More Time For The Beach, and how it took its time getting here…

1934049_564673690350799_7295425209346736327_nI feel like I’ve been waiting months and months to get my hands on More Time For The Beach – the first time a book of mine has made it to print, and to a bookstore shelf. It’s a 3-book bind-up with co-authors Victoria Purman and Juliet Madison, published by Harlequin MIRA, and it’s finally here! A friend spotted it in Big W Joondalup today (19/12/15)… so I have to share my first #shelfie with you 🙂

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Photo courtesy: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/train-derailment-causes-wa-christmas-delivery-chaos-20151209-gljrtb.html

Like many things in my life, getting the book in my hot little hands didn’t go perfectly to plan. I don’t know if you heard but at the beginning of December a train derailed about 350km east of Kalgoorlie (ie. the middle of nowhere). All freight in and out of West Australia was literally stopped in its tracks and I’m certain that amongst the packages and parcels that got stuck in limbo, sat my box of eagerly-awaited books.

But it’s so good now they’re here!

My contribution to the book is Fairway To Heaven. It’s set in Geographe Bay in Busselton and it’s the story of one woman’s journey to finding joy in life and love by a beautiful beach. Plus, there’s a little bit of golf.

More Time For The Beach *should* be (trains willing) in Big W stores in Australia in time for Christmas. It can also be ordered from Booktopia.

Local (South West) pIMG_7184eople who are interested in getting their hands on a copy will find it at Barefoot Books in Fig Tree Lane in Busselton.

Fairway’s Great Escape Story

About a year ago I made a big decision. It was to offer my self-published book, Fairway To Heaven to Escape Publishing to see if they liked it, and FairWayToHeavenFinal-harlequin 200_200x315wanted to re-publish it in the Escape stable.

Escape’s managing editor, Kate Cuthbert, sent me a lovely note saying, “this book was great” and from that point on, deal memos and contracts were signed. I hit the ‘unpublish’ button at Amazon to remove Fairway To Heaven from sale and it took four or five months before the book appeared again for sale, under Escape and Harlequin’s banner, in April 2015.

Fairway to Heaven got a new cover. It went through an edit with lovely Laurie Ormond, but other than a few changes to the ending, it remained the very same book it had always been. I joke with my writing friends about Fairway as “The Dodgy Fanny” book. It is a book that takes risks both with the heroine (Jenn’s) story, and for her love interest, (Brayden). Some readers have found it too explicit but not because of the sex – more for the medical issue that plagues Jenn’s life and that she must resolve, during the book. 

It’s quite something to have a “dodgy fanny book” in your portfolio… 🙂 

In this ever-changing publishing environment, many aspiring and established authors wonder about the merits of self-publishing versus going with a traditional publisher. I thought long and hard about it too. I had one title (my first title – His Brand Of Beautiful) with Escape, and after that I self-published two other works, Fairway To Heaven and The Goodbye Ride.

Now, all my books are contracted to Escape and I no longer have any titles self-published. In the end, I think it comes down to what individual authors are seeking from their writing, and what stage they might be in their careers. For me, the motivation for moving from self-publishing was multi-factored. One was the ease of being with a major publisher – getting one royalty statement at Tax Time rather than trying to track Amazon sales against my bank statements.

The other was to engage the marketing expertise of Harlequin, the largest romance publisher in the world, and have them repackage Fairway (with new cover, new blurb etc).

By far the major factor was sales. I wanted better sales. My reviews and feedback for Fairway were excellent, but the book didn’t sell as a self-pubbed title.

In August, Fairway To Heaven became a Kindle Monthly Deal on Amazon Australia. In that month it hit the Amazon Top 100 which was the first time any book of mine had reached that level, and then it kept going. Top 50, Top 20, and the highest ranking I saw it reach was 12 overall and 5 in Contemporary Romance.

