2019 a year in review
I tried to think of a song to sum up the year and it's hard to go beyond Seasons of Love from RENT. (Also when is RENT coming back to the stage in Australia it was awesome?) After all, kind of like me the song measures the year in love and cups of coffee.
This year has been a really mixed one for me in terms of both life and writing. It hasn't been catastrophic, and I am well aware I lead a very fortunate life, but just like everyone some years are harder than others and this one has been a bit of a slog.
Let's start with the not so great writing-wise. I had some plans for some collaborative projects that I was excited by this time last year that fell through - one was a multi-author book and the other was a box set that got cancelled. I was excited by the prospect of not working alone so much, because being an indie author can be pretty lonely. In the end those projects falling through taught me a valuable lesson that I'm often better off on my own working at my own pace.
I had a target to release a certain number of books in 2018 and I didn't reach it. In fact I only released three books in 2018 under my name and two under a pen name. That was disappointing and the result of a tough day job that left me no time for anything creative at the end of the day. To be honest i felt out of sorts and like I was swimming through mud from about February onwards.
So when I think about my writing goals for 2019 I think of this song.
So moving on what went well? No one wants to dwell on the negative.
I released the Something to Sing About, from the Jewel Sisters Series just before New Year last year and yesterday I finished the third book in that series Something to Savor so it will be out in February and the final book Something Worth Saving will be out in March.
I released two books in the new Courtside Romance Series in July and November with two more to come in early 2019.
The highlight of the year was definitely the release of Any Way You Like It, the final Book in the Upper Crust series. I had a great time with the unicorn themed promotions and the book was really well received. Let's be honest completing an 8 book series is no mean feat. I did a whole playlist for the book which was fun but this Ed Sheeran song most encapsulates Dave and Tasha's story and the whole experience of writing the book for me.
So 2018 was also a fantastic year for me in terms of new opportunities and professional development
I was chosen to write a book for the No Brides Club Series for Sweet Promise Press which I'm super excited about. It did give me a collaborative experience which i had been looking for. I also joined a group of authors and we established the Coffee Talk on the Boardwalk Facebook group. We're releasing a series in 2019 and we've had a lot of fun with readers naming elements of the town Cinnamon Bay where the stories will be set.
In July I was in Washington DC for my day job and I hopped over to Denver to visit a friend and meet up with fellow authors attending the RWA (Romance Writers of America). I was able to meet up with the awesome authors who were present from the ChickLItChat Facebook Group for dinner and the next night I met with Melissa Storm the Publisher from Sweet Promise Press and some awesome sweet romance authors.
In November I was in LAs Vegas for the 20Booksto50k writers conference and I met lots of amazing and inspiring indie authors there. I made some great connections with people I plan to work with and collaborate with moving forward as well as gaining lots of knowledge on how to better market my books - now I just need to implement it all. Finally in December Laura Chapman, a fellow chicklit author was in town and we spent a glorious day talking all things books.
And I just worked out I read in excess of 200 books in 2018 - okay even I'm blown away by that!
So what lies a head for 2019?
You may not know this about me but I do love a plan. I don't always stick to my plan but I do like to start out with one. My plan for 2019 is to release a book a month between now and September. The books include for starters a Valentine Novella, No Time For Temptation for the No Brides Club - out January 25th! The last two Jewel Sisters and Courtside Romance novels will be next and then my Cinnamon Bay novel for the Coffee Talk on the Boardwalk series.
I'm really excited about the year ahead. I've quite my day job and will be looking at new things work wise in 2019. Hopefully I'll have a little more balance and creative energy.
I'm keen to explore dictating my books so that I can walk and write - You can't write a book a month, work, runa family and exercise any other way - or I can't anyway.
I'm looking to aim high in 2019. What are your plans? Goals? Aspirations?
We started with a show tune so I figured we'd go out with one. Happy New Year. Thanks for reading and best wishes for a fabulous 2019.
12/2/2018 0 Comments
It might just be me, but I happen to think this is a super cool thing for Christmas - an interactive advent calendar where every day there's a new giveaway. Your kids can have a chocolate a day but you get to enter to win prizes and books
Every day between December 1 and 24 (in your local time zone), the numbered door will open with a message and a gift.
