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Archive for the ‘Paranormal romance writing’ Category

Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. Some kind of inverse perception. When I was a child time passed slowly. Now, I can’t believe how fast.

I wish it would slow down.

For me, 2016 was an interesting year. Lots of changes in my life. I left the work force and started a PhD in Creative Writing. I had done my sums, and of course, things change so sums are often being trimmed and rearranged. Do I regret leaving work? Hell no! It was the best thing for me physically and mentally. Of course I miss the huge $ I was making but there was a cost involved. I’m content.

I started the PhD with a vengeance–long days and it hurt too, but now I’m better at balance and I hurt less as a result. I actually felt good for many, many months and I was happy. I realise I can stay home and read and relax while studying instead of in a chair in the study centre everyday. I tried twice this year to get an APA and was unsuccessful, (APA is a stipend/grant for studying) and I have to give up applying now. It was a lot of work putting the application together. Hint do honours and you’ll be a shoe in, they are worth more than a Masters by coursework).  Now I have to look for part time work to fund me. I was hoping for some tutoring at uni but there are no guarantees.

One the writing front, I put out Argenterra in late April. It’s my epic, portal fantasy, that’s not dark (like Dragon wine) and is suitable for YA readers. It’s romance themed too. I thought I’d get the next two in the series out this year but that was a lot harder than it seemed to be when I thought it up. Book 2, Oathbound is with the editor (some delays there with editor moving house) and Book 2, Ungiven Land is awaiting one beta reader comments before being revised and sent to the editor. I’m thinking they will be out in the first half of 2017. I was so thrilled to get those books written. Finish drafting my first trilogy!!! (15 years in the making) Wohoo! Next year, when the books get published I’ll see how the hybrid, indie, self-publishing gig works for me.

Under the name, Dani Kristoff, I was published again by Escape Publishing, this time with Invoked. It’s the third and last book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. I thought this book was coming out next year so I was so happy to have it come out in December. I have one more book to write under Dani Kristoff and then Dani might retire. I enjoy writing the sexy paranormal books, but you have to have a big enough audience to make it worth your while and frankly, I don’t. I’m proud of those books. Invoked was the hardest thing I’d ever written. Nearly chucked it out. Rewrote it almost completely. It taught me a lot about writing. Although it is dark, especially compared to Spiritbound which was light and bright and lovely.

So for Nanowrimo I wrote another Space Pirate book. This time starring Opi, Rae and Essa’s mother. It’s fun and I like it a lot. I’m going to publish this myself.  Escape aren’t selling enough of the other books, Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa Space Adventures to acquire it. But I’m totally cool with that. I want to publish it myself. It’s a bit of light fun. I’ve kept it sweet level in case any YA readers happen on it, but it’s longer 55,000 words and features older protagonists and space pirates….

Also in December, I dusted off the draft of Deathwings, book three in the Dragon Wine series. I’ve booked it in with the editor that Momentum used for the first two books and I’ve got book 4 booked in too. So fingers crossed I’ll have them out in 2017 too. I have to meet the editor’s deadlines!!! Both books are mostly written. I had to dump about 10,000 words from book 4 and I did that over a year ago (then Phd happened). It was starting off too slowly according to beta readers. I have not written a word of the last two books  (5 & 6) and that will be my side project for the rest of 2017. Around other writing and the PhD and part time work if I get any.

I have three other books in completed draft form. Into the Dark Glass (YA fantasy) is currently with a skilled beta reader. It’s the most ready to go somewhere. Cold Soldier (SF Romance) – I haven’t touched this in nearly a year. Needs a new beginning and a revision. The Tainted Lady, my attempt a Regency romance needs a revised beginning and a revision then polish, then beta readers etc. Ruby Heart is still looking for a home but I’ve a mind to write Emerald Fire (the sequel) or actually finish writing it. Half written I think. I have a couple of other things started but may have to wait years before I revisit them.

