Lily Malone

More Than You Ever Needed To Know On How I Write

The Elusive Writing Process.

Contemporary Romance Author Lily Malone: queen of the simile, master of the detail, has kindly tagged me to answer some questions on How I Write. And well, after stroking my ego by saying nice things about me on her blog again, I couldn’t refuse. (That’s not entirely true – who can resist a rare chance to talk about themselves?)

In the year or so I’ve been fluffing around with one story, Lily (the beanie-clad beauty you see there) has managed to churn out THREE fabulous new releases. The latest, Fairway to Heaven is a fun, fresh read. It’s all about the utterly likeable Jenn, and how she got her Mojo back. But Fairway to Heaven offers a lot more than that. Whilst not the central storyline, it’s the first book I’ve read that paints a realistic picture of life with a toddler.  Brilliant stuff, Lily. 

FTHLilyMaloneIf you haven’t discovered Lily’s work, what are you waiting for? 

So, enough about me and Lily, here’s more about me:

More Than You Ever Needed To Know On: How I Write

What am I working on?   Other than folding a weeks-worth-of-washing….my second novel. In the tradition of Losing Kate, it has a what really happened  kind of suspense, but still has a love story as central to the conflict. It’s currently called Unguarded Moments, but my editor has a habit of changing titles on me so that may be temporary (I do trust you Bev!).  I don’t know exactly what it is yet (a tad disconcerting 90 thousand in, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for myself!?). In essence it’s a catalogue of all the raw, unguarded moments the main characters share, and how each impacts on their lives. At least, I think…

How does my work differ from others of its genre?   Perhaps I’m a commitment-phobe, but I like to think of myself as cross-genre; a little lovin’, a little suspense, a lot of relationship dissecting. It’s eclectic. It’s honest. It’s unashamedly Australian.  

Why do I write what I do?  I guess I write about relationships, as, like a lot of women, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about them. Finding them. Ending them. Improving them. At sixteen it was when will I have one, at twenty-two it was when will I have a good one, and lately it’s changed into fine tuning the right one; he knows me so well so why can’t he read my mind, God damn it!

How does my writing process work?  I read somewhere that writing a novel is a bit like driving at night; you can’t see very far ahead, but you can make the whole trip that way. I’m very much a Pantser; I make it up as I go along. Often it’s a conglomeration of random ideas, little snippets that inspired me, or lyrics that challenged my view on something. These become the spice that are thrown in the slow-cooker in my head – they may, or may not go together. I just drive on till I see where I land. So let’s hope I don’t end up in a ditch with a horrible stew!  But if I do that’s okay, it’s all about the journey.

 So that’s it from me; I’ve done my dash, now it’s time to pass on the Blog Baton to another unsuspecting blogger. Only problem is, everyone I’ve asked was either (a) too shy, (b) too busy (c) done it.  This leaves me in a bit of bother, really. Perhaps someone could help me out. Perhaps you may wish to share how you write with us, make us feel less alone in this rather isolated profession…any takers??  Drop us a line if you do!

(BTW – since this post, the lovely Ali Morris will be picking up the baton. Thanks so much Ali (and Lily for being the go-between… you are making a habit of that!?))

 Losing Kate; a Women’s General Fiction, is being published by Random House Australia and is available on Ebook 26h March, and in Trade paperback 1st April.   

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Pre-order for your Kindle, or US copy at  Amazon

Pre-Order for ibooks at itunes.

Or  you can get the print version at Angus & Robertson – free delivery Australia Wide.

Blog Hop – Lily Malone Book Giveaway

Lily Malone Blog Hop Giveaway.

Golf. It can be defined as:

      a)    That peculiar practice of intentionally hitting a ball away, only to go find it again. Over and over …

(     b)    A reverse-anagram of flog.

(     c)    The sport responsible for widowing wives (from all walks of life) in the early hours of each Saturday, only to allow participants to return to the fold tired, and unable to complete domestic tasks set by said wife.

(      d)    The activity that helped Jenn get her Mojo back in Fairway to Heaven.

(      e)    All of the above!

You may have clued. I’m not a huge fan of Golf; golf courses, golf bats, I mean clubs… In fact, I’ve been rather resentful of all of these in the past, for spending more quality time with my husband than me. But alas, I’ve been asked by fellow author and friend Lily Malone, to participate in a great Blog Hop. Doing so means writing about Golf. So here I am.  

Writing.  About Golf.  Any minute now, a kind, interesting thing to write about Golf will hit me…I must say, this is feeling a little like penning a eulogy. Not that golf is dead (that would be a tragedy), but in terms of the principle of saying nice things about someone, even though you may not have had much time for them when they were still kicking. But my mother told me that there’s good to be found in everyone. So if I extrapolate this notion to everything…I do like golf buggies! I became rather fond of them when I was a bridesmaid, using one to jet about between photo-shoot locations with an Esky of Champagne in the back. Good times. My relationship with Golf Buggies was cemented further in a recent trip to Hamilton Island – as the only means of transport there, we hired one during our stay. Hmm, let’s see. Golf is also responsible for ensuring great chunks of land remain undeveloped, groundsmen get lots of practice tending too-perfect-to-be-real fairways and, local kids can still make an honest quid fishing out balls from water hazards.  

So that’s at least three positive things. Who would have thought? (Maybe mum was right).

But by far the best experience I have had with the sport has been in recently finishing Lily Malone’s new novel Fairway to Heaven.  Now, as you quite perceptively picked up, I am not a golfer, nor likely to be, but I loved FTH.

