Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reviews and Happy Christmas.

Reviews have just come in for WITHOUT REPROACH. Here's a couple of snippets from them.
Romance Reader at Heart. Review Rating: Top Pick!

Without Reproach is about redemption. It’s about learning to love and trust again when life destroys everything you’ve ever known. Without Reproach is about three strong, wonderful woman and their ability to learn how to love life and each other. Thrown in along the way is some great romance that adds a little something extra to the book. Janet Woods is always a must read for me and this book proves once again how phenomenal a writer she is!
Kristal Gorman

Woods gives her fans a well-written contemporary romance full of her trademark endearing characters, ensuring that fans of her historical romances will feel right at home. Booklist.
This will probably be my last blog before Christmas, unless something exciting happens. Christmas is always tiring, always expensive, and this year it's even more so with the worry about the recession affecting us all. To all the mums and dads, grans and granddads, teenagers and kids of all ages. It's the thought that counts. Love costs nothing to give and receive. All best wishes.I hope you enjoy Christmas, and that 2009 is a wonderful year.

Friday, December 5, 2008


A Tiger's Tale!

The port town of Fremantle here in Western Australia is normally a friendly town. It's small, pretty. It has a fishing harbour where you can get a wonderful fish meal with the fish almost leaping straight from the ocean into the pan. We have an old town hall with a spire and a flag on top. It's smack dab in the centre of the town, so if you do happened to be directionally challenged, as am I, all you need to is to head straight for it and you're back into the thick of things again. At the beginning of this week it became even more friendlier for me.

I was Christmas gift shopping, when I saw a rather large stuffed tiger with a curling plastic tongue and fearsome teeth. By large I mean five foot from its front paws to the lip of its tail, or about 152 centimetres for you newer folk (I think). But never mind. It was big!

I just had to buy it for one of my granddaughters. I was already dragging a loaded trolley behind me and had a couple of dangling bags. The tiger was too big to fit in a bag, so I tucked it under my dangling bag arm, face to the front so it could see where we were going, its tail hanging down at the back and lashing at my ankle. We set off confidently to find my husband, who would relieve me of my packages, since he had the keys to the car and I still had more shopping to do. That took some time, since he'd gone to ground somewhere.

Like I said, Fremantle is normally a friendly town, but with the addition of my tiger it became even more friendly. Tiger seemed to be endowed with special powers of attraction. Everyone who set eyes on him smiled, others made remarks as they passed like, like 'Oye, can I pull your tail?' or 'Does he bite?' or 'Do you know you've got a tiger under your arm?' Duh!

Some people growled or roared. It all seemed a rather normal reaction and interaction with complete strangers under the circumstances. When I sat to rest I was approached by several old ladies who stopped to admire the beast. Kids came up with their mums and dads to stroke him or touch his teeth, while I made insane growling noises. Even a tired toddler stopped his tantrum long enough to gaze open-mouthed at him. I have never held so many conversations with strangers, or been so popular. It struck me that people wanted to talk, and the tiger acted as a legitimate excuse to do so.

When we got it home I laid Tiger along the back of the couch, where he looked quite relaxed and at home for two days. He was rather difficult to wrap because his tail kept springing out through the paper, but now he's mummified in wrapping paper covered in flying angels, so he looks more like a gaudy sphinx guarding the Christmas tree. I can't wait to see my granddaughter's face when she sets eyes on him!

The moral of this tale is - whatever your age - if you want to be a magnetic chick, or even a magnetic cockerel come to that (though they're in short supply at Christmas) get yourself a big tiger and walk around town.

Friday, November 28, 2008


AS DARKNESS FALLS - Bronwyn Parry - Hatchette.

I’ve heard people state that they only buy books written by authors whose work they know. What a shame that those short-sighted people are missing out on novels from new talent, like Australian writer Bronwyn Parry, whose first book was published this year.

AS DARKNESS FALLS is a romantic suspense that sits squarely within its genre, in that the romance is equally balanced by the story line. Two detectives, both wearied by the demands of their job - one to the point of being burned out - join forces to find a missing child before she is killed. The girl is one of three victims. Also a victim is Isabelle O’Connell the female police officer who was badly injured by the occupants of the small Australian country town she grew up in - when she single-handedly, and without success, tried to defend an innocent suspect from the town’s wrath. Along comes DCI Alec Goddard. Far from being a white knight, the battle weary city cop needs Isabelle to help him solve the case, and he plays on her conscience until he gets his way. Alec then finds himself becoming her protector as the deadly cat and mouse game with the criminal begins to unfold.

