Little Gems 2012: Jenn J McLeod

The name of your short story in the 2012 Diamond Edition is:

About Midnight

What challenges you most in writing a short romance story?

Character arcs! In our novels we want readers to relate to and care about our characters. I want the same in my short stories. I want conflict and back-story and angst.  I also love dialogue (no laughing those who know me!) and smiley bits of banter. Dialogue quickly sucks away words. That is my challenge.

Do you have any tip/s for writing a short story.

I start with a title – always.

The other thing I discovered by comparing my many unsuccessful shorts with successful ones is that the ones that have made the anthology all started with dialogue that (hopefully) had the reader keen to know more. (three examples below). I tend to start my chapters the same way. Nothing says ‘action’ like dialogue.

‘Ben? What are you doing here?’ (About Midnight – Diamond)

‘This is Katie O’Neil, for Prime News, reporting to you from flood-ravaged…aaarrrggghhh!’ (Swept Away – Garnet)

‘Penelope wait. Please don’t slam the door in my face.’ (A Penny For Your Thoughts – Topaz)

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

A big, black burst of energy barrelled past Claudia, almost tripping her as it struggled to find purchase on the timber boards and coming to an unceremonious stop in the neat-as-a-pin living room. The dog sat up, shook, panted, a suspended string of slobber slowly stretching towards the floor.

What was your inspiration for the story?

A dog. Dogs inspire me. In fact they rule my life. They make me a better person, are great listeners, and help me stay fit. They even provide me with an income! I believe everyone should rescue a pound dog at least once in their lifetime. Just imagine!

What are you working on now? and/or what are your writing goals for the future?

I’m mid-way through that crazy first year of pre-publishing with my debut novel A House For All Seasons due out May next year (in time for Mothers’ Day – hint, hint!)

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I am forever refining my website www.jennjmcleod.com and also trying to get my head around the social media stuff with a Facebook Author page in its early days.

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

Yep! Can’t wait – ’til it’s over!  (Joking of course.)

Conference is going to be amazing. I am particularly looking forward to my First Sale Ribbon as I believe the presenter is the wonderful person who first made me believe in my publishing dream. That will be special.

As Conference Registrar, I will be the one with the glazed look on the Thursday and Friday. But by Sunday afternoon, however, I will be the one leading the charge to the bar.

I challenge anyone to beat me!

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).
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Little Gems 2012 Author: Shayne Sands reflects on ‘Bali Sunset’

This week we meet Shayne Collier, writing as Shayne Sands, and her winning story: Bali Sunset.

Congratulations Shayne. Tell us…

What challenges you most in writing a short story? Do you have any tip/s for writing a short story?

The challenge is squeezing everything in so it doesn’t look like it’s squashed. I guess the tip is to think ‘small’. You can’t afford to plonk in a heap of back story, so you have to write economically and efficiently. You have to remain in the present as much as possible in order to bring your characters to life and together in the moment.

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your story?

I’ve looked at it so many times I’m a bit over it. I still like the start because although it’s in the past (yikes, backstory!) it is evocative and terrifying:

The ocean was in a fury the day Jake Pearson died.

Although an elite big-wave surfer, he was no match for the might of a massive break that engulfed him and his board, holding him under until all the fight was gone and his lungs filled like water bombs.    

What was the inspiration for your story?

I love the ocean. I find big wave surfing fascinating. Growing up, I was a wanna-be surfer chick who dreamt of making out with a surfer boy (never happened – and when it almost did I was well into my wanna-be rock chick phase and rejected the offer).  I visited Bali in 2010 and went to Uluwatu, which has a reputation as a surfing paradise.  I tried to imagine what it was like in the ‘70s, before greedy developers got their hands on it. The photo I took there inspired me.

What are you working on now and goals for the future?

I’m working on a story I started more than two years ago. I’m thinking of too many other story ideas, including one for a book for ‘tweens. My goal is to finish my current wip before I turn 100.

