Tag Archives: The Writing Life

Tips from an Industry Insider

My most recent column for the RWA is available on their blog today. I’m discussing the bane of every writer’s life, everyday marketing.

Yes, I can hear the groans across the interwebs. For most authors, marketing is a grudge job, as bad, or worse, than having to mop the floor (my personal bugbear). And what is it about dishes and laundry that ensure the sink and the clothes basket are never empty? You finish one round and have to start on the next. It’s the same with Instagram, newsletters and other forms of everyday marketing. 

Are you reaching for the wine yet?

Comparing everyday marketing to household chores might seem like a bad idea, dropping it into the hated I-don’t-have-time-for-this jobs’ jar. But it is realistic in that it is SOMETHING THAT HAS TO BE DONE, regularly if not every day. Even if you are lucky enough to have an assistant to pass it off to, it still has to be done.

You can read the rest of the article here:

Readers And Writers Get Together At StoryFest

This past weekend I travelled down the South Coast of NSW to the trio of towns hosting the first annual StoryFest literary festival: Milton, Mollymook and Ulladulla.

It was my first visit to this truly beautiful area of the state and even a drop in temperature couldn’t detract from the stunning scenery, the dolphins surfing the coastal waves next to clumsy human counterparts and the humpback whales migrating along the coast.

My husband and I made a weekend out of it, taking our doggies with us; their sheer joy at the discovery of beach sand added a warmth the weather couldn’t cool.

The organising team of StoryFest volunteers put together a fabulous program making the most of local landmarks. All the events I attended were sold out. The program was supported by local independent bookseller Harbour Bookshop in Ulladulla, local libraries and many local businesses.

The first event I attended was a fascinating conversation, Historical Inspirations, that took place at the Tallwood Eatery on Mollymook beach. The food was delicious: fish cakes, gnocchi with lamb ragu and a wickedly delicious chocolate dessert. However, it was the authors who really lit up the room.

The chat, facilitated by author Pamela Cook (The Crossroads), featured historical fiction authors Natasha Lester (The Paris Seamstress, The French Photographer) and Lauren Chater (The Lace Weaver).

The authors were generous with their advice, inside stories and insight into their writing processes. History has often written women off the page, and it is a pleasure to see these authors, and others, bring previously hidden stories to light and restoring balance to the bias inherent to history written primarily by only one gender.

The other wonderful event I attend was Unforgettable Settings. Inga Simpson led a discussion amongst Karen Viggers (The Orchardist’s Daughter), Robert Hollingworth (A Blank Canvas: Set in the Jungle of Contemporary Art) and Candice Fox (Hush, Hush) about the importance and impact of setting in fiction. My takeaway was that authenticity is found in the detail. At one stage, Inga observed that all three included birds in their books – eagles, mallards and geese respectively – to which Karen replied simply, “birds are part of the landscape.”

Festivals such as StoryFest bring readers and writers together and provide inspiration all round. My congratulations to the team of volunteers, led by author and journalist Meredith Jaffe, who took on the mammoth task of starting an event from scratch. Long may they prosper.

Our Five Favourite Summer Reads

I read many fabulous books this quarter, but my five favourites are:

 DILF by Amy Andrews (contemporary)

DILF‘Serious DILF alert.’ Those are the words that warn Stefanie that her younger brother’s best friend Owen has grown up and graduated as a doctor. He’s about to start work at St Bart’s General Hospital, and she had promised her brother he could stay with her until he found his own place. But… that was when she still thought he was a skinny teenager with acne rather than the hottest doctor in town. The chemistry between them is off the charts but there are a zillion reasons why having sex with Owen is a bad idea. For starters, there’s the age. Owen doesn’t see it as a problem. He’s always had a thing for Stefanie even if she didn’t notice him before. Stefanie is ready to settle down and have babies. She reckons Owen still has to date a thousand nurses. Can he change her mind and get her to give them a chance, first in the present and then in the future? Written with Amy Andrew’s trademark wit and wickedly sexy encounters, this is a delicious romp that will have you alternatively laughing out loud and fanning yourself.

