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?

Monday 30 November 2015

Google+ for Writers Part 3: Customising Your Profile

There are four simple profile customizations you can do to maximize your Google+ exposure… (Tweet this)

**To edit your profile page, you must view your profile as yourself.**
1.  Improve Your Profile Tagline
In your Google+ profile About page, scroll down to Story and click edit (near the bottom of the section). Write a tagline that captures what you, your voice, and your writing is about. This enables viewers to quickly see what you are all about. Be specific. This is not the place to be frivolous. 

2.  Include Key Words
Google combines your tagline and the first two sentences of your introduction for their metadata search, so make the first two lines about what you want viewers--again potential readers--to know about you and your writing.

Google+ allows you to keep your points clear and easy to follow with bullet points. Use them to list your published books or awards that you’ve won.

3.  Claim Your Custom URL
After you’ve had your Google+ page for a month and you have more than ten followers in your Circles, Google+ rewards you with a customized URL. Make sure to claim this URL and use it on business cards, on your website, your blog, and more.

4.  Add Links-To and From

When blogging or updating a webpage, be sure to add your customized URL. When inserting it as a hyperlink, tick the add ‘rel+nofollow’ attribute in the hyperlink box. This will enhance your posts search results and increase your click through rates.

How have you used this article to improve your profile?  Share your thoughts in the comments.  We love connecting with you!!
One lucky Australian commenter will win a writer's gift pack.  Be sure to check back next Monday to see if you're the winner!!

 I love to love...connecting with people through Google+!

I love to all the funny pictures people Google+!

I love to learn...about others via Google+!

Monday 23 November 2015

Newbie’s Corner: Viewpoint

With Sharon Burke

One challenge encountered by many first time authors is writing effectively in viewpoint. If you are not sure what viewpoint is, pick a novel you’ve enjoyed and reread it. Try to identify which character’s experiences, feelings and insights you are seeing each part of the story through. This character is the viewpoint character.

Modern romantic novels generally contain the viewpoints of the hero and heroine, though switching between them can present traps for the new author. Another trap for the unwary is writing in omniscient viewpoint where the writer sees everything and knows what every character is thinking in a godlike way. Readers frequently find this irritating, but may not be sure why they feel this way. Some new writers “head hop” from one viewpoint character to another – also frustrating for the reader and a result you certainly don’t want to achieve. If you recognise these problems in your own writing, take heart. Many new writers have made the same mistakes.

The viewpoint most often used in romance novels is third person subjective. Romance author Valerie Parv believes this is the easiest viewpoint for new writers to handle. The writing is in the third person, but everything is portrayed through the experiences and feelings of the viewpoint character.

Cassandra Samuels writes in third person subjective in A Scandalous Wager. The viewpoints of the hero and heroine are used. Sometimes a scene break (***) is utilised to show a viewpoint change. Each viewpoint character’s thoughts are written in a distinctive voice, helping the reader to effortlessly adapt to viewpoint changes.

For example, compare the following extracts:

“Lisbeth couldn’t give a fig about tea. Had Oliver read her letter yet?
She looked out the window. The rain was still falling and it was cold, but no amount of shawls or heated bricks could comfort her.”

It is easy to identify that this extract is written is Lisbeth’s viewpoint.

On the other hand, the following is clearly the viewpoint of the hero, Oliver.

“Last night he had been committed to leaving, to rusticating in the country, to being forgotten. This morning all he could do was think about how he would never see Lisbeth again. And it bloody-well hurt.”

Valerie Parv suggests authors try rewriting a passage replacing “she” with “I”, then reread it to ensure it makes sense. If it doesn’t, the author may have slipped out of viewpoint. She also recommends remaining in the one viewpoint for several paragraphs or pages to avoid confusing the reader.

Clearly, viewpoint is a huge subject. If these ideas are new to you, try reading with an eye for viewpoint then try rewriting your work with viewpoint in mind.

Has the heroine in a romance novel ever thought or said something that caused you to immediately identify with her? What was it?

Love to Love: Watching our children grow up. Our middle daughter is currently teaching in the UK. It's wonderful to be able to talk with her on Skype. We are so proud of how well she is doing.

Love to Laugh: Very few books make me laugh out loud, but to me The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is the funniest book ever written.

Love to Learn: Reading the Saturday Herald over a coffee with my husband is so much fun. We split the newspaper then share what we find out.

Monday 16 November 2015

Advice for Writers from the Wonderful World of Disney

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with Marilyn Forsyth

A lighthearted post this week in honour of the release, nearly ninety years ago on November 17, of Steamboat Willie, starring Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. For your inspiration this week, here are 6 quotes from Disney movies that I believe hold meaning for writers and their writing.

1. ‘Fairy tales can come true. You gotta make ’em happen; it all depends on you. So I work real hard each and every day, now things for sure are going my way.’ Tiana from The Princess and the Frog.

The only way to get that book written is to sit down and do it. Writing a book is damn hard work and ‘butt on chair’ time is what it’s all about. Are you participating in Nanowrimo? Good on you! (But what are you doing here? Taking a well-earned break? Okay then.) Even if you don’t reach 50 000 words during the month, and what you’ve produced is not of a publishable standard, at least you have something to edit. As the saying goes, you can't edit an empty page.

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2. ‘I was just scared. And the thing is I’m not scared anymore.’ Rapunzel from Tangled.

