A Writer’s Life: Plotting, with Helen Bianchin

This fabulous (italics mine because I think it’s fabulous – Ed.) article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of Hearts Talk, the journal of the Romance Writers of Australia.  For more info on the column, and on RWA membership, see the end of this post!  But for now, over to Helen…

helen-bianchin-portrait

Plotting with Helen Bianchin

I spent the first year of my writing career convinced a book had to be written from page one through to the end. I stalled so many times, eventually threw my hands in the air, muttered something pithy in Italian, then vowed out loud: where does it say there’s a rule a book has to be written consecutively from start to finish?

Remember, in the early 1970s, there were few ‘how-to write’ books around, and the only other M&B authors I knew were Essie Summers and Gloria Bevan. That was until one day Robyn Donald and her husband were in Auckland, discovered there was only one Bianchin in the phonebook and rang me. They visited that very day, and a friendship was forged, which has lasted until the present. Not long after that, Daphne Clair began her Ring o’ Roses newsletter and there was contact!

I tried the pantser route way back when, and ended up with sentences, paragraphs, pages all over the place. Soon I discovered it was a method that didn’t work for me.

What did work was to choose a premise (or it would choose me) and I’d make notes, choose names, setting, get it all handwritten into a notebook, think about it (including procrastination), compose a supposedly perfect scene on the edge of sleep, positive I’d remember it in glorious detail on waking the next morning. Yes, well, we know how that goes…

Through trial and error, I discovered I think in scenes—usually out of sequence. I have to say curling up in a comfy chair with pen and notepad works. The ideas happen and I scribble them down. Then I key them into the computer while the ideas are fresh and there’s hope I can decipher my scribble—or at least get the gist of it, editing as I go along, expanding, enhancing, numbering each draft scene before printing it out. It’s a weird method, and you wouldn’t believe how many times I vow to discard it and write in a professional manner (whatever that is!)

However, I have tried other methods. I know Joy Dingwell used to hand-write on the right side of a lined notebook—mainly all dialogue—then she’d go back and handwrite on the left side of the lined notebook the emotional bits, the scenery, etc. and balloon each bit into where it should fit. When the handwritten notebook was complete, she’d edit, add, then type it all out on an old typewriter in what passed for MS format at that time.

I know of authors who have adapted a similar methodology with handwriting on the right side of a lined notebook (or unlined) and use different-coloured sticky-pad sheets containing handwritten emotion, scenery etc, high and low points, and stick them onto the left side of the notebook. At least with the latter, the sticky-pad sheets can be easily moved and switched around. When the current long-languishing MS is finally finished, I think I’ll give this method a try.

Others use a whiteboard—I think if I tried that, I’d end up erasing something deep and meaningful to be lost forevermore.

Then there’s Scrivener. Some authors swear by it. Others try it and decide it’s not for them. I bought the program with the intention of trialling it when the long-languishing MS finally travels through the ether to London. I even upgraded to the latest version. I’ll let you know how I go (just don’t hold your breath!).

I must admit I witness the published output of varying authors and wonder if they sleep. Writing must occupy every waking minute of their lives…or they have glorious brainpower whereby they key in the right words with the speed of light.

In conclusion, there is no right way. There’s only your way. Even so experimenting with different ways may work really well.

– Helen Bianchin

 

A long-time bestseller for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Helen Bianchin’s books are sold in 26 languages in more than 109 countries. Helen is much beloved in the romance writing community, and was RWA’s first-ever Hall of Fame author. She’s always been a huge supporter of new writers as well as established authors and still participates on the RWA email loops.

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk. Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA].

 

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A Writer’s Life: Social Media, self-doubt and creativity.

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk.  This peek into DB Tait‘s writing life first appeared in the October 2016 edition.  Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA]. 

db-tait

Social media, self-doubt and creativity

Back in 2004 when I started writing seriously, the internet was a great source of information about the craft of writing and a whole range of other writing-related issues. I started out not particularly wanting to write in romance as a genre, just wanting to write something. But I noticed that everything I wrote had a romance in it or a romantic theme. So I googled, found the Romance Writers of Australia, joined and found a great community of like-minded writers.

I learned a lot. Some things were invaluable, like point of view and avoiding head-hopping, and others were not so useful, like never use the word ‘was’ because this indicates passive writing (it doesn’t). I found out about the business, about editors and agents, and went to conferences. My work then was either erotica or erotic romance and I was published by some erotic lines in the US. Then I stopped writing. Or rather, I was still writing but unhappy with it because I listened to what was being said in the romance and erotic romance world and believed my writing wasn’t marketable (it probably was). Life also intervened with some personal challenges that took me away from writing. I also got a little (okay, a lot) bored with sex.

I knew I had to go back to my first love which was crime writing. But I couldn’t let romance go because I just naturally write stories where people meet and are drawn to each other. So I recreated myself as a romantic suspense writer, or as I prefer, a mystery writer with romantic elements (which is a bit of a mouthful).

I think my involvement with Facebook and other social media increased when I decided to get back to writing seriously. And then a curious thing happened. I started doubting myself again. Doubting myself is a chronic condition with me but I found social media made it worse. I saw other people discuss their work, including their work output, and knew I would never be able to achieve what they did. I saw people win dubious prizes and brag about their position on Amazon and wondered if I should be involved in that. Sometimes I did and then didn’t like myself. Other people marketed their work ferociously, which irritated me but also made me again wonder if I shouldn’t be doing that too.

I do like Facebook. I use it as a watercooler where I can chat with my friends. But I think it increases my anxiety and my sense of lack of achievement.  I start looking at my writing through the lens of Facebook not through the lens of my own creativity.

I am cursed (as are a lot of writers) with a vicious, troll-like internal editor who delights in subversion. I find social media feeds this troll and makes me doubt a lot about what I want to write and how I should or shouldn’t market it. The result is a terrible sense of immobility, a kind of ‘what’s the point’ attitude, which is so far from the sense of joy I had when I first started writing.

So what’s the solution? The first realisation I had is to understand I don’t have the personality to make Facebook or other social media part of my ‘brand’. I’m okay with chatting about the weather and world events, but once I start to think of myself as a brand and have to market my writing, I fall into a kind of existential despair. Other people thrive on creating a brand for themselves. I envy them on some level. I hate it.

The second realisation I had is to truly, at a deep level, write what I want to write. Yes, it’s important to pay attention to the market, but if the market doesn’t sing to you, don’t write for it. For me that means I’m at the romantic elements part of the genre.

My third realisation is to experiment. Never get so caught up in how one should write and what conventions one must follow that writing become a chore and a by-the-numbers dreary task.  I know that’s easy for me to say because writing is not my living (yet!) but I have left jobs when they become soul-destroying.

So, you may be seeing a lot less of me on social media. I’ll still be marketing my writing wares in my usual slapdash way and spending time around the watercooler, but increasingly I’ll be saying goodbye to anything that increases my self-doubt. I encourage you to look at what creates self-doubt in your life and get rid of it. We owe it to ourselves and to the fabulous stories we create.

– DB Tait http://dbtait.com/.

DB Tait has written in a variety of subgenres, including erotica, and now writes crime fiction with romantic elements. A longtime member of RWA, she has recently rejoined the RWA committee after many years of service in the past. Her next publication is Festive Deception, a Christmas novella out this month.

festive-deception

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk. Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA].

A Writer’s Life: Ditching Perfection

Today we are starting a new feature on the RWA blog, where we interview our members about their writing lives.   Today’s guest is Anna Hackett.  This column first appeared in this month’s Hearts Talk, the RWA newsletter.  So if you are a member, don’t forget to read it.  And if you aren’t, you might want to join, now that you’ve seen what you’re missing out on!

Anna-Hackett2-208x300When I started writing this article, I tried to think about the things I’d like to go back and tell my younger writer self. Little pearls of wisdom I wish I’d known when I first started writing. The list got a little long…and many of those things I think I just needed to experience and grow through as part of my journey as a writer.

But one thing stood out.

There is one thing that made a big difference in my writing career and it is the one thing I wish I could have realized sooner.

That thing: ditching the pursuit of perfection.

Now, many of us are conditioned to think we need to achieve perfection in our lives (especially women!) We think we need the perfect house, kept in the perfect condition, with our perfectly behaved kids, our loving, perfect marriage, our perfect, successful career and we have to look perfect while we’re doing all of that! We feel the need to be superwoman and have it all.

There’s a quote by Salvador Dali — Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it. He’s right. Deep down, we all know it.

As writers, we can fall into the trap of needing our writing to be “perfect.” It’s easy to do. When that story idea bursts inside our head, it seems flawless. It’s exciting, thrilling, gut-wrenching. It’s the best story idea ever! Then once we start putting the words to the blank page…well, the story never seems to come out as perfectly as what we had in our head. That’s when the pursuit of perfection becomes harmful. The doubts, the dreaded inner editor, all start whispering (or shouting) at us and suddenly we’re avoiding doing the writing, we’re agonizing over it, we’re procrastinating.

If we do manage to get the draft done, then that pursuit of perfection can have us endlessly editing and polishing—over and over—and we’re never quite finished. But it doesn’t stop there. The elusive pursuit of perfect can mean we never let our story out into the world. We worry it isn’t good enough, that we’ll receive criticism, rejections from agents and publishers, bad reviews from readers and reviewers, no sales. It can paralyze us from doing that thing we’re supposed to do—tell and share the stories inside us.

I don’t remember when I finally decided to give perfection a boot to the face, but it was the best thing I ever did. Suddenly, I was focused on just getting words out—any words, they didn’t have to be perfect or even good ones. Then I focused on editing until the story was done (not perfect!) Then I sent those stories out there as they were, for better or worse.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep learning, honing our craft, and improving. We should also always listen to trusted, constructive criticism that helps us become better writers. But if you keep waiting for your stories to be perfect, you’re letting good, great, wonderful, and pretty darn awesome stories get away.

If you’re waiting until your story is so amazing, so perfect that everyone will love it, no one will criticize it, and it’ll never get a bad comment…you’ll never begin, let alone finish.

So, don’t let your good, great and amazing pass you by.

Ditch perfection and begin.

– Anna Hackett [http://annahackettbooks.com]

Western Australian writer Anna Hackett is a mining engineer, a mother of two young sons, and a USA Today bestseller. She writes fast-paced action/adventure/sci-fi/romance. She’s published with Harlequin and Carina Press and now she’s self-publishing and writing up a storm.

 

Anne Gracie’s A Writer’s Life is a regular column featured in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly journal, Hearts Talk. Packed full of articles on craft, the publishing industry and interviews with romance authors, Hearts Talk is a valued and much-loved benefit to your RWA membership. If you’re not already an RWA member, join up here [http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/99/Join-RWA].

Author Spotlight, Georgina Penney…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Georgina and congratulations on the paperback release of ‘Fly In, Fly Out ’ which was previously released digitally as ‘Unforgettable You’ in mid-2014, can you tell us about the journey to paperback, please?

It was all a little blurry to be honest. My husband and I were in the process of an incredibly intense relocation from Brunei to Scotland, I hadn’t slept for a couple of days. There was also a bunch of other dramas as well, none of which I can remember right now! But the gist of it was that my editor at Destiny emailed me two hours before I was due to catch a plane and asked if she could call me on skype. I immediately thought it was something to do with my plan to do a nudie run wearing the merkin my lovely fellow writer Cate Ellink had sent me not long before. (Editors are obviously prescient.) Instead, I answered a call to be told my e-book was going into print. Some hours later, once the shock had worn off and it all began to sink in, a bunch of people were confronted with a manically grinning woman the entire flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Fly in Fly out 500 pix

What is the most exciting thing about moving from digital to paperback?

It’s all so different but I think the big thing has been the reaction of the non-writing, non-e-book reading people I know. All of a sudden my strange little pastime feels more real to family and friends. Seeing them get excited I think has been the most exciting thing!

‘Fly In, Fly Out’ is part of a series. Can you tell us about that?

Fly In, Fly Out is the first in a loose series of stand-alone novels that follow the Hardy and Blaine families who all started in the same place on Evangeline’s Rest, a fictitious winery near Margaret River. It was originally only meant to be one book and then the characters got all uppity and declared that they wanted more so I kept writing!

You’ve recently moved from one side of the planet to the other, how did that go? What’s it like living amongst the rich history and heritage of Scotland?

Stressful when it came to visas, packing, religious policemen in Brunei and worrying about missing flights! But that aside, incredibly disorientating. The strange thing is, that because Australia has a heritage linked to the UK, there’s the assumption that things will be culturally similar, but I’m finding Scotland as unique and new as I did Brunei or Saudi. There are all these new customs to learn, traditions to get my head around, never mind the local Doric dialect! I’m loving it though. The Scottish are wonderful and incredibly inclusive. I’ve already visited a bunch of castles, hiked a wee bit, ate far too much haggis (haggis mash is the BEST) and gone all mushy at the herd of hairy “coos” in the paddocks near to our house. I can’t wait until summer next year when we’re hoping to hike up some of the nearby mountains.

Our Aussie summer currently has us sweltering, how’s the weather in Scotland?

Is ‘horizontal’ a good way to describe weather?

You’ve lived in many countries, do you have a favourite?

This is going to have to be besides Australia because I miss it all the time. I love some aspect about everywhere I’ve lived, including Saudi Arabia, but I’ve got a particular soft spot for Bahrain. The people there are so lovely. It’s an island so it has this unique sea-breeze smell all year-round. There’s a lot of history going right back to Gilgamesh butting up against brand new malls and skyscrapers. You’re never bored!

Your novels are set in the West Australian wine region, and involves a family of wine makers, what is your tie to wine? Did it involve much research into the wine industry?

I spent a chunk of my childhood in the Margaret River region so it’s always been there in the background. Later my now husband and I used to travel down south a lot, visiting wineries, asking a whole lot of questions about the wine making process. (That’s what happens when you’re with a guy who trained for a while as a chemical engineer!) I also had a bit of help in that one of my friends worked as a sommelier for a while and finally… a bunch of reading. And wine tasting. Lots of wine tasting!

You’re one of the founders of the Naughty Ninjas, what’s it like to belong to a group who combine talents on a blog?

Hilarious! Somehow we managed to team up a bunch of ladies who are some of the funniest people I know, who write some of the best stuff I’ve read in romance. It’s like we all gravitated towards each other, pulled together by our mutual desire to swear and cackle and the weird and wonderful parts of the romance and erotica world. On a more practical level, being a part of a group so supportive is simply brilliant, especially around book launch time. It’s great to know you’ve got a bunch of friends who understand where you’re at and how crazy-neurotic you are for that first couple of weeks the book is unleashed into the wild. If anyone out there is thinking of starting a group, I’d really encourage them to. The key thing is just not to take things too seriously and to have a damn good laugh along the way.

Can you tell us about your current work in progress?

I’m currently working on a whole bunch of projects but the most immediate is a short story for an anthology featuring a bunch of amazing chick lit writers (Carla Caruso and Laura Greaves to name a few) that will be out this Australian autumn.

What does the future hold for Georgina Penney?

Well, I never did get around to that nudie run for Cate Ellink… and I do currently live on a property out in Scottish wilds… hmm. Otherwise, hopefully some stress-free staying in one place and some writing! I’m also going to be lucky enough to pop down to Australia for the Perth Writers festival in February this year and I’d love to catch up with any fellow romance and chick lit writers. I’ll be the swaying, jetlagged blurry-eyed broad trying to look like she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to books.

Thanks for joining us today, Georgina, and congratulations again on the release of ‘Fly In,  Fly Out’. Could you give us a peek at one of your favourite parts, please? 

What the hell?’

Jo Blaine’s motorbike helmet bounced off antique pine floorboards with a dull plastic thud as she took in the state of her Fremantle penthouse apartment.

This was so not the way she’d left it when she’d flown out to her offshore oil job in Mauritania. No way.

There was a rumpled tartan throw rug and a pillow on one of her cream leather couches, a bright-red coffee cup—her favourite damn coffee cup—was sitting on her hand-cut glass-and-jarrah coffee table and the books in her bookshelves looked as if they’d been rifled through.

She took a step further inside, kicking a pair of expensive-looking, size-fourteen men’s leather shoes out of her way, and immediately felt a cool breeze against her cheek.

