I think this writer’s unblocked

I have my mojo back! Yeah baby!!!

Four nights in a row I’ve written this week, after a very long hiatus. (A very well-documented long hiatus, given how writer’s block has dominated this blog of late!) I’m enjoying my words again, and I’m liking what’s happening on the page.

This is what has helped me the most:

a) Scrapping the story that didn’t want to be written (see previous post)

b) Reading a brilliant book. (I read The Yearning by Kate Belle. This book has put a hand in my stomach and squeezed hard. I loved it. I haven’t been so gripped by a book in a long while. Is it a sign of the times that two of the three books I rate highest in my ‘shelf’ this year are paperbacks, and only one is Kindle, yet the percentage of my reading these days is much more Kindle oriented?

c) The Aussies being crap at cricket. Because the Aussies are crap at cricket, the Ashes test finished almost two days early (really it was over about lunchtime on Day 2). I was so fed up with the shoddy goings on at Lords that I tuned out the game unless Warnie was the commentator (upon which I listened with rapt attention – I can listen to Warnie talk cricket for hours).

d) The end of the Tour de France. Yes – I spent hours over the last few weeks when I could have been wrestling with the story that didn’t want to be written, instead listening to Phil Liggett and watching men in tight lycra torture themselves on two wheels. (I could almost [but not quite] listen to Phil Liggett talk cycling all day. He even makes all that lycra okay.

The upshot of all this is: I’ve been able to put solid hours of writing together and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing. When I finished each night’s writing (tonight that’s because the battery in the laptop needs a recharge rather than that I have run out of words), I read The Yearning, and Kate Belle’s story further inspired me to write.

My new book is called Fairway to Heaven. It’s in first person, set in Perth. My heroine (Jenn) will soon move down south to Margaret River after having her heart broken by an arsehole (who else). And in a new place she’s going to rediscover how much she loves swinging a golf club. My Jenn (don’t call her Jennifer) is going to rediscover her mojo too. Quoting a little more Lord Of The Rings: “Jenn is going to wake up, and find she is strong!”

Thank you for putting up with me while I’ve moped on my blog. If you see me grizzle once in at least the next two months (about anything except how crap the Aussies are at cricket), please send me a cyber shake. Or should that be a cyber poke?

The Horse Is Dead… No More Flogging

For weeks now I have been trying to get excited about what would be my third manuscript. It’s actually the first MS I ever wrote, and for almost three years now, it’s been stuck in a folder called Story 1: Fringe Benefits.

I began it as a reunion romance and it spanned the two regions that I’ve called home in the last 40 years. It started in the vineyards at Margaret River and it ends in the vineyards of South Australia. It was to be a love story between, Seth, CEO and big kahuna boss of a bunch of vineyards and wineries across West Australia; and Quin, originally Seth’s employee. After Quin makes a monumental stuff-up… she gets fired for negligence and with her career in tatters, heads interstate. Seven years later, Seth’s company acquires the winery in South Australia to which Quin sells her grapes, and the two are thrown back together.

So there you have the first plotline I ever came up with, (except when I rewrote Bambi when I was 8).

The book has a jealous co-worker, a meddling mother, boss/employee, and an ‘engagement of convenience’… In fact, just about every trope you can think of minus ‘Secret Baby’…

I did get to typing ‘The End’ on this book and submitting it, and it was rejected quick smart, by both agents and publishers. I left it behind and went on a steep ‘craft’ learning curve on the way to writing His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride. Not only have I enjoyed success with both of those, I loved (LOVED) writing them. They didn’t come easy — no book comes easy. But I was always interested and motivated to work, work, work on both of those stories and make them as good as I could.

Sometimes I think ‘Fringe Benefits’ suffered from being the first book. I was writing something that I ‘thought’ would get published. The voice was all wrong and I knew nothing about craft and it shows.