Fairway spent more than 20 days in the Top 100, and sales of my debut book, His Brand Of Beautiful also bounced to levels I hadn’t seen before. In October, His Brand Of Beautiful was a Kindle Daily Deal, reaching No 22 in the charts. During the time when both these books were doing well, my newbie, So Far Into You came up for pre-release, and pre-sales and sales in its early days have been wonderful, brilliant, great! (I’m not comparing to anyone except me!)

The good news didn’t stop there! Fairway To Heaven will be in a print book bind-up with Victoria Purman and Juliet Madison called More Time For The Beach, released in January 2015-16, but possibly on shelves in time for Christmas. Booktopia is selling it already on pre-order.

So from self-pubbed and wallowing, to a Kindle Monthly Deal, the Top 100, and now a print book bind-up. That’s pretty good going. It’s another tick on my writing bucket list. A print book! My first one.

More Time for the Beach

So that’s my Fairway To Heaven story. It’s not every self-published author’s story and it won’t suit every writer, but for me, I’m so very glad I made the decisions I did, and I’m very grateful to Kate Cuthbert and Escape Publishing for the opportunities they’ve given to me. 

Rachael Johns, Juliet Madison and Lily Malone on Novels and Novellas: The long, the short (but never the mediocre!)

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.

L-R: Lily Malone, Juliet Madison & Rachael Johns
L-R: Lily Malone, Juliet Madison & Rachael Johns

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.

The first of these was I Dream Of Johnny a 16,000-word novella; and then Starstruck in Seattle, at 15,000 words.

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?

1388020_670894992934369_327954587_nRachael: 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.

1458782_623428491036212_58055537_nJuliet: 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.

goodbye_ride_low-res.jpgLily: 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!

978085799030311.jpgLily: 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!

Lily: Cooo-eee! Fans? Helloooo fans… please feel free to tell me!

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.

Visit Rachael at her website: www.rachaeljohns.com

And on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/RachaelJohnsRomance

and Juliet at her website: www.julietmadison.com

and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JulietMadisonAuthor

And – if you want to follow either or both of them on Twitter (or me for that matter) you’ll find us all there too!

The Goodbye Ride is available on Kindle only, from Amazon. View it: here.

His Brand Of Beautiful is published on all e-book formats. View it: here.

Christina, Olivia and Jenn make a wish (Three Wishes Blog Blitz)

blogblitz-logo

I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine.

Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new  romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

The Lily Malone ‘wishlist’ is a bit too x-rated to include in a non-x-rated blog (it includes way too many scenarios with Timothy Olyphant and Charlie Hunnam) so instead I thought I’d let the heroines in my books  rub their own magic lamp today, and tell you what they’d wish for.

Christina Clay is the eccentric, hat-wearing, clay-pigeon shooting, horse-riding, winery executive, city girl, who stars in my Escape Publishing contemporary romance, His Brand Of BeautifulHere’s what Christina would wish for, if she discovered a magic lamp in the op-shops she regularly visits:HBOB

  • A world without snakes or lizards or scaly things that might slither beneath the timber slats of an outback camp shower
  • A bottle of champagne that never ends, and never loses its fizz
  • Legs as long and luscious as those of her best friend, Lacy Graham.

goodbye_ride_low-res.jpgOlivia Murphy is the Ducati-loving viticulturist who features in my contemporary romance novella, The Goodbye Ride. This is what Liv would wish for if she found a magic lamp in one of her vineyards.

  • That her brother was still alive
  • That jeans and a pink beanie counted as ‘smart-casual’
  • That cooking salt and pepper squid was as easy as making baked beans on toast.
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The shack on the beach where Jenn goes to retrieve her missing mojo in my new book, Fairway To Heaven. (Picture is for illustrative purposes only!)

Jennifer (Jenn) Gates is the golf-playing, freelance writing, mother of a toddler son, now coming to life in my new book, Fairway to Heaven. I am about 20,000 words in and Jenn is trying to get her mojo back (after discovering her golf-pro boyfriend cheating on her with one of his golf students) on a long weekend stay at this beach shack.

