Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Juanita Kees

I’d like to welcome Juanita Kees to the Author Spotlight! Juanita is giving away a copy of her ebook, read on to find out how to enter…

1.      Congratulations on your book FLY AWAY PETA which is released on 1st August, can you tell us a little about this story?

Peta Johnson will go to extreme lengths to protect her daughter Bella. When Bella is kidnapped, the search for her takes Peta back to the small Australian country town of Williams, a place she’d vowed never to return to. The town where her dreams were shattered and her nightmare began. Back to the place she’d been destined to meet two very powerful, yet very different men. One would break her heart, the other would destroy her soul. Both would change her life forever.


2.      What was your journey to publication like?

Tuesday February 21, 2012 will forever be emblazoned in my memory. It’s the day I went to bed a writer and woke up an author. Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe the emotions that followed.

I began writing FLY AWAY PETA many years ago. Scenes changed, the story grew, and the characters developed through years of maturity and several rounds of self-editing. Convinced that it was now ready for submission, I sent it off to Harlequin. After six months of waiting, I received a letter of polite rejection. I was okay with that. It wasn’t my time yet.

After a few more months of editing, procrastinating and more editing, I finally bit the bullet and said: ‘Enough! It’s now or never.’ Now comes the spooky bit. I have a thing for roses, hence my first thought was to submit to Harlequin. So while searching for alternatives for FLY AWAY PETA, I came across Eternal Press. The symbol on their website is a lilac rose. My gut feel said, ‘Send it!’ My head said, ‘What have you got to lose?’ And my heart said, ‘A rose is a rose.’

On Monday 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM, I hit send, turned off my computer and went to bed expecting the six to eight week wait they promised. On Tuesday morning I turned it on to check my emails and there was an email from Eternal Press. I thought it was the usual response letting me know that they’d received the manuscript and would be in touch. And then I read it. ‘Your contemporary romance Fly Away Peta is accepted for publication by Eternal Press…


3.      Do you find that some of your own life experiences make their way into your stories, or do you make absolutely everything up?

Life is probably one of the best research tools a writer can have. Everything I write is from imagination but I draw on my life experience emotions to put the heart into my characters. I create situations and then ask myself how I would feel if I was placed in that situation.


4.      Do you write detailed character profiles before starting a new book, or do you find the characters come to life as you write?

First I get an idea in my head of what the characters look like, then I find photos to match as closely as possible. I might even look at compatible star signs for them. After that, I let them take over and develop their own personalities.


5.      Since everybody needs a break, even when doing something they love, how do you like to spend your time away from writing?

In my armchair next to the fireplace with a good book, chocolate, the rug my granny crocheted, and my ever-present Daschund and only other female in the house, Samantha (Sam for short).


6.      Describe yourself in three words:

Caver, Chocoholic, Shoe-Freak


7.      Do you have a writing routine that you follow?

I write anywhere, anyhow and on anything when an idea strikes. I juggle a few balls during the day, so I write whenever I have time, even if it means falling asleep at the keyboard in the early hours of the morning. The most routine I had was during the 50K in 30 Days challenge. I wrote every day and almost every night during our sprints on the RWA Forum thanks to the encouragement of my fellow sprinters. (You know who you are! J)


8.      What advice would you give to aspiring authors out there?

Never, never give up on your dreams and write, write, write. The more you write, the better you get at it.


9.      What are you working on now?

My 2011 New Voices entry TAMING THE TIGER. Thanks to the 50/30 challenge, it’s almost done! Only another 6427 words and heaps of editing to go.


You can find out about Juanita’s book here. Visit Juanita on the web, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.


To WIN a pdf copy of FLY AWAY PETA, answer the following question:

“To what lengths would you go to find/protect someone you love?”

The competition is open worldwide and the winner will be drawn randomly from eligible entries on 6th August. Good luck!

Leave a comment



     /  July 31, 2012

    To what lengths would you go to find/protect someone you love?”
    I would go to all the lengths possible to find and or protect the one I love.
    Love is such a great, emotional , courageous and ambitious feeling that to be and feel the beneifits of such a huge part of a persons life there would be no stopping such an achievement.

  2. Juanita, I didn’t know you went caving! How cool … but you know, I’m not sure I could go caving even to protect someone I loved…fortunately I can’t think of any scenario where I’d have to!

    • LOL Jenny 😀 I’m not sure I could abseil down a cliff to rescue someone I love, but I’m sure if the need ever arises, I would do what I have to. Let’s hold thumbs I won’t need to!

  3. “To what lengths would you go to find/protect someone you love?”
    Amazing. My last suspense I have recently completed has this theme. Thank heavens it’s a different story line. 🙂

    Congratulations Juanita, and all the best,

    Suzanne 🙂

  4. Oh, duh me. I i didn’t answer the question.

    My daughter flew to Dubai a few years back. Her first text message wasn’t that uplifting and I texted back and didn’t hear a thing for a few hours. During that time I convinced myself I’d be flying over there searching. I would have done anything to get her back and no one would stop me. Not even the authorities if they had a reason. As long as I drew breath I would continue to search until I found her.

    • Thanks Suzanne! I agree. I felt the same way when my son when on his first trip to Thailand for Leavers Week. I didn’t sleep a wink until he got home safely and I made him phone me every night 🙂

  5. Hmmmm Feb 21 is also emblazoned in my memory (the day I married the wrong person!) Unlike my marrigae however, your book will have a HEA. Congrats on your success – Author Kees!

