Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sun...Surf...and Serenity

I have just returned from Byron Bay, where I have done nothing but sit by a pool, sit in a pool, tinker with my WIP and read. I don't get nearly enough time to read in my day to day life, so for ten days I have caught up on all the books I have been putting to one side.

And my recommendations are;

Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell. Wow! This is Anna's debut novel and has made me a fan of the historical. (wow again!). Fabulous conflict and a heroine you cried for and a hero to die for. For those of you having problems on inner conflict, this book is a fantastic example. She has crafted the conflict so it builds the entire story.

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. Ris Wilkinson suggested to me eons ago that I read Mary Stewart and I had sourced several of the books from second hand stores where they have sat on my shelf due to them being small print, me being short-sighted etc. Well, I finally got around to reading this one, and am now a huge fan. She has a beautiful way with words and I fell in love with the heroine from the get go. Although a mystery with a romantic element, it is the romance where she excels in her turn of phrase.

Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge by Lynn Raye Harris. This is the lady that won the Instant Seduction contest, and boy...did she deserve it. Fantastic debut novel and I cant wait to read more.

Anyway, enough of the book reviews and back to the WIP "The Antonelli Marriage of Revenge".

Much to be learnt from these fabulous writers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RWA Conference and Lightbulb Moments

Sorry for my absence, but life has been busy, what with the upcoming release of "Under the Tree" and the RWA conference I have not had time to scratch myself. At one stage I was even considering not attending the conference (is that a gasp I hear from the crowd and a 'say it isnt so!). It was just that my writing buddies werent going, work is busy, the grass needs get the picture.

But wow!...I am so pleased that I attended. I had so many lightbulb moments that by the end of the conference I was lit up like a fluorescent tube. I attended the Friday workshop by Anne Gracie and Mary-Jo Putney and if anyone walked away uninspired they should be looking for another profession. Conflict...conflict and more conflict. Character archetypes. A bit more conflict. Brainstorming. It was all there. Anne Gracie also had a fabulous conflict chart that I have now applied to my new manuscript. Then on Sunday morning I attended Paula Roe's workshop on Get Organised...Get writing. Wow! As I am now part of the day to day work force this workshop was invaluable. She covered not only on how to organise you writing hours, but also how to organise your document.

And books. How many books can one buy before being charged excess baggage. At least 25 I have discovered. Books on the "Joys of writing sex" all the way down to Janet Evonavich's craft book. And too many Presents to mentions (which I even got signed by my favourite authors...the groupie that I was).

Anyway, if anyone wants any information, let me know as I will point you to the appropriate websites. And now that I am back with renewed vigour and purpose, it is off to my manuscript.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

From Romance to Cook Books

On September 24, "Under The Tree' will be launched, a recipe book that celebrates the community of Fahan school and it will be the result of nearly two years of incredibly hard work by myself and a small committee of friends. If someone had told me that the first book I ever published would be a recipe book, I would have laughed at them as what I know about cooking you could fit on a postage stamp. But then again, "Under the Tree" is much more than a recipe book.

My husband and I have educated our four daughters through Fahan, a small private school in Hobart, and two years ago, several events occurred that made me pause and consider why, at an expense that at times we have struggled to afford, we have done so.

This 'pause' led me to discover that what I cherish most about our school is the community that binds it together. As I talked to people, I also found that I was not alone. To many students, both past and present, it is that sense of belonging and community that they most cherish about Fahan School. From this pondering, I formed a small committee and together we have created "Under The Tree" a recipe book that celebrates the community of Fahan and all the recipes that have helped bind our families together.

Our hope is that this book serves two purposes. That it will give the reader a sense of all that is special within the Fahan community. And secondly, that whilst the reader will discover some innovative and contemporary recipes within its pages, they will also be reminded of those special ones that have made their own families special. My personal favourite is the chocolate pudding recipe as it reminds me of meal times as a child and that garish orange dish that the pudding was always served in (that still survives to this day) and of my five brothers and sisters fighting over who went first.

So, whilst not the writing project I hoped would launch my career, it is still one of which I am incredibly proud and as the first copies become available (we are expecting the advances in approximately two weeks) I will share with you images from 'Under the Tree."

Friday, July 10, 2009


Well...not so much a lightbulb, but more the equivalent of someone switching on the lights at the MCG, then turning them up a wee bit. Years ago (well it seemed like that) I blogged (or did I comment on someone elses blog) re the dreaded synopsis and that the advice I was given from Jenny Hutton from HM&B was to write a synopsis that was totally based on the emotional journey of the characters i.e. you strip everything away so the story could take place in any time frame or in any setting. Hard to do...yes sirreeeee. But today I found the road map to doing this on Heidi Rice's blog (thank you Heidi). For those of you that havent already had a peak, she has posted the synopsis of her first book and then been good enough to give her tips and the tips of the editor who critiqued it.

