Thanks, Olivia, for hosting me on your blog today. It’s always lovely to be able to reach out to new story enthusiasts. 😊
My path to publishing seems like a good story to share with your readers. I was always a creative person and worked in the theatre restaurant and cabaret industry from when I left school through my twenties. I went on to own and run a theatre restaurant in Melbourne and wrote scripts, acted, directed, musically directed and tour managed shows during these years. It was a fun, creative and fulfilling experience, but when my hubby and I came to want to have children, we ran into issues and I pretty much had to give up all the stresses of running my own business to have children and go through IVF. I shut down my business, went through IVF, got a Dip.Ed and had my first son. The pregnancy was problematic and I ended up having him quite premature and was very sick myself.
It took a long time to get over all of this and during that time, I suffered from post-natal depression which really came to a head when my son had to have an operation at six months to fix a birth defect. The psychologist I went to see said that I needed to do something for me, not just for my son, and suggested that I try to brush off my creativity. I had begun to write a novel in the last few years of running my theatre restaurant but had put it aside to look after my son and had never got back to it. I realised that the psychologist was 100% right and that if I didn’t follow my creativity in some way, I wasn’t going to be happy, so I stopped making excuses and saying ‘if only I had time’ and made what I could of the time I had and began to write.
Within the first four months I’d finished a novel and after spending time polishing it up in the best way I knew and after doing research on how to write query letters and synopsis and polishing those skills, decided – at the urging of my hubby and parents – to send it off to Harlequin US and see what happened. I received a very lovely email from them asking to see the entire novel, which I sent off. It was very exciting. Then after months and months – and months – of waiting, I received the rejection letter. It was a very lovely full-page letter explaining the reasons why my novel wasn’t right for them at that time and wishing me luck in the future and that they hoped to see more from me again. I put the letter and that novel aside and returned to the novel I was writing at the time.
I went through this process a number of other times, writing a new novel, polishing it, sending it off, to receive a full request then finally a rejection and probably would have continued doing that, flying in the dark, if I hadn’t met Anne Gracie at a library talk. Someone asked about rejection letters and she mentioned there were different kinds and asked for a show of hands as to how many of us had received them. As she went through the different kinds, my hand stayed up until I was the only one who had received multiple full page rejection letters. Anne asked me how many I had received, and I told her. Her brows raised and she asked if they were for the same novel or different ones. I said different ones. There was a pause and then she told me she needed to speak to me at the end.
I girded my loins – I mean, this was Anne Gracie, one of my favourite historical romance novelists – and went up to speak to her. She asked me to send her my rejection letters, because to have received so many full requests then rejections with full page letters meant I was missing something and needed some help. She also encouraged me to join RWA – which she was president of at that time – and to go to the conference and pitch there, to enter the contests and sign up to volunteer and do workshops etc to help me network and polish my writing skills and encouraged me to join a writing group if I could. ‘Writers need writing friends,’ she said.
She was heading overseas to do some research for her next book, but said to shoot me the letters in an email and she’d look at them and interpret them for me so I knew what I needed to work on – I had seen nothing but rejection, but apparently editors didn’t send full page letters unless they were asking you to work on things and submit, although never said in such open language. I did what she asked, joined RWA, joined a writing group, went to my first conference, entered comps, signed up to join the contest team as a volunteer, taking over the Emerald (which I managed for 4 years) and got her interpretation of my letters. She said I was so close and that they were asking for a resubmit. In my mind though, I’d moved on from these novels – I now consider them my learning novels – and was working on something else. Her encouragement pushed me on. It still took a number of years after that, a bunch more rejections, competition wins and placings here and in the US and pitching at every conference before I got my first contract, but I truly believe that if I had not taken Anne’s advice, I would still be floundering.
