Happy Release Day to Alli Sinclair for LUNA TANGO!

I’m jumping up and down with excitement for my buddy and critique partner Alli Sinclair on the launch of her debut novel, LUNA TANGO!

Luna Tango releases in print and ebook today in Australia and New Zealand with Harlequin MIRA, and can be bought from all good bookstores both online and offline. So once you’ve read this post, go out and grab one! It’s a fabulous story.

And see the bottom of this post for details of a one-of-a-kind competition you can take part in! ;)

high resHere’s what the book is about:

Desperate to understand the reason her mother abandoned her twenty years ago to become a world-class tango dancer, journalist Dani McKenna delves into the world of tango in the hope of exposing decades of lies and deception that have threatened three generations of her family.

When Dani meets the enigmatic Carlos Escudero—a revered tango dancer and man of intense passion—they work together to understand why her grandmother lives in fear of all things tango, and how the brutal murder of a tango music legend in 1950s Buenos Aires now affects her family.

Despite her lack of rhythm, Dani and Carlos create their own dance of the souls, until the differences in their cultures causes a deep rift. As she seeks to reconnect with Carlos and rebuild her family, Dani finds tango—the dance of passion—becomes a complicated dance of betrayal.

 

Alli, Will you be having an official book launch to celebrate?

Oh, yes, most definitely! I’m holding a tango event at Readings Hawthorn (Melbourne) on 21 August and it’s an open invitation for anyone who wishes to come along. A wonderful tango duo will be performing and they will also give attendees a simple tango lesson to whet the appetite. Drinks and food and tango show are all included in the $10 ticket and any proceeds of ticket sales will go to the Parkinson’s Victoria. This cause is very close to my heart as my dad suffered this terrible disease and Luna Tango is dedicated to my wonderful dad who passed away recently.

You can buy tickets here:

How does it feel to have your first book published?

Surreal at the moment! I’ve had quite a while to get used to the idea that my dream is finally being realised but I really don’t think it’s sunk in yet!

Describe your book in three words:

Passionate, intriguing, sexy.

If Luna tango was made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?

Well, duh, alli profileGilles Marini for Carlos Escudero, the sexy tango dancer. And as for gorgeous, Aussie journalist Dani McKenna, none other than Jessica Marais.


What are you working on next?

Book two of The Dance Card Series. This time it’s about flamenco and is set in Granada, Spain.

How can readers connect with you?

Website : FacebookTwitter : BlogPinterestGoodreads

 

>>LUNA TANGO can be purchased from bookstores in Australia and New Zealand, or you can order the ebook or paperback online:

PRINT:

Harlequin Australia / Booktopia / Bookworld / Boomerang Books / Fishpond / The Nile / Readings

EBOOK:

iTunes / Amazon AUS / Amazon / Kobo / Google Play

 

Congratulations Alli! Wishing you the success you deserve for this fabulous book. :)

 

> COMPETITION:

Today is also the launch of a super special competition. The winner will receive a one-off prize that has been created especially for this competition. Click HERE for more information.

> BOOK LAUNCH EVENT:

When: 21 August

Where: Readings Books in Hawthorn, VIC.

Why: Internationally acclaimed tango dancers will perform and attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a tango lesson. Proceeds of ticket sales will go to Parkinson’s Victoria in honour of Alli’s father who recently passed away and to whom Luna Tango is dedicated. Ticket bookings essential.

Cost: $10, includes wine and food and dance lesson.

Details & Bookings: http://www.readings.com.au/event/wine-romance-and-a-tango-lesson

 

5 Weeks To Go! HAUNTED EVER AFTER sneak peek

Each week until release day I’ll share a fun excerpt pic like the one below, and a longer excerpt here on the blog. So with 5 weeks to go, here is the first excerpt of HAUNTED EVER AFTER, my next full-length romantic comedy with a touch of magic. If you enjoyed the fun and mayhem of FAST FORWARD, be sure to check this one out on 1st September. ;)

5WeeksToGo

Excerpt:

What does one talk to a stripper about over dinner anyway? ‘How was work? Did you have a good day at the office?’

Georgie served our meals of Chicken Valdostano, and after taking a mouthful and complimenting the chef, Ty directed questions my way, saving me from having to think what to ask him. ‘When’s the big day?’

‘One week’s time. Are you married?’ I asked. It was so much easier to ask that question when men knew you were taken, otherwise it sounded like you were sussing them out for potential husband material. But anyway, what sort of wife would want her husband to strip semi-naked and have women grope him in order to pay the bills and put food on the table?

He shook his head, took another mouthful, then asked, ‘What do you do for a living, Sally?’

‘Sally’s a nurse,’ Mel said.

‘I’m sure she can speak for herself, Mel,’ said Georgie, her slender fingers wrapped around the stem of her wine glass.

‘Sorry, force of habit. Five kids.’ Mel shrugged.

‘Ah, you must be a very caring person,’ Ty said. ‘How long have you been nursing?’

