It’s been a bit of a big weekend for me. Yesterday, after having many things over the holidays upset my writing schedule, I actually managed to finish the final draft of Blood Moon – hooray! I thought I wasn’t going to get it done before the end of January. But I got some time yesterday and just went to it and now it’s all ready to send off to my Beta readers. I’m both nervous and excited to hear what they’ve got to say. So we had that to celebrate last night. But we also had something else to celebrate too.
Today is my 16th wedding anniversary. We celebrated together (just hubby and I) by going out to the movies at Gold Class last night and then today we went to the Enchanted Maze Adventure Garden with our boys. We’ve had a lovely day going on big zip lines and racing through mazes and having a ride at the tube park and just appreciating each others company in the gorgeous gardens there. It’s one of our favourite places to come with the family and today was no exception.
We had so much fun. Our feet are aching and everyone is smiling – what more can you ask for?
Well, I can answer that. I came home to see that I am a guest on AusRom Today in their fabulous Aussie Month – celebrating new and established writers of romantic fiction in Australia. It’s my anniversary and I get to talk about romance and what it means to me…how serendipitous is that? I didn’t even know it was going up today.
So, I’d love you to drop on by and leave a comment or share on whatever social media tickles your fancy on this special day. And I hope everyone else’s days were as good as this one was for me.
I am reading a lot of posts at the moment on various loops with people setting themselves goals for the year. It’s the time of the year when people do set their goals for all sorts of things, which is all very good. I think goal setting is essential to long term success, as long as you are sensible about it. Goals are a reflection of what we dream for ourselves – and if you are a creative person, you are already half way there because it is in your nature to dream.
However, the goals you make do need to be achievable to a certain extent, otherwise you are always going to fall short and fail at whatever it is you are trying. I really love this picture I found on dreamstime.com – it sums up completely how I think your goals should be set.
This being a writer’s blog, I am of course going to talk in relation to writing goals, but this is true for goal setting for any pursuit.
Goals like: I want to finish writing a novel/I want to enter a competition/I want to submit to an editor/agent are all good, reasonable goals that are all about head down bum up and personal determination. Goals like: I want to become a NYT best selling author or become a world famous author like JK Rowlings, are perhaps a little more out of your control. They still may be achievable, and certainly could/should be on your list as one of those pie in the sky kind of goals, but they shouldn’t be what makes up your list. Goals like: I want to get a perfect score/come first in that comp or have everyone love my books, are most likely not achievable as you can’t control how people are going to feel about your writing, no matter how good you get at it (case in point, this blog from NYT bestselling author, Nora Roberts).
I know when I started writing, one of my dreams was to be published and now that dream has come true after a lot of hard work and perseverence (head down, bum up). Now that dream has turned into being continuously published, having print books as well as digital and making a career of some sort out of my writing. This dream is part pie in the sky, part head down, bum up (fingers on keyboard). Pie in the sky, because some of it is beyond my direct control ( whether editors will continue to be interested in my writing and I’m writing something readers want to buy in an overcrowded market), head down bum up because I need to keep working at my writing, doing the actual writing, taking advice from my critique partners and writing groups and agent and working on that, building my author profile through social media etc etc etc. With perseverence and plenty of head down bum up, I should achieve the pie in the sky because my goal isn’t unreasonable and isn’t completely out of my control, and if traditional publishers won’t publish what I’m writing, I am educating myself about self publishing and will make certain I’m in a good position to give that the best go I can – and that is in my control. It speaks to the D.R.E.A.M picture above – I am dedicated to my writing, I am responsible about it (making sure I do it), I educate myself to improve and find out more about the industry, all of this indicates my attitude is good and I keep myself motivated to do it by being with and talking to others with similar goals and loves.
