Spotlight on my CP – Cathryn Hein

This week my coveted Theory on Thursday spot was available for the first and last time in a while (but if you’re an author and would like to book a ToT slot, please email me as I have a few in June onwards). Anyway… I decided I would take today’s slot and talk about something I discovered midway through my writing journey.

In 2006, I joined Romance Writers of Australia (if you’re a writer – any genre – and living in Australia, I seriously recommend you join) and in 2007, I was lucky enough to attend my first romance writing conference. WOW – had I been missing out all these years!! At this first conference, not only did I attend fabulous workshops (in which I discovered things like voice and conflict), stay at a beautiful hotel, talk writing for three days non-stop, meet published authors and editors and learn what was happening in the industry… I also met some fabulous friends – including my now critique partner, the delightful and gorgeous Cathryn Hein.

(Cathryn and I at the RWAus conf in 2011 – we both look better in read life!)

Now Cathryn has a brand new book out today and before I tell you a bit about its glory, I thought I’d share how our friendship begun…

We were both attending a workshop by Valerie Parv. I can’t remember the exact topic after all these years, but we had to work in pairs and come up with a plot/opening of a novel. If my memory serves me right Cathryn and I had to do a paranormal Cinderella, so we plotted/wrote the beginning of a story that was set in a funeral parlour in which Cinderella and her sisters were woo’d by dead people. We had a ball and best of all, we swapped emails. Who would have known then that Cathryn would become one of my best writing buddies and become so helpful and influential in my own writing. 

Cathryn and I run ideas by each other and read each other’s work in progresses (or as much as we can) and I value Cathryn’s opinion immensely. I was so happy when Cathryn sold her first full-length novel, PROMISES, to PENGUIN but not at all surprised. When critting her work I continually have to remind myself I’m not supposed to be reading for pleasure. One of my favourite things about Cathryn is the way she brings animals (oh I love her horses and another particular animal in the book she’s writing now) and setting to life. I think this talent makes Cathryn perfect for rural romance. 

Today is a very special day because Cathryn’s second novel HEART OF THE VALLEY releases.

HEART OF THE VALLEY – Blurb

Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled ­ some might even say stubborn ­ and
lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than
in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ ­ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to
manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won¹t go
without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself ­ a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match
her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain.

Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?

A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.

If that has whet your appetite and I’m sure it has, you can read the WHOLE first chapter here or better still, buy it.  HEART OF THE VALLEY is in the BIG W catalogue and also available in other good bookshops and online at Amazon

So what do you reckon? Who thinks Cathryn and I should finish that Cinderella in the funeral parlour story?

Theory on Thursday with Lynne Marshall

Today I have romance author Lynne Marshall, talking about something that feels particularly close to home at the moment. As I zoom towards the end of my wip, I’m hoping that I’ve given the reader everything they want in a romance and will be using Lynne’s handy check-list. 

Welcome and take it away Lynne…

WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST

 For those who read and love the Romance genre—though contrary to popular belief that they are formulaic, which they’re not—there is an expected sequence of events in each book. This sequence can be compared to similar expectations for readers of the murder mystery genre.  There, by the end of the book, the murder must be solved.  In Romance, the couple must fall in love and commit to each other. How each genre achieves that ending is as creative as the author who pens it.  The story structure for Romance is like other fiction literature, with the addition of a few genre-specific traits.

General Five-Stage story structure for fiction:

  1. The character has a problem
  2. Complications make the problem worse
  3. Conflict, complications, and crises result in a climax
  4. Problems get resolved
  5. The characters learn something about themselves and/or life

In Romance, step #3 is termed the Black Moment – when all seems lost between the hero and heroine.  Done right, the author makes the reader believe there is no way this couple will ever be together again.  All is lost.

 The Problem:

Often in Romance, the writer has not set up strong enough conflict to ensure a dramatic, all or nothing, black moment. Editors sometimes complain about the hero and heroine “skipping through the tulips” instead of emotionally battling each other.  Notice I said emotionally battling, not bickering.  Big difference.

Conflict is the key. The most engaging books take the reader on a rollercoaster ride through emotion and drama, forcing their characters to walk through hell before finding and accepting the gift of happily-ever-after.  Without solid conflict for both of the characters (hero and heroine) this cannot be achieved.

