Good Read…

I just finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing. It was entertaining, encouraging and informative. Trouble is, I’ll have to give it back. You see, I borrowed it from one of the girls in my writers’ group. However, it’s a book that should be on any aspiring novel writer’s bookcase. Looks like I’ll be getting my own copy soon.

And you thought Stephen King only wrote fiction.

A Good Reject Letter

I know, I know. It sounds like an oxymoron.  Usually, reject letters are nothing more than “doesn’t fit our needs, good luck.” Or you get the dreaded form letter with the relevant box checked off, with or without a good luck wish.

When I received my reject letter from Red Dress Ink, I was pleasantly surprised. This letter had been given careful consideration before it was written. With the comments, it was evident that my query had been read thoroughly before a decision was made.

“…captures many of the key ingredients for chick-lit…” See what I mean? Good… “plot goes awry and weakens…” not so good. Alhough, that wasn’t really what I wanted to hear, I know exactly why my query was rejected. It gives me something to build on.

Like I said, A Good Reject Letter.

Sarah’s Gift is on her way

Well, she should be there. I e-mailed my query letter, full synopsis and first three chapters off to Mills and Boon Thursday evening. All the formating was changed, the spelling checked to make sure it was UK English and I sent her off.

Yesterday was the August Bank Holiday in the UK – everywhere but Scotland – so between that and the recent clip on BBC News (quite likely the telly as well as the website), they are likely inundated with queries.

So in the meantime, I’ll sit back and wait. Who knows this might be the one.

BBC news video

Yesterday, while perusing the BBC news website (as I always do), on the main UK page, I spotted a video clip on How to Write a Mills and Boon. These folks are the UK version of Harlequin Romance. So, I watched it before I made supper last night and came away with the name of the editor and what they want you to send in when you query – query letter, synopsis and first three chapters. She also went on to say that they read everything they receive and are more than willing to work with aspiring authors to make their work publishable.

This morning, I checked out the Mills and Boon website and can either send my Sarah’s Gift query to them via snail mail or e-mail. The only thing I have to do is change a bit of my formatting – the double quotes need to be changed to singles. Not a big deal with ‘find and replace’ as long as I don’t hit the dreaded replace all. It’s much better, even though it takes longer, to replace them one at a time to ensure that something doesn’t get changed accidentally.

Here’s hoping that before the end of the weekend, Sarah’s Gift will be winging her way to the UK – whatever the method of mail, I decide to use.

After all, Sarah’s Gift takes place in the UK, why not send her to a publisher over there? Sounds logical to me.

 

 

The Anniversary – a complication (sort of)

I had planned that when Sarah went for the prenatal paternity test without anyone’s knowledge, she would go to Inverness after ruling out Aberdeen since she and David lived there and he worked at the hospital. Well, the not going to Aberdeen works out just fine because there is a DNA clinic there–not far from Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.  In order to have the test done, she has to go private and there is no DNA clinic in Inverness. So it’s back to the drawing board.

There are a number of these private clinics in England, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland so she’ll go to one of them. I just haven’t decided which one yet. I’m leaning toward the clinic in Norwich. At least I’ve been to the city so can make anything I write about it more believable. Mind you, Sarah won’t be paying much attention to her surroundings. She just wants to get to the clinic have the tests done and go home.

Will she enlist a friend to make the trip with her for moral support? Perhaps Siobhan? Sue? Maybe her sister, Rachel? Or will she go alone with just David’s toothbrush and his comb hoping that enough of the precious DNA can be extracted from them.

Who would have thought this could be so complicated. Yeesh.

Cross your fingers

I wasn’t sure if I could do this or not, but I was able to select two categories for this blog – articles and novels.

Today I mailed off an article that I’ve been working on for quite some time but wasn’t ready to send it in. It was a biography of my Dad. Part of me wants his story to be told – part of me doesn’t. He was very modest and wouldn’t want a lot of fuss.

I also mailed off a query letter and my re-vamped synopsis for Sarah’s Gift to Red Dress Ink. Fingers crossed that they like it enough to want the entire manuscript.

Sarah’s Gift – the full synopsis

Nineteen-year old SARAH SHAND hates the family, farmhouse B&B. The headstrong young woman hates it almost as much as living in the heart of rural Aberdeenshire. After returning home from her first year at University in Glasgow, Sarah’s hatred of country life is even more pronounced. Ironically, she’s studying Hospitality Management. Her dream is to escape her familiar lifestyle and manage a large hotel outside the British Isles.

Sarah’s unhappiness finally reaches the boiling point and she explodes in a venomous tirade, after which she escapes to the nearby derelict stone circle. On this day, the ruins of Weetshill mansion, visible in the distance, prove to be too much of a temptation and she steals away from the stone circle to the main road where she steps into the path of an oncoming car and is critically injured and loses consciousness. The next thing Sarah is aware of, she’s on the narrow road to Weetshill, wearing period clothing. When the mansion looms into sight, she is amazed to see that it’s not the ruin that she’s always known. Curiosity compels her to enter. Tapestries and portraits line the walls. One portrait in particular catches her attention. The woman in it is Sarah’s mirror image! About to flee in terror, a booming, male voice demands that she stop. When she turns to face the source, the old man is convinced that his dead wife–the woman in the portrait–has returned to him.