Some of the lists I’m reading about from other writers are a good mix of goals in the person’s control and a few pie in the sky ones thrown into the mix, but some are completely made out of pie in the sky – and in my experience, these last are the people who always end up giving up. I have to say I think this is because they can’t achieve any of their goals. A new writer saying they want to become a NYT bestselling author by the end of the year when they haven’t even submitted to an editor or finished their first manuscript is perhaps a goal that isn’t going to be reached. It would be like a 40 year old who had never run before saying they were going to win the 100m at the next Olympics. Very unlikely to happen unless your fairy godmother happened by and hit you with a zap of magic that gave you the legs of a champion runner half your age.
So, when goal setting, mix some sense in amongst your dreams.
I have to admit that I’m not in the mood for setting goals for the year to come right now. The last part of last year was pretty tough on the personal front and on the professional front and it’s really left me feeling drained, however, I do feel I need to give myself something to aim for. My overall goals haven’t changed – I want to write and edit up for submission a few more books and submit them and put this on repeat until I achieve my overall goal of an established, ongoing writing career – something that does seem to be a little more achievable now than it did part way through last year because I’ve recently been nominated as Best New Author on AusRom and have also made it into the finals for Best Paranormal Romance in the ARRA (Australian Romance Reading Association) awards – so people are liking what I write. Very nice to know.
So, that will continue to be my goal for this year on the writing front – at a minimum, finish writing the Dark Moon series (I’m editing up book 3, Blood Moon at the moment and have a few chapters of book 4, Ghost Moon, written) and finish writing the romantic suspense I’m working on and submit them to my agent. At a maximum I will also finish re-editing the first book in my Seer’s Blood series and resubmit that as well. Plenty to get on with, but it is achievable and working toward the ongoing goal.
How about you? What are your goals? And when setting them, remember to D.R.E.A.M big, but also dream sensible.
I love musicals – what’s not to love – dramatic stories told to music, characters breaking into song to express deep thought and emotion. And I love fairy tales – the dark ones, the Disney light ones, the reworked ones (I’ve just watched seasons 1-3 of Once Upon a Time and enjoyed the episode of The Librarians where the fairy tale book was taking over a town), the HEA ones and the ones with ambiguous endings where the hero doesn’t always win. And I love, love, love when they come together.
I was always really disappointed that I never saw the live stage production of Into The Woods. I do like a Sondheim musical – Sweeney Todd is one of my favourites. I saw it when I was at high school and the songs from it have stayed with me ever since. So, when I found out that they’d made a movie of Into The Woods, I immediately knew I had to go.
Today I went to see it with my mum and my son. Apart from being a little long for him (the live production would have had an interval to give the audience a break and come back to the second half refreshed and excited for more – when you see it in the cinema, you don’t have this and for a child, I think it can make the musical a little hard), we all really enjoyed it. It doesn’t have any of the standout songs of Sweeney Todd. ‘Prologue/Into the Woods’ is catchy, as are ‘Children Listen’, ‘Giants in the Sky’ and ‘On the Steps of the Palace’, but none of them really stick in my mind like ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’, ‘Johanna’, ‘Not while I’m around’, ‘Green Finch and Linnet Bird’, ‘Kiss Me’ and so on from Sweeney Todd. I expect people will shout me down, but when I walked out of Sweeney Todd, the music wouldn’t stop playing in my head where at the moment, I’m having trouble remembering specific tunes from Into The Wood.
However, don’t get me wrong. This lack of a memorable song for me didn’t take away from my enjoyment of it, especially because of the way they played around with the fairy stories and the consequences of the wishes that were made in the opening song. And this is why I think I am really drawn to the reworked fairy tales that are so popular at the moment – because the old stories are taken and turned on their heads so we don’t know what to expect. It makes the old, familiar stories new and exciting, taking them into the rhelm of Happy Never After, which as a romance writer, is something I can learn from.
Romance writers are supposed to always write the Happy Ever After (HEA), or at least the Happy For Now (HFN), but at the same time we have to keep the possibility of Happy Never After (HNA) in our minds – something that will most likely happen for our characters unless we do our jobs and do them well. Watching these reworked fairy tales is a way I’m finding lately that gives me inspiration to do this. I was hoping that Into the Woods would give me some inspiration today – and it definitely did.