Absolutely fantastic stuff. Not just for the advice, but also to see that such an accomplished writer had a journey as well and that the mistakes she made all sound very familiar (and that there is life after an Elvis impersonator).

And now, by jove, I think I get it. Although they do say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So, back to the manuscript, which is now three-quarters complete. Although, on the strength of Heidi's blog, I think today I will step back from the manuscript and write the synopsis. Then I will have a road map for the manuscript and will be able to see the journey forward as well as any pot holes in the road I have fallen into.

Onward and upward.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I read this acronym on Jackie Ashenden's blog and loved it, so I have stolen it, made it mine and it now lives on a post-it above my computer screen. Keep It Simple Stupid. It is right up there with my post-it that reads "Tension on EVERY page."

How hard do we make this for ourselves. I have been following Jackie's blog, Lucy Kings blog and several others and it seems that we all seem to be suffering from the same fate. Blackmail, intrigue, reality television shows, intricate plots and our heroes and heroines are left flailing trying to keep up. So I have decided to KISS.

The twins...gone. The reality TV the trash can. All the smokescreens I had erected are gone. I now have one hero (totally Alpha and totally tooooo sexy for words...although a few do spring to mind) and one heroine and a simple plot that they can twist and turn as suits their needs. Because, as it happens, that is who we are interested in, is it not. The hero and the heroine.And their journey.

PS: I did keep the trashed mansion though, and have thrown in a British bulldog for good measure. What can I say, old habits die hard.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

RWA and NaNoWriMo

Has it been that long since I last posted a it isn't so. Anyway, I am back and limbering up my fingers for the RWA's version of NaNoWriMo. I have committed to write 50,000 words in the next 30 days and I have to admit that I am a little excited about the prospect. I also participated last year and this was when I penned my runner-up entry for the FTH competition. Hopefully, this year I can take my new manuscript to the next level.

The new is it going I hear you say. Since we last spoke, the new manuscript has been replaced with an even newer, shinier one. I workshopped my synopsis with Melanie Milburne and we thrashed it around over coffee and came out with a completely different often is that the way. So now I have a set of twins, a hero with a trashed mansion and an appearance by a reality TV show...not necessarily in that order. I will fill you in when I know more myself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

24 hours and all is changed.

My, how a story line can change in 24 hours. Yesterday I posted that the hero and heroine were drawn back together by the death of her brother. Scrap that.

Now that I have interviewed them both, it turns out that they are reunited at a school reunion. Our heroine, Josie West, has made a last minute decision to attend the reunion, held in her home town of Bindirin, which is a small coastal town on the Northern NSW coast, as even though her school life was hell (braces, no boobs, too many brains etc) it has to be better than the hell that has erupted around her over the last 24 hours. There she meets the man she fantasised over from under the bleachers in the gym. And damn if he hasnt grown up real nice...I mean realllll nice. So that is where we are at the moment, as they reconnect over a glass of champagne with the realisation dawning that in her real life, Mr Right may have just gone up in the ball of flames, but Mr Right Now might just be what the doctor ordered.

An unexpected pregnancy will follow, along with an unexpected proposal. So stay tuned.

My heroine is Josie West, a graphic designer, my hero is Jack Burrows, sports photographer specialising in Big Wave Surfers and the new title is 'How the West was won.'

Amazing what will transpire when you actually make the time to sit at the computer.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm back

Hi diddley neighbours, I am back after a brief stint wallowing in my rejection...and moving house. Actually, the move gave me more grief than the rejection. As posted earlier, Jenny Hutton gave me heaps of valuable feedback and I know I promised that I would share. So here goes.

Jenny has said from the get go that she loves my voice and she finds my humour and dialogue fresh and vibrant. My mistake was that I gave her both of these things in spades but it was at the cost of the story. I manufactured situations to fit with the humour and even though the dialogue I created was sparky and fun it lacked a ring of truth. Yesterday, I sat down and read her rejection through again and it was as though a lightbulb suddenly went on.I can see exactly what she means. Now, I have to break the habit.

I am currently reading 'Hired: The Bosses Bride' by Ally Blake and if people would like an example of great dialogue, her books really deliver and I can now see where my dialogue fell over. Kelly Hunter is another writer who's dialogue sizzles off the page.

So I have taken my rejection and Ally Blake's/Kelly Hunters library of books and have a brand new manuscript percolating. What is it about you ask? No idea. The heroine...not even a name. A hero...still formulating. But never let the lack of ideas ruin a good story I say. I have always wanted a hero and a heroine with a connected past, so at this moment I have them being drawn back to their home town by the death of her brother (who is also his best friend). They are forced together to preserve something that belonged to the brother, maybe a family business. And they are also forced to confront the wedge that was driven between them years before.

