Sunday, November 21, 2010

Interesting writing contest news...

And not about New Voices :)

Prior to the announcement of the New Voices Top 10, I entered Secrets & Speed Dating in the Romance Writers of Australia "High 5" competition. In this contest, you enter your first 5 pages of a novel aimed at one of the Mills & Boon category lines.

This week, I found out that my wonderful friend, Rachael Johns and the lovely Jackie Ashenden both finalled in the High 5! Awesome! Big congratulations ladies! This is a fantastic achievement as there were more than 70 entries.

But, as you may have guessed, I didn't final. I wasn't even close! 25th, to be exact :)

One of my judges adored my story (scored 100%) while the other two hated it. One even suggested it may be better suited to another publisher :)

So, this has confirmed something for me that I kind of already knew. And that is:

  • Everyone who finals in a writing contest thoroughly deserves it. Their writing must be of a very high standard and really draw in readers in order to shine amongst so many entries.
  • But - not finalling does not mean your entry is not also fantastic. Judging is such a subjective thing. Some judges mark harder than others. Some judges will think your heroine is neurotic and unlikeable :) :)
It is always a little kick in the guts when you don't do as well as you'd like in a writing contest. But just because you don't final in one contest, doesn't mean you won't do well in another. If you don't believe me, please refer to Secrets & Speed Dating :)

Anyway - I must get back to writing madly - my deadline is fast approaching!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winner - Mills & Boon New Voices 2010

Even writing this blog post title is surreal. How did this happen again?

I won't write much now... still too tired, too shocked, too euphoric and too terrified (ohmygod what if the rest of the book is rubbish and they decide not to publish it!) to even attempt it.

But I did want to say a huge big massive THANK YOU to everyone who entered the competition. There were so many talented writers who entered - Heidi, Lindsay and Carrie from the top 4 included, but also all the lovely ladies who read this blog - and without you there would have been no New Voices.

Thank you also to everyone who took the time to read my entry, to comment and to vote. You have quite literally made my dream come true. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Voting time again!

I am a funny combination of excited, relieved and very very scared at the moment - because my New Voices Pivotal Moment is up!

Please have a read, and if (as always) you liked it, I would love your vote!

As with Chapter Two, this scene didn't come easily. I had started writing my pivotal moment (about 1500 words), and when I made the top 4, my lovely mentors asked what I planned to write for the PM. So I told them.

The didn't think this was a good idea. Basically (they didn't say this!) I'd chickened out - I'd chosen a significant moment, but not THE pivotal moment in the book. The scene they suggested I wrote happens much later in the novel, and was much scarier to write.

So, I threw out what I had (ie filed away carefully for use later) and started afresh. I had less than 48 hours to get this new scene to my mentors for feedback, so it was a slightly frantic time. Once again, having to go to work was Very Annoying :)

After some excellent feedback from my mentors, I made more changes over the weekend, and subbed on Monday.

This scene was by far the most emotional one I've written, and I seriously hope that I've done the moment justice.

But regardless of what happens next, I am beyond thrilled to have made it this far, and I know I've done the absolutely best I could. Which, I guess, is all I could do!

Thank you all for your support throughout the competition - you are all totally and completely awesome :)

PS And a special thank you to Lacey Devlin - button maker extraordinaire! -->

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Four!


Uh. Yeah. Am most definitely still in shock :)

Thank you SO much everyone who voted for me, and has supported me so far in this competition. It means the world to me.

And big commiserations to the other six. I thought all the other nine entries were of an incredibly high standard, and had no idea who would make the Top 4. It must have been so so close. 

A special thank you to Rachael Johns, who called me with the fabulous news. I was at a family dinner so was forced to suspend my obsessive email/New Voices web site checking frenzy. Was a lovely way to find out!

Now, off to get this pivotal moment sorted!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My RWA Interview (or, I'm famous!)

I'm not sure how I managed it, but I forgot to mention that I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Sandie Hudson from Romance Writers of Australia (an incredible organisation!) earlier this week. About my New Voices experience, of course :)

You can read the interview here: Author Spotlight: Leah Ashton.

By the way - if you haven't read the Top 10's second chapters yet, you don't have much time - the Top 4 are announced on Monday! Of course, if you like my chapter: Secrets & Speed Dating - I would LOVE you to vote for me :)

(Hey, how subtle was that!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Second chapter voting has begun!!!

