We all know about the writer’s notebook. But since publication, I’ve come to realise I also need a writer’s diary. I’m not talking about a journal, a place to wander entranced through my subconscious. Nor am I’m talking about a diary that includes scribbled shopping lists, indecipherable recipes or doctor’s appointments. It won’t have anything to do with my day job. After all, those hours are already reserved and accounted for. I just need a place to put all the practical stuff that comes with being a published author.
I need something that tells me when I’m scheduled to submit a guest blog post and remind me to drop by and comment once it’s posted. I’ve also got a blog (link to: email@example.com) and need to diarise the guest authors scheduled on mine.
Revisions or edits come with strict deadlines and I’ll record those and flag some warning cues letting me know time is passing.
I need to create goals, tagged with definite dates. If I want to write two or three books a year I need a plan
and the diary is my roadmap.
Maybe I have a coffee date with a fellow writer, an important part of staying connected in the writing community. I don’t want to forget that because those relationships are precious.
And every month a diary reminder to email website updates to my website manager by the cut-off date makes sure I make the most of my investment.
I need to schedule stuff around my new releases, probably the trickiest thing to do; contact my publisher’s PR person, ask bloggers for a spot, request reviews. I need to hone a program that puts me out there but stops short of making people throw up.
When I go on holiday, and that holiday is really a thinly disguised research trip, I want a note of what I need to check and research each day. I may not pass that way again and if it’s related to the book I’m writing, I’d better make sure I diarise the things I need to research at each stop.
My diary will have a note about closing dates of interesting short story competitions I want to enter. Some of those will represent unrealised dreams. It’s so important to have these and record them.
I’ll also use it as a record of what I’ve done
not just what I plan to do. Dates of submissions, rejections received, short pieces I’ve written.
In short, I need something that helps me progress my career, keeps my head screwed on straight and stops me waking at 3am with that ‘uh-o’ moment about something I’d forgotten to do. The practical Lou, she of the day-job, reaches for a serviceable black Debden diary. But writer Lou wants Kikki K, something colourful and full of fun that reflects the sort of heroines I write.
What about you? Do you keep a writer’s diary? Or are all the things you need to do kept in your head?
Louise can be found at:
At my first Romance Writers of Australia conference I was like most newbies; bean-green, wide-eyed and just a little star struck.
The keynote speaker was Jenny Crusie whose blog I’ve followed with interest for a number of years. Crusie is one of those generous writers who let you into their lives so you meet their crazy friends, psychotic pets and mildly dysfunctional families.
Crusie had a major cold. She felt like crap and told us so in typical style. But when she started to talk about writing friendships she glowed. Her great mate Krissie (author Anne Stuart) had accompanied her ‘down under’. To a comment by a snuffly Crusie that she wasn’t sure an equally ill Krissie was in the audience that morning there was a shout from the audience, ‘I’m here, sister!’ Joyous stuff.
In a world of social media it’s easy to be “friends” with everyone. Writers who toiled away in isolation 20 years ago are now in touch with as many friends as they can handle at the press of a button. Not all these friends will make the ideal critique partner.
Choose your crit partner wisely. Here are my tips:
1. Each should bring as much, if not more, to the relationship. Share on a one-for-one basis to start with. Later, as the relationship develops, you can make allowances for the varying demands the other might have on her time. Synchronise writing speeds. There’s nothing worse than sending a chapter and receiving 3 in reply. It will change from time to time but you should get the feeling that you are roughly equal in the equation.
2. Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
3. Check out their online identity. If they’re published, check out their reviews. See how they interact with others on their face book page, twitter, etc.
4. Decide whether you want to match interests and writing styles or go for something different. If you write sweet romance but want to prise that bedroom door open an erotic romance writer may help.
5. Look for someone you think you can learn from. If you’re in a face-to-face group already and you admire someone’s writing, ask. It may not be a yes but could lead to…
6. Consider having a couple of people you only send stuff to occasionally, prefaced by something like ‘I’m having trouble with this but can’t work out why.’ A writer on the next level is more likely to take an interest in helping if they don’t feel pressured to be a full-time CP.
7. Don’t have so many critique partners that you spend too much time reading their work and don’t have time to do your own. For me, two – three is max.
