Friday 30 September 2011

#RomanticFridayWriters story, Fearful Heart, 400 words of #flashfiction.

My #RomanticFridayWriters story this week is a short, worked-over excerpt from my WIP, The Last Cowboy, set on the island of Nantucket, MASS.. The MC, Shakira, has been sexually assaulted at the beginning of the novel, and she and the detective working on her case, Byron, have developed a, er, very close friendship.

Fearful Heart

She roused out of sleep, shaded her eyes from the melting sun.
‘Want company?’
‘Sure! Come!’
She expected him to toss his bike and walk down the cliff steps, but no. He took the steps like a teenager, bump, bump, bump, standing in the pedals. Just a boy under that stern police facade.
He loomed over her, a sea god with his golden hair, floaty white shirt and khaki boardies.
‘No helmet? No shoes? Aren’t you the rebel then?’
He smiled and flopped on the sand beside her.
 ‘What brings you, Mr Detective, the perfect weather?’
‘Hmm. Walk?’
 Byron stood and took her hand, pulling her up like she was fairy dust.  
They walked. The beach was alive with rosa rugosa bushes, tupelo trees and tall grasses.
‘Ow!’ Shakira stumbled.
‘Pesky plum bush caught me.’
‘Let’s see,’ Byron crouched.
‘Please don’t...’
‘No bother.’ He tweaked her skirt. ‘Nasty gash. Must hurt like hell.’
Shakira trembled.
‘God, I’m sorry. What a clot I am. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you.’
‘I know. It’s not you.’
‘Okay. Let’s wash it.’
When they got to the water blood was running down her leg.
Shakira looked at the red stream, remembering.
‘Mind if I wash it?’ Byron asked, ‘Salt water’s great.’
‘Fine. Go ahead.’ She held her breath.
Byron bunched her dress with one hand and cupped seawater on her leg with the other. Relief.
‘That’s got it.’ He reached into his pocket for a handkerchief.
‘Sit down while I tie it,’ he said, stopping at a sandy knoll.
 ‘You’ll live,’ he said, gently pressing the wound. Kind eyes, yet she saw something else, a flicker…
‘Byron, I…’
‘Shakira, I…’
Both laughed.
‘Kiss me Byron.’
He raised his eyebrows. 'I'm not sure...'
His kiss was gentle and sweet, fragrant as wild roses open to the sun. When the kiss was over he drew her close and they sat, bathed by the sun’s rays.
Shakira couldn’t stop her tears.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.’
‘Don’t be sorry.’
‘Then why..?’
‘Because your kiss made me happy. Why am I happy?’
‘You’ve every right to be happy. If anyone deserves happiness, it’s you.’
He kissed her tears, healing her with his touch.
She opened her eyes and saw blue sparkling waters shielded by tall grasses that waved like soft green silk.
‘I didn’t think I was ready for that,’ she whispered.

 398 words, FCA.


I hope you enjoyed my short extract to fit the theme for the week, Fearful Heart. To read more #RFWer stories, click on the badge at the top of the right sidebar.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

All I Need is Love - or I used to...

I write a lot of different genres, which explains why I'm in 8 groups for the current Platform-Building Campaign, but primarily I see myself as a romance writer, I've even dreamed up Romantic Friday Writers so like-minded souls can practise their romance writing or get feedback on their romance WIPs. But romance writing is no longer straightforward or simply formulaic as it once was accused of being. Today romance comes in just about every guise known to man or woman.

Once upon a time a romance writer had a heroine coming up against a classic, alpha male, jump through some exciting hoops, then resolve everything by the Happily Ever After ending. Well, the alpha has become an endangered species, with the vampire becoming the new alpha male, at least for now. He wants to suck blood, mate for a very long life. Well, there's not just vamps, there's werewolves, zombies, and all sorts of paranormal monsters making appearances.

Anyone who's been writing and selling romance fiction for a long time would have had to change with the times. The earlier romances had a single POV (usually the heroine's), sometimes two (hero and heroine), and there wasn't much in the way of sub plot. My, haven't things changed! I just read an interesting post over at Nas Dean's Romance Book Paradise, where multi-published romance author Kate Walker was stressing how romance writing has changed from when she published her first book, 60 books ago! To continue her success, she changed with the times.

Romance-writing boundaries have expanded like a waistline subjected to too much junk food. Now there are multiple viewpoints, subplots aplenty, mystery, suspense and all types of paranormal activity - the whole spectrum from angels to vampires to shape-shifters. But some things don't change...

Love is still central. 

