We love the construction ‘not’! Not.

by Kate

About 20 years ago, (yes, that long ago) it came into fashion to verbally tag irony with one small little word: not. An incredibly useful construction for the obtuse, not could follow any statement to immediately contradict what had been said and indicate that the opposite was true. For example:

Luke Hemsworth is the hottest Hemsworth. Not.

In this sentence, the speaker is making a (very) false statement, but acknowledging and indicating its falsness by using not directly afterwards.

Clearly, Chris is the hottest Hemsworth.

I mean, clearly.

Hemsworth-bros

When using oral language, not has limited value. Expressing irony can be done in many other non-verbal ways, including tone, facial expression, and body language. However, in written language, much can be lost without the benefit of physical indicators. In this case, not became a god-send, allowing writers to access irony quickly (and on trend).

However, not then became a crutch that lasted in written language much, much longer than it did in oral. In a brief, very informal survey of editorial colleagues, no one had used – or, importantly, heard – the term not in more than a decade, though we had all seen it recently in manuscripts. It seems that having a convenient shortcut has eroded the many other, less-dated, different ways to convey irony in writing.

Luckily, I’m here in blog form to offer these suggestions for when you need some snark and sarcasm, but don’t want to date your manuscript (or your characters):

  • adverbs. There are so many adverbs here that can do your bidding (though, of course, we do advise you use them sparingly!): sarcastically, ironically, sardonically, sneeringly, acerbically, acrimoniously, contrarily
  • thought or dialogue tags: yes, they might not be as sexy, but a good thought or dialogue tag matched with the right adverb conveys everything you need in a timeless fashion. Consider, ‘she thought sarcastically’, ‘he said cynically’, ‘she snarked’.
  • using body language (a wonderful chance to show, don’t tell!). There are a number of ways we convey sarcasm or irony with our faces and bodies: he arched one eyebrow, she smirked, he sneered, she muttered. Try using descriptive body language in lieu of a dialogue tag.
  • Using the tone and/or context to suggest irony. Dialogue doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so create a situation wherein it’s obvious that your character is using irony: The rug was threadbare and worn through, the walls dull with dust and age. “Yes, we live as kings,” she said.

Using constructions that strengthen your writing will not only better serve your story, but it will make it readable and relatable for years to come.

Which is why you should definitely not use ‘not‘.

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Sentenced

by Kate

Let’s talk about sentences, all the ways they can go wrong, and the ways that they can be fixed up to make your writing stronger, tighter, and more exciting.

Sentence structure can make or break a manuscript, and to tell a strong story, you need a good mix of long and short, simple and complex, descriptive and active. They also have to be correct…

Here are the most common errors, with examples, and the way they can be fixed:

