Mid-Year Update aka Yikes it’s July!

I think the first six months of 2016 have been the craziest I’ve experienced for a long while. My work schedule lost two months (one month was planned, the other not!). I returned from my bucket list trip to the States last week and suddenly it’s July!



(A bucket list item ticked—my visit to Las Vegas in June)


This leaves six months until the end of the year and I’ve spent some time thinking about my writing schedule.

My release schedule this year has been insane. I received the rights back for four books which I needed to re-edit/re-release. Plus, I was writing and releasing the Ruby Riot series. I used pre-order on Amazon which added extra pressure (if you don’t know, Amazon bans authors from pre-orders for a year if the author misses the upload deadline). This makes deadlines tighter than I’d like and adds more pressure. Lesson learned – my pre-orders will be fewer in the future!

This is my intended release schedule. I am attempting to pull back on the amount of pressure I was under earlier this year and move back to a sensible pace. I also have more changes I need to make in my personal life which I expect will have an impact in the next few months. So, I’m being sensible and telling myself I can’t write four books at once. Just two. Haha

First I have to answer a question a few people might be thinking: what’s with all the LJ Swallow releases when Forever Sky isn’t published yet? You keep promising!

The answer is that the Soul Ties series is a re-release and that the Othala/Fallen Sorcery project I’m involved in is a commitment I made last year (more details about that HERE). Dark Elements must be released on October 20th as it is part of a series and that’s my scheduled date.

After the disruption to my writing schedule I had two options: I rush Forever Sky just to get the book published before working on Dark Elements or I take my time and release the book Dylan and Sky (and especially my readers) deserve. I chose the second option. I’ve started serialising Forever Sky on Wattpad for those who’d like to follow the story as I write but it seems the majority of you want to wait to read all at once. I am working on Forever Sky a little every day even though I’m writing Dark Elements too.

So here we go…

Tuesday 12th!
21 Shades of Night Limited Edition Paranormal Boxed Set.
Soul Ties is included in this. One million words of romantic paranormal fiction for 99c

July 26th: Fated Souls  (A Soul Ties Novella) – LJ Swallow (a book I can finally publish after writing almost three years ago!)

October 20th: Dark Elements (Othala Witch Collection) – a paranormal dystopian by LJ Swallow

Fall 2016: Forever Sky (Blue Phoenix #6) – I will keep you updated on pre-order which should be soon.

Publishing between late 2016 and mid 2017: A new series of three contemporary romance books.

The first is about Myf (from the Blue Phoenix series) and I wrote the first chapter a few months ago. Dylan is in this book briefly. If you know the Blue Phoenix books, you’ll know how close to and protective he is of Myf. So he appears as her friend and not because it’s another rock star book… It isn’t! The series will be totally separate. More details on these books later in the year.

Early/Mid 2017: Shattered Souls – the next Soul Ties book (LJ Swallow).

June 2017: Another secret project in the Fallen Sorcery world.

I will try to stick to this schedule but another thing I’ve learned this year is life can get complicated very quickly, and plans have to change. That’s why I’m a bit vague about dates right now.

A big thank you to my supporters this year, especially to my readers and the bloggers who chat to me or have messaged and emailed me with lovely words about my books. I may not be the biggest author but I’m happy my job is something I love. I’m constantly amazed I achieved my dream and people buy, read (and even re-read) my books. Thank you.
And to everybody else (you know who you are!) thank you for helping me through, and for your friendship.

Where did the books go?

A couple of readers have contacted me about my early books disappearing and I decided to write a post to explain what’s happening with two of my series:

Butterfly Days: Because of Lucy and Finding Evan (New Adult contemporary romance)

Soul Ties: Soul Ties and Torn Souls (Paranormal romance)

Through mutual agreement with my publisher, the rights to these books have been reverted to be. This means they are currently unavailable for sale as I am in the process of re-branding and revising the books. Both series will re-launch in 2016.


Because of Lucy and Finding Evan will be re-released first in early 2016.

I am adding additional scenes to Because of Lucy. At some point, I intend to write a novella set a few years in Ness and Evan’s future.

I also intend to write Ollie’s story (probably in 2017)

For more details about the series click here


The Soul Ties series will take longer as I have a prequel to edit and publish too.

