Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Give me some attitude!

As I writer, I find myself falling back on favourite phrases to describe certain situations, circumstances,  or even when setting scenes. I hate it when I read a book in which the author overuses particular descriptive phrases, and find myself yelling aloud about incompetent copy editors.

With that failing in mind, over the years I've developed my own personal  collection of words and phrases to fit different situations. I have a whole page of expressions, another one for eyes. Yet another is simply headed sexual which...er, covers a multitude of sins - quite literally.

One of my favourites, though, is attitudes. Here's a few of the phrases I've corralled under that heading.

Epicurean complacency

Sardonically amused

Elegantly rumpled - that's a good one. Kind of contradictory, don't you think?

How about - mild derision? I find that one especially useful.

Then there's another old favourite - arrogant assumption of superiority

If you didn't know that I write historical as well as contemporary fiction, I guess that list has given me away.

Anyone got more suggestions to add to my list?


Monday, 21 November 2011

Being Detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure?

Lauren Miller, jailed for embezzlement, survives her sentence by plotting revenge against the man who put her there. Once released, she’s content to bide her time—until a contact is murdered and she becomes the prime suspect.
Nate Black, an American journalist, offers to help Lauren clear her name by trapping the mastermind behind her crimes in a daring sting operation. Thrown together, Lauren and Nate are drawn toward one another and make passionate love. But still, a vital question remains unanswered, driving a wedge between them.
What happened to the money she stole…
Here’s how Lauren reacts to her first sight of Nate.

As she approached the shack, she saw a strange man sitting on her doorstep, reading a book like he had every right in the world to be there. She slowed her pace, her heart hammering in her ears, and did a quick mental revision of the rules. Which one had she infringed this time? Being incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure did that to a person.
Then the anger kicked in. She was free to do as she bloody well pleased, and having strangers foisted upon her did not please her one little bit.
“Who the hell are you,” she demanded belligerently, “and what are you doing on my property?”
The man stood up. He was tall, probably over six foot and well put together with thick brown hair falling across his face, a half-day’s growth of stubble on his chin and intelligent grey eyes. The sort of man a woman would look at twice. Well, any woman except Lauren, perhaps.
“Hi there,” he said, speaking in a soft American drawl. “You must be Lauren.”
Lauren froze. How had an American fetched up in her isolated spot in the forest, and more to the point, how did he know who she was? 
“Not that it’s any of your business, but my name’s Louise,” she said shortly, playing for time whilst she tried to decide what to do.
“Hi, I’m Nate Black.” He took a step toward her and held out his hand, but she ignored it.
“Don’t come any closer.” She could hear the panic in her own voice. He obviously could, too, because he backed off, palms spread outward in a non-hostile gesture. “Right now, just get out of here before I set my dog on you.” Kermit obligingly growled but didn’t move from Lauren’s side.
“Hey, I don’t wanna bother you. I just hoped that we could have a chat. I tried to come and see you inside, but you wouldn’t send me a V.O.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But Lauren could see that she wasn’t fooling him. This guy knew who she was, and she instinctively trusted him. But then she’d instinctively trusted a man before, and look where that had landed her. When it came to men, her instincts weren’t worth diddly-squat. She needed to shut herself away in the shack until this particular one got fed up with being blanked and legged it. Unfortunately, it didn’t look as though it was going to happen any time soon since he was still blocking her path to the door. “Just leave me alone, okay,” she said, trying to sidestep him.
“Look, I’m an investigative journalist, writing a book about miscarriages of justice, and I’d like to talk to you about what happened to you.”
It was pointless continuing to deny her identity, but that didn’t mean she had to talk to him. “There was no miscarriage of justice in my case. I was guilty. I’ve served my time,” she said, thinking that sounded like a line from a bad movie and, against all the odds, feeling a wild giggle building inside her. “I just want to be left alone.”
“I think there was more to it than that.” He smiled at her, and for the first time, Lauren actually considered talking to him. There was just something about him. Something in his expression that made her think he might understand what she’d been through. But no! She had nothing to say to him and made a fresh attempt to reach her door. Once again he blocked her path. “Part of my book will concentrate on women who commit crimes that are out of character, and the forces in their lives that compelled them to do it.”
Lauren stared at him. “Got your insurance up to date, have you?”
He blinked. “Sorry, I’m not with you.”
“Unsubstantiated written allegations are known as libel in the legal world, in case you didn’t know it, and people tend to get sued for that sort of thing.”
“They told me you were smart.”
“Don’t patronise me.”
“Hey, that’s not what I’m doing.” He smiled in an infuriatingly lazy manner that she found strangely disquieting. “And I don’t intend to publish anything that’s libellous. The book’s been commissioned by one of the big American publishing houses, and their legal team will make sure I don’t get carried away and cross that particular line. But, about your situation, you can’t substantiate your allegations about Williams on your own, but perhaps together we could—”  
“How did you know I made any allegations about him?” she asked, her suspicions on high alert. “It was never made public.”
“I’m an investigative journalist,” he said, flashing a set of perfect white teeth, his air of total confidence almost, but not quite, compelling, “and I have sources you can only dream about.”  
“This might upset your delicate male ego, but I really don’t give a damn.”
“You can’t fight powerful institutions on your own, Lauren,” he said. “But with the might of the press behind you, anything’s possible.”
“Just go away,” she said wearily, aware that she’d already said more than she’d intended to.
“Come on, Lauren, what have you got to lose by just chatting to me? I promise I won’t use anything you say without your prior knowledge and consent.”
Lauren rolled her eyes. “And when a man gives me his word, that’s supposed to make me feel better?”
“He really hurt you, didn’t he?”
The compassion in Nate’s eyes almost floored her. She could cope with just about anything life threw at her, expect sympathy.
“Just leave me alone.”
“If it’s any consolation, I know what you’re going through. My mom was thrown in jail back in the States for something she didn’t do. That’s why I gave up my column on the Sunday Inquirer to go and help her out.”
Lauren nodded without realizing she was doing so. She thought he looked vaguely familiar, and now she understood why. He’d written a popular column in the Inquirer for some years, doing exposés on the rich and famous, his picture accompanying his byline. “Did you get her off?” she asked, regretting showing any interest as soon as the words left her mouth.
“Yeah, eventually. The police thought she was an easy target so didn’t bother to look any further.” He paused to cock one eyebrow. “Sound familiar, does it?”
“Just go away and don’t come back. I’ve got nothing to say to you.”

