Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Session Spotlight: 10 Steps to Self Publishing

Running on Friday 21st of August at 8:30am as part of the Self Publishing Stream, this session outlines what self-publishing authors need to know before jumping in. From editing your manuscript, researching, understanding design, finding trusted service providers and the ongoing support you need, pressing the ‘publish’ button, and establishing a marketing plan, you’ll walk out knowing what you need to do next to publish your book.

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Your Presenter – Scarlett Rugers

Scarlett Rugers is an award winning book designer and director of the Scarlett Rugers Book Design Agency, based in Melbourne, Australia. She works with both traditional publishing houses and self-published authors, and has been recognised for providing the best website for self-published authors, as well as won awards for her book design work. Her goal is to help authors, through service and design, be the best they can be, and to drive the self-publishing industry to grow into one of great quality and demand. Empowerment, support, and creativity are her tools to connecting with writers, and helping them reach the heights of success they have dreamed of.

Social media links:

Blog/website: booksat.scarlettrugers.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScarlettRugersDesign 

Twitter: @thebookdesignr 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5763453.Scarlett_Archer

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/scarlettrugers/

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Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

Session Spotlight: Marketing Masterclass

This session is running on Saturday 22nd of August at 2:00pm as part of the Emerging/Established Stream.

Sarah Mayberry is amongst Australia’s most prolific writers with her 38th novel out this year.  In late 2014 she teamed up with Sara Hood at marketing4writers.net to put some rocket fuel into her marketing activities.  This is the story of what they did and why, and what worked … and what didn’t.  It’s an end-to-end case study showing how to create and implement an inexpensive but effective marketing plan for a genre writer.  Suitable for published authors from newbie to well established.

Your Presenters – Sarah Mayberry and Sara Hood 

Sara Board picture

Sara Hood 

Sara Hood has spent 30 years in and around marketing communications and the last  <cough>  seven years attempting to become a romance writer.  She has combined the two in marketing4writers.net which provides coaching and support for genre writers to help them put focus into their marketing plans by building a sales funnel that sells more books.

 

 

Sarah Mayberry

Sarah Mayberry 

Sarah Mayberry was born with a pen in her hand.  She began her love of writing in pre-school, progressed to a BA in professional writing, and now has a career as a well loved romance author and screenwriter. Her credits include 38 novels as well as screenwriting for TV and film, including Neighbours, Wonderland, and Karaoke High.  Her latest releases are Anticipation, the second book in the indie-published Brothers Ink series and Bound to the Bachelor, in the Montana Born series from Tule Publishing.  She handles most of her own marketing.

 

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Sarah Mayberry published her 38th novel this year. She also finds time to write for TV and film. Sara Hood has 30 years’ experience in marketing communications and despite being a member of RWA for seven years remains thoroughly unpublished. They are both dog lovers.

Have you presented sessions at previous conferences, for RWA or other organisations?

Sara has been presenting since she was eight and was asked to do her first talk at Sunday school. Sarah Mayberry, on the other hand,  has a self-declared aversion to lecterns.  This shaped how they developed their presentation for the RWA conference.  Sara promised Sarah there would be no lectern and it would be framed more like a fireside chat.  In other words Sarah could just talk about what she does, which she says she finds perfectly easy.

What is the best part/aspect of conference for you?

Sarah Mayberry:  People!  People are the best part of conference for me.  The RWA conference helps to prevent me from becoming stale both through learning new things – and even as an experienced writer, I do still learn new things – and the inspiration from catching up with other writers.

Sara Hood:  How generous everyone is.  You can find yourself talking with a multi-published or recently published author and they will happily answer questions and share insights, and are never glancing over your shoulder to see if there’ someone more important to talk with.  That’s one of the stand out things about RWA conference for me.

What will participants take away from this session?

Clear ideas about how a multi-published author structures her marketing and has built a sales funnel that delivers.  The ideas ought to be easily transferable to any genre writer’s marketing plan.

Which members will benefit most from this session?

Published authors who already have at least some marketing activities in place will benefit the most from this session.  Whilst ‘pre-published’ authors are, of course, welcome to attend it might be a bit overwhelming, not least because the basics won’t be covered as it’s presumed the audience will already know them.  It is anticipated that answers to audience questions will be at the published author level.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you?

Sarah has had two books released this year:  Anticipation, the second in her indie-published Satisfaction series and Bound to the Bachelor, in the Montana Born series from Tula Publishing.  To find out more about Sarah check out her website at www.sarahmayberry.com   You can connect with her social media through there and also sign up for her newsletter.

Sara can be found at her blog www.marketing4writers.net, which is full of tips and info about how to jet propel your marketing plan and sales funnel.  Again you can connect with her social media through there and sign up for her newsletter.  

Website:  www.sarahmayberry.com
Blog: http:www.sarahmayberry.com/_blog/Sarah’s_blog
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SarahMayberryAuthor
Twitter: @MayberrySarah
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19909.Sarah_Mayberry
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MayberrySarah
Amazon US: www.amazon.com/Sarah-Mayberry/e/B001HMOSEY

 

Blog: http://www.marketing4writers.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MarketingforWriters
Twitter: @mktg4writers

Get Fresh in ’15 Presents…

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Session Spotlight: The Dark Art of the Blurb & The Deep Mysteries of the Synopsis

On Saturday 22nd of August at 9:30am as part of the Business Stream, Kate Cuthbert & Ainslie Paton demonstrate the elusive art of blurb and synopsis writing.

Writing a killer synopsis and a cracking blurb can feel harder than writing the whole book. But a poorly written synopsis and a boring blurb can wreck a good book’s prospects.

Synopsis writing is a formula and blurb writing has its own special practices adapted from copywriting techniques.

Kate Cuthbert and Ainslie Paton take you behind the mysteries and reveal the dark arts of synopsis and blurb writing, so you can write content that sells.

Your Presenters – Kate Cuthbert and Ainslie Paton

Kate Cuthbert has written about romance for almost as long as she’s read them. Starting with a Master’s thesis for her MA in Writing, Editing, and Publishing, Kate has written book reviews and romance-focused features for the Brisbane Courier-Mail, All About Romance, Bookseller and Publisher Magazine, the New York Journal of Books, the Australian Romance Reader’s Association, and Booktopia. She is one of Australia’s foremost experts on the romance genre and its place in the publishing world.

Ainslie Paton is a corporate storyteller who’s financed a life writing media releases, scripts, speeches, presentations, advertising copy, websites, videos and stage plays.  She has various hard core qualifications and writes contemporary fiction for both traditional and self publishing.  She’ll release her 20th title in 2015.

Tell us about yourself in 10 words or less.

Kate is Managing Editor at Escape Publishing.  She loves to read.

Ainslie is a self and traditionally published author. She loves to write.

