Monday, 17 December 2012

Welcome to My Guest Author: Jenny Schwartz

Today I welcome Author Jenny Schwartz to my blog!   So over to Jenny...

Thanks, again, Serena, for this chance to visit your blog and chat about my passion: writing. I hope everyone enjoys “Drawing Closer”. I will be giving away one Kindle copy of Drawing Closer to one commenter today.
Writing is Not a Solitary Craft

Being an author means building your support network. Next time you’re reading a novel, flick back to the acknowledgements page of the book. You’ll see the author thanking all the people who made the book possible. She’s not kidding. An author is a professional who knows she’s part of a team.

There are the people in your life who aren’t authors, aren’t in any way connected to the publishing world, but they’re family and friends who support you because they love you. They are gold. Stop reading this and go hug them.

Okay, so now you’re back I want to talk about the support team you’re building for your writing.

Start with author friends. These guys are on the writing journey, too. You won’t walk quite the same path as one another, but you’ll be walking close enough to shout encouragement, pick each other up when you stumble and share gossip. Yes, gossip. Every profession has its own inner workings, trends and possibilities. When I say gossip, I’m not talking about nastiness. I’m talking about keeping an ear to the ground in your industry, publishing.

Where do you find these friends? A great place to start is by joining a professional association, such as the Romance Writers of Australia, which I belong to. Whatever point you’re at with your writing career, you’ll find people like you. But you can also find and build these friendships organically by joining in Twitter and Facebook conversations and commenting at blogs. Basically, you find a community that feels right for you and you join in. Sometimes you can also be lucky and have the community find you. When I had a handful of novellas published with Carina Press I became part of their author group and it’s proved enormously supportive.

Which brings me to my luckiest break of all. Editors. Great editors are an integral part of your writing journey. I’ve been blessed. From Anna Genoese who while she was at Tor rejected my first ever novel, but did so with such kindness and encouragement that she inspired me to keep going, to Nas Dean who has just edited “Drawing Closer” and taught me to delve even deeper into my characters’ emotional responses. Good editors are focussed on the manuscript they’re responsible for, but their comments and advice develop your craft.

Finally, remember and respect reviewers and readers. They provide you with feedback (sometimes negative! eek!) and encouragement.

For all that I was trying to keep this post short, I seem to have rambled on for quite a bit. I’m going to be brief then in my take on how, having identified your support network, you nurture it. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I first read this phrase, but it’s what I hope you take from this post: bank social credit.

Behave professionally. If you’ve made a commitment (revisions, a blog post, a review, a critique), then meet it. Promote your author friends’ work. Volunteer for a role in your professional association. Walk the talk that tells people you’re serious about being part of the community. Comment on blogs, retweet great reviews via Twitter. Be authentic.

I used the phrase “bank social credit” not because I think of nurturing your support network as a soulless transaction, but because I want to counter the Demon Doubt that says you should be WRITING and that anything else is wasting time. Nope. Building a support network is part of the author’s craft. In this world of social media craziness, it’s essential.  

Jenny on the Web:


Blurb Drawing Closer:

Zoe Loyola has a secret. Just between her and her sketchbook, she loves sculptor Nick Gordon. Her drawings of him are hot and naked.

Nick has a secret, too. He’s being blackmailed. Protecting his family means ignoring his desire for Zoe.

But in the world of art, passion breaks every rule and secrets are made for sharing.
Please add to your Goodreads
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Monday, 3 December 2012

Welcome to My Guest Author: Jennifer St. George

Today I welcome Author Jennifer St. George to my blog!  

Jennifer is giving away a Kindle copy of The Convenient Bride to one lucky commenter here today!  So over to Jennifer...

Staying Motivated – Tricks to Keeping Those Fingers on the Keyboard

Let’s face it, it can be hard work to hammer out a novel, especially if you are yet to be published and there’s no deadline. I’ve only been writing seriously for about four years but I realised very quickly that I had to be disciplined for words to appear on a page.  After all, there wasn’t an editor cracking the whip waiting for the manuscript.

I’ve found three things really helped pump out the words.

