Category Archives: Life
Today, April 14th, is my birthday so I thought I’d do a birthday-themed blog post! It’s especially fitting because my debut novel, FAST FORWARD, which was released a couple of months ago, takes place mostly over one day – the main character’s birthday.
Young, hip, and gorgeous Kelli, from Fast Forward, is getting ready to celebrate her 25th birthday, but she wakes up to the birthday present of her nightmares – she’s jumped ahead to the future and is a 50 year old flabby, wrinkly, housewife, married to the nerd she used to tease in high school. Not only that, she has two grown children she doesn’t recognise, a daggy best friend, she has to give an important business presentation of which she knows nothing about, and she has no idea how to get back to her old, I mean, young life.
I’m glad to say I’ve never had a birthday as challenging or memorable as Kelli’s, but I’ve had a lot of good ones! (The photo of the chocolates on the plate was taken at a restaurant for my birthday a couple of years ago).
At my thirtieth I had a fancy dress costume party with a 70’s and 80’s theme. Guests had to come dressed as someone from either of those decades. I dressed as a psychedelic chick with straight hair parted in the middle and wore white flared pants and a multicoloured top, and my son dressed as Michael Jackson in the afro stage, complete with black shoes with white socks. A couple of my cousins around the same age as me dressed as girls from the eighties with lovely teased fringes (bangs, for my US friends), ponytails, and lovely eighties clothes and jewellery. We hired a juke-box to play music from those eras, and it was a lot of fun!
This birthday, I received a fantastic early present just a few days ago – an offer of publication from Escape Publishing for my romantic comedy novella, I DREAM OF JOHNNY! (More news on that later on). Now that’s memorable
I decided to ask a few facebook friends about their birthday memories, and here are their responses:
My best birthday memory was for one of those horrible ones with an 0 on the end. My family decided to treat me to a ‘ride on a Harley’ as I’d been rabitting on about it. I was collected from the house and driven right around the Gold Coast on this wonderful Harley motorbike, letting rip with whoops of joy as we zoomed around the roads. It was amazing. My ‘driver’ was a hoot and totally entered into the spirit of the thing, but a very good driver.
My mother was the archetypal feminist and she vetoed a series of dodgy presents from my wish lists over the years. Like the time I wanted a bride doll, and I got a Basil Brush puppet. Or the time I wanted Pretty in Pink Barbie, and got a budgie. All that changed when I was 12. I got some birthday money, and raced out to purchase Golden Dream Barbie. I brought her home, unwrapped her carefully, and discovered that I was kind of too old for Barbies by then anyway.
The weirdest thing is, 37 years later, my daughter has more Barbies than you could pack into a Barbie camper (mostly hand-me-downs from older cousins). And what does she want, more than anything in the world? A budgie. Go figure!!
I won a novel writing competition with the prize of publication.
The book was scheduled to come out a few days after my birthday but when I mentioned that the publisher managed to bring it forward so it came out on my birthday (30 March last year).
Don’t think a writer could have a better birthday present than a copy of their first published novel.
I spent my 40th birthday alone and homesick, having just moved to the UK for a few years. I took a rowdy early-morning call from friends back home while I was in the dining room of a Scarborough hotel I’m sure was the model for Fawlty Towers, with shades of Mr Bean’s holiday hotel thrown in. The elderly hotel guests were tutting over their baked beans and kippers as this hysterical Australian woman howled with laughter (and a few tears) into the phone. At least the horror of the hotel eased the horror of turning 40!
What was your most memorable birthday?
Now, I’m off to celebrate, eat some yummy food, and blow out the 25 candles on my cake (ha! I wish! Oops, you have to be careful what you wish for).
I’m excited to be part of the Book’d Out Australia Day Blog Hop! I, along with many other Australian bloggers and authors are running giveaways between Jan 25th and Jan 28th to celebrate Australia and the Australian writing community, so be sure to check out all the other blogs participating too – you could win lots of prizes! I’m giving away a $20 Amazon gift voucher and an ebook copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART, a heartwarming tale set in the small Australian town of Tarrin’s Bay (fictional, but based on where I live… read more about that below).