What prompted you to put together this workshop for Get Fresh in 15 conference?

The long answer:  Synopsis and blurb writing is part of the business of being an author.  A writer’s ability to talk about their work in short form can be as important as being able to produce a book.  But it’s a different style of writing to narrative form and it’s easy when you know how.

The short answer:  It’s hard.  It’s good to get help.

What is the best part/aspect of conference for you?

Kate: The Escape After Party and catching up with other editors.  Being with my tribe.

Ainslie: The hotel room – no seriously.  But the Escape dinner and catching up with writer friends is ace.

What will participants take away from this session? (OR what is the key outcome or take-home message?)

After the session participants will have new tools and approaches to use to craft a synopsis that gets attention and a blurb that sells.  There may be references to helicopters, icebergs, hooks and quirks.

Will there be hands-on exercises or audience participation?

Participants will be expected to act out their blurbs and vogue their synopsis.  What?  No, but we do hope it will be fun, informative and useful.

Which members will benefit most from this session?

Aspiring, emerging, and author-publisher authors, or anyone who has spent days trying to write a blurb.  We know who you are.

What is your latest/current/upcoming book release and where can members find out more about you? 

Kate releases like a million books a year, every year with Escape Publishing.

Ainslie has a more modest haul.  She has three releases with Escape in 2015 and will self publish her first series, an Asian Gothic that no one will understand.

Social media links:

Blog/website: www.EscapePublishing.com.au   www.ainsliepaton.com.au

Twitter: @Katydidinoz @AinsliePaton

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Louise Reynolds…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Louise, and congratulations on the release of ‘Red Dirt Duchess’!  Can you give us the blurb, please?

Thanks, Sarah!

When English society playboy Jonathan Hartley-Huntley is sent to outback Australia after a disastrous affair with his editor, all he wants is to take a few pictures, do a quick interview and get back to his usual life of luxury as soon as possible. Until he meets his host, the irresistible Charlie Hughes, and suddenly the back of beyond is a lot more appealing.

Running the pub is a labour of love for Charlie and she has no desire to ever leave the tiny town of Bindundilly. That is, until Jon discovers an old painting that raises questions about both their lives. Charlie impulsively decides to follow him to London, and as the feelings between them begin to deepen, she starts to wonder if there’s more to life than the pub. But at Jon’s family home, the magnificent Hartley Hall, they become acutely aware of the differences between them, and it soon seems clear they have no future together – especially if Jon’s mother has her way.

Family and tradition threaten the course of true love in this warm and witty novel from the author of Outback Bride and Her Italian Aristocrat.

 Red Dirt Duchess

You write of independent heroines who are in control of their own HEA. How do you think romance heroines have changed over the years?

It’s no surprise that heroines are stronger these days. Like modern women they hold jobs that would have been unusual 20 or 30 years ago which gives the writer more scope to create interesting characters. They’re also more likely to express their opinions and initiate relationships. Having said that, it’s important to respect those well-loved heroines of the past. Good writers hold a mirror up and reflect what they see and heroines that we might view now as down-trodden were the norm back then. I also think the type of hero they are looking for has changed with the times.

When did you start writing with the intention of being published?

 About 2010.

Can you tell us about ‘The Call’ and your road to publication? What impact has being published made on you personally?

I received the call from Carol George at Destiny Romance in September 2012 after pitching ‘Her Italian Aristocrat’ a month earlier. I almost shot myself in the foot though, as I was thinking of pitching a newer, unfinished manuscript, something I would never have been able to complete in reasonable time. Luckily my partner gave me ‘the look’, advised me to pitch Aristocrat and they loved it.

Being published has focussed me a lot more. I now make a 12 month plan for the projects I have afoot. I’ve also had to come up to speed on social media and promotion and gained new skills along the way in website creation.

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Plotter or pantser?

In your opinion, what are the elements of a compelling contemporary romance story?

A great hero and heroine with very real conflicts to resolve. I want the conflict 1to be emotional and their problems not easily overcome.

Which authors or novels have influenced you most?

Nora Roberts’ “Born In” trilogy, “Chesapeake Bay” series, and the “Three Sisters” trilogy. Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ “Ain’t She Sweet”, Kristan Higgins, Marion Lennox, Anne Gracie, Shirley Jump and Sarah Mayberry.

Tell us something surprising about yourself that no one would guess.

I spent a lot of time in my early 30’s walking long distance footpaths in England. Alone. A wonderful experience but with a few freak-out moments.

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Complete this sentence… ‘When I’m not writing I can be found…

on a building site.

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

Sure. Here’s a scene from early in the book when my English hero, Jon, has arrived in the outback and the heroine, Charlie, is taking him on his first drive into the bush.

‘So I guess you’re my tour guide,’ he said. ‘The magazine will pay, of course.’

‘That’s okay. Actually, you’re doing me a favour. I like to get away occasionally.’

He glanced out the window. ‘And go where?’

She was ready with a retort until she remembered how it had been when she and Cliff had first come here. After inner-city Sydney with its street life, crowded pubs, bright lights and noise, those first few weeks had been terrifying. But gradually the peace had settled around them, cancelling out their chaotic existence in the city. With Cliff as her guide, she’d learned to appreciate the space, the vistas and the stunning, saturated colours. She’d gained strength and resilience. And happiness.

 ‘You’d be surprised. There’s quite a good social life around here.’ She shifted gear and took a fork in the track. The surface became rougher and as she swerved to miss a hole, he shifted in his seat and his shoulder bumped into hers. It reminded her of last night, of how he’d felt up close. Strong and sexy. Almost irresistible.

‘Anyway, you can keep your cocktail parties or whatever,’ she continued. ‘When the outback throws a party, everyone comes. The airstrip? There’ll be thirty, forty light planes out there. Race meetings, B & S balls —’

‘I’m almost too scared to ask, but what’s a B & S ball?’ He gripped the handle above the door as they swerved around more holes.

She gave him a pitying look. ‘Bachelors and spinsters, the great hook-up event for country singles. People come from all around, camp out overnight and get dressed up to the nines for the dance. It’s a chance to blow off a little steam.’

‘Sounds classy.’

She slid a look at him. ‘Yeah, well, you should try it sometime, hot shot.’

He grinned and looked out the window.

After ten minutes, he turned to her, a worried look on his face. ‘You do know where you’re going, right? There are so many tracks and they’re so random. I mean, why this one and not the one we passed just back there?’

‘Because most of them aren’t really tracks. They’re just detours made some time when there was water on the road, so they’ll take you away from the road for a while but eventually lead you back a little further on.’ She lowered her voice and made a serious face. ‘That is, if you don’t accidentally take another track that leads off the detour track. It’s easy to do.’

She shook her head. ‘One second of lost concentration and you’re heading down a track to nowhere. But it’s too late once you’ve realised, because when you turn around you can’t remember which track was the one you came off. You can drive around for days trying to find your way home. If you last that long.’

