Love Gone Wild – Know your characters through astrology.

It’s written in the stars…come to Love Gone Wild to find out more.

Ever hit the halfway mark and feel like the story drags? Often it is because we don’t know our characters well enough. If you don’t understand what drives them, it’s difficult to come up with the right type of crisis to throw their way. Star signs will help you write more believable protagonists; understand their motivation; create conflicts that really matter; and take your characters on the journey they need to go on in order to find their happy ending.

Join Joanne Tracey and find out about this interesting topic to help strengthen your characters.

Registrations for Love Gone Wild close soon – register now at:  



Your April Hearts Talk Wrap

April’s edition of Hearts Talk is out now

Here’s some highlights.

Being Maggie Shayne

Mel Teshco talks to NY Times bestselling author and RITA winner, multi genre author, Maggie Shayne (Kiss me Kill me, Twilight Phantasies).

Maggie is a Wiccan High Priestess, a Reiki Healer, Tarot card reader and licensed minister amongst other achievements.  But you might be even more surprised to learn what she’d do if she wasn’t a writer.


The Write Craft

Michelle Diener (Keep of the King’s Secret) talks about writing a series, enlisting help along the way from Amy Atwell (Daughters of Cosmo Fortune) and Erica Hayes (Shadowfae).  Read what they have to say about world building, growing your characters, managing exposition and watching out for the hamster wheel.





Writing Baby

They make for cute book jackets, they tug at the heartstrings, they help heighten emotion and drama.  Maybe you should be writing baby.  Author and midwife, Fiona McArthur (Falling for the Sheik she Shouldn’t) has the low down on dealing with the bundle of joy.




Conference Update

Booking out early.  Get in quick

Conference registrations are open.  Book early to avoid disappointment. Several sessions are already booked out.

The Lynne Wilding Award

The Lynne Wilding Award celebrates our strong volunteer culture.  It’s time to nominate a member who has helped your experience of the Association.  Nominations close June 1.


Member Spotlight

Angela O’Brien-Malone

Suzanne Brandyn talks to Tasmanian Angela O’Brien-Malone about her journey from math and psychology to romance.

Fiona Kekic

Fiona Kekic had a big 2011 contest year, winning first and second place in Selling Synopsis, first place in First Kiss and had a short story in the Little Gems Garnet Anthology.  Fiona talks about her writing journey.

A Writer’s Life – Protecting your Writing Time

Sarah Mayberry talks about the stresses on authors to participate in the business of writing, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and asks where the effort should really be going.

Technique with Auntie Fi

In this edition, Auntie Fi answers questions about social media monitoring and the perils of pseudonyms.

*Stop Press:  Fiona Lowe is 2012 RITA Awards nominee for her single title contemporary novel Boomerang Bride.

Interview with a Publisher

Ali Watts of Penguin Australia talks trade vs specialist publishers and the fit for formula and originality in the market.

Contest Update

Congratulations to our three Little Gems and six First Kiss Finalists.

There is also an update on the Valerie Parv Award.  Opens April 23rd.

Grammar with Anna

Anna gets catchy and has some sticky ways for remembering different forms of words.

And all our regular features:

  • From Rachel’s desk
  • Market Watch with Sami Lee
  • Member News with Bronwyn Stuart

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


  • 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.

Craft: Sprinting

Get ready, get set, go…… sprint! No, I don’t mean running but using sprint sessions to propel your writing forward.    

I have found especially in the last June Challenge organised by our lovely Sandie and Diane (50ks in 30 days Challenge), that sprinting sessions are a benefit to my writing. I can switch off the internal editor and go for it, and since I’m a pantser /flimmer/mister/freestyler – that is all right by me. It also fits into my routine (well my life I should say) and the way my mind works.

So how does it work? – well while I can do individual sprints, I have noticed it’s best when there is at least one other person sprinting at the same time (waves to the Bootcamp 101ers who did continue sprinting in July). The encouragement we give each other is a  real boost.

