Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Here's to the New Year...

It's been a while since I blogged on the Bootcampers site. I haven't had much to share of late when it comes to writing, but I've started to reflect on what an interesting year 2009 has been.

This year I became a Bootcamper, did an e-pitch, worked on improving my critiquing skills and made a point of doing more research into the market. I didn't write as much or as often as I'd hoped to, but is there EVER enough time write? Probably not.

It's difficult to manage a young family and an active lifestyle at any time, and to fit the dream of publication in there is almost - but not quite - impossible for me right now. I squeezed it in when I could, but it just couldn't find a nice, neat place for it in between the soccer, dance classes and layers of plasterboard. Poor little dream got a wee bit lost in all the chaos, but I've dusted her off, and she's ready to go again. A bit wonky, and requiring some reshaping, but worth resurrecting.

So, yes, 2009 was not a great year writing-wise for me, but it was a good one. I moved forward. I made progress. I have more words now than I did in 2008. I know a lot more than I did last year, and I'm more confident in my ability than ever before. I have potential, and I'm determined to stick it out. I just need to take things at my own pace, and not rush, especially when I know I don't have the time right now to give it my best shot.

One thing I've said before, and will continue to say, is that the best thing I did this year was participate in Bootcamp. It opened my eyes to the huge flaws in my writing (and to the good bits, as there were some!), as well as introduced me to some lovely people with similar dreams about being published. The BootCats, in particular, have been a source of inspiration for me this year, and I want to thank them for their support. But every Bootcamper, from our bunch to those who went before us, deserves a special thanks for any bit of support or wisdom they have shared.

Oh, and here's a pic of two BootCats - Shayne and I - at the Sydney lunch for RWA members about a week or so ago, showing our pearly whites!

Good luck to all the Bootcampers in 2010, and keep aiming for your dream. I'll be here to support you if you ever need it, so don't hesitate to contact me in the New Year.

Happy writing,

xx Mon

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nikki Logan Nails It!

I was lucky enough to read Nikki Logan's debut novel, Lights,Camera...Kiss the Boss and I can't wait to tell you all how great it is. This is 'our Nikki' - a Bootcamp 109 coordinator and mentor - and she's absolutely nailed it. I plan on shouting it from the rooftop (pardon the pun) about this lovestory that blossoms...on a rooftop! Fellow Bootcampers - feel free to copy and re-post my review on any sites you know to help spread the word.

My Review

When talking about her writing, Nikki Logan says, she knows her job is done if her readers ‘catch a waft of rich earth and the spray of wild ocean between the pages’.

Well, she’s done that and more for this reader in her debut novel – Lights, Camera...Kiss the Boss.

Firstly, I love the concept – a landscape designer whose rooftop gardens bring beauty to the ‘natureless urban environments’ of Sydney’s city skyscrapers. Happiest with dirt on her hands, talking to her plants, Ava Lange suddenly finds herself thrust in front of the camera as presenter on a new TV reality show – Urban Nature. And camera-shyness is not her main concern. Her new boss is hotshot TV producer Daniel Arnot, the subject of her youthful infatuation nine years earlier.

Nikki has woven her passion for nature with her understanding of human emotion to give readers a delightfully contemporary story with a rich plot, blooming with colourful characters. The writing is fresh and flows from the start to the very last line. I particularly like how the parallel plot elements of nature, set against the lavish city life, reflects the conflict between down-to-earth Ava and her ambitious boss.

This is not another fall-in-love-with-the-boss story, nothing contrived or trite about it at all. Nikki’s characters are credible with very real issues and obstacles to overcome. She had me riding the romance rollercoaster with the very unassuming Ava Lange as she desperately tries to deal with unrequited love.

By writing about what she knows, Nikki has also given her readers an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the television industry.

My favourite character: Nikki draws great characters to love and loath. I particularly enjoyed getting to know the unexpected uniqueness of a secondary character – Cadence. Very refreshing and wonderfully portrayed. Exceptional characterisation.

Favouite line: Every great romance has a great line – one that affects you so much you almost gasp (take Jerry McGuire’s, “You complete me” for example). Nikki provided that moment for me in this book with her perfectly poignant question about what makes a heart break. I’m not going to tell you what it is here - you’ll find it towards the end of Chapter Twelve.

