Dec 30, 2010

Happy New Year

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, December 30, 2010 1 comments

Dec 27, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, December 27, 2010 2 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Dec 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, December 23, 2010 3 comments

Remember, Christmas is not a date, it's a state of mind. Have a good one!!

Dec 20, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, December 20, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Dec 16, 2010

Aussie Slang

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, December 16, 2010 2 comments
I love Aussie slang. I think it shows who we are, our culture and gives us individuality. A personal peeve is the way Australian's are giving up our own language for an international American based one. Grrrrr.

So it's probably no surprise my hero is a true blue Aussie bloke. But how far can I go with the inclusion of Aussie idioms? I'd love to be able to include a glossary of terms at the start - but I don't think Harlequin would like that. Instead I'm trying to find that balance between identifying my hero (in part) as an Aussie through his language (he has to explain himself as my heroine is American - so the reader isn't left scratching her head) and not driving everyone bonkers by using a 'foreign' language, lol.

If you want a good site for Aussie slang go here.

I know I use a lot of them as I discovered when I was overseas and realised how often people looked at me blankly when I finished speaking *grin*.

I'm glad to be a ridgy-didge Aussie.

Dec 15, 2010

Updating posts...

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, December 15, 2010 2 comments
Hmmmm, having tried a few times now I don't think this will work, butI will try again to update my Twitter account with my blog posts via Twitter Feed.

Not sure what I am doing wrong?!?

Tweeting again...

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, December 15, 2010 0 comments
I'm trying Twitter again.

I did it for a while last year, but just couldn't get into the swing of it. But at the urging of my WIKS pal Suzi Love am giving it another shot. This time I am hoping that my blog and twitter account are linked so my blog posts will also show as tweets.

Guess this will be my test run...

Dec 13, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, December 13, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Dec 9, 2010

So Slow

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, December 09, 2010 2 comments

Having a bad week with my word count. Got my BICHOK (bum in chair, hands on keyboard), but countless interruptions are stopping the words from flowing. I guess it's that time of year: Christmas is looming, it's the last week of school and for me, my last week of work (my contract finishes today).

I wonder if Santa can bring me a few words?

Dec 6, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, December 06, 2010 2 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Dec 2, 2010

Woody Allen has it right...

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, December 02, 2010 2 comments

Nov 29, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, November 29, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Nov 25, 2010

Harlequin's Superromance

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, November 25, 2010 2 comments
Last week I blogged about series romance, what it is and the different series Harlequin's lines are divided into. It was interesting hearing the very latest on each line - what they encompass and some authors who are great representations of each line.

The line I'm aiming for is Superromance. According to Victoria Curran, who spoke about the line during eHarlequin's webinar (link here), this is Superromance:

Superromance is the longest of the 3 lines in Heart and Home at 70-75k. This is an important distinction. They are about family/unity/career/home - offer opportunities to explore subplots and secondary romances welcome. There's more elbow room for characterisation.Supers are character driven romances grounded in realism. Senior Editor Wanda Ottewell said that characters should be recognisable and remind readers of friends or family. Issues  characters find themselves in could happen. In Superromance love may not come easily but it's always worth the effort. Urban, small town and country settings, as well as international settings welcome. Primarily the word count is what gives us the opportunity to work with deeper subplots and secondary romances.

Specific authors weren't provided as best examples of the line, unfortunately.

It was a bit of a shock to hear the word count was 70-75k... it had been 60-65k (in fact the website still has this listed for the line). But it is definitely increasing. The first books with the new word count will hit shelves in June 2011. The reason for the increase is because Harlequin are looking for deeper character exploration and complex stories, always high conflict!

Guess I need to rethink my daily word count goal to finish.

