One Writer's thoughts on the experience of writing and the publishing journey.
|Posted on July 11, 2014 at 2:05 PM||comments (1)|
Isn't this a gorgeous cover for Another Man's Son, my romantic suspense coming soon from TWRP's Lobster Cove series! Many thanks to R.J. and cover artist Tina Lynn Stout.
|Posted on June 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM||comments (1)|
I'm taking a writing topic break to talk about one of my favorite summer time critters. No, not the shirtless construction guys .................. Ah, here we are, at the end of June. Now every time I’m on the road, my heart will be in overdrive right through until September.
However, you should know that I’m rather fond of my own skin. In fact, I’m a card carrying coward when it comes to physical danger. But every year, from June through September, I’m risking life and limb for a bunch of critters who don’t give, pardon my language, a rat’s ass about me.No, it’s not the school holidays – my days of stretched nerves with four kids running wild are over now.
If you’re a country person, you’ll know it’s turtle time. And that means stopping on all sorts of highways and byways to help a turtle cross the road safely. It’s important that you take them in the direction they’re going, otherwise they’ll turn right around and be back on the road. Most of them will be quite passive, some will wriggle and hiss, others will pee on you (it’s not actually pee, it’s part of the turtle ‘get-your-hands-off-me you-brute’ strategy. But it smells bad, anyway.)
It’s not just country areas, either. Some turtles are sophisticated city dwellers- but not sophisticated enough to manage crossing the roads. Read the story of a turtle that got high profile help in crossing the busy downtown streets of Winnipeg. To quote that old Red Rose tea ad, only in Canada, eh?
Of course, in the height of summer there are lots of busy highways and country roads, and stopping isn’t always that safe. I’m lucky that my DH is a wizard at the quick u-turn and screech back to help a turtle before it gets whacked by an oncoming car. Sometimes it is just a matter of stopping, leaping out and grabbing an unsuspecting turtle and whipping them across to safety on the other side. Other times, it’s blocking the lane with emergency flashers going, and me standing out waving at traffic to stop (and hoping they take me seriously) while he bravely tackles a large, grumpy snapper.
Sometimes we’re too late. Yep, I’m that woman crying her eyes out on the side of the road over the cracked and bleeding body of a turtle. No, I’m not really weird. Also I’m not alone – the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre has a list of over 100 volunteers who act as taxi drivers in relays to get injured turtles from far flung areas in to the Centre in Peterborough.
I love these little critters, from the tiny ones through to the great big, mean as a rattlesnake snappers. That’s me in the pic, with a super-hero of turtle lovers, Kate. Kate is one of the wonderful people who care for injured turtles at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre, Peterborough, Ontario. Believe me, I’ve seen their work and they have performed what I’d call miracles of healing on these hard shelled creatures. That’s a problem turtles have – they’re seen as hard shelled but those carapaces aren’t strong enough to withstand even a glancing blow from a 3000 pound plus vehicle, let alone a direct hit or being run over. It can be hard to avoid a turtle meandering across the road, although I think some are following the same evolutionary trail as hedgehogs in Europe – they try to run when they hear a car bearing down on them!
One heartbreaking note is that some brainless weirdos - thankfully few - think it’s actually fun to run right over them deliberately. Sure, it’s not always easy to avoid them and you can’t risk an accident or endangering the lives of people. But turtles are quite old – some species at least 20 years - before they can procreate, so we need them to survive. At the other end of the scale, there are turtles that live to be very old and deserve a chance to enjoy their retirement.
There are many turtle species now on the endangered or watch list – you can read lots about turtles here on the KTTC website. Turtles are also suffering from climate change – extremes of weather can affect the gender of the new babies that are hatching, which means a shortage of guys or gals for the next generation. It also affects their habitat, with wetlands drying up – or being drained for building purposes.
