5DI Wrap-Up

For all those wondering how it went, here is a wrap of the inaugral 5DI. The week ran from the 10th – 16th July and participants were divided into three pods according to genre (category, historical/mainstream, suspense/paranormal). Below three participants, one from each pod, give their perspective:


Pod: The Lara’s (Paranormal/Suspense)  Mentor: Fiona Brand  Manuscript genre: Paranormal

Why you entered 5DI: I have come close in comps and have had partials and whole ms requests from editors, but just haven’t been able to take that final step. I figured I was missing something or wasn’t understanding some crucial thing they are looking for and thought that if I got into the 5DI, my mentor might be able to help me with this and help me take a bigger step down the path.

The highlight of your week: I loved the whole week, but there are three things that really stand out.

1)Spending time each day with Fiona was fantastic. I actually had one of those ‘light bulb’ moments in regards to the whole first section of my ms – I’d written it in a passive voice because my main character was quite young, but just by making her a little older and changing the prologue into an inciting incident, it changed everything that came after and turned the writing from passive into active. I really began to understand this concept that I’ve struggled with and learning how to cut for pace, something Fiona is really very good at. She’s a great book doctor. I feel like I can take what I learned and apply it to other things I’ve written and will write in the future.

2) Having actual time to write every day was pretty special too. Usually I’m trying to squeeze it around kids and work and time with the hubby and family and housework (although that very often only gets a quick going over! LOL). Actually having whole days to spend on something I love was just invigorating. I feel rejuvenated and enthused about everything now, not just my writing. Really must carve out some time for myself!

3) I also just loved the whole atmosphere of being among like-minded people and being able to walk down the hall and have a chat or a brainstorm with someone, either on my work or on someone else’s. It was an incredibly positive creative experience and I’d love to do it all again.

The toughest thing about the week: I didn’t really have a tough thing. I suppose, waiting to be given the report was pretty nerve-wracking. Everyone disappeared pretty quickly after that and I have to say, I didn’t sleep much the first night. My brain was going into overdrive thinking over what had been said and ways I could try to embrace Fiona’s suggestions without losing what I feel is integral to the book. It was all good though. Even with lack of sleep, I was enthused and ready to go and give the new stuff a try and see if I could make it all work. And it did! It was pretty cool.

Where to from here: Fiona told me my novel was ready to send out and encouraged me to approach agents with it. I’ve been busy writing a query letter and synopsis and compiling lists of agents I want to submit to (with my wonderful husbands help). It’s pretty nerve-wracking, trying to express my 100,000 word novel, my voice, my characters’ GMC’s, my major plot themes etc etc etc into a few pages. But I’ve got some great crit partners from a writing group and Sue, who was also in the paranormal pod, has been fantastic, looking over this stuff and giving me feedback. So, I’m pretty lucky really.

Other: I just want to say that if anyone is toying with the idea of entering the 5DI next year, just go for it. What have you got to lose? – you could have a whole lot to gain. I know I had a really positive experience that doesn’t represent everyone’s experience, but if you want to learn, to improve, to gain fresh and new insights, and to spend time with other writers in an informal atmosphere where writing and talking writing and being with others who are the same as you in trying to fit writing into their everyday life with all its ups and downs (in other words, people who have great insight into what your life is like and not only sympathise, but empathise) then this is for you. I loved it. I would do it again tomorrow if I could. And now I know for certain that my writing is good enough to get published and that has given me the impetus I needed to keep charging ahead toward that goal despite all the difficulties and road blocks that are put up in a very challenging industry.


Pod: The Bon Ton (Historical/Mainstream) Mentor: Sophia James Manuscript genre: Historical/Mainstream

Why you entered 5DI: Due to my on-going studies in writing at university, I decided that 2009 I would have a year off from all writing. Having given myself this time out, I found that at the beginning of 2010 I was ready to re-connect with my writing, and to give myself time to explore a variety of opportunities that might be out there for an emerging writer. Initally, I was accepted into a 6 week Writer’s course with the South Australian Writer’s Centre which commenced in Feruary, and during this time I was able to have the beginnings of my attempt at historical writing critiqued by group members. As a result of the feedback received, I re-wrote my first chapter. At about this time I received the RWA Newsletter advising of the 5DI. I had always thought attending a residential writing program would be a great way to challenge myself as a writer, and challenge whether I thought I had any ability in this field as well. I only submitted the chapter at about 11.00 pm (ish) the night of the 5DI closing date.

