Sunday, July 30, 2006

The corks are popping!

Yes, I can hear the cheery sounds of champagne corks popping as we speak, for Marion Lennox and Liz Fielding, two extremely talented and fellow Romance authors have won RITA awards!
Marion won the Best Traditional category with Princess of Convenience, a gorgeous story and Liz the Best Short Contemporary category with The Marriage Miracle, one my all-time favourite romances with Mattie, the feisty wheel-chair bound heroine.
Congrats ladies, you are stars! And to all the other finalists, you should be proud.

While I'm sending cyber toasts Marion and Liz's way, I've been plodding along tonight on the revisions. Yes, still tough going with the slashing and fiddling and rearranging, though it is becoming a bit easier now, as I mainly have to rearrange scenes I've already written to up the tension. Currently at page 124, hoping to get these done early in the week?
Fun, fun, fun!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What a day!

First up, I've got great news.

I've just sold my 10th book! Remember the Romance starring the bad-boy prince? Well, we don't have a title yet but the book is scheduled for release in June 2007. My editor also gave me the good news that she's read The Creative Touch and this has been scheduled for March 07, so that leaves me with a Romance release Dec 06, ModX Jan 07, ModX March 07 and Romance June 07 with two more books to come.
I'm really excited about this and trying to stay focussed on getting my current Romance done before facing my last deadline for the year.

Speaking of which, I had an insane day and wrote 11 500 words. Kristen's story is a lot darker than I expected yet the words are flowing and I'm almost there. She's currently 39 weeks pregnant and I have a feeling we might need to wait till the epilogue to find out how the birth pans out...

Okay, I'm beat.
My editor is searching for my first Romance and first ModX covers as we speak, so stay tuned for the great unveiling!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sold out!

As you can probably see, I had a fiddle with my blog template last night and have updated the look. What do you think?
I'm trying to tie it in with my website, which has the same banner though you can actually read a lot more of it on my website (yes, I'm not too clever with computer stuff and have managed to chop off half of the pic without trying.)
Will play some more and try to get it spic and span as soon as possible!

While trying to update my blog, I wanted to post a pic of my upcoming release in the US, WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED so went over to eharlequin to download the cover, when I found this plastered across the cover!

Now, I have no idea if this means they ordered less copies of my book and that's why it sold out, but I'd prefer to think it means people really want to read this story! After finalling in the HOLT and Booksellers's Best with my last book, perhaps people are saying 'who on earth is Nicola Marsh?' Considering I'm up against the likes of Lucy Gordon, Shirley Jump and Holly Jacobs, I wouldn't be surprised!

(A quick adjunct to 24 last night. The ending had the biggest plot twist yet! Those script writers sure know how to keep the viewers hanging out for more next week.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Plot twists

I don't get to watch a lot of TV as my writing schedule is a night one but I do make time for 24, the high velocity action series starring Keifer Sutherland.

I've watched every series to date. Some have frustrated me, others have held me enthralled and I have to say, this current series is by far the best.
For sheer number of plot twists! Just when you think you know who the baddies are, wham! Another twist leaving you scratching your head and wanting more. When writing, I always try and end the chapter on a hook, leaving the reader wanting to turn the page to find out what's going to happen and 24 is delivering that quality in spades.

The most surprising aspect of this series is the number of key characters dying. If you haven't seen it, I won't give away any spoilers here but needless to say, the show has lost 5 major characters from previous series and each death is a shock to the viewers. You won't see it coming and I can't quite believe those characters won't be there again.

If you want to see how the experts demonstrate pacing of a story, watch 24. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The art of speed

At the risk of having a very good friend of mine beat me over the head with a stick, I'm going to say I've managed 28 500 words of this new Romance in exactly a week. No, I'm not pushing myself or overdoing it, like I have been prone to in the past (no unkind sniggers here please) but this book is another of those flyers where the characters know exactly what's happening when and I'm along for the ride.

I used to be a huge plotter, using elaborate character charts before starting a book but these days I tend to have a basic idea of what they're like and where the story will end up and go from there. The other funny thing is I have pictures of Kristen and Nate up on my pinboard but never look at them. Instead, I'm a dialogue girl, where the characters speak and I type. Just wish they'd pipe down when I'm trying to fall asleep after writing for a few hours at night...

Anyway, back to the speed thing. Even if you're not a plotter and prefer to fly by the seat of your pants, I'd strongly recommend you give it a go even once. Jot down a few points, key scenes, whatever comes into your head and save it. The clearer the picture you have of where you're going, the easier the journey.
There endeth the lesson.

Oh, and it helps to have a gorgeous hero for inspiration too!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I love Alphie!

No, Alphie isn't my latest hero.
Alphie is short for AlphaSmart, the whiz-bang word processor run on 3 AA batteries which you can fit in your handbag and take anywhere.

After hearing other authors sing Alphie's praises, I bought one at the 2004 RWAus conference in Sydney and I must say, I fell in love like everyone else.

Alphie is portable and light, two major attractions and I wrote the bulk of my first single title on him while staying at my folks for a week.
Since then, I've used Alphie spasmodically, preferring to sit at my PC every night rather than cuddle up with Alphie on the couch.