MY LITTLE PART OF AUSTRALIA:
I moved from the mountains to the sea two years ago, and in a way, I feel like I’m on holidays ALL THE TIME. Not that I sit about relaxing all day – far from it! – but the location, my surroundings, the atmosphere, it has that magical holiday feel.
I live in a town called Kiama on the south coast of New South Wales. Every morning I step out on my balcony and gaze at the ocean, watching the waves crash against the headland and breathing in the fresh, salty air. I love it. And I love the surrounding towns too.
Here are some other things I love about my little part of Australia…
~ The people – Everyone is so friendly, from the stranger saying hello while out walking to the customer service with a smile at one of the many shops. There’s a real sense of community spirit and united appreciation for this beautiful place.
~ The landscape – We are lucky to have both a scenic coastline with beautiful beaches and also a vast rural landscape of lush green hills and farmland. It’s country and coast combined. Many tourists come to visit our two popular blowholes and stand by with cameras at the ready to capture the sudden, huge splurge of water shooting through the rocks from the ocean below.
~ The climate – Although we get some really cold days in winter and some really hot days in summer (45°C last week!), most of the time the weather sits in the perfect early to mid 20’s. I love that it’s not usually as hot as up north and I love that it’s not as cold as the mountains where I used to live (and needed gloves, thermals, two pairs of socks, and a heavy layer of blankets that required super human strength to lift off in the morning!). It’s a nice ‘in-between’ type of climate.
~ The best of both worlds – Being the first country town south of Sydney, it has that homely small town feel – no high rises, no major shopping centres, no McDonald’s…etc, while still offering all the conveniences of modern society.
~ The events – There is always something to do, especially on weekends (Kiama is a popular tourist destination – it is packed in January!). The seaside markets are always popular… I love strolling around the harbour and looking at all the arts, crafts, jewellery, books, food, and other interesting finds while watching the sunlight shimmer on the ocean. There are jazz festivals, arts festivals, surfing competitions, a local show with fireworks, New Years Eve celebrations, and a wonderful Christmas carols in the park each year.
Have I convinced you to move here yet? If there’s no chance of that you can still enjoy this special place through my upcoming series of novels set in the fictional town of Tarrin’s Bay, which I’ve based on Kiama and other surrounding towns. Watch this space! And you can read a bit about this series on my ‘books’ page. Remember to subscribe to the blog to keep updated on news.
And now for the giveaway…
>>To WIN a $20 Amazon gift voucher and an ebook copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART, leave a comment below and answer the following question:
‘What do you love about Australia? Or if you’re not an Aussie, why do you want to visit Australia?’
*Competition open worldwide and closes at midnight 28th January. Winner will be announced in this post and notified via email.
Good luck, and ‘av a happy Austraya Day!
Happy new year! I just love January 1st and the feeling of a fresh start, and today is even more exciting… This very day one year ago I started writing a new story. I opened a word document, began typing, and before I knew it three chapters had been written. This story was FAST FORWARD. Now, one year later, it is not only finished but about to be published with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing. My first published book. The scheduled release date is February 1st 2013 and I cannot wait! So if you’ve been thinking of writing a novel, or have an idea for a new one – get writing! You never know, this time next year you could be celebrating a publishing contract.
So much can happen in a year. I think it’s nice to take a look back and celebrate progress, achievements, and good times…
In terms of writing, in 2012 I… edited a manuscript, did extensive revisions on another manuscript (which I’m still revising), wrote FAST FORWARD, wrote my first novella STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE, wrote and self-published a short story SISTERS AT HEART, started writing my next romantic comedy HAUNTED HOUSEWIVES, received my first publishing contract, and made the finals in Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for an Australian Star contest with my manuscript THE JANUARY WISH. The events I attended were the ARRA awards dinner in Sydney and the RWA annual conference on the Gold Coast. I connected with a wonderful critique partner who is now a dear friend, and formed an online writing goals group. I also spent way too much time on Facebook and Twitter but we won’t go into that.
Out of all that, the only things I’d planned for at the start of the year were to complete Fast Forward and attend the RWA conference. Everything else ‘just happened’. My main goal for 2012 was to get a contract for one of my books, and I still smile when I think about how that goal came true.
