Saturday, October 9, 2010

The NV dream is over

To cap off what's been a crappy week for me, I didn't make it onto the coveted New Voices List (a.k.a. The List). For those of you who haven't heard of The List, it's a shortlist of entrants who the eds want to follow up with after the end of the competition. Congratulations to those who made it, including my fabulous CP Sarah Brabazon who is thoroughly deserving.

For the rest of us poor sods, what does this mean? Well, the way I see it, we have a number of choices:
1. Give up the writing gig altogether. Don't know about you, but not writing makes me cranky and difficult to live with. So this is not an option for me.
2. Decide that M&B isn't really for you. I like reading them, so I'll continue trying to write them thank-you-very-much.
3. Write The Damn Book - whether it's the entry in the competition (re-writing Chapter 1 'cos it obviously didn't work for one reason or another) or another brand-spanking new story - and sub it to M&B regardless.

I think I'll take number 3 thanks. I mean, I feel despondent right now and need to give myself a day to throw a pity party for one. But, as some encouraging published M&B authors have pointed out on various forums, you don't need a competition to get that publishing contract. These authors can attest to that.

So if you didn't make The List, have an apple and pear martini (my shout) and pick yourself up, dust yourself off, then keep on writing.

As for me, my plan is to write the suckopsis (can't remember who first came up with this term but I hope you don't mind if I've acquired it) and e-mail it along with my first chapter to one of my fave authors from who I was lucky enough to win a critique. Then maybe I can find out what's wrong with this damn chapter once and for all, though I have my suspicions. Then I'm going to put this story aside and do NaNoWriMo with a fresh new story, blocking out the 'shoulds' and 'should-nots' which I've found has crippled my writing so much over the past year.

What about everyone else? What's your plan now that your NV dream is over?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Voices

I've gone to ground and have been hiding out in my bunker since I hit 'send' on my New Voices comp entry. It's been the most exhilirating and horrid feeling all rolled into one. Luckily, everyone so far has been kind and supportive in their comments. And for that I'm eternally grateful :) So THANK YOU.

Everyone who entered should take a bow as it takes a lot of courage to put your work in front of others for comments and ratings.

Please visit the wonderful Lacey Devlin's blog for the Wall of Fame of entrants (we all would love your support!) and the ever-supportive Francine Howarth's blog for more recommendations of entries to read.

If you're interested in reading my Modern Heat first chapter entry, head on over to the website: and it's under 'Contemporary Romance' by Angie Peters. The title is 'Warming the Sexy Stranger's Bed'.

I'll get the courage to mosey on over to the Mills & Boon New Voices site soon - just as soon as my stomach stops churning and the sick feeling recedes somewhat...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cardinal sin

I've committed a cardinal hero and heroine don't meet on the first page of my NV comp entry. I know they should but I had this opening hook in my head. And the way they meet is important for the next chapter. So they don't meet until page four. Which probably means I've just shot myself in the foot. *sigh*

I've sent off the re-written first chapter to my new CP. Hopefully, she'll have time to provide me some feedback before I embarrass myself and send it to the judges and the rest of the world to read. I'm not sure if my writing is ready to be sent out to the world just yet, but I have to start sometime, don't I?

So nerve wracking....

Please tell me, my wonderful blog readers - is it absolutely MANDATORY to have the hero and heroine meet on page 1 in a category romance?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Life getting in the way of writing

With a hot cup of chamomile tea next to me, I'm ready to jump back into the world of blogging. You know, after not blogging for so long, it becomes difficult to get back into it. Just like writing a novel.

Which leads me right onto what's on my mind. I've been in a dark place in my life, which then filters into my writing and reading. Everything dries up. Is this an excuse? My fears subconsciously getting in my way to prevent me from writing and, therefore, failing? Possibly. "Keep the drama on the page," as Julia Cameron says in her book, The Right to Write.

The discipline to write daily is lacking.

