Five Romance Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Submissions

This month each of The Print Posse girls will take turns showcasing publishers from around the world in all sorts of genres.

Yanicke is first, and in keeping with our romance theme from last month, she’ll be sharing with you five romance publishers currently accepting submissions from unagented writers.

Because we all need a little romance in our lives…

harper impulse

1. Harper Impulse

Why submit to Harper Impulse?

They have a truly digital first publishing mindset – they think about content and how women want to read it.

They are romance experts – they love reading, talking, blogging, tweeting, waffling on about all things romance.

They are global and want authors from everywhere and anywhere because they are going to reach readers everywhere and anywhere.

They are open to trying new things – for instance, they have a series of Follow Your Fantasy eBooks where you choose the fantasy you pursue!

What they’re looking for:

New writers who dare to be different – and the more the merrier!

Various genres, from fun & fast Adult and New Adult genre fiction to more mainstream novels; particularly contemporary and highly commercial stories with strong romantic elements.

Writers who want to push the boundaries in terms of storytelling – whether that be mashing genres, experimenting with length etc.

Full submission guidelines can be found ♥ HERE


escape publishing

2. Harlequin – Escape Publishing

Why submit to Escape?

They’re a small, innovative publisher working within Harlequin Enterprises, a larger, long established company with a rich tradition as a leader in the industry. They are innovative and quick to respond to changes in the industry, plus they have the backing of the global organisation.

You can expect them to be responsive, professional, knowledgeable, supportive, and forward thinking. They’ll also be honest and tell you how they see things.

Escape Artists have formed a vibrant and engaged community supporting each other as independent authors. If you become an Escape author, you’ll be welcomed in that community.

What they’re looking for:

All submissions must include a central romance or romantic elements focused on lead characters and an uplifting ending.

Stories in the following sub-categories:

– adventure
– contemporary
– comedy
– erotic
– fantasy
– gay
– historical
– magic realism
– paranormal
– rural
– suspense
– sci-fi
– saga

Full submission guidelines can be found ♥ HERE


loveswept and flirt

3. Random House – Loveswept/Flirt

Why submit to Loveswept/Flirt?

Their digital program is centered around your brand; focused on building you as an author introducing you to romance readers everywhere.

Their program is managed with the same attention given all of their other imprints within the Penguin-Random House Publishing Group. The process is the same throughout where digital authors will have a complete and unique publishing package. Every book will be assigned to an accomplished Random House editor and a dedicated marketer and publicist. Not only do their authors benefit from working with the finest cover designers to ensure irresistibly eye-catching books, but they are also offered the unique advantage of social media tools and training that will allow them to connect directly with their readers.

All of their titles are available for purchase at major e-retailers, and compatible with all reading devices.

What they’re looking for:

Loveswept and Flirt invites queries for submissions in the following subgenres:

– contemporary romance
– erotica
– historical romance
– paranormal romance
– women’s fiction
– new adult

Full submission guidelines can be found ♥ HERE


destiny romance

4. Penguin – Destiny Romance

Why submit to Destiny Romance?

If you have written a gorgeous, romantic story, then the team at Destiny Romance would love to see it. They are looking for love stories of all kinds told by wonderful, new voices. They’re looking for compelling plots, vivid settings and characters they care deeply about. Above all, the focus must be on the development of the romantic relationship and the story must provide an emotionally satisfying ending.

Destiny Romance is a digital-first imprint, which means they have more freedom to publish a richer variety of romances and can publish new books very quickly. They will work closely with authors, providing expert editorial guidance and a marketing and publicity campaign to ensure your book is well promoted to a wide readership.

They want love stories that sweep them away and keep them up late reading because they can’t put them down.

What they’re looking for:

Destiny Romance is passionately interested in all kinds of romantic fiction, from sweet and tender through to saucy and sensual.

They’re looking for all subgenres, including but not limited to:

– contemporary
– historical
– suspense
– paranormal
– fantasy
– sci-fi
– erotica

If you’ve come up with a new style of romance, they’re interested in that too.

Full submission guidelines can be found ♥ HERE


forever yours

5. Hachette – Forever Romance

Why submit to Forever Yours?

Forever Yours is the digital-first sister of the Forever romance imprint, which publishes ebook-only editions of a wide array of original works and classic favorites, ranging in length from novellas to epic sagas. Their editors accept both agented and unagented material for submission.

Forever Yours is all about discovery — they are opening their doors for the first time to unagented authors, and are eager to find talented new writers. With a digital production schedule, they can publish works more quickly, and experiment with stories and genres that haven’t yet broken out in the print marketplace.

Forever Yours offers a complete publishing package: editing by Forever editors, top-notch cover design from the Forever art team, a dedicated publicist, Netgalley review copies for bloggers/reviewers, social media tools and training, targeted marketing and advertising budget, and an experienced digital sales team with long-standing relationships in the e-marketplace.