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I have an ocean swimming blog, which might not interest anyone but it is often funny and charming. I also have a writing blog I intend to use more as I intend to write more often… than not. My swimming blog is www.swimwrite.blogspot.com and my writing blog is www.shaynesands.wordpress.com

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA Conference in August?

Yes. As usual, it was a last-minute decision but it’s locked in. I can’t wait to catch up with the wonderful people I last saw in Sydney in 2010 and to forge new friendships.

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

2012 Little Gems Author – Kerrie Starbuck

What a great name! (The kind that stands out on book shelves and says – “read me”.)

So let me introduce you to the face behind the name and the story with the equally fabulous name:

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Revenge

 

What challenges you most in writing a short romance story? Do you have any tips for writing a short story.

The biggest challenge for me is knowing at what point to start the story. My tip: start the story as close to the end as you can.

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

A crack like an amplified champagne cork popping announced the appearance of a rotund little woman dressed completely in green. Green shoes, green dress, green hat. Next to the woman in red, she looked like an overgrown pea. An angry pea at that.”

What was your inspiration for the story?

This was originally a mini-writing challenge my critique group set for each other a couple of years ago – from memory, it had to be a short story featuring a Christmas theme, and a pair of red high heels. I quickly abandoned my first idea of a cross-dressing Santa and settled on this story instead.

What are you working on now and what are your writing goals for the future?

I’m currently working on a WIP that I hope will one day be published by HM&B. I’d love to have it ready to pitch at this year’s conference, but we shall see… it certainly will be if my super annoying motivational crit group has anything to say about it (thanks, guys, love you xx)…

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I don’t have either a website or a blog yet as my focus right now is on getting my current WIP finished, and I’m way too easily distracted as it… squirrel!

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

Oh hell yes. After my first conference in Coogee (2010) I was completely addicted. I’m blown away by the calibre of the conference as a whole, the sophistication of the speakers and attendees… and yes, also the extraordinary volume of freebies 😉 That it’s all done by volunteers is a testament to the extremely high standard of professionalism the RWA Conference Team is blessed with – a huge thank you to each and every one them.

(And with my Team Diamond hat on – thanks for that thank you Kerrie.) Hope you enjoyed your first blogging experience today 🙂

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author – Carmen Gowans

Meet Carmen Gowans, Diamond Edition author of:

Diamonds In The Sky

We asked Carmen what challenges her most about writing a short romance story and to share her tips.

Hmm… hard question. I never know what to write until my fingers start tapping the keyboard. But that applies across the board, not just for short stories. That’s one reason why I think short story competitions are great, because they usually provide a word limit, a time limit and a theme. Just the thing for writers who like a prompt!

My tips: It should resonate with your soul; you should have fun with it; and cut Cut! CUT!!

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

Not sure if it’s what you meant, but I’m fond of this paragraph:

“She fell asleep dreaming she was thirteen again, dreaming of the high field and stars like diamonds, dreaming of Luke Walsh, the boy with the lopsided smile and adorable face. He had kissed her that last night, his lips sweet and smooth and tasting of oranges. And she had floated in starlight.”

What was you inspiration for the story?

I’m drawn to sparkly things 🙂

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Not Running Out of Steam, which can happen if I don’t eventually stumble on a clear goal for a story. That wasn’t a book title, BTW 🙂

What are your writing goals for the future?

This question made me smile because I find the writing process so therapeutic. Yes, even revision and editing. I don’t mean in a cathartic way, just that the actual creative focus is very soothing for me. So while I’m thrilled and honoured that my entry will be published (Yay!), I wouldn’t want any undue pressure to negate that lovely, calming effect. Having said that, I would like to complete my latest project – I’m reluctant to call it a book / novel until the first draft is finished – and then see about submitting it. But that’s a long way off.

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

 NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author – Juanita Kees

Many of you will know Juanita’s name from her various blog posts as member of the RWA Online Team. She can now add author in the 2012 Diamond Edition of Little Gems.

