April OWLs

Hoot, hoot, hoot, its the April OWLs (with apologies to ‘Little April Showers).

Once again, we had two fantastic OWLs for the month, one for before you’ve finished your book and one for after, with two fantastic presenters.  Details are below, so check them out!

Please note: our booking system doesn’t allow us to take bookings after the courses start, which, in both cases, is the 3rd of April – so don’t delay!

EbonyMcKennaOWL

You’ve written a manuscript – how to get it to the next stage? Self-editing bootcamp for writers will show you how to be objective about your own work. Structure is your friend! Edit your own manuscript: More details and booking here
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CT-Green-April-OWL-Banner-1-936x640

Spielberg Eat Your Heart Out!
Whether you’re a novice or more seasoned writer (mmm, seasoned), most authors face a major challenge: ‘How to successfully promote hundreds of pages of written text into one effective cover image, blurb, post, tweet…’. The answer is simple: You create a highly shareable, HD Book Trailer of Epic Awesomeness! Join our short course by clicking the link below on creating your very own Book Trailer so you can begin to get your books noticed! …Awesome Book Trailers: more details and booking here

TWO Magnificent OWLS in March

Whether it’s your manuscript or your writing business that needs work, we have you covered with our next two OWLS.  They start next Monday, so don’t delay or dither – decide!

lanaBuilding Your WordPress Author Website
From the Ground Up

with Lana Pecherczyk

Take control of your career and learn how to manage a simple WordPress website and blog then turn it into a successful self-managed powerhouse for your author business. Learn via easy walkthrough videos as Lana builds an author website before your eyes, and talks about content creation, e-commerce, traffic acquirement and more. Downloadable PDFs and worksheets will be available so you can revise at your leisure. Whether you’re a digital immigrant or an author just wanting the latest hot tips on WordPress, you can get the author targeted advice from the current RWA Webmistress Lana Pecherczyk. Each student must be prepared to either set up a free WordPress.org account, or purchase a domain and hosting (explained how to inside the course).

Register and get more details here

workshop_show-don

Bring your story into focus:
why ‘show don’t tell’ is a layer cake

with Sandy Vaile

Bring your story into focus

Why ‘show don’t tell’ is like a layer cake.

‘Show don’t tell’ is the lynch-pin of great writing. I’m sure you’ve all heard the term, but are you applying it effectively? Delve into the vivid realm of showing, and realise a balance between description and brevity that will captivate readers and not let them go.

This course best suits modern fiction writers.

Register and get more details here

Hoot Hoot! Two OWLs!

Manuscript getting away from you? Characters confused about their Goals, Motivations & Conflicts? You need our February Owls! For GMC, see http://romanceaustralia.com/a-sparkling-guide-to-gripping-goal-motivation-conflict/ and Aeon Timeline, see http://romanceaustralia.com/quickly-learn-aeon-timeline-for-fiction-writers-authors/

There’s time for one more OWL this year!

5 Reasons to Take Short Story Writing

With NaNo going in full swing, and end-of-the-year deadlines looming, it’s the perfect time to add in one more project, right?

  1. Learn how to write short!

It’s a given, right? Every time I teach a workshop, some students say they tend to write LONG, so they’re looking for tips to tighten their storylines.

  1. Potential for publication

The ultimate goal in the course is to complete a short story, and submit it for a call. If you need that added umpf to hit “send,” this class may be for you!

  1. Gain inspiration

You can either come to the class with an idea, or discover a new one. Many people are amazed at the variety of Calls for Submission out there. Need a story idea? You may find food for your muse.

  1. Take a writing “break”

Turning toward writing short stories or novellas between longer works acts as a way to take a mini-break. Write a bridge between stories or perhaps a shorter piece to kick off a new series.

  1. Make an end-of-the-year goal

Yes, it’s December, and 2017 is sprinting toward us. It’s also the last push before the end of the year. Make it a goal to finish a story this year.

Hope to see you there! For more information, visit:

http://romanceaustralia.com/owl-writing-the-short-story-for-submission/

Louisa Bacio

Contest News! Changes to the Emerald…

Emerald Award

The next big contest of the year for our Aspiring and Emerging members is the Emerald, which is open 31 October – 21 November. This special reader-judged contest offers the chance to have your full manuscript evaluated by your target audience.

Our judges are keen romance readers, found in libraries, bookstores, reader organisations like ARRA, trains, offices, couches and bedrooms all over the country—and we’d all love to know what they think of our books!

The first round of the Emerald is for the first 10,000 words (increased from 5,000 for last year) of your unpublished romantic manuscript (10K+). The top 15 entries will progress to the second round, where the full manuscript is judged by our readers.