8. Commit equally to honest appraisal. Everyone loves to hear “OMG, I love it!” But we’re looking for someone who can help us move up to the next level. I like a crit partner to apply the blowtorch where warranted otherwise I’m just treading water. So put the big girl panties on and take some criticism. Fair, robust criticism will push you on. Comfy criticism will cripple you.
9. You didn’t exchange rings so don’t be scared to call it off. Some critique partnerships dwindle through lack of interest. Others need to be finished by either party. You don’t need a court order to get out of this. A simple email thanking the person for their time (which after all you have repaid if you’ve followed Rule 1) and wishing them well will go a long way to maintaining a friendship.
10. Have an honest discussion about plagiarism, use of ideas etc. Some beginning writers don’t have an understanding of this and may not respect the writing and ideas of their CP. Define right up front where the boundaries are. Spell out that all exchanged work is not to be on-forwarded and is to be destroyed on request.
11. Don’t send your writing into the void. This is your hard earned work, your property and the stuff of your dreams. Don’t send it right left and centre to people hiding behind Writerbabe69 or whatever.
12. Work out when a crit partner has taken you over. Your book is more hers than yours. She’s stronger, dominant, convinced of her opinions. You’ve received critiques with more track changes than a capital city rail system. Remember this is your book.
A good critique partner is worth her weight in gold. Good luck with your search! You can visit Louise on her website, blog or Facebook.
You close the romance novel having just read the final word. A warm glow fills your chest. Your mouth is curved into a luxurious smile. The good have got the happy consequences of their heroic actions and the not so good, if there are any, have gotten theirs. You radiate satisfaction.
The end is also goodbye, which makes the happiness of the heroes, who are leaving you behind as they head off into their happily-ever-after fictional life, all the more important. Their happiness is a kind of salve on the separation occurring. Although you are parting ways you can rest assured they are going to be okay. You don’t have to cling to them, wondering if this or that worked out the way they wanted it to. The happier they are equals the satisfaction you experience when parting from them.
The happiness of a hero/heroine is directly proportional to the sorrow they have been through. Like a pendulum swinging from one end of the spectrum of horrid experiences to the other end of sublime fulfillment of all wishes. Can you imagine closing a book and having a heart warming feeling if the hero needed to go to the shop for some milk but couldn't get there because of his broken leg. The heroine, his next door neighbor, saw him struggling on crutches and drove him to the shop. They looked into each other’s eyes and it was love born of gratitude that she made it possible for him to have milk in his cuppa? What the heck! No Way.
The story requires something other than the pedestrian (pardon my pun) circumstances. It requires events and situations and feelings that will wrench the hero/heroine out of their ordinary world and plunge them into the thick dark waters of their worst fears. This is the making of a really gripping will-they-drown-or-swim-to-shore story. It has to take their last ounce of everything, they almost fail but somehow they find resources within themselves they never knew they had. This creates the huge tension that is released on the hero/heroine successfully saving themselves and each other. The hero and heroine shipwrecked-together story situation has been done before, done a lot actually. Why? Because the circumstances cut them off from all support except each other. It brings out every fear of inadequacy they have about themselves. They take it out on each other and at some point have to begin working together for survival. The metaphor of a fish out of water story-line also works this way and creates a brilliant release when love fulfilled replaces severe emotional discomfort .
The amount a hero/heroine have to change, to survive their rapidly changing circumstances and emotions, must be astronomical if you want the reader to have an astronomical happy ever after fix.
Which books contain your favorite endings? Have a think about what elements the author used in creating that amazing, heart warming, keep you coming back for more glow.
My favorite ending to a romance novel would have to be, hands down, Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot went through a hellish ten year separation before they could finally be together and boy they both had to learn some serious lessons before they could work it out. During his awakening, his actions put him in the position of almost having to marry someone else. Oh NO! Seriously, every time I re-read it I feel anxious for them, as if I don't know that it's going to be okay.
I’d love to tell you the tantalizing way Jane Austen constructs the resolution to this story and how the happy ending is written, but I won’t. If you've read it, you already know. If you haven’t read it then you really have a treat waiting for you.
If you’d like to share the titles of books you've loved the ending of, that would be great. No spoilers though. Giving away the ending is sacrilege. If it’s a romance novel we know it’s going to be happy. That’s one of the important reasons I love reading and writing them.