Oh, and that question: Why did the turtle cross the road? The oldest of good reasons – love! They come up out of their ponds and swampy areas looking for a mate, and to find gravel or sandy spots to lay their eggs.
|Posted on June 10, 2014 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
I hadn 't visited my Goodreads reviews for a while, and I really will be going more often after discovering some new reviews and good ratings for my books! See two for Winters & Somers, newly released by TirGearr Publishing in Ireland.
One in particular stood out - the reviewer, Patty McKenna Van Hulle, said she enjoyed the humor in my Irish romantic suspense/comedy Winters & Somers, but her review was so laced with her own humor that it had me smiling! Take a look:
"This book was so funny and hilarious that I scared my furry grandbaby, Simba, when I was ROFL and hyperventilating and coughing up my spleen! Ciara is such an awesome heroine as a Dublin PI with a kooky and witty voice inside her head. She has these great one liner sayings like, "muffler screamed like an animal in pain" or "Granny would say eat your roughage." Ms. O'Connell wrote such amazing and one of a kind characters, like color horror, Grace, loving, caring and a totally PITA Granny Somers and Ciara's misunderstood paternal grandparents, Margaret and Liam Henley. Jonathan is a NYC cop on writer's holiday and writes these sexy and awarding winning Romance (under another name) books and every female from 14 and up want to jump out of the brushes, kiss him, get an autograph or just chat! He is a fish out of water in Dublin and I could relate because I am a South Dakotan and Dublin is such different, wonderful and awe inspiring place, that Ms. O'Connell makes me wait to visit and maybe live there! The only thing I missed from this original storyline, quack characters, great one liners and HYPERVENTILATING with laughter tale, was more steamy and sexy scenes! This my first Ms. O'Connell book, but not my last! I highly recommend this book to romance readers who love to smile, giggle and YES, hyperventilate with laughter and maybe scare small animals with your coughing/laughing sounds. Winter & Somers gets a score of 4 fingers up and 8 toes!
And here's another review, this time from 'Lara":
This was a very quick and fun romp through Ireland with a hard working girl whose business is not going as planned. Next thing you know she's caught up with an American cop who is a best-selling romance writer with the wrong idea about her. They have plenty of chemistry, great dialogue, she has some funny family and friends, and overall the story reads like a fabulous comedy with a little family drama thrown in for good measure.
Here's a toast to all those readers out there who take the time to post reviews or drop a line to the author after reading a book they have enjoyed!
|Posted on June 3, 2014 at 6:45 PM||comments (2)|
June 4th is the rerelease date for Winters & Somers, my Irish romantic comedy featuring Ciara Somers, an aspiring private investigator in Dublin, Ireland, and her nemesis, the very sexy Jonathon Winters. Doing all the preparation and promo for the release, from TirGearr Publishing in Ireland (http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/OConnell_Glenys/winters-somers.htm) got me thinking about all the weird and wonderful things we do as writers to produce our story babies.
People often ask where do you get your story ideas? Well, Winters & Somers sprang from the fact that I was writing a mystery and needed to know about how a private investigator operates. Now at the time we were living near Dublin, and I gritted my teeth and took a course in private investigation. One of the facts I learned was that, at that time, there were NO female PI’s in Eire.
Of course, that pricked my imagination, and Ciara Somers, a sassy young woman determined to be a PI, came to life. Of course, that wasn’t enough – how could she establish herself in a man’s world? Sure, she had one client, an old lady whose beloved cat had gone missing, but that wasn’t REAL PI work. (In case you’re wondering, she did find the old lady’s cat!) Then a straight-laced client came to ask her to find out if her husband was cheating on her (he was) and Ciara had her great idea – she could make a living testing the seducability quotient of men for their insecure partners.
Not that she actually seduced them, a fact that New York Homicide cop Jonathon Winters didn’t grasp when he met – and was fascinated by – this red-haired beauty. Jonathon hid his identity as the author of spicy romance novels so that he could continue the police career he loved. Now with a year’s sabbatical to write his latest book, he was in Ireland….and getting bored. Until he met Ciara and decided to get her off the streets by partnering her in her PI business…
And if you’re wondering, the other mystery that started this never did get finished. Maybe someday. And, while I did take the course, I never did apply for the PI’s license. I’m a writer; I have enough troubles as it is!
