Monday, 30 January 2012

Kreatures of Kreation

Firstly let me thank Jo VonBargen for nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. At my primary school I was appointed deputy blackboard monitor. Since then few accolades have come my way and I have searched in the desert of broken dreams ever since for that high. Oh - OK - I've been scribbling romance and I'm in double purple 3 glasses of wine on empty stomach mode.  The regulations require that I list 10 things about me that one would not suspect. Oh dear, does this mean that I must submit to a warm bath of ego while my readers sponge my back. Ooooh - here goes then:

1) I play the trombone. Probably this is why I can be a little brassy. It certainly explains my love of Wagner.
2) I am not quite absolutely totally a fully pigmentally challenged natural blonde. 
3) My favourite undergarment is my salmon pink and black lace basque.
4) I have a RYA coastal skippers ticket.
5) I have a Class 1 Heavy Goods (semi-trailer rig) licence in addition to my class 1 bus licence.
6) My ex husband called to say he was marrying a pole-dancer. Turns out she is my age, lives in Poland and loves to tango.
7) I am allergic to cats.
8) In France people think I'm Belgian on account of my accent and love of chocolate.
9) When sensitive English friends visit us in France I have been known to serve rabbit and tell them it is chicken.
10)  My favourite position with my sexy French lover is... on the back of our tandem going downhill.

Gilles bought me my basque by mail order from a lively national company who provide lingerie and all manner of toys. They boast that their products are delivered in plain wrappers by their own couriers. I was at home when the doorbell rang and a large tattooed man handed me  a package. With a wink he explained in a gruff confidential stage whisper - "Ere y'are Sweet heart - here's them naughty knickers." - I was quite shocked.

What a week-end. I've been free on Amazon KDP Select  and Rosina keeps phoning me with updates. In the end I gave up and made leek and potato soup. To me it seemed a bit bland so I added some anchovy paste.....Ummm - well, we ate it.

The weekend stats have all sorts of astonishing aspects. If you are thinking of going for this KDP deal you might be interested. Breakdown of figures by Tuesday I hope.

The second regulation for this award is that I choose a further six Kreativ souls. Here is my list:

1) Claude Nougat - La giornalista piu intelligente in Italia.
2) Jack Durish - historian who is improving my general knowledge
3) Magda Olchawksa - for her informative and varied posts about the Creative Industry.
4) Yvonne Lewis for being the only other person on Earth to admit to loving Carousel and Oklahoma
5) Craig McGinty for This French Life - the best ever resource for news and info for expats in France
6) Julie Kemp for Empty Nest Insider - Intelligent writing about a variety of interesting topics.

Emma thinx: Elation and deflation have poetic relation.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Free Market Slaves

If you look at my previous post you might have gotten the idea that I am a sex fuelled hedonist. Well, if not I'm gonna try and try until I make it there. It's only lack of book sales that is holding me back. 

But let's talk about the "new capitalism" which is the buzz on the economic block. I hear Euro politicoids talking about "Fairness" as if the concept had just arrived on their desks with all the kick-ass imperative of a memo from Rupert Murdoch. Before all the social class, religion, nationalism and wealth difference poisons and divides kids - they know about fairness and justice at the age of three. Just try telling a toddler he took his brother's chocolate biscuit when he knows his sibling took it himself and framed him.

 So - how is it that something so atavistic, so recurrent and ingrained in mankind has been subverted and lost in our teeming world of worshipped and applauded greed? I heard PM Cameron today declaring that Europe was falling behind the productive capacity of China. Oh no - maybe our systems of democracy, health and safety, social care, civil rights, conditions of work and wages are holding us back? Dear me - there is the answer then. Let's all race to the bottom. The finest time of Britain and the Empire was when slaves were bartered for gold,  children started work at the age of nine and life expectancy was 25years. At least it would get rid of a few rival novelists on Amazon.

A few months ago a case of "human slavery" was discovered in the UK. There was wailing and a general gnashing of teeth. The political class were astounded and outraged. However, it was not a surprise to some of us. If you want another story here is a link to a terrible tragedy in 2004. At a time of my life when I was  destitute I went to work as a turkey process hand. It was tough. Let me say that again - it was tough enough to break your bloody heart.  I wrote a story because fiction is far more powerful than "News" because that happens somewhere else. The girl in the story is unattractive and therefore could not work as a prostitute which is the fate of most trafficked females. That does not mean she won't be used and raped by her "masters".  The story is "Sub Prime" and is as true as a story can be. Ironically it is something of a best-seller although I have never wanted money from it. I have published it with an audio track, read by a dear friend.  I cannot read it myself because it makes me cry so much. 

