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Archive for October, 2013

Elise photoI’m really excited to say I have the wonderfully talented and incredibly prolific (Nora Roberts – watch out!) Elise K Ackers as a guest on my blog tonight. Elise and I met earlier on this year as we are both authors with Destiny Romance. I was thrilled to find out that there are quite a few of us based in Melbourne and they had begun a tradition of trying to catch up a few times a year and natter about all things life and writing – which I eagerly joined in with. I’ve also caught up with Elise at a few other functions and the RWA conference and I can tell you that she is not only a brilliant writer, but is also a genuinely lovely person with a fascinating life to boot.

LL: Hi Elise. Thanks for being a guest on my blog. I’ve read all your books to date and I’m a big fan, so it’s really exciting to have you here.

EKA: Thanks Leisl, I’m so happy to be here. You’ve always been such great support.

LL: That’s sweet of you to say. But, seeing you’re here for an interview, I better get on with asking you some questions. Tell us a bit about your new novel, Ask Me For Tomorrow, the hotly awaited third and final instalment of the Homeland series.Ask Me For Tomorrow Elise K. Ackers

EKA: Ask Me For Tomorrow is about Dean, a single dad living in a small country town where everyone either knows everything or has an opinion. He’s getting by – he’s exhausted, he’s stretched thin – his kids are in some kind of trouble and his business is getting too big for him to handle on his own. Enter Alice Jaye, single mum, stoic and the beginning of a new chapter in Dean’s life. Dean and Alice are used to taking on the world and all its complications, but the past still holds a lot of real estate in their lives. This book is about letting go, and daring to embrace a second chance.

LL: I love a good series and I’ve really enjoyed the first two of this one and can’t wait to read the last. What gave you the idea for this story? Did you know you were going to write about each of your main characters before you started the series, or was it something that came to you as you wrote the first one?

EKA: I wrote the first book, Ask Me To Stay, as part of the International 3-Day Novel Contest. Initially I didn’t imagine anything more coming from it, but over that long weekend the secondary characters became so intriguing to me that I knew I would keep going. The series is told predominantly from Ethan, Cal and Dean’s points of view – they were the characters who came through the strongest for me; who demanded their turn, in a way.

LL: Many authors (myself included) talk about where their story ideas come from (I dream mine.) What inspires you to write? Where do your ideas come from?

EKA: My ideas come from everywhere – an overheard sentence, something I see on the street, an inspiring image. I’m never consistent with my muse. Often I’m in the car, thinking about how to solve something real in my life, when my imagination takes me in an unexpected direction. It makes for an interesting commute.

LL: You have had a phenomenal year with this being your 6th book published (5 with Destiny Romance and one with Escape) and you’ve had great success with competitions, the most recent being a RUBY nomination for your romantic suspense, Small Town Storm. Tell us a little about your process. I know you work full time – when do you find time to write? What keeps you going?

EKA: It has been a wonderful year – I’m so proud of those books and that nomination. And I don’t find time to write so much as make time. I have to write or I’d lose my mind, which means I create opportunities whenever possible. I write on the train, sometimes during my lunch break. I carry my laptop everywhere and I try to arrive early when I’m meeting someone – that gives me the chance to knock out a few paragraphs. But life gets in the way, doesn’t it? For me, that means a lot of late nights. But I love it – I never regret the missed hours of sleep, only the unwritten pages.

What keeps me going is the almost manic need to finish a project so I can start the next one.

LL: I’m much the same, Elise. I have an iPad which I take everywhere so I can write at any time. It seems our process is not so different. But onto the next question. You write across multiple genres. Do you have a favourite genre to write? What about to read?

EKA: I have contemporary and romantic suspense titles out in the world so far, but I’m working on a new adult title now and will be writing a fantasy trilogy in the next year or so. I don’t deliberately decide to genre-hop, I just write the stories that come to me, and I love that they’re so different from one another. No particular favourite. To read, I lean towards all four of those genres.

LL: I’m a genre hopper as well – it’s much more interesting that way. Apart from writing, what hobbies do you have? What gets you up in the morning and going every day?

EKA: When my living situation permits, I love to help out with animal foster care – I adore animals. I’m a big reader, a bit of a Pinterest buff and an enthusiastic explorer – I’ve always got a flight booked because I can never get enough of travel.

LL: I’m so jealous, especially of the trip you’ve got planned that you’ve been posting details of on FB. Sounds so exciting (longing sigh.) Sooo, enough of me dreaming about going back to Italy, what’s been the most surprising aspect of your career as a published author so far?

EKA: The writing community. I’d heard it was great, but it’s spectacular. The romance writers, particularly; they’re so fun, supportive, generous and enthusiastic. I hadn’t imagined how important they would become, that was a huge surprise for me.

LL: That’s so lovely to hear. I think they’re pretty special too. On to the last question: What’s up next for you? Any projects on the boil that you’re particularly excited about?

Big Town StormEKA: Release-wise, Small Town Storm is being released in paperback in December, which I’m so excited about!

