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.

george

 

 

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Author Spotlight and Give away: Romantic Comedy novelist, Carla Caruso…

It’s a pleasure welcome  RWA Hearts Talk co-editor, and romantic comedy author Carla Caruso. Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Carla, and congratulations on the release of ‘A Pretty Mess ’! Can you give us the blurb, please?

Sure thing! Here goes… A neat-freak professional organiser – Celeste Pretty – gets caught up in a messy mystery with a sexy builder (Lenny Muscat)! It’s set in the ritzy side of town. Celeste has just started a business de-cluttering people’s homes and offices for a living and her first client is a health and fitness guru in the vein of Lorna Jane and Michelle Bridges, who isn’t quite as clean-living as she seems… It’s actually the first title in my ‘Astonvale’ rom-com mystery series.

A Pretty Mess by Carla Caruso

You write Romantic Comedy, where did your love of the Rom Com come from?

I think it’s because my parents liked pretty fluffy movies and sitcoms themselves (and the ABC). I never watched scary, dark movies at home – The Wizard of Oz was about the scariest! I remember going to see The Fugitive at the cinema with school friends once and I was terrified. I couldn’t believe that was the type of thing other people willingly watched. Yes, I was a little sheltered… From there, my love for rom-coms, starring Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson and co., just bloomed!

What are the elements of a strong Rom Com? How do the characters/plots differ from contemporary romances?

Humour! There’s got to be a good dose of the funnies in rom-coms. I think it’s also the style they’re written in – they’re a little lighter and less emotionally-heavy, but more like real-life in that way. The emotion is understated, but maybe even hits harder because of this. I guess the characters can still be the same as in contemporaries – a sassy female and an alpha male, but they don’t take themselves too seriously and have a certain amount of cheekiness to them.

Unlucky for Some by Carla Caruso

In your opinion, what is the difference between Romantic Comedy and Chick Lit?

I think rom-coms still centre around the romance and can include the points-of-view of both the hero and heroine. With chick-lit, career, family and a whole bunch of other stuff might come before the romance, and they’re usually only told from the woman’s point-of-view. And chick-lit doesn’t necessarily have to finish with a happy ending either, especially if it’s hipster-cool ha!

‘Cityglitter’ and ‘Second Chance’ have elements of fantasy/magic in them (Romagic!), from where do you get your inspiration to write these stories?

It’s funny because I don’t read or watch anything that is ‘high fantasy’, but in the early days I kept coming up with these chick-litty stories with a sprinkling of magic in them. (Cityglitter is about a glam city-slicker fairy who does the one thing she swore she’d never do: fall in love with a human. In Second Chance, the heroine accidentally time-travels back to the nineties and has a chance to correct her past.)

It wasn’t until I recently read about ‘romagic’ that I thought, ‘Aha! That’s where those books fit’, because I veered away from that kind of style as I didn’t really know how to find the right audience. They didn’t seem to fit a neat box. But I do love romagic films, like 17 Again and Big, and my favourite author, Sophie Kinsella, has dabbled in the style, and knowing ‘romagic’ is hot now, I feel ready to revisit it!

snd chance        city glittle

List your top 5 Rom Com movies or TV shows, and tell us why they are your favourites.

  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey – out in 2003, this was when rom-coms really surged in popularity and I was 24 (you do the maths haha!), so it was a prime time of my life.
  • Sweet Home Alabama with Reese Witherspoon and Josh Lucas – this is such a ‘comfort’ flick for me… the cityslicker going back to her hometown… and I love the theme song!
  • The Wedding Planner – love-love Jennifer Lopez!
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic – because I adore writer Sophie Kinsella (and Isla Fisher!)
  • Any Sex & the City movie or TV show – not technically a romcom, but they all have humour and romance, and SATC was really influential for me!

You are a busy mum to twin boys, co-editor of the RWA Hearts Talk and an author of 6 books. How do you manage to do everything?

A few things! My boys are currently 14 months old and now do a three-hour day nap. Simultaneously. It’s insane. So I’ve finally got a good chunk of time to write. And I’m starting to see the benefit of having twins, now they’re a wee bit older, because they’re happy to babble to each other and look at books in their cots for a while before yelling out for me.

Then I do a little more typing at night once they go down at 7pm. My hubby also works out of home as a freelance photographer, so we share the parenting, which helps my energy levels! Plus, I think because I only have limited time to write – i.e. when the boys sleep – it makes me more diligent about using the precious time I do have. (We’re not using childcare currently.) I wouldn’t want to work like this forever, though, because I miss watching trashy TV shows and socialising more at night!

Can you tell us about your WIP?

I’m actually writing the third book in the Astonvale series, involving Celeste Pretty and Lenny Muscat again. Book 3 also provides the points-of-view of Celeste’s nemesis, Imogen Karmel, and Imogen’s love interest! It’s called Pretty Famous and involves a prestigious high school, a mystery that harks back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, a Grace Kelly wannabe, and a possible secret prince!

Pretty Shore by Carla Caruso - out Dec

Are there any other genres you’d like to move into? What does the future hold for Carla Caruso?

I would actually like to try young-adult or middle-grade. I’ve been told I have a ‘young’ style of writing voice (immature some might say) and I’ve had a series idea that has been bouncing around in my head for a while, which I wouldn’t mind giving a crack once I meet my next few deadlines!

Thanks so much for joining us today, Carla. Before you go, could you give us a sneaky peek at one of your favourite parts of ‘A Pretty Mess’, please?

Okay, this is a little bit from the ‘meet-cute’. Right after Celeste Pretty – a neat-freak professional organiser – gags on a mouthful of dust from an industrial extraction fan on her way to meet her first client…

‘Power-walking anywhere in particular?’ a deep voice cut through the air. Through the banging and hammering.

Celeste looked up and into the coal-black eyes of an Adonis. An Adonis in a dirt-stained grey tee, cargo shorts and steel-capped boots. The coal-black eyes — which matched the healthy head of mid-length, wavy hair and faint stubble — were shielded by clear safety glasses. He was pushing a wheelbarrow of bricks, flaunting biceps like Rafael Nadal and sturdy, muscular legs like, well, Serena Williams — in an entirely good way. The mouthful of dust lodged in Celeste’s throat. She couldn’t decide whether she wanted to scrub the guy or jump him, even though clean-cut men were her usual type…

Author Bio

Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, Australia, and only ‘escaped’ for three years to work as a magazine journalist and stylist in Sydney. Previously, she was a gossip columnist and fashion editor at Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. She has since freelanced for titles including Woman’s Day and Shop Til You Drop. These days, she plays mum to twin boys Alessio and Sebastian with hubby James. A Pretty Mess is her fifth novel.

Carla Caruso - author pic

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Carla is kindly providing a give away of one ebook copy of ‘A Pretty Mess’: An Astonvale Novel #1 (an ITunes voucher)

To be in the running, all you need to do is answer the question below:

 What area of your house do you find most difficult to keep clutter-free? And how do you hide it from guests?

This competition is open world wide and will be drawn one week from posting date. The winner will be notified via email so please ensure that we can contact you!

 

Author Spotlight and Give away: New Adult novelist, Leesa Bow…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Leesa and congratulations on the release of ‘Charming the Outback ’! Could you give us the blurb, please?

When jaded city girl Maddy McIntyre packs up and leaves Adelaide for a new job in the country, it’s not only a chance at a fresh start.  Six months ago, the first guy she’d ever loved shattered her heart before moving home to Broken Hill. Deep down inside, Maddy is hoping that living in the same town will give her an opportunity to prove to Luke that she’s one temptation he can’t resist.

But when she arrives in Broken Hill, Luke White is not the same guy she knew in the city.  And it soon seems very clear that he doesn’t want her there. Although Maddy settles in quickly, excelling at work and partying with her new friends, she can’t understand why Luke is remaining so distant. Particularly when all her instincts are telling her that they’re meant to be together –  and that he feels the same burning attraction.