This week-end Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January, "Sub-Prime" is free on Amazon, along with its MP3 audiobook that will also play on the Kindle (I have also have a free romance novel on the same promo).

Click here for my FREE books on Amazon USA
Click here for my FREE books on Amazon UK

Emma Thinx: Keep the bones out of the bonus

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Writing the Sex in the Text

Shall we talk about sex? Oh OK - if you really want me to. I write Romance. Well - love and sex actually. In "Knockout" there is a story but it is a story about a sexy woman going headlong into a passionate sexathon with a beautiful guy. They do it in her bed. She does it all on her own. They do it in his bed, in Paris, several other places and they do it on a boat. They kiss and caress the burning totality of each other's lips. They adore each other's skin and musk. She craves the untiring hard knot of his controlling, urgent muscles. He longs for her abandon, surrender and softness They eat highly flavoured food and breathe the garlic of shared ecstasy. They drink champagne and lie naked in the warm open air almost as a sacrifice on the altar of lust. Oooh....if I don't stop tweaking the knobs I'll have to jump in a cold bath. And just think - it was me, a middle aged working woman who wrote it.

self portrait
 The basic reason why I write this kinda stuff is that I love it in life and I love it in fantasy. I know it may be a brazen to say that, but it's true and if I'm honest then in my writing about sex I'm not short changing my readers. When I write a sex scene I am there and willing it on. Actually, it's writing itself.

There are technical problems in writing about sex. The big one (Oooh steady on) is the line between artistic, pornographic, anatomical, purple and naff. Different generations and cultures have different levels of frankness and taste. In the supermarket today I noted that I could present myself for chlamydia venereal disease testing while I was waiting for a new batch of granary wholemeal bread to reach the shelves. All those intimate swabs quite put me off the idea of a nice buttered crust.  I was reading some supermarket Romance where the young lady presented her sexual arousal by way of her "dampened swath". That brought me out in a fit of the giggles. I figured if things didn't gel with the guy at least she could wipe down the kitchen worktops. In another similar epic, the young lady exposed her "creamy crevice" - so far this is the worst image I have ever encountered. Well, at least there is some classy alliteration. Finding the words, the euphemisms and the poetic passion of human juice is not always easy. Just this morning I encountered a curly triangle of love. Well, I suppose if your car broke down you could prop it up in the road to warn other drivers of an obstruction. It's all about context is it not?

knobs and shafts
When it comes to the male side of the park, obviously a female can only guess and ask a lot of questions. My lover man is never shy. His only complaint is that males only get to ride one wave while  females can stay in surfing all day. - (Hmmm - depends on the quality of the water). Males provide more vocabulary problems. I have a few dislikes - such as swollen manhoods. It always makes me think of those old naval war films where they wear 10 layers of clothing under a duffle coat.. Luckily, my readers are mostly female and factors such as size of hands, width of shoulders and tone of voice can excite more response than shafts, lengths and pulsating needs. For fun I googled "knobs and shafts". Not quite what I had in mind. With males it's just so easy to get lost in engineering. 

But here is the core of the issue. People like sex. Even people who do not want actual full contact sex are interested in it. Sex is us. We are born what we are and half the world has the opposite set of bits. 

And then, of course there is love. Oh Love, oh love, love, love. This purest thing, rejoicing in the pollution of its own sense, losing focus so as to see nothing but the other. It is where the ego both asserts its power to give and shrivels in a humility of powerless longing. Our love finds expression and escape in physical sex. Cold sex is what my friend the poet Oscar Sparrow describes as the "gaping gash of loveless love". Getting this blend right is the work of the humble hack Romance writer. 

"Knockout!" my romance novel on Kindle is FREE on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January if you want to check out how I deal with these tender literary parts.

Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Emma thinx: Love me - love my love.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Offside Clap-Trap


Driving my bus this morning in the rush hour traffic, the commercial station favoured by the kids squeezed a news flash between an advertisement for a diet plan and a promo for new low prices at Burger King. And the news was.....David Beckham is gonna stay on with L.A. Galaxy. He spoke in his familiar London accent of his hopes to captain the British Olympic team at the forthcoming GAMES. (I will be hiding in France). He seems a decent guy to me but the fact that this small matter filled UK air time testified not to him but to the power of FOOTBALL. Yes, FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL, FOOTBALL,FOOTBALL and more FOOTBALL. I know that in certain areas of the ex-colonies this noble game is known as SOCCER. 
Portsmouth fan