What they’re looking for:

Forever Yours is currently accepting romance submissions from all subgenres, including but not limited to:

– contemporary romance
– New Adult (but not Young Adult)
– category romance stories
– romantic suspense
– western
– historical
– inspirational
– paranormal
– time-travel
– erotica

Full submission guidelines can be found ♥ HERE


If you know of any other romance publishers currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts, be sure to share their details in the comments below.


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Romance and all that in YA

I can still remember when I finally got to read Judy Blume’s Forever.  It seemed to mark a key moment in my reading life as a young adult – my favourite author was writing about… you know… doing IT.  Young adults tend to read up – meaning that they like to read about characters slightly older than they are.  And when YA readers find an author they like, they’re really loyal and devour everything that author produces!  So when I was maybe about fourteen Judy Blume, my trusted beloved author-of-choice, initiated me into the complexity of young adult relationships, intimacy, contraception, teenage pregnancy and… sex.  And just as well she did because I certainly wasn’t going to be asking my folks!


Here’s a line from that old classic:

“After, we lay in each other’s arms and I thought, there are so many ways to love a person.  This is how it should be – forever.”

First published in 1975, Forever was able to capture the uncertainty, heartbreak and anxiety that comes with those first ‘serious relationships’.


Forever will remain as a classic and it’s because Blume has done a few clever things as a writer:

  • Even though, as a teen I thought of the book Forever as “the s.e.x. book”, the story is about so much more.  Blume didn’t write this book just for the sake of covering that particular topic.
  • Forever, like all of Blume’s books, has real, loveable, flawed characters that you can become emotionally connected with.  This helps you as a reader to deeply consider the concepts/ themes/ ideas that she cleverly embeds within the plot.
  • Blume keeps it real.  That was one thing I abso-loved about Blume as a young adult reader – I knew she told the truth.  As I reflect back on it now, I realise I trusted Judy Blume!  The dialogue was never contrived.  The situations weren’t far-fetched.  Some scenes made me feel uncomfortable.  Some things challenged me.  Blume wasn’t out to entertain, she was sharing her character’s story.

So – Blume was a master in this YA sub-genre of love, romance and intimacy, but it’s important to recognise that plenty of YA authors are canvassing the same topics in new, exciting and unique ways.


Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil is a gorgeous and touching first love story that I recently read.  I still smile every time I think about it.  Like Forever, this book isn’t just about falling in love… it’s about sooo much more… namely nerdy awkward group of kids recognising that their identity isn’t fixed, but evolving.  Like Forever, the characters are endearing and you can connect with them.  And whilst it’s not hard hitting gritty stuff, Life In Outer Space is real and truthful in it’s telling.


The Flywheel by Erin Gough is another recent YA novel that delves into the trauma of first serious love with grace and beauty.  There’s a feisty protagonist called Delilah who happens to be a lesbian. (It’s about time the literature available to young people caught up with the real lives they’re living.)  Delilah is dealing with a few kinds of heartbreak when she finally finds someone ready to love her.  The Flywheel is like Forever in that it features characters and situations that YA readers will genuinely relate to. Gough hasn’t just chucked in a lesbian to spice things up.  Delilah has known pain and disappointment – she’s been let down and deceived by others – and we get a sense of how hard it is for her to just be herself.  That’s good, hardcore YA writing (in my humble, humble opinion!) and it means that the reader is invested in the character rather than the love plot.

couple-919018_1920 (2)

Keep your eyes peeled for more top quality romance for YA and let us know!

And when you’re next tapping at the keyboard and thinking about the love-line within your broader YA plot line, remember what Judy taught us in Forever:

there are so many ways to love a person


Keep it real.  

Focus on characters.  

Have plot complexity.






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Love is in the air…

From The Print Posse… with love ❤

 Ah, February, the month of love…

In the spirit of all things romance, The Print Posse are dedicating their February posts to the language of love… or rather the language of love scenes 😉

To get you in the mood, Gabbie has offered to share a snippet from her junior fiction novel that she wrote in 2005.

(Disclaimer from Gabbie:  This is Morris Grin – Lord of the Bling.  It’s still unpublished.  One day I may drag it from the bottom drawer and see what can be done with it.  For now, here’s the protagonist – Morris Grin – experiencing his first kiss!)

I walked slowly across the playground, imagining Riley and Emily pashing like a pair of suckerfish stuck together. I had to admit I was jealous. All this business with the ring had kind of ruined whatever chance I might have had with the girls in my class. I hardly imagined any of them would want to be seen with Gruesome Grin, Mr Bone Head himself. I took a moment to feel sorry for myself.  

I kicked at a rock and imagined how disappointed Dad and Stew would be when I told them that I hadn’t been able to get rid of the ring. What if Riley was right for once, what if Bela had left town and I’d missed the opportunity to give her the ring? I kicked at the rock again and it skittered in a curve which I followed, determined to kick it all the way home.

