Monday, 24 November 2014

Courage to Write

with Dee Scully

Remember my last post? How I said, “Write what you know…about yourself.” Put yourself into your stories. Remember that? Well…I stand by it, but…

I’m afraid. Terrified actually. And that fear is keeping me from publication.

I’m not afraid of the things that psychologists usually list as self-actualization limiters…hard work, success, or even failure. I am a hard worker by nature which helps me to excel at whatever I choose to do (and thus avoid failure). But even though I’ve put in hours, years even, of hard work writing, I haven’t yet succeeded at it…and by writing success I mean publication.

It wasn’t until I started digging deep into the psyche of my heroine that I realized what it is that truly frightens me…opening myself up to others and allowing them to glimpse the inner me. I’m afraid of rejection…not of my books, but of me.

I wrote and finished my first manuscript a few years ago. While it had structural integrity and contained all the right bits in all the right places, it lacked sparkle, shine—sizzazzle. It was boring.

Late one night (after a few drinks), I was about to put my manuscript in the great Ethernet bin and mark it up as a first-manuscript learning curve when I had a thought. Why not give my heroine my greatest flaw? You know, write what you know…and I know me best so why not put me into a character? I thought it was genius! I was genius! I started re-writing and suddenly my heroine had shine, my story had sparkle, my romance had sizzazzle!

Fantastic, right? No. I’d written a very safe (but boring) first draft. The revised version is anything but safe. This one has me in it! While it is a fantastic manuscript I’m terrified of ‘putting it out there’ for others to judge.

My greatest flaw is that I lack courage. I’m a coward. I hide in my imaginary world and pretend that success isn’t the be all, end all that others make it out to be, but it is…or at least from the shadows of my imagination it is.

So, I’m taking a deep breath, a gulp really, and putting myself into my heroine. That’s fair…I mean I put me into her, so why shouldn’t she reciprocate, right? She’s a fictional character and as such she has a great character arc. Her greatest flaw becomes her greatest attribute and eventually saves the day. Why can’t it be that way in real life? I think it can…for me AND for you.

If you’re lacking courage try the steps my heroine went through to attain her ‘happy forever after.’

1 Name itfigure out exactly what it is that you fear.

2 Get smartfind out as much as you can about what it is you fear.

3 Step out of your comfort zonechange old ways of dealing (or not dealing) with your fear. Do something different.

4 Fake it until you make itpretend courage and eventually you will be courageous.

5 Believe in yourselfyou can and will do it.

Let’s get started on a new you for the new year. What is it that you fear and what’s one thing you are going to do to get out of your comfort zone and move toward courage?

I love to love my imagination…and where it might take me next.
I love to laugh at my fear…it helps build my courage.
I love to learn how other writers create 'real' characters.  Do Kristan Higgins, Julie Garwood, Lynn Kurland, Karen Marie Moning, Kylie Scott, Nikki Logan, Eleni Konstantine...and the hundred or so other writers in my favourites collection write about what (who) they know best--themselves, do you think?

Until Later...happy writing!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Positives and Perils of the Internet - Part 2

with Enisa Haines

Writers love the Internet. Interested in a publishing house or an agent, a writer's blog? Simply search the World Wide Web. Indeed, click the keyboard and any information you need is available. But as useful as the Internet is, risks abound.

Hackers. Phishing. Spam emails. Spyware. Malware. We've all heard the terms--they've been around for as long as the Internet--but too often, in spite of the countless posts and articles written warning of the dangers, we don't take the risks seriously and leave our electronic devices unprotected.

Image: courtesy of

And then one day your email contacts notify you of a flood of spam emails sent from your account. You can't login to your email account or change its settings and your computer prompts for access to programs unfamiliar to you. Hate-filled messages aimed at ruining your reputation appear on your blog or website. Your social networking sites, forums, email accounts and instant messaging are inundated with phishing scams containing malicious files or links that aim to trick you into divulging your account information. For example: 'Dear Beneficiary. Have you contacted Westpac Bank?' landed in my spam folder today. I don't have accounts with Westpac.


Phishing often plays on your concerns so that you will not question why your account information is being requested. From that point on, your account can be accessed by others without your knowledge With that information the hacker can now steal all your personal information, including financial details. Panic strikes and leaves you devastated. What do you do?

  • Change your passwords. Ensure they are complex and unique to you, with letters in Caps/lowercase, numbers and other characters. Passwords longer than 11 characters are best.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts and sites.
  • Use 2-factor authentication, i.e. a second form of identification such as a code sent as a text to your phone, or a secret question and answer.
  • Store your passwords securely, the safest way being an encrypted USB drive.
  • Update your operating system, antivirus and antispyware software regularly.
  • Install a firewall.
  • Limit the personal information you post on Web pages and blogs.
  • Always log out when leaving a site.
  • Assess free software and file-sharing apps. Are they safe to download?
  • Download software only from sites you trust.
  • Don't open emails or messages from unknown senders.
  • Verify a website is secure, i.e. has a small closed lock in the address bar or bottom left or right corner of the browser window.
  • Don't click on ads in websites. If you want to make a purchase , click on the purchaser's website.
  • And most important of all, don't be gullible. You did not win a lottery that you never entered. A real prince from Nigeria does not have $1 million to give you.

Image: courtesy of

A too-long list of actions to perform, excessive you may say, but you want to outsmart the cyber-criminals, right? Cyber attacks target the vulnerable. Don't leave yourself susceptible to cyber threats. Be informed. Take charge of your emotions. Receive a threatening email? Don't fear it. Stay calm and contact the police. A link on a site catches your eye. Don't give in to curiosity or temptation and click on the link.

