Monday 28 January 2013

Please Allow me to Re-Introduce Myself Blogfest and Jessica Bell's The Book.

This is a fun blogfest, short and sweet. Brainchild of Stephen Tremp, Mark Koopmans, Elise Fallson and C.M.Brown. It is refreshing to read an optimistic spin on blogging, seeing there is a 'blogging is a waste of time' movement gathering impetus as some find facebook, twitter etc a much quicker way to connect with people. Sure, blogging is a time commitment, but to me and many others, worth it, as long as you don't try to blog too much!

Click on the above badge to join up, read more entries...

To re-introduce myself--I've been blogging since 2008, very long lived in this virtual world. I've made so many blogging friends in that time, met some in person, and hope to meet more. 

When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing, so have made many changes to my blog/s as I've discovered who I am in this blogging world.

There are many posts telling you what you should blog about, who should blog and that unpublished novelists shouldn't even bother, but I think there's a lot more to blogging than that--to your own self be true on this one...

When I joined blogger, I was a short story, non-fiction and travel writer...over the years I've been morphing into a writer of novella and novel-length fiction. I'm about to submit my first fully-completed novel, Fijian Princess, to Harlequin.  

I founded RomanticFridayWriters with Francine Howarth (who is mainly found on fb these days), and now co-host with Donna Hole. This is a great way to keep writing fiction--flash fiction--from which many a full-length novel has been birthed. Every month there is a new challenge afoot, open to all! Check out our latest challenge in the right sidebar!

Did you get the message? I love blogging and meeting new bloggers and learning so much from everyone! Thank you bloggers!!

  • Now tell me about why you're a blogger...I LOVE to hear other's stories...
And to back up my words, I'd like you to check out the latest from Aussie author, Jessica Bell:

Ever wondered how a five-year-old girl perceives the world? Then you definitely need to get your hands on THE BOOK, a novella by Jessica Bell.

Check out these awesome reviews:
"Jessica Bell’s surprising risks with language capture a child’s clear vision in a world of adult heartbreak. Indelible. Courageous." ~Thaisa Frank, author of Heidegger's Glasses and Enchantment

"THE BOOK is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It's going to rip your blood pump out of your chest, kick it around like a football, and then shove it back inside you, leaving you with a potently reinvigorated faith in humanity. A curiously captivating read that somehow manages to encapsulate the length and breadth of love and family in one slim volume." ~Josh Donellan, author of Zeb and the Great Ruckus

Here's the blurb:
This book is not The Book. The Book is in this book. And The Book in this book is both the goodie and the baddie.

Bonnie is five. She wants to bury The Book because it is a demon that should go to hell. Penny, Bonnie’s mother, does bury The Book, but every day she digs it up and writes in it. John, Bonnie’s father, doesn’t live with them anymore. But he still likes to write in it from time to time. Ted, Bonnie’s stepfather, would like to write in The Book, but Penny won’t allow it.

To Bonnie, The Book is sadness.
To Penny, The Book is liberation.
To John, The Book is forgiveness.
To Ted, The Book is envy.
But The Book in this book isn’t what it seems at all.

If there was one thing in this world you wished you could hold in your hand, what would it be? The world bets it would be The Book.


Available at all major retailers in e-book and paperback, including Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Monday 21 January 2013

Blood, Sweat and Tears...and is your blogfest on this list?

I know some of you are having snow and other cold-related weather events, but down here at the bottom of the earth, we are sweltering. This facebook photo says it all...

Well, not quite all...yes, Christmas was a sweat bath--no roast dinners at my place--but we are continuing to experience heatwave conditions with resultant bushfires which are ripping through the country destroying properties and livestock. Just as well Aussies are a tough lot. Thank God for firefighters! What would we do without them?

Meanwhile, those of us who are not in bushfire areas are surviving on-going temperatures up to 43 deg. Celsius (109 deg. F), by moving from an air-conditioned room, to an air-conditioned car, to an air-conditioned shopping centre, to the pool, to the beach...none of which is conducive to writing. However, write we must...

RomanticFridayWriters has hit the road again, so I wrote my first flash fiction for the year--my story is below this post. I managed to squeeeze the bushfires in, along with a touch of Hugh Jackman.