This is a story high in tension. There is the inner turmoil of the main characters, then the fact that the villain is always one step ahead, which that makes him an insider. There is the need to protect the female lead from danger, and from that the love story flows. But the instincts and needs of love are hard fought. These are two intelligent people who have had their fingers burned before, and the involvement is reluctant. The motivation of the main characters is well set up, consistent and clear, which gives the reader empathy with those characters. The book has a good visual scenic sense and is high in adventure. To my mind it would make an excellent tele movie.

AS DARKNESS FALLS is a gritty, well-written novel with a high sense of human drama and tension. It dishes up exactly what the cover suggests - a meaty and satisfying meal between the crusts.

Janet Woods.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dropping in.

I'm just dropping in to report that the book I wrote about two blogs ago called, HEARTS OF GOLD - a historical romance that begins in the gold fields of Western Australia - has now been accepted by Severn House UK and will be released in April 09. In my usual fashion, I imagine the cover, though my visualization has never ever become a reality. For this book I see a golden heart diffused under water with ripples coming from it. My second slice of news is that audio right to 'Without Reproach' have been sold to ISIS Soundings.

Many thanks to Naval Langa and Eric for your comments.

I really haven't got much to blog about at the moment. I'm nearing the end of a novel and the characters have got such a strong grip on me that I just have to keep going , so my bum is glued to the chair. I love it when this happens, though whether it's entirely enjoyable is a moot point. Sure, when I really meld with the characters, so the story just happens, keeping going is irresistible. But sitting at the computer to the point of fatigue isn't healthy. I keep having to remind myself that the story will still be there tomorrow. I'm juggling four main characters, their stories with their plot conflicts, and the stories of the people around them and their plot conflicts, plus the main plot conflict. It's all going on in my brain as I head for the point of convergence.

My sister just rang me from New Zealand to ask me if I was okay, because she hadn't heard from me. No wonder. I've written two books in eight months without a break in between. Usually, I stop to clean my office between novels. This time I didn't. Three more chapters and the first draft will be finished. Then I must start the rewrite before I edit the manuscript for typos, of which there will be many. There always is when I write a book fast. Then I will take a rest...well, maybe...I've just sent a proposal to my agent for the next book.

All the best. Now....back to the fray!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Without Reproach

Romantic suspense
Severn House - Oct 1st 2008
ISBN 9780727867049

Charlie Parker dies in a car accident. As the fabric of his deceit is uncovered, the lives of three women involved with him are changed for ever. His mother meets the granddaughter she never knew she had. Kate Parker is a young woman already traumatised by an assault that's resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. Lauren Parker discovers that her marriage was not what it seemed. The tragedy draws the woman together, and they decide to move in together, in an isolated cottage in Dorset, where they'll be out of the glare of the media. Relations are strained as they learn to get on and support each other. To complicate matters, Lauren and DI Theo Ransom - who is investigating Charlie's affairs - fall in love. This complicates matters when a huge drugs haul is involved, and Lauren and Kate's lives are placed in mortal danger.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stray Parcel and Christmas

Life has settled down after the romance writers conference. After all the work the dedicated RWAustralia conference committee did to come up with a dazzling weekend, it now feels as though it never happened. So it's back behind the desk for me. I've finished the book I was working on pre-conference, and have sent it on to my agent in London, so it's finger-crossing time. I've also picked up a book I'd written six chapters of and have started on the next six. This is the bit-and-pieces book I write when I haven't got a book to write.

The end of the year is getting close again. This was brought home to me by requests to speak at two libraries in Feb. 09. It served to remind me that I should do something about Christmas, seeing as my family grows larger by the year. So far I've bought a packet of ten greeting cards, which won't go far. Even though it's the hottest time of year here in Australia, I always buy cards with sparkle, snow, Santa and robins on etc. (it must be my English background). And I've noticed that stamps have gone up in time for the festive season. Good timing!

Talking of post offices, let me tell you a tale about a little postal tube containing a rolled up book jacket. It was posted in England on 4th April 2002 in London. It arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday 15th September 2008. The original labels are a yellowed, and the plastic ends of the tube have gathered a bit of dust, but I'm wondering where this parcel tube has been for six years. You see, to deepen the mystery, the tube has a recent label on it - an Australian one. It was reposted the day before I received it, at a cost of AU$4.20 at a post office only a couple of miles from where I live! The book jacket is in excellent condition, by the way.

Going back to Christmas (one can't escape it), I'm well known amongst my daughters for being hard to buy gifts for. I think it's because I have everything I need - which is a happy and loving extended family. So, my lovely daughters, in case you read this, here is my Christmas wish list. (1) A box of 'Paper One' premium paper. I've just finished the box I got last year. (2) Damien Leith's latest CD. 'Catch the Wind' (3) Sharon Kay Penman's latest book 'Devil's Brood.'

