Writing Prompt: Judgement Day..

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If you were to judge your favourite book by its cover, would you still read it?…

 

A really good writing prompt under today’s date in my book, and very fitting as just this week on Facebook, an author friend asked the question ‘ what’s more important the cover or book’s blurb for readers?’ Me being a big reader I responded, and said in my personal experience and opinion the cover is not really that important, compared to the book’s blurb. Ultimately this is what makes me buy a book not the cover.

Why Is a Book’s Blurb More Important To Me?

Well, as a reader this is what tells me about the book. I have read some books with shockingly plain or even boring covers. And some which don’t represent the true ‘ride’ the book gave me, and they turned out to be outstanding five star reads!! So this is why I personally feel as a reader, covers are cool and yes important, but more focus for me is on blurb.

If I find it interesting, or pulled to the characters I am for sure going to read that book! Regardless of the cover. On the other hand, I have read some terrible books either badly written, not my cup of tea etc , and the cover was real eye-candy. I feel that a cover does not really tell you the FULL detail of a book.

What Does A Book’s Cover Show Me?

If I’m really honest, as a reader what genre it might be lolz, and that’s about it. It does not tell me if I’d like it, if it’s interesting or pull me to buy it. It may sound weird to some who read this, but as a reader personally the cover just gives me a hint of the genre. *Shrugs shoulders.*

So… If I Had To Judge My Favourite Books By Covers Would I Read Them Again?

Yes! As it was probably the blurb that pulled me in, and that’s why I picked it up. The author then did a great job with delivering to me what was written on the tin, and I enjoyed it so yeah I would. Some of my favourite books have really plain covers. In all honestly book covers that are eye-candy are lovely, and every author wants one ( me included). But, at the end of the day, it’s all about the delivery and your blurb. I know this a reader and because of this experience I have had, as a writer I try to ensure that my blurbs deliver a true representation of what’s within the pages! So never judge books by covers is my response, go by the book’s blurb.

What about you, what’s more important the cover or blurb? Which one calls you to buy or read a book? If you had to think of your fav reads and their covers, would you read them again or be pulled to them?? Let me know?

Writing Prompt: Local Flavour

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Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from, as though it’s an entry for a travel guide”

Brilliant writing prompt under today’s date in my book, I’ve never tried my hand at travel writing…so here goes! London, like the rest of the world is on some form of lock-down, due to the Coronvirus outbreak. I too am at home  and have been for eight days! Let’s pass sometime with today’s writing prompt and see if I can ‘sell’ my city as if I were a travel guide writer!

London…

London is the capital of the United Kingdom, and one of the most diverse cities of the world. The city is located in the southern part of the United Kingdom, and has a population of 8.9 million( as of 2018)  

The capital of the United Kingdom attracts many visitors and tourists each year, to date 39.7 million visits have been recorded to the ‘city that never sleeps’ at the time of this article. The diversity of London is great, and that’s what gives it the reputation of being one of the most welcoming, tolerant and culturally richest part of the United Kingdom.

There is plenty to see and do in this part of the country, the city is divided up into what’s known as ‘post codes’, similar to the zip codes of the USA and other parts of the world. The River Thames run’s directly through the city, and is what divides the capital up between north and south.

What is there to see and do?

Central London- ‘The West End’

This part of the capital is as the name describes, the  most central part of the city.  It is the financial hub of the country. London’s economy is based largely in the central part of London. Here you will find the famous landmarks such as Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street  and Soho. As well as many of the other well known ‘tourist attractions’ of the city.

The centre of London, or London’s ‘West End’ is a most see! And the ultimate starting point of any visitor to the wonderful and vibrant city. Tube lines ( subways) are easy to access and navigate around the capital. In addition, there are many bus routes, overhead trains and even local bike ride schemes to travel around the city.

London operates on a strictly no cash system on transport services, therefore you will need to obtain one of London’s Oyster Cards ( a travel card) and ‘top it up’ with money to pay for travel before hand. Or you can use your debit or credit card by touching in onto the screens, when you board any form of transport.

In central London, you will also find many theaters, restaurants bars, clubs and night life! In fact, London’s night light is highly sort after as an experience, and comparable to big cities such as Miami, Amsterdam, New York and Paris! But  London is the place to be.

Museum’s Parks and Attractions

The London Eye is London’s main attraction, located along Westminster Bridge, and a stone’s throw from the iconic Big Ben Clock, that London is recognised by. Here, visitors to the capital can experience  panoramic views across London, from the height of the ride’s wheel.  The ride itself is a large Ferris wheel, that moves at a smooth and comfortable speed allowing visitors to see the north, east, south and west of London. while located in the centre of London! Don’t miss this attraction. The nearest tube stations are Lambeth North, and Westminister Bridge.  Tickets must be purchased beforehand, arrive early to avoid queues.

London also has many picturesque parks such as Clapham Common ( south London), Richmond Park ( south London), Victoria Park (east London), Hamstead Heath ( north London) as well as parks in the city centre, located near the residence of the royal family.