“Got something for me?”

And there she was. Right in the middle of the playground. The exact place we had stood weeks ago. She was wearing jeans and a white shirt and her red hair was hanging down around her shoulders. She was grinning and her eyes were sparkling at me.

A silence settled around us and I could sense that every blade of grass, every tree, every piece of dirt and every tiny twig were poised and waiting for what was to come next. I put down my bag and reached inside.

Holding the package out between us, I watched her face for any kind of reaction. She didn’t budge, didn’t lunge for the box, didn’t say anything. She just looked at me. Her green eyes were drilling into me. She was looking beyond me and I knew she was peeking into my soul. Now there would be no denying it, she would know my heart was hers.

And then it happened. She leaned toward me and a crazy thought flicked on in my mind – she even has freckles on her lips!  She kissed me.  A strange feeling shuddered through my body. I thought I might pass out. 

The box dropped from my hands and it seemed as though every tree and rock and scrap of dirt that had been so silent up until this moment were now forming an orchestra, celebrating with magical sounds this special event. I never wanted it to end. It was such a great feeling. I wanted her to kiss me forever and ever, right here on the playground.

Then it was over. She drew back and we both looked down at the little brown box waiting patiently at our feet.


Love is a good book…


Feeling romantically inspired? Why not try a blind date with a romance writing competition? Fiona discovered some upcoming writing comps that may help you get your manuscript in the mood for some publishing love:

Romance Writers of Australia

First Kiss 2016

An opportunity to showcase that romantic tension. Enter a 1500-word scene involving your protagonists’ first kiss, plus a half-page set-up.

Opens: 29 January 2016
Closes: Midnight Sydney time, 14 February 2016



Central Ohio Fiction Writers (A chapter of Romance Writers America)

2016 Ignite the Flame Contest

COFW will begin accepting entries on June 1, 2016.  All entries must be received by June 30, 2016.

The Ignite the Flame Contest is designed to help you polish that critical first meet scene so that it crackles with romantic energy.



The Utah Chapter of Romance Writers of America®

2016 Great Beginnings Contest

Enter the opening five (5) pages of romance novels of all sub-genres.



Pitch to Publication 2016 (#p2p16)

Authors will submit a query and 5 pages of their draft (completed) manuscript to one of fifteen, highly sought-after freelance editors. Each editor will select one (and sometimes two!) authors to work with for a month of intensive manuscript development. The editor will help prepare you and your work for our agent round in the middle of April!



Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest

The Cleveland Rocks Romance Contest will begin accepting entries on January 1, 2016. All entries must be received by February 14, 2016

Submit the first 5000 words (3000 words for the Novella category) of an unpublished work of fiction.



Love is only one click away…


Next week, Yanicke will be offering some tips on writing the perfect love scene. Until then, she’d like to share with you a poem she penned all the way back in 2003…


…my obsession

A secret place…
No one shares…
There…in your arms…

Sometimes you don’t let me in…
The door locked…
Patience…the only key…

But I know…
That secret place is for me alone…

You cannot know how you make me feel…
For if you did…surely you would welcome me…every moment…
Oh…the yearning I endure…

* yanicke, april 2003 *

The language of love…

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Big Magic

big magic

It’s Gabbie here and I have a confession. I never read Eat Pray Love. I had a friend who absolutely adored it and urged me to read it. I can still remember her well-thumbed, dog-eared, bookmarked paperback kicking around on her coffee table way back in 2006. My friend explained the premise and even read some passages out loud, but I didn’t feel moved to buy the book and read it for myself.

When the movie came out in 2010, I didn’t rush to see it at the movies. But I break my rule of ‘always read the book before you watch the film’ and watched it on DVD in 2011. Big disappointment. I thought Oh Boo Hoo You Elizabeth Gilbert with your beige marriage and your ridiculous coming of age travelogue which is only thinly veiling your mid-life crisis. Probably important to note that I was pregnant, completing my Masters, had a two year old and a brand new business. Wouldn’t we all like to eat gelato in Italy? I raged.

Fast forward to 2015 when I enrolled in a Virtual Writers Course with Charlotte Wood and Alison Manning. Can you imagine my shock when Wood recommended a TED talk on creativity by none other than Eat, Pray, Love’s Elizabeth Gilbert?

Well, I watched the talk.

And I fell in love.

I had misjudged this woman. I had misjudged a fellow author. I had mistaken an author’s story for their personality. I was humbled and humiliated. But the worst part is… she’s such a nice gal I reckon she’d forgive me.

Elizabeth Gilbert has in fact published several books. She’s not a one hit wonder. She’s a determined, creative, dogged and likeable lady who has been rejected by publishers (just like me), surprised by her own creativity (just like me), determined to succeed (just like me) and finds magic in storytelling (just like me).

