Or why Craft and Story make a perfect couple.

This manuscript, originally completed in 2012, which I recently released on Amazon worked it’s way up from midfield to being highly commended in the VPA in 2017 and 2nd in the Emerald Pro in 2018. I have thanked the RWA Judges in the dedication because their feedback was invaluable to improve the MS.

I’m taking a break from sending out competition results and contemplating the emotions that will be felt by both finalists and those who didn’t make the cut this time.

I’ve been entering competitions for more than six years now, with varying results. I know the angst of coming THIS CLOSE to finalling and then the next year finishing a lack lustre mid field or lower.

I know the frustration of that ONE judge. The other two loved your work but that ONE judge marked you down far enough that the top marks of the other two couldn’t push you into the winner’s circle.

I’ve had the humiliation of a judge make the assumption that I’m a new writer just starting out when I’ve got competition wins under my belt. (That manuscript is going straight to trash)

But wait. There’s more.

The last two years I’ve been coordinating one of the RWAus competitions. I find it fascinating as I’m checking through the forms, to see the scores and the comments of a whole range of judges on a wide variety of entries. It’s taught me a lot.

Because when it comes down to it. Judging a piece of literary work is always going to be subjective.

Not that the judge who marked me down was wrong. But when they put on their judging hat, they are not necessarily looking for the same things as the other two judges.

For some people, and they may be judges, STORY will trump CRAFT every time. They figure an editor will fix those things if they are relatively minor, but a great STORY deserves to be out in the world.

For others, CRAFT is vital. They figure that no matter how good the STORY, if the CRAFT is faulty, no publisher will touch it.

They could both be right, and they could both be wrong. The fact is that editors are time poor and publishers are risk averse, so they want the full package. The drama of a half-polished manuscript that is fought over for six figure sums comes but rarely in this world.

CRAFT and STORY should be in balance. If you are getting unbalanced scores in competition, take a note of that and read the comments carefully. It will help you to know where to focus your attention. If you are getting all mediocre or low scores, try to focus on CRAFT. You can’t tell a great STORY if the reader can’t get past the first page because you need to work on those skills.

Even if you think the feedback is wrong it can be valuable. Because if you look at the feedback and try and understand why they think that, you might still learn something.

And a better manuscript, a better submission will always be the result of learning from feedback. And there is nothing wrong with that outcome.

I’m so excited to finally send this story out into the world. I first wrote Lucas and Harriet’s story back in 2012 and it’s been doing the rounds as I tried to find a place for it.

It finalled in the 2017 Valerie Parv Award at the Romance Writer’s of Australia Conference and Valerie mentioned how much she liked reading about a heroine with a disability.

In 2018 I entered the manuscript into the Emerald Pro Awards and was thrilled when it came second after the other manuscript I entered.

While there was a lot of interest from publishers, sadly, none felt it fitted for them so I made the decision to publish it. I have a Pinterest Page if you like to look at images that inspired me. Beware spoilers.

It’s Available on Amazon for $2.99US $4.25AU or Free on Kindle Unlimited.

US Link

UK Link

Oz Link

A five star read because it made me cry.

Have you ever had the past come back and hit you in the face?

After an interesting week that challenged my identity and my motivations as a writer, I arrived at last weekend with a distaste for all things romance. Usually romance is my go to for stress relief, but it simply wasn’t doing it for me. I looked at an Agatha Christie Anthology that I’ve always enjoyed as a reread but it couldn’t hold my attention. Too much romance there as well.

Then Dr Anita Heiss popped up in my social media feed as a presenter at various writing events. It reminded me that I had always intended to read something of hers. I picked up Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Dr Heiss and I was hooked. The book is a compilation of own voices shorts that tell of the contributors experience growing up in Australia as an Aboriginal. It’s an emotional read comprising vignettes, memoir, reminiscences of the past, both distant and disturbingly recent, and a touch of anticipation for the future. Some stories are heartbreaking. Some are angry. All inspirational. All very, very familiar.

