Revisions. Revisions…

When I told my Mum that my book was going through the “Revision Process” she was rather taken aback.

“But I thought you’d finished it,” she said.

“Yes, Mum. But I have an editor now. A real, proper one. She goes through it and then I get to see what she thought was good or bad and that’s called Revisions.”

I think you can tell from my answer – I really had no idea what to expect! So for those people who have found my blog because they’re doing just what I’m doing… working and writing with that great overhead goal of becoming published, I’m going to share as much of the process as my limited knowledge of WordPress technology allows! If you’re an author who has been through this process, I can already see you nodding and perhaps getting a giggle over some of this!

First: This is the email that accompanied my Revisions. If you read it, I think you’ll see why my Editor “had me at hello.” She could have red-lined the entire book from there and I’d still think she was wonderful!

Please find attached the edited copy of  His Brand of Beautiful. I have used track changes in Word to make all the edits and I have queried anything other than minor changes (spelling etc) so you can see why the change is suggested. Please could you use track changes to make your own revisions? Please accept any changes you are happy with and comment with any that you prefer to leave or that are confusing etc. (Although you can also email me if there’s anything that doesn’t make sense, of course!).

I don’t think there is anything major here – I really loved this story and got completely sucked in! I think the tension and suspense is handled perfectly; all the story strands unravel at just the right pace and I really enjoyed the mix of love/lust and angst, balanced with such snarky quips. I had quite a few laugh out loud moments and I like the fact that none of the characters are perfect but are still likeable.

One thing the publisher has mentioned (as a general point, not specifically re: HBOB) is the use of song lyrics and the concerns re: copyright and legalities. I have marked up all the lyrics quoted throughout as well as the book section as I am not sure whether you have sought permission for any of these already.

Once again, I apologise for the delay in getting this back to you – I know you’re rushed off your feet with moving and getting organised for that. If you could have a  look over the edit and let me know when you think you can get it back to me, I shall plan accordingly.

Along with the edit you’ll also find my notes and style sheet, which just clarify some of the changes made throughout.

All positive right!? By now I had already rung my husband who was at work to read the bit about “I really loved this story and got completely sucked in!” And chucked a couple of cartwheels over the couch. (Figurative ones, you understand).

And then I opened the file and started scrolling down.

AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! The comments column on the left hand side was filled with blue and yellow. Comments. Deletions. Corrections.

I quickly discovered my use of commas sucks. I also discovered the book that I’d written thinking its best opportunity for publication was with an American audience, now needed Australian English spellings. I also discovered I was being overly descriptive, which slowed the pacing through my first two scenes.

These are some of the first comments and I hadn’t yet made it to page 2:

  1. Since this story is largely told from either the POV of Christina or Tate and we are in their heads during these scenes, direct inner thoughts are rarely necessary and should be avoided. It means when a character does make an aside, it stands out more.
  2. Love this description, too, however, this has become a very long description about the car and it slows the pace and distracts the focus. We’ve been instantly hooked by Christina’s own curiosity and now the reader will want to know who she’s looking at and why.  Creative description is excellent, but if used too much in any one spot can feel heavy handed.
  3. As above, description needs simplifying to tighten flow. Suggested changes have been made. Eg: we don’t really need all the precise details of how characters move from one location to another; readers will fill in blanks and add detail themselves. Simplifying some description allows more poetic lines to resonate better and avoids doubling up – ie: if his jacket is flapping in the wind, we probably don’t need a description of how the wind affects his hair; if he prowls across the road, this is itself a catlike movement and doesn’t need qualifying further.
  4. The banter between Tate and Christina is witty and sexy, but it works better if we can see them bouncing quips back and forth. The sharp back and forth is slowed and lost if it is repeatedly broken up with lengthy asides and descriptions. Sometimes simple is better – keeps the flow clean and lets the more lyrical descriptions pop when they are used.

