The flu and creativity
they simply do not gel.
It's hard to be creative
when you frankly feel unwell.
You're hot and cold and sweaty.
Your brain is full of mud.
You try and try for good ideas,
but every one's a dud.
You want to sleep but you can not
despite so many pills
One for head, for chest, for nose
yet none can cure your ills.
You know you have so much to do
but you must lie in bed.
You want to be creative but
you're dull as dirt instead.
by Monique McDonell
This week I'm having a virtual blog tour.
Do you know what that is?
It's where an author is featured on a series of blogs or a websites over a period of time.
So where will I be?
Here is the schedule below. Please visit these blogs and leave comments. You can read some more about the background of Mr Right and Other Mongrels. Also you can win copy of the e-books
Schedule of where I'll be.
Jul 30: She Who Blogs Behind the Rows (Guest Post) TODAY!!!
Jul 31: Reading with Holly (Interview)
Aug 1: whoopeeyoo :D (Guest Post/Review)
Aug 2: Sandra's Blog (Guest Post)
Aug 3: (Read, watch, listen) - Disincentive reviews (Guest Post)
Aug 4: Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf (Guest Post)
Aug 6: LOVE. WITHOUT YOU (Guest Post)
Aug 7: Jersey Girl Book Reviews (Guest Post/Review)
Aug 8: Nothing Better Than a Book (Review)
Aug 8: Queen of All She Reads (Guest Post)
Follow this VBT and enter the tour-wide contest at each participating stop for a chance to win one of three eBook copies of Mr. Right and Other Mongrels. More entries = more chances to win!
You can also stop by Coffee Beans and Love Scenes who arranged the tour to read some book excerpts and enter.
I could be surrounded by a million people, but I would still feel alone.
I smile on the outside, but inside I feel like I’m slowly dying. I cry out for
help, but nobody sees me, at least not the real me. They see a façade, a mask that I put on to hide the pain.
I pretend that I’m normal, but really, what is normal? Maybe what I’m
feeling is normal. The hurt, the disappointment, the loneliness… it could be all just be a part of life. Maybe I will never know what normal is.
I put on long sleeves and makeup to hide the bruises, but they only mask
the outside. What happens when I can’t carry my burden alone any longer? What would happen if I told somebody the truth?
Don't Tell is a YA Contemporary Romance about love, forgivness and hope. Coming Fall 2012.
How to reach author:
How to win a copy...
I haven't yet read this novel but if you would like to be one of the first to do so you could win a copy just comment below and you are in the draw. The book will be delivered via Smashwords so will suit any format or e-reader, iPad etc.
P.S Looking forward to my own cover reveal of Hearts Afire very soon.
It's the most beautiful sunny day here in Sydney. It's just gorgeous actually. Yes, it's the middle of winter which is REALLY not my favourite time of year but the sunshine makes it all seem like spring surely can't be too far away. (This is a illusion of course but I'll take it).
I'm taking a break today (even though I really shouldn't) to have lunch with a good friend for her birthday. we're having lunch down by the beach. I can't wait!
As you can see from the picture beside me I have a blog tour scheduled next week.
I'll post more details as we get closer but for the sticky-beaks out there here is the schedule.
I also need to get working on my pitch for the RWA Conference. I'm pitching a really fun chick lit book. Well I think it's fun. Unlike most of my books it is not set here in Australia but set in New York.
New york is fun. I was there for exactly 2 days last year. It wasn't quite long enough with an ten year-old in tow (especially one who has just spent a week in the pristine calm and cleanliness of DisneyWorld. she has a bit of culture shock). We did the express tour which was a shame. We didn't get to catch up with anyone in or near the area that we knew. Next time!
This weekend I will be working on my pitch. Writing some posts for the blog tour and hopefully finishing the edit for Hearts Afire so I can hand it off to my editor. That sounds rather ambitious.I better enjoy that lunch today.
I was just over on Facebook where a friend was talking about pitching for the up-coming Romance Writers of Australia Conference.
The first time I pitched I had no idea what to expect. I felt sick. I was anxious. I was out of my depth.
Why do people pitch? The reason is simple. There are very few ways to sit down with an agent or a publisher and tell them about your book. Many publishers won't read manuscripts that aren't submitted to them by an agent and many agents have closed books. This is a golden opportunity for a writer.