Nowadays romance books are harder to categorise. Some, like me, prefer the title women's fiction. Whatever you call them, these stories reflect the growth of the ever-popular romance genre and the expanding preferences of women (and men) who read them. We all want romance, don't we, and we crave more, just like in real life. 

Want to read more? There is a great article by Agent Scott Eagan on Romance Vs Women's Fiction. He belongs to Greyhaus Literary, who only accept submissions from romance writers.

He likes the traditional take on the romance genre where he says:
      • The relationship is the central plot arc of the story.
      • There is a happily-ever-after.

With women's fiction he says:  I have always tried to define this genre as a story that shows the female journey. 

If you write romance of any sub genre, it would pay to read the whole article. 

So if you've thought, romance, ugh, I could never write that, just know that romance has grown over the years and it's still the genre that at last survey, offers the best chance for writers to find publication. And that is encouraging for romance writers of any sub genre. 
  • Can you spare another few minutes to tell me what you think? Do you write any sort of romance? 
  • What is your favourite type of romance story?

Friday 23 September 2011

What I did on your Summer Vacation - September 23. I went to South Korea, Madrid, San Sebastian in Spain and Biarritz in France, just for starters...

If you're looking for my #RomanticFridayWriter story, it's here today.

Well I know you guys in the Northern Hemp are saying goodbye to summer's tornadoes and floods and saying hello to winter's snows and winds, but down here in the Southern Hemp we're just saying goodbye to winter's beautiful weather and hello to spring which is actually like summer already. So I had to do a think about Michael's Summer Blogfest, but then, aha, I remembered I actually visited the Northern Hemp this summer, so let's grab out a few of the, ahem 30,000 or so pics and post them! Done!

My followers would know that during the southern winter, northern summer, I travelled to Spain, France - (country and Paris), Andorra and Morocco. I'll post a few pics from each country. I must say except for Spain and Morocco, summer seemed to be strangely absent. It was the same temperature in Paris' summer when we flew out as it was in Australia's winter when we landed at Brisbane airport.

First stop, Seoul, South Korea. Always strange not to see bright blue skies. Here is Songdu City, a new satellite city out of Seoul, where everything is new, green, and strangely empty. I was intrigued how they prop up their trees. Must be a story to that, maybe simply very strong winds.

One of those lucky breaks - happened on The Walk of the Royal Family at Incheon Airport. The South Korean national dress is gorgeous. Pity I can't show more, but...

Welcome to Madrid, Spain, the gypsies sang! They were just so great I stood for ages and listened, clapped and smiled. And yes, Alex, I gave them money!

Blue skies again you'll note! We just happened on a multicultural food and music festival in the Grand Square of Madrid. Here a Bolivian band struts their stuff. Madrid is alive with music! All day, all night! The people own their city!

Did I tell you the Bolivians are tres colourful? We were really blessed to be part of this festival with like a million or so others. Was very hot summer weather so these guys must have been frying. We enjoyed strolling around drinking real cidre (cider).

Watching the flamenco dancers in sumptuous settings and eating sumptuous tapas and drinking sumptuous wine was a treat just up the street from our hotel in Madrid. Went on into the early hours of the morning, then we had to pick up a hire car and get ready to drive north to San Sebastian , heading into France via Biarritz and Bordeaux.

I think I've used up my quota for this 'fest and I didn't even get out of Spain. Never mind, you can always check them out on my other blogs. I've left links to more below, but really, I haven't even started yet!

Ah, what the heck! One more. It is a summer blogfest after all, so I'll leave you with a photo of the carpark at the stupendous hotel we stayed at in San Sebastian, looking north to Biarritz and France. Woo hoo, here I come!

And in case you're too busy/lazy/uninspired to check out my snaps on my travel and Paris blogs, I just want to tell you Biarritz, France, is drop-dead gorgeous! Can see why it used to be a surfie mecca in a past life. It's just being regenerated now and regaining some of its past glory.

And we haven't even gone to Morocco  yet! Well it's hard to beat this for a summer pic. On top of the Sahara Desert in Morocco looking towards Algeria (7 hours by camel) with my 2 Berber guides and smelly, snorty camels who're no fun really to ride, but boy is it a great experience to see the sunset after the climb! I've already posted some Morocco pics on L'Aussie Travel and have just posted more on my Saharan Desert climb. I've just downloaded this memory stick and are there ever some stunners here!

All photos are private. Please enjoy but don't steal. See my copyright warning! 

If you've really enjoyed my pics, I've been posting photo essays on both my L'Aussie Travel Blog and Pichets in Paris blog since returning from my travels. Go there for more deliciousness if you wish.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Social Media - let the editor speak. And a little on queries...

