Carla Caruso - author picTonight I’m thrilled to introduce the lovely and hugely talented Carla Caruso to my blog. Carla is a mother of twin boys and in her spare time (not sure when she gets any with twin boys, but she seems to be able to make it. Or maybe she’s Superwoman. My bet is on Superwoman, but that’s probably because I’m rather partial to superhero/heroine stories! :) ) she is also a journalist, the co-editor of Hearts Talk magazine (Romance Writer’s of Australia monthly magazine that goes out to our 1000 members) as well as being the author of five romance novels.

Her writing is contemporary and witty and often has a little fantasy/paranormal style twist that speaks to my heartstrings. Given Halloween is nearly upon us, Carla has decided to talk about the superstitions of All Hallow’s Eve (a topic that is sure to be a favourite in my household at the moment, with my two boys revving up to get dressed up in ghoulish costumes like they did last year!)

Take it away Carla.

Trick or treat? Halloween superstitions!

Thanks, Leisl, for letting me take your blog hostage for a little while [insert evil cackle]!

My name’s Carla Caruso and I’m a romantic comedy author from Adelaide, Australia. My latest releases have a sprinkling of the ‘spooks’, which has had me thinking about Halloween…. Unlucky for Some by Carla Caruso(My novella, Unlucky for Some, is about an ultra-superstitious journo who is given an assignment, ending on Friday the 13th, which will put all her fears to the test. And my novel, A Pretty Mess, is the first in a rom-com mystery series about a neat-freak professional organiser who gets caught up in messy mysteries with a sexy builder!)

But back to Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve! Us Aussies have always considered the October 31st tradition to be more of an American thang… until recently. Have you noticed how our supermarkets are routinely filling up their shelves with faux Jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween-inspired choccies this time of year?

In my hometown, we also have a Zombie Walk at October’s start, where 8000 “living dead” walk from the city’s Rymill Park to Light Square – in costume – to raise funds for Foodbank SA. (Apparently Brisbane and Melbourne has such a walk, too.) That’s a lot of bad makeup and drooling…

I’ve also had an increasing number of trick-or-treaters knock on my door on Halloween. Not that I’m ever prepared. One year I gave a bunch of costumed girls gold coins when we were all out of chocolate (I blame the hubby!), and then another kid, without a costume, showed up, hoping he could get in on the money train, too…

To keep in the ‘evil’ spirit of things, I thought I would share some Halloween superstitions with you, dear readers…

  • Trick-or-treating actually became customary in the US around the ‘50s after it was brought over by Irish immigrants.

    Halloween pic-Freeimages.com

    Halloween pic-Freeimages.com

  • Carving Jack-o’-lanterns has its roots in a tragic fable. As the story goes, a drunken farmer, named Jack, tricked the devil, but his deception resulted in him being turned away from both the gates of heaven and hell following his death. Having no choice but to wander around the darkness of purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a turnip and a burning lump of coal that the devil had tossed to him to help guide his ‘lost soul’. So the belief became that placing Jack-o’-lanterns outside your pad would help guide lost spirits home when they wandered the streets on Halloween. Since turnips were hard to come by in the US at the time, pumpkins were quickly adopted as the substitute. The vegetable’s spookily carved faces were also said to be useful in frightening evil spirits away. (I’ll refrain from making any jokes here about mothers-in-law…)
  • Seeing a bat on Halloween is considered an ominous sign, according to myth. If a bat is spotted flying around your house three times, apparently someone in your abode – eek! – will soon die. And if a bat flies into your house on Halloween, it’s a sign your place is haunted as ghosts let the bat in…
  • Another superstition is that if a spider falls into a candle-lit lamp and is gobbled up by the flame, witches are nearby. Further, if you spot a spider on Halloween, the spirit of a deceased loved one is said to be watching over you. Which, for some reason, had me thinking of Ghost and that famous pottery scene…
  • In olden times, it was believed that during Samhain – or ‘summer’s end’ – the veil between our world and the spirit world was the thinnest, hence, ghosts of the deceased could mingle with the living. (We know – ugh!) The superstition was that the visiting ghosts could disguise themselves as humans, for example, as a beggar, and knock on your door asking for dosh or food. If you turned them away, you risked being cursed or haunted. Another myth was that dressing up as a ghoul would fool the evil spirits into thinking you were one of them, so they wouldn’t try to steal your soul. Crafty.A Pretty Mess-Carla Caruso
  • And finally, the Halloween hues of orange and black actually stem from the pagan celebration of autumn and the harvest. Orange symbolised the hues of the crops and turning leaves, and black marked the ‘death’ of summer…