This is terrifying. My second chapter is right here: Secrets & Speed Dating, for anyone to read and comment about. It was scary enough posting chapter one, but this - this is something else.

I'd like to tell you how I was quietly determined to do my best this last week, and methodically worked my way through the chapter. Very calm, very controlled.

Of course, that would be a massive lie. I want this so badly and I got SO frustrated with myself that I couldn't get the chapter right first time.

On the plus side, I learnt I can write a lot when I set my mind to it. Here was my week:
  • Monday - submit Chapter Two draft to Team Jessica
  • Tuesday - get feedback
  • Wednesday - totally misinterpreting feedback, come up with an idea to address the areas of weakness.
  • Wednesday night - Team Jessica politely tells me that my idea sucks
  • Wednesday-Friday - Write almost totally new chapter, convinced that draft was awful
  • Friday - CPs tell me (very nicely) that there are some problems with my new chapter, and ask what happened to that good stuff from the draft?
  • Saturday - Take all the good bits of the draft and the new chapter, and create new chapter. Get some excellent feedback from Team Jessica and my amazing CPs.
  • Sunday - Make final tweaks and polish polish polish! 
Throughout all of this my incredible CPs kept me going with phone calls and emails (and one very timely calming cup of tea :) ), and my lovely partner even brought me cups of coffee without being asked :) I also managed to squeeze my full time job in somewhere, too.

I would love it if you could read my chapter, and if you like it, it would be super awesome if you voted for me :) To vote you need to register and log in, and you can only vote once.

Ohh - and did you see the very lovely button Lacey Devlin made for me (on the right)? How nice is she?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Voices - 1 week on

I thought some of you may be interested in my New Voices journey so far.

I'm on Team Jessica - so my mentors are Jessica Hart and Meg Lewis. I feel so incredibly lucky to have these women helping me. Even if I go no further, making it to the Top 10 has been worth it for the experience of working with Jessica and Meg.

After the initial euphoria of receiving my Top 10 email, I received my feedback on my chapter about a day later. As all I had written was the first chapter (the perils of entering something brand new), I then asked lots of questions as I wanted to make sure my h/h conflicts were strong enough, and that my plan for the external plot was on the right track. As it turned out (not surprisingly) both my conflicts and plot needed some tweaking, and I've got no doubt that my story is stronger thanks to Team Jessica brainstorming!

I've finished Chapter Two, but it will need some further revisions following Meg and Jessica's feedback.

So far I've found this past week pretty overwhelming. This opportunity it SO incredibly huge that it is scary to think what I'm throwing away if I screw this chapter up :(

But - I wouldn't swap it for anything in the world :) All I can do is my best, I suppose!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I made the New Voices Top 10!!!!!!!!

I went to bed last night - at 2am (thank you jetlag) a little disappointed that I hadn't received an email, and therefore sure I'd not made it into the next round of New Voices.

And then I wake up this morning to the fabulous subject line: You are through to the New Voices Top Ten!!

I didn't even read the email, just ran to my fiance (who was having a shower) and told him, while shaking :) Then ran back to get the laptop, and read the email to him (hands still shaking).

My mentoring team is Jessica Hart and Meg Lewis. I feel so incredibly fortunate!

Now, I just need to start Chapter Two...

Well done to everyone who entered - so many of you are super talented and I was surprised not to see your names in the Top 10. Please still submit your partials!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I just discovered something mildly terrifying (New Voices related)


Heidi Rice's blog that says the New Voices top 10 have been chosen

The Top 10 will be announced on Monday. For some reason I had thought the announcement was on Wednesday, not Monday. Argh! It is no longer reassuringly far off.

In other news, I'm home! My holiday is over :( I'm currently in a strange exhausted-but-can't-sleep limbo,  after arriving home this afternoon from London. That's 13 hours London -> Singapore than a stop over, then 5 hours Singapore -> Perth. It's about as pleasant as it sounds. In London it is currently 3pm, so I guess I'm experiencing my first bout of jet lag - lucky me :)

New Voices entries are, however, brilliant to read when your brain is too mushy to comprehend an actual novel - a chapter is perfect. So, back to reading (and eventually, I hope, sleeping) I go...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lacey Devlin rocks!

The lovely Lacey has put me on her New Voices Wall of Fame! I feel very special :) I've also added her you-beaut New Voices badge to my blog -->

If you haven't already, go read Lacey's first chapter - it has some fantastic, snappy dialogue and a seriously page turning ending!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Voices - entered!