Following on from my Twitter post below, which resulted in some little controversy here and there (not that that's a bad thing!) I thought I'd do what I've been trying to do for sometime - write a short post. This one is a quote I came across today while I was working in the State Library and browsing Writer's Digest magazines.


I like it when an author is Internet savvy. The future of books is digital, so it is a good idea to begin to use that medium as much as possible for promotional purposes now, and to join the pioneers of this movement who are scheduling blog tours, updating websites and connecting with others in and out of the writing community via the Internet. Perhaps most importantly, I think that those online efforts don't go unnoticed by publishers!

Adriana Dominguez
Executive Editor @ HarperCollins Children's Books
Check her out: Full Circle:


Adriana says:

Most queries are...too long. Send 3 - 4 paragraphs.
1 short paragraph telling why you chose her agency (she likes to see you've done your homework.)
1 or 2 paragraphs that succinctly describe your project and highlight its potential in the marketplace (homework.)
Final paragraph - your background, education, credits and platform.

  • What do you think? Do you think internet promotion works? 
  • How else will authors market their e-books?

Monday 19 September 2011

Can you afford not to be a twit?

Hi everyone! Haven't those malware messages on blogger been a pain! After spending half a day dealing with blogger I got nowhere really. The messages seem to come and go at will. I have an excellent anti-virus program and there was nothing malicious on my site so don't be worried if you visited me and received the message.

Today's post is rather ironic as my twitter account was hacked recently, but I learned a lot as I fixed it up, mainly that a lot of people care...

I was impressed by a post on Raquel Byrnes' blog some months ago and asked her permission to re-post in case you missed it. These are the opinions of Nicole Rodgers who is somewhat of an expert in this area.

Some of us have discussions re social media, especially that upstart Twitter. Some see it as a waste of time, some can't imagine a life without it. No matter what your opinion is, like me, you may find Nicole's insights intriguing...

Over to Nicole.

Just a decade ago if you went to university to learn marketing skills what you learnt had absolutely nothing to do with the reality of the modern media.

Now even 'wasting' time on Twitter is really more useful from a marketing standpoint than any university learning regarding demographics and market trends.

According to Nicole Rodgers, having a strong Twitter following is really one of the most important aspects of running any kind of successful business on the web today. She offers ten tips on creating that following:

1.  Follow Everyone Back
  • If someone follows you, follow them back. No exceptions. Even following back a spam bot can be helpful if a dozen other people followed them back, too.
2.  Design a Great Avatar
  • Your userpic is the reader's first impression of you. If it looks dull, people are less likely to read that tiny little snippet of text sitting next to it.
3.  Follow the Big Names
  • Even if you don't care what they have to say, follow the big social media people, the "opinion leaders" you can find listed at Twittercounter and other social media ranking sites. Even if you could care less, Twitter is all about big numbers. 
4.  Send @Messages to the Big Names
  • Ninety nine percent of the time, they're not going to answer you, but that doesn't matter, because here's the trick: people will see that you're sending those messages to some famous person and think "This person must be big, they know (insert celebrity name here)." It's total baloney, of course, but it works.
5.  Link, Link, Link
  • Don't just say "this a hilarious video", link to it. Link to interesting articles, pictures, videos, songs, everything. If sixty percent of your Tweets are just links, you're doing something right.
6.  Be an Expert
  • People are a lot more likely to look for Twitter accounts focused on a subject they take an interest in than a Twitter account simply dedicated to your own personal thoughts and ramblings. If you know a lot about video games, movie news, antique furniture, whatever, milk that knowledge, and once you've made a name for yourself, don't be afraid to have controversial opinions. Nothing doubles your followers like a controversial opinion.
7.  Tweet, Tweet and Tweet Again
  • Most people who use Twitter check their accounts at the same time every day. If they're following a hundred other accounts, then there's a good chance that your Tweets will be pushed off their page by the time they sign on. Post your best Tweets a couple extra times throughout the day to push them back to the top for those who haven't seen them yet.
8. Use Multimedia
  • The more pictures, videos and mixed media you link, the better.
9.  Use Easy Tools
  • There are all kinds of apps you can get for your phone and your web browser to make Tweeting incredibly easy, keeping you in the loop and letting you text tweets in half the time.
10. Be a Twitter Junkie
  • Don't be afraid to be one of those people with their nose constantly buried in the phone, it helps.
We can say what we will about Twitter, but the bottom line is that it's one of the most effective marketing tools ever created, and if you're looking to develop an audience or get your piece of the market share, you'd be crazy not to take advantage.