Nov 22, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, November 22, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Nov 18, 2010

Harlequin's Series Romance Explained

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, November 18, 2010 2 comments
Recently eHarlequin hosted a SYTYCW (so you think you can write) week.One of the sessions was a webinar (like a combined powerpoint slide show and podcast rolled into one - but live). Hosted by Harlequin editors Susan Litman and Victoria Curran it included a clear explanation of what is a category/series novel. I thought it was worth sharing (if you want to listen to the whole webinar, you can find a replay here):

What is Series?
  • set number of books per month under a specific brand
  • particular kind of read, creating reader expectation
  • create a fan base so readers return to their beloved lines each month
  • each book has a strong romance with a happy ending
  • each series has its own set of requirements including word count and story elements
They also grouped Harlequin's lines into Series. I hadn't been aware of this division before, so found it quite interesting. The series are:

Classic (Quintessential, modern love stories)
- Presents/Modern/Sexy Sensation
- Presents Extra/Modern Heat/Sexy
- Harlequin Romance/Sweet
- Medical Romance

Passion (A spicier, hotter read)
- Blaze
- Desire

Heart and Home (Heartwarming contemporary romances that balance life and love)
- Special Edition
- Superromance
- American Romance

Suspense and Paranormal (Heart stopping contemporary stories with intrigue and mystery... where true love always triumphs)
- Intrigue
- Romantic Suspense
- Nocturne

Inspirational (Christian/faith-based)
- Love Inspired
- Love Inspired Suspense
- Love Inspired Historical

Historicals
- Harlequin Historical

African-American
- Kimani Romance

Throughout the discussion they outlined each line in detail, as well as recommending a few authors who truly represent the line. I won't list them here, but if you are interested you can listen to the replay yourself (link above). I learnt a few new things about my line, and in particular one big change - but I'll leave that for a future post.



Nov 15, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, November 15, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Nov 11, 2010

Can you hear Australia's heroes marching?

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, November 11, 2010 2 comments

Lest We Forget.

Nov 8, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, November 08, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Nov 4, 2010

Nano Time Again

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, November 04, 2010 4 comments

I think this cartoon sums up my approach to NaNoWriMo perfectly. I have so much on my plate I know 50,000 words is a dream, but every extra word I write is one more on my novel. so I am going to do my best and aim for 20k. Oh, and I think crazy fully applies *grin*. So only a few days into November it's not too late to give it a whirl. Who else is joining in?

Nov 1, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, November 01, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 28, 2010

The Query Letter

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 28, 2010 6 comments
I've been trying to write a query letter. "Try" being the operative word. How to make my voice and my story shine so a prospective agent wants to read more? It's trickier than I thought it would be. While doing some research on the best way to go about attacking a query, I stumbled upon a sure fire method *grin*...

How To Write A Query in 40 Simple Steps by C.J. Redwine

1. Pour yourself a small glass of gin & tonic.

2. Sip slowly, savoring the taste, as you carefully list your novel's main characters and conflicts.

3. Struggle to label your work with the appropriate genre.

4. Pour more gin and tonic to boost brain power.

5. Craft a first sentence that both grabs the reader's attention and conveys the essence of your novel.

6. Re-read first sentence.

7. Acknowledge that first sentence is absolute horse-s*** and delete the entire thing.

8. Pour more gin and tonic, minus the tonic.

9. Skip first sentence and dive into character descriptions.

10. Re-read character descriptions.

11. Acknowledge that character descriptions cannot be three paragraphs each and delete all but a few sentences.

12. Drain gin bottle.

13. Toss in a few sentences describing the conflict.

14. Re-read sentences describing conflict.

15. Acknowledge that the conflict sounds rather weak.

16. Toss in a conflict that isn't actually in the novel but could be, if the agent asks for a partial.

17. Wander to the kitchen for more gin.

18. Wonder who the hell put that wall in your way.

19. Return to desk.

20. Re-read query.

21. Drink two swallows of gin straight from the bottle.

22. Decide that "I have a fiction novel that totally kicks Nora Robert's sorry ass" is an acceptable first sentence.

23. Study the problem of deciding on a genre.

24. Take a few swallows of gin for fortification.

25. Realize you now see two keyboards on your desk instead of one. Choose which one to use.

26. Type madly for thirty seconds before realizing you are simply banging on your desk.

27. Swallow some gin and choose the other keyboard.

28. Decide that literary-paranormal-romantic-suspense-thriller-with-historical-sci-fi-elements is an acceptable genre for your novel.