Well, I did it! My entry is up: Secrets & Speed Dating.

I would love to hear what you think!

Writing at the beach in Croatia
Thank goodness that's done :) It was written over the past week, while I've been in Vela Luka, Croatia. However, it turned out to be a little frustrating to write. My first version, I liked. After writing the first 2000 words, I happily emailed it to my amazing crit partners, confident that I was on the right track. I kept on typing, and by the time I heard back from them the next day, I had a good 3500 words down. For me - Captain Slow Writer - this was super sonic speed!

Sadly, what I'd written was crap. This took me a few hours to digest, as I'd been told in the nicest possible way :) But basically I'd lost my voice, it just wasn't "me".

Where had I gone wrong? I think the problem was I was trying to write what I thought Mills & Boon wanted. I think I figured that with the changes from Sweet/Romance to Cherish and Riva, that I was more a Cherish writer, so I need something a bit gentler than my normal style. Clearly, this was a stupid mistake - I'm not capable of this style, and my chapter featured a neurotic, unlikeable heroine and a plot that was going nowhere.

So, I started again. I was able to salvage much of the first scene, but the rest - thrown out. Almost 3000 words! And only three days to go before the deadline!

But, I managed it. I know it isn't perfect, but it's me. It is in my voice. So if it crashes and burns in the competition, and least I've got that.

At the beach with my own hero :)
Due to lack of consistent Internet (I need to buy it in 24 hour blocks) I've been lurking a bit on the New Voices web site, but there are some very impressive entries there. Including the work of some of my favourite bloggers! Here are their excellent entries:

Sorry if I've missed anyone!

Also, I must mention how sad I was to lose all of my (possibly overused) italics when I pasted in my entry. Poor italics :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Real life romance (and New Voices)

Sorry to have been so absent - I will write a long, detailed, many-pictured blog post soon that covers my fabulous time at the Romance Writers of Australia conference.

But I DO have a good excuse. On arriving home from Sydney I immediately launched into last minute panicking (and packing) prior to leaving on a one month holiday to the UK and Croatia. Getting everything sorted at work, and the house half-decent for our house sitter, took up a stupid amount of time.

And then... on the Saturday afternoon before we left (our flight was 1am Sunday), my boyfriend and I took our dogs down to the park for a walk. We read the paper, ate fish and chips, and the dogs ran around in circles. Then I look up - and my boyfriend is on his knee, with the most incredible ring (box upside down). I cried for about a minute, so he had to ask me again... but of course I said yes.

It was at the park where we first met 3.5 years ago. He'd intended to ask me in Croatia, but thought that I'd want to be able to share it with my family and friends before we left. Plus he wanted the dogs to be there.

So I'm feeling incredibly happy, and incredibly lucky.

The last week has been a bit of a blur, can't quite believe I've been in London more than a week! But my visit to London turned out to be very timely, as I was able to attend one of the New Voices workshops. It was this afternoon in East Sheen, which is absolutely nowhere near where I'm staying with my sisters. So I was super brave and battled the tube strikes to take a combination of buses and the overland train to actually get to the library - and even be on time!

The editors gave a great overview of how to write for Mills & Boon, and I even got to take home some books - yay! It was great motivation to sit down and get my new chapter together and enter New Voices, which I'll do over the next week or so.

I've been very absent from blogland the past 10 days, I can't wait to read everyone's entries - it looks like competition will be fierce!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

And so it turns out...

... I'm sensitive to pseudoephedrine. Unfortunately I learnt this at about 3.30am this morning when still totally wide awake - and I never have trouble sleeping - I read the fine text on my over the counter cold and flu tablets. And there it was: sleeplessness may also occur in individuals sensitive to pseudoephedrine. That must be me.

So, when my conference roomie's alarm went off I was still wide awake. I didn't sleep all night! Excellent start to the conference!!!

I felt scarily fine, so went to the first half of Deb Dixon's workshop. It was brilliant, but i need to get some sleep so I can still go to the cocktail party tonight. Housekeeping is finishing cleaning our room now, and then I'm going to have a nap.

I'm writing this on my iPhone so apologies if it makes little sense.

Right. Sleep time!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Good news, conference countdown and costumes!

