Monday 26 September 2016

Newbie's Corner: A Room of One's Own Part 2: The World of the Fiction Writer

with Sharon Burke

Hi Everyone,

Today I would like to discuss a second interpretation of Virginia Woolf's words “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”.When this quote was discussed at the Sydney Writers' festival some thought the words “a room of her own” referred to the internal world of the fiction writer.
Gif courtesy of

A World of Your Imagination.

As writers of fiction, we have strong imaginations. We aim to create a world of believable characters and describe their experiences so effectively that our readers develop an immediate and powerful urge to keep turning the page.To do this, we must enter this fictitious world of our creation. So how do romance writers create a world of their imaginations? 

image courtesy of Pixabay


Some have strong skills in visualisation. Emma Darcy describes intriguing characters and scenes, “I visualised a woman in a red dress bursting into a high-level boardroom meeting of a prestigious company located in New York”.
image courtesy of Pixabay

What if?

Vanessa Grant describes taking the spark of an idea and developing questions arising from this.

“Who is she? Why did she run? Does she know the man? Who is he? Is he the hero? Did she leave him? If so, why?”

A full synopsis?

Heidi Rice speaks of having an idea for the opening scene, one for the hero and one for the heroine then working intuitively without a full synopsis.

Forward planner, or plan as you go?

Many writers seem to have a powerful idea, do some planning then largely work intuitively entering the world of the viewpoint character, following them, feeling their joy, love and pain and describing it for the reader. They seem to fully immerse themselves in this world of imagination and describe it for the reader.

Other writers plan more thoroughly. Some keep extensive files of inspirational material – photos, ideas jotted down, pictures, articles, scenes sketched out. Some write very detailed synopses and use these as a basis for their writing. Others work with a writing partner brainstorming and “bouncing ideas off one another”.
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What about you?

What is your interior writing world like? How do you start? How do you know what will happen next? When do you discover how internal and external conflicts will be resolved?

I love to love: My husband and I celebrated 30 years of marriage yesterday. What a joy it is to spend your life with someone you love.

image courtesy of Pixabay

I love to laugh: I wish I could master the art of the one-liner. Some people seem to be able to say the one thing at exactly the right time to make us laugh just when we need to.

I love to learn: I love researching – for my writing, for this blog, to satisfy curiosity, sometimes just for fun.

Monday 19 September 2016

Miranda's Musings for September: Reading Romance and What Else?

 So, You Read Romance, and...?

Hello my fellow readers, and welcome to Spring!

Father's Day here in Oz is over, but the advertising was astonishing. Both my snail mail letterbox and email in-box were filled with delicious book lists for the Dads in your life. I love these! I could sit and happily read book lists and troll bookshops and booky sites for hours. (Actually, I think I sometimes do.) Naturally these 'Dad' lists had some hearty crime and thriller fiction, and heaps of non-fiction about planes, trains and automobiles. And sport. Don't forget sport. And politician biographies. Everything Dad-worthy, but quite a few of them also appealed to me.

...Which got me thinking. This blog is primarily for romance writers and readers, yay! But we don't only read romance, do we? What else do you read?

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In the last month I've read and reread Anne Gracie's wonderful Chance Sisters quartet, finishing with The Summer Bride, a simple scrumptious end to a fabulous series. So romantic, so addictive. I loved revisiting these magic books, and feel a bit sad there are no more sisters to come. But I'm sure Anne is whipping up something equally divine for next year.

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But I also read a couple of English comic novels: The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (well, not all comic, but some parts were fabulously funny). Also Right Ho, Jeeves by PG Wodehouse, which was marvellously comic.  And both books, believe it or not, featured characters pursuing romantic relationships - love - and all the goings on associated with same. Perhaps another sort of romance? They were both deeply satisfying to read.

Then I read Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, for a Classics book Group. I've read it before, and it was even better second time around: a mix of Scottish politics, boy's own adventure, and a coming-of-age tale. (No romance in this one, though there was a certain wench in a tavern late in the book...?)

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I loved them all, and read across many genres. But I always come back to romance. It's my go-to genre, my favourite; it takes me to my happy place with life-affirming, happy-ever-after endings, heroes and heroines who are simply amazing, and a romance like no other. Romance is simply The Best, and I will always enjoy it in-between my classics, my chick lit, my bios, my cosy crimes, my best sellers, my thrillers, my 'women's lit', my inspirationals, my non-fiction, my everything. 

My next romance is waiting for me on my Kindle: Meet Me At The Teahouse by the wonderful Barbara Hannay. (It's free at the moment; go grab a bargain!) Then I have Barbara's newie The Grazier's Wife ready to roll. Bliss...

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When you're not reading romance, what do you like to read? And do you always come back to romance?


Love, Miranda xxx


Love to love:

Reading a romance, between every! other! book!

Love to laugh: the show Gogglebox on TV. Those people have me in stitches, week after week.

Love to learn:

About books, booky things, book sites, authors, general book stuff. Keeps me entertained for hours!

Monday 12 September 2016


with Dee Scully

Dee Scully's Revision Checklist
Are you a plotter? An obsessive organiser? Do you struggle to move on from one chapter to the next because you just know there is something that “needs to be tweaked” in the words you wrote yesterday?