So what’s the plan for 2013?? I’m still working that out, but I’d like to increase the amount of time I spend writing (or at least, write faster), and at a minimum, complete two full length books. Because I tend to shoot for the stars I’d also like to write another one or two novellas (the next one in my ‘Love Angel’ series to follow Starstruck in Seattle, and a brand new stand-alone one called ‘I Dream of Johnny’), complete a rough (or clean, whatever) draft of the first book in my young adult series The Delta Girls, and write a short story for a Christmas anthology I’ve agreed to participate in. I’d also like to find a way to survive without sleep.
Will I achieve all that? Who knows, but it’s worth a shot! I think the main thing is to keep moving forward, keep learning about writing and publishing, and keep getting those words down. Progress is an achievement in itself.
As for my blog, wordpress has created an annual report for me and I’ll share some of the stats with you:
- May was my busiest month which coincided with my first ‘themed month’ on the blog; Mouthwatering May.
- The busiest day was May 27th and the post on that day was Sunday Lunch with Jenn J McLeod.
- The top five posts that received the most views throughout 2012 were:
- I had visitors from 110 different countries! Most of my visitors came from Australia, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.
- Most visitors were referred to my blog via Facebook, twitter, my website, Google reader, and Survey Monkey.
- The most popular words/phrases people typed into a search engine to end up at my blog were:
1. List of awkward questions
2. How to choose a pen name
3. Juliet Madison
4. How to come up with a pen name
5. How to set the scene in a story
- The most interesting, unique, weird, funny, or non-relevant things people typed into a search engine which led them to my blog were: Little Miss Bossy (me?), plastic surgery Florida (not a chance), luxury hotel foyer, where is Sticklepond (I don’t know, I wonder if they found out?), chatterbox characters, I work at the post office, It was a dark and stormy night (how original), in bed with Juliet (umm…), extreme sport reading (that’s my kind of extreme sport!), Santa Claus hat cookie, and starting fresh.
- The top five people who left the most comments on my blog (and are now my new best friends) were:
1. Rachael Johns (who has a new book out today in Aus/NZ, Man Drought – check it out!)
2. Jenn J McLeod (whose debut novel, House For All Seasons releases March 1st.)
3. Juliana (any person whose name starts with Juli has to be awesome ;))
4. Rebecca Raisin (a talented writer and winner of short story awards!)
5. Imelda Evans (whose novel, Rules Are For Breaking was released recently)
Thanks guys! And congrats to Rachael for coming first (it was a close one, Jenn)
What’s in store for my blog in 2013? Lots of author interviews, including my new segment ‘Past, Present, and Future’, posts about writing, reading, life, publishing, and marketing for authors. And I’m sure there’ll be more competitions! Speaking of competitions, I’m giving away some goodies each week until the day of my book release, but exclusively to subscribers of my email newsletter. To subscribe, head over to my website and fill in the subscription form (you’ll also get my free Triple Treat with two short stories and an e-guide for living a life you love).
So that’s it for this New Year’s Day post. Here’s to an awesome, exciting, magical, spellbinding, successful, prosperous, entertaining, happy, fulfilling (and various other adjectives) new year!!
~ Juliet xo
I’ve been writing fiction seriously for about three years, and when I first started I kept hearing people talk about ‘Call Stories’ but I had no idea what they were. I soon discovered that The Call is when a publisher offers you a contract for your manuscript, even if it happens to be via email. By the time I’d finished my first manuscript I was hooked on writing and hoped that one day I’d be writing about my own Call Story.
Three manuscripts later that day arrived!
But let me backtrack a little…
Late in 2011 I started getting ideas for a new book which would be my third. I came up with the premise (an image-conscious young woman wakes on her birthday to find she’s a middle-aged housewife married to the also middle-aged high school nerd), and let it simmer for a while. Gradually, the character developed in my mind and I came up with the title, Fast Forward. I was also playing around with another couple of book ideas at the time and getting started on some major revisions for my first manuscript.
At the start of 2012 (New Years Day to be exact), I was staying with family and planning on taking a few days off to relax and read a few books, but my muse had other ideas.