The sliding door leading to the balcony was wide open, letting in the scent of a recent summer shower on bitumen. The sounds of distant traffic and boats going up and down the Swan River filtered in, an incongruous backing track to her growled exclamation.

Definitely not how she’d left it before.

‘Hello? Anyone here?’ She turned back around, narrowed eyes searching for a coffee-loving, couch-sleeping, male Goldilocks but only saw her massive silver Maine Coon cat, Boomba, who chose that moment to waddle past with a pair of men’s undies firmly clasped in his mouth. His fat furry backside moved side to side as he disappeared into the kitchen, where Jo could see stacked Domino’s pizza boxes on the counter. Her temper, always on a short fuse after a long, sleepless flight, began to sizzle and fizz as she put the clues together.

She only knew one man with size-fourteen feet. That same man had a key to her apartment and was about to experience the flaming wrath of a jetlagged woman. ‘Scott? Where the hell are you?’ She called out her best friend’s name as she kicked off her steel-capped boots and reached into her pocket for her phone. She held it to her ear, hearing nothing but dial tone, feeling herself getting more and more worked up.

Boomba waddled past her again, chirruping around his mouthful. His expression said clearly that as far as he was concerned, she should forget her house invader, admire the thing he’d killed and give him a pat.

‘And what the hell are you doing here, fuzz ball?’ Jo reached down and plucked the underwear out of his mouth, throwing it away. ‘You’re supposed to be at Amy’s. Want to tell me what’s going on?’ The cat gave her his usual entitled feline stare and then butted his head into her shin.

‘You’re no help.’ She walked through the living room, kicking a pair of socks out of her way, and stopped short in front of the vibrant blue-and-green abstract painting she’d bought last time she was in town. It was askew, as if someone had knocked it, and she felt something inside her snap.

This was not cool. Not. Cool. Her house was supposed to be empty. Her cat was supposed to be at her sister’s and there wasn’t supposed to be a … man anywhere within a good twenty metres of her right now, even if he was her best mate. She’d spent the last sixteen weeks surrounded by Y chromosomes and all she’d been looking forward to was a blessedly empty, male-free environment.

Scott finally answered, his tone suitably shocked. ‘Jo? What time is it over there?’

‘It’s eight in the morning. I’m home. In Perth. Where are you?’

‘Home?’ Scott’s deep voice momentarily took on choirboy heights he hadn’t achieved since pre-puberty. ‘You’re supposed to be on holiday in Brazil!’

Jo squeezed her eyes tightly shut. ‘Yes. Home. I cancelled the holiday because I wanted to be home. You know, that place I like to come when I’m not on some rusting oil rig in the middle of nowhere? You know that place? The place you were looking after. The place currently being lived in by someone who has feet the size of yours. The place currently containing my cat, who should be at Amy’s.’

‘Ahh. Yeah. About that.’

‘Yeah, about what? What the hell is going on?’

There was a moment of silence and then a dull thud as if something had been hit, quite hard. ‘I’ll explain, but it’s probably better I do it in person.’

‘What? Why? I just want an answer and I want it now!’

‘You’ll get one … just … just stay there. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes. We’ll get all this sorted out. I’m sorry, Jo.’

Jo scowled, turning around, taking in the disorder and feeling a renewed sense of outrage. ‘You bloody well better be. And bring me some goddamn coffee. I haven’t slept properly for days and all I wanted was to have a shower and fall into bed and instead—’

‘Ten minutes,’ he said with an edge of frustration in his tone that had better not be aimed at her. Given the mood she was in at the present moment, she’d be able to take Scott on one-on-one. They didn’t call her Krakatoa out on the rigs for nothing.

Jo hung up, looking around until her eyes settled on her bedroom door.

There was no way Scott would make it in ten minutes, let alone fifteen, and she was tired.

Shooing Boomba out of the way with her foot, she headed for her room.

The feeling of tiredness was blasted to smithereens the minute she pushed the door open, took in the contents of her bed and roared with rage. ‘Who the hell are you?!’

‘AAGGHH! Gnph.’ The very naked, very buff and all-over tanned blond man who’d until that moment been sleeping spread-eagled on her bed shouted in surprise, leapt to his feet, tripped over Jo’s cat and fell facedown on the floor.

Author Bio-

Georgina Penney lives with her wonderful husband, Tony in a cozy steading in the Scottish countryside. When she’s not swearing at her characters and trying to cram them into her plot, she can be found traipsing over fields, gazing and hairy coos and imagining buff medieval Scotsmen in kilts (who have access to shower facilities and deodorant) living behind every bramble hedge.

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Author Spotlight: Romantic Comedy novelist, Sarah Belle…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Sarah, and congratulations on the recent release of ‘Miss Spelled ’! Can you give us the blurb, please?

Lou’s life is perfect. She loves her job, her renovated house, and most of all, her gorgeous fiancé, Aidan. But when her old flame and Aidan’s school yard nemesis turn out to be the same person, Hunter Wincott, Lou’s life is blown apart. She must divulge her secret past, or have Hunter give it away. Either way, she runs the real risk of losing Aidan.

In desperation, she turns to Google. A quick search turns up Majique, the Internet Witch, and a spell that will delete herself from Hunter’s memory. But something goes wrong in the casting process, and Lou deletes much more than just a memory. She deletes herself from her life completely.

Luckily, there’s a one-week window for Lou to get back to the life she loved. One week to win back Aidan, before he walks down the aisle with the wrong woman and ruins their shared dream of happiness. It would be easy, if only Aidan had any idea who Lou actually is.

Miss Spelled

 What is ‘magical realism romance’?

I like the name Romagic Comedy. Not quite paranormal, not quite fantasy, this genre believes that magic is a part of the every day, and that there’s more to our lives than can be explained. It may involve time travel, casting a spell, imaginary friends, making a wish- it’s when extraordinary things happen to ordinary people in the world as we know it.

What is it about that particular genre attracts you as a writer?

The first book I read in the Romantic Comedy genre was Jenny Colgan’s ‘Do You Remember the First Time?’ It was about a woman who was dissatisfied with her perfectly organised life and woke to find herself a teenager again. Except she didn’t get to travel back to her own time as a teen (the 80’s) she had to survive being a teen in modern day. It was a great read and had me laughing out loud, while relating to many the issues she faced. I decided then that if I ever wrote a book (because everyone is going to write a book!), it was going to be in that genre.

How do you go about researching magical elements for your novels?

Google! So far I’ve researched time travel, imaginary friends and magic spells and it’s been great fun. I’ve learnt all kinds of stuff about moon phases, when to cast spells, when not to cast spells, theories of time travel, and the psychological / supernatural explanation for imaginary friends. It’s good to have an open mind. I am a believer in all sorts of things we can’t see or explain, so I find it quite fascinating and can bury myself in research for far too long.

What does your writing space look like?

I don’t have one at the moment. I use either the dining table, the outdoor dinner table, or my eldest son’s homework desk – depending on where I feel like sitting at the time. But no matter where I sit, my trusty Golden Retriever, Arrow is always sitting next to me. He’s my four legged muse.

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What would we find on your bookshelf or e-reader?

An eclectic mix of authors – Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole series is a favourite, as is the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson. I also love Shari Low, Georgina Penney, Lily Malone, Jenny Colgan, Maeve Binchy, and loads of craft books.

How do you manage your time between work, family and writing?

I am a great time manager. I divide things into what I can do with kids around, and what I can’t do with kids around. For instance, most of my writing time is sans kids. All housework is done when the kids are home. I work for my hubby one day a week and spend the rest of the time chasing after our four sons, cooking, cleaning, baking, etc – they do loads of sports so I am really more of a taxi driver nowadays!

Can you tell us about your current works in progress?

My current WIP, which is still nameless, is a contemporary story with romantic elements. It did start off as a story about an imaginary friend, however I decided to remove him and focus on a non-magical book for a change. I intend it to be the first one in a series of three or four books centred around the members of one family. The imaginary friend will appear in my next romagic comedy book instead.

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What does the future hold for Sarah Belle?

The immediate future holds nearly two months of school holidays – so not much writing will get done there! My goal is to extend into the women’s fiction with romantic elements market, while still writing romagic comedy. Next year my youngest will start school, so I am returning to University to study English and Creative Writing, and am very excited about that new chapter in my life.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Miss Spelled’, please?