Silver Lining by Wendy Soliman Available now from SirenBookStrand 
http://www.bookstrand.com/silver-lining discounted until November 29th to $4.49


Friday, 18 November 2011

Edge of Survival.

Today I'm lucky to have talented author Toni Anderson on my blog, talking about her life, and latest release from Carina Press, Edge of Survival. Over to you,Toni.

Wendy wanted to know a little about my background, and how a girl born and raised in Shropshire ended up in the Canadian prairies. Some days I have no idea.

When I was seventeen I decided to be a helicopter pilot, but apparently being short-sighted and not tall enough to reach the pedals was a problem. Sheesh. What was the RAF thinking?

So, I looked through my UCCA handbook and saw Marine Biology offered at Liverpool University and decided to do that instead. I don’t know why I assumed I’d go to university. I came from a poor working class background, but my elder brother had gone (also to Liverpool) and I was filled with a fierce desire to see the world.

After two years in Liverpool, one year on the Isle of Man, doing Honors, I ended up doing a Ph.D. in St Andrews, Scotland. This was the furthest from home I had ever been. I set off with my mom in my 2CV and instantly fell in love with sunny, windy Fife. I loved Scotland. I LOVE Scotland. I’d go back in a heartbeat. It has such incredible scenery and great people. I met my husband there, had my babies there.

So how did I end up in Canada? It started in 1995 when I did a 3 year Post Doc in Waterloo, Ontario. My husband and I got a taste for Canada but we had to return to Scotland for personal reasons (and we also spent time in Australia but that’s a whole other post). After six years, my hubby was offered a permanent position as a biology professor at the University of Manitoba—about as far from the ocean as possible and both of us Marine Biologists! But a permanent job is not to be sniffed at and we’d really enjoyed living in Canada the first time around, so we once again emigrated across the Atlantic and settled in Winnipeg. 

Winnipeg, Manitoba—or Winterpeg, Mani-snow-ba, as it is otherwise known—was a bit of a shock. I found the vast planes of the prairies strangely oppressive. Give me a beach and waves and I feel free, give me an endless landmass and I feel trapped J. In the winter it’s so cold here that if you don’t plug in your car the engine-block freezes. You get ice crystals on your eyelashes and your nose hairs stick together and pull themselves out when you breathe. When we first arrived I used to drag the kids to school on a sled, I even hooked the dog up with a harness and he’d pull them to school. The coldest it’s ever been (for us) is -53C windchill. That’s counterbalanced by a high of 46C humidex this summer. It’s a crazy seesaw environment of extreme weather with about a week of spring and autumn.

