Well, what better for a blog revival than a Christmas blog! Thanks for dropping by!
I meet so many people who don’t like Christmas. I’m sure their reasons are sound to them, but I love it! It’s without a doubt my favourite time of the year where all of our family come together on the banks of the Mighty Murray river and we eat, drink and be very merry.
My husband’s family are European and celebrate on Christmas Eve so it’s like an early present to kick things off a day before the rest of the country. Our table is set with hand-stitched runners, silver cutlery, the best crockery and little crystal glasses to hold home-made seafood sauce. We then dig into crayfish and prawns, roast meats for the not seafood inclined, herring salad, potato salad, the list goes on. Omi makes strawberry punch to cool everyone down and then the kids open presents until we’re all yawning and ready for bed. The next day we do it all again at my parent’s for dinner. By Boxing Day, belts are loosened, a near fatal food coma claims the hubby and the kids sit knee deep in toys and giggles. It’s magical! What’s not to love!
As much as I absolutely adore all of the above, we’ve had a very long winter here in the Adelaide Hills and I’ve been literally craving white sand and blue water. So much so that when my kids have beach volleyball, I slip my shoes off and dip my toes in the sand at the edge of the court rather than sit with the other mums.
It’s been said a few times that water feeds creativity. If your writing is blocked, you take a shower and reenergise. You could go for a walk in the rain, on the beach, go for a swim. I like to have long hot baths and read. It’s the only time I get (almost) total relaxation. Generally I find my difficult scene unlocks itself and I usually have to keep a notepad nearby so I can jot down ideas wrapped in a towel sitting on the edge of the tub.
When I was asked to be part of this great blog hop, I started thinking, none of my books are Christmas themed. I did start one once, a Regency that begins with a stolen Christmas tree to honour a long-standing tradition in a family down on their luck. One day I’ll finish it and get it out there.
The thread a lot of my books do seem to have is the water. Mixing Business with Pleasure takes a turn to the ocean after the heroine is injured by a loan shark and needs a break from it all. The Road to Ruin is a delicious romp with pirates so there’s water there too. I have an unpublished novel set on the Gold Coast and therefore, ocean, and a rooftop swimming pool. Bath scenes in historical novels always go down a treat and She’s the One is onset with filming of The Bachelor at the holiday destination that is Port Douglas in northern Queensland.
I guess water leeches into just about everything I do. Sometimes I run the warm water a little longer when I’m washing my hands I love it that much. Maybe I was a mermaid in a past life?
So my question to you is, what is your sign? What calls to you? Is it sinking your hands in the dirt, is it playing with fire (and not in a light-everything-on-fire-kind of way, more of a winter firelight kind of way) or is it the wind howling through the trees?
Make sure you hit the rafflecopter below for entries into the blog hop comp and feel free to take a look around while you’re here!
Thanks for coming J
One click my latest contemporary romance novel here -- She's The One
It's nearly here! She's The One drops in around six days depending on where you are in the world and release day coincides with the ending of another Australian season of The Bachelorette.
I have to admit that I didn't watch this one. After Jo Jo's season in the US, I just couldn't handle another eight weeks of fakery from the guys and tears from the woman. Is it only me who would much rather watch a guy fall in love with all the women? Maybe it's the cattiness I enjoy? The bitch fights? I don't know. It could be that my husband was all done after the last season of The Bachelor or that we had loads of stuff on in the evenings lately. Life maybe just got in the way. If you're like me and you missed the season but have some downtime coming up over Christmas, then make sure you pick up your ecopy of She's The One. I'm getting great reviews that it's an easy, quick read and full of fun. Just the way you like it some days :)
Here are some links to make it easier. Please don't forget to pop back to your supplier and post a review (but ignore the ones on Amazon so far since they're for someone else's book). Even if it's just 'I loved it'. When Amazon receive 50 reviews on a book, they promote the hell out of it so that would be lovely. I'm on Goodreads too if we haven't hooked up there yet.
I have a confession to make. My name is Bronwyn, and I am in love with reality TV shows like The Bachelor, Married at first Sight and Dating Naked. (Threw that one in to see if you're awake).
Call me stupid, romantic, tell me I have no life, but the idea of love-on any stage-appeals to something inside of me that I will never switch off. Farmer Wants a Wife has had so many weddings and babies, I can't even remember the figures. Sure, some shows doom the couple from the start. They're not fair. But watching an actual love story unfold right in front of your eyes and having those awwww moments seriously affect me. I just melt into a little puddle.