RFW's FEBRUARY CHALLENGE will be announced in a week's time. It's going to be wow! Hope you can join the writing train--you will have 3 weeks to come up with a 1,000 word max. story/poem after the prompt is announced.

So, moving right along, there are lots of upcoming blogfests in this wonderful community...I've picked a few to pass along. I hope to enter all...

This one is already underway. I'm hoping to find time to slip it in...

To celebrate the release of her novel, you guessed it. 18 Things, Jamie is hosting a blogfest. Between Jan 17 - 24 you can post your 18 Things bucket list. I've been reading some, and they're awesome!

Jamie says:

All you have to do is blog about things on your bucket list.  If you don’t have a bucket list, you should, and now is the perfect time to start! If you’re not sure what a bucket list is (blasphemy!), it’s something completely personal that each person should do (IMHO). It’s a great reminder that gives an extra boost to live life to the fullest and keep us looking forward, even when life wants to drag us down sometimes. Finish a marathon? Read the top 100 books?  I’m looking for fun, heart-pumping, poignant, or inspirational things that you want to want to do, or maybe already crossed off your list. And it doesn’t have to be 18 Things . . . it can be anywhere from 1-18 things (I just needed my title to get out there. Marketing trolls said so!)
Anyone who posts their 18 Things between January 17th-24th can enter to win a number of prizes. 
Click the bucket link to sign up, then read about all the fab prizes--some are already gone, so hurry...

Next blogfest please: 

Click on the badge to sign up -- there's already 69 peeps!

The first is the Re-Introduce Myself blogfest on January 28, brainchild of Stephen Tremp, Mark Koopmans, Elise Fallson and C.M.Brown. who say:

2012 was an amazing year as so many new authors, writers, poets, musicians, and people with something to share such as recipes and movie reviews joined the blogging community. We visit other blogger’s sites and they visit us. But many new bloggers and the more established ones often don't really know much about each other.

So mark January 28th on your calendar for an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the ever-expanding blogging community. Simply take a moment and tell us something interesting about yourself. Anything. It can be about writing. Or blogging. Or a hidden talent. Perhaps you’re in the Witness Protection Program. Feel free to keep your post short. This is meant to be a quick and fun Blogfest. I’m keeping mine under 100 words.

Then we have:

Click on the badge for more info...

The Sarcasm Goddess is the whackiest blogger I know. If you enjoy sarcasm and all sorts of ironic posts, you need to follow her. Now she's come up with the idea of sharing one or two of your bestest posts in 2012--bring them out for an airing so to speak. 

She says:

Two weeks from now, on January 31st I will be hosting a linky open to all bloggers. Link up one or two of your favorite posts from 2012 and/or link up one of your most favorite posts of another blogger! And please, spread the word so we can meet lots of new bloggy friends!
The date again is January 31st, because what better day to celebrate last year than on the last day of the first month of this year!

Next Please...

We have voracious author and RFW member, Joy Campbell from sunny Jamaica, who is about to launch her new book Retribution at the end of January. Joy says:

Help me celebrate the release of Retribution by submitting your most interesting stories of people taking another shot at a relationship. 
·         There is no restriction as it pertains to form or genre. Stories can be fact or fiction. Use your imagination, make your stories attention-grabbing.
·       . 
          Somewhere in there, you must tell the reader why the couple broke up and why they feel compelled to get back together. This can be done from any of your characters’ point-of-view.  
·         The word cap is 500
·         Indicate on your blog post, by the relevant badge, whether you’re in the fact or fiction category.  
·         There will be voting and prizes, so it’ll be a reader’s choice situation, where you get to choose your favourite anecdote/poem/refection/story. The best piece of fact and fiction—as determined by your vote—will receive a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card, so that’s two prizes. 
I will be reaching out to a few trusty bloggers so that in the event of ties, we can have a tie break decision. If we cannot decide on a winner in either category, prizes will be divvied up between the best two entries and the loot (meagre as it is) shared.
I hope you’ll join the fun and sign up below to participate. Entries open now, so get cracking on those stories. (NOTE change of date from Feb 1 to Feb 14 - Valentine's Day!)

