romance writer

So long, 2020…

don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out!

I DOUBT there would have been a single person on the planet who could have predicted just how crap-tac-ular 2020 would turn out for most of us.

I know I sure as hell didn’t.

While the rest of the world was recovering from COVID’s devastating first wave, my beautiful Melbourne was rocked by a second wave that saw our city locked down tighter than a duck’s arse.

For many Melburnians, this meant juggling working from home with remote learning, while many others lost their jobs. Businesses went under, masks became compulsory, the ring of steel slammed shut and super-strict curfews and travel restrictions were imposed.

It didn’t take long for mental health issues to soar, or for toilet paper to become our #1 commodity, and the question on everyone’s lips for months was: “What time is Dan’s presser?”

Flinders Street Station (Melbourne, Australia), two days before we went into lockdown

Here at chez Clark, the Rock God and I had to cancel not one, but two overseas holidays (one to the US and one to New Zealand); along with seven concerts (even though I did manage to squeeze six live shows between 1 January and 13 March). I’m still shattered we couldn’t go to the @IronMaiden shows in Melbs and Auckland, though • #devastated

Despite those few hiccups (and really, that’s all they were), I’ve definitely been lucky throughout this pandemic. Thankfully, all my loved-ones were safe and healthy; I still have a job I love (thank God, because if I didn’t love it, I’m pretty sure I’d have had at least three nervous breakdowns this year… yes, we‘ve been that busy); I’ve always had food on the table, a roof over my head and a comfy, safe bed to sleep in. That’s much more than many people could say.

Oh, and I was also “lucky” enough to have the undivided attention of not one, but two, fur babies who really didn’t understand that IT WAS NOT APPROPRIATE TO SIT ON MUMMY’S LAP EVERY TIME SHE WAS IN A BLOODY ZOOM!

Everyone at work knows Craig, from all the times he’s photobombed my Zooms!

Most importantly, though, I had the Rock God by my side, making this challenging time an unexpectedly positive experience. He managed to make me laugh everyday, put together all the IKEA I bought during my late-night online shopping binges, and knew when to give me a wide berth… because we all have shitty days sometimes, am I right?

Spending 24/7 for 10 months with this goof-ball wasn’t so bad

When all was done and dusted in Melbourne (for 62 consecutive days at least), I came out of isolation with a smile on my face, and dare I say it, a better, renewed perspective on life.

For someone as neurotic as me, learning to chill has been a massive achievement for me during 2020

I took up new hobbies, rediscovered old ones, did online courses and went to conferences; bought myself every writing craft book I could one-click and, most importantly, I WROTE OVER 30,000 WORDS DURING #NANOWRIMO

30,000 words in a month… that’s my PB! Woot!

I also gained a new appreciation for our unsung heroes; our emergency responders, VIC POL, ambos and firies; our doctors, nurses, teachers and home carers. But, also those people you never expected would be the key to keeping us safe and comfortable during a pandemic; I’m talking about the retail assistants, hospitality workers, cleaners, delivery drivers—I’m on a first name basis with my StarTrack guy now. I’m pretty sure we might even be dating… unofficially, of course.

These are the people who put themselves in the firing line, day in and day out, to keep the rest of us safe and healthy. To each and every one of you, I say a heartfelt thank you.

Now, I’m looking forward to 2021, and am focussing on doing the things that will make some of my biggest dreams come true.

Book one of my #fangsfurandfreaks paranormal rom com series is penciled in to be released in October, and to be honest, the mere thought of it both thrills and terrifies me.

This has been a long time coming, and I can hardly believe how close I am to the finish line. Of course, to achieve this, I need to COMMIT; to FOCUS and work hard to make sure I reach the goals I‘ve set for myself. It’s all very exciting!

Eeeeeeeee! Wish me luck!

Staying focussed and on-task will make achieving my goals much easier in 2021.

I have to say, despite the fact that lockdown wasn’t so bad for me, I’m not exactly sad to see the back of 2020. After a year of being surrounded by negativity and whining (ohmygod, sooooo much whining), it’s nice to have something wonderful to look forward to, and to get back into a positive frame of mind.

Come on, 2021… I’m ready AF for you.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE

I almost forgot… I’ve set up a super-special Facebook Group in the lead up to the launch of my debut #fangsfurandfreaks series.

ECs #fangsfurandfreaks Squad is THE place to get the inside scoop including Cover reveals, character profiles and interviews, playlists, sneak peeks, deleted scenes, PINsipration boards, surveys and much more.