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging about online marketing for 3 years.

What do you think?

Myself, I've been finding twitter more and more useful, especially the hashtag symbols. I write for #RFWer, #FridayFlash and other  memes as they arise. By using the hashtags, other writers can find your current stories easily, comment and RT (Retweet) to their followers. The current Writers Platform-Building Campaign uses #writecampaign for notices and to reach out to all those who've joined up.

Writers have a world of help open to them by following just some of the amazing tweet helpers such as:

@WoMensLitCafe #FF

and all the Publishers, indy and established are at your fingertips. And you can get all sorts of help with self publishing. Really, except for getting someone to cook dinner for you, it's all there (well, maybe that too!)

Since I started writing this post I've had a bit of a following frenzy. I now have nearly 900 followers and am listed in 95 separate lists. Groovy. Now all these followers can find out who cooked me dinner, ha ha. Seriously, if your followers are linkers you'll be able to access so much info your head will spin. And having Tweet Deck is a great way to see what your your fellow twits are saying. Just don't forget to save time for writing!
  •  Are you a twit?
  • Did you find any of Nicole's tips useful?
  • Did you disagree with the opinions in this post?
  • How has twitter been useful to you as a writer?
  • Can you add any more writer helpers to my short list above?
If you are really into this, you might like to read Nicola Morgan's post about Twitter and she has an e-book dedicated to answering your questions about Twitter:

Saturday 17 September 2011

It's in the Box, short snippet of #flashfiction. A weekend chuckle.

I linked this story to my flashquake blog when my L'Aussie site was playing up yesterday but I thought I'd reprint it here in case some of my non-#RomanticFridayWriter followers need a laugh this weekend. Enjoy!

It’s in the Box

How well Alicia remembered David’s first gift, a classic perfume from the 60s by Guerlain.

‘Do you like it?’ He'd squirted the air. ‘Mmm, what a bouquet…’

Bouquet? Yes, of cow dung…‘Mmm, a certain something, darling,’ she'd replied.

She’d sprayed it around the apartment with the windows open, in the linen cupboard, in the kitchen bin, even on herself when she had to. If she used her favourite Guerlain classic Jicky, David still thought she was wearing his ‘Ikkie’ (her word.)

Last week she’d been ready when he nuzzled her ear and whispered, ‘Are you wearing my perfume?’

‘No, honey. Perfumes don’t last forever, sadly.’ Thank God.

So, another anniversary, another gift. She loved David, she really did, it was just his taste in perfume she loathed. This box, however, showed promise, nice and small, hmm, maybe...

‘Open it!’ he cried, holding it under her nose.

‘What!’ she squeaked, ‘David, you’ve outdone yourself !’

A minature bottle of ‘Ikkie.’

‘It was an extra they gave me when I bought the last bottle. I kept it for when you ran out.’


‘Don’t you like it darling? I thought you loved that bouquet. Why, I could even smell it in the garbage bin.’

‘David, I must tell you…’

‘Hey, look Allie. Where did that come from?’

He whipped out another little box and flipped the lid.

There, artfully arranged on white satin was the most adorable white gold sapphire and diamond ring.

‘David! It’s exquisite!’

‘And so is my Alicia.’ He knelt on the floor.

‘My darling, will you marry me?’

‘Yes, yes, yes!’

‘You didn’t think I had it in me?’

‘Er, no, of course I knew you did sweetie.’

‘Now, what about your little bottle of perfume?’

‘David, I need a change.’

‘Thought you might say that.’ He winked. ‘Hey, there might be another box...ta da!'

There it was, Jicky, its golden stopper glinting in the morning light.

‘How did you know I like Jicky?’

‘Well, do you really think I couldn’t tell the difference? But I let you go on pretending.’

‘Oh, David. I should’ve been honest. I didn’t want to hurt you.’

‘I know darling. A woman who’ll wear perfume she hates for a year must really love her man. I fell in love with you all over again when I saw you spraying it on, just for me.’

‘Oh, David…’

‘Come here love.’ He took the ring and slipped it on her finger.

I hope you liked my story for #RFWer and #Fridayflash. To read more click on the badges in the sidebar.
407 words. FCA

I hope you liked my story for #RFWer. To read more click on the badge in the sidebar.
407 words. FCA

Wednesday 14 September 2011

If I could be anyone, I'd be......and I'd be @ the Watching Willow Watts Launch Party ! Come along my friends....

If I Could Be Anyone, I’d be...

Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the reader in the possession of a good book gains further pleasure from knowing where an author gained inspiration.

Like Jane I don't mind an endless social whirl at night, but the mornings belong to me. And I find endless inspiration from the foolishness I'm forced to endure in the social whirl...then I get to write about it. I confess I find the dances, concerts, taking the waters, taking tea such a trial. Parties are such a bore, but today there is a very special occasion - 

Talli Roland sent me an invitation to something she calls a launch party of a new genre she describes as chick-lit. Goodness gracious how audacious is that girl. Never mind, I'll put on a brave face and head over after I finish taking the waters (see above.)

Watching Willow Watts. Today released as an e-book. Print on November 30.

Go here to find more If I Could be Anyone, I'd be...posts


Monday 12 September 2011

Lost, my short story in remembrance of 9/11


Her black hair is wetly plastered on her forehead; her dark robe pulls around her ankles like a shroud as she stumbles along the slick sidewalk, a forlorn figure in the misty rain.

I scrape my chair closer to the window and watch. Flowing like rivers around the woman is a multitude of people – tall Africans in technicolour caftans, blue-swathed Afghani women, dark-robed Muslim gentlemen.

Looking out from the café window, I can imagine myself in Baghdad, Beirut or Nairobi.

Anywhere but Paris.

                                                *  *  *

The sky was black and starless, heavy with the thought of rain when I shut the door to my little pensione in the Marais district. My aimless wandering has brought me again to my favourite square in Belleville where it’s market day. More like a Moroccan souk than a Parisian square, I think, with its hodge-podge of wares and rowdy jostling.

I watch turbaned African women elegant in striped boubous, children chattering at their skirts. Tourists weighed down with cameras jostle sober Orthodox Jews heading to the synagogue. North African men, tall and stately in jellabas, enter the mosque on the corner. Turkish men drink their java in the open wooden tea-house across the road, their cigarette smoke sending smutty curls into the grey sky.

The woman is at my window. I see black eyes sunken and mouth gaping. My God! I start to my feet. She jumps back, tosses her head and wails, her keening sharp in the sopping morning air.

I fall back into my chair.

‘Oh my God,’ I groan. I hang my head while the woman sobs. I reach a shaky hand toward the cold glass where her gnarly fingers clutch at her face.

‘You poor thing,’ I whisper. I stay where I am, pressing my cheek against the damp pane, remembering...

I remember the day the bomb fell out of the muggy midsummer sky…

                                                *  *  *

I see the Arab woman turn the corner, stumbling towards hell. She covers her face with her hands, sobbing raggedly, gulping the acrid air. As the searing heat and pestilential dust find her, she drops her hands from her face and stares.

Cement columns lean at strange angles; blocks of wall twist grotesquely like a miniature World Trade Centre, bolts and steel exposed. Where the floor once lay there is a gigantic hole from the mortar, filled with debris, the toxic dust rising in grey filthy puffs.

The debris includes her two children, left at the table, reading, only moments before.

The crowd watches as she throws herself into the smouldering heap, her lips quivering, her arms outstretched, her robes spreading over the monstrosity as if to shield her darlings from the unspeakable sight.

She begins to scrapple in the debris, oblivious to her ripped and scorched fingers, her torn knees, her blood mixing with their precious blood. She chants as she digs, frantically pushing cement chunks aside with super-human strength. Suddenly her frenzied digging stops, she gazes downward, blinks. An unearthly sound erupts from deep inside her.

Men in the crowd step forward at last, their garments flapping as they fight her, drag her bodily, her legs jerking, incomprehensible garble spilling from her mouth. Her scarf falls into the grey pit; her long black hair escapes its bonds and trails behind her in the putrid dust. Her screams get louder, piercing the gritty afternoon air. Mothers turn away, rushing home to their loved ones, to smother them in kisses, to breathe in their baby smell, to hold them safe in their arms.

The woman is hauled away. She looks back. The puddle of blood, dismembered arms and legs, a smouldering tiny leather boot are her last sight of her precious ones. Does her crazed stare register the foreigner clutching notebook and camera stepping from the crowd, reaching out?

                                                 *  *  *

How did she end up in Paris? Perhaps she arrived in Paris’ safe haven via Syria or Beirut, facing further danger on her road towards freedom, but how she would have hated to leave her children.

Their dust lies somewhere in Baghdad.

I sip my coffee with shaking hands, tremble and wonder. When I look at her she jerks away, eyes downcast. She stands erect, walks alone into the crowd, daughter of Ishtar, dignity restored.

S’il vous plaît.’ I call the waiter for more coffee.