If you’ve come to the calendar part way through the month, fear not! It just means you get to open lots of doors all at once.
This amazing calendar was set up by Elizabeth Ellen Carter and I'm thrilled to be included.
The Elizabeth Ellen Carter and Friends Advent Calendar...open a door today!
This is always a lot of fun and I will again be one of the participating authors so make sure you join in. You've got to be in it to win it!
The holidays are just around the corner, which means it's time for Chick Lit Chat HQ's annual Holly Jolly Chick Lit Hop and this year it's bigger and better than ever! 63 bestselling and award-winning authors in the Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy genres are participating in this fun-filled event and each one is doing a fantastic giveaway. Books, author swag, gift cards, and other assorted holiday treats are all up for grabs.
But wait! There's much, much more. On the hop's Facebook group page, you can enter to win our Grand Prize—a large holiday gift box filled to the brim with a fabulous variety of holiday and winter-themed goodies (the darling, KitschNStyle gingerbread house apron, Snoozies! sherpa socks, Calvin Klein cashmere pom-pom beanie in petal pink, Too Faced sugar cookie eye shadow purse palette, Sally Snowflakes mug by Bella Pilar, Well Read Women: A Reader's Journal, and handmade chocolate soaps shown in the graphic below are just a few of the items included in the box!).
We'll also be handing out four Runner-Up Prizes. Each one is a pair of Fitz & Floyd holiday mugs that will be accompanied by a canister of Williams-Sonoma classic hot chocolate as well as a tin of The Republic of Tea's Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas Tea. So, you'll have delicious, warm beverages to keep you cozy all winter long!
*The Grand Prize giveaway is open to US residents only. However, all of the individual author giveaways and the Runner-Up Prize giveaway are open internationally.
It's release week again and this week is Playing at Love, Book 2 in the Courtside Romance Series
I was so excited to have Playing it Safe ready to launch this week that somewhere along the line I forgot to check when Thanksgiving was. Yep, as an Australian author Thanksgiving isn't such a big deal for me so I ended up chosing to launch my book smack bang in the middle of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and cyber Monday. Maybe not the smartest launch strategy I've ever made.
Still, I'm super excited the book is live and ready for you to read.
This was a fun story to write because Ben and Abby are both really great people in not so great situations. Ben may have brought his on himself, but he wants to be better and Abby is just a woman trying to get over her ex and make the best of a difficult situation.
This book also featured some fun side-characters who maybe weren't such great people but were great fun to write.
I hope you enjoy reading Playing It Safe as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Be sure to download your copy today and if you like it, leave me a review.
10/30/2018 0 Comments
Q&A with Laura Boon
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
I wanted to set my story in a place that was inspiring and a little exotic so that the characters had to consciously consider their environment. Being “out of place” heightens one’s awareness and raises the stakes on any difficulties. I had previously visited the Chamonix-Le Tour valley in the French Alps and thought what a wonderful setting it was for a romance. Beautiful but challenging, especially for an English-speaking person.
2. When did you take up writing?
I first started writing at university. I had written essays at school but always thought of them as assignments rather than writing. Taking a course in creative writing at university dared me to think that I could be a storyteller rather than just read the stories of others.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Setting is very important to me. The space we occupy affects our behaviour, from our home outwards. Place can be safe or dangerous, from both a physical and an emotional perspective. Until I understand the environment my characters inhabit, I can’t predict how they will behave. Is walking down the street a ho-hum experience, so familiar they don’t even notice the shops or is every shop window an inspiration and a curiosity? Likewise, how do they fare in nature? Do they love the challenge of the environment or are they always on the lookout for spiders and wondering how soon they can turn around and head home?
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
I have a soft spot for my heroine Hailey Gordon. She’s always trying to do everything right and is flummoxed when life refuses to play along and follow her rules.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
“Bum glue.” If your butt isn’t in the seat, you won’t produce any words.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
I don’t have a schedule although now that I am not working full-time, I am hoping to write more regularly. I am easily distracted – by the dishes, my dog, Facebook; you name it, I can be distracted by it. I aim for a particular word count per day, but it doesn’t matter when I do it, except of course if I leave it too late because then it doesn’t happen.