I have my PhD novel to write too, which will get drafted during 2017. I think all this other writing helps me refine my craft so the PhD novel will benefit.

I have to prepare for my confirmation seminar in March so I’ll be busy with that in January and February and maybe before New Year. It’s my first piece of work that gets assessed and the foundation for the PhD. I will then be officially one year into the PhD too. My surveys that are part of the PhD are going great guns. Need more responses though.

Along with the rest of the world, I’m processing terrorist attacks, the US election, Brexit, war in Syria, Australian bloody politics and views on refugees, deaths of fav actors and musicians. May we weather these things and find 2017 a better time to live in. Highlights, Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, RWA Conference in Adelaide, Shanghai visiting my son in October and presenting a paper on Twitter poetry in November. Also, I am standing for GUFF ( Going Under Fan Fund), which is a fund to send people from Australia to Europe from SF conventions or a European fan to Australia) and there are some great candidates this year all vying to get to the SF World Con in Helsinki in August. (link below)

Downside some work injury related stuff that I won’t blog about until resolved. Worst thing ever!

I’m still addicted to Twitter and Facebook. I’m the world’s worst gardener, besides the Dweeb and I totally failed at sending Christmas cards this year. I’m pleased to say that this year  for me Christmas isn’t about excess as it usually is. My two daughters are vegans and we are having a small gathering this year so less meat, less waste, less money spent. I kinda feel good about that. I will miss my son, who is in China and two of my grandchildren and their mother who are in Perth this Christmas.

Most of all I want to say, I wish you well and happy and prosperous this Christmas, end of year, New Year. I am grateful for my health, my wonderful family and friends. My excellent partner Matthew (the Dweeb) and for those of you to interact with anywhere in the world and on the internet.

Maybe I’ll see some of you at the ARRA convention in Melbourne in February.

 

More info on GUFF

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I first tried to write a novel when I was 19 or 20. I’d thought up a Star Wars story and as I sat down to write, with pencil and paper. Then I thought I’m not smart enough. I had no idea what it was to be a writer and my love for reading was only a few years old. I had a young son and I think I was pregnant with my second. So I put down the pencil and chucked the paper away.

When I turned 40, I had just changed jobs and my youngest daughter was 18. My life was at a turning point. I was locked in traffic and I asked myself, what do you want to do with your life? My answer was I want to write. My first attempt then was a Scottish Historical Romance, which I loved reading. I wrote probably 700 words and thought -this is crap. Again i gave up. I didn’t have what it takes. That was in May 2000. Around November, I had an idea, a character appeared in my head and wouldn’t let me go. It was a science fiction story, with some alien sex (lol).  I started writing, and writing. About 20,000 words in, I bought a book called ‘How to write a novel’ and it was basic. It talked about length, about number of chapters and I sat down and worked out I had enough plot for a novel. I wrote about 100,000 words in 6 weeks. It was shit though. A download from my brain. But I’d written something with a beginning, middle and an end. The next 13 years have been about learning the craft, about exploring writing, building up skills etc.

I sent Relic (the name of the first novel) out for a manuscript appraisal and I started a fantasy novel, which was really hard work. Somehow fantasy was harder. I wrote that while waiting for the feedback. I wrote short stories. The first of which Trent Jamieson published in Redsine. Short stories were my thing for many reasons. I had lots of ideas. The genie had been let out of the bottle. Short stories were a good way to improve my writing, learn writing and being edited and getting feedback.

I kept writing. Revising Relic was a huge task a first, seeming much bigger than actually writing it. I mean there were incomplete sentences, wrong words and it was very first novelish. What do I mean about that? Well the character was in a room and the pacing was so slow, too detailed, that’s very first novelish. There was also info dumping etc. I probably revised it 50 times over the years. (more on Relic and its future journey in a later post).

