Fremantle Romance Writers of Australia Conference Roundup!

I was so excited to be back in person with other romance writer authors and also my wonderful writing buddies and fellow anthology lovelies Clare Griffin and Ava January! I was sad only that Sarah Fiddelaers was unable to come (baby number six needed some love and attention!)

I’d made it a whirlwind trip – one because of the (pathogen that shall not be named) and that other work and family commitments make it difficult to leave home for too long. I was worried too, given all the upheaval with the airlines – would my flight arrive on time? Or at all?? Fortunately, it did, and I managed to get there with plenty of time to spare.

I visited the shipwrecks museum, a must sea for any history or maritime buff and had a wander along Fremantle harbour before I caught up with others attending the conference.

It was a joy to share my accommodation with my writing buddy Clare (and aside from my partner Tony she’s my number one cheerleader- she gets me!) And given the time difference between Adelaide/Melbourne and Perth meant that both of us woke early and spent the hours before breakfast chatting like with were teens at a slumber party!

Friday’s workshop was with Becca Syme, from the ‘Better Faster Academy’ and author of the ‘Dear writer’ books as well as a series of popular Cozy Mysteries. We learned a lot about our strengths as individual writers, something I am still processing. I’m sure to come back to this to tell you more later.

The workshops were great and ranged from how to author TikTok to delving deep into the nitty gritty of your manuscript to make it shine. The phenomenally productive Maisy Yates gave an amazing keynote speech—both inspiring and comforting—about how hard the writing industry can be even for the most successful and determined of individuals. I love that the theme that the established writers spread was that as far as writing ‘rules’ don’t let anyone ‘shoulda’ you!!

Top left: Anne Gracie’s stand up for the Gala Dinner (done remotely). Top Right: Tanya Nellestein and me at the Cocktail Party (theme bedtime stories). Bottom Left: Cocktail party ‘Barbaras (Cartland) in pyjamas’ – Stephanie Mayne, Sue Price and Sharyn Swanepoel. Bottom righ: Louisa Duval in her nod to the classics.

The Fremantle team did a wonderful job and Dani McLean the conference organiser did an amazing job pulling her stellar team together.

In addition – I pitched my most polished manuscript – my WW2 set historical rural romance, and have today sent that off – wish me luck!!

I was downhearted to leave having reconnected with so many that have been only online for the past two years – the connections you make at conferences like these are wonderful and amazing – ones that will last a lifetime.

For the rest of the year I’ll be focussing on polishing my ‘Girls of the USO’ manuscript and maybe see where that gets me when I push that one out to the world. I’ve also signed up to do two anthology novella contributions: a regency one (my first!) and another one with my anthology lovelies.

I offered my services as a cover designer for the silent auction and I’ll also be working with the talented and lovely Fiona McArthur – whose rural romance series are a lovely slice of the outback (complete with babies – given Fiona is a former midwife!) I always have so much fun creating covers (I did our Paris anthology cover and ones for other writing friends who were self-publishing). I guess if I don’t make it as a writer I could always do that as a side business!

I am looking forward to seeing where my writing journey takes me next (as well as looking forward to the next RWA meetup in Sydney next year! I have some outfit planning to do…)

Bye for now!

N xx

Just do it!

Photo by Brett Jordan on

Putting your work out to editors, publishers and agents takes a bit of courage, but it is so worth it. Not only will you gain valuable feedback but this is your ultimate goal – to sell your work to the reader. And the thing about editors, publishers and agents? They know how the greater reading community will receive your work. They know the marketplace.

You may feel at risk that your hard earned words and work will be torn to shreds – but really what are you risking? Having your work critiqued by professionals at time when you can fix the problems and work on your craft so that the next book you write is even better is far better than putting your work out there – only to find that it tanks or is poorly reviewed.

Recently I had the opportunity to pitch a couple of my manuscripts to editors at Carina Press, Harlequin and to Penguin Random House. The feedback from those editors was both informative, instructive and gave me a better understanding as what I need to work on and where my work could sit in the marketplace.

I was pretty stoked that one of those editors replied that although they thought the manuscript I pitched to them would be a difficult sell for their readership given the content, they were very keen to see another manuscript that I have – one that I agree would be a better fit for that publisher than the one I pitched.

Another editor I pitched the same story to loved my writing style but couldn’t see a fit for her in her current line up – so a no but a ‘good no’.