He looked mildly freaked out but she couldn’t help adding, ‘Of course they’re not even tracks, some of them. Most are just tyre marks made by vehicles gone bush. As I said before, a lot of very strange people live out here. No one really knows how many fugitives there are.’

He paled a little more and she was done. As sport went it was perfect.

Ten minutes later they turned off the track they’d been following onto a narrower one; a real track, Charlie informed him with a smirk. Here, by the river, coolabah trees grew, their low, spreading branches providing welcome shade. Charlie pulled into a clearing and shut off the engine.

 

 

Web links

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Buy link

 Louise is kindly gifting one Kindle copy of Red Dirt Duchess to one lucky reader. To be in the running to win, all you need to do is leave a comment below for Louise.

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn one week from the date of this post. The winner will be notified by email so please ensure that we can contact you.

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Author Spotlight: Goldie Alexander….

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Goldie and congratulations on the release of   “Penelope’s Ghost”. You have some 80 titles to your credit, from where do you draw inspiration to write across all those genres?

I began my writing career with commissioned books for Young Adults as part of the Dolly Romance series under the pseudonym of Gerri Lapin. These small novels taught me a lot about writing. Since then I have written in almost every genre. I must be the original Jack of All Trades. Perhaps the only genres I haven’t tackled are adult movie/TV Scripts, graphic novels(can’t draw for nuts) and erotica. Interestingly, Clan Destine Press who has just published my latest YA novel, “That Stranger Next Door” has suggested I attempt one. We’ll see…

Penelope's large_cover (3)

Do you have a favourite genre or another one you can see yourself venturing into?

I am easily bored, so I tend to drift from one genre into another. That’s why I introduce myself as ‘A Publishing Slut’ as I go from one company to another. ‘Penelope’s Romance’ was my first attempt at writing adult romance. To my utter delight it was picked up in the United States almost immediately. My ‘Mentoring Your Memoir’ was self published but it is presently my best seller. It seems everyone has a story they are dying to tell.

You’ve won many awards as well, including the Australian Society of Authors mentor program 3 times. Can you tell us about that, please?

One way or another, I have been teaching Creative Writing these last 25 years; both in traditional adult writing classes and through mentoring individual authors. These are talented people who have won this opportunity via the ASA. We all learn a lot. It’s said that when you teach, you relearn that stuff all over again.

Do you write one book at a time or have many on the go at once?

I usually concentrate on one book at a time, but often other books need another draft before they are published. And then there’s the marketing….

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

Don’t ask! I was in a bad traffic accident 2 years ago and in hospital and rehab for 10 weeks. Thankfully, I was brought a Kindle. I have something like 300 books on it at present because I belong to 2 book-clubs, one adult and literary, the other children’s – this includes story picture books, middle range novels and Young Adult novels. And there are many books recommended by friends or reviews I become interested in. I have friends who write wonderful books for all ages such as Hazel Edwards (we have co-written a lot together). Though she is best known for her Hippo books, look her up. You will be impressed by all she has written.

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Do you think that exploration of other genres helps to strengthen writer’s craft and skill?

Anything and everything improves a writer’s skills, the most important being reading! Read what other people write. And eavesdrop on conversations. Listening in on trams, buses and trains to other people on their mobiles provides excellent fodder.

Writing a memoir is different to fiction. What are the elements of a compelling memoir?

I guess an exciting memoir depends on what kind of life the memoirist has had. I wrote about my first 30 years and stopped at that point because all the people I was nasty about were safely dead and couldn’t sue me for defamation. There is really nothing different about writing a memoir than writing anything else. All use the same techniques. This is what I try to teach aspiring memoirists.

Is writing a memoir more difficult in regards to the feeling that you are writing facts about yourself as opposed to creating a fictional character?

Unless you terribly inhibited or ashamed of yourself, it is possibly easier, though it may bring up unpleasant/unhappy memories. The trick is to see yourself as ‘a character in a novel’. I recommend that aspiring memoirists create a character dossier describing how they might appear to others.

What do you do in your spare time, (if you have any!).

You make me sound like a ‘workaholic’ which I possibly am. But as I am a bad sleeper, I rarely work at night, confining myself to sitting at the computer most mornings. At night I like to read, go to the movies, watch TV, cook and of all things knit (It’s like Greek worry beads and soothing.)

Goldie 007 copy

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘Penelope’s Ghost”, please?

 

“When Lisa Harbinger takes a job as nanny to a prestigious Australian family, she gets more than she bargained for: two spoilt children, vengeful ghosts, a long-unsolved mystery and a blazing passion she and her enigmatic boss are unable to deny. Fleeing a humiliating end to a passionless marriage, Lisa Harbinger seeks refuge in a posh summer retreat on Australia’s lush South Coast. There she finds work as a nanny for two willful children on one prestigious estate. But behind Rangoon’s ivy and red brick walls lies a mystery: What really happened to the family’s beloved Penelope?

Even more mysterious is Richard Prescott. Cold and aloof by day, Lisa’s boss heats up her nights and awakens her soul. But to have a future they both must escape their pasts. Vengeful ghosts and a generations-old curse seek to bring ruin on Richard and his family. But if Lisa can find the answers, she—and her growing love—could be the one to set him free.”

       

“He fell in love with someone else,” Richard repeated thoughtfully. “Was she a friend of yours?”

It must be time to confess. What he would think of me after that, I didn’t dare consider. “Actually, she was a he. Simon fell in love with Robert and finally admitted he was gay.”

Richard’s eyebrows shot up. “Married to someone as lovely and intelligent as you? That’s almost impossible to believe.”

Lovely? Intelligent? Not knowing how to respond to these compliments I said quickly, “I think Simon always knew he was gay. Even when he married me, he was just in denial. I was too dumb to wake up to it.”

“When you did realise, how did it make you feel?”

“Angry. Miserable. Then totally stupid,” I answered. “There were so many hints, but I kept on ignoring them.” Then I dared to venture, as the atmosphere between us was definitely pulsing, “He was never interested in sex.”

His face blank, Richard turned to the next page of the book we were sharing, then another. In the pause I heard an owl hoot and the wind rustle a branch against the window.

At last he put down the book. “Never interested in sex. That mean you’re not? Let’s find out.” With this, he placed one arm around my waist and with the other hand tilted my head so I faced him. Then he carefully and delicately placed his mouth over mine.

******

Web links

Website

Blog:www

Facebook

Twitter

Buy link: Boroughs Publishing Group.

 

 

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

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.

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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.

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Women’s Fiction Author, Maggie Christiensen…

 

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Maggie, and congratulations on the release of ‘ Band of Gold’. Can you give us the blurb?

