Today I thought I'd ask myself the Top 5 questions I get asked about my writing life.
1. How's your writing going?
This is the question people who know I write but don't really know about the details ask. It's the most common question I get.
It's going fine. I have another book out next month and my last release was okay although I didn't promote it properly. It was a novella and I don't think people really want novellas from me. My January release No Time For Temptation went well and readers are giving it great reviews which makes me happy.
2. When is the next book out?
This is the question from my friends who read and love my books.
Girlfriend, I'm doing my best here. It takes a lot longer to write a book than read a book you know. I'm working really hard here and but you'll have books in April, May, June so don't panic. There will be lots to read. I do really appreciate that you love my books and your support makes me cry all the happy tears.
3. Can I get it in paperback?
Asked by lots of non e-reading friends.
You know I used to do paperbacks and they just don't sell unless you have a book launch or a signing but I have No Time For Temptation in paperback and it will be live on Amazon soon. I'm also ordering duets of the Upper Crust series soon, I promise. Here's an example!
4. How do you write so fast?
This is usually asked by other authors who don't write as quickly as I do.
Firstly, I have had years of practice at being quick at turning work around in my day job where I've basically written all day for a living. Secondly, I'm not bad at time management in general so I'm really good at using 15 minute increments to get stuff done - a Facebook post, some emails, or some behind the scenes activity. Thirdly, I know my best times of day for creativity and it's good to work these out for yourself. (Mine are 10am -12noon , 2-4pm, and 5-6.30pm) If I can get two one hour blocks in these times I can get 2-3,000 words of a draft done. I try and do a minimum of 1,000 words a day. That adds up. Fourthly, by writing every day I can dive straight back in where I left off which saves time and backtracking. Finally, i enjoy writing (editing and promoting not so much) but I do it because I like it and that makes it easier.
There is no correct pace to write at. It depends on a lot of things. I like to release regularly because as an indie romance author that helps me with sales, visibility and the pesky Amazon algorithms. Also I read quickly so I understand that kind of reader who wants to read a series back-to-back. That means I need to write quickly and it's important to me so I make time for it.
Also I don't watch TV hardly at all (except the odd cooking show) . I haven't seen a movie since January 2018 and I don't play sports or have a time consuming hobby. As does meal preparation (we don't eat take-away) and planning on the home front. Oh yes, and my house isn't company ready 95% of the time. You'd be amazed how much time that frees up.
5. How do you come up with your ideas?
Lots of people ask this.
Ideas are not an issue for me. I have books planned out and so many things I'd love to write that I'll never get to. The characters appear before me and then I want to tell their stories. Picking the right stories in the right order is the challenge for me as is deciding what people would like to read. I'll have a plan and then get distracted by shiny new things. Staying focused is the challenge.
If you have any question please feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Isn't she pretty?
Don't you just love the cover for Something to Sing About? I adore it. It is one of my personal favourites - I know one isn't supposed to have them but I do...(Any Way You Want It is my fave Upper Crust Cover).
This book was a fun one to write. When I started this series I already had this book well and truly in mind. I love Ruby's character and I do love a bit of unrequited love. Let's face it we've all been there. ( I was the queen of unrequited love back in the day).
I also love Ryan's character. He's really trying to do the right thing by everyone but he seems to just keep getting it wrong - something else I can relate to, the harder I try the more complicated life gets.
Plus they're just a really cute couple together and I really enjoyed the banter between them. In fact I like all the characters in this book - well maybe not Pandora so much because she's somewhat self-absorbed but even she has potential. I can't imagine living in a world where people fawned over me day and night and said yes to everything I wanted - it must be hard when someone actually says no.
Anyway, I really hope you enjoy reading Something to Sing About. I released it on Boxing Day because I spend every Boxing Day reading and loading my Kindle and I was hoping others would do the same.
I'm already at work on Something to Savour which is Emme's story and Book 3 in the Jewel Sisters series and it will be out in the first part of 2018.
I have lots of exciting things planned publishing-wise in the New Year which I hope will keep you excited and engaged with my books and characters.