In the city centre,  there are also museums for those who which to soak up the culture! Such as The National Gallery, along London’s South Bank you will also find The London South Bank Museum here.  Nearest stations are Trafalgar Square and Elephant and Castle which which are both walking distance.

Urban Life in London

London, would not be complete with out the underworld of ‘urban life’. Those who wish to experience the true unique, diverse and alternate culture of London, should head out the the tourist areas and visit Camden Town’s Market. Camden Town is a funky, diverse and cool part of London, not to be missed. Shops, restaurants, bars, and tattoo and alternate body art shops are all to be discovered. Nearest tube station is Camden Town.

Brixton Market located in the south London is a must see, and a very vibrant area to experience, where all races mingle and mix enjoying the ambiance of this part of the city. Nearest tube station is Brixton.

The August carnival to celebrate Afro-Caribbean culture in the capital, takes place on the Bank Holiday in August, at the end of the summer each year! This is one big street party, where there’s food, music, drinking and dancing along the streets of west London all Caribbean style. Don’t miss this iconic event, that has been part of London’s history since the large influx of Caribbeans who settled in the UK with the Windrush Era.

Safety While Traveling

London generally is a pretty safe place to explore,  safety should be taken with valuables as with any large city in the world, opportunists will strike and pick pocket if tourists are no alert ,and protective of possessions. Female travelers should feel safe, but should also take care and guard general safety.

Overall, London is  a great city! Home to many people from all over the world. Racism is not a big thing in this part of the country, compared to other parts. As the population is diverse and it is in this part of the UK, as with other large cities such as Birmingham and Manchester and Liverpool, that you will find the highest population of immigrants, as well as inhabitants that fall into the Black-British, or Asian-British, and Non-White category.

Visit London today! The best times of year are during the  spring and summer months typically from March- August.

 

How about it guys?? Who’s coming to London ( after the travel ban is lifted LOL), have I sold my part of the world to you?? Let’s see your travel guide pieces on where you’re from. Drop your links below I’d love to read them!!

 

 

 

 

 

101: Narrating Audio Books, And Having Your Books Narrated, What’s The Deal?

 

coming soonThe last few weeks have been a very unexpected experience for me! I got two jobs narrating two audio books, and uploaded my books to be narrated. That was the main intention, to have my books placed into audio and open it up to auditions. After speaking with a fellow author on Facebook, who happens to be an audio book narrator, I decided to see if there was any demand for British narrators following her encouragement. She was sure British accents would be some kind of ‘hot commodity’ that’s needed. LOL Turns out there is a massive demand!!

I did two auditions, of just two minutes reading a script for two books that interested me, and got both books offered to me to narrate. One from a publisher and one from an author. I thought I’d share both sides of the coin, how to place your books in audio, and why you might also wish to consider becoming a narrator yourself!

Where Do Authors Find Narrators?…

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy…head to ACX’s site this is Audible and Amazon’s website HERE.  

Simply log in using your own Amazon account, or set up one under your author/narrator pen name. Then, head to the section which states ‘add projects’. Here upload the details and Amazon will automatically pull your book in, confirm it and that’s it! Then, you need to add a script for narrators to audition with. I recommend not placing your whole MS up there, just copy and paste a sample. It does not have to be the first pages either, you can use a really tense scene, steamy scene etc, to see how  potential narrators would handle these aspects of your book. Or just opt for a sample from the first chapter. Either  way paste it into the box, or save a Word.doc  and upload it. Bosh! Done you’re book is out there for narrators to find.

What Cost Are Involved For Authors?…

None, if you don’t want there to be. Authors and publishers are able to place their book(s) up, and offer what’s called a ‘life long royalty share option’ to the narrator. This means, if you are willing to give exclusive rights to Amazon and Audible you just split all royalties earned from audio sales with the narrator. You’ll receive 20% and so will they, each month for life. The rest goes to Amazon and Audible of course.

Or, you can pay narrators a fee per audio hour they produce. This option will involve costs to you. So if a narrator’s fee is £50.00 per hour produced for example, and your book is eight hours long = 8 x 50.00=  £400.00 must be paid to the narrator.

Or, lastly you can offer the royalty share option + an amount for each audio hour, say £20.00. So if your book is eight hours again 8 x 20.00= £160.00 PLUS a 20 % royalty share per month.

There are three options, the first one you have to give Amazon and Audible exclusive rights, with the other two you are free to have  your book sold in audio elsewhere. But there’s costs to you. So if you don’t want upfront costs, then don’t go with them.

How Do Authors Find Narrators?…

Once you’ve added your book(s) as projects, fill out the options to decide what kind of narrator you’d like. eg accent, age, type of reader eg versatile, feminine, husky etc Basically narrow down the options to the best voice you feel would be suited, or that you’d like to hear bring your work alive. Press submit and that’s it.