In my early years, I had romance novel ideas. I never wrote them. I didn’t research romance writing, markets, conventions nothing. Because Relic was supposedly SF and feminist SF at that, my career seemed to be in the speculative fiction vein. Argenterra, which is the second novel I wrote was a fantasy with romance, rather than a fantasy romance. You see, I did enter it in a competition in the US, Rowena Cory Daniels back then used to feed information into the spec fic networks so I entered. Again I thought I’m not good at this. I kept writing. I had more stories in the back of my mind. Category romances. SF romances. I kept telling myself that one day when I’m a full time writer I’ll be able to try romance too. I even joked with myself as another novel remain unsold, that wouldn’t it be funny if I was actually a good paranormal romance writer. I dabbled in some paranormal shorts in spec fic markets. They were published but it was just something that I might do in the future.

In November 2011, for NanoWriMo I start writing a contemporary romance (again encouraged by good friend) . I think the MS stinks. I didn’t finish it as I got RSI. It was hard. I kept wanting to put a ghost in there or a vampire. I’d been working on a paranormal romance for a couple of years, mostly not working on it. I thought it was too hot for publication. (it was before 50 Shades of Gray)  That MS is completed now though.

Fast forward. No novels in spec fic published. Publishing going through major upheavals and structural changes. My friend, Nicole Murphy encourages me to go to the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2012. Enter Harlequin’s Escape Publishing and I have Rayessa and the Space Pirates published. Wham. Bam.

Flood gates open. I am writing whatever I like. I still have a dark epic fantasy there looking for a home, but I just write. I’ve written a paranormal romance coming out 1 February with Escape ( http://danikristof.wordpress.com ).

I have another sexy paranormal novel out there looking for a home. I’ve got an agent representing my young adult/steampunkish/Victorian gothic horror/romance. I’ve had to publish the paranormal under another name, but OMG!!!  I’m writing romance, paranormal romance, science fiction, whatever. I’m writing.

That’s the funny thing about writing. Just write. Don’t hold yourself back for silly reasons– like I only write this genre.  Do it now. Don’t wait. It’s like saying I’ll paint landscapes when I retire. Why wait? Just go for it?

Do I regret not pursuing the romance writing earlier? Maybe, I’m not sure. Regardless I had to learn how to write. I cut my teeth on speculative fiction. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll earn an income from writing romance. Watch this space.

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After Conflux9, after the retreat, I’ve been busy working on the stuff I need to do for my Masters in Creative Writing. This year I am doing a manuscript writing workshop component and this semester Cultural Research. I’m almost there. Friday is D day.

The reason I’m blogging is that I’m really excited about my fiction component, the manuscript I am doing for my Masters. The goal is to write 20,000 words across the year. Last year it was 50,000 words but it changed this year. So this sounds easy right? Actually the word count doesn’t bother me so much. With Conflux9 I’d only been writing uni stuff anyhow-just.

So writing is not a big deal. I can do word count and I had a number of ideas to work from. Note ideas, not outlines. I chose a story called Into the Dark Glass. It was an idea I got when an editor and I were discussing Argenterra, a fantasy with romance that I had submitted. To make it a romance fantasy I would have needed to gut the story and have it focus on just one couple, with less world building. I’ve almost finished that trilogy and thought I may as well write a new story than gutting the old one. That’s when the idea for Into the Dark Glass came. Just the idea about the girl, the mirror and the guy and the world being steampunk.

I started the course and had to hand in the first 500 words and a 250 word pitch. Easy peasy. You think? I still didn’t have an outline of the plot. I couldn’t find the girl’s voice and kept changing her name and his name. His voice was easy. A month later we had to hand in 2000 words and do a presentation. I managed that, but I still had issues with the girl’s voice and I had enough plot for three chapters. However, the way we were doing this manuscript was completely against what I’d normally do. I don’t stop and polish and submit, I keep writing.