I know they changed some of the original script – Rapunzel doesn’t die for instance (although other characters do – I’m not saying who for all those who haven’t seen it), but they do play with consequences and the fact that sometimes what we wish for doesn’t always work out the way we wanted it to – that the grass isn’t always greener. Palace life isn’t actually what Cinderella thought it would be, and marriage to a prince who has been brought up to be charming rather than sincere is certainly not the HEA she dreamed of. I loved Into the Woods because it gave all the characters their Disney HEA, but then twisted that like a Grimm tale and made the characters look beyond the final page of their stories and enter into reality (albeit with a giantess thumping around and a girl talking to and understanding birds!) And that reality was definitely not what anyone wished for or planned for or even thought they could cope with. And yet, in the end, everyone who is alive does cope and they go on – to hopefully new stories. Their simple wish at the start has been transformed into something with much deeper meaning and the two dimensionality of their lives has changed so that they are fully realised characters with more than one simple wish. They learned about the world, about themselves and their place in it and become happier within themselves as a result – which allows them to open themselves to a new, truer story.
As a writer, this is the golden egg/golden goose/golden harp triumvirate – the Goals, Motivation, Conflict resolution that brings about the only ending there could possibly be for those characters. Into The Woods is bittersweet at the end, because it does not end happily for all, but happiness is in their future and that in itself is more satisfying than the original story endings would have been. And as a writer, I can take inspiration from this to bring to my writing and make sure I am being as true to my stories and characters as possible because I am thinking about consequences and taking the story (in my head at least) beyond the HEA/HFN and thinking about the possibility of the HNA.
I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas again – this year has gone way too fast, right? One of my favourite things about Christmas time (apart from the time with family and friends, the decorations, the tree, the anticipation and celebration, the food I never eat at any other time, the making of gifts and sending of cards and the general craziness of this time of the year) is the holiday novel. And I have the perfect one for you.
My lovely and talented friend, Louise Reynolds, who I first met through Romance Writers of Australia, has a wonderful Christmas novella with the kind of delightful Australian setting she does so well. She’s here today to talk about writing it and to give us a little taste. Take it away, Louise.
A Kirribilli Christmas
It has always been a puzzle to me that people who haven’t bothered to catch up all year suddenly simply must catch up before Christmas. Similarly, family who aren’t in touch regularly throughout the year are hell-bent on squeezing into one twelve to fourteen hour period, multiple visits – and gargantuan meals – with not only their own blood relatives but those of their spouse or partner. And as many of us acquire more complicated family arrangements, this can reach almost ridiculous levels as we hurtle about the countryside trying to please everyone.
Can there be anything more fraught than the delicate negotiations about whose family will be graced with your presence this year for Christmas lunch? How do you politely extricate yourself from a meal running overtime in order to drive 100 kilometres to another home to start all over again?
In my latest release, A Kirribilli Christmas, Shelby Collins has turned her back on her upbringing in Sydney and headed for the bright lights of LA. But years later, let down by her boyfriend at Christmas, she travels home to the reunion of a very unusual family. I loved writing this coming home story not least because it was a chance to showcase a hot Australian Christmas, with not a snowflake in sight.
There was a woman in his garden.
Dan Sayers climbed down from the ladder, laid the brush on the paint tray and swiped an arm across his sweaty forehead. He picked up a rag, wiping his hands as he moved closer to the window.
She was at the bottom, where the path that wound down through the steep front garden, snaking through dense foliage and vines, met the street. In the slanting, late afternoon light her face should have been exposed, but she’d stopped, shrouded in the deep shade of the arbour, as though uncertain whether to climb the path or run.
Just like Dan had been when he’d first entered that garden as an eight year old boy: dirty, rebellious and unloved. He hadn’t known it at the time but that steep path had been the highway to a new life.
Maybe she was just resting in the shade before moving on. He couldn’t blame her. The dense humidity that had made painting such hard work cloaked the afternoon, rendering it a hushed torpor. Even the birds and insects seemed too tired to stir. His gaze shifted to the suitcase sitting in the sun and he frowned. It was one of those glossy, expensive hard-sided affairs, gleaming like oyster shell.