What Makes a Good Black Moment?

One ingredient cannot be overlooked when creating the characters for a romance.  There must be a relationship barrier.  The RB is what keeps the character from moving closer to their love interest.  It isn’t something external that prevents the couple from physically getting together.  No, the RB is internal and should keep this particular character from engaging in a love relationship with ANY other person.  For the purposes of our Romance books, the RB prevents our hunky hero or spunky heroine from crossing over the border of physical lust into true love.

 No Wimpy Characters

We don’t write about wimpy characters in Romance.  We like to read about people willing to overcome their shortcomings in order to attain the love of their life.  When our characters are hit with the black moment – that moment when their worst fears are fully recognized – they do something many people forget to do these days—they GROW.  They may not do that immediately in the book—the author may torture the reader with the possibility of the whole relationship falling through—but we sense that change is coming.  It keeps us turning the pages.

 The Goal of the Black Moment

…is to magnify the relationship barrier along with the character’s major personality flaw when the plot forces the character to face their worst fear…to either change or lose out.

Yes, the characters have an epiphany and realize they must change or give up, or let go of that long-held baggage that has been holding them back in life. The hero is the catalyst that gives the heroine the courage to let go and try for a better future, and vice versa. Each wants to change in order to experience true love.

The HEA – Ah

When everything falls into place in a Romance book, the reader closes the cover with a sigh and a solid sense of “all is right with the world.” The characters we’ve invested in for however many pages, are giving themselves permission to crawl out of the chains of the black moment and FINALLY fall in love.

Question for readers:  What is your favorite part about the Romance genre?

Ooh great question Lynne, looking forward to some great answers.

You can find Lynne online at her website and on Facebook.

Lynne’s latest release is Courting His Favourite Nurse:

Blurb

 Anne Grady knew better than anyone that love was complicated. When she’d left her hometown, she thought she was leaving her past heartbreak behind for good, as well. But practically the moment she returned to care for her injured parents, she stumbled headlong into their confidant—her first love, Jack Lightfoot.

 Jack had been unable to deny his feelings for Annie when he was a teenager dating her best friend, and he certainly couldn’t muffle the spark twisting between them now—even if memories of the past kept threatening to push them apart. This time Jack wasn’t going to let history repeat itself—he was going to show Annie that the two of them were meant to be much more than best friends!

You can purchase Courting His Favourite Nurse from Harlequin, Amazon, Book Depository and other good bookshops!

Two exciting things!

Number One – There’s a JILTED giveaway happening right now on Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jilted by Rachael Johns

Jilted

by Rachael Johns

Giveaway ends May 15, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Number Two – I’m signed up for the Australian Romance Readers Association book signing event on the 17th of August on the Gold Coast. More details and the full list of signing authors can be found here.

The Children Of The Titanic

One historical event that has been retold through story and film for a long time is the sinking of the RMS Titanic, 100 years ago today – you’d have to have been living in a bubble this past week to have avoided all the hype about the anniversary. My good writing buddy Veronica Scott has recently published a story, from which she took her inspiration from the Titanic and she’s going to talk to us a bit about this today.

Here’s the blurb for WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM – it sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to read my copy!

A reimagining of the Titanic disaster set in the far future among the stars…

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

Now over to Veronica to share a bit about why she included children in her story. Welcome Veronica…

There are so many individual true stories connected to the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago, most very tragic, a small number with happy endings. Particularly heart rending is the long list of children who perished, despite the well known fact that it was “women and children first” on the lifeboats. There were 112 children on board Titanic when she sailed and of that number, half survived and half did not. In First Class, six survived and one little girl perished (more on her in a minute). All 25 Second Class children survived and 25 of the 80 Third Class children survived.

  I can’t even imagine being a mother standing on the deck of the Titanic that freezing night, trying to decide what’s best for my children, can you? Get in a lifeboat? Stay on board the big ship (which must have seemed safer for at least a while, as the lifeboats were launched)?

