Monday 25 January 2016

Writing to a Deadline

with Karen M Davis

Writing to a deadline can be very scary indeed. Some people thrive on pressure but I'm not one of them. I don't like pressure at all and if I get behind in my writing schedule I worry... about everything. I can become overwhelmed with the task ahead of me and that's not a good thing - for me, or anyone.

So to avoid pressure I try to be organised; to allow myself plenty of time for the unexpected so  hopefully there's no need for panic as the deadline draws closer. Of course this is easier said than done. Life has a habit of getting in the way. We have to deal with kids, family, housework, work and social commitments, sickness, computer meltdowns, and the list goes on.

I remember Belinda Alexandra, a very successful author, once said to me that there is a huge difference between just "playing around "with your book and hoping it gets published, to actually being published, and then wearing the expectation to produce another work of art as good, or hopefully better, than the last - and all in a set time frame.

I could relate to her words as I'd just signed a two-book deal with Simon and Schuster. Sinister Intent, my first novel, had taken me over four years of "playing around" to write, and the only pressure to complete it was of my own doing. Now I was contracted and my second novel, Deadly Obsession, was due in nine months. The pressure was on and I felt it... I wrote day and night constantly feeling guilty that I was neglecting my family, while worrying I wouldn't finish on time and that it wouldn't be good enough.

As it turned out I had to ask for a month extension, which was no problem for them, and then it was done... Big sigh of relief.

So what did I learn from that experience? Well I suppose I learned to just keep writing. Finish one story and start the next so I have a head start.

I am currently writing my third crime fiction novel and my deadline is June. Since this is the third in the series of "Lexie Rogers books" many of the characters are the same, therefore I'm having to constantly read over my first two books, checking details to ensure continuity. This is time consuming so I'm trying to allot a minimum of so many hours "writing time" a day.  Some days it might be one hour, others four, depending on other commitments. I don't count words as many writers do because I'm not always writing, sometimes I'm researching, revising, editing. School holidays has hindered my schedule.  As much as I love my family I find it hard to concentrate with a house full of teenagers and a husband off work, so February is going to be busy. I want to be well and truly in front of my deadline to avoid last minute panic.

Do you work well under pressure, or are you more like me and need plenty of time to get it just right?
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Monday 18 January 2016


with the Breathless team

Welcome back romance readers and writers! It's so good to see you here at the Breathless Blog for another year.

We spent the holidays hard at work coming up with an awesome line-up of blog posts and guest bloggers that we know you are going to love! (Ok, well...'hard at work' might be a bit of an's never hard work when you love what you do!) To start the year off with a bang, we have The Breathless List!

We've all spent a year reading romances by Australian and New Zealand writers published in 2015 and we've picked our favourites to share with you. Whittling The List down to just 9 books was, and always is, one of the hardest things we do as a blog group, but it's something we're prepared to do in order to showcase our amazing Aussie and NZ romance writers!

So without further ado here is...

The Breathless List

Miranda's Pick: From Christmas to Forever? by Marion Lennox. (Yes, there is a ? in the title.)

Surprise! I picked a series Medical romance. The sort you stay away from? Rethink! Two doctors meet in Wombat Valley: the incoming locum, Pollyanna (love that name), escaping from her smothering parents for Christmas; and Hugo, who's supposed to escape to the beach with his orphaned niece. But it's not about escape, it's about them finding themselves and each other (siiigh) while surrounded by car crashes, snake bites, drunken revellers, and even avalanches. Those bits are jaw-dropping. I adored the country feel, the glittery Christmas parts and the lush romance. Marion Lennox writes with a sweet power punch.

Enisa’s Pick: Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry

WOW is how I’d describe award-winning author Bronwyn Parry’s Storm Clouds (published by Hachette Australia). I read and read, devouring the story’s mystery, danger and unexpected twists. The plot, interweaving the murder of a wife not seen in fourteen years with a deceptively-innocent alternative-lifestyle community, long-buried secrets finally revealed and a web of lies unravelling, intrigued me. The setting, the small NSW town of Goodabri and the nearby stark and rugged National Forest, filled me with cheer and yet chilled me. The main characters, National Parks rangers Erin Taylor and Simon Kennedy, and their slowly-blossoming romance, had me crying and smiling. A bonus was the strong cast of secondary characters adding an extra layer of depth to the story.

Storm Clouds yanked at my emotions, and what a yank it was. One I will always remember. Bravo Bronwyn Parry. You write beautifully.

