Shh, the Divas are Hiding

1 Comment

The Divas are currently hiding out in their writing caves.

How cool is this cave?

How cool is this cave?

a view to inspire

a view to inspire

All that can be heard is the clickety-clack of fingers on keyboards and the slurpity-slurp of coffee and tea being consumed.

Whatever could they be working on?

Hmm… a mystery.

(note fine print: writing cave shown is not an accurate representation of the any of the writing caves in question, it’s just a cool cave house. But we can dream)


the Divas

They’re On Their Way

Leave a comment

The divas are on their way back to Australia. Lex should be home sometime today (I think) and will be sleeping off her big week I’m sure. Rhian hung back in KC an extra day, and poor Jess missed her connecting flight in LA so she was stuck there for 24hrs! ARGH!

Meanwhile, back at the homestead, I am so close achieving my goal of 10,000 words while the girls are at RT. I’ve gotten to 9000, and thought I’d reach 10 this morning, but for some ungodly reason hubs decided to get up at 5am too. Now, let me just say this: when I get up early I sneak around the house, afraid to open the fridge to even get myself a drink so as not to wake up the kids, caaaarefully turning the knob on the office door so it doesn’t squeak and trying to type super quiet. When hubs gets up, all the lights go on, breakfast is made, he clacks around in his work shoes. Yeah, the kids were up a lot earlier than usual. So my writing time disappeared into thin air. Kind of pissed I got up for nothing, actually.

So I’m still hanging on 9k and am stuck at a point in the ms where I feel like a wall has come up. The scene I wrote this morning?

She hears Jake on the radio and he says something that makes her change her mind.

Think I can just leave it like that?

Perhaps not.

Best pic from RT ever!

Best pic from RT ever!


If You’re Wondering Why…


The blog has been super quiet…

Animated Gifs

…maybe it’s because almost everyone I know is off at the Romantic Times Convention. Yes EVERYONE I tell you, except me.  My bright idea was to have all the other divas email me with anecdotes of their time in Kansas City so I could post them on here, but have a guess how many emails I have in my inbox? That’s right. A big fat zero. I guess the world travellers have forgotten all about me, stuck back here in suburban Australia. Sniff sniff. From the twitter feed it seems they are all too busy drinking and doing lunch to have time for much else. Bitches.

Oops, I was meant to whisper that.

On the good news front, I’ve been writing up a storm this week. I decided I would try for 10,000 words in the time I would ordinarily have been away at RT getting no words down so I feel a little better about not being there. I am after all a writer and writing is what I must do, I tellsya! So far I’m at just over 4,000 since Monday, with another five days to go. I think I’m going to make it, and I might even go over my admittedly conservative goal.



A Little Note to Say Thank You


I was talking to a couple of other authors recently about book reviews, specifically how an author goes about getting them. A book tends to sell better if it has a list of positive reviews—and increased sales of books mean increased potential for further reviews, further sales and so on. So as authors we LOVE to get good reviews, for this reason and also because it gives us a warm fuzzy feeling. All that time spent alone with our characters, all the critiquing and editing and proofreading, all of it has at last been acknowledged in the best way possible. Somebody liked my book! And they liked it so much they bothered to post a public review to tell everyone how much they liked it!

 That acknowledgment is arguably the best part about being a writer.

 So how do we obtain these shining pearls of happiness-inducing praise? I don’t really know. Stories abound about authors paying for reviews, getting their friends to post them or even creating fake accounts under different names and posting their own reviews. I’ve never done any of these things, but I can understand the desperation some writers feel which drives them to do so. To me though, a review wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t from a genuine reader who hadn’t been in any way coerced or remunerated for their opinion. Which means that when it comes to getting reviews for my work, all I can do is send my baby out into the world and hope for the best. 

