Ella & Jake: Book 1 in Chalk Hill is almost here!

They’re so close…

Rachael Donovan at Harlequin MIRA sent me this very exciting photograph last week. It’s a picture of the finished print copy of my new story, WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE. 

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I’m expecting to see my own print author copies any day now…

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is on pre-order everywhere, available February 19, ebook, and print.

Please check this list for your reading choice:

Amazon Australia http://amzn.to/2yhS99f
Amazon.com Kindle: http://amzn.to/2xzS7Gs
iBooks: https://goo.gl/dUAYZq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hCDD2y
Booktopia: http://bit.ly/2xzPq7Q
Bookworld: http://bit.ly/2yG1xFb
Dymocks: http://bit.ly/2g1qM9M
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2hD2B1B
Harlequin: http://bit.ly/2yhnWan

E-reader sale – The Vineyard In The Hills

My Margaret River/South Australia vineyard romance, THE VINEYARD IN THE HILLS is one of a special selection of Bestselling ROMANCE books at a special price on iTunes, Kobo and Amazon for a limited time. Honestly – at only 99c, I’ve never felt so cheap!

If you haven’t bought any of my books before and you’d like to give a title a try, it’s the perfect time:

iTunes: https://goo.gl/pNkvk7

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Kobo has THE VINEYARD IN THE HILLS for 99c, also for a limited time.
https://goo.gl/55kPB3

Amazon has also come to the party, with THE VINEYARD IN THE HILLS for 99c.
https://goo.gl/M3GPBr

You will also find a WHOLE HEAP of books by some of your favourite Aussie authors going cheap!

Happy reading,

Lily xx

 

Adding Up The Hours: How Long Does It Take To Write A Book?

“Lily, how long does it take you to write a book?”

It’s a question I get asked all the time. Possibly, the only question I get asked more often at market stalls or fairs where I promote my books is: ‘are you the author?’ ‘Did you write these?’ and ‘Does the bride really die in this?’ *holding up a copy of Who Killed The Bride?*

Yes, I’m the author. Yes, I wrote these. (Through blood, sweat, tears, and an ocean of self-doubt I wrote these.) No, the bride doesn’t die.

WUTB coverSo how long does it take me to write a book? Well, I’ve just finished my new release for February 2018, Book 1 in the Chalk Hill Series, called Water Under The Bridge, so it’s a great time to break it down for you (and for me) while it’s all fresh in my mind.

I got the idea for Water Under The Bridge during the Rio Olympics in 2016. (Blame the very gorgeous dripping puffing panting swimmers!)

Pre-planning, plotting, dreaming & opening chapters
September/October 2016: 40 hours

I started writing Water Under The Bridge for real during National November Writing Month NaNoWriMo in 2016. The idea of NANO is to race through a first draft without editing, the sole purpose being to get a bazillion words on the page.

I wrote about 30,000 words in November 2016, possibly just over… but then I hit the run-up to Christmas and my writing stopped until the new year. When I started writing again in February (when school went back in 2017), I discovered I absolutely hated just about every word I wrote, and I deleted two-thirds of the story and started again. For this reason I decided NANO is not for me and I won’t try that strategy again.

So, in 2017 I changed my work/life balance to enable more time for writing. For most of 2017, outside of school holidays, I’ve spent 3 days a week writing. From the first week in February 2017 (when school went back), to the school holidays at the end of First Term, I estimate I spent 15 hours a week on Water Under The Bridge.

17021870_1041836872626868_4634934122275569774_nFirst draft
NaNoWriMo November 2016 = 30 hours
11 weeks @ 15 hours a week = 165 hours

April 2017: The End! Hooray, break out the champagne… but wait, it’s only The End of the first draft.

First edit
I’m naturally an ‘edit as I go’ type of writer so I like to think I end up with reasonably clean drafts, but even so – they always need another read-thru.

2 weeks @ 15 hours a week = 30 hours

Now I send the story to my Beta reading team and after they come back to me, it’s when the official second draft starts.