  • Sentence Fragments – every sentence needs a subject and a verb to be complete. Most sentences need more than that to be interesting. You also want to make sure there’s an independent clause – a whole and complete thought or idea expressed.
    • Bad: Blue eyes, tanned skin, chestnut hair blowing in the wind.
      • No subject, no verb (blowing, in this case, is acting like an adjective)
      • Dependent clause – this sentence requires the sentence in front of it or behind it to give context and make sense.
    • Good: He stood there, blue eyes, tanned skin, chestnut hair blowing in the wind.
    • Good: There he was, blue eyes, tanned skin, chestnut hair blowing in the wind.
    • Good: Blue eyes, tanned skin, chestnut hair blowing in the wind – he was everything she’d ever wanted.
  • Run-Ons – The opposite of sentence fragments, a run-on sentence is a sentence with too many dependent clauses all strung together, normally using the word ‘and’, or sentences that are not linked appropriately with linking language. Run-on sentences are exhausting to read and can leave your reader confused as to what you’re trying to say.
    • Bad: They went first to a restaurant, dark and romantic, and shared a bottle of wine, which was delicious, bubbly, and sweet, and then they just walked the dark streets of the city, holding hands and talking, like they’d always been that way and they always would.
      • This sentence has way too much information, and the emotion the writer is trying to convey is lost in the details
    • Good: First, they went to a restaurant, dark and romantic, and shared a bottle of wine. The wine was delicious – bubbly and sweet – and it danced on her tongue and into her blood stream, leaving her fizzy and euphoric. Later, they walked the dark streets of the city, her hand naturally finding his, like they’d always been this way. Like they always would.
      • Yes, I ended that on a sentence fragment. This is your reminder that knowing the rules means you can break them effectively!
  • Comma-Splice – A comma splice error is a very specific example of a run-on sentence; it is a sentence where two independent clauses (or two complete thoughts/ideas) are joined together by a comma.
    • Bad: He smoothed one hand down her back, his other hand slipped under her shirt to rest on her waist.
      • Two complete actions, one little comma. That poor comma – the stress is too much. She wasn’t meant to carry this much responsibility!
    • Good: He smoothed one hand down her back, the other slipping under her shirt to rest on her waist.
      • This makes the second clause dependent on the first.
    • Good: He smoothed one hand down her back; the other hand slipped under her shirt to rest on her waist.
      • Bonus! Now you know how to use a semi-colon properly!
    • Good: He smoothed one hand down her back. The other hand slipped under her shirt to rest on her waist.
  • Subject-Verb Agreement Errors – To be correct, the sentence’s subject and verb need to agree with each other. This is a surprisingly easy error to make.
    • Bad: The book written by Author A and Author B exploit many common romance novel tropes, including Beauty and the Beast.
      • It’s hard sometimes to determine the subject, especially when there appear to be three. In this case, ‘the book’ is the subject. So the verb should be ‘exploits’.
    • Good: The book, written by Author A and Author B, exploits many common romance novel tropes, including Beauty and the Beast
    • Watch in particular tricky words like ‘Everyone’, ‘Each’, ‘Some’, ‘None of’, ‘Either of’, etc.
  • Parallel Structure Issues – One of the elusive talents of good writing – and one of the aspects that comes only with practice and can’t be taught – is something called ‘cadence’. This is the rhythm and beats of your writing, the music it can make. A great way of stuffing up cadence is getting parallel structure wrong. Parallel structure is using similar structure to build that cadence or rhythm. There are two kinds of parallel structure issues: structure errors and incorrect prepositions.
    • Bad: He loved dancing, singing, and long walks on the beach
      • There’s room for some lovely parallel rhythm here, but the structure is wrong.
    • Good: He loved dancing, singing, and taking long walks on the beach.
      • This structure uses the gerund participle to create parallel structure.
    • Bad: He was interested and excited about her accomplishments.
      • Interested and excited use two different prepositions. Both of these need to be present in the sentence in order for it to be grammatically correct.
    • Good: He was interested in and excited about her accomplishments.
      • The sentence needs to work,, even if either of the verbs is removed.

Go forth with great sentence structure, and bend your writing to your grammatically correct will.

Query Letters – Everything You Need to Know

reblogged from Amber A Bardan, who will soon be published with our parent company Harlequin Australia, originally published on the Melbourne Romance Writer’s Guild blog on 12/9/15. You can find the original post here. Thanks to Amber and the MWRG for allowing us to share her brilliant post.


‘Mastering the dreaded Query Letter’ by Amber A. Bardan

Picture

I’ve been looking forward to this post on query letters. Not because I love query letters (I don’t, they’re pure evil) but after about two years of querying, and researching every agent blog, every query letter resource, when it was finally time to query again, it seemed like I’d cracked the query letter code! Instead of an endless stream of impersonal form letter rejections, I was getting requests—and offers.

Most agents receive hundreds of submissions per month, and they’re not going to be tempted to read past a terrible query letter. The good news is there’s a fairly standard set of guidelines you can follow to get yours on the right track.

Here’s a basic run down of what should make up your query letter.

No 1. Business letter format

Yep this is a business letter. So before you start writing here are some rules. FORMAT IT PROFESSIONALLY!

  • Set 1 inch margins.
  • Select a professional font. Some choices are Times New Roman, Arial, Courier, Verdana or Calibri. If in doubt choose Times New Roman. A “special” font won’t make you stand out and look unique—it’ll hurt the agents brain.
  • Set font size to 12point.
  • Put the date in the top left hand corner

  • Under the date, type the name of agency or publishing house. Under that type “Attention:” and the name of the agent/editor or if specifically instructed “Query Department”.
  • Under that type the address, first the street address, then on the next line the state and post code. (If emailing queries an address may not be supplied, in which case just put the date, agency, and agent name.)

But you can be creative right? The agency specifies a one page query letter so if you use 8 point and set margins to narrow, you can make your two-page query letter fit! Right? Right?

Nope.

They’ve seen it all before. Don’t bend rules, follow guidelines. Not following instructions is a great way to get your query rejected without even being read.

No 2. The introduction
Start by addressing the letter to the agent you are querying. The only exception is if the guidelines demand that you address it to the queries department.  There is no good enough reason to address a query with “Dear Agent”. I promise you will be starting off on the wrong foot if you do.

  • The opening paragraph MUST include; the title of your book, the word count, and the genre (You need to nail this down; Speculative, Urban Fantasy, Romance, with Steam Punk elements, is not going to do).
  • Nothing else. Don’t clutter this section. You want to give the agent/editor the essential info then hook them in with your blurb.

No 3. The Blurb
In the end it all comes down to this! 2-3 paragraphs of awesome hook to snare the reader!
Blurb checklist

  1. Who is your protagonist/s? How can you sum up who they are in a few lines?
  2. What do they want?
  3. What are the obstacles/challenges?
  4. Most Importantly! What are the STAKES? (What is at stake if they don’t overcome the obstacle?)
    Include all that in as few words as possible with personality!  

Writing the blurb

  • If you don’t know where to start try the ‘When’ approach. eg. When Ariel the mermaid bargains with the Sea Witch for human legs…

  • Identify your character by name and age group immediately.
  • Don’t open with a rhetorical question. eg. “Have you ever wondered…?” You don’t want this answer to be no!
  • Keep it as concise as possible.
  • Don’t include every sub-plot and twist, just the central plot elements.
  • Only talk about the primary characters; don’t bombard the reader with secondary characters.
  • Finish with a hook! Examples; A question; Will she get there before the sun sets and break the spell?  OR re-iterate the stakes; If she fails it will mean the end of her kind.

(Editor’s Note: We have an article on writing a killer blurb, based on a presentation given by Ainslie Paton and Kate Cuthbert at RWAus15.)

No 4. Closing paragraph
Include any pertinent information.

  • Your writing credentials/awards/publishing credits.
  • The details of any standing requests by publishers.
  • Personally address the agent/editor. If you follow their blog, twitter, interviews, and something they do or have said applies to you, or makes you think you would be a fit with them, or have taken a workshop with them, include this here. Keep it professional and relevant.
  • Optional: You can include something like “Would appeal to readers of…” Some agents and editors want this, but many don’t. Also it’s essential that the authors you associate your writing with are not the current bestsellers. Your comparisons will reveal either your ignorance or solid industry knowledge.

No 5. The very tricky personal info
Now this is where people get stuck. Some agents/editors really want to have a little bit of information about you. Many though, find it irritating to read through thousands of queries and get bogged down in unnecessary information like what you do for a living if it doesn’t give you unique qualification to write your book. The best way to handle this is to read interviews, follow the blog of, or twitter account of the person you’re querying and find out how much info they want here. Otherwise, assume they don’t want it unless it is MUST know information. If you are going to include personal information keep it brief; two to three lines. This can be included in your closing paragraph.

  • Unique qualifications to write your book.

