One of the best sayings I’ve heard this year is, “External conflict forces your hero and heroine together. Internal Conflict forces them apart.”
The perfect balance of both conflicts makes for a pacey page turner. Let one lag and you’ll always end up with the saggy middle or the tension that seems to fizzle and die.
Usually as writers we spend a lot of time honing our external conflict because this forms the basis of our books plot. It’s the spine of our novel upon which everything else hangs. However without internal conflict, the character’s struggle to achieve their goals will be singularly unmoving.
And so while it seems to be secondary, it is just as important.
What’s the best saying you’ve heard this year?

This week I’ve had a bit of an epiphany. I’ve been writing a story with a double heroine and been struggling to create empathy for one of them. No matter what I do, one of my characters seems to be more likable than the other. This week however, I think I’ve broken through a barrier.
The answer to making a character more likable, more intriguing, more interesting is always in their back story. A great character has to believe certain things about themselves that in turn drives every single thing they do in your plot. In order to empathize with a character the reader needs to be able to understand why they are making certain decisions. However, it’s not good enough to just say, Alison wants five apples to make apple pie. No, it has to be Alison wants five apples to make apple pie because she believes apple pie will lift her never ending depression. It’s the dish she always used to share with her best friend after a break up. That’s not a very good example but you get the picture.
Everything in your story can’t be in the present, it has to be in the past as well. Even though, you are giving the reader a slice of your characters life, you have to draw on their whole life to really deepen empathy. Of course, now that I’ve figured this out, I have a stack of revisions to do. Wish me luck!

The most hellish thing I find about writing is the waiting directly after submission.
Not the editing, not the characters who just can’t seem to get their motivations straight or the days where the words just don’t seem to flow. It’s the waiting. Definitely the waiting.
When I’m waiting, my stress levels seem to increase to double and I tend to read my horoscopes more often. This is crazy because I don’t actually live my life by the stars. I guess its just that I want news and to keep me going any sort will do.
The hardest thing about waiting is the fact that you have no control. At least with editing and writers block and other writing related problems you can do something to change the situation. With waiting you’re completely at the mercy of whoever it is you’ve sent your manuscript to.
They say, the best way to deal with waiting is to write something new. The great thing about doing that is you’ll also have something else to send out when your first baby comes back.
Still doesn’t stop me reading my horoscopes though.

It’s cold and rainy today. Finally feels like the first day of winter even though it’s nearly mid April. It’s what I call, perfect book weather. All you want to do is put on some track suit pants, make yourself a cup of coffee and sit down with a good book. But for my untidy house, attention seeking children and gigantic shopping list, I’d probably be doing just that. Sigh.
As I was rushing around this morning however, it didn’t stop me thinking about all my favourite authors.
Jude Deveraux, Georgette Heyer, Monica McInerney, Jane Green, Sophia Kinsella, Kate Jacobs, Judith McNaught to name a few. As I started doing mental lists, I tried to pick out what all these authors stories have in common. What is it that draws me to their stories above all others? Comedy, romance, a great external conflict, relationships(not just romantic ones), intense emotion, and so on.
As I began pulling a new list of qualities together, I realised I was describing the kind of books I write or aspire to write. I wished I’d gone through this process much sooner. I spent years trying to find out what sort of writer I am. I tried writing in many different genres and sub genres, trying to see where I fit. If I’d just made these two simple lists I would have been on the money immediately.
So if you’re searching for yourself, try this simple exercise. Write down your five most favourite authors and then follow it up with five things their books have in common. You’ll soon discover your secret goal.

Wishing all my readers a safe and Happy Easter!

Love Loretta Brabant

This weekend, I watched a movie called Julie and Julia. Loved it. It’s the first movie I’ve seen in ages that actually depicts how hard it is for writers to become published. Usually your typical movie storyline involving writers has them being discovered, published and rising to fame and fortune in about a nanosecond.

Simply not true.

Most published writers are what you call a ten year over night successes.

Julie and Julia is a tale of two very different writers who are linked together by a common love for cooking. Although they never meet they both experience real trial and tribulations of becoming a published writer from writing blogs that get no comments to spending eight years revising a book for a publisher that in the end they just turn down.

It was a feel good film, heaps of comedy and a happy ending. I highly recommend it. Although, if you do sit down and watch it, make sure you’ve got something to snack on. This movie is also guaranteed to make you hungry!

One of the most nerve racking things we can do as writers is the interview. We’re worried about looking dumb, saying something stupid or not being interesting or famous enough to draw an audience. Unfortunately, the interview is one of those necessary PR practices that helps get our books out there and bought.
The most nerve racking kind of interview is the face to face televised media one. Now that’s scarey! At the Perth’s writers festival, I went to a fun workshop about what NOT TO DO in an interview – especially one like this. The workshop was run by a writer and a publicist and it was particularly engaging because they illustrated their message with a role play.
The author came out and pretended to be interviewed by the publicist. Her hair was a mess, her clothes untidy and when thanked for taking time out to talk to “The Readers Association of WA,” she blanched saying, “Really, I thought was meeting with the Writers Association of WA. How weird.“
The interview degenerated from there. When the publicist asked pertinent questions about the author’s book, she answered with, “Well, have you bloody read it or not.” To the rest, she gave monosyllables, consisting of, “Yes,”, “No” and “No comment.” What she did seem to gabbit on about a lot was her personal life. She gave the interviewer a lot of information that they really didn’t need or make her look good. Eg. Her extramarital affair and her desire to quit smoking. She slouched in her chair, spoke badly about her publisher and also criticized her agent. And not once during the whole conversation did she mention the title of her book. It was the worst interview in the history of writing and one of the funniest demonstrations I’ve ever seen.
The presentation was concluded with some hot tips for what you should do:
Prepare
Practice
Research your interviewer
Have a glass of water handy.
Always mention the name of the book you’re promoting at least twice.
And finally, don’t babble.

