Three Months Of Firsts

water under the bridge smallWater Under The Bridge has been out in bookstores and cyberspace for three months now, and I figure as she’s a little more mature, it’s a good time to reflect. It’s been 3 months of firsts for me, with lots of positive news.

  1. For the first time, I had a print book receive a ‘top up’ print, ie, a second print run. This means that there was enough demand for the book from bookstores to encourage my publisher to print additional copies to make sure those orders could be met. Super news!
  2. I made a list! Water Under The Bridge was the 7th highest-selling romance in Australia for the month of March, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. I made a hashtag… what began as a bit of fun with a writing mate, Holden Sheppard, has turned into one of my favourite things to check on Amazon rankings. I give you, the #AbSandwich (meaning Ella is sandwiched between a couple of hefty bookish chests)… Amazon in its wisdom put my ex-nearly-olympic swimmer lady Ella in Water Under The Bridge in the category of ‘sports romance’, as well as ‘small towns and rural’, and this has led to many photo opps with err, ripped torso book covers like these below 😉DYO-dE1X0AAA2Hy.jpg-large
  4. I made the Beauty & Lace online Bookclub… with 20 of the B&L readers reviewing Ella and Jake’s story. I’ve never had a book in an online bookclub discussion before
  5. Water Under The Bridge was published the same day as two other Harlequin MIRA stablemates Fiona Lowe with Birthright, and Vanessa Carnevale with The Memories The Make Us. The three of us have enjoyed several Facebook conversations since release day, talking about book tours and speaking gigs, and it’s been lovely to share Ella and Jake’s release launch with these ladies. I think it’s fitting that, as our book babies turn 3 months old (which means we’re now too darn old for what Amazon deems a ‘New Release’), I managed to snap this screenshot of our 3 books all in a row in the Amazon Australia ‘small towns and rural’ category.Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 7.41.52 PM

From a branding perspective, I’d describe myself in the ‘emerging author’ category so I need to keep making leaps and bounds if I’m to graduate to ‘established author’ status. Quite where these two lines blur is a bit of a mystery, but I think for me it might be when the second of the Chalk Hill books comes out next year (February 2019).

The Cafe By The Bridge: Chalk Hill Book 2 will bring me to 3 traditionally published print works (The Vineyard In The Hills; Water Under The Bridge; and The Café By The Bridge); 1 trad-published anthology (Fairway To Heaven), 6 ebooks (adding my first two stories His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride to the list); and 2 self-published novellas Butterfly House Books 1 and 2.

But on the purely personal front, I’ve absolutely loved the surge of support I’ve had for Ella and Jake’s story in its first three months of publication. There have been lovely reviews on Goodreads and Amazon; I’ve had emails from readers and Facebook photos and messages; I’ve had wonderful support from family and friends who’ve bought, read, gifted, and recommended the story, and I have a happy agent and publisher, which from a business and career perspective, is a truly important thing.

Thanks to everyone who has been on this ride with me… here’s to many more years of firsts ahead.

xx Lily

If a Book was a Ship…

27750280_1276377222506164_1535408654311169734_n…I could smash a bottle of champagne across its pages to mark its birth into the world. But, alas, much as I’d love to swing a bottle of bubbles at this new baby of mine, all I’d end up with is a mess of soggy pages.

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE came into the world on February 19. On March 1 we held its official launch at the Margaret River Bookshop with a crowd of my friends and family and readers.

It was my great pleasure to talk about the book at the launch in an informal chat with my good friend, Jill Turton of Stocker Preston Real Estate. Jill was the perfect choice to share in the book launch because the story begins with the main character, Ella, leaving Perth on a tree-change, to the small country town of Chalk Hill, where she is about to start a new life as the rookie sales representative for Begg & Robertson Real Estate of Chalk Hill.

Just such a fabulous evening with wonderful wines sponsored by Fermoy Estate Wines, and in the company of marvellous readers, my hubby (who I dedicated this book to) and many friends and family.

I’ve had so many messages of support about WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE; reviews, shelfies, photos, mentions of people buying or reading my story – it’s those little notes that keep an author writing, and I can’t thank you enough on this page, and in person, for your enormous and fantastic support!

Here’s a snapshot of what people are saying about the book on Goodreads:

I love all of Lily’s books, but I think this is my favourite so far. She has written a really enjoyable story set in a small town of Chalk Hill in WA that I could totally envision. Claire.