This means: You’re a former detective writing crime. You’re a double amputee writing amputee recovery stories. You’re a lawyer writing court based drama. You’re a Greek history professor and writing Greek Mythos which is your area of expertise.

This does not mean: You have researched your book (you’d better hope you have!). You are divorced and your character is divorced. You are a doctor and therefore you are real smarts…

  • You may include a brief line about your ambitions/writing career objectives, but keep it brief. You don’t need to write an essay on “your dreams”. If you’re querying an agent with a finished book, it would be a safe assumption that you dream of being a writer.

No 6. In closing

  • Thank them for taking the time to consider your query. Manners never hurt anyone.
  • Sign your letter. You must include your pseudo name (if you have one and use it in your social media) and you real name. So if you have both sign like this.

Author Fabulous

Pseudo name for Jane Jones

  • Provide all your contact details under your signature as you would in a professional business signature. Include your website and social media accounts.

Query Letter Boo Boo’s
The mistakes that are likely to get you rejected

  • Not following guidelines.
  • Not following guidelines.
  • Not following guidelines and then trying to justify why. “I know you said you wanted a one page query/synopsis but” = auto-pass. OR “I know you asked for one chapter but my book doesn’t get going till chapter five…” = then cut your first chapters and also they will auto-pass.
  • Addressing your query “Dear Agent/Editor.”
  • Spelling the agent/editors name incorrectly.
  • Not understanding the genre of your work.
  • Presenting your query unprofessionally; colour fonts, script font, ALLCAPS, etc.
  • Sending mass generic queries and especially when you include the email chain/forwarding history in the email.
  • Comparing your book to Twilight, Fifty Shades, Harry Potter, The Davinci Code and other Bestsellers.
  • Rambling on about yourself.
  • Rambling on in general.
  • Including too much in your blurb.
  • Failing to hook in your blurb.
  • Including things not requested. Copy of your manuscript, marketing plans, cover designs.
  • Selling yourself short. “My writing may not be the best but I’m willing to put in the work.”    Just don’t put yourself down. It’s not professional. Besides, if you tell them your work isn’t that great they’ll assume you are telling the truth…
  • I’m sad that this needs to be said but I constantly see agent/editor tweets about this. Arrogance/boasting. This includes telling an agent/editor (who receive hundreds of queries each month) how privileged they are to have the chance to represent/publish you. How your book is going to be a bestseller, how much your family like it, how much someone you paid likes it, etc. Presenting a polished professional query and polished outstanding manuscript pages is the only way to impress an agent/editor.

My final tips
Improve your chances.

Research the people you query. Learn their preferences and personalize!

  • Query in rounds so you have a chance to improve your query/pages after feedback.
  • Take feedback graciously and apply it.
  • Get someone who understands queries to critique your query letter.
  • Never send an angry response to a rejection—no matter what.
  • Have someone to proofread your query.
  • Give your manuscript time to “breathe” before querying. You’ll be surprised at how much you can improve with fresh eyes.

Query Letter Resources

The Dark Art of the Blurb

Kate Cuthbert and Ainslie Paton gave a workshop on blurb and synopsis writing at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in late August. The synopsis run-down is available here

First, and foremost, blurb writing is very different from story writing, and in order to write an effective blurb, you will need to switch hats.

change hats

The cover is designed to catch the reader’s eye: all gloss and very little substance. The blurb is where you hint at the emotional punch.

The blurb is sales copy and a very different beast from writing your manuscript. So where do you start?

All you need (as in pretty much any situation) is a little Game of Thrones…

Imagine the landscape is your manuscript. In order to write your blurb, you need to hop into a helicopter and rise above, outside. You need to be able to see your manuscript as a whole, and not all the pieces. Now, imagine which parts of your manuscript rise up to meet you? Which parts will your helicopter crash into? These aren’t necessarily the rises of your emotional or narrative arc, but the elements that really stand out about your manuscript.