Thanks for reading! For more on my books, visit www.carlacaruso.com.au or http://bit.ly/1pb3mix. And happy, spooky Halloween to you!

Happy Halloween to you too, Carla, and thanks for sharing those fascinating facts with us – I love stuff like this. Make sure you check out Carla’s novels – they really are excellent reads. And share with us any fascinating superstitious facts you know – who knows, they might end up in one of Carla’s books (or even mine!)

I was thrilled to be asked this week by a group of highschool students about my writing process and how I do what I do. After answering the questions, I thought they were actually quite interesting – mostly focused around how I start, how I continue and how I end (questions writers try to answer for themselves all the time).

I know that how I go about all this won’t work for everyone, but I thought I’d share my thoughts with all of you. I’d love to hear how you would answer the questions I was asked.

DarkMoon_cover1. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Generally I dream my ideas. I have a scene that keeps repeating or a character that keeps appearing in my dreams. If this happens a few times, then I know it’s a story that needs to be told and I start to write it. Sometimes a scene will play out and then continue on the next night and more the night after as the story unfolds in my head.

2. When you start writing a novel how do you keep in the zone of that novel genre? For example if you start writing a werewolf novel how do you read books of other genres without wanting to start another novel of a completely different genre?

My reading is really quite a different experience from my writing, so the one doesn’t really affect the other. When I’m reading, I want to be entertained, to be taken away by someone else’s words into a story and world I don’t know. When I’m writing it’s like a creative space inside me needing to be filled with exploration of character and world building – it’s almost like a voice speaking to me and I have to write it. When it’s something that I’m really into, there is no stopping until the story is all out of me. The hardship truly comes only in the editing phase when you take that initial draft (what some writers call word vomit) and try to turn it into what you truly want to say. That can be difficult to stick with, particularly when you’ve done it a number of times and know what a huge job it truly is.

3. Do you write more than one book at the same time or do you wait until you finish one book to start another?

At the moment I am writing 2 new books in different genres (one is the 3rd book in a paranormal series and the other is a romantic suspense) and redrafting another book (the 1st in a new paranormal series). I usually need a few different projects to work on at a time, because if one day I’m having trouble with one of them, I can turn to the other. Or if I’ve finished a novel and need to give it ‘space’ before I sink into the re-edits/redrafting, I’ve got something else to go on with.

4. Is it difficult to stick with the one book?

I think first time writers often have this problem – there are a lot of great first 3 chapters out there that begin to lose their lustre for the writer when they get further along. Writing a beginning is easy – it’s getting through the middle to a satisfying end that’s tricky and not everyone has this in them to do. It’s hard work and often requires a stubborn determination to soldier on despite the fact things aren’t turning out like you thought they would or wanted them to until you come to the end. It’s also understanding that you can’t properly redraft until you have written the entire thing – anything else is just tinkering. It’s when you don’t understand that that writers keep starting new projects and don’t finish them. Everything about writing and publishing is perseverance; perseverance to understand you can always learn more about craft; perseverance to soldier on and finish; perseverance to sit down and redraft, redraft, redraft until it’s the best you can make it; perseverance to get someone to beta read your work and/or properly critique it and to not take offence when they don’t think it’s perfect, to take what they say and think about it and use what seems like something that could help; perseverance to keep trying and submitting until someone says yes…and on it goes.

