All posts by Jenny Schwartz

Jenny Schwartz, author of Australian Coastal Romance

Coastal Escape

coast1I had a very mini-coastal escape on the weekend. I drove down to a local beach. It seemed effective though, because on Monday I finished the-story-that-would-not-end and sent it off to my crit partner with the message “please, don’t hurry to return it!”  The story is fabulous, but getting the emotional development right in under 12,000 words was a challenge.

Joyously, that means I can finally focus on my Kimberley novel. I’ve been turning over ideas for this story for a couple of months, and this time has actually allowed a useful evolution in my thinking. The plot is stronger for it.

DSC02831I’ve never actually been to the Kimberley (I’m such a bad traveller) so this photo to your right is a cheat — it’s from my southern beach, but still beautiful. If you’re curious about the beauty of the Kimberley coast, Kimberley Stock Photos has an incredible collection of images.

I’m energised at starting a new project. On Tuesday I bought maps to plot the location of my fictional outback homestead. For a reluctant traveller, I’m oddly fascinated by maps. So many possibilities, maybe?

It was funny walking through the crowded shopping mall with my maps. The characters I’ve been thinking about for two months now were very nearly as real to me as the chaos around me. Oops! Eccentric author moment :)

I’m not sure how this novel will develop. I don’t want to lose my momentum by talking about it too much. I need to WRITE it instead. But expect a splash of history, a dash of gothic romance and a strong contemporary romance.

 

New Book! Kiss It Better

Clutching a signed copy of the contract for Kiss It Better, I can finally announce that my third Jardin Bay book will be out late this year (after Hero Duty on 1 June).

Kiss It Better - coming soon

When Cassie Freedom’s dream of nursing in Africa shatters, Jardin Bay welcomes her home to its familiar security. But Dr Theo Morrigan is about to change everything. Theo’s had to leave his medical practice to take over the family business, and now he’s thinking of a more personal takeover; that is, until his own life is rocked by revelation of an old secret and suddenly the man who needed no one, needs a broken-hearted nurse.

 

Gardening and other prep

pomegranateThe season is turning. The heat of summer is giving way to cooler Autumn days. The plants are grateful. Here the leaves don’t glow with colour. The weather stays warm too  long and the leaves simply fall. But we do have pomegranates.

holy basilI trimmed the holy basil and it has a flush of new green growth. The seeds are stored for next summer, along with those of the sweet basil, which definitely hasn’t gotten the message that summer is over. sweet basil

Roses are enjoying a burst of colour. Insects are everywhere, and so are the birds eating them. I always know when it’s lawn beetle grub season because the magpies descent for afternoon tea and Toby is a good boy and (mostly) doesn’t chase them away.

rosesThere’s an energy to autumn that wakes me up after the lethargy of summer heat. I have big plans for the next few months, writing plans, but for now they’re sshhh while I think on them. I’d hate to promise what I can’t deliver.

How about you? Do you have any special autumn/spring plans?

 

“Hero Duty” Release Update

Hero Duty releases 1 June from Escape Publishing.

SoonHeroDuty

The edits are complete. Thanks, Lauren McKellar, for improving the story and, as with all my editors — I’ve been so lucky — honing my writing style.

I can’t wait to see the cover. Unlike many authors, I don’t use actors as inspiration, so I don’t even know who I’d cast to play Brodie and Jessica. For Brodie, the actor would have to convey power under complete control. A man of few words, but those he says, he means. And for Jessica, an actress who is smart, whose inner strength shines through, who is beautiful and haunted. One cover to communicate all this, and the drama of the Australian coastal setting. What a challenge!blurb

Hero Duty is a book that completely absorbed me, well before I started writing it. I remember boring a friend silly outlining it over lunch — she’s a very good friend and I don’t normally do this, so she was enthusiastic and helpful. Maybe we both fell a bit in love with Brodie?

The story is simply one that reminds me to hold on to hope. Jessica has so much, and yet she is scared and lonely. Brodie is an ex-soldier, a man of honour, who has to build a new life. They need each other for the courage and joy they bring each other. That’s the power of love.

Acceptance

YesIn publishing, acceptance means that an editor somewhere has accepted your story for publication. In this era of self-publishing, the acceptance letter/phone call/email has lost some of its importance. Publishing houses are no longer the only way to get your story in front of people. But it’s still cool to receive the validation of an acceptance.

Getting your story accepted has never been easy. You can write the best story you have in you — and have it rejected. Not because it isn’t brilliant, but because of publishing realities. If another book similar to yours is already published or scheduled to be published, “sorry and all that, but no,” says the editor.