Her short story: Rough Diamond

What challenges you most in writing a short romance story? Do you have any tip/s for writing a short story.

Rough Diamond is the first short story I’ve written. That in itself was a challenge. How would I pack all that emotion, attraction and crux of the story into 3000 words or less? Tips: Write as much as you like, trim it back to the essentials and give it your best shot!

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

She smiled. “Long story. May I?”

He shrugged and dropped it in her upturned palm. “Sure. For the record and in case you want to sue if the curse rubs off, I’m Rough Diamond.”

Kimberley shot him a disbelieving look. “Really? Is that the best you’ve got?” She turned the ring towards the sun and admired the rainbows of light it cast between them. “I’ll never convince the court to take the case seriously with a name like that.” Her smile softened the words as she ran a finger along the filigree setting around the diamond.

What was your inspiration for the story?

My engagement ring.

What are you working on now? and/or What are your writing goals for the future?

I’ve just had my debut contemporary FLY AWAY PETA accepted for publishing by Eternal Press and am waiting on my first round of edits. The release date is August which coincides nicely with my first RWA conference. In the meanwhile I’m working on the sequel DARKNESS & LIGHT which is still in the early stages. I have two others in the plotting stage and TAMING THE TIGER, my 2011 HMB New Voices entry is a work in progress.

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I’d love to chat to readers at my author site www.juanitakees.com and my blog site www.mission-romance.blogspot.com. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

Yes 🙂

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author – Donna Woodhouse

This week we say congratulations to 2012 Diamond Edition Little Gems author Donna Woodhouse.

Her short story:  Otherwise Engaged

What challenges you most in writing a short romance story? Do you have any short story tips.
 Word count. Make every word count.
Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?
 I like my ending because it opens out into the beginning of what could be another story.
What was you inspiration for the story?
Can’t remember. It was originally going to be a novella but I thought it might make a good short story. Looking back I think my inspiration was, ‘ What if two people were in a room and for some reason neither could leave?’
 What are your writing goals for the future?
I am working on a Children’s short story for a competition and a romantic novella. My writing goal would be to be published in Children’s (9-12) and Romance.

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

Most definitely.
Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA wbsite.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author: Carol Hoggart

Hi, legally I’m Carol Hoggart, but such a name is quite unsuitable for an author of medieval romances. Not a sniff of romance there, so I’ve cooked up a pseudonym (partly so my parents never read my stuff!).
I plan to publish as Venetia Green, although my Little Gems are going to remain prosaically Hoggarty.
Carol has two short stories in the Diamond Edition:
 And the names are quite wierd enough for you to remember: ‘The Nun and the Thief’ and ‘The Diamond of Friday Street’.
What challenges you most in writing a short romance story?
Regarding the challenges of a short story – the biggest one had to be length! Plan as I might, the words just didn’t want to stay contained within the 3000 word limit. Then there was research – these were the first stories I had written set in medieval London, so the research I needed to do was completely disproportionate to the word count. Just finding out that goldsmiths and the like usually set up shop on Cheapside or Friday Street took a whole load of discovering. Still, it’ll all come in handy later on.
Regarding tips for short stories, I’m really not sure I’m the right person to give them. These were the first I had written pretty well since high school. But I’m definitely a plotter. I suppose my tips might be: keep the number of characters to a minimum, the plot relatively simple, and plot first to make sure the story is do-able within the length.
Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?
Seeing as I have two stories in the anthology, I’m going to be greedy and give you two excerpts, one from each:
From ‘The Diamond of Friday Street’:
‘We have other stones, my lord. Amber a-plenty, ruby that dropped as dragon’s blood from the skies, a handful of pearls from seas warm as bath-water …’
‘No, I want no other stones.’
‘But … we are lapidaries, my lord. We have no other stock. So … your business with us is done.’
Her eyes were upturned to his now, pools of grey light sparking with a million tints. Like Adela herself – seemingly colourless at first, but threaded with all the richness of the meadow.
And from ‘The Nun and the Thief’:
The man lounging beside her might be low-life scum – attractive in a lithe and cocky sort of way, admittedly – but still first-cousin to the slime that rimmed the Thames at low-ebb. But he was not stupid, and he would take her diamond if he could. The liripiped man had known what he was about: two thieves made an honest man.
What was your inspiration for the story?
The theme of diamond, of course! I was determined to remain within the Middle Ages, and diamonds were not particularly well known then. Engagement rings were unheard of, and the cutting of stones was still pretty rare. I had lots of fun in ‘The Diamond of Friday Street’ with incorporating ancient beliefs about the diamond or ‘adamant’ as it was sometimes called. Then in ‘The Nun and the Thief’, I was inspired by a historical robbery in medieval London, although the details are quite different.
What are your writing goals for the future?
My first project was a full length historical romance featuring Vikings, entitled Enslaved. I’m currently on tenterhooks waiting to hear back from 2 publishers on that score. But for the future: writing short stories has proved to be so satisfying that I’ve decided to try my hand at novellas for a bit. I’ve just finished an erotic novella with a Viking setting, and now I’m trying to psyche myself up to beginning another – set in medieval London. With the boom of e-books, short stories and novellas are suddenly a lot more marketable!
Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?
Absolutely! Would I miss the chance to catch up with the most interesting and inspirational ladies (and occasional gents) in Australia? No way. I’ll see you there.
 Anthology Orders Now OpenWould you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author – Vanda Vadas