‘Geez, he asks a lot of questions.’ Red sat at the empty chair to my right and placed her ghostly elbows on the table. Such a classy ghost. Crashing my party and bad table manners to boot.

‘Almost ten years now.’ I smiled.

‘I could have been a nurse,’ Red said. ‘All those smart, hot doctors to drool over. Mmm…’ she rolled her eyes back in an apparent daydream.

I wouldn’t spoil her assumption and tell her that most of the doctors I knew were either grey-haired and pudgy men or skinny and awkward young men with remnants of teenage acne. Sure, there were a few lookers, but it’s no Grey’s Anatomy.

‘How long have you been, um, stripping?’ I asked, as dignified as possible.

‘Three years.’ He took a sip of wine. ‘And did you always want to be a nurse?’

Did you always want to be a stripper? I couldn’t imagine him as a young boy at school getting up in front of the class and sharing his career aspirations for career day.

‘Well, sort of, I — ’

‘I want to ask questions too, sheesh! Can’t get a word in with this guy!’ Red sat on the edge of the table and I tried not to look at her. ‘What’s your favourite colour, Sally? Wait, let me guess, mauve, right?’

Quit distracting me! I tried the ESP thing again. But what I really wanted to do was push her off the table. So much for being a caring person.

‘Okay, what’s your favourite band then?’ she persisted. ‘Favourite food?’ She leaned over the table and shoved her face in front of mine. ‘Ooh, what about favourite celebrity when you were a teenager? Huh, huh? Answer me, girl!’

I shifted in my seat and pretended I was trying to retrieve the answer to Ty’s question, which had been diluted by Red’s constant verbal assault.

‘Favourite book? Favourite animal?’ she continued shooting questions at me like a tennis ball machine, and my head started to hurt.

‘Um…’ I cleared my throat and rubbed my ear, tension building inside like a boiling pot of water. ‘Sorry, what was the question again?’

‘I said, did you always want to be a nurse?’ Ty repeated.

‘Favourite song? Favourite shop?’ Red continued. ‘Ooh, ooh! Favourite sexual position?’

In frustration, my hand banged down on the table, sending my fork flying across to the floor. ‘Missionary, okay? Missionary!’ I blurted.

All eyes stared at me. ‘What?’ Lorena asked, curiosity and concern on her face at my apparent distress.

Oh dear God.

Red had collapsed in laughter on the floor next to me. ‘Missionary! Haha, missionary position! I knew it!’ she repeated, rolling about.

Just when I thought I’d have to excuse myself from the table, a convenient explanation hit me. I cleared my throat. ‘A missionary. I, er, wanted to be a missionary.’ I gave a confident nod.

‘Um, no you didn’t,’ Lorena said firmly.

Mel had cracked up as well as Red. ‘Since when did you want to become a missionary?’

I pushed my unnatural curls from my face and raised my chin. ‘Well, if you must know, since I was a kid. My parents sent me to Sunday school (true) and I really enjoyed it (false). I thought it would be great to one day travel the world and spread the good word of the Lord (also false). There. Now you know.’

‘Good for you,’ Ty said with a nod. ‘What stopped you?’

How could I get off the missionary topic? All this quick thinking was doing my head in.

 

Stay tuned for the release of HAUNTED EVER AFTER on Sept 1st from Escape Publishing.

>> You can add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

>> And you can preorder from Amazon & iTunes at the moment (though will be available 1st Sept from all ebook retailers):

A bride-to-be, a mystery, and the stripper next door…

Yep, that’s what my next magical romantic comedy novel is about in a nutshell! HAUNTED EVER AFTER is now available for preorder and is on Goodreads (links below). And here is the official blurb, thanks to managing editor Kate from Escape Publishing who edited my draft into the fabulousness below…

HauntedEverAfter-JulietMadisonHAUNTED EVER AFTER (release date: 1st Sept 2014, Escape Publishing/Harlequin Australia):

Mixing romance, humour and a sparkle of magic, Juliet Madison is back with a new full-length novel about a bride-to-be, a mystery and the stripper next door. 

When bride-to-be Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids, the last thing she expects is an uninvited guest: the ghost of her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend.

Red is quirky, loud and distracting, and Sally is soon desperate to find the reason behind her presence, so she can rid herself of her embarrassing shadow before the wedding day. Unfortunately, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her existence, but very enthusiastic about Ty, the surprise hen’s night stripper who keeps showing up at awkward moments. 

Time is running out for Sally, but it’s also running out for Red. By the time all is revealed, Sally will be tested to the limits, and go above and beyond everything she’s ever believed in order to ensure not only her own happy-ever-after – but Red’s as well.

 

Think Bridesmaids meets Ghost Whisperer with a bit of Magic Mike (the good bits) ;)

>> You can add it to your Goodreads shelf HERE.

>> And you can preorder from Amazon & iTunes at the moment (though will be available 1st Sept from all ebook retailers):

>> See the Pinterest board for the book HERE.