Competitions Create Deadlines

There were certainly times when I would be up at the crack of dawn writing and wondering if this would ever be worthwhile. I can distinctly remember doing so early one New Year’s Day, having had nothing to drink the night before, because I had a deadline looming for the Romance Writers of Australia 5DI program (the five-day intensive writing retreat).

So how do you keep motivated?  I found writing competitions a great source of stimulus.  If you follow the Romance Writers of Australia competition schedule it helps enormously.  The High Five competition gets those first pages polished.  The Selling Synopsis competition forces out that dreaded précis and you actually have to finish the book to enter the Emerald Award.  If RWA had a ‘cover letter’ writing comp, you would have an entire submission package ready by the time RWA competition season finished. 

I used RWA (Aust), RWA (USA) and Romance Writers of NZ competitions (especially the Clendon) to ensure I had solid deadlines through the year.  I also made a New Years resolution in 2010 to enter every RWA competition with the maximum number entries allowed – that adds up to thousands of words (you have to be in it to win it!)

Daily Word Goals

If I don’t fix a daily word goal, I’m definitely less efficient.  If I don’t have this written in stone before I sit down for the day, it’s amazing what can distract me.  I loathe ironing more than almost anything, but it’s amazing how that overflowing basket can beckon when the words aren’t flowing. But if I have that goal in my head, I don’t sleep until I reach it.

Make More Time

My house is generally a mad house!  Always lots going on. In the beginning, I wondered how I would ever find the time and space to write a novel. So, I created more time. I began getting up an hour and half earlier (and I’m am soooo not a morning person). Now I nail most of my word count before anything in the day ahead can distract me. 
Visit Jennifer Around The Web:
Author Page

Blurb - The Convenient Bride:

Jennifer's debut book released by Destiny Romance.

Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family's hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience and plans to use Sienna to secure his next business deal. But things don't go quite according to plan.

In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice to be with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of great luxury and opulence. As befits the fiancée of the famous Antonio Moretti, Sienna is given a new wardrobe of designer gowns and outfits and instructed exactly how to behave when out in public. But after thinking he can manipulate her at will, Antonio begins to realize he has seriously underestimated Sienna, her intelligence, her skills, her courage – and her beauty. Unexpectedly, Sienna gets too close and when she discovers his dark secret, Antonio's perfectly planned life begins to unravel.
Buy Links:
Destiny Romance




Monday, 19 November 2012

Welcome to My Guest Author: Laura O'Connell

Today I welcome Author Laura O'Connell to my blog!

So over to Laura...

Laura O'Connell

Criticism is scary, but it’s part of an author’s life. In order to receive good feedback from a review it’s important to choose a critic who is familiar with the genre in which you write. Separate your personal emotions from your professional role as a writer. It’s not you personally, they’re criticising, it’s your professional work. Keep that at the back of your mind and the reviewer’s negative comments will have less sting.
Before you hand your manuscript to a reviewer, communicate what you’re expecting from the critique.  Highlight areas you feel aren’t working and why you think they’re not working. This helps the reviewer to focus on those areas for you and it saves time for your critic and for you.

When you get a critique back from a reviewer, put your ego in your back pocket and sit on it. Receiving a review on your work can be harmful to the ego, but can be avoided if you look at it from the point of view that it’s going to make your writing better and increase the chances of getting an editor’s attention.
Remember always that there’s no such thing as perfect writing. Writing is an evolving process that grows organically into a living breathing piece of work that will excite and move your reader in a new and life changing way. None of us is perfect. What is perfect anyway?

When the critique comes back, skim over it quickly and try not to focus on the negative comments too much at this stage. Be aware of the positive feedback as you read and hang on to that. This is where your writing has worked. As you revise the work, you can add more of what’s working into the weaker writing.

After the first quick read-through, take time out to let the emotion that the skim read has evoked mix with your subconscious thoughts. I allow a couple of days for this part of the process. When you’re ready, come back and read the critique again. Then read the manuscript slowly so that you tap into your emotions as you read. Be aware of your physical reactions as well. If there’s a comment that gets your back up stronger than any other, highlight it. This section definitely needs looking at in more detail.