Killing Me Softly front cover

Killing me Softly would never have got published without perseverence.

 

I have a number of books that I have started but didn’t finish because I ran out of steam on them, but I learned in writing every one of them and came to understand what was needed to finish the one that didn’t run out of steam, and then the next and the next. I always finish books now – although, once I’ve finished them, I might decide I’m not keen enough on what I wrote to go through the redrafting process – because if you don’t love it, you’re not going to make it through that difficult, least fun part of the process.

5. Do the characters relate to you in any way or are they fully made up?

Generally they are fully made up, although they will often have a characteristic of myself or someone I know in them in some small way. I think the old adage ‘write what you know’ is true to a certain respect. If you can always bring some aspect of ‘truth’ to your writing by using something you know, it will feel more real to you and therefore more real to your readers.

6. Do you ever stop writing a book and start a new one because you had an idea? Or do you write the idea and keep going with the book?

Yes. If I’ve had a persistent character or scene playing in my head, I do need to start to write it. In the past, this meant that I would give up what I was writing and give myself fully over to the new idea, but what that meant was that I’d end up with a bunch of first few chapters and no finished books. So, I no longer give up what I was writing. I make sure I give myself time to finish what I was working on and split my time. It helps that I am used to working on a number of projects at one time.

7. Do you ever create too many characters and confuse yourself but you can’t get rid of them because they all play such an important role?

That happened with the first book I wrote which was an epic urban fantasy that stretched across 3 planets and 4 different time spans with 11 different story threads I was following by 3/4s through the 2nd novel. It all got too hard to juggle because I didn’t know enough about writing at that point to know how to handle it. I made myself leave it alone and forced myself to concentrate on much simpler, smaller novels and learned a lot by doing that. I also enrolled in workshops, joined a critique group and got myself some critique partners through Romance Writers of Australia. I went to their annual conference and learned so much at the workshops and talking to other writers both at my level and far more experienced. I read some great craft books (Debra Dixon’s ‘Goals Motivation Conflict’ and Robert McKee’s ‘Story’ being seminal ones for me) and blogs on writing that have really helped. I entered competitions and got feedback from strangers and when I started doing well in them, feedback from editors and agents. All of this helped me in how I go about writing and structuring how I go and then how I edit. I also have some great critique partners/beta readers who I trust explicitly to tell me what is and isn’t working.

I am still what is called a ‘pantser’ (I don’t plot, I fly by the seat of my pants and just go with the flow), but I use all the knowledge I’ve learned and am still learning to help me not get bogged down by being too clever for myself. I’ve also learned to look at whether a character or scene is adding something to my novel, if they’re forwarding the action or deepening our understanding of the goals, motivations and conflicts of the main characters/story thrust. If they’re not, I’ve learned to be harsh and cut them out. I’ve got rid of entire characters and scenes I love this way, who were great, but in the end added nothing to the novel other than some amusement for me.

Frana, Marnie and me - members of my RWA writing group and essential tribe members

Frana, Marnie and me – members of my RWA writing group and essential tribe members

The best thing you can do as a writer is write and learn and inform yourself and surround yourself with people you can talk to who are on the same/similar journey as you, people you can workshop and brainstorm with, who can help you through story/character problems and any blocks you might have. This is what I do and I plan to very soon return to that original story idea and rework it so I can turn it into something great, not something that ran away with me.

Book Launch for Killing Me Softly with my friend, fellow writer and tribe member, Liz

Book Launch for Killing Me Softly with my friend, fellow writer and tribe member, Liz

 

 

I just read this on Chuck Wendig’s website and I have to say to Chuck – hell yeah!.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/10/09/why-four-women-playing-ghostbusters-is-not-a-gimmick

Ghostbusting women…gve me more. The idea of a female Doctor does go agasint the original Doctor being a man turning into a man scenario, but with the latest seasons they’ve broken so many rules anyway, why not another one. I was always surprised they didn’t follow the story of The Doctor’s daughter anyway (you know, the one that was made from the DNA from his hand?) I love women who can kick arse. Two of my favourite shows to date are Buffy

Image courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

Image courtesy of Buffy.wikia.com

and Alias – women who could be real and emotional but completely hold their own. I don’t see why women coudln’t Ghostbust too. And I certainly don’t see how this could be considered a gimmick. I think it will give the story new life, a different perspective, will challenge the set up in different ways – how is that a gimmick? That cheapens the value women bring to things to think we’re only a gimmick.