Pitching, for the uninitiated, is like doing a very quick job interview. Well, I think conference pitching is a cross betweeen speed-dating and a job interview actually.
A conference pitch session is usually 5 minutes which is a lot shorter than any decent job interview. I think if your job interview only lasts five minutes it is safe to say you didn't get the job. I believe speed dating is usually less time at the table closer to 2-3 minutes. (I am happy to report I've never been speed dating which is lucky because I would have stunk at it. I'm flirting impaired. It's a fact.)
Like speed-dating lots of conference pitches take place in a group environment where several agents and publishers are in the same room but each at their own little table. When your time comes the door opens and you go and sit opposite the person you have been allocated and then at the end the bell rings and you say your good-byes. Just like speed-dating!
The job interview objective is get the job or get a second interview. In speed-dating you want the person you like to choose you and ask you on a date.
At a pitch you have an objective as well. You want them to ask to see your manuscript. Some agents/authors ask for a partial (manuscript) some ask for a full. You want to be asked for a full. If you're asked for partial that's great but it's more like you've been asked out for coffee than dinner and you want dinner! Either way though you dance out of there happy and full of hope (See why it's like dating?)
On a side-not I have also done group pitching. I would equate that to being asked on the group date on The Bachelor. It's pre-set and some publishers/agents only do group pitches. For the pitchee it's actually more nerve-wracking because on top of the usual fear and jitters you have to worry about the other people at the table. You're not really competing against each other but it can feel that way and you certainly feed off the energy of the others. It's awkward and afterwards if one person is asked for a partial and another for nothing, well, there's less dancing your way out of the room.
Just like in a job interview you want the interviewee to like what you have to offer. You want to appear competent and knowledgeable. You hope the time you've spent developing your skills will shine through and you will be selected. You understand it's a pragmatic business like interaction. They may not choose you and it may have nothing at all to do with you or your ability. (They're looking for rural women's fiction and you are pitching romantic suspense for example. They're list is full in your area. They just published someone similar to you.)
However, I think it crosses over into the dating realm again because so much of your heart and soul goes into a book. You love your novel. You want it to be loved. You want the person across from the table to "get you" and want to know more about this great love. You want it to be a shared passion and so the rejection feels personal and so does any success.
That's what pitching looks like and feels like. Each time you do it I think it gets less scary. I would say I'm still not great at it and my nerves are evident each time but I keep going back and people keep reading my work which of course is the objective.
I'll do another post with practical tips on another day.
Today I got some fun promotional items in the mail.
Take a look! See they're very cute aren't they? I'll be using these keyrings, sticky notes and mugs for a promotion very soon.
I really love the way that green awning pops out. It looks so fresh.
It's weird to see that gorgeous cover on other things but it is weird in a very good way.
I have a mug I kept for myself. Afterall I'd hate to miss out and every so often it's nice to have a treat.
Stay tuned for the competition details later and a chance to win your own mug.
Meanwhile I'm off to have a coffee.
It's writers' conference season right now.
In the USA lots of writers are heading to Anaheim for the Romance Writers of America Conference. I have never been to this but one year, in the not too distant future, I would love to go.
The Romance Writers of Australia Conference is being held on the Gold Coast this year. (For the non-Australian's that is in Queensland and it's a very popular holiday/vacation destination). That's it there on the left. Given how cold and wet the winter in Sydney has been this year I am allowing myself to believe it will look exactly like the photo here and I will be able to feel blissful sunshine on my face. I will be crossing my fingers and toes for the next month.
I'm going to this one and really looking forward to it. This conference has the unlucky knack of often falling on the same weekend as my daughter's birthday. Lucky for me this year it doesn't so I can go.
Also lucky for me I have been before so I get to see some wonderful women I have met in the past and also some I haven't met, except on line. That will be fun! Plus I'm going with the wonderful Jen Tomasetti who is a member of The Writers' Dozen and one of my favourite people on the planet.
The Australian RWA has some main events. There's a themed cocktail party on the Friday Night. This year it's a 60's inspired Diamonds Are Forever theme. (I still don't have an outfit), There is the opportunity to pitch to agents (still don't have the outfit for that either) and as well there is the annual Awards Dinner (I believe the outfit is covered).
So basically I believe preaparing for a conference has two key components. Preparing your pitch and choosing your outfits. (Of course it is also a good idea to register, book flights and accomodation but I'm pretty sure everybody knows that!)
