Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Progress Report!

I'm trying to do the read through of WWMM, really, I'm trying but it's not going hugely to plan. Everytime I sit down to read, my baby wakes up - he's seriously got some sort of radar where my writing is concerned. My other problem is sleep - I need lots more of it than I'm getting and so when baby's asleep I'm torn between reading and sleeping.

Suddenly had an epiphany tonight that I should print my mss in book format and bind it, so I can read while breastfeeding. Instead I've been reading loads of other books during these times. Just read a Mod Heat with a particularly Alpha male. At least, I'm guessing that's what they'd call him but I didn't take to him at all. At the same time, I'm wondering how to up the Alpha-aspect of my current hero and hoping that somehow I can make the grade!

Right... I'm rambling... lack of sleep does that to ya. But just thought I'd offer a brief update. Have now read 111 pages out of 150-ish, so am hoping to finish the read through tomorrow. Then, it's slash, burn and add!!!

Currently reading: The Memory Keeper's Daughter (well, behind the times, I know).

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Hey faithful blog readers - at least I hope there's still someone reading this somewhere! Although most of you are probably off drinking and making merry with your families. Hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and a new year filled to the brim with book contracts. I hope the same for myself :)
I've been absent most of December due to the wonderful birth of my beautiful boy on November 25th! He was early and we had a slightly rocky start but all is now perfect with Archie Edward. That's now three gorgeous little heroes for me alongside my big hero, so me and the big hero are calling it quits on the baby-making!

Speaking of baby making HUGE congrats to my lovely writing buddy Bec Sampson on the birth of her latest heroine. What a special Christmas Eve this is turning out to be!!

Other specialness came in the form of an email this morning from Lucy Gilmour - Assistant Editor at M&B, who emailed me her commentary on my mss from the Feel The Heat contest. 

In short she said:
*She loved my opening line and chapter, my unique voice, the heroine and the premise. Main positive - they wanted to read on!!
*They'd like to see the hero developed more and a little more insight into a) why he's attracted to the heroine and b) what his conflicts are!!! Hmm... I've got work to do :)
*With regards to the rest of the mss, they a) wan
t to see the full when I have revised according to b) the alphaness of the hero, c) the emotional conflicts of hero and heroine, which need to be deepened and d) really make clear the heroine's internal conflicts.

So... the plan from here on. Spend the next few days rereading my mss in full and making notes, then get stuck into rewriting on Lucy's suggestions. I'm hoping to submit the full by end of January but am realistic that with a new baby, t
here may be slight delays!!

Speaking of new baby... here's a pic!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Love Your Blog

Wow - do I feel loved! The lovely Sandie Hudson (who I met online doing NaNo and then 50ks in 30days) has awarded me an I LOVE YOUR BLOG award!! I've seen this award floating various blogs I visit over the last few days and so many of my favourite blogs have already been nominated!  

Still... I thought I'd play along... so here's my favourite blogs and why!  

1) Julie Cohen - Julie writes for M&B Modern Heat and Little Black Dress, she's also got kids, so whatever she's talking about on her blog is generally of high interest to me. She recently wrote about the revisions process (including what happens when an editor gets hold of your mss) - this was very helpful!  

2) Lucy Roberts - Lucy was the winner of the recent M&B Modern Heat Feel The Heat writing contest! Yes - we hate her for that :) but love her and her blog for so many other reasons. It'll be good to follow along as she travels the next year or so, which I'm sure will bring her much success.  

3) Natalie Anderson - yep, another Modern Heat writer... are we seeing a trend? These gals are great!!(I do love Super too but haven't found as many blogs for Super authors!) And Natalie is just so inspiring, writing such sassy novels with four little kids!  

4) Bronwyn Jameson - Bron is one of the first category authors I ever read and definitely one of my fave Desire authors. And also such a lovely, encouraging person :)

5) Lynn Raye Harris - I've only recently stumbled upon Lynn's blog (about the time she received the call from M&B) but she always has something useful or inspiring to say. As a newly contracted author, she's definitely worth following!