Three well-deserving finalists will win a reading by our final judge: Rebecca Saunders, Fiction Publisher, Hachette Australia. So get your entries ready!

You’ll be able to enter via a link on the temporary RWA website.

FAQ: Does your manuscript need to be finished to enter the Emerald? Well, we recommend that it is finished, or very close to – because if you make the second round (which is typically announced early in the new year) you’ll be asked to submit the full with only a few days notice.

 

CHANGES TO THE EMERALD PRO for published authors

The Emerald Pro is also open 31 October – 21 November. This is our “Emerald for published authors”, available to our Emerging and Established members who already have works commercially available.

In response to feedback from members, we’re making a few changes for this year.

Originally the Pro was designed to give entrants reader feedback without the stress and risk of publishing – but members also want publishing pathways, as well as prize money, along with the kudos of winning a hard-fought contest. So for this year:

  •  We’re having a third round of judging, by an editor/agent final judge, just like the ‘unpublished’ Emerald. So in addition to getting valuable anonymous feedback from readers, our three finalists will have their full manuscript read by our final judge – Esi Sogah, Senior Editor, Kensington Books.
  • To that end, we’ve removed the requirement that your entry be in a subgenre that you’re not published in. We know you’ll want to put your best work in front of the final judge. So enter whatever subgenre you like – as long as your entry remains unpublished and uncontracted for the duration of the contest.
  • Prize money! We’ve included prize money for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, the same as for the ‘unpublished’ Emerald.

Your first round entry is the first 10,000 words of your unpublished/uncontracted manuscript. The top 15 who make the second round will submit their full manuscript.

As for the Emerald, you’ll be able to enter the Pro via a link on the temporary RWA website.

A Writer’s Life: Plotting, with Helen Bianchin

This fabulous (italics mine because I think it’s fabulous – Ed.) article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of Hearts Talk, the journal of the Romance Writers of Australia.  For more info on the column, and on RWA membership, see the end of this post!  But for now, over to Helen…

helen-bianchin-portrait

Plotting with Helen Bianchin

I spent the first year of my writing career convinced a book had to be written from page one through to the end. I stalled so many times, eventually threw my hands in the air, muttered something pithy in Italian, then vowed out loud: where does it say there’s a rule a book has to be written consecutively from start to finish?

Remember, in the early 1970s, there were few ‘how-to write’ books around, and the only other M&B authors I knew were Essie Summers and Gloria Bevan. That was until one day Robyn Donald and her husband were in Auckland, discovered there was only one Bianchin in the phonebook and rang me. They visited that very day, and a friendship was forged, which has lasted until the present. Not long after that, Daphne Clair began her Ring o’ Roses newsletter and there was contact!

I tried the pantser route way back when, and ended up with sentences, paragraphs, pages all over the place. Soon I discovered it was a method that didn’t work for me.

What did work was to choose a premise (or it would choose me) and I’d make notes, choose names, setting, get it all handwritten into a notebook, think about it (including procrastination), compose a supposedly perfect scene on the edge of sleep, positive I’d remember it in glorious detail on waking the next morning. Yes, well, we know how that goes…

Through trial and error, I discovered I think in scenes—usually out of sequence. I have to say curling up in a comfy chair with pen and notepad works. The ideas happen and I scribble them down. Then I key them into the computer while the ideas are fresh and there’s hope I can decipher my scribble—or at least get the gist of it, editing as I go along, expanding, enhancing, numbering each draft scene before printing it out. It’s a weird method, and you wouldn’t believe how many times I vow to discard it and write in a professional manner (whatever that is!)

However, I have tried other methods. I know Joy Dingwell used to hand-write on the right side of a lined notebook—mainly all dialogue—then she’d go back and handwrite on the left side of the lined notebook the emotional bits, the scenery, etc. and balloon each bit into where it should fit. When the handwritten notebook was complete, she’d edit, add, then type it all out on an old typewriter in what passed for MS format at that time.

I know of authors who have adapted a similar methodology with handwriting on the right side of a lined notebook (or unlined) and use different-coloured sticky-pad sheets containing handwritten emotion, scenery etc, high and low points, and stick them onto the left side of the notebook. At least with the latter, the sticky-pad sheets can be easily moved and switched around. When the current long-languishing MS is finally finished, I think I’ll give this method a try.

Others use a whiteboard—I think if I tried that, I’d end up erasing something deep and meaningful to be lost forevermore.

Then there’s Scrivener. Some authors swear by it. Others try it and decide it’s not for them. I bought the program with the intention of trialling it when the long-languishing MS finally travels through the ether to London. I even upgraded to the latest version. I’ll let you know how I go (just don’t hold your breath!).

I must admit I witness the published output of varying authors and wonder if they sleep. Writing must occupy every waking minute of their lives…or they have glorious brainpower whereby they key in the right words with the speed of light.