That famous phrase which I think I first heard in Stephen King’s On Writing, springs to mind. Kill Your Darlings! I actually thought I was reasonable at cutting stuff out, but obviously! No! So like a knight of the realm I leapt boldly forward, sword high, and started an almighty slash, hack through the start of the book.

Once I reached Chapter 2, life got better. Many of the comments about me being overly descriptive stopped. I was into a big stretch of dialogue which seems to be something people feel I do okay, and the yellow boxes at the side of the page stopped turning my computer screen into a banana.

Here are some more gems that I thought I knew, but obviously, was still guilty of including now and then!

  1. Speech tags are best kept simple and to a minimum. Here, for example, we know it’s a greeting. “Said” or “replied” is better, if tagging is even necessary.
  2. Try to keep the flow tight and sharp. Eg: in dialogue sandwich a line of dialogue with a line of action then another line of dialogue (or the other way around). This is done pretty much perfectly throughout but keep an eye out.

These are some of the things that made me laugh:

My book: “Come here.” He reached strong arms for her, tucked her against his hard length. His heartbeat thumped her shoulder-blade and the heat was instant. She felt her body mould itself to his.

Editor’s comment: “hard length” is frequently used as a euphemism  in romance and could be misconstrued here!

Me: Duh!

My book: Leaning her elbows on the rail, she let her fingers dangle. The Acrylic nails shone. They looked ridiculous here.

Editor’s comment: Throughout – watch out for disembodied body parts. (Her Acrylic nails shone).

My book: On a shelf, slivers of multi-coloured soap were mushed into a single larger piece, all cracked and dry, leached of colour and cemented with God-knew how many pubes. The idea of it anywhere near her skin made it crawl.

Editor’s comment – (linked to my multi-coloured, leached of colour soap!)

And yet multi-coloured?

Me: Duh!

There were more – but those might be a bit x-rated to share here!

The good thing for me was, the bulk of these comments were early, and then it was really a case of picking up small inconsistencies and errors (like the multi-coloured soap and the disembodied body parts) and times when my descriptive fingers just got way too over the top.

One thing I found, and I suspect most writers do this: the opportunity to take that one final read of your book (especially as I hadn’t read it for a couple of months since making my successful submission) is that it is hugely tempting to make further changes. I know I did. I also found I didn’t feel I’d nailed the climactic scene in the book, and really went back through that with a fine-tooth comb.

Right now, my revisions are back with the editor. I hope they hold together. I hope I get one more chance to see it before we fly out to the West on Wednesday. (We’re moving from South Australia to West Australia this week and my computer connections won’t be quite so easy.) But I’ve been promised one more look before it gets locked-in and submitted, on the road to being published with Escape Publishing in March.

That thought itself is terrifying me! It’s like presenting your baby to the adoring (or not so adoring) masses… who are all then going to check it has ten fingers and ten toes… and make snide asides about multi-coloured disembodied birthmarks…

Let’s hope this thick skin that I’ve grown during the past two years of submissions, rejections, and now revisions, holds me in good stead!

If you have a LOL revisions comment to share – I’d love to hear it!

Books I’m reading: Man Drought, Rachael Johns

Man Drought is the first Rachael Johns book that I’ve read and I have to be honest – I won it in a reader blog giveaway promotion.

That said, Rachael has a great name in Australian rural romance writing and I was very keen to see how she plots a book and pulls it all together from a craft perspective, as much as from that of a reader.

I enjoyed Man Drought. I particularly liked the concept and the start, about a woman’s change of direction after the death of her husband, to purchase a classic old Aussie pub in a remote rural town that is slowly dying as people move away for more opportunities in the city. This is a common problem right across Australia as drought (as in lack of rain, not men), jobs, education and services all pull younger people away from the country.

Imogen is a likeable heroine. Gibson isn’t so likeable (he’s so stubborn I wanted to slap him around a bit) but he’s hot and that works for me. There are some classic scenes that made me laugh, (usually to do with a vibrator), and it’s all good fun.