Linley (on right) and I at Sydney 2007
This time next week I'll be at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Sydney. I absolutely adore the RWA conferences, and am very excited. This will be my fourth conference, and one of my favourite parts of each conference is the Harlequin Cocktail Party, which is on the Friday night. Each year I've had great fun coming up with a costume, urged on by my costume queen room mate, Linley Maroney. At my first conference in 2007, the cocktail party theme was Venetian Carnivale.  My costume involved a $29 wedding dress (bargain of the century), a brocade doona cover, some ribbon, lace and my fabulous mum's sewing skills. Linley's dress was absolutely spectacular, as you can see!

Paula Roe and I in 2008
In 2008 we were in Melbourne, and for the One Enchanted Century theme (for 100 years of Mills & Boon) I made a dress that consisted of laminated Mills & Boon covers, both present day and very old. I loved how it turned out, and I even won a prize :) (books, yay!). The photo is of me and Paula Roe (with her fabulous mermaid costume).

Last year the theme was Arabian Nights. I had a costume made while I was in Vietnam a few months earlier, so went in an I Dream of Jeannie costume. The photo (below) is of me and Paula, again - believe it or not! The photo is of Saddam and I recreating the classic "climbing the man tree" romance novel cover pose :)  However, as much as I liked that costume, about half of the party-goers had the same idea. This year I'm determined to have a "different" costume, and as I type this, I'm surrounded by the finishing touches of my costume. This year the theme is "Fantasy Island", but I'll keep my costume a surprise for now ;)

And now... for the good news!

Climbing the man tree, 2009
I woke up this morning to an email from The Golden Acorn Contest coordinator. I won my category!! This was a massive shock after my 5th placing, and no request, for The Great Beginnings contest.

And... the best bit (by far), is that this Harlequin editor's feedback was just lovely, and she has requested my partial. Hurrah!!!!!! Favourite bit of feedback: "We felt there was real promise in this voice".


So I guess what I've learnt from this is that even if one editor doesn't like my manuscript enough to request it (like with the Great Beginnings), it isn't necessarily the death of the manuscript.

Which is a relief :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to earth with a THUD

In the past week I've had a rather severe writing reality check. My multi-page rejection and then the win in the First Kiss (which I'd thrown together a few days prior to the closing date) had me in a rather arrogant state of mind. Surely finalling in contests and subsequent requests was now merely a formality?

Well, as it turns out - no it's isn't :) Is started off well - I've finalled in all the contests I've entered this year until the Clendon. And then I didn't final in the Clendon.

Or get Highly Commended.
Or even Commended.
(BTW approx 25 people either finalled, were highly commended or commended)

I haven't come any less than 8th in a competition since 2007, so to not even be in the top 50% was a serious blow to my ego. It hurt. I also seriously regretted my Clendon posts - I mean, now blogland knows I failed! I suck, and my book sucks.

Fortunately, I got over that sookiness pretty quickly (thank you to my writing friends who dealt with my sookfest).

Then I found out my placing in a contest (that hasn't been formally announced yet). I didn't place - but that wasn't the problem. I didn't get a request :( So, this new book that has finalled in everything it's entered (okay, 3 contests, but "everything" sounds more impressive!) isn't worthy of even a request for a partial. Ouch.

But - I have a new plan:
  1. FINALLY finish partial and submit (I do have a request for it from the FK comp -I'll need to do a considerable re-write)
  2. Start something new and enter Romance Is Not Dead
Romance Is Not Dead terrifies me. I am a softie at the best of times, and potential public humiliation does not appeal. But - it will push me to write something new, and gives me a reward for finishing that damn partial.

With my new Humble Leah hat on, I don't expect to even final - I have no doubt that the competition will be huge and of a very high quality.

But still - worth a shot, right?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

No final :(

I found out tonight that the finalists of the Clendon have been contacted, and as I haven't been contacted, I mustn't be a finalist :(

Oh well. I will need to re-write Book 1, one day, so it will get its chance to shine.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


No, I'm not waiting on a sub, but the announcements of finalists for the RWNZ Clendon Award. I wasn't going to even mention I'd entered, let alone that I've been desperately checking my email for the past week, just in case I jinxed things. But really, that's just dumb :) And the next best thing to knowing the finalists of the Clendon, is to talk about the Clendon :)

This year is the first time I entered, and in typical me style, entering it became a comedy of errors. I got the dates wrong, and so I had to post the manuscript on a Friday to ensure it arrived in time in New Zealand. So I woke up bright and early on Friday morning, and headed off to an Officeworks near my work that would be able to print two copies of my MS. I'd still get to work on time, easily.

