I was tagged last week by the fabulously talented Jennifer St George and then on the same day there was another tag by another wonderful fellow RWA author, Heather Garside in this series of rolling blogs where I’m asked to talk about my writing – I feel very popular! Thanks ladies for thinking of me and including me in this lovely event.
But first, before I talk about me, let me tell you a little about Jen and Heather.
I have known Jen for a number of years now through Romance Writers of Australia. She is a powerhouse of a woman, talented, funny and gorgeous to boot. If she wasn’t so lovely, I’d probably hate her.
Jen was one of the first authors picked up by my publisher, Penguin’s Destiny Romance and writes sexy, exotic contemporary romances and has been nominated for best novel of the year in the Australian Romance Readers of Australia Awards (ARRA) this year. Her latest novel, The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love, is set in London and Brunei with betrayal and a heady dose of passion and love wrapped up in a fast paced read that I devoured in a few sittings. You can find out more about Jen and her books on her website and can buy The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love at Amazon, iTunes, Destiny Romance, Penguin and Google.
I have actually never met Heather in the flesh, but she is a regular contributor on the RWA published author loop and from everything I’ve read and heard, a very talented author. Heather writes historical romances. Breakaway Creek, her latest release, was a finalist in the QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program – very impressive. It is a rural romance written with a dual timeline. You can buy Breakaway Creek at Clan Destine Press, Kindle, Kobo, Lulu, Nook and iTunes.
She works part time at the local library, at home on the farm and helps produce a local monthly newsletter, amongst other voluntary activities. Find out more about her on her website here.
Now to me. It’s time for me to sit in the hot seat and answer the questions they both posed to me.
What am I working on?
I am currently working on redrafting and polishing Healer Moon, the book that follows on from Dark Moon in the Witch-Were Chronicles. I am also writing the 3rd in the series, Blood Moon and when I get time, I am also working on completely overhauling a pet project of mine that has done well in competitions and has garnered interest from publishers and agents, but just doesn’t quite work as a whole. I think, after ruminating on it for some time, I’ve realized why and am now trying to (slowly, given everything else occupying my time) work through the story again and breathe some new life into it.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I am a very plot oriented person, the trickier the plot, the happier I am. I like twists and turns and unexpected happenings as well as having really solid overarching themes in individual novels and in the series as a whole. Suspense and mystery plays a big part of my work, as does mythology and history, yet I change things to suit the tone of my work and then add more suspense and more plot twists and turns. There is a lot of the fantasy world building in my paranormal novels. An editor and writer I took a class with one time were trying to place my work in a way they could market, and when I was finished explaining what I was working on, they said, ‘Oh, so it’s a dark urban epic fantasy paranormal.’ I think that sums it up.
Why do I write what I write?
I think I kind of answered that above. I write what comes to me. I write the kind of thing I would love to read. I write a culmination of all the things I love to read. I write because I have to and because I love it. I write the stories the characters in my head are dying to tell me.
How does my writing process work?
I don’t really have a writing process. I did years ago before I had children. I had to have a certain amount of time to write and I needed to do a certain series of things before I could write to get me into the mood. But after I had my eldest son (in a very traumatic pregnancy and birth) I suffered from some post-natal depression afterwards and the therapist I saw told me to stop making excuses and putting up blocks and to just take any time to write – because I obviously needed to be creative in some way to be happy. I realised she was right and I was being an idiot about it. So, now, I don’t have a ‘process’. I just write when I can. I think that’s helped by the fact I’m a pantser – someone who just writes without any clear idea where it’s going to lead, so I can just sit down and let myself go. Sometimes it’s for 10 minutes, sometimes it’s for hours, but I take what I can and go with it. However, I do prefer to have a large cup of tea beside me and my heat bags heated up and on my back when I sit to write.
Now that I’ve been in the hot seat, it’s the turn of 3 other writers. And the winners are…
Mary is my release buddy at Destiny Romance this month. She is a funny, witty ex-pat Irishwoman who has come to love Aussie Rules Footy more than many Australians do and if you talk smack about her beloved team, Collingwood, you better watch out! Her first novel, The Reluctant Wag, was about that very subject – just with a healthy dose of romance and passion thrown in.
Mary’s new novel, Irresistible Enemy, features a nature loving heroine matched up against a wealthy business tycoon who has come to her little part of country Victoria to build a horrible new housing estate, but passion and an irresistible attraction get in the way of their war. Irresistible Enemy will be on sale as of the 15th March at all good eBook retailers.
Madeline is also a fellow Destineer and a more gorgeous and talented young woman you’re not likely to meet. She says she’s emotionally allergic to spontaneity, and yet doesn’t mind the weather that drags her into rain when she’s planned for sunshine. She likes to call this her wild side. But I think her true wild side is expressed in the sweet and sexy contemporary romances she likes to write, chock full of compelling emotional conflicts.