As Maddy learns more about Luke’s family and background, she begins to understand that his mixed messages are caused by balancing what’s expected of him with what he really wants. Maddy gave Luke her heart long ago and, despite their differences, she knows she’ll only ever be happy with her hot country boy. But how can she convince him that she’s the risk he needs to take?

41.CharmingtheOutback_cover

Your novels feature sports quite heavily. What is it about all those toned and buff bodies that make for great romance?

I enjoy describing an athlete’s body with abs you can grate cheese on, broad shoulders, a tight rear, and incorporating their personality (often arrogant) into the emotion of New Adult romance.

I believe fans of our sporting heroes are curious to what happens behind the scenes of the playing arena. Sport has been a major part of my life so in my stories I touch on many issues, some controversial, and take the reader on a different journey to other romance stories.

What’s your favourite sport?

After watching my husband play Australian Rules football for Glenelg in the SANFL for many years, I developed a love for football. I also have to include basketball, as my four daughters played the game and I enjoyed watching them compete in national tournaments, representing South Australia.

You grew up in Broken Hill. What was that like? Are there things you miss about a country area as compared to the city?

Growing up in the country was a wonderful experience. There is a strong sense of community and as a child I felt safe. I miss the unobstructed views of sunrise and sunset with orange and pink splashed across the skies. And the stars shine brightly at night.

However I love the selection of cafes, fine restaurants, and the beach in Adelaide. Then there is also the variety sport and entertainment you find in the city and not in the country. Broken Hill is only a five-hour drive from Adelaide, so it is not far to travel when I need to escape and go ‘home’.

Can you tell us about the New Adult genre?

New Adult books are often about monumental firsts. There is a unique tone and often the stories are filled with emotion, as the characters in New Adult tend to fall in the age bracket between 18 and 25 years. We all know this can be a sensitive time with many changes happening in the individual’s life, and so the struggle of becoming an adult is generally central to the story. Most of us have fond memories of leaving school and attending university, or finding employment. It is a time when we spread our wings and embrace independence. It is also an emotional time experiencing highs and lows on leaving the family home, splurging on holidays and or travelling the world, and finding new friends while losing others.

But it is the finding love, sometimes our first love—and losing it just as quick—that is a focus for me. So my stories are about the characters finding their way as they enter adulthood, adding the emotion and adventure of romance. And during this journey they discover who they are and what really matters to them, and fighting for it. Something we can all relate to regardless of our age. Although I write contemporary new adult with a sport theme, other sub genres are becoming just as popular like fantasy or sci-fi, paranormal, and suspense.

New Adult is storming the bookshelves in the states and I hope Australia takes it lead, and gives New Adult the support it deserves.

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What is the target market for New Adult? Who is reading it?

Readers 17+ ages can relate to New Adult stories. I for one look back at those years with happiness, in a nostalgic way, and yet I also remember the regrets. Younger readers may relate to the story while experiencing similar firsts, happy times and disappointments.

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

In my bookshelf I have a variety of books including Australian authors. Favourites are Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and yet I also enjoyed Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey. There are also many Nora Robert’s books.

I take my kindle everywhere as though it another appendage. The books on my kindle are mainly New Adult, with Jennifer Armentrout’s, and Lexi Ryan’s books featuring heavily. I also endeavour to buy many Australian authors’ books, especially those published by Destiny.

My favourite NA books:

Stay With Me by Jennifer Armentrout

Easy by Tammara Webber

Adam’s List by Jennifer Ann

Another New Life by Sydney Aaliyah

Goodbye to You by AJ Mathews

Tyler by Jo Raven

Walk With Me by Kaitlyn Stone

You have four daughters, does that help you to be in touch with what New Adult characters would be doing/thinking/feeling?

Absolutely. Many authors are given the advice to ‘write what you know’. I am living the emotional highs and lows of New Adult characters in my home. Whether it ‘first time’ experiences or conversations about alcohol and drug abuse in society, which is common among this age group, I believe I am in touch with New Adult themes.

Can you tell us a bit about your current work in progress?

Currently I am writing the third book in the series, another football romance involving a ruckman. Both characters are new, although my main characters in Winning the Player will receive cameos.

What does the future hold for Leesa Bow?

At the moment I am a full time author. I am enjoying my writing journey and hope for three or four more books to be published over the next year.

2015 will be a big year in my personal life, and I hope it to be just as big in my writing world.

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

Luke sat straight backed on the bed, his gaze devouring my body. As much as I liked watching his face adore me, I also wanted to perve. ‘Your turn,’ I whispered.

Luke shook his head and stood. My gaze shot straight to the bulge in his shorts. Whoa. He turned away and opened the cupboard door.

‘What are you doing?’

He moved coat hangers apart, searching for God knows what. ‘I’m picking out a dress for you to wear. We’re going out for dinner.’

I sprang to the edge of the bed. ‘You’re kidding, right?’

Luke looked at me from over his shoulder, hands still on clothes hanging in my cupboard. ‘No, I’m not. You asked me to kiss you like I meant it, and I did. Now we’re getting out of the house before I lose my bloody mind.’

Here’s the link to the first chapter on the Destiny website:

http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781760140434/charming-outback/19286873/extract

Author Bio:

Leesa Bow grew up in Broken Hill. Sport played a major role in her life growing up in a small country town, and Leesa had a passion for basketball. Although she loved to read books with happy endings, she never believed she would end up a novelist.

Leesa started her professional life nursing at the local hospital before moving to Adelaide in her early twenties. She married a football player, and inevitably her four daughters were also sporty. Leesa began writing seriously when her second daughter became sick with cancer. Initially writing was therapeutic, but when her daughter got the all clear, she decided to continue writing seriously. Stories about sport, romance, and characters aged eighteen plus seemed logical since her daughters were of a similar age, and often surrounded by athletes.

In her spare time Leesa writes New Adult romance. On weekends she enjoys watching basketball and football, having beach days with the family, catching up with girlfriends, and daydreaming about strong heroines.

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Author Spotlight- Author Groups: The Naughty Ninjas…

 

Have you ever thought of being part a formalised writer’s group with the intention of blogging or creating a website together, but haven’t known where to start or what to expect?

Instead of shining the spotlight on sole authors, I thought it might be interesting to focus a little on authors who share a formal blog or website.  Over the coming months I will be chatting to other author groups about the mechanics and benefits of working with other authors towards a common goal.  These groups will share their experiences and knowledge so that it might inspire some of you to give it a go.

For the first in this series, please welcome Rhyll Biest and Georgina Penney from the Naughty Ninjas!

 

naughty ninja logo

Members of  the Naughty Ninjas are: Andra Ashe, Sandra Antonelli, Sarah Belle, Cate Ellink, Roz Groves, Lily Malone, Georgina Penney, Rhyll Biest.

The group commenced in February 2014 and focuses on the Romance Genre with naughtiness on the side!

Hi Rhyll and Georgina – otherwise known as the founders of The Naughty Ninjas. Thanks for joining us to discuss formal author groups. Can you tell us a bit about the Naughty Ninjas?

We’re seven Australian romance writers and one mighty Australian romance reviewer, Roz Groves. Andra, Cate and Rhyll write erotic romance, Lily and Sandra write contemporary romance, Sarah writes Ro-magic Comedy, Georgina writes Chick lit (with strong romance overtones) and all of us have a robust sense of humour, whether we’re talking about love, life, writing, reading, romance or sex. Or merkins and tentacles.

Rhyll%20Biest   GeorginaPenney

What sort of activities do the Ninjas undertake?

