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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.

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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!

 

 

 

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.

 

 

#RWAus17 #LoveGoneWild

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.

#1 Marion Lennox and Kate Forsyth are wonderful

Marion Lennox kicked off proceedings with a keynote speech Saturday morning. My two biggest take-aways from her speech were:IMG_2105

  • Treasure your magic (even if it’s dragon themed, Bible-belted erotica).
  • Feel your gumnut (see photo), and let it remind you of all the things you love about writing.

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!

#2 Tattoo has hit the street

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!)

 

#3 Learning lots of stuff

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:

  • Don’t be busy. Just be productive.
  • Words fly when you’re having fun.
  • Finish the damn book.
  • Be prepared to work.
  • Plant your backside in the chair.

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!)

#4 Pitch Perfect

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I was scheduled for a pitch at 9.10 am Sunday morning.

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.

 

#5 Catching up with the writing buddies

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.

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And then…

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

I think I can… the next Sunday Snippet

I’m here.

You’d be forgiven for thinking I was dead… well, maybe not dead but otherwise indisposed or kidnapped or taken by aliens or locked in the Red Room with Christian Grey (actually, that last one could be a maybe, yes please?!) because I’ve missed weeks #2 and #3 of the Sunday Snippet.  But none of those things happened.  Family and life and excuses happened, sure, but nothing notably exciting (and trust me when I’d say I’d let you all know if Christian Grey materialised… I might not share him because I’m a selfish bitch, but I’d let you know).

So, then I startimg_7203ed thinking about what I wanted to write today… and I started scrolling through the photos from the last twelve months that I have on my phone.  Well, I have a ridiculous number of photos on my phone (9000+!) but I decided to work with the last 12 months.  I found this one from the beginning of the year and it got me wondering about New Year’s resolutions.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year – #2015 was tough with lots of family stuff, work stuff and then quitting and starting a new job.  I didn’t want to make any promises or plans – even to myself – just in case something happened to derail everything again.  But as I scrolled through the photos I started to realise I’d had a pretty big year… and thought I’d note some notables below:

  • I met CHRISTINA LAUREN!
  • There are lots of pics of good times with family and friends
  • I saw The Sound of Music, college football in Sydney, and Ellie Goulding (loved her, she was so much better than I expected she’d be)
  • I got tickets for ADELE in 2017!  This was a recent achievement and I’m rightfully chuffed!
  • There are a few sneaky photos of the hot electrician who came to fix some electrical thing under my desk
  • I finished a six month write your novel course, plus went to Readers and Writers Downunder on the G0ld Coast and the RWA Conference – Ain’t Love Grand! – in Adelaide
  • I hung out with some of the best writing peeps I know in courses and at conferences
  • I got to see my footy team, the Mighty Cronulla Sharks win their maiden premiership #upupcronulla and my youngest nephew win his local footy comp
  • I attended a work conference in Darwin – got to explore a new place and meet lots of new people (and try crocodile… which wasn’t bad!)
  • I saw Orlando Bloom’s bits (and no, I have no idea how a photo of naked Orlando came to be saved in my photos app… none at all… I swear!  I know it’s naughty but it’s just one…!)
  • I had the best trip to Seattle, Vancouver and Honolulu to celebrate my 40th (and I’m already planning a return to Seattle… I LOVED it!  Didn’t get to spend much time there)
  • We drank Veuve Clicquot at work on Melbourne Cup Day (seriously, who gets to drink Veuve at work!)
  • I got some awesome photos of the Supermoon thanks to a photography tour I did on my trip
  • My Mum had her brother visit – and her other siblings came over and all had a chance to catch up – they’re all 70+ now and living all over the place so it was nice to see them all in one place for a change (and this is what held me up on writing for one of those missed weekends… but it was probably worth it)

So now, I’m looking to finish up at work for the year in the next week or so and I’m heading off for some (minor, hopefully!) surgery.  I’m hoping that some down time (I’m not going to be able to walk far) will mean a bit more time to write and I’ll get an opportunity to decompress from the work I love but which also drives me mental.

Maybe the end of #2016 will see me think of some resolutions for #2017?

What about you?  Are you already planning your #2017 resolutions?  What are they?  Share with me on Twitter @wordsbykc?

Sunday Snippet #1

Well, hello.  Welcome to Sunday Snippet #1.