Over breakfast, I flipped through one of my mother’s many home and lifestyle magazines and an advertisement caught my eye. It was for an interior design course and showed pictures of beautiful furniture and homewares. Before that day, I had decided that my main character would be involved in designing homewares, so on a whim I cut out the ad for inspiration. I still hadn’t decided yet which book idea I would pursue and was pondering my options as I flipped through the magazine. I asked myself, ‘Which book should I start next?’ (and by next I meant in another few weeks or so), and on the very next page in the magazine was an article titled: Fast Forward.
I had my answer.
And I cut out that title too. (I’m sure my mother didn’t mind me getting all scissor-happy with her magazines ;))
I took this as a sign, or more accurately; a direct kick-in-the-pants to get started on this story, so instead of curling up with a book I opened my laptop and began writing. The first few chapters flew from my fingers to the keyboard over the next three days.
For the rest of the month I worked on editing a different manuscript and put Fast Forward aside until February, at around the same time as I found myself a fantastic critique partner. She read my chapters and enjoyed them and spurred me on to write more. I didn’t work on it every day, but rarely a week went by when I didn’t add more to the story. I couldn’t believe how fun and fast this story was to write. Sometimes I’d stay up till 2 or 3am because I was enjoying myself so much (although I suffered the next day). Don’t get me wrong, parts of it were plain hard work – especially figuring out how to make a 300-ish page story take place over just one day in the character’s life (I constructed a timeline in fifteen-minute increments!).
By the time June came around I only had another 20,000 words to go, so I signed up for RWA’s 50k in 30 days challenge and vowed to finish it by the end of the month.
Half way through June I typed ‘The End’. Overall it took me about four months to write.
I sent the rest off to my critique partner who gave me some very helpful suggestions and I went straight to work editing it. I didn’t want to put it aside for a while like many authors (rightfully) recommend. My heart was still in this story and I wanted to work on it while it felt fresh.
I edited the first three chapters many more times until I was happy with the beginning, and did a final read through. I then entered online pitch contests and began the time-consuming process of researching agents, publishers, and sending out queries. All in all I got about twenty agent rejections and two editor rejections, but received feedback and took (most of it) on board, tweaking some parts of the manuscript.
Then I pitched it at the RWA conference on the Gold Coast in August, and while I was there, learned of Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint, Escape. At first I didn’t think my story would be suitable (for starters, my hero was a nerd!) and I went home and sent off my other submissions. After seeing Escape’s tweets on twitter, I decided I should check out their submission guidelines anyway and they seemed fairly open-minded about different genres and mixed genres as long as it had a significant romance and happy ending. Mine was a combination of women’s fiction, chick lit, hen lit, comedy, romance, futuristic, and paranormal (what was I thinking?!). In the end I decided on romantic comedy and sent off a partial submission, knowing I’d find out in two weeks if it wasn’t suitable.
Much to my surprise I got a full manuscript request less than two weeks later, and three weeks after that I got an offer of publication.
On that wonderful day I remembered I’d actually had a dream about Harlequin Escape the night before – talk about prophetic! I checked my email as usual first thing in the morning, but there was nothing interesting. I decided to sit outside in the sun for a while to soak up some vitamin D and brought my iPhone with me. My email made that sound telling me I had new email and I glanced at the screen expecting it to be yet another ‘20% off all dresses, today only!’ or a very tempting ‘Booktopia Clearance Sale!’. But it was from Escape.
I mentally prepared myself for another rejection. All I could see was a couple of lines of a message preview:
‘Thank you for submitting Fast Forward to Harlequin Escape. I am delig…’
Delig? Was that part of the word I thought it was? …Delighted?
Then I thought it might say: “I am delighted that you wrote this story but unfortunately it is not right for us.’
But I knew it wouldn’t. I knew what it was going to say and my hand shook as I pressed the screen to open the message.
‘I am delighted to accept it for publication.’
The shaking intensified and lots of ‘Ohmygod’s’ spewed repeatedly from my mouth. I’m sure my neighbours thought I was having a heart attack. It was a really humid day and my palms were so sweaty from heat and excitement I could barely scroll the screen down to read the rest of the message!
I had to keep the news fairly quiet at first so I just rang my parents (who sent me a huge bunch of flowers later that day), and then my critique partner (90% of our conversation was the word ‘exciting’), and spent the rest of the day with a permanent grin on my face and completely unable to do anything productive.