Our website, social media, podcasts and newsletter combine direct and indirect marketing. We share practical information about writing and marketing, books we enjoyed, and information relevant to romance (e.g. author interviews). And then there’s the naughty stuff purely for entertainment, including recipes, opinion pieces, advice columns and nerdy facts. If one of us has a launch date, the ninjas go into overdrive with promotion. There has been threat of a nudie run to promote the raft of upcoming releases but that’s on hold until Cate Ellink can knit a merkin big enough to cover up the entirety of Georgina’s wobbly bits.

What inspired you to form the Naughty Ninjas? How long did the group take in its planning stages prior to going live with a website?

Seeing other successful group sites, frustration with individual promotion efforts, and attending a promotion workshop all provided inspiration.

We started with a small core group in September 2013 who nutted out brand, aims, design and content ideas and general operation principles via Skype meetings. That part didn’t take too long and mainly involved a lot of bawdy talk and laughter. It then took us a couple of months to develop the site and fill it with content before trialling it with a small audience before the official launch on Valentine’s Day this year.

 Sandra%20_Cookieface_%20Antonelli    Cate%20_Man%20Eater_%20Ellink

What sort of issues do writers need to consider prior to forming a group- – IT, Intellectual Property, rules, expenses, etc.

If you’re looking to form a group like ours (with or without the merkins or tentacles) the key thing is going to be communication. Get all members to give you a realistic (not utopic) idea of the time they’ll have and the responsibilities they want and then halve that to allow for family dramas, book launches, bad hair days (or running out of coffee). That way you’ll start off on the right foot, with everyone having a manageable work load.

If you don’t have communication, you’re going to have trouble sorting out all the other tricksy bits and pieces when it comes to the following:

  • Deciding who is going to develop and maintain the site? (You can get mixed results if everyone is uploading to the site regardless of their tech savvy.)
  • Who owns the content, the site or each contributor?
  • Who is going to pay for the site domain, images and giveaways/prizes? How are you going to decide membership and handle disagreements or disputes?
  • How much time do you want to spend on the group and what’s the plan for sticking to that time limit?
  • How are you going to measure and report the achievement of your goals (assuming you’ve set some in the first place)?

Oh, and we can’t forget the tone of the group. Make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to content. We ninjas can be a little risqué and it was super-important to make sure everyone was okay with that from the get-go.

 

How do you manage to keep in contact with everyone, as well as coordinate writing activities and due dates?

We’re a geographically dispersed group, with members living in Brunei, Canberra, Melbourne, WA, NSW and Queensland, so online communication is our main method (and some of it is actually serious group-related stuff!). At the moment, we mainly use email and a fantastic project organization site called Freedcamp to co-ordinate website content. The smaller stuff is all taken care of through Twitter and Facebook with the odd blog visit. The podcast is done through Skype.

Most of us are hopefully going to meet up at the conference this year as well for a couple of drinks and shenanigans as well.

roz%20grashopper%20groves    Andra%20_Madame_%20Ashe

 

What benefits do you see in writers coming together in a formal group to write and market their work?

So many benefits!

  • Other members can pick up the slack for each other when crisis or deadline looms for someone.
  • Where one blog/website might draw between 100-300 visits each day (depending on how amaze-balls you are), a single multi-author site which is cross-linked to existing blog/website readerships can theoretically be drawing over a thousand visits a day. That makes it more attractive to advertisers, sponsors and readers.
  • Fans of one author will come to the site, see who that author ‘hangs’ with and consider reading the books of other authors. I know that Wonkomance certainly worked that way for me (Rhyll). I’ve had that experience. A couple of readers have contacted me to say they found me through loving Sandra Antonelli and Lily Malone’s books (Georgina).
  • Eight people instead of one are promoting the one site (through tweets, likes, etc).
  • Eight people instead of one are creating the content for one site, so each person can spend less time on promotion. And we believe in recycling, so there’s no reason you can’t duplicate your own posts on your personal sites (blogs/websites) after they’ve appeared on the group site.
  • Instead of one lonely little brain struggling to come up with ideas all on its ownsome, eight brains work together. Assuming each of us has an average IQ of 80 (is that the average?) our site now has an IQ of 640 (which means NASA will approach us with a job offer any day now). Also, we can bounce ideas off each other and have a few laughs while getting feedback and suggestions.
  • With seven authors, that’s seven times whatever number of books each individual author has published to offer as giveaways or discounts on.
  • With eight of us, each with their own contacts and networks, our reach (in terms of finding potential sponsors, interviewees, guests etc) is wider than the Russian mafia’s.
  • Each of us writes in different styles and genres, so we’re able to bang on about a wider variety of things (which is more interesting for readers).
  • Each of us brings their own particular skills, knowledge and interests to the group. Georgina is a podcast whizz, a dab website designer and builder, and has a feel for the overseas romance community. Rhyll is a keen editor, planner and schemer (she makes some third world dictators eyeing a small neighbouring country for annexation look sloppy). Lily understands the hell out of wine, marketing and self-pubbing, Sandra is our recipe, Twitter and coffee queen, Andra and Cate bring science and erotica to the table, Sarah and Roz share their reviewing expertise, ro-magic comedy and well-developed appreciation of Cthulhu and megalodon jokes.
  • The best part is having other like-minded (i.e. fun) people to plan and speak with. Writing can be lonely, but promotion need not be. I think everyone’s energy starts to flag under the weight of promoting on their own. If your day involves working a full-time job (other than writing), meeting your family’s needs and trying to make sense of that manuscript you’re in the middle of writing, promotion can feel like many-tentacled beastie trying to drag you down. Having a group at your back to help you get the word out about your latest release and who’ll listen to you having a bit of a confidential rant, swear of happy moment is fantastic.

What have been your biggest hurdles to date?

They fall into two categories. The first is keeping track of the deadlines, who has submitted what, and what belongs to who, and where projects are at. Google Drive and Freedcamp are useful apps for sorting, backing up and tracking things. And time management. Luckily, if things go wrong, we tend to just giggle and snort at each other.

The second is managing our own crazy-keen ambition and understanding our limitations. For example, we started off with a pretty intense workload to get a decent amount of content on the site but now, six months down the track, we’ve realized that maintaining that workload isn’t necessary to get the traffic we want, so we’ve pulled things back a little and slowed down.

 

Lily%20_Beanie%20Queen_%20Malone%20copy   sarah%20belle

 

How many hours a month would you spend on the Naughty Ninjas? What types of tasks are involved?

When we started, lots! But things are much more streamlined now. Georgina spends about 18 to 20 hours a month all up taking care of formatting the podcast, the website and social media side of things (daily FB and Twitter posts) and Rhyll spends the equivalent on getting the newsletter out, scheduling, editing and all the vast minutiae of organising images for articles etc. On top of that there’s the time each Ninja takes to write their month’s articles/reviews, including any research, book reading etc. In Cate Ellink’s case, that involved knitting a merkin, sending it to Brunei and forever confounding the elderly gentleman at Customs.

We set everything up with a publishing calendar planned a month or two in advance, tied with a submission schedule designed to fill each planned item (recipe, review, interview) so if there are any problems in a given month, we’re covered.

Since we’ve got a light-fun based focus, we also try to theme things as much as possible. For example, if it’s national pedicure month, we’ll try to have several items about pedicures (and recipes with toenails).

A lot of brainstorming of ideas for promotion also goes on through Freedcamp. We also use Skype as well. Admittedly, the group Skype calls quickly degenerate into discussions of Cthulhu beanies and masturbation tents.

Is there anything you know now that you wish you’d known in the earliest days of the group?

Everything will take up double the time you expect it to, so have realistic expectations of both your and your group members’ capacity to get stuff done around life’s little (sometimes huge) hurdles.

 

What’s the difference between marketing yourself as a solo author and marketing a group of authors?