But there may be more to it than that. I had a lightbulb moment when I read Jane Mulberry Jones's blog post on Seven Sassy Sisters. Like Jane, I find myself writing a first chapter (or three or four!), only to decide it's all crap, get discouraged, then stop writing for a while. Which makes me damn miserable! And until I let myself write a crappy first draft, nothing will change. Which I've known for ages, but can't seem to overcome. (Besides the one time when I successfully finished NaNoWriMo. And can't seem to replicate.)

Since I've let my doubts get in the way in the past, I made a promise to myself to enter the next HM&B competition. So I'll be entering a first chapter into the New Voices competition. Once I get that chapter up to scratch, that is...

Who else is entering? And how do you overcome the life obstacles and inner doubts so you can continue writing?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Remember me?

Time flies...I hadn't realised how long it had been since I last posted. I'm having a break from my medical treatment due to nasty side effects.

On the writing front, I've completed my first synopsis and have received feedback from my writing teacher. Basically, I've got a looonnngggg way to go in learning the skill of synopsis writing. My frustration with this ms is immense. After working on this story for over a year (and during this writing course), having brainstormed with my Course Coordinator, and having submitted my first three chapters there are STILL problems with my character's goals, motivations and conflict. Can you sense my frustration?!!

So the feedback from my writing teacher on my synopsis can be summed up like this:

  • I haven't demonstrated that my hero and heroine are made for each other, despite the obstacles that stand in their way (internal and external conflict). The motivation for the romance is not explained.

  • The question was asked why my hero needed his father's wishes to force him to marry? Why doesn't he decide he needs this by himself? (In my ms, hero is heir of his father's hotel. My hero wants nothing more than to take over the running of the hotel and, by doing so, preventing a merger with their competitor. His father is CEO and is stepping down, but requires his son to marry in order to take over as CEO. His father has a reason for this, but it's not explained in the synopsis.)
  • My heroine's motivation for the MOC was questioned. I thought I had got this right, but obviously not...

  • I also need to show how my heroine's initial perceptions about the hero shift and demonstrate exactly the events and actions that reveal to her the opposite qualities about the hero. Qualities that she admires in him and that make her fall in love with him.
  • I have to make it clear what the wound in my heroine is that my hero heals, how it happens and how it further complicates things between them.

  • The Black Moment - there needs to be a change in the hero leading up to this, ie. I need to show that he is starting to change his views about not getting emotionally involved with my heroine.
I've been struggling with getting my characters' motivations for the MOC believable, but it seems I still haven't managed this. I mean, it's not as if I'm writing a Modern/Sexy/Presents where the hero can just blackmail my heroine to marry him for some reason. So I've decided the MOC hook has got to be abandoned. I've wasted too much time on what has felt like trying to force my characters fit this hook which was meant to increase the stakes (rather than just a fake fiance which was what it was initially). Have re-written the first three chapters twice (second time I started completely from scratch), I'm now prepared to abandon the MOC since it's not working and my characters have stopped speaking to me and the writing has stalled. So I'll hand in my final assignment (the query letter), then start from scratch. The only constant in all this has been the characters whom I love, and I want to tell their story and their romance.

It's a struggle trying to write a synopsis when I'm an organic writer and the ms has not been completed. I think that's why it's been lacking so much. Yet I know this is an expectation of published writers so it's something I have to learn how to do.

I don't expect to get things right the first time, but when I've spent so long trying to get the story elements right and the GMC, it's discouraging after so long to realise that I haven't. I feel like I've wasted my time. Anyway, I know it's all a learning curve.

On a more positive note, I'll leave you with someone who has gone into my Hero Inspiration files recently.

I absolutely loved Russell Crowe in Robin Hood. Also loved him in Gladiator. Give me a warrior any day.

For those of you that prefer a younger-looking hero, maybe this pic might float your boat instead:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award and other stuff

Even though I haven't been the most consistent blogger (despite my best intentions!), I'll be absent from here even more as I've just commenced medical treatment which will be demanding. I'll try and visit all your blogs as often as I can, but I need to look after myself first and foremost so I might not be around as often as I used to be. I don't know how this will impact on my writing time...will just have to wait and see.