Thwart cyber attacks and as the hackers rant in empty defeat, immerse yourself in the characters and world you've created in the pages of your manuscript. A writer's happiest place.

Are you, like me, concerned about Internet security? What measures have you taken to ensure your personal details are safe?

Love to love - 

Coffee, I admit it. I'm an addict. 
6 cups a day on average. 
Cappuccino's my favourite. 
And it's a great stress-reliever.

Love to laugh - romantic comedies are a fun form of entertainment.

Love to learn - A child joyous at play reminds me that life doesn't always have to be serious.

Monday, 10 November 2014

2 Online Editing Programs You Need to Check Out

with Marilyn Forsyth

Let’s have a show of hands if you hate copy-editing.
Yep, me too. Until I discovered online editing programs. Who knew they even existed or that there were so many of them? I’m a comparison shopper and after investigation I narrowed my favourites down to AutoCrit (AC) and ProWritingAid (PWA).

With the free versions of both programs you paste a block of your text into a box. This text (AC - no specified maximum, PWA - max. 1000 words) is instantly analysed for a raft of potential errors including slow pacing, repeated words/phrases, and cliches/redundancies.

Both programs have a huge range of such functions. Unfortunately, many are unavailable to use for free (e.g. ability to edit within analysis), although PWA does provide considerably more free features than AC’s free version.

By experimenting with the free versions, you get a pretty good grasp of how both programs present their findings, and for me Autocrit was easier to understand. (A video demonstrates how to interpret the results.) I really do like PWA’s provision of suggestions for alternatives, though.

Extremely useful extras that both programs include (in the paid-for versions) are:
*the ability to edit work within the analysis results
*an extensive library of articles and resources
*follow-up customer service

Money Tree Sujin Jetkasettakorn ID 10024954

As for cost, PWA is a fair bit cheaper than AC. The ProWritingAid Premium packages for unlimited access are:

*USD$35 for one year

*USD$55 for 2 years

*USD$70 for 3 years

*USD$120 for lifetime usage

*They also have plagiarism check 'bundles', for 10 up to 1000 checks, which cost from USD$5-$100.

AC provides 3 different packages, all with unlimited usage:

*Gold - USD$60 p.a. Up to 1000 words at a time

*Platinum - USD$96 p.a. Up to 8000 words at a time

*Professional - USD$144 p.a. Unlimited number of words

As authors, we all have different needs for our writing. I’ve actually purchased Autocrit and use it each time I finish a chapter (I can download unlimited words, but any more than 5000 at a time overwhelms me). I’ve found it a huge help, not only in tightening my manuscript but in making me a stronger writer because I’m now aware of the signs that mark me an amateur (damn those ‘ly’ words!).
To sum up, using software to polish and self-edit your manuscript will significantly cut down on the amount of time you spend copy-editing. However, it can only take you so far. You still need to do the rewriting, and nothing will ever replace the feedback you get from your crit partners (mine are the best).

I'd love to hear your thoughts on online editing programs. Are they a time-saving investment or do you prefer a real, live copy-editor?

This week I:

Love to Love Spring in my garden


 Love to Laugh at Halloween cuteness.

Dayton Daily News photos

(Yeah, yeah, I’m a week late but this was way too cute not to share.)


Love to Learn the names of any colour imaginable using Ingrid Sundberg’s ‘Colour Thesaurus’.

See more at

Monday, 3 November 2014

5 Things I’ve Learned from Writing my Debut Novel

with Cassandra Samuels

1. Writing a book is hard.

Anyone who says it isn’t hasn’t tried to write one. It takes a lot of mental effort and a lot of time. If you are serious it could mean deciding to write rather than watch TV like me or some other activity.

2. Research is a must.

Whether it is about the profession of your hero or heroine or a specific time period, you need to know what you are writing about. That doesn’t mean putting in great slabs of info; it means weaving it in, and only when necessary to the story. I write historical romance so that includes quite a bit of research in my chosen era – the Regency period.

3. No writer is an island.
I know in movies and on TV writers are portrayed as sad, solitary figures but really the writing community is alive and chock-full of wonderful people. It is important to interact with other writers and readers. Listen to them. Learn from them. The friends I have made through Romance Writers Australia have been priceless to my writing and my personal life.

4. The work doesn’t end with writing the book.

Once you have written your book you need to let it rest, or give it to those amazing reader/writer friends to get some fresh eyes on it. Then you can go through the whole thing and edit it. Cutting out bits here and building up parts there. Only when it is as perfect as you can get it can you start to submit it to publishers.

5. Publication is not the end result, it’s just the start

 Once your book is accepted for publication there is a whole other side to this writing gig to learn – the business side. Working with editors, writing a blurb, and yes, getting on with the next book. There is no time to rest on your laurels; you need to get busy writing that next book. On top of that you must use the power of social media to let people know you even have a book for sale and that you are working on the next one. This can be unpleasant for some of us not used to spruiking our goods but it really is a necessary part of being a writer in this technological age.

These are just some of the things I’ve learned writing my debut book, A Scandalous Wager. Other writers may have a different experience but this is what I have learned.

What is the most interesting thing you learned from reading a book?

Love to learn – How to handle writer problems by brainstorming. A problem shared is a problem solved.

Love to laugh – at this wonderful poster by Grant Snider on The Writers’ Retreat.

Love to love – how supportive all my friends and family have been throughout the many years it has taken me to reach publication. No thanks will ever be enough.

Pre-order A Scandalous Wager from: 
Amazon Aus | Amazon | & all good e-bookstores
Out 8th November!