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Bite-sized Writing News

I’ve had a couple of bits of good writing news in the last week or so.

I found out a 49-word short story I wrote was a finalist in the Perth’s Shortest Short Story 2014 competition run by the WA Writers Centre. This was my entry:

“Hurry, Mummy.” Max tugs my sleeve. I’ve promised him icecream for being so brave. Tomorrow, surgeons operate on his eye.
“Look. A monster.” Another boy points. Chocolate melts over his fingers because he’s forgotten to lick.
“Don’t want icecream anymore,” Max says.
My heart breaks as we walk away.

I didn’t win – but it didn’t matter. I liked all the short stories (6) that were named as finalists. This was the winner and runner-up:

Author: Harry Schmitz (Winner)
His slouch hat suddenly hit the sand. Puzzled, Jock picked it up. Still the Coolgardie dust ingrained on its brim. Still the briny smell of weeks at sea on the troop ship to this Turkish beach. Then he saw it: The entry and exit holes of a sniper bullet.

Author: Emily Hone (Runner up)
I once ran a hotel for ghosts, but we were shut down (the authorities cited “a lack of financial transparency”). In between all the BOO!-ing and feng shui it became frightfully difficult to settle debts, or décor. Our bar, ‘The Afterlife’, was never that popular either… God knows why.

They are fun aren’t they?

I must say how nice it was to spend half an hour on a 49-word story, rather than six months on an 80,000-word book. ;)

I’ve entered a 3000-word story in another competition, and received news this week that I’ve made “the long list”… how exciting. And are you now, like me, wondering just how long, the long list is? :)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2014 in News

 

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Guest Post: Why I write Historical Romance by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter has been a guest on my blog before, and it’s always lovely to have her back. She’s witty, fun and very informative. I always EECarter400hlearn something from EEC, and she has a new book out, Warrior’s Surrender.

So take it away Elizabeth:

Lily has asked me why I write historical romance. Well, I have a confession to make. I’m lazy.

True!

One of the most incredible genres for exploring the heights and depths of human nature is in science-fiction and fantasy and I’m too lazy to create richly detailed universes with people and language, customs and laws, so I raid history instead. Everything is done for me!

Strange customs? Check (“The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there” – The Go-Between).

The same desire to live, laugh and love? Check (“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” – Ecclesiastes 3)

In all seriousness though, Edmund Burke, the 18th century political philosopher observed “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it”. Well that’s right too.

In actuality, the past gives shape to our future. I’ve written a large number of blog posts related to Moonstone Obsession discussing how the Englightenment philosophy of the 18th century gives rise to the best (universal franchise and the abolition of slavery) and worst (Communist & Nazi pogroms) of the 20th century. Without those issues being discussed and canvassed, we would have no framework for what we consider right and wrong today.

History also provides escapism from our modern world. We can identify with the hero and heroine’s struggles without having to worry about stress of the every day world and conveniently ignore the lack of refrigeration or indoor plumbing. It’s a compromise, but one we’re happy to make for a few hours of reading pleasure.

WarriorsSurrender-ByElizabethEllenCarter-300x450-300dpiWarrior’s Surrender goes back nearly 1000 years before the present – 1077AD – and even so, medieval times are filled with events which shape our world today – the origins of modern universities and the concept of the ‘hospital’ as a place for medical treatment, the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215 which codifies limits on governmental powers.

My deepest privilege and fondest wish is that I reacquaint readers with these important times with characters they fall in love and situations they can relate to. The author who did that for me was an American writer by the name of Rebecca Brandewyne. Her novel, Rose of Rapture (1982), set just prior to the War of the Roses opened my 17-year-old eyes to the world of Plantagenet England and provided a more sympathetic portrayal of Richard III than I had been exposed to in school.

Tell me in comments below, what is your favourite historical period and what influenced your choice?

 

Warrior’s Surrender Blurb
A shared secret from their past could destroy their future…

Northumbria, 1077. In the years following William the Conqueror’s harrying of the North, Lady Alfreya of Tyrswick returns to her family home after seven years in exile. But instead of returning victorious as her dead father had promised, she returns defeated by Baron Sebastian de la Croix, the Norman who rules her lands.

