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Posts tagged ‘Doctor Who’

Welcome to a writer’s virtual world

Yesterday I had an extraordinary experience. My new romantic suspense novel, Birthright, was published by Corvallis Press and went “live” on Amazon for Kindle with more formats and print to come. Having a new book out isn’t that unusual, but having it published “digital first” is. Even more unusual for me was having a virtual launch on Facebook.

The event took place on my Pacific Island kingdom of Carramer, poolside under a vast atrium. The buffet groaned with tropical goodies and a brand new cocktail, the Carramer Sunrise, was a major hit.

My agent, Linda Tate of The Tate Gallery, helped with the organisation – thanks Linda! Lots of friends stopped in and posted messages. David Tennant – the best ever Doctor Who IMO – did the launch honours and David Barrowman from Torchwood, sang for us. Many celebrities wished the book well.

Award-winning author, Anita Bell, cleverly invited TV’s Dr. House to celebrate my book.

It  felt as if we were truly there. Two hours of fun, mayhem, eating, drinking, just like every other great party we’ve all attended. I even got to show off the designer dress I chose for the occasion.

FYI Here’s the recipe for Carramer Sunrise:

5oz champagne, 1/3 oz. Blue Curacao, 1/6oz Grenadine, 1/3oz blueberry liqueur, fresh blueberries.

Pour Curacao, liqueur and Grenadine over blueberries in a tall glass. Add champagne and stir well. Cheers!

Yet why am I surprised if the launch felt real? Isn’t that what writers do all the time? We put words on a page, black and white bird scratchings that readers translate in their minds into worlds often more real than our own. Hogwarts, Starfleet, Narnia, they’re all real places to us. I’ve set 13 books in Carramer, always wanted to explore the indigenous culture which is mystical and beautiful. In Birthright, I got that chance, adding in what Erica Hayes calls “aliens and evil astronauts” to the mix.

Last week scientists speculated that we live in a virtual universe on somebody’s hard drive. Does it matter? The kingdom of Carramer is real to me, and the launch certainly felt real. As Mr. Spock, another undoubtedly “real” alien, said once, “A difference that makes no difference is no difference.” Sheldon Cooper would probably agree, in less comprehensible terms.

David Tennant kindly did the launch honours.

Is there a fictional world that’s more real to you than our own? Love to hear your thoughts.

And enjoy Birthright, too.


Birthright, a near-future romantic suspense,

available now on Amazon


Twitter: @valerieparv and Facebook

Writing short stories for Living magazine, out now

My 7 favourite writing books for 2011

It may seem surprising that I still read how-to books despite selling over 70 romance novels and nonfiction titles. Yet the joy of the writing craft is never knowing it all.  These days I aim to discover one new nugget of information from a book. If I get that I consider the investment of time and money well spent. So here are the gems I’ve read this year, not all newly minted, but all with something valuable to say.

1. Doctor Who The Writer’s Tale

Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook (BBC Books 2008)

A 500-page monster I devoured with great glee. The writer of some of Doctor Who’s most memorable episodes, and creator of Torchwood openly shares his doubts, fears, writing methods and “how it really is” to be a writer. Love love love this.

2. Story

Robert McKee (HarperCollins 1997)

McKee’s beautiful prose turns me green with envy. This is not only a breathtaking look at the art of story from an acknowledged master, but pure reading pleasure. My copy is littered with post-it notes and I’ve tweeted more from this book on #quotes4writers than any other book I own.

3. Emotional Structure

Creating the story beneath the plot, a guide for screenwriters

Peter Dunne (Quill Driver Books 2007)

As valuable for novelists as screenwriters,  this books fills the gap between plot and story and makes their differences clear. Shows how to create scenes with heart and soul, so your viewers (or readers) will feel the passion. A very different approach.

4. Writing Screenplays That Sell

New 20th Anniversary Edition

Michael Hauge (Collins Reference 2011)

Any book that gets to a 20th edition is doing something right. Again the content speaks as much to novelists as screenwriters, covering everything from goal setting to brainstorming, editing and writer’s block all the way to the dreaded pitch, though Hauge addresses pitching more fully in Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds.

5. We Are Not Alone

The Writer’s Guide to Social Media

Kristen Lamb ( 2010)

A groundbreaking book on using social media to build a solid platform that connects you with readers. And you don’t have to know about computers or sales to benefit. Without Kristen, I might still be thinking about blogging.

6. Beyond Heaving Bosoms

The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels

Sarah Wendell & Candy Tan (Fireside, 2009)

The creators of the legendary blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, spotlight the good, the bad and the ugly in romance novels. Jennifer Crusie’s cover quote says “I love the Smart Bitches. They look at romance with clear but loving eyes, and they do it with wit, style, intelligence and snark.” As much a guide to what not to do, as a how-to.

