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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

An exciting new voice in Australian fiction! Pinch me!

Four years ago...

I was new to the world of fiction writing. An inexperienced and unpublished writer with little knowledge of critiquing, editing or the publishing process. In fact, I had little knowledge of digital publishing and I didn't even know what a CP was!
As a high school principal, I hadn't even heard of Romance Writers of Australia, however I joined and the world of the craft of writing fiction opened to me.

Now I receive emails daily from authors seeking advice from me! The journey over the past four years has been amazing, and I have learned so much about the process and the industry. It has taken me over editing hills, through deadline tunnels and into the ocean of euphoria on each release day. It has helped me establish a successful editing business where I mentor new writers in between writing my books. My clients have had success in gaining contracts and getting to publication too!

Just over four years ago I timidly asked a friend to read my first book - Winter of the Passion Flower and it was almost like handing over my first-born child. The thought of someone else reading the words I had put down made me shiver. Would they come back and say it didn't make sense? Would they say it was a story that didn't engage them? Would they laugh? I had no doubt about the structural quality of my work. It was the process of handing  over my story that concerned me. My private thoughts, my emotions and my words being read by another person.

Fast forward to today

It has been a journey and a half...I now have eighteen books available digitally and all are also available on Print-on-Demand. My first traditionally published print single title, Kakadu Sunset will be in the stores in 42 more sleeps!

I am an obsessive compulsive ranks checker and like all authors…I am delighted when someone buys my books. I have moved a long way from dreading that first feedback from a person who I eventually learned was called a ‘critique partner’ to now reading daily reviews of my books from readers all over the world. It has been a magnificent journey. I am fulfilled when readers read my work. I take the bad reviews on board along with the good.

The more experienced you become at writing, the more you learn and the easier the journey becomes. The major impediment to my writing productivity each day (aside for the evils of social networking) is that pesky inner editor who sits on my shoulder all day long and slows me down. The inner editor who makes me go back to the beginning of my book each morning and edit it from the first word before I commence writing can give me great joy, yet can be extremely frustrating. My steepest learning curve has been how to keep that voice under control and when to give me inner editor free reign.

So how is it possible to move from a solid 2000 words a day to a much greater total when a deadline looms? The answer for me is to turn off that pesky inner editor. That editor is the most time consuming part of my writing life, but also the gate keeper who ensures that the manuscripts that leave my computer to go flying through cyberspace to my editor are the best I can produce.

When the inner editor is constantly on my shoulder, my output is grammatically correct, my descriptions are detailed, my dialogue is sparkling but my productivity slows to a crawl. I become frustrated and then it isn't long before creativity flies out the window.
But, self reflection is a marvellous thing!
Instead of giving up and bemoaning this constant nagging voice, I analysed the changes I make as my inner editor talks to me each morning.

What did I find?

My chapters were stronger and the plot was a lot tighter. Dialogue had improved. Reading back over my changes, I realized that my inner editor steps in, in a timely fashion and saves me hours of work at the end. And then I am able to put my fingers to keyboard and start flying again

What does the inner editor get me to do every morning?

I read through my work with a fresh eye, as though I am a reader picking the book up for the first time.
I check my goal, motivation and conflict sheet as I read and ensure that every action, reaction and word spoken by the characters is in line with their GMC. I rewrite and strengthen as I go. As the chapters I recheck every morning increase as the book progresses, this rereading and tweaking is an excellent tool to strengthen characters. As I go along and check the content, I am on the lookout for structural problems. I search for:
  • repetitive words, cumbersome dialogue and action tags and jerky or unnatural dialogue.
  • the over use of garbage words such as ‘that’, ‘just’ and ‘really’. Generally you’ll find yourself using the first four as modifiers, trying to add emphasis to a word. Example: it was really heavy. But “really heavy” can be subjective. I might find lifting a large bag of fertiliser really heavy, but you might find two litres of milk really heavy.
  • filter words which puts a level between the action of the character and the reader’s experience. These are words that you probably use, not even realizing that you’re using, which filter the character’s perceptions/experiences instead of delivering them directly to the reader. Getting rid of some of these words can help make your writing richer. This isn't as simple as deleting words; however, it forces you to rewrite sentences. It may also force you deeper into your character’s point of view and make the reader feel what the character is experiencing
  • extra words and short words. Trimming your sentences of excess words can help tighten your writing and help it appear more polished. Look for words such as: the, a, an, of. These words are sometimes unnecessary and act as extra filler within your sentence.
By the time I go thought this process each day, when my manuscript is complete my first draft is as perfect as I can make it. And because I have become so immersed in the book through the daily editing process, it puts my head where it needs to be to create the day’s words.
Often we blame the inner editor for a lack of confidence and use it as a reason to procrastinate and not write. However, there are times when the inner editor should be listened to and can direct your writing in positive ways. It is a skill that comes with experience.
So a good lesson learned. The more you write, the more savvy you become when dealing with that pesky inner editor. Put it to good use…but keep it in its place or you will find the writing process very slow.

Coming soon (very soon!): Kakadu Sunset...the fulfilment of a lifelong dream.
Pre-order here in print or e-book... and have it in your hand on your kindle for Christmas reading

Sunday, 1 November 2015

November madness!

Over the next week, the pre Christmas silliness has hit and there are many deals up for grabs!

Are you ready to escape?  ONLY 99c!

We've got six stories to chase away the winter chill. From a boss-turned-surf-god on the Australian beach to a rugby player with a heart of gold, from a celebrity looking for escape to a hot, determined hero in New Zealand's subtropical Far North. It's all about sweet, sexy Down Under summer lovin', and it's all good. Five full-length novels, one long novella, 100% pure Christmas!