So after developing this girl crush, I was looking forward to getting my hands on her book Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear. And I wasn’t disappointed. Gilbert’s conversational style, self-deprecating manner and commitment to creativity made this book a delightful reading experience. Of course, I demanded that the rest of The Posse add it to their mandatory Summer Reading list.

Now the Big Magic needs to spread even further – I think all of you Devoted Readers should grab yourself a copy and read it for yourself. Even if you’re not a writer, Big Magic has something for everyone.

Need more convincing?

Fiona’s thoughts on Big Magic:

What I enjoyed the most about Gilbert’s work was her approach to rejection and the giving up on the writing or publication dream. She doesn’t gloss over the pain. She doesn’t promise roses and champagne and a major deal if you just keep trying.

Rejection is inevitable for writers. Even many published ones.

Her realistic attitude is what struck a chord with me. The concept of knowing you will be rejected but understanding that it has to happen and you have to let it happen if you are to have any chance of literary success. You can’t give up after the, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ emails send us plummeting into a coma of wine and chocolate.

“Somebody would send me a rejection, and I would knock it right back over the net, sending out another query that same afternoon. My policy was: You hit it to me, I’m going to hit it straight back out into the universe.”

Gilbert also asserts the importance of taking control of our self doubt, of not feeding the monster and allowing it to overwhelm the passion to write.

“Speak to your darkest and most negative interior voices the way a hostage negotiator speaks to a violent psychopath: calmly, but firmly. Most of all, never back down.”

I will embrace these ideas for my writing year ahead. Who knows? Maybe some big magic will come my way.

Yanicke’s thoughts on Big Magic:

Over the summer break (or winter, if you live in the northern hemisphere), I had the opportunity to catch up on my reading. After finishing Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers (which I loved, by the way – thanks Lorelle for buying me a copy and not allowing me any more excuses), I asked the Print Posse gals what they thought I should read next. Gabbie shouted two words at me – BIG MAGIC! Well, she didn’t exactly shout, as we were chatting on Facebook, but she might as well have been, because after our conversation I felt I had no choice but to order a digital copy of Big Magic on Amazon.com, then and there, and start reading.

And I’m so glad I did.

Granted, for the first half of the book I was mostly thinking “Hmmm, this is nice read, but I don’t really think I need it. I’ve already past this stage in my writing life.” You see, Big Magic is organised into six sections: (i) Courage; (ii) Enchantment; (iii) Permission; (iv) Persistence; (v) Trust; and (vi) Divinity.

And when it comes to the first few topics, namely, overcoming fear and giving myself permission to embrace a creative life, I’ve sort of already faced that struggle back in 2009. With fear and excitement bubbling in my veins, I jumped ship and dived into an ocean of uncertainty, leaving my legal career behind and pursuing my dream of being a writer – a dream I’d long considered an impossibility until a close friend of mine simply said “If you wanna write, stop whining about all the things standing in your way and do it.” Not life changing words on the face of them, I know. But for some reason, whether it was the right time or I was in the right frame of mind, they made so much sense. And so I did.

But then (getting back to Big Magic), about half way through the book, things changed. I starting feeling “Now this is something I need to read.” I need to read that it’s okay to write stuff that is simply fun. Writing doesn’t have to save the world or be intellectual. Writing to entertain is just as worthwhile as writing to teach or writing to heal. It has its place. It is justified.

I also needed to read that I shouldn’t apologize for my work. So what if my first novel is a teen vampire romance? So what if it isn’t The Goldfinch or To Kill a Mockingbird? I shouldn’t feel self-conscious about that. I shouldn’t doubt my work’s worth or feel ashamed. I should be proud. This is me. This is what I love and what inspires me. This is who I am, at this time in my life.

These points totally resonate with me, as I struggle with both of these insecurities, these worries. So thank you Ms Gilbert, I totally hear you. And from this moment on, I fully intend to embrace my uniqueness and be the court lobster 🙂

There were also countless cool anecdotes throughout Big Magic – several of which I absolutely adored. Like the story of Winifred, the 90-year-old expert on ancient Mesopotamia, and Elizabeth’s own tale of not letting lack of inspiration get her down, but instead allowing her curiosity to guide her on a journey of discovery through botanical history that began in her own garden.

So I have to say, no matter where you are on your journey of pursuing a creative life, Big Magic has something for you.

I’ll finish off with my favourite quote from the book – it relates to Elizabeth’s inspirational attitude to receiving rejections. Instead of taking them to heart and giving up, she viewed her journey to publication in terms of an entire lifetime, and upon receiving one of those dreaded no’s would mutter to herself:

“You think you can scare me off? I’ve got another eighty years to wear you down! There are people who haven’t even been born yet who are gonna reject me someday—that’s how long I plan to stick around.”

I love it! 😀

Gabbie’s Thoughts on Big Magic:

Gilbert explains through paradoxical chapters that creativity is a riddle: a divine endowment that we are never meant to fully understand. Big Magic helped me to appreciate the contradictory nature of creativity.