29. Re-read query.

30. Insert adverbs generously and prolifically throughout to spice up the prose.

31. Print.

32. Spend five minutes cursing the foul beast of a computer for refusing such a simple request.

33. Turn printer on.

34. Print.

35. Sign name.

36. Realize you've misspelled your name.

37. Curse the gin.

38. Apologize to the gin.

39. Re-print, re-sign, seal in an envelope.

40. Send query.

Oct 25, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 25, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 21, 2010

Dog-Eared Book Pages

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 21, 2010 6 comments
I lent a friend a book recently (the first of a long series). Now, I'm very careful about who I lend my books to. I've been caught out in the past when I've handed out books under the understanding they were being borrowed, but to never see them again. I learnt. I only part with my reading material if I am sure it will be returned. The friend I trusted with my book did return it, she didn't let me down there, BUT my beautiful book came back to me dog-eared. Yes, she'd marked her place by turning the corners of the page down.

What to do? Naturally she wants to borrow the rest of the books in the series (there are 6), but I won't put the rest of my books through that level of pain. Is lending her the books with a pile of bookmarks enough of a hint? I'd love any suggestions you might have!

Oct 18, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 18, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 14, 2010

A de-caf double half caf... with a twist of lemon

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 14, 2010 0 comments
Steve Martin's order for coffee in LA Story (see title of post) has always stuck with me - because as a non-coffee-drinker the language of Barista is as clear to me as Swahili. With a coffee-swilling heroine, I've been frantically doing some research so I don't mix up my Macchiatoes with my Breves. Lucky for me, I stumbled across this wonderful illustration (and interesting blog post) by Lokesh Dhakar.

Now I can talk Barista with the best of them *wink*.

Oct 11, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 11, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Oct 7, 2010

Bottoms are our natural enemy...

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, October 07, 2010 7 comments
 ... They follow us around our entire lives, right behind us, and constantly growing. How do they do that? I’m sure mine’s back there secretly snacking ~ Steve Moffat, "Coupling"

I've been re-watching episodes of one of my all-time favourite comedies, "Coupling". A BBC production, it aired in the early naughties. The show centres on the dating and sexual adventures and mishaps of six friends in their thirties, often depicting the three women and the three men each talking among themselves about the same events, but in entirely different terms (don't think "Friends", this is far better).

The thing is, at the end of the fourth series, Steve Moffat felt he'd written all there was to tell, and was ready to move onto other things. Trouble is, I wanted to know what happened. Yes, the series finished with the main couple having a baby, so there was an ending. But it wasn't enough, not by a long shot. I wanted to know what happened to all the characters past that point - that they all got their Happy Ever After (HEA).

This reminded me of something someone once said about writing Harlequin romance. You have to make sure the reader is satisfied at the end. Your reader will hopefully have become invested in your characters and will want the satisfaction of knowing it has all worked out. Give them a great HEA. That's why so many Harlequin books have an epilogue, so readers know that years down the track the hero and heroine are living their HEA. Watching "Coupling" has reminded me of that advice - and made it all the more clearer.

Luckily for me, I wasn't the only person who was invested in the characters in "Coupling". So many viewers wanted to know more that Steve Moffat wrote a page summary and posted it on the internet - just like an epilogue. Now I'm satisfied.
Rule one of playing it cool... only smile at her face.

Let me explain, Patrick. Here on earth there is a gap between seeing someone you like and having sex with them, that we like to call conversation.
 
Friendship’s more lasting than love, and more legal than stalking.
 
Well, you know what it’s like at the start, when they’re all fiery-eyed, and eager, and they haven’t seen you naked yet. And it’s like he’s smashing at your door with his mighty battering ram. And he’s promising to ravish you forever. So you brace yourself for man overload, and throw open the doors, and what do you find standing there? An oversized toddler who wants his dinner. And before you can say 'there’s been a terrible mistake', he’s snoring on your sofa, the fridge is full of empty bottles and the whole place smells of feet.
 
I like films with lesbians in them because it’s nice to think there are attractive women out there who can’t find a boyfriend.
 
Always the same with men, isn’t it? Looks like a starter handle, works like an off-switch.
 
You’ve never understood about bottoms, Jane. Having a bottom is like living with the enemy. Not only do they spend their lives slowly inflating, they flirt with men while we’re looking the other way.