As launch date draws closer, there’ll be ARCs, giveaways, merch and a super-secret side project I think you’re all going to love.

So, why not join? Bring your sense of humour, invite your buddies and get ready for fun, fun, fun! Post, comment, share… everyone’s welcome.

#byebye2020 #grateful #focus #commit #yearinreview #indieauther #indiewriter #amwriting #amwritingparanormalromcom #paranormalromcom #romance #aussieromance #aussieromanceweiter #romancewriter

romance writer

Wait, what?

I just realised it’s been over 12-months since my last blog post. Twelve months! Where the hell has all that time gone, and what have I been doing with myself?

According to my Facebook feed—because Lord knows I can’t rely on my “goldfish” memory for the deets—here’s what the last year of my life looked like:

SEPTEMBER 2019

Apparently I:

  • got new glasses
  • went to IKEA
  • watched the AFL Grand Final
  • saw Devin Townsend at the Brunswick Club
  • attended the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

^ Me, with new glasses

OCTOBER 2019

  • went out for dinner with friends twice
  • got tonsillitis
  • binge-watched iZombie.

(I think we can safely say October was a fizzer.)

^ Tonsillitis suuuuuuuuux

NOVEMBER 2019

  • celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary
  • went to dinner and drinks with friends four times
  • saw Noel Gallagher and U2 at Marvel Stadium
  • started making soap
  • binge-watched Cobra Kai.

^ soap making–it won’t seem like such a lame hobby come March!

^ U2 concert number 7

DECEMBER 2019

Now we’re talkin’! I:

  • had an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G anniversary lunch at Vue du Monde with the Rock God
  • celebrated three birthdays (including my my bestie’s 50th)
  • caught up with friends from Adelaide
  • celebrated Christmas with the best family and friends EVER
  • started re-watching Grey’s Anatomy
  • went to the movies to escape the 45+ degree heat (I think we saw Star Wars?)
  • had date-night with my guuuurl from the other side of the bay
  • saw Elton John at Rod Laver Arena.

^ Vue du Monde… yuuuu-mmmmy!

^ Happy 50th birthday, Jo!

^ Family. Friends. Merry Christmas. Bliss.

JANUARY 2020

  • HAPPY NEW YEAR!
  • celebrated the Rock God’s birthday
  • celebrated my mama’s birthday
  • went on a post-Christmas TKMAXX shopping spree with the besties—filled a CRV to capacity
  • went to dinner twice
  • watched half my country go up in flames and foolishly thought the bushfires would be the biggest tragedy of the year.

^ This is what true happiness looks like… full car and empty purses

FEBRUARY 2020

  • saw Aha and Rick Astley at Margaret Court Arena—my adolescent-self was very happy
  • saw Michael Buble at Rod Laver Arena–my nana-self was also very happy
  • saw Queen + Adam Lambert at AAMI Park–my diva-self was ecstatic!
  • went to a housewarming by the sea
  • binge-watched the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch

^ Sing it, Adam!

^ Who doesn’t love being by the sea?

MARCH 2020

  • spent the afternoon pampering my bestie with massages and high tea for her 50th
  • met Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet before his gig at The Forum
  • saw Midge Ure at The Forum two days before everything went to hell
  • spent three weeks looking for toilet paper at the supermarket to no avail
  • washed my own hair for the first time in 11 years–true story!
  • bought a blow dryer for the first time in 11 years
  • picked up my passport, ready for our trip to Vegas and NZ in May… you know how this is going to end, don’t you?

^ I met Tony Hadley! Eeeeeeeee!

APRIL–AUGUST 2020

  • went nowhere
  • celebrated nothing
  • cooked A LOT
  • cleaned out the kitchen cupboards
  • cleaned out my wardrobe
  • cleaned out the bathroom vanities
  • watched ALL the Netflix and Stan
  • bought three paint by numbers kits—started none
  • bought three paint with diamonds kits—also started none
  • redecorated the lounge room
  • started a shiny, new online shopping obsession
  • didn’t go on my annual writer’s retreat
  • cancelled our Vegas and NZ trip
  • took 2,000,000 photos of the cats.
  • redecorated the toilet
  • decided I will never wear pants without an elastic waist ever again
  • learnt how to have a Zoom meeting with a cat sitting in my shoulder
  • forgot how make up works
  • participated in my first online writers’ conference, aaaand,
  • wrote my first blog post in over a year.