I'm driving along, and notice a strange burning smell. But it comes and go, so I ignore it. I also notice that I seem to be gripping the steering wheel rather hard, as the car veers to the left, otherwise.

I ignore this, too.

Finally, when turning a tight corner, understanding dawns. I pull over to a very convenient church car park, and confirm the news - I have a (very) flat tyre. I am mechanically useless, so call my boyfriend (out on a bike ride and away from his phone), and then my dad. Dad is on his way to work and not far away, so comes and promptly saves me. Temporary spare in place, I go to Officeworks (complete with grease smear on my face that I notice after I get back into my car with printed manuscripts), and eventually get to work very late.

I need to get my tyre replaced as the temporary spare is not suitable for my drive home, so my lunch break is spent very impatiently waiting for a $350 tyre to be fitted (that was a horrifying discovery - who knew "sports" tyres cost so much?) and then zipping off to the post office to post my entry. Except the post office isn't where it used to be.

So I drive to another post office (fortunately this one is still in existence) and my entry is finally - finally! - on its way.

And here we are four months later. Desperately checking my email.

The reason I so hope that I final in this competition, is because it's my rejected book. I entered prior to my R, and I would love for it to have a last hurrah. Because it was rejected, I know it's probably silly to hope it finals - obviously the reasons it was rejected are very real.

But still, it's nice to hope that my first book - which will always be special to me - may get its chance to shine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

eReader, eReader, eReader!

I have wanted an eReader FOREVER. Even more so since I borrowed a friend's earlier this year, but unfortunately there are very few (ie zero) available for sale in Australia. But just recently Borders and Angus & Robertson have started to sell the Kobo eReaders. I saw one on the weekend, and at $199 I can't resist...  I'll be able to read my own MS on it! And friend's MSs. Yay! And of course, actual published eBooks :) I'm particularly keen to read the new Carina Press releases.

I've watched some online reviews of the Kobo, and while it isn't perfect, it seems to be all I need.

So, I ordered one today. Now I just have to wait for it to arrive as patiently as I can manage.

Do you have an eReader? Is the Kobo a decent eReader? Any eBooks shops you can recommend when it arrives? (Woohoo!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Great beginnings...

Hello from Sarawak, Malaysia! My work trip is going very well (and I bought so many clothes and shoes in KL!), but I'm looking forward to getting home. I fly to Singapore tomorrow, only for two nights, but will have time on Thursday night after work for some last minute shopping. And to think I'm not really a big shopper!

The best thing about being on a busy work trip, and the frantic panic that immediately precedes it, is that you forget about stuff that would otherwise be super important. Like guess-timating when the finalists for a writing competition that you desperately want to do well in will be announced.

Consequently I innocently checked my email a few days ago, and there it was: An email telling me I'm a finalist in the RWNZ Great Beginnings contest! I can't believe it - especially after the luke warm feedback I received from the Golden Acorn (it's the same chapter that was judged). There were 54 entries this year, so I'm feeling particularly thrilled. Congratulations to the other finalists - Diana Holmes (x2!), Sandii Manning, Judith Nolan, Rebecca Skrabl and Suzanne Webb.

Based on the feedback from both contests, I've revised my chapter and synopsis and today hit send on both of my entries. So now I get to sit back and try hard not to think about it! I've been doing some serious second guessing and have had moments of OMG IT IS CRAP, but it's done now, so all I can do is wait :)

Anyway. I feel like all my posts are terribly self absorbed bragfests... but I can't help it! I need to tell someone other than my boyfriend :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hello from Kuala Lumpur

I'm currently in KL for work, I have the most amazing view from my hotel room window - see!

I received some good news last week, I finalled in the Golden Acorn contest, my first US contest. Unfortunately the thrill of finalling didn't last long once I read the judge's comments. One judge pretty much hated the hero, heroine and story. Another judge was just a bit "meh" about my chapter, while the third judge was very positive. I actually don't know how I finalled, given only one decent score! But, regardless, much of the feedback is useful, and I have until Monday to make changes before it is submitted to HMB in London for final judging.

Will be difficult to focus on editing when I could be out shopping this weekend! Does anyone have any shopping or eating recommendations in KL?

(I know, Bad Leah. Need to write!)

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Remember how I finalled in the RWA First Kiss Competition? Well, I'm absolutely thrilled to say that I won! Cristien Hickey came second, and Alli Withers, third.

