Saturday, 28 April 2012

Ask Whitney! - Where do writers write?

Hey everyone,
Hope you've all had a great and are looking forward to the weekend. :)
So you might remember my earlier post about 'Ask Whitney'.
Well, Today I'll be answering my first question made by Shelly, a fellow aspiring writer of romance.
This is what she asked me:

I've always wonder what environments writers work best in. Does everything have to be neat and orderly in their office? Did they chose a specific paint color to help them be more creative? Can they write anywhere?

Now as much as I love being descriptive and would make a good attempt to discribe such amazing places to Shelly, I thought a collection of pictures would say more. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, lets test that out.

First up, we have the writing space of Annie Seaton. She writes across genres including steampunk, historical and paranormal romance, romantic suspense and her favourite, contemporary romance. Annie lives on the east coast of Australia and her house (as is evident the photo she has provided) looks out over the south Pacific Ocean.

Annie has just had two releases, a wonderful contemporary romance called 'Holiday Affair' and a steampuck romance called 'Winter of the Passion flower'.

These books can be found at the following links:
Holiday Affair
Winter of the Passion Flower

Next we have, Imogen

My next author is Lucinda Brant. Lucinda writer Georgian Historical romances and lives in New Zealand. She writes full-time when not bumping about Georgian London in my sedan chair or exchanging gossip with perfumed and patched courtiers in the gilded drawing rooms of Versailles.
In a previous life she died at the guillotine during the French Revolution (her reason for the migraines in her life). Hence, all her novels are set in 1700’s England or France but well before 1789!
Now this is my favourite study and I'm finding myself a little envious of Lucinda :)

One of my crit buddies, Coleen has also decided to share with us and although she didn't have a picture for us, she had this to say:

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” (Virginia Woolf)

I don’t have a room of my own to do my writing—the cost of inner-Sydney housing means I have a corner in the bedroom for my desk, but that’s a step up because I used to work at the kitchen table. My workspace is cramped but perfectly adequate. It’s more the environment around me that affects my writing. I like to start my writing by ten o’clock, after I’ve seen the children off to school and gone for my morning constitutional.  I also like to do chores like setting off the laundry or emptying the dishwasher before I start, otherwise they weigh on the back of my mind. Some writers swear by listening to a playlist as they write, but I find music more of a distraction (and if the neighbour over the back fence starts up his awful ‘doof-doof’ music it’s a sure fire concentration-killer). I like to have a cup of tea and the window open to let in a slight breeze as I write.

Email and the internet are the worst time-wasters for me. It’s easy to fritter away an hour on emails or social media without really achieving anything. Unfortunately the internet is also a great tool for research, which leads to even more time-wasting! Sometimes I just have to shut down everything else on my computer and just focus on my WIP.

I need to do my writing in solid chunks of time, like two to three hours at a time, as I’m not great on picking up the thread after interruptions. Sometimes the first three or four hundred words are sheer torture, and then as I get immersed in the story the words seem to flow more easily. But sometimes the entire day’s writing feels like squeezing blood out of a stone. I can’t predict which way the writing session will go, so if the words are flowing freely I hate to stop in case the source dries up!

At the end of the writing day, I always make a backup of my WIP and store it online. I’m paranoid about losing my work. I think every writer is.

Well, that’s my writing routine, such as it is.  Thanks for having me on your blog, Whitney!

Coleen Kwan

And here's a little about Coleen for you!

Coleen Kwan has been a bookworm all her life. At school English was her favourite subject, but for some reason she decided on a career in IT. After many years of programming, she wondered what else there was in life — and discovered writing. She loves writing contemporary romance, whether it’s sweet or sensual, and has recently discovered a whole new genre in steampunk romance.

Coleen lives in Sydney with her partner and two children. When she isn’t writing she enjoys avoiding housework, eating chocolate, and watching The Office.