The game in itself is a reasonable entertainment to me. Some very nice male legs are exposed. The repetitive use of jargon and cliché is a genuine comedy of the "Victory is not about getting the most goals" variety. Last week I heard a team manager comment, "They had a couple of exceptional players. It was them that won it for them, not the team." Ah, I'm glad he explained that.
Southampton fan

All this stuff is harmless enough. Recently vile racist chanting has marred the game and the level of spiky mockery between groups of fans is quite distressing.  I suppose it's all a form of externalised nastiness that real life suppresses. Just imagine some unfortunate office worker who made a small mistake suddenly being surrounded and jeered at. Surely most of us sing more when we are winning In the UK, I have been living near to Southampton whose team is the sworn deadly enemy of the nearby team of Portsmouth. Babies at the breast are told that they are either "Saints" or "Pompey". I guess it's all about tribalism too. I have added a couple of images of fans of both teams. I cannot imagine why David Beckham wants to stay in the USA.

Emma thinx: We only win when we're singing

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Roboscribe puts her love on the line.

Production line

It's coming isn't it. Just as I get to be a writer, the geeks come up with Roboscribe. Just as I got good enough with a glass of wine and a cleaver to be a TV Masterchef, the genre starts to fade. One Foodmeister gets arrested for stealing cheese and wine and another gets kicked out of his job with Sainsbury's. Probably the only thing left is to be the first Romantic novelist in outer space. Come to think of it though, there are already plenty of weightless novels.

This little tirade was brought about by a message in my inbox inviting me to buy some software with which to write and perfect my novel. Wow - now all I'm waiting for is a programme to do the typing and print it out. I was a little worried by the typos in the advertising blurb, but perhaps they did not use their own stuff - or worse, maybe it was wrote by a human bean. I will confess that there is a little devil in me that is tempted to spend my £9.99 ($15) and have a go......should I? I have tried working with Mills and Boon/Harlequin editors so I have walked on that wild side without shame......and publication. How did I know they would not run a book where the female heroine drove a double decker bus? One day a multi billionaire gorgeous Italian guy gets on, brushes her cheek with a wad of erotically scented cash and asks to be swept away. She stops her bus, rummages in her locker for her dustpan and brush and tells him with a knowing wink she is the woman if that's what turns him on....Can you imagine how I felt when I got that rejection letter?

Oh - how terrible it is to be a famous author. This is often the complaint of old school angst and closet writers. Just imagine how ghastly it is to be constantly in touch with your customers! Well, actually NO! As a mere worm in the pantheon of scribbling I love to hear from readers. A couple days ago some folk got in touch and told me they had done a review of my book.  I would like to say thanks with all my heart and to assure the reading world that I just love to chat with them. 

Emma thinx: There's no formula for love. It's chemistry Stupid!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Whatever - so what eh?

I have a regular good old ding-dong (London-speak for heated discussion) with one of the lads on my bus. He's a challenged, disadvantaged kid with little going for him. Some mornings he finishes his breakfast of Red Bull and cigarette by tossing the can onto an area of littered grass and mud outside the run-down block of flats where he lives. The can then adds to an accidental collage of fast-food wrappers, dog excrement and an eclectic sprinkling of marketing driven "packaging". 

He then inhales deeply on his cigarette, grinds the stub into the road, clears his tortured lungs, spits theatrically and boards the bus. Many a time, me being a judgemental bourgeois old cow/Romantic Novelist, I chide him for his conduct. OOOOOh ! I do hate litter. He shrugs and says "Whatever - so what eh?"

I ponder this matter quite often. Yesterday a bus job came up that involved me picking up some folks from a pre-school. Bright little souls aged between 3 and 5  with their parents were waiting outside the school to board the bus. Opposite the entrance there was a dilapidated housing block, awaiting refurbishment. It has been a long wait and I guess it could be a lot longer yet. The picture above is the view that these kids were looking at. Maybe we should think about how the seeds and attitudes will grow.

Emma thinx: By the eyes of the child arrives the vision of the man.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Insecure? I'm not sure really.

Actually I was feeling relatively secure as I sat down to write my blog. Then an 85 mph gust of wind hit a tree just to the right of my office window. Several tons of wood split from the trunk and destroyed my neighbour's garage and a good portion of the house roof. The rest of the tree now leans towards my very position. Now, I've always maintained that any sense of security in this world is misplaced. We are helpless creatures of no account, clinging to our fragile capsule of individual conscious time. As dear old John Keats wrote for his own epitaph "Here lies one whose name was writ in water".  I'm OK with the water, but I wonder if I could have it 50/50 with a decent brandy? Of course,  John Keats did not have the benefit of the Insecure Writers' Support Group.  The course of English Literature could have been so very different...