And, so too will you – as, you guessed it, I shall be giving 2 copies away to two lucky Blog-readers!  Don’t worry non-golfers. Golf may be in the first scene (err…and a final one) but the middle is a melding of vividly drawn characters, fresh succinct descriptions, and a heart-warming story of love and friendship – not to mention getting your mojo back after finding yourself down-and-out-in-the-rough with an unplayable -ball. (Proud Lily? I threw in a golf analogy!) Best of all, Fairway to Heaven is set (no, not on a golf course), but in a charming beach cottage you’ll want to take home, just as much as the man who inhabits it.

It’s Golf. But not as you know it.

To enter, “like” my author page  Kylie Kaden – Author  by 10th January 2014 or  if you prefer,  email me at kyliekaden@optusnet.com.au. Winners will be announced on this blog by 13th January 2014. Good luck!

This competition has now closed – congratulations to the lucky winners D. Huffer and K Foster. Your Smashwords gift copies of Fairway to Heaven should be in your inbox as I type…

Will I ever just read again?

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I’m new to this gig. I am a shiny faced front-rower, wide-eyed and willing to take it all in, and I’m enjoying the ride. However, one thing I haven’t gotten used to, is that I can’t seem to just read a novel anymore without my editor cap firmly pushing on my ears. I hone in on opening paras, get suspicious of throw away lines, analyse hooks and red herrings. I assess tense, point of view, even commas get my attention. Whilst I’m learning, I wonder if I will ever simply read again!

I love books, and want to get to know them better. Learn how they tick.  But it’s a bit like watching your favourite TV show faithfully for years, enjoying the escapism, and suddenly being invited backstage. You see the actors, the scripts, the set, and come to realise … they’re not real!? They’re trying to fool me! Somebody made it all up! (Okay, I wasn’t actually sitting on my couch watching Grey’s Anatomy thinking McDreamy was living in Seattle all this time, but you can only dream…).

I blame it on the edit. It can be an all-consuming process.

I’m a “Pantser”, not a “Planner” when it comes to writing.  Unlike Stephanie Meyer, I wasn’t hit with a fabulously vivid dream and plotted a few best sellers from there. I made it up as I went along. It was great fun, but resulted in a hell of a lot of rework. Logic tells me I should rethink that second time around if only for efficiency, but I write because I enjoy it, and it just doesn’t seem as fun when you know the end before you type in Chapter 1. Perhaps a little of both is the right balance.

I spent longer editing my manuscript, than writing it.  For me, editing was far less enjoyable than the freedom and excitement of writing that first draft (and Lily Malone, you can vouch for the fact that it definitely needed a cut and polish from those early drafts!? Not to mention extensive panel work…).  I think I cut about 20,000 words (and missed none of them). There is something to be said for authors writing themselves into the story, only to chop it out. Start where the story starts…I can hear you saying it Lily!

As I leave the editing phase for a while, and embark on a second novel, perhaps I can also muster a quiet read for enjoyment, and appreciate someone else’s hard yards.

I can only hope.

 

 

On Writing

Random House Quote of the Day

Random House Quote of the Day

During one of my first masterclasses at the Queensland Writers Center, a fellow author recommended I join Romance Writers of Australia (RWA). Considering I haven’t even read a Mills and Boon, I said, “But I don’t write romance,” to which she replied “Neither do I!”

She went on to explain how this fabulous organisation takes new writers under their wing, teaches them to write, regardless of genre, and puts them in touch with other writers.  I took her advice, joined up and found her to be correct.

RWA also manage several writing competitions, which I entered once – not in the hope of winning, but with the knowledge that every entrant received a written report, from experienced judges, who scored my work’s readiness for submission. Having an unbiased opinion on your work in progress, from someone who knows (ie not your best friend, mother or partner telling you “it’s great”) can be invaluable, particularly at key points in your manuscript development. By some luck, the synopsis for Losing Kate became a finalist in 2013.  We all need that sort of ego stroke now and then to keep our mojo flowing when we find ourselves staring at a blinking cursor or hitting the delete button more than the full stop.

It was through RWA that I also connected with my fabulous critique partner Lily Malone  who I had the pleasure of meeting at the annual conference in Freo. She taught me many things, like the basics of show not tell, (and avoiding doing both!), pace and editing those unnecessary words. Lily has been a fantastic support through the (at-times) daunting publishing process.

Writing can be a lonely undertaking, when often you only have your imaginary friends to keep you company. It’s true. Sometimes you actually have to converse with real people, so it’s imperative to find your place in the array of writing clubs and support groups available.

I know that’s not always easy – there’s that day job and/or those kids to think of, and unfortunately not all places have established writing centers. But for those in coastal and rural Queensland, Writefest, held in beautiful Bundaberg in May each year, is a great opportunity to be inspired, hone your craft, and even pitch to publishers. After an excellent Writers Surgery with Sandy Curtis (organised through QWC),  with her encouragement, I attended a Writefest masterclass run by editor Deoni Fiford in May 2013. With the knowledge gleaned from those experiences, I did some rejigs, and was offered a contract in July.

I write because I enjoy it. Having the good luck to be published is just a bonus. However, whether you write for yourself, or to be read in some form, it should always be a goal to improve your craft.  Everyone’s pathway is unique. One thing that is guaranteed – the more you write, the better you become, so anything that keeps you spilling out those words and hushing those self-doubts, is a step in the right direction.

Books may not change the world, but I can’t imagine a world without them.

Happy writing!

Here are some links to other blogs on honing your craft:

How to get Published in Australia

Handouts from USQ Bookcase Workshop July 2015: From Slushpile to shelf.

Author Photos