Narrators looking for projects will come across your book(s), and if they are interested audition. You will get an alert of an audition and can hear their voice.

What Happens Next?….

Your book(s) will be up for ‘audition’ and narrators can find you.You should hopefully start receiving auditions and hearing different voices. You can respond to anyone who takes your fancy. You can also search the data base of narrators based on the criteria you selected, then invite them to audition or reach out in some way. Once your book(s) are up, it’s time to either reach out, or kick back and wait for people to find you.

Once you offer a project the narrator has two days to accept, if they do you upload the full MS. Then, they will start working and submit to you a fifteen minute sample of their work, before the deadline agreed. You will then approve it or not, and if you do they continue and you kick back, and wait for your book to be transformed into audio by the agreed due date! Then it goes up on sale once complete and ACX has approved it for quality.

Are Narrators Willing To Do The Work With No Upfront Fee?

In short, yes I was and would do it again. Depending on 1. if they feel your book will sell 2. they have a genuine interest in your book 3. you include in your book’s details what you plan to do about marketing. To inform potential narrators who may have an interest what you’ll do to spread the word. So they can see potential.

Of course there are professional voice actors who are not! And wish to be paid a fee, rather than  risk the time and effort, your book sells little or nothing or not what they would have imagined.

My Experience So Far, As An Author…

Well as an author my books have only been up just over a week, I have not had auditions yet, but one narrator did make contact and say she would like to audition once she’s finished up a few books she’s working on this month. I honestly think patience will be needed. That said, I would advise any author wanting to place their work into audio, to be just that patient. Don’t run with the first voice you hear unless it grabs you! Remember you are looking for someone who will bring your story alive, be it fiction or non-fiction. I’m more than happy to wait and hear the right voice and emotions for my work. If you do this, I suggest you do too.  This will increase the chances of you being happy,  once the audio book is produced. I found that it was a very easy process to place my books up on ACX too.

My Experience So Far, As Narrator…

Wonderful!! Like I said, pick books and subjects that genuinely interest you. One book is non-fiction and is in the esoteric,  spirituality, and metaphysics genre so of course I’m loving it! And it’s a short book, just 15,000 words or so. The second is a autobiography, this lady’s story really interests me too. The third, which the publisher emailed me about this week to potentially narrate, is a fiction book in the women’s fiction genre. This should be interesting as it will be a different type of narration voice for me, proper voice acting for different characters! I will review it and see if I am drawn to it and the characters.

The thing is, it’s not as easy as reading out a book, you do need to make it interesting and ‘act’,  even if it’s not a fictional book. Think of the listeners, so adjusting your tone, speed and how you wish to present the author’s work for listeners in an engaging way, is key. Secondly, it can take time! To learn the software, to edit, and re-record the words and sentences you stumble on LOL. But it really has been a great experience for me, and  would do more for this publisher and other authors for sure.

I am now more than fifty percent through my first book, and hope to get it all l completed this week or next. That’s the other thing, you will agree with the author or publisher a reasonable due date. I recommend, no matter how short the book ask for six-eight weeks on the project. Unless you really feel you could or want to do it in less time.

My advice is take your time, aim for perfection and quality ( after all you want good reviews, and more work from the publisher or author). And you want to do it right, right? You need time to get each chapter correct.  I would advise you take more time, and if possible do it in less or at a pace that works for you.

When you start out I would not take on too  many projects either, if you don’t have much time on your hands. I only took on two as the first book is so short, and the second is a novel. I would not have taken on two novels in my first attempt at this, trust!

Hence why, the first project that I searched for I wanted only under three hours production time, in the genres I was interested in, So I didn’t bite off more than I can chew. But from the experience, I do feel I could do a full novel with a good timescale, and one that deeply interests me, hence I took on the second book.

What Do I Need To Narrate Books? Could I Do My Own?

Yes, you can narrate your own. In fact the thought crossed my mind to do mine if I did not find a narrator I really liked. In order to narrate books, be it your own or someone else’s all you need is…

  • a decent microphone and pop filter. ( Don’t even think about using your computer’s one it’s too crappy). A Pop filter will help to remove mouth noises, and sounds of breathing or inhaling and you DO NEED IT don’t skip it! I would not say you need to buy the most expensive either. Mine cost me under £30.00 with the pop filter. I think about £20.00 and it is ahmaaaaaaaaaaaayzin! Great quality.
  • a laptop or PC.
  • recording and editing software. Which you can grab free!! One called Audacity. ACX recommend a paid expensive software, you don’t need it all all.  I recommend you grab a free software download of Audacity HERE. It’s so simple to use too.
  • And I recommend this great ebook on Audio book production  by Krystal Wascher . Recommended to me by the author who encouraged me to audition, and I too recommend it. It’s like a Bible and a must have. There are many resources on ACX’s website to help, I say get the book too. Free on Kindle Unlimited to read also. Grab it here.
  • A VERY VERY quiet environment, table and chair.  This is key, please don’t think that any old place will do. I record in my bedroom ( at the back of the house away from the main road). Choose a quiet room, the smaller the better too.
  • Water to drink!

