Valerie Parv Award Closing Date extended!

If you’ve been dithering about entering the 2017 VPA, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for!  Entries were slated to close today, but you have an extra week to get your entry in!

All the details are below.  So get your skates on and enter!

WHO CAN ENTER THE VPA CONTEST?
If you are an Aspiring, or Emerging RWA member, or non-member with no works 40K+ contracted or commercially available, then you can enter. You will be in the running for a year-long mentorship with Valerie Parv. Valerie has sold 60 novels since 1982, and had over 25 million copies of her books sold internationally.

WHAT DO I NEED TO ENTER
1,000 word synopsis, and
10,000 words of your unpublished work

More information about conditions and how to enter here:
https://romanceaustralia.com/contests/aspiring-contests/the-valerie-parv-award/

Contest Opened:  7 April 2016
Contest Closes: Monday 1 May 2017, Monday, AEST 12 midnight

I NEED MORE TIME TO FINISH MY ENTRY – WHAT TIME COUNTER ARE YOU USING?
For those of you in the non-Eastern states/territories (or overseas) I will be using this time and date counter (set to Brisbane time) on the day the contest closes:

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/australia/brisbane

Once the counter tells me it’s midnight, I’ll flick back over to the VPA inbox, refresh the browser and then close the contest.

IMPORTANT:
Please note: you cannot ‘reserve’ a place by paying your entry fee. The only way to claim a place in the contest is to submit your entry.

I’M WORRIED ABOUT FORMATTING
If you’re concerned about formatting, then:

a)      Download a template from the website and copy and paste your entry into it:

https://romanceaustralia.com/contests/aspiring-contests/the-valerie-parv-award/

b)       Contact me ASAP  – we can work on the formatting quickly and then you can get back to finishing your entry off

LAST MINUTE ENTRANTS
Please be aware:

–          If your word count is over the 1000 word synopsis, or 10,000 word entry limit and there’s no time to send it back to you, I will trim it at 1000 or 10,000 words exactly.

–          If there are formatting issues and there’s no time to send it back to you, the issues will stand and there is the possibility of a 5-point deduction. This deduction can mean the difference between going through to the final, or not.

There’s still time to enter, you’ve got until Monday!

Good luck with your entry and if you want to know anything, just ask me.

Jo McAlister
Joint 2017 VPA Contest Manager
on behalf of Romance Writers of Australia
vpa@romanceaustralia.com

 

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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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

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].

 

OWL 2 for November. Have you heard about Miss Jones? Understanding character-driven plotting through analysing Bridget Jones’s Diary.

samantha-bond

Have You Heard About Miss Jones? Understanding Character Driven Plotting Through Analysing Bridget Jones’ Diary with Samantha Bond.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase: “the plot thickens”. But exactly what is plot and how, as a writer, do you come up with your own original, compelling plots?

Let’s hand over to the amazing Samantha Bond so she can tell us…

Do you love writing but find that you either:

  1. a) have trouble coming up with ideas for stories, or
  2. b) start stories only to run out of steam part-way through?

I had both of those issues once too.

In fact, the main thing that scared the bejesus out of me when I started my first novel was knowing just what to write. I had the kernel of an idea and a few characters, but how was I going to spin this into 300-400 pages of novel? “Outline it”, I was told. Plot it out so you don’t have to face the terror of the blank page.

Great advice, if you know how to do it.

At that point in my writing career, I didn’t know how to plot or outline, so I invested many hours in learning how plot works. I read and I did courses and I hassled people far more learned than me, and I discovered that there’s so much information on plot that it can be overwhelming and therefore not very useful. But the good news for any of you considering doing my Bridget Jones inspired OWL on plotting, is that I’ve filtered through lots of that information for you. The result is what I believe to be a simple and workable model for understanding and using plot.

Because she’s awesome, I’ve drawn inspiration from iconic chic lit character, Bridget Jones, to demonstrate ideas and explain the concept of character-led plotting. And to demonstrate that character-led plotting works for just about every type of story, not just Rom Com’s, I’ve also used 80s action hunk, Bruce Willis, and his equally iconic character from Die Hard, John McLane, to show it in, ahem, action in action stories.

If you were lucky enough to see Michael Hauge at the RWA convention in August, then some of the theory in this course will be familiar. That’s because this isn’t new information. Information about plotting and how story works has been around forever. But what is different about my course is its practical application. I’m an action gal — I want to know how to USE information, not just read it. And so the focus for this OWL is on getting you to put character-led plotting theories into action to generate your own original plots. All the theory in the world is great, but if you can’t easily apply it, it’s really not that much good to you. So while I’m certainly not claiming to be any Micheal Hauge, I do think this is a good adjunct to his wonderful workshop because it shows you the nuts and bolts of things and how you can get that theory working for you in a practical sense.