Second draft
May/June 2017: Incorporating Beta Reader feedback.
2 weeks @ 15 hours a week = 30 hours

Wahoo, now it’s like, REALLY The End! I submitted the book to Harlequin MIRA editors and my agent Haylee Nash, and about two months later, July 2017, I discovered they liked it a whole heaping lot. Harlequin (now Harper Collins) offer me a 3-book Contract to write the Chalk Hill series.

Cue Champagne!!

But now we wait… the publication date is a long way away (September 2018), and I start writing Chalk Hill Book 2, The Cafe By The Bridge. I have heaps of time for checking covers and writing blurbs and doing edits on Book 1… heaps of time. Not.

Big news! I learn there will be an earlier publication slot for Water Under The Bridge. The publisher is pulling it forward, months and months forward, to March 2018! That means in October 2017, Water Under The Bridge comes back to me after the wise eyes of Harlequin editors Julie Wicks and Laurie Ormond have read it, dissected it, and found all my very dodgy commas and a whole lot of other things they questioned, queried, and asked me to expand upon… phew, this part of things was really tough!

October/November 2017: Structural & Copy Edits
1st round: 2 weeks = 30 hours
My edits go back to Harlequin, all of us using Track Changes in a Word document with arrows going everywhere and lots of queries about the use of toward or towards and which is more English/less American 🙂 Toward won.

It’s got to be finished now, I hear you ask? But no! I don’t know that there is ever a good time to ask your author friend: ‘Have you finished your book yet?’ About this stage of the process, she is very likely to make you a character in the book and knife you.

Edits of the Edits
2nd round = 5 hours
Then the edited edits come back to me again, with everyone’s comments on the comments and stuff we all agreed and stuff we didn’t. But it really is pretty much done and dusted now. The hard bit is done.

Woohoo! This time when I send the book back, it’s off to the typesetters to be beautifully laid out. Now it is the time for the fun stuff. I get to update my author bio, and write acknowledgements and dedications… Water Under The Bridge is the first book I’ve dedicated to my hubby, Brian.

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Acknowledgements, Dedication
2 hours

Proof reading
Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 2.10.44 PMIt’s baaaa-ccck. Every time I send it off, I think it’s the last time I see Water Under The Bridge until it’s on a shelf in February… but still it comes back one last time. It’s getting very exciting now. Now I get to see it laid out as a PDF. It looks like a proper book with beautiful formatting, and yet another set of eyes at Harlequin have proof-read my baby. Annabel Blay is the sharp-eyed reader finding any further dodgy commas, and a few roman quotes, and many times when a word breaks over a line and just looks bad. Line breaks. Scene breaks. More use of toward/towards. How many times do I write the word just?? Little stuff. Truly, we are nearly there. All I have to do is check the things Annabel has queried or amended, make sure I’m happy, and fix up any other little weird thing.

PDF proof read
2 hours

And finally, this is THE END! I send the file back to Laurie Ormond and hold my hand out for the wine…

If I tally those hours above, I figure it took me 334 hours from beginning to end to produce this book.

Water Under The Bridge is about 90,000 words.

I’m a lousy mathematician, but I’m thinking that means that from beginning to end, through dreaming, writing, editing, revising, editing, proof reading, editing some more… it takes me an hour to produce 269.46 finished, perfect words.

And in author-land, there is no such thing as perfect. We always feel like there’s always one more comma we could change, one more paragraph we could polish… at this point, please, take the damn book away from us and hand us more wine… 🙂

xx Lily
(who is very excited about Water Under The Bridge, coming soon. Pre-orders are live everywhere right now!)

WUTB coverHarlequin: http://bit.ly/2yhnWan
Amazon Australia http://amzn.to/2yhS99f
Amazon.com Kindle: http://amzn.to/2xzS7Gs
iBooks: https://goo.gl/dUAYZq
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hCDD2y
Booktopia: http://bit.ly/2xzPq7Q
Bookworld: http://bit.ly/2yG1xFb
Dymocks: http://bit.ly/2g1qM9M  (coming soon)
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2hD2B1B

 

Edits. Edits. (Oh, and a photo of hair)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks working on final edits for Water Under The Bridge. I’m very lucky to be working with Julie Wicks and Laurie Ormond of Harlequin. Laurie has been with me for a while, working on both Fairway To Heaven and The Vineyard In The Hills.