Her steampunk romance, Asher’s Invention, will be published 25 June 2012 by Carina Press.
Mary De has also decided to share with us. Mary writes romance stories of love, betrayal and passion, set throughout various stages of history. When she isn't writing Ishe's usually found at hereasal painting works of art in oils, pastels and porcelain or getting lost in a new novel. And when there is REALLY nothing to do - Mary reads her favourites all over again.
You can find Mary at the following places:

My next author is Imogene Nix. Imogene writes Space Opera's with a some time travel squeezed in, that are set around five hundred yearsin the future. She's published with Secret Cravings publishing and runs her own online bookstore where she specializes in Romance. You can find Imogene at the following websites:
And here's Imogene's:

And lastly, theres me :)
I haven't got a picture, as there really isn't a specific place I write.
My writing space is generally my laptop. Unfortunately, it has just crashed and I am without it. I am suffering as the laptop I'm borrowing is larger than mine and I tend to miss letters. As I said I don't have a place, but it does depend on my mood. I surround myself with inspiration and when I can't find any in the comfort of my home, I go out and I hunt it down.
I generally write in my room and I can't write if I suspect someone is watching me. So public places are a definate no-go for me.
I've always got a coffee in hand and I tend to write in the early morning or late at night. But due to other commitments I try to write whenever I can. When I'm in the mood, nothing stops me.

Based on other comments made by many other authors who participated there are similar factors that contribute. Some have said temperature affects them. Place is always a major thing and so is time. Based on my research I've found most writers write in the early morning as thats when they are fresh. If your like me however, you sleep with a note pad near your head as just when I'm about to fall to sleep, an idea always pops into my head.
Another strange thing, but public transport always helps me when I'm brainstorming. I see a lot of people and as I'm by myself, I have a lot of time to think. My first novel was contructed around a scene I dreamed up on a bus.

I think the biggest trend these pictures show is that every writer's space is as unique as the writers themselves. Some are messy, some are clean. Some overlook oceans and beaches, and some overlock rural splendors. It just depend on the writer. Their workplace is a haven. :)
Well I hope I've provided an interesting answer to your question Shelly, and I hope everyone enjoyed this post too.

Feel free to send me in some questions!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Writer's Fears

Now, we all have fears. Little or big, as humans, we've all had them. And writer's get them too.
Writer's are under a lot of pressure. Deadlines are always looming over our head and aspirations are spurring us on. It's hard to find time for other things at time and in other cases, its hard to find time for writing. But just because our names are slashed across the font covers of a novels across the world, doesn't mean we aren't human.

Fears are natural. Or at least they are in my opinion. We need fears. It keeps us going. It gives us a kick up the butt before that deadline and it keeps us on our toes.

Now, as a reader myself and curious-by-nature, I always wonder what the life of a published author is like. As an aspiring writer, my curiousity has only grown. I wanted to know if other writers shared my fears.

And it turns out, they do. :)

A little while ago, I asked a few of my fellow romance writers to share their fears. And in the future I hope they overcome then, recognise them as a nesscessity and throw them away.

And these are their fears:

  • Techno Paranoia
Now, I'm sure you all agree with me when I say technology is not to be trusted. If you don't, you're about to find out why writers like me think so.
Imagine this:
You're on a roll. You've been working on that chapter all day and finally, you're where you want to be. You see the end, you're typing the last line... Your computer crashes. Everything is lost.
And this doesn't just happen once, but whenever your least expecting it.

So what happens now? Well, you become paranoid. You set your document to save every minute. You carry around four usbs (making sure never to leave the house without one. You know? Just in case the house burns down or your robbed) , you email your manuscript to your bestfriend every day and you print out your progress every month.

Sounds a little crazy. Well, thats how it is. These aren't things I've made up. It's a recount of my life.
And every writer I know shares it.

  • Writer's Doubt
Doubt. Doubt you'll ever be good enough to be published. Doubt that joke you just wrote won't make you're readers laugh. Doubt, doubt,doubt, doubt, DOUBT!