A completely different MS (of which I only have 6 chapters and an outline written) I pitched in a Twitter Pitch was rejected (yet another ‘good rejection’) because they felt as there were three heroines they didn’t feel that one book could do these fantastic characters justice. Now I just have to write 3 books instead of a hefty 1!!

So close but no cigar. But I was absolutely elated by these rejections because it told me three important things:

  1. My writing isn’t as rubbish as I often think it is.
  2. My stories are unique enough that I may need to give some thought about where they ‘fit’ in the marketplace and perhaps target publishers and editors who feel they have a place for it.
  3. That I need to pull back and focus on one thing at a time (that working on four different MS is not sustainable!)

This year I enrolled in the Writers SA Manuscript Incubator course with the wonderful Victoria Purman (The Land Girls, The Women’s Pages, The Three Miss Allens, Last of the Bonegilla Girls), with the aim of getting a second draft of ‘Among the Brave’ (My WW2 Australian Army Nurse story) done – but truth be told the second draft has been harder than the first! SO after Victoria smacked me over the hand for working on too many MS at once I am focussing on only one, a historical rural romance, with the aim of having it so polished by January that I will see my face in it (hoping that my current diet works wonders too and I look fab).

And as Nanowrimo is upon us – after accumulating some great feedback from many sources ‘The Bridge’ is getting a thorough workout and so far I am falling in love again with Poppy and JB. I love these characters so much that I hope that at some point in the future I can share their story with you all!

Soooo rounding this off – if you have a finished MS – send it out, get feedback, rework, edit, resend – JUST DO IT!

Cover Reveal!

And here is the cover for our new historical anthology! Once again I’ve teamed up with four wonderful friends – Ava January, Clare Griffin and Sarah Fiddelaers to bring you four wonderful stories!

One Paris shop, four women, four decades of intrigue…

Spring, 1909
When Delphine Altrain purchases a date with Paris’ most eligible bachelor, Gabriel LaPouge, she has one thing on her mind…hats. When her latest design becomes the talk of the Grand Prix, it seems everything she has dreamed of is within her reach, but when the past arrives to destroy her present, Delphine needs to decide if she stays and risks heartbreak, or run and always wonder what could have been.

Summer, 1924
Beautiful Edith Carrow appears to have it all. As Coco Chanel’s mannequin her life is full of parties and the adoration of a rich man. But Edith holds a deep secret from her past. When she meets toymaker, Henri, her heart threatens to unravel all she has worked hard to achieve. She must choose, follow her head or listen to her heart and risk losing everything.

Autumn, 1935
Genevieve Dupuis is forbidden from doing two things; painting and falling in love. So when she meets handsome Sebastian on a forbidden painting trip her life becomes ever so slightly complicated. Can a girl who has learned to survive by lies and illusions face up to the truth in time to realise that sometimes surrender is the bravest act of all?

Winter, 1944
Special Operations Executive agent Therese Lambert is about to risk everything to help free Canadian airman Will – a man hiding his own covert activities beneath an identity she knows isn’t his. Fleeing from the German occupiers and the collaborating French, they escape Paris. Can their budding attraction survive a perilous journey or will a betrayal put both their lives on the line?

Available now on Amazon!

New Year, New Me!

Well, not really a new me, just a commitment to being more focused on myself as an author. Yes, you heard it here – an author! Not that my dream publishing deal has come through or anything, more that I want to expand my ‘brand’ (gosh I am not fond of that terminology but it is what it is). I need to let people know who will read my stories what to expect. And what is that? Number one, I am a historical fiction author – who loves a dash of romance. Second, although I prefer to write in that romantic historical genre, I also like to dabble in other genres – specifically science fiction and crime. Third, I also like the idea of dabbling in non-fiction spaces, specifically science related and women in science, as that is currently my day job! I have increased my hours of working, giving me a little less writing time, which means that I need to plan and organise my writing time a little better than the haphazard scribbling I’ve been doing.

Commitment wise these are my plans:

  • Organise my writing time.
  • Continue with my small mentorship group with Victoria Purman.
  • Continue attending online sprints with other authors (a great way to get words down).
  • Plan and execute my story in our next historical anthology (yes Clare, Sarah, Ava and I are going down that path again! Something a little different this time!)
  • Sending one of my completed manuscripts for a structural development analysis with a professional editor (slated and booked for this March).
  • Write a scifi short story.
  • Plan for another manuscript (that may or may not be written this year but the ideas are flowing!)
  • Submit, submit, submit!
  • I’ve also made an ongoing commitment to limit submissions to competitions – and speaking of which…

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

That should be Finalist Finalist!

