The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Monday, 27 February 2017

I See Fire

Back on the editing grind. It's been a while since I opened up this story and now I'm seeing a myriad of mistakes. This is what happens when you write in a blind panic to hit a word count. There are body parts expressing emotions, not to mention that I didn't name some characters until half way through the story, like the lazy heffa I am until practicality forced me to do so. You can only call people "the" whatever for so long until you can't remember which "the" is which. Facepalm. I am slowly but surely going through each nook and cranny of this tale to make it better, sexier, sharper. Us writers don't normally enjoy the editing process, mainly because we're looking between our fingers at the stupidest mistakes, such as the amazing third arm of a hero in the midst of a sex scene. Not that third arm, but two hands firmly placed somewhere and a third hand cupping somewhere else altogether. For shame!
I'll be good though. I've got one of the best in the business to get me into top shape. And for the first time in a long time, I can't wait!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Way Down In The Hole

I almost threw my phone across the Northern Line tube to Edgware via Bank in anger. I'd frantically typed over one thousand words into my Google Drive. For whatever reason, I hadn't saved it when I got online, so when I did open it, the version I'd added to the story had gone. Poof. Into the imagination drift from whence it came. That curling smoke of inspiration I had inhaled whilst listening to Young Fathers on Spotify vanished.
You learn the hard way. Save everywhere. Save many versions of the same thing, so this thing never happens again. But it keeps happening to me! Back to the old days where I used to save work to CD drives, only for my bag to be stolen and every single one of my CDs in their bright pink cover case would be gone. Or even further back to floppy disk days, where it no longer worked, because it ended up in the bottom of my bag with a Tunnock Teacake and never recovered. Or to the early days where I'd make a note on the back of an envelope only for someone (not naming names Lady London) in a fit of OCD tidied up and that barnstorming idea was no more.
I like to think that the first time you write a scene is like an invisible tattoo. I remember giggling to myself when I wrote Tony playing Akon minutes after Nick was shot. I can recall how it amused me. I can feel to my fingertips how Danny and Will raged at their parents for having the audacity to get divorced and get back together. I can smell the stench of death when I wrote a shivering, naked Mical calling to her mother from the afterlife. I don't know, or rather, I'm not confident of how those would be the same if I'd had to write it from scratch, because dumbo here doesn't know how to save her work.
USBs and iClouds don't make any of this easier. I'm still having to rely on Ctrl + S and my brain, which is mocking me these days.
And yet, as I'm making the effort to type up some notes from an untouched and very long manuscript, adding to missing chapters, I feel a sense of the most wonderful deja vu. A battle of an 80s themed birthday party. An art gallery punch up. The dissolution of a friendship and the desperate hunger for love.
It all joined in holy matrimony with an understanding that I could do it. "You got this, heffa!" Hank reassures me repeatedly. It finally becomes clear that it's not impossible the second time around. I am older and wiser and more patient. The words trip from my fingertips right onto my keyboard, absent of the same frustration that has plagued my writing for weeks now. I have got this!
Funny that, I thought the older I became the less patience I had with everything. Well, everything except writing. It's one of the few things that deserves all my dedicated, committed patience.
Hot Muse Hank: Told you.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Happy Valentines Day!

You know Hot Muse Hank and I love this time of year. It appeals in every way to my romantic side. All sides of me are romantic I don't know why I pretend to be Miranda when I'm completely Charlotte (still a relevant reference...)

So Valentines Day led up to the wonder of Season of Love, and the three full length stories that have sprung from those mini anthologies:

First Love 



When love is brand new it seems never ending and as intense as the first time you are ever burned. Art and Patricia are surrounded by the pressures of family, friends and exams and yet find the quiet in the storm with each other: http://sobillysaysshesays.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/my-young-man.html

Surprise Love


The love that creeps up on you, grabs you by the passport and takes you to another country is one of the best! Bren sweeps Wynne into a parallel universe where she begins to realise that it was always meant to be the two of them: http://sobillysaysshesays.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/my-bonnie.html

Renewed Love


The love that sees you at your worst, in your sickness and in your poverty is a love that will surpass a decade, two children, two salons, two mothers in law and a divorce is a love that will see you though everything. Stella and Niels fail and try again to be everything they vowed to be: http://sobillysaysshesays.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/turn-back-time.html