The main thing is having the knowledge that you’ve got a bunch of kickass ladies at your back when it comes to a book launch, a beta read, a celebration or a rant. We all come from different backgrounds so it’s great to have access to such a big pool of different skills and knowledge. And we all crack each other up. There’s nothing like a good laugh to dispel the blues after a bad day in the writing trenches.

 

Do you have any advice for writers who are interested in forming a group?

The main thing we’d say is don’t start a group with people who you probably wouldn’t be friends with socially. Get together a bunch of likeminded people who you know will be able to communicate well, who are comfortable with the content you want to post and the brand you want to promote. If those people make you laugh so hard that you snort tea (or coffee) through your nose, all the better!

 

Thanks so much for joining us today, Rhyll and Georgina, and for sharing your pearls of wisdom with us.

If you’d like to check out the Naughty Ninjas, you can do it via:

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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?

DMoon

 

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.

Web links

Website/Blog

 

Facebook

 

Twitter

Buy link for Dark Moon

 

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.

 

Author Spotlight: Georgina Penney…

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Georgina, and congratulations on the release of ‘Irrepressible You’.

Thank you so much. It’s an absolute honour!

You write warm and funny romance novels, can you please tell us a bit about them?

My favourite books ever are ones that make me smile, cry, and that leave me a little hot and bothered so that’s what I set out to achieve in my writing.

My books are set all over the place but Irrepressible You is based in Fremantle, Western Australia with a bit of London thrown in. It features a lady barber with a penchant for nineteen fifties fashion and a terribly naughty and very sexy British satirist who’s out for someone to write about in his newspaper column.

I loved putting a Brit with an Aussie in this story. I think the Australian vernacular and temperament adds an extra special element to romance. We’re a pretty blunt people and it leaves a lot of room for juicy conflict!

Irrepressible You Cover

You have travelled extensively and lived in some very exotic locations, how has this inspired you as a writer?

Tremendously. Our first big move overseas was to an isolated expatriate compound in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and my husband and I were among a few Australians living there. It didn’t take long to work out how different we were culturally to the Americans living in the compound at the time, not to mention the Saudis outside. The culture shock was huge!  (We shall never speak again of that time I took home-made pumpkin pie to a coffee morning in January and had all the Texan ladies telling me with sympathetic expressions that it wasn’t thanksgiving.) The entire experience left me feeling a little homesick and wanting to write about Australia.

In general though, being an expat made me hyper aware of just how similar we all are at heart, no matter colour race or creed. I think that’s why I gravitated towards romance. Love and laughter are universal, no matter where you go. The most popular books in Saudi Arabia were romances that featured the full old-school bodice-ripper covers and when I moved to my now-home Brunei, I found the same was true here. It was wonderful inspiration.

Your past life (prior to writing) is fascinating, can you give us a brief run down of what you’ve studied and worked as, please?

I’ve done a little of everything! My parents moved around a whole lot when I was a kid so I started working odd jobs on farms at an early age; feeding poddy calves, helping with worming, lambing, milking… all that kind of stuff before heading off to the big smoke to study fine art.

In addition to that, I’ve been a weigh bridge clerk, waitress (only job I was ever fired from… I am totally not cut out for the service industry), a receptionist, an administrator, a graphic designer, a web designer, the registrar of a naturopathy college. After that I decided university would be a little better and studied Communication and Cultural Studies and then headed off to UWA to do a PHD in Peak Oil, which I escaped by moving to Saudi Arabia with my husband in 2007. Oh, in there was also study and work in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy that started in my early twenties. I know I’ve probably missed something out here but that’s the bulk of it!

In all that time you must have met some very interesting people – do they ever make an appearance in your novels?

People watching is my favourite hobby. All of my characters have features or personality traits I’ve “stolen” from someone I know. My book, Irrepressible You, features a heroine, Amy, whose bubbly personality and steel backbone were inspired by one of my dearest friends and my hero Ben… well, he’s an amalgamation of a couple of charming gentlemen I’ve met over the years.

Wherever I go, I try to keep a notebook with me to write down things I overhear or see so I’ll remember them later. As it is, I’ve got about five full notebooks and counting! My most recent note is about the Bruneian gentleman who cuts our lawn wearing, for some undefinable reason, a bright orange wig. It would be a sin not to put him in a book at some stage.

You are currently living on the edge of the Bornean jungle – how’s the internet connectivity there?

“Dire!” We were under half a foot of water from torrential rain all January and landslides took out a bunch of wires and cables near the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. It’s left me with the kind of internet speed that old-school dial-up would sneer at. Mice on tiny treadmills could run the internet faster.

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You’ve described yourself as ‘incredibly pedantic’, does that mean you are a plotter or a panster?

I’m a total pantser but a total nit-picker when it comes to editing. I usually like to write my first draft then sit it for a couple of months before editing, repeating that process at least four or five times before I’m even vaguely happy with things. There’s a lot of swearing involved and a considerable amount of alternating wine and caffeine!

Can you please tell us about your path to publication? Is there anything you wish you’d known sooner?

When I moved to Brunei nearly 5 years ago, I was in the position of choosing expat wife coffee mornings or trying to write a book and I chose the book.

I did a bit of research and came up with a three-year plan. I’d write three first-draft manuscripts the first year, edit them the next and then see about publication after that. That’s pretty much all I did. Oh, I’m an inveterate procrastinator so I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t join any writing groups or go on Facebook or Twitter until I had all three done.

I then did a little more research, found out I had to get pro-edited if I wanted a shot at things, did that and then started submitting to American agents. Eighty rejection letters later, I had a very lovely agent tell me that my writing wasn’t so much the problem. The problem was that I’d written chick lit set in Australia, which was already a tough sell (at the time) as all people wanted during that period were sexy toothy vampires with mighty attributes or cowboys (with mighty attributes). With that news, I decided to try submitting to Australian publishers and was lucky enough to get offers from both Destiny and Escape, resulting in a three book deal with Destiny.

If I could do it over again, I think I would have started from the beginning with Australian publishers. Everyone is so professional and friendly!

Your blog is called ‘Steamy Puddings’. How did you come up with that name?

It was borne out of my love of all things dodgy in old school romance, including the covers where the heroines looked like they were being given the old Heimlich by Fabio, their “steamy puddings” were bursting out of their bodices for the masses to see.

And finally, could you please give us a sneaky peek excerpt from ‘Irrepressible You’?

“What do you think her deal is?” Alex Crane asked over the heavy roar of rain hitting the canvas awning covering the Norfolk Pub’s convict-built limestone beer garden.

Ben Martindale idly played with the packet of Gitanes he’d just placed on the ale-polished table in front of him while covertly studying the lady in question, who appeared to be the end product of an improbable romantic liaison between a Kewpie Doll and a fifties Barbie.

Her artfully curled platinum hair was pulled into a high ponytail that framed apple-cheeked features, and her rather delectable little body was decked out in a cinched waist red and white polka dot dress, red cardigan and black patent leather heels. In the dimly lit surrounds, she stood out like a rare bird of paradise lost in a penguin exhibit.

If Ben and Alex were prudent men, they’d take all that red as one of nature’s warning signals, but Ben had always been fascinated by things that didn’t quite fit—in fact, he’d made it his business—and Alex… well, Alex was full to the brim of that unique blind optimism possessed by a certain brand of Yank who travels abroad. As far as Ben knew, there was no known cure.

“Twenty dollars says she’s in the theatre,” Ben replied in clipped British tones, allowing himself a smirk at Alex’s instant censoring frown.

“I don’t know man, the fifties look is in. A lot of girls dress like that.”

“I must have been experiencing momentary blindness.” He poured himself a glass of a passable Cabernet Sauvignon, absorbing its earthy aroma, and leaned a little further back in his chair, projecting the boneless placidity of a big cat at rest. “She’s certainly not taking advantage of the attention she’s getting.”