LL: It’s got a fantastic cover – really evocative of the story.

EKA: I think so. And writing-wise, I’m in the middle of a new adult title based in Europe which I hope to have finished by next month. It’s unlike anything I’ve written before, and the characters are really challenging me.

LL: Sounds fascinating. I can’t wait to read that one too. Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, Elise. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.

EKA: Thanks, Leisl. I had fun answering your questions, thanks for having me on your blog!

You can buy Elise’s new novel, Ask Me For Tomorrow, from:

http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781743482537/ask-me-tomorrow-destiny-romance

http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Me-For-Tomorrow-ebook/dp/B00E49TUCC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1374710304&sr=1-1&keywords=ask+me+for+tomorrow+ackers

https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/ask-me-for-tomorrow/id677971225?mt=11

Author bio:

Elise K. Ackers is a romantic suspense and contemporary romance author based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a 2013 Romantic Book of the Year finalist and a Best Book of 2012 nominee, winner of multiple international writing awards and known to do some pretty strange stuff in the name of research. She is an enthusiastic couch commentator, a laser tag enthusiast and an animal foster carer.

Elise is the author of romantic suspense title Small Town Storm, contemporary romance The Man Plan, and the new Homeland novella series.

You can chat with her on Facebook and Twitter (@EliseKAckers), and find out more at her author website (http://www.elisekackers.net).

Killing me softly lo resToday I have a guest post on Charissa Stastny’s blog, Joy in the Moments. Check it out here if you’ve got a moment.

http://joyinthemoments.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/leisl-leightons-book-launch

Charissa is a lovely author I met through another website. She lives all the way over the other side of the world (Las Vegas, Nevada), and has never pulled a slot machine in her life, just like me (although the temptation for her is far greater living in what could be known as the gambling capital of the world). Charissa believes that life should be lived for joy and I have to say I agree – otherwise what is the point?

This is why I follow my dreams of writing and even though I was lucky enough to be published with my romantic suspense novel, Killing Me Softly, and have just contracted for my new paranormal, Dark Moon, my dream isn’t fulfilled. It just grows longer and more interesting, filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures and characters, good vs evil, moments of discovery and the never ending journey, not only for my characters, but for myself. Because, without this journey, how are we supposed to ever figure out who we are meant to be?

It is also wonderful that as part of this journey, I get to meet other people making their journeys through their world. They might not be turning dreams into romantic suspense and paranormal fantasy like me, but, like Charissa, they are finding their own joy.

Yay to the dreamers in us all.

In the spirit of this, I want to share with you a song I think expresses this really well. Megan Hilty from Smash singing Carrie Underwoods, ‘Crazy Dreams’. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydA2V6dwcAY

alexadsett-image-225x300I am thrilled to announce that Australian agent, Alex Adsett, has agreed to represent me and my novel Dark Moon and it’s subsequent series.

It seems she is as enamoured of witches and warlocks, werewolves and shifters, magical occurances and all things paranormal fantasy romance (not to mention the things that go bump in the night) as I am.

Alex has been working in the publishing industry for 15 years and has recently added literary agent to her credits. She has a small, but growing list of genre authors, and has also worked with many popular and well known Australian authors (Barry Humphries and Isobelle Carmody are just two – I’m hugely impressed) while building Alex Adsett Publishing Services. See more here:

http://alexadsett.com.au

I am really excited to have such a passionate proponant of authors, writing and reading good books on my side. I look forward to building my career with her help and guidance and am incredibly thrilled to be one of her stable of talented genre authors.

I happened to stumble across a program on ABC last night with the inimitable Stephen Fry.

That fascinating man was looking at languages, most particularly the 6000 plus languages in the world that are ‘threatened with linguicide’. I never even knew there was a word such as ‘linguicide’, but what a fascinating word that is. And how sad to think that some people’s identity and culture are being lost to homogenisation.

An incredibly interesting series.I’ll be tuning in again. Especially as it made me think about what I love to do in a different light.

I love language and people and cultures and differences – it’s one of the reasons I write and explore these subjects in my novels. Creating new worlds, or just re-workings of our world by tapping into history and a mixture of mythologies and mythological creatures (witches, warlocks, magic, mother nature, vampires, gods and goddesses, muses, elves, dragons and so on) is my little way of carrying forward thoughts and ideas as old as time. But this series by Stephen Fry has made me think even more deeply about how language roots us in all these things. Now my brain is flying with ideas. It’s all very exciting for me (and hopefully for my readers in the future).

Even if you are not a writer or don’t think about language and its effect on our individual and social psyche, I still suggest you watch this show – it was incredibly fascinating.

http://www.abc.net.au/tv/programs/frys-planet-word/#episode/ZX6558A002S00

You wont’ be sorry if you do.

I often ponder this question. Given I’m a writer it seems particularly pertinent to me. But I wonder about it in a general sense too. I often worry about if there is a finite element to it – once you’ve used up your quota of inspiration, will that be it? Or is it an endless thing – that like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors, that if you feed it your blood, sweat and tears, it will grow.

