DB Tait

love can be dangerous …

Many moons ago when I first started writing, I used to blog a lot. Then I had a disaster with upgrading my website and managed to lose all my posts. Since then I haven’t done much. I used to love it. I’d post about trips I’d made, books I’d read, what I was writing …

But then I fell into the trap of many writers. I forgot to fill the well. In my rush to get books completed, I stopped doing any other writing that took me away from my latest work in progress. I also stopped doing other nurturing things like going to the movies or skiving off to Sydney to the art gallery. I even cut down on gardening.

A sad mistake. Writing became a chore rather than something that gave me intense satisfaction. Not surprisingly, my doubts and worries about my writing, which were always much larger than they should be, got a lot worse. I became paralysed with self-doubt. Mind you self-doubt is a life long curse for me, but it somehow it deepened.

One of the writing methods that helped me challenge this self-doubt (along with having a great crit group – take a bow Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Elizabeth Lhuede) was keeping a Bullet Journal which one of my writing mates Mel Scott put me onto. (Mel writes contemporary and fantasy romance so if you haven’t read her books you really should).

I like this journal method because it integrates several parts of my life. I work on only one note book at a time instead of having a notebook for my work in progress, a notebook for my internal life and a diary for work related appointments and tasks.

I started it in June 2015 using an A5 note book I’d been given for Christmas. By the end of the year I’d almost completely used it up so started a new one for the New Year.

I like it because it makes me look at my life most days. I have to make a decision about tasks that I haven’t completed (eg my tax!!) but I also have something that I can write in about anything without having to worry that it’s in the wrong note book.

One opening of my notebook could contain a plan for the week including a shopping list and a task list that includes cleaning out the gutters (still haven’t done it) while another opening could be free form writing on my plot or some aspect of the writing life.

Mel also put me onto washi tape, so as the mood takes me I tart up my notebook with coloured bits and pieces. I’m am not arty at all but I still get a lot of satisfaction out of playing with pretty things.
If you’re interested in the Bullet Journal method there is a ton of stuff on Pinterest. Beware though. It’s a never ending rabbit hole. You could get lost for months.

IMG_1690What do you do when you’re a bit stale and need to get your sense of enthusiasm for your creative endeavours going? I do a bit of baking and of course gardening, although you’d never know from the jungle out there.IMG_1694

 

p.s. One thing that completely blasted me out of my writing blues was becoming a finalist in the Australian Romance Readers 2015 Awards! Both Deception books and a members choice nomination for the Strongest Heroine! Thanks ARRA!

I read eighty books in 2015 which is down on previous years. In no particular order, although Station Eleven was my favourite.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie
After Hours by Cara McKenna
The Secret Place by Tana French
Three Weeks With Lady X by Eloisa James
Talent For Trouble by Susan Sey
One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

I did have two novels and a novella published, so all in all a good year. In 2016 I hope to get the next in the Dark Mountain series, Fatal Deception finished, re-visist my alter-ego Keziah Hill and see what she has in mind (maybe a novella) and finish another shorter romantic suspense.

What does 2016 have in store for you?

Cold deception book of the weekYou can get COLD DECEPTION on iTunes this week for free!

 

 

Now, to the really important point of this blog post. Cathryn Hein rural romance writer par excellence and Friday Feast wrangler, has requested my recipe for cheese and onion muffins. I based this recipe on one I found on the internet which was too salty. With both parmesan and tasty cheese (or any combo you like) I don’t think extra salt is needed, but that’s just my taste. This recipe makes six muffins so double for 12.

Ingredients:
1 egg (beaten)
¾ cup milk or butter milk
1 cup self raising flour
1½ cups grated cheese (I use tasty and parmesan)
a small onion or half a large one (you could use chives. I’ve done it with garlic chives which was a bit overwhelming)
a tablespoon or so of olive oil
a bit of melted butter

Method:
Preheat your oven to 190°C. Melt some butter and use a pastry brush to oil a muffin tin (or line with muffin cases).
Fry the onion in the olive oil until it is very well done (I don’t mind some browned edges)
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until combined.
Spoon into the greased muffin pan.
Bake at 190°C for 15 minutes.