Anna Hollis is a forty-seven year old schoolteacher living in Sydney. She juggles her busy life with a daughter in the throes of first love, and increasingly demanding aging parents.

Anna’s world collapses when her husband of twenty-five years leaves her on Christmas morning. She makes it through the family festivities, explaining his absence with a flimsy excuse, but later breaks down on a Sydney beach where a stranger comes to her aid.

Marcus King has returned to Australia from the USA, leaving behind a broken marriage and a young son; through their mutual hurt and loneliness, a fragile friendship is formed when he takes up the position of Headmaster at Anna’s school.

Written in first person, present tense the author slips the reader into Anna’s shoes as she struggles to leave the past behind and learns to trust again. Can Marcus be a part of her future?

 Band of Gold Cover MEDIUM WEB

How would you describe your writing style? Who or what are your main influences?

I’ve never thought about my style. I like to take the reader into my characters’ minds and my protagonists are all confident, independent, mature women facing some sort of crisis in their lives. While I usually write in third person past tense, Anna, in Band of Gold demanded it be in first person, present which helps the reader step into her shoes, though it has some limitations for the writer.

Reviewers have said about Band of Gold:

“It is a fast paced storyline, written in a sharp concise manner which makes it hard to put down at any point … so I didn’t! I loved the author’s writing style, her characters are so well developed.”

“The prose is crisp and precise. The description is minimalist, just enough to create vivid images in the mind of the reader.”

I like to think I’ve been influenced by Liz Byrski, Joanne Trollope, Marcia Willett, Barbara Delinsky, but my style is my own. My critique partner suggests that my style is interesting, well-written, flowing, warm, pleasing, creative, imaginative, very readable, un-put-downable, but I think she’s being kind.

What is the market like for books with more mature protagonists?

I’m hoping there’s a large market out there! I enjoy writing about mature women – women in their prime – so imagine my delight to find a reference to an emerging genre called Baby Boomer Lit with reportedly over 70 million baby boomers. Back in the nineteen seventies, the Baby Boomers created the market for YA literature and they are now in my target group. Just as YA Lit provided them with characters with whom they could identify, so do my books featuring mature characters that reflect them. However, I’m finding younger readers are also enjoying Band of Gold.

Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a HEA, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues. The author can also explore those issues which only emerge with years. Issues such as aging and death of parents, retrenchment, retirement, downsizing, grown children, grandchildren, widowhood and the empty nest syndrome.

What was your path to publication like?

In a word – frustrating! Initially I tried to go down the traditional publishing route submitting to agents and publishers, but my work didn’t fit into their lists. I think my older protagonists may have been the reason. However, I’m now glad I’ve had to go Indie. I enjoy the control it gives me. I’ve found an excellent editor and cover designer and formatter, both based in the UK. I believe it’s important for a self-published author to have a good team to work with, and I’m looking forward to a long and productive relationship with mine.

What has been the biggest learning curve for you in regards to publication?

I guess it’s been the amount of work necessary for promotion once the book is actually published. But also the importance of emotion in writing. I was once told by author Greg Barron to close my eyes and put myself into the characters and feel what they’d feel –excellent advice. I’ve also learnt a lot from my editor who I now imagine sitting on my shoulder as I write, giving me directions and advice.

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You have a blog where you interview other writers, how important is it to have a social media presence prior to publication?

I believe this is crucial. Through these interviews, I have not only met and befriended other authors, but have attracted others to my blog and have also been invited back to visit with some of my interviewees. It’s also fun to enjoy virtual coffee with other authors and to bake something different for each visitor. For those who haven’t yet visited Café Cala, I welcome visitors on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. I’m still struggling to develop an integrated social media presence and have only recently joined Twitter.

What are your current works in progress? When will we get to read more of your work?

My next book, The Sand Dollar, is currently being edited and will be published before the end of the year. It is book 1 of my Oregon Coast books.

An unexpected redundancy and a childhood memento take Jenny Sullivan across the ocean to learn a long hidden secret and embark on a journey of self-discovery such as she’d never envisaged. Moving between Oregon and Australia, The Sand Dollar is a story of new beginnings, of a woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down and the reclusive man who helps her solve the puzzle of her past.

I’m currently working on Book 2 of the series. The Dreamcatcher features one of the minor characters from The Sand Dollar. While the Sand Dollar moves between the Sunshine Coast of Australia and Oregon, The Dreamcatcher is set entirely in Oregon. My mother-in-law lives there so I have lots of opportunities for research.

What are your other interests outside of writing?

I love to read, walk on the deserted beach in the early mornings and have coffee by the Noosa River on weekends, the latter two with my wonderful husband of almost 30 years (my own HEA). I also continue my love of books as a volunteer with Friends of Noosaville Library where I help organise author talks and select and deliver books to the housebound.

Is there any other genre you would be tempted to explore?

No, I write the sort of books I enjoy reading most, about characters I can relate to – and I hope that others can too. I also enjoy reading crime and thrillers, but don’t believe I have the right sort of mind to write the twist and turns of these.

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

‘I don’t want to be married anymore.’

The band of gold, symbol of our twenty-five years of marriage lies on the table between us. I am stupefied, unable to speak. Tears prick my eyes as my first coffee of the day grows cold beside me. The sun is shining brightly through the kitchen window. The turkey is sitting on the kitchen bench waiting to be cooked. My parents, daughter, brother and sister, along with her husband and children are due to arrive in five hours’ time. The house is redolent with the scent of pine needles and Christmas pudding. It’s Christmas morning and my world has collapsed.

‘What do you mean?’ I finally utter, thinking this must be Sean’s idea of a bad joke. My mouth goes dry. My head begins to spin. The bottom has dropped out of my world. I look over at the man I have loved for over twenty-five years, his bushy greying blonde hair, his ruddy cleanshaven cheeks. He looks no different from any other morning. He’s wearing the bright yellow tee shirt we bought on our holiday in Bali last year. His steely blue eyes meet mine. This isn’t happening.

‘I can’t do this anymore, Anna.’ His waving arms take in the kitchen including me, ‘All this; family, house, job. I need to get away.’ He pushes his chair back from the table and strides out of the kitchen. I sit there in a daze, my mind going round in circles. Is it too late to call off Christmas lunch? How can I even think of such a thing? Does Sean mean he’s going to leave right now? How will I explain his absence? God, this is really going to be the Christmas from Hell.

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 Maggie is kindly gifting one ecopy of  Band of Gold to one lucky reader. All you have to do to be in the running is leave a comment below:

 

Thank you for taking part in our Author Spotlight Maggie!

Thank you so much having me, Sarah.

Author Spotlight: Delwyn Jenkins…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Delwyn and congratulations on the release of ‘Called by Fire ’! Could you tell us a bit about it please?