Basically, by the end of this OWL, I want you to have an understanding of what plot is, how it functions in fiction, and how you can generate your own plots in your writing. I want you to never fear the blank page again because, once you’ve done this when someone wisely advises you to “outline it”, you’ll know exactly how.

Hope to see you over at my November OWL, Have you heard about Miss Jones? Understanding character-driven plotting through analysing Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s gonna be a blast with big knickers!

 

Course Dates: 01/11/2016 – 28/11/2016

Cost: RWA Member – $30. Non-RWA Member – $40.

Register at:  http://www.romanceaustralia.com/owl/26

The trick is to understand the difference between ‘story’ and ‘plot’. In this workshop, Samantha will demonstrate how plot works through an analysis of arguably the greatest chick-lit novel of all time, Bridget Jones’ Diary. But more than simply analyse, this workshop will arm participants with tools to create their own plots through an understanding of how characters reacting to challenge results in plot. While this course will examine theory, it is a hands-on practical course designed to get you writing.

Samantha Bond is a reformed corporate lawyer, now writer and public servant. Her creative work has been published in numerous national literary journals, anthologies and magazines. She has an Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing winning the award for Highest Overall Achievement for her graduating class, and now teaches in that course. Samantha also writes reviews for the Indaily and Glam Adelaide and between these two publications, has had over 200 reviews published. Samantha does freelance corporate writing work as well as creative writing mentoring and if you’d like her services, she’s contactable through her website www.samanthastaceybond.com). Finally, Samantha is a busy mum of two littlies, is an unapologetic chocolate addict, believes that Buffy would so slay Edward (which perhaps shows her age) and is a writers’ festival groupie.

November OWL 1. Self-Publishing for Beginners with Cathleen Ross

Ever wondered if self-publishing is for you but haven’t quite been able to navigate your way through to make the decision? Cathleen Ross has the answers in one of our two November OWLs

Course Dates: 01/11/2016 – 28/11/2016

Cost: RWA Member – $30. Non-RWA Member – $40.

Register at:  http://www.romanceaustralia.com/owl/25

cathleen-ross

Self Publishing Made Easy, coming in November 2016

 My name is Cathleen Ross and I’ve been self publishing since 2011. As a member of RWA for over twenty years, I’ve seen a lot of changes.  When I went to RWA in America in 2010, I saw a lot of known and not so well known writers taking their careers into their own hands and self publishing. They wanted to do things their way and self publishing gave them the chance.

I don’t consider myself particularly technical but I can follow instructions if they’re outlined properly. If you feel the same way then this online course is for you because I’ve got it down to 5 easy steps.

Since 2011, I’ve written and formatted twelve different books/novellas/short stories and one boxed set. And guess what! I’m earning seventy percent royalties on my work priced 2.99 and over on Amazon, which beats anything a publisher can offer. Bear in mind, that once you self publish you become the publisher which means you are responsible for buying a cover, the blurb, marketing and uploading your story. It is doable and fun.

As a pioneer in this country of self publishing, and a trainer with 30 years experience, I’m on a mission to make it possible for you because I think every writer shouldhave this skill. I will answer all your questions and encourage a friendly online classroom where students also chip in and help others. When I’ve run this course in the past, I’ve found some of my students are smarter with covers and writing blurbs than I am but I’m not fussed. The more you jump in there and participate, the more encouragement you’ll get from me so you get the best product possible.

I am what as known as a hybrid author, published with traditional publishers while also self-publishing my own titles.

The advent of commercially viable self-publishing has meant unprecedented  opportunities for authors to get their stories out to the reading public all over the world.

I’m going to show you how to prepare your manuscripts for self-publication and how to use three platforms Smashwords, Draft to Digital and Amazon so you can choose where and when you would like to self publish.

You don’t need to be a graphic designer. You do not have to know any HTML. You do need to invest time and energy in getting your book as good as it can possibly be.

Remember readers love buying ebooks. They don’t care who the publisher is so long as they are good, professionally produced books they love.

Come and learn an essential skill for your future.

Best

Cathleen Ross

 

Subjects to be covered in this four-week OWL

Information on selling platforms: Smashwords, Amazon, itunes etc; Steps involved in uploading a story; Editing; Covers; Formatting; Blurbs – what makes a good blurb, what to put in, what to leave out etc; Marketing / Advertising/ The latest sites/results and numbers; Business Practices, setting up bank accounts, issues with US payments etc; ITIN numbers; Accounting Issues either as individuals / setting up as a group publisher; Links  / info on where to find following services – covers, editing, etc; What makes a good BIO.