So, to hell with those calling it a gimmick and hell yeah to those who are bringing us this remake of a classic. I look forward to seeing what you bring to the melting pot.

An Unsuitable Match Hi Res Cover PicI’ve been incomunicado lately, what with end of term stuff, school holidays, and family issues, but we’re back in business tonight with the gorgeous and talented Sasha Cottman as she talks to us about her new novel, ‘An Unsuitable Match’.

Sasha’s debut novel, ‘Letter from a Rake’ won her huge raves and most recently was one of the finalists in the Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Awards (Romantic Book of the Year) – very prestigious.

Sasha started writing after attending a writing course with Anne Gracie – who better to learn about writing historical romance series from than Anne? It’s no wonder Sasha’s novels are fun, charming romps with engaging characters and plenty of heart. Sasha is here to talk about how she went from writing a standalone book to a series. Sasha is also going to do a ‘Clip Chips’ giveaway.Chip Clips She has these funky clips you use on open packets of chips etc to keep them fresh – great idea. I need some of those – and she’s going to give some away, but only to those who make a comment. So if you want some of these fun clips, please leave a comment (and a way to get in touch with you) and your name will go into the draw.

Take it away, Sasha.

 

Thanks Leisl.

Part way through writing Letter from a Rake, Letter From a RakeI suddenly realised I had the makings of a series. The secondary character of David Radley began to take shape as a likely hero for another novel. Thus the Duke of Strathmore series was born.

I have to confess at this point I love a good series. Nothing is more exciting knowing that when I have finished one book, another, with often familiar characters awaits me. I have lost count of the Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster series books I own. It was at that moment, I decided to not only write one but a number of stories about the Radley family. All standalone stories, but with intertwined characters who make ‘guest’ appearances in other stories.

In Letter from a Rake, David has declared his love for Lady Clarice Langham. In An Unsuitable Match, he now faces the almost insurmountable task of making his long held dream to marry her come to fruition. He has held a secret love for Clarice for many years and it comes as a shock to both her and a number of other people when it becomes public knowledge.

David is seen by many in London society, as an unashamed rake. The fact that he is illegitimate only adds to his lack of suitability as a husband. He has a lot of hurdles to overcome.

Clarice Langham was an intriguing person to write as my heroine. She hides herself from the world, concealing a dark secret about her past. When David declares his love for her, she is frightened. She does not believe that he is serious in his intent. No one could love someone like her. Add to that, the fact that her father opposes their relationship and a world of conflict presents itself.

For Clarice to overcome her fears and face a possible future with David, she has to find an inner bravery which she doesn’t feel she possesses. Fortunately, her cause is added by a number of strong secondary female characters who do have good intentions. David’s sisters Millie and Lucy see Clarice’s potential and work to bring her out of the long mourning period she has observed after the death of her mother. I enjoyed writing the scenes where the two of them conspire to create a happy ending for both their brother and Clarice. I have found in a number of books that female characters are written as being selfish and self-centred when it comes to other women. For both the Radley girls and Clarice’s grandmother, Lady Alice, they would like nothing better than to see Clarice happily married.

At the end of An Unsuitable Match, a glimpse is seen of Lucy’s possible future. I am currently writing book 3 in the Duke of Strathmore series where hopefully Lucy gets to meet her forever man. After all the match making she has done to get her two brothers married off to lovely girls, I think it is time she found happiness for herself.