6)Downunder Desirabelles - I absolutely love downunder Desire books, so when the downunder Desire authors started this blog, I was there! Oh and I won a book there today too... so that's gotta be good!

Well... what do ya know... haven't played by the rules entirely cos I haven't nominated seven (decided to stay away from those blogs I love that have already been nominated elsewhere). I could go on but won't because I really need to finish reading 'In Bed With The Boss's Daughter' by Bronwyn Jameson. 

Please do forgive me...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crack open the cyber bubbly!

After four days recovering, I'm here to announce that I finished the first draft of WWMM on Sunday! Think I wrote the most I've ever written in one day that day and I'm not satisfied with the ending at all, but at least the first draft is done. I'm now gonna let it sit until I've heard from Lucy from M&B re my entry in the Feel The HEat contest or after baby - whatever comes first!

I feel a bit lost since finishing as I'm not starting anything else right now - have ten sleeps to baby (in the counting language of eldest son). So... instead of writing, I've been critting the work of CPs and reading loads. 

I read ''One Good Turn'' by Kate Atkinson, which was fabulous and finished Karen Robard's "Obsession", which I wasn't really enthralled by at all. BUT I found a gem of a book in my local library and have to squeal about it here! 

Has anyone else read any Dixie Cash? Dixie is the writing name of two sisters and their characters are quirky, OTT and full of fun. There was a thread of romance in this one and a little bit of a mystery. It's a light-hearted read but I didn't want to put it down. The title - ''Don't Make Me Choose Between You and My Shoes'' was what made me pick up the book and I'm glad I did. Now I'm gonna hunt down their backlist (see titles below) - think you'll agree the titles alone sound fabulous.

*I Gave You My Heart But You Sold It Online
*My Heart May Be Broken But My Hair Still Looks Great
*Since You're Leaving Anyway, Take Out The Trash

The last title, which is acutally their first book is my favourite!

So... while I wait for baby, I plan on reading loads loads more... and calling it RESEARCH!

BTW for those of you who don't frequent the iheartpresents site, the winner (yep, the person that piqued me and 148 others at the post) of the M&B Feel The Heat contest has her first chapter up on the site today and it's WELL WORTH the read! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Almost there?

If you've been watching my word metre, don't get too excited. I may have just reached 49500 words but I'm about 4000 words off finishing! At least I hope it doesn't get longer than that!!! 

Will keep you updated!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top Ten

1) I Have A Bed Made Of Buttermilk Pancakes; Jaclyn Moriarty.
2) Three Wishes; Lianne Moriarty. 
3) The Time Traveller's Wife; Audrey Niffeneger.
4) Bridget Jones Diary; Helen Fielding.
5) My Best Friend's Girl; Dorothy Koomson.
6) Bridget Jones's Diary; Helen Fielding.
7) Carole
 Kind Is An Alien; Yasmin Boland.
8) The Secret History; Donna Tartt.
9) A Long Way Down; Nick Hornby.
10) This Is How It Happened; Jo Barrett.

These  are my top ten Single Title reads (modern ones, not classics, which would be a whole other post) in no particular order - I think. I can't actually find the list I made a long time ago and know that I've recently added number five and number ten so the old numbers five and ten are missing, but scanning my shelves I can't work out what it was!! 

There are so many good books out there, there's not enough time to read them all... so I thought I'd offer you guys a few titles that I really, really enjoyed! And would love for you to do the same... what are your Top Ten??

Newsflash - I'm up to 47k words on WWMM and am hoping I'm on the right track!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

HELP - Three Days?

No... I haven't given myself the totally insane and unrealistic deadline of three days to finish WWMM.

I've come to a point in my mss where I want to show how much it's possible to achieve - i.e. making someone fall madly in love with you - in three days. 

So far I have a lame list. 

In three days you could fly round the world and back again. You could drive across this vast country of Australia. You could lose three kilos on that horrid cabbage soup diet. 

But I think I seriously need help?! Call me picky but I want a more creative list than this. So, if any of you have any mind-boggling things one can achieve/get up to in three days, please comment NOW!!

I'll love ya forever...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Looking back on 2008...