Oh yes, for those who like to gift books for Christmas, you my like to try my book WITHOUT REPROACH, which is a romantic suspense hardcover. It's released on October 1st and available from online book sellers or directly from the publisher, Severn House. I'll post further details as soon as its released.

Monday, September 1, 2008

You've gotta laugh!

I’ve never yet been to a romance writers conference where we haven’t been laughing our heads off over something for most of the time. The 2008 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne in August was no exception. Over 200 romance writers, large and small, old and young, published and unpublished, and from all over Australia - met at the Langham Hotel for three days of business, workshops, networking and socialising. There were raffles to raise money for breast cancer. Door prizes. Cocktail parties. Book stalls and a surfeit of food.

Add to that a book launch at Dymocks for Bronwyn Parry’s first book, “As Darkness Falls”, which is published by Hatchette Livre. There was a side trip to a historical costume private museum, a dinner for those of us on the writers E list, and a trip to a chocolate factory. And that was on the Thursday before the conference! Unfortunately, for some reason unknown to the passengers, my plane - which had been booked and paid for since the previous April, and which had had the flight time changed three times in the months since - was, on the day, changed from a direct flight to Melbourne to one diverted to Melbourne via Sydney. (Hmmn, I think I blogged about late transport once before!) So I missed the historical costume tour, which I was really looking forward to.

Friday was devoted to an all day workshop. Saturday and Sunday was more of the same, plus eat drink and be merry with a dress up cocktail party. See photograph of me with my granddaughter sitting on my shoulder - and we weren’t the only witches there. We could have raised a coven. Sunday evening was the awards dinner. We ate very small, very delicious meals on very big plates and cheered on those of our fellow writers who had scaled the dizzy heights of winning awards by entering the various competitions hosted by the RWA.

On the whole romance writers are happy people. Perhaps it’s because we love writing about love - about people falling in love - being in love and doing the love thing. We love love.
Laughter is infectious, and the laughing disease was certainly caught by all of us over the weekend. The place was full of smiles, and there was not a grumpy face in sight.

Going back to Western Australia, the transport system worked to perfection. The plane took off right on the minute. There were no bumpy clouds to make the passengers nervous. The wheels and wings stayed on and we landed smoothly. My husband wasn’t there to meet me. He’d expected me the following day. You’ve gotta laugh!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Aggressive... who me?

Having active, and dare I say, aggressive, dreams is becoming a habit. Three weeks after gaining a black eye after grappling with dream terrorists on a cruise ship and ending up trying to subdue the bedside cabinet with my head, the night before last I dreamed about a woman threatening me. This time I ended up on the other side of the bed, snapped out of the dream by slamming into the wardrobe. The force of impact sent a floor to ceiling sheet of glass out of it’s sliding frame and into the wardrobe itself. There, it bent out of shape and one point dug into the carpeted floor. Luckily, apart from a slightly sore knee, I escaped unscathed. I shudder when I think what might had happened, had the glass shattered. As it was, my husband had a hard time straightening the door and getting it back into position. Various reasons are being offered to me for this unconscious behavior - astral travelling, repressed aggression, one of the characters I killed off in my books is haunting me, to eating cheese before going to bed and “I always knew you were mad, now you’re proving it.”

I’m not getting much sleep lately. Last night a marauding mosquito set its sights on me at 2.30 am. Luckily, it announce it’s arrival by singing in my ear. I went into commando mode. After creeping round the bedroom trying the squash it with a flapping slipper, it disappeared completely. After ten minutes on alert I drifted off to sleep, only to be woken by that dreaded whine again. The mozzie flew past my ear and settled on the wall. I took aim, and slapped. Missed! I swear I could hear it laughing as it disappeared again. One minute it was there, the next minute it was see-through. How do mozzies do that? I managed to get through the night huddled under the bedclothes, with my nose sticking out for air like a shark’s fin. Right, you little bugger, you’ve had your fun. Last night it was conventional warfare with the slapping slipper and today - duh-du-du-duh-duuuuuuugh...! Chemical spray.

Aggressive...who me?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On yer bike!

This week I said a final farewell to a fellow writer and friend. Her name was Wendy Evans, and for eight years we’ve both belonged to the same critiquing group. Wendy was ill, but she kept writing until the end. She died in her sleep on the eve of our last meeting, after telling the rest of the group she was going to concentrate on writing short stories for the next month. I’ve never met anyone quite as talented as Wendy. Apart from writing, she was a geologist by trade, adviser to government ministers, and an accomplished landscape artist. I will miss my friend - I’ll miss her honesty, her astute mind, her writing and her pity comments. There will never be another Wendy Evans. They threw away the blueprint.

In four weeks time I head off to Melbourne to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference. I booked my fare well in advance, and due to the fuel crisis, airline schedules have been rearranged, and so far my flight times have been changed twice. The rearrangement consists of a five minute change in taking off from Perth, and a twenty minute change from Melbourne on the return journey. I’m hoping it won’t change again.