 

An Unsuitable Match Hi Res Cover PicAn Unsuitable Match Blurb:

The Favourite Heiress…
 
Once engaged to the future Duke of Strathmore, the beautiful Lady Clarice Langham now finds herself in the humiliating position of celebrating his marriage – to another woman.  As a result of the scandal, it seems her reign as London’s most eligible debutante has come to an end.  But things begin to look up when handsome and charming rake David Radley makes it clear that, at least as far as he’s concerned, she’s still the catch of the season.
 
The Illegitimate Son…
 
The eldest son of the Duke of Strathmore, David Radley has been raised alongside his father’s legitimate children.  But while he is generally received as part of the family, not everyone thinks he should be, and especially not Clarice’s father, the Earl of Langham, who forbids her from having anything to do with him.
 
An Unsuitable Match…
 
David’s been in love with Clarice for years, and it isn’t long before the attraction between them develops into something deeper. Yet he senses Clarice is hiding something and until she reveals her secret, she won’t be free to follow her heart. Despite everything, David will not give up on Clarice, not even when another seems set to claim her…

Buy Links

An Unsuitable Match is available at the following places.

Amazon

Kobo

iTunes

GooglePlay

JB Hi Fi

Sainbury’s

 

sasha cottman author picAuthor Bio

Born in England, but raised in Australia, Sasha has a love for both countries. Having her heart in two places has created a love for travel, which at last count was to over 55 countries. A travel guide is always on her pile of new books to read.

Sasha lives with her husband, teenage daughter and a cat who thinks sitting on the keyboard is being helpful. Her family have managed to find all but one of her secret chocolate hiding places. On the weekends Sasha loves walking on the beach while devising new ways to torture her characters.

Social Media Links

You can follow Sasha and find out more about her and her books on her website:

http://www.sashacottman.com

Blog:http://www.sashacottman.com/in-the-regency-kitchen

Follow her on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/sashacottman

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sashacottmanauthor    

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7136108.Sasha_Cottman

Sasha’s newest release An Unsuitable Match is released through Destiny Romance September 2014.

Book Trailer

An Unsuitable Match https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=af0ITmSQ5kQ

 

And don’t forget to comment to go into the drawer for a Chip Clip.

DarkMoon_coverI’m over on Darkside Downunder today featured in their Magic Thursday blog talking about what I love about being creative and how it works for me in my writing and acting and how that affected how Dark Moon became a Paranormal Romance. I’d love you to visit and comment and let me know what in your life is magic for you.

DarkMoon_coverI’m over on Darksider Downunder talking about my latest novel, Dark Moon, my inspiration to write and how I get started with my books. I’d love for you to come and visit.

http://darksidedownunder.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/enchanted-orb-with-leisl-leighton.html

Comments are always welcome too. I’d love to hear about what inspires you to do what you love to do and how you always get started.

 

Earlier on this week, I wrote about the importance of having a tribe when you do something crazy like, ah…I don’t know…write. I wasn’t planning on writing anymore about it, but something happened this week to a friend of mine that just backs this up and I thought I’d share. It’s important to share. Without sharing, it’s even easier to feel like you’re even more alone, and when bad or difficult things happen,

Not all dreams are behind this door.

Not all dreams are behind this door.

when doors you really wanted to be open suddenly close, it makes it even harder to pick your splattered carcass off the floor, reform into a 3D emotionful being, and keep on keeping on (which, by the way, is the only way to succeed at this writing thing – but that’s another blog.)

What happened to my friend is something that’s happened to me multiple times, has happened to other writing friends of mine and is bound to happen to all of us again. In fact, despite the fact that I have been published, that doesn’t make me suddenly immune to all those ups and downs that go with writing – in many ways, it’s even worse now, because there is more to try to hold onto and the slope is just as slippery as ever.