It struck a special chord with me because though I did not grow up Aboriginal, I grew up along side the children of Indigenous families in a town that became notorious for horrendous problems with race relations. I was a “local” in a town that was clearly divided. There were the more well off business people, landowners and transient professionals who came to town including teachers, people who worked for the government, doctors and dentists. Then there were the “local” long term residents who didn’t belong with the elite. And the Indigenous families. I fitted nowhere in particular and existed on the fringes of all of them.

My father managed and later owned this business.

The town was Cunnamulla. Featured in an ABC television Four Corners Documentary in 1969 that opened the lid on the scandal of the conditions many Indigenous groups in rural Australia endured. The town was probably no better or worse than many other towns, but if you watch the video by clicking on the title link, you will see why it suddenly caught media attention.

Out of Sight out of Mind was made when I was eight and I remember the furore around it. I rewatched it this week and was interested to see how much I had remembered. The video on the ABC site at less than half an hour is a little shorter than the original so some bits are missing. Possibly some interviews with local business people. But enough is there to get the picture.

Long after my parents left the town and even longer after I moved away, first to boarding school and later to work and marriage, another documentary was made that exposed the underbelly of the town. Called simply Cunnamulla and released in 2000, it focused on the seamy side of life in the town, almost ignoring the “respectable” people.

My experience of the town was a little of both. But given that I was only a visitor to the town after 1975, and visited briefly for the last time in the early eighties, the Four Corners program probably reflects my experience. I had more to do with the Indigenous community than many of my white class mates because my mother had a close friend in that community and spent several years involved with the Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Council. Those women accepted my mother with generosity and kindness. Due to my mother’s sporadic mental health issues, she had only a handful of long term friends in the town.

Some of my schoolmates at my primary school. I’m in the second row kneeling at the right.

When I read Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, I recognised many of the experiences spoken about by the contributors. The ones who wrote about being able to “pass for white” or having people measuring how much blood was white or “Abo”, immediately reminded me of a friend in my class who lived two doors up. She was very fair, taking more after her father, but her brother closest in age was very dark like their mother. My mother’s friend came from New South Wales and married an African American, so their experience was a little different.

In a weird, cosmic coincidence that made me wonder what the universe was saying, I was in the neighbouring town yesterday and ran into the daughter of my mother’s close friend outside the cinema. She attended primary school with me in Cunnamulla and we saw quite a lot of each other when our mothers “visited”. Apart from casual contact on Social Media, I haven’t see her in person for more than thirty years. It was a lovely surprise and we sat together during the movie and did a quick catch up.

Sometimes revisiting the past can be a painful experience. It can certainly be emotional. I have always avoided thinking too much about my years in Cunnamulla, but when forced to look at them, I see so many of my experiences there were formative. Those years would certainly have influenced my decision to include Indigenous history, language and culture in my Bachelor of Religious Studies done externally through Edith Cowan University.

How does this relate to my writing?

Bearing in mind how influential the people of Cunnamulla were in my childhood, do I write about First Nations/Indigenous people in my books?

How can I not include a large part of the population that played an important role in the formation of who I am, my ethics, my ideals, my hopes for the future? People who, as a group, make up a significant part of the society in which I live.

Do I write their story? Well, yes and no. Like most things, it’s complicated.

For example, I have an unpublished story I wrote where the hero comes from a “mixed” marriage that would have occurred around forty years ago. There is an oblique mention in my story that this was something that may have been a source of conflict and emotional upheaval. Do I delve into that story? It could add depth and interest to the book. But it would be a different story. It wasn’t necessary to the resolution of the story of the hero and heroine. I left it there but didn’t elaborate and I’m comfortable with that position.

I may have developed a love of reading fairly early.

On the other hand, I wrote a short story about a young teacher with an Indigenous heritage who moves to the country and meets a local and there is a spark. A very short story I put on Wattpad. I really liked both heroine and hero and wondered about writing a full length story about their romance. The problem came when I delved into the heroine’s backstory. I discovered that she came from a family that were part of the stolen generations. And I realised that in coming to this small town she would be reconnecting with her roots. Not my story to tell, so I put it aside. It was hard, because I love the characters but…I understand her story is not mine to tell.