 The youngest passenger on board was nine week old Milvina Dean. Although she obviously didn’t have her own memories of the sinking, her mother and brother shared their stories with her many times as she grew up. Lowered to the lifeboat in a canvas mail sack, she was one of the lucky steerage children who did survive, although her father sadly did not. She was the last survivor of the Titanic disaster to die, at age 97. Her brother, who also survived the sinking, passed away at the age of 80, on the anniversary of the day the Titanic struck the ice berg.

 My grandfather said he had a distant relative on Titanic who was a Second Class passenger, got off in a lifeboat and saved the life of a steerage baby that was placed in her arms as the boat lowered away. (Not Ms. Dean!) This relative kept the baby warm through the freezing night and even made plans to adopt the child until the mother, who also survived, located them on board the Carpathia. So that was a happy ending for one mother and child!

 Poor two year old little Lorraine Allison in First Class and her entire family except for her baby brother went down with the ship. The family’s nurse had taken the baby, who was her responsibility, and boarded a lifeboat early on, unbeknownst to the parents. It’s well documented that Mrs. Allison refused to leave the Titanic until the baby was located. Apparently no one knows why the nurse took the baby and left the ship without telling the parents but the outcome was certainly tragic, even if the young boy survived.

 As for the Steerage children, the crew did put out a call for Third Class women and children to come on deck and get into lifeboats fairly late in the sequence of events. By then there weren’t enough boats left, or enough time, to get them all safely off. Additionally, the confusion and panic must have been intense by that point, compounded by language difficulties. The Third Class passengers on Titanic hailed from many different countries including Sweden, Ireland, Finland, Argentina, Bulgaria and Lebanon.

 There were also three bellboys and one page boy on Titanic, ranging in age from about  14 to 17, who went down with the ship. Since they were crew, no one seems to have worried about trying to get them into lifeboats. The 1958 movie A Night to Remember shows them rebelliously smoking, lounging around in the salon, and waiting for orders that never came.

 When I decided to write Wreck of the Nebula Dream, my science fiction re-imagining of theTitanic, set in the far future, out among the stars, I knew I wanted to include some children. In order to portray the full scope of the tragedy my little group of struggling survivors includes Paolo, age 8, and his sister Gianna, age 3.

 Here’s a summary of the story I ended up writing:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

And here’s a short excerpt from the scene where Nick and Mara attempt to rescue the children, who are trapped in part of their cabin by tons of debris. Khevan,  a member of an order of assassins/bodyguards, has joined forces with Nick earlier:

Nick and Khevan managed to move some of the lightweight panels out of the way, only to be faced with a tangled pile of circuitry, luggage, clothes, and finally, when they dug far enough, the door to the bathroom, which had been blown inward and warped to block the entrance to the children’s room.

“Paolo, are you okay?” Mara called, as Nick and Khevan took a break to assess the best way to proceed.

“Yes.” There was a pause. “But Mommy’s not awake yet. Gianna’s frightened.”

“Well, she’s a very little girl,” Mara reminded the boy soothingly, exchanging glances with Nick and Khevan. “She’s lucky to have a big brother like you.”

“Did you- did you see my Dad anywhere?”

Mara sighed. Taking a deep breath, she answered cheerful­ly, even while making a sad faced grimace to Nick. “No, sweetheart, I didn’t find him, but I’ve got the next best thing out here- a Special Forces captain and a D’nvannae Brother. Exactly like in an adventure holo, you know? They came for you and Gianna.”

“And Mommy.” The boy’s voice wavered.

Hand to her mouth, Mara nodded. “Yes, they’re here to help your mother, too.”

Nick dusted off his hands and rolled his shoulders, wincing with pain…. “I’m going to crawl under and see if I can’t force the bedroom door to open wider. Then the kids can make their way to me or I’ll work my way back to where they are. Either way, I’ll get them out….”

Wreck of the Nebula Dream  is available from Amazon  and Barnes & Noble  NOW at a special 99 cent  price.

You can find her at my blog or on Twitter!

Author Talks

I had the HUGE pleasure of going to hear my friend Fiona Palmer speak at Ballajura Library (in WA) last Wednesday night. She drew a fabulous crowd and was an absolute delight to listen to.