If you’re still not sure about the critique go back to my first statement. Getting a critique is scary, but looking at your work objectively will make it stronger, and much more publishable. A good critic helps you to understand yourself as a writer and where you fit in the publishing world. Watch for your ego, it likes to be out there, pull it back, be humble and continue to work toward your writing goals.
About Laura O'Connell:
Laura enjoys writing stories about second chances in love and life. She calls the Gold Coast home, however, her curious nature leads her on adventures to locations that surprise and delight her. Laura has a passion for telling a good story set in places where she has lived and travelled. Her first book, African Hearts, was shortlisted in the 2011 Caleb Prize.
Laura around the web:
Author Page

Book Blurb - Web of Lies:

High school sweethearts, Stephanie and Lachlan are torn apart by circumstance, bad decisions and a web of lies, leaving an unknown future for their son, Ryan.
Eight years later they reconnect, but the time apart has changed them. The family had made decisions based on lies and deceit and now must find a way to either reveal the truth or find another option. On the surface, their arrangements seemed flawless, but dig deeper, and the people they thought they knew aren’t as they appear.

Lachlan and Stephanie are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and the entire family is compelled to reveal the truth, find forgiveness, and renew loving one another. But the hardest decision is still to come … where does Ryan live?

Buy Links:
Amazon UK

Monday, 5 November 2012

Welcome to My Guest Author: Helen Lacey

Today I welcome Author Helen Lacey to my blog!  

To celebrate the release of Helen's second Harlequin Special Edition, Marriage Under The Mistletoe, she is giving away a copy to one commenter.  So over to Helen...

The Inner Editor


Helen Lacey

As much as I have tried not to at different stages in my writing career, I always edit as I write. Even though I am not a plotter and simply start with Chapter One and get into the story, I still edit myself page by page. I’ve never been the kind of writer who can do what is often called ‘dirty draft’ and then go back and fill in dialogue tags or add settings etc. I can’t write something that says ‘fix this’ in brackets mid-scene and then return later to flesh it out. Which means sometimes I am working on the same page for hours, wondering why it’s not working, and then making sure that it does work before I move on to the next page.
I have tried what I call the ‘sit and surge’ approach, but inevitably have to go back and edit the words and pages that I’ve done before I hit the save button and close down the computer  for that particular writing session. I stopped trying to force myself to plot my books out in advance a long time ago – but have found that editing as I go helps me stay within the framework of the story and keeps my characters true to theme. I do the usual character biographies, story outline etc, but I have found that if I plot in too much detail I often lose spontaneity and get easily distracted from the project. Not knowing what is going to happen next keeps me interested and invested in the characters I am writing about.
Of course, while I’m actually writing the first draft this approach sometimes doesn’t seem particularly time effective – but I have found that since I do edit as I write, when it comes to the latter stages of the manuscript’s development, I can polish and do any editorial revisions reasonably swiftly. Some books seem easier than others though, and often I’ll work with critique partners and/or a professional manuscript assessor to really fine tune any glitches and ensure the story is in the best shape.
But there is no right or wrong way and every writer has to find the process that suits their writing style. Essentially, the important thing is to write the best possible book every time.

Helen Around the Web:




Author Page



Marriage Under The Mistletoe:

Strong. Sensible. Dependable. That was Evie Dunn's type. Certainly not young, fearless gorgeous firefighter Scott Jones. She knew the wisest course was to keep her distance, but she couldn't resist the allure of a holiday fling. Now the widowed single mom found herself with an unexpected post-Christmas gift—she was having Scott's baby!

Scott came to Crystal Point to see his sister tie the knot, not fall for the alluring owner of the town's oceanfront B and B. He knew he was all wrong for Evie, but he would do anything to win her heart and build the family he'd always wanted. All he had to do was persuade Evie to take the biggest risk of her life…on love.
Read an Excerpt:


Buy Links:



Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository






Monday, 6 August 2012

Welcome to My Guest Author: Marilyn Baron

Today I welcome Author Marilyn Baron to my blog! So over to Marilyn....

Make New Friends (But Keep the Old)
By Marilyn Baron

When I was a Girl Scout I use to love this traditional song:
Make new friends,
keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.