In conclusion, there is no right way. There’s only your way. Even so experimenting with different ways may work really well.

– Helen Bianchin

 

A long-time bestseller for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Helen Bianchin’s books are sold in 26 languages in more than 109 countries. Helen is much beloved in the romance writing community, and was RWA’s first-ever Hall of Fame author. She’s always been a huge supporter of new writers as well as established authors and still participates on the RWA email loops.

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk. Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA].

 

Do you have a Selling Synopsis?

RWA’s contest season is steaming ahead, and the Selling Synopsis is now open for entries!

Writing a synopsis is many writers least favourite activity, but it is one of the most important skills to master if you want to get an editor or agent interested enough to request your full manuscript. First impressions count – and impressing an editor or agent depends on it.

This competition lets you try out your skills, get feedback and, if you make it to the final, get your synopsis seen by Joanne Grant, Senior Executive Editor, Harlequin UK.

The competition is open to all members of RWA now and closes on the 31st of October, so get writing that synopsis!  If you aren’t a member, and would like to be, you can join here.

For more details and to enter, visit our website.

 

 

A Writer’s Life: Social Media, self-doubt and creativity.

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk.  This peek into DB Tait‘s writing life first appeared in the October 2016 edition.  Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA]. 

db-tait

Social media, self-doubt and creativity

Back in 2004 when I started writing seriously, the internet was a great source of information about the craft of writing and a whole range of other writing-related issues. I started out not particularly wanting to write in romance as a genre, just wanting to write something. But I noticed that everything I wrote had a romance in it or a romantic theme. So I googled, found the Romance Writers of Australia, joined and found a great community of like-minded writers.

I learned a lot. Some things were invaluable, like point of view and avoiding head-hopping, and others were not so useful, like never use the word ‘was’ because this indicates passive writing (it doesn’t). I found out about the business, about editors and agents, and went to conferences. My work then was either erotica or erotic romance and I was published by some erotic lines in the US. Then I stopped writing. Or rather, I was still writing but unhappy with it because I listened to what was being said in the romance and erotic romance world and believed my writing wasn’t marketable (it probably was). Life also intervened with some personal challenges that took me away from writing. I also got a little (okay, a lot) bored with sex.

I knew I had to go back to my first love which was crime writing. But I couldn’t let romance go because I just naturally write stories where people meet and are drawn to each other. So I recreated myself as a romantic suspense writer, or as I prefer, a mystery writer with romantic elements (which is a bit of a mouthful).

I think my involvement with Facebook and other social media increased when I decided to get back to writing seriously. And then a curious thing happened. I started doubting myself again. Doubting myself is a chronic condition with me but I found social media made it worse. I saw other people discuss their work, including their work output, and knew I would never be able to achieve what they did. I saw people win dubious prizes and brag about their position on Amazon and wondered if I should be involved in that. Sometimes I did and then didn’t like myself. Other people marketed their work ferociously, which irritated me but also made me again wonder if I shouldn’t be doing that too.

I do like Facebook. I use it as a watercooler where I can chat with my friends. But I think it increases my anxiety and my sense of lack of achievement.  I start looking at my writing through the lens of Facebook not through the lens of my own creativity.

I am cursed (as are a lot of writers) with a vicious, troll-like internal editor who delights in subversion. I find social media feeds this troll and makes me doubt a lot about what I want to write and how I should or shouldn’t market it. The result is a terrible sense of immobility, a kind of ‘what’s the point’ attitude, which is so far from the sense of joy I had when I first started writing.

So what’s the solution? The first realisation I had is to understand I don’t have the personality to make Facebook or other social media part of my ‘brand’. I’m okay with chatting about the weather and world events, but once I start to think of myself as a brand and have to market my writing, I fall into a kind of existential despair. Other people thrive on creating a brand for themselves. I envy them on some level. I hate it.

The second realisation I had is to truly, at a deep level, write what I want to write. Yes, it’s important to pay attention to the market, but if the market doesn’t sing to you, don’t write for it. For me that means I’m at the romantic elements part of the genre.

My third realisation is to experiment. Never get so caught up in how one should write and what conventions one must follow that writing become a chore and a by-the-numbers dreary task.  I know that’s easy for me to say because writing is not my living (yet!) but I have left jobs when they become soul-destroying.

So, you may be seeing a lot less of me on social media. I’ll still be marketing my writing wares in my usual slapdash way and spending time around the watercooler, but increasingly I’ll be saying goodbye to anything that increases my self-doubt. I encourage you to look at what creates self-doubt in your life and get rid of it. We owe it to ourselves and to the fabulous stories we create.

– DB Tait http://dbtait.com/.