I believe strongly in writing stories that reflect the multicultural world we live in. It’s important to write inclusive stories. Not to tell other people’s stories, but to paint a world that is what we want it to be. Inclusive, kind, with a strong bias towards hope. Or you can write dystopian fiction that ends badly. Or whatever floats your particular boat. I like happy endings.

It’s necessary to be sensitive and aware and do our best to portray our protagonists as honestly and as generously as we can. When we write about imaginary people, they will become real to the reader through what we as writers put into them. It’s easy to fail, because we aren’t perfect and don’t know everything. Can’t know everything. Sometimes there are subtleties that are merely shadows not quite grasped. We can only do our best.


Things often seem to move incredibly slowly in the publishing industry. You submit, you wait, you wait some more. And some more. Time goes by. You give up. Then the rejection comes. You study the rejection, seeking clues. Is it a standard form rejection? You compare it to previous form rejections. Is that sentence slightly different? Probably a typo introduced during a sloppy cut and paste.

But what if it’s not a form rejection? You study it even closer. Because there is a slim chance that it isn’t a blanket rejection but the long sought after R&R. No, not Rest and Recreation, Revise and Resubmit. Oooh. But no. It’s quite clear. This bit is good, this bit not so good. *List of reasons they don’t want it* But please consider sending a NEW project.

So we start all over again.


Every now and then we hear faint whispers on the wind of an Author barely out of school who’s first manuscript was fought over by multiple publishing houses for a zillion dollars and subsequently becomes a best seller.








This is not your life.







And then something happens. You fling everything you have out into the universe and they come good.  You even briefly have a publishing contract with a digital first press attached to a major publishing company.

And then they shut down. It’s like the universe knows.

But you keep flinging things out there…

And then….

And a fraction over seven days later…





And it only took eight years and eight days.



This is my latest novella in Kiss Me: An Asian Hero Boxset for only .99cents or Free on Kindle Unlimited.

It’s about Reece Li and Caroline Andersson. It’s part of my Li Family series of novellas including the Medal Up novella which features this hero’s little sister.

She trusted him with her body, but can she trust him with her heart.

Caroline has good reason not to trust men. Her life was almost destroyed by one years ago. But when a beautiful stranger at a wedding tempts her to dabble again, she’s almost sure she can resist asking for more. She knows it will only lead to heartbreak and betrayal. If only her heart hadn’t already betrayed her.

Today they announced the RuBY finalists for books published in 2017. A fabulous selection of books and talented writers. I feel incredibly honoured. I entered both my self-published novellas and one of them made the final. I had finalled with Swept Away in August 2017 and I decided to release them together as they are about a pair of siblings.

Sean from Swept Away is a musician and his sister Fran in Road Trip Baby was a career woman in the public service advising on multicultural issues to the politicians in power. There isn’t a lot of overlap as Sean’s story takes place before Christmas and Fran’s story happens after Christmas.

I’ve had a great year for competitions, with two of my unpublished stories finalling in the Emerald Pro and one short story each in the Little Gems Anthology and the one in the Spicy Bites Anthology coming third overall.

It’s been a busy year altogether with the release of my Crimson Romance duology with Nicole Flockton featuring a cousin of Fran and Sean at the Winter Games being a brief foray into the world of the big publishing groups and since then I’ve been working on new projects. These successes in competition have been great for boosting my morale and my confidence as a writer.

Once upon a time I wrote a story. Then another one. As you do. It’s the eternal cycle of being a writer. It’s like housework. Every time you finish and everything is (hopefully) perfect you have to start again.

I’ve lost count of the number of manuscripts I’ve started. Some will never see the light of day. But there are over a dozen that I finished. I made it to the end. And that’s how I know I can write.

If you can take your characters on a journey and get them to the end, you have written a story. We won’t discuss quality. That comes with practice. With those thirteen plus finished stories. The *cough* fifty plus unfinished remnants.

In the current climate, it’s very easy to self publish. It was always the consolation when I received rejections for my beautiful (in my head) stories. But if no-one else wanted to publish my stories, what did that say about the quality of my work?

