Monday, 21 December 2015

Wishing all our readers the peace and joy of the season.

We'll be back with The Breathless List on January 18th. 

Who will be on it this year? Join us to find out.

Monday, 14 December 2015

New Year's Resolutions (or better yet: Commitments!) for Writers in 2016

with Enisa Haines

Time sure flies fast, 2015 will soon end. Will you look back over the months passed and wonder what you have achieved as a writer? Will you think about what you want to do in the year ahead? Thinking is great, but to attain success with publication you have to act on your wish, set your actions into motion, As 2016 begins and you call out "Happy New Year", tell yourself, I resolve to:

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1. Find the time to write and keep to it. Over a 24-hour day we work in paying jobs, take care of family, do household chores, catch up with friends, pursue personal interests and finally sleep to refresh for the next day. We all have these obligations but many of us also have some spare time to do as we wish. Devote that time to writing, not to Facebook or Twitter or episodes of your favourite TV show, and be disciplined about it. Use the time to settle on a plot, a setting, the characters' motivations, goals and conflicts, and then write. You'll be glad you did. If you have just one free hour in the day and you write 500 words, in a month you'll have written 15,000 words, and in just six months a novel-length 90,000 words. That's a full first draft you can then polish to submission standard.

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2. Write in the way you are comfortable with. Are you a Plotter, your story organised before you begin to write and editing is minimal? Are you a Pantser, more free with your creativity? Are you another type of writer, perhaps a Scener like me, visualising scenes out of order and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle? However you write, however the words come easiest to you, keep doing it that way. It's the way you write best.

3. Hone your craft. Study how-to-write books. Read the books of the  authors you admire and discover what it is about their writing that makes them a success. Attend seminars and conferences, network with authors and editors and agents and learn how they work.Your writing will grow and be better for it.

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4. Stop procrastinating. Are you playing computer games or checking your phone for messages or emails? Are you rearranging the contents of your kitchen cupboards? Are you searching for things to do because you doubt your writing self and can't bear to stare at a computer screen blank of words? Writing is often scary and hard to do, but if you really, really, really want to be published you have to sit down in front of that screen and fill it with a word, a paragraph, a chapter, and a full novel will form. An achievement you can be proud of.

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5. Revise your writing as you write. Your writing will slow down as you rework the plot or fix the pacing and POV errors, but, as James Scott Bell reveals in Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, 2nd Edition, you will end up with a cleaner first draft that needs far less revision.

6. Do something different if your writing has stalled and and you're stuck. Is a plot-point problematic? Are you writing a scene in a point-of-view that's not moving the story forward? Is the mid-point of your story sagging? Are you stagnated with your writing? Brainstorm with critique partners. Change the character POV. Add new scenes filled with tension-inducing action. Reignite your creativity by writing in a new genre.

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7. Promote yourself and your writing. Social media is vital for success today so if you want to make yourself known as a writer set up a Facebook page, open a Google+ account, organise a website, join Twitter and engage regularly with your followers.

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8. Write from the heart. Is your writing distanced, told with little emotion? Reveal your own fears and tears and joys in the words you write and readers will laugh and cry with the characters from page one to the end,

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9. Say to yourself, "I am a writer!" You may not yet be published but you write. You write because writing is an intrinsic part of you. It is hard. At times it's so hard you wonder if the effort is worth it or if you'll ever get it right, but if you focus on the end reward, that vision of your book published, the frustrations and tears and the pressure you put on yourself are so, so worth it!

I have a dream. I am a writer but I want to be a published writer. The resolutions I've talked about are mine. I will act on every one of them every day of 2016 because they will help bring my dream within reach and I really, really, really want my dream to be reality.

What about you? Will you make resolutions this coming New Year? Will you commit to them and make them happen? I wish you joy through the coming holiday season and a Happy New Year but above all, I hope your dreams will come true, too.

Love to love - my motto: Dream it. Believe it. Achieve it.

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Love to laugh - with my critique partners as we thrash our stories into shape!

Love to learn - A dream remains a dream if I don't do anything to make it real. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Miranda's Musings


Happy Christmas, darlings, from me to you. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, have a happy festive season and happy holidays. It's such a lovely time in the calendar, all glittery and happy and wonderful. So without further ado let me lay a very small portion of my Christmas reading in front of you.


I look forward to Debbie Macomber's Christmas book every year, buying the hardback because - well, because I can. And because the cover is gorgeous and sparkly and tactile... This year it's Dashing Through The Snow - a road trip story with a gorgeous H&H (hero & heroine), a puppy, the FBI, Home Security, bikies and aliens. Yes, really! A fabulously funny romp.


