her roommate tells her she is moving out of their flat and in with her boyfriend because she’s pregnant. Now Ciara needs to find a new roommate and fast!

Enter Jonathan Winters, NYC homicide detective and romance writer extraordinaire. He is suave and debonaire and women swoon when he is around. He enters Ciara’s life and takes over before she even knows what’s happening. Suddenly she finds him ensconced in her flat and he is her partner in her PI agency. He is putting out ads about the agency and working on them getting…

View original post 175 more words

Advertisements
01
Aug
11

Do Heroines Ever Eat?

Shhh! I’m tiptoeing back into the Romantic Journey after being away on other projects for a long time. It’s very quiet here, though – where is everyone? Please come back – it’s lonely here….
But not so lonely that I can’t complain about something that has begun to irritate me more and more. I read a lot of ‘woman in jeopardy’ and romantic suspense novels, and it really bothers me how emaciated and malnourished those heroines must all be by the end of the book.
Now, maybe it’s just those few extra pounds on my rear, caused by too much computer time and too little exercise, so I could just be bitter about this, but have you ever noticed how little these usually over-active heroines ever eat?
It’s not unusual for them to have coffee for breakfast, be stalked, run off the road, shot at, sprint through miles of woodland, swim a lake, have wild sex with the hero, have a massive fight with the hero, rush home to run into the arms of a crazed kidnapper, be rescued or get themselves out of a scrape, and then remember that they’ve not eaten since coffee at breakfast the day before.
Yeah, really. I’d be chewing off my own foot, I’d be so hungry.
And what do they do then? Set up a good meal with all the foodgroups? No, it’s usually just another coffee and maybe a bit of unbuttered toast. And the coffee’s not a Tim Horton’s double-double – it’s almost always black.
How do they do it? Why do they do it?
Is it the wild sex that keeps them going? Or fear that interfers with normal digestive processes?
Sadly, I get really cranky if I miss a meal, so I guess I’m just not good heroine material. I’d be more likely to shoot the first person to annoy me, rather than solve the crime, save my skin, and bring everything to a happy ending.
So, what do you think? Should we start a campaign to provide a healthy breakfast and organic snacks for malnourished heroines?
Certainly, I’ve been reading some of the neat cozy series that are around, and a few more writers are making their heroines a bit more gastonomically realistic, so maybe there’s hope yet.
Let me know what you think – should heroines have normal meals like the rest of us, or is starvation an important part of their diet?

Glenys O’Connell admits to a love affair with food, and isn’t above a junk food meal when she’s pushed on deadline. Her heroines eat well, everything from home made macaroni tuna and cheese casserole in Judgement By Fire to an elegant three course meal at an expensive Dublin hotel, in Winters & Somers.

24
Jul
10

A Woman Who Lived Her Time Well…

I went to a memorial service for a lovely neighbour recently, let’s call her R.M.  At the age of 25 she’d been diagnosed with a rare and disfiguring illness, and told that not only would her lifespan be very limited, but she would probably spend most of it in a wheelchair, and in a nursing home. We watched a slide show of her life, starting with the pretty little blonde girl with a big smile through to the beautiful and stylish young woman. Then we saw her with her husband and three delightful children…and as time progressed we began to see the terrible toll the illness took on her.

But only on her looks. R.M.’s spirit never flagged. She moved with her husband and young family to Canada at 35, leaving behind her support system of family & medical advisors to start a new life in a new land. She insisted on an active hand in her own treatment, because the disease was very rare and she was willing to do research and keep her ‘medical team’ informed of new developments. She worked full time, quilted, sewed, embroidered, travelled, raised her children, enjoyed her grandchildren, and got to cuddle her great-grandchildren. And she could be counted on to turn up at church and community events, and fundraisers when her neighbours needed help. Her song and dance and comedy routines were highlights of community concerts. And she remained close and loving with her husband to celebrate more than a half century of marriage.

Now, often when someone is gifted with beauty and then faced with its loss due to injury or disease, the response is to try to hide away. Not R.M. She was a beautiful woman, yet over the years her disease took its toll on her looks, with mouth cancer adding to her disfigurement. But you didn’t notice her looks, because she was so very much…well, she was so very there.

And when the disease fianlly took its toll – many years after her predicted demise – the whole community turned out for her memorial service, and it was a pretty colourful event because R.M. had insisted that no black be worn for her. We were all to celebrate her life by wearing bright colours. She wanted to be remembered with smiles and joy. Over and over again, we heard the words courageous, brave, joyful…but the phrase that stuck in my mind was “A woman who lived her time well.”

