Monday 30 September 2019

Blurbs - Hook Your Reader

by Enisa Haines

You've completed your novel and now it's time to write the back book cover blurb. Those 150-200 words on the back of the book that grab a reader's attention, intriguing them and enticing them to buy.

How do you write the blurb? In an earlier post author Marilyn Forsyth described the many ways (The Blurb - Make it Count!) and what I learned is that it's not a shorter version of the synopsis as I'd somehow convinced myself. The blurb is a teaser mentioning the setting, the main characters, the conflict and a glimpse of the plot. Most important of all are the tagline, the hook that snags your reader, and the last statement, the hook that leaves the reader yearning for more.

The back book cover blurb to Under Currents by Nora Roberts -
"The perfect facade can hide dark undercurrents" - gives a sinister feel and readers know immediately the story is romantic suspense.

The back cover book blurb final statement to Marry in Secret by Anne Gracie - "But Rose never did follow the rules, and as she takes matters into her own unpredictable hands, Thomas finds himself in an unexpected and infuriating predicament: he is falling in love with his wife..." - tempts readers into immersing themselves in a sweet, romantic tale that promises a happy ending.

How to perfect the tagline? The last statement? Think about your story. What is it's selling point? Is it the main characters, or the plot point that sends them on their journey and pits them against each other? Know the answers to these questions and what to include in the blurb will be clearer.

Do blurbs catch your attention? Do they convince you to buy? Are there any blurbs so memorable you'd like to share? 

Love to love: impulse buys when a blurb reels me in.

Love to laugh: at some of the blurbs I've written - mediocre at best (that's laugh after a good, long cry!)

Love to learn: how to write the perfect blurb.

Monday 23 September 2019

Magic In The Garden

Maya Linnell grew up in a small country town, climbing towering gum trees and reading her
way through her family's bookshelves before discovering a never-ending supply of novels at
the local library. She found her feet in journalism, working at a rural newspaper before
segueing into public relations and now fiction writing and blogging for Romance Writers
Australia. Wildflower Ridge is her debut novel and gathers inspiration from her rural
upbringing and the small communities she has always lived in and loved. Maya currently
lives in rural Victoria with her husband and three children.

Welcome, Maya!
Gardening is one of my favourite hobbies, and although my love of all things floral has waxed and waned with the many moons of my life, I’ve always found solace in digging and
planting, nurturing and harvesting.

As a child, I remember begging my green-thumbed mother to buy a rose of my own, and when I wasn’t climbing trees, I was eating fruit straight from their heavily-laden limbs. If I
close my eyes, it’s easy to picture myself in the garden as a teenager, tending to a plot directly underneath an old windmill that creaked and whirred in the breeze. Training snow peas to grow up a trellis became a welcome respite from the stress and study pressures of high school, but it wasn’t until I moved out of home and started putting my stamp on gardens of my own that I ever considered myself a green thumb.

I’ll never claim to be an expert gardener - I’ve had bare, ugly patches, weeds and failures in every garden I’ve ever tended – but boy, do I love planting things and watching them grow.

My yard is full of cuttings from friends and family who happily supplied bulbs, seeds and cuttings to help develop the rural property we purchased in 2014. Their donations formed the framework of our home before the concrete house slab was even poured. I often think of these friends as I tend to my irises from Fiona, Marilyn and Lesa, geraniums from Emma and Mum, my very first dahlia bulbs from Mr Ellis and strawberries from my mother’s best friend, Diane. Oh, those sweet strawberries. Each year the plants die off to nothing, their leaves turning crunchy and brown, like poisoned weeds. They return without fail each summer, their juicy, plump blessings reminding me of a very special lady; the most enthusiastic garden I’ve ever known. Diane always sent visitors home with ice-cream
containers full of strawberries, bags of fresh fruit and veggies, as many cuttings as they wanted for their own garden, with a carton or two of eggs for good measure. She passed away two years ago, but I remember her in every strawberry that comes from our patch.