Thanks to my readers for your ongoing support, and I hope you enjoy Haunted Ever After! :)

Guest blogger: Juliet Madison

Juliet Madison:

I’ve got an article up on the ARRA blog today about small town settings in books…

Originally posted on Australian Romance Readers Association:

Juliet MadisonThe appeal of small-town settings

I like to read and write books set both in small towns and in urban environments, but small towns hold a certain allure for me. They have a cosy, magical quality, and I find them intriguing. When I came up with the idea for a small-town series of books, I knew I wanted to base it on the town I had just moved to, on the south coast of NSW. I was getting used to my new home and discovering all the quirks and beauty the town had to offer, and tried my best to translate that to the page. The first book I set here was The January Wish, which led to the decision to create a monthly-themed set of books linked by the same setting, and the Tarrin’s Bay series was born. I wrote February or Forever after that, and am now…

View original 387 more words

Why We Need Fiction (inspired by A Place To Call Home)

If you’re in Australia you have probably heard of or watched the TV show A PLACE TO CALL HOME. I watched the final episode Sunday night, ending the series at season two, much to the disappointment of many fans. It was obvious the final few minutes of the episode were rushed to try and tie up loose ends, but still many viewers were left with unanswered questions.

It got me thinking how important fiction and fictional characters are to people, how we connect with them even though we know they aren’t real. As an author I try to do this on a daily basis; write characters and storylines that people are going to hopefully connect with and care about what happens next. With books you know you will get to The End, a proper ending, and know how everything turns out, but in television it is less assured. Writers, actors, producers, and directors often don’t know if the season they’re working on will be their last, and must not only prepare for a future season but keep in mind some options for tying up storylines should the show be cancelled. There’s nothing more frustrating than being left hanging, no resolution, no idea what was supposed to happen next.

Many fans of the show have taken to signing petitions to try and bring it back, and there’s a facebook page to show support for the show. I even wondered if fan fiction or a spin-off book would be possible to continue the storylines that had been planned for season three, who knows!

This reaction is a great example of the power of fiction in people’s lives. We all like a good story. Is it just the entertainment factor or is there more to it?

I believe it is human nature to be curious, and fiction stimulates that curiosity. I also believe that connecting with fictional characters helps us recognise similarities in our own lives – behaviours, experiences, relationships, issues in society – our real life world can be reflected through fiction in a controlled way that helps us make sense of life. And historical stories like A Place to Call Home remind some people and educate others on what times were like back then.

Ironically, fiction is both a reflection of and an escape from real life.

Whatever the reasons for enjoying them, stories told through TV shows, movies, books, plays, etc, are an integral part of human nature, and though the mediums for telling stories may change and evolve over time (as with the rise of ebooks), I don’t think the desire to enjoy stories will ever change.

 

What do you love about fiction both on the screen and on the page, and why do you think it’s so important for people in their lives?

And if you’re a fan of A Place To Call Home, what do you think would have happened next had the show continued? ;)

 

~ Juliet

Giveaway Time! Celebrating 100 Reviews of Fast Forward

FAST FORWARD has now reached 100 reviews on Amazon.com and I’d promised I’d do a giveaway when I reached that magic number. So here it is! :)

100ReviewsFF

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who’s bought a copy of my bestselling, wacky, time travel romantic comedy, and extra thanks to those who’ve taken the time to leave a review or star rating whether it’s been on Amazon, Goodreads, iTunes, or elsewhere. Here are some of the comments people have made:

  • “I don’t give 5* ratings easily… Those 5 brilliant, sparkly stars my friends I now reward to Juliet Madison for writing this funny, witty, magical tale I will never forget.” - Ananda
  • “If you love movies like Suddenly 30 (13 Going On 30), you’ll love Fast Forward.” - Diane
  • “I don’t write many reviews, but I had to rave about this story! it was an amazing, realistic peek into the future. Juliet Madison must have the mind of a creative genius to have come up with all of this.” - Closophari
  • “This is definitely a must-read, you won’t regret it, it’ll make you smile from beginning to end.” - Ben
  • “The first time I read it I had to put the book down in some spots because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t hold the book still.” – Annie M

If you haven’t yet read it, you can grab a copy from Amazon HERE or from other ebook retailers, links are HERE (click buy now on that page to see all retailer links).

Now, onto the giveaway…

I love giving stuff away, and I also know how frustrating it is when a giveaway is restricted to a particular country, so I’ve made 5 of the 6 giveaways international! For each prize that you’d like to win, all you have to do is click the rafflecopter link and enter. That way if you already have one of the books you can just enter for the ones you don’t have or any you might like to give as a gift if you win.