When I received the email advising that I had been accepted into 5DI, I think you could have heard the screams from Adelaide! However, reality suddenly set in, as I also realised that I need to produce a first draft manuscript in less than 2 months – and at that stage I literally only had 1.5 chapters! That, in itself was very sobering, and I set myself the challenge of meeting the manuscript deadline.

The highlight of your week: It is very hard for me to distinguish one particular highlight during the 5DI week, because when I look back at it – as corny and cliched as it might sound, there were quite a few highlights for me that were very personal. After the first night, I woke up on the Sunday morning, and realised probably for the first time in my life, that I didn’t have to be at work, didn’t have to care for children, didn’t have to clean, cook or look after other people’s needs, and although it might sound incredibly selfish, it was a very liberating experience, as I realised that I had time to just write; to just let thoughts, ideas, etc simmer and that I had the luxury of setting my own agenda for the week.

On that first night, when I first read my report about my manuscript from my mentor, I realised that all of the elements, feedback and recommendations provided by Sophia, where very much what I had realised in my own work. After I had finished my manuscript and submitted it in mid-May, I deliberately did not look at it again until 5DI, as I wanted the time to just let things sit, and to re-visit it during my time away, perhaps looking at it with fresh eyes.

The ultimate highlight for me, was when I was reading Sophia my re-written pieces and she started to cry, and said ‘you’ve just got it!’. That really resonated with me. 

The toughest thing about the week: Isolation – when you are just in your little room, writing and working away, it is easy to withdraw and to stay that way. I was the only person from Adelaide, and at times I felt somewhat lonely. I got a bit emotional about the fourth day in, realising that I missed my two sons and my husband. Once I got over that, I was fine and actually made some wonderful friends!

Also, being very new to RWA; the historical genre and to the other genres, I found it difficult, at times to understand all of the acronyms and information that was being discussed. I guess there is an expectation that we are all on the same page (pardon the pun!) and to a ‘newbie’ this wasn’t always the case (but we survived!).

Where to from here: I have come back from 5DI with a renewed passion for my writing. Since my return I have tried to put more concentrated time aside for my writing, as it is so easy to let family, work and other things take over. The historical pod formed a great bond, and we have also set up our own chat group. I also now have a critique partner in one of the members of the pod, and I think we all had a tear or two when 5DI was over. In reflection, I needed 5DI to show me that there is more to life than the regular of 9 to 5 work, so much so, I have now set myself a goal to become published, and to continue to immerse myself in activities and events, that will nurture that goal.

Other: Sophia James was an incredibly generous mentor. Not only did she read all of our manuscripts once, but twice; and she provided us with 2 reports and a fully marked up copy of our manuscripts that we were able to take home with us for further reference. More than all of that she is a genuinely, lovely person, one that cares deeply about her profession, and the craft of writing. I’m sure I speak on behalf of other historical pod members when I say that she had a wonderful way of connecting with each of us, to nurture us along the writing path; whether it was making the significant male character more prominent, weaving more romance into the story, simplifying the plot, or developing character back stories – Sophia knew how to convey it to us in a professional, caring manner, and in all it has helped us all to improve ourselves and our writing abilities, and for that, I believe, we are all truly grateful! 

I would urge anyone out there considering 5DI in the future, to action the process. I was literally ‘scared stiff’ – but have now found that the experience has been incredibly liberating both personally and professionally. Just go for it – you might be very surprised!


Pod: The Janes (Category Romance) Mentor: Lilian Darcy Manuscript genre: M&B Sexy

 Why you entered 5DI: I jumped at it when I read about it in Hearts Talk – I wanted to be part of it. I saw it was a rare opportunity. An opportunity to get some unbiased feedback on my MS. I wanted to learn first hand from a successful writer what I needed to do to move forward with my MS and to grow as a writer. It isn’t often you get an chance to discuss your MS on a one to one basis with a published author.

The highlight of your week: For me it was the first meeting which was a Q&A session regarding the industry. The answers were heartfelt and honest and it proved to be a very interesting session 

The toughest thing about the week: Getting my work ready in time for Lillian each day!!!

Our daily lively discussions regarding character development and plotting meant re-writing either a new chapter or a new scene. It was challenging with long nights of re-plotting and re-writes.

