Monday, December 28, 2009
Here is our Jenn's 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 http://www.nikkilogan.com.au/
Thank you Jenn for an entertaining and informative review, I can't wait for February.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
This year we have four ladies that reached the 50K mark.
HELEN ~ 50,246
JENN ~ 51,277
PAM ~ 51,083
To everyone who took part in the challenge to me you are all winners, to sit down and just attempt is a big challenge, to undertake such an endeavour while working and/or raising children is mind boggling to me.
At the end of the day or month, you now have more words than you did at the start of the month, which is an enormous plus for any writer. Keep up with your story, you never know it could be the next Emerald winner.
Oh, as an add incentive, there have been many a novel published that was a NaNoWriMo project. Nikki Logan is one example, and I’m pretty sure Suzanne Brandyn is another. So, finish, edit and submit those NaNo babies.
Now not that I’m going to put any pressure on any of you, but don’t forget JUNE, yes you have seven months until the next challenge ladies. Enjoy your time off.
Thank you everyone for the support you have shown one another. A big thank you to the ladies that helped with posts on the blog over the month. Diane thank you for keeping the girls going with sprints via 'Twitter'.
CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE FOR A GREAT MONTH!!!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
You can find my products here)
It's Day 21 (gulp) of Nanowrimo, and I'm only just over 21,000 words (double gulp). This is the 7th year that I have participated in Nanowrimo and each year is a different experience. It seems that I'm still finding my writing rhythm.
Some writers write fast.
Some writers write slow.
Some edit as they go.
Some spit out a dirty draft and edit later.
Some take years to write a whole manuscript.
Some never finish their manuscripts.
Some work on several stories at once.
Some can't even begin without a title.
Some are pantsers.
Some are plotters.
In ten years of serious writing, I think I've fitted in all these categories. There seems to be no true formula for me to finish a manuscript, though Nanowrimo puts a bomb under me and helps me to write fast - even more now with the added desktop software of Write or Die. For a couple of Nano attempts, I started with only the briefest idea of what I wanted to write -- a concept, a feeling I wanted to capture -- and still ended the month reaching my 50k goals.
But last year, I outlined every chapter first before I started Nano. It was my best Nano year ever and I finished the month with over 65,000 words. I finished the first draft in February the following year at 136, 000 words (so it needs a lot of cutting).
This year...I feel like I'm trudging up Mt Sinai.
(And there's no camels around to buy to make the journey much easier)
But I'm going to keep trudging. Because I know the view from the top (the point where you can type THE END) is magnificent.
How are you faring on your Nano journey? Have you found your writing rhythm yet?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Hi everyone, while you've all been slogging it out pushing the word count boundaries near and far this month I have embarked upon a slightly different NaNo experience. I'm editing, this whole month, editing, editing, editing. I have taken Margie Lawson's "Empowering Characters Emotions" lecture packet and ..... Lightbulb moments galore!
I'm a cliche-aholic... I admit it, but with Margie's 5 step program I'm ridding myself of it. I do love traitor words, things that seem innocent enough but are pulling away from the emotional depth of my story, darn it all to heck!
I have almost coloured an entire scene in yellow! (Not good, so not good).
I'm half way through, I did one round of editing thinking "ha, I'm good"... and then a little birdy who likes to wear bat wings a lot told me that I have to include more visceral responses and deepen my characterisation. That my WIP was really just a skeletal mass, kind of like a runway model, it needed more muscle, more drive, before it was ready for the big time.
Righto, I accepted it, and then said little bentwing bat told me to go look at Margie Lawson's editing courses.
So I will say right now, for the world to hear.... Thank you Bentwing Batperson! You have put me on the path of enlightenment, and whilst there are no happy little monks dancing around me chanting, there are lots of ideas and power words flowing out of these fingertips.
I'm going to share something with you. It's embarrassing so please don't tell the world... oh, well actually I am telling the world aren't I? Yeah righto, well anyway, here's a before and after. Baby steps Bob, baby steps.
Something about him grated on her and now they would be stuck on the same ship for four weeks at sea. Her knuckles started to whiten as she gripped the wheel tighter.A large thump to the side of the vehicle brought her back to her senses. The body of the car shuddered as one of the back tyres deflated.
