If you’re visiting this page as part of the Coastal Romance blog hop, welcome. Good luck with the $100 gift voucher major prize, plus the 26 e-books to be won. Please navigate back to the Coastal Romance blog (link is at the end of this post – or click the competition icon) to gain your entry points from visiting me, via the rafflecopter. And to see more blogs from great Australian and international coast romance writers.
My new (very) contemporary romance, Fairway To Heaven, is set in the coastal playground of Busselton in South West, Western Australia, alongside the smooth and shallow blue waters of Geographe Bay. In the book, I describe Geographe Bay as “curving sweet as a wine glass, mile on mile of sand the colour of white pepper, strewn with dry strands of brown seaweed as if the mermaids cut their hair.”
I know Geographe Bay well. I found the perfect beach shack for Fairway on a drive there not so long ago when my family and I went to Busselton for fish and chips on the beach. In Fairway, my heroine, Jenn, flees to the sanctuary of a beach shack, owned by her best friend’s family, after she discovers her boyfriend (Golf Pro Jack) bonking one of his lady golf students in a fairway bunker.
Geographe Bay’s waters are molten smooth, but the renowned surf beaches of this region are not far away. These have names such as Redgate and Boodjidup, Surfers Point, North and South Point, Left Handers, Cobblestones, Guillotines, Gallows.
Did you ever wonder why some of these names are so full of doom?
It is a beautiful coastline, perfect for setting a romance, but it can also be tragic. That’s what I wanted to write about today. The beach isn’t always romantic.
Just last month, a surfer was killed in a fatal shark attack at Gracetown. As I write, there is an argument raging between people who want to see the Great White Shark taken off the protected list and possibly culled, and those who say when a surfer or diver enters deep waters off this coast, they are entering the shark’s territory, and the sharks should be left alone.
It isn’t just predators in the surf that pose a risk to surfers, divers, and swimmers here. These surf breaks are some of the most challenging and fierce found anywhere in the world. In another of my books I’ve described the waves at Margaret River as: “Massive mountains of water that can toss a man like a sock in a washing machine.”
There are many stories of near-misses in the Margaret River surf. My husband has had a few. In his younger days he got caught way out of his depth when some of his new mates in this region (not knowing he was an inexperienced surfer) took him to some of these big, gnarly breaks. Lucky for hubby, he realised he was in over his head, and made it out.
Others haven’t been so lucky. I know people who have had life-threatening injuries from the power of the surf here. Years ago, a teenage boy lost his life at the Margaret River main break, pinned under the reef by waves and being unable to find his way back to the surface.
So this coast is beautiful, and it is not a place for the faint-hearted. Passion rolls in the waves that crash against rocks and shores. Drama hides in every rock-pool, and every reef.
Fairway To Heaven has some of this passion, danger and angst. It is about one woman’s very personal struggle to reclaim her sexuality and her independence as she tries to begin a new life with her son, on a stunning Busselton beach.
And yes. It’s about golf. But not as we know it.
Fairway To Heaven releases on January 8, 2014. Please like my Facebook page or follow my blog for news. You can see the first 1000 words as an excerpt by clicking here. And if you want to add it to your ‘Want To Read’ shelf at Goodreads, you can do that here.
Now! To business. If you’d like to win a copy of Fairway To Heaven, please leave me a comment about which world sports person you think is best looking (or sexiest), and why. I was always a bit partial to a golfer called James Nitties, and I think it’s because he has something Vin Diesel about him. (Trust me – no one else can see it!)
I’m planning all sorts of prizes as I lead in to the release of Fairway. One of these is going to be a lovely gift pack filled with prizes such as books and goodies from the Margaret River wine & tourism region where I live, and where Fairway is set. For *goodies* think books, food, chocolate. And it’s up for grabs for anyone who shares (Facebook or Twitter or blogs) news of my book. Just tag me in your posts and I’ll know who you are!
There are some wonderful authors involved in the Coastal Blog Hop. Please take the time to visit their posts each day. Good luck in the grand prize draw – and whatever you’re reading – may it be coastal!