You’ll have to read the book to know the rest! But you can read the first chapter by clicking the First Chapters tab above, or at http://glenysoconnell.webs.com/firstchapters.htm
|Posted on May 6, 2014 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
If you've been thinking of taking my Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book course, now is the perfect time to sign up!
In fact, it's your last chance - I've been teaching this course, either in adult classes or online, for the past ten years or so. All good things must come to an end :-)
So I'm offering the five week course for just $50 - a huge reduction from the usual $140!
You could say it's my 'swan song' for working with writers on this particular course :-)
You can see details by clicking the Writing Courses tab above, along with some of the comments former students have made. Or see some of the reviews for the book of the same name, here. You get the information from my book of the same name as the course, plus I'll work with you every step of the way towards mastering the basics of your novel and getting the writing underway.
We talk about everything from plotting to dialogue to settings, to characterization and motivation and lots in between. And hopefully, have some fun as we go along!
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Contact Me button at the top of the page, if you'd like to enroll or have any questions.
Meanwhile, Happy Monday, everyone!
|Posted on April 29, 2014 at 9:30 AM||comments (0)|
What does success mean to you? Is it wealth, poer, influence? Or is it about a sense of fulfillment, content, or sending a message you hope will help someone? I'm blogging about success over at the Roses of Prose blog - www.rosesofprose.blogspot.com today - come and visit and leave a comment. Have you tried one of those many schemes advertised on the Internet that promise overnight success? Come over to that blog and tell your fellow readers all about your experience!
|Posted on March 10, 2014 at 3:45 PM||comments (0)|
Maybe it’s the bitch in me, but I hate reading books where the hero and heroine are perfectly good and the villain is completely bad to the bone. In fact, there seems to be a positive epidemic of this going on at the moment – maybe it’s in reaction to the stroppy heroines of chick-lit, maybe it’s because the world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket and people are searching for absolutes.
Whatever is causing this need for perfectly identifiable goodies and baddies, I wish it would stop before I find myself throwing yet another book across the room in disgust. This is a very bad practice, especially for someone reading on her tablet….We all have little (or big) flaws. When I come across a heroine who is so lovely she never thinks a mean thought, never challenges anyone else, never has a bad hair day, never is without a winsome smile and a plate of homemade cookies, well – immediate turn off.
Heroes written to be so, well, heroic – no thanks. Those big, strong, silent types, wonderfully patient and indulgent to the heroine, selfless, manly, broad chested, and completely fart-free – I ask you, who could possibly stay in love with Mr. Perfect?
Then there are the totally mean, verging on positively psycho villains. Most of whose behaviour is clinically psychotic. No matter what you might think from television, there aren’t that many nutzoids running around – the highest figure is probably one in a hundred. Not every fictional villain can be one. And all this with no hint as to why they behave this way. Believe it or not, even psychopaths can demonstrate a reason for the terrible things they do. At least in their way of thinking, their actions are rational, even if the rest of the ‘normal’ world thinks them total fruitloops. Usually, too, there is something in their backgrounds that triggers the behavior, whatever side of the nature/nurture debate you might be on. It would be nice if this was hinted at in the stories.
You see, these characters are just not real. Sure, we want larger than life characters in our novels, but they also need to be people we can identify with. People we can understand. People who don’t make us feel so inferior because we do have bad hair days, don’t bake cookies and sometimes cuss a little…
I spent years covering the criminal courts and the crime beat as a journalist, and then worked as a counsellor, so I say this with some measure of authority: The truth is no-one is all bad or all good. So why should we write about perfect people?