(Fiona Palmer (looking MUCH more glamorous than me) on the left and me on the right)

One of the reasons (aside from catching up, which we rarely get to do) was to see how one author handles a library talk. I’ve already been asked to go to two libraries and speak, which is kind of hard to believe for me. I can’t believe people might actually want to hear me rabbit on about my books. So I decided, that this was a good excuse to see Fiona and do a little research on the promotional and business side of writing.

Fiona spoke about how she started writing – her schooling background, life experiences, etc and how they led her to write the book that had been buzzing about in her head for years. She spoke freely and honestly about how she’s grown as a writer over the last seven years and then took questions from the audience about reading, writing and the business side of publishing. She handled all this fabulously and I now feel a lot more confident about getting up and doing a similar talk myself. Fiona also gave each attendee a bookmark and was available to sign books at chat at the end of the session.

I’ve asked a couple of other writer friends how they handle such talks and here’s a couple of other things that some authors do:

* Read from their current release
* Offer a prize for one attendee
*Leave swag (booksmarks and other promo things) on each seat – sometimes cross-promotional offering friends’ promo items (eg. bookmarks) as well

I’d love to hear from both readers and other authors about their experiences with author talks and what they like to do/get out of such an event.

Readers – what would you like authors to offer if you went to hear them talk?

Authors – what do you do when you speak at a library or other community event?

Theory on Thursday with Emmie Dark

Today I have debut Superromance author Emmie Dark for Theory on Thursday and she’s talking something very relevant to both aspiring and published authors – social media! I’m hanging out to read Emmie’s debut (see blurb below) which sounds like a lot of fun. Over to you Emmie…

Social media secrets for new authors  

Hello Rachael and everyone! Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. I thought, given that Rachael and I know and interact with each other mostly through social media (Twitter and Facebook primarily) that talking a bit about social media might be a useful topic for this Theory on Thursday post!

As a debut author (my first book, a SuperRomance titled Cassie’s Grand Plan came out in March) I’ve taken a very sudden and deep dive into the publicity machine these past few weeks – which has involved a lot of social media stuff. I’ve (almost) come out the other side and I’m now a bit wiser, a bit more battered around the edges, and could quite easily sleep for a week.

But it all would have been a very different picture if I hadn’t already been reasonably social media savvy and had already put significant time and effort into my online presence before I got “the call”. I think probably I’d need to sleep for a month, instead. J

Here are the top three things I’ve learned that might be helpful to you.

1. Be prepared – long before you get “the call”

I was once given the advice as an unpublished author not to get too enthusiastic about being online because, “you don’t open a shop if you have nothing to sell”. I think there is some wisdom in that advice, especially if you are spending a disproportionate amount of time online. Making your “shop” all fancy and fabulous without any “product” in it is a waste of time.  Writing should always be your first priority!

But having made the transition from unpublished writer to published author, there were quite a few things I was glad I had already put in place. I had a Twitter account, a Facebook account and I’d already bought my domain names (although I didn’t have a website or blog actually up and running).

The main reason that it was good to have all these things in place was that I was already familiar with how to use them, not just in a technical sense, but in terms of the norms and style of interactions. As a new author there is so much to learn and do, this is one additional burden you just don’t need.

So get yourself set up, especially if being online is new to you or outside your comfort zone. You want to get as much practice in as you can because – as you know from writing – practicing is the only way to get good!

Not only that, but your editor will Google you before they offer you a contract. Seriously. Google yourself and see what comes up – is the search page filled with items you’d like your potential editor to see?

2. Be the talk show, not the ad break

Sure, once you’re published, you need to use your online presence to advertise you have a book out – let’s face it, that’s what it’s all about!

But if all you do is bang on about your book and your writing, people are going to stop listening very quickly. It’s no secret that the key to successful social media presence is interaction. You have to listen to others, reply to them, participate in conversations.

I like to think of it as “social media karma” – the more interesting and interactive you are, the more people will follow you and (as a result) help build your profile. You also have to help others on their journey – re-tweet links to blog posts, share happy news of new contracts, etc, etc, because then others will do it for you when it’s your turn.

When you’re online, you don’t have to limit your conversations only to writing and your genre – but do remember that you are online as YOU an author, not just everyday-friends-and-family YOU. If you want to analyze the plots of your favorite TV shows, that’s fine, but if you want to analyze the campaign approach of your favorite politician maybe think twice. Don’t say stuff that could be damaging or offensive.