We meet in the relevant chat room, have a quick chat and set a time period for how long we want to sprint for – either 15 mins or 30 mins. We crack the whip! and away we go… That’s the whip in the chat room folks, I don’t know what you all were thinking. 😀

We sprint for the time period and come back to report. We may debrief and do some brainstorming and have a little chat, but usually we go for a second round.  Simple as that!

Because there is a start time and an end time it helps me move along and not waste time. I don’t look at emails, twitter, or other internet, & tell my family ‘I’m sprinting’ if they come into the room.

I managed over 17000 words in June, with my final week having a total of 10K. I finished off the first draft to my WIP in the first week of July and have been taking a break from first draft writing.  I do find it harder to edit in a sprint but have been known to try 🙂 but my first drafts seem to run smoother if I just chain up my internal editor. (La,la, la –  I can’t hear you internal editor!!!)

Once I’m in first draft mode again, I shall be on the track reading to sprint along.

What do you think of sprinting?

More about 5DI + RWA Members Assistance Fund

 Rowena Lindquist, the mastermind behind 5DI, and Nicky Strickland, a past participant of EnVision, the inspiration for 5DI, have joined me to answer some questions about 5DI, what to expect and to announce RWA’s latest scheme, the Members Assistance Fund.

Rowena Lindquist (writing as Rowena Cory Daniells) has set up the 5 Day Intensive Workshop (5DI) for Romance Writers of Australia. The 5DI is based on her experiences running EnVision 3 years in a row. EnVision was a 5 day workshop where a mentor read the writer’s manuscript beforehand, wrote a report, then guided the writer through re-writes, giving feedback and helping them realise their vision.

 Q: Why did you suggest a workshop of this kind to RWA?

 Having mentored at EnVision I saw how the writers came on in leaps and bounds with that one-on-one contact time. Sometimes all it takes is to have an experienced writer cast their eye over your manuscript and give you a few pointers. From there you can pull the book together.

Q: Why 5 days?

We are all busy people with commitments to work and family. 5 Days, especially over a weekend is do-able. And because the mentor reads the manuscript beforehand and gives out the report on the first day, there is no wasted time. Getting away from ordinary life, to live-in amongst fellow writers and write is an inspiring experience.

Nicky Strickland attended EnVision in 2005. She has agreed to talk about her experience.

Q: What made you decide to do the EnVision workshop?

I attended the EnVision workshop in 2005 (unaware it was to be the final one). I had heard about it two years earlier but the first year I was too scared to look into it (what? me? writing? don’t you have to have, you know, talent to attend??). The second year I was still scared, though no longer terrorised by the idea of being surrounded by writers of all levels. By this time I had met a couple of people (now friends) who had already attended and all of them were “you MUST go”. I missed that year’s deadline due to the tincy issue of not having the writing requirements (I viewed writing back then as a luxurious indulgence instead of the sanity saving necessity it has now become). I had made a promise to myself that I was going to take myself to an EnVision before I turned 35. I attended the 2005 workshop (turning 35 on the third day) and am so very glad I a) attended and b) reached my goal!

Q: What did you expect from the workshop?

To be honest, I had no expectations other than hoping having someone physically point out what was wrong would help me in understanding what people meant (point of view, narration, line edits – it was all Swahili for me). I was fairly sure I preferred novel-length storytelling (this has now been confirmed over the years *lol*). I also knew I was writing speculative fiction (the mermaids tend to give it away), but other than that I knew nothing of what it was I was creating. At that point in time there wasn’t much around to undertake in terms of in-depth, intensive workshops. They were more focused on a specific aspect of writing. Only problem was I really didn’t know what it was that had to be fixed (though I knew there was lots requiring fixing). I’d survived a degree and was still thinking of my creative stories as something requiring arguments/themes/word counts etc. It had to get undone.

Q: Were you comfortable, writing with other writers around you and producing changes to your manuscript for review daily?