Lights, Camera...Kiss the Boss, by Nikki Logan, is due for release in February. Be assured that this is definitely not an I’ve-read-it-all-before book.” I couldn’t put it down. It was lights, camera, action from beginning to end.

I’m told the real beginning for this story was back in June 2008 when members from Romance Writers Australia undertook their first 50ks in 30 Days challenge. It was Nikki’s first go at writing 50,000 words in a month, so it’s kind of fitting that it should be her first published novel, with Harlequin US snapping it up in November of that same year.

Lights, Camera...Kiss the Boss hits the book stands in Australia in February 2010.

That’s a wrap on my review. Thank you Nikki Logan. A brilliant debut novel. One of many, I hope.

For more about Nikki’s novels, visit her website

Nikki's photo by Photo by Studio Noah, Western Australia

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Small steps to a piece of cake

This time last year I was feeling restless and frustrated.

It's the same this year! But at least I have a new direction thanks to Bootcamp 109.

I managed to complete a rough first draft of my contemporary romance and am now in the process of writing a short story for the Little Gems contest.

In 2010 I hope to write (nearly) every day. I haven't set firm goals yet, but after I move my writing space from the steamy first storey of our house (it's 32 degrees up here) to the cooler double-brick spare room downstairs (in the process of doing that over the New Year) it should be a piece of cake.

I might get Anita, Mon, Shelly and Rach to help me with goals because all these things present a challenge to a disorganised person such as myself.

My category friends have been a tremendous help this year and their support is unwavering.

Talking of cakes, here's a pic of a fruitcake I made this morning.

Merry Christmas to everyone.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Looking Towards 2010

Do you set yourself goals each year? Last year I had my goals set and was eager to get started on them all. I would write at least my minimum word count each day religiously keeping track of my word written, then somewhere in the middle life stepped in and it all fell apart. Why? Because I did not add my life outside my writing to my agenda. Let’s face it; we all have other people in our lives that need our attention at some point during the day.

So, for 2010 I’m going to write up my goals with that in mind.

Here are my goals for 2010 (so far):

Write/edit at least five days a week.

Start writing day by 9am and write for five hours a day, taking small breaks regularly.

Have all completed WIPs edited by June.

Submit ALL edited WIPs to agents/publishers.

Do critiques on weekends. (when family are not around)

Have ‘Cruisin’ the Blog & Members’ News ready to go by the Friday of each week. (May need to add updates before the Sunday).

Have Bookshelf Saturday organised at least a week before due.

Be more active on RWAus e-loops.

Cut back on some other e-loops (again).

Finish getting RWAus Wikipedia article organised.

Update social networks twice a week.

Blog on a regular base, not all over the place.
Spend time with Hubby each evening.

Spend more time with family on weekends.

Spend one day a week with my Mum.

That will do for now, I’m sure I’ll add more as the year progresses.

What about you? Do you have your goals set for the year?


Monday, December 7, 2009

Bronwyn Parry's done it again

Can I be a bigger fan of Bronwyn Parry?

You may recall I had a little rave on this blog back in April after reading her debut novel, As Darkness Falls. I LOVED IT!

Having just this minute finished Dark Country, I can tell you her second novel is not twice as good.
It’s not three times or even four times as good.
It’s ten times as good – or more.
More uniquely Australian characters and settings, more fabulous imagery, more thoroughly researched plots and very believable obstacles for characters – Sgt Kris Matthews and ex-con Gil Gillespie – to find their way out of.

The clever way Bronywn tied, not only the complexities of this novel together, but also her weaving of details from As Darkness Falls, left me an author-in-awe.

As an author-in-waiting, I’ve heard this advice many times: “Create characters your readers will care about. Make your readers want to cheer.”

I finally understand what it means now. Bronwyn threw her characters so many holes to get out of I was about to make pom poms!
My dilemma right now though is, while I was so inspired to write after reading her first novel, after finishing Dark Country, I find myself languishing in a big black hole echoing with the words,
“You’ll never write something that good, Jenn.”
But I figure, just like Sgt Kris and her enigmatic ex-con, Gil, I will get out of the hole, I’ll go on believing in the possibility of publication, and I will find a happy ending – even if it’s just fiction!

Do yourself a favour and check out Bronwyn’s books.

PS Love the UK cover. Now come on with book 3, Bron. I'll have those pom poms ready to cheer on your next feisty female who is....?????)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Straight-jacket anyone?