I find the sentiment in that song has particular relevance to writing novels. I have several old manuscripts (friends) sitting around that I couldn’t find a market for because they represented a particular niche. Examples include novels about older heroines, which aren’t always the easiest to place, and a novel about World War II.

Last year, I dusted off one of my old favorites, revised it, and lo and behold, after some additional revisions suggested by the editor, it sold. My romantic thriller, Under The Moon Gate, set in contemporary and WW II Bermuda, will be released in the spring 2013 by The Wild Rose Press. In the past, no one seemed particularly interested in the topic of World War II. However, my new editor found something she liked about it, bought it and it will be marketed as a historical, which I didn’t realize I wrote. I typically write women’s fiction, paranormal and romantic suspense.

I never gave up on my “old friend.” I had faith in it. My husband even liked it and he doesn’t read any of my books. The only novels he reads are about World War II, so he actually agreed to read parts of this one. I have always been fascinated by the second World War since my father had been a top turret gunner on a B-17, flying missions over Europe. That’s one of the reasons I wrote it. Another was the location. My family and I had been to Bermuda on vacation many times and it’s one of our favorite places to visit. So I combined my love of Bermuda and my interest in World War II into one novel. 

I believe getting a contract on this book must have been fated. Earlier this year, Barbara Edwards invited me to join her Triberr tribe, Shining Roses for the Wild Bunch. I had no idea what this tribe was but I accepted her invitation. Months later, I signed the contract with The Wild Rose Press and noticed that some of my fellow Tribemates also wrote for TWRP. I emailed Barbara, who confirmed that, yes, all of the writers in the tribe are Wild Rose Press authors. Her response was, “Must have been karma. Congratulations.”  

Hanging out with old friends doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to work on something new. Right now, I’m finishing a new romantic suspense, partially set in Australia, because I fell in love with the place when I visited. However, don’t throw out old manuscripts like worn out shoes. As a matter of fact, I’m revising another “old friend,” a humorous women’s fiction that finaled in a writing competition.

The moral of this story is Don’t give up. Trust your instincts. Get out your old manuscripts and give them a second chance. Your writing has no doubt improved since your last reunion. You saw something in these gems once and you may again. Like an old stuffed, well-worn Teddy Bear, there is still something to love.

Georgia author Marilyn Baron on a trip to Australia in 2009
makes friends with a koala.
Georgia Author Marilyn Baron, a member of Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers, writes humorous women’s fiction, humorous paranormal short stories and romantic suspense.

Her latest paranormal romance, Dead Mix, was just released by TWB Press.
To read more about her women’s fiction, “The Edger,” visit her blog at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales; for her angel stories visit TWB Press.
Find Marilyn on Facebook or Twitter.
Marilyn's next book, “Under the Moon Gate,” a romantic thriller set in contemporary and WW II Bermuda, will be released from The Wild Rose Press in spring 2013.



The devil went down to Georgia. Roswell, Georgia, and more specifically, The Lion’s Den music store. Enter at your own risk. The proprietor there specializes in mixing music to die for...on CDs that are guaranteed to knock you dead by the final note. As the citizens of Roswell go missing, one man, Daniel Craig, ventures into town on the hunt for lost souls, a search that will change his life, forever.

Dead Mix is also available at:

Monday, 23 April 2012

Welcome to My Guest Author: Louisa George

Today I welcome Author Louisa George to my blog!   So over to Louisa....

Thanks, Serena, for inviting me here today!

Lost For Words?

Put an end to procrastination

Some days I just don’t know where to start! I play a little on the internet, read my emails, play a little more (although I prefer to call it ‘research’) and before I know it the day has gone- not a word has been written and my writing opportunity wasted.

Now I’m published I have to write to deadline- a big and scary thing that adds worry to my procrastination. But somehow I still spend far too much time playing and not enough writing.

So, after even more research I’ve developed a few strategies that I use every day. Using these have increased my word count no end and, more importantly, have reduced my stress/guilt levels.