Winners will be drawn on 21st July and notified by email. Good luck! :)

 

PRIZE #1: AUSTRALIAN RURAL ROMANCE BOOK PACK (Australian entrants only, this pack is HEAVY!)

photoPrize consists of:

1 x print copy of OUTBACK DREAMS by Rachael Johns

1 x print copy of THE HOUSE ON BURRA BURRA LANE by Jennie Jones

1 x print copy of RIGHT AS RAIN by Tricia Stringer

1 x print copy of DRIFTWOOD by Mandy Magro

Plus, 1 x ebook of your choice from Juliet Madison, and assorted swag (postcards, magnets…etc)

>>ENTER BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW (Australian delivery addresses only!):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

PRIZE #2: CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE BOOK PACK (International giveaway!)

bookprize1Prize consists of:

1 x print copy of ALL HE EVER NEEDED by Shannon Stacey

1 x print copy of THE LOOK OF LOVE (The Sullivans #1) by Bella Andre

Plus, 1 x ebook of your choice from Juliet Madison, and assorted swag

>>ENTER BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

PRIZE #3: FUN & FLIRTY BOOK PACK (International giveaway!)

bookprize2Prize consists of:

1 x print copy of LUCY IN THE SKY by Paige Toon

1 x print copy of FLIRTING WITH FORTY by Jane Porter

Plus, 1 x ebook of your choice from Juliet Madison, and assorted swag

>>ENTER BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

PRIZE #4: CAPTIVATING BOOK PACK (International giveaway!)

photo 5Prize consists of: 1 x print copy of THE INEVITABILITY OF STARS by Kathryn R. Lyster

1 x print copy of CAPTIVATE by Vanessa Garden

Plus, 1 x ebook of your choice from Juliet Madison, and assorted swag

>>ENTER BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PRIZE #5: WOMEN’S FICTION BOOK (International giveaway!)

weddingseasonPrize consists of:

1 x print copy of THE WEDDING SEASON by Su Dharmapala

Plus, 1 x ebook of your choice from Juliet Madison, and assorted swag

>>ENTER BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

PRIZE #6: WOMEN’S FICTION BOOK (International giveaway!)

winterlodgePrize consists of:

1 x print copy of THE WINTER LODGE by Susan Wiggs

Plus, 1 x ebook of your choice from Juliet Madison, and assorted swag

>>ENTER BY CLICKING THE LINK BELOW:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

How’s that for a giveaway? Why have just one when you can have six!

Good luck, and thanks for helping me celebrate 100 Amazon reviews of FAST FORWARD!

FF-BestsellerAmazonAspiring supermodel, Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her twenty-fifth birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.

Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband and hideous support underwear forever?

 

 

COVER REVEAL! Haunted Ever After (plus excerpt)

Drumroll… Ta-Da! :)

What do you think?

HauntedEverAfter-JulietMadison

The design team at Harlequin Australia / Escape Publishing have given me another fabulous cover. It’s always so exciting to see a cover for the first time, and I end up giggling like a little girl. :D

This is my first cover with a guy on the front! Hello. Oh, except if you count the male nose and mouth on the cover of Starstruck in Seattle. ;)

As soon as it’s up on Goodreads, and on Amazon etc to preorder, I’ll post links. But for now, enjoy the cover and the blurb and excerpt below…

(Unofficial) blurb:

When bride-to-be, Sally Marsh attends a weekend away with her bridesmaids in the small country town of Barron Springs, the last thing she expects is for an uninvited visitor to tag along: the ghost of her fiancé’s ex-girlfriend.

She’s quirky, loud, and hyperactive, and the prim and proper Sally is desperate to find out why she’s being haunted so she can be free of her embarrassing disruptions before the wedding day. Problem is, the ghost is reluctant to share the reason for her presence, but seems intent on tempting her with the hot and charming stripper, Ty, who is always turning up at awkward moments. Is the ghost on a jealousy-fuelled mission to stop the wedding? 

By the time the ghost’s secrets are revealed, Sally’s strength will be tested to its limits, and she must go above and beyond anything she’s ever experienced in order to ensure a happy-ever-after for not only herself, but others too.

Exclusive excerpt:

She pushed her finger forwards, and — plop! —the stone fell from my grasp and down my t-shirt through the small valley of my cleavage. I shivered at its cold, smooth surface as it travelled down to my abdomen. ‘Oh no!’ Red laughed as I unbuttoned my jacket and tried to discreetly shove my hand down my top.

‘Can I help at all?’ I spun around to see Ty standing nearby, my hand still lodged between my boobs and my elbow pointing to the heavens, where I wished Red would toddle off to. I yanked my hand out and straightened my jacket.

‘No, I’m fine thanks. Where did you spring from?’

‘I saw you looking at something in your hand so I came to see what it was.’

‘Oh, it’s just a gemstone.’ I brushed a non-existent strand of hair from my face. ‘It sort of, um, fell down my top.’ I could still feel it low against my belly, but I didn’t think my arm could reach down far enough to get it. I could also feel an uncomfortable wave of heat rushing across my face, belying the fact that it was a cold winter’s day.

Ty tried to hold back a grin, but a hint of it twinkled at the sides of his mouth. ‘So, maybe just give your shirt a bit of a shake?’ He grasped his close-fitting black ribbed top at the hem and gave it a shake, and a glimpse of his tanned, hard abs brought back flashes of him last night in his underwear.

The heat on my face intensified. ‘Well, you see, I sort of can’t,’ I replied, touching the spot where the gemstone lay.