I am also considering finishing Soul Ties #3 before I re-launch. This means I have 3 – possibly 4 – books to organise which will take more time.

For more details about the series click here


What does this mean for my other books?
I am keeping my commitment to writing Forever Sky (Blue Phoenix #6). 

I still intend to publish this in March/April as promised and Forever Sky is the book I am working on at the moment. In Australia, it is currently the long school holidays and I need to switch from full-time to part time writing which is why I can’t give a firm date. I’m hoping for March but it could be April. :)

The Butterfly Days series will publish next after Shuffle but this is only because the series is already written and ready to go, and NOT because I put them ahead of Forever Sky.

As soon as I have a clear date for the release of Forever Sky I will let you know and the book will go up for pre-order on Amazon.

Nate’s book, Reprise (Ruby Riot #3), will be released the second half of 2016.


I will write a full post at the end of the year outlining my publishing plans for 2016 :)

Look out for cover reveals and more information on the site or subscribe to my newsletter for the most up to date information: http://eepurl.com/Po81D
If you have any questions or comments please let me know, I’m always happy when I hear from readers.

Geek Heroes For The Win (Three Wishes Blog Blitz)

Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions below for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new  romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

geek |gēk|
noun informal
1 an unfashionable or socially inept person.
• [ usu. with modifier ] a knowledge
able and obsessive enthusiast: a computer geek.

Recently, I’m seeing more ‘geek’ heroes appearing in the romance genre and as a bit of a ‘geek’ myself I feel drawn to writing them too. Okay, so the heroes of my last two books are definitely not geeky. Keir from Soul Ties initially pretends to be a little nerdy but soon proves he isn’t (and the whole geek vs nerd debate is a different story…). Evan in Because of Lucy, well, he has a poetic side but I wouldn’t classify that as geek – and he certainly isn’t socially inept.

But Jack in Torn Souls (Soul Ties, #2) is an unashamed geek. The story begins with him gaming – and he studies computer science. Jack is socially inept apart from a close circle of friends, and his first date with Dahlia is cringeworthy and funny. I suppose his ‘geek-ness’ helps a little with accepting the urban fantasy world Dahlia pulls him into. As a character he has to move out of his comfort zone to grow, but his ‘geek’ nature never changes, even when everything else in his life does.  Who would’ve known my years of playing World of Warcraft would end up helping me write a romance novel? And to the guys I met playing the game – no, Jack isn’t based on any of you!

I worried about the reaction I might have from some romance readers with this type of hero but I think there’s a place for the Jacks of the romance world. Not all readers want the alpha male – and I think the light-heartedness which can come from having these heroes is also a reason they’re popular. When I researched this topic I was amazed at how many feature in erotica!

When I introduced Jack to my beta readers they loved him, and I enjoyed writing his awkwardness and humorous thought processes. The quote above is from Jack in Torn Souls (shortly after he discovers his girlfriend isn’t human and he’s not entirely sure what she is). Torn Souls is the second book in the Soul Ties series and will be available later this year (more details here).

So, I’m looking forward to meeting Juliet Madison’s new geek hero in I Dream of Johnny and definitely planning to write more of my own! What do you think? Do you like geek heroes? Do you have any favourites you recommend?

I’m currently running a Rafflecopter giveaway HERE to win a copy of my new release contemporary romance, Because of Lucy. Entries close 12pm Friday 6th September.

Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here: http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/3-wishes-blog-blitz-official-post/ 

Why I Enter Pitching and Writing Competitions. A Lot.

A year ago I didn’t know what a pitch (or a query was). I’d written a book and needed to figure out what my next step was. Apart from to write another book and continue to develop my writing skills.

I began to follow a lot of blogs, tweets, Facebook pages etc to see what was happening in the writing world around me. I soon realised I needed to practice writing pitches and queries if I wanted to find a publisher or an agent. I needed to learn the art of pitches, queries, first five pages and more to even put myself on the radar. If I didn’t get past the pitching, I wasn’t going anywhere because no-one would read my work. And that included the indie publishing route – readers need pitches too…

Since entering the social media universe in March, I have written and honed pitches for two of my books. For each I created: Twitter length (140 characters), elevator pitch, two sentence, one paragraph and more! Some I’ve entered into competitions, some I’ve used in standard querying. Writing the pitches and queries well enough to get a request for a partial or a full feels as big a craft as writing the book. Maybe I’m at an advantage because I once worked as an advertising copywriter, and commonly had to reduce things to a few well chosen words and sentences.  I enjoy doing it! (I know most people don’t). But I’m not saying ‘hey, I’m a perfect pitcher’…no way! But something worked, as I had a little success in getting myself noticed.