To save her gravely ill brother’s life, Alfreya offers herself hostage to her enemy. As Alfreya gets to know her new husband, she finds he’s not the monster she feared, and their marriage of convenience soon becomes a bond of passion. But Sebastian is a man with a secret—one that could destroy him.

As a series of brutal murders haunt their nights, the man who betrayed Alfreya’s father returns claiming to be her betrothed. He has learned Sebastian’s secret and will use it to further his own ambition—using Sebastian’s own family—which will destroy Sebastian and mark him a traitor, and plunge an unprepared England into war with the Scots…

Warrior’s Surrender Excerpt

Sebastian regarded her. Lady Alfreya thought like a man. No, like a warrior. Reluctantly, he found himself impressed and suddenly considering her manner and appearance.

Despite her fiery temper, which she seemed to work hard to control, Earl Alfred’s daughter had grown comely, although a little on the thin side. Her figure might best be described as willowy, but her outstanding features were her hair, the color of newly harvested hay, and her bright blue eyes, which examined him with caution.

“Then what do you bring to this truce?” Sebastian finally asked.

“Our band now numbers but thirteen, all of whom are good men and loyal to my father. They accompanied us to Scotland when William the Bas—” Frey corrected herself, “…when the king harried the north.

“They are local men and without my father to lead them, all they wish now is to go home to the families they haven’t seen in four years. They will cause no further trouble; you have my word on that.”

The baron shook his head.

“Your little rebellion has gone on for months even after the death of Earl Alfred,” responded Sebastian, “and you yourself speak of their abiding loyalty to your late father. So forgive me, my lady, if I require more than just your word.”

Frey nodded. It seemed his objection was not unexpected.

“Then I offer myself as surety,” she said simply.

“A hostage,” Sebastian stated blandly.

Not an unusual offer, he thought. King Malcolm of Scotland’s eldest son, Duncan, had technically been a hostage of King William for the past two years, yet by all accounts the lad was well treated and, indeed, educated alongside William’s own sons.

So, Lady Alfreya was taking a gamble on what kind of man he was. Interesting.
Buy links:
Look for Warriors Surrender, and Elizabeth’s debut book, Moonstone Obsession at all good bookstores.

To find out more about this treasure trove of historical authors, catch up with her below:

Author links:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethEllenCarter
Web: http://eecarter.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/EECarterAuthor

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 19, 2014 in Guest Posts

 

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A Very Ninja Christmas – Come Join The Fun

save the date

It’s the Squid that got your attention isn’t it? Tell the truth. I won’t judge! Who could resist the thought of Christmas with squid!

Yes! There will be tentacles as part of our Naughty Ninja Christmas Party on Facebook on November 25.

If you don’t know about the naughty ninjas, you can visit us here… I’m Lily ‘Beanie Queen’ Malone and I’m part of the ninja madness.

In true ninja fashion we intend to do Christmas very naughty, and all kinds of wrong. We’re sneaking up on Christmas in November, because being sneaky is what ninjas do!

To join us, please visit our Facebook page on this link and click “going” and you’ll then get great reminders nearer the day.

I’ll also tell you what my special ninja prize will be for the day, and all about my competition for the party.
HINT: It involves very naughty and inappropriate Christmas carols! 

 
 

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“I Loved It From Chapter 8″

So, remember how last time on the blog I was feeling “nostalgic” and “zen”?? And, remember in the blog post before that, I was so close to finishing my fourth book, So Far Into You?
My feeling of zen lasted about a week, until my Beta readers started sending me their feedback for the book I’d just finished.
You see, I was so sure I’d wave that book into the world of Beta readers… and welcome their glowing feedback as it flooded back in lucious waves of WOW, WOW, WOW!!
Or not, as it turned out.
It wasn’t that my Beta partners didn’t like my book, they just didn’t love it. They didn’t get my hero… they didn’t particularly like him. They didn’t like the start.
Some of the comments were:

  • Gina has to go. (Gulp. Gina was the opening scene).
  • Seth is too nasty. We have to like your hero too.
  • I loved it from Chapter 8.
  • The ending is rushed.
  • The antagonist rolls over too quickly.
  • Something worse has to happen at the end.
  • I want another scene with Seth and Remy at the start.
  • We love Remy. (Everybody loves Remy).