Okay...so I know I'm a little early but as I'm having a baby four weeks from today, thought I may be a little busy for pondering towards the end of the year. 

At the beginning of 2008, I wrote a list of the things (writing/reading-wise) I wanted to achieve this year. Here tis:

1)      Want to learn more about the craft of writing category romance – focusing heavily on Goal, Motivation and Conflict and enhancing Emotion between characters. To do this, I plan on spending some time doing writing exercises from Kate Walker’s 12-point Guide To Writing Romance and to study more and more about GMC before I start my next draft.  X

2)      Read at least one Classic (you know, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, the like…) per month. I’m an English teacher by trade and I think my reading in these areas is severely lacking. People expect me to know this stuff and I don’t! – this was gonna be a resolution but as I’m not making any others, it’ll do as a goal. X

3)      Write at least two more drafts of category novels. I’ve got the basic seeds of these in my head but will be praying for inspiration to fill in the gaps. $

4)      Polish up my 2007  NaNo novel and send it off to Mills and Boon. X

5)      Enter loads of contests and hopefully final again in some. $

6)      Hopefully attend the 2008 RWA conference in Melbourne! $

The ones with an X next to them, I sadly failed. 

I'm hoping to do the craft book thing better in the early part of 2009 when I may not be writing quite as much due to bringing up baby! I've read a few classics this year but they took so long in comparison to other things and let's face it, with two young boys, time was tight in my world. I'll try for another few in 2009. The reason I didn't send off my NaNo novel was that I didn't get any feedback for it in the IHeart Presents Instant Seduction contest early in the year and figured it wasn't really what Mod Heat were looking for. Perhaps in 2009, I'll see if I can revise it for another more suitable line?!

I did however write a one full category length novel (NBLSB) and have almost finished WWMM. I'm hoping this will be done by the end of 2009 - at least the first draft. I also began another category length novel and also one which is probably more ST. These began in June - my diabolical writing month - and were abandoned soon after, but I'll definately be going back to one of them in 2009.

I entered contests and finalled in two!!! 

And... as you know... I did attend the RWA conference in Melbourne. 

So... did you have goals for 2008 - things you'd like to achieve and have control over - and how'd you go?

Stay tuned for a post about my 2009 goals....

Friday, October 31, 2008

Big Sticks?

Anyone got one they care to wield in my general direction?

I've got news, good news... I finalled in The Romance Writers of Australia High Five competition. I think most of you who read my blog already know that this is a contest of the first five pages for category novels - ie. those targetted at Harlequin Mills & Boon. I'm up against some steep competition though! Special wave to Melissa and Nikki!

My wonderful writing buddy Bec has given me a stern talking to, asking ''What more inspiration do I need to get off my butt and actually put my fingers to the keyboard again?'' Sleeping kids would be a start :)

But she's right... there's no excuse to not write when getting published is your DREAM!! So... this morning, I'm trying, I really, really, really am trying and have given myself the goal of 2000 words for the weekend.

500 down... 1500 to go. In the words of a train from Trouble's (Son 2) favourite picture book - ''I think I can!''

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reading, procrastinating, whinging and the odd bit of scribbling...

The title really sums up what I've been up to the last few weeks but perhaps I'll elaborate for the heck of it for a few moments. 

Since mid-year I've been torn between targetting M&B Modern Heat or Harlequin Superromance. I love both lines for different reasons and have been alternating my reading between them and single-titles. I'm currently reading Natalie Anderson's ''Pleasured By The Secret Millionairre'' and an LBD called ''Blue Remembered Shoes'' by Nell Dixon

I'm loving both but have dived into Nat's book because I'm stuck in the middle of my own attempt at a Mod Heat and wanted to see how an expert managed to do all the things I want to achieve in my own middle. I'm struggling cos I've created two characters with a lot of personal baggage and I really want to get across to possible readers that these two have a lot in common emotionally if they'll only let go and open up to each other. Problem is one of the plot points is the fact that he is hiding the truth about himself at all costs, so it's hard to get them talking on the level. I guess I'm scared that I'm gonna let the story potential down. 

So... while I wallow... writing is slow but steady at the moment. 