2013 has been a busy year for Australian authors Rachael Johns and Juliet Madison. Rachael released two rural romance novels Man Drought and Outback Dreams this year, to follow up her 2012 best seller, Jilted; while Juliet released her debut romantic comedy, Fast Forward in February.
These two ladies write fast! In addition to writing the full length novels I mention above, both have also written and released novellas this year. Rachael’s new 32,000-word novella, The Kissing Season hits e-book shelves in December. And for Juliet, the latter part of 2013 has seen back to back novellas released with her publisher (and mine) Escape Publishing.
As for little old me – I’m nowhere near as prolific as either of these two. The sum total of what I’ve managed in 2013 is the 32,000-word novella, The Goodbye Ride, and my soon to be published 80,000-word contemporary romance, Fairway To Heaven.
With all of us launching new titles very soon, I thought it’s a wonderful opportunity to get together, to chat about why we write a mix of novels and novellas.
Rachael, Man Drought was 110,000 words, and your ‘Outback’ series ranges from 95,000 to 110,000 words. Juliet, Fast Forward was 75,000 words and the two novellas both under 20,000: so which do you prefer writing, novels or novellas, and why?
Rachael: If I had to choose I’d say novels. I like being able to delve deeper into characters and get more of a meaty plot going on. Also I tend to naturally write long. I always aim for between 90-100k in my Single Title novels and often go over and when I sat down to write The Kissing Season I was aiming for 18-25k and it came in at 32k. It could have been longer. For me, I think novellas are great to let me explore a different kind of setting or type of story and have a break between my rural books.
Juliet: I’d also say novels and for the same reason, they allow you to really flesh out a story and create a more thorough and realistic character arc, which means the reader will be more invested in the characters and story. Having said that, I love that a novella allows me to develop a story idea that might not do so well in a longer format, and because I suffer from idea overload it means I get to write more stories overall and get them out of my head!
Lily: His Brand Of Beautiful was 80,000 words, as is Fairway To Heaven. Goodbye Ride was shorter. I like writing both and I agree with Rachael about how novellas can easily get longer. When I first sent The Goodbye Ride to my critique partners, they asked so many questions of me about the characters, that in no time it had grown from 18,000 words to the 32,000 where it ended. I toyed for a while with writing a follow-up to it, a M/M based on the two male characters who meet right at the end. That might have been interesting. (Could still be interesting one of these days!)
You are both prolific authors (in my opinion), how quickly can you write when you get going? What do you count as a good writing day, in terms of words on the page?
Rachael – Until I look back on what I’ve achieved I don’t actually feel very prolific. Man Drought took me about four months for the first draft and then probably another month and a bit all up to get through the various editing stages. I think I wrote The Kissing Season in about a month and the edits have been very minimal. The fastest book I’ve ever written is Outback Blaze (out May 2014) – I wrote this in 2.5 months, while also doing edits on another book. This occurred because there was a little mix up with deadlines but it was great to see how much I could actually write when I put my mind to it. Saying that, ideally I’d prefer to have between four to six months to write each full length novel.
Juliet: I average about 1500 words per hour.
Lily: OMG – my jaw just hit the floor!
Juliet: When I set aside time to write, I don’t do anything else. I set a timer and sprint. I’ve found this to be the most productive method for me. When I edit or plot however, I often check Facebook and Twitter periodically so I’m not as productive then! A good or ideal writing day for me would be to get 2000-3000 words on the page, which I edit later on. This doesn’t always happen though, some days I don’t get to write at all, but I do my best to work around other aspects of my life!
Fast Forward took about four months to write, and of course my two novellas were much less because of the short word count, maybe about two weeks. I think Starstruck was about 3 to 4 weeks all up because I did a lot of research about the Seattle area. My most recently completed manuscript, the 84,000 word February or Forever (releasing in Feb 2014) I completed in a record 27 days! Not consecutive days, I think all up it was just over two months of actual time passing, but the number of days I worked on the book was 27. I didn’t sleep much.
Lily: I started Fairway To Heaven in July. I’m hopeful of having it published before Christmas. We shall have to see if I make it. I try to write every week night after my kids are in bed (unless Sons Of Anarchy is on TV, or we have Justified DVDs on order). This usually gets me about 2-3 hours. Unfortunately some nights it’s not great quality hours as I might have had a bad day, and just be too darn tired to write.