I received the phone call yesterday from the lovely organiser, Cath Evans. I was at work at the time, so had to run out of my open plan office to be quietly excited in the hallway :)

And, in even more exciting news, the HMB Editor who judged the fnalists has requested my partial and synopsis (and Cristien's, too). I'm really excited about this, and am madly writing and polishing this weekend.

I also hadn't realised that while there were six finalists, there were only three place getters. So my assumption from my earlier post - that I'd get to collect my certificate at the RWA Conference Dinner - was seriously premature! Oh dear.

I also received some feedback from the judging editor. There was some lovely comments about my writing, but it started off with "Despite a contrived set up" - ouch! So definitely something I need to work on. I trap my hero/heroine together on an island during a cyclone, which I suspect is the contrived bit. They are both on the island for a very good reason (driven by their separate individual internal conflicts), is that enough? Or is the cyclone too convenient?

I keep thinking of my rejection letter - where coincidences and contrived situations were a big problem. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Luna at LoveCats - plus Romancing the West!

Oh wow, I can't believe it's been a month since I blogged! How did that happen?

I've had a busy month, although my word count has not shifted at all. How pathetic. I really need a kick up the bum!

Other than not writing, I spent a week in Sydney for a work conference (and managed to do a half decent conference presentation - only my second conference preso ever so really glad it went well), coming back just in time for Romancing the West. I had the most fabulous time, with some signifcant light bulb moments. I'll write a separate post about those, but for now - I'll just say that Fiona Lowe and Nikki Logan rock :)

I also had an amazing time catching up with Rachael Johns and Nikki Logan, and getting to know Janette Radevski better. Janette is absolutely lovely, and of course, I already knew that Rach and Nikki are awesome :) The photo is of Rach and I at the conference dinner.

In the last month I also submitted my lovely cat, Luna, to Cat Walk Wednesday at LoveCats Downunder. She's the featured pet this Wednesday, why don't you go meet her?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What do you think of the new M&B covers?

In Australia, HMB have changed the covers for the Sweet (Romance) lines - the line I'm targetting. Special Moments and Historicals have also been re-vamped, while the other lines remain the same.

My good friend Nikki Logan's debut romance was one of the first books with the new covers, and I think it's beautiful. The book - Lights, Camera... Kiss the Boss - is also awesome - I highly recommend it.

What I like most about the new covers, is that the paper and font has also changed. The paper is much thicker, and combined with the matt covers they just look to be of far higher quality. Also, as I'm not a fan of the clinch covers, they are far less embarrassing to carry around.

What I don't like so much, is that the author's name and the title can get a bit lost amongst the cover.

Anyway, I've noticed that Mills and Boon is running a survey, asking for reader feedback on the new covers: Cover Survey (link is at bottom left of the screen). You can win a year's subscription, so well worth taking the few minutes to respond.

What do you think? Do you like the new Aussie covers? Or do you prefer the old style?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Counting words and synopses

I've just added a couple of word count meter things to my blog - over there -->

Book 2's word count is rather pathetic - but that does include deleting a lot of Book 2 last week (but, let's be honest, I'm talking 1000s, not tens of thousands of words... I have been a bit slack).

The good news is that I do now have a synopsis for Book 2! I entered my first ever US contest, and a synopsis was needed. It's a rubbish synopsis in as far as how it is written (it's unjudged in this competition) but I'm pretty happy with the story. And amazed I managed to wrestle it down from nearly 3000 words to 1200 to meet the contest requirements :)

I still need to work with it a LOT more, and I'm sure it will evolve as the story is written, but it's so exciting to have a road map. For years I thought I was a pantser, but I failed dismally at that. Sadly while I can pants cute scenes, I certainly can't pants compelling, emotional, believable motivations and conflicts. Damn!

So plotting it is for me. For Book 1, it wasn't until I wrote the synopsis (after it had taken me nearly two years to write the first 5 chapters) that I was able to actually finish the book - and then it only took a couple of months. Knowing exactly what is coming next seems to help strangle my ever present doubt demons.

So - what are you - plotter or pantser? And is there anyone else out there who - like me - finds the dreaded synopsis actually (gasp!) helpful?

Monday, March 29, 2010


I received a most unexpected phone call this morning - my entry has finalled in the Romance Writers of Australia First Kiss Competition! I'm absolutely thrilled. The final judge is Sally Williamson at HMB.