I'm also getting extremely buggared (blaming the babe in my womb) at the moment, that by the time I get my kidlets to bed, all I wanna do is curl up with a good book in bed myself. 

But I figure that when I feel this way... when I pick up a Mod Heat, a Super, an LBD or something else entirely, at least I'm still researching and learning! Right??

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meet my ''new'' heroine!

Okay... she's not really new as I'm 32000 words into the mss but thanks to help from you lovely people, I've found new inspiration for her and I'm hoping it INSPIRE me to great things!

Here she is:

And again...

She's a serious gal (who has a fun side brought out by the hero) and she's on a mission... a mission my hero is set to halt!!! She's adopted and feels like she's been the misfit wherever she's been, but the hero's about to show her just how wrong she is!

Thanks so much to Eleni for giving me Eve Miles!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

iHeart Presents!

Hey folks

Just a quickie (cos I'm off back to bed - long, horrible story) but thought I'd let you know my blog post is up at iheartpresents 

It's simply a little spiel about my writing and specifically how I started writing category romance :) 

Until next time...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Heroes and Heroines...

Let's face it... they are the essence of a romance novel, are they not? Well, I'm having a little casting issue with mine. 

I thought I had these characters in my head before I began writing, but when I got stuck in the middle a few days ago, I started wondering if I had the heroine all wrong. She was blonde and rather a perfect package when I really wanted her to be a contrast to her two perfect, blonde sisters and to have a few hang-ups about her figure and looks. So, I've ditched the image I did have, see pic here and am looking for a heroine with a little more zest! Not even sure that's the right word. 

I want a short brunette with attitude written all over her face and would LOVE your help if possible. I thought about the actress who plays the role of Beth in The Bill, but the only real image I could find of her was in a police uniform and it just didn't do it for me. Thought about Katie Holmes but she wasn't right either... so please, please... can anyone out there, help me find my fiesty heroine. I think if I have her pegged, the writing of her character will be easier - at least I'm clinging to hopes that's the case :)

This is her bad boy hero and I think you'll all agree, he's simply perfect!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pulling teeth...

I know it's cliched, but writing at the moment is like pulling teeth. Excrutiatingly painful... only difference is I guess, I have no desire to have my pearly whites evicted from my mouth but I have a real desire to get the words down on the page just right. 

I've hit the very middle of WWMM and where I can usually knock out 1000 words (ones I'm reasonably happy with) in an hour, I'm struggling to make 100. And, I'm really questioning their quality. I'm trying to remember Nora Roberts mantra, ''You can correct a bad page, but... you can't correct a blank one!'' But it's tough. I want them all to be perfect first time round. :) 

I'm not sure if my bump in the mss is due to the fact:
a) I've been away from it for such a long time or
b) I'm just not good at writing middles or 
c) I so want this mss to be the one that hits the mark that I'm losing it.

To be honest, I find the middle section of a novel the worst part. Beginnings are easy for me (as I know they are for many others) and the endings aren't too horrendous either, but middles always drag me down. I always go through a period of self-doubt somewhere between 20000 and 40000 words. There's so much I want to put in there, so much emotion I want to get across, but it never seems to come out on the page the way I want it.

So... anyone else in the same predicament? Have you any tips for getting through it? What parts of the novel do you find the hardest?? 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back to Alphie...

After an extended break from actually writing (was revising and then trying to holiday with my family), I finally threw myself back into the current wip tonight. I've been soooooooooo distracted of late by the Internet (reading emails from fabulous writing buddies, surfing blogs of fabulous writing buddies, etc) that if I give myself an hour to write, it's always diluted with distractions. So tonight, I decided to dig out my faithful Alphasmart again and give it another go. 

I wrote much of one of my novels on this magnificent writing tool, but had all but abandoned it recently. Think I didn't like the idea of not being able to check my word count on a very regular (like every five minutes) basis. 

Tonight I wrote 930 words on Alphie and then added a fair few more when I transferred the work to my computer. And, I'm happy to announce I've finally stormed over the half-way mark on this mss. 