I had two novels published with Penguin’s Destiny imprint in 2014 and 2015 which went nowhere, but out of that I got an agent – the fabulous Alex Adsett – and this year am having five novels published with Escape, with another series out and about that Alex is submitting to publishers and a few other projects on the go. It is pretty full on, but I love it. And it all truly started with four simple words of advice: ‘Writers need writing friends.’ Not just for the friendship, but because they keep us on track, question, support, push in the right way and make certain that we keep moving forward and improve. We go to meetings with these friends, critique with them, join comps with them, go to workshops with them, discuss the books we love and hate as well as dissect our own work and troubles – and successes - with them. Having writing friends is essential to the growth of a writer.
Most of all, they are there for you. This has been especially true over the years after my eldest son was diagnosed with ADHD and a SID (Sensory Integration Disorder), which required me to give up all career aspirations as a teacher and be there to help him through all his difficulties and make sure my other son doesn’t miss out on me and my time and love too. Without my writing and my writing friends, life would have been really tough. Having people who encourage on a level others just simply can’t, who understand and empathise with the ups and downs of writing life and simply life as a woman and mother, has been truly wonderful and inspiring and has kept me going at times when things looked pretty bleak. RWA and the writing friends I met through being part of this organisation was certainly at the heart of all this. I ended up giving back to RWA in the ultimate way by going on the committee for a year and then becoming president for 3 years. It was an amazing experience and broadened my horizons in unimaginable ways and allowed me to meet some truly remarkable people and count them as friends.
If I was to give advice, it would be to join a writing group or organisation, to go to workshops, to surround yourself with others who do what you do, and to share you and your process with them. For me it’s been essential and when I look around me, I see it’s true for all the other writers I know too.
My new Pack Bound paranormal series, is being released now. The first two novels in the series, Pack Bound and Moon Bound are out now, and Shifter Bound and Wolf Bound are up for pre-order and are due to be released in April and May.
Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch-kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as The Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand new world.
But the Darkness was not destroyed.
One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined...
Skye Collins, has been brought up to fear her magic and shy away from Witch and Were alike. But when Jason McVale, the Alpha of Pack McVale, comes in search of her, she is intrigued and tempted. Her mistrust of magic and wariness of the intensity of passion she shares with Jason threatens her control – and if she loses control, she just might turn into the weapon The Darkness intended her to become all along.
Buy Links: iBooks, Booktopia, Kobo, Google, Nook, Amazon AU, Amazon UK, Amazon US
Only her love can heal his broken soul...
Wiccan Healer-Witch, Bronwyn Kincaid, wants a quiet life. Her new powers have other ideas. Her increased healing magic and empathy mean she can’t ignore the plight of River Collins, a wolf brought up thinking the animal inside him is an evil he must forever suppress. If Bronwyn can’t control her powers and help River accept his wolf, the evil Darkness that hunts the Were will use them to destroy those they love.
Buy Links: Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo
A spy, a lone wolf, a desperate choice...
Shifter-Witch, Eloise O’Brien, has betrayed her Coven and almost killed her brother to save the Were Pack she’d infiltrated as a spy. Now living with the Were she once feared and hated, she learns the truth of who she really is - the prophesied Nexus. A witch of unspeakable power, she must make a choice between the light and the dark, between Iain McShane, the Lone Wolf she is coming to love, and her once beloved brother and Coven who are now working for The Darkness.
Buy Links: Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo
The ultimate sacrifice, a love that lasts forever…
Shelley Conners has good reason to hate and fear the powers that connect her to the spirit world and the insanity they foretell. But with the Pack's Trickster, Adam McVale, transformed into a Shade, a creature caught between life and death, Shelley holds the only key to saving him. Opening herself up to the world of the dead will only speed up her descent into madness, but Shelley never expects an even darker evil within–the Darkness, waiting patiently for her and the opportunity to destroy the world.
Buy Links: Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo
Leisl is a tall redhead with an overly large imagination. As a child, she identified strongly with Anne of Green Gables. A voracious reader and a born performer, it came as no surprise to anyone when she did a double major in English Literature and Drama for her BA, then went on to a career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants (one of which she co-owned and ran for six years).
