I moved to Melbourne a few months ago and since then have been looking for new writing connections. I have discovered the Melbourne Writers’ Group and also the local Romance Writers’ Group and have made valuable connections in each. Having the support of like-minded people is so helpful on what is a solo journey. I have also submitted some work (a short story and a couple of poems) to an anthology that will shortly be published by Melbourne Writers with the theme “Ties that Bind”.
I am currently half-way through book three, which will be the last of the series set in Alice Springs. This novel, with the working title of Picture This, features Melissa Gilbert, who was a rather unlikeable character in book one, The Red Heart. Getting to know Melissa has been a challenge and I really had to delve into her backstory in order to understand what motivated her to behave the way she did.
Living in an apartment now instead of a large house with all the gardening and maintenance issues has made writing a little easier in that I now have more time for it. I live quite close to my day job and so have time for a short period of writing in the morning, or at least thinking about the plot lines and where it is taking the story. Perhaps when I have finished the current series, the next book will be set in a bustling metropolis as an interesting contrast.
View from my balcony at sunrise
Happy to make connections with any other lone writers in Melbourne.
Time for a few puffed feathers. Earlier this year, I submitted an entry for the RWA Little Gems competition. This is a short story competition of maximum 3000 words, and it must feature the gemstone that is nominated for that year. This year’s stone was Sunstone.
Yes, I know – I hadn’t heard of it either and had to do some research.
Sunstone is a plagioclase feldspar, which when viewed from certain directions exhibits a spangled appearance. It has been found in Southern Norway, Sweden and in various United States localities.
Color: Colorless, yellow, red, green, blue, and ..
Although Wikipedia refers to various colours, all the images depict a tangerine coloured stone. Google it and you will see what I mean.
I thought that I might as well try my luck and the story came together quickly – a light and amusing romance tale, suitable for reading over a Sunday morning coffee. To my delight, my story was selected as being one of the finalists and was included in the anthology of fourteen stories.
Each entry is assessed by three different judges and the comments and scores are forwarded to each entrant after the judging process is complete. That was most valuable and I picked up some useful pointers on writing style. Also of interest was the fact that a feature one judge commented on as pleasing, another judge found to be a point of criticism so you can’t always please everyone.
The anthology was released at the recent RWA Conference that was held in Adelaide. Now that I have had a taste of the competitions, I might submit entries in other categories next year, even if just to get the feedback.
Congratulations to the other entrants and of course to Sheridan Kent who designed the cover. The book is available at the RWA website.
It has been slow progress but today I have started the last chapter of book 2. The working title is ‘On My Wavelength’ with reference to the radio station that features in the book but this may change once I sit down and read the manuscript in its entirety. The problem is, when you take so long to write a book, you forget the finer detail of what you wrote in the beginning. I have resisted re-reading at this stage though as I know that I would get side-tracked with editing and re-writing and instead I want to focus on the final page.
Significant parts of my plotting for this novel have taken place in a local coffee shop. I tend to go for a lengthy walk on Sunday mornings and of course this takes in a coffee shop as well. I find that away from the distractions of home, I can get quite a bit done in the way of character analysis and plotting. I may write the first page or so as well, getting far enough into the chapter for the story to then take over. I find that handwriting helps the creativity as well.
There will be a third book in this series, but at this stage I only know who the central characters will be. I have no idea as yet on the direction of their particular journey or what will happen along the way.
This year’s conference of the Romance Writers’ of Australia is taking place in just under a month and as I intend pitching this novel to a couple of publishers, I need to have it finished and polished by then. It’s a good incentive. Time for another coffee to keep me going.
My recent visit to the writer’s conference in Melbourne fired up my enthusiasm for getting stuck into book two, which is a sequel to The Red Heart. This has been helped a bit by the fact that my last position was made redundant, freeing me up to write through the day. This has been both good and bad, as I will explain.
I have no idea what this book will be called, but as it focusses on Sarah, who was Kathy’s best friend in The Red Heart, that is what the draft is currently called. I’m hoping that inspiration for a truly appropriate name will strike when more of the plot is in place. So far, I am only about twenty one thousand words in. Some sections flow freely and my fingers fly over the keyboard, or else pen scribbles over the paper if that is the mode that I have chosen. At other times though, I stare at the half-filled page, wondering what on earth was in the character’s mind when he/she said or did that and just what exactly are they going to do next?
Sigh. Perhaps I’ll have a cup of coffee. I wander out to the kitchen. Now that I’m here, perhaps I’m feeling a little nibbly. Why don’t I have any biscuits? Perhaps some crackers? Cheese? A few almonds? Before long I am rummaging through the pantry cupboard and the fridge. Just as well I don’t keep chocolate in the house. It wouldn’t last long. As is, I scoff whatever I can find.
