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....?????)