On that note, I’ll sign off. Have a great weekend.

Yep, I’m still blogging about my Perth Writers Festival experience. There were so many little gems of wisdom floating around those show grounds it’s hard not to go on about it for awhile. On my travels I was fortunate enough to meet YA fantasy writer, Garth Nix. His books have sold over five million copies around the world. He’s been from one end of the publishing industry to the other, having practiced as an editor, agent and now a full time writer. He is a big believer in the “Luck” factor. As in sometimes, you can be the best bloody writer in the world but you won’t get published unless you’re standing behind the right door at the right time. This is the one thing as writers, we find very difficult to control. I mean, how do you do that? How do you control your luck? Well, you can’t control it but you can increase it. The biggest tip I got out of the festival was listen to your rejection letters. If they give good criticism, take it, work with it. But if it’s form rejections across the board, work on something new. Don’t keep peddling the same book till (hopefully) someone cracks. Every time you put something new out there it’s another spin of the wheel. Another go, at the writers gambling table. Who knows, maybe this bet, this genre, your ball will land at the right door.
Another reason to keep writing is, improvement. The more you write the better you get. The more you find out about what sort of writer you really are. The thing with writing is that you’re never at the top of your game until you’re dead. It’s a fact. So don’t stop to wait. There’s nothing to wait for. You need to keep spinning that wheel.
This goes for both published and unpublished writers. After all, (I should know) even after the first book gets published it’s not suddenly easy street. There are absolutely no guarantees that your next book is going to take.

Staying new, keeping fresh is definitely an ongoing process. On that note, I better get back to my manuscript. See you next week!

As a newly published author, the review process is one of the unchartered rivers I have to find a way navigate. At the Perth Writers Festival, I listened to a rather interesting talk given by an editor about the review process at “The Australian.” I found her presentation, rather insightful and definitely brimming with good tips that can be applied to any publication that reviews books.
As a guide, “The Australian” receives hundreds of books from authors or their publishers every week. Of those, only ten are chosen for review. So yes, getting a review is hard which makes it worthwhile knowing how books get picked for one.
Well, the big names get dibs first. Your Stephen Kings, Dan Browns, and J.K Rowlings will always be separated from the pile to start. So if you’re a big name, you’re in. The only thing you need to worry about is a bad review. There’s nothing reviewers like more than to be the first one to say, “Hey, J.K’s new one is a dud.” Which reinforces the old mantra, always write the best possible book you can.
Self published books go straight to charity. No passing “Go.” No collect $200. Sorry guys.
So what if you’re not vanity published but a small fry like me? What next? Well, after the big name spots are gone, they save three or four places for the relatively “unknown” guys.
The truth is, reviewers want to give “unknown” authors a good review. Discovering a good work by a person nobody knows is news! Saying an author nobody cares about, wrote a dumb book is not worth printing. BUT, by the same token, fiction reviewers are not out to sell books.
They’re out to create discussion.
Discussion about what?
Every magazine, newspaper or journal out there has an over arching, theme or agenda that appeals to certain, target audiences or demographic.  They want to create discussion for topics that are “hot” in their publication.  Ie. They want to review books that complement or lift the profile of their own stories/articles.   So to increase the probability that your book gets picked make sure it matches the “conversation” of the newspaper or magazine you send it to. To cut a long story short, I’m probably not going to be sending any of my books to the “The Australian,” when “Woman’s Day,” is more likely to “talk” romance.
Another tip, more obvious but easy to forget. Don’t forget the time lag. Send your book in three months before release not the week before. Reviews take time to prepare.
To conclude, if you liked this blog please “review it” on my comments page. Would love to hear from you !

  On Friday, I had fun day out at the University of Western Australia participating in the Perth Writers Festival. I attended a full day work called the Nuts and Bolts of Publishing. It was a very rewarding experience and over the next few blogs, I want to share what I learned with you.
The first session was about publishing trends in Australia. As a writer, this is a great thing to know. NOT because if you know what’s selling, you can capitalize on the market by writing it – in fact, this was definitely touted as a big “No, No.” The lag time between manuscript submission and book publication can be up to two years. By the time your book hits those shelves the trend may be gone. Not to mention the fact that if you’re writing something to make money, not because the topic actually sings to you, it’s going to show in your work. It likely that you won’t be able to sell to a publisher for that reason anyway. Cutting this long explanation short, stay true to yourself and when the time is right… it’ll pay off.
That brings us to the question, why should writers follow the trends then if we’re not supposed to write to them? Well, the thing is, if you know who’s publishing what and selling it where, when you finally have a manuscript polished and ready for submission, you’ll know where to send it. You won’t be likely to waste time and money on publishers who aren’t willing to take a chance on your genre. And you’ll be able to discern where the audience is for your work by studying the audiences of others.
The good news, is that Australia has one of the best markets for books in the world. Our readers are regular, discerning and eager to buy. Another great plus is that unlike the USA, readers are just as likely to buy their books from Independent bookstores as they are from big discount department stores. Put simpler, Dymmocks sells just as many books as K-mart. In the USA, most independent book stores have been squeezed out of the market in preference for the either the big department stores or the really big book store chains like Barnes and Noble.
So who are the big players in Australian Publishing, who is the Top 6? Number 1, of course is Penguin, the largest publisher of commercial fiction in our country. Number 2 is Hachette, a publisher, I have my eye on. After that, placement spots get murky, but in the running is, Pan Macmillan, Harper Collins, Allen and Unwin and Random House. If you’re targeting one of big six or you just want to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not. Add their websites to your favourites and follow their movements.

If nothing else, you’ll get your Christmas list done way ahead of schedule!