Then I started thinking, what if they sceptics were right? What if it's all set up for ratings? What if a show like... The Bachelor, was actually set up from the very beginning? How would the behind the scenes go, would the other women pick up on it? Probably not if the set-upee went and did something dumb like fall for the man.
Billionaire Banjo Grahams originally signed up for The Bachelor drunk as a skunk and willing to do anything to bed Australia’s most beautiful women but when he sobers up he realises he could lose his entire fortune and more of he goes through with it. Unable to back out of an ironclad contract, he makes a deal with the network boss to rig the show, picking the lucky bachelorette ahead of time and guiding the season to meet his own ends and keep the board happy.
But Eliza Peterson has other plans for the spoilt playboy. When her father tells her she isn’t going to produce The Bachelor but appear as a one of the girls, she is livid that he is still treating her like an intern. She wants his respect, or even his notice, and plans to go along with the show with her dignity intact to prove to her father that she is worth something, not only to the network, but to him.
She begins by steering Banjo in the direction of the other hopeful women but soon finds herself drawn to a side of him she never knew he had…
Sounds like fun doesn't it!! Pre-order links will be up soon and the book drops on November 5th! Stay tuned for links and a few sneaky teasers.
I'm so excited to bring you my latest offering! This one is a contemporary and it's hot, hot, hot.
What's a girl to do when she finds herself naked except for her stilettos and backed up against a cold mirror, stuck between a rock and a very hard man?
Blurb: Alison Marcum loves her baby brother and would have done anything for him--until the day his loan sharks arrive on her doorstep and demand she pay them ten thousand dollars or else.
With no way to repay the money, and not wanting to find out what they’re capable of, Alison transforms herself from boring social worker to smoking hot model--but getting work isn’t going to be the hard part for a woman who’d promised herself never to step in front of a camera again.
Sam Mason is overseeing a jewellery advertising campaign, and after spending ten minutes in the boardroom with a nearly naked Alison, he decides he might actually enjoy the job. Strictly business, though. Sam’s been burned by a model before and no matter how attracted he is, there’s no way he’s getting involved.
As the lies begin to unravel and the loan sharks get impatient, will they both risk it all to be together or lose it all in a bid not to repeat the past?
You can meet Sam and Alison on the 5th April! The ebook will be available from Escape Publishing and where all great ebooks are sold.
So if you’re a facebook junkie like I am, you probably would have seen the negativity surrounding being traditionally published by the top 5 world publishers. There’s been posts about authors getting crappy deals where the publisher takes advantage with low royalties. There’s been other posts about self-publishing being a much better option if you want to get paid.
My first piece of advice would be to look at what you are being paid for your writing right now. How many people have read your book so far? Old-school authors who've been in the game for thirty years can bemoan the loss of gross to net royalties. Did it bother me? Not really. Anything was more than the nothing I already had. It was all about me. It was all about what I wanted and where I was at. It still is.
In this business, you, and only you, first and foremost, can decide what’s good for you. I’ve seen authors fizzle and burn out because they attempted to get their whole body through the door in the first year that they put pen to paper. Has it been done? Yes. Some newer authors decide to go the indie route almost straight away and some have reportedly made a very comfortable living. That definitely wouldn’t be the majority case though and some of it is nothing more than lies and showboating (not all though).
Most of the books I’ve read by newer indie authors from Amazon have been poorly edited and not just for line errors but for structure. The amount of repetition has almost made me cry a few times. Are my books perfect every time? No. They’re often not. But I know I have the absolute best book I possibly can because it’s gone through at least two editors, an acquisitions team, a marketing department, a copy editor, a typesetter, and maybe more. The Road to Ruin was even read by the two most senior women in the HQN Sydney office. I knew I had a good book to release into the big wide world after it had been polished to a shine. My royalty rate isn’t stellar. It never is. My publisher is a business and so is the book and department store who on-sell my novels. Everyone makes some money. You have to decide if you want more than the nothing you probably have right now. You have to decide if your 10% or 15% of the net price of the print book is enough for you. The top 5 also have immediate distribution into bricks and mortar stores. Self-pubbing means driving your own marketing. It means doing all of the steps yourself or paying someone to do it for you (but make sure you are covering costs and not paying more than you'll earn). It also means not getting to writing the next book straight away unless you’re prolific or don’t have children, a husband or a life.
If you’re happy to drive your own machine the way you want it driven, then go ahead and jump right in, good luck to you. But if you have a dream to see your book on a shelf and in the hands of your readers, then stick with it. It might take years, traditional publishing is slow and sometimes heartbreaking, but it’s the right path for me right now. You also can be what is popularly termed a ‘hybrid’ where you can be traditional, e and indie published. I have a contemporary ebook coming out in April with Escape Publishing that I’m really excited about. Just remember that if a publisher wants to see your book sales and they’re not high, you might have less chance than if you’d never self-pubbed to start.