Today is RELEASE DAY for Christmas Down Under

 Six standalone books (no cliffhangers!) spanning 1,000+ pages 
· Over 95% off retail for the individual books sold separately 
· Only available through December--get your copy today!
Available now:

And there is a fabulous gift basket and a set of e-books competition ...see the entry link at the bottom!

From 1st November for one week, the  three Bliss books in my Half Moon Bay series are available for only 99c each!

Click on the covers to access the deal!

And for one day only...mark your calendar 6th November:


To celebrate the release of CHRISTMAS DOWN UNDER we're giving away a choice gift basket of Down Under gifts valued at over US$150!
Runner up prize: Massive E-Book Bundle to stuff your Kindle with!

Here’s a list of what’s in the gift basket:
New Zealand pohutukawa tote bag
Caroline Mitchell hand-beaded pohutukawa change purse
Airborne manuka& wildflower honey
Devonport Chocolates Keith the Kiwi milk & dark chocolate rugby balls
Set of 4 rimu&paua shell coasters
Pewter thimble with inset paua shell kiwis
Wild Farms manuka honey body lotion & soap in flax kete (basket)
Whittaker’s Peanut Slabs (favorite Kiwi chocolate treat)
NZ scenic calendar
Iconic NZ images notebook
Caroline Mitchell Collectibles hand-beaded kokako (forest bird) ornament
NZ birds & flowers tea towel

Here are the 18 E-Books contributed for the Runner Up prize. Valued at over $65!
Just for Fun (Escape to New Zealand Book 4) - Rosalind James
Just My Luck (Escape to New Zealand Book 5) - Rosalind James
Just Not Mine (Escape to New Zealand Book 6) - Rosalind James
Know Your Heart (Far North Book 2) - Tracey Alvarez
Ready To Burn (Due South Book 3) - Tracey Alvarez
Christmas With You (Due South Book 4) - Tracey Alvarez
Marrying Melinda - Joanne Hill
Falling for Jack - Joanne Hill
Blue Creek Bachelor - Joanne Hill
Heartlands Boxed Set (Containing Melting His Heart, Christmas Holiday Hearts, and Cowboy Wants Her Heart) - Kris Pearson
An Uncommon Sense (Sensual Healing Book 1) - Serenity Woods
Making Sense (Sensual Healing Book 2) - Serenity Woods
Talking Sense (Sensual Healing Book 3) - Serenity Woods
Hot Rock - Annie Seaton
Tangling with the CEO - Annie Seaton
Holiday Affair - Annie Seaton

  Entry Conditons.
~ First prize (Gift basket) open to US residents only. Prize is not exchangeable for cash.
~ Runner up prize of 18 e-books open internationally. Instructions will be sent by individual author to the runner-up on claiming the e-books donated by that author. Prize is not exchangeable for cash.
~ No purchase necessary to enter giveaway.
~ Only one e-mail address/person per entry. We are able to check IP addresses and entrants who enter multiple e-mail addresses will be disqualified.
~ To sign up to an author's newsletter as part of the giveaway, you must activate your subscription by clicking on the link 'yes subscribe me to this list' (or similar wording) sent to you in a confirmation e-mail, or your entry won't count.


Friday, 9 October 2015

Letting your imagination fly

Pirate worlds
A recent post on a writers' group forum got me pondering the authenticity of what we write. What gives us the knowledge to create different worlds?
How much of our lives and experiences do we imbue in our characters?
Steampunk worlds
 I am sure our life experiences, our emotional connections, the people we love, and our friends all go into the mix of our stories.
The places we have been, the settings we have seen in movies and travel brochures, and have read about in other books. I've never been on a pirate ship, met a rock star, been a carpenter or an artist, flown a helicopter, lived on an Italian island, worked on a luxury motor cruiser, been a witch librarian, worked in a Tuscan restaurant, been a massage therapist, travelled in time or invented cosmecuticals! But my characters have had these experiences.
Rock star and time travel

But I have loved and been loved.
I've fallen in love.
I've been a my wife and a mother, and a daughter and a sister.
I've been a friend.
I've experienced happiness and sadness, and frustration with the world.
I've taken risks. I've experienced the death of loved ones and I've cried for friends who have done it tough in many ways.
I've worked in a variety of careers and I've travelled much of the world.

But  most importantly as an author, I have read. I've  extended my life experiences and emotions by reading.
Across genres.
Literary works.
Women's' fiction.
The classics.

Reading has enriched my life and helped me hone my craft.

Last night I began to reread Anne of Green of the first books I ever read, many, many years ago. As well as experiencing the life of Anne Shirley again, it took me back to my childhood and let memories and feelings surface that will influence my words as I write today.

As an author letting go of the real world and putting the stories in your head into words is liberating. You are able to bring your readers into worlds that they have never experienced and with careful research, you can create authentic worlds even if you have never been there. From your life experiences, you bring the emotions and the feelings that engage your reader.

Historical and paranormal genres require deep research and a vivid imagination. To be able to create authentic past worlds requires extensive reading. To be able to create imaginary worlds such as dystopian, steampunk or paranormal settings requires wonderful flights of imagination.

My latest release is dear to my heart. We had a sea change to the coast at a similar age to my characters, Dominic and Jilly. The beach I have used is where we still live today.
Is there a ghost in the story or not? Or can all the events be explained?
I'll leave that up to you.
I have to go and create a new world!

Happy reading

Out today:
Christmas with the Boss
Amazon US:
Amazon AU:
Amazon UK: