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ICYMI: Why you should consider entering writing competitions

Hello <waving>

Today, I’m over on Breathless in the Bush blogging about why you should consider entering writing competitions… click here to check it out.

IMG-9189

Me (on the far right in the blue flowers) with Valerie Parv and (some of) her 2019 finalists .

 

 

Maintaining Motivation after #RWAus19

Anyone else been suffering from a serious case of conference drop over the last week?

IMG-9100Sadly, there is no cocktail bar at my house where I can find like-minded people to chat with well into the morning. There isn’t a breakfast buffet laid out for me each day with Coco-Pops (breakfast of champions) and an omelette chef to cater to my every eggy whim. And there certainly aren’t three-hundred likeminded writers in my house ready to talk story and plot and marketing and book boyfriends and publishers and … well you get my drift.

Every year, the three days of conference goes by in a blur of hugs, alcohol and information and, every year I promise myself that I’ll hold onto that crazy, excited, I can conquer the world feeling…

Until I get onto a plane and am so exhausted I fall asleep in my seat.

Until I get home and have all the ‘normal’ things to get done.

Until I have to go back to the ‘day job.’

Reality is really a bitch.

And so, this year, while waiting for said plane where – yes – I did fall asleep in my seat, I was thinking about ways to maintain my motivation over the coming 12 months.

This is what I came up with.

  1. Make a plan.

IMG-9139.JPGI love a good list.

I also know that if I don’t write it down, I’m going to forget it within about 5 minutes of saying ‘oh, I must remember that.’

So, while I was availing myself of decent lounge lattes at the airport, I wrote a list of the things I needed to wrap up after conference. The volunteering commitments I have over the rest of the year. The things I need to send off, and the stories I want to write. I also committed to Sunday night check ins with a few of my writing tribe, so that I had some accountability over the coming months.

  1. Send your stuff off.

I didn’t pitch at conference this year – but I did participate in a Twitter pitch during the conference and received a request (yay me!).

So, like I would advise to any pitcher who asked… I’m going to send my manuscript off before the end of the month.

If you pitched and received a request, if you met someone and you want to maintain that relationship, if you heard something which has encouraged you to make a submission to a particular publisher – DO IT.

And do it soon.

It doesn’t have to be immediate (although the sooner you send it, the sooner you can tick it off your list). But it’s generally advisable to send materials requested in a pitch within about three months of the pitch. And if you’re just looking to maintain that contact you made, you’re better to do that when people still have a chance of remembering you (there are a lot of faces at conference!).

  1. Stay in touch with your peeps.

68284523_862568540779923_419858900297187328_nThe peeps I met at my first conference in 2015 remain my peeps. They’re extra special. They also live FAR away from me. And as I can’t convince any of them to move (I’ve tried) we have to come up with other ways to stay in touch.

Start a Facebook Group, a WhatsApp chat, a Twitter list. Set up regular Skype calls or, if you’re lucky enough to be a bit closer, regular meet up times. Make an effort to stay in touch because these are the people who get you and who understand how frustrating it is when life chucks roadblocks in the way of words. They’re always going to be gentle with you, but will tell it like it is.

Also, look for other groups in your local area. I work monthly with a critique group, and have recently also been invited to join Breathless in the Bush. Both of these are groups I can meet with face to face monthly and, together, we can work on maintaining motivation (as well as honing skills and reading books!).

  1. Go through your notes

If you’re like me, you’ll have picked up a nugget or two of gold while sitting in the various sessions at conference.

Read through your notes and make sure you find them again. Remember them. Write them on pieces of paper and post them above your desk. Write them down in your diary or stick them to your computer screen. Do what a friend did a few years ago and make up sticky labels to stick on her computer with her favourite sayings from conference.

And then, commit to trying them.

Whatever they are.

They may work for you. They might not. But you’ll never actually know unless you try to use them, or adopt them in your day to day life.

  1. Have a crack at a competition

IMG-9189I have to declare a conflict of interest here… I’m the Ripping Start Contest Coordinator and I’d love everyone to enter my contest this year – as well as all of the other contests on offer through RWAus.

But, more seriously, competitions are great to keep you working towards a goal. While you may fall over the dreaded third judge (it happens), even if you don’t place in a competition, you will generally get some solid feedback you can use to advance your writing.

Just a tip though: don’t get ‘too much’ feedback, it just confuses you.

And give feedback some time to settle before you decide what to do with it. You’ll know in your gut what feedback is spot on and what veers wildly off into the trees. Trust yourself to make the right choices about what to do with it!

Where have you been?

54433696_260191091586262_3790410137387139072_nSo, it’s been a while since I posted. But what’s new, right?!

Things have been a little more out of control than I’d have liked this year as my Dad (that’s him in the pic, doing laps of the hospital with me) has been pretty unwell. He’s a lot better now – not fixed but we have a bit more of a handle on the cause(s) – but in the last few weeks things have been pretty serious (including a stay in ICU, and no less than four doctors pointing out they’d never seen anyone survive a potassium level of 10.5).