Last but not least...

This bloghop is to help Andrew who has cerebal-palsy. Nick Wilford wants your 500 words of flash fiction on the theme, Overcoming Adversity. He will collate the stories and all proceeds will go towards Andrew's college fund. This is a great challenge. I hope you'll join me in posting a story between Feb 4-5th.

So I'll wipe my fevered brow and leave you with these inspiring thoughts...I'm doing a lot of the Read, Read, Read, Read (in my air-conditioned bedroom.) Have already read 7 books in January. Luckily, I don't need much sleep!

  • Are you finding it hard to get writing in 2013?
  • Does weather influence your writing? Good or bad way...
  • What are your writer's goals for the year?
  • Are you inspired to enter any of these blogfests/bloghops?
  • Do you know of any more blogfests? Leave a comment... 

Wednesday 16 January 2013

#RomanticFridayWriters - New Year! New Love! Hugh Jackman, anyone?

It's time for RomanticFridayWriters again! Our first challenge for the year is: New Year! New Love! You are welcome to join up and flex your writing muscles. The linky is open until Monday, January 21. Any genre--flash fiction to 1,000 words or poetry. 

Of course my mind's on Hugh Jackman, recent Golden Globe winner and Oscar nominee, for his Jean Valjean role in Les Misérables.  My mind's also on the Australian bushfires which are sweeping across the country as we swelter in heatwave conditions, so I resurrected this story and updated it for this challenge...

(All words and expressions are in Australian English.)

‘Jeremy, we need to talk.’ 

Hannah leaned across the table, showing just the right amount of creamy white cleavage. She took his hands in hers, kissing his fingers one by one, studying him with half-closed eyes, waiting  for his reaction. With a jolt he noticed how cold her eyes were—glittering icy emeralds in her beautiful white face.

The meal had been superb. Nothing like a bloody beef steak to satisfy a cattleman. He wasn’t used to champagne, though; it had messed with his head. A bad idea when he was on the morning roster for the volunteer Bush Fire Brigade. No telling when the latest crop of fires might jump the river and hightail it into town. 

He loosened his bow tie. At Hannah’s words, the bubbles sloshed around his stomach like cattle dip.

Every man knew what ‘We need to talk’ meant. 

‘Why? Why do we need to talk?’ he managed to croak through a throat scrubbed with sandpaper. ‘We’ve just spent the whole day together. We enjoyed the riding, the campfire, the--I thought it was a great day. A perfect way to see the New Year in.’

Hannah hung her head, brushed an imaginary crumb from her breast.

Jeremy’s heart had been soaring with joy; he could have sung at the top of his voice from the highest hill...but now his joy was disappearing like the smoke from a stuttering campfire. No other girlfriend came close to the raging torrent of his feelings for Hannah. She was his Botticelli angel with her mane of red curls, her smile that cracked open his heart.

‘I’m married.’ She jutted her chin into the air. 

The waiter had been about to top up their Pouilly-Fumé. He made a hasty retreat, leaving froth in his wake. Poor bastard. They must have a sixth sense for trouble in paradise.

Married! He hadn’t seen that coming. How did she fit in being married with all the time they'd spent together on their adjoining properties--working cattle on his, shearing those stupid sheep on hers?

‘How--’ He started to speak, but the words dried up like a river in drought. He tossed his bow tie onto the table and wrenched open the top button of his checked shirt.

‘How did I fit you in? He travels a lot. He probably has other women.’

‘And this makes it okay?’

‘I’m just saying.’

He turned away. A hot tear ran down his cheek. The waiter flicked his white napkin, then crumpled it in his fist.

She reached up and patted his face where the tear lay, caught in his stubble. ‘Poor Jerry. You must hate me.’

‘Yes. I hate you.’ He tried to man up. Wished those hollow words were true. He leaned back in his chair and clasped his hand around the little box in his checked bespoke sports coat pocket. He watched her and caught the pitying look on her face. She knew!

‘I didn’t want it to happen.’ She folded her arms, lay back in her chair, not a care in the world.

‘Didn’t want what to happen? The marriage? Meeting me? What?’