I’m glad you’ve stayed with me this long, because you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with writing romance. Well, here’s what I learned from R.M.: She discovered early in life that she had talents that brought joy to other people: dance, music, acting, comedy. She organised and took part in theatre, and even appeared on television. An extremely shy woman by nature, she took joy from the pleasure her talents brought other people, and so she put herself out there despite her illness and pain.

Now, as writers we complain bitterly about the need for promotion. I’m among the naturally shy and absolutely hate appearing for book signings or even discussing my work. And I’m now a bit ashamed of that attitude because, as R.M. taught me, surely if you have a talent that brings pleasure to other people you should get out there and demonstrate it? When you think about it in that light, ‘promotion’ takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes both an adventure and a gift that we use to offer our work for others to enjoy.

So thank you. R.M., and may we all become people “…who live our time well”.

 

27
Jun
10

Dreams Are Not Enough…

As writers, we’re dreamers – and I don’t just mean about characters and plot lines.
No, we also fantasize about our careers, about signing books surrounded by
adoring fans, of watching our titles fly up the NY Times bestseller list, of being invited to chat with Oprah, of writing non-fiction that catapults us onto the speech circuit as An Authority.
And then we daydream about what we’ll do with all those millions or how we’ll parlay our growing knowledge into something that will help change people’s lives…. Yes, there are probably as many dreams as there are writers. About the life we’ll lead as Famous Writers whose books are Bestsellers.
But here’s the hard truth: these dreams have little to do with your success as a writer – unless you act on them.
To be successful you need talent, yes, and a commitment to your work. You need to use that talent to turn those dreams into something approximating reality.
The simple truth is that first and foremost, a writer writes. It’s that simple. The complicated bit comes in knowing what you should be writing and in planning for your success. Don’t give up the dreams, just temper them with a little feet-on-the-ground common sense.
Find a way to turn them into goals. Plan your writing career as you would any other endeavour that’s important to you. Dream big, for sure, but keep one eye firmly fixed on your own reality.
But whatever your writing ambitions, you need a plan. Consider these points:

1) A dream is not a goal – recognise the difference between your writerly dreams, and what would really satisfy you. Ask yourself why you write – would you be surprised to find that the answer isn’t necessarily ‘to get rich’ or ‘to be famous’?
2) Despite what you may have been told about writing every day, there are lots of successful writers who hold down full time jobs and squeeze in their writing at weekends. Their secret? They plan their work and work the plan.
3) A dose of reality – if you’ve considered #1 above, you know where your ‘success satisfaction’ lies – now find out what sort of writing would take you there.
4) Writing is hard, lonely work. Why are you doing this to yourself? What can you do to ensure your precious writing time is your own without becoming a hermit? Consider setting up a ‘support network’ of other writers (the Internet is a great resource for this!) These are other writers who share triumphs and setbacks and encourage each other – but who understand that the writing comes first.
5) Whittle away the fat: identify your writing goals. Having a road map for your writing career will help prevent you from going off at tangents that steal time, energy & creativity and prevent you from reaching your writerly destination.
6) Knowing what you want to achieve and drawing up a plan gives you an overview. This overview allows you to draw up the actions you need to take. These can be broken down even further into ‘Baby Steps’ which let you utilise even small segments of spare time to take your ambitions a little further ahead.
7) Setting up your goal calendar which outlines the tiny steps forward and shows where the giant leaps and bounds can happen.…
8) So many different types of writing work – novels, articles, copywriting, teaching, editing, speechwriting, speaking….oh my! Keeping an open mind about opportunities and where they might lead you will help you pick the best writing and promotional opportunities for your career.
9) Career planning 101: now that you know where you’re going don’t forget to pencil in some time to evaluate each stage to make sure you’re on track – or check to see if you need to change direction…
10) Learn to cope with distractions, to be decisive in handling the everyday crisis and not to let the little things become big time stealers. You need to keep all those plates spinning at once – family, friends, day job, health, etc. – and still write. Believe me, cars and appliances break down, kids need you to volunteer at school, relatives need care, big projects will come up at work…all these things will continue to happen whether you’re writing or not. You might well be calmer and more cheerful about dealing with them if you’ve been able to do your writing quota! There are many resources with tips for writing & coping with living – search the internet for Book-In-A-Week, BIAW, Flylady, Charlotte Dillon’s site,
and any more you can come up with for tips, tricks and support.

Glenys O’Connell knows what it’s like to keep on writing through the Everyday Real Life crises and the Knock Your Sox Off type of crises, too. Along with teaching creative writing, she’s led courses in Achieving Your Goals which have helped not only writers, but people with dreams of starting a business, retiring early, or changing their lifestyle. Check out her website at http://www.glenysoconnell.com where from time to time she adds articles about writing and free courses for writers.

26
Apr
10

What’s in a Blurb?