‘Called By Fire’ is a story about Kamryn, a modern-day Witch who must go to the World Between to complete her training at the Collegium. At the Collegium magic is manditory and technology is forbidden, so to Kam it’s a kind of purgatory. But then one of her friends is murdered and another goes missing, and Kam’s small irritations are put into terrifying context.

As a direct result of the murder and abduction the Knights of the Watchtower are called back into service after two hundred years of exile. Alex and his fellow Knights understand their recall could be the first step in the Watchtower returning to the fold. All they have to do is not screw up.

Kam wants to help with the investigation, but she’s worried about her attraction to Alex and how it will affect her magic. Alex can’t afford to make any mistakes, but he wants Kam with a single-mindedness that could put them all at risk.

 

Did you originally intend for ‘Called by Fire’ to be a series, or did it evolve into one?

The way magic works best in the World Between is for four Witches (a Quatre) to work together. Earth, air, fire and water. When we meet Kam we also meet her three best friends and they all play a role in Kam’s story. I always envisaged a four book series, but there are six Knights – so there’s room to grow if the series takes off.

Can you tell us a bit about your road to publication?

Like most authors my apprenticeship was LONG. But once I joined RWA things stared moving forward. My first year in RWA I totally loitered, the second year I went to conference in Melbourne where I didn’t know a soul. The following January I got myself a critique partners (who is utterly fabulous) and at the Brisbane conference we roomed together and I met all her friends and made some of my own.

2013 was my year of not lurking. I entered Little Gems and came sixth, I entered First Kiss and came third, and I got my ms ready to pitch at conference in Fremantle last year.

In between all that (and after much lobbying from my CP) I wrote an erotic romance novella and sent it off to Ellora’s Cave.

In October last year Ellora’s Cave came back with an offer to contract me for all six books in my erotic romance series, and in December I got an offer for a two book deal with Momentum (as a direct result of my conference pitch).

So that’s my road, lots of long, hard slog – and a terrifying leap over the edge.

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You have formal editing qualifications, how has that made a difference to your writing? Do you edit yourself or have a fresh pair of eyes to look over your work?

The editing certainly makes me conscious of technical hitches like word repetition and grammar errors. But I also taught units of a Professional Writing and Editing Course, and I learned a lot about writing from marking my students’ work. Plot holes, world building, emotional context and story flow are all things I’m more conscious of now, because I had to watch for it in someone else’s work.

I edit my own work as much as I’m able – I consider it part of my job as an author to produce the best ms I can – but nobody can properly edit their own work. I need a fresh pair of eyes and my ideal is my CP (for the technical stuff) and a beta reader (for the layman stuff). Now I’m published (woohoo) I’ve had the joy of working with professional editors and I enjoyed the process immensely. I feel much more relaxed knowing that someone with a professional eye is looking at my story and trying to find ways to improve it.

Wearing your editor hat, what is the most common error emerging writers make?

Sound or word repetition is a big one for me.

If you have three or more sentences starting with he/she you need to have a look at it.

The regular complaints of telling not showing.

Get someone who you trust to read your work – someone with the skills to pick up spelling or grammar errors or whose mind is sharp enough to pick up plot holes or scenes/conflicts that don’t make sense. And when you get the feedback, don’t slavishly follow it no matter what – take the information, think about it, and only use it if it’s in the best service of your story.

And here’s a tip I didn’t listen to but should have when I started out – just write the damn thing. Get the words on the page until you get to ‘the end’ THEN go back and edit it. You will save yourself years of pointless word shuffling.

You were in the Navy and travelled a lot. How has that helped to shape your writing?

I pretty much write fantasy and sci-fi so the travel doesn’t have much direct influence. But all my male protagonists are warriors of one kind or another. There is just something about the strength and honour of a military man that calls to me – although my hero’s tend to have swords and bows rather than guns and warships.

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

Nothing but romance – I don’t read outside my genre because if I’m going to spend four or five hours with a book, it’s got to be something I love.

My shelf/e-reader has: Not much contemporary and very little urban fantasy. Lots of paranormal, some historical, lots of erotic romance and a healthy smattering of sexy cowboys. Mostly MF, some MFM, not many MM. But really, if the writing is good the sub-genre doesn’t matter.

Which writers have been your greatest inspiration?

There are plenty of authors I admire (and lots that I think ‘I wish I could write like that’) but at the end of the day you have to be true to your own stories and your own voice. What inspires me is authors and their achievements. Meeting a New York Times best selling author, or talking to an extremely successful multi-published author always gives me a buzz. But so does talking to an unpublished author with a great personal story, or an RWA member who’s struggled through personal hardship and just put onefoot in front of the other. I think inspiration comes when you look at someone else and think ‘yeah, I could do that too’.

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You’ve got a busy year coming up, can you tell us what’s in store for you?

‘Called By Fire’ is released on 22 April, so I’ll be promoting that. I have to deliver book two to the publisher by July (although I’m hoping to get it in earlier because my Ellora’s Cave commitments are looming)

I don’t have a release date yet for my Ellora’s Cave series, but I have completed three and a half of the six books I’m contracted to deliver. So my busy year will be taken up with lots of writing, attending the Roadshow in Adelaide (where my CP lives) and going to conference in Sydney. In March next year I’ll be attending the Romance Readers Convention. I’ve been to the last three but this will be my first one as an author and I’m really looking forward to it.

Can you tell us a little about your belly dancing?

I’ve been Bellydancing for fifteen years, and I’ve been teaching it at my local community centre for the last seven. I love the movement and music, but what I love best is the transformation women undergo when they dance. It taps into something so beautiful and feminine that a woman’s shape, size, age or ability cease to matter. When a woman bellydances she always looks beautiful and sensual. I highly recommend it.

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

Here’s the set-up: Alex bargain Kam in to owing him a kiss, which he’s about to claim. They’re sitting together, face to face, and Alex is making his pitch…

“I’m a Watchtower Knight, sweetheart, a warrior to the bone. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this life is to take happiness where I can get it, for as long or as short as it lasts. And being here with you right now makes me happy.”

He didn’t move closer, he didn’t crowd her, he did nothing more than circle his thumb just below the nape of her neck. And that small touch was so erotic, so provocative, her nipples hardened and her thighs clenched. Gods, this had disaster written all over it.

Then Alex moved, gripping her hands and pressing them against his chest in a move so sexy her knees liquefied in a submissive tremble. “Trust me,” he whispered, “just for the next few minutes. Close your eyes Kam.”

“What?”

“Just close them.”

Feeling slightly stupid, she did as he asked.

“Now breathe for me.” His voice was as soft as a touch. “Nice and deep, in and out.”

Somehow it just seemed easier to do as he asked, so she focused on her breathing, matching it to the stroke of his fingers against the backs of her hands. With every inhale she took his scent into her body – warm male, leather, and something else, something darker. Her body relaxed, her world narrowed, and when Alex quietly commanded she open her eyes she had to fight a little to lift her eyelids.