And because I can…Heart and Craft

Best-selling romance writers share their secrets with you

Valerie Parv Editor (Allen & Unwin, 2009)

Indulge me for a moment. Imagine how many billions of books (not a misprint) a team including Helen Bianchin, Robyn Donald, Elizabeth Rolls, Meredith Webber, Jennie Adams, Daphne Clair, Kelly Ethan and Alexis Fleming have sold around the world. This book explains how we got there, with insider advice on everything from craft to editing and marketing. This was a “book of the heart” for me to edit and why it’s on this list – so you don’t miss the gems these much-loved authors share so generously.

There it is. Are there books I’ve missed that spoke to you? Share your comments here.


On Twitter @valerieparv

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When did you first realise you were a writer?

Last time I blogged about Russell T Davies and his wonderful insight into the writing life in Dr Who The Writer’s Tale. This massive book contains so many great quotes about writing that I’ve been tweeting them for the past couple of weeks.

Then I came to this quote: “In my head, I was writing all the time, in the sense of making up stories, but I thought that was just thinking. I thought everyone did it.” p321


Immediately I remembered being about eight years old, walking to school with my younger sister, spinning stories to her to pass the time. Like Russell T. Davies, I thought everybody made up stories. It never occurred to me that normal kids didn’t make their pocket money by entering stories and poems in competitions run by the Sunday papers.

My latest novel, aptly named "With a Little Help"

At 12, I wrote the story for a ballet with no idea how it should be done, and no Google to research such things. I won the prize,  tickets to see the Netherlands Dance Theatre in Sydney, and went with my mother. What no one told us, and presumably the paper, was that this company danced in the nude. I’m not sure who learned the most from the experience, me or my conservative Scottish mother, but it was certainly unforgettable.

I was about 16 when my father showed some of my writing to a friend in advertising, and I discovered I could earn a living as a copywriter, beginning a career in retail advertising where I met the love of my life. Publicity writing and journalism followed, then nonfiction books and the joy of writing something I loved – romance novels, which I’m still doing. All because I made up stories long before I knew what a writer was.

As a child, did you make things up in your head? When did you realise this was a special gift? Were you able to turn your gift into a career, or did that have to wait until you could afford the time to turn your ideas into books? Many women are too busy raising a family to write until later in life. Perhaps that’s you. I’d love to hear some of your experiences.



Why do writers love quotations so much?

Is it because

  1.  We admire others who have a way  with words
  2.  Quoting another writer is easier than writing our own words
  3.  “Impudent criticism. No answer.” ~ Evelyn Waugh.

Reading Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale, “the untold story of the BBC series” by Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook made me think about how often we writers quote other people, simply because I found it so irresistibly quotable. This 512 page behemoth of a book came out in 2008 – how did I miss it for so long? The format of  a year’s worth of actual emails from  RTD, head writer and executive producer of Dr Who and creator of Torchwood keeps the content very much “in the moment” showing how a writer actually works. I loved RTD’s description of the head-desk times when ideas don’t come and deadlines loom.  I‘ll start writing at 10am. Nothing. Okay, noon then. Still nothing. 4pm. Nada. I’ll start  right after dinner and work till late. Every writer knows these times but rarely speaks their name. Discovering that such a brilliant writer experiences  the same torments as the rest of us made me feel infinitely better. What’s that about a trouble shared is a trouble halved? Another quotation, although not always true in times when troubles shared can end up viral on YouTube.

My only problem with The Writer’s Tale is that it’s printed in mice-sized font. I had to keep resting my eyes by looking at the many pictures of David Tennant as Dr. Who. My story and I’m sticking to it.  Despite the tiny type and sheer weight of the volume, I perseverted for the delicious glimpses inside a writer’s head, my most and least-favorite place to be. There are so many great quotes that I started tweeting them and I’m only halfway through the book. Examples:

“No one [character] is fixed. They are all capable of change – not just once in some plot-reveal, but all the time.” p.201

“Dialogue is just two monologues clashing.” p.207

“If a fault is fundamental, if it’s in the concept, you can never fix it up.” p211

“I’ll have to panic tomorrow.” p197

Follow me on Twitter @valerieparv to read more.

Gratuitous picture of David Tennant

Last time, I posted about how much I enjoy how-to books on writing for the sheer joy of discovering some new glimmer of wisdom to add to my store. This books adds a whole galaxy of insights, not only into the writing process but how it is to be a working writer.  To end on a RTD quote, “All the joy and fear and fun and despair is in the writing, not in the flow charts.”








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