My New Website

After the awful experience of having my old website hacked in February, I decided to re-boot, re-design and re-invent. Of course, after the decision was made, I had no idea where to start. My first website was a backyard job done by yours truly. I lost nearly everything so I didn’t want to try and piece it back together only to risk losing it all again in exactly the same fashion. I am VERY time poor at the moment.

 
Luckily however, after a little shopping around, I discovered the very talented, very easy to work with web designer and author in her own right, Paula Roe. Ta! Da! You must check out what a fantastic job she’s done. I’m really looking forward to settling in here and sharing all my news on these fancy new pages. Also want to say, I am definitely going to be blogging, tweeting and facebooking more now that I’ve got all my ducks in a row. So thank you for your patience and please stay tuned!

My Trip to Sydney

Early March I took a short trip to Sydney to be keynote speaker at a dinner being held by the NSW Minerals council. I was to address about a hundred women and possibly their partners too, who work in the mining industry. Suffice it say, I was extremely nervous. There were about five other speakers, all of which were either CEO’s or company directors. I was the bit of fluff they’d wedged between the main meal and dessert. In the end, I decided to try to be as entertaining as possible to make up for my lack of credentials. I threw a few funny stories together and an extract from my book and whala, I had a speech. I must have practiced that thing about fifty times. Despite the stage fright, I did manage to get through it.
Actually, I didn’t just get through it. I really enjoyed giving it. They were a really supportive audience. They clapped loudly after I read the extract. I think many of the women related to the scene I’d chosen, Lena’s first and last bus ride to site. I also had a fabulous time in general! What a wonderful group of women- all so passionate about their country and their industry. It was a lovely night to listen to stories and of course, share my own.
During my trip, I was also fortunate enough to squeeze in a visit to Random House. As I live in Perth, I’ve only ever had a phone and email relationship with the team at RH. Tell you what, it was lovely to step into such a pretty office! Such different decor from my engineering work place. The walls were decorated in some parts with flowers! And there are so many bookshelves, full of every book you’ve ever wanted to read but never had the time. They just made the place look so alive with stories. What a great atmosphere to work in.
The highlight was meeting my publisher Beverley Cousins and signing our next contract together. (Pictured above) So now I’ve officially signed on for two more books! Looking forward to getting busy on them.

The Funniest Thing

(Originally posted January 2012)

The funniest thing happened to me while I was in the checkout line at Big W yesterday. I happened to notice that the lady in front of me was holding a copy of my book with obvious intentions of buying it. At first I wasn’t going to reveal myself because I looked terrible. Having just left the kids at home with my mother to dash out to grab a few things, I was wearing my un-ironed skirt, stay-at-home-mum t-shirt and a very dumpy pony tail. But in the end I decided to throw caution to the winds and said, “Excuse me, you know that book you’re buying…. I er… I wrote it.”

She was stunned. “What! You’re kidding me.”

“Er… yeah that’s me on the back.” I winced as she flipped it over to make the comparison, hoping she would find some similarities between the immaculate, perfectly, groomed female smiling at a professional photographer to the “Did you just fall out bed?” female standing in front of her.

“Oh Wow! That is you! You know, I heard you on the radio yesterday and I thought this was just the sort of book I would like to read so I came out to buy it.”

“You did?” While I was making mental notes about the success of radio advertising as a way to sell books, she started drawing the attention of her friend who was also in the check out before her.

“Will you look at this, this is the author of my book.”

“You’re kidding!” exclaims her friend.

And the check out girl stops serving her. “Really, this lady wrote that book. Wow!”

My new reader is waving it excitedly, “Yeah I mean how lucky is that. Must be the same odds as winning the lottery or something…. I mean, how likely is that you’ll be buying a book and the author of it just happens to be standing behind you in the line. It’s crazy!”

By that time however, I’ve moved from crazy to gratitude and start gushing. “I really hope you enjoy it. Thank you so much for buying it. It was so great to meet you!”

As my reader then realises that I’m still standing right behind her, she slaps her head. “Oh streuth! Have you got a pen? Has somebody got a pen! Anybody! A pen!!! ”

After some rummaging around, and people in other check outs turning around to see what’s going on, someone produces a pen and I sign her book.

“You made my day!” she says as she leaves the check out waving enthusiastically.

I’m just as ecstatic. “No, no, no. You’ve made mine!”

Ten Characters That Have Stood out to Me

(Originally posted February 2012)

I’ve been receiving a lot of comments from readers about The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots but particularly about the character Carl Curtis.
Thanks so much to everyone who has contacted me. I love getting feedback. And it’s so nice to know when someone has enjoyed your story and why. I’m also so pleased to hear that everybody likes Carl so much. As a secondary character he was definitely my favourite. I loved every scene I was able to put him in. He was just such a fun character to write. His constant need to drop the f-word and shocking tendency towards binge drinking, usual characteristics that endears one to a person provided a lot of comedy for the story. Many of my readers however have been using the phrase “Heart of Gold” to describe him too, which I think is great. I didn’t actually write that phrase anywhere in the book, but that is exactly how I wanted my readers to see Carl Curtis and so glad it’s come through.
To finish this blog I thought I make mention of characters in film, TV and books that I’ve thought we’re really well done with just the right level of quirky uniqueness to make them absolutely memorable. If you have a chance to get your hands/eyes on any of these, I thoroughly recommend it.
1. Tyrion the Dwarf from George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones
2. Becky Bloomward from Sophia Kinsella’s Shopoholic Series
3. Cleaver Greene from ABC’s Rake
4. Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen’s Emma
5. Professor Snape from J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter series
6. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory
7. The Marquis of Vidal from Georgette Heyers Devil’s Cub.
8. Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Carribean
9. Denny Crane from Boston Legal
10. Horatio Hornblower from C.S Foresters Hornblower

Ten Traits of My Ideal Writing Room

(Originally posted February 2012)

I think every writer would love their own personal office or at least their own personal space reserved specifically for them and their writing. The reality is often quite different. At the moment I do all my writing on a lap top on our dining room table. That’s right. I don’t even have my own desk let alone a study. I basically work in a thorough fare so I can loosely keep an eye on my kids at the same time… if I have a babysitter I sometimes go into my husband’s study where there are less distractions. So how come he gets his own room? I can hear all the feminists protesting. I wouldn’t exactly envy him. His study also doubles as our store room. So essentially it’s wall to wall crap with a desk in the middle. Not exactly creativity inspiring.