Where to from here: Definitely more writing. I feel a more confident with my writing and with what I have to do to cross that magical line. I’ve learnt a lot, I took plenty of notes and will keep studying and writing – it’s hardly a chore.

 Other: It was great week and one I will never forget.

I loved the camaraderie and the fun of being with such an enthusiastic group of people who love not only reading books, but writing them.  

5DI 2011 has been confirmed. For 2011 you will be required to submit a completed manuscript as part of the application process. Watch out for full details of 5DI 2011 later this year.


BLOG BITE with Paula Roe

Three words to describe me… Talkative, enthusiastic, loyal

My day job is… A writer and a mum.  Two jobs that are seriously underpaid but so incredibly satisfying for the soul. 

Saving for… So far – a trip to the UK, Antarctica, Disneyworld, the Arizona Meteor crater, Scotland, and an archeological dig.  My son has big dreams and is making a list, you see… 

I procrastinate by… Watching TV and the internet.  It’s a love/hate relationship.

My worst habit is… Chewing my nails.  And procrastination. 

I would most like to meet… David Attenborough because…. he’s well-travelled, well spoken and full of interesting things to say.   

If I was stranded on a desert island, the three things I would take are… Besides sun block, food, water and books?  A solar powered iMac with wireless, shampoo and a fully-pimped out cruiser with a cute crew who know how to navigate.  (If it’s less than three star, I’m staying home.  So you can guess I don’t do camping…)

I write… Hot Aussie contemporary romance for Silhouette Desire – and in my spare time I’m plotting a futuristic off-world paranormal/fantasy saga, a body-switch YA, and a women’s fiction.  It’s the Gemini in me <g>.  

A recovering contest junkie, Paula’s 2009 release The Magnate’s Baby Promise won Favourite Short Category Romance in ARRA’s Australian Romance Readers Awards in May, and her current release The Billionaire Baby Bombshell, (June in the States, July in ANZ) was a Borders Group Top 10 best seller.   Visit Paula’s web site for more details, plus helpful links and articles for writers. Post a comment before 5pm AEST tomorrow (Sat) and you could win a book from her back list.

If you’d like to step into the blog Bite hotseat, send Jenn an email.

BLOG BITE with Anna Campbell

At home I cook… LOTS of meat. I’m a carnivore, grrrrrr!

My first job… was working for the ANZ Bank.

I’m saving for… a trip to Europe in 2011. The last few years my big overseas trip has been RWA in America but next year, I’m going to be chasing Scotsmen (and Englishmen and maybe Frenchmen and Belgians!) instead.


I write… dramatic and passionate Regency historicals for Avon.

Please check out my website for more info, excerpts and contests!  I also blog regularly with the wonderful Romance Bandits.  My latest release, MY RECKLESS SURRENDER, is out in June here and in North America. Here’s the blurb:

Headlong into sin…

A well-practiced rake, weary of easy conquests and empty pleasures, Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft, knows women—and his every instinct warns him to beware of this one. Diana Carrick’s brazen overtures have thrown the haunted, sinfully handsome lord completely off his guard. Why, the exquisite temptress stated outright that she wishes to be his lover! But it is neither Diana’s boldness nor her beauty that intrigues him so—it is the innocence he senses behind her worldly mask.

Intent upon the seduction that will finally free her, Diana has set her sights on the notorious Ashcroft—never dreaming that there is much more to the enigmatic rogue than sin and deviltry. His kiss is bewitching, his caress intoxicating—and even the dangerous secret Diana must protect cannot shield her from Ashcroft’s dark allure.

Unwittingly yet most willingly, they are playing with fire. Now the fuse has been lit and there is no escape…except surrender.

You can read an excerpt here.

Anna is giving away a signed copy of MY RECKLESS SURRENDER to a random commenter. Contest closes at 5pm AEST tomorrow (Sat).

If you would like to jump into the Blog Bite hotseat, email Jenn.

BLOG BITE with Tamara Gill

It’s a bit daggy but I love… Melting chocolate in the microwave and eating it with a spoon. Usually only occurs in winter…usually 🙂

My day job is… Mum, taxi driver, swimming instructor, doctor, bookkeeper, diplomat and when I have a spare moment, full time writer.

Currently reading… I read all genres. So my house is littered with books partly read. It ranges from Stephanie Laurens, Alexis Morgan, Keri Arthur, Anna Campbell, Eloisa James, Gaelen Foley, oh the list is endless. And since I’m writing so much these days the pile is growing out of control.