Then came yesterday...I don't usually write on the weekends but I was going to my folks for the day and thought I'd take Alphie along just in case I got a free minute while they played with my toddler.
Well, I had about an hour of play-free time and managed to get quite a few words down with Alphie. The beauty of him is that you don't know how much you've actually done till you upload to your PC so can't edit as you go.

Thanks to Alphie, I wrote 3250 words yesterday. I had no idea I'd done that much but it's amazing how fast the words flow when you're not editing as you go (something I'm prone to do a bit!)

So for anyone who wants to up your word count, I'd strongly recommend having an Alphie of your own (though I think he's been superceded by a newer whiz-bang model called Neo?)
Whatever, he's worth his light weight in gold!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Crazy day

I had one of those crazy days today where I tried to fit in a week's worth of errands into twenty-four hours. However, it's not often I get to do this without a toddler in tow so I rushed around like a mad thing, doing a whole heap of boring stuff so I could maybe squeeze an hour in of writing, which I managed between 3 and 4.

There's nothing like a new book to get the creative juices flowing and I managed 7500 words today all up. The story is flowing beautifully but then, I always find this at the start. It's that dreaded sagging middle that has me scurrying for a notebook and pen to scribble out the rest of the plot!

This one is my next Romance and features Kristen Lewis, sister of Tahnee (The Creative Touch-ModX) and Carissa (heroine in Wife and Mother Wanted.) She's an independent career woman and an unexpected pregnancy is the last thing she wants or needs. Especially considering the father of the baby is her boss!

Stay tuned for more...

Post-it note to synopsis stuff

I've had quite a few private emails about the synopsis I posted here so I want to clarify a few things.

Firstly, this is what I prefer to call a proposal/outline rather than a synopsis and I only used this format once I'd sold, to give my editor a brief snapshot of my next book. With my single title work, the synopses I write are much more detailed and done in paragraph form without headings such as heroine/hero/storyline/conflict/etc...

Personally, I like the quick snapshot style as it gives the reader at a glance what is going on but I know the paragraph by paragraph is standard so to those trying to get published, I'd stick with that format.
This would work across Harlequin lines and beyond...

Hope this helps! And if you have any more questions, just holler!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Under the covers.

At last, I've had time to play with my new website and I've mastered the art of creating a new page (a major achievement if you knew what a computer dunce I am!)

So for an 'under the cover' look at BIG-SHOT BACHELOR, my first Modern Extra release, head on over. I've also included an excerpt to give you a hint of what's to come!

That's about it for now. Time to get a bit more R&R before I start my next Romance, probably next week. I've already done the outline for this one so getting toey to start. Might just jot down a few key scenes while I'm resting up...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Synopsis secrets...shh....

My buddy Trish Wylie has come out of her deadline cave and has too much time on her hands, doing crazy things like tagging me to carry on with her synopsis stuff (actually, it's a brilliant idea and she's posted some fabulous synopsis info on her blog so make sure you check it out.)

So, to join in the fun, I'm going to post here my outline/proposal/synopsis which I sent my editor for WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED, my upcoming release in North America (August).
This is an interesting lesson in how editors and authors work, as WIFE AND MOTHER WANTED ended up being quite different from the synopsis sent in. More after you've read the synopsis.

HEROINE: Carissa Lewis loves make-believe, fantasy and all things magical. After all, it’s much more fun than the harsh realities of the real world where her parents died and she, along with her two sisters, were fostered out to different families. Her childhood was the pits and she’s making up for lost time now content in the knowledge she can manufacture happiness for others.

HERO: Brody Elliott, ex-social worker, doesn’t believe in fairy tale endings. He’s seen the harsher side of life and experienced gut-wrenching devastation firsthand when his wife died. And despite his drive to save the world, he’s learned the hard way that he can’t win every crusade and some things just aren’t worth fighting for.