Her hat bumped the roof of the carriage, she should have ditched the feathers they were so last season. Gwen took one hand off the wheel to readjust a pin and heard the collective gasps of both men.
“You wanted to come along,” she shouted over the crunch, crunch, crunch of the car. “Sorry, forgot to change gears, this should give us more speed.”
A large thump to the side of the vehicle stopped her fun. The body of the Imperial shuddered as she slammed both feet on the brake. The stench of burned rubber and dust pervaded the car. Her stomach lurched as the car skidded to a halt on the gravel road.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Yep! NaNoWriMo – it turns out – has all the thrills and spills of a great race. It can be exhilarating and exhausting, dangerous and disheartening, excruciating and enriching.
At the end of the first straight, we discover this race is not so straightforward after all. It’s now a steeplechase of unexpected hurdles and challenging jumps. As we cross the week one finishing line, we feel slightly overwhelmed but still focussed on one thing – numbers.
Week 2 - is definitely about numbers. It’s like being part of the mad mob in Sydney’s City to Surf fun run.
Speaking of animals, you’ll also find the gorilla suit guy – a little crazy for thinking he can do it, but giving it his best shot and having fun – after all, that is the aim of the race.
Again, week two starts off strong, although it’s not long before the pack thins.
Some give up.
Some fall over when they realise they’re not serious or prepared enough this time around.
Others hang on until Heartbreak Hill – and oh, the pain!
You set a feverish pace, heart pumping, back aching, such pressure! The mob eggs you on, but they are passing you to the left and to the right. You try The Little Caboose method, “I think I can. I think I can...”
Do you quit?
Simply let the race go on around you, stay focussed and stay on track.
Should you? The race rules say this is a no-no. But do you really have to follow the rules?
Not always. Look at the iconic Beetle. Volkswagen suddenly stopped and switched the engine from the back to the front. Now it’s better than ever. So yes, go crazy. Break a few rules and get back in the race because the best is yet to come.
So grab those reins, hold on tight, have fun, keep those revs up and avoid seasickness by keeping an eye on the November 30 horizon.
Jenn J McLeod
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I’m also taking time away from the computer, going for a walk each day to get the mail, yes it takes me a good fifteen minutes to walk up and back from my mailbox. Friday even in the rain, I went for a walk, took my trusty duck head umbrella my son bought me, it was like water off a ducks back or head in this case.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Yes, it's true, I'm suffering from NaNo envy!
It's only the first week, and I look at the word counts being tossed around and gasp at some of the numbers. And I'm not even writing new words for this month. I'm editing, but that is really a rather loose term for 'rewriting' my ms.
How do you find the time to get these words out? Have you bolted the door on your internal editor and chained your muse to the desk? And if you can do it for this month, why not all the time?
In between sprints have a think about what you've changed in your life to get through this month. Maybe the pressure of Nano has kicked your procrastination devil right out the window. Are others in the house shouldering some of the load? Wouldn't it be lovely if some of these changes were permanent!
This early on in Nano I thought it might be nice if we all shared some tips on how we're finding the time to write, or what tricks we're using to get the words to flow.
Here are some of mine:
- cook a giant pot of bolognese (or similar), and freeze meal size portions
- set the alarm for 30mins earlier in the morning
- have some nice rewards for yourself on standby
- join in some sprints
- close your eyes while you write - seriously! (I actually do this all the time now as it means I can't edit while I write, and it actually makes me more focussed).
So, what do you do?
Sunday, November 1, 2009
No more procrastination. The time is now.
A couple of late articles have been added to the online advice for Nanowrimo: The 12 Step Guide for Succeeding at Nanowrimo. And the downloadable Nano for the New and the Insane (put me in the latter category).
I've bought the nifty desktop version of Write or Die and after a couple of test runs last weekend, I'm truly in love. I wrote most of last year's Nanowrimo effort using the online version. In fact most of the 136k was churned out using Write or Die (64k during Nanowrimo itself.)
If you haven't got a title yet, you can try the Random Romance Title Generator.
