Saturday, 22 February 2014

AUTHOR VS FAMILY - Don't Tell Me I Can't Have Both (I'll bite your ankles!)

Now that the short joke is out of the way, on to the serious stuff.

If I knew then what I know now, I don’t think I would have got past the first paragraph of the first draft for Of Fire & Roses. But perhaps my naivety (and possibly pregnancy hormones) worked in my favour. 

So at 6 months pregnant, with a toddler and an office job an hour away from my rural home I decided to make number 1 on my bucket list a reality. 

Some would call this heroic, others might refer to it as suicidal. “What are you thinking?” Their panicked voices rang out. My answer to that- there are 24 usable hours in every day.

So I embarked on writing the first draft of “Of Fire & Roses”.  I was writing when I got up in the morning, during the day and the last thing I would do at night. On the bus on my way to work I had 45 minutes to scribble notes down on any kind of writing material I could find; the back of old envelopes, business cards, old shopping lists, even the odd napkin. In roughly 6 weeks, I had a full manuscript in my hands.

I received my first round of edits from my publisher the day my second daughter came into the world. Throw in a newborn right before my first novel is published and things turn 500 shades of crazy.

It never occurred to me that I might fail. I have discovered if you want something bad enough, you will find a way.

However! That being said, there is a very fine line of doing everything and neglecting your family to the point of breakdown and this is where the balancing act comes in. It took me standing in the driveway of our beach shack at 1.30am when our 8 week old wouldn’t stop screaming, watching my husband drive off with said baby saying I was putting this book before my family.

I shut the laptop lid without a sound, unhooked the Ethernet cable, and re-evaluated my current goals. My babies were growing up before my eyes and I was missing it, not to mention a husband who was not feeling the love.

So how can you have a family AND a writing career?

First and foremost, your family comes first. You don’t want to miss your baby’s first smiles or other milestones because you have your head buried so far into your laptop your counting words in your sleep and burping adverbs.

There are 3 little words that I have printed in 72 point bold on my fridge for when my 2 year old is wailing at me and digging through the pantry at 3pm because she hasn’t had lunch yet.

It. Can. Wait.

The earth won’t stop spinning if you don’t finish that blog post right then and there.  Not every single reader that is going to buy the book will do so the second it is released so you don’t have to do everything right now.

Utilise time when no one is around.  Get up an hour or two before everyone else. These are golden moments when you can take your time.  Have a plan so you know what you are going to do in those moments you do get to work and don’t waste those precious minutes.

Multi-task. God’s gift to you that allows you to do more than one thing at a time.

Finally,  and probably most importantly, remember you are a writer, not a blogger. Make time to write. Everyday. Be it 5 minutes or 5 hours. Otherwise you can fall in to the trap of spending all your time writing blogs, trawling Facebook and Twitter and checking rankings when you should be penning your next masterpiece.

So I’ve made my peace with the craziness of life, learnt to chill out and not take everything so seriously.  I roll with the punches and with the odd exception, try to take everything in my stride.

So these days, I can usually be found sitting on the lounge, computer resting on my lap, coffee within arms reach, rocking a baby chair with my foot juggling play doh in one hand, sending a text message with the other while using voice dictation on the computer.

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Sunday, 16 February 2014


I am so proud and honoured to call this incredible author my friend. Her books are full of diverse characters who you laugh with, cry with and occasionally want to smack around the head.  


Book title: Finding Evan by Lisa Swallow
Series: Butterfly Days #2
Genre: NA Contemporary Romance
Release date: January 15, 2014
Hosted by: Forever Me Romance

“She killed a part of me – the part which trusts when someone tells you they love you, and allows you to trust that person with your heart.” 

Ness and Evan return to Leeds from Europe, and begin their new life together. But the past Evan has buried for years resurfaces and threatens their future. 

After fifteen years, Evan doesn’t want any contact with the woman who abandoned him, but is unwillingly pulled into his mother’s life by Lucy. 

Feeling pushed aside by Ness’s focus on her studies and new friends, Evan can’t confide in Ness about what’s happening. This return to his old behavior adds more distance to their relationship. When Ness’s new friend Ollie picks up the pieces because Evan is away, Evan’s insecurities threaten their relationship further. 

Ness becomes aware of Evan’s situation, and she questions whether he will ever be able to break his ties to those dragging him down. If he can’t put himself first, and live the life he wants, she is unable to see how their relationship could work. In return, Evan struggles with Ness’s inability to get close to people, and her distance pushes him further away. 