Absolutely! In this scene Lou has stalked her ex boyfriend, Hunter Wincott to his hotel in the hope of him agreeing not to divulge their romantic past to her fiancé, Aiden. Hunter and Aiden are enemies from boarding school and so have a long history together. Lou is convinced that if Aiden is made aware of her past, he will cancel their engagement.

My nerves get the better of me and I turn to walk away. This was a stupid idea. Aiden needs to know the truth, no matter the cost. Honesty has to be the best way to go.

My mobile launches out of my sweaty hand and drops to the floor. None of my fingers seem to be working, my nerves are shot and eyes blurry with tears as I bend down to pick it up.

“Lou?”

The voice is unmistakeable, although the north London accent has thickened since our last conversation eleven years ago.

“Lou, is that you?” he asks again.

I look at the expensive men’s shoes in front of me, all the way up the exquisite woollen suit, to the incredibly handsome face at the top. Those sapphire eyes, thick black glossy lashes and slightly olive complexion. He’s still a sexpot.

Oh shit!

He crouches down on his haunches and places one strong, warm hand on my elbow. A shiver flashes through my body as though he is a live charge plugged into me. With the other hand he picks up the phone.

“Is this yours?” He smiles the same smile that seduced me all those years ago. The same smile that probably seduces countless other women as well. When you’re onto a good thing…

“Ah, um…yes. Thank you, Hunter,” I stammer. “What a coincidence!” My smile feels lopsided and a manufactured giggle catches in my throat.

  He helps me back up to a standing position and leaves his hand on my elbow, his current  still passing through my body.  A huge void has developed between my brain and mouth. All I can do is stare and feel myself overheat, almost forgetting the reason for my journey here.

 His eyes run all over my body as he puts the other hand on my arm and looks at me as though my body is a fine piece of artwork he is thinking of acquiring, just trying to figure out which room it would look best in.

“Lou,” he says in the deep voice that is an aphrodisiac in itself. “You look good enough to eat…slowly.”

Yep, he still has the touch. All the moisture in my mouth evaporates and reappears under my armpits.

Hunter takes a step closer and I feel my body being enveloped in his strong, thick arms, the kind of arms that appear on the cover of romance novels. As tall as Aiden, but broader and stronger in frame, like a rugby player. I can feel every contour of his athletic body beneath his shirt. Momentarily, it’s not possible to remember my own name. It’s as though it was yesterday we were together.

He takes a small step backwards, enough so that we are no longer embracing but still in each other’s personal space.

“I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought of you over the years. How are you?” he says.

I clear my throat and tell my heart to slow down, and my loins to stop quivering.

“I’m good, great in fact. Thanks. And you?”

“Life has treated me very well. What a coincidence to meet you here. Do you have time for a drink, dinner perhaps?”

I check my watch to make it look as though I have something planned. It’s past nine o’clock.

“A very late dinner?” Hunter asks and then gives me the smile that no sane woman can resist.

 “I…uh…”

“Just you and me. I’ll organise it.” He waves over the concierge, who scurries towards us. “A table set up in my suite, fresh seafood for two. Make sure there’s an icy bottle of Krug Vintage waiting. An eighty-eight if you have it.”

“Yes sir, very good.”

Hunter turns back to me and smiles. Should I run out the foyer and flee for my life, or stay and run the risk of being charmed to death, especially in his room of all places. He was like a magician when it came to bedrooms. One wave of his warm hand and my panties used to disappear.

“What about the restaurant?” I say. “Can’t we eat there?”

“Are you afraid you won’t be able to resist me, Lou?” he smiles.

Author Bio

Sarah Belle started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in some of the roughest hotels in Melbourne in the late Eighties, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and went on to work in the recruitment industry where she met and married the man of her dreams. They have four young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, writer, Bikram Yoga devotee, a Naughty Ninja and the only woman in a house of five males.

Sarah Belle

 

 

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On a separate note, this will be my last post as the Author Spotlighter. After nearly two years of writing the spotlight the time has come for me to focus on my University studies, family and writing. Many thanks to all the wonderful authors who have appeared on the Spotlight during my time here. I have made so many new friends within this community thanks to the volunteering opportunity the RWA provided. Wishing you all a peace filled Christmas and a New Year full of love, laughter and light. xxx

Author Spotlight: Historical Romance novelist, Elizabeth Ellen Carter…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Elizabeth and congratulations on the release of ‘Warrior’s Surrender’. What was your inspiration behind Warrior’s Surrender?

I wanted to explore the theme of a woman who has lost everything returning home to find everything changed. How would she cope with going home and find nothing remained of her previous life? Moreover, she is forced to wed a man she who she considers her enemy.

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What is it about that particular time period that attracts you as a writer and has this period always held your interest?

I have always had fascination for the medieval period. One of my favourite books is Life In The Year 1000 which took historic records of the time to build a picture of what a calendar year in Medieval England was like.

There are so many myths about the Medieval period – they were primitive, smelly, stupid – but that is so far from being the case. Academia flourished, monasteries dedicated to science established the principles of scientific method based rationale that a rational God created a rational world that could be understood rationally.

I also wanted to create a realistic and relatable setting for Warrior’s Surrender

How do you go about researching your novels so as to make setting and events authentic?

I always start with the premise that whether you’re looking at life today, 100 years ago, 1000 years ago, people live, laughed, loved, fought, just as we do today, the only thing that changes is technology. So I look at what people used. What did their beds look like? What about the flooring? Cups… plates… transportation… eating… all of it provides opportunity to add richness to a story by describing what your character see and how they interact with their environments. The internet really has changed the world, there is so much material from universities and specialist societies, it really has made research so easy and such a pleasure.

To add further authenticity, I like to add real historical figures and foreshadow actual historical events. In Warrior’s Surrender, real historical figures include William Walcher, the Bishop of Durham whose lasting legacy is Durham Cathedral, another figure is Ligulf of Lumley, a Saxon Earl who warned of an impending Scottish invasion which was largely ignored by Walcher – and it led to a bloody end for the both of them…

What is your favourite historical event during the Medieval Period

Although set much later than Warrior’s Surrender, my favourite historical event in the Medieval period was the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. That one document, limiting the powers of the monarch and paved the way to the parliamentary democracy we enjoy today.

What does your writing space look like?

Umm, er, actually it’s a mess. I don’t write there anymore. When I get some holidays I’m going to file away all the taxpapers and receipts and reclaim my desk. Now I write on the sofa with my feet up.

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How do you manage a busy full time career with writing?

It takes a lot of organisation. I’m so pleased to have a supportive husband. When I’m full on writing mode, I write for three hours a night during the week and up to 12 hours over a weekend. Needless to say, I don’t have much of a life!

What would we find on your book shelf / e reader?

A mixture! I’m re-reading I, Claudius and Claudius The God by Robert Graves for my next full-length historical romance which will be set in the 3rd Century AD. In the same vein The Barbarian Bride by Eva Scott is on my list. For a complete change of pace, I’ll be reading Honor’s Debt by Noelle Clark and Engaging The Enemy by Susanne Bellamy on my Christmas break.

Which authors have been your biggest inspiration?

Oh, so many! Anna Campbell, Rebecca Brandewyne, Julie Garwood are the big names in romance. But I have to confess, I get inspired by every book I read, every author has created something wonderful and unique and I love to understand how they create their stories.

Can you tell us a bit about your works in progress?

I’m part of a Christmas anthology called A Season To Remember with Noelle Clark, Susanne Bellamy and Eva Scott. It will be a free download for Christmas. It’s been a pleasure to work with these amazing authors.

I’m currently writing a short story for a Valentine’s Day anthology for my publisher, Etopia Press, called Moonstone Promise, it is part of the late-Georgian set Moonstone Obsession universe and gives a happily ever after to one of my favourite supporting characters, Toby Jackson, the friend of Moonstone Obsession hero Sir James Mitchell.

I have a full length sequel to Moonstone Obsession called Moonstone Conspiracy that will be going to my publisher soon, for consideration. I take one of the villains from the first book, Lady Abigail Houghall who is transformed ‘from a Jezebel to a Rahab’ to become an English spy during the French Revolution.

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If ‘Warrior’s Surrender’ was to be made into a movie, who would be your ultimate cast?