There was one line in particular that really resonated with me in this book, the first time Imogen and Gibson do the deed.

“Steady there,” he said into her ear before starting things
that didn’t steady her at all.

I thought this was a beautiful way of summing a mood in a love scene without getting into gory details…

Thanks Rachael, for choosing my entry to win your book!

Jenn J McLeod: Left Field with Lily

Jenn J McLeod is about to release her debut novel, House For All Seasons, with Simon & Schuster.
Jenn J McLeod is about to release her debut novel, House For All Seasons, with Simon & Schuster.

Drum roll please!
I have been buried since Saturday in revisions for my book and that process alone has given me so many ideas for posts!
I will get to them. I promise.

But in the meantime, I am so thrilled to introduce the
WOMAN of the moment! Jenn J Mcleod who has her debut
novel, House For All Seasons, coming out with Simon & Schuster
in March. Thank you so much Jenn for being part of:
From Left Field…

The name of the game here is bravery! My blog has been about my path to publication, and while a writer can read any number of articles on writing craft, one of the most valuable things to me was reading excerpts, and well, just reading, to see how good writers put all that craft together.

So the first question I’ll ask is:

Lily M: Share with us the opening paragraph of your book as it began and how it is now. 

Jenn J: Okay, on 13/03/10


‘I’m not going back there. Not for three months, not for three weeks, not even for three days.’ Thirty-eight year old Poppy Hamilton, once powerful playground prima donna, still knew how to command a crowd. ‘As lovely as it is to catch up with you ladies after all this time, I can’t do it – I won’t. Sorry. Besides, it makes no sense.’

‘Didn’t you understand?’ Sara tried to project her voice. ‘The Will is conditional on us all doing it – starting with you in spring.’

On 01/03/12 (final edits and I ditched the prologue way back, as advised, changing it to Chapter One)

‘I’m not going back there. Not for three months, three weeks, not even three days.’

Two decades on and Poppy, once powerful playground prima donna, could still command a crowd. ‘As lovely as it is to catch up with you ladies after all this time, I can’t do this. I won’t. Sorry. Besides, it makes no sense.’

Time pressured—as usual—Poppy stood apart from her three companions, alone and restless on the window side of the conference room. She eyed the wall clock hanging at one end of it, then her friends.

Former friends.


Lily M: Share with us 8 lines from the top of page 88
(yes, I stole this idea—did I mention I was head down in edits and time-poor—sorry!)

Jenn J: This is from House Of All Seasons: Part One – Surviving Summer (characters Sara and Will.)

Breathless by the time she’d reached the car, her disquiet turning to exasperation, Sara said, ‘Don’t be angry, Will.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because it’s not like you to be angry.’

‘Everyone’s funny guy, eh? Yeah, that’s good old Will Travelli. The guy who gives you all a good laugh. The guy who reminds you how lucky you all are. Well, newsflash, Sara, that’s not who I am twenty-four/seven, and not without a lot of bloody encouragement. And by that I mean my kids. Without them I wouldn’t even be here. They were the only thing that made me put up with the frigging pain and humiliation. Can we just go?’

LIly M: (Love those 8 lines Jenn). What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’
in terms of Writing Craft? images

Jenn J: Only one?  Then I’ll go with ‘voice’. I was trying to write stuff that wasn’t me and … well, it wasn’t working. Then I read a Lisa Heidke novel (What Kate Did Next) and bingo! I even blogged about my bingo moment. (The link is easier than me explaining).

Lily M: What keeps you awake at night?

Jenn J: At this moment in time? The idea that reviewers are reading my book and that my life’s work, my impossible dream that somehow came true, now depends on five little stars or the words they choose to write. (Okay, possibly a little over-dramatic. But you did ask.)

Lily M: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? There are magic batteries for anything electrical!