“The sailors?” Alex looked around the outdoor bar, which was currently infested with an entire battleship’s worth of American sailors on shore leave, some in uniform, some in civvies, all on the prowl. Or as on the prowl as they could be clustered around a bevy of upright outdoor heaters spaced at random. Over the past hour or so, Ben and Alex had watched as they’d approached the lady in packs of twos or threes. Without fail, they’d all been given a double dimpled smile designed to charm and sent on their merry way.

“Hmm mm.” Ben took another sip of wine.

“She’s free to take advantage of me.”

“Just remember, Australian women are a tougher breed than the sensitive plants you’re used to. You’re getting yourself to the hospital if she beats you to a pulp. I prefer my car seats free of blood spatter.” His harsh, bare-knuckle-boxer’s features momentarily took on the menacing aspect the British tabloids had frequently remarked upon of late.

Alex chuckled, his booming, liquid-gold voice almost, but not quite, drowning out the rain. “Why would she do that? I love Aussie women. They love me too.”

“I know. Too much. Have I told you how little sleep I managed last night thanks to your stellar full volume performance with… Susan?”

“Sarah.”

Ben waved a hand dismissively. “Forgive me. Sarah. When I said mi casa es tu casa, I didn’t mean you and whatever banshee you pick up after your show. And I certainly didn’t request the encore performance, either.”

Alex shrugged unapologetically. “Is it my fault you brought a place with amazing acoustics?” He narrowed his eyes at the cigarette Ben had just tapped out of the packet and lit on autopilot. “Put that out or you’re a dead man. They screw with my vocal chords.”

“I know,” Ben said with a wicked grin, but stubbed his cigarette out on the bottom of his brown Italian loafer without taking a puff. He’d quit seven months ago and only carried the French cigarettes around out of habit. They were long past stale. He’d throw them out one of these days. Not yet, but one of these days.

“You coming tomorrow?” Alex asked, casually belying the fact he was referring to a sell-out performance of Pagliacci. Opera Australia had paid an obscene amount to lure him across the Pacific to play the lead, Canio, and they were getting their money’s worth if last night’s packed house was any indication. Alex possessed the heady combination of pretty-boy Filipino-American features, a golden voice and the grace of Astaire. In everything but hair color, he was the opposite of Ben, who couldn’t sing for shit, had the features of a hardened criminal and used his tongue to wield words like weapons, usually for comic effect but sometimes for the hell of it.

“Of course. How else will I be able to tell you what you did wrong?” Ben’s smirk transformed to a scowl as Alex leveled a punch at his shoulder. “Bastard. That’s my writing arm you know.”

“You don’t need it.”

“I bloody well do.”

“Just phone your column in.”

“How about you phone your performance in tomorrow? Oh just wait, you always do,” Ben shot back, only to see his friend hadn’t caught the dig. Instead Alex’s attention had been snared by the little blonde again.

Ben sighed. “Can you be a little more obvious? You’re looking at her like she’s a postman’s leg and you’re an amorous Labrador. Down, Fido.”

Alex ignored him, his expression turning thoughtful. “You know… I’m gonna go for it.”

“At your own risk. What do you think you’re going to achieve? Well, other than being thoroughly humiliated when she sends you packing?” He returned his gaze to the lady in question, who was currently peering at a small handheld mirror and wielding a tube of lipstick with the precision of a Dutch Master. He had to admit he was just as intrigued as his friend. His fingers twitched in the way they always did when he sensed a good story about to unfold. “And please make this amusing. I do have a word count to fill for next week.”

Alex ignored him, his broad brow puckered in a pensive frown. He was obviously working out what he was going to say to impress the lady, which was both ridiculous and rather endearing. Given Alex’s appearance, success and celebrity, he should have all the confidence in the world; still, he remained stubbornly oblivious to his own appeal. Ben, on the other hand, knew he was a charming bastard when he wanted to be and rarely questioned his attractiveness to the opposite sex.

“Watch and learn.” Alex pushed back his chair, then sauntered with painstakingly deliberate nonchalance over to the woman’s table.

Thank you for taking part in our Author Spotlight!

It was my absolute pleasure!

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Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Jennifer St George…

130528 The Love Deception cover

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Jennifer and congratulations on the release of ‘The Love Deception’!  You write predominantly about strong heroines from wealthy families. What personality traits make a compelling heroine in the world of glitz and glamour?

Charlie from Seducing the Secret Heiress knew how to operate in the world of glitz and glamour, but some of my other heroines enter this world uninitiated. It can be a very intimidating place. They have to be strong and brave and hold their head high when faced with a world where they don’t understand the rules.

What about the heroes – what qualities to they have to possess in order to attract such strong, independent women?

My heroes are all commanders of their domain whether it is a law firm, a hotel empire or a reality TV consortium. They are at the top of their careers and are not used to people challenging their thinking, their ideas or their behaviour. My heroines find their confident nature intensely attractive but equally infuriating. But it is usually when the heroine discovers the hero’s well-buried weakness or flaw that she really falls for him.

You’ve been praised for your ability to provide riveting tension within your novels. Can you share any tips with us? Why is tension so important?

It lovely to know that I can bring riveting tension to my stories. I’ve learnt so many things through RWA and one of the things that’s really stuck is how important it is to have tension on every page. You can’t have characters sitting around thinking as this invites skimming. If a scene doesn’t move the story forward – cut it, rip it out, be ruthless even if the writing is brilliant.

The wonderful Kylie Griffin led me to the fabulous Margie Lawson who really hammered this point home through her deep editing courses.  If you haven’t done one, I’d highly recommend them.

While writing, how does the story develop for you? Do you go from start to finish or create scenes as they come to you?

I’ve completely changed my process since I started out. I began as a panser but it just didn’t work. I threw out thousands and thousands of words. I brought a great book which taught me how to plot (I’m such a planner in every-day life, so this worked out well). I usually start with the first scene and ‘the black moment’ fully formed in my mind, then I plot. I’m now a don’t-write-one-word-until-the-book-is-all-planned-out writer. The only downside of this is that I know what happens in the end before I write the story.

What is the biggest misconception about being an author?

That it’s a big shining oasis when you know everything about writing, the perfect prose pours from your pen (or computer) without effort and the gold rains down from the sky. Don’t get my wrong, I’m thrilled to pieces to be published. It’s exciting, validating and a dream come true. Receiving positive feedback from readers is just lovely but the job is still the same on this side of the fence – keep learning, keep reading and write, write, write!

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What would we find on your bookshelf?

I read across a lot of genres – obviously lots of romance (mostly category as that’s what I write), but I also love crime (eg recently read Michael Connelly, Stieg Larsson, Gillian Flynn), historical drama/action (eg Bernard Cornwell) and literary authors such as Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Iain Banks (who sadly passed away several days ago). I don’t read too much fantasy, but I am ripping through George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I try to keep up with winners of the major awards such as The Booker and Miles Franklin awards (although I am very behind at the moment!!) and am still working my way through the classics. Only read To Kill a Mockingbird last year (I know, I know!).  Unfortunately I’m a slow reader so my TBR pile is huge!

I’ve been seeing a number of discussions on the Yahoo groups about Happily-Ever-After. Do you feel that HEA is necessary to a romance novel?

They certainly are in my novels!

Seducing the Secret Heiress Cover  TheConvenientBride_cvr

Can you tell us about your works in progress? Do you work on one novel at a time or are you a writer who can have several stories on the go at the same time?

Before I was published I was a one-novel-at-a-time gal. But you can’t really be like that when you’re published as you could be working on a new WIP when copy edits come in, so I’ve had to learn to change focus fast.  But I like working on one book at a time and finishing it. I like being immersed in the world of my characters and live the story with them.