It’s funny the things we take for granted about books and bookbuying. If you are anything like me, you are attracted first by the title and cover, and then by the back cover blurb. At that point you’re holding the book in your hands and it’s logical to take a look at the first few sentences on page one. After all, you’ve come this far, right? According to the people who study these things, writers have something like 30 seconds to impress you once you, the potential purchaser, pick up the book. Getting you to open the covers and read the first few lines is crucial! If the book doesn’t grab you then, it’s quite likely to be consigned back to the shelf. But the major part of that battle is to capture your interest enough to get you to actually pick up the book and open the covers. Which means you’ve got to have something pretty special in the back cover blurb.

Tough, but not as hard as it is in movies,where scriptwriters put together a one line pitch or ‘logline’ in order to grab a filmmaker’s attention. In classes, I ask students to write a ‘blurb’ about their story in just a couple of sentences and that usually evokes some pretty loud groans, although once they’ve mastered the art, most writers think it’s a real benefit. Distilling your story down to its very essence in a couple of sentences clarifies it for you; it also tells you pretty quickly whether you’ve got a strong idea or not.

In this exercise you’re actually creating a ‘teaser’ as opposed to the kind of query hook you’d put together as part of a synopisis. However, using these few sentences to describe your story can make an editor-grabbing beginning to a query letter! In this stripped down story line, you need to have the names of the main characters, something about their motives, the challenge facing them, and their reactions. The Who, What, When, and Why. You can keep the How part a secret for now – it’s good to leave the reader hungry to know the ending of your story  and the fate of the protagonists.

Here’s the blurb for Marrying Money, my new release eBook from Red Rose Publishing

Diana, Lady Ashburnham, needs to find a rich husband, and fast.She’s the last of an aristocratic line stretching back 500 years, and she’s broke. The family fortunes have been eaten up by the crumbling mansion and impoverished estate. Not wanting to be known as the ‘Ashburnham Who Lost The Lot’, she refuses to sell off heirloom jewellery or let the estate be auctioned off to a dot.com millionaire or heavy metal rock star.That’s when Diana has her Great Idea – she’ll follow a new take on the way her ancestors raised money – by marrying money! So Diana corals her best friend, Sally Barnes, into joining her on a trip to Ireland to try to net a – preferably titled – millionaire.

See – an entire short novel condensed into six lines. Yet those lines tell the reader a lot about the story, the characters, motivation and setting, without giving away the whole plot.

Another way to capture a potential reader’s interest is to have a few lines from a well-known author – or at least someone better known than yourself – praising your story. That’s not so easy to get until you’re fairly well known or you have made a point of making lots of writer friends who now feel indebted to you. Some publishers will ask other authors in their stable to offer a few lines to promote another writer. There are dangers inherent in this, however. Groucho Marx is supposed to have written the following note to an author who had requested some kind words to put on the back cover of his novel: ‘From the moment I picked up your book until the moment I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.’  Uhmm, when you think about it, not really much of a recommendation!

Then there’s the equally obscure comment from a Victorian English Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, himself the author of several books: ‘Dear Sir, thank you for sending me a copy of your book, which I shall waste no time in reading.’  That’s a double meaning I wouldn’t want on my back cover!

The point I’m trying to make is the the back cover blurb is an important selling point for your book and it’s worth putting in some time developing and honing your blur-writing skills. Not only does this distillation of your novel into a few sentences help you to consolidate plot points, it also gives your readers a tasty bite of the feast they’ll find within the covers.

One last thing – have you ever wondered where the word ‘blurb’ came from? You must admit it’s a bit of a weird one and doesn’t seem to have any scholarly Latin or Greek roots. According to a recent article in the Toronto Globe & Mail newspaper about this very topic, we can thank a writer named Gelett Burgess for the phenomena. It seems, according to the Globe, that Burgess wanted to grab attention for his funny book, ‘Are You a Bromide?’ published in 1907. He did so by putting a picture of a pretty young woman on the cover. This fictional young lady’s name was Miss Belinda Blurb, and she assured would-be readers that Burgess’ book was ‘…a terrific read.’

So, readers and fellow authors, what back cover blurbs have grabbed you? Do you like humorous ones, or those that hint of something dark and deadly? How important is the blurb to you when deciding to buy a book? Please share some of your thoughts in the comments column!