There are times when less is more and an easy way to improve our writing is to look for too much description and delete it. As writers, we paint a picture by describing settings, characters, and clothes, but it’s not always necessary to describe every little detail.
When we enter a room for the first time, our senses work in unison. We take in the sights, smells, and sounds, we feel the heat/cold/ambience, but mostly taste doesn’t come into play in this instance. We use our five senses concurrently and view the overall picture. Our eyes take in the main parts—the light or darkness, key colours, furniture, maybe some paintings, but we don’t focus on every single trinket on every table or dresser, or the brush strokes used in the paintings. If we went into complete details about the entire room, chances are we would lose our reader after a couple of paragraphs.
The same goes for descriptions of every character and what each person is wearing. An overview is sufficient.
The subject of an active voice sentence performs the action of the verb.
*I painted the wall* is written in the active voice.
*I* is the subject
*painted* is the verb
*the wall* is the object
When the object of the sentence is having something done to it, the verb is passive.
*The wall was painted by me* is in the passive voice.
*the wall* changes from object to subject
*I* becomes *me* when turned from subject to object.
*painted* becomes *was painted*
Of course it’s fine to use the passive voice occasionally, but a paragraph with half a dozen *wases* or *weres* can be very distracting.
Concentrate on the words that don’t add anything to your story, whether repeating the same word several times close to each other (unless occasionally for emphasis), or conveying the same information more than once.
e.g. my most used word is *just*. I just love writing just about anything using the word *just*, just too often.
Here’s a list I’ve compiled through several sources of words that are used too often, or words that add little to the meaning of a sentence:
• At the present time
• Began to
• By means of
• Considering the fact that
• Moved to
Some of them might seem fine by you, but most of these are imprecise in certain circumstances.
*Mary moved to go to the bedroom* sounds a bit awkward.
*Mary headed to the bedroom* sounds stronger. Similarly, using *tiptoed, sauntered, ambled, or stomped* would make it easier to visualise the way Mary is travelling to the bedroom.
Lastly, think of the parts of a story that you tend to skim over to get to the exciting bits. You want to avoid those skimmed over bits and have your book full of exciting bits. Use your words wisely. Be concise and your manuscript will flow better.
As a Melbourne Romance Writers Guild member and Coordinator we are very excited about the release of your first book 'Her Italian Aristocrat'
How long have you been writing romance?
I'd been a longtime romance reader but I started writing in 2006 after seeing an advertisement for a CAE course. The wonderful Anne Gracie was the teacher and I went on to do an 'advanced' course with her as well.
Who is your favorite author?
That's a hard one because I can't pick just one. In Single Title, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Amanda Quick, In category, Jessica Hart and Shirley Jump. I'm seeing a pattern here. I like humour and all these authors deliver witty dialogue from warm and likable characters.
When and where do you like to write?
I have to be truthful and say I don't write every day. I know having a routine like that would make it so much easier but I'm just not a routine type of gal. So I tend to go in spurts, every couple of days. And despite having a very nice study, I write on the dining table in the family room.
What writing habits do you have which help you to keep motivated?
Loving my characters is integral to keeping myself motivated. Because I'm easily distracted I really have to like them a lot to want to go through the pain of telling their story. If I didn't care enough about them, why would I bother? So I do a lot of work on their background and think about them constantly. Finding those little things that will set them apart and make them real to the reader is part of the challenge.
You've been published in short story, can you tell us about that?
I think short stories are a great way to 'test the water', maybe to try a style of writing or type of story you think you might like to write without investing a lot in teasing out a great plot or in big word counts. They're tight, so you need only explore one idea. And they're great for when you are maybe a bit lost, not sure of your next project, and just want something on the go. An example is the three stories I've been lucky to have accepted in Romance Writers of Australia's Little Gems anthologies. The first was a sweet, the second a Regency time-travel and the third had a 1930's Oriental spy setting. I wasn't interested in writing any of these as books but the ideas were there and the short story format was the best way to capture them.
"Her Italian Aristocrat" is set in Italy, have you ever been there?
I've been lucky to spend a bit of time in Italy on several overseas trips and I adore it.
You lived in Sydney till age 10, when your family relocated to Melbourne. Do you think this experience informed you on some level of what Gemma's character faces?
