The Round Robin Round-Up

In recent months, the authors at Choc Lit have produced unique short stories to celebrate special events such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. What’s fascinating is that we’re not producing a story each, but a contribution to one entire story, which is then posted day-by-day on wonderfully supportive book blogs. It’s a fascinating process. We don’t know what will arrive in the inbox or how the next author will progress what we’ve set up. It’s like tag wrestling, but without the leotards or catapulting off the ropes to floor the opponent.Mothers Day Round Robin

I was interested in how we approached our particular sections and asked for my fellow ChocLiteers thoughts.

Valentine’s Round Robin

Kathryn Freeman

I found it harder than writing a story by myself as I was very conscious I shouldn’t give away too much, too soon, but I already had in mind how I wanted it to end!

– I also found it more rewarding in a way, as I was so intrigued by how those after me would pick up the reins.  I felt proud to be part of the final result – but in awe of the ability of my fellow writers who managed to kick it off so well and then keep the suspense and so neatly tie the ends up at the end. I was very glad I went early!

Evonne Wareham

I did the Valentine one. It was great fun and also scary! I was day 4 of 5. The 3 previous instalments had set up some lovely leads, it was a responsibility to live up to them and also leave the story in a good place for the final instalment. Making a villain out of the character who would normally have been my alpha hero was interesting.

 Mother’s Day Round Robin

Alison May

I actually found writing part 1 quite intimidating. Normally the beginning of a story would be one of the last bits that I’d still be tweaking with and revising. This time I didn’t have that option. I had to write an opening that set up enough possibilities for the six writers that followed to apply their imaginations but wasn’t so vague as to be completely irrelevant to what came later. I think I stared at the blank screen for longer than I ever have before, feeling the pressure of not letting the later writers down. I ummed and aahed particularly about whether to introduce a potential hero in part 1. I do have a discarded paragraph where a mysterious stranger appears, but in the end I decided to leave the hero for the writers who came later. I’m now really happy with Kelly and sort of in love with little Lucas. I just hope that the writers and readers who came after me ended up feeling the same.

 Laura E. James

Alison wrote a great introduction, and that allowed me to take the story in any direction. Conscious of the fact it was a Mother’s Day story, and we at Choc Lit write romance, my focus was on developing a love interest and a father for Kelly’s baby son. I left it for the latter writers to decide if this man was one and the same. It was liberating not having to make that decision, however, now the story is complete, I have to say, I found what followed, and the conclusion extremely satisfying. I loved this experience.

 Berni Stevens

I was so relieved not to be given the first slot, and I take my hat off to Alison for doing such an amazing job. I still remember my own first day back at work after maternity leave, so writing Kelly’s feelings came easily to me. I loved the way Laura and Henri set up new possibilities for the story, but I couldn’t resist throwing in my own curved ball! I truly couldn’t wait to see how it all panned out.

Beverley Eikli

I was caught between a rock and a hard place with such excellent instalments having gone before. Now, with the story having only two more instalments after mine, I knew that it was time to explore the motivations of some of the characters who may (or may not) have a larger role to play and begin the process of tying up the threads my predecessors had left me 🙂

Unexpected plot twists are what I love best, though of course that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However since it seemed to be ‘at that point in the story’ I thought I’d just go for it. I wrote most of it while travelling through Norway but had to think long and hard to come up with the direction I was going to take it. There were so many!

 Amanda James

I found it really tricky coming in at the penultimate section. I couldn’t end it obviously, but I wasn’t sure where to go either because of what had come before. Of course I knew we should probably have a happy ending, so worked towards that. The problem was that a couple of the stories before mine had said that Damien had wanted nothing to do with Kelly and his son, another had said that Kelly had ignored all Damien’s attempts to contact her by phone and text. Gulp. I realised that this was to set up intrigue and conflict and I eventually got it sorted  … I hope! It was great fun to write and I would love to do it again.

 Margaret James

I enjoyed writing the ending.  It was fun to read everything which came before it, seeing how the previous writers had developed the story, set traps for the unwary reader, suggested various directions in which the story could go, and also suggested various resolutions. I decided early on who the bad guy in this story was going to be and I wrote my ending to reflect this decision.

