• Valerie Miller

Here comes the truth ... but first, the backstory.



A little bit paranoid there, Capricorn? With spicy Mars retrograde in your analytical sixth house until January 12, your mood could alternate between upbeat and anxious, even veering into hypercritical mode.

Hours spent on my romance writing craft

10+

Romance novel I’m reading:

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Romantic movie I watched:

Message in a Bottle

Chocolates eaten

I’ve overindulged. I blame the marking. It was the marking that made me!

Wine?

Elephant in the Room Prodigious Pinot Gris



This will be my diary as I embark on my romance writing career.


Why?


Because I believe it takes time to become a crafted writer as a romance novelist. That, for me, it’s about quality rather than quantity—and the constraints I’m currently experiencing as a full-time English teacher, trying to fit writing into my day, around my teaching commitments.


I’m not absolutely green at writing. I have published an anthology of short stories and have finished my first women’s fiction (with dual historic timelines and romantic elements) which is currently with two publishers. I write these under my real name. Giselle Miller is my romance writer’s pen name. Giselle is my middle name. I was named after both of my grandmothers—Nonna from northern Italy, and Nonna from Sicily.


I’ve been writing all my life, well, on and off, when life didn’t get in the way. Living it up and travelling in my 20s—I kept a travel journal. This was followed with me training as a teacher, falling in love, getting married and having a baby. During these milestones I kept blogs. In between, I dabbled with poems, short stories, picture books and theatre scripts.


Nearly six years ago, my husband and I did a crazy thing; for us, anyway. It was so not us. We moved away from Sydney. Wherever hubby got a job, we’d move there. As a teacher, I could work anywhere. Right? Wrong! But that’s another story and I don’t want to bore you with it.


I’m here to share my romance writing journey. When we moved to sunny Queensland, arriving on a balmy Brisbane evening after a long ten-hour drive, a few days before Christmas in 2016, I decided to do something about my dream of getting my stories out of my bottom drawers and out into the wild. Finally.


In November 2018, I completed my first Nanowrimo—National Novel Writing Month and started my first novel. This one will never see the light of day. It was a practice novel—all 138 thousand odd words.


In 2019, I started a Master of Letters in Creative Writing, completing my dissertation in 2021, where I was awarded a high distinction and developed resilience in sharing my work to receive feedback from my fellow peers and professors. During these three years, I entered competitions and received my fair share of rejections. I was determined to accept rejections. I believe that not all stories can be loved by all, but there is at least one person who will love your stories.


I’m a lover of romantic comedies. Books and movies. I love them. L-O-V-E, adore them.


So, I took another plunge as an aspiring writer and in 2020; I joined the Romance Writers of Australia. After checking out their competitions, I penned a short story for their Sweet Treats anthology. I was a finalist, and my story was featured in the anthology. I entered again in 2021 and made the anthology a second time. I thought I can so do this.


Now, I didn’t go in green. I’m a nerd. Always was, always will be. I brought craft books and read them all. I underlined sections, made notes in the margins and tagged pages. I also completed the exercises at the end of the chapters. Yep. Did I mention I’m a nerd? I enrolled in romance writing courses, listened to podcasts and upped my reading of romantic comedies—aka rom-coms. Then I plunged in.


My goal was to Indie Publish my romance stories. I enjoy indie publishing and would share my stories via this route. I started off small …


I had this idea.


Why not write four novelettes? Publish them separately to get my name out there. Then combine the four into one compendium.


Great idea! Yes?


Well, as I wrote, I felt the story needed more depth. What I wanted to achieve as a narrative was too big for a 7,500-word novelette. So, I made it into a novella.


Easy?


Wrong.


After some feedback from a critique group, it was too shallow. There wasn’t enough setting and orientation. The beginning also needed work, so I revised it. I didn’t stop with the first chapter. I revised all the other chapters too—a complete overhaul. It crept up towards the 40,000-word mark. The upper limit for it to be a novella. Finally, months after I began in January, I finished the first draft.


As I began a self-edit, which I’m still trying to find the right process for me, I also enrolled in Lisa Hall-Wilson’s course, the Foundations of Deep POV. My romance novella lacked emotion, and deep inner emotion at that.


In the second pass-through, I added more inner emotion, plus a whole lot of other stuff I felt the story needed.


I finished the fourth pass-through at just over 60,000 words. It was now a novel. A decent size—not too short, but not too long. It was just right.


I was pleased.


I was so proud of myself. I had written my first romance novel.


To be honest, I felt I rushed the self-edits. I had already cancelled one edit with my editor and didn’t want to stuff her around anymore.


Now I wait with bated breath. Thank goodness for Netflix, books, chocolate and wine, to keep my mind busy and engaged.


Signing off with ❤️

Giselle

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