If you have thoughts on what to pack or what not to pack for conferences I'd love to hear them. I'll be back with specicics later.
I was thinking yesterday about the role secondary or minor characters play in stories and how much fun some of them are.
Pride and Prejudice has all those sisters and relatives for example. Where would the story be without Lydia? Little Women well yes it is Jo's story but imagine it without Beth or Amy. It just doesn't work does it?
I love writing minor characters who come in with their energy and opinions and turn people's lives upside down.
In Mr Right and Other Mongrels Justin (who is very loosely based on a wonderful friend of mine - just by way of personality) is one of my favourite characters by far. I also adore Teddy's parents Joyce and Bob. I named them after a friend of mine's equally lovely parents (that's the full extent of the resemblance as, for example my friend, and her whole family are American).
Main characters have to sustain a whole story but minor characters , who of course have their own stories off page, can be as outrageous or gentle as you please and unlike the prtagonists you don't need to keep throwing trouble at them.
So today's question is...who are some of your favourite secondary or minor characters in fiction?
1. What was the inspiration for your current novel?
Most writers usually have a lovely, light-hearted or noble reason, but mine was dreadful stress, pure and simple. After all, writing is cheaper than therapy. If you read about my main character Kai Canarbis’ dreadful experiences, you essentially experience the pain I endured whilst working full time, attempting to fulfil four different roles, in an office that demanded too much from someone too young, whilst writing even longer hours in addition. I’ve always written for pleasure, but The Destiny of Dragons: The Book of Wrath was inspired by stress and then became an outlet for that same stress. I hope that makes Kai’s issues recognisable and that readers can sympathise/empathise with him.
2. When did you take up writing?
Again, it was through necessity. I used to be an avid action and fantasy reader, however, my parents’ divorce, when I was 10, led my mother, sister and I to squat in a house my dad was having built, which didn’t possess any electricity and it was easier to write than read by poor light. Autobiography anyone? I dabbled with various genres, but didn’t hit upon
what I truly enjoy writing – epic fantasy – until I was about 16. After approximately 50 large manuscripts of practice, mainly whilst completing a university degree, which was completely non-writing related, I finally hit upon my current, favourite series when I was 27. Six years later and the nine books are finally completed…ish. I haven’t been privileged to possess the time to publish until now.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
I’m so impatient I used to rush the scenery to get to the action. Now, after many years of writing and appreciating character driven stories, I yearn to create credible individuals you can relate to, based in vast, vivid, beautiful worlds. I definitely prefer detail, as a believable environment is just as important as a character, considering it’s the world they exist in, even a character in its own right. Setting can enhance characters’ merits, drive a plot, motivate events, prove a retreat and more.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
I have so many! That’s why you write, right? To bring these amazing people to life, after they’ve yammered to be set free from your mind. Handsome, heroic and selfless, whilst vulnerable at the same time, Kai Canarbis did inspire my current series, however, it’s not like me to like such a good natured character. As the series progresses, I introduce many other heroes who I might just like a little better due to a little bit of darkness in their souls. Just wait for Gnarls Hasketh and Rhyddion Pentrebane, as well as Soren and Sirocco Lazarus. They’re Heaven sent.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
I was once member of a writing group, where I received some essential pointers, which transformed my naïve writing. In my genre, show not tell is probably the best advice I’ve had. The best feedback I receive, on a constant basis, is from my best friend, one of the few people to have read everything I’ve ever written, when she simply, continually demands “NEXT!” That simple demand for more, without any complaint, without even the
care to provide feedback, because she was so absorbed by the story, is so heartening and keeps me writing. By continuing to write, I learn every day, from every word, every book. I have also come to adopt the phrase “Long live books in all formats,” as it’s opened my eyes to self-publishing.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
It would probably make more sense for me to have a schedule for not writing. There’s never a spare moment when I’m not scribbling on paper, on the laptop, on the pc, designing book covers, editing, formatting, coding, promoting, submitting, working on the website and more. If I’m out and about, with no writing materials, I have been known to write on my own arm. Hypergraphia perhaps…?
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I never plan things. My stories always hail from a great character or even just a name that occurs to me. An intriguing
secondary character, I never got around to exploring, might inspire another book. I love completing a series and then filling the facts in behind, essentially writing backwards. I think every series should be done that way, because then you’re aware of your characters’ past, present and futures, and can plant subtle clues through the series, which become delightful upon second reading. I often plough through the plot regardless of complex issues, but when I discern the solution to a long-standing problem, which ties it all together, it’s pure bliss!
8. Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
I don’t read a lot, as I enjoy writing far too much. I do enjoy dipping into a quick read, normally historical biographies,
manga and plays; I have eclectic tastes! I’m currently dallying with Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, but then that’s just inspired a future horror project.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I havee just completed the ninth and final book of the epic action adventure fantasy romance Destiny of Dragons series, so am editing, although scribbling a small tenth sequel to the series keeps me sane in those moments I can’t be on the laptop. I’ve only just published book one, so it’s early days and I’m busy promoting, but I intend to publish a book from the series every six months and the monstrous book two needs to be edited, in order to be uploaded in November!
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Regarding writing: Read outside your genre and write because you enjoy it. Don’t create characters that are black and
white, but shades of grey. Don’t treat the reader like an idiot.
Regarding editing: Don’t treat your work preciously in all aspects, including ruthlessly removing what doesn’t fit in or
doesn’t move the story on. If a chunk of writing doesn’t fit, but you truly believe in its value, you can always use it elsewhere, even if it’s on the website. Produce the best product you can and, although you shouldn’t rely on agents and publishers (you can approach them whilst self-published after all), only pursue publication after experience and feedback, otherwise it doesn’t reflect your true capability and may be a
Regarding promotion: When you finally do publish, promote yourself confidently, as I find writers are far too shy! Take
advantage of all the free sites. Be honest about your work, as others will certainly be honest in return! Be proud of your accomplishments! Finally, be friendly, polite and professional to everyone online, as there are some amazing people who can help you become all you can be.
Book title: The Destiny of Dragons: The Book of Wrath
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series status: Book #1 of #9. Book #2 to be released November 2012. Entire series
completed and every successive book to follow at six monthly
Retail price: Variable.
Available at: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.es, Amazon.fr and Amazon.it. Only available on ebook at present. Available on further sites mid- August 2012.
Damned by greedy Emperor Azmyth and his weak heir, Prince Len, the Imperial Capital of Ay is
winked out in one terrible moment by the mysterious Dark Destruction. Ill prepared for the rigours of leadership, Prince Len leans upon Kai Canarbis, his Personal Protector, but as Kai spirits the unworthy Imperial Heirs through the
disintegrating Empire, in search of sanctuary and support, they have to endure the karma of the Vallely dynasty’s crimes.
Caught in arrogant, naive Len’s web, Kai seeks to disentangle his master out of an impending sticky mess,
his only reward being his blossoming romance with Princess Anna. However, having been badly wounded by the herald of the Dark Destruction, even the incredibly accomplished Kai falls victim to circumstance.
A desperate, but doomed quest to save the Empire leads across land, sea and ice, into Enemy-occupied
territory, but as the unfathomable Dark Destruction continues to ravage the realm, there may not be an Empire remaining for anyone to claim…
To get in touch with Billie-Jo Williams, please use a Communication Crystal or ask a Messenger
Fox. Alternatively (and probably a little more successfully) try these links:
Twitter: @acorok (author) and @destinyofdragon (book)
She can also be found on Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr and YourBookLaunch.com.
Who doesn't enjoy getting together with a group of girlfriends for a good catch-up and maybe a bit of mild gossip? Well I don't know anyone much, well not any women, I'm sure some men but then again a lone man amongst a group or women...it's not a bad gig!
Anyway in Mr Right and Other Mongrels, Allegra and her friends catch up at a bar at the Manly Wharf Hotel. This is a real bar and is at Manly Wharf.
When we took our photos of Manly a couple of weeks back we sat in the sun and had lunch here as an homage to the book and of course I took a few pics.
This is the wharf where you can hop the Manly Ferry across to Sydney. It's a really beautiful trip and in fact my favourite way to travel. Lots of people commute on the Manly Ferry. I used to back in the day. (It's kind of a bit like the Staten Island Ferry and I may or may not have been chanelling Melanie Griffith in Working Girl at the rime, complete with the sneakers to slip on for the walk up from Circular Quay to Castlereagh Street). If you come to Sydney the Manly Ferry is one of those 'must do' experiences. If you live here, you already know that.
Here are a couple more photos of the bar where Allegra dishes the dirt to her friends about going to Teddy's housewarming party in the book.
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.
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