So much of being a writer involves accepting that things are out of your control. [Like reader reviews. The ongoing Anne Rice Amazon petition kerfuffle gets a thoughtful response from Robin Reader on Dear Author, here]

But I think that in the long term, the most important acceptance is one that’s totally within your control: self-acceptance.

Anne Marie Becker wrote a simple, true post on her decision to stop comparing herself to other authors. The post is up at the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood.

There are lots of ways to drive ourselves crazy, and one of my favourite (I am so being ironic) is to try to live someone else’s life.

I would love to be the sort of writer who without fail turns out 2,000 words a day, minimum. This is not an unreasonable target. On a good day, I easily write 3,000 words. On a day filled with struggle and headaches, my word count stays at zero. I still beat myself up about this, but I’m trying for acceptance. It’s who I am: not superwoman.

Self-acceptance means being comfortable that you’re doing what’s right for you. Lots of people will have an opinion, but in the end, you’re the narrator of your own story; why not make it an adventure?

 

Image, Baby

Life seems to me to be a long journey through trying to understand, thinking you understand, to realising you’re wrong. Or maybe that’s just me faced with the ever-evolving online world?

I thought being an author meant obsessing about words. It does. But I’m now convinced that if being an author means having an online presence, then an author also has to think visually. Images as well as words enter our toolbox. And if you’re not convinced of the role of images in social media then this post from the Social Media Examiner is a must read. Should I haul out the old cliche? A picture is worth a thousand words.

It's Love, Dude graphicCanva.com is my latest graphic design toy — it’s free! The templates are handy for the graphically challenged [insert photo of me ;) ]  I like the results and have updated my FB and G+ profile banners using it.

Speaking of G+, my page there is a good example of how images are now the predominant casual-share. To catch people’s attention, you need a picture. Social media platforms are restructuring to channel you along that path.

Just as soon as I get a little time (my writing schedule is all to hell and gone after this summer ) I intend to revise my social media strategy to offer a coherent image-rich presence across all the (way too many) social media I use.

How do you use images in your online communications? Do you follow anyone who you think uses them particularly well?

Being an Author

It's Love Dude coverAuthors are the whole bag of tricks.

I still remember the online conversation when I first self-identified as an author – and the wonderful Carina Press authors who said “Of course you are!” Back then (the Dark Ages, it was 2010) I had a clear idea of the distinction between writers and authors. Writers are people who write. Authors are people who’ve been published.

Memories Of Love_FinalPause a moment to take a nostalgic sigh for those innocent days.

That was the last gasp of an era when editors and publishers were gatekeepers. I lived and breathed that air and needed the validation of editorial approval and the concrete expression of a published book to believe myself an author.

So to return to my ancient definition: writers write; authors write plus are published.

These days, I shake my head at my own delusions. Do you know how often Charles Darwin went on the lecture circuit? Well, no, neither do I, but it was lots. The point was, his books weren’t the only element that defined him as an author. He was an author because he lived that public role.Drawing Closer

Aha! Do you see where I’m going with this post?

Writers write. Authors write plus they act like authors.

Self-publishing means the old gatekeepers no longer define who is and isn’t an author (even for deluded people like me). The issue of who is an author is self-defined.

But if you put on the author hat, you have to walk in its boots, too. There’s a lot of mud to slog through.

Writers produce the product. Authors sell it.

Some lucky people manage to focus only on writing, and somehow *sprinkles fairy dust* their books still sell really well. For most of us, that stuff on our shoulders is dandruff, not fairy dust.

Authors study their market. What will they write, for who, on what publication schedule and how will they publish it (which publisher or self-published)?

Courting Trouble - SteampunkThey have a marketing plan – and this is so much more than a promotional tour in the book’s release week. This is the hard slog bit of designing your social media strategy and sticking to it. Who are you as an author and where are you online? What are your strengths and your weaknesses (and this includes whether you can be trusted on Twitter or whether you’ll procrastinate forever)? Where is your community and how can you contribute to it? Remember, you have to bank a heck of a lot of social credit before you can draw some to help promote your next book. People are busy!

Authors remember that the financials of their business (yes, business!) have to add up. Believe me, there’s only so long even a romance author can live on love ;) Mistaken Engagement_cvr

That said, authors are realistic. They learn through experience what is and isn’t within their control. Ideally, we’d put our energy into what we can influence, but most of us spend a lot of time fretting over things we can’t change – like making Jane at Dear Author review my books. Do you think I can bribe her with TimTams? No? *sigh*

Finally, authors are passionately committed to the craft of writing. Producing a quality product is their most important work and they know it. But we know that all that other stuff is necessary, too.

Can someone please pass the coffee?Bellrose2.jpg