The decision about the future of the relationship is taken out of their hands - by something that could end things between Ness and Evan forever…

Book 1 - Because of Lucy Excerpt

     I side step the sink and turn. A guy leans against the doorframe, trying to appear nonchalant but his slackened stance indicates he’s attempting to keep himself upright. His brown hair is longer at the front and spills into his face, and unfocused brown eyes appear to be looking in my direction. He’s one of the regulars. I don’t pay a lot of attention, but he’s a good-looking guy and they never go unnoticed. 
     “Yes?” I snap. I’m so not in the mood.
      His eyes sweep my figure. Unbelievable... I straighten my sleeves and look at him with an eyebrow raised.
     “Are you Abby’s housemate?”
     “Who are you?”
     “Evan.” He rubs his nose. “You’re not a student?”
     “Correct, I am the one not lying in a drunken haze on the floor contemplating my navel.”
     Evan takes a step forward, steadying himself with one hand as my witty repartee sails over his head. “Why?”
     “Why am I not on the floor drunk?”
     “Why aren’t you a student?”
     “Because I work instead.”
     “Hmm.” He pauses and grasps onto the sink, searching for a glass. I pass him the spare one. 
     “Did you fail?”
     “Fail what?”
     Evan fills the glass. “Or are you just not smart enough for uni? What is it you do?” He gulps the water in three mouthfuls then wipes his mouth with his hand.
     Arrogant wanker.
     “That’s right, I’m not smart enough. I’m living with Abby until I can find a nice man to marry then I can have 2.4 kids and a house in the suburbs. Because, as I’m not a student, I have no future.”
     Evan leans against the sink. “Fair enough.”
     Oh my god he believes me. How pissed is he exactly? “So, you think anyone who doesn’t go to university is inferior to you?” I demand.
     I’ve seen her friends looking down their noses at me. Inverted snobbery. On top of that, the locals hate students and the students hate locals. I’m neither. I can’t win.
     We’re close now and he stinks of alcohol and pot, a faint hint of deodorant lingering on his clothes. Evan’s T-shirt has come untucked and rides up as he leans against the sink. He’s toned, evidently works out.      I can’t help myself, I check him out. Beneath his curls he has deep brown eyes. Incoherent eyes. I hate to admit, but something about him is seriously sexy. Even if he is a dick. 
     “Well, if you’ll excuse me,” I say. 
     He sniggers. 
     “What’s funny?” 
     “You sound like the Queen.”
     Not this again. I get enough crap at work. I move from Cheltenham to Yorkshire and suddenly I’m ‘stuck up home counties girl’. I don’t dignify his comment with an answer and turn away from him, and walk out of the  kitchen.
     “Want me to get the guy out of your bed?” he calls after me.
     I stop and look round. “You know him?”
     “I could replace him.”
     My mouth drops open at his arrogance. An attempt at a flirtatious smile plays around his lips but the unfocused eyes kill the effect he’s trying to achieve. He’s serious. I imagine he has a ready supply of eager girls. No surprise with a body and looks like his, such a shame he needs a personality transplant. 
     I step towards him. “Evan. I am not pissed. Nor are you getting into my bed. Good night.” Feeling happy with my retort, I saunter towards the stairs. Behind me, Evan impersonates my sentence with an exaggerated posh accent.
     It’s a good thing that I’m sober otherwise I’d go back there and punch him.

Book 1 - Because of Lucy

Book 2 - Finding Evan


Lisa is an author of new adult romance and writes both paranormal and contemporary, often with a side of snark. In between running a business, looking after her family and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally. Lisa loves all things from the Whedonverse and preferred vampires before they sparkled. 
Lisa has four books published: the ‘Butterfly Days’ series, and two in her urban fantasy series Soul Ties. She is currently working on a new contemporary romance series Blue Phoenix and the first book, Summer Sky is due for release in April. Lisa is originally from the UK but moved to Australia in 2001 and now lives in Perth in Western Australia with her husband, three children and dog.

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Thursday, 13 February 2014

RELEASE DAY! OF FIRE & ROSES - Can I get a woot woot!

Just breathe, in and out, in and out.  Who woulda thought that I would ever see this? I'm standing here doing the 'running man' in the living room. Let's hope you never see that...

Every day I sit in wonder how I got this far. Those people who know me, will be well aware of my penchant for starting things.  I love starting things. It's just finishing that's the problem. So the fact that this even got past first draft is a complete mystery to me!