Seven years on, I’m used to the flat landscape and crazy weather. The friendliness of the locals more than makes up for any physical frostiness. The challenges of living in Manitoba have made me a stronger person, more confident of my own abilities, but I’d still go back to Scotland in a heartbeat. That’s why I base so many of my stories there. I love revisiting the land and people. I love smelling the sea, and hearing the waves pound the beach—and at least by writing about it I can pretend.

Thanks for having me here today, Wendy. J It’s been a pleasure.

EDGE OF SURVIVAL (November 2011 from Carina Press)
Foreword by Brenda Novak
Dr. Cameran Young knew her assignment wouldn't be easy. As lead biologist on the Environment Impact Assessment team, her findings would determine the future of a large mining project in the northern Canadian bush. She expected rough conditions and hostile miners—but she didn't expect to find a dead body her first day on the job.
Former SAS Sergeant Daniel Fox forged a career as a helicopter pilot, working as far from the rest of the human race as possible. The thrill of flying makes his civilian life bearable, and he lives by his mantra: don't get involved. But when he's charged with transporting the biologist to her research vessel, he can't help but get involved in the murder investigation—and with Cameran, who awakens emotions he's desperate to suppress.
In the harsh and rugged wilderness, Daniel and Cameran must battle their intense and growing attraction while keeping ahead of a killer who will stop at nothing to silence her…
My heroine has diabetes and I'm donating 15% of my royalties to diabetes research.

Toni Anderson is a former Marine Biologist turned Romantic Suspense writer who now lives in the Canadian prairies with her husband and two children.  Her stories are set in the stunning locations where she’s been lucky enough to live and work—the blustery east coast of Scotland, the remote isolated mining communities of Northern Labrador, the rugged landscapes of the U.S. and Australia. Check out Toni’s website for a list of current titles, her blog and Facebook Author Page for writing news and her personal Facebook page and Twitter for constant nonsensical chatter. She is also part of a wonderful group blog—Not Your Usual Suspects. Come introduce yourself.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A Smuggler by Trade

Reflecting upon the sacrifices made by men and women in the defence of our freedom, it seem to me that the more things change, the more they remain the same. The only thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn. If we did, why would we still have wars that cost thousands of lives and never seem to resolve anything?

The loss of life in the Napoleonic wars was especially horrific. Those that survived had a right to expect gainful employment when they returned to England. Of course, it didn’t happen. Perhaps that’s why those who came from coastal towns were tempted into smuggling. It was a way of life anyway, made almost respectable by tradition, something to be proud of. Men unloading illegal contraband for one night could earn the equivalent of one week’s wages from a legal job. Not hard to see why they were tempted. Their methods of hiding their cargo were pretty ingenious too. ‘Burying’ at sea and hauling it out again when the coast was clear often kept them one step ahead of the law. They constantly changed their landing sites and often the customs men were in on it anyway.

It was thoughts of these displaced men, almost being forced into a life of petty crime, that got me plotting Duty’s Destiny. I actually worked out the finer details whilst riding pillion on my husband’s Harley across Spain, but that’s another story. (Great place to plot, by the way. No one can talk to you, phones can’t distract you and you’re legitimately alone with your active imagination).

Felix, Viscount Western, is outraged when he learns that his father’s shipping line is being used to import ex-slaves from the Indies into England, where they’ll once again be forced into lives of servitude. Determined to put an end to the evil trade, he hot foot’s it to the coast, convinced that Saskia Eden isn’t the innocent widow she makes herself out to be and that she’s somehow orchestrating matters on behalf of her father.
Within half a day of meeting Saskia and her feisty twins, Felix already has doubts about her culpability. Drawn into a web of lies and deceit, passion simmers between them as Felix fights against time to get to the truth and protect the woman he’s fall in love with…

Go to my website at http://www.wendysoliman.com where you can read the entire first chapter of Duty’s Destiny.

Duty’s Destiny now available to download from Musa Publishinghttp://bit.ly/s7zdNw Price $4.99


Friday, 4 November 2011

Fat Girls Never Have Fun?

 Says who? It's true though. Have you noticed that overweight people either hide in a corner or are excessively jolly? But let's take a step back here. Who decides who's overweight and who isn't? the media have a lot to answer for. So too does the fashion industry. All those skeleton-like waifs on the catwalk making us think it's natural to look that way. And don't get me started on the damage the junk food industry has done over the last couple of decades.