All Carissa has ever wanted for Christmas is a little happiness. She hated the silly season growing up, living with miserly foster parents who treated it like just another day. Now, it’s easier for her to create happiness for others at this special time of the year rather than concentrate on what’s lacking in her own life and running her own fairy shop, Fey For Fun, gives her the opportunity to do just that. Every year, she holds special events for the underprivileged kids in town and this year is no exception.
However, when Santa pulls out at the last minute (and dumps her in the process) she is left high and dry. That is, till her surly new neighbour Brody Elliott steps in.
Brody hasn’t been in town long and though gorgeous he’s made it clear that she would not be welcome to knock on his door for sugar! However, when he saves her hide and volunteers to play Santa for the kids, she sees a whole new side to her grumpy neighbour, a side she likes way too much for her peace of mind.
Despite her overtures at friendship, once the Santa suit comes off, Brody is back to his taciturn best and Carissa vows that this year, she’s going to ignore Christmas. In fact, when she comes to think about it, every Christmas has been a disaster for as long as she can remember. She’s always single and hating it, or hanging on to a loser like Peter—her ex Santa—just for the sake of it. Or else she’s playing Cupid for her two sisters, Tahnee and Kristen and failing at it. It’s all too hard and this year, despite her love of the day, she’s going to hibernate.
Not surprising, Brody has the same idea. He lost his wife to a drunk driver several days before Christmas five years earlier and has never recovered. A social worker should be able to save people, protect people, yet he feels he did a lousy job of looking after his wife. He has quit his job, moved out of the city and is happy with his anonymity in a small town, knowing he should get his life back on track but having no idea how.
On Christmas Eve, a storm cuts power to the town and Brody hears a scream from next door. Unable to ignore his latent protective instincts, he goes to the rescue and ends up spending the evening with Carissa and both discover that Christmas Eve isn’t so bad after all.
Carissa warms to Brody, seeing a sensitive side beneath his gruff exterior and Brody enjoys himself in the company of a woman for the first time in years.
However, guilt is a terrible thing and the next day, when Carissa visits him full of Christmas cheer, Brody has withdrawn into his cold, hard shell. He berates himself for enjoying himself, especially at this time of year, the anniversary of his wife’s death. He feels disloyal and needs to preserve her memory, not have fun with another woman.
Carissa, who is already half way in love with Brody, is determined for him to lighten up, so lures him to her shop on the pretext of him helping her out again only to greet him dressed like a Christmas fairy and spinning the magic she usually does for the kids.
Brody falls for Carissa against his better judgement but continues to push her away. She wants the family she never had and he can’t make her dream come true. His heart got ripped out losing his first wife and he won’t go there again, ever. Instead, he throws himself into a new project, deciding to open a half-way house for runaway kids and is prepared to settle in this town.
After being pushed away once too often, Carissa tires of living in a fantasy world and decides to leave her shop and head to the city for a dose of reality. Brody tells her that running away won’t solve anything yet who is he to talk?
Enlisting the help of the local kids who love Carissa, he convinces her to stay, knowing his heart is on the line.
After being alone for so long, Carissa and Brody find their very own Christmas miracle.

Brody has loved and lost. He equates love with pain, suffering and devastation, not only with his own experience in losing his wife but seeing it constantly in his job as social worker.
Being alone is easier.
No family, no responsibilities, no threat of losing it all.

Carissa has been alone her entire life. Sure, she had a foster family but emotionally she has learned to shelter her heart and look after number one. Being reunited with her sisters has been an amazing experience but she wants it all…a family of her own, a husband and kids to love and cherish.
However, she won’t settle for any old guy. She saw what that did to her foster parent’s marriage and she won’t go there. When she marries, it will be for love and this Christmas, she has found it. (COPYRIGHT NICOLA MARSH 2005)

As you can see, I wanted this to be a Christmas story but due to scheduling, it wasn't to be. Also, my editor thought that adding a child to the mix would up the angst of the hero so Molly was born, so to speak! Making Brody a single dad doing it tough really upped the ante and gave him the darker edge my editor wanted. Plus I had a heap of fun writing my first child character, so much so that my next two books, FOUND: HIS FAMILY and INHERITED: BABY both feature kids heavily in the story too!

For those who've already read Wife and Mother Wanted (recently released in the UK May, Australia June) you'll see how I kept the bulk of the storyline in the actual writing of the book but like most writers, found the characters taking the story on a few twists of their own!

When I give a synopsis to my editor, I also put in key scenes if they're vivid in my mind and for this book, I had quite a few (which have been removed so not to act as spoilers for those who haven't read the book!) However, the last few synopses I've handed in haven't had scenes as I find I'm not hovering between being a pantser and a plotter rather than the full-on plotter I used to be!

So, that's about it for now.
If you have any questions, fire away.
And make sure to check out Ally and Natasha's blog, as I'm sure they'll wanna play synopsis-tag too!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Don't do this at home...

Maybe I'm driven? Maybe I'm dedicated? Maybe I'm just plain nuts but I just finished The Creative Touch, exactly 3 weeks to the night I started it.

Of course, I'm ready to collapse into a heap now but it's done and that's another deadline I won't have to worry about later in the year.

I really enjoyed reading Big-Shot Bachelor again today while doing proof edits and it's bordering on being my all-time favourite book. Let's hope this ModX follows suit. Right now, I can't keep my eyes open let alone think so will let it rest for a while before getting into the editing.

Remind me never to do this again...

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Okay, I've managed to contain my excitement and concentrate long enough to write 10 000 words the last two nights. I'm nearly there...rushing to the finish line, creating that happily-ever-after which makes us all buy romances and sigh with contentment as we finish the book.

Speaking of reading a satisfying romance, I've just started reading Pregnant on Arrival, my buddy Fiona Lowe's first sale! I'm getting a special buzz from this because it's not the first time I've read it! Fiona approached me last year to read her manuscript and critique it. The story was great and I could see it selling to Harlequin's Medical line, which it has. But what makes this extra special is seeing my name in the dedications and knowing that Fiona appreciated my input enough to mention me.

How many times have you read a dedication in a book and wondered who is the person, what's behind it, how have they contributed to the author's life? I know I do and I take my own dedications very seriously.

So thanks, Fiona. You've made my day!