I once flew to Melbourne and there was a delay of six hours. There was a problemo with the plane, and the airline didn’t have an engineer in Perth, so had to fly one in from Adelaide on the next available flight to change a faulty light-globe (Yes, I do know it was a precaution). I spent the six hours at Perth airport, munching on body-clogging food. I arrived in Melbourne at midnight, five hours after the dinner I was supposed to attend had started, and two hours after it finished. Not bad timing!

Last January I paid a visit to my family in the UK. Coming back I was delayed at Heathrow for two hours. Luckily, the connecting flight from Singapore to Perth waited for us.

Another trip to UK, I went to Liverpool by bus to visit my sister-in-law. This was a nine hour trip. Returning to the point of departure, the bus was delayed (without reason and without being the fault of anybody) and we arrived in Birmingham just as the bus station w as about to close. As I was supposed to be changing buses there for Cheltenham, and that bus had left hours before, I found myself alone in an unfamiliar city with darkness rapidly falling.

The staff were great. To get rid of me, they hired me a taxi which took me on to Cheltenham at the expense of the bus company. The original bus fare had cost me £21.00 return at the time. The taxi trip racked up over £50.00 for the bus company. Strangely, however, the taxi driver refused to drop me off at the address I was going to, even though I offered to pay the extra. He insisted it had to be the deserted bus station, a dark and gloomy dropping off place for a lone female with overnight bag to be left at 2.45 in the morning. You can have no idea how exposed I felt when that taxi drove off into the night.

Cheltenham was also an unfamiliar city, though I’d driven through it a couple of times. I was just wondering if a shadowy hedge would be a safer place to sleep in than the creepy bus shelter, when along came my lovely daughter-in-law to rescue me. Luckily, she’d discovered what was going on, and had possessed the good sense to come back and find me (not something that all daughter-in-law would do). Just as well, since mobile phones were a novelty at the time and I didn’t have her home phone number with me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Black Eye

Last Friday night I had a run in with a couple of villains. It happened like this.
I dreamed I was on a cruise ship, when a woman toting a muscle man on her hip walked up to me. She placed a button in my hand. Noticing it was ticking and had a clock face, I immediately knew it was an explosive device.
As they walked away I decided that if I was going to blow up I was taking them with me. I knew I could bring these two villains down, so with arms outstretched I took a flying leap at their retreating backs.
The next thing I knew my face whacked into the corner of the bedside cabinet, which woke me up fairly rapidly. “Ouch!” I said. Okay, so I said more than “ouch!” It brought forth several expletives I hadn’t used since my youth. However, my grandchildren might read this so I’m keeping it clean.
I was due to deliver a writers’ workshop in the city the next morning, using public transport to get to the venue. So on the wettest, darkest most miserable day of the year I set out wearing impenetrable sunglasses with side shades.
However, I had to take them off when I got there. I told the tale of my run-in with the terrorist bedside cabinet and the button bomb, hoping for some sympathy. The story received several disbelieving “Hahs!” and a good belly laugh. Odd how a person’s misfortune can bring laughter instead of sympathy, like farting in public.
For the last few days I’ve been sporting a purply-black eye than was delivered via my dream. It’s the first shiner I’ve ever had, and I can’t even brag about it (though I suppose I did save a cruise ship?) Of course, nobody will believe my story and my mild-mannered husband, who wouldn’t squash a catapillar, is getting a few questioning looks. So this is the official version. OKAY?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Without Reproach

Without Reproach - Janet Woods
Romantic Suspense.
Severn House UK
ISBN: 9780727867049
October 1st 08

The death of Charlie Parker exposes a web of deceit. Wife Lauren finds herself providing for Charlie’s newly discovered teenage daughter, as well as caring for her mother-in-law, Betty. Recently bankrupt, they rent an isolated cottage in Dorset with Kate, who is expecting a child, the result of an assault. Meanwhile DI Theo Ransom is investigating the affairs of Charlie, but can’t fight his feelings for Lauren. . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Happy Talk

Last Tuesday I did a talk at a local library in Scarborough Beach in Western Australia, which is about half an hour’s drive from my home. There was a small crowd of library patrons there, about twenty of them. I related to them straight away and appreciated the sensible questions that were put to me during the talk. When you do a talk you can usually sense the mood of an audience. This one was friendly and relaxed. In the end I forgot my formal notes and we started chatting about different aspects of writing. So I didn’t get to say what I’d intended to say, but instead, said what they wanted to hear.