Think of yourself as the CEO of YOU. You don’t have to play it absolutely safe – being controversial can be a useful tactic, but remember you are (or want to be) in the business of selling books. Don’t offend your customers!

3. Do what works for you

As I’ve said, practice is vital because by the time you’ve got a book on the shelves, you don’t want to be fumbling about, posting accidentally, or getting important announcements wrong. But the other vital thing that emerges from practice is that you find what works for you.

Not everyone wants to dive head-first into every kind of social media and I totally understand that.

Do you need a website and blog? Yes, probably. These are pretty much inescapable these days, and you need to commit to keeping them up-to-date and looking spiffy. If design is beyond you, get some help. It’s worth the investment in

Do you need to be on Twitter and Facebook? Well, that depends. You need to know if they’re going to work for you – if you’re going to have the time and, most importantly, the interest to keep them fresh and up-to-date. The only way to find this out is to have a go.

Personally, I find I’m much more drawn to Facebook than Twitter. I really like Twitter and it can be great fun to jump into conversations with other writers about all sorts of things (and it is seriously the fastest way to find out the news about pretty much anything in the world) but it’s just not quite my cup of tea in the way Facebook is. Perhaps it’s because I’m a visual person and I like the photos and visual aspects of Facebook compared to the interface I use for Twitter (Tweetdeck).

I’ve also recently joined Pinterest, but personally, I can see that as an exceptional way to waste time instead of getting on with things – but then we all need an occasional time-waster!

I wish you the very best of luck with your writing journeys and with finding your niche on whatever online media gets you going. Hope to see you on Twitter and/or Facebook soon!

You can find the delightful Emmie on the web at her website, blog, on Facebook and on Twitter!

Thanks Emmie – that was both fascinating and useful! I’d love to hear from readers and writers about their social media experiences! Do you have a favourite platform? What do you like to see on authors’ Facebook pages, etc…?

Blurb: Cassie’s Grand Plan

Four steps to a brand-new life

Cassie Hartman knows what she needs to do to get her life under control. First, she’ll get herself promoted. Then she’ll update her appearance. Steps three and four—marriage and family—well, those will have to wait.

Then Ronan McGuire shows up. The too-sexy, too-polished business consultant has the power to derail Cassie’s plans before she’s even really started. If he doesn’t approve her promotion, she’ll be back to square one—and that’s not an option. Cassie needs to keep her focus on that first step, no matter how much Ronan tempts her to skip ahead to the third and fourth ones….

You can purchase Cassie’s Grand Plan online at Amazon, Book Depository and Barnes and Noble.

Research for Man Drought…

Yesterday I took my three heroes-in-training (we left the big hero at home to man the shop) to our friend’s farm in Dandaragen – a small town in the wheat belt of Western Australia and about two hours car drive from where we live. Oh, that’s two hours car drive if you’re not ME and get lost and go the VERY long way around.

My gorgeous friend Peta and her “hero” Chris invited us to their farm because I’ve been hassling her with farming questions as I write MAN DROUGHT. Peta is actually in the acknowledgments of JILTED (Mira Australia, June this year if I haven’t rammed that into your head enough yet) because she generously read the draft of JILTED for me to check the farming stuff was accurate – so any mistakes, look to her, not me 🙂 Nah, not really!! Any mistakes will definitely be MINE.

Anyway… I was asking her about stubble burning last week – Gibson the hero of MAN DROUGHT is currently doing this on his property – and Peta said they were doing that this week so would I like to bring the boys up for a night for ”research.” I said YES PLEASE!

(night time stubble burning)

The boys had an absolute blast playing in the sand (they’re installing a swimming pool) with Peta and Chris’s kids and I got the chance to pick brains about things my hero Gibson might be getting up to this time of year on his Wheat Belt property.

(Our feral kids ready to go out into the paddock and watch the burning at night – note, the eyes are due to my iPhone camera, not what the kids usually look like!)