Insecurity as a writer is of course another thing all together. I mean, who is not a writer? Any time I tell someone I've written a book I find that they have already written several or believe that they have a host of unwritten brilliant narratives ready to wow the Readerverse. So - who would bother with me?  Um - well - there are always the critics.

When I first launched "Knockout" I came across a lady who offered to review books. Her verdict opened "I knew at once that I would hate this book." All the same she carried on in what I can only assume was an orgy of masochistic self loathing. "The characters were unrealistic since no Police Inspector would just fall in love with some guy." She followed it it with the suggestion that "The writer is clearly a foreigner with no idea of England. (I am a Londoner) Names of places in London are used as if it were a guide book."  The critic then turned to the matter of a restaurant menu which she felt was a poorly designed combination of dishes.  Finally she declared that the character of a Police commander was "unrealistic since such a bombastic character would have been brought up before some kind of employment tribunal".  I thanked her for her kind efforts but some small part of me wanted to say that it was a Romance where rather larger than life characters behaved rather "Romantically" in a world of unsuitable menus and horrid bosses. I could also have said that the Police Commander was based on someone I knew and if anything, underestimated his odiousness. As a final salvo the lady opined that the choice of the name Freddie for the French/American male hero was a ridiculous pun on a sitcom character called "Freddie the Frog" of whom I had never heard. 

The choice then was whether to accept all her criticisms and not publish or kinda stick to my self belief that, although not high art, it was not that bad. Perhaps some of you guys will let me know.

I think I'm in my 35th year of more or less continuous rejections. I suppose my confidence wavers as I wait for the letter. By now I feel utterly secure in my prediction of the outcome. I know there is a novel from 20 years ago possibly in a slush pile, still out there somewhere. Some rejections have become treasures. A famous poetry editor wrote back to me to say that my work was ghastly but that he loved my covering letter. I felt validated and secure. It was the only time. I have always taken comfort from the notion that all the GREATS were rejected, cut their ears off and ended up in a pauper's grave. The only problem is that this is not true. 

If I'm being serious I would say that all the years of rejections have never stopped me from trying and have convinced me that I'm unlikely to please any publisher/agent. This realisation is my freedom and I am secure in it. My good friend Oscar Sparrow, the poet, has recorded the supposed world's worst poem. People get in touch with him just to say they love it. If you wanna hear the sweet sound of heroic failure here is a link. By the way, the "world's worst" poet Theo Marzials was a huge success in his own life-time!

Emma thinx: The trouble with insecurities is that they tie you down.

Monday, 2 January 2012

April Towers.

OK - let's take a deep breath, get out the dry bread and water, take down all the Christmas decorations that I didn't get round to putting up in the UK and face reality. Well - there are still several cheeses in the fridge and I spotted an overlooked bottle of champagne as I was looking for my hair shirt and gruel recipe book. Obviously I will be laying off the alcohol at least until the 5pm daily review moment. It's time to face the scales and the facts. Perhaps I could pretend to be a smoker so that I could pretend to have given it up. I am a novelist after all. I make things up. 

The noose of toil has tightened and I am back in the UK. Far behind me now lie the memories of foie gras and fig stuffing, Pineau and hot baguette. We decided to give Christmas pudding and custard cultural food parcels to friends and neighbours. Watch out for news features about canine obesity. I'll never forget the day I tried my neighbours on some lovely English fruit jelly. I don't think they will ever forget it either.

We arrived back in time for New Year's eve and ended up dining with friends and their friends. Oooh I did feel a bit out of my depth. There was this guy who has written a book about Shakespeare but it's out of print methinks. However, I didst a copy find, by time defiled, on e bay. Like an ego-sodden clod I confessed to my own literary output, which as my readers will know, has a similar stamp to that of the bard. Several wine fuelled hours followed during which I kinda recall, the subject was ME. I do have to forgive myself because this was the second Brit who had ever spoken to me about being a writer. In France I count as quite normal but in the UK, folk kinda shuffle away in case I get out an embarrassing poem FOR THEM TO LIKE, read them a love scene or just throw  a passionate pink frilled frenzy.

Tomorrow the bus depot shuffle begins. I have missed the kids and all the jangle of other lives. I have seen the New Year speeches of Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel. As we left France I wondered if things would ever be the same again. Most of my life I have lived in a tepid bath of  euro certainty. Now no one knows whether to pull the plug, let in more hot water or just jump out. My guess is that they will do all three together. Probably won't work.

Emma thinx: April. Yes - April.