So I cursed the world for about 24 hours, and then I re-read all the gold they’d sent me, and thought about how right they were.
So, with my very best pair of slash/hack editing scissors, I lopped off Gina’s head, and started again.
One of the hardest things I find is to get good distance from my writing. Because I know the story inside and out, and I know what my characters are feeling and why they do what they do, it gets very easy to not take readers with me… to make leaps and jumps that feel like they’re perfectly reasonable, while readers who don’t know the story are left floundering in a world of: “WTF just happened there?”
So tonight, I’ve finished this book AGAIN. Four years, three weeks and one day in gestation. I don’t know how much more of this pregnancy I can take!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 6, 2014 in Revisions

 

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The 10 Best Days Of My Life: #feelingnostalgic

I’m feeling nostalgic, and very ‘zen’ at the moment and it made me ponder the reasons behind that. I very rarely feel either ‘nostalgic’ or ‘zen’. Usually I feel like I rush through my life forgetting things I should remember, and remembering all the stuff I wish I could forget!

So the fact I’m feeling this way has made me ponder the reasons why.

Me at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Such a highlight... you can tell by my face! ;)

Me at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Such a life highlight… you can tell by my face! ;)

Nostalgia first. This weekend is the Margaret River Show. The very best night of my life happened at the Margaret River Show when I must have been 14 or 15. I remember going to the Show with a girlfriend, and riding the Ferris Wheel with the guy who was my high-school (and unrequited) crush. Spinning and whirling and thinking how wonderful it was to be spinning and whirling with him!

I woke in the small hours of last night and for some reason, I started thinking of the 10 best days/nights of my life! Why? Because that’s what I do when I’m feeling nostalgic – I make lists!

It went like this:

  1. The Margaret River Show at age 14 or 15 with the High School crush.
  2. My wedding day (you could make that my wedding week – except I didn’t like my hen’s night much)
  3. The night in hospital when I had my first baby, and it was just him and me and I had time to reflect on what had happened that day and what a marvel he was. And the day my second son was born and he opened his eyes and looked at me.
  4. The first time I saw Bridget Jones Diary at the Margaret River Cinema. I’ve still never laughed so much at any other movie.
  5. The day I walked across the bridge at Victoria Falls. (Must go back)
  6. Hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara and having champagne breakfast out on the plain.
  7. Trekking to see the gorillas in the wild in Zaire. (Maybe I should have grouped all the above into my Africa safari when I was 19. I had my 19th birthday in Tanzania and that could have made the list too).

    With a chimpanzee in Zaire, the afternoon after coming back from a trek to see gorillas in the wild. Happy times.

    With a chimpanzee in Zaire, the afternoon after coming back from a trek to see gorillas in the wild. Happy times.

  8. A friend’s wedding in the Barossa Valley (hello Maarit Linke). Hubby and I had a wonderful time at that wedding (pre-kids) and we ended up walking from Tanunda to Nuriootpa (in heels, well I did, not my husband) because we didn’t want to wait for a taxi to take us home. And because we were young and foolish and thought the 10km walk (or whatever it is) at one in the morning would be fun. (Which it was… but oh our aching feet)
  9. Singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ ba ba baaam, at the top of my lungs in a restaurant in Hahndorf while a guitarist sang & played. We had just had some incredible good news, hubby and I. It was a huge relief and we were celebrating.
  10. A trip I did to Kalbarri to fix my broken heart when I must have been about 24 or 25. I went on my own, and I remember meeting a couple of dudes who were on a fishing trip, playing pool with them (Seal’s Kiss From A Rose was all the rage) and spending time at the beach, or fishing or horse-riding. That week restored my poor battered confidence no-end.

