The nose, knows – or does it?

I have always had a lousy sense of smell, and no, before you ask, I’ve never smoked cigarettes in my life.

I’m not one of those people who scent something, and are plunged back into another time or day, or memory of a loved one, or a place. Music does that to me. Music puts me right back to what I was doing the first time I heard, say, ‘Royals’ by Lourdes (current favourite). I was driving home from Mandurah after a lovely lunch with blogger/reviewer extraordinaire Monique Mulligan, coming home from the Romance Writers Australia conference in Fremantle this year.

Madonna’s Express Yourself, and Black Box Ride On Time, and the Lambada, are songs that all remind me of a certain nightclub in Crete, and a certain Queensland cane cutter who could move like Jagger on the dance floor.

I love trying to describe scents and smells in my writing, and I always notice how other authors describe them, and whether I think those descriptions are done well. I mean, aren’t there only so many ways to describe the scent of a beach? And how about all those romance heroes who  smell of ‘clean, warm, male’…?

Wine helps a lot. No! Not drinking wine as I come up with whackier and whackier ways to describe how my hero smells! 😉 Seriously, wine labels are wonderful founts for description of texture, colour and scent. My love of gardening and nature helps too. But how many people know what I mean if I try to describe my heroine’s skin as ‘pale cream, tinged with pink, like a White Wedding fuschia?’

I found this article in The Weekend Australian magazine:

Opulent, muscular, reminiscent of cigar boxes: sommeliers are famously loquacious when describing the nose of a good vintage. But now scientists claim all smells can be broken down into 10 basic scents and described precisely as percentage scores of each of eight categories (fragrant, woody, fruity, chemical, minty, sweet, popcorn, lemon) and two kinds of “sickening” odours (pungent and decayed).

Neuroscientist Jason Castro of Bates College in Maine, who led the study, says until now it has been an open question how many fundamental types of scent there are. It’s not clear how the results, published in the journal Plos One, relate to the workings of the nose, which contains 1000-plus chemical-sensor neurons; a unique pattern of neuronal firing is then translated by the brain into a smell.

It doesn’t help much, does it. I can hardly start describing my hero’s aftershave as 80% woodsy, 18% chemical, with 2% fruity now, can I?

I’ve been working on my golf romance, Fairway To Heaven. Here’s a little taste of how my hero smells.

I rise on tiptoes so I can put a hand against his incredible face. His whiskers brush my palm—silky smooth—not quite a beard, too long to prickle.

My breasts press his shirt, all the muscles of his chest beneath the fabric, hard and ripped. He smells of summer and salt, and as I shape my lips to his, that’s how he tastes. There’s a millisecond there where I think I smell tequila.

The Golf Pro clears his throat again, then studies his computer screen. “What can I say? Those clubs are perfect for you. I wouldn’t recommend we modify a thing.”

Brayden lifts his head from mine: “This guy has worse timing than me.”

It’s eight years since I felt those lips on mine and I don’t want to stop now. I could kiss him forever.

How important is the sense of smell to you? Do you notice description of scents in the books you’re reading, or writing? Are you one of those people who can sniff a rose and discern the components of a perfume factory? Or are you like me, lucky if you can make out ‘floral’ or ‘bouquet’ or ‘peaches’?

If there’s a description of scent in the book you’re reading now that you think works – I’d love if you’d share it in the comments.

Happy sniffing!

Forget the Facts, Go for Fantasy… Guest Post by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter celebrates her debut release, Moonstone Obsession, on October 18. It’s my EECarter400hpleasure to get in early and welcome her here.

Like me, Elizabeth Ellen Carter has a journalism, PR, and media background, and when we were talking about article ideas, this one kept recurring: as journalists trained to gather and report the facts, how do we write creatively? I know from personal experience how much I struggled! Please take a look at her wonderful thoughts on the subject below!

How We Write by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

There’s an old saying that every journalist is a frustrated novelist at heart. This may or may not be true.

What does seem to be true, is that when any child is discovered with a gift for creative writing at school, teachers and guidance officers promote journalism as a career option.