My current WIP is what I jokingly call my ‘monkey’ book. The hero is an IT guru working in central London. My heroine runs an Orangutan sanctuary in Brunei. I was inspired to write this book when a charity gave a presentation in Byron Bay (where I live) about the plight of the Orangutans. It had me thinking what a different working life the people in the Sanctuary had to the career I had before writing. They work in the hot humid jungle, often in mud, with large animals and are completely underfunded. All my work environments have been nice clean offices in high-rise buildings, with every technological gadget to hand, in large urban centres, with multi-million dollar firms. Two completely different worlds.  Imagine if people from those two worlds were thrown together due to an urgent imperative.

What does the future hold for Jennifer St George?

Hopefully I can write lots more books that readers will love!

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

I wrote this book originally about three years ago (it’s been through lots of iterations since then) and entered it in lots of RWA competitions. This is a scene I reworked a number of times and I really love it.

She tiptoed across the cold marble. Reached for the door.

‘Morning.’ One word, delivered without a hint of surprise at discovering a barefoot stranger sneaking through his entry hall. It conveyed the confidence of a man who knew her. Knew a lot about her. Knew he wanted something special from her.

She swung like a weathervane blasted by a ferocious arctic wind. A man stood dominating the massive living room, sporting only a pair of board shorts. Drops of water slipped down his olive skin. She couldn’t help following the path of one glistening drop. His dark hair was damp. His eyes, as black and reflective as hematite crystal, searched her face; a quick flick down her body then back to her eyes.

‘Sorry, just been for a swim,’ he said. He took a sip from his coffee mug. ’Refreshing when you haven’t had much sleep. And we both know how that feels, right?’ His all-knowing tone, elevated brow and innuendo-laced words forced her mouth open and her eyes wide.

Her brain screamed run, run, run. But she stood, staring. Desperate to leave . . . but she had to know. Why was she here? How did she get here? And where the hell was here?

‘Coffee?’

It sounded more like a challenge than an invitation. A challenge to which she didn’t know the rules. His thoughts certainly weren’t on caffeinated beverages.

‘Ah, no.’ Her voice sounded scratchy, as if she had a particular taste for single malt.

‘Come on,’ he said. ‘At least you could stay for coffee. That was quite a performance.’

She knew from his expression he was reliving an experience she’d clearly been part of.

A fuzzy image popped into her brain.

She’d been naked.

He’d been watching.

They’d been in that bedroom.

I must have slept with him.

Her heart beat to the mantra – shame, shame, shame. Mortification crawled up her back and settled like an ill-fitting mantle. She’d known herself for twenty-five years and yet today she stood in the skin of some slutty stranger.

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Find Jennifer at:

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Destiny Romance

To be in the running to win an ebook  copy of Seducing the Secret Heiress, simply answer the following question:

I love spending time creating exotic and  interesting settings for my stories. Is there a setting in a story you’ve  read that’s really resonated with you?

This competition is open to  Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA and New Zealand and will be drawn on Monday July 1st. The winner will be notified.

 

Author Spotlight: Leisl Leighton…

Hello Leisl and welcome to the Author Spotlight.

KillingMeSoftly_cover

 

Can you tell us about your journey from hobby writer to published author?

I worked in theatre and cabaret for many years and wrote/co-wrote scripts throughout those years as well as owning my own theatre restaurant for 6 years. But after 12 years of working in that industry, I’d had enough and wanted to start a family, so closed my business down. I still needed to be creative though, so I began to write the stories I dreamed every night. My first effort was a massive fantasy tomb that when finished was 250,000 words long! I realise now that I wrote everything into that novel – character backgrounds, story backgrounds, the history of the cultures…everything – because I’m a pantser. Because I can’t stick to one thing, I wrote a bunch of other styles of novel, both single title and category, and began submitting some of them, without understanding anything about that process because I was working in the dark, alone.

A lucky meeting with Anne Gracie changed everything for me. She kindly interpreted half a dozen page long rejection letters I got and then told me in no uncertain terms that I had to join RWA and avail myself of its critique partner network and competitions to work on the technical aspects of writing I was failing at and not give up, because those rejection letters were actually telling me I had something, I just had to work at it.

I did as she suggested and was rewarded with amazing help, some wonderful friendships and a network of support you just don’t get anywhere else. I have worked on a number of manuscripts, pitched at conferences, sent to contests here and in the US (I won and placed in quite a few) and had the privilege of attending the first 5DI week. I kept submitting and got some really great encouragement from agents and editors who liked my writing but just didn’t have a place for the stories I sent them. That all changed when I met with Carol George from Destiny Romance about a manuscript I’d submitted to her. That manuscript was wrong for them, but they loved my writing and she asked to see other things I’d written as long as they had a stronger romance thread than the one I’d submitted. I submitted a romantic suspense I’d written a few years ago and the rest, as they say, is history.

Now that you are a published author, how has life changed for you?

I have been treating writing like it is my job ever since I came back from the 5DI. I spend time on my writing every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. I have also given myself deadlines to work towards in regards to entering competitions and have pitched at every RWA conference I’ve gone to, researched pitching, query letter and synopsis writing and have generally made it my business to know as much as I could about this industry I wanted to be a part of. So in essence, things haven’t changed on the outside. I still fit my writing in around my family and my part time work, but I find it’s the attitudes of others that have changed. People are suddenly taking my writing more seriously – without that contract, people do tend to give you indulgent looks as if to say they think you are dreaming when you say you are a writer.

Leisl Headshot tweet

How important have writing competitions been in regards to your development as a writer?

I think they have been essential. They gave me my first taste of criticism from people I don’t know and helped me see not only where I was going wrong and what I could improve, but what I was getting right. The contest dates made me work to deadlines and made me research how to write queries and synopsis, which in turn helped me to figure out elemental problems of my manuscripts – like where a plot falls into the mire of its own cleverness or where character GMC’s aren’t strong enough. They also got my work in front of agents and editors who gave me some wonderful advice and allowed me to make some good contacts. I was asked, through entering the Emerald, to become a contest manager, which has taught me even more about what good writing is, reader and judge expectations and helped me connect with some of the other wonderful volunteers in RWA who have been massively supportive of my work. But most of all, entering the competitions has taught me the most important lesson of all – You can’t please everyone.

Do you have a Critique Partner?

I belong to two different critique/writing groups, one an RWA group, the other I started with someone I met in a local writing group. There is someone in each group that I can send things to in between meetings if I need and I do the same for them. I also have had critique partners through the critique partner network, who helped me a lot, but in the end with each, life got in the way for one or other of us and we just stopped swapping work.

You write across a variety of genres: paranormal, suspense and fantasy, which is your favourite?

That’s like asking me to choose a favourite child!

I love reading those genres, so that’s why I write them. In regards to choosing what genre I’m going to write in at any one time, I write what strikes me at the time and when writing it, it evolves into one of those three genres. My characters seem to know best where they belong.

What are the essential elements in all of the above genres?

There must be mystery, high tension, and a strong, twisting plot that keeps me guessing but that doesn’t make me go ‘Huh? How did that happen?’ at the end; strong, engaging characters who are challenged by the situation they find themselves in, but also have a personal journey to make and are fully drawn so they feel like friends I can believe in even while I’m thinking, ‘how can they find their way through this?’

Other characters and little subplots can add to the mystery and tension, but aren’t always essential, although they very often help the leads find their inner strength and face their own personal demons, so I do like them to be there and real. The worlds need to be fully drawn so that I can see them and breathe them in, allowing me to feel a part of them every time I open the page and draws me right in. The world also needs to make me feel that the characters truly live there and haven’t just been dropped in for the duration of the book, that I could revisit this world to follow other characters and it would be just as alive and fulfilling as the first time because there is even more to explore. And on top of this, for paranormal and fantasy series especially, an overarching plot that will unfold a little more in each novel.