Little Gems welcomes back Vanda Vadas.

The name of her 2012 Diamond Edition story is: Queen of Diamonds

 

What challenges you most in writing a short romance story?

Coming up with an idea that is a little outside the square. Given that this year’s gem is DIAMOND, I wanted to steer away from the obvious…that being a story that revolves around diamond jewellery (although, I do allude to it in my story).

My tip: In last year’s Little Gems Garnet Blog Bites, I mentioned that my stories are inspired by location. My characters evolve as a result of the chosen location. I worked through the same process this year.

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

Yes…there is a part in the story where the heroine is fishing for information from the hero with regard to what he considers to be his perfect type of woman. It is her response to his reply that I had fun with. I won’t quote it here. It needs to be read in context.

What was you inspiration for the story?

I have my husband to thank for this one! We live on the beautiful Gold Coast and we were taking a walk along the beach one day before Christmas. I was telling him about my story ideas, that I wanted to come up with something a little abstract. He suggested setting the story (location) in a casino. I thought this a brilliant idea! Jupiter’s Casino in Surfers Paradise came to mind. Talk about an excuse to do some creative research! We spent time with family in Sydney over Christmas and whilst driving back home, I put pen to paper and did the first draft of QUEEN OF DIAMONDS.

What are you working on now and what are your writing goals for the future?

A Scottish Historical. Goals? To finish the book and to ultimately see it (and my other books) published.

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I don’t have a website or blog. However, I’ve had some articles published on Suite101.com and also in a College bi-annual publication. I’ve edited two non-fiction books (published). I’ve been a finalist in national (RWAust), international (RWAmerica) and online writing competitions and have had success with three Little Gems Anthology publications.

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

Most definitely. I’m looking forward to being around people whose passion it is to write wonderful stories and create lasting memorable characters.

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author – Fiona Gregory

Okay, so I’m a little baised in introducing our next Little Gems author. I’m thrilled she has taken time out of her busy RWA Conference Coordination role to tell us about her short story – yes Fiona is becoming a bit of a Little Gems regular.