It is amazing the input that a solid edit gives to a story. A good editor asks the hard questions – even if sometimes as the writer you don’t want to hear them.

I generally work to the rule that the editor is always right, just like a beta reader is always right. If something pulls them out of the story they need to say so, not ignore it.

Thanks to Julie and Laurie, my lovely heroine, Ella, is a much more rounded character. Boy, digging into some of Ella’s history made for very draining, emotional times. She’s had a lot of crap to get through, and by the end of the edits writing her put me through that same emotional wringer!

What I like to do when I’m almost finished my edits is send the story to my Kindle, and read the book like a reader would. That way I have a better sense of how the story flows. I can see when things get slow and the action needs a kick-start, and see when I need to add more detail.

I came across this line from Water Under The Bridge which I’d love to share with you.

Ella

Pre-orders are now live on all ebook sites. Check here for a link to your fave.
Print copies coming late February 2018.

New Cover, New Book!

I’m so excited to reveal here on the blog first: the new cover for my latest book with Harlequin MIRA, Water Under The Bridge.

This is a story about almost-Olympic swimmer,

WUTB cover

Ella, and dyed-in-the-wool sheep farmer, Jake. Water Under The Bridge is Book 1 of 3 new stories set in my fictional town of Chalk Hill, in the great southern region of Western Australia.

The background is the stunning scenery of the Porongurups and Stirling Ranges, wildflowers everywhere, whales at Albany, and the magnificent tall trees of Walpole, Denmark and Nornalup not far away…

So here she is, my Ella… Ta-dah! All she needs is her favourite disco tunes to start playing if you click the picture! (Anyone know the technology to do that?? 🙂 )

All the pre-order links are live, or will be live very soon, so you can order from your favourite e-retailer below. Water Under The Bridge will be out in print too, in all the normal places from March 1, 2018.

About the book:

Ella Davenport hasn’t been in a swimming pool since a bad decision ruined her chance of Olympic gold. So when Ella decides on a new career selling property, she chooses Chalk Hill. The country town is a long way from the water, with no pool in sight. Perfect!

Jake Honeychurch doesn’t want to sell his Nanna’s house, but circumstances force his hand. Listing the property with the rookie real estate agent in town, and asking a hefty price means it shouldn’t find a buyer. Perfect!

But determination and persistence are traits Jake admires, and Ella has them in spades. After all, no one ever made an Olympic team by being a quitter.

When news breaks of a proposed waterski park, a local developer starts sniffing around Honeychurch House. Ella’s first sale is so close she can taste it, until a sharp-eyed local recognises her.

Between sale negotiations with Jake that keep getting sidetracked, and a swimming pool committee hellbent on making a splash, Ella has more to contend with than kisses and chlorine.

Can she throw off the failures of the past and take the chance of a new start? Or will her dreams of a new life be washed away again?

Harlequin: http://bit.ly/2yhnWan
Amazon Australia http://amzn.to/2yhS99f
Amazon.com Kindle: http://amzn.to/2xzS7Gs
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hCDD2y
Booktopia: http://bit.ly/2xzPq7Q
Bookworld: http://bit.ly/2yG1xFb
Dymocks: http://bit.ly/2g1qM9M  (coming soon)
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2hD2B1B  (coming soon)
iBooks: coming soon

I can’t wait for Ella and Jake’s story to be alive in the wild… so exciting to think that March isn’t that far away. Roll on 2018 🙂

 

 

Living in Downtown Cowtown

Sharing a quick video about my hometown – Cowaramup in the south west of Western Australia.

Earlier this year I was involved with the group that put together an entry submission for Cowaramup to be named the ‘Legendairy Capital of Australia.’

