Arrgghh! Book Reviews…

My debut book isn’t published yet (but it’s oh so close, hurry up March 1) and so far I think I’m doing a reasonable job of not stalking Goodreads and Amazon looking for reviews that have come from bloggers who have had access to an advance copy. (Your version of ‘reasonable’ however, may well differ from mine – just saying.)

I’ve always found people love to criticise. In my job in journalism and then communications, I’ve ghost-written more columns over the years than Casper. Usually when I’d ask whoever I was writing the column for to give me some article ideas, I’d get: “Oh, I’ll leave it up to you.”

Okay. Fine.

But the minute you put a proof or a draft in front of someone’s desk, man do they channel the mini-critic. Well, one woman I recall in particular (a lawyer) drove me crazy, put a written word on the page in front of her and all hell broke loose. Thankfully, she was in the minority.

It doesn’t matter if it’s words on a page, or paintings on a gallery wall, or a voice raised in song. Whatever a person does in life, once you put yourself out there, you open yourself to opinion and criticism. You have to suck it up. Take the good with the bad and above all, remember that you can’t please everyone.

I’m part of Susanne Bellamy’s All The World’s A Page blog this weekend and one of the questions Susanne asks is how I react to reviews (good and bad). I’ve only had three thus-far. 4 stars & two 3-star reviews. Only the 4-star reviewer chose to write an actual review and luckily, it was very nice.

“This was a very slow building story but I found myself completely captivated by the characters and plot right till the end. Both Tate and Christina have personal demons they must resolve in order to have any semblance of a loving relationship, watching this development was enthralling. Lily Malone paints an extremely colorful picture making His Brand of Beautiful jump off the pages.”

I will never forget this review!

But what if it sucked? What if she gave me one star and a figurative slap in the face with a wet tuna fish? I know I’d be down in the dumps.

I told Susanne Bellamy in my interview that what I hope to do is take the good with the bad, grow a thick skin. If there’s anything constructive in the bad review, take it on the chin, learn from it. AND MOVE ON!

There’s been a lot of private discussion about reviews in the Yahoo Groups I’m part of, with fellow Escape Artists (all published or soon to be published with Harlequin Escape).

Some of the best advice I’ve heard came from Rhian Cahill, she says:

“Here’s my advice. Ignore reviews. They’re not for you. They’re for readers who all have various tastes. What one reader doesn’t like another does. It’s like dinner time at my house, it doesn’t matter what I cook not everyone (8 of us) at the table will love it or even like it.
The best thing you can do for you, your writing and your career is to write the next book. So forget about the reviews (which are often written by people who are seeking their 15 mins of fame) and get writing!!

Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing has also written on this topic recently, and it all helps put a bad review in perspective.

So, four days from Publication Date and counting down, let’s see how long my peaceful attitude about reviews will last!

Somehow – seeing this promo from Escape Publishing has made launch day (this Friday) all the more real!

Australian Romance Readers Association


It’s another big month for Escape Publishing with nine great titles on offer. As an added bonus, many of the Escape authors are attending next weekend’s Australian Romance Readers’ Convention, with some great swag, and can tell you all about their titles in person. We look forward to seeing you there! (seriously looking forward to being there!)

Here we go:

His Brand of Beautiful by Lily Malone: an Australian-set contemporary romance about a woman on a mission, a man who wants nothing to do with her, and cases and cases of good quality wine.

The Portal by SE Gilchrist: A SF erotic romance short story set in the same world as Legend Beyond the Stars with a scavenger, a soldier, and a very sexy bath.

Makeover Miracle by Charmaine Ross: An intensely emotional contemporary romance about two best friends, one reality television show, a few life lessons, and one very hot producer.

Under the Hood by Juanita…

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Juanita Kees: Left Field With Lily

Juanita Kees is about to release her second novel, Under The Hood, with Escape Publishing,
which makes thumbnail[2]Juanita an Escape Artist, just like me! It will be lovely to have
His Brand Of Beautiful published with Under The Hood at Escape in the same month.

Juanita is a writer, editor and wonderful volunteer at Romance Writers’ Australia where she pulls together the informative bit of weekly news,
Cruisin’ The Blogs.

Somehow, it seems rather apt to me that a lady known for Cruisin, would come up with a title called Under The Hood. But could Juanita change her own tyre in a crisis? That’s the ten thousand dollar question! And no, I didn’t ask it!

Thank you so much Juanita 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.

Juanita K: Today I’m sharing from my debut release, Fly Away Peta. The funny thing: not much changed in the opening paragraph. The only change was it originally opened with the line of dialogue.

Peta tossed the cushion she’d been clutching back onto the sofa, irritated. ““No! Absolutely not! How can you even ask, Mark? My daughter is missing! This is not the right time for me to be out there pretending everything’s normal.”

Lily M: Man am I wildly jealous. I don’t know HOW many times I rewrote the first paragraph of His Brand Of Beautiful. It changed and it changed and it reverted and it changed and… need I say more! (Nightmare!)

Lily M: Share with us 8 lines from the top of page 88 (yes, I stole this idea, sorry!)