 

Cathleen Ross thinks self-publishing is akin to the invention of the printing press. Ahead of the wave, she started self-publishing in 2011 and has watched her income from writing grow. She believes this medium should be available to all writers. Cathleen is also published with Harlequin, Escape publishing and Random House.  Four of her titles, both indie and conventionally published, have hit the Amazon best-seller lists this year. Cathleen has the Smashwords document down to five easy steps that go to Premium status. She is a qualified teacher (BA Dip.Ed and Grad. Dip Communications Management) and a published author/editor. She has taught for RWA (Australia), The Society of Women Authors, RWA (USA) and run a number of online workshops. Please see www.cathleenross.com for a list her of publications.

cathleen-ross

 

Hoot, Hoot! We have two OWLs in November 2016

Self-Publishing for Beginners with Cathleen Ross  and Plotting(character driven) with Samantha Bond

Two vital OWLs by two amazing women – not to be missed.

More information to follow.

 

 

A Writer’s Life: Ditching Perfection

Today we are starting a new feature on the RWA blog, where we interview our members about their writing lives.   Today’s guest is Anna Hackett.  This column first appeared in this month’s Hearts Talk, the RWA newsletter.  So if you are a member, don’t forget to read it.  And if you aren’t, you might want to join, now that you’ve seen what you’re missing out on!

Anna-Hackett2-208x300When I started writing this article, I tried to think about the things I’d like to go back and tell my younger writer self. Little pearls of wisdom I wish I’d known when I first started writing. The list got a little long…and many of those things I think I just needed to experience and grow through as part of my journey as a writer.

But one thing stood out.

There is one thing that made a big difference in my writing career and it is the one thing I wish I could have realized sooner.

That thing: ditching the pursuit of perfection.

Now, many of us are conditioned to think we need to achieve perfection in our lives (especially women!) We think we need the perfect house, kept in the perfect condition, with our perfectly behaved kids, our loving, perfect marriage, our perfect, successful career and we have to look perfect while we’re doing all of that! We feel the need to be superwoman and have it all.

There’s a quote by Salvador Dali — Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it. He’s right. Deep down, we all know it.

As writers, we can fall into the trap of needing our writing to be “perfect.” It’s easy to do. When that story idea bursts inside our head, it seems flawless. It’s exciting, thrilling, gut-wrenching. It’s the best story idea ever! Then once we start putting the words to the blank page…well, the story never seems to come out as perfectly as what we had in our head. That’s when the pursuit of perfection becomes harmful. The doubts, the dreaded inner editor, all start whispering (or shouting) at us and suddenly we’re avoiding doing the writing, we’re agonizing over it, we’re procrastinating.

If we do manage to get the draft done, then that pursuit of perfection can have us endlessly editing and polishing—over and over—and we’re never quite finished. But it doesn’t stop there. The elusive pursuit of perfect can mean we never let our story out into the world. We worry it isn’t good enough, that we’ll receive criticism, rejections from agents and publishers, bad reviews from readers and reviewers, no sales. It can paralyze us from doing that thing we’re supposed to do—tell and share the stories inside us.

I don’t remember when I finally decided to give perfection a boot to the face, but it was the best thing I ever did. Suddenly, I was focused on just getting words out—any words, they didn’t have to be perfect or even good ones. Then I focused on editing until the story was done (not perfect!) Then I sent those stories out there as they were, for better or worse.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep learning, honing our craft, and improving. We should also always listen to trusted, constructive criticism that helps us become better writers. But if you keep waiting for your stories to be perfect, you’re letting good, great, wonderful, and pretty darn awesome stories get away.

If you’re waiting until your story is so amazing, so perfect that everyone will love it, no one will criticize it, and it’ll never get a bad comment…you’ll never begin, let alone finish.

So, don’t let your good, great and amazing pass you by.

Ditch perfection and begin.

– Anna Hackett [http://annahackettbooks.com]

Western Australian writer Anna Hackett is a mining engineer, a mother of two young sons, and a USA Today bestseller. She writes fast-paced action/adventure/sci-fi/romance. She’s published with Harlequin and Carina Press and now she’s self-publishing and writing up a storm.

 

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].

Have Fun Researching Your Novel – OWL this July!

Our online courses (OWLs) keep getting better and better.  We have such a depth of skills in our membership and the OWLs let you access their expertise at a fantastic price.  Our July OWL is with Carla Caruso, so without further ado, here she is to tell you about it.

