Story Mastery with Michael Hauge #michaelhauge #rwaus16 #amwriting

Love stories offer most powerful tool for creating character arc and taking reader on journey

What a thrill to attend Michael Hauge’s story writing workshop at the recent RWA conference. Apparently, we were the biggest audience he’s ever had for a presentation on writing – and we loved it!


For those of you who don’t know much about Michael – he’s a screen-writer and writing/screen coach who works in Hollywood and has consulted on many of the major HW films in the past decades.

Michael covered a lot in our all-day session. Starting with some clips from some movies he used to illustrate his messages. So what were some of his messages?

Some of those that resonated with me were:

You need to create an emotional experience for your reader or watcher

You need to transport the reader/watcher into the world you’ve created

Your goal as a writer is to elicit emotion in the reader

So how do we do that?

Michael went into a lot of detail about main characters, their outer motivations and their inner journey. I will cover more about that in my next few blog posts as there’s a lot to take in. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another of my favourite quotes from the workshop

Stories are a participatory experience. People read novels not because it is interesting to see what happens, but as an emotional journey to experience for themselves.



Coming out – Empowered and inspired by my first @RWAus conference #RWAus16 #amwriting #writers #emerging

Look out world – here I come!

Ain’t Love Grand was the best conference I’ve ever been to.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

I’ve been to conferences before – quite a few of them – I’ve even presented at some. History, Heritage, Architecture, Sustainability, Management – even Fossils. And there have been many with outstanding speakers, good networking, lots to learn and lots to think about. But for me, the recent RWAus conference was far more than just enlightening. It was transformational.


I felt I changed on so many levels. Of course I learnt plenty of new info about writing and publishing. I also met lots of great people – and I think that’s where the transformation really set in. Because I’ve been a ‘closet novelist’ for years – have sat at home writing away, crafting stories, finishing books, self-publishing a few of them, building networks online and learning about the writing craft and the fraught world of publishing and marketing books, finding readers, etc, etc…. And have felt overwhelmed and alone, at times. Started to lose momentum and wonder whether I could continue existing as a writer in a parallel world that wasn’t really a reality… And then – BAM! – I meet dozens of other writers who are just like me, and suddenly it all becomes real.

So, some of the key things I learnt from attending the conference: –

  1. I am not alone. (That’s very reassuring.)
  2. Other writers are generous and inspiring – I already knew that, mostly, but now I really believe it
  3. Anything is possible, and you won’t know if you don’t try
  4. Writing is hard work and you need to treat it like a job. Take yourself seriously and give yourself permission to write.
  5. Don’t be ashamed of writing love stories – Love makes the world go round.
  6. And so much more that I’m going to need a few more blog posts to express it.

So now I am officially ‘OUT’ as a romance writer. I will tell any of my colleagues at work who are interested, and any of my friends and family. I will set myself writing goals and work towards them with gusto. I have made myself an electronic Calendar dedicated to all the work I need to do as ‘Emily Arden’. I am making this real, and I will succeed.

Stay tuned for some more posts on what I learnt from the conference, and may you achieve your dreams, or at least, always feel empowered to chase them.


To delegate or not to delegate – Using time wisely Part 3 #time management #time #delegation #efficiency #writers #writing


Delegation – something many of us shy away from. We like to be independent, do things for ourselves. Or we are too shy to ask for help. Or we don’t want to bother others. Or we don’t want to spend money on something we can do ourselves. Or we think we can somehow find the time to do everything ourselves. Or we don’t trust anyone else to do things – even things that aren’t that important. Or we’ve always done it on our own, so we need to keep doing that, Or…. Seriously?

It is so important to find good ways to get things done, and it is not always ourselves who are the best or only people who can do things. If there is someone in your team or your family who can add value to a task and get some/most/all of it done, then why not share the load?

Yet it is not always easy to let go. You have to have people you can trust, with the right skills, etc., etc. There are lots of reasons (excuses) why many of us are slow to delegate. Here are some reasons why you should give it serious consideration:

1 Your time is precious. Maybe it’s worth more than money – maybe there are some things that you do that you could delegate to someone else, so that you can spend more time on what you are best at.