  • ipod
  • kindle/e-reader
  • my favourite paperback
  • my significant other
  • food I don’t have to kill or catch
  • wine
  • battery-powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods
  • a torch
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB

Jenn J: Hello, my name is Jenn and I am an addict!  Yes, I picked:

  1. mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB. How pathetic is THAT! I do love my iPad.
  2. my significant other (to keep me fed and watered while I write, Twitter and Facebook.)
  3. Dilemma. I don’t need a torch. The iPad will double as that and I don’t need moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush as there is no mirror so who cares? Hmm, tough one. Fresh clothes are a must, but so are wine and (to a lesser degree) food.

(Indecisive, isn’t she our Jenn! And not particularly practical. I’d like to see some of those Tweets written on a tummy filled with wine and no food! I think I have to take Answer 3 as ‘fresh clothes’. This is probably just as well for any lost bushwalkers who happen upon this campsite.)

Lily M: My book (being released by Escape Publishing in March) is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’?

The dogs. Jenn's brand of beautiful, bad breath and all!
The dogs. Jenn’s brand of beautiful, bad breath and all!

Jenn J: Hairy, bad breath, annoying at times, but a happy tail and unconditional love. My muse, Strawberry & Daiquiri.

Lily M: Can you tell me the best thing about House For All Seasons? 

Jenn J: The best thing about my book?
The cover.

Oh, you mean inside…story like…?
Hmm, the four characters, based on the four seasons, written in four parts. It’s like four stories in one all tied up with a whopping big secret. I’m inspired by the changing seasons. I love the contrast – and contrast makes for great characters and conflict. So I wanted to create four female characters as different as the seasons.

So, House for all Seasons is four separate journeys of the heart set in a small town with heart: Surviving Summer, Tall Poppy, Autumn Leaves and Wynter’s Way, in which readers witness both the unravelling of friendships and a tightening of family ties.

Jenn front cover

Lily M: Who would absolutely love it?

Jenn J: I once heard Jodi Picoult say:

“The best books straddle genres and attract a
variety of readers.”

That influences my writing, and with intricate themes that deal with family ties and friendship there is definitely broad appeal. The four-part approach has something for everyone.

I write what the business calls ‘commercial’ fiction. This means stories with broad themes and appealing to a broader audience (making the distinction from what is referred to as more ‘literary’ works). But a broader audience means more people reading my work and that, after all, is why I write. I believe my novels can comfortably sit on a shelf alongside more literary works, general fiction and contemporary romances.

So I’m not sure who would love it. But what I’d hope is that they remember the story, or a particular scene, and talk about it in much the same way people talk about a favourite movie.

Lily M: Can you share with us your favourite 250 words from the novel and tell us what makes it your favourite?

Jenn J: One Favourite Part?! I have lots! But for different reasons. One that makes me cry. One that makes me laugh out loud. One where I sit back and say “Did I really write that?”

For you, I have this one. I hope you enjoy it (and it’s not too long).

(Lily here: AHEM! Did you not see me say 250 words!)

House For All Seasons – Surviving Summer

‘Will said you were back in town,’ Jennifer continued. ‘He mentioned it in passing last night after picking me up and giving me the most beautiful bunch of flowers, then taking me out to dinner at, of all places, La Mystique restaurant in Saddleton, where we drank champagne and he made a toast, to me, of course. It was my birthday, you know.’

Was the woman still breathing? Sara began to wonder, having listened to the longest sentence in history. Maybe Jenny was cheerleader for the verbal Olympics these days. Despite the long-windedness of her monologue, the message could not have been any clearer if she’d tattooed it on that tummy next to the navel stud: Back off, Will’s mine.

‘Well in that case, happy birthday, Jennifer,’ Sara said, trying not to smile.