It still amazes me that it was only less than a year ago I started writing this story and now it’s about to be released. I love how fast digital publishing works and I’m looking forward to getting this story out into the big wide world of the internet! I’m also excited to be involved with Harlequin, a company who has such a strong foundation and worldwide brand.
To all the writers out there – keep writing, editing, polishing, and submitting, and embrace the digital age.
To all the readers – keep reading, reviewing, and telling your friends about great books.
Thanks for reading my call story!
…To celebrate this milestone I feel like being generous and giving away stuff! To win some goodies, keep an eye on the blog (or subscribe if you like) for a giveaway coming very soon…
Write scary stuff that is.
As soon as I write or even think about something scary my mind becomes hypersensitive to anything and everything around me. I jump when the phone rings. I flinch when a strand of hair falls loose onto my cheek. I even gasp when the toast pops up (C’mon, I bet you’ve done that too, right?). Yet for some reason I’ve decided to create a ghost character in my new work-in-progress.
Don’t worry, I haven’t gone over to the dark side to write horror novels, I’m still writing humorous and heartwarming fiction. It’s just that I’ve thrown a ghost into the mix to liven things up in my story, appropriately titled: Haunted Housewives.
This is the second in my ‘Touch of Magic’ themed romantic comedy books, the first being Fast Forward (which involves time travel). My aim with these books is to create fun stories of modern life but with some sort of magical or paranormal twist.
So I thought a ghost would be a perfect inclusion into one of these stories to spice up the tension and create some funny scenarios.
Until freaky things started happening.
Since starting this story I have almost started a fire in the kitchen, had a plate slip right out of my hand and break even though I was sure I was holding it firmly, and opened the fridge to find the drink tray on the door filled to the brim with milk (almond milk – we don’t do dairy, but that’s another and totally irrelevant subject!). And my cat is acting like he’s possessed, biting me for no apparent reason. Okay, so those things could just be because I’m a worn out mother going on little sleep (and the milk was probably my son despite insisting he put the lid back on tightly and closed the door gently), but I’m a writer. I like to stretch the imagination a little. Or a lot. :)
But this is interesting... When I was deciding on a name for the main character, a name popped into my mind. I liked the first name but the surname didn’t feel completely right. I asked myself ‘What would a better surname be?’ and instantly another one came to me. I googled it. The name was the same name of a murder victim, and (with tears in my eyes) I read about her terrifying ordeal in an online newspaper. Then I gasped. The article mentioned a street name not far from her house which had the same name as the original surname I’d thought of.
Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
I decided to keep the first name (Sally) for the character but change the surname to something different. However, I am thinking of dedicating this book to the woman who died to honour her memory.
So for the next few months or so, ghosts will be on my mind. I’ve always loved ghost stories and movies and television shows with ghosts in them, so I’m excited to be writing this ghostly character and seeing what mischief she gets up to and what challenging and funny situations she puts the main character into. It’s definitely not a spooky story by nature, but I hope there will be a few shocks and surprises throughout.
Do you have a favourite ghost story or movie?
Do you have any spooky experiences to share?
Oh, here’s another one… I didn’t even realise this blog post would be on Halloween! How appropriate. Happy Halloween! (And don’t visit my house for Trick or Treating because I’ve already eaten all the goodies.
The sun is shining in my part of the world today, birds are chirping, the ocean is sparkling, and colours are beginning to burst to life in the garden. To celebrate the start of Spring, I visited author Jenn J McLeod’s blog to be the first seedling to take part in her Author Harvest.
I love reading interviews that help me get to know other authors, but it’s nice to read something a little out-of-the-ordinary and this series of questions Jenn has come up with are so much fun! Click here to check out the interview, and while you’re there, find out more about Jenn whose debut novel, A House For All Seasons will be out in time for Mother’s Day 2013 in Australia. I can’t wait!