For example – house maintenance, cleaning, painting… sure they are all things you could do yourself, but are there any other options? Can you afford to buy yourself some time by hiring someone in to do it?

2 Other people may thrive if they are given opportunities to help you with your work

For example – specialised work tasks. Perhaps you are the best person for the job, but sometimes there are others who would be happy to have an opportunity to try. They may make some mistakes, but if they are good people and you trust them, then they will learn. And that can help to take the load off you (plus add an additional perspective).

3 Your work will be improved with additional perspectives

For example – editing your book. Of course you need to do a certain amount of this yourself, but getting in others to help, including a professional editor and beta readers, will IMPROVE your book beyond whatever you might be able to do on your own.

So get to it! Spread your tasks around – delegate. Find some helpers and share the load! And let’s hope that it leads you to getting more done and achieving better results for the stuff that’s important to you 🙂

Are bad habits undermining your chance to be a great writer? #writing #success #habits #achievement #behaviour #permission #writer


I have been thinking (and writing the odd blog-post) about the importance of taking yourself seriously. If you want to get good at something you need to make good decisions about how you spend your time. If you want to achieve a goal, you have to focus on the path you will take to get there. Allowing yourself to succeed means allowing yourself to make good choices, to focus on the right incremental changes to get you where you want to be.

I read an article yesterday that really articulated something to me. It was about habits. If you want to end up with false teeth by the time you are 60, then by all means don’t spend time brushing your teeth every day. But if you want something better than that, then taking care of your teeth will need to become a regular habit. It won’t just happen if you remember it every now and then. It needs to become a personal rule.

“I will not go to bed until I have brushed my teeth”. That sort of rule.

I want to be a writer – the sort of writer who writes books that people want to read. As far as I can see, there are two main things I need to do to achieve that.

Firstly, I have to write good books – and that is a huge topic in itself. Too much to tackle right now. The thing I want to say here is, if I don’t give myself time to write (plenty of time), then it won’t happen. (And not only time to write, but time to edit, check, read, think, rewrite, etc…) To do that – I need to establish a writing habit. Not just to write when I feel like it, or when I feel ‘inspired’, but to turn up to write regularly. Every day if possible.

“I will not go to sleep until I have spent one hour writing” could become my mantra. Something like that. (Nothing wrong with sleep deprivation – surely?)

Secondly, I have to find the readers who will enjoy my books. To me this is even harder than writing, but I know it is something I need to do. There are SO MANY books out there – all I have to do is find my audience. Then to give those readers something they want so they keep wanting to read my stories and my books find their intended home. To achieve that, I need to develop a different set of habits. I need to learn about promotion and reviews, and communicating with potential readers of my books. Hard, but it won’t happen unless I turn up every day and start working on it. So every day (well, most days), I say to myself

“I will not go to bed until I have done something towards building my author profile.”

Preferably five things (my success diary (on facebook) is doing a great job of keeping me on track). It might be a facebook post, a blog post, sharing and commenting on other people’s blogs, tweeting or building my website. There are plenty of things that will help – I just have to keep showing up.

I have posted before about this and I will say it again – make time for your writing. Give yourself permission. Not everything will work, some things might even fail dismally. But if you are not in there having a go, then you will never make it.

I wish you success at creating some good habits to help you on your way. Check out this article for some more inspiration.


Great tip for avoiding procrastination – the two minute rule! #writers #writing #procrastination #success

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I found this post by James Clear really helpful. How many of us put off starting something and waste time trying to avoid doing it? I’m guessing all of us do it at some time or another…

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Here’s a quick and easy tip to try. Starting now.

What are you going to start? I’m going to get stuck into those final corrections for ‘Isabel’s Choice’ that I have been managing to avoid for days.

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Hybrid publishing – the good, the bad and the ugly #writers #writing #book #publishing

Do you need help with publishing? What options are available to you? This article from Jane Friedman gives some excellent advice!

This has made me think about my own best options for publishing in the future. So far, I have used an e-Book distributor Bookbaby for my first series of contemporary romances. But I am not sure whether that is the best way to go with future books. I will look do an evaluation of my options soon and let you know how I go.