I am a plotter and an obsessive organiser who is currently struggling to finish my manuscript because I can’t let the last chapter go. I spend most of my time revising what I wrote yesterday or making copious notes about what needs to be fixed at the earliest convenience (usually at the most inconvenient time), because somewhere in the dark recesses of my subconscious, doubts creep in and niggle at my confidence, eroding any possibility of moving on! A little voice inside my head tells me that my character isn’t being true to herself, or the GMC for my villain is weak and dragging my storyline down, etc…

I know what you’re thinking. “Wow! She’s nuts.” And yeah; you’re right. I am. Being obsessive is keeping me from finishing my manuscript and ultimately keeping me from submitting my work and moving on to the next story percolating in the back of my head.

A half-dozen or so published authors have also told me to move on. (Michael Hauge, James Scott Bell, Cherry Adair—I love and admire you all). I’ve tried to comply. I’ve even tried a 12 step program for alcoholics (even though I’m not an alcoholic) and numerous self-help websites for obsessive compulsives (such as Psych Central). They’ve all been very informative and have helped me outside my writing life.

So far, though, nothing has penetrated the thick carapace of my skull. (I’m so sorry Michael, James, and Cherry. I have listened and I am trying.)

Image courtesy of Dee Scully
I’ve recently decided (as of right now) to embrace my nuttiness. Instead of obsessing over my obsessing, I’m just going to go with it…sort of. I’m still going to write my lists and revise every day. After all, what I’ve been doing—trying to follow the path that everyone else has taken—is not working. While I am decidedly nutty, I am not insane.

From here on out I will write a list at the end of each writing session of what I need to work on. The next day I will spend a portion of time working on it, marking off the list what I’ve achieved. When my allotted revision time is up I will move on to the next chapter.

This may not be the best way to write. It may not be the way the greats do it. But it’s the way I will do it. In the end, how I write doesn’t matter. It’s that I do write and that I eventually get to THE END.

Do you follow 'the rules' of how you should write?  Are you hung-up following the rules, or have you learned to follow the beat of your own drummer?

I love to love…myself. It’s not always easy to love me, but who will if I don’t?

I love to laugh…at all the mistakes I’ve made in the past and how I’ve grown from them.

I love to learn…ways to make me a better person. Self-help books like The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman have helped me personally and professionally and even improved my writing!

*For anyone needing help with alcoholism or obsessive compulsion, please check out these websites for more information:
Alcoholics Anonymous
Australian Psychological Society 

Check out my weekly Write NOW memes on Instagram.  Created for writers new and old!
Dee Scully
Historical Romance Author
Twitter:  @DeeScullyAuthor

Monday 5 September 2016

15 Tips for Writing Short Romance

with Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of Giphy
I wish I could remember where I read ‘Get in, get out, make every word count’ because it perfectly encapsulates what a short-story writer must aim for. Stories of 3000 words or less are increasingly popular among romance readers with limited time to indulge their passion.

Image courtesy of Giphy
But if you’re an author interested in writing short stories, be warned: their simplicity might make them appear easy to write but, trust me, they’re not! Prior to deciding to concentrate on single title romances I sold more than a dozen short stories to magazines, but I also had many rejections.The following suggestions are based on my experience.

1. DO keep to 2 main characters, maximum 4. The fewer, the better; there simply isn’t time to develop minor characters. And make sure those 2 main characters are sympathetic and believable.

2. DO draw the reader in quickly. Begin in a moment of conflict or emotional upheaval that will steer your protagonist down a particular path.

3. DO provide all the information needed to grasp the who, what, when and where of your story in the first few paragraphs. Ground your reader by establishing a recognisable setting then make it clear who your protagonist is, what she wants and why she wants it, while at the same time providing questions the reader must find the answers to by reading the story.

Not a good place to start! Image courtesy of Giphy

4. DO have your story take place over a short time span-hours or days work best, years are a no-no.

5. DO make it emotionally honest and heart-warming. Your protagonist should face a situation that almost everyone has experienced and can relate to, like rebuilding life after a breakup or falling in love for the first time.

6. DO trust the intelligence of your reader. By leaving gaps for her (or him) to fill in they’ll get more out of your story.

7. DO use a high proportion of dialogue in your story but only if it moves the story along. Pacing is particularly important in short stories.

8. DO ensure the resolution happens quickly but is also satisfying and believable. Coincidence shouldn’t feature.

9. DO minimise adverbs and adjectives, and make strong verb choices.

10. DO consider your title carefully. Look for key words or phrases within the story to use.

Image courtesy of Pinterest
1. DON’T include lengthy descriptions of setting or characters.

2. DON’T head hop. A of point of view change is okay with 2 characters, but with more than that, head hopping will detract from the reader’s connection with the main characters.

Photo by MF

3. DON’T end with a lifetime commitment. It’s just not believable in a short romance.

4. DON’T attempt a complicated plot. Your story should have all the elements of a novel i.e. character arcs, conflict and resolution, but on a much smaller scale.

5. DON’T include distractions like subplots. Just stick to the central theme of your story.

If you’re looking for a short story contest to enter, RWA’s Little Gems is a great place to start. 2017’s 'theme' gem is Onyx. Why not give it a go?

Photo by MF

Love to Love seeing my crit partner Cassandra Samuels receive her award for winning the Ripping Start Contest from Michael Hauge at the RWA Conference in Adelaide.

Photo by MF

Love to Laugh at some of the ridiculous places I've discovered a red feather from the boa given out at the Harlequin Author party.

Love to Learn more about short-story writing. Check out Kurt Vonnegut 's 8 tips for writing a short story.