You can't tell me you've never doubted yourself. Or your ability. Or that it won't rain in Ireland for a year. Naturally, we question ourselves. If we didn't, we wouldn't improve ourselves. Well, just as you doubt yourself as a human being, writers doubt their passion, their dream, their success.

Our writing is very important to us. Now as much as I'd love everyone to love my novels, I will admit, I don't write for you. I write for myself. And I doubt myself. But I don't let these doubts get to me. And I'm not the only one.
I know a woman who has 14 novels published. And she still doubts herself. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But she's human. She's going to experience one doubt a day. And that doubt is very often, going to be rediculous, a falicy.

And you know what, you'll go to bed tonight, worrying about that last paragraph you wrote. And you'll wake up in the morning, re-read that manuscript and smile, because it was all in your head.

If we let doubt controll us, we'd never be published. If we let every scrap of criticism strike our heart, we'd have quit day one. Rome wasn't built in one day and I'm sure even Jane Austen doubt her work. So don't worry. :) It's all good. Roll with it. And keep on writing. Everyones got potential.

  • The same old, same old
Now, this is one fear experienced by authors who've been in the business for years. I'm talking best seller, multipublished authors. Yep, that's right. Your favourite author has a fear.
You know, its hard to come up with something new. Something that unique. Something that's not, the same old, same old.
This is what authors fear. Disappointing their readers by re-writing an old story. Now we don't do this consciously. But we do take actions to prevent it.
Now a fellow writer, an amazing writer, shared her secrets with me. She reveal the very thing that kept her from falling into this trap.

Special readers. She has two readers. Two trusted, fans. Friends. And they read everything she writes. Their verdict is what saves her.

I'm a strong believer in a crit partner and I can't think of a better way to keep your writing fresh than to give it to someone who loves your work, cares about your future and know your potential. Crit partners aren't demons, their angels. Gardians. They're there to look after you.

  • Mothers
You've probably seen this heading and thought 'Is this woman all there?' If you didn't, your probably a writer and understand this fear.
There's a reason why writers use pseudonyms. Privacy and not just from readers.
In fact, I know a few who don't care who read their work as long as their mothers don't. And they are mothers themselves!
Believe it or not, writers don't want their mothers to read their work. The saying is, that your greast critic is yourself. Well, we beg to differ. There's nothing more terrifying than the woman who brought you into this world, judging your own creation. Now, she loves you. So she's going to be hard on you.
Now, not all of you will share this fear of course. But for those who do, good luck. If you're mother's anything like mine, you'll be fighting to keep that manuscript hidden until its on a shelf and that contracts signed.
But remember. Mothers also good for support. :)

  • Does this skin look too thin on me?
Criticism is hard. And writer's fear it.
But let me tell you, there's nothing better than thickening that skin. Writing is a learning curve. And if there's one thing I've learnt, it's to take the dirt. I've never been one to take harsh words easily. I used to take everything to heart. In the last year, I've changed. Don't get me wrong, the dirt still stings. But I don't let it get me down. I know my capabilities and I love my writing. I take on board what I agree with and I shred the rest.
It's that simple. It'll take time of course, but that doubt will fade.
So keep going and never give up.

  • What's his name again? What...
Even in my young age, I can symphasis with this fear. I have an idea one second and I have about ten seconds to get it down. I can have a conversation with a friend, walk away and forget everything I just said. Thankfully, my twin sister is usually there to remind me.

Sounds silly, but its true. And my fear is only minor.

A woman who contacted me shared her fear of forgetting everything. All the stories in her head, all the languages she speaks... all of them gone after a night of sleep.

The great things about deadlines is that they keep the brain running. We're constantly looking into the future, planning ahead. We have to when life is so predictable. When life gets a bit rocky, its nice to know we're got some solid ground to walk on.