Carla Caruso, author pic, HarperCollins

by Carla Caruso

Many writers have done extreme things in the name of research.

Bestselling Canadian-Australian author – and former model – Tara Moss has spent time in morgues and courtrooms, been set on fire and choked unconscious, earned a certificate as a private investigator, shot firearms, flown with the RAAF, and toured the FBI and LAPD headquarters.

Britain’s George Orwell lived in the slums to learn what it was like to be poor and unwashed, and American journo Hunter. S Thompson hung out with the Hells Angels for his non-fiction tale.

Bill Broyles, who wrote the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, also stranded himself on an isolated island for R.E.A.L. This experience inspired many of the film’s iconic scenes, such as Hanks’ character licking water droplets from leaves, making a spear out of a rock, and chowing down on raw fish. Even Wilson the Volleyball was inspired by a real ball that washed ashore! Unlike Hanks’ character, though, Broyles only lasted 10 days as a castaway before diarrhoea got the better of him…

Know of other writers and artists who have really hurled themselves into their research?

Of course, novel research doesn’t have to be this extreme. You’re free to take it as far as you want. But doing some research is essential if you want to add ‘layers’ of authenticity to a story and stretch yourself creatively.

Which brings me to the OWL– or online course – I’m teaching this July for the Romance Writers of Australia. It’s called ‘Have Fun Researching Your Novel’ and I’ll be using my background as a print journalist (and romance author with Penguin and HarperCollins) to get you out amongst it to add colour and depth to your work-in-progress.

Topics will include:

  • Interviewing techniques
  • Historical research
  • Travel research
  • Online research, and more.

Hope to see you over on Moodle!

You can do some more research on the OWL here 😉 http://www.romanceaustralia.com/owl/22

Hearts Talk – Kicking off the New Year

Kim Hudson – A Virgin’s Promise

Michelle Diener talks to Kim Hudson about her seminal work on the heroine’s journey.  Kim will be a guest speaker at Riding the Waves.

Group Grants are Back

Applications open February 1st.  See Hearts Talk for further information about how to apply and a detailed case study on how the Erotic Romance Authors Loop used their grant.

The Write Craft

It’s not only infamous Pirate Captains who need a good hook.  Helen Lacey discusses the use of chapter end hooks to build tension in a story and keep readers enticed and turning the page.

Flashback to 1992

A look at the very first issue of Heart’s Talk.

The New Kid on the Digital Block

Random House launches its new digital line Random Romance on February 1st with launch novels from:  Jaye Ford writing as Janette Paul with Just Breathe which was a finalist isn’t the 2009 First Kiss.  Loretta Hill with One Little White Lie, Melissa Smith writing as Alissa Callen, with Beneath Outback Skies and Kate Belle with Breaking the Rules and Bloom.

They expect to release about ten books each year and are looking for well-told love stories that captivate the reader.

A Writer’s Life

Sarah Mayberry’s last column for Hearts Talk discusses why she writes.

Dear Joan

Dear Joan delves into the deep dark dangers of the writer’s plague – sitting for too long, and how to respond to troll attacks.

The Writing Journey

Sarah Hantz talks to Louise Reynolds (Her Italian Aristocrat), about changing her focus from category writing single title.

And our regular features:

  • From Nikki’s desk
  • Market Watch
  • Member News
  • In-person events
  • New Releases

For full articles and regular columns, go to our website.

Enjoy!!

  • Not a member? Please view our sample issue from January 2011.
  • To receive our wonderful monthly newsletter, we invite you to Join RWA for all the details.

Keep Writing – by Anne Gracie

Today we have a guest blogger, the lovely Anne Gracie, with a post on getting yourself going – just in time for 50k in 30 days!
If you like this, and want more Anne, she is involved in a Winter Writing Workshop this June in Melbourne.  Details at the bottom of this post.

Hi all, Anne Gracie here. I’ve spoken in a few places about the importance of writing regularly — I firmly believe that writing is like a muscle, and the more you do the better you get. The trouble is, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to write.

Or is it?

How much time do you really need to write?

I take quite a lot of writing classes, and in almost all of them I ask participants to do at least one writing exercise. To start with, we talk about some idea, toss around a few possibilities to get the mind spinning, and then I say, “Write.” (Oh, the power <g>)

And for 10—15 minutes, people write. Sometimes it takes them a few minutes to get going, sometimes there’s a false start or two, but usually after a few minutes everyone is writing. And by the time I say “Stop.” most people aren’t ready to stop — they could go on for quite a bit longer. But in that 10—15 minutes most people write around a page — some do more, others less, but for most people, it’s around 250 words.