I've got a few more within th volumes to come, they make for easy plotting but Hank needs more persuasion. In the meantime, indulge in the romance! ❤



Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Ebony Sky


A little while ago, a wrote about a former refugee who escaped war torn Rwanda to live in the UK. It was the least she deserved after the world sat back and twiddled their thumbs while genocide happened before their very eyes. Army of You and Me was deeply personal. I don't think I've been able to read it since publication. It just makes me cry.
In one of my many jobs, I used to work as a medical secretary for psychiatric doctors who assessed and treated asylum seekers (pre claim, individual escaping for fear of their lives) and refugees (individuals who's claim has been accepted by the government). I had people openly tell me that such people were lying. Making up whatever they could in order to stay in the country.
They didn't see what I did. They didn't hear the tales of brutality, rape, murder. How people had to leave their dead where they lay or risk suffering the same fate. That children were born out of terrible violence and yet they were protected. They didn't see pictures of the aftermath of the wars. Bullet holes in homes. Rubble where museums used to be. I read their medical reports, detailing injuries from irreparable internal damage from repeated sexual assaults to lost limbs. I've talked to people from Zimbabwe, from Kosovo, from Sri Lanka, from Pakistan, the Congo even as the scars are healing on their bodies.
I'm not going to address the inevitable "but what about..." I don't care. I don't want to hear it. Because that same person has never sat in an interview room at the Home Office watching a broken human being recall their rape by men who were "curing" them. Or explaining how a single simple decision saved them from murder, just for voicing political opinion. Detailing how they left everything they own in the world because they are the "wrong" religion, or they were born into the "wrong" tribe. Or how they were "caught out" loving someone from the same sex.
Imagine, for a moment, leaving your home. With the knowledge that you will never, ever see it again, because if you stay you will die. Absolutely, without any doubts, you will suffer and die. No job, no friends, no family, just the clothes on your back, a few personal possessions because you can hardly take anything else with you (you can't carry) and travelling in the back of trucks. On the underside of a plane. In a suitcase in hold. By the flimsiest of boats just to save your life. And when you get to safety, finally, safety! You're a liar. Why travel all the way to a western country where you have some connections to the home you've had to leave behind? Why go to a country where your home is judged on an impartial scale of "internal relocation". "Oh okay your city is being bombed to hell, but why don't you live up the mountains? No bombing is happening there." Where you are actually asked about your sexual experiences with people of your own gender to test whether you're really LGBT. Oh god, if you're transgender, get ready to wait years. No money. No access to jobs. Contrary to the Daily Mail's machinations, as an asylum seeker you don't get to swim in bathtubs of money. You get £36 per week. That's it. You won't necessarily stay where you entered. If you arrived in London, you may end up in the North of England in a small, grotty room in the middle of nowhere.
Once you've been given refugee status, you know you can't return to your country. If you're afraid to die, you're not going back there to find your family. Even if you are given permanent residence, you risk losing it if you return. The idea being if you're that scared you shouldn't want to. I know a woman who wanted to go home to bury her father. She couldn't.
What baffles me is the idea that asylum seekers and refugees have it easy. Not that their dealing with PTSD, the after effects of such a horrendous journey to safety, probably taking decades to feel anywhere near safe, but to forever have people question you. Do you think the Home Office forgets about you? Nah, they keep track of where you go forever. You're on their books now that's for life.
These people suffered in their own lands. And the place they call home casts them as liars, as thieves, as layabouts, as terrorists.
You've seen the photo of the dead Syrian boy face down on the beach in Turkey after a migrant boat capcized. Drowned. His name was Alan Kurdi. He was five. They were trying to reach Canada where his uncle lived. Alan's death happened on the family's third attempt to leave Syria as it was (and is) being bombed by almost every Western government and Russia too. My father and I watched Alan's father reject the offer of Canadian refuge. My father turned to me and said "Why doesn't he leave? Go to Canada?"
I'd seen that photograph too many times, I had become numb to it. "Go to Canada for what? What's there? His son is dead. That's why he tried to leave. Syria was a death trap for his child. Without his child what does he have to live for?"  
My dad was desperately sad about it. A thoroughly decent man who would in his own words "be lost" without his kids.
When the will to survive abandons you in the drowned body of your child, what is there left for you in this world? At the very least you're home, rocks and dust though it is, at least there isn't the inevitable shaming and terrorising of people who want to live. You can die without judgement. Bleak, isn't it?
Desperation will do strange things to the brain that can never be understood or explained in a way that a Border officer will ever be able to take in and accept.
I've seen rejection letters telling people "you forgot about what was happening somewhere else in your country, your claim isn't genuine, please return to certain death at your own expense and understand we will bar you from returning here if we have to pay to make sure you leave."
I've also been lucky enough to witness those refugees integrate. Get married. Finish their education. Become even more charitable. Enjoy life as much as they can, in effervescent gratitude.
Empathy is a singular emotion. It won't kill you. It won't lead you to your death. It just allows you to understand a fragment of what these terrified, scarred physically and mentally, helpless people are experiencing. See beyond the four corners of your life. The world is a big place. It's also in pain. The one thing you can do to help, is to know more. More knowledge means less fear and less fear undeniably means less ignorance. Dark things are born in ignorance. Let knowledge be the light.
Let empathy and love be that light.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Dark Times