I have made the second round of the Sapphire with ‘Girls of the USO’ – but it was a last-minute entry and I wasn’t really happy with the final sub. But it’s out there and the feedback will help with the next edit I’m sure!

I came equal second in the Spicy Bites competition with my saucy WW2 Historical short ‘Khaki and Silk’ – it will be published and launched at the next RWA conference in Sydney, which I am looking forward to attending in August.

So that’s a wrap for the beginning of the year! My year of wonder is about to begin!

Competition News!

Part of being an aspiring writer is doing the scariest thing you can do – start putting your writing out there. I’ve talked about this on numerous occasions but I think it’s important to remind everyone that yes, it’s scary, but yes you will benefit.

The Ink and Insights competition was a great competition as the feedback was both bolstering, timely and incredibly useful. This is the second time I have entered this comp and it was wonderful to both score in the top ten entrants (out of 125 entries) but also be put forward as one of the judges’ faves (this is separate to the score.)

You can see the Ink and Insights placings and other great up and coming authors manuscripts here:

Some of the great feedback I recieved included:

  • “The characters had a lot of personality. This was especially evident in the care the author took to make their voices unique in dialogue.”
  • “The emphasis on the emotional aspects of these characters lives, the feeling of a fully fleshed out setting, and the streamlined fast-moving pace stick true to the chosen genre.”
  • “The hook has the perfect amount of drama and emotion to make the MC and her struggles feel real while providing key setting clues.”
  • “The element of mystery to these characters’ stories is what I found truly appealing. “
  • “Your characterization is excellent.”
  • “Your descriptions were absolutely magical. I loved reading them and they really immersed me into the story.”

But also on the useful side of feedback came these comments:

  • “I believe that there is room to improve the emotional depth of the story and include more complex emotions.”
  • “There is a good presentation of backstory, however, I believe the story could benefit from a bit more backstory.”
  • “While details are adequate to enable a reader to follow the story, the setting and world-building aspect is a bit sparse in details that would truly immerse the reader into the setting, time frame, and uncertainties of the time, just prior to the Pearl Harbor attack that propelled the U.S. into the Second World War.”
  • “I would have also liked to have read more details in scenery and clothing of the times, as well as hair styles so that I could truly feel as if I had stepped back in time and am living live through your three primary characters: CeCe, Ruby, and Peaches.”
  • “There are a couple areas where I spot room to add more descriptions.”

All these comments have useful and workable solutions and I know that my manuscript will be richer for having taken this feedback and worked on improving my story, characters and dialogue. There is much to do going forward!

It was also great that the Romance Writers of New Zealand Great Beginnings Contest I was the editors pick and their comments were especially warming to hear.

“This WWII era historical was really captivating. I really enjoyed the introduction to the women who are destined to become friends during the war.

Editors comment on Girls of the USO for Great Beginnings Competition

So now what? I have a lot of work to do, but I’m hoping that this manuscript may be in workable order by the time the RWA conference comes up in August! Until then, it’s head down, backside up!

Writerly news 2022

Wrangling with my manuscripts!

Emerging from my writer’s nook (okay that’s not ME but it’s definitely a mood!)

Hi everyone! Apologies for my sporadic posting – but I’ve been very busy working on one of my manuscripts for submission! Last year I was asked to submit one of my stories to major publisher, but as I hadn’t worked on it for some time I asked if I might submit it this year instead. And I’ve only just finished! I had a serious soggy middle that needed some beefing up and wasn’t confident about the overall pace. Some beta reading from some lovely writers from the RWAs aspiring group and my lovely talented writer friend Clare (as well as some sound advice from Writers SA manuscript Incubator mentor Victoria Purman) the time working on it before submission has paid off to the point where I was happy with this current draft. So after some encouragement (because I spook easy) off it went! Not only to the editor that requested it – but a couple of comps too!

THE SOGGY MIDDLE (indicated by yellow and orange post-its!)