If you wrote 250 words a day every day for a year, you’d have a novel.

Or, to put it another way, if you wrote for 15 minutes a day, every day for a year, you’d have a novel.

Ok, you’d probably need to put in some longer stints, and do some rewriting, but the hardest thing about starting writing is . . . starting.

I know. I’m a champion procrastinator. I tend to put off starting, knowing I’m going to be chained to the computer for the rest of the day — or thinking it. It’s not actually true. But even if I’m seated at my computer, all ready to work, I still come up with all sorts of reasons why I’m not going to start writing just yet — I need to check my email and see if my editor or agent has written, I should just pop into facebook or twitter for a moment, after all, social networking is important, etc. — the excuses could go on for hours.

So for me, the way to start is to do a writing exercise of some kind. Just for fifteen minutes.

One of my favorite writing routines is what I call “doing Dorothea.” It’s explained more fully here ( http://www.annegracie.com/writing/DorotheaBrande.html ) but basically it involves doing two planned stints of writing every day. The first is first thing in the morning, and the second is when you make an appointment to write — you look at your schedule for the day and work out a time when you’ll have 15 minutes free to write. And then you keep that appointment religiously.

Once you start doing that for a week or so — the morning writing and the appointment to write — you’ll find that your resistance to starting is slowly disappearing. And your writing muscle is getting stronger.

So most mornings, whether I’m doing Dorothea or not, I’ll sit down at the table, set the alarm for 15 minutes, and write. I’m not a great typist — I’m fast but the typos fly —and for me, handwriting is the easiest because the typos invite in the internal editor, and for this exercise, I don’t want that internal editor anywhere near me. But there’s no right way to do it — go with whatever suits you best.

And by the time the timer goes off, I’m well into the writing zone.

There’s also a secret to making your fifteen minutes really productive.

Remember when I said that in my writing classes, we talk about the scene we’re going to write, and toss around some ideas before we start. It really helps if you can think a bit about your scene before you try to write it. Once you get into the habit of this, you’ll find you can plot while you’re going all sorts of other things, and then, when you come to write, the scene will just flow out of you.

Start by writing a list of “what-ifs” — brainstorming possibilities for the scene.

If you find yourself unable to decide whose point of view, or whether to have the scene on a bus or in the bedroom, or make them fight or make love, just toss a coin and go with the flow. You can always rewrite, and it’ll be stronger for the rewriting.

And if you don’t have a scene in mind, try the “classic” kind of writing exercises:

* mood pieces inspired by scents or sounds or places:

eg the smell of a bakery early in the morning

eg sound of rain on the roof at night, a feeling of safety, a time to dream…

* write an ‘in-the-moment’ piece from your character’s point of view.

Where are they? What are they seeing, smelling , hearing, touching, etc.

* recreate an important memory from your character’s childhood:

– have them tell someone.

* write a conversation between two characters where one of them is trying to conceal something

* a piece of sexy flirting – just hurl the dialogue down. It might sound stiff at first, but soon it’ll flow.

* your character comes into a room unexpectedly and finds. . .

* think about a situation a character would hate and put them into it. Then write the scene.

Start a file of possible exercises. I have a box of little cards with idea and writing exercises on them. There are times when I just want to write something different, and so I pull one out at random and write in response.

It doesn’t matter if you never use any of these scenes — it’s only 15 minutes of your day, and you’ve strengthened your writing muscles anyway and added to your toolbox of writing techniques. But I bet you’ll find that you use a lot.

So start exercising those writing muscles and get into a routine of writing. There’s only one way to write a novel — word by word, page by page, fifteen minutes by fifteen minutes.

Winter Writing Workshop

Anne Gracie is taking writing workshops in Melbourne on the weekend of June 15th—17th, along with Crime writer Shane Maloney and Kate Forsyth.

It sounds like a wonderful weekend of workshops and Melbourne Uni is a lovely venue (Ed.)

More information here:

http://winterwritingworkshops.weebly.com/

First published by Harlequin, Anne Gracie is now with Berkley USA/Penguin Australia. She’s a three-time RITA finalist, has twice won the Romantic Book of the Year (Australia) and the National Reader’s Choice Award in the USA, and was listed in Library Journal (USA) best books of the year. Five of her books have received DIK (Desert Island Keepers) status on All About Romance, and she’s been translated into sixteen different languages. Anne is proud to be a Lifetime Member of Romance Writers of Australia.

www.annegracie.com

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