Oct 4, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, October 04, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Sep 30, 2010

When to Write?

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, September 30, 2010 0 comments
Well, school holidays are here. As always, things get a little pear-shaped once the holidays are upon us. Finding time to write becomes harder than ever...

Anyone got any other ideas?

Sep 27, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, September 27, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...



Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Sep 23, 2010

Synopsis Writing Workshop

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, September 23, 2010 2 comments
This is my follow up post to a previous blog "RWA Group Grant Success".

If you are like me, the thought of writing a synopsis will have you scrubbing the toilet in no time *grin*. To try and overcome this hatred of synopsis writing my writing group, WIKS, invited Denise Rossetti to present a 'synopsis writing workshop'.

Three intensive hours focussing on the dreaded synopsis. Wow. Denise covered a series of topics, including:
  • why write a synopsis
  • what to include in a synopsis
  • what to leave out
  • some examples
Of course, we were required to write elements of our own as we went along, and then swap with a neighbour or share with the group - nothing like pressure to make you perform *grin*.

We started with an elevator pitch, then we wrote the main emotional steps our hero and heroine take throughout their journey. From these points we started to develop our synopsis.

For me, some of the key points from the session were:
  • summary of the plot and a synopsis are very different
  • you can't overdo the emotion
  • do not hide the ending from the editor (no cliffhangers)
  • tell not show
  • language is your ally
Now I just have to put the theory into practice!

Sep 20, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, September 20, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Sep 16, 2010

Goals for another year...

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, September 16, 2010 2 comments
Last week I reviewed the goals for the past year. This week I'm setting my goals for the next 12 months.

This upcoming year has been the hardest yet for setting goals, in fact, the list below is my third version - things keep happening to make me change them. But because I know setting goals always ensures I achieve more than I would otherwise, I've persisted.


Goals 2010/11:
  1. Finish two manuscripts
  2. Enter High 5 (two mss)
  3. Enter Selling Synopsis (one ms)
  4. Enter Emerald (one ms)
  5. Enter First Kiss (two mss)
  6. Enter VPA (two mss)
  7. Submit to agent
  8. Attend conference and pitch
Might as well aim high, right? Fingers crossed I can do this!

Sep 13, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, September 13, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...

Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Sep 9, 2010

Writing Goals - How did I go?

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, September 09, 2010 2 comments
It's that time of year again where I look back over my goals for the last year. Making myself accountable sure helps with the incentive of meeting them. So here goes:

1. Sub partial - Done, rejected.
2. Finish revised ms - Done, rewrote ending a third time, now in metaphorical bin.
3. Enter High 5 - Done.
4. Enter Emerald - Done.
5. Apply 5DI - Applied, accepted and participated.
6. Enter First Kiss - Done.
7. Write next ms - Started but on hold due to 5DI mentoring.
8. Enter VPA with 2 mss - Only entered 1, but second ms started.
9. Enter an American contest - Entered The Gotcha! contest.
10. Attend and pitch at conference - Attended conference, didn't pitch because of my change in direction post-5DI (although ended up doing a pitch I didn't even know I was doing - but that's for another blog post).

Reviewing my goals I'm quite proud of what I have achieved. Okay, so it isn't perfect, but I think I've done really well in meeting what I had set. And I can honestly say, every point on my goal list has helped improve my writing and move me along my writing journey - what more do you want?

Now to set my goals for this year (check out next week's blog to see my 2010/11 list).

Sep 6, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, September 06, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...


Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Sep 2, 2010

Plot Ideas

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, September 02, 2010 2 comments
My CP recently discovered there is a book 'out there' with a very similar plot to her current work in progress (check out her blog post here). It can be really disheartening when that happens - you think you've got this great idea, and someone's beaten you to it. Of course, there isn't such a thing as an original plot - just your spin on it, mixed with your unique voice. So you need to ignore what everyone else has done and just go for it.

When I discovered this very relevant strip from Inky Girl, I had to share.

Mon, this post is for you (((hugs))).

Sep 1, 2010

It's Here!!

Posted by AJ Blythe at Wednesday, September 01, 2010 2 comments
I know this isn't a normal posting day for me, but it is such an auspicious day I felt it should be honoured with a special post.