Stepping way out of my comfort zone, in February this year, I entered the Romance Writers Australia ‘First Kiss’ competition. I submitted the first kiss, from my first ever completed novel (after running by my awesome CPs of course!)

I did it for anonymous, constructive criticism. Three judges score entries with comments on aspects of the entry. By entering I could get an idea of what I needed to work on and if I was doing anything right. It was a very hard thing to do…(Remember this is the person who refused to let anyone read their work until November last year).

Entering the competition feels like an age away now, and the results came out this week. I received my ranking and my score sheets – the top 6 went through and I was number 7. I posted on Facebook that I was teeth-gnashing about it, but in all honesty, I was overjoyed. Especially once I got hold of the score sheets for my first entry to an industry writing competition and saw the positives and the ‘needs work’. When I re-read the entry this week, I saw 100 things (oh, okay, maybe 20) things I’d do differently. Maybe next time I’ll make that top 6!

I think the upshot of my rambling is: By entering competitions, big or small, you get an indication of how you’re faring in an aspect of your writing, judged by people who have no connection to you. Often these competitions include other writers and readers of the genre as preliminary judges, so I think they are as valid for those wanting to indie publish too. They’re not just about discovering what the publishers want. You will fail to win, you might not even get past the first round, but you can often see the results and what the winners did differently. Which helps for next time.

I haven’t won any competitions yet, but what I’ve learnt has been reward enough. No, honestly it has. And I’ll tell you why later this week.

When The Voices Stop

I end up on my blog.

I know it’s bad when even Facebook and Twitter hold no allure.

So I decide to read instead and can’t enjoy the story for one of two reasons:

a. Constant, unintended copyediting caused by my week in the editing cave OR

b. I fall into the ‘this is great therefore my writing sucks’ trap.


I think I burnt my brain out this week. Or possibly this could be the reason:


(Click on the picture for a link to the poster – it’s from the merchandise site of the lovely people who run NaNoWriMo )

I’m sure the voices will be back soon. Undoubtedly around 3am in the morning.

Writing Outside My Comfort Zone

I recently started writing a new book in the ‘Soul Ties’ series and I’ve given myself a challenge. I’ve decided to write in first person. And dual POV. And present tense.

All my recent books have been 3rd person, because I’ve never felt comfortable writing 1st person. I’m not sure why, I think I got into the habit and preferred it.

I’ve been reading a lot of new adult genre books written with dual POV. At first, I wasn’t too sure, I thought I’d find it too confusing. But I enjoyed them – being able to see directly into the minds of both the hero and the heroine added something new. Maybe it’s because I like delving into more than one character’s head and here is a different way of doing it.

I’m having a lot of fun writing my hero. Jack’s a completely different age (and sex!) to me, and getting the voice right is a real challenge as a writer. Dahlia is easier, but swapping from head to head means ensuring their voices are different.

I’m not head-hopping every page, they have their own chapters that blend and that is also a challenge – not making it too jarring for the reader. Occasionally, I come across a book using dual POV in a confusing way and I hope to avoid that!

Do you prefer 1st or 3rd person?

Have you read any books in dual POV you’ve enjoyed? Or have you written in that style? I’d love to hear your experiences!

The Ups and Downs of Throwing My Writing to the World


Until last year, no-one had read a word of the fiction I’d written. Not since I was 15 anyway.

Since then I have sent my finished manuscript all over the world in attempts to get it noticed.

Obviously, there was a step in between where I wrote, edited, wrote, edited. And people read it. Critiqued it. Edited it. Beta read it.

I’ve had responses to Twitter pitches, requests for partial, requests for fulls and of course the rejections that go with it. I expect rejections. I didn’t feel like I was a “real” writer until I got one.

This week I have had three different types of rejections that have me wondering.