IMG_0088Enjoy warm with butter!

Cold-Deception-high-resFor a short time, the first in the Dark Mountain series, Cold Deception, is free on Amazon.com Amazon.com.au iTunes and Kobo. Go get it!

Secrets, lies, deception. That’s what it takes to stay alive.

At 20, Julia Taylor went to prison for murdering a man who deserved it. Ten years later, she’s ready to put the past behind her and get on with her life. But someone won’t let her. Someone will do anything to drive Julia away, including murder.

As the body count rises, Julia is forced to accept the help of Dylan Andrews, a cop with dark secrets of his own. Unfortunately help has a cost. Dylan is digging into Julia’s past, uncovering secrets she is desperate to keep.

Julia must keep Dylan at a distance, or else risk her own safety, and the safety of everyone she loves …

And if you like it, you can get Desperate Deception: Dark Mountain 2.

 

Mel15banner-2I’ve had a busy couple of months, finishing a book (Desperate Deception: Dark Mountain 2 – out on 8 October!), having some fun at the Byron Bay Writers Festival and being with my tribe at the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. DesperateDeception-high-res

I’ve also started the third in the Dark Mountain series; Fatal Deception. So far a forensic psychologist (the heroine), a narcissistic psychopath and a rather likable serial killer have turned up on the page. The hero is waiting in the wings, ready to give the heroine some bad news. Her life is going to get a lot more problematic.

I can also hear the siren call of some erotic romance stories. Maybe I can slip one in while I write about murder and mayhem.

Today there was an interesting discussion on Twitter about the lack of a romance genre presence at writers festivals. There’s a common belief among romance writers that the major Australian literary festivals are not interested in genre writing and romance writing in particular. Crime is the usual exception being well represented at most festivals.

I think that’s changing. This year the Melbourne Writers Festival had a good romance presence, the result of a pitch to the festival organisers by Kate Cuthbert and others. Having a good pitch is the key. Lisa Dempster the CEO of the Melbourne Writers Festival gave a useful presentation at the RWA conference about how to get onto writers festival panels. Pitching a good idea that is not necessarily genre specific seems to be what they’re interested in.

I could see this at the Byron Bay Writers Festival. One of the sessions I went to was about Duplicitous Lives – a session about writers who’d written books about adulterous men. Another was about Grief and Creativity. Both panels were about ideas and themes such as denial and forgiveness. I could see genre writers contributing to each panel, brining to them a different perspective.

Honey Brown, Krissy Kneen, Jennifer St George, Moya Sayer-Jones

Honey Brown, Krissy Kneen, Jennifer St George, Moya Sayer-Jones

The Byron Bay Writers Festival did have a panel that was allegedly about romance but wasn’t really. Honey Brown, Krissy Kneen and Jennifer St George ended up talking about sex and erotica. It was interesting but not a panel on romance as a genre. If you are a member of the Australian Romance Readers Association, there will be a write up about this panel in the September newsletter.

Some panels I’d like to see at writers festivals would be feminism and romance; how to write authentically about happiness; does success lead to intellectual dismissal in Australia; writing what you know – using your profession in your writing. Maybe I’ll pitch!

The RWA conference was dazzling this year. Held in partnership with the Melbourne Writers Festival,

Anne Gracie as Barbara Cartland; Marion Lennox as Captain Jack Sparrow; Trish Morrow as the conference logo.

Anne Gracie as Barbara Cartland; Marion Lennox as Captain Jack Sparrow; Trish Morrow as the conference logo.

there was a significant non-romance element to the conference which I was a bit ambivalent about. Graeme Simsion author of the Rosie books gave a key note address, and while I loved The Rosie Project and he is a funny and engaging speaker, I still have a niggling doubt that if he was middle aged and female his books wouldn’t have been the hits they are. Is that me being unfair? Maybe it is.

