I write romantic fiction with fresh, character-driven plots set in exotic locations.

Contact: Lesley Ann Smith

It takes some time for a modern woman to see past the spectacularly bad dress sense of a spectacularly beautiful man.

Out now, my romantic comedy short story The Truly Awful Shirt Shop, published by and available free from Australian Women Online.

“You can only be as good as you dare to be bad.” John Barrymore


Swancon 2011

Romancing the West is working with Swancon to present a series of craft workshops for published and aspiring writers. The growth in paranormal romance writing makes it a natural partnership.

There'll be workshops on short story writing, arousing the audience, research skills and a new take on fairy tales.


The Protagonist's Journey

“Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines.” David Letterman

For me to enjoy a story the characters have to change over the course of the story. The main characters have to grow; they have to be able to deal with a life challenge that they weren't able to at the beginning of the story. I've always thought that this was how stories helped the reader to make sense of their own life. I think this is true for popular fiction as well as for literary fiction.

Karel Segers gave a very interesting session on the Hero's Journey. My most valuable take away from the session was to 'stay in the right brain' as long as possible. Stay with the creative process and use the structural tools during editing.


Don't Break the Chain

“Diligence is the mother of good luck. ” Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, scientist, and printer

Staying with a task is the only way to get it finished. It may be an urban myth but I was recently told that the Seinfeld series was created by writng something, anything, every day. Cross off the date in the calendar when you've done it and once you've started you never break the chain of crosses.

It must be motivating to get months into a task with a long chain of crosses. No matter how tired you are, no matter how many other calls there are on your time, you wouldn't want to see a break in the chain.


Defeating self-defeating behaviours

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. ” George Bernard Shaw

Each new year thoughts turn to plans for the future and the hard lessons of experience. For aspiring writers it's a time to commit to moving writing up the priority list and making more time for our creative selves among the ever increasing demands of everyday life.

Last year I did a course with Margie Lawson which helped me a lot and I've signed on again this year.


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

“Your life story would not make a good book. Don't even try.” Fran Lebowitz

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants began writing November 1. The goal was to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. Because of the limited writing window, the only thing that mattered was output. It was about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forced me to lower my expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

I participated in 2006, 2007 and 2009 and took the challenge again in 2010. I achieved the 50,000 words and my winner's certificate.


'Dirty Draft' weekend

“A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.” Edith Wharton

My critique group tried something dfferent this year. We're all plotters. We revel in discussions about dark moments, turning points, character development and the three act structure. This year we staged our own Dirty Draft weekend with the objective of plotting an entire novel in three days.

By the time we left we'd all completed character interviews, GMC, romantic conflict charts, pitch, synopsis, 9-point plot, chapter outlines and scene outlines. It's all just first draft but we all have stories to work on over the coming year.


Request for full manuscript

“Words, once they are printed, have a life of their own.” Carol Burnett

There's nothing like a deadline to get me moving. It's even better when the deadline is set by an acquiring publisher. I was recently successful in an online pitch session and the full manuscript for my romantic suspense novel set in Istanbul has been requested by a publisher. I'm in final edits before I send it off.

A passionate loner and a conflicted artist vie for an Ottoman treasure. The battle over the treasure threatens to keep them apart but the danger and their irresistible attraction throw them together. Some things are meant to be forever.


An academic approach

“The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.” Benjamin Disraeli

Years ago after I finished my science degree I started a PhD. I quickly realised it wasn't for me and started work but it's always been unfinished business.

I've now applied to do a PhD in creative writing. I'm a romance genre writer and am interested in investigating the narrative structure of the romance novel. If I'm accepted it'll be a wonderful opportunity for development and critique of both my creative output and my creative process.


Finding inspiration

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee

Sometimes the story won't flow onto the page. I'm not one of those writers who can afford to wait for the muse. I have to find a way of getting myself into a creative space and quickly and that's often through short stories. I've recently discovered another way - the 10 minute play.

My first attempt at a stage play, When One Man Isn't Enough has me back in a writing space. Thanks Alex Broun for the coaching session.


Who do I write like?

“If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable.” Donald Trump

I have a different voice in my short fiction compared to my long fiction. My longer fiction is suspenseful with a powerful romance. I'm strong on setting and use dialogue to drive the story forward. I'm more experimental in my shorter works. I use short fiction to play with an idea and style and see where it takes me.

But who do I write like?

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tempest sounds like James Joyce.The Truly Awful Shirt Shop sounds like David Foster Wallace. My Turkish story sounds like Dan Brown. My Italian story sounds like Dan Brown.

Now that's encouraging.


Time for some research and to outline the next story

“Surrender to the flow.” Mike Gordon, American musician

I use my holidays to develop new story ideas. Last year I worked on stories set in Italy and Malaysia although the latter was a work trip. This year it will be an Australian story and I'll work on setting and do a detailed outline while I drive across the Nullarbor later this month. It's easy grab ten minutes to capture a scene of work out a plot point whereas working on a WIP would drag me away from all the holiday social activities.

My good friend and critique partner, Shona Husk, has her second novella, Boyfriend in a Bottle, released. It's a clever, erotic romance that begs for a follow-up.