Anyway, onto other business....the ever-supportive and generous Francine (who else can I rely on to ask where I am when I've been gone AWOL for awhile ?!!) has nominated me for a Beautiful Blogger Award. Don't know if I can do the questions justice, but here goes....

Question 1: Where were you five years ago?
1) Living with my partner and engaged to be married.
2) Had just commenced doing locum work for an agency.
3) Saving up for our wedding (in November that year).
4) Was heavily into reading crime fiction and wanted to write it.
5) Living in a private rental property.

Question 2: What is (was) on your to do list?
1) Complete this blog post.
2) Provide critique for CP's chapter.
3) Rewrite love scene.
4) Wash towering pile of laundry (oh, how exciting!)
5) Finish reading current Modern Heat releases.

Question 3: What 5 snacks do you enjoy?
1) Chocolate
2) Biscuits (mainly chocolate)
3) Cake (any really, but love chocolate - seeing a theme here?)
4) Cheese
5) Toast with butter and jam

Question 4: What five places have you lived?
1) Tasmania - can't remember whereabouts as I was only 4
2) Melbourne (south-eastern suburbs - parents' place)
3) Melbourne (northern suburbs, private rental flat)
4) Melbourne (northern suburbs, private rental unit)
5) Melbourne (northern suburbs, own home)

Question 5: What 5 things would you do if you were a billionaire?
Some of the other bloggers have had really fun lists. Mine is more self-indulgent :)

1) Quit day job (and hubby can too)
2) Travel (have only been interstate on my honeymoon and first wedding anniversary)
3) Buy a Mercedes Gullwing (in red, of course)
4) Pay off my mortgage (okay, if I was a billionaire I'd also buy a holiday house)
5) Go diamond shopping *grin*

Now, five people to nominate. This is difficult as almost everyone has already been nominated. So I'll be lazy and say if you're reading this blog, consider yourself nominated :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

I know I've been AWOL from this blog for awhile (again!), but breaking my blog drought to wish you all a Happy Easter (for those of you who celebrate it). I hope you all have a nice Easter break with your families.

Today I'm having the traditional Greek lamb spit roast with lashings of tzatziki (yoghurt garlic sauce). And, of course, there'll be the obligatory tsoureki (Greek Easter bread) as well as the koulourakia (Greek Easter biscuits) and the dyed red eggs.

Dessert will be galaktoboureko (a custard dessert with syrup and phyllo pastry). Yum :) But won't do much for my ever-expanding waistline.

Hope the Easter bunny's kind to you all - have a great day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Cupcake Award

Coming in a bit late here. Huge thanks to the lovely Lacey Devlin for nominating me for a Happy Cupcake Award. Really brightened up my day I tell ya. Just what I needed to focus on the positive.

Okay, so the 10 Things That Make Me Happy in no particular order:

1. My gorgeous and supportive hubby. He loves me, he spoils me, he puts up with my flaws...what more could a woman want?
2. Writing. When I'm writing regularly, I'm happy. When I don't because Real Life gets in the way, I get cranky.
3. Reading. There's nothing better than getting swept away in the fictional world of a book for a few hours and forgetting about all your troubles in the process.
4. My ECO Reader. Love my e-reader. I can download the new Harlequin Mills and Boon releases on the first of the month and read them straight away ('cos I'm impatient). Also solved my problem of lack of storage.
5. Reality TV. Love it, love it, love it. Of course, I am discerning about what I watch on telly. My faves are Survivor (ooh! Heroes vs Villains is the best!), So You Think You Can Dance, MasterChef, My Kitchen Rules.
6. Our house. After years of living in private rental accommodation, one year ago we managed to finally buy our own home. It was a dream come true.
7. Reading blogs of authors and aspiring authors. I love reading all your blogs so keep the posts coming! Gives me another reason to procrastinate :)
8. Fridays. After having worked full-time hours for more than a year, I'm thrilled to have my Fridays off once again.
9. Going for a walk on a sunny day at the nearby lake. Bliss :)
10. Dessert. I always look at the menu and pick out dessert first. 'Nuff said.