If she’d arrived by ferry and lugged that bag up the dozens of steps from Kirribilli wharf, she was probably exhausted. An easterly would come through later but right now Sydney wilted in the heat.
He wasn’t expecting anyone, not until tomorrow when the old house would be full of people, none of them related by blood but the best kind of family, the sort cobbled together with love. He couldn’t wait.
The clean, pungent smell of paint was overlaid by a honeyed floral scent that seemed crushed and distilled and carried on the warm afternoon air. He stepped through the French windows and onto the veranda as though drawn by the scent but in reality he knew it was curiosity.
A prickle of awareness shivered up his spine as he gazed down the garden. If it wasn’t for the defeated tilt of her head, the slightly bowed shoulders, he’d swear it was— He bit off that thought. Of course lots of people were on the move the day before Christmas, travelling to be with family and friends.
The woman straightened her shoulders and stepped forward, out into the sun. It glinted on the blonde hair which fell shimmering to her shoulders. Could he see or did he just imagine the deep breath she took, as though she were marshalling her reserves? Or maybe it was in preparation for a sigh.
Then she tilted her face upwards, looking directly at the house, and Dan swore softly.
Shelby Collins had come home.
Thanks for that, Louise. I can’t wait to read it over Christmas. You can buy ‘A Kirribilli Christmas’ here:
And you can find out more about Louise here:
I have been invited by the fabulous Jennifer St George to participate in the Meet the Character Blog Hop. You can read about her chosen character, the fabulous, sexy and mysterious Nicolo Capitini in Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon here.
Jennifer writes sexy romances set in exotic locations and is one of the rising stars of Destiny Romance.
The rules of the blog hop is that I introduce a character from a book I’m writing or is about to be released and answer the set questions about them. Then I have to tag another person to continue the hop. The character I’ve chosen is River Collins from Healer Moon, the second in the Witch Were Chronicles which started with Dark Moon.
MEET THE CHARACTER
1.) What is the name of your character?
2.) Is he fictional or a historic person?
He is fictional – although he feels completely real to me.
3.) When and where is the story set?
The story is set just a few years into our future and is set in Melbourne, Australia.
4.) What should we know about him?
River is a Werewolf who has had to suppress his true nature for most of his life when he and his twin sister (Skye Collins) were kidnapped from the Pack they were a part of by their grandparents to keep them safe from the people who had killed Skye and River’s parents. Skye is the heroine of Dark Moon, the first in the Witch-Were Chronicles, and when we meet River in that novel he is most definitely not himself. He has been drugged to help him deal with the anger of his wolf at being forcibly repressed for close to 20 years, and despite a few moments of clarity, seems to be living in a fantasy world. He has a talent for and love of gardening and spends much of his time in the garden doing beautiful landscapes.
In Blood Moon, River is off the drugs, but after years of having his wolf repressed, he finds he can’t change into anything but a half-man, half-wolf monster that is so full of rage, it wants to kill everyone, especially the woman who is meant to be his mate, the Pack’s Healer, Bronwyn Kincaid. He is fighting himself at all times and his wolf’s desire to be with his mate – which he knows can’t happen, because he is broken and dangerous. Add to this the fact that the insane Witch from Dark Moon responsible for his parents’ death is after him to use the schism in his nature to help her destroy his people and take all the magic for herself, and there is more than enough for him to be messed up about.
6.) What is the personal goal of the character?
To save his Pack and his mate and to protect Bronwyn from him and stop the mating from coming into being. He thinks the answer is to get away from them all and kill himself so that he won’t be a part of destroying them – which is more difficult than it sounds, because they are keeping him constantly under surveillance, aware that he is a target. He’d also like to find some way of killing Morrigan, the insane Witch who has made it her life’s mission to destroy the Were.
7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
It’s called Healer Moon and is the 2nd novel in the Witch-Were Chronicles, the first of which, Dark Moon, was published this year.