I reach into my bag and stare at the tatty photo of my family.

The backdrop is the gigantic columns of the World Trade Centre, splendidly piercing the sky. I can still hear them laughing as I joked around with my camera. I gently kiss the darling glossy faces.

I remember afresh the terror of that day when the plane that was flying them home veered off course and crashed into the very same building. My loved ones became part of the debris that floated to the ground, that toxic shower.

Did my little ones cry for me? Did my husband feel relief that my work compelled me to catch a different plane, a plane to my Baghdad assignment? I can only imagine his final thoughts in his final minutes, as he held our children close to his beating father’s heart.

I reach for my press card, tap it on the table, remembering. I fumble in my bag again, retrieve my blank notebook and flip it open.

Merci.’ I thank the waiter who brings my coffee. I click my pen and slap it against the page, rhythmically, tap, tap, tap

My hand shakes as I begin to write:

An Arab woman 
Lustrous black hair…no…

Try again

Dust to dust, dust to dust…oh God…oh God…no…

Suddenly the pen races across the page as if propelled by another source:

The bowels of the earth
Are filled
With pestilential dust
That was once
Flesh and bone

I cover my face with my hands. I begin to scream.


This story won second place in an online competition using Lost as a theme. I thought it would be fitting to reprint it here today in honour of those who lost their lives on Sept 11, 10 years ago, and the many who have perished since as a result.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Free books for Kindle - as good as it gets!

If you're looking for my Insecure Writers Support Group post, it's below this one.

Have you got a Kindle? Do you download books to Kindle for PC? Well, hang around. Some good news. Through Linda Schab of On the Write Track I've recently found a great blog which I just had to tell you about. It's called Write This Way. Maybe you know it? Suzanne Hartmann doesn't just tell you about free e-books she also offers many resources for writers. The latest is on Tips for First Drafts. Great stuff.

When you have an e-reader you have a whole library of books at your fingertips no matter where you are -- in the car, at the beach, on an aeroplane, or snuggled up in bed. Well maybe not the last one. I love to snuggle up with paper books. I nod off to the sound of turning pages...

I love book-lined shelves. Toppling towers of books beside my bed. Books to lend to people. Books to throw at people, lol. There's just something about the feel of paper between my fingers. I have no urge to stroke a kindle. I prefer the scent of a hardcover to hardware. I'm a 'flat earther' in that way. That will never change unless God forbid, there's another spate of book burnings (I'm re-reading The Book Thief.) I'll always own hundreds of "real" books and will still support my local Indie bookstores which still flourish in Australia BTW. I prefer the little guy to Amazon any day but know that more and more writers are reliant on Amazon for their daily bread. Hey, some aren't even printing paper books so I have to buy e-books to support my author friends.

But I sure love my Kindle! It has its place.

The thing about a Kindle is many of the titles I've uploaded were free or just 99c or were gifted to me. Who doesn't love a bargain, especially when it comes to books! (Perusing new or second-hand booksales must be one of my favourite hobbies.) Some of the titles I've gotten for free normally sell for around $10. I'm not against spending ten smackaroos on a good book as a labourer is worthy of his hire, but if it's offered for free? No-brainer.

Recently, Hartline agented and soon-to-be-published Oak Tara author, Suzanne  Hartmann, started "Freebie Friday" on her blog. Suzanne listed a bunch of free Kindle titles currently offered on There are freebies from Janice Thompson, Jody Hedlund, and Stormie O'Martian et al. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out: Maybe they won't all be still available, but you'll find a few. Check out and follow Suzanne's blog Write This Way for current list. What a great resource.

You can visit the Amazon Kindle Store and search for free ebooks yourself. Simply bring up the category by price, lowest to highest. All the freebies will show up at the top.

  • Do you have any other resources you can add to this?
  • What freebies have you taken advantage of lately?

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group inaugural post. Can you help me? I don't know if I've got what it takes to get my novels published. Do you?

Well I don't believe myself to be much of a joiner, but recently I've blown that theory. I've joined the Writers Platform Building Campaign again and I couldn't resist Alex J Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Why on earth do we needed another group? Keep reading:

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writers.

Connecting: There is a participation list on Alex's site (click link above). It also allows for comments if you have an immediate need. This is where we can help one another. Check this page whenever you visit – if you can help a fellow writer, hop over to their blog and offer assistance. Eventually I may set up lists of where people are in the process, so if you’re having querying issues, you can visit someone else who is querying or someone who signed a contract for help. Or a list of resources. Be watching for these updates!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Well it's the first Wednesday of the month so here is my inaugural post for the IWSG. Maybe I'm wrong but I think most writers are insecure - about their work, their talents, their chances of publishing - all the hoops you have to jump through, all the advice of the 'must dos' and 'must not dos'. It's enough to make anyone insecure, especially when you see these 'rules' being broken by best-selling authors all the time. Are they laughing at our insecurities?