Then in 2017 I entered a novella called Swept Away into the prestigious Romance Book of the Year competition run by RWAus. I had written it as part of a collaboration with other emerging writers for an anthology called Beautiful Disaster: An Anthology published in 2016. (Which is still available out there.)

I was nominated as a finalist in the RuBY. So at least that one time, I know I wrote well enough for people to enjoy the story. The top three were all self-published novellas. Both other nominees were multi-published experienced authors. To make my life complete, I was highly commended in the Valerie Parv Award. That meant top six. So I wrote reasonably well twice.

That gave me the courage to self-publish my little Christmas Novella. It didn’t exactly make a profit, but I learned a lot. Now I’m republishing Swept Away with a companion novella called Road Trip Baby. In February, Sean and Fran’s cousin Maybelle has a story in Man of Ice, part of the Medal Up Duology with the fabulous Nicole Flockton, set at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Two stories about finding and losing and finding love again with The One. Siblings Sean and Francesca Li have loved and lost. In these two stories, they have a second chance to work out a happy ending.

Swept Away was published in the Beautiful Disaster Anthology and was a finalist in the 2017 RuBY competition. The draft version of Road Trip Baby was on Wattpad. This edition brings the two linked stories together for the first time with an all new epilogue. Because epilogue.


Swept Away.

Swept apart by the force of a tsunami, Sean and Sophie have fought their own battles to survive. Now they must confront the challenges caused by the decisions they made separately, if they want to be together again.

Sophia thought she had her happy ever after. Until it was swept away along with her brand new husband only hours after arriving at their tropical honeymoon destination.

Sean lost a lot more than a limb in the aftermath of the tsunami that separated him from his wife. Still battling the effects of that day, he has to make hard decisions about his career as a musician.

Pushed into an engagement with a girl chosen by his parents, he can’t believe his eyes when Sophie appears at the party with another man.

Now both must choose between a new life and the life they thought lost.

Road Trip Baby.

Whose baby?

Fran knows Ethan doesn’t want children, but when contraceptive failure leads to pregnancy, she didn’t expect his total denial of responsibility. Now she has one last chance to find out the secret stopping him from accepting his child. The clock is ticking and they are a long way from home.

Ethan knew sleeping with his sister’s best friend was a mistake. Especially when he can’t give her the home and family she deserves. Her betrayal stunned him into a reaction that sent her away. Now he’s thinking clearly and maybe he does have something to offer, even if he has to reveal his shameful secret to make it happen.

Buy Links for the Duet. It’s also available in paperback from US Amazon.

Amazon Au


Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Google Play


Happy New Year, and thank you for all the wonderful support. I hope the New Year Brings you all the Happy Ever Afters you could possibly want.





Oh Christmas Tree, My Christmas Tree

This post is part of the Coastal Christmas Blog Hop. I’m feeling a little bit of a fraud because while my story is set at Christmas time, there is no coast in sight, only a river that eventually leads to the ocean.

If you want to track down all the fabulous authors and check out their blog posts you should click here.Don’t forget to enter the Raffecopter to get your awesome prize of a $150 Amazon gift card and more than 30 eBooks from the participating authors.


So, this is my turn.

For most of us, Christmas holds memories, some good, perhaps some not so good.

Memory is a powerful thing. It takes us through time. Through memory we can relive the past. It is our memories that help define who we are. We carry our memories into the future, but only so far.

When I think of Christmas as a child, I have some vivid memories that remain clear even after fifty years.

One of my few photographs of my mother with me as a baby.


My mother with her little sister.

My mother was a dressmaker in my early years and I remember when I was around four, she made me a ballet tutu out of red taffeta and tule with a vee of sequins down the front. It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. I can see the glow of the taffeta and the sparkle of the sequins in my memory.  I also remember how tragic it was when I spilled cordial on it and it had to be washed. It was never quite the same afterwards.

The following Christmas, my mother made me school uniforms, which weren’t quite as rapturously received. But she did do something amazing. She found a tumble weed and decorated it as a personalised Christmas Tree using the smallest size balls and fine lengths of tinsel. It looked amazing. At least it does in my memory. There are no photos, even in black and white, because the following year, our house burned down.