I love this question!

My dream cast is:

Hero Sebastian de la Croix: Ian Somerhalder

Heroine Alfreya of Tyrswick: Julianne Hough

Villain Lord Drefan: Simon Baker

Heroine’s Man-at-Arms Larcwide: Kevin Sorbo

Heroine’s maid/companion Diera: Margot Robbie

If there are any producers out there looking for a great property, then this it is. Trust me, real “Boffo” (box office success guranteed). Er, sorry about that, I got a little carried away!

Finally, could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Warrior’s Surrender’, please?

I’d love to! I have so many favourite parts!

Here is the set up: Sebastian and Alfreya are part of a search party looking for a missing shepherd and his son after severe spring floods. The father has been saved but the boy has been swept down the swollen river…

As Frey rounded the bend, only a couple of hundred yards away from the roiling junction of the tributary and river, she saw that Sebastian had overtaken the fallen tree, but only just.

Before she could catch her breath, Sebastian leaped at the tree.

He made an unsteady landing on the trunk, the action propelling the tree toward the other bank, where overhanging branches impeded its forward progress. The young boy’s hysterical screams grew louder as Sebastian edged himself nearer and stretched out his arm.

Fear for her love, —this man who was hers, heart, mind, body, and soul, —beat a relentless tattoo against Frey’s ribs. Over the roar of the rushing water, she could see him speaking words of encouragement to the lad who clung to a limb in a deathly grip. The child reached out to him and, in a swift movement, Sebastian hauled the boy onto the trunk.

She could see the youngster was badly cut and grazed, and the tree rocked with the movement, threatening to throw them both back into the water.

 “Frey!” Sebastian called, his voice even, but his expression tight. “Get a line over here now! It’s not going to hold.”

Her? But what could she do that he in all his strength could not?

Her hesitation was only fleeting, but it was observed by Gaines, who was the first to catch up with them. Frey could see the expression of disgust that flitted across his face as their eyes met. Gaines hated her, that much was clear, despite the effort she had made to be a good wife to Sebastian and to unite Tyrswick.

She raised her chin. No matter what he thought of her, she was the baroness and, by God, she would use every inch of her authority.

“Rope! Now!”

 

Author bio:

A future with words was always on the book for Elizabeth Ellen Carter who started writing her own stories when she ran out of Nancy Drew mysteries to read when she was 10. Using her mother’s Olivetti type writer with the italic keyboard, she spent endless school holidays making up her own stories and then using the Dewey Decimal System to arrange and categories her bookshelf.

Somewhere around the age of 13 she determined to become a journalist and at 17 was awarded a cadetship to the Gold Coast Bulletin. She covered news, council, education, health but had the most fun as the paper’s entertainment and features reporter covering film, TV and music. Best of all she met her husband there and together they started a small award-winning media, marketing and advertising agency and now she works as marketing manager for an international organic skin care company.

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Author Spotlight and $10 Amazon gift card giveaway: Noelle Clark

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Noelle, and congratulations on the recent release of ‘Honor’s Debt ’! Can you give us the blurb, please?

On a quest to make amends for a long-ago indiscretion, Honor unexpectedly discovers the one thing she’s been missing in her life.

Honor Quirk arrives in Ireland excited—and a bit anxious—about meeting up with the estranged family of her late great-grandmother. The welcome from the residents of Robinhill Farm, Dermot and Bryan, is confusing and far from comforting. One is warm, the other aggressive. The outwardly antagonistic Bryan makes it very clear he doesn’t want her there, branding her a gold digger.

Dermot, on the other hand, is delighted to meet her.

But Honor is no pushover and stands up to Bryan, letting him know that his bad attitude and trail of baggage have nothing to do with her. Despite their confrontational and hostile relationship, an undeniable attraction to each other creeps insidiously into the house on Robinhill Farm. They both desperately try to stifle the sparks, but living under the same roof makes it impossible. Unable to cope with the turmoil of living with Bryan, Honor runs away, straight into the arms of a charming newfound friend, Sean, who offers her a home—and love.

Shattered, Bryan finally takes control of his irrational belief that all women are evil, and fights to bring back the woman he loves. But is it too late?

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Your novels are set far and wide across the world: Cambodia, Italy, Brisbane, Ireland, and China. How important is location, and how important is it to describe those locations and cultures accurately?

I love selecting places I’ve been to, and fallen love with, for my stories. I set my heroines, and sometimes my heroes, in unfamiliar surroundings as I believe that we behave differently when we have to deal with new challenges—such as solitude, language, social mores, and cultures—than we do when we are in our comfortable hometown environment. There’s something about the human psyche that suddenly bursts into life, blooms if you like, when there’s a prospect of something new and different. We are more open to change when everything around us is fresh and exciting.

Apart from personal experience of places, I undertake research to ensure I give the reader an authentic taste of a place or culture. When other languages are involved, or even slang, I always enlist the help of someone from that place to check that I’ve got it right. I visit restaurants, cook authentic meals—I even did a course in Italian language for Rosamanti. But it’s the visits to the place that are the best way to pick up the aromas which will add spice to your tale, to spot the blossoms that will decorate your story, to get to know the people who your readers will fall in love with, and to infuse the story with all the elements of the senses.

Do you have a favourite location/culture, or part of the world?

This is a hard question. But to pick one, I would go with the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. There’s a little seaside village there called Carnlough that is just beautiful and I’d like to set a story there.

You write both contemporary and historical romance. What are the best parts of each?

I’ve only written one full length historical to date – Stone of Heaven and Earth. It’s not romance although it’s a bittersweet love story. Research is the best part. That and bringing characters to life so that you feel you know them. I love doing research as much as my dogs love liver treats. Can’t get enough of it. But even writing contemporary romance, there still needs to be a degree of research to ensure that the setting, time, and the way the characters behave, are accurate.

 ‘Stone of Heaven and Earth’ is set during the period of 1914-1929 in both Brisbane and China. How did you go about researching historical accuracy for this novel?

This book is based on fact so I had some basic major plot items to begin with, and some primary documents such as letters and photographs. I contacted the head of a study conducted by Bristol University in the UK whose specialty is one of the major areas of interest in my book. He was very helpful, gave me lots of information and resources. I travelled to China and spent time there trying to piece together the story whilst dealing with the massive changes that have occurred in China since the beginning of the last century. I had two eye witnesses too, but sadly they both passed away a few months ago. The bits of the story I couldn’t validate, I made up, ensuring they are historically accurate in the political climate of the day.

Your heroines are mature women and heroes who usually don’t know they are ready for love. What is it about this combination that inspires you?

For many people, love the first time around doesn’t work out. There’s a good chance it will work out the second time around, mainly because people are older, wiser, and find the right person. Putting my heroines in a different, challenging, or even dangerous setting, can set off a series of inner changes. The light bulb moments when they change tack and move forward in another direction. In fiction, the hero happens to be there at exactly the right moment, and he too discovers that change can be a good thing.

Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a particular soft spot for one?

Oh yes. Pietro Lombardi from Rosamanti is my ultimate hero. He’s not alpha, not particularly rugged – in fact he’s a chef, he sings while he’s cooking, he sings love songs to his pet goat Geraldina, he doesn’t mind shedding a tear when something moves him, and he’s beautiful on the inside as well as outside.

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What has your path to publication been like? How important is it for writers to learn their craft properly?

My first published book, Let Angels Fly, was accepted by US small digital-first publisher, Etopia Press. They’ve since published a further three books of mine. Honor’s Debt, which released on November 13th, was contracted by Secret Cravings Publishing. They’ve also bought books two and three of the Robinhill Farm series. I’ve learned so much since my first book. When going through publisher edits, I add my repeated errors/styles to a list and in each successive book I check for those. It’s vitally important to learn from the editors and try to never repeat the same things book after book.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Join organisations such as the RWA; go to conferences; network with peers; and do as many courses as possible.

When you’re not writing, what would we find you doing? How do you relax?

I’m always writing, or editing, or blogging, or networking with other writers on social media. I retired last Christmas from a lengthy career and now I’m a full time writer and I take it seriously. I relax by playing in my veggie garden, walking my little dogs, and I spend quite a lot of time with my five very small grandchildren.

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Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Honor’s Debt’, please?