Plotter or pantser… I’m a pantser to the bone. An idea will pop in my head, I’ll write it down and that’s it. I do note down as I write, secondary characters, locations, estate names, features etc but that’s it. I love writing this way; I don’t think plotting would work for me at all.

I write… Time Travel and Regency romance, targeted at single title publication.

Find out more about Tam here, or at her blog.

Would you like to feature in an upcoming Blog Bite? Email Jenn.

BLOG BITE with Alison Ahearn w/a Amy Andrews

It’s a bit daggy… but I love Achy Breaky Heart (yeh, yeh… I know)

3 things people might not know about me…

I met the man of my dreams at 16.

I’ve nursed two sets of conjoined twins and was even on 60 Minutes for about 5 secs!!

I made the honour board at my high school

My first job was…

waitress/dishwasher at the local racecourse restaurant. I was 13 and earned $14.81 cents for four hours work every Saturday afternoon and saved up to buy my first stereo player.

My secret skill that is no longer a secret…

I can do the splits. These days I usually reserve it for a party trick though 😮

I write medical romance for HMB.

Alison writes as Amy Andrews (visit her web site here). Her next book, A Mother For Matilda, is out mid-April. To win a copy of her new release leave a comment before 5pm tomorrow (Sat).

BOOK WINNER: Alison chose Anita’s ‘priceless’ comment. Congratuations Anita and thanks to Alison for sharing.

BLOG BITE with Sandii Manning

My worst habit is… Just one? That’s tough. I do have a secret love of The Deadliest Catch, there’s something about those men…Don’t get me started about the marathons!

My writing bad habit is forcing myself to sit down and write. One word then another. Even on days when I feel Purex is a better read, I make myself write.

It’s a bit daggy but I love…  Antiques Roadshow. I love to have a good cry when a hideous Toby jug that someone’s great aunt Ethel leaves them. Something so hideous you wouldn’t put in your fish tank turns out to be an early work of Lladro and is worth half a million.  Also whenever the jaunty theme song comes on, my husband and children run screaming from the room, so I get a whole hour of peace.

My first job was…  Deli girl at Glenfield Foodtown on Auckland’s North Shore, after school. After searching the pickled onion vat for the largest and most decadent I was caught by my supervisor. Lucky mum was a check-out chick.  I got moved to Produce.

Currently reading… The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

 Three things people don’t know about me…

I foster dogs for an organisation called Rover Rescue. At the moment we have Reggie who is just adoreable and looking for his forever home. He’s attached for you to ahhh over.

I make to die for lamingtons, even if I do say so myself.

I love anagrams – I’m demon at Boggle and take no prisoners.  

I write… because on days when the words flow it’s magic. One day I’d love to write for Harlequin Romance.

This is my last Blog Bite post. I’d like to thank everyone for their support of the RWA Blog Bite and hope you continue to support the wonderful Jenn McLeod, who has taken over the reins. Thanks Jenn 🙂

Want to share a few fun facts about yourself? Email Jenn to organise your Blog Bite – for all RWAustralia members, published and unpublished.

Emerald: Category Results

Congratulations to all the entrants who made the cut for Round 2 of the Emerald Award Category 2010.

The top 3 places go to:
Joanne Robertson
Rebecca Sampson
Coleen Yan

Their full manuscripts will be ranked by Mary Therese Hussey of HM&B and final placings announced at the Conference Awards dinner in August.
A big thank-you to Bev Lewis and assistant Liesl Leighton who managed the Category section.

BLOG BITE with Vonnie Hughes

Three words to describe me are…

Thorough: I turn over every stone. Way too analytical.

Outspoken: I keep struggling to tone it down because outspokenness is not necessarily a good trait at all. I always try to avoid hurting people’s feelings though.

Loyal: I don’t give a darn what others say about the few people in the world I love, I’m still there for them and damn the multitudes. I’m also loyal to ideas that may not be fashionable at the time, but have proven in the past to be viable or which look to be logical for the future. If they resonate with me, I’ll stick with them. I don’t do trends.

My favourite author is… Jayne Ann Krentz in all her incarnations. She is an author whose development you can easily track. Her early Jayne Castle books don’t stack up so well now, but we’re talking here about books written in the 80’s. Very few romances written in the 80’s stack up today. It’s a whole new ballgame now. I love and often re-read her Amanda Quick regencies. I’ve heard a few purists mutter about them, but I think she gets that quirky tone just right. And her Eclipse Bay series and Arcane Society books are to die for. I admire her for her ability to change with the times, yet keep her quirky sense of humour throughout so that as soon as you pick up a book and read the first paragraph you say to yourself, ‘This is a Jayne Ann Krentz book.’