Overall, I think that audio books are great I have listened to them in the past. I also think that as authors it’s great to reach as many readers , via as many channels as you can! So while I am now redoing all paperbacks for my self-published works, I’m also doing audio books. My publisher who I signed with for my historical romance,  really, really also recommends that audio is the way to go…. so go for it authors!

On the other hand, if you’re someone who thinks yeah, I have the time and skill or even desire to narrate books I say go for it too. Pick the books and genres carefully, stick to what interests you. Also, think of what your voice may suit also! Keep in mind that fiction work will have characters, so you will need to adjust for this. Male and female voices, non-fiction the author will want a different approach to how their book is narrated.

There is a demand for all accents. So I’ll give this a crack, add to my monthly royalties coming in and have some fun too!

Also, there are things to help you decide on books, such as the reviews it has on Amazon, sales rank, and how established the author is, their marketing plan etc. But at the end of the day, it’s down to you to decide. You may feel a book will sell well, but  it may not sell as many copies and vice versa.

Decide if you want to be paid a fee or via royalty share or both! Remember royalty share is for life. Also remember that as the narrator you should invest in the book’s potential for sales too. Promote it once produced, you are a shareholder in it after all!!

Give it a go if you feel you’d enjoy it. Any questions get in touch or drop them in the comments.

101: Writing Realistic Romance, Seven Tips #amwriting

writing Everyone has their own style of storytelling, believe me I know! I’m a big rebel when it comes to writing in this genre!  I don’t believe in following the crowd, I hate it. I use the present tense and first person often. While a majority of this genre is third person and past tense. That said, I have been pulled to write this short 101 to helpfully help other aspiring romance writers, and anyone for that matter, as this simple advice can be applied across the board in all genres really. Also, I’ve not written a writing 101 for ages!!

I’ve been compelled to write this as, one I read a hella-lot of romance, two I’ve read a hella-lot of romance that’s sadly unrealistic in some ways. This genre has this ‘reputation’ and I feel us romance writers should do what we can, to fight that battle. Now, I don’t claim to be an expert. But I do claim to be a kick-ass romance author that I will blow my own trumpet! And I will admit, that I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea you either feel me, or you don’t as a reader. But I’ll always be feelin’ myself LOLZ.  That’s because I have mastered ‘Kim’s style’ like all writers, I’ve got to a place where I feel happy with what my pen does, and at ease if others don’t like it.  Not everyone will like what you write, but if you write for yourself first, and use your own style whatever comes after is just a bonus, praise of critique. Because, you write for you first.

I’m now on novel number eleven, so from this experience here’s my simple advice and take from a humble POV, that I’d give to craft engaging and believable romance. So we can fight the whining  readers who find it ‘unrealistic’.

Characters

As a big reader I love it when characters are so believable, realistic and engaging to read. When they’re not, it can be a turn off. Not everyone is going to like your characters, and so what if they don’t they’re may be the wrong reader. The point is, when it comes to characters who are they? This is my starting point before I think about my plot. This is because, if you’re  going to write a realistic romance ( or any genre story), the characters will be what drives the plot. Not and never the other way around.  Remember this, think of your characters like this as the plot drivers.

Many may start with the plot and fill out characters, cool okay if that’s what’s best for you. But you may find that you”re  so busy spinning your plot, your characters do unrealistic things, and fall flat. I recently read two books one romance and one other, and this was my experience as a reader. If you know your characters well,  you can portray them better. They will react, think, move, talk, walk more vividly in your plot if you can focus on them first. This helps massively with character development also.

Ever read a book and the characters are boring, or they are from a certain part  of the world yet they speak perfect English in their conversations? Hmmm, chances are the  writer has skipped this part. Hence they speak perfect English, or just flat and not real. For example, when they are from the depths of south London for example and may have a different accent.

When I wrote a particular story for The Suspenseful Collection #2- Blurred Lines, I placed myself and Didi in the story lol. So when I portrayed myself in speech, I did not say, ‘oh I’m so sorry about that, here let me help you.’ I said, ‘oh no, I’m sorry, ‘er lemmie help ya’. That’s because I’m from London, and a certain part and I would not in casual speaking speak like the Queen herself!   Didi and I also had a Russian female in The Suspenseful Collection Volume #1 and of course  she said, ‘ello, yass ‘ow can help you.’ rather than ‘Hello, yes how I can I help you.’ The point is, little things like this matter, as well as who they are as people.  You may think, yeah Kim this is basic stuff. Trust, you’d be surprised  how many can easily forget, during character development.

This brings me to character development and thinking about it a  little deeper, if you start by really thinking about who your characters are, outside of things like age, race etc. But who they are as people, where they have been, how they react to things and most importantly their flaws as people. You will have more rounded, believable and developed characters that drive your plot. Rather than a plot with flat characters, doing very unrealistic things.