I quote for you her conclusion:

In Conclusion

Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred.

What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all.

We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits.

We are terrified, and we are brave.

Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege.

Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.

Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise – you can make anything.

So please calm down and get back to work, okay?

The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.


Elizabeth Gilbert is touring Australia in February!  She can weave her magic all over you on:

18th February, Theatre Royal in Hobart

25th February, Griffith University Conservatorium Theatre in Brisbane

4th March, Seymour Centre in Sydney

Pop over to Elizabeth Gilbert’s website to find out more… you can also grab this cool PDF downloadable.  LOVE IT!!



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Happy New Everything!

Oh. Em. Gee.  I abso love love LURV New Year Resolutions.

I’m also a big fan of the Vision Board, BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) and focus words (last year’s were WRITER and AUTHENTIC).


As soon as the last fire cracker dissolves into the midnight sky, I start resolving and it’s not a fast process.  I pretty much spend most of January reflecting on the year that was, what worked, what didn’t, reviewing the resolutions I made and thinking about things I’d like to blossom in the year ahead.  Finally, I sit down with some good music and a cuppa.  I give thanks for everything gained the previous year.  Then I get busy creating pages of goals, dreams and hopes for each facet of my life: writing, family, friendships, health, finance and work.


The front of my 2015 Book of Resolutions. I never did get around to colouring it in.

Then I create a super cool vision board as a visual summary that hangs beside my bed.


My 2015 Vision Board

Now before you get all judgey on me and start making assumptions, let me tell you this.  Last year, I resolved to start writing as a journalist and earn money from my writing.  I even created a new folder on my computer and called it MBFC which stood for My Brilliant Freelance Career.

Screen shot 2016-01-12 at 11.54.57 AM

I love that I have a folder called Lost Tooth!  But also – look at that MBFC folder.  Pretty awesome!

On my Vision Board I stuck the fine print of contributors names and a few magazine covers with dollar signs all around.


I resolved to name writing as my job whenever people asked me what I did.  Wishful thinking?  I had nine articles published last year and earned over three grand for my efforts.

Keeping things real – it’s fair to say that I can’t give up my day job (yet).  And a few things on my Vision Board remain… shall we say… visionary.  For example: I didn’t have a book published and reviewed by Jennifer Byrnes,


I’m ready when you are, Jen. 

I didn’t complete three manuscripts (but I did complete one)


I always make a mock-up cover of my work-in-progress.  Right now Downhill is in the hands of two publishers… fingers crossed.

and I don’t have rock hard abdominals (in fact the only part of me that is rock hard is my leg when it gets a cramp).


This is not me.

That aside, I just think that it can’t hurt to put your dreams, hopes and ambitions ‘out there’ for the Universe to receive and act upon.  I also find that it helps me make decisions about how I use my time, opportunities I choose to follow and how I relate to others.

Charmian Clift – who was an Australian novelist and journalist during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s (and I’m writing an article about her for a magazine – SNAP!) described the New Year turning as a ‘recurring seasonal moral audit’ with the ‘sort of palpable aura of splendid intention’ (‘Resolutions’ from Trouble in Lotus Land).  I love the description of both the moral audit and the splendid intention as it captures precisely how I feel.  For me, the New Year isn’t just about goals but about shaping my life and thinking about the person I am and the person I am becoming.

So without further ado, I give you my Writing Resolutions for 2016.

  1. Meet The Print Posse in person (can you believe our friendship has only been virtual up to this point?) and squeeze ’em so tight they yelp (hopefully at the Byron Bay Writers’ Fest)
  2. Continue writing for magazines and seek out other magazines I can contribute to
  3. Contribute something to Kill Your Darlings.  Incidentally – KYD has an awesome New Year’s offer at the mo.  If you subscribe before Feb 15, you can also have a 2000 word manuscript assessment.  So for all those folks out there saying “I’ve written something…” get onto this deal and have the clever folk at KYD provide you with the feedback you are longing for.
  4. Breathe life into my website and blogs that are laying dormant (but still worth a peek – gjstroud.com)
  5. Establish a new blog on my website providing ‘teacher advice and info’ for parents of Primary School aged children
  6. Finish my new WIP Mummy’s Just Losing Her Mind

I’m already thinking about the mock-up cover, even though the story isn’t finished!

There’s more… there’s bound to be more… I mean it’s only the 12th of January – I’m still at the reflective stage.  But for now this is a good start.  Now – don’t be shy, get into that Comments Box and share your aspirations for 2016.

You know you want to.



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Happy 2016!

So, another year has drawn to a close and the time has come for The Print Posse to share their resolutions for 2016.

It’s resolution time…

Yanicke’s Resolutions for 2016

I have to say I’m feeling very excited for the year ahead. So much has happened in the last 12 months, both in my writing and professional lives, I don’t even dare to predict what lies in the coming seasons. Nevertheless, I do have a few goals I’m eager to strive for that, hopefully, I’ll be able to achieve regardless of any obstacles or surprises that rear their heads.