In addition to this I recieved some feedback on another manuscript (that currently only has six chapters) but I’ll take small wins where I can – Girls of the USO is garnering interest (from the Ink and Inksights competition) I scored 11th out of 125 unpublished manuscripts! The same manuscript has finaled in a Romance Writers of New Zealand competion and I placed third in the Valerie Parv competition last year! So after some advice – I think I’ll focus on that story and rework my other full ms (that has been rejected) for submission to an agent. Around everything work related I’m not sure where I find the time (oh and my poor kiddo got covid too!!)

I will keep you all posted on any news!

In other news, my short story ‘An Easter Lily on the Somme’ is available for 99c! HERE!

End of year round-up 2021

This year has been a bit like being at a theme park for me – lots of rides, too many sweets, and a haphazard unfocused approach to my writing. But that’s gonna change! So what happened this year?

  • Released a wonderful anthology with my talented writing buddies Ava January, Clare Griffin and Sarah Fiddelaers.
  • Approached a couple of publishers about my WIP and got some great feedback to take in and help me move my craft forward.
  • Finaled in a couple of comps, the latest of which is the Sapphire where I have 2 entries going into the second round and came third in the Valerie Parv competition (unfortunately the last time it will be run in its current form due to the passing of the wonderful Valerie.)
  • Participated in Writers SA Manuscript incubator with the wonderful Victoria Purman and will continue this mini-mentoring with the same group in 2022.
  • Did a virtual presentation at the RWA conference – on how to boost your aspiring writer profile by participating in an anthology (OMG my first ‘paid’ writing gig!)
  • Entered lots of competitions and feel like perhaps my writing is finally ‘going somewhere’.
  • Read a lot of great books and had a lot of fantastic conversations with many other aspiring writers.
  • Ended the year on a high and pumped for my writing and the stories I am going to work on next year.

This year also saw some increase in my work commitments – I was part of the 2021 organising committee for the Australian Entomological Society annual conference. We switched from being an in-person to online conference and it went incredibly smoothly. Next year will bring some work challenges but I am looking forward to working on some of the upcoming entomology projects in the new year.

Australian native blue-banded bee.

I’m going to take a break over the next 3 weeks – both from writing and from my paid employment but I wish everyone a happy and safe festive season and see you all in the new year!

xxx Nancy

Mid-Year Round-up

I’ve spent a great deal of this year hunkered down in my bunker attending to my writer skill set. Much of it reading craft books, attending classes (online) and participating in discussions with fellow writers. My current employment intitially sapped a lot of my free time, so actual writing took a bit of a back seat. Having said that, now I am sitting down reviewing all the past tasks I have managed to squeeze into the first half of the year and am suprised to find its a reasonable amount. So on the writerly front what have been my personal achievements so far for the first half of 2021?

  • Finished draft three of Love War and Emus (about to stet into draft 4 after some wonderful guidance from Libby Iriks!)
  • Joined Writers SA Manuscript Incubator program for ‘Among the Brave’ and prepping to go into draft number 2 (With the amazing Victoria Purman at the helm of our litte group mentoring program)
  • Read lots and lots and lots of craft books and took lots of notes
  • Attended many classes and courses – the highlight being Mark Treddinicks ‘Little Red Workshop’
  • Wrote a novella length story for our upcoming Historical Anthology – A Season in Paris (more about my story and what inspired it later!)
  • Wrote the first six chapters of a story I had a rough idea sitting in my head – and now it seems like it might be a ‘thing’
  • Thought a lot about my first novel ‘The Bridge’ and how I can go back and really work on it – up the stakes, up the conflict, improve my characters and do a complete restructure complete with tossing out one of the POV and introducing another so that its more aligned with my writing style and where I see the story ending up.
  • I also contiue to read lots and lots of books where I can. My current read is ‘A single swallow’ by Ling Zhang
  • Entered lots of competitions – my ‘throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks’ philosophy for getting my stuff out there!

But the most surprising thing that happened is that once again I am a finalist in the Valerie Parv award. A bittersweet honour with the passing of Valerie earlier this year, means that she will not get to read my story but the RWA previous alumni of the VP award have stepped up and I look forward to receiving their feedback!

A list of the finalists for the Valerie Parv Award for Romance Writers of Australia

New Release

Hi Everyone! I hope 2021 is treating you much better than last year. I’ve got some exciting news coming out next month, but until then you can read my short novella ‘An Easter Lily on the Somme’ right now (from the Historical Anthology ‘Easter Promises’) Available here.

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