Please, please can we have heroes and heroines with flaws? Villains with a touch of humanity? I’m not asking for every story to be as boring as the real life we’re often reading to escape from, but give me real characters, people I can like or at least understand why I hate them.
Okay, putting away my soapbox now. Thanks for listening!
|Posted on February 13, 2014 at 2:55 PM||comments (0)|
Yes, it’s true! – My Valentine’s gift to you, my dear Readers: A free download of Marrying Money: Lady Diana’s Story, on Kindle!
Marrying Money is a romantic comedy set in England and Ireland, starring Lady Diana Ashburnham, a down-on-her-heels aristocrat who needs to find a rich husband to save her 500 year old estate from being sold to the highest bidder. And she’s heard that Ireland’s awash in wealthy bachelors who’d love an English title, so…..
Here’s the blurb:
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, commoner Sally Barnes, into joining her on a trip to Ireland to try to net a – preferably titled – millionaire. After all, with the Celtic Tiger economic boom, Ireland is supposed to be awash with wealthy guys. As she tells Sally, Ashburnham ancestors plundered Ireland with Cromwell, so why shouldn’t Diana do a bit of plundering there herself?
Sally, very much a common commoner from a council house, reluctantly agrees to the trip.
They hook up with Diana's very pretentious but untitled cousin, Mairead, who married money herself – a wealthy 'paper products' entrepreneur. His line of work has led to many rude family jokes, but Diana has to admit that Mairead had landed herself in the lap of luxury with her marriage choices.
It looks like Diana isn’t going to be so lucky. Not only do the very valuable Ashburnham Emeralds disappear at the Galway Races, where Sally, not Diana, is chosen the winner of the Ladies' Day Prize, but there seems a huge shortage of titled wealthy young men who would be willing to fork out the millions required to keep Alexandria House, the Ashburnham estate, and Diana all in the style to which they want to become accustomed.......
Check it out and get your free download from February 14 to February 17 at:
UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE " target="_blank">https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE
USA - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE " target="_blank">https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Germany - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00HNVBLNE " target="_blank">https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Australia - https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HNVBLNE" target="_blank">https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Canada - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00HNVBLNE" target="_blank">https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00HNVBLNE
Or Read the first chapter here!
Thank you! Enjoy Lady Diana's husband hunting, and Happy Valentine's Day!
|Posted on February 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM||comments (0)|
Even the greenest freelancer knows that they should follow the publishers' guidelines to stand a chance of having work accepted. So, because many publications state they will use their own photographic contacts to illustrate an article if they decide to purchase, many writers don't send photos with their work.
That's a mistake.
The old adage that 'A picture is worth a thousand words' holds very true in the case of space conscious print media. Photos are important, but must be of the best quality, serve to illustrate a point in the article and attract a reader's attention, and must be used sparingly because they add to production costs and take valuable space. But if you are submitting a text piece that has photo potential, don’t hesitate to send some good shots along with the copy.
There are two reasons for this: 1) your pictures will add an extra dimension to your writing, enabling the editor to visualize your subject more clearly, and 2) The reason magazines and newspapers send out their own photographic staff, or hire professional photographic stringers, is that they need quality, professional pictures. No family snapshot type deals; your editor is looking for clear, well focused, well-thought out scenes that will complement the written article. You have the advantage of knowing your story and subject matter, so if you can provide top-quality photographs to go with your work, why should the editor look elsewhere?
|Posted on January 4, 2014 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
Characters make our books – they're the ones who make us womanwritinglaugh, cry, angry, sad. We root for the hero and heroine, yell mean things at the villain – or maybe even have a sneaking admiration for him – and develop a soft spot for minor characters and hope there’s a sequel to tell their story.
And the characters readers love can surprise you. I received a really good review of Resort to Murder, and there was no doubt that the reviewer loved one character in particular – Tuesday the Stray Dog. Go figure! In fact, Tuesday seems to have his own little fan base and I'll be putting his story up on my website a little later.178 (200x300)
Most writers base characters' behavior, voices, habits, mannerisms, etc., on people they have met, worked with, sat on a bus next to, spent time in the airport lounge with, sat in class with, or seen on television or at the movies. Remember that all your friends and relatives will be trying to identify themselves in your work, so disguise your characters well!