I have wasted about two months, possibly three, trying to save the 55,000 odd words that I had for Fringe Benefits. I changed scenes. I deleted scenes. I rewrote scenes. I changed point of view and tense. It was third person point of view, past tense. My latest rewrite shifted to first person & present tense. I even changed the dud title, without settling on a new one in my mind. Not even the title came naturally.

But really, truly, I think the reason I’ve been procrastinating my butt off; changing it, deleting it, messing with it… it’s because the story stinks.

I read a brilliant post by Alison Stuart this week about what happens when a writer finds “the black moment”. Alison talked about trying to make her book (a square peg) fit the proverbial round hole. She talks about what happened when she realised her book was at the point of Mount Doom (it helps to read her post if you’re a Lord Of The Rings fan – but it’s not hard to get the gist).

I read Alison’s post and I thought: “This is me.” I had the ring on my finger, I had pulled it off and was holding it out over the lava pit of Mount Doom… but I couldn’t give it up. No matter how much my inner Sam pleaded with me: “Let it go…”

Last night, I let Fringe Benefits go. I’m not flogging a dead horse a minute longer.

I have a great little idea that I wrote for the RWA ‘Sapphires’ Little Gem competition this year. I had fun writing the story (3000 words), and I’ve been thinking about how to work with that story. It was called Fairway To Heaven and the ‘Sapphires’ related to a brand of golf clubs. Cobra Sapphires. I even like the working title!

So that’s where I’m turning my attention and if I’m not quite blogging so much in the next few months, hopefully it’s because I’m head down/bum up in a new story. Wish me luck!

In the words of Alison Stuart, I’m going back to Hobbiton to start my quest anew!

Avon Summer Reads – Lily Pad hop!

LilyM_lowres
Lily Malone – author of two books that came together SO much easier than my not-playing-ball WIP!

If you’re reading this, I’m still alive, and you’ve fallen into the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop!

This one started with Avon Romance, and the sport-loving (and wonderful) Iris Blobel invited me to be part of it.

A little bit about my WIP (Work In Progress)

My current WIP is very much a babe in the woods. It doesn’t even have its name yet, because the original name I’ve now decided I don’t like. It was called Fringe Benefits (it’s been that for 2 years). Now I’m leaning to Taking Me Slow or Taking It Slow… It is a reunion romance (contemporary romance) set between the two places of Australia that have been ‘home’ for me: Margaret River, and the Adelaide Hills. Once again, it has a loose wine industry background tying my characters’ lives together. My hero is Seth (he’s based on Timothy Oliphant’s character of Seth Bullock in Deadwood) and my heroine is Quin (don’t ask me why/how she got her name, I just like it).

This book is being DANG difficult to write, and isn’t playing ball. It started out in third person, and currently I’m rewriting a new draft in first person. It is just giving me all sorts of trouble and if it doesn’t pull its act together, I will NEVER write it! (Please, may my threat work, you bloody book, you!). *mutters & glares darkly at keyboard*…

The blog hop questions:

1) When writing are you a snacker? If so, sweet or salty?

Salty. Kettle sea salt chips are my vice (along with champagne). But that said, I don’t snack when I write. It’s impossible to type and snack and I can’t stand a greasy keyboard. (See this post here for more about greasy keyboards and food in my writing!)

2) Are you an outliner or someone who flies by the seat of their pants? Are they real pants or jammies?

Absolute seat of the pants, and they’re not jammies. I’m a nightie kind of girl and my nighties have patterns of icecream cones; champagne glasses clinking; and multicoloured hearts.

3) When cooking or baking, do you follow the recipe exactly or wing it?

I cook like I write. One of the reasons I make muffins that my husband says “are like hockey pucks” is that I refuse to follow a recipe. I like cooking but I don’t like getting so pedantic about following a recipe that if I don’t have an ingredient I won’t try the recipe. I think like ‘good writing,’ ‘good cooking’ comes with experience. Years ago I’d be more inclined to follow a recipe to the letter. Now I’m more confident in my kitchen and I can wing it. Luckily I have more success than failure (except with muffins).