Is it snappy dialogue? Is it a unique setting? Is it a dark, brooding alpha hero? Is it a devastating black moment? Is it a timely issue?

Ignore the working parts - look only at the towering spires

Ignore the working parts – look only at the towering spires

Once you have a good idea of the ‘peaks’ of your manuscript, have a bit of a brainstorm – a few different peaks mean a few different angles you can take. How can you best exploit those angles? What are some key words or fantastic phrases?

This is your thinking phase – don’t write anything yet, just mull it over in your mind. Maybe take a shower. Go for a run. Something meaningless that will let your mind wander.

When you’re ready, it’s time to write.

flight plan

You’ll want to write more than one blurb – write a couple using the different angles you’ve been considering.

Blurb overview

Consider your opening and closing very carefully:

headline

cliff hanger

Use each word judiciously, consider which words will end up before the ‘jump’ in e-tailers like Amazon.

first words

Avoid clichés, in both words and structure. For example, ending your blurb with something akin to ‘Will they overcome their struggles and live happily ever after?’ is very over-used in romance (and also a silly question – if you’re reading a romance, of course they’re going to over come and live happily ever after!)

Finally, you’ll want to test your blurb. Ask people you know (who will be honest with you) if they’d read the book based on the text. Is it exciting? Is it enticing? Does it give away too much? Does it not share enough?

Work and re-work until everyone – your friends, your neighbours, those people at the bus stop – can’t wait to get their hands on your masterpiece.

Once you’ve gone over every element in your mind, know your direction, understand your peaks, and mastered a good ending, you will have conquered the dark art of the blurb!

blurb breakdown

(all slides care of Ainslie Paton, and used with her generous permission)

Synopses, Decoded

by Kate Cuthbert

At this year’s RWAus Conference, Ainslie Paton and I did a workshop on blurb and synopsis writing. We thought we’d share some of the slides and wisdom here, for those who weren’t able to make the session. dark art

The workshop will be split over two blogs. Without further ado: the synopsis!


A good synopsis will include the following:

  • A comprehensive overview of your plot, characters, and development
  • No point-by-point, just the highlights
  • Follows the narrative of your story
  • Not a time for coyness
  • Keep it lean, clean, and powerful – a synopsis is also an example of your writing
  • Provides a snapshot to editors of your story:
    • Genre conventions – does it meet the parameters of the genre?
    • Originality – what is new and fresh?
    • Any major plot conflicts – what is driving the story?

In every synopsis, there are must-haves to add punch to your synopsis:

  • Must HavesCore conflict
  • Characters – who we’ll love, who we’ll hate
  • The stakes (physical, but also emotional)
  • The resolution

There are also things to avoid:

Avoid

  • All the characters!
  • All the plot!
  • All the details! – keep it to the highlights, and keep it lean
  • Writing blurb instead of synopsis – “all of a sudden!”, “but if she’d only known what would happen next!”, etc. This goes back to being coy – you need to share the whole story.

What makes your story a crowd-pleaser?

Highlight

  • Original concepts or premise
  • What makes your main character interesting
  • Topical or intriguing subject matter or themes – anything cultural or political that makes your story timely and relevant

A basic example of a synopsis:

Goal

(SETTING)2015, a romance writers convention – a stunning and brilliant young editor (PROTAGONIST) gathers a group of writers together in a room, ostensibly to discuss blurbs, but really to recruit them into a super-secret spy agency that aims to bring great books to every woman in Australia. (PROTAGONIST GOAL)

But before she is able to complete the recruitment process, the narcissistic and underhanded Self-Doubt (ANTAGONIST) enters the room, and provides a compelling counter-argument: that the writing isn’t good enough, that the genre is clichéd, that great sex is not only unrealistic, but damaging to female readers. Self-Doubt leaves the room, but her words echo in the minds of all the writers, undermining the editor’s recruitment and slowing the writing process. (CONFLICT)

depth of conflict

 The Editor knows that the only way she can rebuild the writers’ confidence and get her plan for good-book domination back on track is by hunting down the evil Self-Doubt and stopping her forever. (QUEST)