I'm not fussed. I don't care if I have a title when I start. And as I'm writing number 3 in my Bilby Creek series, I know the town and a lot of the secondary characters well. This year's supporting cast includes:
Chloe, Luke, Kirsty and Dylan will all be back. (If a story is set in Bilby Creek, Kirsty will make sure she's there, so I might as well humour her). And I'm sure Genevieve will also feature (though she doesn't have her own avatar yet).
So I have the characters, the setting, the idea, but I don't yet have a plot. I hope it will evolve in the writing.
Research I did earlier in this year included the following photos:
I'm sure that gives you enough clues of the setting of my story. It will begin with a bunch of committee members dropping dead (no foul play - though that could make it interesting, mostly old age) -- so the committee needs new blood, and my secondary characters step in. And that's all I've got so far. Yes, I'm truly going to pants it this time. It's worked in the past, I hope it works this time.
How about you? Plotting, pantsing or just skirting around the issue?
Go, go everyone. It's November 1st and EVERYTHING is POSSIBLE.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
A big welcome to all our new members for this year's NaNoWriMo.
Are you excited yet? Yes, it’s coming up to that time of year again. It’s an adrenalin rush. Will I make it? What if I fail? Nah, I won’t fail. You know what it doesn’t matter if you do, as long as you give it your best shot and have fun. Now, to prepare you for the epic month ahead here are some tips. If anyone has anymore please add them in the comments.
5. Stay off the internet during your writing time. Facebook, Myspace and Twitter will survive without you for a few hours a day.
6. Turn Spell check and the editing tools off during November or at least the WIP you working on the month. If you don’t you’ll spend half your time editing and not writing.
7. If you reach your word count for the day treat yourself to a small reward. Set major milestones and select a reward when each one is met. They don’t have to be big rewards, a coffee and biscuit or chocolates (okay that will not be one of mine) or a long soak in a hot bubble bath. Anything that will give you a boost.
8. Have your house sorted so there is very little housework to do during November. Or better yet get someone else to do the work.
9. If you are a member of a lot of online groups go no mail on the ones that are not needed or at least go digest.
10. Believe in YOURSELF.
That’s it for me. I hope you have a great November. We’ll have blogs posted during the month to help motivate you and your word graphs will be updated each Saturday. More details on that will be posted on the loop. In the mean time happy planning/organising.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
What? It's the last day? No way, I swear I had another week here somewhere... Look it might have slipped down the back of the couch, hold on I'll pull it out in a second.
Ahh, no, it is the last day. I came in here with such massive hopes and dreams, and I accomplished a few of them. Some others will still have to be tackled.
I ended up writing 22,000 words on my current project. I also edited 150 pages of another mss that has been re-requested by an agent (crossing fingers), and I wrote a few blog posts along the way. Life was always getting in the way, but I'm much further along in my current WIP than I thought I would be, so hooray for that!
So my family can relax a little now, mummys not going to get upset if she can't reach her word count.
What about you? Did you accomplish what you thought you would? Are you still plugging away? How are you going to celebrate your achievements?
Me? I'm going on a road trip to see hubbys rellies with the kids. Fun. But I will go shopping in Brisbane which is a joy.
I don't get my full body massage until I finish this WIP.
Congrats to all the girls who participated. It's great to share the writing experience with others who understand the need to shut the door and type away.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Last week had its ups and downs for me. Computer and internet problems saw me doing a lot of writing by hand (which I still have to type into the computer). Family issues saw me diver for cover for a couple of days, but I’ve come to the decision that, there is nothing I can do about this problem at the moment so I’ll think about it later. (Oh, isn’t that very Scarlett O’Hara of me. LOL)
I’ve posted my new round of Fallen Angel Reviews on my review site if you’d like to have a look (okay they are the links to my reviews, minus two because of technical hitches) http://www.sandiehudsonreviews.blogspot.com/ .
My editing is moving along okay, but I’m going to have to go back over it all again. (I HATE EDITING!) Just thought I’d share that with you. July is going to be editing month for me, yep the writing is getting pushed to the back of the computer and all my finished WIPs are getting edited, if it takes me into August and September to do them I will. What is Diane’s saying? “Write, Edit, Submit.” So that is what I’m doing. What about you? Are you going to do the big edit thing in July? How close are you to submitting? Have you submitted and waiting for word back?