After a busy day, my garden’s tranquillity beckons me, reminding me it’s okay to slow down and take stock. There’s inspiration in every plant that survives our salty coastal winds and thrives in our poor sandy soil, a lesson in resilience in every stubborn weed that spreads like wildfire if given a chance (rocket – I’m looking at you), and a sprinkle of magic in every wrinkly brown tuber that transforms into a magnificent dahlia flower, year in, year out.

Without even realising it, I manage to thread flowers and gardens into my writing. Wildflower Ridge (released June 3 this year with Allen and Unwin) takes its name from a location that’s very special to my main character, Penny, and the McIntyre family. I love the way gardens not only shape memories and moments but bring us busy, highly-technical and fast-paced 21st century people closer to nature.

Just like my own upbringing, my children have grown up watching my husband and I grow all manner of things, helping plant out seedlings, collecting posies of flowers for the kitchen table, picking handfuls of herbs for pizza nights and eating sun-kissed apricots straight from the tree. And I’d like to think that in years to come, they’ll also discover the magic of working outside amongst the birds, the bugs, the plants and the sunshine, and find a hefty dose of happiness and healing with every handful of soil that runs through their fingers.

I love to love… food. Baking is one of my other main hobbies, with my all-time favourites
including chocolate self-saucing pudding, ANZAC biscuits, pavlova and pineapple sponge

I love to laugh… at Friends. The kids have recently discovered my old fav TV show, which
had me in stitches all throughout high school, and still makes me laugh today.

I love to learn… about new authors and other women who go after their dreams without
fear. Being surrounded by inspirational people is uplifting and good for the soul.

How about you? Do you love gardening? What are some of your favourite hobbies?

Wildflower Ridge is available on Booktopia or Angus and Robertson

Follow Maya online
Instagram @maya.linnell.writes 
Facebook  maya.linnell.writes
Twitter @maya_linnell

Monday 16 September 2019

Why You Should Consider Entering a Writing Competition… or Two

By Kristine Charles

September brings with it many things.

Spring. Footy finals. My birthday (yay!).

And the start of the Romance Writers of Australia competition season.

RWA rips in with the Ripping Start… (for which, full disclosure, I am the Contest Coordinator) but before you start moaning at me about dreaded third judges and why you have no time to enter competitions, here are three reasons why entering competitions is good for you.

Discipline and Deadlines

Entering a competition means you have to manage your work into the required format. Margins, spacing, number of words and section of work. You may have to prepare a synopsis to requirements (SHUDDER!) or write a short set-up to a specified word count. This is all designed – generally speaking – to replicate publisher submission requirements, and managing word processing software is a skill we all can master (if you haven’t – there are plenty of videos online to assist). These are important skills to have if you’re going to make it in the publishing world.

A contest also has a deadline. Submit by your deadline or you won’t be able to enter the competition. Simples. A little like meeting a contract deadline… right?

Fabulous Feedback

Yeah, yeah, we all know about the dreaded third judge. That one judge who just hated your work and completely tanked your average score. We’ve all met them.

But, in every cloud there’s a silver lining.

In entering a competition, you’ll generally (although not always) get feedback from a number of judges. And often even the feedback from the meanest of judges will leave you with at least one pearl of wisdom that makes your writing better.

You get to decide what feedback to take on board and what you sacrifice via burning to appease your writing muse – but getting feedback on your writing from people who don’t know you (and therefore won’t just say it’s AMAZING) can be useful.

As an aside, most competitions are always on the lookout for judges and, while you clearly can’t judge in a competition you have entered, volunteering to judge is a great way of dipping your toe into contest waters and seeing what they’re like. So, if you’re not quite ready to give a competition a go, consider volunteering as a judge first.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Yes, winner. Because you might win. And then you get to add ‘AWARD WINNER’ to your bio. Doesn’t that sound nice?

You also might not win, and that’s okay, because you gave it a shot. You’ve also done some work on your discipline, and you’ve got some fabulous feedback to consider.