Along the way, she is helped by her companions: writers groups, motivation, self-belief, and good friends. Together they face a number of challenges and go on all sorts of adventures*(SECONDARY CHARACTERS, *CHRONILOGICAL SEQUENCE OF EVENTS PROVIDED IN DETAIL)

Self-Doubt is stronger than any of them expect, and each character will face their own battle with her. The Editor will struggle hardest as all, as Self-Doubt attacks her from all angles, turning her army of writers into cowards, weakening their defences by scattering them, denying them group strength and support. The Editor will face her own loss of self-belief and crisis of confidence when she comes face to face with her own failures. (STRENGTH & DEPTH OF CONFLICT)

 Finally, the Editor is able to use the magic power of the internet to band the writers together, even when they are physically apart. With each writer hooked into their own support network and able to connect with each other whenever they need shared strength, they are finally able to group together and defeat Self-Doubt forever. They move forward together, ready to paper the Australian landscape with great books. (RESOLUTION, PRIZE)


Go forth and conquer the synopsis!

Four Things I Learned Writing a Rural Setting

By Eva Scott

Here are the four things that I learned while writing my new rural romance, Red Dust Dreaming

1. The importance of a subject-matter expert

It’s not enough to research the hell out of a subject/place, you also need to have a subject matter expert who can check over your work for any slips or mistakes you might inadvertently make. During the writing of Red Dust Dreaming I had a wonderful expert in the form of Dr Sally who is not only an expert on Aboriginal art, but visits Yuendumu regularly. She was invaluable in guiding me through the intricacies of interracial and intercultural exchanges. She saved me from making an innocent blunder and gave the story authenticity.

2. Google Earth rocks!

If you can’t physically get there, then Google Earth is your best friend. It can take you right down to street level and give you a sense of the place you’re writing about. It’s invaluable for checking the look and feel of a place. Combine this with your subject matter expert and you’re well on your way to writing something believable without leaving your desk.

3. Write about something that interests you

I was lucky enough to get a private tour of an Aboriginal art exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery which set fire to my imagination. This new-found fascination took me on a wonderful journey of discovery and introduced me to some amazing people. When those dog-days hit, the ones where the words just won’t come, the subject matter always managed to re-inspire me and get me back in the game.

4. Be careful of secondary characters!

They have a habit of rising up and taking over the lime light. In Red Dust Dreaming the offending character is Thelma, the housekeeper. She’s strong, sassy and sharp. Reviewers picked up on her straight away and she threatened to steal the show. Back into your box,Thelma!


23722In the battle of duty versus desire, only one can survive the hot Australian sunshine.

Elizabeth Langtree’s has her life in order – safe, organised, planned. Sure, she has her troubles, but they are nothing she can’t handle. Then everything is turned upside down when her family send her to Australia to collect her orphaned nephew.

It all seemed so simple in New York, but Australia is nothing like she expected, and she soon falls under the spell of the Outback – the station, the lifestyle, and the seriously sexy owner who has been caring for Luke since the death of his mother.

Elizabeth soon discovers that what seemed simple a world away is anything but, and her duty is at odds with the dictates of her heart. She must choose, knowing that a mistake will not only cost her everything, but destroy the future of a devastated little boy.

Fish Out of Water Stories – Four Reasons to Sink or Swim

croc

by Eva Scott

Fish-out-of-water (FOOW) stories are a main staple of romance novels. I love writing FOOW stories, probably a reflection of how I’ve lived my life. In Red Dust Dreaming, our heroine, Elizabeth Langtree, hails from New York City so when she finds herself in the middle of the Australian desert on a cattle station with a super-hot man and an orphaned little boy she is well and truly a FOOW.  Nothing is like home at all: the food, the people, the environment, the romance – everything is different and challenging.