I would most like to meet… William Tielle. William was my great-uncle. He died at Passchendaele in November, 1917 at the age of 21. He is buried in the Dozinghem Military Cemetery. He was a gunner with the 21st NZ Field Artillery. The Tielle line has now died out in New Zealand. Although the Tielles had a bunch of daughters, William was their only adult son, another having died at the age of 10 months. Those were hard days. From all accounts William (nicknamed Teddy by his sisters) sounds like an honourable, pleasant and capable young man, the sort of hero we all admire.

I write… Regencies and Romantic Suspense.

Robert Hale Ltd of London recently released COMING HOME, a Regency that begins on the Portuguese/Spanish border in May, 1811. It is about Juliana Colebrook, a half-English, half-Portuguese woman working as a nurse during the Napoleonic wars. She has been viciously raped and keeps clear of all men except the sick ones she nurses. There’s only one man she’s ever trusted—Brigade-Major Colwyn Hetherington. She is desperate to get to her relatives in England and when Colly sells out and prepares to return to England, she begs him to take her. But Colly, stuffed full of honour and grief, admits that he was once accused of rape… You can buy COMING HOME here

If you think you would like to take a bite of the blog email Anita.

BLOG BITE with Tracy Travis

My first job was… checkout operator

My day job is… university student final year studying radiography, was an industrial chemist before going back to university for 10 years.

Three things people might not know about me are… I have a degree in science, doing a second one, cannot stand those bad lab shows like CSI where forensic science just happens in seconds

Currently reading… anything blaze or sexy will do

Plotter or pantser… plotter I think, not a lot done yet

I would most like to meet… Winston Churchill because… great planner in stressful time and held a country together in war

I write… sexy, still early days.

Critique Groups. Critique Partners. Online Groups. What’s the difference?

A discussion by Barb Jeffcott Geris, RWA’s Member Services Coordinator

Although many writers prefer to write and revise their work themselves, some like to get other opinions or just have a place to ask industry questions and talk about craft. What’s the difference between the schemes RWA offers?

CP Register  – One on One critiquing

This is an anonymous online register (a little like a match-making service) where you can view someone’s profile (and they can view yours) and you can decide if you’d like to trial a Critique Partner. We have two different registers, one for Beginners and one for Intermediate/Advanced writers. To apply go here, log in and select critique partners from the menu on the left or email here.

Online Critique Groups – Critiquing with 4 to 5 others

Perhaps you want a range of critiques and some deadlines to work to. Most online critique groups run through a private Yahoo Group and have people writing across genres. They often have rules about how many chapters you need to post in a certain timeframe (approx one chapter per month) and the number of critiques you’ll be required to complete per month (approx four). This means that in a month you’ll have four critiques back on your chapter. To join an online critique group send your writing bio here.

 Online Genre Groups – Yahoo Groups for discussion of industry and craft

 Maybe you have a critique partner but would like more information on what’s hot in paranormals or  how someone should be addressed in a Regency. In joining an online genre group you’ll be part of a relaxed forum discussing issues of craft and industry without critiques. For more information on specialist Online genre groups go here, log in and click on e-groups in the left hand menu.

We currently have the following: Category Romance, Single Title Romance, Erotic Romance, Blaze, Romantic Suspense, Young Adult, Historical, Paranormal, Nanowrimo/50ks in 30 days group.

Face to Face Groups – Groups near you that meet approx once a month

Often it’s nice to sit down with other romance writers and either critique face to face or discuss the highs and lows of what you’re doing. We have a number of face to face groups across the country, from very small groups who focus solely on critiquing to larger groups who offer critiquing,  craft, industry and an opportunity to socialize. Groups often have a special emphasis or strength, so it’s important that we find you a group that fits you and your needs. To apply to join a face-face-group in your area, send your writing bio here.

Setting up your own group

If there isn’t a group in your area or you’d just like to start a group of your own, we have a number of resources available to you including a Yahoo Group of Group Coordinators who are happy to share their experiences of setting up and maintaining a great group. To apply, just email.

To participate in the above schemes you must be a member of Romance Writers of Australia. To join go here.

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