^ I’ll start this beauty… someday

^ The most glamorous loo in the Southern Hemisphere

^ This is Craig. He’s part kitty, part parrot.

But wait, there’s more!

I’ve also managed to outline two novels, replot my current WIP, and plan not one but TWO new series (a paranormal rom com and a contemporary rom com)… oh, and I’m totally mentoring a young fantasy writer now, which has been soooooo much fun!

And that’s it.

You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned the C-word. You know the one, it ends in -19.

Part of me knows I should probably be documenting my experiences through all this—recording my thoughts, examining my fears, exploring my frustrations for posterity and personal development and the love of puppies and whatnot.

I mean, we’re literally living through some future-kid’s history class and it would probably be right to share everything we’re experiencing with that future-kid. But let’s face it, if I started to write about how I’m feeling, it’d just digress into a 15 page diatribe about how incompetent the IT department at work is, and how they couldn’t find their own arseholes with both hands and a GPS.

So, best I just shut up and simply remind myself that there are worse things in the world than being asked to stay home, bake sourdough, watch Netflix and wash my hands.

Keep smiling. Stay safe.

romance writer

Wrongshipping: why can’t I ever get it right?

I’m a huge Jane the Virgin fan. I know it’s a very particular type of show, and most people either love it or hate it… there’s no in between. Personally, I come down hard on the ‘love it’ side, so I was a bit devastated when the very last episode aired on Foxtel last month.

NOW, WARNING: there will be spoilers. Many, many spoilers. DO NOT read on if you don’t want to know what happens at the end of JtV… or Vampire Diaries… or Buffy the Vampire Slayer… or Pretty in Pink. Just don’t, ok? Because I don’t want to hear later on about how I gave something important away.

Ok?

Last week, I was reading an article about WRONGSHIPPING: a phenomenon whereby you watch a movie or TV show, or read a book, and there’s a love triangle, and you don’t agree with the heroine’s choice of man. You’re barracking for one guy, yet the heroine (and everyone else on the planet) is barracking for the other. And the “other” invariably wins out and you’re left with a broken heart, sobbing into your dressing gown and screeching, “Why? Whhhhhyyyyy?” like a banshee at the TV and… errr, never mind. Maybe that’s just me.

Anyhoo, the bottom line is, you want hero A and the heroine picks hero B. And it’s shit.

I’ll give you an example: Jane the Virgin

Jane (aspiring romance writer, and as the show’s title suggests, virgin), is engaged to Michael (sweet, funny police officer who she mistook for a stripper at her 21st birthday party, and has been madly in love with ever since), is accidentally inseminated with the sperm of sexy, swarthy hotel mogul, Raffael.

Jane ping-pongs between our two heroes for, I don’t know, 40 billion episodes, until (veeeeery long story short), Michael dies, and Jane falls in love with Raf. Then Michale comes back from the dead (like I said, it’s a looong story) but she still marries Raf and they live happily ever after.

And I’m left heartbroken.

I wanted her to pick Michael. I wanted her to marry Michael. I wanted her to live happily ever after WITH BLOODY MICHAEL.

And yet…

This wasn’t the first time I’d wrongshipped a fictional relationship. I’ve got a loooong history of barracking for the wrong guy.

Long and painful.

It all started with Pretty in Pink, when Andie picked popular rich guy, Blaine (#yuck), over her best friend, quirky and funny, Duckie.

How???

Why???

Let me tell you, 16 year old me was very unimpressed.

The next time it happened was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (my all-time favourite TV show EVER!). Buffy (slayer) falls passionately in love with Angel (vampire with a soul). Loooong story short, Angel loses his soul (nooooo!), murders and tortures her family and friends, so Buffy kills him and sends him to hell (whaaaaa!). He then comes back from the dead (yaaaaay), but they realise they can never be together so they break up and he moves away (sob sob).

Fast forward and Buffy has relationships with a few different guys, in particular, insipid Riley and fan-favourite, reformed big bad, Spike.

At the end, Riley marries someone else, Angel stays in LA and Spike dies.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Seriously. Are you freaking kidding me?

Firstly, they killed Spike? Are they crazy? And secondly, and more importantly for this blog post, Buffy ends up alone??? After all that build up? She should have ended up with Angel! Angel was the love of her life! HE WAS HER SOULMATE!

And don’t give me this, ‘he’s a vampire/she’s a slayer, it’ll never work’ bull because this is the show that brought the main character back from the dead–twice!, dropped in a sister character after five seasons, infected one of Buffy’s pals with the soul of a hyena, turned another into a magic-addicted lesbian hell bent on ending the world, and raised more monsters and demons than ever previously imagined. Anything could have happened on this show.