‘Why not?’

Oh dear God. Of all the days, why did I have to wear this thing underneath?

‘Because I’m wearing a bodysuit.’

Ty’s eyebrows rose. ‘Oh, one of those all-in-one lycra things?’

I nodded.

‘So you’d need to, um…’

‘Unhook it, below, yes.’ Too much information. Why was I telling him this? Surely a man of his ‘experience’ knew how a woman’s bodysuit was structured.

‘In that case, I’ll let you get on with it.’ He gestured behind and turned away, then turned back briefly. ‘I’ll just wait over here.’

I hid behind a stall and grasped the stone through my clothing with one hand, walking it up my body the way one does with a draw cord lost in the waistband of one’s pants, but it only moved slightly. I plunged my hand down my top again and dug around, but the tight-fit of the bodysuit made it difficult. C’mon gemstone! Where are you? It was like the Bermuda Triangle in here. If this failed I’d have to find the ladies bathrooms and do the unhooking, but if I could just get it…

I grunted, sinking my stomach muscles inwards to make more room for my arm, and stretching poor Mel’s t-shirt piece of art. My fingers came in contact with cold stone which I grasped, and with my other hand I pushed it upwards, until the stone was in my hand and my arm was finally out of a place I didn’t exactly aspire it to be whilst in public, or even private, for that matter. ‘Phew!’ I breathed out, having held my breath for a little while.

I adjusted my top and jacket and returned to where I’d been, feeling as though everyone was looking at me, even though they weren’t. Except Ty.

‘Got it?’ he asked.

I held up the stone in victory.

He clapped. ‘If you were single I would have given you a hand. You know, just to do the helpful gentlemanly thing.’ He winked.

Flirt. ‘Oh, I’m sure.’ I crossed my arms and diverted my gaze from his.

 

Stay tuned… HAUNTED EVER AFTER releases on 1st Sept 2014. Subscribe to this blog or to my email newsletter HERE to be reminded on release day.

Mid-year already?! Start over again with THE JANUARY WISH (99c sale)

It can’t possibly be the end of June. How did that happen? Weren’t we just setting New Year’s goals a few weeks ago? Time seems to be flying faster than ever before, or maybe we’re all so busy it just seems that way. 

january wishWhen I came up with the idea of a monthly-themed series I thought it would be fun to experience the characters and events of a small town over the course of one year, and so the Tarrin’s Bay Series was born. Twelve books for twelve months, linked by the same setting. The first two books are currently available and I’ve recently started writing the third (yay!) which will release in March 2015.

If you haven’t yet read the first book, THE JANUARY WISH, now is the time, as it is currently on special on Amazon for only 99c (I think this may only be for Aus/NZ readers though – sorry international friends! It was Amazon’s decision ;))

You can grab a copy here…. I don’t know how long Amazon will keep the discounted price!

>> Amazon.Com: CLICK HERE

>> Amazon.Com.Au: CLICK HERE

>> For all other ebook stores you can find the relevant links on my publisher’s page HERE.

 

What’s THE JANUARY WISH ABOUT?

When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it’s the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia’s small coastal town with secrets that can’t be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia’s well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered. 

This story is close to my heart. It was the second book I wrote and I put some of my own experiences into it, and for those that don’t know, the setting is based on where I live on the NSW South Coast. I was thrilled when this story became a finalist in the Choc Lit Australian Star contest, and even more thrilled when Escape Publishing decided to publish it.

If you’ve already read it, I hope you enjoyed it and if so, if you’d like to write a brief review on Amazon or Goodreads, that would be awesome. ;)

 

Where I’m at…

I’m currently writing MIRACLE IN MARCH, the third Tarrin’s Bay book (*note: these books can be read in any order, some characters reappear but there aren’t major spoilers). I’m enjoying revisiting Tarrin’s Bay and creating new characters to fall in love with. I think this one will be a bit of a tearjerker! But as always, my books have uplifting endings.

I’ve recently finished writing 12 DAVES OF CHRISTMAS, a romagic comedy novella, and this is due for release on 1st Dec 2014, but my next release is HAUNTED EVER AFTER on 1st September 2014, another romagic comedy but a full length novel.

hummingcake>> I’d like to say a big warm welcome to all my new subscribers who visited the blog for my post on How I Write Fast, the response was amazing and it is my second most popular blog post of all time since I started blogging! (The most popular post is How To Choose a Pen Name … hmm, what other ‘How To’s could I do?). Thanks to everyone who shared the post, here’s some virtual Hummingbird Cake for you (which features in The January Wish, served by the dreamy Jonah).

Next month I’m off to the RWA Australia conference in Sydney and I’ll be doing my first book signing for the Australian Romance Readers Association, so if you’re not far from Sydney, make sure you book a ticket and come say hello! There will be over 70 authors there!

julietmadisonWell, I better get back to writing, there is still half the year left! (optimist) ;)

You can also visit me online at Facebook and Twitter where I spend a bit lot of my time.

~ Juliet

 

Book Bundle Giveaway!

