Ripping Start Finalists

It is with great pleasure that we announce (in alphabetical order) the finalists in the Ripping Start competition.

Congratulations and best of luck to:

Alexa Bravo

AJ Blythe

AJ Macpherson

Jo McAlister

Cassandra Pennington

Samantha West

The finalists’ entries will now go to the final judge, Deb Werksman, Editorial Director, Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Thanks, as always, to our volunteer judges and a huge thank you to Erica Hayes, who stepped in and did an enormous amount of unexpected work on this contest.

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Contemporary Romance novelist, Alexa Bravo…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Alexa, and congratulations on the release of ‘In Bed with the Boss ’!  Could you tell us about your road to publication?

Last year I decided to fulfil a lifelong dream and see Europe.  Of course, when I formulated my dream I was young, single and unencumbered but now I am not quite so young, not single and 3-children (plus a mother-in-law) encumbered!  Deciding I needed a boost to my finances I jumped on the idea of polishing up one of my many unfinished manuscripts and seeing what it could do.

In Bed With The Boss is a story I started writing around five years ago.  I was very fortunate that the story was accepted for publishing and released in May 2014.  My finances are still the same (huge reality check there!), but I get to share something I love to do with others, which has been an incredible journey so far.

BedBoss_Final (2) (392x600)

How would you describe your writing style? Which authors/ books have influenced you the most?

I am definitely not a planner.  I immerse myself in the story and once I can hear the characters in my head it’s almost like taking dictation.  Sometimes the twists in the story surprise me and once I made the mistake of not listening to the character’s voices because I wasn’t comfortable with a scene and this led to a two-month writing drought.  I am much more receptive to the muse now!  I edit as I go so by the time I finish a book it’s almost ready to send off.  I’ve yet to see, however, if this method will work for more complex plot lines.

I read prolifically and enjoy all types of genres, in particular historical romances.  Georgette Heyer epitomises romance for me and of course the magic of Jane Austen and her insights into human behaviour is a constant source of delight and awe.  For the contemporary romance genre, however I would have to say Jessica Bird (AKA J. R. Ward) is a favourite.

You’ve been writing since you were 12. Have you always wanted to be an author?

I’ve always loved writing, but putting words on paper to tell stories has never felt like a deliberate choice, more like a lifetime’s compulsion.  In my various “real” jobs I have always taken on complex writing tasks and have actually been working as a medico-legal report editor (one of my many tasks) for the last ten years.  Checking every minute detail of a lengthy legal document before it goes to court has taught me attention to detail so my manuscripts are generally pretty clean.  But it’s only been in the last twelve months that I’ve actually taken the leap into submitting my own work for publication.

You write contemporary romance. Are there any other genres that you are wanting to experiment with?

Start with what you know, is a piece of advice about writing that I’ve never forgotten, so beginning my writing career with what is familiar to me seemed to make sense.  My books are set in the corporate world which is my daily reality, although in my books there are a lot more handsome, available alpha men!  The familiar setting gives me a chance to focus more on plot and character development rather than research.

My favourite romance genre, however, has always been historical, so once I find my confidence as a writer, I hope to be able to write in that genre.  There are so many talented authors writing historical romance that it would epitomise success as a writer for me.

Tell us something about yourself that no one would guess.

I hold a master’s degree in psychology and for two years I co-ran a research project investigating the causes of reading difficulties in school-aged children, such as dyslexia.  The research involved successfully implementing a remedial reading program in local schools.  Being able to teach children to read who would otherwise have missed out on all the joys of discovering the written word was incredibly rewarding.  The results of the study were published in the Australian Journal of Psychology.

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

Currently I am working on a follow up stand-alone story to In Bed With The Boss, based on a secondary character, Brendan.  I have approximately ten other works in progress, all of them contemporary romances, though there’s a mix of drama, comedy and a very daring older-married-man story that I think has a lot of potential.  I also have the outline of a historical romance I want to write so I will have to make a choice on what project to work on next once I finish Brendan’s story.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

A panstster, without a doubt.  I foresee a time, however, when plotting will become essential.  I want to try my hand at more than one genre and I also have an outline for a paranormal series that already sounds very complicated in my head so if I ever take the plunge, whinging it is definitely not going to work!