Creative writing versus fact gathering. Hmmmm – that might go a long way to explaining why you can’t believe everything you see (or read) in the media.

When Lily Malone asked me to pen a post about what being a professional writer has taught me about being a romance writer, I found it to be an excellent opportunity to take stock of how many different styles of writing there are – technical manuals, research papers, advertising copywriting, web site content, media release writing, news and feature article writing – and all of that before we get to individual styles one finds in writing novels!

So before your wildly talented would-be junior novelist gets shoved down the road of career opportunity, making a left turn down the nearest wordsmithing gig before taking a wrong turn through the dodgy part of town in Mediaville, then making a U-turn at PR Road and then back on to the career freeway towards Novel Town, let’s take a look at each of these writing professions to see whether any of them can help you pen a best seller:

Technical Writing

The Good: It will teach you how to share ideas succinctly.
The Bad: You’re stuck developing a linear narrative with no opportunities to surprise the reader.


“In some cases monetary limits apply to contents cover benefits provided under the Insured events defined above,” she breathed in ecstasy.

“Where no specific limit is mentioned,” he moaned thrusting in her again and again, “the maximum amount payable under contents cover is the sum insured noted on your policy schedule.’”

Research Papers

The Good: It will teach you how to thoroughly research for authenticity.
The Bad: Your story may get bogged down.


He grasped her hand as they ran across the sand, staying close to the sandstone mesas to evade their pursuers. Sweat soaked their skin, but the warmth of his hand in hers was a lifeline.

“Oh no!” she cried, tripping over a stunted cactus bush.

He turned and with his finger, lifted her trembling chin tenderly as she picked the dislodged needles from her bleeding thigh.

“Darling,” he said. “Needles are arguably the most important part of all cacti and are without a doubt the most obvious sign that a plant is in fact a succulent. The reason needles are so vital to cactus survival is because they protect the plant’s stem, where photosynthesis is performed and water is stored. Without this protection, cacti would still be suited for desert living because of their unique methods of surviving the extreme temperatures, but they would also be an incredibly popular source of food and water for desert animals.”

Advertising Copywriting

The Good: You can get to the heart of the emotion quickly.
The Bad: There’s not a lot of character development.


Freda eyed off the young tanned Greek bar man. She had only been in Thessalonica for three days, but she was sure he was flirting with her.

Feeling a buzzing at her side, she broke off eye contact and rummaged through her handbag for the phone.

At last the elusive lump of plastic came to hand. The screen was blank.

“Dammit! I’ve accidentally hung up on Guido again!”

An equally middle-aged woman seated across from her looked up and handed her the Alcatel One Touch 668.

“That’s why all my friends end up borrowing my Alcatel phone when they need to make a call,” she said. “Thanks to Southern Phone, I now have a mobile that has great features and is easy to use!”


The Good: You learn what a deadline is. There’s nothing like having a subeditor scream in your ear that your 500 word story has to be filed in 15 minutes.

The Bad: As a journalist you’re supposed to giving the readers all the facts from multiple points of view in the shortest length available. POV shifts happen within two paragraphs.

So, what is good preparation for authors?

Life – No matter what your day job, look for opportunities to talk to people and develop an understanding of human nature then you are well on your way to being able to tell a gripping story.

Read – If you want to be a great author, then read great writing in the genre that most interests you. Develop an understanding of why your favourite author is compelling.

Write – The story in your head is a block of fine marble, your words are chisels and hammer that you can wield forcefully or gently to create a sculptural masterpiece. But it will never happen until you pick up that tool.

See! That was fun wasn’t it! Love those examples. Thanks so much for visiting Elizabeth Ellen Carter Moonstone-Obsession400wand huge big wishes for the release of your new book! You can find more information about Moonstone Obsession below.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter is that writer who went through that dodgy part of town into Mediaville before making that U-turn into PR Road (by way of Marketing & Communications Street) and she is now on her way to Novel Town.

Her debut novel, a historical romance, Moonstone Obsession will be published on October 18 by Etopia Press.