And yet…

Then there was Vampire Diaries. Everyone was all #teamstefan and I’m like, what??? #teamdamon all the way.

And as for Twilight, I’ve only seen the first movie, but after that even I wanted to stake Edward myself #teamjacob all the way! #alwayschoosethewerewolf #sparklyvampiresmyass

Why do I always pick the wrong guy? And, really, who cares if I do? (Other than me, that is.)

Under different circumstances, this might not be a problem. However, with my current WIP, I’m writing a love triangle between my heroine, a super hot doctor and a sexy bounty hunter. Now, I know who I want my heroine to end up with. I know who I want to be her HEA. But what if that’s not who my readers want?

What if I wrongship my own story??? #yikes

Or maybe it’ll become a thing? Maybe my two heroes will end up with their own hashtags: #teamsonny #teamnash

Maybe people will be wrongshipping and blogging about them!

A girl can only dream, right?

#teamduckie

#teambangel

#teamdamon

#teamjacob

#teamsonny no, wait, #teamnash

romance writer

You like me. You really like me…

… and now I’m shitting myself.

Last weekend, I spent three FULL ON days at the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference. It was their 28th, and my third, and once again it was a wonderful event that left me exhausted, inspired and, if I’m being honest, more than a little overwhelmed. Here’s why.

In a fit of what can only be described as complete and utter insanity, or wishful thinking on my part, when I was booking to attend the conference waaaaaay back in May or March or fricken November (who the hell remembers?) I thought it’d be GREAT to sign up to pitch my current WIP (work in progress) to a publisher, an actual romance publisher with editors and cover designers and international distribution strategies… the works! Don’t ask me why I thought this would be a good idea because I don’t know. Actually, I do know; it’s because it’s high time I got out there and actually gauged whether or not this writing caper was something I could actually do… properly. You know, like a grown up with responsibilities and deadlines and structural edits. The whole shebang.

Sometimes you just have to know, you know?

I nominated three publishers I thought might be interested in a paranormal romantic comedy with touches of magic realism and urban fantasy, because why wouldn’t they???

And then I completely forgot all about it.

Fast forward two or four (or eight) months and I get an email from the pitch coordinators at RWAus advising that my selections have been successful and I’d be pitching to not one, but two publishers, on Friday 9 August, the first day of the conference.

Ho-ly happily ever after, Batman. What the hell had I been thinking?

Naturally, being the consummate professional I am, I went into blind panic and hyperventilated. Not a lot. Just a teeny bit.

I’d never pitched to an editor before. I’d barely told anyone about my novel in the year and a half I’d been researching and writing it, much less presented the concept to people who read books for a living. And published them.

After the panic, though, came the excitement. I was doing this. Would I? Could I? Hell yes! I’d prepare and refine my thoughts, and plan my pitch and write a synopsis… aaaaand then came the panic again.

So, I wrote a terrible draft synopsis (no truly, it was awful), asked two writer-friends for help, then sent it to be critiqued and crunched and finessed into something that might be halfway palatable for the publishers.

What came back was a beautiful little summary that, after a couple more edits and polishes, morphed into a pretty nifty synopsis, if I do say so myself.

(Huge thanks to Nina and Michelle for their help and guidance. You’re awesome.)

I sent the synopsis to a couple of beta readers for final notes, practiced my pitch whenever possible (special shout out to my awesome team at the day job who endured more than one long-winded, rambling conversation about my novel) and decided on what outfit I’d wear on pitch day. I was set!

I was so not set.

Now, before I we go any further, I just want to say that I’m quite a confident public speaker. I’m not saying I could whip up a TED talk in 10 or anything, but I can generally hold my own. I’d been a teacher, once upon a time. I’d MCed business and community events and given toasts at weddings with 250+ guests, for pity’s sake. I am good at talking to people. I WORK IN COMMUNICATIONS!

But boy, was I not prepared for the waffly, rambling, mumbling catastrophe that was my first pitch (that just happened to be with Harlequin–largest romance novel publisher in the world).

OHMYGOD.

What a train wreck.

I’d refined my pitch so it would last around three-three and a half minutes, leaving around four minutes at the end for Q&A. There was, after all a very strict seven minute timeframe.

When the two minute warning came, I’d barely gotten half way through my pre-prepared pitch and was going mentally blank for the eleventy-gagillionth time. I couldn’t look more like a rank amateur if I tried.