My initial week’s effort on NaNoWriMo has been… shall we say… pathetic?  I’ve managed a paltry 87 words.  But I now have 87 more words than I had on 31 October so I’m taking that as a (minor) win.

img_4850Today, there’s been a lot of looking at the computer, then getting up to make a(nother) coffee and reviewing what’s happened on Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and Pinterest.  At least that’s what I was doing until I grounded myself from my devices (the iPad and the iPhone are now far away in my bedroom) and sat down to write my Snippet.

This week’s Snippet is about book-induced anxiety.  Maybe book-exacerbated, not book-induced.  Anyway, let me explain.

I drive to work… and while I drive I usually listen to audio-books.  I also usually listen to them as I fall asleep (it’s like the adult version of someone reading you a story!  Awesome).  Sometimes those books are new to me, sometimes they’re books I’ve already read and loved.  At the beginning of this week I was listening to Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren.

You need to know that I LOVE  this book.

It’s not the first time I’ve read it – with my eyes or with my ears and Christina Lauren are two of my FAVOURITE authors (and even though I’m not the prettieimg_8409st I’ve ever been in the photo to the right, I had to include it because… OMG, Christina Lauren ).

If you’ve read it, you’ll know that our main
character, Lola (or Lorelei) gets caught up in trying to balance all the new facets of her life after college – publication of her graphic novel, the translation of that graphic novel into a feature film and the transition of her relationship with our favourite Aussie (even though the male voice artist in the Audible narration does a terrible Aussie accent) from friends to lovers.

I’m happily listening away… Christina Lauren write some great sex in this book – and then we get to the part where it all starts to go wrong.  I’m listening as I’m falling asleep and I have one of the worst night’s sleep EVER.  Followed up by one of the most anxious drives to work I’ve had in the 11 months or so I’ve been at this job.

Now, I don’t think this is completely Christina Lauren’s fault.

I know I’m already a bit on the anxious side at the moment.  I’m trying to manage a team of six people through a project that involves encouraging managers to performance manage staff who have never been performance managed before.  Some of the team like me… some don’t… and I’m not loving the project (lots of people setting expectations without thinking the consequences all the way through… but I digress).  I’m also trying to polish/finish a manuscript for submission to publishers, have two short stories on deadline (one for an anthology and one for a competition), my uncle’s coming to stay for a week, neither of my parents are 100% healthy and I’m having surgery at the beginning of December.  Oh, and I probably drink too much coffee and Donald Trump still thinks he can be President of the USA (please, USA, get your act together here… I love you and you’re making me nervous).

But I’ve never had quite as strong a reaction to a book – and I knew what was coming!

Reading that, though, and having that reaction, makes me want to perfect my craft.  It makes me want to sit down at the computer and write all the words that will make a reader feel something – whether that’s anxiety or that tingly feeling you get when you meet a new guy or that amazing sensation you get when someone loves you or that sadness you get when you think all is lost.  It also makes me scared that I’ll never quite manage it, that my work won’t go deep enough, won’t be honest enough, won’t have the heart that makes the reader feel all the things.

So, maybe that’s why my writing’s been a bit stymied this week.

But now, it’s time for dinner and then I’ll sit down and have one more run at the manuscript tonight.  Here’s hoping for some wordy progress!

See you next Sunday for Snippet #2.

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo

Hello.

So, we all know how incredibly good I am at updating my website, right?

<insert sarcasm sign here>

And, because I don’t have enough to do in the month of November, I thought I might set myself a November Website Updating Goal.  A NoWeUpGo if you will.

My NoWeUpGo is a series of Sunday Snippets.

Each Sunday in November, I’m undertaking to upload a snippet of something to my site.  It may not be long and it will hopefully be good, but every Sunday I’ll whack something together (or find something in the archives) and post it on the blog.  I’ll also probably be reporting on my word count – successfully or otherwise and, if you want to play along with me during NaNoWriMo we can buddy up at: wordsbykristinecharles

Today, in preparation for the Sunday Snippet, I’ve been doing a little warm up, going over some of the blog entries I’ve posted previously and I thought I’d link you to two of my favouries: Cheating and M, N, O and P.

Wait!  Before you click on that link… go find yourself a drink of choice (and yes, if you want to indulge in some alcohol – go for it, it’s always after 12 noon somewhere in the world right?!).  Then come back, settle down and enjoy a little Sunday Snippet with your drink.

I’ll see you back here next Sunday.