Wedding in Tuscany!

1-photoApologies for the long absence, but we’ve been away on a brilliant European trip, driving all the way down to Tuscany for our daughter’s wedding.

Abby & Dave wedding day

We had a magical venue,(the Poggio Piglia near Chiusi in Tuscany),  a gorgeous bride and groom, (see photos), and perfect weather, so felt very blessed.

While the rest of the party flew to Italy, we announced our intention of driving and making a big holiday out of it. We were promptly put in charge of ferrying very important wedding things down through Europe, including, amongst many many other things, antique silver rose-bowls and candle-holders, and the wedding dress! We had a couple of hot sleepless nights in Venice on the trip down, worrying about the car parked outside the city packed with all its irreplaceable goodies…

The wedding ceremony was held in an atmospheric medieval cloistered courtyard at the Town Hall in Chiusi. The bride was exactly an hour and two minutes late (yes, honestly). Luckily the groom knew her well enough to stay cool and send the waiting guests down to the bar in the village for a few more bottles of Prosecco. The best man (who admittedly does work in the Security industry), joked he had to put the Mayor in an arm-lock to stop him from going home.  All ended well, though, and the Mayor forgot his annoyance at the vision of the bride when she finally turned up!

And if that’s not a great plot for my next book, then I don’t know a great plot when I come across one!

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Writing, Work and Wine with… Rosalie Ash

Hi everyone, I’ve been guesting on Nikki Goodman’s blog today – catch up with our conversation here!

Writing, Work and Wine

Author Rosalie AshRosalie Ash is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.  She was first published by Harlequin Mills and Boon in the late 80’s, wrote full-time until the late 90’s, and has had 21 novels published by them with worldwide distribution. Some of her early Presents/Modern books are available in Vintage Harlequin editions at Amazon,  and many are still being translated into foreign languages (the latest was a Japanese digital cartoon with unexpectedly generous royalties!)  But after a lengthy break from writing, she has re-written some to bring them totally up to date, and self-published them via the wonderful world of  e-books.

Q. Welcome Rosalie, I’m delighted to  *meet* an original HM&B author (I read a lot of romances in my teens) as well as a fellow RNA member. You’ve given us a fantastic bio, but can you tell us a little more about your writing?

A…

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Ways to Create Multi-Dimensional Characters–Tip #1

I’m delighted to reblog brilliant tips from Kristen Lamb, on creating fictional characters. Kristen always seems to have her finger on the pulse of what writers need to know! Invaluable advice.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

To give characters depth, we have to be people-watchers. Study people. Know thyself. I strongly recommend reading books on psychology as part of research. For instance, I read a lot of FBI books on profiling.

As writers, characters need some amount of consistency without being predictable. If there is some deviation from the profile, there must be a good reason WHY, other than we need a character to act a certain way to move our story forward.

For instance, the shy librarian who rescues spiders cannot suddenly gouge out the eyes of a guy mugging her unless we can offer a reasonable explanation for this deviation from archetype. I.e. She could have been raped and left for dead as a teenager. Yes, she remained shy and soft-spoken and true to her character…until circumstances brought out that wounded part who was capable of going for the eyes.

Today I will focus…

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Spring (and bronchitis) in Daphne du Maurier Country

So, after even more set backs and problems, I still haven’t got Melting Ice onto itunes, or Barnes and Noble, or Nook. I’ve ruthlessly sacked my IT Executive for incompetence, and now I’m waiting to see if a company called jimandzetta.com might succeed  in converting my Word file to an Epub file that ARe will accept, so that they can distribute it to itunes for me, because not having a MAC I cannot do this myself, blah, blah, blah…  

Meanwhile, in a rash move to save my sanity I have come down to Fowey, Cornwall, for a well-advised break from the pressures of being CEO of my own publishing company  :))  

View from Fowey Cottage window

Fowey is pronounced to rhyme with ‘joy’. Very apt, apart from a wind chill factor of -4C,  and being built on a 2:1 gradient.  I’m staying in a little cottage on the Saints Way, part of the ancient pilgrims’ trail crossing Ireland, Cornwall, France and on to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The cottage has an open log fire (essential), and here is the  sparkling blue glimpse of the estuary from my bedroom window.      

While I am here, I am on a mission to check out everything connected with Daphne du Maurier.  She spent a lot of time in Fowey, as her family owned Ferryside at Bodinnick, just across the water.  