It's the first competition I've entered with my new manuscript, and just the confidence boost I needed after tying myself in knots second guessing and doubting myself (rather than just writing!) after my R.

I'm particularly thrilled that this means I get to erase my fashion faux pas of the RWAus Awards Dinner in 2007 where I accepted my First Chapter Competition win wearing jeans (<-- there I am). I'd had no idea what a big, formal do the awards night was (*blushes*). It was my first conference... but still!

Good luck to the other finalists - Christien Hickey, Bec Sampson (TWICE!) Rebecca Skrabl and Alli Withers.

I've got a few other entries in contests floating around at the moment - since the 2007 award I'd only entered one competition (had a big break from writing), but having contest deadlines is really helping my motivation

I've had mixed results in competitions - but I figure it's a great way to get in front of editors. Have you entered competitions? Do you find them useful?

Monday, March 22, 2010

One hell of a storm!

Here are a couple of photos I took on my phone on the way home from work today. I had cycled to work, but my partner came and picked me up when I heard the extreme weather warnings on the radio. He brought the dogs so they wouldn't be frightened at home. My dog curled up in the foot rest, poor thing was terrified of the thunder - I reckon the lightening must have been right above my work, I've never heard anything so loud!

Perth isn't exactly known for these types of storms, I've never seen anything like it. Was very glad I didn't have to drive home, visibility was almost zero with the horizontal rain. We turned around twice due to flooding, although some people still drove straight through tyre deep water. We saw other cars stranded surrounded by water, so we weren't game to risk it.

To make things even more dramatic, tonight the ceiling collapsed at work! Fortunately no one was hurt, but the department is closed. I've just had to call my team to tell them all to stay home tomorrow, but I'll be in to help assess the damage and put in place our continuity plan. I'm hoping my bike is okay!

I've been looking at photos of some of the hail damage across Perth - feeling very very lucky.

Have you experienced a storm like this (or worse) before?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So much to learn...

I was reading Rach's latest blog post, and one sentence kind of freaked me out:
I've learnt that he needs a goal that would still be there if I removed the heroine from the equation.
It freaked me out, because just as I thought I was starting to get the whole GMC thing, here's something else I had no idea about. I have the same problem - my hero's goal is connected to the heroine. Sure, I could add in a bigger goal, but it would add a new thread that needs to be weaved into the book, and therefore add even more complexity. I'm not convinced the book needs it.

I'm not doing the online course that Rach is doing at the moment, so can anyone shed any light on the "hero needs a goal unrelated to the heroine" thing? What do you think about this rule? Do I ignore it at my own peril?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two firsts...

First blog post (hooray!) ... and first rejection (boo! hiss!).

This is my second attempt at a blog. My first one, years ago, was very short lived - mainly because I just wasn't at a point in my writing career (and I've decided that yes, I will consider this a career, not a hobby) where I was even close to submitting. And so had very little to talk about.

Now, I am very proud to have one finished book behind me. Another hooray! Sadly it was the book that was rejected, but after having had two days to think about it, I'm feeling quite upbeat. There are lots of good things for me to take from the experience:
  1. I actually finished writing a book. A WHOLE BOOK! 49,149 words that I wrote.
  2. The book (the full manuscript) was requested by Harlequin Mills & Boon
  3. I learnt so much writing it. I wrote the first chapter with no idea about internal conflict, or plotting, or saggy middles, or anything. At least now I know about these things, even if they (particularly internal conflict) need some work
  4. I learnt so much writing it, that I understand the reasons why the book was rejected. I had already suspected some of them (h/h spent too much time apart, using too many plot devices, heroines internal confict is not quite right)
  5. I got some fantastic feedback in my two page rejection letter, particularly about my voice. That gives me a lot of confidence.
  6. And best of all, I have a request to send my next three chapters + synopsis direct to an editor at HMB.

So all in all, this rejection is not the end of the world. Onwards and upwards!

During my six month (argh!) waiting to hear back on my full, I've been reading many many blogs that I have found incredibly helpful. But I've just been lurking - I think I had some weird idea that talking too much about my writing would jinx things. Well, given not talking about my writing still ended in an R, I've decided to leap into the wonderful romance blogging community. If you'll have me!

I have no idea how anyone will find me, but if you do - hello!

Now, off to read my notes from Laurie Schnebly Campbell's fantastic Plotting via Motivation workshop before getting back into Book 2.