On your marks… get set… go!

Okay… I’m getting in a wee bit early for the September challenge I issued to you all but on Thursday I’m starting a brilliant, new, regular blog segment entitled:

On Thursdays I’ll host some fabulous authors sharing their absolute FAVOURITE craft book – writing craft that is, not craft craft! Although one day I do so want to learn to quilt but that’s another blog post all together.
So since romantic suspense author, the gorgeous and very clever Helene Young, will be sharing what craft book she’d take on a desert island on Thursday, I thought I’d wish all my fellow challengers lots of inspiration today instead.
If my maths is correct (and it quite possibly isn’t), we have 16 joining us (and a few maybes) for the Write 30k in 30 days September challenge. Many of you lovely challengers are on Twitter, so I’ve created a hashtag for our challenge Tweets. My idea is that every night, you share your total for the day on Twitter with the #30kinSept tag!
Once a week I’ll do a round up post on my blog to see how we are all going and I’d love for those involved to update us on your progress!
And in order to be the best cheer squad we can, it’d be really good if everyone shared what they’ll be writing this month!! I’ll start.
I’m 20k words into a contemporary romance set in Hollywood (where I’ve NEVER been – eek), which I’m hoping will eventually be a second book with Carina Press. I’m hoping writing 30k in September will get me VERY near to the end.
So, if you’re joining the 30kinSept writing challenge, please leave a comment telling us a little about what you’ll be working on during the next month ๐Ÿ™‚

Too funny not to pass on…

I recently ordered Kristen Lamb’s book WE ARE NOT ALONE – THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA (will blog about it when I’ve finished) and started following her on Twitter.

BOY am I glad because if I wasn’t following her, I wouldn’t have just read the funniest post ever about why you should be a writer.
Read it here – hey, she’s convinced me.
Go have a read and then come back and tell me what your favourite point is. I’m a Number 8 girl myself. And once I’ve posted this I’m off to choose an author to pretend to be at my next high school reunion ๐Ÿ™‚

Marrying Daisy Bellamy

MARRYING DAISY BELLAMY is the second Susan Wiggs book I’ve ever read (and it DEFINITELY won’t be the last).

I’ve been trying to work out for days what it was that really gripped me about this novel and I’m still not 100% sure. Part of it is definitely Susan Wiggs’ ability to tell a really emotional and moving story with beautiful, yet simply prose. Part of it is the uniqueness of this story and part of it is that it’s a story that truly could happen and one that deals with an issue I’m sure many, many people have before. Choosing between two men, when you love both but differently.
I’ve also decided I love Susan’s town of Avalon where Daisy’s story and the rest of her Lakeshore Chronicles take place. So much so that on Monday I went out and bought six more of the Avalon books to make my set complete. Now all I need is to MAKE/FIND the time to read them and the other zillion books on my TBR pile. And I’m already eagerly anticipating the next story.
So I’m curious… what’s the best book YOU’VE read lately and have you glommed (read one of their books and then gone out and bought loads of their backlist) any authors recently?

RWAus 11 – The Awesomeness of Saturday

Saturday began with an intro from our esteemed President – Alison Ahearn – and the first sale ribbons. I think the rumour has already got out that I almost FORGOT to go line up for my first sale ribbon. This moment I’ve been dreaming of for years and yes, I almost missed it. Luckily I wondered why the huge line of people were gathering at the front and quickly remembered. No thanks to my CP Becca J Heath who FORGOT to remind me as I asked her to do at about midnight the night before.

Thanks to the lovely Fiona Palmer (fellow WA author) who took this pic of me collecting this much-wanted ribbon from Alison.

Next on the busy schedule was the plenary speech from Susan Wiggs! I only recently fell in love with Susan Wiggs’ books but I fell HARD (blog post coming soon about a book I just read by her) so I was eager to hear what she had to say.
In her inspirational speech she spoke about her journey to publication and her very first conference where she learnt a) not to bring your whole mss when you pitch to an editor and b) not to bring your hubby ๐Ÿ™‚ She showed her writing successes came through sheer determination and hard work. I’m sure I took notes (and I KNOW I tweeted) but I can’t actually find them so I can’t think of anymore specifics at this stage.
Next we had a panel with editors and agents from overseas and Australian publishers. There was much discussion on the distinction between romance and women’s fiction and it was great to see Australian publishers more open to publishing romance. They admitted to be a little late to the party but eager to join in ๐Ÿ™‚
Speaking of eds and agents, I pitched to an agent and an Australian publisher on Saturday. I pitched Jilted – otherwise known as The Book That Won’t End – and got a great response. I was asked to send the book to both parties and so now the waiting begins.
The first workshop I went to was…. drumroll… Susan Wiggs – Plotting From The Inside Out. It was so interesting listening to her writing process. Some of the gold I took from Susan’s workshop:
  • Every story needs a shape (this is the plot)
  • Last scene – key scene for making the reader satisfied and eager to read your next book. Put EVERYTHING into making this scene emotional and satisfying.
  • She called one of her books the ”plotless wonder”. Love that term!
  • Focus on an emotion for each book – a BIG, POWERFUL emotion that you are currently feeling and can therefore spill onto the pages. She discussed writing her book ”The Goodbye Quilt” at a time when she was saying good bye to a daughter going off to college.
  • You don’t need a big elaborate plot if you have a BIG issue for you character.
  • Once she has an emotion she combines it with an image which she then hangs the story on.
  • Think like a filmmaker – what do you want the viewer