Chris Corbett’s workshop on screen writing was excellent. He was able to present in an hour a concise and funny workshop, jam packed with meaty, useful material. I’m seriously thinking of doing a day workshop with him in January 2016.

Likewise CS Pacat’s workshop on narrative traction was a terrific rundown on how to maintain tension throughout a story. Her Captive Prince Trilogy is a great example of withholding the resolution of tension in order to keep the reader turning the page.

In late October I’m off to GenreCon in Brisbane, while some of my romance writing friends are off to Jindabyne for Romancing the Snowy. Can’t fit it all in!

Snow! We had a huge dump on Thursday night, so Friday was Snowday! Up in the Blue Mountains that means everything grinds to a halt and we all go a bit crazy. Me? When I woke up at 7:00am I had no power and no heat, but luckily a gas cooktop. This meant I could at least make a cup of tea. So I went back to bed and tried to stay warm. Swathed in woollen shawls and scarves with sweaters and track suit pants, ski socks and gloves, I had the company of Tana French’s latest The Secret Place.

When the power came back on at 10:30am that first hot shower was absolute bliss. The thermostat on my heater said it was only 3C inside. Brr. So cold I couldn’t hold a pen to write. Even now, the next day, there’s still a lot of snow around and the highway is closed again. But it’s a glorious winter day here, the sun is out, glittering on the snow and my heater works. All is good.

So, I haven’t been here for a while. There are reasons for that. Not very good ones, but nevertheless, reasons. Cold Deception came out in March and I was writing Desperate Deception. Now I’m gearing up to start Fatal Deception. But there is an elephant in the corner I’ve been ignoring. In my case it’s a big, wooly mammoth.

It’s the problem of discoverability. Really, it’s the problem of promotion. promo

I hate promotion. Which is not very helpful if my book is only available as an ebook and isn’t in a bricks and mortar store. I face the issue that most e-published writers face, which is how to let people on the wide, infinite black hole that is the internet know that my book is available from their favourite etailer and that it’s really good and they should buy it.

It’s a simple message but hard to execute.

Why so hard? It means I have to get onto places like Facebook and Twitter and sell myself. As soon as I do that, I have the nuns of my childhood telling me it’s a sin to want to be the centre of attention and I should do a rosary as penance. I told my fellow author and A Team member Lizzy Chandler that I get squirmy at the thought of posting some of the positive reviews I’ve had of Cold Deception on my Facebook page. She looked at me as if I was mad and told me that’s what it’s for. To sell myself. Oh, yeah, I thought. That’s right. So it is.

Be prepared to see a bit more promotion of on my Facebook page.

What else have I been up to? Reading of course. You can see what I’ve read so far this year here. Lots have been good, but the two stand outs for me so far have been Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel20170404 19486412and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I’m in the middle of Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life which I think will be up there as one of my favourites too.

I’ve also been cooking! My work mates and my Facebook friends know I hummed and hawed about purchasing a Kitchen Aid bench mixer. I finally did and she’s a beauty. Takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m working up to making some bread. I blame Martha Stewart Bakes as the reason I’ve developed the cooking bug.

I’m watching too much television but there is some interesting stuff on. I got completely caught up watching Grace and Frankie and watched the whole series over two days. I’ll watch anything with Lily Tomlin and Martin Sheen. Another series on Netflix which is really intriguing is Residue, a British scifi 1252062046571494799series with a couple of the actors from Game of Thrones playing the leads. Poor Iwan Rheon, I think he’ a very good actor but might be cursed by playing the detestable Ramsay Bolton.

I’ve missed the Poldark train but caught the Mapp and Lucia one. I read the EF Benson books years ago and loved them. mapp_and_lucia_officialMiranda Richardson is a treat as Elizabeth Mapp.

So, back to promotion. I’ll probably set up a newsletter as most authors do. I’m not sure about them though. Perhaps I’ll just keep to this blog. It’s seem much more user friendly and I can prattle on about anything.

Essentially though, this is in my immediate future. Plotting tools. IMG_1424