***

From a personal point of view, what’s struck me reading these comments is that as writers we’ve used our knowledge, experience and instinct to know how to start the story, when to add a hint of romance or betrayal, where to introduce the twist and turns, and how and when to start wrapping it up to bring it to a satisfying conclusion.

Beyond my contribution at Part 2, I was reading and discovering along with all the other readers and was captivated by the unfolding story.

I’m already looking forward to the next Choc Lit round robin.

Laura.

Here are the links to our Mother’s Day story, which can now be read from start to finish:

Part One by Alison May on Chick Lit Reviews and News

Part Two by Laura E James on Jera’s Jamboree

Part Three by Henriette Gyland on Laura’s Little Book Blog

Part Four by Berni Stevens on Cosmochicklitan

Part Five by Beverley Eikli on Chick Lit Uncovered

Part Six by Amanda James on Love of a Good Book

Part Seven by Margaret James on One More Page

Scott’s melting heart pudding

Ingredients:

60g sugar – he’d hate you to tell him this, but Scott is sweet.  Of course he prefers hunky, but then he Too Charmingwould.  He’s a guy.

70g dark chocolate – chocolate because like Scott, it’s irresistible.  Once you’ve had a taste, you have to have another.  And another.  Dark chocolate because it has an edge, a bite that makes you sit up and take notice.  Just as Megan notices Scott, though she’s trying hard not to.

1 tablespoons of cocoa powder – because it’s what we use to make a night time drink.  And Scott is a man you’d want to take to bed.

60g butter (not margarine) – it’s smooth, like Scott, but has a rich, robust flavour.  A naughty indulgence.  We might not think it’s good for us, but it’s far more desirable than healthy, but insipid, margarine.

30g plain flour – he might be a flirt, but Scott isn’t full of puff or hot air.  When he tells Megan he finds her sexy, it’s not a line.  It’s the truth.

2 eggs + 1 yolk – eggs give the pudding substance.  An inner strength, which Scott has to rely on when his life is thrown into chaos.

A dash of vanilla essence – because it adds richness and depth.

Raspberries/blueberries/anything striking to serve – because Scott dazzles the eye.

Too Tempting?

Too Tempting?

Melt the butter and dark chocolate and mix to a paste.  Blend in the sugar.  Slowly add the beaten eggs until the mixture is uniform and smooth.  Fold in the flour and cocoa powder carefully and then pour/spoon evenly into greased muffin tins/ramekins.  It will make about 4-6.  Chill in the fridge if you don’t want to use straight away.

To cook:  200oC for 8 minutes or until the outside is firm but the middle soft.

When it’s cooked, the Scott pudding looks dark and smoothly attractive on the outside.  If, like Megan, you’ve burnt your hands on a similar good-looking dish, you might decide not to delve into it.  But imagine the pudding follows you around, tempting you with its delicious looks and decadent smell?  It might not be so hard to ignore, then.  Especially when, after one sneaky but delicious taste, you find there’s far more to the fancy dark pudding than you first imagined.

And voila! Scott's melting heart pudding.

And voila! Scott’s melting heart pudding.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter: @KathrynFreeman1

Too Charming is available on Kindle UK and Kindle US

First Fictional Crushes

Sue Moorcroft 

Who was your first fictional crush?

Who was your first fictional crush?

 

My first fictional crush was Superman.

My brother and I used to buy a lot of the shiny, brightly coloured Adventure Comics coming out of America when we were kids living in Malta, and Superman stole my heart, even when he was in the guise of Clark Kent. I used to think that Lois Lane was remarkably stupid not to notice it was just the same guy in a suit and glasses but, hey, if she didn’t want him …? I was ready and waiting. In tights or in a suit, Superman or Clark, he was hot, he was clever, he was kind. Bring him on.