As an orator I wouldn’t win any prizes, but I do try and relate to my audience and be as natural as possible. From the few talks I’ve done I’ve noticed that my library audience generally consists of mature women. These are the people who read and enjoy my books, I imagine. They’re interested in knowing my background and how I got to be a writer (that’s something which often surprises me). I know many of those people can relate to my background - which often resembles their own.

Libraries play an important part in the life of authors. They buy the books (usually hardcover) which gives the authors a royalty from the sale, and they certainly help to publicise an author’s name. Readers themselves generate borrowings by word of mouth. If they like your book they will tell others.

Here in Australia we have a public lending right scheme. To compensate Australian authors for any loss of revenue from borrowings, if authors have a certain number of books in the system they will also receive a small fee when it’s borrowed. This is calculated on a yearly basis so it builds up and is paid in a lump some towards the end of he tax year.

More good news for me.

The historical saga I’ve just started (Hearts of Gold) has gone to contract on the synopsis - that is, a couple of pages outlining the plot. The deadline for this is October of this year, so I’ll have to pull out all stops to get it finished. Having a contract and deadline is an incentive to keep going, and it stops me from becoming lazy. I have a pretty good work ethic as a rule, I think. I write every day, and set myself a daily word count to complete before I stop writing for the day. That way I soon see some progress. It takes me about five months to write my novels.

People ask, how do you write so quickly? The answer is, I don’t write quickly. I’m a turtle rather than a hare I keep plodding along and don’t worry too much about what the hares are up too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Here’s a date for your diary. Thursday June 5th -Trade Expo - Moonee Ponds.
One again, Pick A Pocket Books will be having a stand to promote their books and the authors who write them. Do drop in to see their display of books, and while you’re their, support an Australian author by buying one. Or take a look at their site.
To move on to some good news. I’m pleased to say that my latest book, WITHOUT REPROACH has been accepted by Severn house UK and will be released in October 2008.

Usually I write historical saga. This time I tried my hand at a contemporary romantic suspense. It was refreshing to write something different, and I hope that my readers will recognize my need for a temporary change of pace, and don’t desert me because it’s modern day. The next book will be a saga type historical again, I promise. In fact, I’ve already got the first chapter down.

I think I’ve said before that writing is hard work. If you keep writing the same kind of book over and over sometimes you can feel as though you’re stuck in a rut. A bored brain needs stimulation to sharpen it. A change of style is medicinal, in that it refreshes you.

Not many publishers approve of their author’s changing lanes. If they’ve spent time and effort building up an author’s name in a certain category, and that author has attracted a number of readers, then changing tack can throw it out of balance.

Writing modern novels is just as hard as writing historical, I find. Both have to be researched, especially if they are set in a country you don’t live in. Researching historical is easier. History doesn’t shift and change. In modern day things are changing fast. Electronic devises such as computers, reading devices, ipods and telephones are constantly changing. If you use them in a novel, by the time the book is published everything can be rendered obsolete.

This was brought home to me when I was last in the UK and staying with my son. On his desk is a telephone from the fifties, with a dial on the front. It works, but his three daughters can’t figure out how!

While I’m on line. Usually I get a couple of letters a month from readers. So far this month I’ve had six, from as far afield as England, Wales and Cyprus. I do appreciate hearing from readers, so to all those people who read my books and like them enough to write and tell me, a heartfelt thanks.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Historical Photo Shoot.

Photo Shoot!

A few days ago I had my first experience of being a model. The shoot was to publicise the upcoming Perth Roadshow, which is a day of workshopping and fun featuring three of Australia’s brightest and most talented internationally published romance writing stars from the eastern states They are Anne Gracie, Marion Lennox and Trish Morey.

This day of workshopping will be of great benefit to those who want to write popular fiction of any genre, but especially those aiming at the romance and traditional womens’ fiction markets.

This roadshow takes place on Saturday 24th at the Good Earth Hotel in Adelaide terrace. Door open at 8-30 and the day finishes around five pm. Optional is dinner with the authors. Cost of the workshop is $100 including lunch and afternoon tea. $60 extra if you’d like to dine with the authors. Registration forms can be found on the Romance Writers of Australia Inc website. Closes on 17th May.

RIGHT - BACK TO THE PHOTO SHOOT. At 8.30 one morning Western Australia’s own internationally published authors - Janet Woods (moi) Sharon Milburn and Anna Jacobs presented themselves to a lovely home in Solomon Street in Fremantle, which had been generously offered to us by the owner for the shoot. There we met the fabulous and friendly crew from the West Australian newspaper magazine.

Make up artist and hairdressing was laid on. Somehow, my two inches of hair was tonged into curls and glued in place with hairspray that set like cement.
My face was painted with goo, my six remaining eyelashes mascaraed and my lips became a bring pink pout. I’m yet to see the result of this. Without my spectacles on a glance in the mirror revealed a pale, blurred and haggard blob with what seemed to be two pairs of eyebrows! I decided that you’re never to old to make an ass of yourself, and rather then worry about the result I’d just allow myself to be carried along with the tide.