Fiona’s short story is titled: Hope for the Future

What challenges you most in writing a short romance story?
I love writing short. I did a short-story course many years ago, and my tutor had us writing down to 50 word flash fiction. One of the best pieces of advice I was given is to treat each short as an episode from a TV series, rather than a movie. Start at a point of change, plunge in, and finally, always finish leaving a question in the reader’s mind at the end.
For a romantic short story I recommend focusing almost exclusively on your hero and heroine. All the other characters should be edited down to brief thumbnail sketches. Oh, and I always write to the Little Gem, rather than inserting the Gem into an already written story.

Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

City girl, Molly, is spending her first day working in a small country town, where she meets local vet, Blake.
 
“Nope.” He smiled again and held three fingers in the air. “Scouts honour.”
“You were a scout?”
A twinkle of mischief lit up his eyes and the dimple reappeared. “Not exactly, but I know a scout.”
 
What was you inspiration for the story?

I wanted to write about a coloured diamond and I figured the Western Australian writers would have Pink Diamonds in the bag. So I googled Blue Diamond. Somehow or other I ended up with this picture of a tiny grey kitten with big blue eyes, sitting on a person’s open hands. And the story was born.

What are you working on now? and/or What are your writing goals for the future?

Right now, I’m editing my latest futuristic, a marriage of convenience story, written during NaNoWriMo last year. The first draft was very rough and I’m hoping to get it polished enough to enter in the Emerald this year. In the meantime, I rewrote last year’s Little Gem (which didn’t make the cut) into a longer male-male romance and am in the process of submitting. It’s actually much stronger this way and not something I would ever have thought when I wrote it a year ago.
How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?
 A website and blog are on my to do list for 2013. Any spare time I have at the moment is spent trying to improve my writing. (Oh, and trying to keep my New Years Resolution of running a half-marathon in July 2012)

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

You bet. My fabulous team of volunteers and I are organising “Diamonds are Forever” on the Gold Coast, so I’ll be there from start to finish. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).

Little Gems 2012 Author – Mary Warwick

Meet Mary Warwick, Diamond Edition author of:

Diamonds In The Sky

We asked Mary what challenges her most about writing a short romance story and to share her tips.

Biggest challenge in writing a short romance story is finding different ways to develop the romance in so few words, while keeping the surrounding story interesting and plausible.

I can’t remember creating a short story that wouldn’t have preferred to be a novel, and therein lies a major pitfall. I have to write a short story quickly, before it morphs into a 120,000 word epic. The trick is to give the characters depth without using any extra words. A tough call sometimes.

 Do you have a favourite line/short piece from your short?

My favourite piece from “Diamonds in the Sky” is the 40-word opening to the heroine’s 1,000 word assignment, “In the pearl-white light of the rising moon they danced from star to star, locked in a loving embrace. No wisp of cloud… etc.,” and her flatmate’s wry response: “You’ve got some way to go, girl.”

What was you inspiration for the story?

The mention of diamonds instantly conjures up images of the stars in the vast, Australian night sky. Diamonds as jewels come rather as an afterthought, so the story was going to be about the stars right from the start. A timely visit to the Smithsonian Hubble display just before the Little Gems deadline clinched it.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m putting the finishing touches to a novel for entry in the Valerie Parv Award. I’m trying to write a biography of the late Joan Crane, who was one of the few Flying Nightingales who went into Europe behind the advancing Allies to fly the wounded home from the front. It’s proving difficult because she was such a self-deprecating sort of lady who never talked about what she had done.

How can people find out more about you/your writing? Do you have a website or blog?

I don’t have a website at the moment, but one is in the offing. The domain name is registered.

Will we be able to catch up with you in person at the RWA National Conference in August?

I’ll certainly be at the RWA National Conference in August and I’m very optimistic that I’ll gain a great deal from attending.

Anthology Orders Now Open

Would you like to order the anthology for yourself, as a special gift or a Christmas (yes I said Christmas) stocking filler?

Orders are now open and we are taking pre-release orders until the end of June, so plenty of time. Use the order form on our RWA website.

NOTE: Pre-release ordering means you are ordering and paying but the anthology will not be available until August (launched at the national conference).
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