Anyway, my friend’s latest work was rejected. It’s a brilliant historical YA novel set in Tasmania and has had much interest (as my writing group knew it would from the first moment she brought it to the group for critique, because she has an engaging, unique voice, fantastic characters, has done brilliant research and weaves it in in the best way so that you feel immersed in the time without feeling like you’re having a history lesson and the story is full of emotion and conflict.) However, it was rejected right at the last step of the process.

Reject Rejection c/o Alex Pattakos via Huffingtonpost.com

Reject Rejection c/o Alex Pattakos via Huffingtonpost.com

The editor loved it, there were other people at the publishing house who also loved it, but it was still a no because marketing just doesn’t have confidence in YA historical at the moment from a new author.

An absolute, total bummer. The worst thing ever, to know you’re so close and yet still so far. Particularly as there is nothing she can do about that. It wasn’t like they were saying her writing was bad – they loved it – it’s just that they don’t think there’s a market for it at the moment, so it was a ‘no’. A horrible, unfair, totally devastating no. A no that felt like a bullet to the heart. I felt so terribly bad for her, so desperately wanting to make it better in some way, even though I knew the only thing that could truly make it better, was for the answer to have been ‘yes’. Which, I can’t do anything about.

But just like when I got bad news in the past and shared it, when she wrote that awful email to us, her writing group, her tribe, we rallied around her, pointing out the positives of the letter she was sent and the phone conversation she’d had. There were many emails that day and in the days following and the emails went from desperately depressed and hopelessly disappointed, to, if not happy, encouraged and willing not to throw everything in, but try again in the near future, while talking options, plans, possibilities.

 

Frana, Marnie and me - members of my RWA writing group and essential tribe members

Frana, Marnie and me – members of my RWA writing group and essential tribe members

I know from personal experience how important this process is. When I first started writing, I tried to do it by myself. I honestly thought it was best. I wrote, I put my work out there, I got rejected and so I put that manuscript aside and wrote another one, starting the process all over again. I might still be doing that if not for a lucky meeting with

Anne Gracie

Anne Gracie – one of my favourite authors

Anne Gracie who explained the rejection letters I had been getting weren’t just rejection letters, but were asking me to work on certain things in the manuscripts and try again (I never saw them in this way, and just thought my manuscript had been rejected because it was crap and put it aside.) She encouraged me to join RWA, to get a critique partner, to sign up to a writing group, to go in contests, to improve, to network, to understand what I was doing on so many levels that I couldn’t possibly do by myself. RWA logo

Thankfully I was wearing my sensible pants that day and didn’t just listen to her advice, but actually followed through, because, not only did I learn things about my writing that I really needed to learn so that I could get better and get published, it led me to my tribe. Or tribes. The people who have lifted me up when I’ve been down, who’ve encouraged when I needed it the most, who kicked my arse when I needed it, who helped me see the strengths and faults in my work, who celebrated with me through the good news and even helped throw me a Release Day Party when I wouldn’t have thrown one myself. I couldn’t do without them. And this week, I know my friend couldn’t have done without us too.

Book Launch for Killing Me Softly with my friend, fellow writer and tribe member, Liz

Book Launch for Killing Me Softly with my friend, fellow writer and founding member of one of my writing groups, Liz, at her house. 

 

I’m sure she, just like me, has wonderful, loving, supportive loved ones, family and friends, who would have been there to help buck her up in her time of need, but there is something a little different getting that same support and caring from others who share in your madness. Your tribe understands the exact nature of those highs and lows and they tend to know the exact right thing to say to help you out of the deepest crevice. I know my friend will make it out of her crevice and will strive onward and upward and will eventually reach her goals because I see her and her work in the way she can’t at the moment – as brilliant and true and worthy. And as one of her tribe, it is my job to make sure that one day soon, she not only remembers that, but she sees it and believes it too.

A writer needs a tribe. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has got one and they’ll tell you the same because it’s true.

The Melbourne based Destineers Tribe

The Melbourne based Destineers Tribe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year I hang out for August for 2 reasons: 1) It is the time of the year we usually take a few days to go skiing with my family and 2) It is the RWAustralia conference. As a writer, I look forward to the RWA conference every year – it is a place to hang with other people who completely understand the madness that overcomes me and makes me want to write.