Ferryside, Bodinnick

She sailed from here up the river to the church at Lanteglos when she married. (After sampling Fowey’s vertical hills, I can understand why Daphne and co.  went most places by boat).  After her marriage, she and her husband rented Menabilly, from the Rashleigh family, and the house was the inspiration for ‘Rebecca’.  

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The cove is a very long walk downhill, which of course means a very long walk back uphill…  (more of this later) . Menabilly house itself is hidden behind hills and trees, so I can’t take a photo of it, but down on the beach there is a stone-built cottage which I decide is definitely where Maxim murdered Rebecca.

Back up the long, long hill I trudge, passing hosts of golden daffodils and creamy springtime primroses but too out of breath to fully appreciate them.  It finally dawns on me that my obsession with hills is more to do with an imminent chest infection than their inherent steepness. Next stop is a visit to the Fowey River Surgery, gloriously located at the top of another hill with wonderful views of the estuary. A kindly GP ignores all his surgery wall posters forbidding antibiotics for coughs and colds,  and sends me away with some strong yellow pills and a veto on exercise.  

So sight-seeing and literary trails are temporarily abandoned. At last, a valid excuse to collapse on the sofa in front of the log fire and be waited on.  Every cloud, as they say.

Next week, I’m going across to the north Cornish coast, via Jamaica Inn to check out the bar for ghosts…

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Welcome to ROSALIE ASH, Inc. Mad global publisher

It’s official, I am a one-person publishing company.

 
Blog pic 270313Welcome to ROSALIE ASH, Inc. Mad global publisher. I’ve had a major breakthrough this week. MELTING ICE is not only on sale as an Amazon Kindle e-book, and will soon (internet publishers willing) be on sale as an EPUB and a MOBI and whatever else it takes to get it to wider e-audiences, it is now a proper, printed book. It is sitting on my bookshelf looking all shiny, new, and enticingly pink and blue.

I feel elated, excited, proud and just ever so slightly insane. It’s the daily uphill struggle to achieve my goals that is driving me round the bend.

So this morning, huddled in my study in front of the halogen heater (I do have central heating but there’s a Siberian wind rattling the French doors), I’m holding a group discussion on work in progress. Yes, basically, the stress of it all has brought on some kind of multiple personality disorder.  I am talking to myself and chairing an imaginary board meeting. (Shrugs).

My Financial Director sits tight-lipped, arms folded. ‘Forget the Profit and Loss Account. Let’s just call it the Loss Account. You spent HOW much getting that proof speed-delivered by UPS from  America?’

My IT Executive clearly hasn’t slept recently and has developed a twitch. She starts to babble at me, ‘I’m still hopeful of getting MELTING ICE onto Itunes, but without a MAC it’s really complicated, and I’ve hit another obstacle with Allromanceebooks, they want the cover formatted to exactly 200 x 300 pixels and I can’t do it, not even in Picasa, and on Lulu the EPUB version I tried to upload had formatting issues and they’re getting back to me in 2 – 4 working days, but meanwhile they’re saying that your ISBN cannot be re-used, even though you bought it yourself and paid good money for it (Financial Director sniffs loudly), but the good news is at least the print version is finalised with Createspace, even though it’s taken over a month and I forgot to justify the margins and put in page numbering in the first proof, and their template for the 5.5 x 8.5 trim size didn’t work and after at least ten hours of cutting and pasting all 70,000 words it threw the text all over the place in the online proofer, and I finally managed to google page numbering in Word 7 on how to start Page 1 on Page 6 of the manuscript, and…’  She breaks off and starts to sob.  ‘Get a grip, do the bloody job, or you’re fired!’ I snarl, Alan Sugar style. Well, self-publishing is a cut throat world.

On a lighter note, My PR executive has turned up as Bubble from Ab Fab, dressed today as that manic little sparkler waving princess from P. 262 of the novel (yes my print version book now has page numbers and everything!)   She gushes, ‘I thought we’d run a publicity campaign in the local Press, with a competition, I just need a photo of you in Barbour and green wellies, balanced on a five-bar gate clutching a pile of your books…’   OK, we’ll get right on to that when it stops snowing.

My Sales & Marketing Director, meanwhile, has morphed into Mrs Doyle, standing behind the door of Father Ted’s sitting room with a tray of books. ‘Will you have one of these lovely books, anybody? Only £7.40 on Amazon Prime. Oh go on, go on, go on, you will, you will, you will…’

But I suddenly realise that there’s an empty chair where the Creative Writing Director should be sitting. Uh oh, I can guess what’s happened there. She’s knocked off early again and gone to the pub for a long liquid Patsy-style lunch.  Damn it, who is revising the original classic THE GYPSY’S BRIDE for e-book publication in the near future? Who is inventing the next gripping scene of BREAKING VOWS, book two of the Roundwell Farm Trilogy?