So without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2016…

1. Complete at least one chapter per month of my WIP rewrite.

To date, I have finished rewriting chapter 1 and most of chapter 2 of my YA fantasy, A Nightmare’s Betrayal. If I can rewrite one chapter every month, by the time 2017 rolls around I should have 14 out of 20 chapters done. That would be awesome!

2. Meet The Print Posse gals in person – yes, Gabbie, Fiona and Karen, that means you!

3. Resurrect my personal blog which has fallen to the wayside in previous months.

Every December and January I visit with my family in Tasmania. During the quiet and peaceful times that ensue, I often find myself dreaming of and reminiscing about faraway places from movies & novels I love. I thought that seeing I post about all my writing adventures and escapades on The Print Posse blog, I might divert the focus of my personal blog to more personal topics – namely, my favourite things. Recipes, movies, books and other things that inspire. So that is what I am going to do this year.

4. Attend the Byron Bay Writers Festival – see #2 above.

5. Read more.

Reading is something I don’t do often enough as any free time I do manage to secure for myself I usually devote to writing. However, over the Christmas period this year I read some amazing novels and am keen to continue this practice throughout the coming months.

So, there you have it folks. Five small goals to guide me through 2016. I look forward to revisiting them 12 months time and hopefully I will have achieved them all… plus some 😀

Happy new year!




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Gabbie’s Got A Hot Date

We interrupt your viewing of The Print Posse’s Month of Letter Writing to bring you this update of Gabbie’s Hot Speed Dating Session…


Okay – so it was a Literary Speed Dating session and it wasn’t ‘hot’ in the steamy and passionate sense. But in all other regards it was exactly like a date. There were the usual conundrums of what to wear and what to say as well as a few additional nerve-janglers only associated with a pitching-event:

what if I get a flat out rejection?

what if every publisher in the room says ‘no’?

what if they ask me something that I don’t know?


Before the date, I worked diligently planning my outfit – nah just kidding – I finalised my manuscript, making sure it was ready to be sent off if requested. I wrote out my pitch and then I ran it by my galfriends here at The Posse. They helped me tweak it and twist it until it sounded just right. Together, we whittled it down until it was a 2-minute pitch.

I read and re-read the guidelines and followed them like a very good girl. I printed copies of my manuscript, as well as a one page Literary CV and dusted off copies of my previous publication.

I even went out and had business cards designed and printed. It was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and this event was a great excuse. Again, The Posse helped me with the wording, agonising over three descriptive words and the placement of a semi-colon. {Side note: Every writer needs a Posse – especially if you’re thinking about Literary Dating. Possibly also regular dating.}

Anyhoo… so the business cards… Ta dahhhh!


(They look fabulous don’t you think?)

While we drove to Sydney (from Merimbula – 6 hours, thank you to my sponsors; husband and kids dragged along for moral support) I practised my pitch. Conservatively, I ran through it about… fifty hundred times. My 7 year old daughter acted as prompt from the back seat and can now confidently add contemporary, resonate and compelling to her vocabulary.  By the time we hit Campbelltown, the four year old was correcting me.

At the event, I was as dry mouthed and heart thunderingly nervous as if a much younger me was going on a date with a super-cutey (think Eddie Perfect).


The event was organised by the Australian Society of Authors, which is kind of like every Aussie writer’s posse and if you’re not already a member then you should seriously think about joining up. This year, I’ve participated in their Virtual Writers’ Group with Charlotte Wood and Alison Manning. This was an unspeakably good experience that deeply enriched me as a writer. In the past I’ve been awarded an ASA mentorship and received contract advice from them, so I can’t say it enough…. they’re an awesome organisation.

In the waiting room, dozens of authors stood around awkwardly clutching their notes and mumbling their pitches. A very loose and unstructured line began to form as various publishers and agents were ushered into the conference room. When the doors were opened, there was an overwhelming identity-shift as these nervy, mild-mannered writer-types suddenly surged forward as though we were at Myer’s Boxing Day sales!

Here’s how it worked. You lined up in front of your preferred publisher. I had my eye on Kimberley Bennett from Random House Children’s Books and Kate Stevens Junior Commissioning Editor from Hachette. Grace Heifetz from Curtis Brown (Literary Agent) was also there and I hoped I might pitch to her as well, but within a minute of the door opening the line to see Grace was loooooong. Clearly, Grace was the Hottie at this Speed Dating Session.

A hooter (yep, like at a sports event) was sounded and the first in line had three minutes with the publisher/agent. During that time they were expected to pitch their novel/idea/poem/picture book and answer any of the publisher’s questions. When the hooter sounded again it was the next person’s turn. After you pitched, you could line up and pitch to someone else.