My heroine, Gemma, is an outsider by virtue of her background, unsure of where she fits in the aristocratic setting she finds herself in. When I moved to Melbourne as a child I was an outsider as well. These days, the world is smaller and people move much more frequently but back then it was as if I'd landed on another planet. The Sydney/Melbourne rivalry was also very strong in those days so I struggled to make sense of this new place and to fit in and make new friends.
Gemma is passionate about shoes. Is that something you share with her?
I used to love gorgeous shoes but unfortunately my poor feet will no longer let me wear them. But I can still fantasise about them.
What are you currently working on?
I'm finishing a book set in the Australian outback. It's a 'coming home' book, about forgiveness, reconciliation, and the ties of family.
Louise's book 'Her Italian Aristocrat' is published by Penguin imprint, Destiny Romance, and went on sale the 15th of November.
Many writers talk about refilling the well, taking time out to do stuff other than write. I regard it as taking my muse out on a date, rewarding her with a good time for being such a damned good muse.
For some, refilling the well means watching movies, going to plays, reading or doing craft. For me, two activities work like a charm.
I love listening to live music, particularly jazz, and we’ll often go to one of several local hotels to listen to a band.
Perhaps it’s the mindless state one can drift into when listening to music that works for me. The beat, rhythm and pacing remind me of writing. And if you’re listening to jazz there’s dialogue, as the different instruments tic-tac with each other. Playing, flirting, fighting.
So while the music washes over me I empty my mind. And characters arrive - sometimes vibrant and fully formed, other times just whispering a snatch of dialogue in my ear.
Sometimes it’s a cue from the lyrics that helps with a writing problem. Listening recently to a gorgeous performance of Curtis Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love” I was struck by that repeated line – please send me someone to love. Whilst it’s an activist’s call for peace in this particular song, the line resonated on a different level. And solved a problem in my story.
The other way I refill the well is to get out of town and go bush.
We’re about to set off on our annual outback camping trip. On one level this is supposed to be a break away, a chance to take time out. But when we jump in “the truck” and head out of the city I’m like a sponge, soaking up colour and characters, places, smells and language. Primarily I do it because I love it. But the writer in me just can’t help taking notes. That intersection of red earth and brilliant blue sky entrances me. The laconic bloke in a battered Akubra propped at the bar in a country pub is as attractive as any Zegna-suited hero. Strange things happen, life runs at a different pace. It all goes into the notebook.
Watching a campfire is hypnotic and my mind wanders while my internal story editor is switched off and told to take a holiday. Characters and scenes, snatches of dialogue are conjured from flames licking against logs. It’s restful and creative and I always come away with new stories.
This trip I’m finishing a story set in the outback so it will be great to complete the book while I’m “out there”.
Louise’s debut romance will be published by Penguin’s digital romance imprint, Destiny Romance, in late 2012.
This post is a mini workshop I delivered to the MRWG a couple of months ago. I love angel cards. I like shuffling and laying out the cards in a spread. The gorgeous paintings are beautiful and inspiring in themselves. They also have an message of self love and confidence and are reflective of different phases of life and of the emotions which drive decisions and behaviour. Angel cards can suggest an area that requires focus or an activity that would be beneficial. For example. Cards indicating some quiet time or spending time outdoors in nature. In writing romance these cards could be viewed as the heroine needing to take time for reflection or regroup. (More on that later.)
Angel cards have a new age focus in their approach. For instance they tend to reflect the idea that that we are responsible for the life we create. Whether you agree with that idea is unimportant in this instance because it fits with writing romance stories that are character driven rather than plot driven. Our heroes and heroines are supposed to be powerful in their lives and drive the story. A romance novel I enjoy reading is one where the journey of the characters includes growth in self awareness and confidence and ability to see their mistakes and correct them.
There are lovely illustrations on the cards which invite the imagination to activate. When looking at a card for little while you may come to notice some particular feeling or aspect of the card. The colours may give you a sense of meaning. You may look at a card containing baby angels playing together against a blue sky with clouds. Light heartedness may be your impression or it could be cheekiness. It depends on where you are in your story and what is going on in the scene you are inquiring about. People love to read romance, all romance promises a happy ending. How that is reached is what, I believe, gives the reader hope and satisfaction on finishing a book.