I’ve never understood poker-machine addicts.
My mother was one. On the sunniest and most spectacular of days, her favourite thing was to sit inside a dark room at a machine and drip feed coins into it hour after hour (I believe they take notes now – oh dear!).

She barely stopped for food in those days – a ciggy and a Riesling usually did the trick.

Not for me! You wouldn’t find me inside on a sunny day, sitting in front of a machine and....oh dear! I guess you would.

It appears I’m addicted to writing. Worse still, I’m addicted to writing competitions. To me writing competitions are the ultimate tease. It’s just like mum used to say, “One more coin – just one more. I can’t walk away now. The next one might be the winning coin.” I now hear myself saying, “Just one more writing competition. The next one could be it. If I walk away now, I’ll never know, or worse, another person could step up and take the winnings and I’ve spent so much time feeding words into this blasted thing...blah, blah, blah."

Oh dear! I think I need help. Straight-jacket, anyone? Better still (since it's hard to type in a straight-jacket) is there a Writers’ Anonymous out there anywhere? name’s Jenn...and I’m a writing-comp-aholic.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nano Cruelty

Still buoyed by my Bootcamp buddies (wow - I loooooove alliteration!) I decided to do Nano this year (that’s National Novel Writing Month for those who don’t know) and I have to say it’s been the most enlightening writing experience. I think it’s actually shown me the kind of writer I might be. To date I have struggled to define my writing style – plotter, pantser, character driven, plot driven, yudda, yudda. Now onto my third novel (yes hopefully I’ll actually sell one sometime), this writing-like-a-crazy-person is working for me (no fancy prose, no dialogue tags, etc – oh but I do manage the odd alliteration).

The cruel thing about Nano is that I recently scored myself some new books and I have no time to read them. (Thanks to Eleni Konstantine's Eleni-fest in October, I have Nikki Logan’s ‘Camera, Lights...Kiss the Boss’ and Anna Jacobs ‘Freedom Land’. I also recently got Janet WoodsThe Convict Woman’ and Erin Grace's ‘Secrets’. Plus I have just discovered (thx to Bronwyn Parry) Fleur MacDonald and Fiona Palmer – both Australian authors whose books look and sound amazing.

The cruelty is that I have sooooo many books I am dying to read, but no time until post Nano. Instead they sit stacked on my nightstand teasing me. By December I hope the break from my own work – 'A House For All Seasons' – will mean I can look forward to these great authors inspiring me when I do get back to phase two of my WIP – revising and editing (like adding ample alliteration – LOL)

PS. Re Nano - Surely I should get extra Nano points for actually including NaNoWriMo in my ms. Yep – decided one of my characters is going to do it. Gotta be worth a Nano brownie or two!!!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The year that was, but it ain't over yet

As 2009 winds down (or up), it's time to reflect on the benefits of being a member of the Bootcamper 109 team.

Personally, I've been privileged to meet (at the national conference and online) a group of inspiring women. Through Bootcamp 109 I learnt so much about the 'art and craft' of writing.

But that's not all!

Afterwards, the mentoring continued - in generous doses. I was lucky enough to join the Bootcats with Shelly, Mon and Anita. To have the amazing Rachel Bailey as our team leader was an added bonus. This girl could teach KRudd a thing or two about hard work!

Whenever I have a query or a problem, my Bootcat mates are quick to respond. Between them they have enough romance-writing knowledge to stock a library.

Without them, I would still be floundering in a sea of mediocrity (just wanted to throw in 'sea of mediocrity' somewhere).

Because of them I've joined the Romaus loop and I'm having a go with my writing goals.

Here's to Bootcampers 109. This is just the beginning.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eleni Konstantine Visits

Bootcamp 109ers would like to welcome our first guest blogger/interviewee to our blog Eleni Konstantine.
Hi Eleni, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions on the Bootcamp 109 blog as part of your Eleni-fest month.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog Sandie & 109ers. And wow, I’m very much honoured to be your first guest blogger/interviewee!!

Q: Eleni-fest has really taken off, are you surprised by the response you received to your call for help?

Yes I am to be honest. Though I shouldn’t have been. RWAus members are so generous and come flooding to support another member. I have a fantastic line up of special guests and am visiting some very cool blogs (this one included of course *wink *)
I’ve also been blown away by everyone blogging about, tweeting about Eleni-fest. It’s great to know your writing buddies are out there helping you out. And of course there are those who have taken time out to comment. So it’s been a blast so far!