My first pitch was with Kimberley of Random. As I stood in the line I was thinking “Why am I doing this to myself?”  The nerves were similar to those I’d experienced before going for my P plates, job interviews, major exams or those harrowing moments before entering the labour ward. I was desperate for a drink of water, but that was the one thing I hadn’t brought.  It wouldn’t be appropriate to lick the sweat from my palms so I glanced around for any water stations and that’s when I noticed Kimberley had a glass and a whole jug of water in front of her.   The hooter blared and I sat down in front of Kimberley, resisting the delirium of my water-parched nerves that were telling me to drink her water.  (I may or may not have taken a few deep and noisy “I’m in labour” breaths – the memory is somewhat hazy.)

I launched into my pitch without a stumble and had only one significant pause where I completely lost my place. Kimberley made thoughtful comments, accepted my (gorgeous) business card and CV and handed me her business card and told me to send my manuscript through via email!!!!! (Yes five exclamation points are warranted.)  The hooter blared and I left the table,  filled with some kind of writerly-endorphin rush that made me feel as triumphant as the moment I finish a manuscript.

I found the line for Kate at Hachette and proudly waited my turn.

The second pitch went equally as well, although Kate refused all my well-prepared paperwork, instead handing me her card and saying “Email me all of this and your manuscript.”

Hazahhhh!!!!!! (Six – I know, but I will still argue each one is warranted.)

By this time, there was only forty minutes left and the line for Grace at Curtis Brown was a forty two minute wait. I boldly abandoned that plan and pitched instead to Joel Naoum of Momentum Pan Macmillan who don’t even publish the kind of YA fiction I write. But, it was a chance to practise my pitch and gain some feedback.

Then – with a bold and confident speed dating swagger – I sat down with Emily Stewart from NewSouth Publishing and had a chat about a non-fiction book I’ve got lurking in the back of my mind. No pitch prepared – just a casual little Q & A session, how confident was I becoming??  Confident enough to use two question marks.  Again – gained some great feedback and encouragement.

It was an exhilarating experience and I mean that – if you don’t think writing can invoke heavy breathing, dry mouthed, heart pounding mania then you’ve never been a literary speed dater! Every writer should try this once! I met some fabulous writers while I was waiting in line and built my burgeoning writing network a little more. I also got to connect with ASA staff that I’ve dealt with in the virtual world, but not in real life. The preparation meant that I really got to know my manuscript and honing the pitch to a two-minute spiel helped me consolidate the heartland of my story.

Next time, I probably wouldn’t lug three copies of my manuscript and previous publication around with me.

I probably wouldn’t get so hung up on learning my pitch word for word.

I would probably anticipate the most popular publications/agents and make a bee-line for them at the beginning.

And I would probably bring a drink.



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Dear Me,

Dear Me (circa 2000),

Okay – bad news. You are not going to get a book written and published in your special three week ‘Olympic School Holidays’.

Good news – you are going to get a book written. And published.

Settle down, stop jumping around, settle down! Breathe.

This all happens in nine years time.

Try not to be disappointed. I know it seems like a long time between now and then, but you have much to learn, Grasshopper.  Even beyond publication you have much to learn.

You have much to look forward to as well. You are going to find a place – a magical, amazing writing haven called Varuna.



There you will meet your writing soul-mate. Her name is Jess and her connection with you will change your life. Jess will be your champion – believing in you with rugged determination that cannot be feigned. When you are ready to give up this lonely sport called writing, her encouragement will propel you and publication will follow.



Your first novel will be a YA fiction, arriving just twelve months after the birth of your first baby girl. You will celebrate with a massive book launch and Jess will be beside you.

Me & Jess launching my novel

Me & Jess launching my novel

The room will be filled with love and support. This will be a deliciously happy time in your life.


Books for sale!

You do not have Jess for long.

And when she leaves, it will be unbearable.

But you must write. Write. And keep on writing, carrying her with you like a burr on your sock. Like a tattoo on your skin. Like a shadow. Like a muse, an idea, a memory.

After publication and after Jess there will be a time. The time will be hard. The time will feel vacant and barren. But as it passes you will discover it wasn’t unproductive – it was lying fallow, becoming fertile and regenerating.

You will meet new friends and form a Posse. Crazy I know, but it will make sense to you.

The Print Posse

They will hold you up, stretch you out and push you forward. They will lend you their ears, their shoulders, their ideas and their courage. Together you will write your way forward. Maybe the Posse is a gift from Jess. You will never know.

A troublesome second novel will take some time – several years – but during that time you will learn so much. You will return to magical Varuna. You will discover the amazing synergy between reading and writing. You will find Kate and have Wednesday Write Ins! You will forge a deep and loving connection with your writing mentor Peter. You will know that writing is so much more than publication.

My mentor Peter Bishop

Beyond that? Who knows! I feel confident it will be wonderful and satisfying and productive and best of all – creative. There will be more novels, more publications, more articles, more friends, more money and more riches of a higher kind. And through it all, you will write. Write. Write and keep on writing.