Cheers and Happy Reading
O is for OPRAH
I got the letter O in the #ChickLitMay scavenger hunt and w hat I know for sure is that Oprah is the ultimate chicklit heroine.
Chicklit books to me are the stories of women working towards their dreams with a sense of humour. Women grappling with careers, with friends and with romantic entanglements. Chicklit heroines have highs and lows, ups and downs and lots of laughs along the way. They're women with hobbies and passions who are looking for love and meaning in life but they're finding their own way. Does that sounds like Oprah to you?
Oprah did not start her life with a perfect family in a perfect house waiting for Mr Perfect to rescue her. No she did not. She got out there and worked her butt off. That's part of what makes her so successful, she's relatable.
So much of her life is documented because like many a chicklit heroine she's an over-sharer. We all know she moved to Chicago to pursue her dream career in television and that's where she met her BFF's Gayle and Maria Shriver. (We know she went to Maria's house and like many a book character had family-envy.) For all those women in that circle of friends careers and men have risen and fallen but the core of their friendship has kept them strong. We've watched them celebrate each other's milestones and laugh themselves stupid on national television as well.
One of the things I love about chicklit books is that the characters often have their own language and shorthand for how they communicate and Oprah is the queen of that. Aha moments, full circle moments, what I know for sure are all Oprahisms.
We've watched Oprah struggle for years with her weight (just like Bridget Jones with whom there are many Oprah parallels. Bridget had her own language too v. happy or v.anything really is a good example.) We could see Oprah believing if she just hit that goal life would fall in to place only to realize that wasn't the answer.
There's a criticism by some that chicklit can be vapid (shoes and handbags anyone?) but the truth is in the Oprah era and the chicklit era for the first time women have found themselves making their own money and their own decisions about how they spend it. If that means one nice pair of Jimmy Choos or in Oprah's case four houses each with a colour-coded temperature controlled walk-in robe then bring it on. It's okay for women in books and in life to want pretty things and to celebrate their milestones by getting them.
Of course that's not all that the chicklit heroine or Oprah are about. They want to find their bliss. Whether through family, friendship or pursuing a dream. The journey is the fascinating part.
How do I know so much about Oprah's journey? I possibly may have read every O Magazine ever written.
You know something else Oprah loved to do? Give away her favourite things and what do authors love more than anything? Books. So the authors participating in this Scavenger Hunt are giving you the chance to win a Kindle Paperwhite and a $100 Amazon Giftcard to load it up with books.
Want to win a Kindle Paperwhite + a $100 Amazon gift card? Visit each of the 26 stops on the #ChickLitMay A to Z Scavenger Hunt and collect the alphabet word at each stop (A, B, C, D, etc.), then submit the A-Z list of words via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "A to Z Scavenger Hunt Entry." Entries will be accepted until Sunday, May 22nd at midnight E.D.T. A winner will be chosen on Monday, May 23rd. Good luck!
The next stop on the Scavenger Hunt - the letter P - is here. https://whitneydineen.com/2016/05/15/chick-lit-scavenger-hunt/
If you'd like to start back at the beginning of the Scavenger Hunt (the letter A), go here. http://katieoliver.com/ko/2016/05/chick-lit-a-to-z-scavenger-hunt/
Good luck!! I hope you win big.
My personal connection to Oprah and chicklit
One last thing - my very first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels features a landscape gardener with an Australian TV show who gets called up to have his own big US Show. I modelled the character on an Australian TV personality called Jamie Durie and the question I asked while writing was "What if Jamie got chosen to be on Oprah?"
And then that ACTUALLY HAPPENED while I was finalising my book. Jamie got called up and was sitting there on the Oprah stage doing designs with cute Nate Berkus.
If you'd like to read the full version you can get Mr Right and Other Mongrels here and it's on sale for #ChickLitMay getBook.at/MrRightandOtherMongrels
Knowing where your strengths lie is a good thing
Isn't this pretty? Look at all those pretty book covers standing side by side looking proud.