Did I mention that the idea is incredibly raw at this point but at least I now have somewhere to jump off to.

And did I mention that it is great to be back.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If at first you dont succeed...

Well...the bad news is that I heard from Jenny at Mills and Boon yesterday and the answer was a 'no' to my manuscript 'The House that Jack Built'. (Is that the sound of shock/horror coming from the bleachers, maybe a sigh of disappointment in the back row.)

The good news is that she gave me heaps of great feedback on the manuscript and things to look out for in future submissions. She is also happy to discuss her comments with me and has invited me to send over my next story idea for her feedback.(Someone turn on the clapping machine.) So although I have not received the expected 1500 book contract I was hoping for, I am still miles ahead of where I was before I entered the 'Feel the Heat' competition all those months ago.

Am I disappointed. Of course. But funnily enough, not as much as what I thought. Maybe I am in denial and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the news sinks in over a couple of glasses of wine. What I do feel is proud...proud that I finally completed and submitted a full manuscript. Now I am really looking forward to taking what I have learnt and pouring it into the new one.

But not until after I move house. So back to the packing boxes and when I get a chance I will share Jenny's feedback with you...the good, the bad, and the ugly (although there was not so much of the ugly).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Contests...To enter or not to enter....

Last week the finalists of the RWA First Kiss competition were announced and sadly...I was not amongst them. I was so devastated I almost had to take to my bed. My entry was sizzling and I had expected (at the very least) a phone call from the editor at Silhouette begging me(on bended knees) for the full manuscript. Of course there would have been the offer of an advance,amount undisclosed, although rumours of sightings of myself in a sporty convertible are yet to be confirmed.

Alas it was not be be and today, just to rub salt into an already septic wound, the judges comments arrived in the mail.I resisted the urge to pour petrol over them and strike a match. And thank goodness for that. The comments from all four judges were fantastic. In fact they were so good, I think I may have them framed. They all universally loved my voice, all saying they loved the comedic tone I bought to my piece and my sassy style. One judge (a published author)said she laughed out loud in places and that I had a real talent for dialogue. Wow! I have now pulled myself out of my bed, put the wine bottles in the recycling and am standing ten feet tall, ready to take on my new manuscript. This is the lowest placing I have ever received for a contest and it is the best result I have ever had.

And in answer to my question and as to whether I will throw myself back into the contest fray. You betcha.

PS: Congratulations to all the finalists as I can only imagine the calibre of your entries.

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Pinch and a Punch

I know. I am a day early but it is the repressed girl guide in me. I am early for everything. I love the beginning of a new month as it brings with it a new set of goals to achieve.

And the goal in April, is to complete the first draft of my new manuscript "The Gift of the Gab". I currently have 10,000 words, so that is only 40,000 words in 30 days. Easy peasy. Well it sounds good on paper but I am also moving house in April, so that may step in to try and hamper my efforts, but is also the reason I really need a goal to keep me focussed this month.

As you may have guessed from previous blogs, I am having trouble finding my groove. In the past when this has happened, I have discovered that the best way to get back into the swing of things is to write. Write some more. And then do a bit of writing. So that is what I intend to do. Starting tomorrow. Then by the end of April, I will have a 50,000 words.

Goal for May...mmmm...edit those words. How do you set your goals? If you are a published writer working to deadlines, how do you go about maintaining those deadlines?

I will keep you posted on my progress

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gay Abandon and Julie Andrews

I have just been over to visit at Jackie Ashenden's blog. She is also playing the waiting game and made a note that she had heard that some writer's had sent in full manuscripts to HM&B months ago and have still to receive a response. Mmmm...

I was once given a valuable piece of advice. So valuable in fact I can't remember where it came from - whether I read it somewhere or if some wise sage blessed me with it - but that is beside the point. This piece of advice was to enjoy the time before you get published because it will be the only time that you can write with freedom. (I think they may have thrown in 'gay abandon' but when I say that I get a visual picture in my head of Julia Andrews running across the Swiss Alps ready to break into song, so we will leave that out).

I guess what I am trying to say in my normal succinct manner, is that rather than mulling over my manuscript and whether my manuscript is currently in the queue waiting for the big red rejection stamp, or whether it is slowly working its way up the chain of command (or even whether the editor's dog accidentally ate it) that I should be getting back to what I love best. And that is writing with - dare I say it - gay abandon.

The first draft is the part of writing I really love best. When you get to spew words onto a page at a rate of knots so fast it makes your head spin. When the characters are not yet locked into their frames and anything is possible. When chapter three in no way bears any resemblance to chapter one or two but it doesn't matter, as there is always the first edit.