Flaws and Growth…

Okay so we all love a romance ( or any genre book really) where the characters are not only real, but we as readers experience and see their growth. Don’t forget this, once you know who your characters are as people, what flaws do they have? And these flaws should help drive the plot and show how they grow from it…. why? As it shows growth of each character, develops story and adds to reality! People have life experiences and we all grow from them, love and romance are no exception to the rule. If anything love and romance really do allow us all to grow in some shape or form. So, give your characters a flaw or two, then make sure in the plot you show somehow that they have overcome it, or made steps to over come it, changed or grown from it.  This could be so subtle in your writing, it does not have to be over the top, but if you can show it well it should make good believable reading. It makes the characters real, the situations real, and the best bit allows readers to experience the plot better.

Plot, Story-line and Storytelling…

Okay y’all like I said, I’ve read a hella-lot of books, especially romance and I feel a plot needs to be very realistic in as many books, if not all as possible. End of story, period and full fucking stop!! This genre has such a reputation for delivering ‘unrealistic stories’ and I hate it, and I will defend my genre I love to read and write until the cows come home! But, as a reader, I gotta say… yeah there’s some truth. Don’t get caught up in trying to spin the perfect ‘fairy tale’ that things seem unreal.  Ask yourself…

1.Would this really happen?

2.Could this even be possible?

3. And would my CHARACTER react like this, or how would they react and why?? What would my characters do in the situations I have placed them?

Where’s the challenges?…

Now if you, one know your characters, two they have realistic flaws, they should not be doing unrealistic stuff…right? Good glad we agree.

But, how do we keep it realistic, in my personal and humble opinion as a romance author, it’s down to the challenges we give them. By this I mean, if there’s no challenge and everything just fits into place we all know love and life does not roll like that! So it can come across as unrealistic, there needs to be some kind of ‘challenge’ and I use the word loosely to mean some kinda ‘debate’, ‘back and forth’ ‘questions’ or even just a good ‘ol dose of drama to keep the plot realistic. Don’t go too mad ( unless it’s like romantic suspense), but for good, clean, sweet romance a little challenge or dilemma where a decision or choices need to be made are key. And for romantic suspense, ha! Well, bring the heat with challenges!! 🙂 But keep them realistic to the characters, their environment and where they are at in life no matter what kind of romance you’re writing.

My best advice is, place your plot outline in the real world, in the time frame your story is set. So if it’s the present day would what you’ve outlined…

1. Have a chance of happening? Is this a realistic challenge to the character, time-frame and who they are?

3. Could it be believable? What is a realistic challenge for this couple to either be together, come together, or hold them back for some reason. Where is the push and pull before they can be happy?

4. Does it go inline with the challenges, flaws, and issues you’ve given the characters and the overall plot? Does it work?

5. Is there an actual challenge here worth telling? Is there more than sex in your plot? Does it develop into an actual story involving the characters? 

Pace…

All right y’all now, I believe when or if there’s  an issue with pace, it might be because of one of two things.

  1. There’s no fucking story at all to tell or is being told! And really pages are just being filled with words- the story does not move!
  2. The story does not have ‘peaks’ to keep the reader engaged. So, the pace seems like this ———————————————- all on one level and not really moving.

If you’ve really looked at your story line,  plot  or the outline whatever you call it, you should be able to see if there is a story really, and eliminate point one. If so, now where are the areas of ‘peak’ ‘heat’ tension’ whatever you want to call it. Make them clear, for you and the reader. Then decide how you will build up to these peaks. By this I mean what’s your approach to bringing the readers to these peaks, is it a sub-plot, surprise, mystery, a twist, or are you just ensuring that the story is told at a good pace and not dragged out.

You don’t have to spin mystery, surprise, or suspense into a romance, it could just be a nice sweet story ( something I’m not great at writing lol), or a contemporary romance. The point is, as you write your actual story keep up that damn pace! End as many chapters as you can with something interesting for the reader, and for the love of God keep moving! Without skimming or rushing, just make sure your pace is even.

  1. Start
  2. Middle/climax etc.
  3. level off/ OMG what will they do??/tension.
  4.  Bang…ending!

This is the most simple way I can  put it with pace. I would avoid leaving all the juicy stuff until the later part of your story, readers may fall off, lose interest or just feel that ‘the pace is slow’. Keep them interested. As a side note, I mentioned reality as a big thing. So if you leave all the juicy stuff to the end, is this realistic to how life would go, in the situations you’ve placed your characters?

Think about it. Do life and love just fit into place? Nope, think not. Especially if you have a plot with some drama, if your characters just roll with it is that really believable??? Adjust reaction if you can to fit the pace.

Insta- Love?

Ya know lots of readers may dislike this, I kinda do  as a reader as long as it’s believable. That’s the deal breaker. If you like to write insta-romance- do your thang! I like to read it and  have written it where characters connect fast. Remember what I said about pace…. That said, if you serve up some insta-love have you shown a reason ‘why they can’t get enough of each other?’  Give them some kind of connection. There is no use allowing your characters to say, ‘I love you’  ( a lot), when you can’t even see why they would love each other. It sucks, it’s unrealistic and well, where’s the connection more to the point? How or why have they fallen for each other, even if it was pretty soon.