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I would love to be a plotter. Plotting makes sense. Unfortunately, my characters are very uncooperative and have their own ideas. I start with a rough outline of the key action points in each chapter. By the time I finish the novel, this outline has been rewritten four or five times.
8. Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
Only four? I’ll try. Lionheart by Thea Harrison (it is book three in a fantasy romance trilogy set between the contemporary world and other worlds people by magical beings and Arthurian legends. Rough and Tumble by Rhenna Morgan. This is book one in her six book Men of Haven series. It’s been my go-to comfort read since it came out. The others are fabulous as well. I just reread the whole series and I’m waiting (very impatiently) for book six. The Pursuit Of by Courtney Milan, a beautiful, sensitive, same-sex novella that is the origin story in her Worth Saga series. The Laird’s Wilful Lass by Anna Campbell, her first full-length novel in some time. It’s set in Scotland. There are kilts and accents and high-handed men who need to be taken down a peg or two.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
I have two projects on the go, Lion Dancing for Love, which is part of the Deerbourne Inn series from The Wild Rose Press and book two in Romancing the Alps, currently title-less.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Join a writing group or association, keep learning by taking as many courses as you can, and keep reading. Reading is the best education of all.
Laura Boon stole her first romance from her father’s bookshelves as a teenager, The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss, and was immediately captivated. After holding a variety of positions in publishing, from bookseller to sales rep and publicist, she eventually found the courage to write her own stories. She was born in Zambia, grew up in South Africa, and went to university in America. She now lives in Australia with her husband and their Pekingese Beau. When she is not reading or writing, she enjoys sleuthing for artisan chocolate and beautiful stationery, watching tennis, and walking alongside Sydney’s beautiful harbour. You can find her at:
Website and blog: https://lauraboon.com
Blurb and excerpt
When danger threatens a bona fide city girl, an adventurer is her only hope of rescue
Mountain climber Matt Hanley is a former investment manager whose lean body and rugged good looks epitomize an outdoor adrenaline junky. When his business partner in their country hotel is injured, he needs an efficient replacement in a hurry.
Hailey Gordon lives a chic city life free of adventures and daredevils. She craves stability and security but loses her job and boyfriend on the same day. A holiday job in France is the perfect escape from her troubles.
Sparks ignite when Matt and Hailey meet, but she resolves to ignore the flame flickering between them. Aside from the fact Matt is her boss, she is convinced he is not her type. Matt is determined to teach Hailey to look beyond appearances. He needs to show her how good they are together, even if he must risk life and limb to do so.
Extract from The Millionaire Mountain Climber
Hailey drank in the landscape, noticing the clarity of the late afternoon sky and the way the snow-capped peaks glistened despite the fading light.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Matt. “Trending down the valley, you have the villages of Argentiere and Les Praz and the town of Chamonix. Behind Chamonix you can see the Grand Mama of all the peaks, Mont Blanc.”
“Yes, the pens––and the chocolates.” She shook her head. What hubris to name a pen after the magnificent towering peak, but what marketing genius.
Matt grinned. “Ah, you know the chocolates, do you? We’ll have to buy you some.”
“From the lips to the hips,” she murmured, “and I am sure they don’t do the mountain justice.”
“Come on, let’s get you inside before your face turns blue, and I earn a reprimand from Genie for chatting up scantily-clad women in sub-zero temperatures.”
“Really? You were chatting me up? I’m flattered.”
The smile turned wicked. “You’re welcome.” As he bent to pick up her suitcase, he dropped his head next to hers and murmured into her ear in a low, deep voice, sending shivers down her spine. “For the record, Hailey, your curves are perfect. A little chocolate won’t do them any harm.”
She blushed, and the fire of his words flickered all the way through her belly. When was the last time her ex had paid her a compliment? An appalling thought crossed her mind; she, the High Priestess of Order and Long-Term Planning, was ripe for the picking and contemplating a holiday romance.