Author Jennie Jones is holding a multi-book giveaway to celebrate the first birthday of her bestselling rural romance, The House on Burra Burra Lane.

It is OPEN WORLDWIDE, and all you need to do to enter is visit my interview HERE, click the little green ‘subscribe to Jennie’s newsletter’ button on the right side of the page, then say ‘yes’ on the Rafflecopter form. Easy!

The winner will receive a special limited edition USB key from Escape Publishing, with six books loaded onto it just for you. Plus you’ll receive swag including bookmarks, postcards…etc.

CLICK HERE to enter and read an interview about my book The January Wish. Good luck, and tell your friends! :)

giveaway-jenniej

How I Write Fast (AKA: How I Wrote 70k in 20 days)

“You’re a machine,” people have told me. “How do you write so fast?” I’ve been asked. Well, today I’m going to tell you how.

writingfast-istockLet me start by saying that what I do may not suit everyone, it is just the way I work. If you can take something helpful away from my process to help your own writing, then that’s great. If not, then that’s perfectly okay.

First, a bit of background info…

I’ve been writing seriously since late 2009, so in a few months time that will make it five years. I’ve written six novels, three novellas, two partials/proposals (synopsis and three chapters), and a few short stories. Three of my novels are published, one is contracted (and another but it isn’t written yet), the other two novels are on submission. Two of my novellas are published, the third one is contracted. I self-published one of my short stories, two others are provided free on my website and the others are hiding away on my computer till I figure out what to do with them!

The first novel I wrote took me about a year. I’d heard that was an average time frame. But I want to write faster, I thought. My second novel took me nine months (ironically, the storyline touched on pregnancy), and my third novel but first to be published (Fast Forward) took me four months.

Hmmm, if I could decrease the length of time it took each time, how fast could I go?

Obviously, you can’t whip up a novel in a couple of days and nor would I want to. But my fourth novel took twenty days to write. Not consecutive days, but twenty days of actual writing over about two and a half months. The book was only 52,000 words, maybe it was a fluke? Nope, my fifth book which was 84,000 words took twenty-seven days and my sixth book which was 70,000 words took twenty days. Again, these weren’t consecutive days – I didn’t write for twenty days straight, and nor did I write all day, but I started this sixth book on 20th Jan and finished on 28th Feb, so just over a month.

To show you how I did this and how I write fast in general, I’m going to share some details on my writing process. One of my critique partners calls it the Pressure Cooker Method. Quite appropriate, since I love the pressure cooker in my kitchen ;)

To sum it up, my process is divided into three parts:

1. Plan

2. Write

3. Edit

Sometimes, the steps might overlap as I go back and forth with new plot ideas or if I feel like I really need to edit and perfect chapter five before writing chapter six.

The most important part for me is the planning.

Yes, my name is Juliet and I am a plotter.

If you’re a pantser and rolling your eyes right now thinking, ‘Oh, she’s one of them, this article is obviously not for me’, hang in there a moment. I didn’t always plot a lot. And sometimes, I even pantse myself, but I’ve learned that for me, plotting reduces how much editing and revising I have to do. This is good for me, because out of all the steps involved in writing it’s doing the actual writing that I enjoy the most. Some people say they like ‘having written’ but not the actual writing. I like having written too, but I love the writing itself – fingers typing away madly on the keyboard as ideas and thoughts scramble over themselves in an effort to be born onto the page. That makes me feel alive and powerful, gives me a natural high.

Did I jot down a plan for this blog post? You betcha. Just a few notes in point form, but I know what I’m going to write and what comes next, yet still I can pantse and type whatever comes into my head. A plan for me is not a strict guide to follow or else, but provides a framework to keep me on track.

 

1. PLAN

  • I usually start by visualizing the story in my mind. Much of the work is done before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I have to feel the story before I can write it. Luckily, I was always good at daydreaming, so this is like having a 3D high-definition movie playing in my head, minus the costly ticket prices, popcorn, and tall person in front blocking my view.
  • I also like to start with a title and a one sentence or one paragraph pitch or blurb so I know what the main premise of the story is. If you can get the story down to a paragraph, it helps you stay focused as you write and not waste time writing scenes that don’t move the story forward.
  • Then I write down as many things as I can about the story in what my critique partner and I like to call a Vomit Outline. Just blurt it all out, don’t worry about typos or chunky bits or weird bits, and don’t worry if it’s not in order, just do an info dump or word vomit. Sometimes I type this up and sometimes I handwrite it. No one needs to see this, so don’t hold back. You are allowed to write strange things like:

John and Jane bump into each other at a café (not literally) and swap phone numbers, they see each other again the following week (what will they do? Where will they go?), sometime later in novel they will talk about this day and reminisce, but before then some interesting stuff needs to happen (like what? What the hell is this story about?), and maybe they will be witness to a crime and then have to go on the run, some exciting stuff happens when they are on the run, and some romance, and they call a friend for help…but how will they charge their phones when they are on the run? Mental note: make it so the characters can at least grab their bags and phones and chargers before they go on the run… etc etc.