Fear can be a great motivator. Whatever your biggest writing fear is—success (yes, that is a thing), not being able to translate what’s in your head onto the page, that nobody will want to read your book—you won’t get anywhere unless you push past the anxiety.

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3. ‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ Alice from Alice in Wonderland.

Like Alice, set your imagination free. If you let your ‘Goofy’ out (pun intended), those creative juices just might start to flow. Play the ‘What if…?’ game. Write by hand. Start your story in the middle if the opening is too intimidating. Have fun with it!

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4. ‘Your identity is your most valuable possession.’ Elastigirl from The Incredibles.

‘Identity’ is another word for ‘voice’. Your writing voice - your style - should be unique to you; it’s what sets you apart from other writers. Ensure your personality comes through in your writing and it will help you to connect with your potential audience. Don't be like Elastigirl, here - let your voice be heard!

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5. ‘The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.’ The Emperor of China from Mulan.

Rejection hurts, there’s no denying that, but if you accept it as a challenge to improve, your writing can only benefit from it. Pick yourself up and take heart from the fact that Walt Disney himself was rejected over 300 times before he got the financial backing to create Disneyland. And of course let's not forget J. K. Rowling's experience.

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6. ‘If you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.’ Cinderella from Cinderella.

Believe in yourself! Remember: Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way, you’re right. ’Nuff said.

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Do you have a favourite movie quote? Love to hear it.

Love to Love: Gabrielle Battistel's Trailermade Production. You'll find fantastic trailers for some of your favourite authors' books at Be sure to check it out!

Love to Laugh: at some of the memes I found when searching for gifs for this post (despite the spelling error :)).

Love to Learn: how long it's going to take me to read Kate Morton's The Lake House. A bit over 3 hours, according to the experts at Follow the link to find out how long it will take you to read your next book.

Monday 9 November 2015

Writing Life: Why I Feel Compelled to Write

By Cassandra Samuels

Last month I talked about the people around us not "getting" it about our writing. This month I delve a little more inward: what it is inside myself that compels me to write. 

It could be different for everyone, but for me it has been a yearning for a long time. When I was in high school, I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It changed my life. I hadn't really sought out books to read for pleasure before and, although I had enjoyed other books I was made to read, this book made me want to write.

By Jane Austen

Is it any wonder I write Regency Romance?

That year I started a novel. I hadn't any experience and, at fifteen, I hadn't experienced much, but I knew some things about history - Australian history. I'd studied convicts and the gold rush, so that is where I began. I still have it today; half typed, half handwritten. And the premise is still a good one, if I do say so myself. One day I may re-write that story. Inside of myself I had found a storyteller.
Author unknown

It is still a mystery to me what kind of spark was lit inside of me that year, but it is a spark that has turned into an inferno over time. Although I loved to write, I was logical too. Even my teachers steered me towards journalism, well aware that the odds of writing a novel and actually getting it published were against me. I did do that journalism course and, while I loved it, it didn't give me what I was looking for. I let my dream slip away for more practical things. 

I got married, had children and, when I was about thirty, I suddenly realised I was in a funk. I was a wife, a mother, an employee, but I had lost the essence of myself somewhere. My spark was pressing to be fed some fuel to burn. It wasn't that I was unhappy, it was just that I was missing something, or perhaps had ignored my need to write. I rang my mother one day and told her I was thinking of starting to write again. She was all for it, urging me to see this thing through. 

I started to write but I really needed some guidance. These were the days before books on writing were readily available in stores, and buying them online from the US cost a fortune in shipping. I wrote to the only Australian Historical Romance author I knew - Stephanie Laurens. I received an email back with lots of helpful information, but the best part of the email was that she urged me to join RWAustralia. All I can say is Thank You, Stephanie!

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I didn't even know such an organisation existed. I joined that very week. Not only that, I asked if there was a local chapter I could join. That group was Breathless in the Bush. I cannot begin to tell you all how much I have absorbed and learned and put into practice from these two amazing groups. They fed my soul with the knowledge that if I really wanted to write a book, I could. The spark turned into a flame that I have been fanning ever since.

 For me, writing is that 'something' inside you that drives you back to the 
keyboard/notepad no matter what. (Tweet this)

And you know what else? The more you do it, the more that 'something' grows inside you. The 'something' is creative passion and drive. It isn't something that can be turned on and off. It's just there. Sometimes we can successfully shove it to the side for a while but eventually, if you really want it, it will keep nudging you until you give in.

Some say writing is like an illness that takes over the body and mind. Illness to me means something negative and in a lot of ways the need to write does take over you, but for me writing is most definitely a positive.  

Writing is an ever present bubble of creative thought that swims about in
 one’s subconscious. (Tweet this)

But, boy, am I happy it’s there. It doesn't always cooperate, but when the words are flowing it is the best feeling in the world.

I’m lucky, my husband wants me to succeed, wants me to follow my dreams. Secretly I think he just wants total control over the tv remote, but what does it matter? Without him, and the support of my family and the fabulous groups I belong to (not to forget my amazing critique partners), I would never have finished my ms - the one that turned into my published book, A Scandalous Wager.

Are you compelled to write? What compels you to write? 

Love to love - supporting other writers.
Love to learn - that I can achieve anything I want to.
Love to laugh - at my beautiful grandson's funny faces.