Because I'm posting this so late, if you're reading this blog post consider yourself tagged for this award. Come on - share with us the things that make you happy.

Friday, March 5, 2010

When Life Imitates Art

I know I've been silent for awhile. That's because Real Life got in the way in February. I've still been reading blogs but I needed some time out, like an injured animal needs to lick its wounds. With lots of other things happening, I still managed to do most of the homework in Laurie Schnebly Campbell's fantastic Plotting Via Motivation online course. I'm signed up to do her Masterclass: From Plot to Finish mid-March and I can't wait.

First, just some info on what I got out of the course. From someone who has been primarily a pantser, planning prior to starting the WIP was a foreign world to me. Sure, I've done some of that in my Category Writing Course but I had already started the WIP. Laurie's online course was challenging but rewarding. Now I've learnt that some preparation goes a long way. Figuring out the character's motivation from the start allows you to form a plot that rings true to their motivation from start to finish. I like the idea of having a road map to guide me during the writing of my WIP. Laurie's also a fantastic teacher, and I'm planning to do some more of her online courses this year.

Now to the reason for the title of this blog post. Earlier in the month I had a family life and death emergency which was sudden, shocking and unexpected. To maintain the privacy of the person involved, I won't detail specifics of the emergency here. It turned my world upside down, and has made me feel like I'm walking on a tightrope since. The eerie thing is, this incident mimicked exactly what my heroine in my current WIP is going through. Coincidence or did my subconcious know something was wrong all along? Who knows? Regardless, at the time I felt I couldn't continue with my WIP because it was too painful, too close to home. But now I feel that I need to write this story more than ever. To bring this subject with all its stigma out into the glaring light of day. And now I personally know what my heroine is feeling because I've lived through those feelings. As painful as it is, writing about the emotions involved will be true and authentic. And I know, without a doubt, that her motivation is realistic.

And my hero? I've blogged before about the issues with his motivation and the hook. But now I think I've got him pegged. A number of things contributed to this - Donna Alward's fabulous advice, applying Laurie's exercises and asking 'Why?' until I got to the core of his motivation, and referring to The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines to assign an archetype to my hero. Well, one major archetype with added flavours of a couple of other archetypes.

Finally, I feel I can move on with this project. After being stymied for so long, the frustration and self doubt were starting to eat away at me. And deep down, I knew not completing this WIP would compound and magnify the self doubt even more.

Afterall, I can't exactly submit something that's not written now, can I?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Not To Write A Pitch

The verdict's in - my pitch sucked big-time. (Of course, Donna Alward never insinuated this.) Didn't make Top 11 let alone Top 5. So what did I do wrong - boy, where do I start?

Lesson 1. Do not make your pitch too long.
This is me we're talking about - difficulty writing short and succinctly. Whether it's writing fiction or writing progress notes at work. Same problem, different context.

Lesson 2. If you have a hook such as a Marriage of Convenience, make sure you make the need for said MoC personal.
For instance, my hero needs a MoC to convince the board members he should be elected next CEO of the family business. They're old-fashioned and don't like his playboy reputation so have doubts about him being focused enough, dependable and responsible to take over the helm.
This is not enough - why should his personal relationships have anything to do with his professional capabilities? No, what my hero needs is a more personal reason for the MoC.

Lesson 3. Ensure you include why the heroine would fall in love with the hero - and make sure the reasons tie into the story. Being caring, passionate and believing in the heroine is not enough.

Fortunately, the lovely and generous Donna Alward had some extremely helpful suggestions on how to tighten the hook and the story. She was very encouraging.