Q: What made you decide to join RWAustralia?

You know I can’t even recall how I stumbled across RWA. It was in the late 90s (I’m pretty sure it’s 1999). I was studying Creative Writing part-time via correspondence and found RWA (didn’t have the internet back then). I think it may have been in another Australian writing magazine or even a flyer. Since I enjoyed reading and writing romantic elements, I thought it might be a good association to be a part of. I joined and have been a member ever since. :) They just can’t get rid of me.

Bootcamper 109 Mon Woods & Eleni

Q: You’re one of the original Bootcampers, what did you learn from doing the first bootcamp?

Bootcamp came at a fantastic time for me. I was slowly starting to get back into writing from having my CFS crash, had found my CP, and saw the Bootcamp ad in Hearts Talk. Two days over two weekends. Sounded like the kick start I needed. And it was. Our group clicked and for me that was the best possible outcome, and one that I didn’t expect. You know usually you do a course and then that’s it, no more contact or very limited, but not with this group. There was so much information – it was amazing. And it helped me enter the writing world once again – conflict, characters, chats with authors, OH&S (very important), but to me the biggest ‘aha’ moment came from the fabulous Denise Rossetti – ‘Protect Your Work!’ By that she meant that your writing is important and you have to escape the distractions that take you away from it. I have that note pined on my mirror as a reminder each morning to protect the work. I still struggle with that because of my energy levels but I’m getting there. So I’ve also got a saying of ‘Protect the Writer!’

Q: What impact has RWAus had on your writing?

Wow, I can’t believe how much it has helped. First of all there is the monthly member’s journal, Hearts Talk. It has always been a fantastic resource where I’ve learned about the craft, the business, the life of a writer. When I joined ROMUAS back in 2002, there was another resource of ‘talking’ to other writers. My goodness other people loved writing and talking about it. And since then it has just snowballed. Attending conferences (the last one being the first in a long 6 year draught!), helping with HT on and off again, Bootcamp, Roadshow, SARA, getting my CP through the CP Registry, entering competitions. I just feel all of these have helped me develop as a writer. My writing certainly has improved – I even came 3rd in the Great Expectations Contest in the Specialized category (run by the North Texas Romance Writers) earlier in the year. I have a couple of partials under submission. Fingers crossed :)) I also think the camaraderie helps in a big way too – I’m always so happy to see people do well and that good feeling flows when I’m writing.

Q: You write fantasy romance, what is it about the fantasy genre that appeals to you?

Actually I tend to write fantasy with romantic elements – which basically means while the romance is important it’s not what the story is centred around. Then again I am writing a paranormal romance which has a strong romance at it’s core. :)I’ve always been fascinated by magical creatures, mythological beings (grew up listening to Greek myths), and magical abilities. A sense of wonder arose from those first fairy tales and cartoons that I read and watched. This fascination continued throughout my life but I didn’t read too much fantasy (in high school, I tended to read a lot of mysteries and horror). It was Jennifer Roberson’s The Chronicles of the Cheysuli series that brought me back to the epic fantasy. I loved the complexity of her world, the characters, the plot and the pure escapism. I was hooked and even special ordered the books (having read book one from the library). I wanted to create my own worlds with my own rules. Abit of goddess complex, I think ;)) But I have a ball doing this.

Q: When not writing what do you do to relax?

Sleep! ;)) Seriously, watch tv, read books, hang out with family and friends, listen to music....and sleep ;)

Q: What are you working on now?

Well when Eleni-fest is over, I hope to go back working on the first draft of my Dragon story – another quest fantasy, and I also have a short paranormal romance that is at the second draft stage.

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

Seriously, just one place? Hmm that’s a toughie. I love Adelaide. It’s home. You know what - I’d love the ability to teleport then I could go to the Greek Isles or Venice often, or anywhere else for that matter! So the world would be my oyster...

Q: Where do you get your ideas for your novels?

All around me I believe. There are so many different inspirations – stories of bravery, a facial expression, a piece of conversation that falls on my ears as I walk through shopping centres or the Mall (that’s Rundle Mall to non-Adelaide folk), other books, movies, tv, myths, legends, art.... You get my drift. Everywhere, anything! Years ago I was doing a WEA course on Medieval Europe and I gazed at a painting hanging on the wall and suddenly an idea for a short story came to mind involving a paining. This story – Enchanted – went on to come second in the KSP Fantasy and Science Fiction award in 1999. It’s currently under submission so fingers crossed it will finally get to be published ;))

Q: What do you think is the main ingredient needed to make a good novel great?