In this day and publishing age, you get to decide. But, please, please don’t think there’s a pot of gold at the end of any of these rainbows. Every single different author and book will be received in different ways in different parts of the world. What works for one doesn’t work for all of us. Don’t be pressured into anything either. Until you’ve signed a contract, you are not bound. Once you’ve signed it, you are. Be careful. Watch for options clauses and rights returns based on sales units, not how long they get to have the book or in dollar values of sales. Try to keep your media rights like tv, movie, radio, etc. They don’t need them. You might.
Eloisa James says, this is your business. It’s not your baby. Make business decisions with your head and you might pull through. Toss the negativity and propaganda aside and do what makes you happy, not what’s going to be the quickest way to earn a buck…
You know when something happens in the universe and all your planets align to bring about a huge piece of good news you know is going to change your world and offer opportunities through doors that were previously locked? No? Damn...lol..
Well I do! My planets got together and put on a show. But what really happened was that after a bit of gentle pushing from some great writer pals, I queried one of my dream agencies and got a response so quickly, my head was almost spinning. I sent a quite frankly too frank email to Sarah Younger outlining my tumultuous, but always fun and unpredictable, publishing history and where I wanted to go in the future. She wrote back that she actually had a copy of The Road to Ruin sitting on her desk since it was in a duo with the fabulous Stephanie Laurens this last month (thank you to HQN MIRA for that!!). The upside is that she loved the book and is just as excited about my almost pirates as I am!
I used the word serendipitous. She let me.
I am so happy, proud, honoured and thrilled to announce that I have signed with Sarah Younger at The Nancy Yost agency who represent some of the biggest names in Historical Romance in the world. I am beyond excited to see where we can go together in this big wide world of publishing. Watch this space.
Something very cute happened. My eight year old's school class wanted to interview an author so they thought up some questions and gave them to me to answer. I assumed it would be super easy but then I remembered I write books about romance and there's sex in them and stuff... I wanted to post it here because it was a bit of fun :)
(Obviously this is a cliff note version of what I would have responded with had it been directed at adults)
--First a little bit about me. I have been writing for eleven years now! I write mostly what is called Historical Romance. They are love stories about a man meeting a woman and falling in love but in a time when there were no cars or tv’s or even electricity. Most houses didn’t even have running water or a toilet. Horses pulled carriages, pirates roamed the seas, the ladies wore long dresses and the men were handsome and heroic. That’s how I like to think it was. That’s the beauty of writing in a different time period, you get to make lots of stuff up because no one who is around today was there, so they can’t say it didn’t happen. It’s the beauty with writing any kind of fiction, you as the writer, get to make it all up as long as you can do it well and make people believe you.
How do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from everywhere. I might see a movie about a woman who doesn’t want to go back to her small home town because she’s frightened of something that happened there when she was a teenager. Then I think about the time period I write in and start to wonder how the hero and the heroine would handle the situation without a phone or email. Most often I get my ideas from reading lots and lots of books or I wake up at three in the morning with an idea for a character and build a story based on the kind of person he or she was.
What books? And your favourite?
I have three books published and one more on the way. Scandal’s Mistress, Behind the Courtesan and The Road to Ruin are all historical but the next one called, Mixing Business is one set in the present day, right now, in Adelaide. My favourite is always the one that was the easiest to write! Behind the Courtesan is the story that I love the most though. The characters have really strong, emotional feelings and it’s always better for the book
What’s it like being famous/author?
Haha, when I’m famous I’ll let you know! What’s it like to be an author? Amazing! I love to put my story ideas onto paper and know that people all around the world are enjoying what I’ve had to say. I also love the social aspect of hanging out with other authors and talking about writing and romance all day long. It’s loads of fun and people always have great questions to ask.
How many books have you written?
So far I’ve written around twelve books. Sometimes when we write a story it might not make it to print or ebook straight away because it needs some work or the timing isn’t right to sell it well so we sit on it for a bit and hope for a good day. Sometimes it’s just plain bad. Bad writing or a bad storyline. Think of a singer you really like. You might like five of her greatest songs and hate the next two. That’s how it’s like for my publisher. If they don’t like the book or it’s just not good enough at the time, they won’t publish it. So then I get to work on it some more and try again later.
How much time do you write each day?