4) What is next for you after this book?

Gad. This book is such a pup. Right now I don’t know what’s next. ‘Next’ is years away… but I think it may not be romance, and it may not be wine (like my two current releases His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride). And it may not have a HEA. We shall have to see!

5) Last Question…on a level of one being slightly naughty to ten being whoo whoo steamy, where does your book land?

It won’t be erotica, but it will be steamy. It involves a lot of fantasy sex. So I’d say 8-9.

What is the recipe you’ll be cooking this summer!?

Last year great friends of mine introduced me to a new potato salad, and I made this heaps in summer 2012-13. I love it because it uses heaps of parsley. So it’s a potato salad with steamed potatoes, 2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, sour-cream/mayo/natural yoghurt (I use whatever dressing base I have); olive oil, a wisp of balsamic vinegar, maybe some shallots if I have them, and lots (like a really big bunch) of parsley from the garden.

I’d serve this with steaks that hubby would do on the barbecue; or freshly caught fish.

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I have invited Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees, Alissa Callen, Cate Ellink and Elizabeth Ellen Carter to join in the hop, and once they get their recipes up, you’ll be able to click on their names to see what they’ve got cooking!

Thanks Iris Blobel for the invitation!

Coming Out Of The Crazy Zone

There was a brilliant article in the July Hearts Talk (the magazine produced by Romance Writers Australia). It was written by Annie Gracie and amongst a lot of other sensible information, she said:

“Stop searching for reviews or comments on your books. It can drive you crazy. That book is finished and in the public arena. It’s gone. Collect a couple of good quotes for your website and get on with the next book.”

2013 has been such a ‘crazy’ year for me. I’ve had my debut book published; I self-published my own novella; I’ve moved interstate and I’ve started a new job. In amongst this I joined and explored social media – blogging, Facebook and Twitter. Now hubby and the family and I are house-hunting, looking for a block of land on which we can build Dream Home No. 3.

After The Goodbye Ride was published, I thought it should be easy to get back to a long-left draft of what was the first manuscript I ever wrote, and I’ve been so frustrated in the last eight weeks that I have got absolutely nowhere with that title. Actually, I’ve gone less than nowhere, I’ve gone backwards. My delete key has been in overdrive.

I’ve spent time doing everything possible except writing my book. I’ve watched The Voice; Wimbledon; Rugby; AFL; NRL and now I’m into The Ashes (cricket for any international visitors not in the know)… I’ve written guest posts, guest blogs, paid-freelance blogs, and a short story specially for the lovely Juanita Kees… I’ve enjoyed all these things, but in the end for eight weeks, I’ve done everything but spend quality time with my own characters in my new story.

But I think there is light at the end of my tunnel. The ‘voices’ of my characters are coming back. I’ve had a new idea about the heroine and her vulnerability, and how my hero is going to fall in love with her all over again. Quin and Seth haven’t been talking to me, but they’re chatting now. Usually after midnight (curse them).

Here is Annie Gracie’s other resonating sentence:

“Your head is where your stories come from. Stories need a peaceful, quiet place in which to grow.”

I’m going to give Seth and Quin a scenic glade of my brain. There will be a picnic blanket. Wine (of course), crackers and cheese and some yummy Kabana sausage. It will be sunny and the ground will be dry under the blanket, and soft.

That’s my happy place. Once I find it, I’m sure the words will come.

The Goodbye Ride – Free for 2 days

It’s my birthday, but you get the present!

On July 5 & July 6, (timezones willing) my contemporary romance novella, The Goodbye Ride, will be free exclusively at Amazon through the Kindle Select program. You can get your copy here with one click.

If you enjoy it,  come on over to my Facebook page, like my page, and leave me a comment, I’d love to hear from you. http://www.facebook.com/lily.lilymalone

Lily Malone Promo pic