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.


Organizing your manuscripts to avoid mishaps #writing #amwriting #organized #finding #organize #manuscripts


I always thought I was pretty good at keeping my writing records in order and having useful info readily to hand for my writing, but Betsy Talbot is even more so. I am particularly impressed by how often she backs up her work – and how thoroughly. A lesson to all of us!

Some of my personal tricks – I keep one document in which I compile useful information for each of my book series. I set up an automatic table of contents so I can find things easily. I also find the search option useful… Whether it’s information about how far a horse will ride in a day, chronologies of the events relating to the french revolution, or the names of some of the characters and places in my stories, it is all there. I also keep track of word count from time to time, especially of the ‘good days’.

Version control of drafts is also very important. I try to backup every few days (probably need to be more vigilent with that though!

What are some of your favourite tips for organising your work?

Write from the heart, not just to fit a genre #write #amwriting #genre

6 Tips for Using Beta Readers

I love this article from Clare Weiner.

I really relate to the comment “Choosing to self-publish liberates authors from the need to write within the constraints of fiction genres favoured by trade publishers.” This is one of the reasons that I am excited to be an Indie.

Some of my books are not typical romances – such as ‘The Secret Life of Eloise’ with it’s anti-heroine and series of male protagonists. It’s perhaps more of an adventure romp than a love story, yet it is romantic as well.

‘Isabel’s Choice’ has a lot of adventure mixed in with the romance, and ‘Sophie’s Story’ is probably more ‘historical fiction’ than ‘romance’.

So I have been enjoying writing the stories I want to write rather than worrying about conforming to genre. Let’s hope my readers enjoy my waywardness 🙂

Are you a new author dreaming of a trad publishing deal? #tradpublishing #indie #newauthor #writing #support #books


What would you say if you were offered a trad publishing deal? Would you break out the champagne? Is that your idea of nirvana? If it is, then it’s worth being aware of some of the possible pitfalls.

I found this article really useful, especially as it is from someone with such a long experience of publishing in many different ways. I’d love to know what you think of it.

There are some important messages in there – in particular, if you do get offered a trad. publishing deal, be very careful about the small print. For example: “If we sell life-of-copyright to a novel to a major traditional publisher, we may NOT BE ABLE TO GET IT BACK.” Probably until 70 years after our death (even after the publishing company have lost interest)

From my perspective, I’m an Indie at heart. I feel I’ve found the place I want to be. Still a long way to go, but at least I know where myself and my books are going. And I will be keeping my copyright and taking responsibility for whatever I have to, and getting professionals to help add value in areas where I am not so proficient. At least I know that most of what I deliver will be down to me. Wish me luck!

What not to do when marketing a book #book #marketing #tips #amwriting #writing #writers #marketingstrategy #promotion


More great marketing tips from Bookbub – this time: what not to do! I particularly like the examples of good publicity pitches that captured the attention of readers… Check it out.

How many of these book promotion strategies that no longer work have you tried?

I have been creating my own Marketing strategy, and I can outline it pretty simply. I am not a salesperson or good at being pushy, so I will have my own approach. It looks a bit like this:

  1. Write the best book I can (use professional editors and cover designers)
  2. Set up a multi-faceted author platform, making it easy for readers to find me in a variety of places (including my website, goodreads, facebook, my blog, twitter, etc)
  3. Make my books available in a number of book stores, including providing advance warning that they are soon to be released (work in progress. I have tried using a book distributor with my first few books.)
  4. Find my readers, including free promotions, free books when people sign up for my mailing list, finding people who like similar books, etc. (I am taking some courses to get better at this). This is the next big frontier for me.

I must admit, I am very reticent about asking people to buy my books. I am planning to spend a bit of time finding my readers before I encourage people to by them. I guess I am keen that the people who will enjoy my books are the ones who are asked to buy them. Probably old fashioned, but that will be my approach.15142786-marketing-strategy-word-speech-bubble-illustration-on-white-background