    • Thank you Jenn 🙂 Sometimes the ‘wrong’ people are sent to show us what we’re really looking for in life. I hope you’ve found your dreams…and I suspect you have 😀

  6. Congratulations on your ‘overnight success’, Juanita and fantastic effort for the 50K challenge. All the best for “Fly Away Peta” and I hope it sells its socks off!

    • Thank you Louise. The ‘overnight success’ was more than twenty years of dreaming, writing and rewriting. I am so glad I didn’t give up on my dreams.

  7. Congratulations on the book, Juanita and I, too, hope it sells its socks off!

    As for what I would do, I don’t think there are any limits. I am deeply non-violent. But I remember having an extraordinary epiphany when my girl was tiny. I was holding her while she slept and I knew that if anyone tried to hurt her, it would be over my dead body – or, preferably, theirs. I grew claws when I became a mother, so I can empathise with your heroine!

    • Hi Imelda 🙂 and thank you! I’m with you about protecting the children. I used to hold my babies for hours and just stare at them while they slept. There is nothing that can compete with the protection of a mother’s love.

  8. Congratulations on the upcoming release of Fly Away Peta. How excited you must be, and rightly so too! A wonderful achievement, Juanita.

    • Thank you Cathryn. I am very excited. I don’t think I’ll get much sleep tonight! I am thrilled to be in such wonderful company here today. I would never have taken this step without the encouragement of my friends, family, and the authors and aspiring writers at RWA.

  9. Juanita, love the blurb of your book and thankyou for sharing your ‘success’ story. Imelda’s response really resonated with me — there is nothing like holding your baby for the first time and that fierce instinct to protect roars inside. Tho my kids are in their twenties, I’d still stand in front of them if and when I could. Hope your book sells squillions.

    • Hi Suzanne 🙂
      I love watching the kids sleep. There is such innocence in sleep or perhaps it’s the peace and quite, LOL. Mine are 20 and 12 so I don’t get much of an opportunity to watch them sleep anymore but I still like to open up the old photo albums to reminisce 🙂

  10. Natasha D

     /  August 1, 2012

    Hi Jaunita,
    Congratulations!!! I did a happy dance for you when you first released the news of your success. Well deserved.
    As to the lengths I would go to if I had to find/protect those I love. I don’t believe that there would be any limits if they were in danger.
    It’s actually a subject I thought long and hard about many years ago when a friend went missing for a short time (luckily it was just a series of misunderstandings, illness and an accident that culminated in her being stranded in a remote Sth American village for a month). The fact that when she was located her father was in the process of mortgaging his house and mounting his own search and rescue with his mates (he was an ex-Ranger) drove it home even further. He was in a ‘take-no-prisoners’ mode and I know I would be the same.
    That said, I don’t know how scary a 156cm granny would be but I think if the artillery was big enough LOL!

    • Hi Natasha, thank you for celebrating with me. I love those happy dances! What a great story. I’m glad your friend was okay.
      I’m about 2cm shorter but I’m told I swing a pretty mean handbag when the need arises 🙂

  11. Congratulations Juantia on your release!! Enjoy every moment of today, you deserve it.
    And I would go to any lengths possible to protect my own. Any Lengths!!

  12. Fantastic Juanita! I’m soo happy for you!! *does a happy dance*
    How does it feel to be an author??
    To answer your question, and just like everyone else, I would go to any lengths to protect the one I love.
    I was at my cousins soccer game a few months ago, he was nine at the time, and this cow of a girl stuck her foot out which made him trip, and I ended up getting into a heated argument with the coach as he didn’t do anything about it… Bloody men….

    Anyway, congrats again hon!

    • LOL, thanks Susan (dancing with you). It feels surreal 🙂
      Coaches can be pretty blind when their eyes are on everything except the play 😀 Lovely to hear you came to you cousin’s defence. I remember getting into an argument on the school bus many years ago trying to protect my little cousin from a group of bullies.

  13. The things we do for our family and friends… xo

  14. Robyn Aldridge

     /  August 1, 2012

    To what lengths… so just how long is that piece of string? I’m still measuring as I’m sure many others are. In other words, the length is never ending. Abseilling would be easy for me. However, send me scuba diving and you’d be upping the anxiety! However, I would if I had to dive. All in the name of love which has no barriers. Find my Achilles Heel and I’ll start measuring. No, never. I’d be in there fighting. Fighting for the lives of my loved ones. Having said that, I also recall that I need to keep a little something in reserve for me. Without me, there would be no-one to fight for them so that has to be included in the plan. A necessary practicality, even when emotions are running high. When someone has tried to kill you, you remember those sort of things. Just don’t let your knees knock. That can come later on, after you’ve sorted out your loved ones…

  15. bn100

     /  August 5, 2012

    Anything within the law

  16. Rebecca Sierp

     /  August 6, 2012

    Absolutely anything in my power. I’m not imortal or have any super powers, but I would put up the biggest fight that I possibly could. I wouldn’t do anything Illegal that would get me put in jail otherwise the rest of my loved ones would have to suffer because of me and that would be selfish.

  17. Thanks to everyone for commenting! Suzanne Brandyn is the winner of FLY AWAY PETA!
    Thanks also to Juanita for participating in the author spotlight, all the best for your book 🙂


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