I hate to admit it, but I've become as paranoid as the next girl about the way I look. Sadly I'm not longer in my twenties - or my thirties or forties either, if I'm being honest - but I still worry about how I'm supposed to look. I'm five foot six and weigh 135 lbs. Pretty ideal, you'd think. Except that not so long ago I was 130lbs. How did that happen? Where did the extra come from? Know what I'm saying?

In Downsizing, my heroine Maxine is well overweight. She's also intelligent, funny and full of life, but no one can see that in her except local heartthrob Noah Fenwick. But he lets her down too, proving to Maxine that Fat Girls Aren't Supposed to have Fun. Her best friend - her pretty, skinny best-friend Cassie - is jealous of Maxine's friendship with Noah. Here's now she get's her revenge during a holiday in the South of France.

Maxine was the only female in the pool not wearing a minuscule bikini that displayed a perfectly proportioned body. Instead, she wore a costume that resembled something from an Edwardian postcard in a futile attempt to cover the worst of her bulk. She learned to block out the cutting remarks and scathing glances by retreating into a fictional world where no one could reach her except Noah, and counted the seconds until she was due to return home.
That was still eight long days away and in the meantime she wasn’t even permitted to escape from playing tennis. She’d been compelled to play at school, had a good eye for a ball and a thumping forehand, but her immobility was her undoing and she’d never risen to Cassie’s lofty heights on the tennis court. Tennis was Charles Turner’s passion. Cassie’s father was a proficient player, and tennis was the one activity he had insisted his daughter take up as soon as she was tall enough to hold a racket. Whether or not Cassie enjoyed the game Maxine couldn’t have said. She had a habit of taking up activities on a whim and dropping them again just as casually when she got bored. Tennis was the one thing she’d stuck at, enduring endless hours of private coaching in an effort to please her father.
In a baggy pair of shorts and over-sized tee-shirt, Maxine tired ineffectually to blend into the background. When partners were selected she fervently hoped that the numbers would be uneven, letting her off the hook, because no one would partner themselves with her by choice. There were several lads at the villa, all proficient players, but Mr Turner, twenty years their senior, was better than them all. Cassie looked thunderous when her father, instead of selecting her as he partner, turned toward Maxine.
“Shall we show them how it’s done, Maxine?” he asked, smiling.
Unable to think of an excuse, Maxine miserably dragged her feet onto the court.
“Poor Daddy!” Cassie’s throwaway remark reached everyone’s ears. “He’s only doing it to be kind.”
“Come on, Cassie,” said Rob Simmonds, a good looking, over-confident guy and one of Maxine’s main tormentors. “This is going to be a piece of cake.”
Tentatively at first, Maxine returned the killer shots Rob aimed directly at her. Mr Turner, or Charles as she’d been encouraged to call him, made no comment upon her appalling immobility. Instead, he darted all over the court covering shots that ought to have been hers. He praised her when she got her forehand going, and admired her quick thinking at the net. By a combination of Charles’s tenacity and a healthy portion of luck, they came out winners.
Maxine knew Cassie wouldn’t allow her to get away with that, and didn’t have to wait long for her to exact revenge. They had lunch on the terrace the following afternoon with a crowd of hangers-on. A plate of cakes circulated at the end of the meal but all the slinkies waved them away as though they were poisoned. Maxine’s mouth watered at the mere sight of them, and her gaze continuously returned to the plate. She clasped her hands together to stop from reaching out to take one without her permission. Cassie, watching her closely, smiled maliciously and pushed the plate closer.
“Go on, Max,” she said. “Someone’s got to eat them or they’ll go off.”
Everyone tittered. Maxine blushed  but by an act of supreme self-discipline managed not to eat a single one. The others looked disappointed, like she’d spoiled their fun, and drifted away from the table. Whatever plans they had for the afternoon clearly did not include her. That left her with a whole afternoon and just a book for company. Bliss!
Furtively she stole a cake, sighing with pleasure as she licked the thick cream from her fingers and reached for a second. Only when it was too late did she realize that Cassie and several of the others were peeping round the side of the house, watching her and laughing themselves silly. Worse, money openly changed hands between Cassie and Rob.

Isn't Cassie a spiteful witch?
Downsizing by W. Soliman now available from Musa Publishing http://bit.ly/tDzp4U or Amazon.com.

Read the first chapter on my website http://www.wsoliman.com

Hope you enjoy Maxine's revenge.