Amazon Australia: https://tinyurl.com/y9v28sq3
Amazon UK: https://tinyurl.com/ya26ljwh
The Wild Rose Press: https://tinyurl.com/y7n7ghg5
Get ready for some fun reads this weekend
All That Matters by Tracy Krimmer
Dory Walker finally has both feet on the ground and looks forward to one thing only--becoming Mrs. Harris Malone. Her wedding is coming up, and she's put her music career behind her for good so she can focus on what's important in her life. Family comes first.
Harris Malone is getting used to his young daughter living over an hour away but now faces a new challenge--unemployment. With a wedding in a few months, he's in need of money, and he’s not sure how he’s going to find it.
But as Dory and Harris plan their happy future together, a trail of lies follows them. From secrets to hidden truths, every aspect of their relationship will be tested. Will they say "I do," or will a web of deceit force them into saying "I don’t?”
Get it here
The Millionaire Mountain Climber by Laura Boon
Mountain climber Matt Hanley is a former investment manager whose lean body and rugged good looks epitomize an outdoor adrenaline junky. When his business partner in their country hotel is injured, he needs an efficient replacement in a hurry.
Hailey Gordon lives a chic city life free of adventures and daredevils. She craves stability and security but loses her job and boyfriend on the same day. A holiday job in France is the perfect escape from her troubles. Sparks ignite when Matt and Hailey meet, but she resolves to ignore the flame flickering between them.
Aside from the fact Matt is her boss, she is convinced he is not her type. Matt is determined to teach Hailey to look beyond appearances. He needs to show her how good they are together, even if he must risk life and limb to do so.
Get yout copy today
Two new releases for lovers of chicklit
I've been very lucky to meet some amazing chicklit authors since I launched my first book baby into the world all those many years ago. This week two of the most kind and generous of those women have new releases out, sure to make you smile. Go grab a copy of each and have a great weekend of reading.
Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen
Catriona Masterton's fiancé, Ethan, is Normal.
He plans trips six months in advance and arrives at the airport a minimum of three hours early. He purchases life insurance, luggage insurance, and always opts for the extended warranty. He's responsible, reliable, and would make any woman a wonderful life partner.
In other words, he's the exact opposite of the Masterton clan.
Cat's mother has a kitchen gadget fetish, a father whose best friends are taxidermied field mice, and a super stoner man-child brother who lives--where else?--in the basement. Then there's Nan, her proud Scottish grandmother with a proclivity for profanity and mischief.
What on earth will Catriona's Normal fiancé think when he comes home with her for the holidays? What will he think when he discovers his soon-to-be in-laws invited Cat's ex to join them for Thanksgiving dinner?
Find out in a laugh-out-loud journey of self-discovery, familial pandemonium, and love. A must read for fans of a true romantic comedy! Get it here.
Just a Name by Beck Monson
Holly has a plan for everything. But she never could have planned for this.
If there’s one thing Holly Murphy loves, it’s a solid plan. She has her entire life figured out—or so she thinks. But when life pulls the rug out from under her, she’s left to deal with a canceled wedding—hers, to be precise. And the promotion she’s worked toward for years is now in jeopardy because the team she supervises doesn’t like her management style.
Thinking that Holly is too tightly wound and needs a break from everything, her boss demands she take a vacation. But how can she take a vacation when her promotion is on the line? Trying to help out, her best friend, Quinn, suggests she still go on her honeymoon and conduct a nationwide search to find a man with the same name as her ex-fiancé to use his plane ticket. Leaving Holly to wonder if she’s the only sane person left on the planet.
Yet when her boss gets wind of the idea and loves it, Holly finds herself in a corner she can’t get out of. And when handsome Nate Jones from Newport Beach gets picked to go with her, she wonders if this whole thing won’t be so bad after all.
Can Holly learn to let go? Or will this crazy adventure send her running right back to her safety net?
Get your copy today.
I haven't done a Writers on Wednesday Post in a while, at least not one written by me, but I've been thinking a lot about how people spend their time and why some people are super productive and some people aren't. I don't think productivity necessarily equals success but I do think it is a lot easier to be successful if your are productive.