So I'll use Alex's 'purposes' above for my post today. This is really making me think!

MY DOUBTS (which I haven't conquered yet Alex)
  • Do I really have a talent for writing? Am I kidding myself? Does the world need more words, especially from me? Are the people who say they enjoy my stories just being kind? 
    • My question is then - how do you know you've got what it takes to see a novel through to publication? I must be one of the world's most voracious readers and I  read some fabulous books and some very second-rate books that managed to find a publisher. Obviously there's more than talent involved...
MY FEARS (which I haven't conquered yet Alex)
  • Do I have the stamina to see a novel through to publication? The articles/stories on this topic are pretty daunting. So much to do it seems like writing the novel is the easiest part. There are many edits, queries, pitches (is that the same thing?), proposals, first chapters, choosing who to approach, then if you find a contract you're often asked to practically re-write your ms. The mind boggles...
  • Once again there's a plethora of information on all these topics. 
    • To be accepted by an established publisher as a debut novelist seems highly unlikely these days, although I know there's exceptions. All debut novelists hope to find an agent/editor not 'allergic to the smell of a new writer' as Glenys Smy said in a post once. I posted a wonderful debut novelist's success story here on Meagan Spooner 
    • There seems to be no end of Indie e-book publishers. How do you know which are reputable? There's a lot involved in finding the right fit, I'm sure, but once again I had some great success stories posted here when I hosted my Publication Party series (use my Search button to find these posts.) I'll link to possibly the most successful e-pubbed author I interviewed, Christine Bell. She's since released at least one more novel.
    • Self publish? Seems many bloggers are doing this.I've already been approaching friendly bloggers with some questions. Look at Roland Yeomans - 11 self-pubbed e-books in a few months. Amazing! It seems a mountain load of work and self promotion, but is it the best way? What do you think?
So over to you, friends and mentors...can you help me? Can you answer any of my doubts and fears? Can you add to them, ha ha? PLEASE tell me what your experience has been if you're published and tell me what road to publication you're following if you've not been yet. I will be so appreciative...If you're really happy to help/advise, please click on the IWSG link in my sidebar where you'll find 100-ish insecure writers...

Can you help any of the writers below?

Tuesday 6 September 2011

A Whiter Shade of Pale - First Campaigner Challenge - my EXACTLY 200-word story starting with 'The door swung open...'

The first Campaigner Challenge is to write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open...” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)
For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

For details on how to post your story, go here:

A Whiter Shade of Pale

The door swung open and I dived inside, desperate to escape the cold. I tried to tug the monster shut behind me but it refused to budge. The centuries have made it less malleable. I flicked the light switch and giggled - a gas light would be more fitting. I threw my bag onto the ancient stuffed lounge  where it lolled like a broken marionette. I turned back to the door, teeth chattering, fingers frozen inside my woollen gloves. I reached out for the gigantic doorknob, feeling anxious and alone.

Every year the winters in London were getting harder to bear. It felt like the cold had curled up in my bones and refused to be scraped out. My pale body was screaming for sun. I’d locked myself in a prison, a prison of my own making. I was the one who wanted to leave Australia for hip and happening London. But nothing hip and happening had happened to me. Instead I’d found a crowded, aggressive, uncertain land that’d stolen my optimism. As the snow tickled my nose I imagined the sand tickling my feet as I sunbaked by the ocean. One final tug and the door swung shut.

I hope you enjoyed my entry. It is exactly 200 words and I've used challenge words at the beginning and the end. For more entries and to 'Like' the story you think is best, go here

Saturday 3 September 2011

Watching Willow Watts, by Talli Roland, my review.

I was thrilled to be given a preview copy of Talli's latest novel and it is my pleasure to review it here and on Reading at Dawn at a later date.

Watching Willow Watts
For Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop and nights watching telly, as the pension-aged residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when a YouTube video of Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits after a viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image in a frame.

Instantly, Willow's town is overrun with fans flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers -- whose shops and businesses are cashing in -- Willow embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves. 