I don’t write every day. I wish I could but I have to work at Foodland some days and then other days, there’s other stuff to do. I try to write at least two days a week and get around 5000 words done a day. Each one of my bigger books needs to be around 100,000 words plus editing time so it takes around six to eight months to complete.
Do you get stuck for ideas?
I never, ever get stuck for ideas on how to start a book. I usually have my two main characters sorted out and the beginnings of how they meet and then I start. I have enough ideas written down to last me more than one lifetime. I do, however, get stuck though in the middle a lot. When you have so many words and such a big story, it can be difficult to know how to keep going. I’m also what’s called a pantser. It means that I can’t sit down and write quickly a short summary of how the book is going to go from start to finish. I fly by the seat of my pants and write as it comes. It can make it very hard! When I wrote The Road to Ruin, I got to around 80,000 words and then realised that my characters were doing all the wrong things and the story wasn’t as good as it could have been so I cut out a whopping 30,000 words and threw them in the bin and started from the middle again. Sometimes we have to start again when it isn’t going smoothly. Most of the time I just wait for good ideas and then keep writing.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
The short answer is no. I wanted to be an opera singer when I was six. When I was seven, I wanted to be a teacher. When I was fifteen I didn’t know what I wanted to be at all. It wasn’t until I was twenty-two that I discovered I wanted to be an author and write books. That’s the great thing about life, we can change our minds and try different careers.
What inspired you?
To become an author? I read a book one night while I was working night shift and the story was lovely but the ending was awful. I thought to myself, I could do better than that. It turns out I couldn’t do any better. Not straight away. I had to read lots of books and take special classes and fail a lot before I could be a great writer.
Who’s your favourite author?
I don’t have a favourite. Not really. I love to read romance books written by Anna Campbell and Stephanie Laurens and Bobbi Smith but I also love to read dragon fantasy by Robin Hobb and magic stories by Raymond E Feist. Just like music though, sometimes the author will write a book I don’t enjoy but that’s okay because we all like different things. It’s why there’s so many books in the world. There’s always one to suit every person.--
Hopefully most of the kids get it :)
It's been a while since I had a good rant and there's something bugging the crap out of me lately. It's the "I want that for free" mentality. If I had a dollar for every person who has either asked for a free book or asked to borrow The Road to Ruin from me, I'd probably be able to stop buying lotto tickets.
The starving artist saying comes about for authors because to be able to write books we usually have to either not sleep or stop working full time. For me, because sleeping is one of my favourite past times, I only work part time. Which means if I don't make some money off my books, then I'm doing it for fun. And it is fun. Until the electricity bill is due or I have to register my car or buy the kids shoes. I'm not having this rant because I want more money (even though that would be nice). I'm writing it because I feel as though if you want to support me as an author, then you should buy my books and not expect to read them for a dollar.
I was on a facebook thread lately where alarmingly the maximum amount the readers want to pay for an ebook is $1.99 and for a print book, $5. Never mind that my blood, sweat and an ocean of tears went into it, never mind that someone has to pay for my editor, the copy editor, the cover creator, the hosting of all the websites, the distributors and third parties, the publishers, the bricks and mortar stores who carry it, even take-over-the-world companies like Amazon have to get paid by someone. On the same thread, someone also complained that their favourite historical author had the audacity to switch from historical to contemporary and how dare she!
She may have dared for a few reasons. Contrary to popular belief, unless you're an Indie author, we have to answer to our publisher. If they come to you and say, there's no money in historical romance because your readers are being tight (and believe me, you have the right, it's your money and you worked hard for it) but if you have a rural romance in you, we'd love to see it because that's where the money is. Then that's probably what she's going to do. Or it could be that she wants to write something fresh and new because that was the story that came to her at the time. Not a one of us can predict the market or what it will do, but you can predict my future and that of your favourite authors by buying our books and sharing the word when you enjoyed it. Share it on Facebook, post a review on Goodreads, post it on Amazon and your blog and twitter. In this digital age, some of us are really just trying to get noticed so I can keep writing the stories you want to read.
End rant. I love you guys!
So we all know first impressions are lasting impressions. We dress well for interviews and first dates and we behave appropriately when meeting the family or new friends. This is also very important when writing a novel. I don't mind if you don't blow me over with the first sentence or nail the first paragraph although it does help in the long run. What I want is those opening words to pull me into a different world. An interesting world where I really care what happens to the characters.
What a contest judge also needs is a page that looks like its ready to go to print right now. Today. I don't take points off for poor formatting but I've noticed more and more that newer authors are making mistakes that are so easily avoidable in a Word document.