She leaned forward again. ‘Meeting you. Having an affair. You were just so darned cute. So Hugh Jackman. So irristible.’

‘So I’m just some fantasy?’

‘Heck no; Hugh Jackman’s more than a fantasy. He’s real. God, he’s so real. I can’t wait to see him play Jean Valjean, if it ever gets to this hick town.

‘He bleeds huh? So do I. I’m bleeding here.’

‘When I was with you I felt so excited.’

‘Like Nicole Kidman in “Australia”, huh?’

She laughed out loud. 'Well, watching you have your bucket wash out in the back paddock last night--I was excited all right.' 

The waiter took a few tentative steps in their direction, bottle in hand. He saw the look on Jeremy's face and retreated quick smart. 

Hannah was enjoying herself. ‘As Nicole would say: "Too bloody right mate." You are so hot, Jerry, more's the pity.’

‘I love you Hannah. You. You’re my fantasy come to life. When I met you I made a resolution to give all the other girls the flick.’

‘Hmm. It’s not working out with Frederick, you know.’

‘Frederick? No, I don't know. Who the hell is Frederick?’

‘What a name, huh? That’ll be the husband. Old money. Descended from the British squattocracy. Thinks he's still British and Australia's part of the empire.' She sniggered. 'Sheep’s always been his thing, not cattle. Lowered himself to marry little-old-convict-stock me. That’s why I relate to Hugh’s Jean Valjean.’

‘Another fantasy?’

‘Yes, Frederick’s. He thought I was so exciting after all those hoity-toity blue bloods his parents paraded under his nose. But we do have a family together, Frederick and I.’

‘Family? What?’ He leaned forward, body rigid.

‘The triplets are six. Nanny insists on throwing a birthday party for them tomorrow. They're home from boarding school. That’s why I can’t spend the whole weekend with you.’

He knew she was lying through her pearly white teeth. Triplets! What a ridiculous cover story! ‘Then why did you promise me we’d have three whole days here on the property?’

‘Sorry. I’d forgotten.’

‘Forgotten you were married? Forgotten you had triplets? Forgotten you’d promised to stay with me?’

‘All of the above.’She stood up. Patted his cheek. Sighed theatrically. 

He growled his best Wolverine growl. ‘Now you’ll have to forget me.’

‘Already done. Bad memory. That’s me.’

He sat nailed to the chair, watching her, tearing his black curls, Les Misérable personified.

Hannah knotted her silk scarf around her lying little throat, picked up her sparkling evening bag, threw him a kiss and sashayed across the room. Every male eye followed her swaying hips.

The waiter hovered by his side, watching Hannah melt into the night.

‘I’d stay away from her, mate. She’s bad news.’

‘Bring me a beer.’

‘A whisky might be more the thing, old chap.’

‘Beer’s my drink. No more champagne for me.’


WORDS: 998

I hope you enjoyed my story. You can enter your story or poem by clicking on SUBMIT YOUR LINK below: get the InLinkz code

Monday 7 January 2013

One publishing house's criteria for judging submissions. Reading this may help you get published in 2013!

If/when you get a rejection letter for a work you have submitted, do you know why your story didn't make the cut? These days you may not even be told your work is rejected -- you may hear deathly silence. At times you can pay a fee to receive feedback; this is a great idea. For a small fee you can see how the team at the publishing house judged your work and either found it wanting or will accept it for publication.

All publishing houses will have their in-house criteria, but I'm sure they will have many similarities. This is the criteria for one Australian publishing house's team of editors:

  1. INTEREST - Does the story hold interest? If you can't wait to get to the end to find out what happened, score ten points for the story. If you can't get beyond the second paragraph, score one point.
  2. PLOT - How clever is the story? Is it unique or does it copy other stories that you are aware of? Does it have a clear plot line that leads you inexorably to the end or does it waffle and go off on unimportant or unnecessary tangents that add little to the story? Allocate no points if there is waffle. 
  3. STYLE - Does the story please? Is it easy to read or is it 'clunky'? Is the style appropriate for the plot? How consistent is the use of language? Is the style consistent throughout or does it change unexpectedly and without reason?
  4. CHARACTER - Character development in a short story or a flash fiction work is especially difficult. Not quite so difficult in the novel. However, if you empathize (or detest) a character in 1,000 words, then this deserves five points. If the character is inconsistent or cannot be imagined, give a rating of one.
  5. SETTING - There is little space for describing setting in a short story or flash fiction work. However, if you can see the setting in your mind's eye, then this deserves five points. If the setting is inconsistent or cannot be imagined, give a rating of one.
  6. GRAMMAR/SPELLING - Work submitted for publication should NOT contain any spelling errors (except the odd typo (1-2 typos per 1,000 words is acceptable). Poor grammar is less acceptable. If the story contains no spelling errors and there are no apparent grammatical errors, then score five points.
  7. PUBLISH? - If you would like to have read this story in a publication, score five points. If you would be peeved to find that you paid money to read this story, whether is a novel, an anthology, a magazine, score it zero or one point. If you are uncertain, score it somewhere in the middle. 
  • I hope this helps when you are submitting your work. Perhaps it will help explain a rejection or two...

RomanticFridayWriters kicks off the new year with a new challenge - New Year! New Love! If you'd like to participate, read the details below and SIGN UP when you've written your story! Open to all!
get the InLinkz code

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group - Writing outside of your comfort zone...can you help me write FANTASY?

Hello all who come by today! I hope you're enjoying a wonderful holiday season! I'm back as promised!

As writers we all have our favourite genre, right? Some write sci-fi, some paranormal romance, some women's fiction...but a whole heap of writers just love writing and reading fantasy! I haven't been one of those writers. Sure, I like some fantasy novels -- The Magus by John Fowles would be one of my favourites, and I've definitely enjoyed reading some bloggers' fantasy novels (am currently being wowed by Make Believe, a wonderful fantasy anthology featuring our very own Lynda Young), but I usually prefer to sink my teeth into a good Pat Conroy, Anita Shreve or Jodi Picoult  along with my penchant for reading and writing romantic fiction (which some say is fantasy anyhow!). I also saw the LOTR trilogy and just went to The Hobbit yesterday and really loved Avatar. That's all got to help, right?

HOWEVER, and this is the rub, what do you do when your Writing Group decides on a whole-group project? These fans of fantasy of course have decided to write a fantasy epic -- going the whole hog -- creating our own particular world (one of our members is a scientist, so the progress on this has been a little slow as he likes to get the sun in the right place to cause the right climate, blah blah). We have to keep reminding him that this is fantasy -- we can create our own world -- but he is more of the sci-fi bent.) That said, I'm sure our fantasy will stand up to quite rigorous analysis.

But I digress -- what does a romantic fiction writer do when she has to write a fantasy chapter to seamlessly blend with other chapters/characters/worlds written by other group members? Well, this bunny did a crash course in Fantasy -- devoured the books, the movies, the dictionaries. I even wrote and won joint first prize for my first fantasy story at Kathy McKendry's Knights of Micro Fiction for a story I imagined of two knights entering a Dark City, called City of the Dark Gods.

For the Writing Group joint project I was given the character of the Princess who lives in the castle on the edge of the city. She has to hook up with a commoner (young man) and go on a quest. So I asked myself -- what do fantasy princesses do/look like/act like? I read a few books such as Tamora Pierce's Alannah series which I enjoyed, so I read a few more fantasy books featuring young girls. After that,  I went to THE TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASY LAND by Diana Wynne Jones and found that:

Princesses come in two main kinds:

  1. Wimps
  2. Spirited and wilful. A spirited Princess will be detectable by the scattering of freckles across the bridge of her somewhat tiptilted nose. Spirited Princesses often disguise themselves as boys and invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms. 
Well this is a good start. I can see where I can use some of this for my Princess. No question my Princess is going to be spirited, if spoilt, so has to bribe the young man to let her accompany him, but she is going to show her mettle on her quest.

You may be able to help me here as I have to write at least 1,000 words of my Princess chapter for homework and the deadline is looming.

  • Do you have any hints/suggestions on writing fantasy?
  • Do you have any particular suggestions for my fantasy Princess? Such as a name, description, personality? All suggestions welcome!!
Thank you for coming by. Click here to see more IWSG posts.