I know I'm not alone in the writing struggle at the moment. A romance novel depends on a happy ending (or happy for now), or it's a novel with romantic elements. I could do that, but that's not really what I write.

In a world where people are so keen for any dissenters, critics, voices of reason to be quiet. To shut up and enjoy the 'privileges' we have at this time and to be grateful about that, it's like trailing through drying concrete to not be dragged down by the constant misery of racist, sexist and homophobic tweets, messages, posts, articles, opinion pieces.

If you think this is all about Mango Mussolini, you're wrong. He's the tip of the iceberg. It's in the UK with people who apparently want to maintain British law don't understand how that works. It's in France with far right politicians who will after three major terror attacks edge closer to power. It's in Germany and burka ban by the same leader who welcomed terrified refugees. Just constant, unrelenting depressive news.

I'd normally say I need time away, but where do you go to escape the entire world? I am struggling to wonder if Hank and I will see the light of those two beautiful words any time soon; "The End".

#Worried

Monday, 9 January 2017

Blank Space


I've not many excuses other than Christmas and New Year were LIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! Having allowed my mother to complain for the last God knows how many years that Christmas cooking is hard work, after a three course all day meal, I basically slept and watched Harry Potter the rest of the time, whilst stuffing my face with mince pies and cheese. Not together, because gross, but lots of it.

So now I'm fat and still eating chocolate, I figured I need to get back on it. The writing thing I mean. Although, you need to understand, the not so new job is draining my creativity. It's really hard to be all about the romance when people make you want to fling your laptop across the room, or the thought of sending/reading another email will make you cry. Not that I don't love the not so new job, it's just that it is a hella load of work. And as much as I love writing, it is indeed work.

Thinking, planning, plotting, staring at a screen and willing the words to come to you. It can be the most terrifying things to see a blank page and realise that there is nothing coming to fill the page. I went to Stunning Sardinia (post on the way) which seems like ages away, and I didn't write a bean. Usually, the minute I'm away, I'm nose in notepad tap tap tapping away. Oh, this time I didn't take my laptop with me. Ahhh it all makes sense. Plus it was an excuse to have more hands free for Aperol Spritzes and I had a lot of those. So good...

Alcoholism aside, I did find the last half of the year productive. What I have done, is finish my secret project. Hurrah! Over 50,000 words of secret project. I've also pre-planned, as it plotted out a few stories as well, which I will start. As soon as I've finished this blog post.

Sometimes the silence isn't a slight against you, it's just there's very little going on that isn't me critiquing on Twitter. If anyone tells you that writing isn't a job, they are lyyyyying. And we all need a pause from a job to remind ourselves why we fell in love with it in the first place. I've done a lot. In the space of six years, I've churned out quite a few tomes. I can't say when I'll finish any of the others as I don't want to put a date on anything that I'll just ignore (me, deadlines, nadda. Ask any of my teachers) I know you are all waiting on Beppe. Me too! He'll entertain when he's ready and he's just not.

Shame. Coz the music is goooooooooooooooooood!