We quickly selected outfits. Sharon, who has authored two regencies “Lord Whitley’s Bride” and “Captain’s Lady” and who is a teacher when she’s not being an author had brought along her own gown and accessories, a regency outfit. (see photos).The deep blue colour happened to match the colour of the velvet and lace outfit worn by the regency buck, who was plucked out of the West Australian’s office for the day. The gentleman certainly looked the part of the handsome hero.

My gown was pink, with silver tinsel on the bodice and room for panniers that would have produced hips like Queen Elizabeth 1st, and given new meaning to love handles. However, the padded panniers didn’t come with it, so the skirt drooped a bit. I had to pick the skirt up when I walked because it was to long (or I was too short). Anyway, the ginger house cat liked the skirt and amused himself by hiding under it, then wrestling with the frill.

The multi-published Anna Jacobs was elegantly late Victorian in black lace, pearls and cameo brooch. Her hair was middle parted and drawn back into curls.

I always enjoy it when something different and entirely unexpected happens. The morning was fun. The company was great, and I’m now looking forward, with a little dread I might add, to the end result.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pick A Pocket Books


Here’s a new type of book. It’s small enough to fit in a back pocket or purse, has a flip cover and contains two long short stories, or two short novellas – whichever description takes your fancy. Pick a Pocket Books were designed for the traveller to have a quick read on their journey. The books cost $12.00 and can be bought directly from the website.

Now, you might think this is an advert. Yes it is, though in the publishing world we call it a promotion. As I said when I started this blog, it’s mainly for advertising my own stories and novels – though I did review another writer’s novel not long ago. Whatever takes my fancy.

My pocket book contains two romantic stories. “The Courting of Roscoe” is about 14,000 words and set in Tasmania. Here’s how to seduce a lady with chocolate and cherries! “The Colour of Sunset,” which is the second story, is played out on a cattle station in the Western Australia and is shorter, at 6,000 words. Lady artist meets roving journalist with a nose for a story!

This pocket book is a neat little creature. The publisher will have a stall at the “Back to Booktown Festival” at Clunes in Victoria on 3rd and 4th of May.
I’m sure Marlene Meier will be happy to answer any questions you care to ask if you’re in the area. They might even sell you a book or two.

If you can’t make the festival, please drop in on the site and see what’s on offer from myself and the other authors. And if you want to know what else I’ve published, do please visit my website.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Why I write novels

I’ve just finished writing my twenty-second novel. Actually I’ve written about thirty, but the first half-a-dozen were downright duds. The early models of my novels reside in a single wardrobe. Trying to read one is quite humbling. It reminds me that my writing was unpublishable in the early days – though at the time I didn’t know it! Some writers dig out their early novels and resurrect them. Alas, every one of my early efforts seem stale and out of date and I’d rather write a new book.

Like most skills, the craft of writing has to be learned. Some people go to creative writing classes. Yes, you can learned the steps needed to craft a novel. Now start putting it into practice, because I can almost guarantee that the majority of students will not be able to write a publishable novel until they’ve input a few litres of sweat and tears. There are exceptions, but they are few.

This is not to say that creative writing classes aren’t useful. They are. Usually they’re the first step towards a career as a writer. I did a correspondence course in creative writing, which was helpful in showing me what I was doing wrong (which was everything at first!). It also helped me to sort out the style of writing I enjoyed doing most, which was women’s fiction in novel form, and short stories.

I didn’t get my certificate, because I was one lesson short. Enthusiasm bit me on the bum. I wanted to get on with what I knew I was going to write – and technical writing wasn’t it. It totally bored me. I can’t believe now that I abandoned the course one lesson off completion. Do I regret it? No. I did happen to get my first publication during that time – a story for children that I wrote for the course. A certificate proving that you’ve completed a course in creative writing doesn’t get you publication. It may give you the confidence and persistence to keep writing towards the goal of publication though.

A few years ago I enrolled in a script writers course, mainly because I wanted to learn the technique of scenic writing so I could apply it to my own work. I think this was the most useful course I’ve ever attended, it taught me how to write in a scenic sense, which was a technique that could be applied directly to my own work. It did not, however, turn me into a script writer. I enjoy writing scenery and inner dialogue, exposing the emotions and travelling on the complete creative journey with my characters. In script writing this can’t be done to any great extent or in such detail.