Romancing the West Conference

“The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Albert Einstein, physicist

Each year Romance Writers of Australian sponsors and auspices the Romancing the West Conference and this year was another success. The speakers, Fiona Lowe, Juliet Marillier, Nikki Logan and Fiona Palmer, gave helpful and inspiring presentations that included writing exercises and question and answer sessions. A perfect mid-year boost to get my own writing moving again. Spending time with other writers is inspiring.

Become a member and follow us on Facebook, Romancing the West, to get early information on the 2011 Romancing the West Conference.

My good friend and critique partner, Shona Husk, has her first novella, An Elemental Tail, released. One of the best new, imaginative talents around.



“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” Oprah Winfrey

Script Frenzy is an international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April. Writing a script is a good way to get dialogue and action on the page.

And when the story is published and Hollywood comes calling I'll be ready.


The Truly Awful Shirt Shop

“I just met a wonderful new man. He's fictional...but you can't have everything.” Mia Farrow as Celia, Purple Rose of Cairo, 1985

It takes some time for a modern woman to see past the spectacularly bad dress sense of a spectacularly beautiful man.

Out this month, my romantic comedy short story The Truly Awful Shirt Shop, published by and available free from Australian Women Online.


Putting work out

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” Roald Dahl, author

Competitions are a great way to get feedback on work and a good result can land the work on the desk of an editor or agent. Feedback draws attention to blind spots in the writing and gives valuable 'reader' perspective. Overall placings tell a writer how their works measures up agianst others in a very competitive industry.


Happy New Year

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” William Plomer, author

New year, new challenges and new ideas. The Perth Film Festival and outdoor theatres are in full swing so I can watch movies under the summer sky with a glass of wine in my hand. It's the time of year to make plans and promises and try to make 2010 the best one yet. It's also a time to defeat those behaviours that don't help any more and develop some new ones.


Merry Christmas

“Practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.” Anonymous

It's that mad rush into the holiday season when you try to finish off all the things that you promised yourself you'd get done in 2009. By the time you cover work, family and social commitments then there's not a lot of time left for writing. At this time of year the focus should be on family and fun. Recommit to everything else in the new year.


National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

“I am an unpredictable journey.” Claire Forlani, actress

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. Because of the limited writing window, the only thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

I participated in 2006 and 2007 and took the challenge again in 2009. It's a great way to break the back of a work in process. I achieved only 18,000 words this time but it's a lot more than I would have written without the group surge.


Manuscript with the publisher

“The rule which forbids ending a sentence with a preposition is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put.” Winston Churchill, statesman

The first three chapters of my contemporary romantic suspense novel are with a publisher.

My good friend and critique partner, Loretta Brabant, has her first novel, Kiss and Tell, released. The sparkling dialogue and emotion-packed writing caputure you and don't let go.


Little Gems Anthology: 2009 Turquoise in my hands

“Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” A.A. Milne, British writer

When a magical sea nymph rescues a deep-sea fisherman from a life-threatening storm neither can return to their former lives. Tempest, is a romantic fantasy about lovers who give up everything for each other.

This is my first publication as a fiction writer since I resumed writing two years ago. A very exciting time.


Little Gems Anthology: 2009 Turquoise released!!!

“All things being equal fat people use more soap.”

Little Gems Anthology: 2009 Turquoise is a collection of sixteen short stories that contain a turquoise motif. Turquoise can be a gem, a name or any other use in the story. The anthology is assembled as a result of a competitive process that yielded over seventy entries. My story, Tempest, is a romantic fantasy about lovers who give up everything for each other.


Extraordinary opportunities

“The facts although interesting are irrelevant.”

An unexpected trip to Sarawak, Malaysia will provide a second opportunity to research a new story. My work is characterised by larger than life characters in exotic locations. This will be my first work set in Asia with an Asian hero. While it's a lot of time away from my manuscript developing new stories it is a wonderful opportunity to research new settings and characters first hand.


Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances

“There is no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation.”

It's often hard to find time to write in a busy life so holidays have been when I can relax, do some people watching, and soak up some atmosphere. This year I will find my new characters in Italy. They will meet, have a romantic adventure that changes their lives, and realise that they can only ever be really happy with each other.


2009 Romance Roadshow

“She who has the gold makes the rules.”

The Romance Roadshow returned to Perth on May 23 at the Good Earth Hotel. It was a chance for aspiring and developing romance writers to meet multi-published authors and improve their own skills. Tutorial subjects included Deep Point of View, Romance Heroes, Effective Story Dialogue, World Building, Urban Fantasy/Paranormal and Sealed Section and were given by talented and popular Australian authors, Keri Authur, Denise Rossetti and Kelly Hunter. One of the best things about being a writer is meeting and working with other writers.


My own website

“When shall you live if not now. Seneca”

Live at last. It's hard to know when, as an aspiring writer, you should take that leap into the virtual world. My plan was to create my own website when I was accepted for publication. Later this year my short story Tempest will be published in the Little Gems Anthology: 2009 Turquoise. So here I am.

Welcome to my website. I hope you find a lot to enjoy about romance writing in its many forms.