After starting a family Leisl stopped performing and instead, began writing the stories that had been plaguing her dreams. Leisl's stories have won and placed in many competitions in Australia and the US, including the STALI, Golden Opportunities, Heart of the West, Linda Howard Award of Excellence, Touch of Magic and many others.
Leisl lives in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne with her two beautiful boys, lovely hubby, overly spunky dogs, Buffy and Skye, and likes to spend time with family and friends. She is addicted to the Syfy channel, and her shelves are full of fantasy and paranormal books and scifi DVDs. She sometimes sings in a choir, has worked as a swim teacher, loves to ski, can talk the hind leg off a donkey and has been President of Romance Writers of Australia from 2014-2017.
Thank you, Liv, for this wonderful opportunity to guest blog.
Hi everyone, I’m Mel A ROWEmelarowe.com/#home, a writer and weekend wanderer, who tries to not get too lost outback of North Australia. With an allergy to all things drawn-out and corporately serious, I’m considered a multi-genre word-player, who takes my common characters on uncommon journeys that can lead from boardrooms to outback billabongs as an entertaining escape to Happily Ever After.
Where do I get my writing inspiration from?Anywhere. Everywhere. Nowhere.
I read a lot, binge watch, travel, listen to the radio and people watch. I can’t say where the inspiration comes from. Sometimes I’ll wake up with an idea. And sometimes, it will magically happen while playing at the keyboard.
Where do I find the time to write?I’m a morning person. I get up earlier just to sit at my keyboard before the rest of the house awakens. It’s quiet then, and my mind is fresh and free from distractions allowing me to focus.
What are my tips for getting published?I’m internationally published in poetry and flash fiction, it's where I learned to write, submit, and forget by starting something new.
I’m also a member of the local Writing Centres and other writing groups that share news on publishing opportunities. It’s how I gained my mentorship with Hachette Australia that opened a lot of doors to publishers who are releasing more of my works later this year. And I’ve just released my first self-published novel this month with the help of other authors I'd met through these Writing groups.
Be aware this industry is a marathon, not a sprint; what is being published this year I submitted last year.
How do I promote myself as an author?I created a website as the heart of my Author platform once I’d worked out what my Author Brand was to maintain consistency and focus. From there I created a social media strategy to save time and effort by batching and using various automation tools.
I have two websites that I alternate between:
MelAROWE.com is for my novel, newsletter link, and a blog that I post to my various social media sites.
I’m also on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest (the perfect place for Procrastination), and I’ve just started a YouTube channel.
Any Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Authors?Never stop learning and keep writing. As Nora Roberts says, ‘You can’t edit a blank page.’
MC D' Alton writes spicy contemporary romance and spicy fantasy romance. Her latest project's are a collaborative Steampunk Romance, as well as a fantasy four book collection, and a stand alone novel. MC D' Alton's South African heritage brings a gritty edge to her writing that packs a powerful emotional punch. MC writes tough, strong heroines and heroes evolved enough to handle them.
Where do you get your writing inspiration from?
Everywhere. I once wrote a story of Cupid after listening to Ed Sheeren's Give me Love. Last night I was watching Blue Planet and they had the most adorable Sea Dragon and Wham, short story. Most of my stories though are based on past experiences as a nurse in South Africa. My latest book, one written in collaboration with another awesome author Melanie page -- Iron Heart -- was inspired from watching Penny Dreadful. I wanted to write a monster love story and Wham!
How do you find the time to write?
I simply have to make it. I get up at five (which is so hard because I've never been a morning person), and write before the family wakes, I write at night when everyone is asleep and then on my days off from work I make time to sit down and scribble. If I don't write I get very depressed and irritable.
How do you promote yourself as an author?
On every social media platform available. Networking with other promoters, writers and magazines. It's hard at first but if you keep going you will eventually get the break you desire. Facebook is okay, so too is twitter, but I've found asking my fellow writers for interviews works best! Get an awesome Virtual Assistant, make sure you understand the marketing world and be prepared to have your soul sucked out as you market because it's intense! Make loads of writing friends because one of the best ways are interviews on one another's newsletter. You don't have to spend a fortune!
Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Take all the well worded well meaning critiques and use them to improve your craft. Throw away the ugly stuff, never take it personally no matter how much it hurts. Never give up. Never think you know it all and always proof read your work out aloud to yourself -- that is an invaluable practice when editing.
There are three, but the one due out in June is actually a collaborative Steampunk Romantic novel. Meaning, both Melanie an myself wrote it! Iron Heart has everything in it from romance, to girl power, to awesome inventions to breathtaking romance in it. The there is The Wishing Cup which is a collection of four books written by four different authors and finally Epona, my very own Romance which starts in South Africa and ends in the highlands of Scotland.
You can find me on:
I’m Noelle Clark. I live in a cottage in the rainforest, high on a mountain just behind the Gold Coast. Yes—Tamborine Mountain. It’s lovely up here, and lots of authors, artists, musicians and other creative people have made it their home.
On March 1st, I released Stone of Heaven and Earth. This is my first Historical Fiction book, and in fact, it is the first book I ever wrote. But it kept getting shoved to the back as my Contemporary Romance books begged to be written. Seven years—and eight published books later--Stone of Heaven and Earth has finally been set free.
It’s intensely personal, as it is based on the true story of my grandparents living in China between 1914 and 1929. That’s one hundred years ago. The sad thing is, my mother and my aunt, both of whom feature in the book, were both alive and quite ‘with it’ when I started writing the book. I regret taking so long to get it published as, sadly, they have both now passed away. But I am content in the knowledge that they would have loved it.
Why did I take so long? Good question. Firstly, I think it was badly written. Head hopping? What’s that? I was a raw beginner when I wrote the first draft. I joined RWA, attended lots of conferences, workshops, seminars, and did QWC writer courses. And now, as an established author, I know my writing skills have improved greatly from that first draft of Stone of Heaven and Earth. With the help of some honest beta readers, some insightful editing suggestions, and several re-writes, the book now is one I can be proud of.
Here’s the blurb:
Spanning the years 1914 to 1929, Stone of Heaven and Earth is an epic tale of love and loss, extravagant expatriate lifestyles, intense danger, heroic acts, and the hideous effects of a cruel and barbaric civil war. The complex and volatile politics in China is played out in the intimate story of two intrepid couples, foreigners who embarked on the adventure of a lifetime and made their home in China.
Based on the author’s true family history, this work of fiction is interwoven with real stories gleaned from memoirs, photographs, and from growing up hearing the stories from those who were there. Extensive research, which included a month spent in China tracing the footsteps of the characters in this book, has resulted in a captivating account of foreigners in China during some of the most violent and devastating times.
You can buy it on Amazon, and soon other e-retailers. Print edition will be out soon too.
Thanks for having me, Liv, and good luck with your lovely website.
Lots of photos about China in the early 20th Century on my Pinterest page https://www.pinterest.com.au/NoelleCBooks/book-stone-of-heaven-and-earth/
***GIVEAWAY*** - I’d like to know who has visited China and what you thought of it. Email me your name, and a brief response, and I’ll choose one lucky winner. Prize will be a signed copy of Stone of Heaven and Earth (Australian residents only, sorry.) International contestants will receive an eBook copy. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
March marks the one-year anniversary of my debut novel, To Charm A Bluestocking. The past twelve months have been a steep learning curve into a potential new career.
The positive moments are easy to discuss. In a social media world, we are all practised at framing our world so we show our best side, our favourite angle, and how well we have our life together. During the past twelve months, the first two books in my Bluestocking series have come out with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing. The third one, The Heart of a Bluestocking, will be out in September 2018. I have two other books on submission, and finished my sixth book just last week. All up, this means I’ve written six books in two years, which is an achievement to be proud of.
In other positive steps, I decided to be proactive about my writing career, and wrote a short story which I’ve self-published. I want to learn that side of the business, and give myself more options (particularly if the two books currently on submission get rejected). I couldn’t have taken this step without the continual encouragement from other writers, and my family.
