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Posts from the ‘Love Sabre’ Category

After #RWAus20… What’s Next?

ViewBecause of COVID-19, the Romance Writers of Australia took their conference online this year with five full days of jam-packed craft and business sessions.

With the benefit of all online sessions, conference goers got to ‘see’ everything and, frankly, I think we should all be careful what we wish for… It’s funny how, even when you’re just sitting at watching, and not engaging in all the social extras that you’d have at an in-person conference, you’re as exhausted by the end of it as you would have been had you been there in person!


Anyway, despite the conference exhaustion and general day job woes, I’ve been trying to process all my takeaways and tips and trying to figure out how I can fold all these into my writing practice. And, of course, I figured I needed to blog about the experience.

So, here goes, my top fifteen takeaways from #RWAus20 (I was going to try and get to 20 because, you know 2020, but too many words!)

  1. Storytellers are bestsellers.

Day one of the conference was a full day workshop presented by Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing. I’m going to say here that I’m aware Entangled has had some questions asked of it over the last 18 months or so, but even acknowledging those, I’m a fan of Liz’s style. She has a clear way of working and she’s not shy about it. And she prioritises a good story – which is where we get our first takeaway – Storytellers are bestsellers. This is pretty true. Think of Fifty Shades, or Twilight. They’re not the best crafted books ever written, but both authors spin a tale that clearly engages readers.

  1. Voice is everything

Another piece of wisdom from Liz. And again, I think this is true. You can teach craft (to a greater or lesser extent). But, you can’t teach voice as easily (if at all). And if the voice isn’t there, the story’s pretty boring…

  1. Define what success means for you.

Despite this being #3, it’s actually what’s been taking up most of my thinking following the conference. What do I want to achieve in my writing career? Not what do others think I should achieve – but what DO I WANT? I’m pretty sure the answer to this is hybrid author bringing in enough money to reduce the day job to part time (as much as I whinge about it, I like the day job, and it provides plenty of material for books) but I’m still refining that thought.

  1. Edit less. Write more. Rewrite rather than edit.

Another takeaway that burned straight into my soul. I’m a perfectionist writer – and while I’m working on those tendencies, I do tend to like to have things (be that chapter, paragraph or sentence) ‘right’ before I move on. That said, the more I edit, the more I lose my voice… and/or the story I’m trying to tell becomes a jumbled mess, and so I need to write – or rewrite – more, rather than editing.

  1. Don’t be afraid to rework or repurpose anything.

I have SO MUCH stuff on my hard drive. I’m keen to see what I can turn it into… I’m particularly hoping to repurpose some shorts into an anthology next year. They’re better on Amazon and its ilk than on my hard drive… they can’t be bestsellers there!

  1. First impressions count.

I did know this, but Tanera Simons, Agent at Darley Anderson made the point in her session on agents and the slush pile and it bears repeating.


Don’t try to be clever with your agent submission. Be professional.

  1. Work smarter not harder. Keep it simple, stupid.

Well, no shit Sherlock. This also resonated given I’d just completed Becca Syme’s Write Better-Faster course as I came into #RWAus20. But hours sitting staring at the manuscript (or, more correctly, scrolling on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) is not ‘working’ no matter how good I am at it. And I’m REALLY good at it. So, now I’m working on trying a few new process tricks to see if I can get more words on the page. I’ll let you know how I go…

  1. The hard stuff. The STAKES.

We all know, to get to the Happy Ever After, we have to pass through the Dark Night of the Soul (or whatever you call your bleak moment). This is where I get perpetually stuck. Even though I have Anne Gracie’s voice in my head telling me to ‘make it worse’ I don’t like making my characters suffer. I just like giving them all the sex. But I digress.

I’m going to HAVE to work on my STAKES. Because stakes are EVERYTHING.

  1. Write the books. Get them out there. Do it again.

This is how publishing – traditional or self – works, right? I have lots of half finished stuff. And I think it’s okay. But unless I get it finished, and in the hands of readers, I’m not actually an author, right? Time to WRITE THE BOOKS.


  1. Ellipses can be a crutch word. Who knew?

I use ellipses… and em-dashes­— ALL THE TIME. And all the editors out there just flinched. I know. Sorry. I particularly love ellipses and em-dashes in dialogue. My characters are always trailing off… or cutting each other—


I’m hilarious.

I’ll limit them. I promise.

  1. Cut the boring bits from your dialogue

As Rachael Bailey told us… dialogue isn’t real speech. We don’t need the boring bits. Cut!

  1. Stop blogging.

Hahaha. I saved the best for almost last… I’m unlikely to stick to this one because I like chatting to you all from time to time. But, I won’t be holding myself (or, at least, trying to hold myself) to a schedule. I’m just going to keep on popping by when I have something to tell you. Eventually, I’ll shift this to a newsletter… but am going to focus on getting the words done first.

  1. Online conferencing is worse for my bank account than an in person one…

I bought WAY TOO MANY books because, you know, my Amazon account was RIGHT THERE as people mentioned them.

Oh, and, do you like my new t-shirts… I blame Tanya Nellestein and Kerrie Starbuck…

If you also want to match, check out Photos also from

  1. Delight in the dull.

So, the order in which I’ve attacked these takeaways is a little all over the place. But I wanted to finish with a few other points from Anna Hackett’s keynote, which closed #RWAus20 on Sunday night – and was fabulous.


  1. Romance sells joy.

Life in the time of COVID-19 has been hard work. Everyone’s had their trials and tribulations – and they’ve been different for everyone. I’m still counting my chickens. My family is well, thankfully, and I can still work from home. Both of which make me very privileged in the current environment.

But to balance the dark, there is always some light. And hopefully, for some, that has been romance. Romance sells joy (so said Liz Pelletier). We’re writing, and selling, the fantasy of the billionaire, the brother’s best friend, the friend turned lover, the enemy turned lover, the happy ever after.


My peeps at #RWAus19… joyful exhaustion…!

We are selling JOY, damnit.

And the world needs more of it.

So, go forth, Romancelandia, and spread your JOY!

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.



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.

Love Sabre Q&A

You may already know that I’m one of seven Love Sabrists – a group of women who met at #RWAus15 – the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in 2015.

All different, we banded together to create a collection of short stories (an anthology) all including the phrase ‘sheathe your love sabre.’ Boroughs Publishing Group loved our brand of crazy fun and will be publishing the anthology in 2018. #woohoo

This week, I answered some questions over on the Love Sabre blog… and – if you’ve not already had the pleasure – you can find the Q&A here: Love Sabre Q&A