I heart this book! I cannot rave enough about the story, its characters and their triumphs, and tribulations. Talking Books Blog.

Water Under the Bridge shows Lily is one of the best Aussie authors (I have read) when it comes to really nailing characterisation. Jenn J McLeod.

I found this to be an enjoyable, gentle book about moving on and finding your place in life and a community. Marlin.

I loved the setting what a town and the characters come to life on the pages, I felt very comfortable in Chalk Hill and look forward to more in this series. Helen.

A wonderfully complex novel, Water Under the Bridge was an excellent read which I highly recommend. Brenda.

You will be able to find a copy of WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE wherever you buy your books all over Australia, or at your favourite e-tailer.

If you live locally to the South West of West Australia, I know Margaret River Bookshop and Dymocks Busselton have lots of copies of the book. There are SIGNED copies at Margaret River Bookshop, and I will be coming to Dymocks Busselton on March 22 for an author chat, and would be thrilled to sign your copy there.

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That’s a lot of books at Dymocks Busselton

The release of a new book is such an incredible time for an author, I doubt it would get old even for the Wilbur Smith and James Patterson and Stephen Kings’ of the world who’ve done it hundreds of times, but for me it’s still a new journey and so very exciting.

This ship is just setting sail…

 

xx Lily

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

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.

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 2.00.10 PM

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 🙂

 

 

Words, Words, Words = New Book Done!

Phew!

It’s been quiet here and there is a bloody good reason for that! I’ve been incredibly busy since February when my two boys went back to school. I’ve been head down, bum up, writing to finish my new rural romance, Water Under The Bridge.

This is the book I started in NaNoWriMo last year (National November Writing Month). In November I got to my personal target of 30,000 words on the book. The vast majority of those (particularly the latter half) were drivel… and have since been dumped. Then it was end of school, Christmas, New Year, school holidays, camping, back to school, and I didn’t do much writing in January.

But the day school started in February, my new work/life balance of working two days in my administration job, and writing Wed-Thurs-Fri, kicked in… and I am so happy to tell you I’ve been very disciplined!

I finished my book on Friday last week. I typed these words with such gusto!

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That means I wrote about 53,000 new words (probably more because some of the earlier drivel had to get cut to smithereens), and edited the entire lot, in about 5 weeks. That’s good going. That’s about 10,000 words a week, with edits along the way.

Here’s how I did it (if my tips help any procrastinators out there):

  • After I dropped the kids to school on Wed/Thurs & Friday, I set the oven timer for my 1.5 hour sprints, and sat down and wrote. I would have done this at least 3 times in the day, so 4.5 hours of writing, usually with a bit of an edit after school.
  • So that I didn’t go too hard and hurt myself (writers/office workers, all types who spend hours at the keyboard will know that neck/back issues can be a problem) when my oven timer ‘timed’ I’d get up and move and do something else. That might be make a coffee and take a walk around the garden; hang out some washing, empty the dishwasher, go for a quick 45minute walk etc. I’d stretch against the door on my way into my writing room and stretch coming out, using an elastic rope of my hubby’s. My great mate and pilates’ instructor neighbour explained that it was important to stretch/release the chest muscles to counteract how tight typing can make my back and shoulders… and so far it’s worked perfectly.
  • I made myself accountable for my time – using the adage of “make an appointment with your writing self”… and it worked too.
  • I didn’t give in to temptation to do other things, like lunch with mates, coffee, longer walks. See – disciplined!
  • I surrounded myself with positive people who were cheering me on! Thanks Louise Allan and the Lollygaggers, my mates, and all the usual suspects!

So now that the book is with beta readers, I have time for other things – like blog posts! I have a few to do. One for the Naughty Ninjas, one for Maureen Eppen’s Shelf Awareness series. I’ve been for a walk this morning down the beach – just beautiful – and tomorrow is my Mum’s birthday so we’re going out for lunch. I’ve been catching up on my reading and I have to share with you how much I’ve just loved a book called SHELTER by the amazing Rhyll Biest. Here’s my review.

When your book is out with beta readers, the waiting is such a killer, so keeping busy is the plan. Then it will be a case of acting on what they come back to me with, then submit, submit, submit.

Then I get to write a new book! And you know what the really cool thing is? I’ve discovered Water Under The Bridge, featuring Jake and Ella, is the first in what will be my Chalk Hill series… and it’s Abe’s story next 🙂

Now that’s really exciting!