The next big challenge for me was that I wanted to lift the bar, push myself higher in the writing game. I’d chosen a young adult/romance/fantasy in an alternative steampunk world. I wanted it to rock. I was nearly pulling my hair out with the girl’s voice. I usually get it eventually but I hadn’t written enough of the story to get to know her. I had to keep going back. After the presentation, where I confessed I was having a tough time of the voice, I got it. The whole thing fitted into place. I rewrote the first chapter. At the retreat I did the next two. I wrote another 15,000 words of the story. I finally figured out what the Lady of the Dark did and then near the end of the retreat the rest of the plot came to me on waking so I jotted the notes down on the Ipad.

I had reached a point where I could relax. I got Matthew to read it and he said it was the best he’d seen from me. (He’s not read everything of mine but it was a huge compliment). He said there were a few little things. My spirits soared after that because my revisions had aced it (to my mind).

Today I read it through and  it does rock. (I know I’m not supposed to say that but it really does). I leaped the bar I’d set myself. I got her voice, pace, action and a bit of attraction going. I’ve uploaded the bugger now!

Now I just have to finish the story, which I think might be 80,000 to 100,000 words and submit it somewhere. I plan to submit the final chapters for second semester. That’s if the excitement wears off. I’m finding it hard to settle down. (too much or too little stimulation)

I must return to the research project now.  I will be disseminating my research paper here at a later date. Like when I get my marks and feel that it’s good enough.

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Yesterday was a bit of a loss in the writing or doing anything stakes. A quick trip to the mall for coffee ended up taking 4 hours and when I finally got back  it was so hot I completely flaked the whole day. I was meeting a new friend for coffee and she had a turn and is now in hospital. I went without a car and caught the bus home (a new experience). That’s why it took so long. In the evening, I watched Vampire sucks and read JR Ward’s Lover Revealed and finished off an MS I was beta reading. Come to think of it, maybe I’m being hysterical. The day doesn’t seem that wasted does it?

Thanks to the teenager, I had a 2.00 am trip to the cop shop and so today is not looking too crash hot either. Well I thought it wasn’t but I wrote an outline for the next Rayessa story and that’s an excellent thing! I wrote Rayessa in 2003 originally and back then I did have an idea about the next story and the opening scene. Things moved on. I wrote other things and Rayessa was having a snooze in my hard drive. Like a backpacker, she changed nesting places as computers were replaced or died. Now with Rayessa coming out into the world, I need to think about putting more words to paper. The first step was to do an outline. It’s not a careful outline. It’s rough and meant to get the ideas that have come to me recently meshed with the ideas of old. It also means I can now swill it around my head (something like mouthwash) and then when I’m ready I’m going to spit it out, possibly into a word document. Writing the outline also stops me from carrying the ideas around in my head, relieves me of the guilt that I just don’t sit down and do it and allows me some freedom to play with my other projects.

So today I’ve opened up The Sorcerer’s Spell and I’m revising, polishing, tweaking etc. You know, I’m really enjoying it. I’m putting no pressure on myself to get word count. I’m happy if I get through chapter one and really happy if I make it through chapter two. I want to savour this, enjoy the process of taking something a bit rough looking (maybe a cake that doesn’t look pretty) and smoothing it out, embellishing and making it beautiful (like putting fondant on a cake and decorating it).

It was probably very therapeutic to read a bit between finishing Bespelled and diving into revisions of another novel. Reading something like JR Ward’s Lover Revealed, makes me appreciate the complexity and the thought that is going into that book and that series. It is also very cool so it’s great fun to read it. Beta reading Nicole’s MS was a good experience too. She does her characters so well. They have depth, darkness, a past and that’s a good thing for me to be thinking about when I work on all my work. I want to make my characters as real on paper as they are in my head.

Anyhow, time to saunter off and pretend I’m working and not having a fun time. I must keep the image up.

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I’ve sent the first draft of Bespelled out to two beta readers. I’m very happy and doing a happy dance!

I had a tough time with my hands over the last few days. They were swollen and achy. They are much better today. I had to resort to anti-imflammatories and voltaren cream. My feet are sore too, so I’m not sure if it is the RSI or the heat and arthritis. Who knows. (It’s done though. Yay!)