Frana, Marnie and me

Frana, Marnie and me

No, not just want. Need. It is a heat in my veins, a pressing in my brain, a twitchy feeling in my fingertips that makes me have to sit down at the keyboard and tippy-type the words that have been piling up in my mind to express the characters and stories that build and build there.

Only other writers truly understand this particular madness. Only they really know what I mean when I talk about the characters in my head as if they’re real people, talking to me, pressing me to tell their stories, not leaving me alone until I have. Only a fellow writer understands when I talk about pantsing, and the fact that I sit down to write something and yet the characters often take the words and turn them into something entirely unexpected, and joyful. They understand when I talk about my Muse. They know what I mean when I talk about Hero and Heroine’s journey, 3 act structure, GMC’s (Goals, Motivation and Conflict – c/o Debra Dixon), the black moment, POV, head jumping, character and story arcs and so on. They speak the same language. They have the same, or similar goals. They are my tribe.

My Destineers Melbourne Tribe

My Destineers Melbourne Tribe

Having a tribe is incredibly important when you are doing something as singular and lonely as writing. I didn’t realise this until I joined a writing group. I thought I could do it on my own. I was so very wrong. I am now a member of two writing groups who I discuss the trials and tribulations of being a writer with and help me with the ‘big stuff’ in my writing. I have critique partners who help me with more indepth critiques of my writing. And I have Romance Writers of Australia.

Alli, Alex and me

Alli, Alex and me

 

I have made some wonderful friends and great contacts through RWA and continue to meet more and more people every year at the conference – all these wonderful, lovely, mad people who are part of my tribe. It is a time for us to hang loose, have fun, get away from the normal every day stresses of our lives and just concentrate on learning and networking and thinking about our writing. It has become a must for me every year to save up the money and make sure I go. It helps to keep me sane. It helps to inspire me. It fills my well.

Helene, Jennifer and me

Helene, Jennifer and me

When people ask me about what advice I would give to someone starting out on the path I have journeyed down (a path of learning and discovery that never ends) the best advice I could give is to find your tribe – those who think and are driven by the same thing as you. I think this is true for any endeavour – it is made better by sharing it with others who have the same obsession/love as you. But with writing, because it can be so lonely, I think it is even more important. Whether it is a writing group that meets online or face to face, a critique partner or a larger organisation like RWAustralia, I think it is essential for writers to have their tribe.

Rachel Bailey and me

Rachel Bailey and me

 

 

I love finding a new author, which is why I love hosting other authors on my site. It gives me a chance to find out about other writers and their work, but also allows me to share them with other keen readers as well. I haven’t always read them yet when they guest here, but for most of them, I know I will. I hope you feel the same.

Today, I have Dani Kristoff talking about her new paranormal romance, The Sorcerer’s Spell, out soon with Harper Impulse. Dani hasn’t always written parnormal romance – but I’ll let her tell you more about that. Take it away Dani:

MAKING THE SWITCH

ThesorcerersspellcoverI’ve been writing science fiction, fantasy and horror for quite a while. I was mostly published in shorter fiction but my longer works were straight genre too. Switching to romance, albeit paranormal romance, does have its share of challenges from my point of view.

I had always thought that my straight speculative fiction stories had good character development. I really did. That was until I tried writing romance and it’s different. There’s a depth there, a homage to the character’s thoughts and feelings, that I never felt that inclined to include in my straight genre. It would get in the way of the plot, wouldn’t it?

Now this might be just me, my own silly thoughts. Maybe I was slack in those days and didn’t know good character development from bad. But then again, maybe it’s not me. Maybe it’s the demand of the genre. For example, maybe what the character goes through, what they think, feel and how they change in the course of the story is the important bit and the rest is window dressing.

Or maybe if I think another way, the course of the emotional transitions in romance are more important or at least equal to the plot. Oh dear, I make it sound so mathematical and I don’t mean to be.