I've been meaning to get a banner like this I can use for promo and Facebook advertising for ages. when I say ages I mean maybe six months. Six months is a long time on the internet and in the land of publishing.
Why didn't I do it earlier I hear you ask? There are lots of reasons (laziness, organisation, money) but the simplest one is I don't like to admit defeat.
If there is a skill you should learn out here in cyberspace or a way to DIY something I believe I should learn it and then do it. That's very noble I'm sure but also wildly impractical. No one is good at everything. No one.
The problem is there's this funky graphic design site called Canva.com. that lots of authors I know use to do their promo materials. You've probably heard of it and you may have even used it. (It's incredible, it was invented by a young Australian woman and you should check it out).
Well, I have tried to use it and everything I make is ugly. Not just a little bit ugly but unprofessional, sloppy and embarrassing. But I'm no quitter so I'd wait a few weeks and have another try...for six months. And what did I create? More ugly. And then it occurred to me I'd probably wasted 10 hours and I had no results.
Lots of people I know have mothers, sisters and husbands with a knack for these roles but that's not my story so what could I do to change things?
I outsourced it. And the results are really pretty. (I'm happy anyway.)
The same week I outsourced a Mailchimp template done for my newsletter. I can do it but it takes me time I don't have and now I have a template I can work with. I haven't sent a newsletter in months because I was having issues...again wasted time and energy that led to stagnation.
Authors don't make that much money, well most of them don't. We already have to pay editors, cover designers, proof readers. (Some people (I usually do) outsource formatting as well). So we're reluctant to pay people to do jobs for us.
Sometimes though I think you need to look at where your time is best spent. Are you wasting valuable writing time messing around on a job that takes you away from that core business? Everyone is different. (For example I am going to format my books from now on because I've done it in the past and I know I can do it again and save myself some money. There are also some other practical benefits as well so I think it's worth my time).
Does that mean I'll never conquer Canva? Probably not, but for now I'm unstuck and that's important. Being an indie author is hard enough without getting in your own way.
So do you outsource things or do you hold on tight and do everything yourself?
Is it really Monday again? Did I really not put up a single blog post in a week? I guess that's two yeses.
I'm such a slacker! (That's me in the picture!)
Lately I've had that overwhelmed and underachieving feeling. I get it every now and then and I can't quite shake it off. Sadly it doesn't spur me on to do more it just kind of immobilises me.
Little things and good intentions slip by unattended to, unfulfilled. Opportunities are squandered.
It is very annoying.
Maybe it is because the sun is finally out, after an insanely wet winter, but I feel like I started shaking that off again over the weekend. I made a few plans for myself. Plans that don't require me to work in with others and that I can quietly look forward to.
I'm a planner by nature, but I'm married to the man least likely to make a plan. His grave stone could read "Here he lies, he didn't plan to die."
Don't get me wrong I like to be spontaneous but I also like some structure. A girlfriend and I say we like "organised spontaneity". I'm happy to go off on a whim but damned if I don't want to take the bus schedule, some snacks, bandaid, some ibuprofen and a jacket just in case.
Putting a few plans in place both for my work life, my writing and my home life help.
Meanwhile I'm plugging away at Book 2 in the Upper Crust Series and deciding which book to write for NaNoWriMo in November. It will either be Book 3 in the series or the sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels (if you have an opnion, do let me know).
This song is very much the soundtrack in my mind at least for Book 2 in the series. So it's today's Musical Monday offering. And it really is a beautiful song.
Usually when I talk about my books I alwyas say, the main caharcetr is nothing like me but we have something in common.
That's not true for Piper from Any Way You Slice It and I. well, we are both Australian and we do both have redhair but I'm not sure that's enough to claim a kinship.
The idea for this novella came about when I read a popular romance novel with a marriage of convenience in it and it made me really annoyed. In the book the main character went from a successful business woman to a simpering idiot in the space of about a chapter. And I wanted to throw my book across the room.