Oh I wish I knew! I’d be published then. Hmmm....for me it’s about the characters. They have to speak to me and make me want to care about them. I have read books that are technically have those elements that we are told as writers not to have (adverbs, long monologues, flashbacks) but the characters have swept me away and I’ve barely noticed these features. And if my internal editor gets shut down, then I know it’s won me over.

Q: What do you think makes a great hero/heroine?

They have to ring ‘true’ to me. Their motivations, conflicts, reactions all have to resonate. It may be a vampire trying to redeem themselves for the lives they have taken. So what I mean by ‘true’ is not about being set in the real world but it’s the action in the story that has to be believable. I mean if the hero or heroine are gung-ho normally but freeze at one point - I want there to be a good reason. Are they being faced by a nightmare from their past? Has someone bespelled them so they can’t react? I also like strong but vulnerable characters be they the hero or heroine, who grow and learn throughout the course of the story. Basically in the end they will do the right thing for the situation. But hey that’s just me!

Q: What inspires you to write each day?

I wish I did write every day. My problem is having energy. Once Eleni-fest is over though, I hope to have a more balanced schedule and then I aim to write every day. Even if it’s just a few words. As long as it’s every day. Having this month long celebration has made me itch to get back to my own writing and that’s a good thing :)

Eleni, thank you for chatting with us today, we hope the rest of Eleni-fest is a great success.

Thank you so much. It’s been fun chatting as always and a real pleasure. You know how much I love the 109 gals.

As part of being a guest on your blog, I have a mini-pack to giveaway to one lucky commenter. Comments open until Friday 23th October 2009

Interviewed by


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bootcamp Betties September

During the month of September the Betties were lucky enough to have AJ Macpherson, Fantasy Romance Author. AJ spent time chatting to us about writing, whether we are a plotter or pantser, you still need to make sure your manuscript has conflict, action and tension. It also has to make sense. Rachel came up with a great answer to one of my questions also and that was that I maybe putting sex scenes in because my conflict is low. Interesting point, which is one reason I have decided to try plotting my novel for Novembers NaNoWriMo. I have not had a lot of success with plotting in the past, but I’m going to give it another go. We also chatted about editing, characterisations that stand up, and so much more. Then to top it all off we had AJ join the Betties group for more Q&As.

This past Wednesday night we had recently published Ellora’s Cave author Mel Teshco join us in our newly furnished RWAus Betties chat room. Mel writes erotic romance, just up my alley. Mel’s novel is call ‘Stone Cold Lover’, this is defiantly one I’m going to buy. Mel covered a wide range of topics with us, from publishers to heat levels in romance stories. Jenn took the plunge and posted an extract from one of her WIP and everyone thought she’d done a great job of the love scene she wrote. I’m saying love scene because that was what is was, Jenn already knows I’m a fan of her writing. I can’t wait to see her get published. Anyway back to Mel, you know when you’re having too much fun, because the time flies by, that was what it was like on Wednesday night. I may have to sweet talk Dana into letting Mel join the Betties for a few weeks.

We have been very lucky in the Betties camp, not only do we have fearless leaders Rachel Bailey (who by the way has her first novel out in January) and Dana Scully, we still have the wonderful Elizabeth Rolls there offering advice and we get to chat with these other great authors. *Sigh* I’m happy.

Happy writing/editing

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Competition Season

It's that time of year again when RWA's competitions open for another year.

To get the ball rolling are the High 5 (category) and STALI (single title and loving it). I've entered High 5 and I know other Bootcampers are considering the season ahead and getting their entries in.

Bootcamp entries did us proud last year, and I'm sure this year will see wonderful things from Bootcamp 109ers.

Good luck to all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

6 months on...

It has been 6 months since we completed Bootcamp 109!

Time has flown by, and so much has happened in the interim:
- we've continued learning our craft, breaking into the Betties, the BootCats, and Fi and Neely joining in with the 101ers;
- we've participated in conference (both Clayton's and Brissie's Hot August Nights), in some cases meeting for the first time face-to-face;
- and we've had success stories - Mon and Fi making publication in the Little Gems and Sandie in RWNZ anthology.