This is just a silly example but hopefully you get the drift. Sometimes this is one page, sometimes it’s eight – whatever works. This aint’ no synopsis, this is when you can let loose and spill it all onto the page; big things and little things, plot twists and even what the character ate for breakfast if you like (this is a vomit outline after all).

  • When I have a good grasp of the story and its main plot events and character arc (you don’t have to know everything about your story, you can come back to the outline later to add more), I make a timeline. I decide what timeframe the story takes place over and then make a word document with a table inserted, creating a sort of Story Itinerary or schedule. Don’t freak out, it’s nothing like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory or Monica from Friends would do. ;)
  • For the 70k story I wrote in 20 days (Haunted Ever After, releasing Sept 1st), the timeline was easier to plan as the story was only set over five days. In the table, there are two columns and one row for each day. If your story is set over a year, you could have one row for each month. In the first column of each row I list the day/date and I leave the second column blank. I make sure I’ve allowed enough room for each day and then I print out the table.
  • Look at your vomit outline, however gross and messy it may be, and take the key points/plot events and write them into bullet points in the appropriate day/month of your timeline. In pencil is best as you might rearrange them later. (It’s just struck me now that some writers use Scrivener, a writing program, which probably does similar things to this. Again, whatever works for you. This is what works for me). By the end you should have a list of general bullet points for every day/week/month when something takes place in your story. Eg: John has dinner at Jane’s house, John and Jane witness a crime…etc.

Now you have a schedule to follow when you write so you are not left wondering ‘what am I going to write about in this scene?’ Your story is mapped out and you are ready to write.

 

2. WRITE

*Note: I usually write chronologically, but with this method you can take any scene from your timeline and write it when you wish. If you want to write the end first, go for it. If you want to start from the beginning, go for it.

  • I decide how much time I have available for writing (eg: 30 mins, 2 hours), and get comfy. I have my writing instrument of choice (see below), my timeline, pen, and post-it notes on hand, as well as a timer. I decide what scene to write from my timeline and pick one of the bullet points. Then I break this down into more bullet points! This doesn’t take long, and I only do it just before a writing session. I put these new bullet points onto a post-it note and stick it beside my screen. Each point is one ‘thing’ that happens, even if only small.

Eg: for ‘John has dinner at Jane’s house’, I could break this down to:

    • Jane opens the door and John gives her flowers, Jane sneezes.
    • Jane serves dinner and realizes she forgot that John is vegetarian.
    • Jane and John share awkward conversation.
    • They hear yelling outside and go to the window to look.

Or, here’s a real life example of one of my scene post-its:

postit

  • Now that I know what’s going to happen I can type madly, turning the events into a cohesive scene. But first, SET A TIMER. This is what helps me write extra fast! Even if I have two hours available to write, I’ll only set the timer for 30 or 60 minutes. Then I’ll reset it. I’ve found that a shorter time limit makes me write more words.
  • While the timer is running, the only thing I do is write. I don’t worry about what I’m writing, I have my plot points on the post-it next to me so I know what needs to happen, and the writing itself can be fixed up in edits later on. No checking emails or social media, no answering the phone. YOU ARE WORKING! You are currently unavailable and in an appointment. That is how I view my writing sessions. If you were serving a customer in a shop would you stop halfway through their purchase and say ‘hang on, I just want to check this Facebook notification’? No. Treat writing like any other job. You can check your messages when the timer is up.

Following this method, I can usually write between 1200-1500 words an hour, sometimes up to 1800. So if my word goal is 3000 words a day, this would only take two hours.

  • After I’ve written for the day, I usually jot down the date and how many words I wrote that day on a scrap of paper stuck to my wall with blue-tak. When I finish my book I can see how many productive days I had and how long it took to write the book, which makes it easier to plan for upcoming deadlines. When first starting with this, you can also choose to note down how many hours you wrote for each day so you can work out your average words-per-hour. If you have a competitive streak like me, you’ll want to up your game and beat your personal best. ;)

*Note: Here’s a little secret that has had a BIG impact on how fast I write: I don’t write on a computer! I write on a nifty little device called an Alphasmart NEO2, or NEO for short.

NEOIt’s a lightweight portable word processor that runs on AA batteries (which means no charging or running out of battery while out and about – it took over two years before I had to change my NEO’s batteries!).

Apart from the battery life, the other benefits are that it has a small screen that only shows a few lines of text so you have less temptation to re-read what you’ve written while writing, the screen isn’t backlit so you don’t get sore eyes (it’s that old fashioned black text on a greyish-green screen), and there is no internet! On this machine, you JUST WRITE. Also, it saves automatically as you type (even if you turn it off, you can turn it back on and resume where you were without losing anything), it turns on in an instant so there’s no waiting for things to load, and when you’re done you plug it into a computer via USB and can import directly to a word document (the words will gradually appear while it transfers) or save it as a text file and copy/paste into a word document. I LOVE IT. I also find the small layout really easy on my hands for typing and to get comfy with it on your lap. And it doesn’t get all hot like a laptop. Plus, if you accidentally leave it in your car no one will steal it because they probably won’t know what it is and think it’s an old, outdated piece of junk!