Even if you agreed to marry someone for money, which this character had (though no hanky panky of course), simply because you had financial problems that needed fixing and people relying on you financially, that doesn't mean all over a sudden you would turn in to a quivering spineless puddle of custard, I didn't think.
It annoyed the feminist in me. I believe in happy ever after, I just don't think you should change who you are to get it and so the fact that character did annoyed the snot out of me. How could she be happy if she was compromised? If she wasn't true to herself it wasn't going to be a happy life was it?
I read that book on a Sunday and got up Monday morning and pumped out 5,000 words of Any Way You Slice It. I wanted to write a character who decided to marry for convenience but very much on her terms. I wrote the whole first draft in two weeks and then I sent it to a few readers and they all liked it.
That's how this story came to be. My marriage was definitely not one of convenience, in fact my life has been a largely inconvenient one since the day I met my lovely husband, but I suppose what Piper and I have in common is we're both true to ourselves, we both believe in love and we both can't quite believe it when things turn out better than we might have imagined.
I don't usually do personal posts but today I am making an exception.
My daughter was born fourteen years and one day ago.
Everyone talks about the memories of the day their child was born which, of course, is a huge day. There is so much anticipation, so much waiting and then what an outcome! I have lots of memories of the day she was born and like many children she loves that story and it has been oft repeated.
Where my waters broke (hardware store), how we then went to the hospital and they said I had to go for a walk to start labour (didn’t help), how we went out to dinner (still no action), how we watched Forrest Gump on the television (that’s why she liked Bubba Gump’s restaurants in America), how I spent the night alone at the maternity ward (super weird). She knows she was born at 6pm and that she was just over 6 pounds. She knows that I was in the shower when my parents arrived and that my husband had her tiny little self wrapped so tight my mother thought she’d been born without legs (probably would have mentioned that on the phone). She knows who visited that night (my folks and my sister and her husband and her 3 month old cousin) and she knows that I simply couldn’t sleep because I had to keep looking at her – and her legs of course.
So that was an amazing day twenty four hours.
This however is the story of the day after she was born which I will always remember as one of the loveliest days of my life. (Let’s face it the result is fabulous but lovely isn’t a phrase I would use to describe labour).
Before I go on, you need some background. I only have one child. I refer to her as my miracle. The miracle is not in her ongoing fabulousness but in the fact she exists at all. After a period of time best forgotten, I was told more than likely I wasn’t going to be able have kids. This was devastating for me, because I absolutely, one hundred percent wanted them. It was even more devastating because my husband is a kid magnet. He’s never met a kid he didn’t want to dangle by their ankles, chase around the yard or give a piggy back to. (In fact, true story, when we visit friends with small children they’re pretty sure he’s only come over to play with them, and so are their parents). So I layered that on the already large mound of Catholic guilt and sadness.
We were so convinced that we weren’t having them that we had a plan B which was fully worked out and involved moving to Europe (partly so I didn’t have to watch all my friends have kids). At the time we didn’t tell many people because it was sad and depressing and that’s not who we are. (And to be honest couldn’t discuss it without crying) And then we got pregnant and it was amazing. That euphoria was followed by the pregnancy from hell. The first twenty plus weeks carrying a plastic bucket everywhere and the last eight weeks, having Braxton Hick’s contractions every 10 minutes.
What we knew then were two things. I wasn’t good at getting pregnant or being pregnant. Still, we didn’t care because we were going to have a baby and we knew the odds were we were only having one so damn if we weren’t going to be grateful.
Anyway the day after my baby was born I sat in the hospital holding this perfect little human and waited. I waited for visiting hours because I knew that people were coming. I knew that the minute they could there would be people bursting through that door to meet her. It wasn’t about me (maybe a little) but it was about her.
And I wasn’t disappointed. There was my friend Kylie who waited with her face pressed to the glass of Australia’s fanciest baby shop till they opened to buy her the perfect outfit (which I still have), there was another friend who brought the baby some divine hot-pink sunglasses (which we still have) because what day old baby doesn’t need sunnies? There was my grandmother who came with my aunt and my 11 year-old cousin, who co-incidentally I had been a nanny for years earlier (which fed my love of infants). My grandmother was just shy of 90 at the time and lucky for us it was a lovely, tiny baby that even frail old ladies could lift and carry. Lucky for us it was a pretty big room. It even had a rocking chair nanna sat in to cuddle the baby.