To draw cards you can shuffle the deck till you feel like stopping and take the cards from the top or you can fan them out and select cards from the fan. Angel cards are larger than normal playing cards so shuffling end to end may be easier. You can draw a few cards for inspiration on where the story may go. I can show you this better than explain it in theory so I’ll illustrate a card draw for myself.
When thinking about where to go after the end of chapter two for my WIP. I held the heroine in my thoughts and shuffled then drew the following cards from Doreen Virtue’s, Daily Guidance From Your Angels deck.
Already established in my story is the heroine who is a ballerina with a secret baby. The hero has come back into her life and they have now got to try and work out how they can parent their child and deal with the fact that they had a holiday romance but live on separate continents.
The first six cards I pulled from the top of the deck after shuffling were: Have Confidence; Child; Creative Project; Acceptance; Play and Change in Direction.
The Confidence card is spot on. My heroine has confidence in herself issues. There is already a child in the picture and her childhood is definitely rearing its head. So I’ve interpreted the Child card as needing to keep focus on that. She’s a ballerina so the creative project might need to be identified. A ballet she’s rehearsing for perhaps. The Acceptance Card suggests to me that it would be important to have a scene that shows her accepting the hero as being a part of her baby’s life. The Play card indicates that this scene shows bonding and makes the reader want to barrack for this almost family. Change in Direction can be a call to the heroine to want to change her plan and maybe be consider a reconciliation and be a full time family.
There is no set number of cards to draw you just keep going till you feel like stopping. One or two might do the trick. I think what is valuable about using the cards is that they have the ability to inspire specific details or an overall theme, suggest what struggles a character may be facing and how they can get to the heart of the matter. You can do a draw for each character and see where there are links and clashes.
You can buy Angel cards from most new age/crystal shops, the Theosophical Society shop in Russell St, Melbourne and Big W costing about $20-$30 per deck. Each deck of Angel cards is slightly different in the way they deliver their message. There are card decks based on advice from Ascended Masters, Fairies and Archangels so it’s good to browse through several decks, if possible, to see which ones appeal to you. An alternative is to make up a series of cards for yourself using pictures and insightful phrases topics or potential conflicts.
The Angel cards aren’t meant to override good story structure and craft but can be a useful tool for sparking your imagination. Studying a card or spread of cards can help you focus and enter a kind of meditative state conducive to creative inspiration. My approach to the purpose of angel cards is that they help us to better love and understand ourselves, facilitating personal growth along with daily guidance. I believe this can be applied to creating romance novels which are about two people’s journey of falling in love with each other and growing through overcoming obstacles in order to be together. Good Luck and happy creating.
Three steps to killer conflict
Conflict is the life blood of the romance novel.
Are you sure, Cara? I thought it was all about two people falling in
Well, yes… But two people falling in love won’t stretch to 90,000 words. It
wouldn’t even come close to 50,000 words. Plus, it’s kind of boring.
Sure, seeing two people who are obviously in love is cute. It warms the
heart, makes you say ‘awwwww!’ under your breath. But other people in love are
essentially boring. They agree with each other all the time. They have
cute/nauseating nicknames for one another. And all they wan’t to do is hang out
with each other.
Great for them. Not so great for someone on the outside looking in. And in
the case of romantic fiction, the person on the outside looking in is your
You can’t afford to bore your reader.
The way to not bore your reader is to make it hard for your hero and heroine
to fall in love. Put obstacles in their way. Make the universe conspire against
them. Make them their own worst enemies.
In other words: create conflict.
To my mind, there are three essential steps to creating killer conflict. Tick
these off, and you’ll be on your way to making it almost impossible for them to
Step 1: understand their goals and motivations, and where they clash
Understanding your characters’ goals and motivations is the first step in
building conflict, both external and internal. Once you do understand them, you
then need to search for the points at which they clash – these points are where
conflict will flourish most easily.
An example always helps. Let’s say your heroine is an environmental activist.
She lives in a rural community, close to her extended family, and works on a
small organic farm. She volunteers for just about every cause that crosses her
path, and is passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle.