He gave her a lazy smile. “You owe me a kiss.”

            Kam swallowed against a sudden case of dry mouth. “Are you sure this is the right time?”

            “It’s the perfect time, and if you remember the terms of the heart vow, you don’t get to choose the where or when.” Without letting go of her hands he turned them so her palms were pressed flat against his chest – his warm, hard, broad chest – and then he covered her hands with one of his own. The other he bought up to cup the back of her neck and heat shot down her spine to pool low in her belly. It felt really, really good, and so very, very bad.

            Despite everything, Kam did want to kiss him – no kidding – but she had a sinking feeling that if she did he would ruin her for any other man, and she had enough difficulty with the opposite sex as it was. She knew instinctively Alex was different, she felt it deep down, right to the marrow of her bones, and her survival instincts were urging her to run as far and as fast as she could. But the rest of her, including her demanding hormones, were begging her to stay. Then all debate ceased when Alex tilted her chin so he could capture her gaze. Everything crumbled inside her when those long, thick lashes lifted to reveal the blazing green of his eyes.

            “Time to pay up, my lady.”

            “Uh-huh.”

            “Are you ready?”

            Kam fought the quiver of anticipation – or was it terror? – that roiled inside her.   “I somehow doubt it,” she replied.

            Alex smiled and leaned closer. Kamryn braced herself for the onslaught, but for the longest time he just breathed her in. His full, sculptured lips were less than an inch away and he did nothing but let her feel the heat of his energy rather than the press of his mouth. The quiver inside her grew in intensity, and then it started to burn, surging up inside her until the air squeezed out of her lungs. She should have been embarrassed by how quickly she cracked, and she would have been if she hadn’t been so desperate to feel his lips on hers.

“Alex?”

            “Mmmmm?”

            “Are you going to kiss me or not?”

            “Oh, I’m most certainly going to kiss you, sweetheart. Long, slow, wet, hot, juicy kisses that will curl your toes and make you forget your name.”

            Kam’s heart skipped a beat and then did a little tap dance to catch up. Swallowing around the lump in her throat she closed her eyes and prayed for strength. “Gods, I’m really not going to survive this, am I?”

            “Of course you are.” He leaned in a little more, close enough for Kam to feel the feather-light brush of his lips. “You have to survive, because I have a second kiss to claim.”

 

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Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Kylie Kaden…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Kylie and congratulations on the release of your debut novel, ‘Losing Kate’. Can you tell us a little about it please?

Thanks Sarah! It’s been fun!

Losing Kate tells the story of a girl who mysteriously disappears from a deserted beach, and the impact it has on those left behind. It’s the love story of Kate’s two friends at heart, yet, when they meet by chance more than a decade later, it seems the couple can only move forward by finding out what really happened that fateful night. It deals with some heavy themes like friendships forged in youth and the control we have on our own lives, but it is light in tone, and has a distinct Australian voice.

What was your path to publication like?

A short path paved with luck! For me, writing started as a housework avoidance strategy whilst on maternity leave (I have three sons). When things turned serious, I attended a couple of day courses at the Queensland Writers Centre. RWA was recommended as a professional organisation for writers of all genres. I joined and struck gold when I was paired up with the wonderful Lily Malone as a critique partner. She was there from first draft to pitch letter. I sent sample chapters to Random House Australia through their normal submissions process last July. They asked for a full and a few days later I had my first contract. Goes to show that you can get a contract with a major publisher as a un-agented slush-pile dwelling species like myself! A dream run. I’m still pinching myself.

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You are a trained Psychologist, how does this help you in your writing?

Well, it doesn’t help my parenting! That’s still hard!

I never was a practicing shrink despite the degrees, but perhaps on some subconscious level it may help when thinking about personality or motivations. I usually have a slightly batty character just to stir things up a bit (there’s a loopy element in everyone if you get to see them in their unguarded moments).

You’re also the only female in a house full of males – three sons, and grew up with two brothers, has being surrounded by males your entire life given you insight into how they think and act? Does this help you to write your male characters?

When I look at my sons wrestling-hello, spear tackling on the couch and producing a cacophony of noise wherever they go, I can’t say I’m any closer to understanding the male of the species!? Having said that, my current WIP has chapters from male pov, and I find them natural to write (and hopefully they come across as authentic), so maybe all that testosterone around me has infiltrated by osmosis.

How important is it for a writer to study the craft of writing?

I am strong believer that increasing industry knowledge is very important – whether it be through writer’s conferences, workshops or informal networks. Understanding basic concepts (even if you chose to ignore them) and what publishers expect can ensure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot. Entering competitions is an excellent way to learn the ropes.

But workshops on how to write are another matter.

When it came to my pitch letter, in an attempt to look less like an untrained amateur, I tried to inflate the one or two courses I completed at QWC (as you do). Yet, soon after, my publisher (the wonderful Bev Cousins) said, in general, she didn’t think much of courses that try to dictate how to be creative. I think I would agree.

I see it a bit like a talent. I can’t sing, dance, draw, or catch a ball to save myself, and all the classes in the world won’t change that. I admit my style doesn’t suit everyone, but I know, even in my darkest moments of self-doubt, that writing comes naturally to me. You can tweak it, improve marginally, hone your craft, but if a person doesn’t have the basics, I think it might be a long and lonely road.

The problem is, there is also an element of luck in this industry, so even a barrage of rejection doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have what it takes. Plenty of lack-lustre stories get told, and plenty of gems sit in drawers and never see the sun. So that uncertainty makes it hard to keep on going, wondering if anyone will have the chance to meet your imaginary friends. What’s important is that you enjoy it anyway.

 

With a busy family and a day job, how do you make sure that there is time for writing? What is a normal day like for you?

I write when my youngest naps (and the washing mounts). A lot of my writing process is thinking up scenes to prove a point, and I can do that on the train home from work, whilst burning risotto, or watching swimming lessons. When no-one’s watching, I skulk away to my laptop (sometimes in the bathroom so I can’t be found), and purge out the product of the day’s fermented thoughts. It’s not ideal; piecemeal snippets of stolen time. The process lacks any continuity and planning (I can cut a paragraph, defer-world-war-three, and return to find I forgot where I was pasting it). It’s like the sand that falls around the bigger rocks (family/real-work) in the glass-jar of life. But it’s the sand that fills my jar, and puts balance in my life. 

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You state that you are a recovering chocoholic – how’s that going?

I’m reluctant to report I’ve fallen off the wagon. So very, very far…

What’s your next WIP? Can you tell us about it?