And then there were the poor doctors who had to contend with me (the non medically trained youngest daughter and regular pain in the ass) asking questions and making suggestions for treatment. Bless. Most of them handled it well. Others… well, not so much.

It’s one of those things though. Having a loved one who’s really sick reminds you to make EVERY MINUTE COUNT. We don’t know how long we have on this Earth, and with loved ones. And every minute of whatever time we have is important.

Don’t squander it.

Thinking about time that way has also made me value my writing time a little more. Sure, writing time is time away from loved ones – but it’s something I have to do. For me. So it’s important, but I shouldn’t squander the time I have to write by spending most of it on Facebook, right! #masterprocrastinator

So, I am back, and putting words on a page. YAY!

And I’m getting PSYCHED for #RWAus19 which is fast approaching! #cannotwait #mytribe

Talk soon.

And #mwah

 

 

 

ICYMI: 10 Questions with Kristine Charles

Hello <waving>, me again!

Lately I’ve been hanging with contemporary romance writer Sonia Stanizzo, answering 10 questions on her blog. If you want to check out my answers, click here to be delivered straight to the post.

 

ICYMI: Writing Great Sex

March

A couple of weeks ago I was over on the BookBaybz Blog writing about writing great sex. If you missed it, click here to be delivered right to the post.

And don’t forget to let me know your tips for writing great sex!

 

 

 

ICYMI: Interview with the Sabrists

A couple of weeks ago the Love Sabrists were Featured Authors over on the Amazeballs Book Addicts Facebook Page. We had a lot of fun with a little interview and, I thought I’d remind you… in case you missed it!

Click here to be delivered right to the post.

 

 

FWIW: Fifty Shades Freed

DSC05292I’m assuming you already know the story but here there are spoilers specific to the movie. So, if you’ve not seen it yet, and don’t want to be spoiled about the bells and whistles, bookmark this page and come back to squee with me when you’ve seen it.

I may have seen this movie a few times now. And, for what it’s worth, I have a few favourite things about it that I wanted to share with you. So, of course, I decided to blog about it.

Ana owning her power

This whole series is (at least, for me) about Ana coming into her own. The series has always been driving towards that and – while we see Ana swanning around the office a lot, and not actually doing that much work – there is a definite power shift in her character in this movie both personally and professionally (externally evidenced by some great clothes. I love the blue dress – if only I was much thinner – but, I digress!).

For me, the real indication of this power, and Ana’s awareness of it, is the last scene. The turn of her head and that little smile, while she’s on her knees, just before the door shuts. Sure, she was topping from the bottom, but there she is. Anastasia Grey.

There are also other scenes. The scene when Ana’s dressing, and tearing shreds of Christian the same time for having his priorities all screwed up (as an aside, that is a pretty cool piece of acting Ms Johnson). The scene where she uses her safeword in the Red Room (#adulting, both of them). The scene with the Ben & Jerry’s in Aspen. There’s also the ‘you may call me Mrs Grey’ moment and the ‘if you can handle her, you can handle this’ moment when Christian tosses her the keys to the R8 which, IMHO, has to be the sexiest car in the world and brings me to—

The car chase

Hot. Hot. Hot. A chick more than competently driving a car (yes, I know it would have been a stunt driver and no one could drive that well that fast first time out but please leave my fantasy alone).

And car sex, so much yes please.

I came home and Googled the Audi R8 and, just so you know, I can’t afford one. Neither can I afford the $300 vibrator that Christian uses in the Red Room ($300!). But I could afford and have already bought—

The Soundtrack

I’ve loved all three of the movie soundtracks but I think, just on sheer number of songs I love, this one comes out on top. Capital Letters. Big Spender. The Wolf. High. Never Tear Us Apart. For You. Heaven. I Got You. And Love Me Like You Do (Squee. Love Me Like You Do and the original helicopter sequence. Yes please, take me to your helicopter, fly me to Seattle and … well, you get the picture!)

Max Martini.

So, first a disclaimer. My name is Kristine and I’m a Dornan-a-holic. I have a serious thing for Jamie Dornan (and his back), funny little walk and all. I even loved him in The Fall when he was channelling a sociopath. Brant Daugherty* is also smokin’ (and OMG, how good is the Hannah line— ‘I might have an opening.’ I’ll just bet you do!) but—

If Max Martini wanted to read me the phonebook while stroking me with a peacock feather, I would NOT say no. Holy shit. That man’s voice. And he can absolutely wear a suit. And…

Crap. Google tells me he too is married. Back to the drawing board. Sigh.

Overall

So, #FWIW, I loved it. I went in there wanting to love it and, I confess, it would have had to be really bad for me to have not loved it. But I think it was a fitting end to a pretty good series.