What are your top 5 all time favourite books?

Wow, that’s a really hard question to answer. I think more in terms of favourite authors, of which there are many, but I suppose my favourite books, the ones I have read over and over are: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, (and the rest of the series), Magician by Raymond E. Feist (and the subsequent series), Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts (and the subsequent series), Hummingbird by Lavyrle Spencer, Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singhe (and the subsequent series).

I have to say I also love Nora Roberts, Anne Gracie, Katherine Kerr, Anne McCaffrey, JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyers, Charlaine Harris, Sherylyn Kenyon, Richelle Meade, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Georgette Heyer… the list goes on and on.

Can you tell us a little about your next novel?

I am currently working on a few things. The first is a romantic suspense I’m rewriting that I wrote many years ago about a woman on the run for her life after witness protection failed her. The second is a paranormal romance series about Witches and Weres and a curse that threatens to tear apart the pact they created 500 years ago to save Witches from the wildness of their powers and Weres from the violence of their animals. I have written the first book for this series and am currently writing the second in the series as well as mapping out ideas for the third. And then there’s an epic paranormal fantasy about a blind witch and her vampire lover and the prophecy that threatens to tear their world apart. I’ve written the first two novels of this series and am working on ideas for redrafting them before moving further into the series (although I have the third and fourth books basically mapped out).

What does the future hold for Leisl Leighton?

Hopefully lots of time to write, lots of people loving my books and wanting more, affording me the ability to make writing what I do for my career. Although, if this weren’t to happen, writing would still be essential to my life, because I love it, I need it and it helps keep me sane in this insanely busy world. Other than that, health and happiness, friendship and love for myself, my family and friends is everything I would ask for. 

Congratulations on your debut release, ‘Killing me Softly’. Can you give us an extract?

His eyes were vibrant blue in the semi-dark room. She could feel his gaze like a touch as it skimmed over her face, came back to her eyes, remained there. How could it feel as if he were drinking her in? She cleared her throat, shifted, tore her gaze away. ‘I like to come down here at this time of the night. I like the quiet. I can work without being disturbed.’
He laughed at her gentle barb, the sound sliding up and down her spine. She stood up abruptly. ‘How come you’re up at this hour?’ She sounded defiant, almost annoyed, but she couldn’t help it. He’d thrown her with his presence.

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Author Spotlight and Giveaway: Elise K Ackers.

Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Elise, and congratulations on your latest release, ‘Ask Me To Stay’!

Ask Me To Stay cover

Can you tell us about your new release, the first instalment in the Homeland novella series, ‘Ask Me To Stay?’

Ask Me To Stay introduces almost all of the main characters who will appear throughout the three book series. It is a story about reputation, redemption, loyalty and love; and a man who has more secrets in his life than any one person should be expected to carry. It’s contemporary and rural, with romantic elements.

Ethan Foster fled the small country town of Hinterdown, New South Wales in his late teens, following the terrible tragedy which made him an orphan. He returned as infrequently as possible; a fleeting presence at whatever milestone his brother Dean was celebrating. But now Ethan’s back for the funeral of Dean’s late wife, and this time Ethan’s staying for as long as it takes for his brother to get back on his feet.

The townspeople’s reception is hostile: Ethan is not welcome, and not well liked. Only Ethan knows he’s carrying someone else’s poor reputation.

Two people who are willing to look past the rumours are Caleb, his old best friend, and Sammy, the girl he walked out on all those years ago. With them in his corner, Ethan may get the second chance he has been longing for. And maybe, just maybe, he and Dean can start being brothers again.

Can you give us a hint as to what will happen in the second and third novellas?

The second and third novellas continue the romance arc established in the first. I’ve always loved reading trilogies and the like, because I get to stay with the characters just a little longer, which is definitely what happens in the Homeland books.

Ask Me For More, to be released in July, is mostly about Cal. His journey is all about trust, and learning that the right person won’t find you lacking. Sammy’s childhood best friend, Olivia “Lawless” Law, is coming back to town, and she’s about to rattle every one of Cal’s carefully assembled defences.

Ask Me For Tomorrow is Dean’s book. It’s about giving yourself permission to be happy and not letting the past rule your future. It’s also about a little boy who is desperate to belong, a man who has enough room in his heart to start again, and a woman who is so out of practice with being happy, that it doesn’t come naturally to her anymore. Ask Me For Tomorrow will be released in October. 

You wrote the first draft in three days! Was this an idea that had been brewing in your mind for a while or was it one of those wonderful writing moments when the magic takes over?

I took part in the International 3-Day Novel Contest, and those three days were complete madness! All I had at the beginning was an intriguing sentence and a handful of dot points to outline each chapter. Beyond that, I just wanted to reconcile two brothers I’d been thinking about for a few weeks. There were a few magic moments – like little Nina, who just dropped into my imagination, fully formed – but mostly it was hard work and the love of a challenge.

Elise K. Ackers

You made a name for yourself in international writing competitions prior to being published. How can competitions help aspiring authors?

We probably all have parents, siblings or friends who think we’re the best writer since Jane Austen. This is very sweet and loyal, but this kind of feedback won’t help aspiring writers improve. Entering competitions was my way of getting impartial, industry-relevant advice from other writers, avid readers of the genre, and past competition winners. My returned score sheets were invaluable.

Competitions are an excellent way for aspiring authors to determine if they’re ready to submit to agents or publishers, or if their manuscript is ready to be self-published. Some judges are agents or publishers who may request a partial or full manuscript, which is an enormous opportunity.

You’ve lived all over the country. How has this helped shape you as a writer?

It’s made me very adaptable. There isn’t much which overwhelms me (says the woman with no kids), so set-backs and challenges are all pretty much taken in stride. I also have an appetite for adventure and change – I love travelling and experiencing the nuances of different places. I reference a lot of the places I’ve lived and visited when I write about different colloquialisms, ways of life, climates and traditions.

Can you tell us a bit about the unusual accidents you attract?

People always seem to be saying to me, “This has never happened before”. I was once standing in front of a shop window when the glass fell out of the frame and landed on me. These sort of one-off things are typical. Whenever I travel, things happen that surprise even the locals. It makes for an interesting life. And I always have travel insurance!

If I wasn’t an author I’d be…

A film critic. I am an avid couch commentator, and I have an eye for inconsistencies.

After all the drafts and re-edits, how do you know when you have truly finished?

Part of me wants to say never, because something can almost always be improved, but once I’ve received peer reviews, incorporated comments and corrections, and given my manuscript a final polish, I tend to sit back and think about letting it go. Otherwise I’ll overwork it.

Once the structural and line editing is done, I keep wondering what I might have missed, or what I could have done better, but hopefully I learn to let go a little more with each book, otherwise I’ll run out of head space! 

Do you have a writing room? If so, can you describe it to us?

Almost half of the wall space is floor to ceiling books. The ceiling is criss-crossed with multi-coloured bunting and fairy lights, there’s a thick white rug in the middle of the room, two antique chairs, a recliner passed down to me through the generations, dozens of knick-knacks from my travels around the world, and of course, my writing desk. It’s a pretty magical space for me. I’ve surrounded myself with things I love and things which inspire me. There’s also a lovely stone coaster which is more often than not underneath a mug of hot chocolate.

What’s next for Elise K. Ackers?

This year will be largely taken up by the Homeland books, but when I’m not dancing around the house celebrating their releases, I’ll be writing the romantic suspense and new adult titles which are presently taking up a lot of my imagination real estate.

Elise is giving away one copy of her latest release, ‘Ask Me To Stay’ (e-book). To be in the running to win, simply leave a comment, answering the following question:

Have you ever taken the blame for someone else’s mistake?

This competition is open world-wide and will be drawn by Elise on Wednesday, May 1st, 2013.