Do you revise as you go, or are you ‘get that first draft down however crappy it might be’ writers?
Rachael: I write a pretty fast first draft but I kind of revise as I go. When I sit down to write each day I always read the last scene or chapter to get back in the zone and I tweak and edit as I go. I actually don’t do major rewrites until an editor tells me to because I HATE rewriting.
Juliet: I’m the same. I prefer writing over revising. I write a fast first draft, but I also do basic editing as I go. Once I’ve finished the day’s writing I usually edit before the next writing session. Then when the manuscript is finished I do a couple more rounds of editing.
Lily: I’m dreadful at just putting the words down. I’m a constant reviser. I hope that pays off on the flip-side, without too much re-writing being required. I’m a journalist by trade and have edited magazines for years and years. I think this helps me edit my own work and I’ve learned over the years how to kill my darlings. (Stabbing them is always good.)
What are the triggers that make you decide whether a book has a full-length capability, or might be a shorter novel?
Rachael: It’s usually down to my reason for writing. I’ve only written one novella and that was an experiment in a way. I wrote my novella in the beginning because I wanted to submit to the Carina Press call out for holiday submissions for their anthology and the world limit was 35k. I also wanted to see if I could do it, cos as I said before, I’m not that great at writing short. So I guess for me, it’s a matter of thinking about where I might place this novel, who might publish it, how and why. I’d love to write at least one novella a year now because I think they can be a lot of fun to read and write and a good exercise in writing fast and getting a project done!
Juliet: For me, the story idea always comes first, and then I’ll decide whether it needs to be a novella or novel. For I Dream of Johnny, although there was the potential to make it a longer story, I ultimately thought it would be best to be short, sharp, and snappy. The concept (getting a Geek God instead of a Greek God) could have become tiresome if it was developed over a longer format. With Starstruck in Seattle, again there was potential to develop the story further, but I decided I’d rather have a series of short, sweet stories with different characters but linked by the recurring character of Lulu the Love Angel, so I could focus more time on writing the stories that I know need to be full length.
Lily: It was actually a comment by Rachael Johns on Facebook or her website that was the catalyst for me writing The Goodbye Ride. I wrote it for that same Carina Press anthology, Holidays and Harleys. That book just came to me, I think at 32,000 words it was a solid story from start to finish – though as I mentioned, I did toy with developing more of a story based on the two gay characters.
Let’s talk turkey…
Which sells best for you (so far?) And if you broke it down to word length vs return – do you know which is working out best for you?
Rachael: Are you asking me to do maths? Cos let me tell you now that is just NOT going to happen! Okay… let me try and analyse the question a moment. By far my most productive books (profit-wise) have been my rural romances (full-length novels with Harlequin Australia). The majority of my sales are still in print and I found that my Carina Press digital-only sales increased once I had a print book out. I think those who’d found me through print, then went looking for what else I had out there and bought the digitals. My novella is only releasing in December so have no idea how it’ll go, but as it is shorter in size and only digital, my guess is it may not sell as well as my longer novels. Please folks, buy it and prove me wrong. I think to build a successful career as a writer, it would be a good idea to put both types of stories out – novels and novellas. The shorter length books are a nice way to give your loyal readers a little something between longer novels, which (at least with traditional print publishers) are generally scheduled further apart.
Juliet: Ditto on the maths. I’ve only been published a short time so I don’t know for sure yet (the length of time between when a reader buys a book and when the author gets paid is LONG). But so far it seems that my full length novel Fast Forward might be selling the best. Is this because of the story or because most people prefer full length books? I have no idea. I’ll know more in another year or so when the books have been out for longer!