Her first novel. Uncovered by Love was nominated for a Ruby Award last year – Romance Writer’s of Australia’s premier award. Her newest novel, The Playboy’s Dark Secret, will be out in April and features a return home story, a hero tormented by a dark secret and a young, carefree independent heroine who pushes past his carefully constructed restraint. Hmm, sounds enticing.
I met Edwina last year when she flew down from Sydney just to have lunch with the Melbourne Destineers. If that hadn’t impressed me (it did), then she certainly did. A tall, vibrant, gorgeous person like Edwina had to write something sparky and fun, and that’s exactly what she’s done. Having gone travelling at 18, working as a ski instructor and studying fine art in Florence before jetsetting off to live in New York, she certainly has lived the kind of life her heroine in Three’s A Crowd would be jealous of.
Three’s a Crowd is set among the hard and fast paced world of publishing in Manhattan, and is a funny story of life and love in New York. If Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada were cup of tea, then Three’s a Crowd is the perfect book for you.
Catch up with Mary, Madeline and Edwina next Monday when they answer the hot seat questions about their writing. Take it away girls.
I thought getting a 4 star review the other day on Goodreads for Dark Moon, which isn’t even out yet, was pretty fabulous. But another review has just been posted that gives it 5 stars. Check it out here: 5 Star Review
And if you missed it, here’s the other wonderful review. 4 Star Review
It is so gratifying that people are already falling in love with the characters I am in love with, and not only that, are interested in finding out more about the other characters in the book and the world I’ve written.
Thank-you to those lovely reviewers – you have made my weekend.
But another part of the excitement is having the opportunity to share my love of writing, my love of this world and the characters I’m creating in the Dark Moon series, with all sorts of people I normally wouldn’t have contact with by appearing on other people’s blogs.
The amazing Sara at Harlequin Junkie (who gave Killing Me Softly a 5 Heart review last year and subsequent spotlight) has offered me a spot to shine a light on me and my work once again. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to talk to Sara and her followers once again, and hope they (and all of you reading this) enjoy my blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Check it out at the above link.
I’m the guest blogger over on the ARRA blog today, talking about my love for romance, but when romance isn’t enough for me – that’s when I need a heady dose of ‘other’ (I’m talking the third player in the story – the world, the suspense, the evil doer. All things paranormal, fantasy and beyond). Come and check it out.
and find out why I have to write stories like Dark Moon.
I revealed my new cover the other day and now I have my lovely official blurb for my novel. So here it is – my first ever published urban paranormal, the first in my Witch-Were Chronicles. It will be out on March 15th. Enjoy.
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?
It is a blustery, wild, grey day outside. Even in those moments of sunshine breaking through, the clouds are so grey and foreboding, like something out of an old movie, Hitchcock or maybe Rebecca, that it is making feel all moody and forlorn. I should be doing some more work on the next novel in my new series, the Witch-Were Chronicles, the first of which, Dark Moon, is out with Penguin’s Destiny Romance on March 15th.
But after having spent all morning crouched over my screen, redrafting 3 chapters of Healer Moon, (I’m now 3/4 of the way through) my brain is exhausted and my fingers numb and toes are numb (the house is suddenly cold after having been blisteringly hot for most of the last month) and I have a yearning to just sit down in my comfy armchair with a cup of tea, a bunny maltezer and my heatbags and watch how the classics handles the ultimate romance.
When my friend, Helen, was down a few weeks ago, I discovered that she had never read any of Jane Austen’s stories, nor had she seen any of the movies or tv adaptations. You can imagine I was suitably horrified – horrified that she’d never experienced the grace and passion of Austen’s world and loves, but that she hadn’t seen the ultimate in tv experiences, and also a little horrified that I never knew this. She is my best oldest friend afterall.
I’m also not quite certain what rock she must have been under when Colin Firth slipped on Mr Darcy’s tight buckskins, defrocked and dived into that lake, making all female kind wild to see a dashing man with a wonderful physique in wet white linen. Eye candy indeed.
So, we started watching Pride and Prejudice and she laughed and enjoyed, but alas, only got through half of it. She flew back home after watching the notorious first proposal scene where Elizabeth Bennett set him on his ear by rejecting him and taking him to task for his less than gentlemanly like manner.
Of course, you can’t stop P&P there. I’ve been hankering for the last 2 weeks to continue on and see it through to its contained yet passionate end, where love conquers manners and sees the pair loved up and married in the end and everyone else where they should be.
So, today, when I have the weather blues, I am telling myself to be satisfied with the work I did this morning on my current WIP and just enjoy a love story worthy of making a romance author swoon. I wonder how many of you out there do something similar? I’d love to hear about what you do with the weather blues.
Anne Gracie shared this on Facebook the other day and I only just watched it. I was due to write a new blog tonight, but instead, I’m going to share this.
Enjoy. I thought it was brilliant.