Mentally and physically, writing is hard work. You're in self-imposed solitary confinement. You sit in front of a computer and gradually type your fingerprints off. After a while your wrists ache, so does your back and your neck. Your shoulders freeze, your eyes begin to dry up and after a while you develop twitching eyelids. Oh yes, and the backside tends to spread. The rewards are not all that great, either. It’s an occupation where only the few seem go on to wealth and fortune, and it’s not a profession where equal skill and pay always go hand in hand. It takes me five months to complete a book. Sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day, seven days a week steaming my brain for a clever metaphor or a bright and lively twist of conversation is not always fun. And what other profession will offer you a biannual pay packet six months after you’ve earned it!

So why do I do it? I’m obsessed. I love every moment of writing a novel, even the moments I hate. When it’s produced and I hold it in my hands in its shiny new jacket, and it finally looks, smells and feels like a proper book instead of several figment of my imagination cobbled together with string, it gives me a huge sense of achievement.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Edge of Regret Reviews

Three good reviews have come in for Edge of Regret. I'm showing just a portion of them, but two of them can be read at length online, so I've put their links in. As follows . . .

4 stars. Set in Victorian Edinburgh, Edge of Regret, is a spellbinding historical saga packed with emotion, tragedy and romance that further establishes Janet Woods as one of the genre’s strongest voices! – Julie Bonello – Cata Romance
Woods fashions an involving, time-honored story featuring noble heroes and naughty villains. Sure to please her fans – Booklist.

Top Pick! This story keeps in perfect line with the other Janet Woods books that I have read, not in that they are intertwined, but in that they all have the same feel—bittersweet, lovely, nostalgic and beautiful. I look forward to every single book that she puts out because I know that the hits keep coming!
Kristal Gorman –

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review of Substitute Bride - Laurel Lamperd

Regency Romance – Publisher: Wings Press
ISBN (10) 1-59705-733-9 ISBN (13) 9781597057332

Substitute Bride is the Laurel Lamperd’s first novel. The plot revolves about the need for the rakish Nick, Marquess of Desborough to wed – so to take possession of his inheritance from his tight-fisted cousin. His intention is to marry beneath him, then have the marriage annulled.

Just as Nick gets word that his bride is no longer available, along comes the hapless Emma Napier and her friend Abby, two country girls of good birth who are fleeing to London so Abby can escape a loveless marriage to a stranger. Abby’s convenient migraine puts Emma within the Marquess’ grasp at the time she needs money and he needs a substitute bride. Emma allows him to bully her into marriage. Nick then goes off to claim his inheritance.

Emma never expects to see Nick again and keeps the marriage a secret, as agreed. Emma’s Aunt Matilda takes the two girls under her wing so they can enjoy a season. A London success, Emma has suitors queuing up at the door. Inevitably, the recently wed husband and wife meet. The Marquess is reluctant to set the annulment in motion, and the protagonists are pitted against each other. Thrown into the mix is the fun and frivolity of a London season, an exquisitely beautiful but hard-hearted mistress plotting Emma’s downfall, a cast of interesting and lively secondary characters with their own sub-plots and everybody minding everyone else’s business.

On the down side, the sentence structure of the second paragraph is clumsy and confusing. Appearing as it must on the first page, it immediately catches the eye and doesn’t create the best of impressions. The production standard is fairly sloppy too. Although the novel looks good with a nicely designed jacket, and is easy on the eye with a clear, good sized font, there are several misplaced full stops throughout, and many of the dialogue marks are reversed, some all on one page. There are enough of these mistakes to irritate, they give the impression that the book wasn’t proof read properly – if at all.

There is very little to criticise in the writing itself. The novel is well constructed and is a smooth read all the way through. SUBSTITUTE BRIDE engages the emotions right from the start. There is enough description to serve time and place. The Marquess is traditionally alpha male, but not alpha enough to be a pain in the proverbial. Emma is a spirited heroine who brings her man to heel over the course of the novel. It’s good fun and the ending satisfies with all threads tied up.

Excellent characterisation, natural dialogue and tension that rises naturally from the plot are all present in this subtly ironic novel that is a pleasure to read. I’ll look forward to reading Laurel Lamperd’s second book.

Reviewed by Janet Woods – author

Monday, March 10, 2008

Flying Sparks

Sparks have been flying in our house! No, I haven’t been fighting with my husband. Two weeks ago the electricity went off, came back with a power surge and knocked out my telephones.

Because I’d transferred my telephone account to my server, I emailed them immediately to let them know what had happened. I received no answer. The next day I emailed them again, and the next day after that. No answer! No answer!

We have no mobile phone. My husband drove to the local shopping centre and went into a phone box (the temperature that day, that week actually, was hovering around 39 degrees!). He was told that there was half an hour to wait before we could get a technician on the line to answer our query. Rather than become the first man to be baked alive in a public telephone box, my husband came home again.