Lily: Yes ladies – I asked you to do maths. We’re all writing brains here, so I hate maths as much as the next author! For me, The Goodbye Ride has sold (or given away) more copies than His Brand Of Beautiful, which is all I have to measure against. The one thing for me that is slightly different to you is that The Goodbye Ride was self-published using Amazon Kindle Direct and so I’ve been able to do free promotions with it, and I’m sure these have helped sales – as they certainly helped me get more reviews for that book. My goal with Goodbye Ride was to get another Lily Malone book in the marketplace soon after His Brand Of Beautiful, and certainly I think Goodbye Ride helped boost sales of my debut book. In the various free promotions I’ve done, I would have ‘given away’ thousands of books. Of course, not everyone reads their free books! Certainly I have a heap of them on my Kindle, and I’ve now lost track of why I clicked to ‘buy’ or ‘download’ them.
What do you think your fans prefer to see from Rachael Johns & Juliet Madison – a new novel, or a new novella?
Rachael: This is kind of only a prediction cos as I said above the novella is only new but I’d say the novel wins hands down. Most of the readers I’ve talked to think the longer the better. They love getting consumed by the world of the novel and I’m scared they’re going to wish my novella was longer.
Juliet – Some of my novella reviews say they wish the story would continue, so I’d say novel too. But a lot of people like that they can read a novella in one sitting, on a lunch break, commuting, or before bed so they get to experience a complete story in a shorter amount of time. The good thing about novellas is I can write and publish one fairly quickly, so there is less time to wait between stories, whereas with novels the reader has to be more patient!
Do you write what you want to write… or, if fans of say, Man Drought or Fast Forward asked you to write a story about other characters that feature in your book, would you let that guide you to writing perhaps, a novella about those characters?
Rachael: To an extent I try to write books that speak to my heart and my passions in some way, but saying that at the moment, most of my readers are expecting rural-set books and I’m trying to give them what they want. I’m definitely open to feedback from readers. In fact, I had a lot of emails and FB messages after my first book Jilted came out – people asked what happened to Flynn and Ellie after the book and wanted to go back to that world. To me Flynn and Ellie’s story was finished but I wanted to give the readers what they wanted, so I’ve just contracted to write another book in the town where Jilted was set. This story is about Lauren (the nasty nurse) in Jilted and it’ll be interesting to see how readers react to me reforming someone not many people liked. Look out for The Road To Hope (Lauren’s story) in 2015!
Juliet: I do focus on writing what I want to write because I think for a book to be authentic and enjoyable the author needs to ‘want’ to write it. Now that I’m published though, I am also looking at being able to provide more of what my readers want, but first and foremost it has to be a story or genre I’m passionate about. I write romcom, women’s fiction, and also YA, so I do need to be strategic in my approach in order to make sure I’m not spreading myself too far and wide.
Lily: If anyone sent me a whisper that they’d love to see me write a M/M novella about Ben & the biker dude he meets at the end of The Goodbye Ride, let me know! 😉
Do you think novellas are only ever going to appear in print if they are part of an anthology? Are they currently stand-alone e-book prospects only in your opinion right now?
Rachael: Yes, I think so. The shortest ‘novels’ I’ve seen in print are Mills & Boons, which start at around 50k words. But I think times are constantly changing so who really knows! The future is exciting!
Juliet: I’d say so. Digital books are easily accessible and novellas are great for this format. Plus, if in print they would probably look more like a booklet or children’s books as many aren’t long enough to have a spine!
Lily: Pretty sure they’ll only be e-books, but one of the beauties with e-books is you can write as short as you like. This is such a new era of publishing.
As readers yourselves, what would you spend on a novella from a favourite author? (Let’s say the novella is around, or less than 35,000 words)
Rachael: If it was a favourite author I’d stretch to about $5 for a novella, but I wouldn’t pay more than $2 on an unknown. I think in Australia readers are still paying quite high prices for all e-books (novels or novellas) but the prices we pay, people overseas would shirk at.
Juliet: I’d think twice if the novella was above $5, as many full length books are below this price. Having said that, if the story was one I just HAD to read for some reason, I’d probably one-click it anyway!
Lily: I’m a cheapskate. I do check page lengths on Amazon and I think I have a reasonable sense of when something’s a novel or novella. I don’t like the thought of disappointing anyone so for me, one of the worse things you could do is have a reader buy your book anticipating a full-length story, and you then give them a short story (and therefore a bad experience). I must say, you both give me heart mentioning $5 as a ceiling for buying a novella! I’ve heard people say “a novella should never have a 2. at the front of the price. Meaning $1.99 would be the highest they’d pay.”
