Archive for the 'Writing Life' Category
Friday, June 28th, 2013
Ever since we arrived home from our last holiday, (beginning of June) I’ve been working extra hard with my writing. Yesterday, I finished the first draft of a sports romance, a book loosely tied to a new small town series I’m working on. Yay! I’m thrilled with my progress on this one since holidays normally throw me off stride and mess up my productivity. Not this time! Imagine me doing a fist pump here, because that’s what I did.
On Wednesday night I did an author talk at the Leys Institute Library at Ponsonby in Auckland. I spoke about erotic romance and had a fab time. I just love the libraries we have in the Auckland region, and I’m a very good customer! I use the library to borrow fiction and non-fiction books, audio books and sometimes magazines. As I said, I’m a regular visitor.
Today I caught up with housework—did the vacuuming, countless loads of washing, washed Bella’s blankets and tried out a new recipe for Cinnamon Scrolls. (Delicious – recipe to come)
Over the last few months Bella has suffered from an allergy on her feet. We took her to the vet and he prescribed pills plus a spray to make her feet taste horrible when she tries to chew on them. Bella’s feet healed while we were on holiday, but since our return home the allergy has come back. We’ve been trying to work out what she’s allergic to and after much discussion, hubby suggested the laundry powder. I purchased some natural laundry powder for those with sensitivity and have used this to wash her blankets.
This seems to have done the trick and her feet seem much better over the last two days. Hopefully, the problem is solved because the poor puppy suffers, and she hates the foot spray. She runs when she sees the bottle.
Anything exciting happening in your world?
Monday, June 10th, 2013
Hubby and I went shopping during the weekend and came home with a tagine. We first came across these when we visited Morocco and thought about buying one, but they were a bit bulky to cart about. When we saw one on sale, it was a sign. As soon as we arrived home, we googled for recipes and came across this one – Pumpkin, Cranberry and Red Onion Tagine. Since we had all the ingredients we tried making it. A success! The tagine was one of the most delicious and tastiest dishes I’ve had in a long time. If you have a tagine in your kitchen cupboard pull it out and try this recipe.
During the next few months I’m focusing on promoting my backlist as well as the new releases I have coming through. Today starts that backlist blitz with my Fancy Free spotlight and book review tour.
My first two stops are:
For the Love of Reading
Past Regrets, the second book in my Love and Friendship series from Samhain Publishing, is due for release on 10 September. I’ve updated my website with the blurb and excerpt. Past Regrets is now available for pre-order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Yay!
Do you enjoy trying new recipes or do you prefer making things that are familiar to you?
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Most of us are time-poor these days, despite advances in technology that help us to complete tasks more quickly. In the writing world there is subtle pressure to write and publish several books each year in order to stay in front of the reader. Sometimes we feel like a hamster running on a wheel, at least I do.
We need to make a conscious effort to relax, to challenge ourselves in a way that makes us feel rested and refreshed, ready to tackle that wheel again.
Tomorrow I’m heading off on a cake decorating course. I get to learn how to decorate a cupcake. My piping skills are rudimentary, so I’m looking forward to attempting and hopefully conquering a new skill.
I’m also going to knit a pair of socks. I have a book that tells me how, and I’m hoping my socks will turn out like the pretty ones in the pictures. While I have knitting experience, I’ve never tackled socks before. An interesting assignment, and I’m hoping there won’t be any self-destruction involved!
Not only will I get time out from my normal routine, but I’ll have some interesting experience to draw on when I write my next book.
How do you refill your creative well? What hobbies and interests take you away from your normal routine?
Monday, May 6th, 2013
A lot of writers love music and use it as an inspirational source while working or fleshing out their characters. They develop playlists for their stories and listen to them in order to get into a specific mood.
When I get into the writing groove I don’t hear anything except the characters and what they’re telling me. The truth is music is wasted on me while I’m in the writing mode.
Today I’m visiting Susan at West of Mars. I’ll be at her Meet & Greet and talking about the song I think of in conjunction with One Night of Misbehavior. Pop over and say hello.
Do you listen to music while writing or reading? Do you do playlists for your books?
Sunday, March 17th, 2013
After thinking about self-publishing and watching from the side line for quite a while, I’ve finally dipped my toes into the waters and published my first book. There is oodles of information on the web about self-publishing. Here are a few tips, if you’re a beginner like me.
1. Join the Indie Romance Ink group. This yahoo group is specifically for romance writers, and the members share freely about their experiences in self-publishing and offer advice as necessary. If you’re not a romance writer try the Indie Authors Forum.