After lots of consultation with local dairy farmers and representatives of various local groups and committees, I put fingers to keyboard to help write our town’s submission.

In autumn this year, we got the great news that Cowaramup had won the title of West Australian ‘dairy capital’, and would now go on to represent WA in the national competition with the winner announced later this year.

The State nomination and winner’s announcement all happened right before the Deja-Moo 2017 (a huge weekend of cow-themed fun in Cowaramup), and the team from Dairy Australia came to visit our town during the mid-year school holidays and festival. I can only imagine what those Dairy Australia representatives must have thought – landing in the midst of a cold winter weekend of Cow Onesie frenzy!

butterfly-magnetI feel so chuffed to have written a book set in Cowaramup, involving the increasingly famous Cowaramup Cows. One of the speakers in the video is Kerry Sibly (you see him wearing the cow horns in his cow onesie chatting during the vid); Kerry designed the awesome book cover for Butterfly House Book 1, Who Killed The Bride?

Please click the link below to check the video:

Introducing the West Coast Fiction Festival 2018

It’s still a long way off, but I am thrilled to let you know about a new and exciting readers’ festival coming to West Australia next year.

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It’s the West Coast Fiction Festival, put together by a great group of top-selling WA authors and it’s featuring brilliant traditional-published and indie-published writers from all across the country, (and some international authors) coming under the one roof at the Rendezvous Hotel in Scarborough on November 3, 2018.

lilym_lowresAnd guess what? I will be there… just perhaps not with my pink beanie (it will be almost Summer in Perth by then and my ears would melt!)

What is really exciting is that I will have at least one new book out before the Festival, to join The Vineyard In The Hills as print paperback releases. I’ll also be there with Who Killed The Bride? From my Butterfly House series, to wow everyone with what I reckon will be the most unusual book cover in the Hotel that day! (Yes, I am biased!)

butterfly-magnetThe idea of the Festival is to bring along your own books written by the signing authors (for signatures), plus there will be new books to buy (of course); and authors to meet, greet and have a chat and photo with, if you like 🙂

You can find the list of authors at the Festival’s web page, or click here. There is also a Facebook group set up to give people information about the Festival. Join the group here. And there is also a mailing list you can join by clicking here.

Besides connecting readers with their favourite authors, and new authors, the goal of the event is to raise money for Share the Dignity – a charity which supports homeless women in Australia.

You can follow West Coast Fiction Festival on Facebook and Twitter.

For all the information, go visit http://www.wcfictionfestival.com.au/ and bookmark the website.

Plus there is dancing… but more about that later 🙂

I can’t wait to be part of this great initiative for fiction in Western Australia…

It’s a Red Letter Day…

Today is one of those writerly days I’ve dreamed about for, oh, say the last six and a half years…

Today, I signed with The Nash Agency, and I finally can say I have a literary agent.

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The Nash Agency is owned and operated by Haylee Nash. I was lucky enough to have something to do with Haylee when she worked for Harlequin Australia when my debut book His Brand Of Beautiful was published by Harlequin Escape.

Haylee has published some of Australia’s highest-selling books from authors such as Rachael Johns, Fiona McCallum,  Sally Hepworth and Kylie Scott, and has worked for Pan Macmillan Australia, Harlequin Enterprises Australia and Booktopia.

The Nash Agency will represent my contemporary fiction with a book called ASHES, and also my future rural and contemporary romance books, including the Chalk Hill series I’m working on now.

Thank you for your faith, Haylee! I’ll be doing everything I can to do you proud.

Margaret River Region Open Studios April 22 – May 7

I had the huge pleasure last night to join two talented Cowaramup artists, painter Kerry Sibly and sculptor Alan Meyburgh, at the launch of Kerry and Alan’s exhibition for this year’s Open Studios.

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One of Alan Meyburgh’s sculptural creations. This looked amazing lit up at night.