Our hero is a lawyer from the city who’s travelled to the heroine’s small
town to secure a land deal he’s been working on for months. Geological reports
show there’s high quality coal in the region, and his client has applied for
permits to explore. He drives a fast car, dresses in expensive suits and lives
on pre-packaged meals eaten in front of his wide screen TV – at least, that’s
when he’s at home. Most nights he’s working late as he climbs the corporate
So what conflicts can you see here? Our heroine is motivated by sustainable
living, a simple lifestyle and preserving the status quo. In comes our hero,
who’s motivated by achieving the impossible, the latest status symbols and
economic progress. What do you think will happen when these two meet?
Step 2: Layer it up
To make really strong, enduring conflict that will last the whole novel, you
need to layer it up. Above I briefly mentioned the idea of external and internal
conflict; you need to have both of these to make a really strong story.
External conflict is what’s imposed by the outside world. So in our example
book, the external conflict is created by the mining company wanting to explore
in our heroine’s backyard.
Internal conflict is what comes from the characters themselves, and it’s
internal conflict that you really need to focus on when crafting (or editing)
your novel. Internal conflict is driven by your characters’ beliefs, desires and
needs, their history and previous life experiences, and is the real meat of the
Just with the brief character sketches I’ve drawn above, I can see a number
of internal conflicts. For example:
- country girl vs city boy
- her large family vs his solo lifestyle
- their respective views on money
- their ideas of community
And that’s just based on the few lines above. If you delve into your
characters’ past, you’ll find age-old wounds that are still impacting the
present day; disfunctional relationships, absentee parents and best-friend
betrayals are all grist for the internal conflict mill.
Step 3: Keep it real, play fair and move forward
You need to make sure your conflict is realistic. Ideally, conflict should be
strong enough to make the reader worry about whether or not the hero and heroine
are actually going to get together. And we want the reader to worry – that’s
what keeps them turning the pages.
However, there’s a risk you go too far, and end up with characters who just
seem to hate each other, all the way through the book. In this situation, the
conflict isn’t resolved – the hero and heroine just suddenly decide they like
one another, and that’s it.
Hmmmm. Unconvincing conflict resolution results in books being thrown at the
wall. To avoid this, we need to:
Keep it real
When we start getting to know our characters, it can be tempting to load the
conflict on thick. One of my early heroines was an orphan who’s only remaining
relative had been murdered; she’d been abused by a previous boyfriend and now
her career was hanging by a thread thanks to a git of a boss.
Too much. All of that past trauma gives our heroine way too many issues to be
dealt with in the space of a novel. Just one of those past incidents is enough
to set the basis for some great conflict, so don’t weigh your characters down
with too many past issues.
Playing fair is all about making sure your characters have some redeeming
features. Your hero can be as mean as satan, but there has to be some glimmer of
light, some crack in the armour that makes his relationship with the heroine
Think about Rochester (Jane Eyre). He’s gruff, unyielding, miserable… but he
has taken Adele under his wing. For Jane (and for the reader), this is a hint at
what lies beneath.
You need to keep your characters moving forward through their conflicts.
Progress is important in a novel; without it, we just end up with two characters
going round in circles over pointless arguments. If you’ve layered your
conflicts up nicely, it should be easy enough to expose the next conflict as
each one is resolved – think of it as peeling an onion!
Keeping it real was brought home to me when I watched The Proposal.
This movie features Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, and the basic conflict is
a marriage of convenience. There’s some layering as the heroine travels to
Alaska with the hero to meet his family and has to endure a weekend away from
her normal, safe city life.
So far, so good. However, all the hero and heroine did was argue, snap and
humiliate one another. Half way through, I’d yet to find a single redeeming
feature in either of them, the hero was weighed down by too many family
conflicts to keep track of, and they were having the same argument over and over
It got turned off. There was just no way I could see the conflict being
resolved convincingly. I had a horrible sense that the director was just going
to manufacture a scene where they’d suddenly see each other with fresh eyes,
layer some appropriate music over the top, and wham – they’re in love!
I don’t think so.
The key thing to remember with conflict is that it has to seem natural, not
forced – and its resolution also has to feel natural to the reader. Without
natural-seeming conflict, your book might just get thrown at the wall.
And you wouldn’t want that, would you?
Like the heroines in my novels, my forebears left their native shores in sailing ships to forge a new life in the untamed frontiers of colonial Australia. They battled bushfires, hardship and the tyranny of distance in an inhospitable and savage land, where only the tough and resilient would survive. They not only survived but prospered in ways that would not have been possible for them had they stayed in Europe.