Thanks ladies for joining me here today, it’s been fab!
These are two authors certainly worth checking out online.
Both these books were lovely. Hindsight really captured my attention. It is the first chic-lit book I’ve read in a very long time. From the minute Sarah Belle began, I loved her voice, and I loved her story about a dedicated career woman forced to make choices between business and family.
This is a paragraph I highlighted on my Kindle from Hindsight:
The smell of oldness is released upon opening the envelope; the musty smell of time that sits in the back of your throat, stains my fingers. I unfold the letter, and the perfect penmanship of yesteryear is revealed in neat rows of cursive script, slanting to the right in black ink. My heart races and a slight tremble overtakes me as it sits in my hands, willing me to read it. Suddenly, all strength escapes me and I move to fold it up and bury it back in the drawer, deeper this time so that its cries won’t be heard quite so loudly. But what would be the use of that? It will still be there, hanging over me like a noose.
How amazing is that?
Hearts On Hold is a beautiful story too. Lots of suspense, and given I like the archeological/mythical scenario (it takes me back to my early Indiana Jones crush), there was lots in the Maltese island of Gozo to keep me entertained. This book also has an absolutely be-jizzling sex scene slap bang in the middle that made me want these two to get over their various hang-ups and jump back in the sack!
And Alison Stuart’sGather The Bones. What can I say on this one? Wow. Wow. Wow. I am not even halfway through, but I am completely hooked. I remember reading one of this author’s blog posts about how she mixes genre, and the pros and cons of this for an author. Gather The Bones is historical, with a paranormal twist, and it’s absolutely stunning.
Holidays brought back one of the great strengths and advantages of a Kindle – the ease of transporting multiple titles without breaking my luggage allowance. Unfortunately, with two children, I didn’t do much reading on the plane. But I made up for it on dry land, in between a game of golf (for research purposes on Fairway To Heaven you understand) and multiple glasses of wine!
Whatever you’re reading right now, I hope you’re enjoying it.
I am SO close to calling my new contemporary romance, my golf story, Fairway To Heaven, finished. So very close. I had hoped to get to The End before family Malone went on holiday… but I haven’t quite made it.
I am, however, way ahead of schedule. I didn’t think I’d be finished till February.
In the last week, the book has been in the hand of fellow authors, Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees, and the very soon to be published with Losing Kate (Random House), Kylie Kaden. They’re Beta reading for me, and they’re enjoying Fairway thus far.
With their suggestions, I’m almost halfway through edits. Chapter 13. It’s so tempting to take the laptop with me on holiday, however, I think this way also may lie divorce… (joking).
So I’ll be away for a few weeks, but I’d like to leave you with the first 1000 words of Fairway To Heaven—my golf romance about lust in the bunkers and love on the greens.
Enjoy. Stay safe and happy, and I’ll be back in touch soon.
Cheers, Lily M
Fairway To Heaven – Chapter 1. By Lily Malone
Jack Bannerman likes the way my butt fills a pair of skinny jeans. I wish he didn’t. There’s a denim seam stuck in vaginal purgatory and no matter which way I squirm, it doesn’t want to budge. I’m getting squeezed in places no woman should ever be squeezed.
If Jack says I don’t make an effort, after today… I’ll. I’ll. I don’t know what I’ll do, but it won’t be pretty.
Spying a gap in the traffic, I gun the Corolla across the dual lanes. The car splutters, hops a bit, and shoots between the polished black gates of Sea Breeze Golf Club, into the shade of a solemn line of sheoaks.
They’ve changed the layout since I was here last, but that was months ago, no, longer than that. I haven’t hit a golf ball here since I was pregnant with Seb and swinging a club around my stomach was like swinging round a basketball.
There are speed bumps on the driveway now, humps big as whales, and I reduce speed. Who would have thought an exclusive golf course would attract your average hoon? They’re a conservative bunch here.
The Pro’s parking space—Jack’s designated space—used to be under the spreading branches of a London Plane Tree. Now his Subaru WRX is in a different spot, parked nearer the Pro Shop, divided from the bitumen and the billiard-table lawn by a low white-painted post and rail fence. Afternoon sun glints off the WRX’s metallic blue paint.