Sadly, the supplier I bought my NEO from has said that they are not making them anymore due to everyone using iPads and whatnot. I would still prefer writing on my NEO to an iPad. I wrote my last novella on my laptop and found that I was nowhere near as fast as on the NEO. You should still be able to buy them from eBay or Amazon though (might be second hand), so if it sounds like something that could help you then do a search online and see what you can find.

*Another note: I usually write while lying down. Bit hard if you’re using a desktop computer but if you write with a laptop or NEO, try it! Don’t know if it makes a difference, but it sure helps me get comfortable and makes sure I don’t get up and do anything else when I should be writing! Maybe it’s a blood flow thing too, who knows?

 

3. EDIT

  • If I have time, either right after a writing session or at the end of every day or two, I’ll do a quick read-through and tweak of the chapter/s I’ve just done. If I’m writing a novella I’ll usually just leave it all until it’s finished, but I find with a novel, doing this helps remind me of certain plot points and characteristics to help me stay focused and write the later scenes. And it’s good for picking up when you’ve accidentally changed someone’s name or hair colour.
  • By doing the above, and by doing the detailed planning and plotting before writing, I’ve found there isn’t usually a lot to be done with editing. This wasn’t true for my first and second books when I was just learning the ropes, they required A LOT of revisions (and I’m still going back and forth revising that first book each time I get new feedback).
  • When the manuscript is finished, I can usually do the edits in a few days. First, I go to my trusty list of overused and passive words and search for each in my manuscript, deleting them or changing them to something better. As I do this, I often find little things to adjust or improve in the narrative or dialogue, and doing little tweaks out of order can be helpful because you are not involved in reading the story at this point.
  • When I’ve cut or changed as many of the passive words as possible, I do a mental checklist on the story and characters, making sure I haven’t forgotten any important details and seeing if there are ways I can enhance their characterization in subtle ways through their appearance, word choices, and behavior and body language.
  • Then I read through the manuscript from beginning to end and tweak anything else that’s needed as I go. I try to set aside a good chunk of time to do this so I can read the whole book in a day or two, which makes it easier to pick up on inconsistencies and repetition.
  • Done! I send to my critique partners if there’s time then do another edit with their feedback, or I send to my publisher and await the final verdict.

>> For my 70k in 20 days manuscript, Haunted Ever After, I kept track of when I wrote and how many words I wrote. I started on 20th January and finished on 28th February, and wrote on twenty days during that time. My word counts ranged from 1300 a day to 5000 or 6000 a day (but most were around the 2000-3000 mark), reaching a grand total of 70 227 words, and getting it sent to my publisher on deadline day.

>> My 84k in 27 days manuscript was written in a similar way, starting on 1st July and finishing on 7th September.

Does writing fast lead to a reduction in quality? I’ll let you be the judge! My 84k book February or Forever was published last February and you can check it out here.

 

If you don’t know me well you might be wondering if I have a lot of time on my hands to churn books out. No, I’m a busy single mother with a son with special needs. For the last four years I played teacher and helped him through high school via distance education, while also running an online business and writing my books.

We’re all busy these days, but if you’re passionate about being a writer, you will make time to write. Life gets in the way for sure, and I certainly don’t write every day because some days it is just not possible, but I try to not let too many days get away from me.

I also try to remember my priorities. If something can wait for another day, I let it wait. My priorities lie with the wellbeing of myself and my family and close friends, my responsibilities to my publisher, and then with others. Don’t let little things waste your time, and be kind to yourself. Allocate time to write when you will refuse to get sucked into demands from others (unless you have a young baby or child or other urgent reasons, then you have to be creative with your time!). Make writing a priority and don’t be hard on yourself when you get to the end of a hard day and haven’t done any. Go to sleep, start again tomorrow.

Another thing that helps me write fast is that I have a lot of determination to succeed in this industry. It’s my passion, it’s what I want to do with my life, so I treat it with the importance that it deserves. Having dreams and clear goals can help you get your books written faster, especially when you have lots of other ideas you want to write about! Knowing that when I finish one book I can start on another ‘ve been dying to write keeps me going!

…So think about what you want to achieve with your writing. If you want to write at a leisurely pace at the end of the day for your own enjoyment, whether or not you get published, then writing fast may not be a concern for you. If you want to be a prolific author with multiple books published and make a full time career out of it, then learning to increase your writing speed will help you greatly. This doesn’t mean you should rush, just be efficient. Try some of my tips if you like, see how they go, and remember that it is okay to do things your own way. What I do may not work for everyone, but I hope that it will help at least one of you out there to maximize your writing time and get more joy and satisfaction from bringing your ideas to life.

 

~ Juliet 

 

P.S – Now that I’ve written a long blog post on how to write fast, I’m off to search for a blog post on how to write shorter blog posts… ;)

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