These are just diversionary tactics dealing with the hiatus in productivity while waiting for that aha moment when you know just what the response of those characters is going to be. In the meantime, I’m stuffing myself with more food than I actually need, especially as the act of writing entails sitting in the one spot for a lengthy period of time with not a lot of physical effort. Stroking the cat occasionally doesn’t really count.
I’m not quite gaining a kilo for each thousand words but I can see that writing is counter-productive to maintaining a svelte figure. How do other writers deal with this issue? I can’t be the only one to have encountered this weighty problem.
Attended my first RWA conference in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing. There were over 400 delegates in attendance. That’s an incredible number of people who are currently writing within the various romance genres.
I met some interesting writers, participated in great sessions on a range of technical aspects of writing and publishing, and listened to highly practical advice. I also had the opportunity to pitch my manuscript to four new publishers. There are no guarantees of course but at least it is a foot in the door.
On arriving back home, all enthused of course, I decided based on my observation of what is being published at the moment, that my book should probably be a bit longer and so added another chapter and nine thousand words. In doing so, I introduced a new plot thread and am now happier with the overall plot development.
Work is progressing on the next manuscript, and in fact I wrote the best part of a new chapter while I was in Melbourne. There are time challenges whilst I am in the process of establishing a new business (www.worklifejunction.com.au) but I will try to dedicate a day a week to writing.
I didn’t see a lot of Melbourne but enjoyed the hustle and bustle while I was out and about in the evening, looking for food. I did not stay at the conference venue, opting instead for more affordable Airbnb accommodation. I was a bit removed from everyone in the evenings, but at least that meant I could get some writing done.
Next year’s conference is in Adelaide, so I will definitely be attending that one. Should have another novel to pitch by then.
This weekend, I am attending my first conference for the Romance Writers of Australia. It’s an action-packed program with something for everyone. I’m looking forward to the networking and to all that I will learn – not just about the craft of writing but about the industry.
I am pitching to four new publishers, and have spent today collating thoughts and information. I’ve also gone back to the manuscript for The Red Heart to give it another read through. It is amazing that even after I have read it numerous times, and spell-checked and edited, and even after the editor engaged by the publisher reviewed the manuscript, that I have still found a couple of typos and grammatical glitches. As I have read, I also tweaked and done the odd nip and tuck, taking out words or descriptors that really do not add anything of value to the story. I am embarrassed now thinking of the clumsiness of the original text. At least I am improving.
I have also added a new thread running throughout the story, expanding on the conflict between the key characters and which will also lead into book two in which I tell Sarah’s story.
The cocktail event on Friday night should be a blast. I don’t often have an opportunity to bring out the bling but sure will for this occasion. It will set the rest of the conference off with a bit of pizzazz. Perhaps I’ll even come up with some new story lines. I’ll have a drink for you.
There have been a few valleys and troughs in recent months. My publisher decided to cease operations and that was a disappointment. Rights to The Red Heart have reverted to me however, so I am free to seek another publisher. That is exactly what I will do when attending the Melbourne conference of the Romance Writers of Australia. This is the first time that I have attended a writers’ conference and the program looks to be really rewarding. I am so looking forward to it, and of course to the networking, new friends and new learnings that I am sure will result.
Another event in my life has been the end of my day job, due to the role being made redundant. This is both scary(where is the money going to come from now) and exciting because I am going to have the time to do new and more challenging things – like complete the second book and start a new business. Yes I am doing both.
The second book, so far nameless, picks up Sarah’s story. If you have read The Red Heart, you will know that Sarah welcomes Kathy on her arrival in Alice Springs and becomes a close friend, with both women working in the same company. We don’t have the opportunity to learn much about Sarah in this story though, and book two fills in some of the background to why she is on her own in Alice Springs, and the challenges that she faces. I am so pleased to now have more time for dedicated writing, and of course the looming conference has given me renewed enthusiasm.
The new business harnesses life skills that have been acquired over the decades, and fine-tuned with further training. Through Work Life Junction, I will provide life coaching services. Specifically, I am focussing on transitional coaching, working with people who are confronted by life choices and work choices and who need some assistance in clarifying their goals and strategies. If you slip on over to www.worklifejunction.com.au (still a work in progress) you will get a broader understanding.
In general, life is frantically busy but also exciting right now. I look forward to giving updates on my success at pitching to a new publisher at the conference, and also on progress with Sarah’s story.