My aim - and I'm putting it out there for all of you to check up on me and push me towards it - is to have the rough draft of this mss finished by the end of October. This means writing about 1000 words a day, which should be reasonable if I don't mind forgoing some sleep :) 

Anyway... speaking of said sleep, I'm off to (hopefully) achieve some.  

Till next time... Happy Writing!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can you FEEL THE HEAT?!!


Yesterday I'd all but given up any hope of placing in the Mills & Boon Feel The Heat contest at Iheart Presents, but this morning I woke up to an email from Joanne Carr, editor of Modern Heat.

I'm not THE WINNER but I am one of the Runners Up, which is such an exciting prize in itself. I've won an editorial critique with Lucy Gilmore. I cannot profess how ecstatic I am to have won this prize. I was going to throw myself back into this mss after a month off working on another submission, but now I'm gonna enjoy a few days break away with the family and wait until I've spoken to Lucy before continuing.

Hopefully with Lucy's editorial wisdom and insight, I'll be able to make this mss my best one yet!!

Now I really wish I could drink some champers!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Submitting to Super

This is an exciting post for me 'cos I'm here to tell you, I've just printed off my first ever requested full mss. 

For Love or Ratings is Declan and Maddie's story of finding love through a reality tv show and it'll be landing on the Superromance editors' desk in the next week or so. Wish I could just beam it there quickly. 

Although I like this story, I'm not holding my breath as it was my first ever attempt at category romance and I hope I've learnt a lot in the last couple of years. However, I've spent the last month rewriting and polishing the full, hopefully improving it with the knowlege I've gleaned. I feel like I've spent so long with this mss that I'm not longer able to look at it subjectively - I really don't know if it's bad, mediaocre or good enough for a revisions request. 

So... guess all I can do now is hope, pray and wait, oh and start on the next submission!!! 

And yes, the bubbly pic is because I'm celebrating - not really drinking as I'm far too pregnant - but this is the furthest I've ever got with a submission, so whatever the outcome... I'm stoked! 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Brand New Me!!!

So if you're reading this I guess you made your way over... welcome to the blog of Rachael Johns, aspiring romance writer of quirky characters and plots.

After discussions with various people of note, I've decided that WHEN (yes, that's right, I'm thinking with the positive part of my brain) I get published, I'd like to write under the pen name of Rachael Johns.

There are a number of reasons why people choose to write under a pen name and I'm not gonna broadcast mine here but will tell you that I've chosen it for a reason. I think I'd find it too confusing to go by anything other than Rachael, so I'm sticking with my first name. I tossed up with a number of options for a second - hubby's middle name, his real surname (long story), my maiden name and my dad's surname (another long story) but in the end, they either didn't sound like a romance writer :) or they didn't look good as a .com and let's face it, in this day and age, you want a sexy looking .com

I went with Johns because John was my grandpa's name - he died just before I started writing category romance and was my all time hero. My granny was one lucky lady. I also dedicated one of my stories to him as he was a magician (in his spare time) and I created a magician hero thanks to his inspiration. So, I think Johns is fitting and http://www.rachaeljohns.com/ wasn't taken and looked good. I've now bought the domain name so am a step further to setting up a website! One day...

So aside from fantasing about getting published enough to decide on a pen name, what have I been up to these last few weeks?

I've just finished the final (hopefully) rewrite of ''For Love Or Ratings'', the full mss requested by Harlequin Superromance. I'm letting it sit for a week and will then give it one more read through and proof before sending it off.

I've giving myself a little break before getting stuck straight back into my current wip, a mss aimed at M&B Modern Heat. I've just subbed the partial of this to M&B but have polishing to do in case they request the full. Fingers crossed.

I've also entered the Romance Writers of Australia High Five contest and the ''Feel The Heat'' contest on the iheartpresents site.

Phew... and have just hit the third trimester of my pregnancy and am feeling all those fatigue hormones taking over my body again. Even typing all this was tiring.

I'm gonna be fixing up the settings on this blog over the next week or so, so please forgive me if you're not on the blogroll yet and know you should be... I promise to get there.

So... leave a comment and let me know you made it over! Welcome!