DB Tait has written in a variety of subgenres, including erotica, and now writes crime fiction with romantic elements. A longtime member of RWA, she has recently rejoined the RWA committee after many years of service in the past. Her next publication is Festive Deception, a Christmas novella out this month.

festive-deception

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk. Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA].

Make Facebook Your Friend: Ask me how!

Actually, don’t ask me, ask Sara Hood.  Better still, sign up for her October OWL and learn it from her!  Social media is a fact of life for writers these days, but it can be mystifying and frustrating for the uninitiated.  So an online workshop with this title has to be a good idea!

Make Facebook your friend: six ways to make Facebook work for you as a writer, without mortgaging your home

Registration is now open and you can sign up here: http://www.romanceaustralia.com/new/showowls.asp

But now, over to Sara!

11-50am-sara-headshots-fb-1

Of all the articies I’ve written for Hearts Talk*, by far the one that generated the most response was earlier this year where I busted some of the most commonly believed Facebook myths.

Frequently (and sadly) those myths are based on a misunderstanding of what Facebook is and how it works. Or even a misunderstanding about why Facebook is there in the first place. (Clue: it’s not out to force you to advertise by wilfully restricting who gets to see your posts, but it’s also not a charity.)

When people ask me ‘is it worth being on Facebook?’ my reply is always ‘with 1.6 billion accounts what’s not to like?’.

Let’s get this straight: it is very easy to get Facebook wrong.  It doesn’t help that Facebook itself doesn’t communicate that well and there is a tsunami of ‘experts’ who fill the void, some of whom are little more than snakeoil salesmen, and directly contradict each other. Or have a ‘guaranteed’ strategy that costs a mere $50 per lead. All that does is confuse and bewilder and frustrate.

So the most critical challenge for a writer when trying to make Facebook work for you is working out who to listen to and how to succeed without wasting money and driving yourself nuts.

That’s where this OWL comes in. Six ways to make Facebook your friend. They’re not hard. They won’t require you to first complete a PhD in rocket science. Nor will they cost gargantuan amounts of money to implement.

The OWL also won’t suck up your precious time. It’s a series of PDFs, released each week from 3 October, which you can work through in your own time. There’s then a Facebook group where you can ask questions (and I promise to be there at least once a day) and at the end an online live webinar for you to ask the questions that couldn’t be answered in the Facebook group. We can share screens and look at the back end of Facebook, live.

I won’t over promise: Facebook is harder now that before because there are so many more people competing for screen time, it takes time and it takes commitment.  This OWL will also show you how to track if you’re making a difference.

It starts on 3 October and runs all month, with the webinar scheduled for the last week. It will be recorded and if you can’t make it you are invited send your questions in and I’ll answer them in the session.

If you’re an aspiring writer this is a great way to start to get your marketing foundations in place. For emerging and established writers it’s a great way to make sure you’re hitting all the right buttons.

As I said a few paragraphs ago, with 1.6 billion accounts what’s not to love about Facebook? You just have to learn how to make friends with it first.

So, if any of this sounds like you, see you next month for the October OWL.

It’s going to be fun!
Registration is now open.  http://www.romanceaustralia.com/new/owlrego.asp?id=23

$30 for RWA members and $40 for those who aren’t.

* In case you haven’t noticed, I write a book marketing article in each issue of Hearts Talk! Feel free to send in a question and I’ll do my best to answer it. (And for those who don’t know, Hearts Talk is the member journal for RWA.  You can join RWA here.)

Sara Hood has been a member of RWA for 8 years, is still thoroughly unpublished and knows all too well that finishing a manuscript might be a good idea. She’s also a longstanding member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, and RWA-auspiced writing group, the Saturday Ladies Bridge Club.  She’s worked in marketing for more than thirty years and runs a consultancy providing marketing services for organisations in the wider music sector.  She spent half of July this year in Glasgow running the social media for an international conference of music educators.

Rip into the Ripping Start!

The Ripping Start contest is now open for entries!

The Ripping Start is, fittingly, the first in our annual contest season.  It is open to Romance Writers of Australia members in the Aspiring and Emerging categories.  If you’re not a member and would like to enter, you can always join!   You can find membership information and join on our website.

Why should YOU enter The Ripping Start?  Three awesome reasons:

1) It’s the first 1500 words of your unpublished manuscript, plus a 300-word summary of the whole story. Easy!

2) Get valuable anonymous feedback from your fellow RWA writers. Three scoresheets filled with comments. Who wouldn’t want that?

3) The top 6 entries will be read by our fabulous final judge: editor Lucy Bell,from Aussie publisher Pantera Press. Lucy is on the lookout for new and emerging romance writers, so don’t miss this amazing opportunity.

Contest is open until 26 September. Get your Ripping Start on 🙂

Check the website for details.

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