ROBERT ANDREW ROBERTSON, a handsome, thirty year-old, Victorian bachelor has stayed on to live with his grandfather, the Laird, in Weetshill mansion. Educated at Marischal University, Aberdeen, he is the epitome of a proper gentleman.

When Sarah discovers that Robert is the image of the man in the portrait, she almost faints. Even though he’s equally shocked at her appearance, his gentlemanly demeanor dictates that he look after her, so he takes her outside for some fresh air.

Is it love at first sight? Sarah has strong feelings for Robert and instinctively knows that she can count on him. She hopes that he feels the same about her.

In an effort to prove to Sarah that the year is 1886 and not 2004, Robert arranges to take her to Gordonsfield–the future location of her home. The only building on the property is the one she knows as a roofless ruin behind her house. In order to determine if she’s in the right place, Sarah goes to the stone circle. It, alone, remains unchanged.

When Robert asks her to pretend that she is his grandmother, since her appearance makes his grandfather so happy, Sarah plays along because she firmly believes it’s all a dream and when she wakes up, she’ll be back in her own time and place. All goes well until the old man wants his wife to retire for the night with him.

On his deathbed, the old man calls Sarah by her proper name. He gives her a brooch that belonged to his late wife and asks her to stay on at the mansion with his grandson which she readily agrees to.

After his grandfather’s death, Sarah consoles the grieving Robert. He kisses her hard on the lips and backs away quickly when he realizes what he’s done. He apologizes for his improper behaviour.

Sarah is confronted after the Laird’s burial by a woman from the village who accuses her of being a witch who has cast a spell on everyone at Weetshill and of murdering the old man. In order to protect Robert, Sarah leaves in the middle of the night. Weeks later, when her whereabouts is discovered Robert is ecstatic. He goes after her to bring her back.

On the night of Sarah’s return, in an attempt to prove her love, she sneaks, naked, into Robert’s bed prepared to make love with him. At first he thinks he’s dreaming but when he wakes fully, he orders her back to her own room.

Sarah worries that any chance of happiness with him is ruined. Her fears vanish when Robert proposes marriage. She accepts.

When a letter for Robert arrives by special messenger from the solicitor who is handling the Laird’s will, he discovers he has to leave for Aberdeen the next morning. During his absence, Sarah is savagely beaten by Weetshill’s groom.

Robert’s business in Aberdeen concludes sooner than anticipated so he takes the first available train home. He is horrified to find out what has happened whilst he was away.

When Sarah awakes on the morning after her marriage to Robert, it’s 2004. She’s in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where she’s been in a coma since she was struck by the car on that fateful day. She’s dreamt everything.

One of her nurses is a young man, DAVID ROBB, who looks exactly like the man in her dreams, and has a kind and gentle bedside manner. He is interested in her recollections of the past and spends as much time with her as possible during her convalescence.

After Sarah is released from hospital, a few days before Christmas, David visits her at her parents’ farm armed with genealogical documents that show that he’s a descendent of the Robertsons of Weetshill.

David confesses to Sarah that he’s fallen in love with her and asks her to marry him putting her fears to rest that he only thinks of her as a silly girl who has a crush on him.

June’s flash fiction – That Noise…

Well the epiphany came to me. A little cutting here and there and I was down to the 250 maximum number of words.

That noise!

Beep-beep. I woke to the annoying high-pitched sound of something electronic. But what was it? I lay there listening, assorted thoughts running through my head. Was it a carbon monoxide detector? A smoke detector? My son’s alarm clock? I looked at our clock. Definitely not that. It was only around one thirty. The one thing I knew was that this noise definitely wasn’t was the BEEP-beep from either cell phone indicating low battery or missed call.

I eventually dragged myself out of bed. Outside the door, I stood in the hall and listened. It wasn’t coming from upstairs. Beep-beep. It continued. Down the stairs in the dark, I followed the sound. I stood at the foot of the stairs and listened again.

Beep-beep. It was louder now so the origin of the sound was definitely on this level. I moved into the living room. The sound grew fainter. Was it something in the front hall? I approached from the other archway. A flashing red light caught my eye. I looked closer. BEEP-BEEP!

The mystery had been solved! It was the cordless phone! It had been unplugged too long and was telling me that it needed to be put back where it belonged.

I gathered it up, made my way back upstairs, still without turning on a light, plugged the base back in and put the handset back in place. BEEP-BEEP. It had to get the last word. A few seconds later, all was quiet and I fell back into bed.

Ottawa Romance Writers’ Conference

I decided to take the plunge and register for this year’s conference that takes place the last weekend in September. Luckily for me, I registered early enough that I’m confirmed in the draw for a critique! I was one of the first forty to register so that automatically put me in the draw. There are five representatives in total from publishing houses, an agent, and a published author who will be doing the critiques.

So friends and fans of my writing, keep your fingers crossed for me that I’m one of the lucky ones – or the lucky one, depending on how things are done. The conference registrar thought there would be five individual draws but she would have to double check. Either way, sounds like pretty good odds and I’ll be rubbing shoulders and networking with the right kind of people to get me that much closer to having one of my novels published.

Guess that means I best get my skates on and finish novel #2 which is currently about 50% complete. I know the beginning, the middle and pretty much the end and have written segments from each of those sections.

That noise!

No epiphanies today at work. Oh well, I still have until June 22 to come up with 250 words on the subject – or not.

Currently, my priorites lie elsewhere but you never know when inspiration will hit and the words come gushing out of my brain through my fingers on the keyboard.

My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King