It might be all the recent ‘gratitude’ posts on Facebook that are feeding this nostalgia too. I feel very balanced and centred in my life right now… which leads me on to the ‘zen’.

It’s almost two years since we left South Australia and returned to my roots in Western Australia. We’ve built our new house and we’ve made some wonderful new friendships, and rekindled old ones. The kids are happy in their school, and life is good.

I’ve finished my 4th book this week, So Far Into You, and it’s now out with my trusted three friends and critique partners who are reading it for me, and they’ll soon tell me what they think.

I’ve said on my blog, and I’ve told anyone who’ll listen that I’m usually incredibly impatient with my writing. Not so this time.

Normally at this stage, I’m foaming at the mouth wanting to get the darn thing “out there”… get it into the hands of publishers and have it join the massive queues of books they have in any one time in their submission pile.

Previously this impatience is one of the main reasons I’ve chosen the self-publishing route. If you choose early to self-publish, then once you’re happy with your book and beta readers have seen it and (presumably) it’s edited and polished to an inch of its life, well at that point if you want to, you can send it out to the world and let readers judge if it’s any good or not.

Not this time. I’m happy to wait.

See, feeling very zen.

Could you list the best 10 highlights in your life? I’d love to know what they’d be. Feel free to share in the comments or write your own blog. We could start our own meme! :)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2014 in News

 

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So Close To The End: Book 4

It’s been a big couple of weeks on the writing front. If everything goes to plan this weekend, I might even type the magical words: The End on my fourth completed book, by Sunday arvo.

I can’t tell you how exciting, and how relieving that is!

This is the book that I’ve often dubbed: “The Book That Will Never Be Written”. It’s actually the very first romance I ever tried to write. I submitted it too, and it was only after the rejections came in that I realised I knew nothing about writing, and it was complete and utter drivel! Sometimes a would-be author needs the hard lessons.

That crappy draft has sat around for about four years now, and between other books I’ve pulled it out, looked at it, sometimes edited a bit of it and thought: eeeeek, I can’t possibly fix that up.

But sometime during this year, I stopped trying to fix it up, and I just started re-writing. I kept all that draft, I had about 50,000 words, and if anything it served as a reminder of how far my writing has come, and gave me a loose template for a plot to follow. This time around I had a much better idea of how to get the story to unfold the way I wanted it to.

In four years, this book has had many names.

Initially, it was called Fringe Benefits.

Then it became variously HBOB2: Her Brand Of Business, and/or Her Brand Of Bargain, neither of which I particularly liked. I chose those names to tie in with my debut Escape Publishing title, His Brand Of Beautiful, because the books were very loosely linked through the wine industry setting, with a couple of other very minor characters showing up from my other books, including the journalist Jennie Gray who is in His Brand Of Beautiful, and who gets a mention in the excerpt below.

Anyway, as I was writing this excerpt (the close to Chapter 16) I had an “aha!” moment with the title, and I’ve now got a completely new title for the book that works so much better.

If you get so far as to read this small excerpt, see if you can pick what the new name might be. It’s something Seth says to Remy, and I’ll give you a clue: I haven’t called my new book “Find My Way Back With A Torch”.

Wish me luck for getting to ‘The End’ this weekend, I think you’ll hear my squuuuueeeee from wherever you might be if I make it.

Excerpt: (Lily’s Book 4)

They’re in Remy’s kitchen. Remy is cooking, and Seth says checking his phone:

 

“Ah. It’s that journalist from Channel 7. Jennie Gray. She’s been chasing us for an interview the last few days.”

Remy stopped spreading mozzarella over the second pizza. “Us?”

“She wants to come up here and take some photos of us at home and interview you.”

It hit the pit of her stomach like a lump of lead. “Interview me? The media?”

“Don’t worry, Rem. I’m putting her off.”

“Why would anyone want to interview me?” She grumbled. “You maybe, sure. But me? I’m nobody.”