When Erica’s Choice was first released, I had a really lovely twofer review over at Guilty Pleasures, which absolutely made my release day. However it took weeks for anything to appear on Amazon, where it tends to make the most difference to sales on that site. At last they started trickling in, and I’m so happy to say all feedback there has been positive. Now I have a nice little collection of feel-good comments and the book has been selling fairly consistently which is so, so satisfying, and has restored my faith in my own story telling ability. Let me tell ya, when it’s 5am and it’s just you and the computer and the sparrows chirping their morning song, faith is all you’ve got (I mean, I don’t even have caffeine anymore—wwwaaaaaa!!!!).

 So what’s the point of this post? I didn’t tell you all this to steer you toward my book and get you to buy it (but did that work????). My main point here is to say THANK YOU to every reader who has ever genuinely loved a book so much they leave an honest, glowing review on the site from which they bought it, or on a review blog or even on an author’s facebook timeline. This means the world to authors (yes, I have the power to speak for ALL WRITERS EVERYWHERE). So if you’re a review leaver, please keep doing what you’re doing.  

And if you’ve never left a review before, consider giving it a shot. Click the ‘Like’ button or agree with the tags if they fit. All this helps get an author’s book in front of other readers, which enables us to continue doing what we do. Even the smallest thing can help restore that all important faith in our writers hearts.

And that’s what keeps us going.










Habit? What Habit?

Leave a comment

Last week a couple of posts went back and forth between Jess and Lexxie about writing habits. They had opposing opinions of Stephen King’s much repeated writing advice—to paraphrase, the general idea is to do nothing with your writing time, except write. Lexxie gave up checking her social media pages during writing hours. Jess absolutely REFUSED to throw our her thesaurus (in fact I’m kinda ok with keeping a thesaurus by the computer. I don’t think looking up a word here or there is as distracting as the big bad internet).  Then Jess sent out a challenge of sorts—Sami should post her thoughts on this! (I think she wanted to break the deadlock :)).

Well lately I have to say my writing habits have sucked. I had the realisation several months ago that  the only time I would be able to write was when the house was quiet… which is before everyone gets up. So most days during the week I rise at 5am to write, I have til around 7am before mother duties call. And for a while that was working a treat. Even if I got 1000 words down in those two hours that was better than nothing. But the last 6-8 weeks? It hasn’t been working. Nothing has been working. I can’t seem to get the words to flow. I’m distracted easily—and I don’t have the internet on during those two hours (I learned my lesson there long ago). It’s just me and the computer. I turn it on, open my document and stare at it. Even now I’m writing this blog post when I’m supposed to be working on my manuscript.

And I keep thinking—I’m missing sleep for this?

I think it’s time I reread Stephen King’s phenonemal book On Writing. And yes I am very pro King in this regard. Three years ago, it pulled me out of a writer’s block that had lasted almost two years. I may have to go back to pen and paper for a while, as I’m once again approaching that point where I’m about to grow afraid of the computer and it’s intimidating blank page and that taunting, flashing cursor (blast that damn cursor!!!).  I know that book taught me a lot about fear and why we writers are so often plagued by it. It reminded me why I love writing so much, and I think right now I really need to be reminded why I’m getting up at the crack of dawn to do this to myself.

I’ll report back soon and let you know how I go.

(word count for the past two hours? 467 and this blog post. Sigh. But I’d like to focus on the positive. I made myself laugh once:

Are you talking about women?”

Summer rolled her eyes. “Don’t try to tell me you haven’t had a great time being free to date whomever you want all these years.”

“I haven’t been a monk, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“I’m not asking anything.”

“Seems like you are. So what is it you want to know? How many? My usual type? What positions I prefer?” He held up his hand and used his fingers to check the answers off. “I haven’t exactly kept count. I like women who make me laugh and I can stay friends with after. And I’ve always been partial to a good hard screw against the wall.”)



Writer on Strike


Advice so good I put it on my desk calendar

As writers we bang on a lot about word count. We tweet, post and otherwise discuss the number of words we get down on any given day, and chastise or congratulate ourselves accordingly. This kind of thing, some say, can be a great motivator, a real kick up the butt when we need one.