Another way of thinking about it is thinking about audience. What does an audience expect from a paranormal romance? They want the character to be real, or as real as a character can be on the page. A real person then, would struggle with their conscience, their doubts, their beliefs, their leaps of logic. So for me, making the character real for the audience means I have to work a lot harder at this angle. I have to immerse myself until I see the key characters as real people, as real as my head allows.

I really don’t have too much problem with plot. I jam at lot into my paranormal romance, even though I include much more character than I’m used to. I work hard to work out what the character is thinking and feeling. It’s not always easy for me but I try and that for me is the hard part about making the switch. I’m lucky that I read in the genre and love it and that certainly helps.

My latest story is The Sorcerer’s Spell, out with HarperCollins Australia Impulse line. It’s about an average woman, a widower, who works in a child care centre and lives a lonely kind of existence because she still mourns for her husband and then one night she goes to bed dreaming of making love with her husband and is transferred into another woman’s body. One that is actively engaged in sexual activity. That’s when the fun begins.

The Sorcerer’s Spell Blurb

A sexy, body-switching urban fantasy. Annwyn goes to bed dreaming of making love with her dead husband and wakes up in the body of another woman, a woman who is having hot sex with Dane, a powerful sorcerer. Her body has been stolen by Nira, a sorceress, who feeds her magical power through sex, the kinkier the better. The curse she laid on Dane turns him into a werewolf every full moon. To complicate matters Dane’s werewolf friend Rolf, succumbs to Nira when she temporarily repossess her body, causing jealously and confusion. Time is running out, as soon Dane will be a werewolf forever unless he can break the curse. Rafael from the Collegium of Sorcerers is the only one Dane trusts to help them, but when a wider conspiracy is revealed, it’s up to Annwyn and her developing magical powers to save Dane before it’s too late. But can she seduce an unwilling werewolf to lure the sorceress into a final confrontation?

Author shot Dani KristoffAuthor Bio

Dani Kristoff is a Canberra-based author, who delights in reading and writing paranormal romance. She’s been writing since late 2000, which means 13 years, although she’s been concentrating her efforts on science fiction, fantasy and horror. She’s currently finishing up a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. Her day job is in the public service. Her partner is also a writer and they get up to geekery where possible

http://www.harpercollins.com.au/books/Sorcerers-Spell-Dani-Kristoff/?isbn=9781460703199

@dani_kristoff

http://danikristoff.wordpress.com

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As a writer, I am often mystified and horrified by the way people mangle language. I receive emails from work and other places of business that are purporting to be professional and ask me to trust that they know what they are talking about, that are full of spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, not to mention incorrect use of words (there instead of their or they’re as just one example).

I spend so much time trying to craft language into engaging sentences that people will want to read, so it can be galling to see just how little people seem to care about such things these days. Although, I have to say, I am not a grammar, punctuation or spelling expert, although, being well read and well educated (I have a BA in English literature and a DipEd (Secondary) for English), I am aware of the basics and endeavour at all times to do my best to be faithful to what I’ve learned.

I know ‘voice’ can often influence the correct usage of English, so what I write isn’t always going to follow every rule, but in the main, I think I do a pretty decent job.

I often hear other writers expressing the same dilemma over the dilution of the English language and what this will mean to the skills that go into writing it. English is an ever-evolving language (you can now find all sorts of things in the dictionary that weren’t there even 10 years ago – Bootylicious for one!) and so things will change and language must evolve. But all the same, there are some basics that should be observed and it irritates me, particularly when it’s coming in a professional medium (like from work, or in an article I’ve read, or a review etc). However, I’ve often wondered if other people feel the same way.

I just came across this Weird Al Yankovic clip which suggests that, yes, there are others who feel exactly the same way. I just showed it to my boys and they had a laugh (and hopefully, got the point, too). I hope you enjoy. 

Weird Al Yankovic – Word Crimes

 

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