“You’re not nobody, and don’t worry about it. I think she’s just looking for a different angle, and I’ve been in the papers a hundred times. Don’t worry. I’ll look after it.”

Remy sipped her champagne, glad the food wasn’t far away. She was starting to feel light-headed and that dizzy feeling wasn’t helped by thoughts of journalists and cameras.

“You know what I’ve really loved about living here?” She said.

“What?”

“I love that no one knows me. I love how anonymous I am here, especially how it was in the beginning. Do you know that in five years, I can only remember one time when I ran into someone I knew in the supermarket in Mount Barker? It’s not like living in Margaret River.”

“That might change now you’re with me.”

“Yeah. I’m kind of afraid of that.”

“Can you handle it, Rem? I mean, without freaking out. Because if it’s an issue we should probably stop right here.”

She wished her stomach didn’t give that awful lurch at the thought of stopping right here. The last thing she wanted to do was stop right here.

“Maybe stop after pizza, hey? I’m starving.” She tried for a tone that said she was good with it, she wasn’t about to fall to pieces, but her hand shook and mozzarella cheese missed the pizza base and skittered across the counter. Seth reached for her wrist, held firm enough that her gaze flicked to his.

“I don’t want to stop. I’m all in, Rem. I’m so far into you I wouldn’t know how to find my way back if you gave me a torch.”

Her arm jerked in his hand, she couldn’t help it. All of a sudden it was like the heat in his skin would burn her up. Hell and Tommy, what was she supposed to say to that?

The oven timer buzzed. So she said: “Pizza.”

Did you pick it? Let me know in the comments! Happy Weekend everybody, I’ll be writing!
 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Excerpts, News

 

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Why I’ll Stop Self-Pubbing (at least for now)

I’m lucky enough in my writing journey thus-far to have one book published with digital publisher, Escape Publishing (my debut novel His Brand Of Beautiful); and a novella (The Goodbye Ride) and a second novel (Fairway To Heaven) that I chose to self-publish.
978085799030311.jpgI’m always asked by writing friends, and reader friends about my decisions to opt for self-publishing. Mostly these have been to do with the timing of my books. For The Goodbye Ride, it was written for the June long weekend (the Queen’s Birthday long weekend) and it was ready in May. For Fairway To Heaven, it’s a summer book, written for January/February and I had it ready in December. So the decision for me was about timing. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for a publisher to appraise your book and decide if they will accept or reject or ask you to revise it, and it takes further months from any decision to accept it for publication, before it gets through the process and gets published.

And I’m impatient. Yes, there… I’ve said it. It is so nice having got to the end of the writing process, having bought a customised cover, to actually hit that ‘publish’ button and get your book out there.

Something I like about self-publishing is it removes the awful roller-coaster that is the path to publication. There’s no more ‘will the editor like it, will he/she take it… wait for that email, and wait, and wait some more.’ There’s so much waiting in writing.

And did I tell you I’m impatient?

So, having said all that, here’s my big news.

I’m about to tell you that Escape Publishing, with editor Kate Cuthbert, recently agreed to publish Fairway To Heaven, and this weekend I’ll be signing the Contract to let Escape do exactly that. It means I’ll be removing Fairway from cyberspace, hitting that ‘unpublish’ button that I pressed so happily about 9 months ago, and waiting another possibly six months before Fairway (or it may be called something different at the behest of Escape) again gets launched to the world.

It will have a different cover. It may have a different name. And it may not even be quite the same book, as it will go through another editorial process on the way. But given the lovely Kate responded to me with the words: “It’s great”… I’m hoping any changes will be minimal, captain.
So how did it come to this? Here’s what I can nail it down to.

a) Tax Time. This was the big one. July 2014 gave me a huge eye-opener. I had payment receipts from Amazon US (US Dollars and they have a different reporting year/tax year to Aus). Some of the payments were cheques. It cost me $15 per cheque to bank into an Aussie bank (NAB). The Goodbye Ride is $2.50 (AUS) and I get 35% of that from Amazon so you imagine how many books I have to sell just to pay to bank their cheque! Now at least Amazon pays me direct into my account but it was like pulling teeth to get that to happen. Tax Nightmare! Compared with this the Escape royalty statement that spells out sales and earnings for His Brand Of Beautiful was an absolute breeze.