    to see about your story?

  • Take your time to develop a story.
  • Figure out your main point.
  • And last but by no means least – ALWAYS LET YOURSELF BE SURPRISED!
And unfortunately Susan’s was the only workshop I really went to on Saturday because I had pitches during the next one and the last one was cancelled, but that was okay because I went shopping for toys with my peeps.
Saturday (well the day part) finished with a panel of bestselling authors telling and showing (many dressed up) WHY they love writing romance. From wearing pajamas to work to being able to go on exotic holidays and claim it for tax to meeting the absolute best friends – there were so many reasons these fabulous ladies brought up! It made all of us in the room PROUD to be part of the romance writing community.
Then of course Saturday night was the AWESOME FEEL-GOOD awards night. I was stoked to sit at a table with my favourite romance people, to watch my friend Jacki
e Ashenden take out the High Five Award and to accept my second place in the Single Title and Loving It contest. I’ll leave you with some photos from this wonderful night…
Me with the gorgeous Amanda Knight and Cathryn Hein!

September challenge anyone?

I promise I’ll finish my updates on the Romance Writers of Australia conference soon, but first I just thought I’d put a writing challenge out there.

I’ve decided I need to finish the short contemporary romance that I started ages ago and so I’ve decided to set myself the task of writing 30k in September. I already put this out on Twitter and had a few takers but I thought I’d ask here and get anyone who is interested to ”register” in the comments section.
We’ll share our September goal – it doesn’t HAVE to be 30k like me – and cheer each other on to reach it.
So, who’s in???

Day Two – Bob Mayer and Cocktails!

After a late night chatting in my room to the gorgeous Becca J Heath, we still managed to wake up before my barking dog alarm!

Friday was Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer Workshop – he’s actually changed the name, but I like Warrior Writer Workshop better anyway ๐Ÿ™‚

FEAR – was talked about a lot in the first half of this workshop and this really resonated with me. He quoted Stephen King – ”Fear is the root of most bad writing.” And spoke about ”you” being the only person holding ”you” back.

Some gold nuggets I got from Bob’s workshop:
  • Rejection is high – TRY anyway!
  • Conquer your fear and change.
  • Networking is critical.
  • Titles – use words that don’t belong together. Bad example but like ”Hot Snow”.
  • Go from craftsman to artist.
  • Be ruthless with yourself.
  • Success is a struggle.
  • Don’t wait for the muse or you’ll be unemployed!
  • You need rules as a writer – for yourself on parts of writing, marketing, etc. Like how often you’ll blog and how much time to spend on Twitter.
  • Blog AT LEAST once a week but every three days is better.
  • Set goals! If you don’t, you won’t achieve them.
  • Write what you WANT TO KNOW!!!
  • Please yourself first but be aware of the consumer.
  • THREE is the magic number.
  • Keep your goals positive.
  • Reverse your thinking – think like a publisher.
  • Write in the POV you like reading.
  • Define yourself in ONE sentence.
  • 99% of what we do each day is habit.
  • Readers want to be entertained and informed.
  • Sometimes you have to write about a character you don’t like and make them do things you don’t agree with.
  • Emotion is more important than logic.
  • Action is the truest indicator of character.
  • If you really want to get to know a character, put them in crisis.
  • Have a growth mindset not a set mindset.
I left Bob’s workshop early to go brainstorm with the very talented Fiona Lowe (who incidentally found out her book Boomerang Bride got a Romantic Times Top Pick this weekend). We chatted about the conflicts in my new mss – now titled ”Hollywood Heartbreak.” I finally think I’m making some progress with these two characters ๐Ÿ™‚
The evening of course was the fabulous Harlequin party – always a dress up, this year the theme was Roaring Twenties to tie in with RWAus’s twenty birthday. As always it was a crazy night of drinking and talking and not having nearly enough time to catch up with everyone I wanted too. My highlight was meeting Carina Press Executive Editor, Angela James. Photos below ๐Ÿ™‚
Me with the gorgeous Becca J Heath!