So this Valentine’s Day rather than thinking about the perfect mate, (as I’ve already got one of those) I’m going to focus on the perfect room… in particular a writing study. Okay, here are the specifications.
1. It’s got have a giant window and a great view. Preferably an ocean view, palm trees optional.
2. An on suite with a built in spa. For those writer’s block moments.
3. Coffee machine! Yum, Yum! It must be particularly good at cappuccinos.
4. A huge desk with plenty of room to spread out
5. Large leather chair that can swivel and recline
6. Rather than a lap top, a real computer with a fairly large screen.
7. One wall must be floor to ceiling bookshelves with my own personal library of How-To and Research pertinent books
8. Temperature control. I want to set the room’s temperature at 25 degrees and it just stays that way all day.
9. A deluxe printer. Not the kind, that creaks and groans and runs out of ink halfway through printing a manuscript. But a show-off laser printer that can churn out 400 black and white pages in about five minutes.
10. And a couch with lots of cushions for thinking and editing on.
Wish list done! What’s your perfect study?

Ten Ways to Make a Great Lead Character

(Originally posted January 2012)

It’s my belief that the most important part of any story are the characters, especially the lead character. Great characters = Great Story. So here’s my check list for a Hero worth reading about:
1. Give them a Goal. Who wants to follow a character who wanders aimlessly across the pages of your novel, surprised when things actually happen to them. Goals aren’t just fantastic for the character but also the plot and the suspense of the story.
2. Give them a past or a reason for being. The reader wants to know why this person is so special, why they want what they want, why they have to get it or they’ll just fall apart. Another word for this is motivation.
3. Give them a unique physical make up. If they’re not super good looking, then give them some other characteristic that makes them different. Even if they are “ordinary” they need something special to make them stand apart from the others.
4. Make them likable. Even if they do bad things, they must have something that will redeem them. Make the reader care about them achieving their goals.
5. Give them a flaw. Readers want someone real and nobody is perfect. We often like the quirky, or strange nuances of character that round off the entire being. They appeal to us.
6. Give them an enemy. There has to be some other person in your novel who is their direct enemy, better yet, who has the opposite directly opposing goal to theirs. Only by having this force of evil can we show how strong and remarkable our lead character really is.
7. Give them a confidante – A best friend, a family member, their own over active conscious. In order to empathise with a hero we need to know when he’s worried. Give him someone to whinge to.
8. Don’t go easy on him/her. When you think you’ve thrown the worst possible thing at your character, times it by ten and do it again.
9. Make them do something they would never do. Ie. Lead the read up the garden path and then soccer punch them. Making your character step out of their comfort zone shows growth which leads me to my final and MOST IMPORTANT point.
10. By the end of your novel, your lead character must be a new person, changed forever by their journey in both their goals and personal beliefs. Ie. They have grown.

The Best Day Ever

(Originally posted 2nd January, 2012)

After months and months of waiting, today was the official launch day of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots. And what a day it was. Crazy, sweet, joy! On all fronts.
My day started off with an interview on 6PR radio with the lovely pair, Andrea and Kent. I was so nervous but somehow managed to answer all the questions without freezing up or forgetting basics… like my own name. Which let’s face it, after the state I was in the evening before, was entirely possible. I was inventing all sorts of embarrassing scenarios in my head. Like, what if I choke on my own spit or drop the phone. Luckily neither of those things happened. Nor did one of toddlers run in and try to snatch it off me. (They’re both obsessed with phones right now.) Anyway, my point is, I got through it and didn’t do half bad if I do say so myself.
After that, I decided to do some grocery shopping. Well, that was the excuse I used to scope out my local shopping centre for my book. Unashamedly I took a camera – like you do. The picture you see above was taken at Big W, my local. I’m sure the other shoppers were disconcerted by my gasping and pointing. But it’s my first book with Random House. I must be allowed some liberties surely!

Then it was home again and lunch. After which, I had to get on the email and thank my fabulous publicist for teeing up the great interview I had that morning. Only there’s a few emails from her there already that I have to get through first. Reviews are in! This one made me cry.  (Just to clarify… WITH JOY) I’ve never been so humbled or touched by someone else’s appreciation of my work… ever!

Along with a couple of requests for more interviews and another book signing to which I was very happy to agree to, I also received my first real fan email. No, it wasn’t from a friend or family but a complete stranger across the other side of the country. Subject line: LOVED YOUR BOOK! If that alone didn’t make my day, the fact that she took the trouble to let me know, did.

So I’m trying to come down off this high so I can start doing some important stuff… like feed my children when my husband walks in the door. He’s home from work and hands me a copy of The West Australian.

Yep, there it is on page 7 of the Today lift out. Another great review of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots. The perfect ending to a wonderful day!

Now I know this is my ten things day and on such a great day I definitely don’t want to disappoint. So right here, I’m going to mention the ten people in my life who gave me the support needed to write and publish this novel.

Todd, Juanita, Ivan, Jacenta, Marlena, Angela, Shirley, Steve, Nicola, and Clare.
And to say thank you to each of them again from the bottom of my heart.

Xo Loretta