I can remember crying over an episode where Superman lost all his powers and was wandering dejectedly around Gotham City with the citizens jeering at him. (I’m not sure why he didn’t just go back into Clark Kent mode so nobody knew he was Superman sans superpowers. Probably it didn’t suit the plot.) Happily, the source of the kryptonite that was disabling him was found and he was soon soaring across the page once more, fist raised in flight, just in time to smash the baddies’ plans to conquer the world and snatch Lois from the jaws of death (not that she deserved it).

I have retained a liking for a tall man with a strong, clean-shaven jaw and I even put Dominic Christy in tights in Dream a Little Dream, when he dressed up for halloween. First love is stronger than kryptonite.

Is This Love? is now available on all e-book platforms and is out in paperback 7th November.

Jane Lovering

As a young teenager, I was as impressionable as an undercooked sponge cake, and regularly fell in love with literary luminaries, but the first who really made a huge impression, growing up as I did in a town with Roman history so deep that we even had Roman sewers, was Marcus Aquila, hero of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s ‘Eagle of the Ninth’.

I had a full mental image of Marcus, although I cannot remember whether or not he is described in the book, although I have to admit that I probably overlaid him with all my real-life ‘crushes du jour’; he was tall, dark and handsome, and he could ride a horse really well too, which was important to me back then, in the days when I was still going to marry Tony Newbery.  He was courageous (Marcus, I mean, not Tony Newbery, although he was pretty brave, being a showjumper of some ability and very lovely horses. I think I was probably leaning more towards the ‘horses’ than the man, even at fifteen). Marcus was travelling in distant lands (well, Scotland), to find the secret that lay behind his father’s disappearance so he was not just brave, he was noble as well, and probably troubled too (I do like a troubled man). The BBC made a TV mini-series of the book and the actor they cast as Marcus definitely didn’t disappoint…Sigh. I wonder if it’s available on DVD…

Hubble Bubble is available on all e-book platforms and is also available in paperback.

Kathryn Freeman

Julian, of Famous Five fame, was everything a boy should be.  At least to a twelve year old girl.  He was brave, tall and strong.  Fearless, as he herded the younger members of the group through dark, secret tunnels.  Gutsy, as he stood up to the bad guys – men older and heavier than he.  Daring, as he led from the front in adventure after adventure.

But it wasn’t just his courage that had me reaching for the books time and time again, desperate to read more about him.  Julian was the responsible one.  The gallant hero who looked after all the others, especially his young sister Anne.  Who couldn’t fall in love with a boy who took such care of his sister?

And don’t forget Julian also had this clever and sensible side.  I suppose it could have made him stray into the nerdy category, but the swots I knew would never have dashed so boldly into danger to protect their friends.  Maybe there was a smidgen of bossiness about him, but Dick, George and Anne needed someone to tell them what to do or they’d never have escaped through those secret passageways.  Perhaps he also took himself a teeny bit seriously, but funny = sexy was a conclusion I came to a little later in life…

So there you have it.  My first fictional hero was Enid Blyton’s Julian.  I spent many years of my childhood wishing he’d ask me out for a ginger beer.  Until I dropped him for David Soul (from Starsky and Hutch).

Too Charming is available on Kindle UK and Kindle US.

Sarah Tranter

I’m going to have to own up and say that my first fictional crush was Lassie. Yep, the dog.

I’m afraid I can’t even say it was as a result of the books, because it was all down to the TV show. I don’t think I ever read about Lassie. At that time it was all Enid Blyton for me and there was zero crushing involved.

Lassie on the other hand was a different matter. It was a case of what you can’t have. I so wanted a dog as a kid but we were never allowed one. At different times we had fish, a hamster (that kept escaping into the loft and eating things) and a biting rabbit ― that had pink eyes and scared me stupid. But never a dog. And it was a dog I so desperately wanted. So I used to watch Lassie and dream of one day having a dog of my own. It didn’t even need to be a Collie. Just something with four legs (actually it didn’t even need to have those) and a wagging tail. You get the gist. Of course now with my own family I understand first hand the reasoning behind my parents’ decision. Hair, mud, walks, more hair. But it’s no good. I still couldn’t be without one. Or two ― should me and the boys get our way!

No Such Thing as Immortality is available on all e-book platforms and is also available in paperback.