MAN DROUGHT (like JILTED) is what I’ve coined semi-rural romance. The romance is definitely the key player as opposed to some of my other favourite rural authors, where the setting is almost like an extra character. But even though this is the case, I hope that my small town setting is authentic and I strive to make this part of the books as accurate as possible.

There’s ALWAYS so much fun to be had on a farm and being out in the paddocks reminds me why I like living rural and why I’m glad my kids get to experience farming life sometimes, even if we’re not a farming family 🙂

Here’s a few more pics from our adventure:

(Daytime stubble burning)

 (Trouble throwing paddy melons into the fire!)

(His Lordship with two “Grugs” – character from one of his fave books)

The Lucky 7 Meme

Superauthor Nicola Marsh tagged me on her blog for The Lucky 7 Meme Game and I can never resist things like this, so here goes 🙂

The Lucky 7 Meme Rules

■Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
■Go to line 7
■Copy down the next 7 lines–sentences or paragraphs–and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
■Tag 7 authors
■Let them know

So here’s mine from MAN DROUGHT  my current work-in-progress, which I hope to submit soon. Like JILTED it’s semi-rural romance! I chose the seven para (short ones) option, because I didn’t want to tease you with only seven lines 🙂 Hope you enjoy…

‘Are you sleeping with her?’

Charlie’s direct question threw him and he almost lost control of the ute as he careened round the corner of a paddock. He stopped alongside a fence that really needed to be replaced and turned to his granddad. ‘No.’

‘Oh really?’ Charlie raised his eyebrows and his forehead creased in the way it always had when he’d known Gibson was lying as a child. He’d never got away with fudging the truth to Charlie.

‘It was just once,’ he admitted, discomfort forming a ball in his gut at the fact he was talking sex with is granddad.

Charlie swore and slammed his hand on the dashboard. Gibson flinched.

‘I expected more of you than that. We’re not quick, wham-bam-thank-you-mam types of men. Us Blacks treat women right.’

‘Granddad,’ Gibson spoke loudly to interrupt Charlie’s tirade. ‘She doesn’t want it again.’ And he didn’t blame her the way he’d acted. Although she’d been as hot for him as he’d been for her, he hadn’t treated her right. He should have thought things through. Maybe if he’d taken the time to woo her, taken her to a bed at least, she would have had time to come to her senses.

TAG YOUR IT:
Becca J Heath
Jackie Ashenden
Leah Ashton
Cathryn Hein
Joanne Dannon
Maisey Yates
Robyn Thomas
Fiona Lowe
Scarlet Wilson
Coleen Kwan

Whoops – forgive me, that’s WAY more than seven. I never was very good with numbers 🙂 Cannot wait to see what you ladies come up with!

A … Original AND a contest!

Hi folks

Hope you’re all having a nice relaxing Good Friday and celebrating in whichever way suits you. I like to remember the religious meaning of the Easter weekend as well as have an egg hunt with my boys on Sunday, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Today I’m blogging over at the Seven Sassy Sisters and here’s a taste of my post titled “A … Original”:

Warning: This is an HONEST post.

I’ve been having a few writing issues lately (could be cos I’ve got a lot of stressful things happening in my non-writing life but either way, it’s been tough)! Even when I do find the time to sit down at the keyboard, the minute I do in fact, a MASSIVE doubt crow lands upon my shoulder and whispers horrid things into my ear. Mostly along the lines of ”So and So Big-Name Author is funnier than you in her books, So and So Bestseller Author’s book are MUCH-more rural than yours, So and So Your Friend The Writer has so much more emotional depth to her story…”  The list goes on and on about why I’m a fraud, why I’m not good enough, why the book I’m currently writing is so bad that my publisher will take one look at it and bar me from EVER emailing her a submission again.

You can read the rest of the post here!

Also if you missed out on Louisa George’s very useful post on Theory on Thursday, be sure to check it out. Louisa only just found out she’s sold her THIRD book to M&B Medical Romance and has generously offered to give a copy of her debut book to any commenter on her post. So don’t forget to check it out and leave a comment or question 🙂

That’s about it for me this post. Enjoy Easter and keep safe if you’re on the roads.
x
Rach!