All the office-bearers have reserved places. Secretary. Treasurer. Captain. The only slot, other than Jack’s that’s currently filled, is President.
I’m not surprised the course isn’t busy. Jack says Thursday afternoon is dead. It’s late-night shopping in Perth and most of the members are under instruction to hurry home so their wives or girlfriends can hit the malls. That’s why Jack chose Thursdays for lessons, because the course is quiet.
The dashboard clock says five-thirty and a thrill rushes through me. I’ve got so much planned for tonight. Champagne on ice, Jack’s favourite dinner in the oven, and Sebastian is at Emmy’s for a sleepover.
If he wants to, Jack and I might hit a few balls down the twelfth, for old time’s sake. Though I’m hardly dressed for golf.
I cruise past a SAAB, then a Mercedes, turn the corner and double back, pass a couple of four-wheel-drives, one with the personalised license plate screaming HOLE IN 1. Who would buy a number plate like that?
Aiming the Corolla at a spot under the plane tree, I come in a little too fast. The tyres bump the kerb and recoil, and I wonder if that’s enough to get me kicked out for hoon behaviour.
I clamber out into the scent of cut grass, hot bitumen, and bore water from ticking sprinklers now splashing the greens, and as I shove the key in my pocket, I take a subtle second to ease denim from the centre of my butt.
The Pro Shop nestles under the right-hand wing of the club house. Unlike the more expansive glass and brick building, it’s got a skillion roof, and it’s only single story. The main path continues straight but I detour right, wobbling a little in Emmy’s Lady Janes as I circle a bed of bright red geraniums, orange pokers, and yellow daisies.
From the Pro Shop, I know Jack can see the carpark. Has he seen me? He could hear me—these heels would wake the dead.
I glance toward the Pro Shop door, half expecting Jack to be there, all lean and gorgeous, ready with a smart comment and a sexy smile.
The sign on the front door is flipped to Closed.
Shoving my sunglasses to the top of my head, I walk up to the Pro Shop door until my nose touches the glass. Nothing moves inside. I grab the door handle and push, then pull, and it doesn’t budge. Only then do I agree with what the sign already told me.
Pro Shop’s closed.
Two or three strands of blonde hair get yanked out as I lift the sunglasses from my head and put them back on my face.
Sometimes when he isn’t busy, Jack will take a bucket of balls up on the driving range. There is two-hundred metres of fairway lined with thick bush, not far from the Pro Shop. He takes a radio, and if a customer comes there’s a button on the door that says ‘press for the Pro’.
I don’t want to press his button. Today, surprise is the key.
The course opens before me, green, fresh, undulating like sheets in a breeze. It makes a wet sponge beneath my feet and in five steps, cut grass glues to Emmy’s shoes.
Kicking them off, I hook a finger under the heels.
The crack of someone teeing-off the fifteenth makes me look that way, but it’s not Jack. Two older men, silver-haired and bent, tuck their drivers in their golf bags and trudge away, pushing buggies up the hill.
Jack isn’t on the practice range. He isn’t anywhere and he’s hard to miss. Jack is six-foot-four. He hits a golf ball further than I can sprint without having a heart attack.
Maybe he’s helping a student hunt for balls in the bush. That happens. But I can’t hear any crunching of sticks or leaves, and there are no ‘found it’ shouts from the trees.
Then, in the shadows draped across the twelfth green I see the golf bag—Jack’s bag—complete with blazing Nike tick. He’s dropped a glove or a cleaning rag on the grass at the bunker’s edge. It shines lemony against the grass.
I open my mouth to call out, but years of ingrained etiquette stop me. So, veering from the practice range, I head diagonally for the bunker on the twelfth. There’s a visible line not far ahead marking the end of the sprinklers’ reach, and as I step from wet grass to dry, I look up to get my bearings.
That’s when my tummy does this flip-splat. Like an omelette tossed wrong.
Thanks for reading the start of Fairway To Heaven. I’d love to hear what you think. If you’d like to keep in touch with Fairway as it gets closer to publication, feel free to ‘like’ my Facebook page.