While being a fish-out-of-water is uncomfortable, confronting, and exhausting, it is also the time when magic can happen. When you crack open the boundaries of your life and let new experiences, places, and people enter, anything can happen.

Here’s 4 ways you can get a little change happening in your own life:

  1. Travel – I was bored with my job/life/romance to the point I didn’t think I could stand it one more day so I took off on a do-it-yourself tour of Papua New Guinea. Everyone told me terrible things would happen to me travelling there by myself, but the truth is I met the love of my life while visiting the Royal Papua Yacht Club. Now I have the relationship I always dreamed of.  You don’t have to go somewhere quite so remote. A good adventure to somewhere you’ve never been or to do something you’ve never done before might just yield you a fabulous connection you might not have found at home.
  2. A New Job – I’ve had lots of jobs completely unrelated to one another. Who needs a career path, right? Egg Candler, roof tiler, fruit picker, project manager, business analyst, training manager, superannuation advisor, nanny, bakers assistant, dishwasher at a curry house – writer. So many of our friendships occur through work. Change your job and widen the circle of your acquaintances. You never know who you might meet.
  3. Move to the country/small community  – The really great thing about moving to the country is the novelty you present to a new town. You’re new blood and everyone will be interested in who you are and how you’re going to fit in. The disadvantages are small towns are pretty insular and before long the novelty will wear off and everyone will know your business. But by then you’ll be having so much fun you won’t care.
  4. Be true to yourself – You remember that old dream you had? The one you nursed through your younger years before career/family/obligations took over and it became a distant memory? The one everybody said was a pipe dream? Yeah, that one. Time to reignite it and connect with that part of yourself that got trampled in the rush of Life. You never know where it will take you.

23722In the battle of duty versus desire, only one can survive the hot Australian sunshine.

Elizabeth Langtree’s has her life in order – safe, organised, planned. Sure, she has her troubles, but they are nothing she can’t handle. Then everything is turned upside down when her family send her to Australia to collect her orphaned nephew.

It all seemed so simple in New York, but Australia is nothing like she expected, and she soon falls under the spell of the Outback – the station, the lifestyle, and the seriously sexy owner who has been caring for Luke since the death of his mother.

Elizabeth soon discovers that what seemed simple a world away is anything but, and her duty is at odds with the dictates of her heart. She must choose, knowing that a mistake will not only cost her everything, but destroy the future of a devastated little boy.

Works Well With Others…5 Reasons to Seek Out Group Projects

by Cate Ellink

22584I’ve had the pleasure lately to be involved in a few group efforts. Each has been a unique experience because of the different people involved changing the dynamics.

No matter what the dynamics, here are a few of the reasons why I enjoy these experiences.

  1. Brainstorming sessions are heaps of fun. You never know what you, or someone else, might come up with. Someone’s idea might spark something really crazy in your mind.
  2. You never really know people until you work with them. Writers are notorious introverts, so it’s not easy to get to know us. But working in a group allows for interaction, communication, and an online form of ‘bonding’. You cyber-meet, sometimes become friends, with people you may never have met otherwise. You’re working towards a common goal, which immediately gives you something in common – that’s great for introverts.
  3. You learn. My writing always improves. Sometimes it’s because of someone in the group’s feedback. Sometimes it’s watching how another works with critique. Other times it’s learning how people develop stories. Or how much importance some writers place on factors you had dismissed, or hadn’t thought of. There’s always something to learn.
  4. You’re exposed to story ideas/characters you’d never have thought of yourself. Take Lana from the Sydney Housewives. I would never have thought of, let alone tackled, a character who was an older woman who loved young men. Yet that was my task. It was challenging. Lana stretched my writing ability and my imagination. I had to work with a character a long way outside of my experience. She was a challenge I’d never have had if I hadn’t agreed to the project.
  5. You share the promo with others. Promo makes me shudder, sweat, wriggle and squirm. When you can promo in a group, it takes the pressure off. I’m not shoving my book down people’s throats…I’m sharing our group project with the world.