So what part do you like best? Are you the vomit queen the same as me? Or do you love the edit, where all those words begin to take shape and are given their colour and light. Do you love beginnings or can you not wait to write your happily ever after? And if you are a published writer, was that piece of advice that I cling to the truth. Is this the best time of my life?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just keep swimming....

My eldest daughter is currently swimming at the Australian National Championships and two days ago, made it through to a semi-final which saw her finish 15th overall. How awesome is that? . Her success has been forefront in my mind for obvious reasons, but also because I have had a challenging week on the writing front which has caused me to consider why I am putting myself through this process.

I got to thinking about how she has spent the last ten years of her life, morning and night, swimming up and down, up and down fuelled by nothing more than blind faith and self-belief. Sure, as parents, my husband and I have been there to hold her hand at times and kick her backside at others. She has also had injuries and setbacks a plenty and yet she continues to get up every morning and paddle up and down...up and down.

One of my very dear friends, Melanie Milburne wrote seventeen manuscripts before she was published. But she kept writing, fuelled by blind faith and self-belief.

So when I my self-belief starts to falter or I begin to doubt the process I always find myself concentrating on the journey of others. What keeps you at the keyboard tapping away. How do you maintain your focus? I would love to hear. In the meantime, I will take the advice of that wonderful philospher, Dory from Finding Nemo and...just keep swimming...just keep swimming.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

One day chapter written

No, it did not take me one day to write the chapter, although I probably could have as I wrote enough words today for two whole chapters. I had a bit of a head start this morning as I had already written some 3,000 words. But some of them...well...they were not so good. So I deleted most of what I had and now, at the end of a full day I have just over 4500 words and a complete chapter one. Well, complete in word count. Quality, not so much yet. I find it much easier to vomit the words onto the page and then go back later and clean them up. It is not the most efficient way of writing but at this point, it is the only way I know how. I hope when I get to manuscript number 450 trillion, I will have the process in some kind of order. I was reading today that Paula Roe is hosting a 'get organised, get writing' workshop at the conference in August, so I might put that on my list of 'must attends'.

Anyway, no news on the manuscript and am trying to keep busy so that I do not spend too much time laying back and thinking of England!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Waiting Game

Well it is now nearly three weeks since I sent my manuscript and whilst I have not bitten my fingernails to the quick, the recycling bin is telling the story that I may be getting a little strung out. Patience is a virtue and not one that I have ever mastered. I echo the sentiments of my friend Jackie Ashenden when she wondered why the HM&B editor was not sitting by the email just waiting for receive our manuscripts, pushing all other work to one side when received and cancelling all holidays just in order to read our magnum opus. Oh well, I guess it will all happen in its own good time, and I keep on reminding myself that even if 'The House that Jack Built" is rejected, I am still one step closer to publication.

In the meantime I am working on a new manuscript called "Gift of the Gab" which is targeted once again to Modern Heat. My heroine, Miss Josie Macleod is a hard-hitting big city journalist who due to an unexpected career change,finds herself in the small coastal township of Bindirrin where she has to write the local Agony Aunt column. What Josie knows about love can be written in large print on the back of a small postage stamp and what she cares about love would fit on an even smaller space, so as you can expect, we see a little resistance. You see, Josie has never bought into the whole 'eyes across a crowded room' scenario and believes that Mr Right is a fallacy, preferring to humour herself with Mr Right Now should the need arise.

So sparks fly when she discovers that her editor, the very tall, the very dark and even more handsome, Mr Ricardo Antonelli is on a quest to settle down and in his search for Miss Right he seems to be mistakenly beating a path to her door.

Anyway, the synopsis is written, needs some tweaking and the chapters are under construction. Onward and upward. Whilst we wait with fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And in the beginning first blog. I really should think of something profound. thinks if I wait for that to happen this blog might not get off the ground. In way of introduction I am a yet-to-be published writer who is targetting Harlequin Mills and Boon, or more specifically, their Sexy Sensation (Modern Heat)line. My current status in this chase is that I currently have a full manuscript sitting on one of their editor's desk. At least, I hope it is on her desk and not banished to the dust bin of romance history. They have had the manuscript for two weeks, three days, four bottles of wine, six fingernails and ten hair pulls and much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But as an aspiring writer, I am not resting on my laurels and placing all my hopes in this one manuscript. I am currently working on another and at present, after two weeks, I have almost finished the synopsis. Okay, so progress is slow. But at least it is progress.

So, I intend to blog here on a regular basis and talk, mostly to myself and hopefully some others will drop by for a drink and a chat. And I will keep myself, and those others that drop by posted on my progress.