I would like to think I display the same tenacity. My goals are a little different from those of my forbears. I want to succeed in the publishing world.
I received my baptism of fire on the literary field of battle at an early age. I have known the highs (winning awards and having my books published), but also known the lows of the volatile publishing world. Publishing company closures, an opportunity for one of my novels to be turned into a film, only to be thwarted at the last minute by government funding cuts. I have watched my writing friends drop off because they couldn’t get published and gave up the struggle.
I am a fourth generation Australian. We are a tough, resilient people, and we have fought hard to find our place in the world. We have beautiful scenery, unique wild life, and a bloodied convict history.
I admire heroines who are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men who think they only want a wife to beget sons. A chance for revenge. To consolidate their fortunes. That love is for fools. Oh, the victory for the reader when these tough, ruthless men succumb to the heroine’s bravery and beauty, and are prepared to risk all, even their lives to claim her.
Then there are the brave young men who sailed thousands of miles across the sea in World War 1 to fight for mother England, the birth country of their parents and grandparents. I also wanted to write about the wives and sweethearts who often waited in vain for their loved ones to return. Who were there to nurture the returning heroes, heal their broken bodies and tormented souls.
This is why I write historical romance, even if it means trawling through dusty books in the library, haunting every historical site on the internet, badgering elderly relatives, and risking snake-bite by clambering around overgrown cemeteries.
My latest novel, Savage Possession, is published by Books We Love on Amazon Kindle, and epitomizes the struggles that our pioneers endured. Savage Possession
If you want a sugar-coated romance, Savage Possession is not for you. In colonial Australia it took hard men like Martin Mulvaney to tame a harsh land. A sweeping tale of love's triumph over tragedy and treachery in frontier Australia.
A mistaken identity opens the door for Martin Mulvaney to take his revenge on the granddaughter of his mortal enemy.
An old Scottish feud, a love that should never have happened, and a series of extraordinary coincidences traps two lovers in a family vendetta that threatens to destroy their love, if not their lives. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008EL0FTI
Margaret Tanner is an award winning multi-published Australian author. She is a member of RWA, MRWG and EPIC.
Margaret’s Website: http://www.margarettanner.com/
So I have been weirdly haphazard about sharing this news, but: I sold my first book! It’s a teen romance that will be published by Hardie Grant next year. I sold it on a pitch, so I’m working away at getting it written now.
Some of the reasons there haven’t been trumpets and confetti are:
1) it’s not a book I’ve spent years slaving and doubting and delighting over (and despairing that anyone will ever think it’s worth buying) so this isn’t the SUDDEN FULFILMENT OF YEARS OF ANXIOUS DREAMS;
2) I’ve been working in a professional way for six months now, so this feels like a continuation of that (not like “because I obviously totally deserve it” – just like, I’m working professionally and here’s some paid work);
3) it’s not in the genre I want to make my career in (historical romance), so it doesn’t feel like launching my career; and
4) “the call” (or in my case “the email-and-meeting”) really does just happen in an everyday sort of way – there are no actual trumpets – so it’s all too easy to just take it in stride.
All that being said – I am incredibly excited. I sometimes just think, “I’m being paid to write fiction!” and the world is a lovely place. No more awkward pause after the “Have you had anything published?” question. Also, Hardie Grant are a wonderful publisher, and the way they view the market and their books falls exactly into line with the kind of stuff I want to write. I’d gotten the impression the age of chivalry towards authors was dead, but my meeting with my editor is proof that it’s not.
And while in my numbered list above I was trying to be as honest as possible about my feelings, and might have come across as a little ungrateful…this is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I’m very clear about that.
I even managed to actually celebrate the occasion. Special k took me out for cake and tea, and put these photos directly up on facebook without me realising.
A proud husband is a good thing! (And it means cake.)
The book has no title yet, but it’s about a chick called Lexie who is vain, has impeccable manners and is determined to become an actress. Her family is forced to move to the country before she can finish year 12, and she thinks she’s going to die of anonymity until she finds out a reality show is being filmed about the local golden boy. She’s pretty desperate to get in on the action. Only problem is, the first day she met him she insulted him to his face…------
Anna blogs regularly at annacowan.com