But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village's newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

I adored this fun read by Talli Roland. It is both zany and poignant. I love the bizarre descriptions of English village life as Willow leaves her London career as a florist to return to Belcherton, England’s ugliest village, to care for her recently-widowed father.
The story gets underway with the ghostly image of Marilyn Monroe hovering over a YouTube video of Willow doing a dreadful impersonation of the icon. She is an overnight sensation and on her way to stardom, complete with sleazy agent.
Sleazy agent Jay is just one of a cast of characters beautifully fleshed out by Talli, from her bestie, Paula, her father, her ex-boyfriend, and a loving Texan who arrives on the scene and of course, the eccentric band of locals.
The novel moves along at a frolicking pace, as Willow is both adored and exploited, much as was Marilyn Monroe herself. Amidst all the Marilyn mania, Willow’s goal is always to secretly save her father from bankruptcy in his dusty old antique shop. He confounds her by filling it with tacky Marilyn memorabilia, and confounds her further by actually selling it to the fans who’ve arrived to see the reincarnation of Marilyn. Talli brings the sense of the ridiculous to the story, revealing her ‘inner comedian’.
All jokes aside, what I got from Watching Willow Watts is that individuality is to be treasured. Self acceptance is to be celebrated and happiness lies in being true to oneself.
This is chick lit at its best. Talli Roland has written more than just pure entertainment; she has connected with our hearts, a rare talent. Looking forward to her next novel.

Watching Willow Watts will be available on Kindle and other e-book platforms in September. Official launch day is September 14th! Print release is in November.

Click on the Marilyn icon in my sidebar to sign up for the launch party. The theme is: "If I could be anyone, I'd be..." All you have to do is post a picture on your blog on September 14 along with a short explanation of why you chose this person. Hmm, now who could I possibly be...any suggestions?

Friday 2 September 2011

#Romantic Friday Writers story - this week's theme - Heart Stopper!

Romantic Friday Writers is a blogfest every Friday co-ordinated by myself and Francine Howarth. It is a fun event, showcasing the work of many fine writers who write romantic flash fiction or poetry under 400 words to a given theme. Click on the icon in my sidebar or the link at the end of my post to check out others participating today or join the blogfest yourself. You will be most welcome. We are also found on twitter @RFWER. Each week we choose a runner up and a Featured Writer. 

Today's extract from my WIP is set at a party celebrating the opening of Ruby's hotel in Noosa Heads. Ruby, the heroine, has been romanced by Ito, a Japanese businessman, after her break up with the hero, Michael. Ito, of course, is up to no good...

The sensual tug of Van Morrison’s Days Like This percolated through Ruby, potent as the champagne she’d tasted earlier. Ito’s hand lightly clasped hers, the other warmed the arch of her back. She moved where he guided her, surrendering to the music and the dance.

She relaxed into him. His hands moved to cradle the back of her neck as he pulled her closer. When their lips met everything moved in slow motion as the velvety tones of the singer's voice filled the room and her head.

‘Ruby, I must have you tonight,’ he whispered. ‘I’ve been patient. Will you come to me when the dance is over?’

An answer trembled on her lips. Ito moved closer, then turned rigid in her arms. The music stopped. Silence held like a shaken heartbeat.

Ruby pulled away from Ito and turned towards the entrance.  She stood on tiptoe to see, shaky in her high heels. Her heart stopped its fluttery beat.

Framed in the doorway Ruby saw a vision glimmering in black silk, eyes like huge pools of liquid chocolate scanning the room. Her dark hair was swept upwards in a dramatic style that showed off the perfection of her face and the slender length of her creamy neck, smooth as alabaster. Diamonds glittered at her ears and throat, catching the light as she scanned the crowd.

Ruby shivered.  

This chiselled marble perfection must be Ito’s wife.

She had come for him.

Imperious head held high, the woman moved across the floor towards where Ruby and Ito stood rooted to the spot, clutching hands like doomed sailors. Couples parted like the Red Sea as the graceful creature slid by like a proud ship. As she drew closer to Ito and Ruby, Ruby recoiled from eyes as cold as black ice, cruel lips drawn in a scarlet slash.

Ruby felt Ito shudder as he dropped her hand.

Why didn’t someone wake her up from this nightmare? Ito stood beside her, his arms stiff, his face stony. Ruby wanted to run but her legs could scarcely hold her up. She shook like Marie Antoinette at the guillotine, waiting for the blade to drop.

‘And who is it this time, Ito-san? Which pretty little birdie have you snatched from the nest? Does she know you have a wife and children in Japan?’ Her pitiless gaze moved from Ito to Ruby.

‘Tell me, little red-headed girl, am I in time or am I too late?’

 Word count: 409  FCA.
To read more flash fiction of 400 words or less, with a romance element,  go here.