Now connection could be simple things, common interests, both want the same things in life, at the same point in life, etc. People connect when there is a connection no matter how small, we all know and have experienced this. Establish the connection….and keep it real! Show the reader why there is a believable chance these people would fall in love, even if it’s soon.

I read a book recently and I could not see why the author’s characters had a connection, and that placed doubt in my mind about the story, reality, and why these two people were in love. But they said ‘ I love you’ a hella-lot though *rolls eyes*.

In my humble view again, if they fall fast or not, show them falling, show the change of heart! Don’t forget this, don’t write a car crash of love and  not show the change of heart, or the development of feelings in your story. Even in a very subtle way as word count can be limited at times. If you do show this, It will…help it to seem realistic! That’s the name of the game.

How Much Sex, is Too Much Sex?…

Well, this is a hard balance to strike, but in my honest view as a reader yes, there is such thing as too much sex WHEN and only WHEN the rest of the plot is not developed enough. Simple.

You decide on how much or little sex you want,  it’s not for anyone to say…but just remember this can not be the be all, and end all of how you bring your story alive. Consider carefully where you place it, why and what it adds to your overall development of the actual story. Don’t just scatter it around to fill pages, and hope that a steamy story will hold your reader, it won’t and probably can’t when there is nothing else going on. *Shrugs shoulders* I’m just being honest as a reader, and that’s my view as a writer too.

So off the top of my head these are a few tips! I will come back and keep adding to this post, if and when I feel the need. I wish every romance writer the best of luck! Let’s fight that damn reputation we have for the genre, and pen some page-turning and realistic stories! *High five*

 

 

 

 

 

International Women’s Day 2020: Equality In The Work Place, My Story #IWD2020 #EachforEqual

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So it’s International Women’s Day 2020 today! #IWD2020 Yeah! While I believe in celebrating women and the contributions we make to the world and society at large daily, I’m always pleased when the day rolls around. This year’s theme is equality,  or #EachforEqual. I actually have an experience of being a woman in the world, battling for equality personally that I thought I’d share.

So let’s step back many years ago I was a pregnant woman in my late twenties, working extremely hard in the work place.  One as my department was being restructured and my co-workers and I was at risk of redundancy, two the department was in a shit load of mess anyway! And me being typical me, I wanted to do what I could to help clean it up. We all had to in away reapply for our jobs, to  ‘prove’ our worth to not be selected for redundancy and have our jobs merged so some went jobless. It was very stressful I tell you! Especially while pregnant I feared for my growing family’s stability.

While all this was going on, just before I started my maternity leave I started to take on ‘extra responsibilities’ in the work place, I was doing my job and another. And, yes you guessed it I wasn’t being paid for taking on the roles of a job above me.  I was not even formally asked to take on the extra work, it was just dumped on my desk by management. We had a change of management also. A man stepped in, one who had a reputation of being very harsh, unfriendly, awkward, not a people person or in any way emotionally intelligent and a ‘hard task master’.  The whole organisation was in such a mess, and going down hill I think they brought him in to try and ‘shake things up’. He never bothered me as I thought well I’m on leave soon, and anyway it’s not like I don’t do my job and then some, so whatever! Is all I thought. So anyway I did what I could, stressed, worried and about to give birth any time soon, I was in the final weeks of pregnancy.

While on maternity leave the department was restructured, I did keep my job, but during the restructure  of the organisation and department the job that I was doing ( the extra part with no pay) ,was made into an actual new role.  With higher pay and more clout… so they notified everyone internally and I heard via  post ( as they legally had to tell everyone who remained an employee of that department).  Naturally,  I put in an application for the job. Why not right? I was doing the job for nothing, no pay or anything! Before I went on maternity leave, I did it well even though I was very stressed and glad to get out of the place. I also was highly qualified for the role, in terms of experience and academic achievement etc.

This happened a few weeks before I was due to return from maternity leave. When I did  return from leave, I found out I was not even shortlisted for an interview. *face palm* Hold on a minute…. who was doing that job before leave? Unpaid? And helped to clear up a lot of the mess left, by employees that really didn’t give a hoot, left, and just were down right lazy? Muggins here, me that’s who!

Yeah, I put my male boss on the spot about it  one day when I returned and asked, “why was I not shortlisted for an interview at least?” Do you know what that ass-hole told me, “you’ve been on maternity leave that’s why, you can’t do the job?” I raised an eyebrow and left him to run his mouth as I knew then and there, I was filing a claim for discrimination on the grounds of gender, and maternity leave.  Totally illegal in employment legislation. Lucky, one of my master’s degrees covered law too… ya girl was clued up! I dread to think what would  have happened, if I were a female who never understood the laws of discrimination in the work place.