This means that in 2012, I finished first drafts of two novels- The Sorcerer’s Spell at 80,000 words and Bespelled at nearly 50,000 words (both paranormal romance). That means I’ll have two more books to shop around in 2013. This brings a smile to my face. I have to revise them, of course. I have comments on The Sorcerer’s Spell to start on with, which should keep me busy.

In 2012, I revised Ruby Heart and it’s ready to head out into the world and so is Dragon Wine. I feel like I’m ready for 2013.

I have a national science fiction convention to run with Nicole Murphy, but after that, I’m head down on the writing side. There is a degree in there somewhere.

I have some outlining to do. After I finished Bespelled, I started getting ideas for two more stories in the same setting, using different characters. I shake my head at myself. I think I’m addicted to being in the worlds I create. I haven’t yet thought up ideas for more stories in The Sorcerer’s Spell and I have yet to write down the ideas for a sequel to Rayessa and the Space Pirates. I have had ideas for Rayessa since I first wrote the book (nearly 9 years ago), but I haven’t written them down and have to drag them from my subconscious.

It’s been a fabulous first day of the year. Quiet, warm and relaxed. Matthew’s been doing stuff on his PC and I’ve been hooked into mine. I had a lovely visit from Ella and her son, Oliver and we had date scones and a lovely catch up. Something about having a young child in the house on the first day of the year. If felt very nice. He’s very cute too.

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Thank you to Amanda Bridgeman for tagging me. I’m afraid I’m going to let the side down because every author I contacted had been tagged already so I don’t have the full complement of five authors.

1)      What is the working title of your next book?

This is a hard question as I have a few things on the boil. Rayessa & the Space Pirates comes out on the 10th of January and I have a few other things in the works. I’d have to talk about the book I’m currently drafting I think. It’s working title is Bespelled and it’s a romance with a paranormal slant. I’m aiming for a category length work (50,000 words) and I’m just over half way. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of December. I was going to say Christmas but that’s probably pushing it as that’s a week away and I don’t go on holidays until Friday.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August. I had a fab time btw. In one of the panel sessions an editor said she’d like to see more stories with witches. As I was leaving the conference I got the idea about a story featuring a witch and I wrote an outline on the train to the airport, in the airport lounge, on the plane etc. I have to admit to being influence by Bewitched with this one. By the time I landed in Canberra I had written the 3000 word outline. Funny I don’t usually do outlines but I knew I couldn’t start it straight away. Interestingly, I deviated a little from the outline in the way I revealed things and the timing. However, what I’ve written is better than the outline I reckon.
3) What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal romance, category length.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh that’s tough but fun. I borrowed the images from IMDB. I went with Australian actors as the story is set in Australia.

Alex O’Loughlin as Jake, Abbie Cornish as Elena, and Rose Bryne as Grace, Elena’s cousin.

Alex O'Loughlin Picture.Image of Abbie CornishRose Byrne Picture
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Suburban witch, Elena Denholm, has to mind top flying lawyer, Jake Royston, who has been hexed by a love spell, except she’s finding it hard to keep him out of her bed.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I haven’t finished it yet but I’ll probably submit it to a publisher and go from there or maybe by some miracle I’ll have representation. I wanted to have a couple of new manuscripts to shop around in the new year. I’ll have two newly written ones and some other ones that I’m trying to sell.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Hahaha. Not very long but it’s not finished yet. I started it in October during my visit to New Zealand and then picked it up again mid-to-late November, I think. I was working on another novel before that. I seem to be on a paranormal romance gig at present. I was hoping to finish it in 6 weeks but I didn’t. You could say I was slack.
8)  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Actually I have no idea. It’s  hot and may even be classed as erotica, depending on the publisher and what final form it takes.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Well let me see. Romance Writers of Australia, Nicole Murphy because she encouraged me to go there. My editor, Kate Cuthbert, indirectly because she acquired Rayessa & the Space Pirates and that encouraged me to try writing romance. Also, I’d finished writing a longer single title work, which was a paranormal romance and that worked out well so far. The beta reader comments say so.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It will be compact, sexy and funny too. All set in Sydney.