8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?
I am still polishing it and writing Blood Moon and Ghost Moon, the 3rd and 4th in the series, but hope that it will be ready to be submitted next year.
So, that is River’s story. And next week it will be time to hop to Sasha Cottman’s blog to find out more about her chosen character.
Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.
Five years ago, Sasha accidently enrolled in a romance writing course. Other than Pride and Prejudice she had never read a romance book before. She soon discovered that the world of historical romance allowed her to combine her love of history with the passion of romance writing.
You can find out more about Sasha at: http://www.sashacottman.com,
Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/sashacottman,
It is my pleasure to have Leesa Bow on my blog tonight. I first met Leesa on Facebook when she sold her first book, Winning the Player, with Destiny. She struck me as one of those people who are never caught without a smile, someone who is positive about life and their place in it, and in the time that I’ve come to know her, I haven’t been proved wrong. I had the pleasure of meeting her face to face at the RWA conference in Sydney this year and she is one of the loveliest people you are likely to meet – incredibly warm and very generous with her time and efforts to help all her friends and other writers. She has helped me out with a lot of promotional opportunities and it’s a pleasure to be able to give her the opportunity to meet new people here.
It seemed appropriate, with this winning attitude (and given she writes about sports stars and their need to win in their personal and professional lives) that Leesa talk to us today about what winning means to her.
Take it away, Leesa.
The term winning has always fascinated me. Winning is ingrained into our DNA and our mere existence comes from our ancestors overcoming huge obstacles to survive. People see winning in life in so many forms, not only the winning in sport, which is the central theme in the stories I like to write. From politics to horse racing, sport and celebrations, even an individual achieving a single goal, the power of success drives us to move forward.
But it isn’t just that. Often on social media I see captions of Winning with a picture of someone doing something simple. People are appreciating the smaller things in life without having to rely on an adrenaline rush for success. To me, enjoying life is about winning. I married a football player and witnessed the highs and lows of professional sports players, appreciated the success after months of intense physical work but when my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, winning took a whole different meaning.
To beat cancer is winning.
To have life is winning.
To give life is winning.
Celebrating happiness is winning.
Sharing the happiness of winning is good for the soul. Sharing creates more than one winner. People love to win and feel they matter, and that they make a difference. When we feel good about ourselves we open our hearts to love. Writing about love makes me happy so I guess writing romance makes me an absolute winner!
So let me tell you about the fun stories I write. My books are about second chance love and the sports hero whose tough exterior is weakened by love.
Winning the Player is about love catching up to you no matter how far you run. The sport theme is football and basketball. Charming the Outback is a second chance love story set in rural Australia, with a mild football theme. Jardine is book one in my cricket series. It is a young romance about first time love, and I am madly writing the sequel, Caught Out so not to leave readers disappointed.
At eighteen, Ava is sure she has found her soul mate in Jardine. Convincing their friends and family that what they have is more than just a crush, however, is an entirely different story. Jardine’s parents have his life mapped out with plans that don’t include Ava.
Their plans to get into med school and start their future together crumble when cricket sensation, Jardine, is selected to play for the Australian team and expected to spend most of the year touring internationally. Ava knows since they agreed to follow their dreams, no matter the cost, she has to let Jardine go.
Ava also discovers a new inspiration to move on with her life. But can she keep it a secret from Jardine? If he discovers the truth, everything between them could be destroyed.
Winning with my books is being able to share my stories with readers, and knowing that they enjoy them raises the successful bar. I liken it to a premiership sporting team, and the supporters getting just as much enjoyment with the added feeling of accomplishment as that of the winning team.
Thanks for reading and a big thank you to Leisl for having me!
It was a pleasure, Leesa. And thanks for telling us about what winning means to you. You can find out more about Leesa’s books at www.leesabow.com
You can buy her books at:
WINNING THE PLAYER
Amazon AUS: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00J3KF4T0
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1s02wpT
CHARMING THE OUTBACK
Amazon AUS: http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00LNSTXJW
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1rW5WGK