Natasha Oakley - British Romance Author

Writer of tug-at-the-heartstrings, feel-good romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

So not surprising ..

Who started these???

This one I picked up from the lovely Ally. I'm a 'foodie', I confess. It's what I do to relax.

You Are an Excellent Cook

You're a top cook, but you weren't born that way. It's taken a lot of practice, a lot of experimenting, and a lot of learning.
It's likely that you have what it takes to be a top chef, should you have the desire...

On the writing front - things are feeling much better. My 'Niroli' book is beginning to feel like something I'm glad I'm writing, but it's felt so sticky for the longest time. And it would seem I'm not alone in getting stuck. Trish Wylie is running a poll on who she should cast as her current hero. I've cast my vote ....

I went for Colin Farrell, but now I'm not sure. Maybe too slight??? Oh the problems that beset a romance writer!

Friday, May 19, 2006

This is getting ridiculous!

I'm going to stop playing these games ....

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Now that's just funny!

Thanks for this, Trish!

I'm ... an actor???

I suppose there's some comfort in knowing I got it right first time, but what did I say? I wanted to come out a 'poet'.

When I got to the question about whether I'd spend my day in NYC 'looking around bookshops' or going to a 'Broadway show' I said 'bookshop'. Deliberately. When, of course, I'd really do both!

Oh well ...

You Should Be an Actor
You have a flair for the dramatic, and you probably already do a lot of acting in your day to day life, just to entertain yourself.No need to steal the spotlight from your friends... You'll get plenty of attention once you start acting professionally!
What Sort of Artist Should You Be?

Diary of an unfit mother ....

It began at 5.30 am when offspring number five decided it was morning. Unfortunately ... he had fallen asleep the night before with some 'magic putty' on his pillow ... Why do they do that??? Doesn't logic tell you that you'd be more likely than not to stick to it? Well, stick to it he did.

Now, offspring number five is hugely influenced by offspring number one who, until he joined the air cadets, had shoulder length hair. Can you 'see' the matted mass of hair?

Can you?

He agreed to have the lump of putty snipped out, but I've yet to convince him he'd look a whole lot better if we evened the look up a little.

Picture me, bleary eyed, making tea ... and then coffee (I like to get the drugs running through my system early!) when offspring number one 'remembered' he had maths homework 'in' for today.

And it was sooo hard! Nothing like maths homework for making this girl feel inadequate.

I think I was still managing fairly successfully on the 'mum' front until ... offspring number two announced she needed a pair of tracksuit bottoms today. Obviously this would have been fine, but they turned out to be wet and in the washing machine.

Five lunches-packed-up later we set off on the 'school run' - slightly late, which really 'bothers' offspring number one. Then I notice that offspring number four has dropped a large quantity of yoghurt down the front of his school trousers, offspring five hasn't cleaned his teeth and he's forgotten his book bag anyway.

I return home to .. a mess. No one has put their plate in the dishwasher or, in fact, picked up anything from where they'd left it the night before.


So, I picked up my laptop and walked back out the door. And I've had a fantastic writing 'day' sitting in a courtyard garden, drinking lovely coffee-shop coffee ...

Still, not going to tell you how many words I've written though. *g* I can't believe Trish Wylie has done 4000+ already! Good job I like her!!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Under Pressure

There just aren't enough hours in the day.

I'm seriously losing the word count war I entered into with Ally Blake - and I do so love to win. And now, I've been sent the proofs of my February 07 release to check ...

Actually, I quite like reading through proofs. I love the fact that my punctuation is miraculously brilliant (Thank God for copy editors!) and, with the distance of a few weeks, I can really take in what I've written. This book, 'Crowned: An Ordinary Girl', was a difficult book to write so it'll be particularly interesting. Let's hope I can no longer 'feel' the pain!

Who knows it might even make me feel more confident about the book I'm struggling to write now!!

I should have looked at the proofs last night, but I was seduced by Sophie Weston's 'The Cinderella Factor' - and I'm so glad I was. It's a lovely, lovely book. Both Patrick and Jo are deliciously complicated. I also love the bigger-than-usual age gap. Jo is nineteen and Patrick is thirty-four. He's also very sexy indeed. Lovely!

That probably says quite a lot about me when I come to think of it. I've always preferred the 'older' man. Somehow 'boys' my own age seemed a little 'unfinished' ...

Time for the school run.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's all in the eye of the beholder

Like Liz Fielding I'm under pressure to have a worm thing at the side of this blog. Trish and Ally both swear it's 'motivational', but I think I've now proved how entirely pointless it would be. In our word count war Ally is dutifully reporting her word count every evening and I ... am not. Far too humiliating.

Still, today is sunny and I've a clear few hours ahead of me to write. Of course, from 3.25pm it all becomes manic as I swing into 'mummy' mode. Tonight it's five children to flute, clarinet and cornet lessons as appropriate.

But, for now I must concentrate on Domenic - who's the hero of my current wip. I'd show you a picture of him, but I can't because he exists only in my head.

When I began I had him as a kind of Raoul Bova, but ... It's not quite right. Now I think he probably looked like this before the accident and before life made him cynical. Don't know!

Photographs are funny things. It's amazing how different the same person can look from picture to picture. And interesting how subjective it all is. Liz can obviously 'see' something in Juan coming out of the sea, whereas I see a man I wouldn't trust much.

This image of James Penfold is an 'obvious' HR hero to me. In fact, his name is Jamie Mansell ...