The sad thing is that my mother probably doesn’t remember. Her memories are mostly from her childhood now. I’m the only person holding those memories.


My little Christmas story is about Holly, who loses her memory after an accident. When Ori finds her, he can’t believe she doesn’t remember the powerful connection between them. With his help, she finds those memories and discovers who she is, piece by piece.

If you’d like to read the story, all the links are here.



Yesterdays Blog

Tomorrows Blog







Hi Peoples. Long time no see…post…whatever. I’m posting this because Kari is a friend who I met as an aspiring writer. Now she is on the road to having her debut story published so it’s all very exciting.


WILD CARD UNDERCOVER                                                                                              book #1 in the Love on the Line series

By Kari Lemor

Published by Kensington Lyrical Underground – March 2017
 All that glitters in Miami is not gold…

Lured in by a bad ex-boyfriend and the moonlight of Miami, Meg O’Hara is trapped in a nightmare situation, waiting tables for a crime boss and fearing for her life. When undercover FBI agent Christopher Shaunessy offers her a way out, she seizes it. Getting the goods on Salazar Moreno might not be easy, but she’ll do anything to be freed from her servitude and Moreno’s sexual advances, even if it means moving in with the charismatic agent.

Chris Shaunessy pretends to be Meg’s lover in order to keep her safe, but he steels his heart against further involvement. Passion has no place in the sordid world of organized crime. And yet, the closer they get to cracking the case, the stronger his feelings for the spirited waitress shine. It’s a dangerous game he’s playing, and taking Meg in his arms for real could prove a fatal misstep . . .





Chapter 1


“Does that man never have a day off?” Margaret Kathleen O’Hara grumbled, grabbing her tote bag and sarong to move surreptitiously along the chairs by the pool. If the hotel manager saw her here again she’d be toast. He’d more than toss her out. Threats to call the police had been thrown at her for months now. Although in her case, that might be a better deal.

With her eyes trained on his location and the Miami sun beating down on her exposed skin, Meg backed along the water’s edge attempting to leave the area before he spotted her. She needed to shower the chlorine out of her tangled hair and change for work soon. He looked in her direction and she rushed behind the closest object. It was six-foot-plus of blond-haired gorgeousness. The man’s eyes were glued to something on the upper deck. Her boss was sitting there with one of his expensive bimbos. Did Blondie like that type? Maybe he wouldn’t notice her little game of Hide and Seek.

She leaned around him, ducking back when she saw the Pool Nazi still present. Getting caught was not an option. She already owed more than she could ever repay.

“Are you okay?” Forest green eyes stared down at her, puzzled. Would he buy that she was simply looking for shade? He was big enough to provide it.

With strong hands, he reached for her shoulders and Meg reflexively batted them away. She got enough of people groping her at work. Scorching curses froze before erupting from her mouth as the hotel manager moved, staring in their direction. Her mind kicked into overdrive, scrambling for a way to hide in plain sight.

“Sorry,” she squeaked. Grabbing the man’s head, she planted her mouth solidly on his. Short, thick strands of hair tickled her fingers. Firm lips yielded no resistance to the increased pressure of her mouth. Better make this look good.

An electric current skittered over her skin causing her heart to race. Maybe too good? Slowly he pulled her closer with his muscular arms. Her eyes flew open and she broke the connection. His hair-covered chest was too close for comfort. And much too tempting. Distance, she needed distance.

Her eyes darted around, seeing no signs of the manager. A sigh escaped. Time to make her exit as well.

“Sorry,” she mumbled again, looking up. Big mistake. The stranger’s curious eyes captivated her. They were soft and tender and filled with something she could…trust? If she still had any of that left in her. His hands were gentle as they held her. A tiny smile played about the full lips she’d brazenly kissed. She couldn’t believe she’d done it. Her mother would be appalled. But it had worked.

The chlorine scent from the pool faded into the background as sweat and suntan lotion wafted off the man’s damp skin. Her stomach did cartwheels followed by a few back flips. Dangerous.