I’ve come to realise that for me it’s not a positive thing. I find it demoralizing and I think I’m going to go on strike. DEATH TO POSTS ABOUT WORD COUNT (that’s a picket sign, by the way). When a writer is stuck in manuscript quicksand, it can be utterly soul destroying to see how fast others are moving forward. It can cause much self-flagellation, panic and self-doubt. If writer X can write 5k a day, why can’t I?

The answer to this question is fairly simple: we are all different. In obvious ways of course—we have varying levels of family responsibility, some people have day jobs some don’t—but it goes deeper than that. Just as people are all individuals, each writer has their own unique process. Number of hours spent writing does not necessarily equate to a certain number of words on the page, it varies for the individual writer from day to day. Between one author and another, it varies even more. And speaking as a ‘slow’ writer, I think I’m finally okay with that.

My process seems to involve getting stuck on a scene part way through a work in progress (never at the beginning, I love writing beginnings) when suddenly telling the story becomes about as simple and fun as pushing a wheelbarrow full of cow manure up a very steep hill. I can see the vision in my head of how the scene is supposed to go, I sit down to type and some other crap comes out. This disconnect between what I envisage and what I can actually do is incredibly frustrating. But I’ve come to accept it as part of my process. There’s always a reason to be stuck, and it’s usually because the scene I’m trying to write is pivotal, and once I get it right it will tell me everything I need to know about how to finish the book.

In Sunset Knight it was the wedding scene I kept coming back to–I have twelve versions of it on my hard drive. In

Voice is what differentiates us from the typing monkeys

Moonlight Mirage there’s a scene in the pool that sat unfinished for a good month before I could finally come out the other side of it. And in Erica’s Choice…well, every freakin scene was a struggle, but most especially the one showing the first time Corey and Griff become intimate, because I’d never written MM before and, hell, I’m a chick. So that stumped me. At the moment, I’m floundering around the scene where my hero and heroine first have sex, and it’s a very important moment. It needs to show all the yearning of their years spent apart, all the love they’ve held onto but are trying to deny, and all the conflicts that will keep them apart for the rest of the book. And of course the heroine has a sexual hang up. You didn’t think I’d make it easy on myself, did you?

So yeah, not so simple. It means my word count per day is averaging 600wds and a lot of those are rewrites. But I’m working through it, making the scene better bit by bit until it matches that image in my head. I am following my process, which means I’m being true to my voice. This does not  make me a very fast writer. But it does make me the writer I was supposed to be.

So yes. I am definitely okay with that.



Tell me sweet little lies

1 Comment

I told a lie today. An outright lie, not just a twist of the truth or an omission. I was asked if I’d ever been to America. Althought I’ve been to the Romantic Times Convention twice, visiting LA and Chicago, I said no.

You see I have a day job and at that day job nobody knows anything about this Sami Lee thing that I do. For reasons convoluted enough that I won’t go into them here, the day job people becoming aware of the night job could cause all sorts of implosions I have no intention of dealing with if I can avoid it. So, for the past two years when I’ve traveled to the US, I’ve been ‘in Sydney’.

So am I a bad person? Lying on a regular basis is not generally considered to be a good quality. Neither is the ability to do it with alacrity considered a positive attribute in an individual. And I can lie pretty well without the blushing or stammering that might ordinarily accompany a dose of guilt, which I think means I’m good at it. I’ve had years of practice, you see. I used to lie to get into nightclubs when I was underage. I once had a job that required me to daily reinvent that old corker ‘the cheque’s in the mail’. I tell my kids there’s a tooth fairy and make up stuff for a living (at the non day job :)). So yes, I can tell a convincing fib when required.

For the record I don’t think I am a bad person, but I am pragmatic. I do what’s required to make my way through life, and sometimes that does mean putting the truth aside in favor of a lie. I’ve lied to protect my job, as mentioned. I’ve lied to protect friends, to save from hurting someone’s feelings. Aside from one shameful incident for which I will not provide details, I’ve never lied to intentionally hurt another person. I’m human. I’m imperfect. But I try to be good. When it suits me, anyway :).