It was awful. Just awful. Urgh.

After the first pitch-tastrophe, I had exactly 15 minutes to regroup and try to salvage what was left of my dignity. In the end I thought, screw dignity, and when the second editor asked how I was feeling, I told her I was nervous.

Thank god, because she lead me into a lovely chat about myself and herself and what it was like being bi-coastal (she was born in New York and now lives in LA) and by the time the two minute warning came round, she’d also managed to wrangle my entire plot, heroine’s backstory, the heroes journey, GMC and even a quick sketch about what book two of the series might look like, out of me.

I was soooooo relieved.

Now, when you’re pitching, there are three possible outcomes:

1. Thanks, but no thanks. Your story isn’t what we’re looking for, but we appreciate you playing.

2. Thanks, I like it enough so send me your synopsis and a partial (first three chapters) and then I’ll decide whether or not I want to read the whole thing.

3. I love it. Send me everything. Synopsis. Author bio. Full manuscript. Every-thing.

If I’m honest, I was kinda hoping for option two: synopsis and a partial, but really expecting option one: close but no cigar. But that’s not what I got.

I got two requests for my FULL MANUSCRIPT! Eeeeeeeeee! [cue: happy dance]

I was sooooo excited. I called my husband. I called my mum. I called my best friend. I texted my team at the day job and messaged my family. I was so happy.

I’m still happy. Really happy.

Funny thing, when I was telling all my loved ones and colleagues and writing buddies that both editors LOVED my story (despite all the babbling and tripping over my own tongue #howembarrassment), no-one was surprised. No-one except me, that is.

Seems like the main thing that’s been holding me back these past few years is, well, me. But not anymore.

So what happens next? Well, I settle in and rework my MS and make sure it’s the best damn version of itself that it can be. And then, I send it off to the two requesting editors and get to work on book two.

I know the chances of either publishing house picking the series up is slim. But I’m ok with that. It seems now, I’ve got a bit of confidence and I’m thinking there just might be a future for me in the big, bad world of writing.

And with the support of family and friends as wonderful as mine, now I’m willing to at least try.

In the words of my Aunty Liz, “… no more fluffing around… I want a best seller out of you.”

romance writer

It’s trope-tastic!

As a romance writer, and avid romance reader, I’ve become a bit of a trope connoisseur.

While there are dozens of tropes that pepper romantic fiction and all her wondrous sub-genres (everything from marriages of convenience to secret babies, fake relationships to mistaken identities) I, of course, have my favourites. As I’m sure do you.

A trope, in case you don’t know, is a plot or character device employed by writers to bring together their romantically-hapless heroes and heroines, and deliver that all-important “happily ever after” all romance readers long for… née, demand!

Once maligned as mere cliches, tropes have evolved into so much more, now recognised as one of the foundations upon which great romantic fiction can be built (and publishers and agents love them, too!). Billionaires, rugged cowboys, amnesia (either temporary or permanent), enemies to lovers, jilted brides, famous athletes, office romances, ugly ducklings… they’re all examples of tried-and-true tropes writers turn to, time and time again, in the hope of giving voracious readers those satisfying, heartwarming resolutions.

So, naturally, when it came to writing my first romance novel (well, it wasn’t technically my first… it was my third. But the first two were, well, poo, so I don’t count them… in fact, let’s never speak of them again), I made the very deliberate decision to employ some (ok, all) of my favourite tropes, to make the writing process as painless (ha!) and as enjoyable as possible.

Let’s check them out.

Trope 1: Second chance romance

Last First Kiss, the aforementioned (halfway decent) novel, focuses on my absolute favourite of all the tropes: the second chance romance. I mean, who doesn’t love the thought of two people finally getting their shit together and making something previously crap-tastic work? It makes me feel tingly all over just thinking about it.

Trope 2: Going home

Not only is Last First Kiss a second chance romance, but it also features one of my other favourite tropes: going home, with my hero returning to his small, seaside hometown after many years away, and much water under his well-traveled bridge.

Trope 3: Rockstar

And he’s a rockstar…

Trope 4: Alpha

… a super-hot, very sexy, world-famous alpha rockstar, who’s very used to getting his own way–much to my heroine’s chagrin.

Trope 5: shhhhh… it’s a secret

Oh, and, there’s a secret.

A super HUGE, super-secret secret that my heroine must keep, or risk losing everything she’s ever worked for.

Intriguing, no?