Remember what Jess told you – you’re very talented.

You're very talented.

You’re very talented!

But for now, get back to your three-week-novel. Every story must start somewhere.

I love you,

Gab xxx

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A note to my younger writer-self…

Gabbie recently came across a book by Carmel Bird entitled

Dear Writer…revisited….

The book was originally published as Dear Writer in 1988 and Carmel – an accomplished writer herself – wrote the book as a kind of quirky ‘how to’ writing book.

Dear Writer Revisited is a collection of letters from an experienced writer to a woman who has sent her own stories to be assessed.” (p.xvi)

The premise is intriguing – don’t you think?

So the challenge for The Print Posse this month is to write a letter to themselves… what would today’s writer tell the tentative youngster who was just starting out?

As usual, Yanicke leads us into the month…. (cos she is a legend hehehe :p )

note to youger writer self

Dear me,

Run for the hills! Don’t do it! Forget your dreams of being a writer and just be. Be a normal person, live a normal existence. Don’t condemn yourself to a life of maddening passion.

Once you go down that path there is no turning back.

Never again will you be able to enjoy a day doing nothing, an hour relaxing, a minute kicking back. The word holiday will no longer be in your vocabulary. Your mind will be constantly plotting and planning, dreaming and scheming. Every free moment will be snatched, secreted away, devoted to your craft.

Never again will you be able to read a book for the simple pleasure of reading. You will dissect every line, analyse every paragraph, and always with an eye to technique and strategy.

Never again will you hear a song and think of how much it speaks to you. Instead, every word will belong to your characters, every note will chronicle their pain and longing.

Never again will you have enough time – time to think up stories, time to share them with the world.

No, if you walk the path of being a writer you will never know peace again.


All your sadness will be gone and your heart will be full to bursting. Not only with the usual blessings that come with growing up, like love and family and career – although you will have them too – but with plots and ideas and fantasies, entire worlds’ worth.

You will know excitement and yearning – excitement for all the stories you dream of writing, and yearning for enough time to write them.

You will be surrounded by others who share your passion and exuberance – other writers, poets, artists who are just as crazed and tormented as you are – and they will shine a little light on your world.

And you will show your children it’s possible to be whatever and whomever you want to be, that chasing your dreams is a legitimate career-choice, and making those dreams a reality, totally do-able.

So yes…

Run for the hills! Don’t do it! Forget your dreams of being a writer and just be. Be a normal person, live a normal life. Don’t condemn yourself to a life of maddening passion.


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Five books for a desert island…

Well, week four has rolled around again, so it’s time for a bonus post from The Print Posse.

This week, each of us will take turns answering the following question (an oldie but a goodie)…

“You’re packing your bag for that other desert island—the one with no electricity—what 5 books/series do you take with you?”


1. The Secret Diaries Series by Janice Harrell
My all-time favourite series – I could read it over and over again and never get bored. Think Donna Tartt’s The Secret History for teens.

2. The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater
Brilliant, beautiful and bittersweet – what more can I say?

3. Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer
I know, I know, but I can’t help it… I have a soft spot for Jacob ❤

4. The Last Vampire Series by Christopher Pike
Mr Pike was my #1 favourite author as a teen 🙂 I also love The Eternal Enemy and Monster.

5. The Vampire Diaries Series by LJ Smith
Where Elena is a blonde and Bonnie a red-headed firecracker (who happens to be descended from the druids).

Three of these series came out in the 1990s when I was a teen! I guess I never got over them 🙂 No wonder I grew up to write YA fiction…

secret diaries shiver twilight vampire diaries last vampire



1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor
I love this series so much. Laini Taylor is one of my personal writing heroes and her prose is beautiful.

2. The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris
The series differs significantly at times from the show and though I’m a fan of both, the books are better. I mean, Quinn the weretiger? True Blood fans seriously missed out.

3. Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas
Another of my all time favourite series and authors.

4. Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil
This book is definitely in my holiday bag just so I could laugh at the hilarity of Sam’s awkwardness.

5. The Graceling Realm Series by Kristin Cashore
Three books with different main characters set in the same world – adventure, love, terror – this series has it all.

DOSAB_hbfront 301082 Throne-of-Glass-UK 16119664 (1) graceling



1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
When I finished reading this book I made the tentative declaration:  “This might have been the best book I have ever read.”


2.  The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

It’s just so laugh out loud funny.  Trust me.

3.  Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Just read this book okay?  I promise you’ll love it.


4.  The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger

“I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all.  Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean except me.  And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff.  What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff…”

*sigh* Holden Caulfield – you get me every time.  Every. Time.


5.  Hmmm…. what to choose? what to choose? Ummmm…. Maybe The Hunger Games?  By Suzanne Collins.  Do we get to share the books?  Are we stuck on the island together?  Would it be wrong to choose the one book I’ve had published?  Shouldn’t someone grab a survival guide?



Hey guys?


A map?


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