  • Condemnation
There is a huge social stigma surround romance novels and it is a degrading one. And it gives us writers the impression that we need to hide, that we are to separate ourselves.
How many of you have blushed everytime someone asks you what your reading, or pointed out that bare-chested beefcake on the front cover of your novel?
It's the very same for writers, except we're not getting caught reading it, we're the ones who write it!
Many have condemned the Romance genre. Many have satirised it.
And yet, the genre survives. But how can that be if some many criticise it? Truth is, there are very few who have the right to criticise it. Many who condemn it, have not actually read it. And if they want to point out our romantic flaws, our passionate character or whatever they want to pick at, I have just one thing to say.

I don't write romance because that is all I can write. I write romance because it is what I love to write. You think its easy, you write one. And I'll have a go at your genre. To be honest, I don't like a number of genres. But its not because I think them illiterate or that their all the same. It's because the genre doesn't appeal to me.

Any novel written, be it a best-seller or something that's just come out of your very own printer, is an achievement. A great one.

Well, this is just the tips of the iceberg. I only spoke to one group of writers. And theses were just their fears. So if you've got a fear of your own, and your not affraid to share it, leave a comment.
If you enjoyed this post and have a question for me, send it in.
Hope I've entertained you, or at least assured a few of you. :)
Happy writing and reading everybody!


Monday, 16 April 2012

The Voice

Now, I've been hooked. The new TV show 'The Voice' is hypnotising. Such amazing singers.
You might ask why I'm writing about singers on a writing blog? Well, I considers singers and writers of all genres and content, artists.
I'm inspired by a great deal of things, one of them being, amazing singers who sing beautiful lyrics.
Now there is a purpose for this post and that is to show a very solid connection between singers and writers. Now you may have been like me and many others I have already spoken to, and have been sitting in from of the TV (sometimes standing and screaming) for the entire show. And like me, you might have wondered, 'What the F*#$%! Why didn't they turn around ?' (Please excuse the french, but I'm not going to lie, that was my reaction).
Now, my Nan just messaged me asking the very same. She said she didn't understand. But you see as a writer, aspiring, unpublished and yet to make her first submission, I knew exactly why those judges didn't turn around.
And I'm going to put it into perspective for all you writers if you haven't already figured it out.
Think of those judges as editors. Think of those singers as writers submitting, pitching their works to the judges who know nothing about them.
Editors read your submission and they sit there and they think, 'I love them... But are they for me?'
That is exactly what those judges are thinking. They are asking themselves if that person, that person with an amazing talent is suited to THEM. Can that judge take that contestant to the top?
When you submit your novel you might not get rejected because they don't like your style, your voice or you story. They might actually love those things about your writing. Truth is, in the end it comes down to the individual reading your manuscript. They can LOVE your book, but they might not be able to help you.
Publishing is a business. They aren't going to accept every amazing Tom, Dick and Harry. They are going to pick stories that suit their lines, readers and most importantly, their purpose.
So think about that next time. Don't lose faith in yourself no matter how many rejections you get. Harry Potter was rejected 17 times and Gone with the Wind nearly twice that.
Yet, look at those two books now. International best sellers, household names.You don't have to have read Gone with the Wind to know about it.

Well, I hope this has been an encouraging and interesting post. Feel free to leave a message and share your thoughts. Theres nothing I love more than feedback. :)

Whitney K-E

Sunday, 15 April 2012

My Greatest Enemy...

If there's one thing I struggle with when it comes to writing its Word counts. I always go over them. By hundreds, sometimes thousands of words!

Last year I entered the Emerald award. The cut-off was 130 000 words. My novel was 170 000. You should have seen my face. I didn't know if I could do it, but to be honest, it wasn't that hard to accomplish. Through refining and rewriting my manuscript, I accomplished it. It was weeks of hardwork but I did it.

Then came the next word count.

Most publishers don't accept contemporary romances over 100 000 words. It's not a massive issue for there are publishers out there that will accept my novel at its current length. But everyone needs to optimise their chances of being published. So I guess that will be my next project. It won't be easy and I always feel like I'm losing something, but I guess its a matter of prioritising.