In the tradition of Losing Kate it has a ‘what really happened?’ suspense, but still has a love story as central to the conflict. It’s currently called Unguarded Moments, but my editor has a habit of changing titles on me so that may be temporary (I do trust you Bev!). I don’t know exactly what it is yet (a tad disconcerting 90 thousand in, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise for myself!?). In essence it’s a catalogue of all the raw, unguarded moments the main characters share, and how each impacts on their lives. At least, I think… 

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Write what you know, and be yourself. Nothing stinks more than someone trying to be something they’re not. Even if you pull it off for a while, you can’t withstand it for long. Whatever your thing, it has to come across as an authentic voice, not someone trying to wedge their style into the latest trend or emulate someone they admire. Perhaps I’m just not very imaginative, but I feel I can write about relationships and emotions, because I’ve experienced them. I can smell them, taste them, feel them. So there’s a lot of me weaved within the pages of Losing Kate (the downside being it doesn’t leave much of a buffer between me and the reviews…)

As a new writer, still finding my feet, I find it tempting to grasp onto established writers for secrets and tips – the show-don’t-tell, etc. Whilst there is some value in that, I find knee-jerk-over-reactions to advice can swing you off course. It’s a creative industry, and I rely mostly on gut instincts. I love Liane Moriarty, for example, and she breaks all the rules – her work is mostly narrative, not scene driven and adhoc in structure – but it’s pure genius.

So there are no rules (or perhaps there’s one – someone has to enjoy reading it). If it floats your boat, it will probably appeal to others (unless you write about say, The History of Ginger, then you might need a rethink).

 

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

This scene plays out in Frankie’s kitchen the day after a drunken nearly-kiss, when Jack (who has a partner…even if she’s not very nice) comes to tell Frankie (the narrator) it can’t happen again…

You told me you thought Kate still had a hold on me. Ran my life. What about you, Jack? Sticking with someone wrong for you for too long, out of obligation, fear of how they’ll cope – sound familiar?’

‘What the . . .’ His voice rises, then he checks himself and lowers it. ‘Last night you’re telling me to go home where I belong, now I’m a sucker to stay. Which is it? Pick a bloody side, Frankie.’

‘There’s no side Jack, cause there’s no other option.’

He looks like his chest has taken a bullet, and emotion rises in my throat. His eye starts twitching again. He rubs it away.

‘Isn’t that what you came to tell me, Jack? Well, I get it.’

I walk to the door and hold it open for him. My heart races.

‘Well, glad it’s all so crystal clear to you,’ he says, jumping from the chair.

As he steps closer, a shiver runs the length of me as my mind reaches back to last night. We stood in this very spot. In the dark, in a drunken tussle, and I want to be back there. For once in my life, to do what I want, not what I should.

He lingers, looking out into the darkness, both of us fuming. I want the world to shrink away, to grab him, pull him close, wrap my mouth around his.

To scream pick me.

I’m your other option!

He stops at the top step, closes his eyes as he exhales.

I can’t breathe. He turns, strokes my face, the tip of his finger grazing my cheekbone, my chin. My hand covers his palm, pressing on my face. He strokes it with his thumb. I want to push his hand lower, down my chest, waist, to ease the burning in my thighs.

But I don’t.

I breathe him in, savour him, as he drops his hand and walks away.

All the while knowing this is as close as I am ever gonna get.

 

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Free sample chapters of Losing Kate

 Kylie is kindly giving away one print copy of ‘Losing Kate’. All you need to do to be in the running to win is answer the following question in the comments section:

  Think of your true friendships. How many were forged in youth?

This competition is open to Australian residents only and will be drawn on April 8th. The winner will be notified by email.

 

Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Leisl Leighton…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Leisl Leighton, and congratulations on the release of ‘Dark Moon’!  Can you tell us a little bit about it, please?

Lately, Skye Collins has been unable to shake the feeling that she’s being watched. After a lifetime spent hiding her true nature, she knows that any unusual attention is something to be wary of.  And the only attention she’s been receiving lately is from the intense and attractive Jason McVale.

Jason claims to know things about Skye that can’t be true, and it’s obvious he’s hiding secrets of his own. Yet despite herself, Skye can’t resist the attraction between them, and her surrender will set in motion a chain of events that will have consequences for everyone she holds dear.

Gradually, Jason convinces Skye that she has to trust him if she is to solve the riddle of her past and learn the truth about her power.  But believing Jason means that her entire life has been based on a lie.

As her enemies gather strength and the danger increases, Skye is forced to accept who she really is. Will she risk everything and fight for those she loves? Or save herself and let them be destroyed by the forces of darkness?

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Your debut novel, Killing Me Softly, was a romantic suspense, while Dark Moon is a fantasy. Do you have a soft spot for either genre over the other?

I read a number of genres: fantasy, sci-fi, historical romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, YA, contemporary romance, chic lit and women’s fiction, but when it comes to writing, I do tend to stick to the urban fantasy romance, paranormal romance and romantic suspense. I have tried other genres, but they just don’t flow for me as well as these three. At the moment I am writing more paranormal romance and epic urban fantasy than romantic suspense, but that’s mostly because those are the stories coming to me, not because of a preference. If I had an idea for a romantic suspense right now, that’s what I’d be writing.  

Are there any other genres you would like to venture into in the future?

Maybe sci fi with a romantic bent. I have a story in my mind that’s tumbling around – nothing specific right now, but if it plays out a bit more, I might sit down and give it a try. 

Can you tell us about your world building in Dark Moon. Talk us through the process of  building a world filled with not entirely human creatures.

I used to be an actor, so when I write, I tend to ‘become’ my characters much as I did when I was on stage and they very much tell me who they are and how they became that – which tends to mean they inform me about their world, the ‘rules’ so to speak. It’s never really a conscious thought process for me of me sitting down and making copious notes before I write and making my characters fit to that. As I write the story it all evolves more in my mind. I make lots of notes as I go and on redrafts and edits make sure those ideas and traits are played through. 

You play a large role within the RWA as a volunteer. Can you tell us how you manage your time so that everything gets done? Are you a time managing supremo?

Other people tend to tell me I am, but I can tell you, at times it doesn’t feel that way. I try to do things as they come in so I don’t get a huge built up pile of stuff to do. There are times this doesn’t work though – things do have a habit of happening at once. I keep a list of things that must be done and tick it off as I go and I put deadlines into my email calendar so every time I open up my email, it reminds me what I need to do. I try to get up early in the morning to write and I have 1 day off per week that I spend mostly writing, which means I tend to get to everything else in the afternoon/night time or in spare moments on the weekends (like now – the boys are playing computer games after having their cousin over for a few hours, all the washing is done and the hubby is out doing the shopping – so I’m answering these questions.) In regards to housework, the essentials get done every week, but non essentials tend to get left to when people are coming over.

Killing Me Softly Cover2

 

I hear you’re a lover of all things Jane Austen. Which is your favourite:

a)      JA Novel,

b)     Movie / television adaptation,

c)      Mr Darcy.