Here’s an extract from Chapter 5 of ‘Honor’s Debt’ – Book 1 in the Robinhill Farm Series.

The sound of a noisy vehicle coming to an abrupt stop outside made them both look up.

“That’ll be himself now.” Dermot stood, the smile that seemed to so easily grace his face suddenly gone. He went to refill the kettle then, as if on impulse, turned back to look at her. “Now, don’t you go worryin’ about Bryan, okay?”

The kitchen door opened and a shadow fell into the room. Honor glanced up to see the doorway totally filled by the silhouette of a tall, muscular man wearing dark clothing. His features were impossible to see, but a shiver rippled its way up her spine as the hulking figure oozed bad vibes in her direction. He didn’t move, just stood there.

The room seemed to tremble as his deep, resonant voice entered the small space of the kitchen.

“So, if it isn’t the crazy English tourist who can’t drive. I take it you’re lost now, and asking for directions.” He paused and his dark gaze flicked from Dermot’s to hers, obviously taking in the scene before him. “Well, if this isn’t a picture of perfect domesticity. Bacon and eggs?” His mocking tone stung and he stood, still blocking the doorway.

She glanced at Dermot whose face showed no trace of the relaxed, affable man of a few minutes ago. Instead, he looked at her for a second then over at the man in the doorway.

“Oh won’t ye come in now Bryan. Come and meet Honor.” Dermot reached over and picked up another cup and saucer from the sideboard behind him and placed it on the table. His voice was somehow different. “There’s still another cup in the pot.” He picked up the teapot and swilled its contents around, then poured it into the empty cup. The air in the kitchen had suddenly got very cold.

Slowly, the hulk in the doorway moved and entered the room. She gasped as she recognized him. The jet-black, short-cropped hair and beard, the strong jawline, those black eyes…now she understood what he meant about the mad English woman. A shiver ran through her as she realized that things had, all of a sudden, taken a turn for the worse. Ill-humor darkened his face, his eyes smouldered with disdain, and his countenance was most unfriendly. She took a deep breath and, even though her knuckles under the table were white from squeezing, her voice came out strong.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you at last, Bryan.” She extracted one hand and held it out to him, hoping he wouldn’t notice the slight tremor of her fingers. A flash of uncertainty showed in his eyes, ever so slightly. Good, he’s not as tough as he’d like to think.

His large paw reached out and took hers to give it an almighty squeeze. She couldn’t tell if the pain was meant to be a punishment, or whether he always shook hands like that. Whatever it was, it was certainly a different welcome from the warmth and affection she’d received from Dermot. She stared at his long fingers, the dusting of black hairs on the back of his hand and his olive skin.

“Here, Bryan.” Dermot handed him the cup and saucer. Bryan released her hand and wrapped it delicately around the fine china. The man’s a litany of opposites, she thought, vacillating from harsh to gentle in a heartbeat.

“Can I cook you some breakfast?” Dermot’s friendly smile was back. Honor breathed a sigh of relief and took a sip of tea.

Bryan pulled out a chair and sat down opposite her, staring at her with a mixture of loathing, curiosity and familiarity. Dermot busied himself at the gas range and the sound and aroma of bacon sizzling on a hot pan once again filled the small kitchen.

“Honor.” His voice, deep, almost a growl, sounded like it came from way down in his boots. “I’m truly sorry about your car. I’ll pay to have it fixed.” There was no doubting the sincerity of his words. Relief swept through her. She glanced at Dermot who, although curious, seemed obviously pleased that Bryan was now being sociable.

Her shoulders relaxed slightly. “Those narrow roads are really something, aren’t they?” She held his black eyes with hers, never blinking. “I appreciate your apology, but I think the insurance will cover it.”

A deep frown transformed his face. Did she imagine it, or did he glower at her now? Maybe he’s not used to women standing up to him, she thought.

Dermot broke the awkward silence as he placed a plate, piled high with shiny, steaming bacon rashers and fried eggs, in front of Bryan. “I’ll make ye some toast.”

Bryan’s eyes held hers as he responded. “Thanks, Derm. I could eat a horse.” A small sigh escaped his lips and he broke the intense gaze and turned his eyes to the meal before him. He grabbed the knife and fork and attacked the food.

The kettle on the gas hob began to whistle, the toaster popped, and the telephone rang. Honor, breaking her fixated stare at this brutish man, snapped into action. She grabbed the teapot, whisked off its woollen jacket and took it over to the kettle. While she busied herself adding tea leaves and filling it with boiling water, she glanced back over her shoulder. Bryan shovelled food into his mouth as though he hadn’t eaten in weeks. Dermot chatted on the phone, something about a delivery of lucerne bales. She placed the now filled teapot on the table, grabbed the toast and placed it next to Bryan.

He looked up at her and again their eyes held. This time, though, she noticed that some of the fire had gone out. In fact, he appeared tired. Exhausted. There were fine lines etched at the corners, near the place where his thick, dark brows ended and his beard began.

“Your eyes. You have Dermot’s eyes.”

She stared, unblinking, as his deep voice resonated in her ears. It was as though he had two personalities, she mused. For some strange reason, she felt a surge of tenderness for this aggressive, bad-tempered, beast of a man.

aac

 

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Noelle is kindly gifting one $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky reader. To be in the running all you have to do is sign up for Noelle’s newsletter during the duration of this competition. The link is here or here.

The winner will be drawn at random and announced here. This competition is open world wide.

 

Thank you for taking part in our Author Spotlight, Noelle!

Thanks so much for having me, Sarah.

Author Spotlight: Sexy Contemporary Romance novelist, V. K. Black…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, V.K and congratulations on the release of ‘Unexpected Places’. Can you give us the blurb, please?

One treasure map; a pair of priceless emeralds; two very keen hunters — only one can win, but who says that competition can’t be a little fun?

When sweet, pretty Ariana Noonan knocks out treasure hunter Luke Donahue with a champagne bottle and steals his treasure map, he vows to get his map back, find the missing priceless emeralds…and exact a fitting revenge.

When Luke finally discovers Ariana in a dingy hotel on a remote tropical island, she’s in desperate straits and he finally gains the upper hand. Of course he will rescue her. His price? They act on the attraction that’s been simmering between them from the very beginning.

But all is not as it seems, and Luke’s sexy bargain turns up not only an unbelievable secret, but Ariana’s reasons for wanting the emerald. Suddenly, nothing is clear-cut anymore, and map or no map, Luke and Ariana are sailing into uncharted territory.

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You write what you like to read, which is sexy romances with open bedroom doors. How have sexy romances changed in recent times to become more mainstream?

I really don’t know the answer to this one. The romance world, of course, has been enjoying sexy romances for ages. But the mainstream world? My bridge club is a good example of mainstream society. We have a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey in the bridge library. Lots of Nora Roberts. Danielle Steele. No HM&B though. In the members’ attitudes to me, I haven’t experienced contempt or rude questions about when I’m going to write a “real” book. There seems to be a genuine admiration of and interest in the fact that I write and am published. There’s amusement about the sexy bit. Quite a few members have bought my books.

Who are your favourite sexy romance authors and what impact have they had on your writing.

There are a few authors who are automatic buys for me. Maybe my favourite is Kelly Hunter, closely followed by Heidi Rice. I really enjoy the tone of their books, their voices. There’s a light-hearted readability about their books I admire, and which I think has influenced my writing. There’s lots of other authors too. Melanie Milburne, Abby Green, Lynne Graham, Kristan Higgins, Julie James. And at the hot end of town, Cherise Sinclair and Lexi Blake. 

You write in a number of genres, do you have a favourite?

Contemporary is my favourite genre, although I love World War Two historicals too.

Do you think that writing in different genres has improved your writing skills? Are there any other genres you are going to work in?

I guess by simply writing, your writing tends to improve. And by reading craft books. And by reading other authors’ books with an eye to their craft. When I re-read my first book, Lies and Seduction, a World War Two historical, I scrunch up my nose in a couple of places, as I’ve written things I wouldn’t now – although I still think the book is fun and a good read. I’m not sure if writing across the genres has improved my writing, except by keeping myself fresh, perhaps. There’s a World War Two/Time Travel in the wings.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?