Glenys O’Connell is hard at work on a blurb for her next book, Saving Maggie, a romantic suspense/paranormal. Meanwhile, for those who like a lot of humor with their romance, her latest release is marrying Money, a romantic comendy set in the UK and Ireland, which she claims is an absolute steal at $2.99 to download from http://redrosepublishing.com/bookstore/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=24&products_id=522

29
Mar
10

The Secret Formula for Writing Success

I teach a creative writing course called ‘Naked Writing – the No Frills Way to Write Your Novel’.
Okay, have you stopped chortling yet?
The name seemed a good idea at the time, trying to get over the idea that this was simply a course designed to help writers finish their own book – there’d be no analyzing the classics, here, just plain old hard work. I suggested that students put ‘Naked Writing’ in the sub line of their emails to help me quickly pick them out of the inbox.
A simple idea, you might think. But no. I got complaints from some students that their servers spotted the word ‘naked’ and automatically thought ‘spam’ and refused to send the email.
Oh, yes, censorship may well be alive and well and living in cyberland….as a reaction to THOSE kind of spam messages. You know the ones that are usually accompanied by pictures of body parts you’d rather not see on strangers unless you’d specifically asked to, right?
Of course, for writers, everything is grist to the writing mill and when I thought about it….sometimes we can be a little like that – so determined to ‘do it right’ that we lack the flexibility to see and explore the worth of new ideas and opportunities. So often I’ve heard people talk about ‘the formula’ for writing a novel, a biography, a text book, a romance, a best seller…..as if there is some secret recipe that will guarantee writing success. There is a sort of one, actually – but not the one that these people are looking for.
In fact, it seems to me that there are several secrets to being successful as a writer and getting published.
 1) Believe in yourself and don’t give up. Writing can be disheartening at times – you sacrifice time you could be doing other things in order to write. And it’s hard, and sometimes it seems there are only rejections and you think maybe it will never get better.
2) Write the book of your heart, let your passion for the story shine through. Forget the idea of a ‘formula’ and write the book you’d want to read, the book that tells a story that you need to tell.
3) Realize that a good writer is in a constant state of ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’ – writers should always be honing their craft, learning and growing, so they are constantly becoming a better writer rather than merely being a good writer
4) Be prepared to put yourself out there. I think there are probably many wonderful books that their creators have consigned to a box under the bed for fear of rejection, or fear or what other people might say or think. You have to believe in yourself and in the story you want to tell.
What someone else thinks – be it a relative, a friend, your boss, an agent, publisher, editor – or even your creative writing teacher – counts only so far as you can see a way to use their comments to make the book better in your own eyes.
5) Do the work.This is the biggy. No-one ever became a successful writer by talking about the book they’re ‘gonna write someday’. Get the words on paper, learn to edit and polish, send your work out and learn from the critiques you receive from editors and agents. Then, when you’re published, be prepared to promote, promote, promote….no matter how difficult you find this, or how shy you might be.
Like I’ll be doing when I’m standing all alone in Chapters, hoping that some compassionate souls will stop and chat about my book, about writing, about the weather – anything so that I won’t feel like a fool standing there with my pile of novels waiting to be bought and signed, and a silly grin on my face.
Maybe you can add some thoughts of your own to what makes a successful book?

Glenys O’Connell’s next novel, a romantic comedy entitled Marrying Money, will be released as an ebook by Red Rose Publishing (www.redrosepublishing.com) on April 8th!

22
Feb
10

There’s Always One….

Marrying Money

Latest Romantic Comedy from Glenys O'Connell

There’s always one…. A politician I know once said there’s always one difficult heckler in a crowd. A teacher friend claims there’s always one disruptive kid in the class. And now I wonder if every writer has one problem manuscript, too….

It’s the one that somehow never seems to be quite right, somehow. You know it has promise and can’t bring yourself to dump it, but no amount of rewriting, cutting, pasting, and analyzing seems to make it fit to land smiling hopefully on an editor’s desk. I have one – it’s a cozy detective mystery and it’s driving me crazy. Other books have been written and published, their glitches ironed out and plot points smoothed.

 But this book – I can’t even get the title right – it lurks deep in whatever the computer equivalent is of the bottom desk drawer, sulking but never quite forgotten. I’ve rewritten the beginning three times; the ending at least as many times. I’ve tried different time scales, played around with the love interest and the events outline. I’ve asked editors and writers I respect to read it and acted on their recommendations. Still it remains impervious to all my tweaking.

There’s so much I like about this book – and so much I’d rather forget….yet I simply cannot consign it to the compost heap. Now I’m dusting it off for one final time – I have an idea that may solve its problems. Now I can almost hear my Internal Editor sniggering about how many times I’ve said that before for this manuscript. Maybe, just maybe, I have to accept the fact that nothing can be done to save this book. Maybe there’s always one……

On the bright side, my romantic comedy/chicklit mystery Marrying Money: Lady Diana’s Story is coming out in March from the Red Rose Publishing. It’s the first of a two-book series. The second is called Common Wealth: Sally’s Story.

What do you think? Do you have a ‘troubled child manuscript’ that won’t allow itself to be polished and finished? Have you found a solution? Love to hear from you!




calendar

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Note: Some links on this blog are affiliate links.