Monday, 22 May 2017

How to Write a Bestseller (Part One) - Advice from 4 Well-Known Romance Authors

by Enisa Haines

What is it about some books that they hurtle onto bestseller lists? Four popular romance authors share

their tips on the writing of a bestseller.

Anna Campbell, Award-winning Regency Historical Romance author:

Hi Breathless gals! Thanks for much for asking me to contribute to this blog about what makes a

bestseller - to which my immediate answer was "I wish I knew". But then I thought a bit harder about

books of mine that have done particularly well and it all came down to hooks that draw in the reader.

So for example, my very popular novella Stranded with the Scottish Earl is pretty much what it says

it is - cabin romance with a handsome Scotsman. Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed is my bestselling

full-length book, and it has a lot of hooks - sexual premise, Beauty and the Beast story, tortured hero,

brave virginal heroine, gothic setting. There's a couple of tried and true hooks that never lose their

appeal. Examples include Cinderella, fish out of water, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers,

enemies to lovers. Even better, if you take one of those beloved tropes and manage to twist it in a

new and exciting way, you're well on your way to a bestseller.

Anne Gracie, Award-winning Regency Historical Romance Author:

How to write a bestseller? Of course a good story is crucial (actually better to have a blow-your-

mind-knockout premise), memorable characters and good writing. But there's also a lot of luck

involved - who first reads it, being 'discovered' and how they spread the word, and whether you're

being built through intense publisher promo, or slower word of mouth. And being prolific certainly

helps, especially in indie publishing. If you're not an instant smash hit, then you need to build a body

of work - when a new reader enjoys a new book, they look for your backlist. That's why all my books

for Berkley are still in print - people keep buying my backlist. But I can never tell which of my books

is going to do well, and often it surprises me. I was worried that my book Autumn Bride would be a

flop, because the romance really begins in the second half of the book. Instead, readers bonded with

the female characters, and the book sold really well.

Kelly Hunter, USA Today Bestselling Author:

Thanks for the opportunity, Enisa! Oh, if only I had the recipe for perpetual bestseller creation.

Because my personal favourites (namely my quieter stories that have often been my award winners)

have never been my USA Today bestsellers. I've analysed the why of it and come to the vague

conclusion that my volume bestsellers all have brand recognition and a strong and unique story

premise. If you can distill that premise down to a you-beaut log line, do it. For example, a pretend

wife inadvertently orders a hit on her new 'husband' while holidaying in Hong Kong. A memorable

title helps (Wife for a Week). So, too, does publisher promo support. Simple! (Not simple.)

Rachael Johns, International Bestselling Author:

I'm a totally organic writer so my tip is to write from your heart, to write something you'd love to


For years I tried to write literary romance because that's what they wanted me to write at university

and after that I tried to write sexy romance for Mills & Boon because I thought surely that had to be

easier than literary fiction. Bahaha! Both are equally as hard in different ways - all writing is hard,

but I strongly believe it should also be fun. And for me writing stopped being fun and I was ready to

give up, so I decided to forget about literary fiction or category romance and just write a book I

would love to read. I decided to try and forget about being published and just find the love again. The

book was Jilted (my first print-published book) - I forgot everything I'd been taught so far and just let

the words pour out of me as they would if I'd spoken them.

Even when I later changed genres and tried my hand at women's fiction (with The Patterson Girls), it

wasn't a conscious decision to write in another genre - the story came to me first and I fell in love

with the premise before I started writing.

I'll admit not every book is a joy and ideas don't always come when I need them to, but the ones that I

have a strong idea about, the ones I'm excited about, do flow easier and I believe that comes across on

the page.

My second piece of advice would be to stress less about the so-called rules of writing - following

these rules to the letter can make you sound like every other writer out there. Your voice is your point

of difference, don't let trying to do everything 'right' strip you of your essence!

There you have it, writing a bestseller isn't as simple as it sounds. Watch out for Part Two where four

more beloved romance authors offer their hints for bestseller success.

What, to you, makes a bestseller?

Love to love: romance novels you just can't put down (and I'm so thankful there are many of them!)

Love to laugh: at the crazy antics of animals on YouTube.

Love to learn: about Medieval history. A brutal and yet fascinating time in our past.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Small Towns as Setting

Kerrie Paterson Guest Post

Kerrie Paterson writes contemporary women's fiction and small town romance—stories about women in their 40s and above who have reached a crossroads in their life. She loves to write about women’s relationships with their friends and family, as well as their romances.