I’m sure I’m not the only one like this, but I have no problems working with people around me (unless it’s my son). I definitely had moments of “I’m sooo the prep/kindergarten student in this room next to all the ‘grown-ups’ surrounding me” but everyone there – tutors and students alike were very warm, supportive and encouraging. Prior to EnVision I used to delete the story after first draft (it was out of my head, why did I need to keep looking at it???), so producing work each day, having it reviewed, critted and asked to make changes was no problem for me (I am so not precious about my words, if they need to go, no matter how much I love ’em, they are kicked to the curb – but at least I don’t delete them. They now go to my word/scene/story graveyard).

Q: Did you find the workshop delivered on your expectations? Was there any specific craft element that crystallised for you during that week?

The workshop went beyond my expectations. Having the time, support and encouragement to just focus on my writing, nothing else, was amazing. It cemented in my mind that I wanted to work towards my (then newly realised) goal of working towards publication. I also began seeing the ‘business-end’ of the process too. During our time we had the opportunity to practice mock-pitches on an agent and editor – they gave us immediate feedback on how we went, what we should look at etc.  Anita’s Note: the mock-pitch element is not included in 5DI.

Specific craft elements. I’m sorry but I have to tell this story 🙂 Before EnVision whenever I approached anyone with “what do I do after I get this story down (ie 1st draft)” I would get “let me have a look and I’ll see if I can help”. Everytime the opinion was along the lines of “you need to focus on your point of view issue”. Me – “Okay. What do you mean?” Them – “Lengthy explanation of pov etc”. I tried, I really tried to understand what they meant but could not see it in my stories. I kid not, I was headhopping. Badly. I know, many will say “yeah, I kept swapping heads as I changed the page/in the scene/during dialogue”. Me? I managed to headhop IN a sentence. Yup. You could’ve started the sentence in the seahorse’s head and end up in the head of the mermaid (with detours to a 3rd or more character). Oh and I don’t write long sentences either! I don’t know who had the joyous task of reading my m/s submission for EnVision but they deserve an award! 

Rowena was my tutor at EnVision (you were allocated one for the week, but could see others for further opinions), and she was tasked with very patiently explaining to one very confused and stubborn learner (me) how to grasp the concept of headhopping and not do it. I can clearly remember her sending me to my computer to rewrite a scene in 1st person (I write in 3rd) to understand being in someone’s head!  By the end of the week, I had mastered it and have never looked back.

Q: Coming away from the workshop, were you able to incorporate what you’d learnt in your writing at home?

I incorporated to this day much of what I learnt at the workshop. The most obvious one of course is the pov issue. I’ve done it so well I achieved top marks from all my judges of the current STALI (1st competition ever entered). The other thing I took away from the workshop was the glimmering shimmer of belief in myself that I could tackle and succeed at this thing called storytelling.

Q: Would you recommend this process to any RWA writers considering the 5DI?

I would most definitely recommend this to anyone for a number of reasons. First up – the sheer indulgence of having FIVE WHOLE days of writing! Nothing else is a priority except you and your writing. Secondly, if you have not yet finished your first m/s it is a fantastic way to get yourself to write The End on your book! That accomplishment in and of itself is fantastic but to have a week to work on it surrounded by writers of the same mind to guide and inspire you is wonderful.

Thank you Rowena and Nicky. Rowena and Nicky are more than happy to answer any questions you might have about their experience with EnVision.


If you haven’t entered the 5DI due to the cost, there are several options available for financial assistance.  There are grants which can be applied for, specifically for professional development. (See the article on Grants in the December issue of HT, page 8).

RWAustralia has established a fund to assist members who would otherwise be unable to attend RWAust events, including the 5DI. This will be called the Members Assistance Fund, MAF for short.  Members can apply after February 1 when the application information will be available on the website. 

5DI closes 31st January. Visit RWA’s web site for more information.

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