Spring is finally here!!!



Aug 30, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, August 30, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...
Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Aug 26, 2010

RWA Group Grant Success

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, August 26, 2010 10 comments
My face-to-face writing group, WIKS (writers in kinship) recently applied for a grant to have a guest speaker present a writing workshop. We are very thrilled to be able to say our grant was successful!!
 
We applied to the Romance Writers of Australia Group Grant Scheme: To provide financial assistance on a case-by-case basis to RWA groups for use in advancing the writing careers of their RWA members.

As a result of our successful application, Denise Rossetti is presenting a three hour workshop on synopsis writing, that necessary element of writing guaranteed to elicit groans and moans from most writers (me included). Hopefully, at the end of the session the word 'synopsis' will no longer have us quaking with fear *grin*.

For those of you fortunate enough to have been to Denise's 'Deep POV' workshop at last week's national RWA conference, you'll know wwe are going to have to push up our sleeves and work our socks off for those three hours. But I know it will be worth it.

Our workshop is in just a few weeks, after which I'll report back here, so stay tuned!

Aug 23, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, August 23, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...
Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Aug 20, 2010

RWA Conference 2010

Posted by AJ Blythe at Friday, August 20, 2010 5 comments



Wow, what a weekend. I've just returned from RWA's annual conference and have to say I've had a ball. Learnt heaps, socialised just a little *wink* and left invigerated and enthused about my writing - what more could you want?

Some things I've learnt:
  • I'm not supposed to be able to write my GMC in one sentence. Nuh-uh. If the GMC guru herself, Deb Dixon, can't drill it into me, no-one can. I can write a goal, and a conflict, and a motivation. But I cannot for the life of me write it in that neat little "character wants goal because motivation but can't because conflict" sentence.
  • But I also learnt that it's okay if you don't do it that way, and Deb showed us the way she does it, which isn't a little sentence but a detailed table - now that I can do *grin*.
  • To write a dominant impression for your character (again Deb Dixon). That is, an adjective + descriptive noun. For example, Hans solo is a cocky smuggler and Princess Leia is a royal rebel.
  • That I now view Pretty Woman through very different eyes after Melanie Milburne's From Bin to Bestseller session. Melanie used Robert McKee's five story parts to demonstrate why Pretty Woman works - and in doing so how to apply it to your own ms.
  • Denise Rossetti's key to deep pov: you (the author) are in the character's head looking out their eyes, hearing what they hear, feeling what they feel (and that verbs are your friend).
  • Any would be muggers need to beware because thanks to Ray Floro I now know how to maim and kill an attacker - and how to turn anything into a weapon. There should probably be a lot of scared husbands around the country right now, lol.
Give it a few more days and I think I'll have to revisit my notes because after such an intensive few days I don't want to let anything slip out of my head.

Thanks for an awesome event, RWA, and I can't wait for the 20th anniversary conference in Melbourne 2011.

Aug 16, 2010

My Excuse Monday

Posted by AJ Blythe at Monday, August 16, 2010 0 comments
Poking fun at the but in all of us...
Printed with permission of Sam Morrison.

Aug 12, 2010

Post in Absence

Posted by AJ Blythe at Thursday, August 12, 2010 1 comments
Today heralds the first day of the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference. Unfortunately, it's published author's day today - so that counts me out. Maybe next year.....

But tonight is the e-list dinner, where those of us attending conference who are on the RWA Romaus e-loop get together so we can chat face-to-face, often for the first time. So tonight it will really feel like conference is starting. Then tomorrow it begins. I can't wait.

It's actually going to be a busy conference, because I have organised the First Time Conference Attendee's program, and am helping with the Silver Lunch fundraiser for Ovarian Cancer.

Highlights to look forward to are hard to pick, but I think Deb Dixon's GMC/Heroes Journey workshop, the Harlequin cocktail party (because I love my costume) and the awards dinner where I'm nominated for the Lynne Wilding Award (for meritorious service) probably have the edge.

It goes without saying catching up with all my writing friends and being immersed for a weekend with other romance writers is also very exciting.

Next week I'll report back on how I found RWA's 2010 Sun, Surf and Sizzle conference. I'm sure I'll have loved every minute.
 

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