b) Sales. Yep – that old chestnut. I believe in my book 100% and both Fairway To Heaven and The Goodbye Ride have excellent reviews, not all written by my mother or sister. (In fact, neither my mum nor my sister have ever written me a review. Note to self!) Could the sales be better? (Yes!) What might make the sales better?

c) Marketing. I paid attention to a few social media discussions with book marketers going back a while and they tell me that if reviews are solid, the next thing to look at is the cover. I love both my covers for Fairway To Heaven and The Goodbye Ride, but are they exactly right for the demographic? That’s the question I have to ask, and I’m prepared now to test it with the experts. What about the title? Fairway To Heaven works for me and it just felt right… but does it label the book a sport/golf book? And does that mean prospective buyers are looking at my book and thinking they don’t like golf, so they won’t enjoy the book? Have i missed sales because of either the cover, or the blurb, or the title? Probably. I have enjoyed being able to test promotions, such as the ‘free’ promotions with Amazon Kindle Direct. They are great fun to do because it’s so nice to think how many of your books are flying free off the ‘virtual’ shelves. But at the end of the day you’re giving your work away for free. So where’s the return in that?

d) Costs. I’ve spent about $600 combined on the covers for both my self-pubbed books. I paid $90 to lovely Marion Archer, Marion Making Manuscripts who beta-read Fairway for me – her feedback was gold and she’s worth every cent. I did the editing myself, but I’m an editor by trade. I paid $90 to get Fairway formatted for Kindle and for Smashwords (which feeds to iTunes/Nook/Kobo etc). With The Goodbye Ride I did this myself, but Goodbye Ride was only ever on Kindle. Smashwords is harder to get the formatting right. I didn’t ever spend money on things like Netgalley (I couldn’t afford it), or FB ads. That investment is gone now – I’ll never get it back. But if I stick with the status quo because I’ve sunk money into it, where does that leave me in another year? Still wondering what might have been?
e) Control: Lots of authors say to me: don’t you love being able to control everything? The blurb. The cover. The marketing. The title? They tell me: “I do all this marketing and promotion and my publisher expects that, and my sales are still lousy. So tell me what the publisher actually does for their cut?” Control is good. But remember – if you have all the control and your sales are still lousy… you only have yourself to blame. It’s human nature to find the grass greener on the other side.

f) Quality: I think self-pubbed books can get let down by the mass of badly (or non-existently edited) crap that is out there! It’s easy to get tarnished with the same brush.

I could let things roll along. I could change nothing, and I could continue to feel that my self-pubbed sales could be better, or that I could/should do more to promote them. I also know that having Escape select my book(s) for publication alone will not guarantee me improved, or even ‘good’ sales. They are taking a risk too. The entire business is a risk. My expectations are much different now, a few years along, than when I first got that wonderful ‘call’ that my debut book had been accepted for publication.

There’s no going back. Once I sign that Contract this weekend, Fairway To Heaven leaves my control. Pretty much forever unless sales are so abysmal, Harlequin decide in about 7 years, they don’t want it anymore.

NewFinalFair#2

Meanwhile I’m ‘writing the next book’. It’s a follow up to my debut His Brand Of Beautiful, not with related characters, but with the title, currently: Her Brand Of Bargain and because it’s back to the wine industry/vineyard-set books of both His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride. It has always been in my mind to write this book with view of offering it to Escape.
All this is just my opinion, and it’s only my view… but it’s been a long decision and not taken lightly. I can’t wait to see what Escape come up with for Fairway’s cover and blurb… and it will be fun to see what new readers might make of my book about Jenn and Brayden on a Busselton beach. Meanwhile, they’re waving goodbye, until sometime in the new year.
 
14 Comments

Posted by on September 20, 2014 in e-publishing, Marketing and promotion, News

 

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