Lots of people ask me how I manage to get so many things done. I work basically full-time, have a family, I have a fairly active author profile on social media, I've just written my 20th book and I do have a social life and I read.
I've thought about this a lot. Here are some of my thoughts and tips on time management. (I'm a big believer in the 80-20 rule but you don't need me to tell you about that.
5 Time Management Tips
1. Perfection is the enemy of good
I'm not a perfectionist. I'm sure many people think this is a great failing of mine and I'm not sure they're entirely wrong but I do think you need to get out of your own way. A first draft doesn't need to be perfect, you're going to go back and redraft it again and again anyway. Spending an hour finding the perfect image for a social media post is a waste of time...if it's a Christmas post, choose a festive image and get it done. Not sending out a newsletter because you don't have the perfect graphic is also crazy. You will get better the more you do things. Some times you will have to compromise but getting it done is more important. I'm not saying be sloppy and I'm not saying put crap out into the universe, I'm just saying don't let perfectionism stop you from making progress. Keep in mind so much of what we do is subjective anyway, not everyone will agree that thing you spet hours perfecting is amazing anyway.
2. Set goals and stick to them
It doesn't matter what your goals are you need them. It might be you want to write one book in a year. If you wrote 500 words a day you'd have around of 130,000 words. It will probably take you 30-45 minutes a day (you'll get faster). That's a book done and edited.
Write 500 a day and then edit 500 a day and you have one book i half an hour a day. You can do that.
You can post on social media 3 times a week. (Half an hour total).
You can spend one hour a week on marketing your books. (Less than 10 minutes a day.)
I think you need to write goals where you can see them. A whiteboard, a sticky note on a mirror, the back of your front door, on your car's sun visor. You need the visual reminder.
3. Life happens in small chunks of time - use them.
I wrote a post a while back about how to make a difference if you only have 5 minutes. I think this is where we lose a lot of our time in the 21st century. We say we have no time for our author social media and yet we spend hours on platforms doing idle stuff.
I'm a big believer in using small blocks of time. If I had waited for a big chunk or time I'd never have done anything. I wrote my first book, and many since using 30 minute chunks or as long as a children's TV show lasted. Maybe you believe you need a whole hour to write anything. That belief is a big part of your problem. There's a way around that. If you have a 15 minute break in the day (in the car waiting for the kids, your lunch break at work, waiting at an appointment) make some notes on the next scene or chapter in your book and then when you finally get half an hour use that as your jumping off point.
Some people would call this plotting. Lots of people hate that word and many of the people who hate that word also struggle with deadlines, procrastination and time management. Don't call this process plotting - I call it pre-thinking. I pre-think about what I want to write so that when I go to write I know exactly what I want to say.
4. Be honest with yourself.
If you have time to watch every episode or the Bachelor, This Is Us, Survivor and the Great British Bake-Off you have time to write. If you spend an hour a day on Facebook, you have time to write. Look at how you really spend your time and cut something out. I'm not saying everything, just something.
If you don't make writing a priority it won't happen. I've done NaNoWriMo several times now. I love this as an exercise in showing you where you waste time. It's taught me excellent time management skills just by discovering where my free time really lies and where my procrastination takes place.
Be honest about who you are and what works for you - life is not one size fits all. I am not a morning person. I do not write well at six in the morning. I know that. I'm not going to lie to myself and pretend otherwise. I'm better off getting an extra hour's sleep and writing at eleven in the morning or six at night. I don't feel bad about that any more.
Here's another thing to consider - maybe you like the idea of writing but you don't really want to write. Writing is hard, it takes commitment and it's not for everyone. Some people have one or two books in them and that's it. There's nothing wrong with that.
I know lots of people who spend more time reading writing books, attending talks and classes and conferences than they ever do writing. That's absolutely fine. They love the world of writing and the wonderful people in it and the idea of being an author. I love all those things too, but maybe they don't love the process and practice of writing as much. Just be honest with yourself if that's you. Let yourself off the hook and have fun. Don't spend your whole life guilty about not getting any writing done.