She should put the woman out of her misery, tell Jennifer she was here to close doors, not bang her head against them by chasing after a twenty-year-old attraction that was never reciprocated in the first place. Sara had moved on from Will a long time ago. She was interested to know how he was doing despite her unforgivable lack of contact and concern, but after fulfilling her obligation with the house, Sara would go back to Sydney. Staying permanently in Calingarry Crossing had never been a consideration. Never again would the town tie Sara down. By summer’s end she would be ready to face the world as a new woman, get a job and get used to how life was for her now. Telling Jennifer she need not worry about any competition from her was the right thing to do, but the devil in Sara decided to let the woman make her own assumptions. Jennifer was probably quite skilled at it.

‘Morning, boss,’ Jennifer chirped as she sashayed past Will on his way back over to Sara.

‘I think my arrival may have upset Jenny … I mean, Jennifer.’

‘Not sure I follow.’ Will wrinkled his nose the way he always used to, except for the time a Saddleton team bully broke it in a high tackle.

‘Jennifer? Your date last night? Wildly romantic dinner? La Mystique? Ringing any bells?’

‘Is that what she just told you?’ He chuckled in a sweet, sympathetic way. ‘Poor Jen. Her husband left her last year. Ran off with a backpacker working at the Saddleton pub. Yesterday was her first birthday alone and I thought a night out would be nice, cheer her up a bit. Besides, she’s a good worker and hangs around to help me close up. She never claims overtime.’

‘Oh, I’m sure she feels amply rewarded, though.’

Sara was teasing, but the pangs of jealousy jabbed a little too seriously hard. Why had there been no Will and no knight in shining armour to rescue Sara when her husband had run out, dumping her at the worst possible point in her life?

Don’t go there.

‘So, speaking of dinner, Ms Sara Fraser, how about you have it with me tonight?’

‘Oh my, La Mystique two nights in one week?’

‘Ah, actually, I was thinking more Le Café, as in here. It’s wages night so I’m slaving over pays after I lock up, but I can have Dom knock us up a meal before he finishes. When I’m done with the wages I can just bung the plates of whatever in the microwave.’

Bung whatever in the microwave!

Sara laughed so hard, the lack of control over her normally tightly controlled emotions surprised her.

‘What’s so funny?’ Will asked, doing a lousy job of keeping a straight face.

‘You—and you know it.’ She buckled her helmet and unhooked her sunnies from the neck of her shirt, preparing to leave. ‘I guess it’s microwaved whatever around six. I’ll be here.’


Lily M: Microwaved whatever at six sounds great to me! What a guy is Will. I’m lucky to have two Will excerpts. Thanks Jenn.

Jenn J: Thank you for having me, Lily.

Lily M: Hmm. You’re being nice now after getting 650 words by me hey? Okay then. You’re welcome!

To find out more about House For All Seasons, and about Jenn J McLeod,


And you can pre-order it here:

Plus it will be available in bookshops and wherever books are sold
(incl Big W, Kmart and Target) from March 1. Also e-book, Kindle & Kobo.

Let’s Start At The Very Beginning…

Jenn McLeod got me in a singing mood yesterday with her lovely introduction to my first author interview on her truly fabulous blog, Author Harvest. You can read it here, where, amongst other things, you will see wonderful photographs of otters and learn what an otter can do to an oyster before breakfast!

Many writers host other writers on their blogs. It’s a great opportunity to get to know writers and authors and what makes them tick (in my case, it’s men in skirts). I’ve been thinking of a theme for my own semi-regular author interviews and the working title for these is: From Left Field, with Lily.

In keeping with how my blog began, and remains, a story of this writer’s road to publication, I wanted my author interview questions to work along this theme.

Late last year, Jennifer Crusie wrote a post about a book she first started in 2002, called You Again, which has resurfaced several times during the last decade and has never been finished. She lists the first paragraphs for each time she tried to rewrite, and goes on to include reasons why she felt these starts did or didn’t work. I found it fascinating. One resonating line for me out of this was: Start Where The Damn Story Starts. I took her words to heart. I hacked out my entire opening scene to His Brand Of Beautiful. When I did this (and I did other things too), the first two publishers to see this new version both said they wanted to publish my book.