Since it’s my Mouthwatering May blog special event, I thought I’d share with you how I got into both cooking and writing, and the role that my son played in this…
Let’s start with the cooking… now, I’m no Masterchef, and nor do I want to be, but I did develop a bit of a knack for cooking when my son was little. As it turns out, he had a few food intolerances, and after doing an elimination diet with him I discovered he was sensitive to almost EVERYTHING I tested him with. Preservatives, MSG, colours..etc were the main culprits. So I began buying ‘additive free cookbooks’ and also experimenting with recipes of my own.
It was around this time I was also studying for my naturopathic qualifications, so I became more aware of food and nutrition and its impact on the body, and I was wanting to cook fresher, healthier meals. Also, I later discovered in addition to many additives he was also intolerant to dairy foods and gluten (found in bread, pasta, biscuits, and almost every single packaged food!), so once again I donned my well-used apron and experimented with even more recipes.
There were many disasters; homemade breads that crumbled to oblivion, inedible muffins that tasted like rocks, and don’t get me started on the pathetic cheese-less pizzas! But time and practise are great teachers, and soon I was whipping up meals and snacks that not only he liked, but other people too. Now, eating this way is a way of life, and I rarely follow a recipe. I’m an intuitive cook – I throw things together and make it up as I go.
Some of my favourite sweet creations (which have no sugar either! …except for the icing ;)) are: choc hazelnut and coconut muffins, gluten and dairy free banana cake, and choc macadamia cookies. And some of my favourite meal creations are: chicken soup with broccoli-stem ‘noodles’, roast balsamic chicken with mushroom, zuchinni, and carrots, lamb cutlets with sautéed bok choy, mushrooms and mustard dressing, warm chicken and red cabbage salad, grilled salmon with steamed broccolini and toasted pine nuts, butter-less butter chicken, and smoked salmon and avocado rice rolls (see pic above). Yum!!
So how did my son get me into writing? I always had a vague idea in my mind that I might write a book one day, but it was one of those things you never really think will happen. I wrote poetry as a teenager, and when I became a mother I started writing a few snippets of random scenes that would pop into my head, and even began a suspense novel, but gave up at chapter two!
Anyway, life moved on, I became busy with other things, and my son began pestering me to take him out of school and home-school him. At this time, I was running a busy and successful business, and could barely cope with helping him with his homework, let alone consider the idea of doing it ALL day EVERY day. But as my son neared high school and his high-functioning autism became more of an issue, it became apparent that the school system just wasn’t suited to his individual needs, and things became too much of a struggle (that’s another story!). So, I left my business to have a break and think things over for a while, eventually deciding on distance education instead of full-on homeschooling. Luckily, after a detailed application process, he was accepted, and although he’s not a fan of school in general, it’s been the best thing for him.
So what’s this got to do with writing? Well, after I left my business and made the commitment to do what was best for my son, the idea of writing a book resurfaced in my mind. I thought… “If I don’t do this now, I never will.” So after we’d finish school for the day I would spend time working on my first novel. And this time, I made it past chapter two (yay!), and eventually, after one year, I reached THE END. It was the best feeling EVER, and I wanted more. So I started my second novel, and nine months later typed THE END again. And now, I am nearing the end of my third novel which so far I’ve been writing for about four months (I must be getting faster!).
So there you have it, if it wasn’t for my son convincing me to home-school him, I may have continued working long hours in my business, with no time for anything else, and with my old ‘one chapter suspense novel’ being the only thing I’d ever written.
I was one of the lucky 350 attendees of the Romance Writers of Australia’s conference, held in Melbourne on 12th-14th August. The organisers did a fantastic job, and everything ran smoothly and professionally, allowing us writers to sit back and enjoy the event.
This was my first writer’s conference, yet I felt like part of a family, and was never without an interesting person to talk to. It was great to meet many of my online writing friends face to face, and I’m sure they were surprised to see that I am in fact a real person and not the cartoon avatar they’ve seen online!
I’m incredibly grateful to have met many wonderful authors, and the support and encouragement they gave me was amazing. There was no ‘us and them’, or ‘published and unpublished’, we were all united as writers, no matter what stage of the journey we’re at.
The venue (Hilton on the park, Melbourne) was lovely, and simply being child-free for four days without having to think about housework or real life in general was absolute bliss! I always love the feeling of arriving home, but I also love being able to think solely about writing and publishing for a few days without the distractions of daily life. Is it too early to book for next year’s conference??