All in all, my first (halfway decent) romance novel employs five–yep, five–tried and true romantic tropes that will [hopefully] keep my readers turning those pages until they reach that sweet, sweet release… err, resolution.

However, I would really love, love, love to cram just one more teeny tiny trope into my novel, to make an even half dozen.

So, that’s where you come in: if I asked you to nominate one last trope to add to Last First Kiss, which would it be? It can be any trope you like–absolutely anything, but preferably your favourite.

Drop your suggestions in the comments and I’ll chose one from the list. Easy!

This ought to be fun.

conflict, goal, internal conflict, motivation, plot, romance writer, writer, writing

I went on a writer’s retreat…

… and discovered I had no story.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. I had A story. I just didn’t have THE story.

But I do now.

When I set off on my first ever Melbourne Romance Writer’s Guild annual retreat [PS: who knew Phillip Island was so far away from e-v-e-r-y-thing?], I’d been working on the synopsis for my current WIP for a few weeks and was feeling pretty damn confident about it, if I do say so, myself.

Everything was chugging along nicely. I had a feisty heroine, a sexy hero, and a vile antagonist. I had a strong plot, a solid three-act structure, and a breathtaking black moment. There was snappy dialogue, hilarious pop culture references… I even had an ending that wrapped everything up in a neat little bow, eluded to a second book (yep, we’ve got ourselves a series, peeps!) and it all left me feeling pretty satisfied.

Yay, me!

Of course, 15 minutes into the first workshop on day one of the retreat, I discovered what I DIDN’T actually have: internal conflict. Not a single drop!

I had external conflict out the wazoo. There were bad guys and beasties and more plot twists than the first season of Jane the Virgin… but internal conflict–nada, nothing, zippo. And I don’t know if you know, but without internal conflict–especially in the romance genre–well, my friends, you got nothin’.

Talk about deflating.

For those of you playing along at home, internal conflict is a pretty big deal in romances. I mean, let’s face it, we all know how the story is going to end: with a happily ever after (or a happily for now, at least). So there has to be something in it to make the reader keep turning those pages. That’s where the internal conflict comes in; that deep emotional source that has us holding our breath and wondering how on earth the hero and heroine will ever get their shit together long enough to ride off in the sunset together.

That ^^^ I had none of that.

Urgh.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Despite the fact that my story lacked emotional depth (I’m still eye rolling myself so hard over that), it did have a lot going for it: it was funny, and action-packed, with a strong voice and well-rounded characters (shallow, but well rounded).

And it’s a bloody great story, which is nothing to snivel at.

So, determined to right this epic wrong, I set off to find some internal conflict. I pondered and scribbled notes, chided myself, ate chocolate, pondered some more, chatted with my super-supportive, mega-talented MRWG friends until I was hoarse, and then eventually revisited something I’d written in the very first draft of my opening chapter (literally months ago), but had deleted out.

Could that be the internal conflict I’d been looking for?

So, I mentioned my idea to our guest speaker (and fount of all awesomeness), Rachel Bailey, who very promptly tapped her nose, pointed at me and said, ‘Yep, that’s it.’

I nearly wept with joy.

Talk about not seeing the forrest for the trees. I mean, who takes a critical aspect of their story–it’s raison d’être, FFS–and throws it away???

I know; I only have myself to blame.

So, with that in mind (and filled with renewed vim, vigour and vitality), I’m now reworking my story and weaving through the internal conflict I’d discarded, and have to tell you, it’s goooooood! You’re going to love it!

Best of all, this whole thing encouraged me go back and revisit all the other “crap” I’d thrown out from my earlier drafts, and tah-daaaah! I found more nuggets of gold that I’ll definitely be working back in.

So, what’s the moral to this story?

  1. Don’t throw anything away–ever.
  2. Listen to your gut. Deep down you know exactly what works and what doesn’t work. Don’t second guess your instincts.
  3. Chocolate helps you think clearly.
  4. There’s nothing that can’t be fixed, so never give up.
  5. The support of friends, old and new, can never be underestimated or overvalued.
romance writer

Writing the dreaded synopsis… dun, dun, dahhh!

It’s almost as bad as saying a curse word, isn’t it? Synopsis. Syn-op-sis; noun: a seemingly innocuous document inflicting crippling anxiety upon unsuspecting writers since the dawn of time. And yet, this humble creation is one of the most powerful planning (and selling) tools any writer can have at their disposal.

True story.

Go look it up.

I’ll wait here.