Theory on Thursday with Louisa George

 First Theory on Thursday guest for my new-look blog is debut M&B Medical author Louisa George. I met the lovely Louisa at the cocktail party (I think) at the last RWAus conference and she was as lovely in person as she is in her glamorous author pic 🙂 But even more exciting than author glamour is author wisdom, and Louisa has some very insightful info to share with us today… Thanks for coming Louisa and WELCOME! 

What do You Want from Me?
Ten things I’ve learnt from working with an editor

Hi Rachael! Thanks for inviting me here!

Back in the dark ages when I began writing and amassing rejection letters saying my
category manuscript was not what they wanted I began to ask the question, well what
the heck do they want? No-one could tell me for certain. After a year working with
the best editor in the world and doing a heap of revisions on three manuscripts, I can
tell you what they want. Or at least what I think they want from a category writer.

1. Settings
Wherever you choose to set your story the place should be aspirational- the reader
wants to step inside the heroine’s world. There isn’t a lot of space in a short book to
describe the scenery, so make your words count. My second book, Waking Up with
His Runaway Bride (release July 2012) was originally set in the midst of a raging
bush fire, my heroine’s medical practice was failing, she had no money and was
reeling from her mother’s death. Not a lot there for anyone to want to emulate!

2. Dialogue
Men speak and think differently to women and this should shine through dialogue. I
was asked for flirty and sexy conversation to counterbalance deeper emotional scenes.
We have to see why the heroine is attracted to the hero- and how they fall in love.
Playing and flirting is always a good way of getting the sizzle level higher!

3. Emotional conflict
This is the real doozy and where I kept going wrong. Emotional conflict is NOT
a tragic backstory. Emotional conflict is how the tragic backstory has influenced
a character’s life/thoughts etc. What emotional armour do they use to protect
themselves from hurt? And how is that armour chipped away?

4. Highs as wells as lows
This is a romance, a love affair…there has to be moments of positivity. The reader
doesn’t want to be thrown into a deep depression. If there are fast-paced emotionally
charged scenes, we need slower paced scenes too.

5. Character driven NOT plot driven
My second partial was turned down because the plot was too complicated. There was
a disputed will, an intruder, a fraud, a dead grandmother, the loss of reputation and
cricket match fixing – all in the first four chapters of a medical romance! The plot
needs to be simple but effective, and deeply emotional.

6. A hero we all want to love
Alpha, for sure- but sensitive to a point, capable of love despite the tragedy he’s been
through. A modern day man with flaws- not downright rude or an angry victim. He
can be (emotionally or physically) scarred, yes, but healed…or on the way to being
healed.

7. Obvious signs of fighting attraction
Lots of sizzle and chemistry and lots of internal struggle to not act on the attraction!

8. Obvious signs of an emotional journey
We can’t have the hero/heroine suddenly have their internal conflicts resolved on the
last page- we have to see them changing as the story unfolds.

9. Fresh twists
This always has me in a panic! But, in a nutshell, there are no new plots – just new
characters. Your hero and heroine bring their own fresh viewpoints to old storylines.
If you draw your characters in a unique way rather than relying on stereotypes you
breathe new life into an often repeated trope.

10. Politeness and Professionalism
From you! This is a business and you need to show your willingness to learn and
grow as an author. Sometimes it’s frustrating having to wait for long turnaround
times, or deal with more revisions, but bitching about it in a public forum is not
professional.

Obviously, there’s heaps more to this so if you have any questions about the
publication journey or revisions, or…anything…then please don’t hesitate to ask!

WOW – that was very useful stuff Louisa. Thanks so much for being so honest. And all you wonderful aspiring writers out there, Louisa has generally offered to answer questions, so… ASK AWAY!!

You can find Louise at her website and on Twitter . Louisa’s debut novel is ONE MONTH TO BECOME A MUM. Check out the fabulous blurb (and to-buy links) below.

Some things in life are worth waiting for…

Jessie Price has lost her only chance at motherhood – it’s a constant
hurt, until she meets sinfully sexy single dad Dr Luke McKenzie
and his gorgeous little girl. Luke’s intoxicating kisses and his
daughter’s adoring hugs have Jessie longing for the impossible. But
she’s a temporary locum, the clock’s ticking – and there’s only a
month to make all her wishes come true…

Available on Amazon and at Mills & Boon.