If she discovered a magic lamp in the shed at the back of the shack, this is what she’d wish for:

  • That her cheating ex-boyfriend, Jack, develops a massive case of the putting yips and never sinks a putt again
  • That her 14-month-old toddler will wake up tomorrow toilet trained
  • That Brayden Culhane doesn’t consider the kiss they shared at this beach house eight years ago as “the biggest mistake of his life.”

Giveaway:

Follow the instructions below to win my prize, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? 

My prizes include your choice of: a copy of His Brand Of Beautiful, a copy of The Goodbye Ride, and (because it’s so new) the opportunity to have a character named after you in my new book, Fairway To Heaven!  I’m also offering a world-exclusive! Like my Facebook page to read my 3000-word short story Fairway To Heaven, on which this new book is based. (You’ll need to send me an email at lilymalone@mail.com for that one too).

My question: If you could be the heroine of a movie or a book, which heroine would you wish to be and why?

You can answer in the comments. (If you ‘like’ my Facebook page during the Blog Blitz (2 September to 6 September) www.facebook/lily.lilymalone I’m sure I’ll come up with something special for you too!)

Remember: Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here: http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/3-wishes-blog-blitz-official-post/ 

What a week it’s been!

I can’t think of many bigger weeks in the life of Lily Malone.

First: We sold our house. The cooling-off period ended at midnight last night, and that means the deal is done. In the new year, we’ll be moving interstate to Margaret River. (Anyone who knows me will understand my excitement about that!) Margaret River means WINE… So does South Australia of course – this is the wine state! But for me, Margaret River is also a move back to family roots. My mum and sister are still there. My best friend – who gives me wonderful fodder for my heroines – is currently in Perth but she’s planning a move down south to Margaret River too. So it’s exciting times in 2013. We’ve been in South Australia 12 years early next year. I can’t believe how quickly it’s all gone… Two ‘real’ careers, a part-time job, two kids, one loved-and-slaved-over debut book later…

When I picture myself next year, I’m in my office/study/writing nook, with my fingers tripping light-music across the keyboard and I’m near a big picture-window with a view of the forest… sigh… (Work with me here: this is still dream-land and I can picture next year as rose-coloured as I like! My children don’t demand apples and repeat viewings of Shaun The Sheep when I’m in the midst of writing my steamiest sex scenes in my Margaret River dream-land!)

Now – it’s not often that you’d have to decide between the sale of a house and a move interstate for priority with the SECOND huge news of the week. I have a publishing contract on the way! My first one. I am so very excited. Nah. Excited isn’t the word. I’ve been pinching myself all week. Each morning I open the email expecting to see a note that says: ‘oops, sorry… my mistake. I confused your story with someone else…’ 🙂 (This, my wonderful best friend tells me, is my self-doubt speaking!) Self-doubt, take a hike!

It seems like there is a huge amount of opportunity in the industry at the moment for debut authors. I think it’s the e-publishing revolution doing it. e-publishers don’t have the upfront costs of print so they can take more chances on newbie authors. The big pay-off for those publishers will be if they discover a voice the reading public loves. Move over 50 Shades and Stephenie Meyer… here comes… Ainslie Paton, Juliet Madison, Lily Malone???

Juliet Madison wrote about her ‘call story’ on her blog this week. I so understood how she felt.

Today we have friends coming for pre-Christmas lunch at our house, something we do each year. (I’m making moussaka & cherry icecream – ahem, not together in case you wondered). I digress! None of those friends know that I’ve been writing. I’ve kept it under wraps for two years and only just started coming out of the closet in the last six months.

My husband is off to buy champagne, (Brian Croser bubbles – they’re wonderful for a special occasion). Our friends will all think we’re celebrating the house sale and Christmas… I’m not sure yet whether I’ll mention the ‘other’ news. But as I sip my fizz, I’ll be toasting my huge secret too. And maybe I’ll let the cat out of the bag.

I look forward to relaying my own ‘Call story’ soon.