In the next few weeks, I’ve invited some of my bravest author friends to come and be part of From Left Field, with Lily. Some of the brave things they have to do is share older versions and original drafts of their opening sentence and compare it with what they have today (and what has made it to the printed, or e-page).

I thought it was only fair if I’m asking my author friends to “be brave” that I do this myself. So I’ve been hunting for as many versions as I could find of my story and its start. I am not the ‘keeper’ that Jennifer Crusie obviously is – most of my older stuff gets diligently ditched to the Trash.

My writing friend Kylie Kaden says writers get so hung up on making the perfect start, they put so much pressure on themselves the whole thing can start to sound so forced… I agree with her. Everything you read says the start and the hook is everything, (like EVERYTHING) and if it doesn’t work no one will read more than two lines before putting your book back on the shelf, cyber or otherwise. “Oh!” As Lucky Number 7 says in the Lotto ads: “The Pressure!!!”

So here are a few starts to His Brand Of Beautiful. 

August 2011 (The original, original). Heroine’s perspective.

He looked exactly like she’d expected he would look, and somehow, exactly how he shouldn’t. She hadn’t expected the suit and briefcase, for one; but she had expected the body and the biceps. Christina opened the door wider, the man, and the smell of rain and wet bitumen, slipped in.

September 2012 (Hero’s perspective). For most of my story’s life, it started like this (Hero outside in the car).

Tate Newell drummed his thumbs against the worn arc of the Jeep’s steering wheel and wondered what to make of the bunch of balloons tied to the wrought-iron gate. Fat purple and gold balloons they were, helium no less, gyrating at the end of silver strings like horny teenagers at a rave.

October 2012 (Villain’s perspective) This was a Prologue, set seven years previously. At this stage, Crit Partners weren’t seeing the ‘nastiness’ of my villain… so I felt like I had to build in some very early backstory via a prologue. I quite liked this prologue, one day I will post it in full. It wasn’t long.

Bulletproof, that’s how he felt. Bulletproof. With a big fat capital B.

Man, he loved this bike.

He rode through Tewantin, heading for the blue shine of the river, letting six-cylinders thrum, making his way back to Noosaville—the line of speed he’d sucked up his nose at Eumundi giving him that extra pop.

December 2012 (Heroine’s perspective). At least three people who, by this stage, had read HBOB all told me I was starting in the wrong place (and I’d ditched the prologue idea – because it didn’t set up a contemporary romance to me – it felt more like romantic suspense). In Jennifer Crusie’s wise words, I wasn’t starting where the story started! So I cut to the second scene, where we had Christina inside her house, spying on the dude in the car, wishing he’d damn well hurry it up. Which in essence – was going back to the original idea.

Christina Clay cracked her front door wider and craned her neck for a better view of the tank parked in her street. If she used every inch of the three-inch heels, plus a little extra bounce, she’d discovered a hole through the camellia leaves that let her see the driver’s side window and the dark head inside it. The problem was, holding the position gave her cramp, finding the position gave her cramp, and he’d been parked there five minutes. Her calf killed.

And that’s how it’s stayed…  (we will have to see what my editor makes of it though… there may yet be another incarnation.)

Any author friends feeling brave, give me a shout out in the comments, or check my email in ‘About’. If you don’t mind sharing some of your early drafts, I’d love to have you be part of From Left Field, with Lily. (There are other questions too and they’re not so tricky!). Jenn J Mcleod and Juanita Kees will kick this segment off soon.






The Next Big Thing (the real one)

Next Big Thing-1

I was one of four writers tagged by Susanne Bellamy and Jenn J Mcleod in the Next Big Thing blog tour. Jenn dubbed her motley crew, the DIGRITS, which (if you’re wondering and I’m sure you are) stands for Dang. I Got Roped Into This S***. Susanne invited me too, a little later, and I hope she will forgive me for linking back to this earlier story!