Not bad for 6 months.

Ladies, raise your glasses to another 6 months of success, friendship and the pursuit of that ever elusive publication.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Critique Partners

I think everyone needs a critique partner, even non-writers. Okay, those who don't know the thrill of filling blank pages with words might call them BFFs, but it means the same.

Someone you trust with a treasured possession.
Someone who knows your deep secrets, hopes and fears.
Someone who will be there for you at your most vulnerable or when floating high.

A critique partner (CP) is invaluable in improving your writing skills. Whether it be craft issues, plot problems or plain grammar your CP is emotionally removed from your story, they're a second set of eyes.

But like any relationship it's a two way street. Support needs to go both ways. you need to express clearly to your CP your expectations, what you would like them to do for you when reading your work and understand you both have deadlines, family and a life beyond writing. As for the CP, you need to be kind, highlight the positive, be constructive (not just critical), be helpful and reliable.

If you don't have one, get one - I'd hate to be travelling this journey alone.

Romance Writers of Australia have a critique partner scheme. Visit (you need to be an RWA member)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bootcampers Conference Pics

Here are some pics of the 109 Bootcampers at the conference. Enjoy!

L-R: Suzanne, Anita, Mon and Shayne at the Awards Dinner

L-R: Shelley, Anita & Mon at the Awards Dinner

R-L (back row): Suzanne, Shayne, Mon, Anita
R-L (front row): Fiona, Eleni (from 101). Nikki Logan is in the red top (apologies to everyone else but I didn't catch your names. Email me if you want me to amend)

L-R: Mon and Anita getting ready for the Arabian Nights cocktail party

L-R: Terri (Shayne's friend), Michelle Douglas (Harlequin Author), Mon on her tippy toes, Anita, Rachel Bailey (our awesome mentor), Suzanne and Shayne

Thursday, July 30, 2009

All quiet on the western front...

The Bootcamp troops have been fairly quiet of late. Each camp is doing it's own exercises, and members are preparing for either the Brisbane conference or the Clayton's online conference.

Sandie and Anita are now also on assignment with the RWA web team (they can blame recruitment officer Wood for that one. Sorry, gals). Anita and I are also preparing covert operations for August, and I've decided to name us Clayton's Angels (we're nowhere near as hot as Charlie's variety, but we're craftier and can wield a red pen with great power! *slash*).

Our technologically advanced weapons are shiny (and new, in the case of Anita's digital camera! *wink*), and we're ready to strap on our boots in the name of Bootcamp. We'll representing you, and promise not to embarass you (!) like attack other delegates, scream "Hup, two, three, four" at passersby who aren't even attending the conference, or demand push ups from tired-looking delegates who've been partying all night and are falling asleep during sessions.

So, for a final roll call, Bootcampers, and other RWA members - who's going to be fatigued with their fatigues on in Brisbane, and who is doing Clayton's in fatigue-appropriate pyjamas?! Phew. What a mouthful!

:-) Mon

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stay in touch with RWA

For those of you who aren't aware, RWA now have their own blog and twitter.

Check out the blog at:

And the tweets at:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Countdown to the Conference!

It's exactly one month until the Romance Writers of Australia's 18th National Conference. For members who aren't attending the Brisbane conference, that's four weeks until the Clayton's 'online' conference (Sandie will probably post some more info about this as it gets closer).

As you may already know, the Brissie conference sold out. So, for those of us attending, it's a matter of getting ourselves organised. That includes deciding what to wear (come on, it should be a priority!) and what to pack.

Well, the picture above is an idea of what to wear at the Friday night cocktail party (Arabian-inspired costume a must). During the day sessions, something professional or semi-professional should suffice (nice jeans and a coat would be fine, I gather?). The Awards dinner would be a semi-formal affair (I'm guessing) so an elegant outfit would do. I think I've covered everything in the clothing department?

Now, technology wise, I'll be lugging my laptop to Brissie, as well as my IntelliPen to take notes. The digital camera will be in my pocket (to catch all the inappropriate moments, so watch out!) and my mobile phone will be handy to text through all the news and gossip to the Clayton's team.

I hope I've thought of everything. I'm not kidding when I say I'll start packing in the next week or so. I like to be organised when I travel. I don't like leaving things behind, and it stresses me when I forget. I must also pack the headache tablets because I have a feeling I'll be a little worse for wear by the end of it all!