That’s why I love group projects. Do you like group projects, or reading books from group projects?


24129Secrets Revealed! Bonus four epilogues, exclusive to this digital bind-up!

You’ve never met housewives as hot as these…They’re wealthy and glamorous. The elite of society. But appearances can be deceiving.

Eleven women are members of the influential Double Diamond Dinner Club. They are wealthy, elegant, poised and constantly in the public eye. But what goes on behind closed doors, in the private homes and parties where the cameras and paparazzi aren’t welcome?

Each woman has everything to lose if their fellow members learn of their needs, desires, and bedroom inclinations.

Eleven stories from eleven of Australia’s hottest authors — a scandalous, sexy collection that uncovers the privileged lives of Sydney’s affluent housewives: their work, their families, their friends and their men. Nothing is hidden, nothing is forbidden — and nothing will ever be the same.

Featuring: Rhian Cahill, Cate Ellink, Cathleen Ross, Tamsin Baker, Lexxie Couper, Shona Husk, Keziah Hill, Viveka Portman, Christina Phillips, Mel Teshco and Tracey O’Hara!

You Know It When You See It: Romance, Erotica, and Porn

In a post 50-Shades world (and, indeed, in a pre-50 Shades world, but let’s not quibble), one thing in romance publishing is for sure: things are getting hot in here. But not all sizzle is created the same, so when it comes down to getting down, what is the difference between romance, erotic romance, erotica, and porn?

Romance: For all its bad reputation, romance is not synonymous with sex. There are whole subcategories of romance where the characters don’t have sex. There are also whole subcategories where the characters have sex, but it doesn’t get written about. There’s also romance where the characters go at it like rabbits and all the gory minutia are shared in deep, graphic detail. This is because romance isn’t defined by sex. A genre romance novel is defined by two things: a strong emphasis on a romantic relationship, and a happy, emotionally uplifting ending. If it doesn’t have these two things, then it’s not a romance.

Erotic Romance: At it’s base, erotic romance still leans heavily on the romance aspect of the novel. Sex will play an inherent role in the story, character growth, and relationship development, and can’t be removed without undermining or damaging the story. The sex is normally frequent, graphic, and often explores varying degrees of kink, but it still needs to conform to genre romance conventions.

Erotica: Erotica is often the story of the individual, discovering aspects of themselves through sex, and this is the most significant divergence from romance, where the story is focused on the development of a relationship. Sex plays a major part in the character development, and often the plot as well. Without sex, there is no story, and even if a romance eventuates, the overall focus is on the individual.

Porn: There is no expectation of character or plot development. This style of writing is designed to titillate and arouse, with the focus on sexual gratification. Good porn can accomplish more, but that is incidental, as the focus is key.

For romance, erotic romance and erotica, sex has purpose in the context of the story: it provides growth, exposition, or plot . For porn, the story is merely a vehicle to deliver the sex.

For a quick, easy reference, I really like this short definition from Janet/Robin of Dear Author:

Pornography: the exploration of the physical body through sex
Erotica: the exploration of the self through sex
ER: the exploration of romantic relationships/love (self+other(s)) through sex


Escape publishes hot romance and erotic romance. Looking for something sizzling? May we recommend the below?

24129You’ve never met housewives as hot as these…They’re wealthy and glamorous. The elite of society. But appearances can be deceiving. Bonus four epilogues, exclusive to this digital bind-up!


22577 A guarded recluse, some dirty pictures and a spark of curiosity that leads to a dangerous attraction.


20835A gripping,  blood-drenched saga about twin brothers, the men they love, and the enduring truth that true love never dies  — no matter how many times you kill it.


9692Regency England gets just a bit raunchy in this novella about a gently-raised lady who wants to feel like a woman…