5. Be adaptable. Learn to pivot.
Life is messy. Plans change. People get sick. Books are published and don't sell. Deadlines are missed. You need to learn to let the time between the change and the time you adapt be as small as possible.
If your day hits a bump at 10am and you planned to write then rather than think "I guess I can't achieve anything today" try and think "How can I claw back some of that time and still get something done." It might not be the same something but something. Maybe you can book some promo, maybe you can schedule some social media, maybe you can put on the washing and fill out the school notes you were planning to do tomorrow so you have extra time tomorrow.
Alter your plan, be adaptable but don't change your goal...just change how you reach it.
This list is not exhaustive. I haven't discussed any tools I use to help me manage my time. Time is just a construct so how we approach it and how we treat it is just as important as what we actually do with it . These tips are really all about respecting time and be honest with yourself about how you really want to use it. For me, that's the biggest challenge.
An Italian Count for Christmas (London Lords Book 1) by Sasha Cottman
Count Nico de Luca has been blessed with wealth, power, and a seductive Italian body. Though women lust after him, the one thing Nico has never been able to possess is the love of a woman.
After his intended bride jilts him to marry another, Nico decides that he will stick to matters of business and leave love to other fools.
Arriving in London to inspect his investments, he is invited to stay for Christmas as the guest of one of his tenants, a poor young widow, Isabelle Collins.
In Isabelle, Nico discovers a rare beauty, and as much as he fights temptation, he soon loses his heart to her.
Left in reduced circumstances by her blackguard of a late husband, Isabelle is in no hurry to hand her heart over to yet another self-assured male, especially one who has no intention of remaining in England.
But Nico is persuasive and nights of passion spent in his arms soon have Isabelle questioning the sort of future she wants. Can she risk giving up her country and home on the chance of finding love again?
When Nico discovers the shocking truth of how Isabelle’s husband died, he realizes that he will have to risk everything he has to win Isabelle’s heart and finally break his love curse.Get your copy here
Go on Girl, by Hilary Grossman
Executive, wife, and mother of an outgoing first-grader, Sydney Clayton crushes her day-to-day obligations at work but flounders in the cutthroat world of parental politics.
She manages to avoid the local drama until she’s faced with an ultimatum: join the Forest River PTA or risk her daughter becoming a social outcast. Sydney reluctantly becomes treasurer, and takes the recently vacated position of the president’s sidekick. If protecting the children’s freedom of speech, one best friend ban at a time, isn’t complicated enough, Sydney and her husband receive an unexpected offer for their house they don’t think they can refuse.
Embroiled in the deception and manipulation rife among the elementary school moms, Sydney struggles. Should she sell the home she worked so hard to build in a town where betrayal runs rampant? Or should she stay put to avoid the fallout from uprooting her child? As Sydney focuses on what is best for her daughter, and lets go of her judgments, she finds friendship can develop in very unexpected ways.
Warm, witty, and wise, Go On, Girl dramatizes the dilemmas of life in the suburbs and the bonds shared by women. Perfect for fans of Class Mom and Big Little Lies.
Get your copy here
The Scarlet Letter of the Law by Lexi Greene
When Tony Radcliff joins Forbes Lawyers, career-driven Scarlet O'Connor suddenly has serious competition for the coveted senior associate position that is the foundation-stone of her future.
And Tony has a couple of aces up his sleeve. Like his surf-sculpted body, which plays havoc with Scarlet’s ‘all work and no play’ plans for partnership and his brother, who holds the key to a secret from her past.
When Scarlet and Tony start steaming up the office windows, there’s no doubt they're playing with fire. But there can only be one winner, so who gets burned?
Get it today
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.
All Author Interview Blog Visit Bookcover Book Launch Chicklit #chicklitmay Conference E Publishing E-publishing Exerpt Family General Chat General Chat Giveaway Give Away Give-away Holiday Jewel Sisters Series Marketing Musical Monday New Release New Release Friday Photos Pitching Promotion Qacd92bcee57 Rwa Social Media Submissions Sydney Writers Sydney Writers' Festival Taste Of Tuesday Taste Of Tuesday Upper Crus Series Upper Crust Series Video Writers Dozen Writers On Wednesday Writing