2. Author Maria Zannini has written a useful book about self-publishing and promotion called Self-Publisher’s Punch List. Contact her directly to grab your free copy.
3. Save yourself headaches down the road and think about formatting before you start writing. Download a free copy of Smashwords Style guide and Building Your Book For Kindle to help you get things right from the start.
4. Google is your friend. As I mentioned, there is a wealth of information online, written by those who have blazed the self-publishing trails. Ranging from You tube videos to blog posts, if you do a search, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for.
5. If you’re on a budget, check out some of the pre-made covers available for sale. If you’re lucky you’ll find a perfect cover to suit your needs. There are some very talented artists out there.
Do you have any tips for beginners? And a question from me – for those of you who do your own formatting, which software do you use to make your PDF and Mobi formats?
My first self-published book Wild Child is now available from Amazon and Smashwords.
Zoe Underwood is one sexy disruption.
From the moment her father married Matt’s mother, Zoe has tempted Matt Cantrell with her seductive curves and driven him crazy with her flirting and provocative manner. The thing is they have no future because Zoe is his stepsister. Determined to dodge trouble, Matt leaves Auckland to live and work in the Gold Coast of Australia. A sea between them should do the trick and let him move forward without the “Zoe” distraction in his life.
Matt Cantrell is one stubborn dude.
No one presses Zoe’s buttons like the tall, dark and gorgeous Matt. In fact, every other man pales in comparison. One last play. Zoe decides to invade Matt’s territory and make her move before another clever woman snaps him up. She’ll bust through emotional walls and push boundaries. By the time she’s finished, Matt won’t know what hit him. Yes. Good or bad, she’ll stir things up and take a chance on love.
Monday, January 21st, 2013
Over the weekend the newsletter from All Romance ebooks contained an article titled Does Size Matter in Romances? It made for an interesting read, and I thought I’d pose the question here.
Does size matter?
BTW If you’re here because of the blog title, propel your mind onto the right track now. I’m talking about the length of romance books.
With the popularity of self-publishing I see book reviews at places like Amazon that say, “This book was too short. If I’d known how short the book was I wouldn’t have purchased it.”
My personal preference is for a longer read. The only exception to this is if a friend has written the book, because I like to support my writing buddies. When I say longer read, I mean around 45K to 60K at a minimum. A manuscript around the length of 80K is perfect. Just like Goldilocks’ porridge, it’s not too short or too long but just right.
This is my manuscript measurement scale
15K = short
30 – 40K = novella
45 – 60K = novel
60 – 100K = long novel
Generally when I’m looking for books to add to my to-read pile, I purchase novels and long novels. I might download a shorter story if it’s free, and if I enjoy the book, I’ll purchase one of the author’s longer novels, but that’s usually the only time I’ll consider short stories. As an aside one plus for the shorter length is when I’m extra busy yet yearn for some reading time. A shorter length book makes me feel as if I’m not missing out.
What about you? Which length of romance is your comfort level? Do you purchase shorter lengths, and if so why?
PS. Don’t forget that Indies 4 Hire online conference starts today!
Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
If you’re like me you probably wage a battle against an imploding inbox. A blog post yesterday by Lynda K Scott resonated with me. She pondered about email: good, bad or ho hum. Like me, she tends to delete a lot of email without even reading it.
Although I subscribe to dozens of lists, I’ve pruned back hard after being away quite a bit in the last six months. On my return I didn’t reinstate most of the mail from the lists I previously subscribed to. The exception was mail from publisher/author lists and a promo/marketing list for authors.
I deal with email on the day it arrives in the following manner.
1. Read email from editors and business emails from publishers. Action and file in folders as relevant.
2. Quickly scan newsletters for relevant articles. If nothing in the content grabs my attention I hit delete. If I’m interested in an article I’ll send it to Evernote. A very handy tool that I can’t recommend enough! I wouldn’t be without it.
3. Pick one or two promo type emails from other authors if I have time. What attracts me is a catchy title or if the promo comes from someone I know or if it’s something about writing craft that grabs my interest. I’ll click over to the article or blog and take the time to comment if I’m engaged.
4. Delete everything else.
The above helps me keep my inbox from becoming too fat. Some people I know use the filtering system to send emails to relevant folders on arrival, but I prefer to do this step manually. If an email disappears from the business part of my inbox I’m not likely to read it.
How do you cope with your email? Do you have any tips to keep an inbox slender?
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
During my holidays I was thrilled to learn two of my books have received nominations for The Romance Studio’s 2012 CAPA awards. Lone Wolf is nominated in the Psyche Award category and Christmas is Coming has received a nomination in the Ari (Cover Art Award). The winners are due for announcement on 14 February 2013.