--Don't manually indent paragraphs using the tab key. Use the ruler at the top of the page and drag the indent paragraph tab along to where you want it to be. Usually a centimeter and half.
--Please don't double space at the end of one sentence and the next. If you get into this habit, it's so easy to do it between words too. Quick fix is to bring up your find and replace. Tap twice on the spacebar in the find and then once on the spacebar in replace. Replace all.
--Insert page breaks at the end of a chapter. This will mean that no matter what you do in the editing process, the chapters will always stay where they're supposed to be. Always.
It seems like such a small thing but believe me when I say it is very important.
Even more important than formatting is the story itself. First rule of thumb is recheck where your story starts. When you're learning to write, nine times out of ten, you'll start in the wrong place. Most will be writing themselves into the story with details that just don't matter. Which is okay as long as you plan to erase the first few chapters. When I wrote Scandal's Mistress, I deleted the first three chapters. All of the set up and buildup. And the manuscript was so much stronger for it.
If you're writing category style romance you only have about 50,000 words to tell an entire story. This means the first 2000 are critical. By end of the first chapter and definitely by the end of the second, the reader needs to know where the story is going. We need to have a taste of the goal, motivation and conflict that we'll find through the book. If boy meets girl and they hit of off and wild sex and everything's great, you have no story. Sorry, but thems the breaks. Pick up the nearest five books to you and read the first chapters of each book. You'll very quickly see a pattern of the first meet and then something happens. If its a good happen then it should be followed by a bad happen. The push and pull between the heroine and hero should be already quite clear or at least set it up so we know something big is going to happen in the next chapter.
In the opening chapter of The Road to Ruin, I open with a virgin auction. The heroine, Daniella, sells her virginity to the highest bidder in a daring challenge to her pirate father. She hopes that her exploits will gain his attention and he'll come back to England to take her in hand. Instead of everything going to plan, she is purchased by her coachman who is actually a Marquess in disgiuse, also hoping to have a meeting with her pirate father. At the end of that first chapter we know some of their internal struggles (made completely clear in the first three chapters but I have a 100k to work with instead of 50k). We know there's going to be some serious conflict and sparks between James and Daniella. We know Daniella is in serious trouble and James just doesn't care. If I opened the story with Daniella waking up from a nice dream in her big comfy bed at her brother's house in the city, wondering what she'll wear to her downfall later that night, maybe an interaction with a maid or servant, snoozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. You'd be asleep. You'd be wondering why you picked the book up in the first place.
In the opening of Behind the Courtesan, we know the heroine is frightened of returning to her hometown and the repercussions she'll face now that she's a courtesan.
In Scandal's Mistress, we have an opera singer who can no longer sing well due to voice strain. She doesn't know what she will do until she is propositioned by a scandalous lord.
Something always happens. We always get a look into the why's and why nots. We also get a really great taste of the characters and their turmoil. By the end of the third chapter, you'll know for sure that I'm going to deliver an action packed journey with twists and turns and loads of emotion.
Before you turn in your manuscript to a publisher or even a contest, make sure you can hook the reader, make sure the pages look like the nearest book to you. Most of all, open your mind to the criticisms you are definitely going to receive. Especially mine. The page might be bleeding red but look at my comments. Really look at what I've written and suggested. I promise you won't be sorry.
PS if you want to know what qualifies me to write posts like this, check out the tab at the top that says The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.
Hopefully you've landed here because you've heard I'll be taking part in the Australian Romance Readers of Australia book signing event in Melbourne in August. I'm so excited to be taking part since this is my first multi-author signing.
If you've found the ARRA button somewhere between the pages of my website you're already in the running to win a free ticket to the event but I'll also have a couple of exclusive offers for a few lucky attendees! My first two novels Behind the Courtesan and Scandal's Mistress are only available at this stage in ebook and in print in Italian. So. I'll be bringing Behind the Courtesan on CD for one or two lucky attendees. I'll also be bringing both books printed in Italian!! So if you're fluent or you have a mother or grandmother from the old world who maybe doesn't read in English, I'll sign one each. If you indicate your interest in the comments at the bottom of this post, I might even run it as a raffle if there are a few wanting the books. I'll also have lots of other goodies on my table so make sure you come and sat hello.
If you're attending Romance Writer's of Australia conference or hanging around for Melbourne Writer's Week, I'll hopefully catch up with you there!
I'm a published author but I'm still mostly stumbling about in the dark looking for the right paths so this blog is about that, though sometimes something will give the me the shits and I'll have a bit of a rant. I'll try not to be offensive but occasionally my mouth opens without asking my brain's permission so I'll apologise in advance.