Sometimes it does feel rather monstrous – something that takes hold of me and won’t let me sleep or properly concentrate on other things with any sense of satisfaction until I’ve given it free reign and let it out to run around wildly for a while, spilling words out onto the page. I often look at those words later on and think to myself – ‘Wow! Did I write that?’ I often can’t really remember writing those words. Which is fine, because most of it is rubbish and it’s good to blame that on some out of head experience, but some of those words are pretty bloody good.

So, who is responsible for those words?

Is it me? Or is it my Muse? Is it something essential inside me – part of my character that will always be there, ready to tap into whenever I want to? Or is it something on loan from some greater being and could be taken away from me at any time? How do I cope with the answer being ‘yes’ to either question? How do others cope? When they have success, do they too wonder if it’s just an ephemeral dream, a one off thing, or if there is longevity to it; something that I can repeat again and again, get better and better at and add to that original dream of success (having a published novel) and turn it into multiple successes?

Is this my own version of a psychotic break, worrying and wondering about all this stuff?

I’m glad to say that it isn’t. I’m not alone in these thoughts. And if you’ve had them, you’re not alone either.

My lovely sister-in-law, Alice, sent me a link to a TED talk with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. I have never actually read this novel (I know, many of you will be thinking this is impossible for a lover of romantic fiction, but I like my romance more fantastical than realistic – the reason why I mostly read paranormal, fantasy and historical romance with some romantic suspense thrown in.) But, despite the fact I have never read her hugely popular novel, I really enjoyed her talk. I really related to what she had to say and I think, if you are someone who creates anything (which most of us are), then you will perhaps relate to it too.

So, like Alice shared it with me, I am now sharing it with you. Enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA&app=desktop

I’ve just read a great blog by one of my favourite bloggers, Kristen Lamb. I always get so much from her blogs, because not only does she give great advice to writers, much of what she says has great pertinance for life in general.

The latest one is a case in point. Check it out here:

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/doubt-fear-false-alarms-giving-birth-to-our-dreams

What she says is so true. In my life I’ve often had to persevere through times of great personal difficulties. Two of those biggest ones are also what I consider my babies – firstly, my actual babies ie: my boys. I was told that it would be very difficult for me to have children and I persevered through many years of infertility treatment and IVF to have them. The pregnancies themselves were dreadful too with me almost dying from complications due to pre-eclampsia in the first one and having those same complications become an issue in the second pregnancy too. But I wanted children – at least 2 – and I just put my head down and said ‘this is what I want and I’m going to get it’. Now, I know that’s not necessarily the reason it happened for me – ultimately, I was very lucky and I know I am blessed. Blessed to have my kids, blessed to be alive, blessed that they’re alive (they were both prem because of my pregnancy complications and my eldest in particular was very small and needed a lot of help breathing and just surviving – which they both did and are robust, boisterous boys of 11 and 8.) And even though I was very sick for a long time afterwards, I have overcome that too, in great part because of the joy I get out of them and out of being creative.

We all need a joy that is personal and outside family and friends – and writing is mine. It used to be performing, but having the kids made me change it to another creative endeavour. The only issue is, writing is very insular, unlike performing and at times it can be so difficult to lift your head and keep going. But the stories in my head didn’t stop just because my will wavered on occassion. Just like my desire to have children (and those children themselves who were persistant and strong willed and determined to survive) my other babies – my stories – kept on keeping on.

Despite what some of my friends and family think, I have travelled in the land of DarkestDoubt, but my dreams and those stories wouldn’t let me sit down and sob into the Lake of Eternal Regrets. So I reminded myself of the light side of the Force and the Wibbly Wobbly timey wimey stuff, two things that I had control over in my own personal space. I thought of all the things that brought me joy (my kids, my hubby, my family, my friends, performing, singing, skiing, horseriding, the shows I loved, the books that made me go ‘ahh’ at the end etc etc) drew inspiration and courage from them, had a chuckle at my silliness and continued on.

And now I have a lovely published book to show for all my hard slog, thick skin growing (some of those criticism lashes really hurt! And I know 39 lashes is said to kill you in biblical stories, but I really felt like death at around about 25!) and gritty determination – it’s a wonder I have teeth left the way I grittily clenched them against all naysayers and doomsday prophets. I reached my personal holy grail – a published book – and am greedily reaching for a second and a third and so on and son on. Once you’ve drunk from the fountain of ‘I’ve done it’ you need to replenish yourself in the bottle of ‘It doesn’t end here.’

If you’re confused, don’t be. Read Author Kristen Lamb’s blog and you’ll understand all of the above drivel and hopefully get something out of it too, whether in regards to your own writing or for something else that’s important to you – like going in that triathalon, or wanting to learn to sing, or learning to skydive. Anything you dream of doing but people might say is stupid – as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else (or yourself), then persevere. It’s all the sweeter when you’re standing there at the end with the trophy in your hand (or baby, in my case) and can think to yourself, beaming crazily at the world – see, I knew I could do it. Now what’s next?

 

Romance Writers of Australia