Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

More free Mills and Boon ebooks January 30, 2011

Filed under: What I'm reading — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:38 pm

The lovely people at Mills and Boon have updated their Everyone’s Reading website with more free romance ebooks.

A fab opportunity to try out a series you wouldn’t normally read!


Rejection First Aid Kit January 28, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 11:38 pm
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The lovely Shannon McKelden, aka The Happy Writer, has put together a free e-book on dealing constructively with rejection. Just sign up for her newsletter here.

Here’s a taster-

The most important phase of rejection is the recovery phase. It’s your choice whether you recover or not. Whether you pick yourself up and plunk yourself in front of that computer again or whether you wallow in self-pity and never write another word.

To survive rejection, it’s in your best interest to develop a thick skin. And the only way to build a callus, to toughen up, is to take
chances, put yourself out there, and accept the risk of rejection by submitting. Remember… rejection is never fatal. Make the choice
to use rejection to become a better, more professional writer.

Finally, remember to apply CPR to your rejections:
C – Collect your thoughts, Check your ego, Celebrate (you’re a real writer!)
P – Prepare to get rejections, be a Professional, watch for Patterns, stay Positive
R – Research, React in a positive manner, remain Realistic, Recover!

Her blog is well worth a visit.


New Wallpaper? January 25, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:26 pm
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You know that old story about the big name writer who got so many rejections before they got accepted they wallpapered a room with them?

I think I will be able to do the same soon! Just got the rejection for my So You Think You Can Write Entry.

I kinda knew it was coming, so I’m not surprised. I subbed to the wrong line, and my synopsis was all wrong, especially for the line I decided to sub to. The story is meant for SuperRomance, but seemed a bit too sexually driven, more Blazeish, so that’s where I subbed. Only problem was, I wrote a SuperRomance synopsis. So I expected the rejection.

Also, the story has changed a lot as I’ve continued writing it. I’m almost relieved to get the R. It would have been messy to get a request for more.

Truly, I am relieved! And I know my story is all wrong for Blaze. Yet there’s still that kicked in the guts feeling. My writing wasn’t good enough, once again.

I’ll keep writing, finish the story. It could well work as a Super. Once I have a little cry.


Multitasking madness! January 18, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:52 am

I’m blogging today over at the group blog Seven Sassy Sisters , on making time to write in a busy, busy life.

Hope everyone is powering on into January!


More on goal setting January 11, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:21 pm
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Okay, since the last post I’ve read some better bloggers on goal setting in writing.

The Happy Writer is a blog I want to spend a lot more time exploring. She has an excellent post on Happy Goal Setting. Love this idea-

If you make only one resolution this year, looking at the first definition of resolution listed above, make it this one:  I resolve to find ways to be happy in my writing life, to free my creativity by letting go of the tension I feel about my yet-to-be-accomplished goals and the things I have no control over.

It does seem to me that by setting far less ambitious writing goals than I normally do, I have more chance of actually achieving them.

Also, a nice post here by SuperRomance author Holly Jacobs about the difference between dreams and goals.


Setting goals I can keep January 9, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:51 pm
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How are you doing so far with your New Year’s Resolutions and writing goals for 2011?

Hopefully you did the goalsetting bit right and are powering on with them!

Or have you already broken them?  Or did you not bother making any at all, ‘cos you know from bitter experience all they do is make you feel like a failure?

That’s been me most years, one or the other. I really hope I can do it differently this year. I’m old enough to know better than to keep on doing what doesn’t work. If you are feeling like a failure because you haven’t met your writing goals, that’s not really true. You haven’t failed as a writer. Maybe you simply set the wrong goals. I know I often have.

The New Year starts off all clean and fresh and hopeful and positive, and by around now I am usually sitting in a corner crying and feeling like crap (well, that was yesterday, and it wasn’t over writing, it was over other goals that are less under my control than my writing is).

I have a history of setting crazy high goals I could never manage to keep going longer than three days. Impossible daily word counts, or finishing the story by a date that’s insanely too soon are my favourites. Problem is, every time I crashed and burned and couldn’t do it, I felt like an even worse failure as a writer than I did when I started.