So once my sexist, abrupt, white, discriminatory,  male manager ran his mouth, I smiled sweetly and said, “okay, just to confirm because I’ve been away exercising a right that I was entitled to legally, as a woman, you’re telling me you decided not to shortlist me for an interview, and dismiss me for a job that I was already doing and can prove I was, before I went on maternity leave?” His face went pale, and he said, ” yes, you’ve been away.” I stopped there, went home then drafted up my complaint for inequality, sex and gender discrimination in the work place against my boss.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but did it turn into a legal battle? You bet your bottom dollar it did? Did I win my case against my boss and this organisation? You bet I did! And I was proud to present my case and win! I felt a sense of justice not just for myself, but for all the woman around the world over looked for jobs, by employers using measurements that impact on only them as a demographic of society, and therefore they miss out. By being marginalised and excluded from promotion, pay, and career progression. It was inequality and discrimination at its worst! So many laws are out there against this, it’s not just race the common one we hear about.

I ended up during my battle being head hunted for a better job than the one I had applied for, with better pay! I had an interview and got it. I left that piss-poor organisation a happy woman, who fought for justice, and never looked back.

Moral of the story is, in this day and age there is still a lot of work to be done for women when it comes to equality. Any statistic will tell you that, pay, promotion, etc. It makes ugly reading when you go through all the write ups, articles, and research into discrimination around women and equality. Quite frankly, I’m disgusted to read it, and to have experienced this a young woman myself, working hard, trying to balance work and life. And not miss out on the wonderful chance to be a mother, in fear of missing out on career progression.

So many woman are faced with this decision I was in, do I start a family and risk taking leave that I am entitled to? Or put it off and stay at work?  At the time as a woman in my late twenties I was proud of my achievements I was being paid well for my age, but did not let that stop me from the decision to take a long period of maternity leave I was legally entitled to and have a wonderful new chapter of my life open up.

From this experience I’ve learned first hand how we can be overlooked in the work place, at times I asked myself if I had not taken maternity leave, would my male manager have shortlisted me anyway? Based on his track record, and reputation he had would he  have wanted to even have placed a woman in that job that was created? Would he have felt “I could not do the job because of who I am?” Anyway, fuck him, and any employer or manager like him. All I know is, my name is one he’ll never forget. And I hope he has learned from the professional discipline he experienced, from bringing the organisation into a legal dispute, based on his discriminatory views against woman in the work place… the shit bag! Fuck him!

Have a wonderful International Women’s Day 2020 #IWD2020 and let’s continue to fight for #EachforEqual in whatever way you feel is needed, at work, in life and just generally.

I’d also like to take a moment to shout out these females who I respect to the max, for their outspoken, feisty, female empowering lyrical content…

P!ink-  what a rock star, love you and your personality from the bottom of my heart. I have been to every London based concert you’ve done, and I love how you fight for what’s right!

Pink

Christina Aguilera- “Can’t Hold us Down” is an anthem of female empowerment that never sounds old! Thank you for those words. “Fall in Line” is such a great song of empowerment, and the way you sing it you can’t help but feel the uplifting energy for us women!

xtina

Beyonce-  You’re just a boss when it comes to females staying on top!! Some of your songs have really resonated over the years.

Beyonce

Sia- “Unstoppable” when I first heard this song, I knew it was you singing it a totally unique voice, singing such an empowering song. Thank you.

Sia

Rhi Rhi – The line up of empowering females would be incomplete without you! You make being a woman of colour a beautiful thing, and do so much for women in general  regardless of race, and fight for what’s right. Your music, make-up line and personality are great. Very inspirational!

RhiRhi

 

Happy International Women’s Day March 2020!

#IWD2020 #EachforEqual

Writing Prompt- Places…

Welcome to March! Today’s writing prompt in book is simply answer… ‘beach, mountain, forest or somewhere else?’   This writing prompt called me so much! For me it’s all about here….

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I’m beach lover for so many reasons, not only is it beautiful to  be right  at the edge of a country or island, it’s just a stunning place visually, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for me. Here’s why I’d choose the beach over the mountains, forest or some other place.

I’m a water baby!

Through and through I just love the water. Be it the beach, pool, bath or shower lolz I can’t get enough  of it. I soak in the bath for ages, and  a five minute shower is unheard of for me. I find water actually really calming. Once, when I worked in the depths of south London the building was right across the road from one of south London’s popular parks. I would spend my lunch break right by the lake or make-shift pound you could call it. Even when it was a little chilly, I’d just wrap up and have my lunch there. It was at that point that I realised that the water calms me, and centres me.  The work environment at the particular place was very stressful. I also worked their while pregnant and I needed to get out and away.

Of course I love to swim too, one of my favourite forms of exercise and really wish I had more time for it. Overall, my ideal home would be right by the water. I am lucky that where I live now, I am by water. That said,  if I had a beach front house, or even lived within walking distance or a short drive from a beach I’d be on cloud nine. It’s just beautiful. I like to sit by the water and just …well…watch it. Listen to music, read, write whatever just being near.

