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!

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

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?

Availble now on pre-order from Amazon!

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.

Mid-Year Round up

Wowza! the last six months have been intense. A pandemic has certainly stuck a blow for my creativity and despite the working from home and supposed all the free time we allegedly had, find myself running out of time to do much at all! Where do I start?

  1. Worked on my first contribution to an anthology
  2. Finaled in several competitions
  3. Won two competitions
  4. Had my second story appear in anthology
  5. Had a short story accepted by a science fiction magazine
  6. Have the interest of an overseas agent for one of my manuscripts
  7. Attended an intense online conference
  8. Turned 50

That isn’t all – I’m sure there is more but I am still swamped by life (and work!)

The language of the Afghan men congregating on the busy wharf had drifted in the breeze. Their words song-like, as if they were preparing for choir.

killing my darlings

And now I find as we are on the slide into Christmas and the end of the year I am heavily editing and crying at having to kill all my darlings that I lovingly crafted over the year.

But, we must move on, bring on Spring!

Cover Reveal!

I have another short story coming out in August – it’s part of the Romance Writers of Australia Sweet Treats Anthology. I’m really excited to see my name amongst some of the other wonderful aspiring and emerging writers. This years theme is ‘Cupcakes’ and my story ‘Miss Minnie’s Courage and Cupcakes’ is one of 15 sweet romance stories!

About Miss Minnie’s Courage and Cupcakes

“The best protection any woman can have… is courage.” ~Elizabeth Cady Stanton

When Minnie Cranston is faced with her childhood friend Tom heading off to war, there is only one thing she can do – show courage and bake her heart out. When the winds of war change them both, can they reconcile their ideals and find true love?

Available as ebook and paperback – details TBA!

Post Isolation, Pre-birthday Roundup!

For the majority of us, I suspect the last 6 months has been spent in upheaval, with worry and strife afflicting our daily lives. For me personally its been up and down but its nothing in comparison to the upturned lives of so many others.

On the writerly front its been an amazing six months – the last few months has been planning and plotting and mulling over strategies for the next six months. However, creativity has been like retrieving the dregs of a slowly drying well. And one of the biggest disappointments for me has been that I’ve been unable to celebrate the launch of our historical anthology ‘Easter Promises’ in the manner befitting our glorious cover girl. Luckily though, its reception has still been very positive! And I love the stories and heroines my anthology co-authors have created– from beautiful and evocative ‘Easter Dawn’ and the sweetest Minnie, to the mystery of a snow bound hotel in ‘Le Malin Renard’ and the hilarious and vivaciously sexy Ariadne, and then onto the little told history of the WASPS, the female pilots of WW2 in ‘EOS’ with the beautiful and glamourous Rosamund. I had such a ball creating this with my fellow authors I was saddened only that I couldn’t celebrate our achievement with everyone else too!

I’ve been eagerly editing my second manuscript and am now being mentored by the wonderful Libby Iriks who has been giving me some great feedback, helping me to set goals and answering my silly questions. My first manuscript has also had a bit of workout after a manuscript assessment has me thinking a complete re-write despite the fact its finaled in several writing competitions (and won one too!) I had shelved it since a rejection I received earlier this year and I’ve not wanted to send it out on submission to anyone else until I can pummel it into better shape—which I believe I can do, but as with everything, it takes time and I don’t have a lot of that!

CYA conference competition 2020

I won the aspiring category for Adult fiction at the recent CYA conference for my novel ‘The Bridge’ – which resulted in an amazing conversation with Clive Hebard – Managing Editor of Penguin Random House in Melbourne, he gave me some great feedback and I was so happy to hear that my writing and the story is very reminiscent of Joy Rhoades work (The Woolgrowers Companion, The Burnt Country) and I was so thrilled (and overwhelmed) to hear that! I also had a consult with Queensland Writer’s Centre and I think I can go into this next draft feeling more confident about the choices I am making with the story.

So what else have I been doing? Like most people – baking bread, making preserves from a mountain of quinces and reading, playing video games and binge watching Netflix!

I have another story coming out in the Romance Writers of Australia Sweet Treats Anthology – so keep an eye out for ‘Miss Minnie’s Courage and Cupcakes’!! I’ll talk about it and my inspiration for the story on the release date which is only a few weeks away!

Let’s hope the last half of the year isn’t fraught with fear and that we can resume our normal lives as best we can!

Oh yeah, next week it’s my birthday – I’ll be… a lady of a certain age…

If you want to help me celebrate – I’m doing Dry July in support of Cancer research and in memory of my wonderful mum, Jessie and my mother-in-law Peggy.

Nancy’s Dry July fundraiser

Currently reading: The Golden Hour: A Novel by Beatriz Williams

Release Day is here!

Hi Everyone! Release day for Easter Promises is here!

I’d like to thank my fabulous co-authors Sarah Fiddelaers, Ava January and Clare Griffin for being great collaborators. I’d also like to thank Kerry Wagoner and Lou Greene for editing/beta’ing and to the amazing Jayne Kingsley who helped out with questions and guided us newbies through the formatting process.

I recieved this marvelloous art of Ivy and Maurice from ‘An Easter Lily on the Somme’ by my friend Anna – currently on lockdown in Italy. Anna and I met online fawning over our mutual adoration of fictional characters. Anna is a talented artist who also loves drawing fanart!

Ivy and Maurice from ‘An Easter Lily on the Somme’
Art by Anna Usai

Easter Lily on the Somme is in the historical anthology ‘Easter Promises’ available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo or direct from authors!

Please everyone have a safe and happy Easter xxx