So what so you plan on bringing to the conference? Any essential items to help you make it through the weekend?

:-) Mon

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sounds of Silence

After a recent discussion with fellow Bootcamper Jenn, I've been mulling over the use of sound in our writing.

It's important to remember to include mention of the senses in your writing: the smells, sounds, tastes, sights and tactile images need to be shown to the reader.

Characters going about their lives with no influence from sound will stand out to a reader. It's not natural.

But the inclusion of sound can be difficult. How do you describe some sounds? And how do you avoid the use of the same descriptive word, particularly when attributed to speech (eg grunt, snigger, sigh)?

Although sometimes I think the use of silence can be just as powerful as sound.

I thought it might be useful to point you to one site I have found helpful: The Bookshelf Muse ( which regularly composes thesaurus entries, and one of the subheadings for each topic is sound (although a fantastic site when writing any descriptive passage).

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June has been a pretty intense time for us over in Bettie Bootcamp - both personally and professionally (writing wise).

We ended our month with a quote that should be shared with the entire 109 Bootcamp. It is an Ethiopian proverb that says so much about the strength, the benefit and the value of support groups like ours. (If indeed one can put a value on what Bootcamp has done.)

"When spider webs unite they can tie up a lion."
With six months of the year behind us, the Betties wish all of Bootcamp 109 (and our followers) ROAR-ing success for the remainder of the year.

(image courtesy of

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Bootcamper Success!

We received the news yesterday that THREE of our Bootcampers achieved brilliant results in the RWA's Valerie Parv Award for 2009.
Jennifer McLeod achieved a score of 95%, Fiona Gregory a score of 92%, and Anita Joy a score of 91% - all amazing results in a highly contested competition (from what I understand, the Award received an unprecedented number of entries).
On behalf of the other Bootcampers, I'd like to congratulate the girls and say I'm not surprised they did so well. You did us proud, ladies!

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Chance to Win!

Valerie Parv along with the help from some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s best romance authors have a new How-To-Book coming out in June 29th 2009. Hearts and Crafts takes you inside the world of these fantastic authors and explains how go about writing and editing as well as marketing their novels.

For a chance to win a copy of this great book, go to the delightful Elizabeth Roll’s website here: and follow the links to get the answers to ten easy questions.
Check out Elizabeth’s latest release while you’re there.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is this a good thing for aspiring writers?

Harper Collins say they are on a mission to flush out the brightest, freshest new writing talent around with their online community.
This is the second such site I've come across (there may be more - I don't know). I'm not sure what to make of this. Is it a growing trend, is it good, bad or worse?

I read the FAQs and it seems the more people who read your story, the more chance you have of rising to what they call 'The Editor's Desk.'

Reminds me of a slush pile quote I saw today:

THE SLUSH PILE: Looking for a needle in a field of haystacks, and having to tell each stalk that it's not the needle you're looking for. (Source unknown.)

Anyway, thought you might be interested. Take a look.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Very Own Bootcamp Conference Presenter....

There are less then 10 weeks to go until the highlight of the RWAustralia calender is here, the 2009 conference.

3 days, 240 Romance Writers - I can only imagine what it is going to be like. And I have to say I can't wait!

One brave Bootcamper put her hand up to present at the conference, Fiona Gregory (who masquerades as a pharmacist during the day).

Fiona is running the workshop Peddling Poisons & Dealing Drugs:

Explore the fascinating world of drugs and poisons with a practicing pharmacist. Learn about the history of drugs and experience real life examples of pharmaceutical misadventure suited to the pages of a novel. Discover the best resources.

Wishing you the best on the day Fi

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Like cats on a hot tin roof

While Tennessee William's play - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - examines the complicated rules of social conduct in southern (USA) culture in the 1950s, some of our Bootcamp Cats (along with other RWA members) are frantically examining the complicated rules of conduct for pitching to Harlequin.

In honour of all you cats (category writers) the rest of us are thinking of you and wishing you all the best. Now here is some rather pertinent Tennessee Williams dialogue. (If you don't know - Brick (the cat) and Maggie are central characters.)

Here you go:

Maggie says, "I'll win, alright."

Brick says, "Win what? What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?"

Maggie says, "Just staying on it, I guess. As long as she can. "

Maggie then says, "And nothing's more determined than a cat on a hot tin roof. Is there? Is there, baby?"