On a personal note, thank you all for a great month, as always it is a pleasure writing with you all and don’t forget to gear up ready for NOVEMBER – NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH. I knew you’d like to be reminded about that now.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
But today I will marathon write. To finish the challenge closer to the 100% mark than the 50% mark which is where I am now. What do I mean by marathon write? I mean sprint, rest, sprint, rest, sprint, rest. Most of the day. There'll be some breaks here and there for food, for reading the newspaper, for fulfilling my blogging obligations, for living up the to the title bestowed upon me by my writers group of 'the world's greatest secretary' (the handmade chocolates they gave me are decadent).
Currently in my story, I have a teen distressed because her ex's new girlfriend is throwing a party the same night as her rave, a fairy godmother who dares not use magic to assist her because she's been snorting the fairy dust that evening (don't drink and fly!) after discovering her time-shifted Prince Charming had escaped and ended up drunk in a strip club. Hang on, I thought this was supposed to be young adult.
So yes, I do need to get back to them. But I still haven't found my groove: I'm pantsing this one, but maybe I should have plotted. And the other seven manuscripts in various states of development are calling me. I so want to edit. And that is something I never expected to say or write. But after a fabulous course on Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues with Margie Lawson, and receiving feedback from the Valerie Parv Award, my mind is itching to edit and rewrite. Cinderella is waiting patiently. Kirsty McInnes is waiting not so patiently.
Yesterday, I won 2nd prize in my writers group Performance Writing competition. It was a radio play that I started to write fourteen years ago, pulled it out of the file (didn't even have an electronic copy), dusted it off it, reshaped it, took it back to the essence of the event, and gave it a resolution. Never throw away your old idea, your old manuscripts, your old characters -- you just never know when you can resurrect them and use it again. The time was right for that one.
Ladies, we have three days left of this challenge. Make the most of them and finish the 50ks in 30 days, knowing you did the best you could. Whether you make your goal, or not, you will be a lot further along then when you started on June 1st
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Fellow 50K participant, Anna Hackett, has her debut Silhouette Nocturne Bites out in a few days time.
I'm very excited read this story and have already pre-ordered my copy.
They call him the Savage Dragon: Rordan Sarkany, knight of the Order of the Dragon, charged with tracking and destroying those who let their dragon blood turn them into beasts. In the wilds of Hungary, Rordan hunts one such creature—along with fellow warrior Kira Bethlen.
Both Rordan and his inner dragon desire Kira...and she can't resist Rordan's dangerous allure. But even if she succumbs to their attraction, can she ever forgive him for slaying her beloved brother?
Buy your copy of July 1 release of Savage Dragon here. Read more about Anna at www.annahackettbooks.com/
Friday, June 26, 2009
A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.
By Richard Bach, author of Jonathon Livingstone Seagull.
This is what you need to remember right now. Don’t quit!
There are still 4 more days after today to get as many words down as you can. And two of them are the weekend. You can do it. Look at your goal posts. Work out what needs doing and go for it.
In the hope of keeping you motivated, I’ve listed some quotes that I like. Maybe there will be something in there to inspire you…
If you only do what you know you can do – you never do very much.
Try and fail. But don’t fail to try.
It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.
Always look on the bright side of life.
Don’t wait – the time will never be ‘just right’.
The most painful thing to experience is not defeat but regret.
What is your favourite saying?
To finish, I’d like to leave you with a quote from the movie Galaxy Quest:
Never give up! Never surrender!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I'm guessing most of us are now back on track, and can see the light at the end of the dark, winding, 30-day-long tunnel. Here's a treat for those of you who can see the light... he's waiting for you at the end!
*Drool*. I digress... How's the brain going? Body doing okay? Characters well formed (like the hottie above)? Storyline makes sense? Or is it a train wreck, and you'll just keep ploughing on to reach the magical word count figure you're targetting? Let us know if your morale is low, high, or somewhere in the middle.
I know my word counts won't be that hot, but my editing is going great guns. I realise I have A LOT of work to do, but it's something I WILL achieve. I'm determined to edit as much as I can over the next six days so I can reach my target, and if my word count improves, that's fabulous. The fact I'm taking the challenge with other like-minded people is enough to give me that extra boost.