I panic-text my psychotherapist/editor.  ‘Get a grip, write the bloody books, or you’re fired!’ she texts  back.

I can see she has a valid point.

http://tinyurl.com/c2shuka

http://tinyurl.com/bhtgo8a

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WRITING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY – FREE OFFER!

FREE!  Are you a fiction writer?  Would you like psychological feedback on one of your characters?  See below.

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I am delighted to welcome Chris Rose, writer and psychotherapist, to my blog today. Chris is a highly respected therapist, author of two non-fiction books on psychotherapy, for counsellors and therapists, and is also writing an on-line fictional therapy group, thewednesdaygroup.com, which is a gripping and highly entertaining series about, well, a fictional therapy group!

Chris and I have known each other for years. She was very involved in my early romance writing for Harlequin Mills & Boon, as my Chief Character Expert!  I could always ring Chris and say ‘Help, I need a deep psychological motive for why my heroes/heroines are behaving like such complete tossers…’

So I invited Chris to explain why psychotherapy is so useful to fiction writers:

CR: There is definitely a useful link between psychotherapy and writing stories. Psychotherapy is a way of making sense of your life. It invites you to tell your own story, and helps you create a coherent narrative from your own life experiences. That is like writing your own life story – a complex but understandable story.  Some theories say that the ability to understand your life in this way is fundamental to emotional health, and that talking with the therapist is one very good way to get this understanding.

RA: So to be the creator of believable fictional people, you need the same set of skills, you need to be able to sit your characters in a virtual counselling room and begin to see past their one-dimensional facade, into what makes them tick.

CR: Most if not all people’s lives are complicated, pulling in different directions at once, contradictory and messy.  Believable fictional characters are very similar. The writer may tidy things up, but if their characters are too ‘tidy’ they become wooden or one dimensional, and we don’t believe in them. Just as in real life, the characters in a story can never be completely ‘explained’. There always has to be some unpredictability, some hidden strengths or difficulties, inner resources or demons that may take the story off in directions we would never have imagined.

RA: I’m bearing in mind here that the single most important factor in a novel is the characters, and whether or not readers relate to them. Plot, dialogue, narrative, location, theme etc are all important too, but if the plot isn’t ‘character-driven’, if the readers can’t relate in some way to your characters, you might as well hang up your writer’s hat and go out and get a ‘proper job’…

CR: Isn’t writing is a proper job, Rosie?

RA: Oh yes, sorry. I think I must have had a difficult early experience that shaped the way I see myself!

CR: Quite possibly. But seriously, as writers we all bring our own unique and different perspectives to our fictional characters, influenced by our own experiences of people. Perhaps romance writers are sometimes tempted to take people at face value and be optimistic and trusting, whilst psychotherapists are usually trying to look beneath the façade and see the murkier aspects… an entirely appropriate difference between a romantic novelist and a psychotherapist, you might say.

I have spent a lot of time with distressed people in difficult circumstances and emotional knots. Through time I have come to understand how early relationships shape our adult lives, and how interactions can be understood as products of a complex interweaving of past and present. All this gives me the ability to look at your characters and suggest ways of responding and behaving that perhaps you would not have thought of….  And when you’re sure that one of your characters just has to do something fairly outrageous, I can help work out why that might be.

RA: Which is why you are my Chief Character Expert. Would you say that the act of writing is a form of therapy in itself?  And what about the act of reading?

CR: Without a doubt.  Yes to both. Reading novels is another way that we use to try to make sense of our own experiences, dreams and longings. At the moment the NHS is actually recommending reading as helpful in treating depression. I’m slightly cynical – closing libraries whilst recommending reading? Plus an inadequate provision for talking therapies…  But I do believe that a good story can have a real impact upon us.

RA: I agree. I need to add here that for me, to really enjoy reading a book, I need to believe in the characters but also to believe in the way those characters relate to and interact with each other.  That’s what life is all about!  From a writing perspective, that is what I aim to achieve each time I start to create a set of characters who are going to keep the reader turning the pages until 2:00 am, because they can’t wait to see who is going to do what, with whom, next…

CR: Whereas in therapy you have to wait until the next week’s session! And in the intervening week, as you think about the ‘story’, new themes play around in your mind. This brings me neatly to the idea of ‘playing’ and how important that is both in writing and in therapy. Play is bound together with creativity: it teaches, entertains, enriches, makes us feel alive. And that’s what you and I do together – we ‘play’. We also drink a lot of milky coffee (is that regressing?) and laugh a lot.