You go Cats.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bootcampers Take the Challenge

Bootcampers take the challenge. Yes, you guessed it we have a few crazy women from Bootcamp 109 taking the RWAustralia ‘50ks In 30 Days’ challenge. Also the Betties have the month of June were we are reporting back to Rachel and Dana on our goals.

The Betties reported during the week what our goals were for the month of June. Our writing goals and writing related goals. I have a feeling Rachel and Dana are going to make us accountable for what we have given them.

So here are my goals:
For the rest of MAY:
· Finish editing 'Rich Man' & continue to send chapters to CPs (on going)
· Finish editing 'Sex Me Up' (Spice Briefs) plus I need to add more words doesn't reach required word count yet. (done)
· Add 500+ words to 'Have a Happy Easter' (erotic novella/novel not sure how it will end up) (done)
· Write synopsis for all above plus other finished WIP waiting to be edited. (on going)

· Taking the 50/30 challenge, goal to write 50 to 75K in the month.
· Aim to finish: 'Have a Happy Easter' (erotic), 'Talk Dirty to Me' (erotic), 'Surrender' (sweet)

Writing Related Goals for June:
· Write query letters for 'Rich Man' & 'Sex Me Up'Do reviews for Fallen Angel Reviews (I have 7 novella/novels to read) plus Tracey O'Hara's 'Night's Cold Kiss' is on its way for me to read & review. (So looking forward to reading this one)
· Continue to do critiques for my CPs
· I'm thinking about doing a Margie Lawson on-line workshop.
· Continue to do nightly sprints with Diane & Tracey, plus whoever else turns up.

I have a busy month. And I LOVE IT.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bootcamp 109ers Rock!

After Elizabeth's success (see previous post) I thought I should put together a compilation of our triumphs so far…

Monique Wood & Fiona Gregory – Little Gems Finalists

Both The Boss’s Wife (Mon) and A Happy New Year (Fi) are to appear in RWA Little Gem Anthology – 2009 Turquoise.

Order your copy here:

Sandie Hudson – Challenge Collection Finalist

My Merry Maid is an erotic short story to be published by Kiwi Writers ( as an ebook and print book in July 2009.

Jenn McLeod
– Partial Request

Having submitted a synopsis to for one of her short stories, Jenn was asked to submit a partial for further consideration. After due deliberation and discussion Jenn decided not to pursue this offer further.

A cyber-toast to these ladies.

Who knows what else 2009 might bring…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

WOOHOO Elizabeth Rolls

Our honorary bootcamper, the wonderful Elizabeth Rolls, has finalled in the R*BY with her book A Compromised Lady.

We'll be cheering Elizabeth on at the Awards Dinner during the RWA conference when the winner is announced.

Read more about Elizabeth and her books at

Friday, May 15, 2009

Amy Andrews Q&A Session

Last night the BootCats had a fantastic session with the lovely Amy Andrews, who forced herself to take a break from her revisions to answer our unending questions.

Amy, who has a new release out in July, Greek Doctor, Cinderella Bride, was very generous not only with her time, but with sharing her knowledge about medicals and the ins and outs of writing category.

While the session was a lot of fun in itself, those of us participating also learnt so much and had our eyes opened to the wonderful world of the published category writer. Thanks Amy.

Visit Amy at

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Anne Gracie & Tracey O'Hara

On Friday the delightful Anne Gracie was interviewed on Channels Ten’s 9am. As always Anne was a great ambassador for RWAustralia and all romance writers. Here’s the link to the interview if you would like to view it. Anne Gracie 9am

Tracey O’Hara, who was good enough to spend a night with the Bootcamp Betties chatting and sharing her knowledge about writing Single Titles, has her first review for Night’s Cold Kiss out here. This is for her Paranormal novel due for release in September.

Book Trailer of Night’s Cold Kiss

Sunday, May 3, 2009

50 Writing Strategies

Jenn's post below reminded me of an email I received linking to an article titled 50 Strategies For Making Yourself Work. It was written by Jerry Oltion and it's interesting - I highly recommend you take the time to read it.

Not every tip works for everyone, but some of the strategies are very useful. You can find the list at

Friday, May 1, 2009

A collection of collective nouns!

Okay - we all know I adore alliteration and mix my metaphors badly (I am forever stabbing myself in the foot and shooting myself in the back).

So when I found this site on collective nouns - well - I was as happy as a dog with two tails. I just had to share this site.