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My connection to this clever and versatile pair is that Kerry illustrated and designed my Butterfly House ‘Who Killed The Bride book cover… plus he lives in the same street as me, and in our street we’re always up for a party. 🙂

About 80 people came along to the launch, held at Kerry and Wendy Sibly’s house. The house itself made an amazing frame for an art exhibition. At different times Kerry and Wendy’s home has been in the lens of programs such as ‘Grand Design’; and on the radars of some of Australia’s house and lifestyle magazines. It’s an incredibly special place, filled with personal traits, tricks and treats.

Kerry and Alan made a combined sculpture that they offered as a prize on their launch night. Alan sculpted the heart, and Kerry (in his words) “added the rusty barbed wire to it”.

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Kerry Sibly stood on the kitchen bench to make his speech at the launch. He’s holding the sculpture he and Alan put together as a prize for launch night. Alan is pictured in the centre bottom of the screen, and the lovely lady in the background is Wendy Sibly, Kerry’s better half. PHOTO: Emily Cockburn.

 

We were thrilled to have the sponsorship of Stella Bella Wines and the Margaret River Dairy Company for our launch. There’s nothing like viewing art, sculpture, and books whilst enjoying classic Margaret River wine and cheese!

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A sample of Kerry’s artwork above Alan’s sculptures.

The Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS) is now in its fourth year, involving artists of all pursuits from Busselton to Augusta who open their studio/shop/shed or workplace to visitors where people can peruse and buy artworks, but also talk to the artist and see them at work.

Over the next few weeks, I’m relocating my ‘writing room’ across to the Sibly’s house for several mornings a week, and I’d love to see you for a cuppa and perhaps to chat all things books, writing, and reading…

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People are laughing… so Kerry’s speech must have been funny. PHOTO: Emily Cockburn.

If you are in or around the Margaret River region, please look for the Open Studio signs everywhere, or visit www.mrros.com.au to see what’s on offer.

Kerry and Alan’s exhibition is No. 51 in the Guide. They’re open every day from 10am to 4pm, including ANZAC day.

Happy Easter everybunny

How’s things at your house this Easter Sunday? At Chez Malone, I have two boys a little slow with that typical Easter Sunday afternoon over-indulgence of chocolate. But the Easter eggs very nearly didn’t happen at all. Hubs and I had gone to bed and he was snoring rather soundly when I sat bolt upright thinking ‘Omagawd! The eggs!’

Yes. Having specially got the kids to decorate the shoe boxes I use for Easter loot with their names and a drawing for the Easter Bunny, I forgot all about filling the shoe boxes with Easter Bunny treats.

So with much prodding at about midnight, hubby was encouraged up and into his jocks to cheerily hide tiny chocolate eggs about the garden for our traditional Sunday morning easter egg hunt, while I counted, divided (equally) and distributed the Easter Bunny eggs into the shoeboxes.

Phew. Crisis averted.

And we can then happily snooze-forward to Easter Sunday.

Hubs is in the wine industry here in Margaret River and Easter is prime-time vintage – which means he had to go to work today, while the kids and I planned Easter Sunday brunch.

Last year, I had enormous success with a German apple pancake recipe I found on the Internet. But I couldn’t find the recipe this year, so I went with Jamie Oliver’s German apple pancake instead.

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#massivefail

I don’t know what I did wrong but it tasted terrible. Even dollops of whipped cream couldn’t help us eat it. My Facebook friends are bringing me to believe that I put the ingredients in the blender in the wrong order. I should have started with the liquid ingredients then added the dry… but I just did my normal and bunged the whole lot in and pressed ‘blend’.

To make matters worse, right at the end I tried to sprinkle a little nutmeg over the apples… and the nutmeg lid flew off which meant a whole heap more nutmeg than I’d planned landed on my apples.

I tell you, baking is never dull in my house!

Whatever you’re up to this Easter, I hope you have fun with family and friends, or just to take time out doing what you like to do.

Me? I’m crossing fingers that I’ll have big bookish news for the blog this week. There, I’ve said it. Hope I haven’t jinxed myself!

xx Lily