Down and Dirty (Men of Haven) by Rhenna Morgan (contemporary)Men of Haven

I’ve been waiting a long time for Axel’s story, ever since I met him in book 1 of Men of
Haven alongside his brother by choice Jace. Rhenna Morgan doesn’t disappoint. His love interest, rock lead singer Elizabeth is his perfect foil, bringing out all of Axel’s protective instincts and allowing him to engage more fully with the music world he loves and turned his back on as a young man. Elizabeth is scared of being overwhelmed. She’s been down that path once before. Axel, with his dark desires and ferocious intelligence is surprising hesitant when it comes to pursuing Elizabeth, needing a good push from his family. I adored this series and hope to see all the characters pop up again in future series from Ms Morgan.

Devil’s Daughter (The Ravenels) by Lisa Kleypas (Victorian)

Devil's DaughterThe Ravenels and the second generation of wallflowers just can’t seem to keep their hands off each while declaring they just won’t suit. This leads Sebastian, former wicked Lord St Vincent and now meddling Duke of Kingston, to pull strings in order to ensure his beloved daughter Phoebe gets her happily ever after second time around. Phoebe doesn’t want to like West Ravenel. He’s the boy who bullied her poor dead husband at school. But, her father likes him, her son adores him, and even her brother thinks men can change. West doesn’t think he’s good enough for Phoebe. Will all Sebastian’s meddling come to naught or will passion overcome Phoebe’s scruples long enough to allow her to seduce West? Lisa Kleypas once again delivers a witty, intelligent romance with a cast of memorable characters.

On Bended Knee (The Wicked Worthingtons) by Celeste Bradley (Regency)On Bended Knee

I had the great good fortune to meet Celeste Bradley as part of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) book signing tour of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. She is charming with a dry sense of humour that resonates through her books. If you haven’t met the quirky Worthingtons, make a date in your diary to do so. You won’t regret it. Lysander Worthington is back from the war in Spain, carrying a terrible secret that haunts him day and night. In search of his brother, he accidentally takes on a fight with a male pig who is not to be outdone on his own territory, thus introducing himself as a patient to Gemma Oakes, doctor’s widow. Gemma feels responsible for her hamlet in Yorkshire and continues to provide medical services. She accompanied her husband to the war, knows the horrors that Lysander faced, and is determined to rescue him from himself. However, he couldn’t fall in love with a patient – that would be unethical. Except no one on her side or Lysander’s agrees. Can Lysander face the horrors of his past? Will his secrets drive Gemma away? Only by confessing, can he find out. Celeste Bradley writes with compassion, humour and an understanding of human foibles. This is a delightful, amusing and heart-warming romance.

Of Sunlight and Stardust by Christina Lee and Riley Hart (contemporary dual timeline gay romance)

Tanner Rowe is livinOf Sunlight and Stardustg in the house he bought for his dead wife because that is what she wanted of him. Cole Lachlan has been released from prison and is looking for work, finding out the hard way that no one wants to give an ex-con a chance. He’s camping on Tanner’s property when they meet. Tanner, realising Cole is down on his luck, asks him to help rebuild the burnt barn. Cole knows he is gay but makes no move on Tanner. Tanner is initially confused by his feelings for Cole but comes to understand and accept them for what they are. Their story is eerily similar to that of two boys who lived and worked on the property fifty years ago in less enlightened times that ended in tragedy with Tanner’s dead wife mirroring the role of the girl who tried to help them. As Tanner and Cole seek to uncover what happened to the boys, the relationship grows. The question is, has the town grown enough to appreciate the value Tanner and Cole can add to the community, or will prejudice and fear of Cole’s past isolate and endanger the men? Of Sunlight and Stardust is the most beautiful, sensitive and heart-warming romance I read this past year, demonstrating the range and fluidity of human sexuality that psychologists now acknowledge. Contemporary romance at its finest.

The above are all five star romance reads. If you’re looking for something different, why not see what the other members of The Writers’ Dozen have been reading?