Ooh, hard one. Can I say d) all of the above? I studied Jane Austen at university and have read all her books a number of times and watched many adaptations of her works. I do love the novels – I fell in love with them first. But a good adaptation of her works is pretty special too. And Colin Firth was pretty special as Darcy – both the historical one and the modern one. 

How do you think Jane Austen’s work has shaped contemporary romance? What can romance writers learn from Jane Austen?

I think she made writers and readers see that an ordinary life and existence is special and can be written about. I think she was an expert of ‘write what you know’ and she wrote about it with fondness and love. She was also excellent at putting her characters through the wringer in regards to the lessons they had to learn to end up with their HEA. She wrote simple stories, but they were full stories. I’ve heard lecturers go on about her use of irony, and how that makes her a special social commentator – which is important because she saw her world for all its faults, and much of this brought essential humour – but for me, what shines from these stories is the fact she loves her characters and their stories and that is why they still feel real for us all these centuries later. I think that’s the most important lesson – be real to yourself and love what you write. 

Can you tell us a little about your WIP?

I am currently working on the 2nd and 3rd in the Witch-Were Chronicles, Healer Moon and Blood Moon, and am making notes for the 4th one, Ghost Moon. Healer Moon takes place directly after the Dark Moon ends and picks up the romance between two of the other characters and keeps following the overall arc in regards to the nemesis in Dark Moon. Each novel adds to the history that backs up the mythology of the series, as well as giving other characters a HEA. 

What would we find on your book shelves/ereader?

You would find all of Raymond E. Feist’s series as well as Katherine Kerr, Anne McCaffrey and some Jany Wurtz. There is also Anne Gracie, Georgette Heyer, Joanna Lindsey, LaVyrle Spencer, Austen, Bronte and Shakespeare. And for something more current, lots of Nalini Singh, M.J Scott, Rachelle Meade, Stephanie Myers, JK Rowling, Sherilyn Kenyon and a bunch of other paranormal and YA paranormal authors. Also, there is a lot of Nora Roberts and JD Robb. And all the Anne of Green Gables series – I relate strongly to that red-headed girl with the large imagination.

Leisl Headshot tweet

 

You’ve entered into a lot of writing competitions, and have done very well. How important do you think it is for writers to participate in competitions? Any tips you’d like to share?

I think it is essential to a writer’s journey – just like having a critique partner or belonging to a writing group is. You NEED to get your work written by people who are not family and friends. They will give you their honest opinion and often a much needed dose of truth (no matter how painful that may be to swallow at first). Those first few comps really helped me to leap forward with my writing and brought to my attention the mistakes I was making.

In regards to tips – enter the ones that are appropriate to what you are writing and when you begin to do better in them, enter those ones with final editor/agent judges who deal with the kind of work you are writing. Also, read the scoresheets and comments, then put them away and don’t action them right away. Knee jerk fixing is sometimes more destructive to your work than helpful. Allow your ‘hurt’ to settle down to something manageable and after a few weeks/month, try to remember what was said on those scoresheets – the things that stick are most often the things you need to work on first. 

Could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of Dark Moon, please?

People keep asking this, but I don’t have a favourite part. All of it is there because it is my favourite. But I will share with you part of the opening scene, because it is the first scene that ever came to me and it wouldn’t leave me alone, demanding to be written even though I was working on something else. Skye is skiing when a snowboarder crashes into her:

Despite the pain sparking through her body – damn, she was going to have some impressive bruises for show and tell on Monday – she became uncomfortably aware of the way their hips pressed together, legs tangled. She hadn’t been this close to a man in way too long. This wasn’t the way she’d imagined it happening again, though.

She tried to move. The action made his board – amazingly still attached to his feet – cut into her leg. She winced. ‘Well, this is a very charming way to meet and all, but can you get off, please? You’re crushing my legs.’

‘Sorry.’ He scrambled back.

‘Oh, fudgy-duck!’ She gasped as his board scraped over the bruise.

‘Are you hurt?’ He ran his hand ran over her leg, checking for injury.

Shivers chased across her skin that had nothing to do with the snow melting inside her jacket. Skye pulled away. ‘No. I’m fine. Just let me stretch it out.’

He shifted back. But instead of getting up and skiing off like most other people would, he stayed, kneeling beside her as she stretched out her leg.

‘I’m so sorry. I usually ski, but my brother talked me into trying out a snowboard this year.’

Rubbing her aching leg, her temper spiked at his words. Glaring at him, she snapped, ‘Are you kidding me? What the hell are you doing on Federation? It’s a black run – or didn’t you notice all the signs up the top, you irresponsible arse?’

His eyebrows rose above his sunglasses. ‘Wow. That thing about redheads and tempers is true.’

She bristled. ‘You could have killed yourself, or someone else. Namely me!’

He brushed snow from his hair. ‘For your information, I was doing okay until I hit that goddamned icy patch. I don’t know why I agreed to try a board,’ he grumbled.

He sounded so much like her twin, River, when he was pouting, that her flare of anger disappeared and she had to hide her grin.

‘So why did you go over to the dark side?’

‘My trickster of a brother said it would be a rush, but I think he just wanted to see me fall on my arse.’

Her lips twitched. ‘That would be okay, except for the fact you fell on mine.’

‘It looked softer than mine.’

She choked on a laugh. ‘Are you saying I have a fat arse?’

Rather than trying to back-pedal, his mouth curled into a lopsided smile – such a lovely mouth. ‘No. In fact, I was thinking how nice it looked before I smacked into you.’

Skye dragged her eyes from his mouth. ‘Is that why you took me for a toboggan ride, with me as the toboggan? To meet me and my nice arse?’

‘That, and the fact you stopped so suddenly.’

She snorted. ‘I thought you said there was an icy patch.’

‘Yeah.’ He laughed. ‘I did. Didn’t I?’ He pushed his sunglasses off his face to look down at her.

She gaped.

He had the most startling eyes. They were deeply blue on the edge, almost black, but lightened to an icy blue at their centre. Lightning bolt striations crazed through the iris, making it seem like his eyes glowed. They reminded her of a picture of a wolf River had put on his bedroom wall when they were young. She’d asked him to take it down. He’d thought it was because she was frightened of big dogs, but it hadn’t just been that. The wolf’s eyes had haunted her in a way that had confused her ten-year-old soul.

This man’s eyes were even more dangerous to her equilibrium. They pulled her in. Her chest ached like she’d been winded.

He broke eye contact and pushed to his feet, allowing her to catch her breath.

‘Here, let me help you up.’ He put out his hand.

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Leisl is kindly gifting one Kindle copy of Dark Moon. Just answer the following question in the comments and you will go into the draw: 

‘If you were a shape shifter, what would you most like to turn into?’

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn on the 28th of March,  2014.

 

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