I took as many notes as possible. Some information was new to me, some reinforced things I’d already learned but needed to be reminded of. Most importantly, I left feeling inspired, empowered, and dedicated to this path I’ve chosen.
The speakers were all fantastic, and I enjoyed listening and learning from Bob Mayer, Susan Wiggs, Lisa Heidke, Nikki Logan, Jane Porter, Christine Stinson, and all the authors, agents, and editors who enlightened, informed, and entertained.
Here are some of the key learnings I got from various speakers at the conference:
- Writing is an entertainment business – emotion & numbers
- Always stay one book ahead of your contract
- Have SOP’s – standard operating procedures, for organising your writing time, social media, emails…etc
- Write about what scares you most – the emotion will show through
- Write what you WANT to know
- Get ideas by thinking, ‘What if?’, ‘What if something is not what it appears to be?’
- Dissect plots in movies by looking at ‘scene selection’ and scene titles on DVD’s
- Show a character’s true nature through crisis
- Find time for writing by tracking how you spend your time over one week – where can you cut back on time wasters and devote that time to writing?
- Use twitter hashtags to attract target market, eg: ‘If you like #nameofsimilarbookormovie, you’ll like #nameofyourbook
- Characterisation: Consciously communicate subconscious behaviour that the reader will subconsciously get
- A book series can be unified by concept, theme, characters, setting
- Sell a few .99c ebooks as ‘hooks’ to introduce readers to your other books
- Women’s fiction for the 40+ age group is a hot market
- Self help books can be useful for researching character issues and how they overcome them
- Children in books – must bring something out in the characters
- Technique for endings – try mirroring the opening of the book, unites beginning to end
- Don’t wait until publication to think about a ‘brand’, do it now
- A brand is a promise, a symbol, and triggers an emotional response and recognition
- Can brand yourself as an author, or your books, or a character
- When stuck with the writing process, do something else within the story – research setting, visual prompts, write a letter from your character to an old friend in first person
- Content is king, promotion is queen
- And much more!
Apart from the conference sessions, the social part was memorable too. The 1920’s themed cocktail party was a lot of fun, as was the awards dinner (congratulations to all the award winners!), and I was happy to do my bit for the fundraising for the Otis Foundation, a charity I hadn’t heard of until now, who plays an extremely valuable role in providing retreats for women and men going through breast cancer.
Thanks to the RWA team, my fellow writers, the speakers, agents, editors, sponsors, and hotel staff for making it a conference to remember.
I’m looking forward to a successful lifelong writing career – from here… to eternity.
Yesterday, July 24th, saw the birth of the first ever ‘Global Read In Bed Day’, an initiative of mine to raise funds for literacy charities (and give participants an excuse to spend a relaxing day curled up with a good book!).
The GRIBD Facebook group has around fifty members so far, and I hope this will grow as word gets out, so the next time we have another ‘Read In Bed Day’, even more people can participate!
But what’s this about reading in bed being an extreme sport? Well, throughout the day, injuries, exhaustion, and obstacles were reported.
Injuries: I fell down the stairs on one of my ‘reading breaks’, resulting in a swollen wrist and aching leg muscles (I have been hobbling around today as though I’m ninety-five!).
Exhaustion: Some participants reported almost falling asleep, and one (yours truly) actually did.
Obstacles: Some participants had to navigate around work committments, taxi duties, parenting responsibilities, and the dreaded ‘that-which-must-not-be-named’ (aka: housework), in order to have a few minutes here and there of reading time. One participant even had the distraction of being in the beautiful South of France. Talk about difficult!
Who said Reading In Bed was easy? If you’re planning on participating in the next event, do so at your own risk!
Some of the books read by participants included:
Just Breathe, and Lakeshore Christmas, by Susan Wiggs.
Sushi For Beginners, by Marian Keyes.
The Bet, by Jennifer Crusie.
Nadia Knows Best, by Jill Mansell.
Alice Bliss, by Laura Harrington.
The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost, by Rachel Friedman.
Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin.
Even the Sunday newspapers and a writer’s work-in-progress got some love!
To join the Global Read In Bed Day Facebook group, click here and log into your Facebook account.