I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who's That Girl? interview with Eleni Konstantine

Please welcome one of my fellow Dark Side DownUnder members!

Name: Eleni Konstantine.

Where are you? Adelaide, Australia.

How many years have you been a member of Romance Writers of Australia? Hmm….about 13 years. They can’t get rid of me!

What genre/s do you write? Fantasy and paranormal fiction, both in the short and long forms.

Who are your favourite authors? Tough, tough question….so many to name. But here I go - David & Leigh Eddings, Jennifer Roberson, Diana Gabaldon, Keri Arthur, Tracey O’Hara, Denise Rossetti, Jennifer Crusie, J.R Ward, J.D Robb, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Barbara Hannay, Marion Lennox, Nikki Logan, Rachel Bailey, Anne Gracie, Anna Campbell, and many many more…..

What inspired you to write romance? I’ve always loved romance in stories but didn’t’ realize I wanted to write romance myself until I read Diana Gabaldon’s CROSS STITCH (OUTLANDER in the US). I totally fell in love with the characters. Jamie – phwar!

I also loved fantasy, so the cross seemed like a great match to me. It hasn’t been easy to place though.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? Basically someone who believes in my work and wants to work with me to on my writing as a career instead of just one book. It’s a hard market out there and I have queried some top agents. So far, I’m still waiting. Maybe with the next project… But publishers that I would love to be published are Tor, Ace/Roc, DAW, Berkley – the big names with speculative fiction.

What's the best thing about going to conference? Oh the gas-bagging, hands down.

There is nothing like being with a group of your peers. No one understands me as a writer as other writers do. They don’t think it strange that I have voices in my head. They nod, understanding perfectly.

I suppose I love all aspects of the conference – the networking, the information at sessions, the functions, the pitching, the support, and basically relishing in being in such a great learning atmosphere. It’s such a buzz and I would recommend it to anyone—if can make it, go for it.

Having said that, there is still a feeling of fun and camaraderie with the RWAustralia Clayton’s Conference. So if you can’t make it in person, all is NOT lost.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
ha, strength? That I’ve persevered despite barriers to health. I can be a stubborn thing at times. *wink *
A sexy hero needs...a sense of humour, a great smile, and eyes you can get lost in!
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...OK, which WIP? There’s the fantasy story of a princess and a dragon, who quest to find the lost tribe of dragons. Romance comes in the form of a Traveller. There’s also the novella of the Gateways to Hell and the Warders who guard against evil.  Or the short story about a Gypsy and another about a female paranormal detective.
When I write I like to...eat! And the sad thing is it’s either chips or chocolate lately. I try and substitute with nuts and fruit but it doesn’t always work. Hmmm…I’m feeling peckish!
My best writing milestone to date is...being requested for a full.

Thanks for answering my questions, Eleni!
Thanks for having me here on your fantabulous blog, Kylie. You know how much I love it here!

You can visit Eleni at her website, her blog - Eleni’s Taverna, Twitter, and of course, don’t forget to visit the Dark Side DownUnder blog, where Eleni is the blog mistress.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Release Day - Children of Scarabaeus!

If you haven't read a book written by Sara Creasy yet then get thee to a bookstore now and buy, buy, buy!

I devoured her debut novel, SONG OF SCARABAEUS, and I'm slavering to get my hands on a copy of CHILDREN OF SCARABAEUS, the second book.

Can I just say, few SF adventures rival my Firefly obsession, but Finn and Edie (the hero and heroine in Sara's series) are incredible.

I don't know about you but I find something really appealing about a hero who's a freedom-fighter turned slave and a heroine who has enough computer technology implanted in her to rival the Borg. Throw in a starship load of secrets between them, a greedy corporation, some rebels with dubious motives and you have one heck of story! If you love techno-jargon, suspense, action, and a dash of romance, then these books are for you.