It’s summer in New Zealand at present and today we’re sweltering in heat. Yesterday it was so windy we almost blew away, which is not so good for the vegetable garden. Mr. Munro didn’t plant as much in the garden this year since we knew we’d be away for Christmas, and we’re off again in six weeks.
The cherry tomatoes and strawberries started to ripen before Christmas and we were able to eat a few before we left on holiday. The carrots and radishes have grown to giant size and are no longer edible. Our salad leaves are finished too. At present we have cauliflowers, we’re eagerly awaiting our larger tomato varieties (they don’t seem to have ripened early this year since there was a lot of rain while we were away) and the herbs (parsley, sage, mint etc) are flourishing.
We ate some of our new potatoes—Jersey Bennes—for dinner the other night. Boiled until tender and served with chopped garlic and melted butter, they were delicious. Guess what’s on the menu tonight?
The passionfruit vine is covered with fruit, and I’m hoping they ripen while we’re at home. I find I don’t like to share this particular crop!
This year I’ve started running again, trying something different as part of my exercise program. I used to do a lot of running in my younger days (Ahem!). I’m pretty determined and have some excellent shoes, so I have no excuse to give up. Would anyone like to take bets on how long my running will last?
Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
There has been a lot of talk about fictional serials during the last few months with both publishers and Amazon embracing the idea.
A serial is a single book broken down into instalments. These instalments go on sale one at a time with the ending hook of each serial prompting readers to purchase the next. According to Wikipedia, serials have been around for a long time, but they were at their peak during the Victorian era. Writers such as Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were two of the many successful serial writers during this era.
Radio serials were popular from the early 1900s. One long-running radio serial you might have heard of is The Archers, a British soap-opera. The first episode of the Archers ran in 1950 and they are still producing the show on a semi-regular basis. If you’re interested several episodes are available as podcasts on iTunes.
These days we’re more likely to get our serial fix on television, although as a child I read comics done in a serial fashion. Soap operas are a common form where we follow the lives of our characters and become invested in what happens next. We even have a local soap opera in New Zealand called Shortland Street, which has been running for as long as I can remember.
Author Beth Kery has written an eight part serial called Because You Are Mine, an erotic story along the lines of Fifty Shades of Grey. Her serial is currently available at Amazon etc.
Writing a serial is different from writing a book.
1. The process is a lot quicker with the serial coming to market, often before the writer has completed all the instalments.
2. Feedback from readers is a lot quicker too.
3. The writer can change the direction of the serial after reader feedback.
4. The writer can’t go back and change things in already published instalments. This would be a problem for me since I think about my plot and characters as I write.
5. There is a short period of waiting on the part of the reader, which can help build word-of-mouth. Readers are wondering what will happen next and where the story will go. The build of anticipation is present.
6. Pricing can be controversial. I noted on some of the Amazon reviews Of Because You Are Mine there were some unhappy readers who expected more “book” for their money. Each instalment is two chapters.
As a writer, I think writing a serial would present a challenge. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to stretch in this direction in the future.
What about you? Have you read a serial? Have you tried Beth Kery’s Because You Are Mine series? Would you like to write a serial?
Friday, August 31st, 2012
We’ve had some interesting conversations at our house recently since we’re planning what to do during our upcoming holiday. Both hubby and I have lots of fun, tossing ideas back and forth and researching on the Internet.
Discussions this week have included walking v the hop on-hop off bus in Istanbul. We’ve decided it will be easier to walk around the various sites and work off some of the cruise ship meals instead of losing time in the midst of Istanbul traffic jams. We’ve also discussed gondolas in Venice, climbing bell towers and jumping out of secret passages in the Doge Palace.
Our third travel related conversation related to alligators in the Everglades National Park and riding bicycles around a nature trail. I was dubious about this one—my theory was that the critters could move fast and there was nothing to stop them eating me if they wanted to, but hubby assures me that cycling past sunning alligators is completely safe. I’m quite looking forward to this now, so I hope we manage to book in when we arrive at the Everglades.
This week I had more interesting conversations in my coffice, but one really flabbergasted me. The lady said, very seriously, that it must be nice being a writer and earning all those millions. I almost choked on my coffee. After I recovered slightly, I told her she was wrong, that most authors didn’t earn much. Authors write because they enjoy it rather than for monetary gain. I could tell by her expression she didn’t believe me, and she left the coffice still convinced I was a millionaire.
I tell you if I had millions I’d do less writing and more travel! I wouldn’t worry about shopping for specials each week at the supermarket.
All you millionaires out there – what do you do with your millions? What would you do if you had a million dollars?