But in these two I think he looks vain and I'd want to smack him. Of course, there might to some mileage in that ...

Though, as I tell my sons - physical violence is never okay!

Now, work! This blogging is very distracting ...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Kate's Birthday and Juan's vital statistics!

That's quite a title, isn't it! *g*

Today is Kate Walker's birthday - so do pop over and wish her a very happy day.

As anyone who has carefully worked their way through my website knows, I owe Kate a very special debt of gratitude. She was my 'mystery' reader when I submitted my manuscript to the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme. Five pages of constructive criticism later I was ready to write 'For Our Children's Sake' - my first 'sale'. I'm still 'cutting for pace', Kate!

And for Nic and anyone else who needs more information on Juan:

Height: 5ft 11"
Waist: 31"
Chest: 38"
Inside Leg: 33"
Outside Leg: 41"
Collar: 16
Suit: 38
Shoe Size: 6.5

Isn't the web a wonderful and scary thing?!?!?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Okay, it's war!

It's war in the world of romance fiction!

With deadlines looming (hers closer than mine, incidentally), Ally Blake and I agreed to swap word counts at the end of our writing days. Harmless fun, you might think ...? Encouraging? Motivational, even??

Not a bit of it. She's exhausting. In order to beat Ally's word count of today I have to write 3000 words - all the while knowing that she's out for the evening sipping wine. My only hope is that she decides to delete a chapter or two - preferably two! Or, perhaps, we can hope that the alphie doesn't transfer the text properly and she'll have to re-type the lot. That might buy me a bit of extra time ...

So far I've had a fairly unproductive day on the writing front, but fairly positive on the 'mum' front. Son number 2 and I even baked a cake, which was very 'Nigella Lawson' of me.

But, now I must focus. It's only half past nine in the evening and I have Ally's 3000 words in my sight ...

I'll just leave you with the potential ModX hero who is currently languishing in Trish Wylie's inbox while she's away. I don't think he's a Harlequin 'Romance' sort of man.

Still, nice picture!

Nic, do you want to lay claim to Juan Pablo Di Pace before Trish gets back??? I think he's a dancer in real life and I can even get you his 'vital statistics' should you so wish.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Beginnings and other nonsense

Today I have to write. No procrastination, no excuses ...

Once I get properly started I'll be fine, but it's a newish book and I so hate beginnings. The characters don't feel quite real yet and, to be honest, I'd rather go out to lunch! But, my deadline is looming faster than I care to think and I have no choice but to get my bottom on the seat and start typing.

So, here's Isabella Fierezza.
Actually, I think I'm liking her. Of course she's very, very beautiful - which would normally be irritating, but I think that's going to be the point. Perhaps she finds it irritating, too???

I'm imagining someone with a kind of inner glow. A woman with the sort of beauty that means she has few girlfriends because she makes us lesser mortals feel inadequate.

At least, that's what I'm thinking now ...

She's also 'royalty' which must be an enormous dating handicap, wouldn't you think???

The other, very interesting, thing about Isabella is that her story is Book 4 of a new Harlequin continuity - which means there are things about her I've been given and cannot change. Like, for example, the fact that she's royal. She's also 5ft 8" tall with honey blonde hair and has a brother called Marco ...

Apparently authors fall fairly neatly into two camps - those that like writing continuity books and those that don't. I think I'm going to be in the former group. I have no problem with being being given the bare bones of a character to flesh out into a living, breathing woman. It feels very similar to being cast in a play ... and I loved that.

Today, I'm missing my former life. Most of the time I prefer writing to acting - mainly because of the obvious benefits of not being out of work, not having to worry about what I look like, not having to be away from home for long stretches ...

But, today, I'd love to be going off to rehearsals. I'd like to meet up with other creative souls and bounce ideas about.

Instead it's me and my muse. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Why I hate reporters

The Saturday night 'Blind Date' was shown I went out with my friends - and it seems that Giles must have done the same with his friends because on the Wednesday morning I woke up in my London bedsit, turned on the radio and heard my name.

Rather surprisingly, it seemed I was on the front page of 'The Sun'. Giles had 'talked' about our date - though I'm not sure what date he was on.

Somewhere I'm sure I've still got the clipping, but the bit I remember is that Giles said I was 'boring' and talked about nothing but my cello. This is particularly interesting because I don't play an instrument of any sort whatsoever!!!

For those of you who don't live in the UK - 'The Sun' is one of our tabloid papers. I pulled on my jeans, ran down to the corner shop and, for the first and only time in my life, bought a copy. Then I phoned my Mum - who wasn't at all happy!! I understand she sent my Dad to their corner shop to buy a copy too. *g*

Fortunately, in the six months between recording the programme and it airing I'd left my job as a Recruitment Consultant, moved to London and started at Drama School. All of which meant it took them a day or so for any reporters to track me down. And, when they did, they had trouble recognising me because I'd grown my hair and returned (from a curly burgundy style) to something straight and brown.

Representatives of the tabloid press did, however, camp outside my parents' house and leave messages for me on the Webber Douglas notice board asking if I'd like to give my 'side' of the story and offering me money ...

Hmmm difficult choice that one!

The 'story' that wasn't a story rumbled on for about two weeks. It turned out that Giles is not fortunate in his friends. One of them had 'sold' the story.

Now, this is the thing that puzzles me - when I wrote 'A Family To Belong To' I made Kate Simmonds an 'jobbing' actress as opposed to the starry film sort, but was told to make her a reporter because actresses are seen as 'feckless' and aren't popular with romance readers.