When she’s not writing, she’s a Scout leader, crew for a local drama theatre, taxi driver for her teenage son and keeper of the family knowledge (aka ‘Mum, have you seen my camera / phone / cable etc?’). In her spare time (ha!), she's a yoga student, keen photographer and avid reader.

Kerrie lives in the Hunter Valley, Australia.

A Reader's Query

I'd love to read a topic centred around writing romance with a small town setting. I'm curious about how you create your settings and how you make what happens there so believable.

Why Do I Write About Small Towns?

I’m not sure where my love of the small town setting comes from, but possibly it’s due to the fact that the first ten years of my life were spent growing up in a small town outside Cessnock, NSW. I’m not sure of exact figures but I’m guessing it had a population of around 300 at that time. We had the local servo/corner store, one primary school with only a couple of teachers, the pub and not much more! (And we had an outdoor toilet!) Even Cessnock itself was basically a small town in the 70s and 80s. I remember when the first set of traffic lights were installed and the first takeaway chain arrived in the town!

I also spent a fair bit of time on my aunt and uncle’s property growing up, so while I’m a townie, I’ve got some idea of what it’s like to live out of town.

I’m personally drawn to reading books set in small towns, so I guess it seemed natural to me to write books with that setting. I like to make the town and its people as much a part of the story as the hero and heroine.

Hope Creek and Jacaranda Avenue

The towns of Hope Creek and Jacaranda Avenue in Langbrooke in my books are physically both based on small towns near where I live, with some changes to suit my story. If I don’t use buildings that are already in the actual town, I google images until I find something that suits what I have in mind and pin in to my pinterest boards. I also draw a map (very badly!) based on the existing town and add landmarks, streets etc so I don’t forget where I’ve placed something!

I love to laugh at funny animal videos on YouTube.
I love to learn about history, especially how people lived and worked.
I love to love time spent in nature, particularly near water.

So I’d love to know – are you a small town fan or do you prefer the big city? What aspect of the setting appeals to you the most?

To find out more about Kerrie and her writing see
Pinterest -

Website -

Facebook - and

Monday, 8 May 2017

Writing is My Therapy

By Karen M. Davis

Some people like to run, walk, meditate, have a massage, talk with friends over a glass of wine, or do countless other things  to clear their heads. These are all a form of therapy, coping with the stresses and worries of everyday life. My way of dealing with stress, anxiety, pressure or whatever you like to call it, is to write.

Writing therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the act of writing and processing the written word as therapy. Writing therapy posits that writing one's feelings gradually eases feelings of emotional trauma. (Wikipedia.)
I know many writers who have loved to write for as long as they can remember. I am not one of them. I only discovered my passion for writing by circumstance, really.

After twenty years in the New South Wales police force, I was diagnosed with chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - something I still have to manage as best I can - and I was forced to leave the career that I loved for my own health. It was not a good time to say the least. A psychologist suggested - as did my mother - that I write about the traumas I had witnessed and experienced as therapy. I couldn't see the point in this at first but it was pointed out to me that it was a recognised  "form of therapy," so I decided to give it a go. What did I have to lose?

At first, just thinking about the horrific things I'd seen was bad enough. Writing about them was even harder. But what I found by putting pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard - was that telling my stories and expressing my emotions in words was in fact a form of release. As they say I was literally getting things that were weighing me down off my chest, dark memories out of my head and onto the computer screen. This allowed me to see things from another perspective. It also distanced me from the situations I had encountered. I can't explain it exactly but I certainly know it helped. It also reminded me of the positives of my job; the good things, the funny times.

Eventually my real life stories grew into a book of memoirs which I entitled "Cop This." By this time I had developed a love of writing, which gave me a new purpose, a different direction and a fresh and exciting passion. 

Turning  my experiences into fiction enables me to tell my stories from afar, so to speak, from the safety of my study. When writing I'm completely in the moment. I'm back in the police world I know so well, with my old workmates ( my characters) in the parts of Sydney I love and have worked (my settings.) The plots are inspired by my memories as my fictional world consumes me and comes together like just another day at the office. Well most of the time...


What is your form of therapy?

I love to love listening to audio books - these are my new discovery as it allows me to do two things at once.
I love to laugh at funny baby videos.
Image courtesy of jpeg
I would love to learn a different language.