Juanita K: Peta’s heart felt as if it was being torn apart as she watched him absorb her question. Threatening tears burned at the back of her throat.

A shadow passed over Jaime’s face. What was she trying to say? That she didn’t want him around? “Peta, we need to talk. We need to sort this thing through. Now that this business with Paul is settled…” He broke off as Mark came into the room.

Mark’s expression was dark as he drew nearer the bedside. He placed an arm around Peta’s shoulder and hugged her quickly before releasing her again. “I’m afraid it’s not over yet,” he informed them.

Lily M: Mark is my favourite character in Fly Away Peta. I love how he looks after his sister.

Lily M: What is your greatest “lightbulb moment” in terms of Writing Craft?

Juanita K: Now there’s a tough one! Where should I start? Probably random POV switches that sneaked in when I wasn’t looking. I had to train my brain to spot them. I’m sure a few slipped through the cracks.

Lily M: What keeps you awake at night?

Juanita K: Ideas and scene planning in my head. I have to get up and write them down because I never remember them in the morning!

Lily M: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which would you pick? (You can assume there are magical 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

Juanita K: I’d choose the Kindle and I’d have: Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed (Anna Campbell), Cottage by the Lake (Karly Blakemore-Mowle) and The Viscount’s Pleasure House (Suzi Love) loaded ready to go. And I’d pick the battery-powered Nespresso and endless supply of Pods and George Clooney to make coffee for me and look like… George Clooney.

Lily M: Coffee before alcohol. That tells me much! And what’s this about George? From what I’ve picked up along the traps, I think you’re battling Jennie Brumley for prize-winning hubby in romance circles! I’ve been meaning to ask what Gavin got you for Valentine’s day? I know Ms Brumley got a bunch of (you guessed it) Lillies!

Lily M: My book is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner?

Juanita K: My husband can cook, clean and do laundry! I chose well.

Lily M: (I repeat: who needs George!)

Lily M: Can you tell me the best thing about Fly Away Peta? Who would absolutely love it?

Juanita K: I like to think Fly Away Peta has a little bit of everything. It has romance, intrigue, suspense and ‘real’ issues people deal with every day. The absolute best thing is the cover! I loved it from the moment I saw it.

People who are looking for a story that might not follow all the rules of category romance, will enjoy this story, I’m sure. It might also appeal to lovers of Australian rural romance being set in the small rural West Australian town of Williams.

Lily M: Can you share your favourite 250 words from your book (or WIP?) and tell us why they’re your favourite part?

Juanita K: One of my favourite scenes from Fly Away Peta is when Jaime sees Peta for the first time in ten years:

Dear God, he’d never thought it possible she could be more beautiful than he remembered. Tightness gripped his heart painfully. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. 

As he stood at the base of the stage staring up at her, she looked down at him and their eyes met and held. He heard her voice falter slightly as shock registered on her face.  She tore her eyes from his and moved away across the stage. Jaime felt his heart plummet from his chest down into his stomach. He didn’t want to feel this way! He should’ve stopped feeling this way about her after all this time. His lips tightened as he took one last look at her and strode from the hall.

* * * *

Peta stared down at Jaime’s departing back, her heart pounding. For a fleeting moment she’d thought her mind was playing tricks on her. Conjured him up as she sang the song she’d written for him. Panic seized her and she heard her voice falter. Desperately she tried to regain her concentration and banish him from her thoughts. She could not get caught up in the magic he weaved again! With difficulty, she fought off the waves of dizziness. She’d known it was a mistake to come back to this town. She’d avoided the place for ten years both dreading and anticipating this moment. 

As Jaime slammed through the rear door of the hall, she felt her heart shatter. Part of her wanted to leap off the stage and run after him, but she knew she wouldn’t.

Thanks so much Juanita for being part of Left Field with Lily.

To buy Flthumbnail[1]y Away Peta at Amazon, click here.

Or from the Publisher, Eternal Press, click here.

For more information or to connect with Juanita Kees, visit:




Everything’s Falling Into Place

Regular visitors will know that the beginning of 2013 has been filled with new starts for me.

We moved interstate three weeks ago to Margaret River in Western Australia (the perfect place for wine, surf and romance!); and in March, my debut book gets published with Escape Publishing.

All of which is good!

But I’m ticking a few more boxes at the moment:

  • I’ve found a rental house so we can stop squatting at my sister’s place. She’s made us enormously welcome and it’s been a great time, but it’s a VERY long holiday to have four boys under eight running around and three adults, for what will be close to six weeks. I’ve had a lesson in a lot of the ‘modern’ toys here, like Wii’s, iPods, ‘Trashies’ and ‘Skylanders’ – I can hear you laughing Kylie Kaden! My eldest boy is obsessed with Skylanders, particularly Tree Rex!
  • On the writing front, my current WIP (Goodbye River Road), is getting very close to being finished. This is my first attempt at a Novella, and I started it for a competition I saw with Carina Press called ‘Holidays and Harleys’. It is due to be submitted by March 1, and the timing was always going to be tight. I’ve actually been writing a lot here, particularly at night after the kids have gone to bed. It’s good… my writing lets my sister & her hubby get on with whatever they want to be doing, without feeling they have to make conversation with me… They have a lot of rooms here too, so I can set up my laptop in a quiet spot most of the time (once the four terrors are tucked away in bed). Many times, my wonderful sister even offers me wine as I write… ahhh, that’s bliss!
  • I have an entry into the Little Gems competition, Sapphires. I’ve seen the most evocative cover for RWA’s Little Gems this year, I think it’s gorgeous. I’d love if my entry, called Fairway To Heaven, makes the cut!
  • Last on the writing front, I am part of Escape Publishing’s promotion, A Love Story. 30 Escape authors contributing to a love story over 30 days. My entry is on March 5. I have 200 (or so) words to continue the story of Cormac and Laura… So far, she’s rocked up with the key to the wrong apartment and surprised a gorgeous man clad only in a towel; and they’ve already been shot at! You can catch up with it here.

A Love Story

And in all this, I’ve also started a ‘real’ job this week, an administration/reception job for a real estate company. At least, I thought it was reception/administration but then I got my name-tag and that says, sales and marketing co-ordinator… so I am a wearer of many hats!

And in March… those hats shall include, AUTHOR!

(Yes, it’s worth writing that in bold!!)

His Brand Of Beautiful – The Cover

9780857990303[1]Lo and behold!

I am woman. I have roared. I have written (what I hope readers
will think is) a dang good book.

Marketing guru Tate Newell and winery executive Christina Clay are immortal. They have their own cover. See it first here! Is it wishful thinking or does anyone else think he looks like Hugh?
I see Hugh!

Woo! Hoo-ugh!


His Brand Of Beautiful – Lily Malone

When marketing strategist Tate Newell first meets wine executive Christina Clay he has one goal in mind: tell Christina he won’’t design the new brand for Clay Wines.
Tell her: Thanks but no thanks. So long, good night.

But Tate is a sucker for a damsel in distress and when a diary mix-up leaves Christina in his debt, Tate gets more than he bargained for.

What does a resourceful girl do when the best marketing brain in the business won’’t play ball? She bluffs. She cheats. And she ups the ante. But when the stakes get too high, does anybody win?

Falling in love was never part of this branding brief.


His Brand Of Beautiful will be released with Escape Publishing in March.

I’m counting down the days. The Escape Artists have an exciting adventure planned for Valentine’s Day and beyond and I’m so proud and pleased to be part of this big ‘Escapade’… more details soon…

0213 VDay Escape Web TEASER

Up. Down. Flying around

Somewhere a long time ago, I think in Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus, I read that women are like waves. We go up. We come down. We have peaks and troughs.

I am less than one month from being able to add Published Author to my resume. This is wildly exciting, and it’s plain dang terrifying. Which one I pick depends very much on my mood.

I am lucky in many ways. In this last few weeks I have uprooted my family from South Australia and moved to the south west of West Australia (Margaret River) where we will now begin the next phase of our life. I’ve settled my son in his new school and I have my fingers crossed that yesterday I found a house that we can call our own (rental house)… my poor suffering sister has been putting up with the three of us, and if this rental house comes through, she has a few more weeks to wait yet until she can have her house to herself again.

Today, I start a new job. It’s a (hopefully) simple admin/reception job that will let me go to work four hours a day and be paid for it, and leave me full of energy and creativity for my writing… (Yes, did I ever tell you I’m a Glass-Half-Full kind of person?!) I like to hope for the best and cross my fingers.

So there’s lots going on. It’s a good way to be in the month before you have a book coming out I think. I don’t dwell quite so much on the things that terrify me, and I can concentrate my energy instead on the things that thrill me, like for example, an email yesterday that said I might see the cover of His Brand Of Beautiful today. (SQUEEE).

And like, an email from a publisher who I submitted HBOB to last year. While they’re too late this time around, they wanted to see the Full of HBOB, and it’s a publisher with whom I would have been rapt to be involved.

There was also an email from Escape Publishing’s marketing department talking about book reviews (ones I’d arranged, and ones they’d arranged) and saying they would send my book off for pre-release reviews today. (Double SQUEE).

And then it hits me: Pure. Unadulterated. Terror! This is REAL. My book will be in the public domain. There will be reviews (good and bad). People will find out I’m a complete writing imposter inside this journalist’s body. My father will find out. My mother-in-law might read it and her opinion of me (which is currently very high) will change forever!

Did I say my father might find out? He would never read it. My Dad and Kindle’s are on distant planets. That is one good thing!

So excitement and dread in almost equal proportions.

All around me in my writing cyberspace, author friends are celebrating or awaiting new releases. They are (I’m sure) going through these same emotions. Terror. Dread. Ups and downs. Flat spots and curve balls. They are Facebooking and Tweeting and Blogging and Blog Hopping and Cyber Partying. It’s great to watch and it’s wonderful to see Australian authors having incredible success.

I can’t wait for March; and yet this beautiful limbo is also in its own way, strangely appealing.