You can also use magazines to help build your characters – read interviews with celebs and other people who have been written up.
Often characters spring fully-grown into your mind, so clear you can just about reach out and touch them – or at least call them on the mind-phone. That's great at the beginning of the story, but often the familiarity with the characters starts to fade as we continue along, and other characters join in. How to avoid this?
Get to know your characters.
Build them from the ground up, but do it subtly – let them reveal themselves to you just as a new acquaintance would. You meet someone and they seem really sophisticated and distant. But a couple of meetings later, you realize they have a wicked sense of humor. Maybe that self-assurance isn't more than skin deep. Maybe that cool exterior hides a seething mass of anxieties and neuroses.
That's when you'd also slowly realize that they have a past, a time before you knew them, which has careerwomanshaped how they are today.
There's an ongoing argument in psychology about nature v nurture – are we born as we are (nature), or did we grow up this way because of our childhood experiences (nurture)?
Most psychologists today tend towards the nurture and nature combination – we are born with certain characteristics, but the way we are treated and the events in our childhoods decide which characteristics come to the front and shape who we are.
For example, a child born with a tendency towards anxiety may well grow to a relaxed, laid back adult if he is reared in a calm, loving atmosphere where his anxieties are soothed and he learns how to control them, and perhaps even more important, that he is in control of his life. The same child reared in a different environment may grow up anxious and insecure, a candidate for compulsive behavior disorder and numerous other mental health problems, or possibly even grow into a volatile, hostile, domineering and violent character who simply loses his cool if the world around him doesn't fall into line. Because he cannot handle the anxieties that flow in on him and make him feel out of control, he constantly seeks to be in total control, and anything out of the ordinary throws him for a loop.
So, what tendencies does your character have? And how did his life so far shape him? When you're really having difficulty with a character, you may need to think right back to his childhood – where did he come from? What was his family like? His schooling? Even the time in history that we are born in affects who we may become – hence the phrase 'War babies' to describe an entire generation who were a puzzle to their parents.
That can sound quite daunting, but it's not really.
Write down everything you want your character to be – is he an Alpha male? One of those people who have to win at any cost? A company executive at 30, and a heart attack patient at 35? Or is he a laid back character, one of those kids whose teachers always said 'Could do better if he worked harder?' and 'Not working to his potential', Think of the ramifications for your story if your character is either one of these, because these characters will behave quite differently in whatever situations you put them in.
Remember that characters often have minds of their own – trying to force them into behaviors they don’t want to do is a great way to spark Writer's Block. Of course, it's not really your character but your subconscious mind that is objecting to the route your plot is taking. At least, I think so…...
Sometimes having a good chat with your characters can clear the air and clarify what you need to do. It makes them real to you, and that's what we are looking for – real characters. Remember the fun you had with an imaginary friend, or a favourite stuffed animal, when you were a kid? Well, try to bring back that feeling with your characters. Talk to them. Listen to them. Interview them. Just make sure you do this in private. Talking to yourself is acceptable in a writer, but answering yourself back can still make your nearest and dearest wonder. And when you start sending your characters birthday and Christmas presents, you're really in trouble…..
There are a number of books on the market for writers about personality types and there are lots of sites on the Internet if you want to delve deeper. Beware, many of them let you take a personality test, and you can spend a lot of time browsing here! Instead of putting your own personality traits in to the questionnaires, you can insert the answers you think your character would give, and get a Personality Type designation for him or her that will help you develop the character.
•What methods do you use to build your characters?
Glenys O’Connell is the author or Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book She has a degree in psychology and is a trained counselor.This Blog Was Originally an Interview at http://siamckye.blogspot.ca/2009/10/coffee-with-my-characters.html