You get the idea. And still they kept coming. School friends, college friends, relatives…
That tiny little human got handed to everyone in the room. She didn’t cry and she didn’t fuss and (neurotic mother of only child that I am) I was deliriously happy about that.
Some of the faces are a little blurry now, but the feeling and certain moments of that day shine like crystal in my memory. It was a day of love and joy. It was a welcoming to the human race. It was a celebration of her arrival. It was a show of community.
It was love.
I’ve always felt that day stamped the way that the people in our lives would treat her. Almost without exception the people in that room are still in our lives. Almost without exception their faces still light up at the sight or the mention of her. Many of them acknowledged her birthday yesterday.
Some of those people even though they’re in their forties and she certainly isn’t she describes as friends even now.
You can’t protect your child from the pains of growing up. You can’t stop the bullies or the mean girls. You can’t make their decisions for them and you certainly can’t change them (even if you wanted to).
For me knowing that however the rest of the world treats her she was welcomed in a circle of love has always given me strength and comfort, hopefully for her it’s done the same.
7/28/2014 1 Comment
Today's guest blogger is Jennifer Gilby Roberts whose novel After Wimbledon features in the Have Chick Lit, Will Travel. Read about what inspired her and then read the book.
The Inspiration Behind After Wimbledon
Naturally, for a novel by an English writer about the Wimbledon tennis tournament, After Wimbledon was born in Australia. For the tennis fans: it is the Laura Robson of chick lit novels.
I was taking some time out after finishing my degree. Having fried my brain by studying physics, a light-hearted romance was all I was good for. I arrived in Melbourne halfway through the Australian Open and spent most of the next week hanging out in Fed Square watching the action on their big screen. That was fabulous because it was right in the middle of the city and anyone could just wander down. I even sat in the Rod Laver Arena (the equivalent of Centre Court) for one day. Since I was travelling alone, I managed to grab an odd seat right in the front row. I heard Roger Federer swear, that's how close I was.
At the same time, I was struggling with a decision. I'd been dating someone for a couple of years before I went away and had left him back home. In a twist on the classic tale, he was sure we were for keeps and I was uncertain. I was only 23 when we started dating and wasn't expecting to get serious. Marriage was something for my thirties, if it happened at all. One morning, in a shower stall at the hostel, I broke it off over the phone. It was Australia Day, but the fireworks seemed rather out-of-place.
A few weeks later, I decided it was time to write another novel. My first, The Dr Pepper Prophecies, had been completed five years earlier. Suddenly, I had something to write about again: tennis and major life confusion. And out of those things After Wimbledon was born. The first draft contained much angst. I reckon I cut out about 30,000 words to get to the final version. I'm just counting that bit as therapy. It's a much better read without it!
And the boyfriend I mentioned? Reader, I married him. Only happy endings here...
After 12 years on the pro. tennis tour and four years with her sort-of boyfriend, Lucy Bennett has had enough. She wants real life... and real love.
Her life, her decision. Right? Well, no one else seems to think so. With opinions on all sides, Lucy's head is spinning. And she's stumbling right into the arms of long-term crush and fellow player Sam. Shame her boyfriend - his arch-rival - would sooner smash a racquet over their heads than agree to a simple change of partners.
As the Wimbledon Championships play out, Lucy fights for her life on and off the courts. The question is: what will she be left with after Wimbledon?
After Wimbledon is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, other Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and most other ebook stores.
Where to find Jennifer
Find Jennifer Gilby Roberts on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing and Wattpad.
It's my stop on the TV Do-Over Blog Hop and my TV show of choice is How I Met Your Mother.
If you haven't watched the final Episode of How I Met Your Mother - SPOILER ALERT - okay, you were warned.
