I’m Not Counting, Amazon

I have been trying really hard to ignore Amazon’s maths.

When His Brand Of Beautiful launched, I didn’t even know where one looked to find sales ranking data. Every time an author on Facebook posted: I’m Number 1 in skirt-wearing dryads who dance beneath the moon on Mondays, I thought: “great” or “brilliant”, and wondered how the heck they knew that.

Unfortunately, darn-you Amazon, you made it too easy.

I now know where one looks to find sales ranking data. One just needs to run one’s little blue-gray eyes south a tad on one’s book page and it’s listed right there. In bold. You can’t miss it.

And it changes regularly, enticing one to check, regularly.

His Brand Of Beautiful has been in the 100,000s, and it has been in the fifty-thousands. The best I think it has been is around 32,000.

When I first discovered that magical number and told my husband, he almost fell off his chair.

“Really? Thirty-two thousandth in all of Amazon? Are you sure? There must be millions of books on Amazon.”

I immediately went to water. “I’m not sure. Maybe thirty-two thousandth in contemporary romance or something like that.”

“Ahh,” he said, turning back to his paper. “That’s probably more like it.”

But I now know that the thirty-two thousandth WAS for all of Amazon, for Amazon Best Sellers Rank, paid in Kindle Store.

It’s fair to say that my enthusiasm for sales-rank checking has waned, just a tad, as the month has worn on. Yesterday, I didn’t check at all. Oh, okay. Once or twice I might have had a look. A mere glance.

Right now, I’m sitting at 98,376.

I have come to think that when you’re in the 50,000 to 100,000 ranking, little changes make a big difference. For example, my lovely sister-in-law during the week posted a link to His Brand Of Beautiful with a message to her Facebook friends about looking for it next time they wanted a good book.

Before she sent her message, I’d just checked Amazon and I was in the 110,000s. Two hours after that FB post, His Brand Of Beautiful sat in the mid 40,000s.

How can that be? Can a handful of book sales make such a huge difference between being 100s or 50s?? I think it must.

I’ve been reading a bit about Amazon’s algorithms… (must be the best alliteration in the universe that one); and in the end, all that maths defeats me. My brain shuts down.

I think I’ve come full circle in my debut author month. I think I’m back in more of a “let the numbers do what they will and write the next book” mode…

But then, that’s cheating too. Apparently there’s some magical “multiplier effect” that might come in to play when I publish another book… and another…

See? One cannot get away from Amazon’s maths. No matter how one might try!

Escapades: A Love Story

Have you caught up with the Harlequin Escape Artists’ collaboration, A Love Story?
It started on Valentine’s Day, so we’re more than halfway through. 30 Escape authors each write 200 words in a story that’s a bit like Chinese whispers meets Pass The Parcel.

Tomorrow, it’s my turn!
So far, our heroine: Laura, and our hero, Cormac, have discovered she’s arrived at the wrong apartment with dyed hair, on the run from her ex-fiance and gangsters trying to recover her stepfather’s debts. She’s been shot at (thanks to Caitlyn Nichols), she’s been handcuffed (thanks to Juliet Madison), and plans to Fremantle prison have appeared on the USB that Laura stole from her ex, Miles, (thanks to Juanita Kees).

Turns out, our gal is trying to blackmail Miles for the money she needs to repay the gangsters.
Cormac has spent most of the story to date, in a blue towel. That was, until Lee Christine got the towel off. When I met Cormac for Lily Malone’s instalment, he was down to a pair of black grundies (undies). Which, according to Louise Forster’s episode, our hero filled out to “perfection.”

They’ve been tortured and teased, he’s been driven half-mad with desire and anger over this red-haired bint who’s brought a whole lot of trouble to his doorstep, but at least thanks to Donna Maree Hanson and Jacqui Underdown, they’ve now had one hell of a snog.

That’s where I find them, coming down off that after-kiss high with “the taste of him still on Laura’s bottom lip” (beautifully described by Sandra Antonelli).

So, I decided to get Cormac dressed tomorrow! It’s taken all this time for our hero to find himself a pair of jeans. He will find some other items in his wardrobe as well.
Did I ever mention Jason Bourne is a hero of mine? (I must say – the Matt Damon variety more than the later JB, but that would be digressing).

Tune in to find out what I do with A Love Story tomorrow.
http://escapepublishingblog.wordpress.com/alovestory/

A Love Story

Release Day! How Lucky Am I?

March 1, 2013.

R-Day…

No – nothing to do with R Patz.

It’s Release Day for me, my debut novel His Brand Of Beautiful officially launched into cyberspace today.

So has my world changed? No. It was a day that began like any other since the end of January. (I’m still gatecrashing at my sister’s place until next week).

My youngest son announced a chirpy Good Morning before 6am (eek!); and then it was all systems go. Breakfast for two boys, school for one. We had a chook escapade on the property today which required all hands on deck to round-up 14 hens and a rooster all hell-bent on escaping their coop. My eldest son is fascinated by all things chooks and I have a horrible sneaky suspicion that he may have been the little blighter that lifted the latch on their pen… (In his defence, I would add he has denied this vehemently).

Between school drop off at 9, and work that started at 10, I managed to duck upstairs to my borrowed (sister’s) computer and check Facebook… Lo and behold, I’m not the only person on the planet releasing a book today! Jenn McLeod has House For All Seasons out, and Juanita Kees has Under The Hood. There are Facebook events and invitations and emails and comments and likes and shares and… it’s like having a birthday, Christmas and a baby all in one. Something like that. Lots and lots of congratulations and good wishes. It’s invigorating!

So – some other interesting things about today. I’ve had heaps of views and visits to my website, certainly far more than normal. My visitor stats have passed the 2000 mark. I’m laying some of the kudos for this at the feet of The Age newspaper, and the Brisbane Times, who have both had articles about romance writing and romance reading on their online entertainment pages, and thanks to whatever lucky stars are flying around and looking out for me today, they have picked the His Brand Of Beautiful cover as an illustration for the story. Talk about wonderful publicity!

So tonight? I think it will be champagne… with oven-grilled fish (Birdseye variety), zucchini bake (my variety) and chips (probably McCain variety)… because this is a busy house and it’s a Friday and all of us (my sister and me) will be thinking: bugger cooking!

Happy Long Weekend (Labour day here in West Australia) and happy release day to all authors with a new book for release today. See AUTHOR!! It’s official – now I can say it!

And if you fancy a long weekend with a book called His Brand Of Beautiful: about a woman on a mission and a man who wants nothing to do with her (until he wants everything to do with her); and a book with truckloads of Aussie scenery and boatloads of Aussie wine… click here!

 

 

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.”

http://tometender.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/his-brand-of-beautiful-by-lily-malone.html

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. http://www.martinisandmanuscripts.com/bad-reviews/

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

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:

http://www.kees2create.com.au/

 

 

 

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

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

Prologue    

‘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.

Strangers.

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).  http://www.jennjmcleod.com/2010/07/12/so-thats-what-a-fresh-voice-means/

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,
visit: www.jennjmcleod.com

or

http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/House-for-All-Seasons/Jenn-J-McLeod/9781922052049

And you can pre-order it here:

http://www.dymocks.com.au/ProductDetails/ProductDetail.aspx?R=9781922052049#.UP5vUEsUVZc

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.

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: https://lilymalone.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/some-days-are-diamonds/

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!