“Let me go,” she hissed as reality returned. She gave a swift shove at his well-defined pectorals, rushing to get past, to escape from this distraction and the possibility of being caught. Her head whipped around at the sound of a splash and water droplets from behind. Gorgeous was just breaking the surface of the pool. Had she pushed him that hard?

“Oops.” No time for apologies. He looked like the forgiving type. She had to blow this joint before the Pool Nazi came back. Grabbing her fallen sarong, she ran across the deck to hustle inside the luxury hotel.


The manager stood sentry near the front door. A crowd appeared at her back making that way impossible. The stairwell to the left would have to do. She’d go up a few floors then down to the side entrance. She wrapped her sarong around her as she carried out her plan to avoid being seen…and caught.

Meg should stop coming here to use the pool: this proved it. Sneaking in was adding to her already hellish life but swimming always helped work out the stress and the pool here was more accessible than any other on the strip. Pretending she had money to stay in a place like this, rubbing elbows with all the beautiful people, yeah, that got her through too. She’d learned the best times to come and not be seen. Well, for the most part. It was well worth the risk to get away from her dump of a room and its enchanting neighborhood. She’d leave this all behind her soon. She kept telling herself that. Had to believe it for her own sanity.

Footsteps behind her pushed those thoughts away. Her bare feet padded silently along the lushly carpeted hallway. Heart racing, she ducked into the ice machine alcove, her sigh echoing in the silence. She glanced down. Her bag? She must have dropped it as she rushed off. How had she not realized? It couldn’t have been the threat of being arrested. Or the crooked smile of the handsome stranger she’d kissed. The one with the kind eyes and gentle hands. No, she couldn’t allow herself to be led astray by a pretty face. Not again.

She continued down the hall, her trip cut short when someone grabbed her by the arm and spun her around.

* * * *


Links to all pre-order retailers can be accessed on the Kensington site


For more information on Kari Lemor or her Love on the Line series from Kensington Lyrical Underground, follow her on social media.





Loner guy (special virgin edition) + free time x crisis of the soul + scorching hot pole dancer lust = unexpectedly beautiful sexy relationship.

Sidelined Offensive Behaviour Flipped Final with tag (1)

Amazon Link on pic

There are stacks of new books coming out today, but of course the one I’m going to get excited about is the one with a virgin. Not just any virgin. A male virgin. Yes, the hero is a virgin. The heroine is a pole dancer and I’m pretty sure she is NOT going to be a virgin.

The book is Offensive Behavior, part of a new series by Ainslie Paton. I haven’t read all her books but I certainly own them with the intention of reading them. The ones I have read are fascinating. The main reason I haven’t read them all is because they are mostly big books and I read according to time slots because I want my Happy Ever After in one sitting. For this reason I read mostly category romance or novellas and Paton writes romance that is definitely nothing like category. But there is something so real about her characters it’s a little bit scary. Hyper-real if you believe her tag line and I do.

Here is the blurb:

Everyone is virgin at something

This is the story of a man who’s never done it, and a woman with the experience to teach him how.

Reid McGrath is drunk and intends to stay that way. It’s what a man does when the world he built gets ripped out from under him. He’s staked a claim on the back booth at Lucky’s where he can fixate on a dancer who makes him wish things were different.

Zarley Halveston dances under shimmering lights in a barely there costume, but it’s not the gold medal life she trained for. She expected to stand on an Olympic podium, instead she glitters under disco lights, gyrating on a chrome pole.

Zarley can’t see the brooding man in the back booth, but she knows he’s there. He’s toxic, but it’s not her job to care, until the night he collapses at her feet and she has to choose to step over him or help him up.

Reid thought he’d hit bottom when he was fired as CEO of his own company, but kZarleynowing he’d needed the kindness of a stranger, and realizing she was the dancer he’d lusted after was a new low.

Question: What do a fallen golden girl turned exotic dancer and a sacked, socially awkward tech tycoon have in common?

Answer: A deep understanding of failure and the whiplash sting of humiliation, a need to re-build their dreams and the sexual education of a frustrated geek.

Amazon Oz


And here is a specially super duper hint about the heroine in book two of the series coming later in the year around the end of July. It’s almost like she wrote this series specially for me.

Own condoms (1)