So that’s my Next Big Thing interview. Around the 26th of December you will be able to see the interviews from my tagged authors.

Ross Hamilton

http://rosshamilton.net.au/

Maxine McArthur on her new blog.

https://maxinemcarthur.wordpress.com/

And others who might be found before the 26th.

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I had an extra day in Brisbane after the RWAus 2012. It was really useful to me to see if the buzz lasted and all those plans I made about being serious were going to stick and whether I really did have a breakthrough in my writing. Well I’m home now, sitting cosy with the electric blanket on because it’s like zero outside. It’s a bit of a shock with 20C in Brisbane today.

I can report that I believe I do have a writing breakthrough. I wrote this morning in the hotel. I think it was about 1500 words on the work in progress. I’ve had trouble with the title of this one but I think it is going to be The Sorcerer’s Spell. So over the weekend, which consists of Saturday night, Sunday night and Monday morning, I’ve written about 6000 words.

As well as talking my head off to Matthew about plans and insights and resolutions, I got this story idea this morning based on something one of the publishers said. During the day the story began to unfold in my mind. We went on a river cruise and more of the story unwound. I had names of characters. I had motive, storyline, beginning, middle and the end. So on the train to the airport I started writing an outline. Now I usually don’t write an outline or if I do it’s usually a poor one with the opening and the ending. I continued to write the outline in the airport lounge and on the plane to Sydney, where we swapped over for the flight to Canberra. By the time I landed in Canberra, I had written 3500 words of the story outline, some 7 pages. I had the whole outline down. If I was to show it to anyone it would need a polish. I think this story is either a novella or category length. It’s romance-focussed with witches in it. I’m calling it Bespelled.

I think I’ll be able to sleep now that the outline is down. I often create whole stories in my head but don’t write them down. Then I forget the excellent detail because I don’t write the things for ages. Well now it is there waiting for me to start. I have to finish The Sorcerer’s Spell first and that’s likely to be single title length as they say in the romance business.

I realised on the trip home that I’m as wired and excited about writing as I was when I first started out. Over the years my enthusiasm fizzed for a number of reasons. My partner didn’t like my writing. My family got annoyed with me about it because I was so fixated and then I was learning to write too so success didn’t come. My progress has been slow and steady. I’ve focused on the spec fic side and left behind the romance side, well not really pursued it. My first attempt at writing was a Scottish Historical romance and I looked at the 900 words I wrote and thought they were crap. I knew nothing about writing then. Later in the year the desire to write came back again and then I got an idea. I wrote Relic in six weeks, practically downloaded it. The writing was pretty ordinary and I had no idea what I’d written. A science fantasy with sex with aliens and feminist overtones. I polished it for years. Nearly got an excellent agent but she dumped me when she heard SF was a hard sell. Then I got another agent but by then I thought Relic was a bit crap. I did get some advice that I should not discard Relic but I haven’t gone back to it in years. It is really a romance when I come to think of it.

So here I am 12 years on and it’s all back, the enthusiasm, the drive and the ideas. I have a different partner now. One that understands the writing, the internet addiction, the weekend long Austen movie fests or Star Trek movie fests. He’s a writer himself and has habits as bad as mine.

A few of those things sitting in my hard drive are going to be subbed pretty soon. Tonight I submitted two short stories. No more procrastination. Now I just have to finish my uni course, get through the next 7 months until the Conflux 9 (a SF convention) is delivered and then I’m home free as far as writing is concerned.

I’m feeling pretty good. Thanks to the RWAus 2012, I’m revved and I’m happy to be so. Thank you fellow romance writers for showing me there are opportunities out there and for being so supportive of writers of any experience. I love your ethos and my membership form was in the mail before I left for the conference. I found something in me that I thought I’d lost. Thanks to Nicole too for encouraging me to come along.

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