I know Cate Ellink has done her TNBG (Cate was also in my The Next Bog Thing and her BOG answers were as good as her BIG ones). You can read Jenn’s here too and Kerrie Paterson. And keep an eye on Alison Tait for her contribution.

Here are my responses to the questions.

What is the working title of your current/next book?

My current book, which will be published in the next few months (March is earmarked), is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Right now, I am struggling mightily with my next WIP, loosely called Fringe Benefits. I am procrastinating my arse off, rather than knuckling down to write it. I’m blogging. Reading other blogs. Facebooking. Watching way too much cricket (C’mon Aussie, c’mon) and I even wrote a short story a while ago, just so I didn’t have to get back to Fringe Benefits. And I liked writing the short story so much (I will enter it for RWA Little Gems) that I then threw my effort at a Novella for a Carina Press competition called Harleys & Holidays… So right now, that’s the one getting the BS&T (hmmm… written like that it looks like I mean, getting the bulls***… I meant, getting the blood, sweat & tears).

Where did the idea come from?

I’m not sure where His Brand Of Beautiful ‘came from’ exactly. I think you’d throw me in the ‘pantster’ classification. Pantsters never know where their books come from, right? I know I didn’t want an angst-filled romance where the characters dithered and faffed about and were too stupid to live. I wanted it to relate to the wine industry (most of my ideas are loosely connected there – that probably tells you more about me and my love of all things red, white and rose than you need to know)… and I had this rough idea that I wanted the beginning to involve a case of ‘mistaken identity.’ (Before I knew that was called a Trope, thanks Rachel Johns). Beyond that, I really had no idea.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romance for pantsters.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hugh Jackman would get the nod for Tate. There’s a lot of ‘Drover’ from Australia in Tate. Christina? Possibly Cameron Diaz (shorter though) in a hat and with a few extra pounds. Even Melissa George in a hat and a few extra pounds. Any woman in a hat with a few extra pounds. (Hey FOX, Universal – I could play her myself!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A man haunted by his past falls in love with a woman afraid of the future.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am thrilled to say a publisher will represent His Brand Of Beautiful, but all the paperwork isn’t finalized as yet, so I can’t say which one!

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

May 2011 I began writing it. I finished it fast and sent it out in about September of that year. The first rejections came fast too. They were a huge wake-up call and told me how much I didn’t know about creative writing. I grew much older and wiser in the next 14 months of rewrites and revisions and I will never forget the Saturday morning when I clicked open my emails and read one from a US publisher that said: “I really enjoyed your book and I would love it for our line.”

I was incredibly lucky that an Aussie publisher then told me they liked my book too. Deciding which publisher to go with has been my big dilemma. There are pros and cons to both. The legal side of things has been making my head spin. That’s something I think we could all use more of (by the way), there are so many great writing craft posts and tips, but it has been much harder to find contract and legal information. Once I’m more organized, I will try to shape up a post about what I’ve discovered on the ‘business’ route.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m sorry. I don’t know. I know that there are an awful lot of talented Australian writers writing ‘rural romance’. I don’t write that, as such, but it just happens that His Brand Of Beautiful includes an outback camping trip. I was lucky enough to completely freak out Jenn J McLeod & Rachael Johns the other day on Author Harvest and I won a copy of Rachael’s new book, Man Drought. So that will be my first Aussie read, and of course, I am saving myself to read House Of All Seasons.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ruebens. (Yes, the painter) and probably, Jennifer Crusie, though she would never know it. I think her writing is just amazing.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’d like to think it has a modern feel to it. My heroine knows what she wants in the world and she goes after it. The only problem is, she wants many things all at once and all of them, she tends to want… er… NOW. (No she’s not at all like me. I’m very gentle and patient!) People who like graphic design, branding and marketing may enjoy the subplots in the book. People who like wine might enjoy it too. That’s a pretty wide net, I’d reckon.