Alexa Bravo

Do you have any quirky things you need to do prior to settling into a period of writing? (organise your desk, have a coffee, turn around three times and clap?)

I have to have a clear run, like a plane about to take off on the tarmac.  No other planes are allowed to be in sight, it has to be clear flying weather and the safety checks all have to be completed.  For me this means kids are taken care of, chores are done, social media is out of the way and I have no other distractions.  Needless to say finding my writing “headspace” is a somewhat rare experience!  Caffeine definitely helps.

As a debut author, what’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given?

Rather than one piece of advice per se I’d have to reference all the strategies that I wasn’t aware of before submitting my first book, such as critique partners and writer’s groups and Beta readers to help make your work as good as it can be.  I am certainly embracing those concepts for my second book and hope that it leads to growth for me as an author.  There is so much to learn from my fellow writers and I feel very privileged to be a part of this community.

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts, of ‘In Bed with the Boss’ please?

I loved the interaction between Keith (the hero) and his best friend Brendan (whose story is the basis of my current work in progress).  In this scene, Keith finally confesses to Brendan, his business partner , that he has feelings for the one woman who can save their company.  Keith expects fireworks, but Brendan proves more insightful.

‘What’s going on?’ Keith genuinely thought through that question and decided he’d very much value his friend’s advice. Brendan was the antithesis of a hothead and if Keith was being an idiot then Brendan would tell him to his face. And somehow, Keith suspected that “idiot” very accurately described his current behaviour.

‘She’s at breakfast.’ Keith tried and failed to keep the scorn out of his voice.

‘At breakfast?’ Brendan sounded bemused and Keith could not blame him.

‘Yes. With a colleague. A male colleague.’ Just saying the words brought that former image back and Keith wanted to swear all over again. 9:50. Ten minutes before she’d have some serious explaining to do.

‘Ah, I see.’ Brendan said nothing else, but his look said it all. It was suddenly full of understanding, some amusement and a hint of pity, neither of which helped improve Keith’s mood in the slightest.

‘What the hell do you see?’ Keith asked with more volume than he’d intended. Damn it all, 9:51. Was that clock faulty?

‘You’re in trouble, mate.’ Brendan was cool, calm and definitely collected whereas Keith was thrown very much for a loop. At the very least he’d expected recriminations, at worst sheer panic. Where was all this cool coming from?

‘What does that mean, I’m in trouble?’ 9:53, surely she’d be back by now?

‘You’re jealous.’

Keith didn’t bother to deny it — what was the point?

‘Why does that mean I’m in trouble?’ 9:55, okay, it was definitely working.

‘I’ve never known you to be jealous over any woman, not even Claudia.’ The sound of Claudia’s name coming from his friend shocked him. Not once, in over a year, had he said her name. If he’d made any allusion to her, he’d immediately backtracked and Keith had initially felt grateful, and had then stopped thinking about it. Now, though, the deliberate use of her name told Keith more clearly than anything else could that the game had changed and that Brendan knew the rules, but Keith was still in the dark.

‘Why am I in trouble?’ The question was asked again, this time with a growl. Keith did not want to hear the answer, but at the same time he felt no surprise as his friend replied.

‘You’re in love with her.’

Thank God, it was 10:00.

 

Web links

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Alexa is kindly gifting one ecopy of her novel, ‘In Bed With The Boss’ to one lucky reader. To be in the running, all you have to do is answer the following question in the comments section below:

Where do the hero and heroine of In Bed With The Boss have their first explosive encounter?

  1. In a ski-lift
  2. In an elevator
  3. In an office
  4. In a bed

(Check website http://alexabravo.com/books/ for clue)

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn on June 30, 2014. The winner will be notified by email so please ensure that we can contact you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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