Read, play bridge (though more for the chatty fun – goodness, some of those bridge players get serious!), go to exercise classes, which means chat with friends at coffee afterwards, cook (eat) spicy food. Love curries. A nice glass of chardonnay of course helps with that relaxing.

Can you tell us about your current work in progress?

It’s another sexy contemporary, set on an island in the Great Barrier Reef. Originally, I wrote it as a short story told entirely from the man’s point of view. But the two publishers I submitted to both wanted to hear about the heroine’s story as well. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’ve had to change the heroine’s character, because as a damsel in distress she wasn’t terribly interesting. Although I rather enjoy reading about distressed damsels being rescued by big strong bad boys. Okay, it’s the big, strong, bad boys I’m interested in…

What does the future hold for Victoria Black?

It’s actually V.K. Black these days. I used to be the one and only Victoria Black, Author, out there, but there are heaps of us now, one of whom writes Wow, O.M.G., taken-by-the-team-you-get-my-drift erotica. I mean, what would the bridge club say? Hence the name change.

What I enjoy writing most, and what I’d like to investigate with a view to publishing, is short stories. I know everyone is self-publishing these days, but I’m so bad with technology, I’m really nervous about dipping my toe into that pond. Travelling is also on my agenda. Two months eating and drinking my way around the U.K. has but whetted my appetite.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Unexpected Places’, please?

This excerpt is from early in the first chapter, where Luke is about to meet Ariana.

Luke watched with interest as she approached him. He’d noticed her earlier, when he’d been chatting with his dad’s old secretary. A tiny, pretty little thing—the approaching blonde, not Mrs Abercrombie. She’d been standing all alone, gulping her wine. Then her attention had suddenly fixed on him. She’d started on the long approach, unaware, he was sure, that he knew she was coming.

There’d been the noise at Bob’s door last week. Someone had been listening, he was sure of it, and that person knew all about the missing emeralds and the map. He’d been expecting a stranger to approach him at some point, all week. And well, well, here she was. Another girl. Another one of Changpu’s little off-siders.

Of course, he could be misjudging her. Maybe she was a pretty girl who wanted sex badly, and had lousy timing. But he didn’t think so. There was a steely purpose behind the way she was currently stalking him.

Again, an unfamiliar fury rose within him. For Changpu to follow him into his own company was the final straw. He’d played nice up until now. He’d been a perfect gentleman to Mai Ling. But no more. Neither the old man nor this little employee of his could expect any mercy. Luke traced the still-painful line of his scar beneath his shirt.

His eyes roved leisurely over her sweet curves, enjoying the enticing bounce of her white breasts revealed by her sexy black dress. It hugged her trim little body and came to rest at her knees. Her femininely curved hips swayed with the help of heels that must be adding inches to her height. Pretty green eyes fixed on his face. Her cute half-smile, half pout drew her lovely full lips up at their corners.

Clenching his teeth, Luke felt the muscle tick at his jaw. His stomach tightened for battle. But, to his surprise, his cock rose in enthusiastic greeting. Luke smiled, enjoying the widening wariness of her eyes, enjoying how his fury and desire for revenge had mixed into a heady, potent cocktail of lust. Grabbing a glass of the cheap champagne they were serving tonight, he stepped toward her, crowding her.

He smiled again. Or at least did his best, forcing his lips to curl up into something approximating genuine warmth. “Hi. I’m Luke. Would you care for a glass of champagne?”

Victoria

 

Author Bio: V.K. Black is from Queensland, Australia. She loves tropical islands, snorkelling on the Barrier Reef, good wine and hot spicy food. Amazingly, all of these appear in Unexpected Places (published by Escape Publishing). Sadly, treasure maps and priceless emeralds have been in short supply in her real life, so she has written a story about them.

As well as her action/adventure contemporary, Unexpected Places, V.K. Black has written an erotic fantasy/sci fi called Heavenly Revenge (published by Secret Cravings) and a World War Two historical called Lies and Seduction (published by Cobblestone Press.) There is a unifying theme. They are all fun sexy romances, with a handsome hero and a lovely heroine.

V.K. Black has been a member of RWA for many years now, and enjoys the company of her fellow RWA members at her monthly Sultry Scribes writers’ meeting.

Web links

Website: victoriablacksexystories

Blog: victoriablacksexystories

Facebook: V.K. Black

Twitter: @VKBlackAuthor

Goodreads: Unexpected Places

Buy link: Escape Publishing

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Erotic / Fantasy novelist, Rhyll Biest…

Editor’s note: This post contains content unsuitable for people under the age of 18 due to sexual content.

 

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Rhyll and congratulations on the release of ‘Unrestrained ’. Can you give us the blurb, please?

When the reclusive Holly Unthanks finds some very naughty photos, both the star—a muscular Teutonic god with some serious ink and a knack for knots—and the way he’s tied his lady friend to his four-poster bed, make her more than a little curious. But to get to know the big, built stonemason better, she’ll have to overcome his vengeful ex and her own inhibitions—and pray that the walls she’s built around her guarded heart and dark secret remain safe from a man who has a way with stone.

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Can you tell us the differences between erotic romance, erotica, and sexy romance, please?

Different authors might disagree with my definition of the differences, but to me a ‘happy ever after’ or ‘happy for now’ are optional in erotica whereas they’re not in romance. And in erotic romance sex is an essential plot element (e.g. trigger for character development and conflict) whereas this isn’t the case in sexy romance (no matter how much heartfelt boffing goes on). For example, because Unrestrained is an erotic romance, whether Holly can move past her inhibitions is an important plot element (and a happy ending depends on it).

Erotic romance has certainly taken off as a genre in recent years, why do you think that it has taken so long to become mainstream?

My theory is that once e-books and e-book readers such as Kindle became ubiquitous, this allowed women to consume/purchase what they wanted without being slut-shamed at the library or bookstore.

Some readers hold the perception that erotic romance is just about sex, but it’s more than that. What else will a first time reader find in an erotic romance?

Because sex is an important plot element (i.e. either a trigger for character development, relationship change, conflict, or a crucible – something that prevents the couple from leaving one another) I often find the sex scenes in erotic romance a lot more meaningful (story-wise and for characters) than those in stories where they’re inserted to spice things up or for pacing reasons. In other words, because sex is an important plot element, the sex in erotic romance is emotionally charged rather than mindless bonking.

Also, human sexuality is such a highly emotive and fascinating subject, with a million different facets and variations with every individual—the character and dynamics possibilities are endless. Good erotic romance explores that variety, and the highs and lows of sexuality, and—most importantly—the vulnerability people experience when it comes to sex. Sexuality issues also seem a very realistic and natural romance plot conflict to me, and less artificial than say, for example, a secret baby or mistaken identity. I think erotic romance also offers writers a lot of freedom in terms of genre boundaries, which means there are some really unique characters and stories out there.

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You write about heroes and heroines with unusual occupations. Which has been the most interesting and why?

I do love unusual occupations, it’s true. I think stonemason is the most interesting one I’ve written about so far, and I really enjoyed researching the different types of stone, tools and techniques involved. To me it’s a type of craftsmanship close to art (sculpture) and because I’m a hobby artist learning about materials and methods appealed.

You’ve lived in many different countries, do you have a favourite? What was it about that place that made it endearing to you?

Prague was my favourite city to live in because it’s so very beautiful, cultured and historic. I don’t know that ‘endearing’ is the right way to describe the Czech Republic but I certainly enjoyed my time there.

I love that you write about things that don’t always happen in real life, but should, such as the plain looking girl getting the hot guy. How have your readers responded to this change of character stereotype?

I think readers have always loved that sort of thing, think of Mr Rochester and ‘plain’ Jane Eyre. It’s pretty common in popular culture, too, and I’ll confess that I’m totes waiting for Oliver to fall for ‘plain’ Felicity in the TV series Arrow. I don’t see anything wrong with authors or scriptwriters offering their audience a bit of wish fulfillment. After all, who else is going to offer it?

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You are the co-founder of the Naughty Ninjas. Can you tell us a bit about being part of a ninja group?

Being a ninja is awesome as I can always count on my fellow ninjas for tips, ideas, shameless pimping, merkin discussions, encouragement and support. Being a writer/author can be tough at times, so it really helps me to know that a half dozen ninjas have got my back. Plus they’re all funny, creative and filthy—my favourite kind of friends.