You can contact Elise, or learn more about her, via the links below:

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Destiny Romance

Cruisin’ with RWA

Wow, what a ripper week it’s been for good news! We’ve welcomed many new members to the RWA fold this year and the press is running hot with exciting new authors. Enrico and Clint were run off their feet gathering the news this week. At this rate the Cruisin’ Limo will need new tyres soon!

We hope you enjoy our line up this week. Have you got a new release, cover, contract, website or blog to share? Send us the link to cruisin@romanceaustralia.com.

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Cruisin’ the News

Share your good news with us each week and we’ll join you in your happy dance. Congratulations to all our members this week. Share your new release, new cover, contest win, new contract, new website and more good news with us at cruisin@romanceaustralia.com.

*Breaking News*  – Bellingen Readers & Writers Festival March 22 and 23, 2013

Jenn J McLeod is on two panels – a popular fiction author panel  on Saturday and a panel with her editor, Belinda Castles discussing the role of editors and mentorships  on Sunday. Tickets will be available for individual sessions on the day – as long as the session venues are not full!

Good News

has self-published her romantic suspense RADIANT, now for sale on Amazon.

Has launched a newsletter. Sign up here or click on the link above to visit her website.

is very pleased to announce her first sale to Destiny Romance, a yet to be titled Regency Historical Romance to be released in 2013

BETRAYED, the third book set in Christina Phillips’s Roman/Druid world, was released by Ellora’s Cave on 20th March

WIFE IN NAME ONLY due for release in April 2013 has a  4 star from RT Book Reviews. For more details visit her new website.

Enjoy a bit of rural fun and games? Read about Primrose causing TROUBLE IN NIRVANA 

With less than 2 weeks to go to the release of her debut novel, RIDING ON AIR, from Escape Publishing, Maggie is running a countdown contest to
win a copy. Each comment, like, or follow on Maggie Gilbert’s social media gets an entry in the draw. Win yourself a copy or send it as a gift to any horse-mad teenager you nominate. For more information visit her website.

From Tuesday 18 March, the 2012 Destiny Romance titles will be available in print from over 650 Australia Post locations around Australia! They will be available for approximately three months, and they look mighty attractive. RWA members who attended the ARRA conference would have seen them on the Penguin/Destiny promotion table or received a copy in a showbag – but now everyone can get themselves a 2012 title and support an Australian publisher and a handful of wonderful Australian authors!

Wanted to let everyone know that her new release THE LAST GLADIATRIX, an historical set in Ancient Rome,will be  coming out with Harlequin Escape on the 1st of April.

Her May 2012 Regency romance INVITATION TO SCANDAL has been nominated for BEST HISTORICAL for 2012 at The Romance
Review. TRR members get to vote to select the winner.

Her novel WILD ENCOUNTER is among the five books nominated for best Action-Adventure/Romantic Suspense of 2012 over at The Romance
Reviews website.

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Cruisin’ Member Blogs

Clint had another busy week cruisin’ the web and inbox. Hope you enjoy his scoop. Share a link and a short blurb here each week by emailing the Clintdetails to us at: cruisin@romanceaustralia.com.

  • RWA Blog

March 24 – Event Announcements

March 25 – Conference Spotlight

March 26 – Conference Spotlight

March 27 – Author Spotlight on Dana Mitchell

March 28 – Cruisin’ with RWA

ANNA CAMPBELL is dropping by to share her new ghostly novella – These Haunted Hearts. Anna has offered a giveaway of her new book so please visit. And next week, my guest will be Jacquie Underdown.

We’re teasing your tastebuds with the most important meal of the day on Friday Feast this week. HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS author and B&B owner (so she knows her stuff) Jenn J McLeod is sharing her recipe for home-made muesli. Easy, healthy and delicious. Bit like the Feast!

Christina Phillips has a blog tour for the release of BETRAYED. There will be lots of fun and giveaways on offer!

March 20 – Release Day for BETRAYED

March 20 – Sexy Excerpt of BETRAYED at Tina Donahue’s blog + Giveaway

March 20 – Release Day Spotlight at ARRA + Giveaway

March 21 – Thursday 13 at Shelley Munro + Giveaway

March 21 – The Legend of Arianrhod at the Dark Side DownUnder blog + Giveaway

March 22 – The Romance Reviews 2nd Anniversary Party + Giveaway

March 25 – Clash of Ancient Cultures Historical Hearts + Giveaway

March 26 – British Romance Fiction

March 27 – Alpha Male Diner  I Smell Sheep + Giveaway

March 21 – MAGIC THURSDAY – with Christina Phillips & giveaway of BETRAYED

March 26 – GOOD NEWS DAY compiled by Kylie Griffin

March 27 – A BITE OF… with Ellie Moonwater

March 28 – MAGIC THURSDAY – with Nicole Murphy

Musa Monday – Wench Dusty Crabtree on her Shadow Eyes blog tour

Writing Buddy Wednesday – Anna Campbell with giveaway

Last day of SEALED WITH A KISS being free on Smashwords. Code: CK98U

Imelda Evans, blogger at Wine, Women & Wordplay has a pertinent post for any reader of books, and any new author, regarding pre-ordering/sales of books.

Juliet Madison and Sandra Antonelli discuss older heroines in romance on the Escape Publishing Blog. Is ‘mature’ a four-letter-word?

Juanita Kees chats to Kerrie about her very first hero and what’s on her TBR pile.

March 23 – SATURDAY SEVEN: Seven paragraphs of a favourite book off my shelves – ARCHANGEL OF MERCY by Christina Ashcroft

March 25 to April 1ALLEGIANCE SWORN Countdown begins with snippets of scenes from the book

March 26 – WORLD-BUILDING: The Characters of the Light Blade world – a run through the characters in the series.

We’ve got a change in pace on ‘Cooking The Books’ this week. No Nigella recipes, no chocolate, not even a whisper from me about gorging on luscious food and drink. Destiny author Madeline Ash is talking about her heroine who has a heartbreaking reason to watch what she eats. It’s a gorgeous book. I hope you can drop by.

This week’s MRWG contribution to the world of blogs is Emmie Dark. She talks bout how long it takes to write a book and the importance of backing yourself by finishing your stories.  A lovely blog to coincide with this week’s release of Emmie’s SPELLBOUND published by Destiny romance.

THE VISCOUNT’S PLEASURE HOUSE and EMBRACING SCANDAL will be touring the virtual book world until 29th March. I’d really appreciate it if you would visit some of the stops, support the book bloggers and authors, and leave a comment. There’s a $20 Gift Card up for grabs. Embrace the Pleasure…

An interview with me and a chance to win a copy of HEAVENLY REVENGE is on that amazing new Blog from the U.K. – Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains. 

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Enrico’s Pick Six

Submit your blog site link to cruisin@romanceaustralia.com to share with our readers. Enrico hand picks six blogs to showcase every week.

Enrico’s Pick Six this week:Enrico

  1. Anne Gracie
  2. Christina Phillips
  3. Historical Saga Novels
  4. Jane Quick
  5. Lily Malone
  6. M J Scott

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Riding the Waves: Writing Romance in Tempestuous Times

Things are heating up here in the west with the 22nd annual RWA conference approaching fast. So do keep an eye out for blogs and information Riding the Waveshere on the blog, on Facebook and on the Romance Writers of Australia website. If you’re planning on Riding the Waves in Freo this year, why not keep up to date and subscribe to the newsletter via email.

August 16 – 18 2013 -The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, Western Australia

In August 2013, for the first time, our annual national conference is heading to Western Australia. With a gorgeous heritage hotel, sunshine, sea-breezes, alfresco dining and history – Fremantle has it all. And now it has romance!

Take advantage of the Early Bird Savings and register today!

Regards Juanita

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