So the easy answer was to give up on goalsetting. I’d write when I wrote, and that was okay.

Only problem with that was, it got me nowhere. Sure, I’d write. Lots of ideas and first chapters that never went any further, because without the discipline of a goal to keep me focused, I’d follow whatever bright shiny idea came along, and never stuck at anything long enough to get results.

Good goals are goals you can keep. Good goals deal with things you can control. Good goals are goals that get you where you want to go.

I’ve had loads of practice setting bad goals. To write 3000 words a day when I have a busy full-time job. To get published by Mills and Boon by the time I was fifty. To enter writing contests that were for lines I really didn’t want to write for. Baaaaad goalsetting!

Good goals start with thinking about what it is you really want, then working out the steps to get there. It’s not usually going to be easy, or doable in one step, or we’d already be there. A bit like that old joke where a lost tourist stops his car to ask a local how to get to the place he wants to be, and the local replies, “Well, if you want to get there, you really don’t want to be starting from here.”

My big dream come true goal is to take early retirement, move back to Australia, and make my living from writing romance. That’s a massive goal. I’m not going to get there from here. But if I can get myself a few steps closer, I might just get to where I can reach “there” from.

Steps to get there- Improve my writing. Learn how to present it better. Submit it to the right places. If I get rejected, learn from that. Either revise the story to submit somewhere else, or start a new story. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat some more.

But those steps aren’t what I really need, either. I need specifics. I need to know what I have to do today and every day to get me there.

I like this blog post where writer Hart Johnson applies science to goal setting. She differentiates between goals and strategies. Goals are the results we want, big aims that break down into smaller stages. Strategies are the things we need to do to achieve those stages, real, concrete, measurable things. 

So, the things that will get me published are to write better, write finished stories, and submit them.  

The practical task that will show I am doing that is to finish my work in progress, edit it up, and submit it.

The strategies to get there are to stick with writing at least 500 words a day on work days, 1000 words a day on non-work days until I finish first drafting the work in progress, my SYTYCW story.  I know this is a realistic, do-able target. 5000 words a week and 55,000 more words to write, so I aim to have that done by the end of March. I need to edit up the first three chapters and update the synopsis, so a realistic subbing target is the end of April. There’s a bit of leeway in there, so if real life gets in the way, it won’t derail me.

Then on to the next step- starting rewrites on my rejected SuperRomance, to sub elsewhere.

So far, 9 days into the New Year, it’s working! Though there’s a lot of year still to go.

It should keep working, because what I have set myself to do is realistic and practical. I’m determined. I’m ready to change the way I do things and make the changes last.  I want 2011 to be the year it happens for me. Maybe not publication with Mills and Boon, but by this time next year I will be published or at least had a story accepted for publication. I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep editing. I’ll keep subbing. I’ll keep learning. I’ll keep growing as a writer. In the end, that’s all it will take- keeping on and not giving up.

Chelsea over at Sassy Sisters  wrote a wonderful post on goal setting that reminded  me of the most important piece of all- celebrating the little successes along the way to the big goal.  

The big goal is so huge- to make my living from writing full-time, that measuring myself against that goal, I feel a constant failure. But there are so many smaller goals along the way I can feel good about, from sending in a sub, to sticking to writing 500 words a day minimum, to finally getting a handle on story structure, to understanding character arc and why proactive characters are so important.

So, wherever you are, if you are powering into the New Year or looking at the flaming wreck of good intentions and wondering why you bothered, remember to celebrate what you have achieved and what you’ve learned. If what you’ve tried isn’t working, it’s never too late to start again. That’s what I keep telling myself.

And it’s true.

If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes. – Andrew Carnegie


SuperRomance blog launch party January 3, 2011

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:29 am

There’s a fab new SuperRomance author’s blog, and the launch party starts today!

Here’s the schedule-

  • Monday, Jan 3rd ~ Tara Taylor Quinn, Author
  • Tuesday, Jan 4th ~ Wanda Ottewell, Senior Editor
  • Wednesday, Jan 5th ~ Karina Bliss, Author
  • Thursday, Jan 6th ~ Victoria Curran, Editor

Looks like fun, and I never say no to a party!