Do you know what HEA is? It’s happily ever after. I’m a huge fan of HEA in movies, TV and books and I was a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother too, just not a great fan of their lack of HEA. And I know what you're thinking "I just watched that scene and it looked like a HEA to me." But was it? I don't think so.
I started watching How I Met our Mother when it first started airing. Australian TV programmers do a funny thing where they run a show in prime time but even if it’s rating well they sometimes move the time slot about – sometimes they do it a whole lot – and that happened with this show. That meant I had to work to find it. I had to check my TV guide and remember when it was on because it wasn’t consistent and in the start I didn't have a DVR. It would come for a while and then vanish and then start running again at 11pm one week and 9.30pm the next. What I'm telling you is this - I was committed to the show.
I was loyal because when the show started I was in my mid 30’s and I couldn’t hang out in bars with my friends anymore laughing and eating burgers and I really wanted to (I mean REALLY). I wanted Lily to be my friend and I wanted my husband and I to be the 'couple friends' she and Marshall sought to find through many seasons but never quite did. They were a great couple and I wanted both of them happy. I had friends like that, friends who struggled to find their place, stay together and have kids. They were my people. Heck we were probably them to an extent.
I wanted to be involved in the minutia of my friends’ lives the way the characters in the show were. The truth is, I was home with a small child and I had a husband who travelled a whole lot for work and I was more than a bit lonely and didn't feel I belonged in the suburbs. When Lily and Marshall moved to the suburbs and couldn’t cut it, I could relate. I missed the days when my friends all lived in apartments nearby each other and met for breakfast and shopping or a post-mortem of the night before. I missed that ability to get together on a whim.
I also wanted a happily ever after for Ted. Yes he was annoyingly earnest, and he didn’t always have great taste in women, but I really liked that he kept going, kept looking, kept searching and to me that was romantic. I never especially wanted him to end up with Robyn because, even though I liked her character, she never struck me as a team player and to me it seemed Ted wanted desperately to be part of a team.
As for Barney, I “wait for it” loved that character. I loved that he was fun and completely not realistic. I loved that despite working in an office, in a bank, in a soulless environment he didn’t change. He worked the system. And no, you wouldn’t want to date him, but hell yes, I’d love to have him as a friend. He was hilarious.
He and Robyn together…that kind of worked for me as well. I wanted them to be happy together. I always want that for people. Especially after spending the whole final season, it seemed, getting them down the aisle I wanted a HEA for them. And I thought what made that couple work was that they were honest with each other in a this-is-who-I-am kind of a way.
So near the end it looked like finally Ted was going to get his happily ever after with ‘the mother", Barney and Robin were married and yay Lily and Marshall would finally have couple friends. The gang evolves but stays together. Why not leave it there? That’s how I would have ended the show.
It’s not that the mother got killed off that annoyed me, though I must say as a viewer it felt sudden, for us he’d spent 8 years looking and only had her for a month. (Plus it was a comedy show and I didn't need to be by anyone's hospital bed thank you very much!)
Still, what annoyed me was that Ted got back to Robyn.
Robyn who had married his friend and dumped him, Robyn who he’d chased for all those years, Robyn who had let Lily, her best friend, drift out of her life because it was easier than hanging in there. That was not a satisfying ending to me. It felt like the wrong girl got the guy.
And because of that, because of all that history, because in the words of Maya Angelou “when people show you who they are, believe them” well I wasn’t convinced it would ever work for Ted and Robyn and so it didn’t feel HEA for me.
So I still love that show, I just probably won’t watch that final episode again.
That's what I would do differently - I'd give that show a real happily ever after ending because that's why we watch TV to escape to a world where the right couple gets together and still gets to hang out with their friends whenever they like - even if they have kids, get old and life knocks them about a little.
Hop on over to Kerrie Olzak's blog tomorrow for her TV Do-Over Blog Hop post.” http://www.kerrie-land.blogspot.com/
For the full schedule of posts visit : http://www.carolinefardig.com/news/blog-hop-coming-soon-/