But here it is. A little book I wrote.  Please enjoy. 

Of Fire & Roses 

* Book #1: The Erlanis Chronicles *

Nathaniel West's mother is dead, his father a lost cause. Anger has become a way of life, until he meets and falls in love with Cora Ewell. Only Cora has a secret, one that could kill them both.

An age old dark magic resurfaces and it becomes a race against time for Cora and Nate to find the long buried secrets to saving everyone they love and each other.

After a near fatal accident leaves Nate in limbo, he must find a way to get through to Cora before time runs out and she is forced into life eternal with the evil wizard, Elias Stafford.


Danielle Belwater adores the concept of true love and truly believes everyone has their Prince Charming or Snow White out there somewhere, even if they have to fight demons, ghosts, and wizards to find it.
Danielle has been having a love affair with words since she was young and in primary school, writing some rather imaginative tales. This love has followed her into adulthood. 
She lives in rural South Australia with her husband, young daughters and way too many animals to mention. She spends most of her time dreaming up characters, stories, ghostly tales, and watching Firefly re-runs.  She also cooks the odd meal for her family to avoid them looking like skeletons at official author functions!
Danielle is passionate about reading and her interests include pretty much anything with words from rolling four volume epics to the daily newspaper.

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Monday, 3 February 2014

Pseudonyms 101 - Don't Try To Be Cool - It Will Bite You In The Ass.

You see the pretty cover on the bookshelf, pick it up, read the blurb, it sounds interesting so you buy it, read it and put it on your bookshelf to gather dust.

Have you ever stopped to think what the author had to face to get that book into your hot little hands?

There have been many challenges in bringing “Of Fire & Roses” out of my head and onto your kindle.

So what do you do when you have to change your pen name and social media platform 10 days out from your first novel release, when you are stuck at a beach house, with no internet access?


Yes, most definitely panic and some minor vomiting. Throw in a few arguments with the husband, two neglected children and 4 unfed dogs and you might get a brief glimpse into my world over the past few days.  I could be found cheek pressed up against the sliding glass doors or hanging, white knuckled over the balcony with my iPhone searching for that elusive internet connection. 

But with the help of some pretty awesome people, I was talked down off the ledge or balcony as it were and resisted the urge to toss my brand new MacBook Air into the ocean, and calmed the *insert expletive here* down.

While copyright for pseudonyms in Australia and America is technically not possible, and to trademark costs thousands, I thought I was in the clear. After my initial anger and shaking my clenched fists at the Almighty, the reason why using said name might not be the best idea, was explained to me in a frustratingly nice email from an agent. But to be honest, I can see their point.   It's an identity thing.

So what did I do?

The most difficult thing was coming up with a new name.  A name I could live with, be proud of-- and wasn’t already splashed all over social media.

Something unique.  And so, laptop and iPad with portable wifi hotspot tucked neatly under arm, I dashed to the town park with my 2 young children in the middle of cyclonic winds. After a few hours of brainstorming with some very esteemed writing colleagues, amidst a baby poonami, a force 10 gale and dust storm, Danielle Belwater was born. (Although Danielle Toiletwater got a few votes as well :D )

So do you plan on using a pseudonym? And if you do, I strongly suggest the following:

  •         Try and avoid using a name from a book or movie. A reader might be searching for you and end up buying the wrong books and vice versa.
  •      There might be strong branding surrounding your chosen name which other parties may not be happy about your sharing, no matter how well you meant.
  •           If you have your heart set on a particular name from a series of books check with the author first. You might think Anastasia Steele is a really cool name to write under, although E.L. James might have other ideas.
  •      I'm going to say that again, and put it in bold... and underline it.... Check with the author first!

-       Think about how you would feel if someone took one of your dearly loved characters and decided to create their own brand surrounding that name, possibly taking publicity and potential sales away from you. 
  •           Google the name you intend to use.  Is there already someone with that name who has a large social media presence? You don’t want to get lost in another person’s social media platform. You want to stand out and be recognised for your name. You don’t want  readers to confuse you with someone else.

And finally and I think really importantly:

-       Do you really need a pseudonym? Is there anything really wrong with your actual name? Unless it’s Doris Poodlepants, then I’d perhaps reconsider. 

Or if you write erotica, then sometimes a pen name is helpful for keeping that persona different.

So let my lesson learnt the hard way, help you get one step closer to publishing your novel, WITHOUT becoming a candidate for Nutcases Anonymous.