So… which competitions will you enter this year? Let us know below.

Kristine Charles is the newest member of Breathless in the Bush and writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I love to love… coffee.

I love to laugh… at dad jokes and gutter humour.

I love to learn… about the many ways to tell a story.

Monday 9 September 2019

Romance Across Time: The Tudors

The Tudor Period
The Tudor Period spans the years between 1485 and 1603, commencing with the reign of King Henry VII, and concluding with the death of Queen Elizabeth I. It was a time of great rivalry amongst those who sought the English throne. This caused the royal family to live in the White Tower, within the grounds of the Tower of London. The fortifications afforded them great protection. Prisoners were housed, and often tortured, in other buildings within the tower precinct. The Reformation also dominates this time period, the change from Catholicism to Protestantism creating its own tensions.
This is an incredible period in history offering countless opportunities for authors to write captivating historical romance novels.

Much Ado About Marriage by Karen Hawkins

Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Rotherwood attempts to break into a castle on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. He is on Queen Elizabeth’s business. Thomas encounters the laird's cousin, Fia, who is doing some thieving of her own. He feels a powerful attraction towards her, but given her clothes and behaviour, Thomas fails to realise she is a lady. More than anything, Fia desires to go to London to become a playwright. She asks Thomas to be her patron. He agrees, not realising Fia wants assistance with her writing ambitions. Thomas assumes she is offering to become his mistress. After Thomas and Fia flee, they are caught kissing by the laird and forced to marry. The developing romance between these strong, independent, forthright characters is a joy to read.

The Other Countess by Eve Edwards

Lady Eleanor Rodriguez, known as Ellie, is impoverished. Her father frittered away the Earl of Dorset's family fortune, and his own, trying to turn lead into gold. The earl goes to the court of Queen Elizabeth I, hoping to repair his finances through marriage, only to find that Ellie, and her father, now reside there. The earl and Ellie are attracted to one another, but their attraction can go nowhere. The earl must marry a lady with considerable wealth, and Ellie refuses to ruin the happiness of his mother and sisters by following her heart.

 The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

King Henry VII wins his crown by killing King Richard III in battle. Winning the hearts and minds of the English people proves much harder. He marries Elizabeth of York to try to appease the powerful House of York, and further cement his position. Elizabeth loved Richard, but has no choice in the matter. Love grows, then the pressure of ruling without public support, and governing in a treason-filled world, drives Henry near paranoia. This historic novel with romantic elements is a real page turner.

Have you read any historical romances set in the Tudor period? Which one was your favourite?

I love to love family time.
I love to laugh while reading romance novels.
I love to learn more about the craft of writing.

Monday 2 September 2019

5 Characteristics of a romance Heroine

by Cassandra Samuels

I've heard this rumour that behind every great man there is a great woman. In romance this isn't a rumour it's a fact. So let's have a look at what makes a great heroine.

Definition: a heroine is admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

In romance, the heroine has to be someone you can relate to, someone you want to find a love worthy of her good heart.

A sense of humour: How else is she going to put up with the games that the hero will put her through?
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A sense of her own fallibility: She will mistakes. sometimes they will be little faux pas and other times they could almost be catastrophic. However, if she is the kind of heroine we can get behind she has to be able to admit she was wrong.

A sense of caring and or nuturing: Of course she needs to be someone who cares about others, often before herself. Someone who can care for the hero even when he is being a bit of a goose. She will inately know he is worth the effort.

A sense of passion: Passion for life, causes, family and, well, the hero - that's a given.
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A sense of cleverness: I mean who wants a heroine that is TSTL (Too silly to live). She has to be able to go head to head with the hero, even trump him now and then. She will often have her own dreams, plans and plots and that is what will keep the hero and the reader interested in her.

What do you look for in a great romance heroine?

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Love to Love  Finding out I am having a baby granddaughter in January

Love to Laugh at my grandsons singing "we will, we will, rock you."

Love to Learn: wonderful tips and tricks from the RWAustralia conference.