It’s Valentine’s Day today. Do you know how I realised this? I was sitting exactly where I’m sitting now this morning at 6:30am, trying to wrestle my next manuscript into some kind of submission ready shape, when my husband wanders in, gives me the sweetest kiss and says, ‘Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.’ Then he got the boys ready and kept them away from me for as long as he could so I had a little more time to write before I had to drive everyone to school/the station. A truly thoughtful gift.
Now, I know all you non-writers out there might think it doesn’t sound like much, but you know, a girl really doesn’t need all the fluff and carry on of V-Day after 20 odd years of being together and 15 years of marriage. It’s the little things that count. It’s the knowing your partner well enough to know that some time to write is the thing that will count the most. Young people at work were talking about the flowers they’d got, the chocolates they were looking forward to munching down on, the extravagant dinner they would go out on, and I just hugged my husband’s sweet gesture to my chest and thought to myself – you’ll learn.
I had actually forgotten it was V-Day. I know, bad romance writer! (slaps hand) But I’ve been so busy lately turning around edits on my next book in next to no time as well as being wife, mother, working, doing my volunteer committee and contest coordinating stuff for RWA, that my head has been a little on the explody side and I just didn’t even think about what date it was. I knew it was Friday (must know what day of the week it is to make sure kids are dressed in correct school uniform and have right books/musical instruments to take with them, not to mention knowing if it’s a swim teaching day for me or not), but the date…not so much.
But my husband reminded me. And it was sweet and it was heartfelt and I felt it to my little tippy toes. We don’t do things for V-Day – we prefer to do the romantic thing in our own time – but it was a lovely way to start the day, being reminded I am loved and treasured. And I hope I make him feel loved and treasured in the little things I do for him all the time during the year. Happy Valentine’s Day, my love.
And just as a special shout out to my beautiful friend, Helen who came down from Canberra for a surprise visit (making me feel special and treasured and loved by both her and my hubby as they’d kept it a secret and played their parts very well so I never guessed) here is a tomato sauce heart just for you.
I know, not as spiffy as the image at the top, but still choc full of love. Are you laughing yet and feeling special?
I didn’t have any tomatoes, (for everyone else, it’s a long story involving a funny card and tomatoes she left on my doorstep) so this will have to do. But I laughed and thought of you.
I hope everyone else is treasured by someone too – husband, wife, partner, family, friends – and is reminded they are loved, not just today, but in little moments of surprise and sweetness during the year.
Now, to get on with writing about romance and love. I’m a lucky, lucky girl.
This seems to be the week of hosting other authors on my blog – but that’s okay. It’s fun and interesting to meet new people and hear about their world and about the thing that makes them part of my bigger family – the family of those of us who write.
Today, I have Katie Hamstead’s here to tell us a little bit about writing on a controversial subject and how she managed to create balance in her novel, Branded.
Take it away Katie.
Writing About Sensitive Issues
Branded touches on controversial issues, but I never intended it be a statement of any kind. While planning who the invaders could be, I wanted to make it something believable. With the way the world is, I had one clear option; extremist Muslim terrorist groups. Now I am far from a person who hates groups of people from any race, religion, or culture. I believe every group has unique individuals who are good as well as bad. So I didn’t want it coming across as Muslim hate.
When you first meet the antagonist, the General, he is hard and brutal, justifying all his actions by what he believes as centuries of persecution. I knew if I wanted to make him the “big bad guy” I needed someone who could counter that and create a balance.
Enter Nick. Nick is a Muslim, a gentle, peaceful Muslim. He doesn’t believe in the invaders’ cause, but goes along with it so he and his family don’t get killed. But he helps Ali and doesn’t want to kill anyone because he had non-Muslim friends growing up. Nick is meant to be everything the General isn’t, creating balance in the story. Because of him, Ali doesn’t learn to hate anyone except the General. Nick shows her that groups of people vary widely and individuals have the ability to make things better and can oppose the greater force.
I believe, when touching on sensitive issues like this, it is important to create this counter balance. I don’t want to provoke controversy or hate, so characters like Nick are crucial to adding an honest depth.
Thanks for that, Katie. It’s a very intersting perspective on a hard topic to encompass and I wish you all the best with your new novel.
About the Branded:
Terrorists have invaded Sydney, and Allison King barely escapes her brother’s wedding reception alive. She and her siblings flee, but their parents are killed by firing squad.
Now Ali’s on the run and terrified. While searching for other survivors, she is captured by the General who leads the invasion. He’s smitten by Ali, and when she refuses to submit to his whims, he brands her for death. In a wild act of defiance, she snatches the branding rod and sears the mark onto his face. Marking not only him but also sealing her fate. Ali manages to escape and flees into the bush once more where she finds a group in hiding. Even with the scars left by the General, Ali learns to love and falls in love with the young man who found her—Damien Rogers.
But the General is hunting her. When he discovers their location, and finds her with another man—Damien—his wrath is kindled and his obsession is inflamed. Ali must put herself on the line or the General could kill her family, those who help her, and most significantly, the man she loves.
Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.
Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.