So keep plugging away, and keep working towards the light. We'll have a little celebration at the end, and I promise to bring Angel-o (as I've know called him) to help celebrate our achievements.
May your words fly like the wings of an angel, and your characters soar to the heavens (soooo cheesy, but it gives me a laugh!).
Have a great day,
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It's not a Hugo Award winner right now is it?
Can I tell you a secret?
Even Hugo award winners first drafts are crap, with the exception of probably a couple of geniuses. Every writer will tell you their first draft is really them sorting out where the story is going, who's in it and what big things happen. It's not until the first or second draft that they start liking what they've written.
So here's the deal. Turn off your inner editor. I know you've got one, sitting on your shoulder every time you write telling you that that word is spelled wrong, you're splicing that comma, who in the world would say that?
It happens to every writer. The successful ones don't listen to it, they just keep the words flowing out, and if they get stuck they put a little asterix or something saying that "XX happens here" and then skip that section and work on the next. If there's a fact you need to look up, don't. Instead just leave yourself a comment (and you can do this in word by going up to Insert on the toolbar, then scroll down to comment, and it will insert a comment right there. You can then say "find out who the heck developed the carbon/lithium battery" and go back to getting your story down.
The crux of the matter is, you need to get down the skeleton of your story, you can add embellishments galore when you edit, but for now, get it down.
TURN OFF your Inner Editor, write like the wind Bullseye!
Monday, June 22, 2009
Here we are, the final leg of the challenge has begun, I know a lot of us are struggling to reach our goals. If I’ve learnt anything this year during the challenge, that would be, that being an author/writer is bloody hard work. Okay, I knew that before, but this challenge has really tested me this year. I’ve had times during other challenges where life has stepped in and tried to take over my writing time, but this year it stepped in and brought it all to a stop a couple of times. SO we have a chose, we can sit back and think where the hell has the time gone? Or we can think, there is still time to get there. I refuse to give up. We have eight days left and I will do all in my power to push as much writing as I can in those eight days.
If it means writing right up until 11.59pm on June 30 I will! It’s been done before, just ask Diane. If you want inspiration on how to tackle a challenge, look to our own Diane Curran. I remember the first year we did NaNoWriMo together, she wrote long into the night. We had a cheer squad cheering her on with each milestone she made until she reached the 50ks. And you know what? Not once did I hear her say, “I can’t do this.”
I’m not saying you fail if you don’t reach your target, no one fails as far as I’m concerned, but at least give it a go. At least continue to believe in yourself and in what you are capable of doing.
So remember it’s not over until the clock strikes 12am on July 1.
Have a great week and happy writing.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
These are all valid excuses not to write. If you so choose. Because it is still a choice.
I am challenging each and every one of you NOT to end the week with zero words. Take half an hour, take ten minutes and write.
Add to your word count.
Don't look at that huge word goal that is looming in front of you, and give up now. Just write.
A chapter. A page. A paragraph. A sentence.
You will feel better for it. You will have achieved something for the week. Not your daily goal. Not your weekly goal. But something.
You need to show your life that you are in charge. That you still choose to be a writer. That you still choose to write. No matter what it throws at you.
At a conference a couple of years ago, Anna Jacobs said 'Nobody gives you the time to write. You have to steal it.'
Steal it now.
The week is not yet over. Don't leave the week unwritten... Write!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
To help you on your way I have two motivational videos to share with you.
The first is for inspiration to keep going even in the face of adversity. To climb that mountain, to swim that ocean, to write that book.
Ahhh yes, we all need a bit of a push sometimes - but it's better if it can come from within.
And this one is well known - Mel Gibson in a Kilt, riding a horse and rousing his countrymen. Well not his countrymen - a bunch of actors really but still a stiring speech.
They may take away our computers, but they can't take away our words. Write well my friends.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
It's hard to keep your word count healthy when the same can't be said for yourself. It appears winter chills and spills have taken their toll on a large number of our 50k participants.
For any of you struggling with ill health it's important to remember to take care of yourself first - and make sure you take your medicine.
I thought I'd help get you on the road to recovery by having Dr Desire dish out some medicine of his own.
Get well soon!