Thank you for getting through The Next Big Thing with me. If you are interested in what The Next Bog Thing was all about – check it out here! This Bog post was by far the most popular one I’ve ever done on this site, and that might say something about the people who post and visit here!

Binge Writing Works For Me

Have you heard of Plotters and Pantsters? If not, Google it. Maybe add some type of ‘authors’ or ‘writers’ keyword too, otherwise I’m sure Pantsters will, err, pull up all sorts of things, some rather eyelash-curling.

I am a definite Pantster. I’m also a binge writer. Bingeing Pantster. BP.

When the stars align for me, I write big chunks of stuff. Like here:

I think it’s because I so very rarely get a clear headspace to write. I’m a stay-at-home mum. Even the small bit of part-time/freelance work I do, I can do from home. And Home is where the Kids are. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are not conducive to quality writing time, unless they’re watching a movie or they’re asleep. Or they’re asleep watching a movie.

Yesterday, my husband took the kids on an outing to Victor Harbor with their Nan and Pop. They were gone about six hours. Six Beautiful Hours! Given everyone is in a goal-setting mind for the new year, my achievements yesterday went like this:

a) vacuumed New Years Day mess from house

b) emptied/restacked dishwasher

c) third draft Little Gems entry, after Critique Partner feedback. I think it’s nearly there.

d) wrote the opening to Chapter 2 of my WIP. It’s called Fringe Benefits but I think I’ll be changing that name. I have so struggled with getting in the swing of writing this. I have an entire first draft, but it’s literally the very first romance novel I wrote and MAN when I read it back after two years, it is SO very bad. So it’s taking big chunks of time that so far, I haven’t had. Anyway, I now have a reasonable first chapter, and I’m happy with this new draft of Chapter 2. Progress. About 2000 words of it. Tick!

e) Rachael Johns in a FB post alerted me to a Carina Press anthology with submission deadline at March 1; and publication in December 2013, (if your story is chosen for it). So last night, I worked on an idea for that. I finished Chapter 1 (first draft) of about 2500 words. I thought the idea of Harley & Holidays was intriguing, though the holiday must be ‘winter’ theme and that doesn’t work quite so well for southern hemisphere as what it would in the north. Winter holidays for me are about limited to the Queens Birthday Long Weekend in June. So I will have to work with that. Of course, March 1 is a pretty tight deadline, so we will have to see how it goes.

Just briefly on 2013 goals, here are mine:

a) Not to get cranky with the kids when they play bomber planes and Sumo wrestlers in my writing room

b) Not to get cranky with the kids, period.

c) Get His Brand Of Beautiful published! Christmas/New Year & holidays aren’t great times to be back and forth-ing with Publishers on contract negotiations… things are dragging out a tad.

d) Write a 18,000 – 33,000 word novella. (This is the Harleys and Holidays idea mentioned above.) I haven’t done that before. Note to self: Google how to write a Novella.

e) Enter Little Gems 2013 (Sapphires).

f) Finish Fringe Benefits (WIP) (whatever it ends up being called). Maybe enter it in the 2013 STALI.

g) Keep Critiquing with Kylie and Kathy.

h) Learn more about marketing. Hopefully when His Brand Of Beautiful is published, get involved in book blogging websites etc (Smarter writers than me tend to call this part of the business – whorganizing ones’ self. :))

i) Possibly join Twitter. I will really have to think about this one. Blogging and Facebook is pretty good for me right now. Can you set a goal that begins with ‘Possibly’? Hmmm.

j) And I guess I should mention: move house, find new house (buy or rent), meet new and old friends when we get to Margaret River. For me, the flight is now booked for 30 January. (Yikes, that Carina Press anthology deadline just gets spookier).

That’s about it for me. I’m going to get back to bingeing today. Yep, bingeing on Cricket. The Third Test against the Sri Lankans starts this morning!