What is your current WIP about and what does the future hold for Rhyll Biest?

I’m currently writing book two in a saucy fantasy series about demons. My spiritual guide assures me that writing about sex and demons will keep me young forever, so I feel that’s the way to go.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Unrestrained’, please?

Carving headstones for a living didn’t make him the Grim Reaper. He was just a man, a man being blackmailed.

To call or not to call? She hated that the very idea of doing it immediately made her skin prickle with discomfort, and that it wasn’t just the thought of the man himself that made her uncomfortable, but the physical act of calling him. It was hard to pass for normal, to be normal, with her almost pungent aversion to phones. Landlines, cell phones, business and personal calls, she hated them all and it wasn’t unusual to catch herself pretending she couldn’t get to the phone in time to answer it, or deliberately letting her cell phone batteries go flat, sometimes for weeks at a time. It had lost her many editing clients and yet still she did it. Because she remembered the shrill sound of her cell phone ringing and ringing while she was busy dying.

Don’t be a pussy, Holly. Man up.

She had to force herself to do it, to take out her phone, which actually had some charge left. Poor planning on her part. Her fingers misdialed twice on the suddenly too-small keys before she nailed the third attempt. Three rings, four rings, five. No answer. Maybe he’d changed his number to dodge the stalky, threatening Luisa. Maybe his hands were full of tombstone. Maybe he was busy tying someone up. Or perhaps he was ignoring the phone like normal people did now and then. Except there was nothing ‘normal’ or ‘like most’ about Herr Stein, the butcher of stone, and now there was no hiding the truth from herself, that his looks, his very being, intimidated her. Thoroughly. As well as everything else about him. His job. His name. That stare.

Fuckity-fuck.

“Stein.”

She hung up, the rich baritone reverberating in her ears. She focused on her hot chocolate as she replayed the sound. His voice was subterranean deep, wrapped in a harsh German brute of an accent. He’d uttered a single word, yet it had transformed him instantly from a picture to a flesh-and-blood man, a man she didn’t know, a man who didn’t look at all friendly, and who more than likely had an attitude to match his insanely powerful body.

Sweet splicing semicolons, Holly, you would have to be out of your gourd, bat-shit, flesh-eating crazy to get mixed up in this.

 

Author Bio: I’m an Australian writer of erotic romance published with Escape, Ellora’s Cave, Momentum and Mischief. Living in Prague, Shanghai and Germany as well as studying Russian and German have given me a taste for the exotic, and I populate my writing with sexy Soviet men, Teutonic hotties and alluring Aussie vixens. Yes, I’m host to the United Nations of Hotness (in my writer’s imagination, at least).

black ninja small copy

 

Web links

Website

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Facebook

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Buy link

Rhyll is kindly gifting one Ecopy of ‘Unrestrained’ to one lucky reader. To be in the running, all you need to do is leave a comment below.

 

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn one week after posting.

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Romance novelist, Iris Blobel…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Iris and congratulations on the release of ‘Love Will Find You’! Could you give us the blurb, please?

Can their new love survive the scrutiny of the public eye?

After his father’s heart attack, Australian Football League player Tyson Gaspaldi takes his parents on holiday to a small place at the New South Wales coast.

One morning, following a surfing session, he comes across a crying woman on the beach. Everything about her intrigues him, and he can’t walk away. She’s not only sexy and humble, but, as he soon finds out, vulnerable as well.

It’s only been a few months since Katie Cassidy lost her sister in a car accident.

Still overwhelmed by the loss, a chance encounter on the beach with an attractive stranger awakens unexpected emotions inside her. She’s instantly drawn to his caring nature, but also his looks.

However, Tyson’s past quickly catches up with them, causing Katie’s childhood demons to return, and the road to romance becomes anything but smooth.

LoveeBook

Is ‘Love Will Find You’ part of a series? Could you tell us about that?

Yes, Love Will Find You is the first book in the Australian Sports Stars Series. The readers will meet AFL player Ty Gaspaldi, Baseball player Oliver Dempsey, and Markus DeLeon, who plays Soccer. It didn’t start out as a series, but as I wrote Tyson’s story, I fell in love with Oliver and felt there was so much more to him than the few lines “he was given” in the first book.

How do you go about plotting a series?

I don’t really. I come up with an idea and it just flows with the characters developing and wanting their own stories told.

Your books have also been released in audio. Can you tell us about that process, and what it’s like to hear your book being read to you?

I’m afraid I’m not much help here. The production of the audio books was organised by my publisher.

And no, I haven’t listened to any of them. When I write my books, I have a very vivid imagination of how the character looks likes, talks, and even how s/he sounds like. Listening to a narrator “impersonating” this character might or could this.

What’s your current work in progress about?

There’s still Markus’ story to be told, but as I write this, I’m in Tumby Bay … lots of ideas already in my head about three friends who grew up in a small town. Having heaps of notes already and it’s just a matter of getting hold of my laptop again.

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What would we find on your book shelf or e-reader?

Lot’s of Jill Shalvis books, Lee Child and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I just started reading Robyn Carr’s first book in the Thunder Point series… and liking it.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Usually when we travel, I come up with all my ideas. When the setting is right, the story simply flows.

Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a particular soft spot for anyone?

I get this asked often… and I have to admit, it’s still Daniel from Sweet Dreams, Miss England. He’s such a charmer, I still love him.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Love Will Find You’, please?

As he struggled with his surfing board against the gentle breeze, he saw a woman sitting only a few feet away from him. Her body shook from her sobs as she wiped away her tears. It was none of his business, yet he stopped. He disliked the feeling of pity and helplessness creeping up on him. Inhaling a deep breath, he turned and walked towards her.

“Hi there,” he said quietly so as not to startle her.

She quickly wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and turned to him. Shading her eyes with the other hand, she echoed his greeting, “Hi.”

Ty’s gaze went out over the ocean before looking back at her. The thin long-sleeved shirt which hugged her curves nicely, and the cargo pants she wore, gave her a very casual, but sexy look. She smoothed a loose strand of her curly light brown hair behind her ear and met his gaze. Although teary and red, the beautiful green colour of her eyes shone through brightly. He knew he couldn’t walk away. He looked at her for a second or two, noticing the tight lines of her lips. Still, she had a beautiful mouth. Even though her lips were slightly swollen from crying, there was an urge inside him to touch them and find out what they felt or tasted like.

He sighed. Not that long ago he’d burnt his hands with a girl in his life and had sworn off the opposite sex, but there was something about the woman in front of him that drew him in and intrigued him. He’d always been a sucker for a lady in distress.

“Are you okay?” he asked, scratching his head.

Her mouth curved into a tentative smile. “Yes, I am.”

He frowned. “Was that sarcasm in response to a stupid question?”

“Yes, it was.”

Damn, she had a gorgeous smile that made his stomach tighten.

She didn’t offer more.

After a brief, but silent moment, he offered her his hand. “Tyson.”

She ignored his hand. “Nice meeting you, Tyson.”

He chuckled. “This is where you tell me your name.”

She let out a sigh as she looked away from him. It was a fine line he was walking. He was well aware of it. More than anything else, he wanted to help her. It was in his nature. She was hurt, and it seemed she was alone as well.

“Apologies, I didn’t mean to come on to you. But I’ve never been good with going past a girl who cries.”

“Does that happen often?” she asked as she turned back to him.

“Actually, no.” He laughed. “Only with my little niece.”

A tiny smile appeared on her face. “How old is she?”

Raising an eyebrow, he asked, “My niece? Turned four just a few days ago.”

She stared at him as he waited for her next question. Yet, it never came.

“I’m kinda getting cold here,” he said after a long moment. “Could I invite you for a coffee or tea?”

“No, but thank you for the offer. And thank you for caring.”

“Will you be here again tomorrow?”

A small sigh escaped her lips, and she shrugged slightly. “Not sure.”

He nodded and stood.

“It’s Katie,” she said as she stood as well.

Ty’s heart skipped a beat. “Nice meeting you, Katie.”

Author Bio:

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper only emerged a few years back, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as their dog. Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

 iris blobel

 

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Iris is kindly gifting one Ecopy of ‘Love Will Find You’. To be in the running all you have to do is leave a comment for Iris.

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn one week from posting date.

 

 

 

 

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