Last year, I also intended to enter the Little Gems competition. I had a great story planned and I began writing. I was going well until I got to the 3000 word limit and realized the first 3000 words were just the beginning, that what I was actually writing a novel! So there you have it, a future work. A historical I can't wait to write.

I'm also currently working on another peice of writing. Four linked narratives, four different female perspectives. My limit: 8000 words. I haven't finished them as its a slow progess, but already I can see the redline that marks the wordcount behind me.

Then there's my Synopsis I require for 'What Happens In Ireland...', my Val Parv entry.
1000 words is the limit and I was over 1300 words to begin with. And let me tell you, its hard to summaries a 130 000 word novel into just 1300 words. What's hard is to do it in 1000. I spent all morning on this and when I reached 1040 words, I was ready to throw in the towel. But almost half an hour later, I got there. 998 words.

So now that I've shared my tale, you might understand exactly how much I hate wordcounts. They are my greatest enemy as a writer. Perhaps one day, I shall conquer them. :)

Have you ever had a battle with a wordcount?

Whitney K-E

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Ask Whitney!

Hi everyone!
Hope you're all having a great weekend. I sure have. :)
Now, as always, I've been brainstorming a few post ideas. And this is my lastest. To keep things interesting and interactive, I've decided to give you a chance to control the content and discussions posted on this blog. Metaphorically speaking, I'm handing you the remote. I'll be on all the channels, but it's your pick.
So here it.
The Ask Whitney Blog :)
You, my readers, whether you be published authors, aspiring authors or readers of Romance, send me your questions.
As a reader you might want to know something as trivial as whether your favourite author drinks tea or coffee or if they like cats or dogs.
As an aspiring author you might want to know what readers like, what they want. You might have some questions about submitting how to your novel, or even about what to expect when you become a published Author.
As a published author you have the freedom to send me some challenges. You might want to know how much our readers are willing to pay for an e-book or you be seeking some tips from editors.
Whatever your questions are, I want them. Send them in. Post them on this blog, send me a message on goodreads ( or drop in and leave a comment on my facebook page (
I can't wait to see what you guys throw at me! I start this week, so keep an eye out for my first response. :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

My Battle with the Synopsis

As some of you may know, the Valerie Parv competition opens for entries at the end of this month. As a newbie writer, I aim to enter at least one competition a month for the value of the feedback. Of course, it's great when you get a place and even better when you're No.1, but when you sitting a little lower on the ranks, that feedback is your gold star. I've had some great feedback and truly, sometimes it's what keeps you going.
Anyway, to enter the Val Parv Award I need a synopsis that will be judged. I've never done a synopsis and I tell you what, now thati have i can say its easier writing a novel!
Thankfully, I was a little prepared. I'd done my research. I searched a few sites and I took their best points and used them. The week before my editor requested a summary of my novel and so the job was more or less, half done.
Now, to write the 1k word synopsis for the 130k word novel...
It wasn't easy. It was hard. Very. I had so much to write and yet I couldn't fit it in. I need to say this and I need to say that, but I just couldn't get those words to form the way I wanted them to. I felt like I wasn't giving my plot justice.
And then, my computer crashed. BLACK went the screen and GONE was my synopsis. I wasn't happy.
So, I rebooted my evil, demise-plotting computer back up and I searched, hunted that synopsis down. I found it eventually - after the panic attack and the mental break-down, of course - but I still had to finish it.
1215 words later and I was finished. A first draft of course as I need to cull some words, but hey! it's a start.

So a few tips to help you when you write your synopsis:
- Summarise Your Chapters - That way you'll know where you're going. It's harder to ride a bike blind is it not?
- Highlight the Highs and Lows - These points are the bones of your synopsis. Use them.
- Brainstorm Some One Line Hook - If my research is correct, start your sysnopsis with an opening hook. It'll draw in the reader and you'll get a gold star for it. And if you can, maintain that exciting persona, maintain that voice.
- Present Tense - Always write in present-tense, no matter what tense your novel is in.
- Update Your Computer - Don't let what happened to me  happen to you.