So, if it’s such a big dealy, it begs the question: why all the stress? (I don’t know the answer, btw. This isn’t that kind of post.)

Prior to a month ago, I hadn’t even attempted a synopsis since taking an advanced novel writing class at night-school circa. 2000-andsomethingorother (I really don’t have a memory for dates, or dollars, or any kind of numbers, really). And let’s just say I was a little reluctant to relive the experience [read: filled with self-doubt, fear of failure and feelings of inadequacy]. I was second-guessing EVERYTHING and to be honest, at one point I toyed with the idea of scrapping the whole thing and just binge-watching season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, instead.

Much more fun, right? With the smooching. And Angelus. And Spike. Not too shabby at all.

And then I remembered that I’d set a goal for myself waaaay back in January (actually, I set several goals, but that’s a whole other post), which was to pitch my current manuscript to a publisher or agent at the Romance Writers of Australia conference, in Melbourne.

In August.

This year.

What kind of fool was I? (This kind! ⬇️⬇️⬇️)

Anyhoo, to enable me to pitch, I need a synopsis, and to have said synopsis, I need to overcome the niggling self-doubt, and actually write the damn thing.

So, here we are.

Confession: I totally procrastinated for months before I actually started writing the synopsis. I mean, I should have had this underway in February! Of course, I didn’t, but I eventually make a start in April, and guess what? It’s been awesome!

I’m not even kidding. No sarcasm. Nothing. I’ve enjoyed every minute of plotting and planning and imagining and dreaming of every possible twist, turn, and dark moment my story might contain. It’s been liberating and enlightening and oh so enjoyable. In fact, if I’d known writing a synopsis would be this much fun, I’d have done one years ago (other than the ones I did for advanced novel writing, that is).

So, what have I discovered so far?

    While it’s been quite a challenging exercise [insert amusing quip about pulling teeth HERE], I’ve also enjoyed the writing process, and can really see why they are such valuable tools for writers. Weird, right?
    Turns out my heroine’s love interest–not so much a hot, super-sexy alpha with a soft, chewy centre, and more a duplicitous creep who I can’t wait to maim or disfigure in some diabolical way.
    A big chunk of sub-plot I thought was soooooo important to the storyline and my heroine’s character arc, is just… gone. G-O-N-E. Don’t need it. Don’t want it. Hasta luego, baby. And the best part? I’ve totally replaced it with something that’s so much better. Squeeeeee!
    I’ve actually started to feel quite a bit more confident in this WIP, which in turn, has given me a little boost in the writing stakes. Woot!

Of course, this could all change in the next 24 hours, because I have–stupidly or not–committed to completing the first draft of my synopsis, and sending it off to a couple of wonderful beta readers for feedback, by Friday night.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I mean, I could wind up rocking in a corner somewhere, humming show tunes and painting clown faces, but we’ll cross that weird bridge, if and when, we get to it.

On the other hand, I could also finish the synopsis, be moderately happy with how it turned out, and treat myself to something special… like that season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer we were talking about.

For now, I’m feeling positive, and happy, and dare I say, optimistic? You might want to check in on me tomorrow night, though. There may be humming… and clowns.

romance writer

The hardest thing about writing… is making the time to write

I’m not a full-time writer… shit, I’m barely a part-time writer at the minute.

In order to call myself a writer, full-time, part-time or otherwise, I’d really need to do one thing, and that’s write.

And truth is, I’m not doing much of that at the moment.

Now, just let me clarify, my lack of writing is no-one’s fault but my own.

My muse hasn’t packed her bags and scurried off to the Bahamas to lay in the sun and suck back tequila shots. For the most part, she spends her time asking, urging, BEGGING me to open the damn laptop and type the DAMN words–to no avail.

I’m not busy running a business; or raising a small brood (I do have two fur babies, but changing kitty litter and filling food bowls is hardly time consuming), and I certainly don’t play any organised sports (trust me, I sweat for no-one).

So what’s the problem, I hear you ask? What’s preventing me from doing all the writing?

Truth be told, I don’t know! Well, actually, that’s not right. I do know. I just don’t know what to do about it.

Here’s the crux: I’m really easily distracted. Like, super easy. I love going out to dinner; thumbing through social posts; playing cards with mum; doing online writing courses; listening to audiobooks–and watching bloody Netflix… damn you, Broadchurch! Urgh!

It’s all very shiny and pretty and commands my attention so completely that there isn’t a lot of time left for doing what I actually should be doing, which is putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, depending on my mood) and getting the damn book written.

