Tag Archives: News

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

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:

https://inkandinsights.com/apprentice-novels-winners-page.php

https://inkandinsights.com/judges-favorites.php

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!

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

Some exciting writerly news for 2020!

I hope everyone has had a restful (and fun!) festive season! Welcome to 2020! It’s been a sad start to the year with all the people affected by fire around the country. My thoughts are with everyone struggling both with the reality and the news of it. It’s hard not to feel helpless but seeing the writing community active with support #authorsforfireys has gladdened my heart. Several work colleagues are still fighting to keep their properties safe, and I have friends who’ve had to try and keep their families out of harms way, hopefully no more than an inconvienience for them. I just hope the skies open up enough to bring us rain and clear the smoke.

For myself, I’ve been a busy girl, writing, writing, writing (between spending time enjoying a break with my family) and feeling very creative. Although going back to work has meant some reorganising my time to fit everything in I’ve had some success in trying to be more ‘structured’ in my everyday tasks. I’ve been busy working on editing my novels and another thing has kept me very busy too…

What is that other thing? Keep a lookout for some exciting news later this week!

A new beginning – 2019

I realised that I haven’t updated this blog a while and probably it was about time to fill you in on all writerly things that are happening in my life. Mostly all good!

It’s been a tumultuous six months!

clouds dawn nature ocean

Photo by Александр Прокофьев on Pexels.com

I guess the number one thing is that I now have a permanent job. Writing and communication (of an agricultural and scientific nature) will likely take up the bulk of my employment and I am still continuing to freelance as a science communicator and science content creator.

The second big thing is that I have been asked to submit my novel- ‘The Bridge’ to an agent. So I am polishing and tidying the prose, receiving feedback from beta readers and paying an editor to review it and point out where it falls down in pacing or tone. I think it still needs some polish in regard to some areas I need to work on (a writer should never stop learning the craft!) I am thinking that my previous submissions to editors were a little presumptuous, nothing like hindsight to help focus your goals! It’s getting there and there is nothing like waking up in the morning with a fresh idea having given up on an edit the night before in utter frustration of it just ‘not working’. Eight hours of sleep refreshes not only the body but the mind too!

I’ve been working on some smaller projects too, and my second manuscript ‘Emu’ is in the second draft stage – before I move on to a structural edit. I’ve a third manuscript in the planning stage and considering reviewing a manuscript I wrote three years ago, but it’s not historical which is my current area of interest.

I think the one lesson I’ve learned over the last few months of critique is that not to take things too personally, to not rush, take my time, let the craft of writing soak into my soul and try and keep my chin up (despite the downs and the utter hopelessness that you might drown trying to live the writerly life). The one thing I have is the support of loved ones and many writerly friends who understand the pitfalls and promises!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I am hoping to have some time to myself, to read (Clade by James Bradley), drink delicious Fig Gin and put up my feet!