Dee’s Pick: Freaks Under Fire by Maree Anderson

I know what you're thinking, "Cyborgs, really?" Yes. Really. New Zealand romance author Maree Anderson makes it onto The Breathless List for creating a cyborg heroine that readers want to be! Freaks' heroine, Jay, is most definitely a cyborg. You know that from the beginning and you're reminded of it in her speech patterns and mannerisms, but still you fall in love with her. She's the woman we all want to be, if only we could. By the end of the book, you're hanging on for dear life, hoping beyond hope that she can prevail and live to love another day!

Sharon’s Pick: Bidding on Her Boss (The Hawke Brothers #2) by Rachel Bailey

Why would any intelligent, self-respecting woman bid for three dates with her boss when her employer has a no-fraternisation-outside-the-workplace policy? Faith Crawford’s motivation for spending all of her savings on this seemingly fruitless endeavour is the first of many intriguing surprises in store for the reader. 

The powerful attraction between Faith and her boss, Dylan Hawke is impossible to ignore, however both have equally compelling reasons why they should not pursue it. Their decision to approach the dates from a practical perspective is hopelessly flawed, and makes incredibly entertaining reading.

 I fell in love with Dylan and empathised with Faith throughout this book. The ending is rare, even for a novel published in 2015, and is highly gratifying.

Cassandra’s Pick: By the Sword by Alison Stuart

In this English Civil War story, widow Kate Ashley is contacted by her husband’s estranged family who wish to name her young son as heir to the family estate, Seven Ways. However, the estate is financially floundering due to taxes imposed on the family for being Royalists. Kate’s husband died fighting for the Parliamentarians but she has no love for either side.

When Kate meets the real heir to Seven Ways, the outlawed Jonathon Thornton, she is immediately taken by the man who has willingly given up his birth right to protect the family’s home. He has pledged himself to the young King Charles II, even knowing he is on the losing side. 

I loved this story for its tender moments, its battle scenes, and the way Stuart seamlessly weaves in the historical events of the time. The long periods where hero and heroine are kept apart didn’t bother me in the reading of it, so kudos to Alison for her wonderful writing style. If you love a good historical with sweet, passionate moments and plenty of danger you will enjoy this book.

Dana's Pick: Northern Heat by Helene Young

I felt the heat in Northern Heat! Australian Helene Young writes so perfectly that I actually felt the oppressive far north Queensland humidity. She's a true master at setting the scene and weaving it into the story. As both a cyclone and the villain bare down on Cooktown, I felt every lash of rain and every ounce of fear that Kristy and Conner were experiencing. At one stage I realised I was holding my breath!

Marilyn's Pick: The Wildwood Sisters by Mandy Magro

Nine years ago, in response to a death threat following the disappearance and presumed murder of her beloved twin sister, young Renee Wildwood was forced to leave town without a word to anyone, including the boy she was madly in love with. When family circumstances force her to return to Opals Ridge, she’s determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her sister’s disappearance, despite the prospect that the murderer may still be lurking. Her return reunites her with her first love; Dylan Anderson is now an emotionally wounded single father with a financially struggling farm. They try to fight their still-strong feelings for one another, while the killer makes plans to destroy them both.

As if the gorgeous cover wasn’t enough to entice, this rural romantic suspense ticked all my boxes: well-developed characters, believable conflict, strong emotions and heart-in-the-mouth suspense. Well done Mandy!


Karen’s Pick: The Lake House by Kate Morton.
Reaching No. 1 on the Australian Best Seller List, it would be fair to say Kate Morton's The Lake House is another success story. Having won the book at a charity event I was a little overwhelmed by the size of it - it's a whopping 595 pages - but it's easy reading and the story enthrals from beginning to end. Both a mystery and a historical filled with secrets, family tragedy and forbidden love, it shifts between past and present until both are woven together perfectly to reveal the final grand twist.

Dana's Pick: My Dark Duke by Elyse Huntington

My Dark Duke is a refreshingly original Regency historical that flowed so seamlessly from the first page to the last that I hadn't realised I'd read the whole story in one sitting. I just kept turning page after page after page. Australian author Elyse Huntington has created a hero and a heroine who are perfectly matched, strong, independent, but so in need of one another. Lady Alethea is unique and refreshing and just what the Duke of Trent needs, even if she doesn't know it. If you've not read it, get it now.

We love to love...everything romance reading and writing, especially from our Aussie and Kiwi authors!

*If you're an Australian/New Zealander author with a 2016 book release, please email us at and let us know, but please don't offer us a free copy. As much as we'd love to accept, in order to remain bias free we won't.*

We love to laugh...with each other-always with love, and often!

We love to learn...what you think of our 2015 picks. Are they the best of the best? What Australian and New Zealand writers with 2015 romance releases did you love?