1. Thanks but no thanks. Keep us in mind for the future. No feedback.

2. Interesting idea, not for us and here are some links to places to help polish your manuscript further.

3. Not interested. And was that bit in the middle really necessary?

My responses were:

1. Another one with no feedback. Of course, the majority will be this. But that’s tough because how do I know what wasn’t right? What was good? Or was any of it?

2. At last! Some pointers in the right direction. The editor who sent me this rejection went above and beyond. She sent me the notes she’d made on my partial. She didn’t have to but she did. Despite the fact this was a rejection and it had a lot of negative comments…it was FANTASTIC!  I finally got to see some mistakes I was making I could change. I’m still overawed that somebody did this for me.

3. This has highlighted to me again the problem with where to “fit” my manuscript. I went straight to my beta readers and asked them what they thought. After a day of scratching my head I came to the conclusion that a NA romance doesn’t fit the Adult romance criteria the same. The bit in the middle? Her new adult world. The main focus of her struggle and development towards acceptance that allows her to react differently when the black moment hits. Cut it out and she’s a flat heroine running in circles whinging. My beta readers agree, one of whom is my target audience. TLDR: Not all stories fit all publishers.

And my steps towards learning from these things:

1. Well, keep submitting. If I’m getting asked for fulls something fits. I just need to grow my writing.

2. Found some wonderful, online editing software: Autocrit. I’ve edited some early chapters and sent to my CP who liked the changes so much she’s using it herself now. Throughly recommended to anyone editing their own work before handing it to others.

3. I’m pulling it apart. I’m re-writing. I’m restructuring. I have a better idea of the genres now than I did before I entered the crazy e-publishing social media melee. I know what works for the NA genre and what I need to add/cut to fit it more tightly. Which ironically means that middle part is no longer merely a middle part and becomes a bigger focus.

Not a very succinct post this time but I wanted to share. It’s been an odd week.

But I’m not giving up.

More Pitching Insanity

Not satisfied with entering one pitch contests, my sanity slipped a little further when I entered WriteOnCon’s Pitch Fest.

How it works:

I wrote a pitch for my novel in 200 words (a bit easier than the Twitter length pitch a couple of weeks ago…)

WriteOnCon randomly selected 350 pitches and assigned them to agents for feedback. I was selected :)

WriteOnCon have the following info on their page:

“The agents will read and comment on every pitch in their assigned group. Each agent will pick their favorite pitch from their group to win a prize. WriteOnCon will also be telling all the agents about pitches that are scoring really well among our blogger and published author voters, so it is possible to get requests from other agents even if you are not in their group.”

Want to read my entry?

It’s here

Wish me luck!

Publishers and Bush Fires


Crazy, crazy week.

And it’s been so long since I blogged!

My new project took over and I am now 30k words into my first draft of a new WIP. Originally it had the working title “Soul Tied”. A member of my writers group critiqued a chapter with some interesting comments and the working title is now “Nephiliman and Mouse Girl”. So far the feedback has been positive!

I had a full manuscript requested by a publisher on Sunday! Such a high for a couple of days…and a couple of days of two very good friends looking over for final edits before I was brave enough to send it. And they enjoyed it. A very validating week – I CAN write.

Looking forward to a peaceful day after that excitement, things didn’t work out. We were evacuated due to a bush fire and I spent an afternoon at a good friends house waiting to find out of my house was burning down.

Yes. Weird week. Everything crossed that I hear back from the publisher soon!


Inner Editor Hijacked


This has been me over the last few days. My brain has been on overdrive – I blame the editing I’ve been doing on my manuscript for Eternal Vigilance… “oh look, another plot hole – how should I fill it”, “sorry Colin, you’re gone *slash*”, “why did the MC cross the road?”

And to top it all a scenario appeared in that twilight between waking and sleeping that seems to have weedled its way out of my subconscious into Storyist. Normally characters approach me in the shower and I can get rid of them by reading the shampoo bottle labels (I put what in my hair?). But this time? Nope.

I blame the editing. I love the freedom of first draft writes…a bit of plotting, a bit of pantsing. A bit less of “omg if I that character raises an eyebrow one more time I’m going to shave it off” editing.

So I have given myself permission to do some writing and not edit every day.

Well, Ana pushed me into it…she’s going to be fun to write!