RA:  Thanks Chris.

About Chris:

Fiction –

Untitled artwork 2012-11-25 (04.52.34-499 PM)The Wednesday Group is an on-going story about a long term therapy group, as seen through the eyes of a new member, Stevie.  Week by week, she writes her own version of what happens in the group, whilst the reader also discovers glimpses of events that effect other members. The facilitator, Kate, has her own struggles too that can be discovered in her supervision group.

This is a fictional group, but written by a group psychotherapist who knows through experience how long term groups can behave. If you are interested in people and their relationships, then episode by episode you come to understand more about the characters and how being in a group can change lives.

*FREE !  If you go to www.thewednesdaygroup.com , read and subscribe, and leave a comment, adding ‘feedback please’, Chris will send details.  First six subscribers only, maximum 500 word descriptions.

Psychotherapy –   www.chrisrose.info

The Personal Development Group: The Student’s Guide Karnac 2008

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Self-Awareness and Personal Development: Resources for Psychotherapists and Counsellors Palgrave Macmillan 2012

 

Blog:      sketching, psychotherapy and beyond

twitter: @groupsych

Rosalie Ash – Melting Ice on Kindle – http://tinyurl.com/bhtgo8a

 

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Snowdrops, Melting Ice and Multi-tasking

Snowdrops 2Snowdrops in the Cotswolds

A recent chat about snowdrops on Facebook, (with C.c. Coburn, who lives on the other side of the world,) has just reminded me of a holiday in the Cotswolds three years ago.

These photos were taken in the third week of March, 2010. We rented a renovated mill for a week, to celebrate the birth of our granddaughter on the 4th, and our wedding anniversary on the 15th. The cottage was only about forty minutes’ drive from where we live so we didn’t have too far to go on icy winter roads. It was cosy, with a big square dining kitchen, open fires and lots of low ceilings and beams, and these were the enchanting gardens all around it.

The winter that year was very cold, with a lot of snow, and the hilly Cotswolds get harsher weather than most of central England, but these spectacular snowdrops seemed to have defiantly thrived. We’d certainly never seen such a profusion of them in one place. Will they be as spectacular there, this March? Or will they be over? This winter has been similar to 2010, in fact they’re forecasting more snow this week, so I’m tempted to drive out there in three weeks’ time to check! But meanwhile there are already huge drifts of these exquisite little flowers in the lanes around our house. Living up to their name, I suppose. Like the intrepid robins, they don’t give up just because the ground is frozen solid, and the wind is blowing more snow in from the Arctic Circle.

In the warmth of my study, I’m following the example set by the robins and the snowdrops and getting on with what needs to be done. I am busy multi-tasking. My projects are (a) finalising the print version of MELTING ICE, Book One of the Roundwell Farm Trilogy, in Amazon’s createspace, (b) preparing to e-publish UNSAFE HARBOUR, another 1990’s Rosalie Ash classic, and (c) writing brand new Book Two of the Roundwell Farm Trilogy.

I really can’t wait to hold a print version of MELTING ICE Book One in my hands! I’m not sure what this says about e-books versus print books. I really love my Kindle, I couldn’t be without it, but there is something about the feel of a ‘proper’ book, with pages that you physically turn… or is it just me?

Book Two of the trilogy is coming together well, with the characters already getting up to things I hadn’t quite planned. I’m using the working title of BREAKING VOWS, although as this is still a work in progress that could change! The Roundwell Farm business is roaring ahead but the sisters’ personal lives are falling apart. Jessica and Andrew’s marriage has hit a major challenge, Megan is helping to pick up the pieces, Vic is blissfully married to Matt but she’s having another baby and feeling nearly as bad as Kate Middleton, Matt is getting dangerously caught up in Jessica’s love-life dramas and Daniel is astonishing everyone by coming out of the proverbial closet with his business partner.

But the relatively simple project of reformatting UNSAFE HARBOUR for e-publication is taking far longer than it should, proving yet again, that presented with a previously published manuscript and given half a chance, I just can’t resist tinkering around, updating and revising! It’s not quite turning into the extensive re-write of MELTING ICE. But, put it this way, the hero has already decided to change his name, resort to bad language, and wear Levis and leather jackets. What can I say? 🙂

Unsafe Harbour

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