Five days later my daughter sorted it out via her telephone. By that time the wait was down to twenty minutes and the telephone company had sent its technicians out. However, because my server hadn’t sent a request to the telephone company, who own the cables, (despite my three emails!) our service could not be restored, though the service to my immediate neighbours was. Two days later they got around to us.

Later, we found out that the power cut and surge was contained to the small area of about sixty houses that forms our village. Someone came to test the appliances. I was lucky. Only my fax/phone was damaged beyoned repair in the surge. Though coincidentally, my electric kettle gave up the ghost yesterday. Other people lost computers, radios and televisions as well as telephones.

However, my main grouse is not with the power company since electricity outages are part of life. It lies with my server, who, although perfectly competant in all other areas, totally ignored my emails – though the voice at the end of the phone did manage to find one of them when my daughter got to talk to a living person. And before that conversation was over came the irony of a form I received, which solicited my opinion on the service I was receiving. In fact, I got two of those forms during the debacle.

This is a communications company. They sell and service internet facilities. I’ve been with them a long, long time. They take money from my bank account for this purpose every month. So why can’t they bloody well communicate when you need them!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bob Tanner

Vale - Bob Tanner

Last week my literary agent passed away after a short illness. His name was Bob Tanner, and he was a well-known figure in the writing world in the UK.
Although I met him only twice in the eight years of our professional association I formed the impression that Bob was a gentleman. Certainly, he was a man who was there when you needed advice. Bob shared his expertise as well as his friendship, and was always pleased to be of help. He seemed to derive a quiet pleasure in the book sales he achieved for his writing clients.

I first met Bob when he was a guest speaker for the Romantic Novelists’ Association in London, I can’t remember the date by it was approximately twenty years ago. He reminded everyone present at that meeting that writing was extremely hard work, and it took persistence and dedication. We were warned that for most people starting out, getting a novel published was nigh on impossible. His honesty in this was appreciated.

It was several years before I felt that my writing was ready for an agent to represent. Luckily, Bob Tanner took me on, and over twenty books were placed with publishers by him over the years. The only time we met since that first meeting, was when Bob, his daughter Jill and office manager, Pat took me to an RNA awards luncheon at the Savoy Hotel in 2006.

I don’t know how old Bob was when he passed away – getting on a bit, I imagine. However, age doesn’t seem to matter much in the writing world, because it brings with it a wealth of experience. I do know that Bob had been part of the writing industry for a long time. First in publishing with New English Library, and then establishing the literary agency, International Scripts. He was well respected in his chosen career, he was also a wise man.

When people who mean something in our lives depart from it, we tend to wonder – how will we cope without them? But each of us have our own journey to make, and losing friends and family are part of it.

According to his daughter and fellow director, Jill Lawson, Bob worked right to the end. He left behind a record to celebrate the life of a truly unique man. I feel privileged to have known him, and will truly miss his wise counsel when I need it.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Back in Australia after my UK trip, and there was three weeks work and my mail to catch up on. It seemed to me that every one of my readers wrote in my absence. I cleared the backlog in one week between dozing off the jet lag, which makes me wonder why I couldn’t triple my writing output. I must admit, if I try to hurry I make more mistakes than I usually do. Then I have to do much more editing work. I guess it’s a case of what you gain on the roundabouts you lose on the swings.

In the midst of the scramble the audio version of “The Coal Gatherer” arrived. Listening to somebody else reading your work out loud can be bit unnerving. Sometimes the interpretation of the characters voices are different to the way the author pictured them when they were written.

I have nothing but admiration for readers, who manage to keep the various characters’ voices consistent as they juggle with them over 8-10 hours of recording. I also admire the different accents one reader can come up with. In my audio library I have Dorset dialects. I also have upper crust, middle crust, and lower crust. I have Welsh, Irish and Australian, and am looking forward to listening to a Scottish accent in a future book.

“The Coal Gatherer” is set in the Hartlepool region, in the North-East of England. When I’d flavoured the book with some Geordyism I wondered if I was doing the right thing, as it’s a difficult regional accent, one hard to get right. I grew up in the South of England, but luckily I was raised by a mother who came from the area where the book was set. Even so, the regional accent wasn’t second nature to me. Anne Dover has done a wonderful job recording the book and capturing the subtle musicality of the accent.

Some writers dislike using accented dialogue. If it is used an author has to be careful it’s not overdone, else it can become tedious. I’m of the school that believes that a few touches of regional accent can add authentic colour to the setting.

I usually donate my extra audio books to the association of the blind, here in Western Australia. It has been suggested that I do a reading for them when the new audiobook library opens. I imagine that those with impaired vision are extremely sensitive towards the human voice. I know I can’t compete with the beautifully modulated voices of the professional actors who read my books. I can’t do accents of any sort - except in my head. So if this reading comes about I can only apologise in advance from my lack of public reading ability.