On the downside, I’ve yet to make any money, and instead earn my crust at my other job. The wonderful community of writers at Romance Writers Australia has enabled me to see that this outcome is normal for this stage of my fiction writing career. My other job is also writing, and I write for two horse racing magazines, as well as do other consulting jobs for various horse racing people. The third Bluestocking book is based around an old horse racing scam (the Trodmore Hunt Scam), and I’m currently planning a horse racing based historical series.
It's been an amazing year, and I’ve met the most fabulous people who have supported and encouraged me on this path. A huge shout out to Kate Cuthbert at Escape Publishing, the 17 Scribes, the Word Count Warriors, and my gorgeous sister Caro who has read every bad draft of everything I’ve written. If you love sci-fi, you should try her novel, Green and Blue, about dragons and a magical heroine.
You can find the Bluestocking series at Escape Publishing, or sign up to my newsletter to get the links for my free Olympics inspired short story.
To Charm a Bluestocking: She wants to be one of the world’s first female doctors; romance is not in her plans.
Amazon AUS: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Charm-Bluestocking-Renee-Dahlia-ebook/B06VW7TBRP
In Pursuit of a Bluestocking: When he goes hunting a thief, he never expects to catch a bluestocking...
Amazon Aus: https://www.amazon.com.au/d/Pursuit-Bluestocking-Renee-Dahlia-ebook/B07427ZMF6
Green and Blue, by Caro Geelen: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0777MTSR6
You can sign up to my newsletter at: www.reneedahlia.com
Congratulations to the lucky winners, drawn randomly, from Susanne Bellamy’s competition. I originally offered one prize, but with the number of entries, I’ve added two more.
Please email me directly ( on susannebellamy @ gmail.com - no spaces of course) with your choice of title from my backlist.
*** I will need to know your address for Amazon gifting (I can’t gift to the UK or Canada, but have an alternative if you happen to live in either of these countries) and the title you would like to receive.
So, the winners are:
Kathryn Hore who mentioned Scotland
Sonia who mentioned Syracuse
And for the ‘true traveller’, Robert Gilbert, who said his favourite place is somewhere he hasn’t yet been – I’ve chosen to gift you a copy of Winning the Heiress’ Heart.
Hi! I’m Susanne Bellamy, writer of rural romance with a twist of suspense.
I love travelling, both at home and overseas. One of my earlier trips with my husband saw us trekking in Nepal. Now, years after my visit, I have written a story set in Nepal, a beautiful and rugged country. My husband has returned alone seven times to climb and trek and is my go-to expert for many details.
Dr Marcy Westcott is in Nepal to research a drug that occurs naturally in the Himalayan landscape. When attraction flares with Jake Harris on the Everest track, Marcy is determined to be more like her free-spirited twin sister.
Jake believes the attractive doctor is the missing link that will bring down the drug cartel responsible for the death of his brother. He will do whatever it takes to get justice. Unsure who the real enemy is or whether he can trust Marcy, Jake is forced to take on the role of protector. But is Marcy his salvation, or the enemy?
Buy link - http://amzn.to/2Ek44Y4
My newest release is The Cattleman’s Promise (Hearts of the Outback bk 6), which released in late January. It is the story of Jeff and Sam, about redemption and forgiveness.
Running from her past Samantha Greenwood joins the staff at Mt Isa Hospital. But even the remote western town might not be far enough away for her to find forgiveness.
There has always been an Alistair on Esmeralda Downs, but Jeff Alistair’s injury is putting his future in jeopardy. He will lose his family’s vast grazing stud and his birthright unless he can get back in the saddle.
Can two broken people find love and healing amid the lonely hills of Esmeralda Downs?
Buy link - http://amzn.to/2Ae67ey
Leave a comment telling me your favourite holiday spot and why it is, and go in the draw for an e-book of your choosing from my back list.
Wishing you a happy March. St Paddy’s Day is coming up soon!
Thanks for having me visit, Olivia, and congratulations on your gorgeous new website.
Groot the puppy, my faithful companion, sits by my side while I write my stories.