But I must admit, bombing out with my pitch brought me back down to earth with a thud of the meteoric kind. After all the rumenating and planning and brainstorming, it was discouraging to realise how weak the motivation for the MoC still is.

I feel like I'm trying to make my characters fit into boxes by manufacturing reasons why they need this MoC. And by doing so, I've lost sight of my characters, what they want, and why I even wanted to write this story in the first place.

I'm mulling over the possibility of going back and starting from scratch. At the begining, there was no MoC in sight. Fake fiancee for a month did not have high enough stakes, according to my writing teacher. Let's up the stakes - how about a MoC for six months?

And after struggling with this story for months and months and months, getting lost in the reams of notes on my characters, their conflict, and the story, I'm considering doing something I never said I would do....give up completing the ms.

The process has been so messy, the writing has stalled on a number of occasions as aspects of the story feel 'off'. I long for the freedom of writing a shitty and fast first draft. Not trying to strive for perfection in the first three chapters before I continue with the story.

Unfortunately, I need to continue with the story the way I have been for the purpose of my writing course. I need to submit a third chapter, a love scene, a synopsis and a query letter. Which seems like such a waste, considering I won't be submitting this as a partial but plan to start all over again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pitches and writing doubt demons

Wow, time flies! I didn't realise I had been away from here so long. So much for my goal of blogging at least once a week.

After a full and tiring week at the day job, I managed to get a pitch done for Donna Alward's Perfect Pitch Contest on eharlequin. Boy, did I sweat blood on that one! One thing I learned is that pitches are damn hard! I wasn't 100% happy with it, but it was the best I could do with the time I had. So I pressed 'send' last night. It will be invaluable to get feedback on my pitch from an experienced author like Donna.

In other news, I received feedback from my teacher about my second chapter. The verdict is that I still have a lot of work to do - I need to 'deepen and layer my story in a realistic and sympathetic way'. Hmmm....For my next assignment I've looked at my first draft of my third chapter and I'm considering cutting it out completely and making the fourth chapter into my third (if that makes sense!)

Regardless, the doubt demons have firmly taken residence at Chez Peters. Why, oh, why did I think I could write a MOC as my first ms targeted towards Modern Heat? I'm starting to doubt whether I have the skill to pull it off at this stage. But I'm stubborn, and I want to finish this ms. I need to finish it so I can have that boost of confidence that I can finish something - not just a first draft but a polished, shiny ms. Even if it is imperfect. But I'm limping along, struggling with the writing, struggling to silence the 'shoulds' that swirl through my head.

Anyway, that's enough rumenating for a Saturday morning. Off to work on Chapter 3...

How are you coming along with your WIP? And did you enter the Perfect Pitch Contest?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Goals for 2010

I wasn't going to post my writing goals for 2010, but then realised it was a cop out. After all, if there's no public accountability for reaching my goals then it doesn't matter if I don't achieve them, right?

I had written these up in November 2009.

1. Write daily - this can be as little as 100 words a day on weekdays when I'm buggered from the day job.
2. Complete Category Romance Writing course by June 2010 (this is broken down into smaller goals and deadlines for assignments to be completed and submitted).
3. Enter writing contests - Great Beginnings (April), High Five (August/September), Emerald (November), Selling Synopsis.
4. Find a critique partner (most likely through RWA Critique Partners Register) and/or join a romance writing group (Melbourne Romance Writers' Guild).
5. Have partial completed to send to Richmond by June 2010.
6. Have full ms completed and polished by September.
7. Post once a week on my blog.
8. Network with other romance writers (comment on writers' blogs, be more active on eharl community forum, etc).
9. Read every day.
10. Organise my writing office (this needs to be broken down into smaller goals otherwise it will never happen!)

I've got my brand spanking new 2010 diary and I'm going to write my goals in there, then I'll jot down dates to review them during the year.

Happy new year to you all, and hope you achieve your own goals this year.

©2009 Angie Peters | by TNB