What would I have liked to see more of? The whole thing. Even though it was about the same length as Darker, this movie felt short. I’d have liked more of the honeymoon. More of the conversation between Christian and Mrs Robinson (because who doesn’t want more Kim Basinger, even when she’s a villain!). More of the fight at the night club in Aspen. More sex (always… yes, I admit I’m a perve #makelovenotwar).

#dreamsforthedvd #directorscut

DSC05420Now, all we have to wait for is Freed (i.e. the story from Christian’s point of view) which I expect will be out later this year (although I have no insider knowledge or actual facts). And whatever else E. L. James turns her hand to next. Apparently, she is working on another contemporary ‘provocative romance’ so, fingers crossed we don’t have to wait too long. I mean, it’s not like my TBR pile is shrinking but… #youcanneverhavetoomanybooks

 

Photos are the author’s

 

ICYMI: Writing tips from the Love Sabrists

Today me and my Love Sabre pals are blogging over on Louisa Bacio’s blog, sharing our best writing tips.

Louisa is an awesome writing teacher, and a fabulous writer, publishing all kinds of erotic, paranormal stories. She’s also a really great chick!

You can find our post here. And don’t forget to check Louisa out while you’re there!

In case you missed it …

A couple of weeks ago I was guest blogging over on Romance Lives Forever about Aussie sportsmen in ‘Real Men Don’t Wear Padding – the Truth About Aussie Sportsmen’.

If you missed it – and you’re looking for a light-hearted fun read – you should check it out!

Click here to be delivered right to the post.

 

 

Lessons from my first writing retreat

As I sit here, it’s 9.34pm on a Sunday night – the last night of the inaugural Love Sabre writing retreat. As well as thinking about what I should be doing – namely finishing a manuscript – and not doing it, I’m thinking about what lessons I will be taking away from my first writing retreat.

To give a little background, this is the first Love Sabre retreat #lovesabreretreat2018 #lovesabreontour. As you might already know if you’ve been connecting with us on social media, Love Sabre is a group of seven women, all romance writers, who met at the 2015 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne. We’ve joined forces to kick each other’s asses on the road to publication. And we’ve written an anthology of short stories about sheathing your love sabre – but more about that later.

20180112_052621096_iOSThis year, we decided to take the opportunity to come together in the Alpine Valley of Victoria (Beechworth, in fact) to take four days together – and write. I can’t say that I’ve gotten that many words on the page, but I have filled my cup of inspiration (and more than a few cups of coffee) and I’ve gathered a few lessons which – of course – I’m going to share with you.

20180114_100725833_iOSThe first of those lessons is: this writing business requires DISCIPLINE. And I don’t have it. Yet. It’s something I talk about a lot, and something I appreciate in others (shout out to L.Simpson), but I struggle to find it. There’s always just one more quick check of Facebook, one more tweet, or one more Instagram post to send. Or, in this case, a blog post to write. Yep, I’m writing this instead of the WIP. If I’m ever going to FINISH THE DAMN BOOK, I need to find some discipline. Which means giving myself some deadlines and schedules, and sticking to them. And not ‘rewarding’ myself if I don’t hit those marks (i.e. no new series of The X Files for me… at least not until I’ve put words on a page!). Maybe I have to withhold coffee … Eek!

The second of those lessons is: FUEL. Fuel is required to write – not just imagination fuel, but actual fuel and, as much as it pains me to say this, woman cannot write on chocolate and coffee alone. You need good food. More greens. Good protein. And lots of water. And the occasional coffee (when it’s not being withheld!). You also need to take time to get up and move. Here, that’s not been a hardship because the outdoors is beautiful – lots of rolling hills, some cute animals and we’ve been lucky with the weather. But at home, sometimes, the last thing you want to do is go for a walk around the neighbourhood. It might be dark. Or too cold or too hot. Or raining. But suck it up Princess – because for your brain to work, your body needs to move.

20180114_231507861_iOSThe third – and final – lesson is JOY. In the last few days I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve laughed until I’ve cried. These women are hilarious. When I leave here tomorrow – and return to the day job, and the family and all the other bits and pieces that have to be dealt with on a day to day basis in ‘life’, joy may not be as easy to spot. So I need to remember to look for it in my day and to look for it in the simple things (and some in the not so simple too). Like horny horses, and rogue farts, and silly conversations about tight little bunches of grapes #injokes.

20180113_054508403_iOSSo, back to the anthology. Next month – in only twenty-one days or so – the Love Sabrists will be releasing (through Boroughs Publishing Group) their first anthology of short stories. Titled LOVE SABRE – the book is full of romantic shorts, ranging in heat level from sweet to spicy, and all of which somehow involve the sheathing of a love sabre. Releasing on 6 February 2018, it’ll be available in e-book and print on demand (from the usual retailers) and we’d love to hear what you think!

Come visit the Sabrists over at Love Sabre or @lovesabrewrites on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.