I always, always have the best intentions: every night I tell myself I’m going to pull my finger out, crack open the laptop and write as many words as I can muster.

And yet…

I get home, I start dinner, talk to hubs, phone my mum, unwind a bit, pat the kitties… oh, look, I’ve got a bunch of notifications on Insta–better see to those before I start writing. Wait, have they posted a new Three Birds Renovating video? How long does that go for? Hm, 14 minutes. I can totally squeeze that in. Hang on, what day is it? Was I supposed to finalise my Marley Spoon order? Better check my emails and make sure I haven’t missed the deadline. Well, will you look at that, I’ve got a dozen notifications from my online writing course… definitely going to go through them so I don’t miss something important. Oh, that’s right, it’s Monday, and there’s a new episode of Face Off to watch on SyFy (I totally need to see if Rob gets eliminated). OK, so now all that’s done and dusted, it’s time to knuckle down and bash out a few hundred words before–WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN IT’S MIDNIGHT???

See! It’s a fricken nightmare!

Granted, I don’t waste time every night, otherwise I’d literally have no words to show for myself. And sure, I do a lot of research and a lot of planning and world building because when you write paranormal/magic realism, there are tonnes of little details that have to be just right. But, I know for a fact that there are about two hours everyday when I’m faffing around on Facie, or downloading the latest So, You Want to be a Writer podcast, or helping someone else workshop their story, that I could–and I should–be working on my own novel.

So, I need some help; some tips to get me stay focused–or better still, a personal assistant that threatens bodily harm and forces me back to the keyboard whenever something sparkly grabs my attention; and threatens to stop me from finishing the scene I”m working on.

Because, honestly, I love my current WIP. I love the characters I’ve created; the world I’ve built; the plot that continues to reveal itself to me, little by little. I really do love it all; and I want you to love it, too.

But, how can you love it, when I haven’t written it for you, yet?

Not possible, right? So this means I’ve just got to harden up and resist all these stupid, but oh-so-tempting, time-waster that plague me, day in, day our…

Hey, you know what else might be considered a time waster? Writing a blog post about wasting time… just saying.

I need someone to save me from myself.

romance writer

Getting to know… me!

20 interesting facts you’re just dying to know

WELCOME TO MY FIRST BLOG EVER! Yaaaay!

It seems logical, given that this is my inaugural blog post [insert excited squeal here], and we’ll probably be spending some time together, that I share some info about myself… you know, so you can get to know me a bit better (before all the rambling starts).

So, here goes, 20—hopefully—interesting facts about yours truly.

    When I was 10, I wanted to be a coroner (I secretly still do)
    I’m an only child
    I’m unashamedly obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    I’ve been to over 1,000 concerts and live shows and I love all types of music; classical, pop, dance, alternative, heavy metal… just no hip hop. It’s not for me
    I used to be a goth, and to this day, pretty much only wear black clothes and heavy eyeliner (some habits are just too hard to kick)
    My favourite song of all time is Boys of Summer by Don Henley
    I’m a mama to two fur babies; black kitties named Craig and Miranda
    I’m allergic to pineapple (and caffeine… urgh)
    I write paranormal romantic comedies, and I loooooove vampires and werewolves and ghosts and ghouls
    My favourite movies include Ghostbusters, An American Werewolf in London, Titanic, Scream and Lake Placid (to name a few)
    I’m married to Steven, a wonderful, super-creative, Scottish rock god, and we live in Melbourne, Aus (my favourite city in the world)
    Antarctica is on my travel bucket list (despite the fact that I really don’t like traveling all that much #homebody)
    I love to paint and draw, and hoard art supplies
    I’m addicted to audiobooks and podcasts
    My favourite authors include Stephen King, MJ Davidson, Julie Kenner, Graham Masterton, Rose Pressy, Morgana Best, Samantha Towle, Meg Cabot… I could go on and on
    I collect white jugs. I have dozens of them
    I love the ocean and walking on the beach, but I’m afraid of water, so I NEVER go in
    Im a total foodie and lurve Mexican food, seafood, and anything from the donut family (I’m also partial to a bit of Korean BBQ)
    I love Bollinger, Guinness… and Diet Coke
    I’m a sucker for scented candles and burn them all the time

So, now, why don’t you tell me something interesting about you? Do we have anything in common? Were you a weird kid with strange ambitions? A goth or punk in a former life? Are you a fur mummy or daddy? I’d love to get to know you better, too.