Angella Whitton

Rae Cairns

Pamela Cook

Michelle Barraclough

Deerbourne Inn Dates

In late March, The Wild Rose Press will publish my novella contribution to The Deerbourne Inn series. Deerbourne Inn Dates is an introduction to the other fabulous authors in this series which revolves around an old inn in a small Vermont town. There’s something for everyone in this series – sweet, sexy, historical, contemporary, paranormal.

Today I’m talking to Peggy Jaeger, author of 15 romances. She is a contributing author to the Deerbourne Inn series and her book Hope’s Dream is available now.

What’s the first book you remember reading on your own as a child, or your favourite childhood read?

The first book I remember reading and that is still my favourite childhood book was THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. The best book about self-motivation and visual activation I’ve ever read – even to today!

What’s your favourite place to write?

In my attic office, overlooking my property. My third-floor attic is finished and I have a room all to myself with my desk and all my writing “stuff.” My desk overlooks the wooded property surrounding my home on all four sides so it’s peaceful and lovely to watch when the trees change color in the autumn.

What’s the most important lesson you have learned on your writing journey so far?

To not get bogged down in writing a perfect book in the first draft. I need to get the entire story that’s in my mind on the page. After I do, I go back and edit – make the dialogue richer, eliminate repetitive words, make sure the timeline and POV are correct. Too many writers spend too much valuable time getting each page perfect each day. My motto is to simply write. Put God in the details once the story is finished.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

Don’t hate me, writers, but I never am. The reason is because I’m a master plotter. Before I ever put word one of a new story on the page, I’ve already got the entire story plotted out, scene to scene so I know exactly where I’m going. It’s worked well for me through 15 books!

Writers are readers too. Please recommend a romance you recently read and enjoyed.

SHELTER IN PLACE by Nora Roberts. A very timely subject in the United States – teen shootings and the aftermath that a shooting wrecks on the survivors. Plus, there’s a hot romance within the story!

What was it that appealed to you about the Deerbourne Inn series?

When the call went out for stories set in a fictional New England town in Vermont surrounding an historical Inn and quirky town characters, I knew I had to write an addition of my own because I live in a beautiful New England town in New Hampshire (next door neighbour to Vermont) and my town is filled with quirky characters. I felt like I knew Willow Springs (the Vt. Town) like the back of my hand. Everything about it felt familiar. Simply, I couldn’t not write a story!

What was the inspiration behind Hope’s Dream?

At the time the call came through for submissions I’d been tossing a plot line for a rags to riches romance around in my head. I had the characters and the plot but not the setting. The Deerbourne Inn Series provided that. I love a rags to riches and an opposites attract romance. HOPE’S DREAM has both in the main characters. One has a secret that could make the other’s life so much better, but if the secret is revealed, the love story could change – and not for the better. I had to come up with a balance that would afford my hero and heroine both their HEA and the windfall.

Tell us about Hope’s Dream in 100 words or less.perf5.000x8.000.indd

Hope Kildaire gave up her future dreams when a car accident killed her father and left her mother an invalid. Working two jobs and caring for her mother leaves Hope little free time. When a law firm representing her paternal grandparents contacts her, Hope ignores them. The family disowned her father so she wants nothing to do with them.Lawyer Tyler Coleman’s job is to obtain Hope’s signature. Getting it is harder than planned when an unexpected attraction blossoms between them. The opportunity to have everything she desires is at Hope’s fingertips. But will it come at the expense of Tyler’s love?

Do you have an extract you can share with us?

As he started back toward the inn, his hands secured in his pockets against the night chill and his neck burrowed under his scarf, he realized he needed to tell her who he was before this went any further. He should have done it tonight, as he’d originally planned. Why he hadn’t was as clear to him as the night sky above: he was frightened once she knew the truth she’d want nothing to do with him.

Could he blame her? While he hadn’t outright lied, he hadn’t told her the truth, either. Which was worse? An intentional fabrication or a lie of omission? Both felt equally wrong right now.

Disappointment had clouded her face when he’d broken their kiss. She felt something for him. That look proved it. He could only hope once she knew who he really was and why he was in her home town, she’d be able to forgive his subterfuge.

Buy links

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