Did you know it was Ed Sheeran’s birthday on Monday 17 February?
I did… and I was blogging about it – and books, music and romance over on Breathless in the Bush.
Go check it out here #mwah
I’ve been listening to a lot of the Wicked Wallflowers over the last few weeks. I have been a late adopter of Jenny and Sarah’s podcast and I LOVE IT. If it’s not in your ears yet, what are you waiting for?
Anyway, in their podcast, they’ll generally ask guests what was their first romance read and it got me thinking… what was MY first romance read. It certainly wasn’t Forever by Judy Blume – which I remember fondly, but DOES NOT have a happy ever after.
It wasn’t any of the Sweet Valley Highs I burned through as a teenager and which, frankly, became a little too dramatic and more like a teenage Days of Our Lives than I preferred!
It wasn’t any of the other BRILLIANT books I read at school including Lilith Norman’s Climb a Lonely Hill or Ruth Park’s My Sister Sif – if you’ve not read either, do yourself a favour. They’re great, and have stuck with me since I read them in primary school!
I also can’t really count my mother’s books that I stole away and read all the good bits from when I was WAY TOO YOUNG to be doing so. That catalogue included Lace by Shirley Conran, Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz and a book called Facades by Stanley Levine and Bud Knight that I really SHOULD NOT have been reading, although it taught me what Quaaludes were, and the word milequetoast. Lace also has the most inappropriately hedonistic scene involving a Sheik and a goldfish, but I digress…
It was <insert drum roll> the Chesapeake Bay saga from the Queen, Nora Roberts.
I read the four books in the series on a plane in the early 2000’s, which was no mean feat given they came in two volumes, each about 2” thick. No Kindle app in the early naughties! But I DEVOURED them, and they were then lugged around the USA because I was not leaving them behind. Those massive copies (in that thick, trade paperback size) still have pride of place on my bookshelf.
For those who haven’t read them, the Chesapeake Bay saga follows three brothers (in name, not in blood) unravelling the story of how they came to have a fourth brother, after their foster father passes away. Of course, in so unravelling, each comes to find their significant other – some who have been under their noses and others who have come from further away. But what I loved was that the family was a key part of the story and the general banter and that the relationship between the brothers was as much about the HEAs as the romances were.
I’ve never quite completed Nora’s back catalogue (somewhat surprisingly) although her Brides Quartet, and the InnBoonsboro series are books I’ll often re-read. But those Quinn brothers were my entry into Romancelandia, and were probably my first book boyfriends (I had a soft spot for the artist baby brother). He was an artist and, well, ‘paint me like your French girls’ is a definite thing for me!
Who was your gateway into Romancelandia? Have you been a long time resident or a new arrival?
Share with me on Twitter @wordsbykc or Facebook @wordsbykristinecharles
Today, I’m over on Breathless in the Bush blogging about why you should consider entering writing competitions… click here to check it out.
Anyone else been suffering from a serious case of conference drop over the last week?
Sadly, 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.
I 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.
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!).
The 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!).
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.
I 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!
So, 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
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.
It’s been almost A MONTH since #LoveGoneWild wrapped up and, thanks to a little family stuff and a little work stuff that all hit the fan when I arrived home, it’s taken me that long to wrap my head around the whirlwind! But never fear, I’m now here, with a delayed recap of a few shining moments from #RWAus17 #LoveGoneWild.
Marion Lennox kicked off proceedings with a keynote speech Saturday morning. My two biggest take-aways from her speech were:
Kate Forsyth brought up the rear (so to speak…) giving the closing keynote. It’s a tough gig – everyone is exhausted (and a little hung over) by this point – but, as you would expect from Kate, she was magical (and I was too mesmerised to tweet!). What did stick with me from Kate’s story was… keep on writing!
Tattoo, the 2017 RWA Spicy Bites anthology was launched Saturday morning, and awards were presented Saturday night. My writing besties (the Love Sabrists) had a lot to celebrate… Nardia also has a story in the Spicy Bites anthology while Tanya took out both first and second place in the Selling Synopsis competition this year (too clever!)
The conference proper really kicks off on Saturday with 400-something writers going every which way. It’s frenetic. And amazing. And just a little bit scary.
Ally Blake’s session on The Organised Writer was fantastic. I took a lot of notes in this session but some of the simplest – and likely most useful – tips included:
I was also completely overwhelmed (in a good way) by Liz Pelletier’s session on growth hacking. We needed a full day to really do justice to her knowledge and general awesomeness, but her application of business and marketing principles to writing made a lot of sense to me. And I now have ‘ALL THE FEELS’ post-it-noted on my computer…
Then there was Amy Andrews. I love hearing the stories of other authors and I opted for Amy’s roundtable because I LOVE her Sydney Smoke rugby series (so HOT! If you’ve not already started it, do yourself a favour and get them now! #4 Playing with Forever is coming soon). Amy was completely generous with her time and her stories and, I appreciated the fact that she gave really honest answers to our questions including letting us know what has worked, and hasn’t worked, for her. I walked away from that session completely inspired and ready to work on my manuscript (see #4 Pitch Perfect below!)
I was scheduled for a pitch at 9.10 am Sunday morning.
Which is, really, the ass-crack of dawn after two nights of partying with a bunch of introverts.
But, I got up and, after copious amounts of coffee and a doughnut or two (#breakfastofchampions), dressed up and showed up and scored a request for the manuscript for my trouble! In fact, I pitched twice – and got two requests – so now I’m polishing that manuscript to make it shine before I send it off.
There was a lot of drinking. Caffeinated and otherwise. There was also a bit of planning, some goal setting, a lot of selfies, a little outrageous face painting and general silliness. In particular we rocked an eclectic menagerie at the ‘Bring out the animal in you’ cocktail party… with a peacock, butterfly, parrot, owl, cheetah, leopard and a deer.
It was over and I was drinking coffee at the airport, bemoaning the fact that it was all over for another year. My coffee cup may be empty… but my writing spirit is full. See you in my hometown at #RWAus18 #Sydney #cannotwait