And remember, your synopsis is NOT a blurb, is an evocative re-telling of what happens in your novel.
I hope this has help someone and I hope whoever you are that you don't experience any of the technical difficulties I did.
Happy reading/writing everybody!

Aspiring Romance Writer and owner of an Evil, conspiring computer

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Twenty-Four hours and I'm re-addicted...

There's a lot of debate about the  pro's and con's of writer's building a platform through social networking. One of the biggest ones for me has got to be my addiction to it.
Just recently I re-established my facebook presence and for the next day, I was hardly off it. I haven't edited, nor have I written.
It's awful really. I want nothing more than to write, but Facebook has other plans for me.
And I know I'm not the only one. It happens to a lot of people.
You see school kids on their phones all the time and if you ask them, nine times out of ten, their probably on facebook talking to the friend they just said goodbye to.
Yes, Facebook, Twitter, BLOGGING and Goodreads are great ways to build up your audience, to gain readers. But please, don't  let it distract you from what really matters: The book YOUR readers are waiting for.
So, in order to break my addiction, I've devised a plan. And you might like to do the same.

Number One: Two birds with one stone:
Set goals! Set a word goal. It might be 500 words a day or 5000 a week! And make time for it. Not only will you be inclined to finish that manuscript, but I'm hoping it'll keep you from clicking that 'like' button on all your friend statuses. :)

Number Two: Get a watch:
Set yourself some limits. Block out a period of time during your day that you dedicate to social networking. Your writer's platform is important. Don't neglect it either.

Number Three: Save some money!
If you're like me, the second that modem clunks out, its hard to find the effort to get out of that comfy chair and turn it back on. So why not try it? Turn it off. Say goodbye to the Mr. Green Light. And if that doesn't stop you... It's time to play Hide and Seek.

Number Four: Hide and Seek.
If your living with someone, be they friend, sister or hubby, get them to help you. Once you social time is over, hand over the modem. That's right, give them the modem. And get them to hide it.
Now I haven't tried it with the modem yet, but I'm telling you, it works for everything else.
Your social network is an addiction. So treat it like one.

Number Five: Cut down!
If your really someone who struggles, perhaps a change of plan is your only hope. And I mean your Internet plan. Contact your server and get them to cut down your usuage. Limit yourself. That way, if you get a little Facebook crazy, your won't be able to go on for the rest of the month. It's like being grounded.
You didn't stick to your plan. You did want you shouldn't have. And now it's been taken away.
I'm on a phone plan and my internet usage is very limited. So I make it stretch. And if I go over, I'm punished with a bill.
And  hey, I haven't had a bill yet!

And finally: Stick to it!
Discipline is the key. Exercise that willpower. And please, don't go on Facebook as a reward...You're just asking for trouble there :)

Well I hope this helps someone! And I'll be sure to let you know if it helps me.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Well, it's been a while...

Happy Easter everyone! I hope the Easter bunny was good to you (as he definitely was to me) and that you're feeling as sick as I am hehe (I can see a health kick happening in the very near future)
Just popping in to say 'Hi' and apologise for my blogging neglect. It's been a little hectic of late and i've only just found the time to get back into the things I love doing.
If there's one thing I've noticed over the last  two weeks it's that life is a lot harder when a writer isn't allowed to write.
Writing is my emotional outlet and as I hope it is for all readers, an escape. It's a time where we can lose ourselves, forget the rest of the world and put on someone elses shoes.
I've definately missed it and now that I have some  time off, I plan to catch up. :)
Once again, wishing everyone a Happy Easter as well as some time to escape. There's nothing quite like reading. That is of course, unless you're like me and  find writing more fulfilling.
Whitney K-E