1. Get Organised

So, I had files all over my computer in Word folders- cut bits, important scenes, ideas.  I had a page of links to research (I’m a medical romance writer so I need to do quite a lot of research), another one of photos for my story collage. But every time I wanted to look at them I had to open another document, then another, until one day I got so confused as to where I was that I found that I’d written and edited on the wrong darned document and lost a heap of good stuff!  Now I have Scrivener

There are many different writing programmes available (such as:  snowflake pro,,, so if you’re interested in getting one you should do your research carefully. Scrivener works for me. I have everything in one place and can happily click away to my heart’s content! This is a screen shot of my Scrivener folder for my second book Waking Up with His Runaway Bride (out in July 12). On the left is the binder with all my relevant documents in it. The middle is where I write (although you can use full screen too), to the right I keep document and project notes, have a synopsis of my chapter- and my hero! You can try before you buy and there are lots of youtube videos to take you through the way it works!

2. Bum In Seat

Make a date: Show up on time!

If you want to have a successful career as a writer you have to write. Mark out your writing opportunities in your dairy and stick to them!

3.Turn OFF the internet

I use a nifty little programme called Freedom. It is ‘internet blocking productivity software’ that stops something (cookies, I think-but I’m not a techie!) and you can’t get on to the internet for a set time. You set the time. It’s available for macs and pcs. The first time I used this I trebled my hourly output!

4. Plan what you are going to write.

My biggest time suck is the internet. I waste far too much time flicking through facebook and twitter. However, one good blog I came across was Rachel Aaron's who tells us how she increased her writing output to 7,000 words a day! I use a couple of her techniques.  One of which is to plan what I am going to write that day before I start. Either longhand, or in the document notes section of Scrivener eg: (taken from my third book):

-they walk to pool

-have swim to cool off

-he kisses her

-they eat; he’s brought her food from places she’s going to visit, how does this affect her?

-she touches his tattoo- what does he feel/ think?

-he talks about his life before the accident/ what tattoo means

This way I have a list I can work through- I’m not plotting at this stage, just planning.

5. Have a deadline tracker

Scrivener has a great project tracker and can show statistics on number of words written/ most common words used etc. But I like to set myself even more rigid deadlines. I have a daily word count I have to achieve, a deadline for novel completion, one for editing completion, one for submission etc. The easiest way to do this is creating something that’s going to work for you in Excel, although you can find lots of examples on the internet.

6. Don’t lose the fun

This writing gig can be hard work at times- but it’s essential we don’t forget the joy we get from creating stories. Make time to ‘fill the well’- go for a walk, look at the ocean, take in a movie. Refresh, relax and recharge.

Once you’ve got all these steps in place- all you have to do is write! No excuses!

Do you have any other tips on how to increase productivity or decrease procrastination? I’d love to hear them!

About Louisa George:
I was born and brought up in Yorkshire, England. And yes, many hours were spent on the brooding, bleak Yorkshire Moors dreaming of Heathcliff and other dark, tortured heroes! I read avidly from a young age, and it seemed a natural extension that I would pen my own stories and poems (the early ones are locked away in a drawer where they should stay for eternity!).

Then followed years of studying, nurse training and marriage, two kids and well.... life took over and writing was put aside as a lofty dream.

We emigrated to Auckland, New Zealand in 2002, to feed our passion for travel. It was a place we had never visited and knew no-one - what a thrill! We soon felt very much at home. It is a wonderful place to bring up children.... and to follow your dreams.

Strange things happen here. While doing chores I began to get strings of poetry writing itself in my head, then story ideas would suddenly formulate out of nowhere, characters were telling me their stories and demanding I wrote them! I decided I either needed to visit a doctor or get some therapy! In the end I did neither, but instead I enrolled in an evening class in Creative Writing and have been writing poetry and stories in snatched moments of spare time ever since.


Blurb :  One Month To Become A Mum
Some things in life are worth waiting for…

Jessie Price has lost her only chance at motherhood – it’s a constant hurt, until she meets sinfully sexy single dad Dr Luke McKenzie and his gorgeous little girl. Luke’s intoxicating kisses and his daughter’s adoring hugs have Jessie longing for the impossible. But she's a temporary locum, the clock’s ticking – and there’s only a month to make all her wishes come true…
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