If you're in the mood for snowy English village festiveness, try The Great Christmas Knitoff by Alexandra Brown. I so so so wanted to have a slice of the oozy lemon drizzle cake and drink tea and knit with Sybil and these amazing ladies. Having the gorgeous green-eyed Irish Dr Darcy around would also definitely mend any broken heart.


And while we're in England, how about A Vintage Christmas by the always entertaining Trisha Ashley? I adore her books, they're full of dry British humour, entertaining characters and luscious food. A bit more women's lit rather than romance, but this one has a wedding + Christmas! 'Nuff said.


Here's a terrific anthology with beloved Aussie authors Marion LennoxKandy Shepherd and Michelle Douglas: Home For An Aussie Christmas. From reuniting a husband and wife through a terrifying bushfire, to the beautiful setting of Dolphin Bay (and yummy cooking), to childhood friends finally becoming lovers (this one has kittens) - three romantic stories to cherish.


And here's another Kandy Shepherd to pop in your stocking: Gift-Wrapped In Her Wedding Dress. Cue the billionaire and the party planner - and another wedding. Yes please! And look below for another story from Kandy in a Christmassy Aussie box set from the Love Cats Down Under. You've got Christmas all wrapped up indeed, Kandy!


Can you squeeze in some more? Happy Historical Christmas! Christmas Revels II is by authors previously unknown to me but now I'm a huge fan, and am planning to catch up with Christmas Revels, last year's anthology. I don't want to miss a word. I think my favourite was A Christmas Equation by Anna D Allen, with a tall, big-hearted, seriously scrrrumptious red-headed hero. 


And I must, must, must add everyone's beloved author Anna Campbell and her new, dazzlingly super-hot romantic Regency novella, A Pirate For Christmas. Arrrrghh, count me in. It's all about a vicar's daughter, the new earl/pirate (?!), and the naughty donkey Daisy, who provides such laughs, all wrapped up in a big Christmassy bow. And just look at that gorgeous red frock on the cover and all the gold decoration. A swoon-worthy book, inside and out! Anna, we love you. Just keep writing. Psst! See below for the chance to win a great freebie from Anna with just one comment!


And wait, there's The Last Chance Christmas Ball with fabulous author favourites Mary Jo Putney and Jo Beverley, et al. A scrumptious upstairs, downstairs anthology with linked stories. Oh my word, you can never have too much of that.


I've really enjoyed the inspirational 'boxed set' Love's Gift, all Christmassy and delightful to read. Heather Gray's story An Informal Christmas is set in a hospital with sick kids, so get the tissues ready.

I've only recently stumbled on these 'boxed sets' in all romance sub-genres, which sell for a ridiculously low price and give hours of reading enjoyment. On my hit list are Home For Christmas, another inspirational box; there's also Christmas Pets and Kisses, a PG rated box. You can go much hotter with Red Hot Holidays featuring shifters, billionaires, officers, rock stars and alpha males. Fan, fan, fan. Or Shifter Wonderland (the title says it all). Or Alien Wishes and Holiday Kisses, a sci-fi boxed set. There really is something for everyone! You're welcome.

I could go on. And on and on and on! So many seasonal books come out at Christmas, and they're perfect to give away, or give yourself (no-one will notice that extra stocking stuffer; but if they do they'll think someone else gave it to you).


Last but definitely not least, here are two super special releases, just for you... I simply cannot resist mentioning these delicious looking anthologies. They're are in my Christmas stocking ready to go, and I can't wait to dive in. First up is Hot Christmas Nights with some of my fave Love Cats Down Under authors, so dear to us. Kisses to you all, you amazing authors. Finally, don't forget The Ultimate Christmas Anthology 2015. Look at those delish covers, wow, the temp just skyrocketed...!

STOP THE PRESS!  Happy holiday news! The very generous and beautiful ANNA CAMPBELL has donated TWO copies of A Pirate For Christmas for two lucky commenters. I cannot recommend this novella highly enough, it is beyond fabulous. So get your typing fingers ready and comment, comment, comment for your chance to win one before the week is out. Tell me about your Christmas reading, and what you long for under the Christmas tree?

Happy Christmas, beautiful people. Cherish your precious ones and be kind to each other. Thank you for sharing your reading journeys with me through 2015, and I look forward to seeing you again at Miranda's Musings in 2016. And psst, look for a very special reading event (drumroll): The Breathless List, published early next year.

Love from Miranda xxx


Love to love:     Christmas romances!

Love to laugh:   well, it is the season to ho, ho, ho!

Love to learn:    what books do you want Santa to bring?