So, what are the lies you tell—big or small? Or are you an ‘honesty is always the best policy’ person? And how come there’s such a thing as a white lie and not a black lie? What’s with that?


A Day in the Life of… You


So today I was plugging away at my day job, wistfully wishing I were home writing and I had a profound thought. Day jobs suck. Yes, profound I said.

The best movie about office work EVA

Don’t get me wrong, mine is actually pretty good, as far as jobs go. By that I mean I’ve had way, WAY suckier modes of employ in the past. Oh, God, so many terrible bosses out there. So, so many crummy menial tasks that some poor sucker has to perform. I’ve been there, I’ve done menial and the job I have now is a big improvement. My current boss is reasonable, the hours suit me, the atmosphere is usually cheerful and I get paid a lot better than I used to for tending bar all those years ago, which was much harder on my feet. All in all, I have it pretty decent.

Still, there are days like today when I just don’t want to be there. Not the greatest thing to say in the current climate where so many people would love a job like mine, so guilt does abound. But that didn’t stop me spending the majority of my day checking twitter and yahoo on my phone, which was surreptitiously concealed beneath my desk.

And I got to thinking: I don’t know what anyone else’s day job is. When we’re in Romance Land, we just want to be in Romance Land, so rarely do authors or reviewers or readers discuss that other place that takes us away from where we’d, in a perfect world, be spending every single minute of our time. Right? So tell me everyone… What do you do for a crust? (Oz-ism lesson number 43. Translation: How do you earn your living?).

Do we have any lawyers, doctors, police officers, sanitation experts or tap dance teachers among our readership? Stay at home mothers (the hardest working women in the world), stay at home dads (rarest gems in the human kingdom), or budding authors?

Please tell me how you spend your time away from Romance Land!



You Might Have Noticed…


That the blog looks different. That was me getting a bee in my bonnet (is that an Australian term?), and deciding to spruce up the Divas look. Do you like it? Would love to hear your feedback because I might still be tweaking (haven’t mentioned that to the other divas though :)). You might also have noticed I’m not Rhian. We’ve swapped blogging days for a while and RC will be stopping in on Fridays while I take over Tuesdays.

So, what to talk about on this fine Tuesday? Something that’s been on my mind today is my writing (no kidding). I typed a line of dialogue today and it struck me as familiar. Not familiar like I’m ripping off When Harry Met Sally familiar (and believe me I wish I could come up with something as catchy as baby fishmouth), but familiar as in I know I’ve written this before. Or thought it, I’m not sure which. I’m also not sure that if I did actually write the line before, if it has already appeared in one of my published books or was it something that ended up on the cutting room floor? I’ve written and discarded many, MANY, more words than I’ve had published over the years. How do I know if I’m repeating myself or just polishing an old gem that deserves a chance to shine? If I did repeat myself, would it be the end of the world? Would anyone notice? I mean, it’s not as if my books are being studied at universities the world over.

In any case maybe the line sucks and shouldn’t be used anyway. What do you think? Have bolded the line I’m referring to:

“We’re not having sex tonight, I told you that.”

The fact that he was making a solid effort to keep their bodies separated finally started to penetrate Sarah’s lust-fogged brain. She blinked at him. “Are you kidding me?”

His smile was a mirthless twist of his lips. “I wish I was.”

“But I thought… I assumed…”

“That I was a sure thing?” A little humour seeped into his taut expression. “My, my, should I be insulted?”

Sarah scowled. “David, I’m practically throwing myself at you.”

“Don’t think I don’t appreciate the effort.”

“The effort!” With a vicious yank Sarah pulled the quilt over her body as though it could form a barrier between them. “Don’t flatter yourself!”

He he. I still like it.


Please Welcome Guest Blogger Keziah Hill!


Keziah left her career in the criminal justice system to live in the beautiful Blue Mountains and spend as much time as she can crafting her evocative, erotic stories. Please join me in welcoming her to the blog today.