When I’m on holiday I’m the kinda person to spend all day, and I mean all day at the beach, and then explore during the evening or later in the day. It’s pretty hard to tear me away I’ll just chill and people watch.

Ideally, if I could live anywhere in the world, it would also be somewhere with great beaches.

I like exotic and warm places!

Well…. I’m the author of  the ‘Romance Set in Paradise Series’ so that’s hardly surprising I like the exotic! But personally, I’m a warm blooded human, I love the sun and everything about it. Apart from difficulty with keeping my make-up on lolz. I really enjoy the warmer weather as I feel everyone is in a much better mood, and I am too.

Summer  and the beach to me is ‘fun’, ‘carefree’ and time to enjoy yourself and get out and about. Rather than be stuck in doors. I also find that there’s a hella-lot of great books released in the summer time.

Many of the places that I would to visit are parts of south America, the Caribbean, Thailand and I’d love to do a safari…from the safety of a very enclosed car though.

Spiritual, Mental and Emotional Well-Being

This can all be experienced from the beach. You can do Yoga, Pilates ( things I do do), and even peaceful meditations to the sounds of waves. Like I said I find the water and its motion very alluring to me. The water is also a great force of nature, it can be calm and welcoming but at the same time cause chaos! And even sadly, take lives. It must be respected.

Writing Inspiration…

If I ever become fortunate enough to live near a beach, a real beautiful one I think that inspiration to write would flow ‘like water’ LOL. Okay, that was a bit cliche but it’s the truth. And I don’t think I’d write stories set in just exotic or warm places. I genuinely feel being near water could motivate and inspire me.

Overall, I find the mountains too high for me I’m not great with heights,  and probably a bit chilly, I’m not great with that either. Hmm the  forest there could be creepy crawlies I’m not great with them either. I could never camp! So the beach suits me, my personality and how I can find inner peace and calm to a T.

What would you go with beach, mountains, forest or some place else? And why let me know?

Writing Prompt- Buffalo Nickel

Prompt- ‘search through your wallet, pockets, or down the back of the couch find the first penny you can. What year was it printed/made and what were you doing??

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The first penny I found in my purse was made in 2011… let’s step back

2011

Well that’s  nine years ago and back then I was twenty-eight years old, and life was so different, but how! In every way.

Appearance- I wish I had a picture, but in this age of technology the photos on my phone really don’t go back that far. I have also changed phones a number of times since then. But, what I can say is I had a short, straight bob just under my chin. I used to chemically straighten my curly hair too! My weight and height really has not changed. Still 5’5 and still a UK dress size 12-14.

Living- I was living in south London, in a beautiful one bedroom apartment with my then  partner. I was not a mother yet, and I guess at the time I thought I was happy. But I soon realised, nope I was not! Fast forward a few years I moved away from south London and became a mother.

Job- I was working at a local college, like a high school I guess you could call it. I loved my job, and most of the people I worked with. It was around this time that I would say, I was at my ‘peak’ in my nine- five working career. Before I started to take writing seriously.

What do I miss about the year 2011?-  in all honesty, nothing really when I think about the rat-race job I was doing, some of the unmotivated people I worked with, and how different I was as a woman, as in I was not in touch really with all the things I naturally love. Mainly due to the person I was with at the time, and trying to be everything to everyone else, but not true to myself. I can  honestly say over the last nine years I have  grown so much. I’m much more authentically me, happy and in a way glad that  I’m no longer stuck in south London, in the job I was in, or chemically straightening my hair as the damage it left, was unreal!

What’s been the biggest lessons since 2011- that when it really comes down to it, you really have to be true to yourself. If this means letting people, places and situations go for 1. your own sanity , peace, mental emotional and spiritual well-being then DO IT! And don’t feel bad. Secondly,  the universe works in very mysterious ways, it a-lines in ways to put you in a-linement. This means, removing people, places, situations and things that are not for your highest good. Then not only replacing them, but upgrading them too!

Lastly, people come into you life for a reason, some stay, some go, some teach you lessons about yourself and life. Pay attention. And always listen to your gut, no matter who thinks you’re crazy. If you feel called to do something or make some kind of change, it’s your intuition guiding you, never doubt it no matter how scary the change or new thing may be.

Would I change anything that has happened over the last nine years?– err good question. Some things I would BUT, when I think about it, if I changed these particular things I would not be on my path now. I honestly feel I’m now on the right path, so when I look at it like that I should be grateful for the last nine years. Even all the experiences that I would say ‘ yeah I’d change that’. It’s a big catch twenty two question.  I’d change maybe how giving I was to some folk, only for them to turn around and take that for granted. But everything else I’d keep it, as it honestly set me up nicely for my late thirties!

Pick a random penny, what’s the year and what were you doing? Drop a comment, or blog it and link it down below I’d love to know.