Becca J Heath and Jackie Ashenden at the bar! Aren’t they stunning?
  • Cathryn Brunet/Hein (amazing writer), Angela James (editor extraordinaire) and me ๐Ÿ™‚
  • This is me taking a photo of myself – as you do ๐Ÿ™‚ And the one above is the beautiful Leah Ashton and Joanne Dannon with moi on the right!

Romance Writers of Australia Day One!

I got up at the crack of dawn last Thursday, excited and bouncing to get into the taxi and on my way to the airport to catch a flight to ”From Here To Eternity” the 2011 conference for Romance Writers of Australia. I had the most gorgeous (yes, inside and out taxi driver) but unfortunately forgot to take a photo of him.

On the plane I read my gorgeous CP Jackie Ashenden’s book and looked forward to seeing my other gorgeous CP Becca J Heath at the airport. My plane was a little late but Becca waited patiently (actually, she happily escaped into the land of a book) and once we met up, we were on our way!

The first person we saw was ANOTHER gorgeous CP of mine Cathryn Hein – yeah, I’m amazingly blessed in the CP department. All my CPs are talented writers and gorgeous people, making them fabulous friends. My favourite part about the romance writing conf is meeting up with my friends, whom I talk to LOADS online but only see once a year if I’m lucky!

The afternoon was spent chilling with roomie Becca J Heath in our hotel room and then in the evening I attended my first ever Harlequin Author dinner. HUGE thanks to the gorgeous team at Harlequin Australia for inviting me along – I had a blast! See below for some photos from the night.

Debut Special Edition author – the divine Helen Lacey with her NEWBIE AUTHOR chick, given to all new Harlequin, Mills & Boon or Carina authors by the established Aussie authors.

Me, with the gorgeous and supremely talented Nikki Logan and Leah Ashton. All of us hail from WA and these two ladies are very special to me ๐Ÿ™‚

More conference posts tomorrow….


Happy Release Day to my fab friend, fellow Carina Press author and really talented writer Fiona Lowe. If you’ve ever read any of her Medical romances, you’ll know this woman can spin a yarn, so you won’t want to miss out on her debut Single Title! Boomerang Bride!

Read the blurb below – I guarantee, it’ll make you want to head on over to the Carina Press site and buy yourself a copy ๐Ÿ™‚
Matilda Geoffrey risked it all for love. She left Australia to be with Barryโ€”the man who had swept her off her virtual feet. Now, wearing a wedding dress, she’s alone on Main Street in small-town Wisconsin, and things aren’t working out exactly as planned…

In town for his annual family visit, Marc Olsen had never seen a bride quite like Matildaโ€”staring into a storefront window, holding a tottering wedding cake, and looking desperately in need of a groom. He may not have any warm feelings for his hometown,but meeting Matilda just as she discovers she’s been scammed by her online “fiancรฉ” stirs something in him.

Matilda is not the kind of woman Marc imagined himself with, and Marc is anything but the romantic hero that Matilda has always dreamed of. But as unlikely circumstances throw them together, can they let go of their misconceptions and risk their hearts for love?

Countdown to Conference!

SQUEE!!! This time next week, I’ll be getting all dolled up for the Harlequin ”Roaring Twenties” cocktail party at the Romance Writers of Australia 20th Conference.

To say I cannot wait is a MASSIVE understatement.
Going to RW Oz, is one of the most inspiring things on my annual calendar. Not only do I KNOW I’m going to be blown away by fabulous speakers and have light bulb moment after moment at the workshops, but I get to catch up with people who have become some of my closest friends.
This year specifically, I’m looking forward to:
  • Getting my first sale ribbon thanks to the fabulous Carina Press who bought my book One Perfect Night, which will be a December release.
  • Meeting Angela James – also of Carina Press.
  • Going to the Harlequin Author Dinner on Thursday (because Carina Press authors are Harlequin authors).
  • Networking with other writers, editors and agents.
  • Listening to Susan Wiggs – who I’ve recently started to read and of whom I’m now a HUGE fan.
  • Going to Fiona Lowe’s workshop – having been to a few of hers before now, I KNOW we’ll be in for a huge treat!
So what about you? Will I see you at RWAus11? What’s your favourite thing about going to conference?