Keziah, I love your name. Can you tell me what it means?

Keziah was the second beautiful daughter of Job in the Book of Job. It’s a bit of a family name since it’s my Great-Great-Grandmother’s name. Our family didn’t know the correct spelling until I did some research so one of my cousins has Cassia as her second name, which is rather lovely too.

You live in the Blue Mountains, a beautiful part of the country just west of Sydney. Do you find the area inspiring?

I do indeed. The Blue Mountains has seasons which having been born and bred in Sydney I really appreciate. I hate hot, humid weather so the cold agrees with me. I’m a keen gardener so being able to grow a lot of cold climate plants is a great joy. But I have to admit I don’t walk enough which is one of the best things about living in the mountains.

Do you have a day to day writing schedule or do you fit in the words wherever you can (like so many of us!)

I get up every week day at about 5.45am and stare at the computer with varying degrees of productivity. Perversely, I find myself more productive on the three days I have to go to work. The other two days can disappear because they lack structure. I’m thinking of finding a nice quiet place away from my house with no internet connection. I’ve spent so much of my life going to work so I think I have to create that for my writing days.

You’ve written books for Cobblestone Press in the past and now you’ve turned your hand to self publishing (we’re going to talk a little about what you write in a minute). How do the two experiences compare from an author’s perspective?

Self-publishing is great because you have control over your product. There is a great sense of achievement knowing you’ve done all the work. But the promotion is hard work and I’m still worried about publishing a manuscript that hasn’t had a professional editor go over it. That can be quite an investment. Okay for short pieces but for a complex single title professional editing is a must.

Being published by a publishing company has definite benefits in relation to promotion but you still have to do a fair bit anyway.

You’ve written a lot, from short stories to novels. What’s your favourite book or story from all that you’ve written?

That’s a difficult question. I like my latest, Chains of Revenge a lot because the hero is so tortured. But one of my favorites is a short story called Laying Down the Law because it’s very tongue in cheek. Stolen sex toys and cops. You can find the link to it on my website.

So your latest is called Chains of Revenge. Tell us a little about it.

Here’s the blurb.

Lissa, Princess of Horvald, loved and lost her slave in chains ten long years ago. Then she was spoiled and selfish, thinking she could bend a warrior of Catiscal to her will. But time and adversity has changed her into a leader, prepared to give herself to the Warlord Death in order to save her people.

 Will he accept her sacrifice? Or will his need for revenge blind him to the insidious chains of love wrapping around him? Chains even a powerful Warlord can’t resist. Or can he?

 I had a lot of fun writing this. Lissa and Devadas struggled but got their HEA in the end.

Chains of Revenge is available at Amazon and at Smashwords. I just love that cover!

Just for Fun:

Five favourite foods: Chocolate (of course), roast pork with crackling, raspberries, beef rendang (preferably made by my brother-in-law), prawns. Hmm. There’s a serious absence of vegetables here.

Five authors you are totally jealous of: Loretta Chase, Harlan Coban, Shana Abe, JD Robb and my obsession of the moment Tana French an Irish crime writer.

Top 5 movies of all time: Don’t know about all time, but ones that spring to mind are To Kill a Mockingbird; Burnt by the Sun; Grosse Point Blank; North by North West and a German film called Farewell, Stranger about a couple who had an intense affair while not sharing a language.

A fellow Grosse Point Blank fan. Yay!

5 musicians whose work inspires you (or just makes you dance): Bruce Springsteen (yeah, OK I’m a woman of a certain age :)), Adele, Ellen McIlwaine, kd lang, Ella Fitzgerald.

Top 5 men you’d give it all up for: George Clooney (in a heart beat!), Sean Penn, Barack Obama, Paul Newman (if he was still alive), Bruce Springsteen (there’s a theme here). I’d seriously give it all up to kd too. And Catherine Zeta Jones. And then there’s Christina Hendricks…

Thanks for joining us today Keziah!

Older Entries