CHILDREN OF SCARABAEUS hits shelves today (in North America)! And Sara is celebrating its release with giveaway goodness, open internationally! Woohoo!

Interested? Check out the details at Sara's blogsite!

If you miss out there, then mark this date in your diary - April 11th - as Sara is visiting here AND she's bringing a copy of CHILDREN OF SCARABAEUS to giveaway!

Monday, March 28, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR - Cathleen Ross

Please welcome my next guest to sit in the interview hot seat!

But first a little bit about Cathleen...

The first year she joined the Romance Writer of Australia, she heard a new publisher was asking writers for erotic stories for their anthologies. Although she'd had never written a sex scene, she sent in her first erotic story Sweet Vengeance. The editor bought it and asked for more, and she hasn't looked back from there.

She's written an erotic partial for Black Lace, Virgin Publishing, London, which was then the largest publisher of women’s erotic fiction in the world. They took on three new authors that year and she was one of them. The editor contracted her and her book MAN HUNT became the best selling erotic book on the Virgin Publishing website in 2006.
Her motto is "Be game. Be creative. Be brave." She also believes it helps to go to conferences, meet editors and introduce yourself.

An author of several books and short stories, her latest book - LOVE, LUST & LIES was out in January 2011 with MLR.

What name do you publish under? Cathleen Ross.

Where do you live? Australia.

How many years have you been a member of RWAustralia? About 15 years.

What genre/s do you write? Erotica, romance, paranormal, mystery, single title, short stories. Lately I’ve been fiddling with historical short stories. I have trouble staying in one genre because my muse doesn’t seem to work that way. I often dream my stories and I don’t think the guides that channel them know it’s better for an author’s career to stay in one genre.

Who are your favourite authors? Angela Knight, Gena Showalter, Anita Diamant, Linda Howard, Keri Arthur, Kandy Shepherd, Chris Stinson, Isolde Martyn, Jay Ford, Anna Campbell, Annie West.

What inspired you to write romance? I’ve always thought about writing it from the time I was a teenager and read my way through all the Mills and Boon I could get my hands on.

One of my life goals was to be published by Harlequin. I just had to wait until they became “hot” enough and I could keep my characters out of bed long enough to have a romance. Thank God for menopause because my characters hold out longer now.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? I really like Harlequin and I would also like to sell to Berkley as I love their books and many of their writers too.

I’ve just signed with The Lori Perkins Agency. I met my agent Marisa Corvisiero and Lori Perkins recently in the USA. I feel like I’m in the right place. I have a lot in common with Marisa. Lori also has a lot of experience with the “hot” markets.

Why did you write LOVE, LUST and LIES?
I was brought up and married into a large Italian family. Although it’s been a fantastic journey and I love all my in-laws, some of the conventions, particularly that it’s the women’s role to hold the family together, don’t sit well with me.

Men can do no wrong, with the exception of not working hard enough to provide for their family, in this culture. I wanted to explore the role of infidelity in my novel LOVE, LUST and LIES, so I turned convention on its head.

My heroine, Gabriella, throws her husband out when she finds out her husband has had an affair and she has a fantastic cougar affair of her own, except she has to confront her own culture and it’s a difficult life journey for her. It’s sexy, it’s funny but it’s also very real because the book takes readers on a journey of what it’s like to experience infidelity and how a lot more people other than the two protagonists, are affected.

Buy link here.

You mention in you bio that a writer can learn a lot about going to writing conferences. For you, what's the best thing about going to conference? I love catching up with my writer friends who I don’t see regularly.

Kandy Shepherd and I organized the last conference, which I really enjoyed. It was fascinating getting the single title publishers all together for the first time. I feel that writing markets in Australia are finally opening up for our members.
When I first joined Romance Writers of Australia there were only a few people published with Mills and Boon. I was in awe of them. Now I’m in awe of lots of authors and the list of people getting published is growing.

It is great to see our ranks growing, isn't it.
OK, Cathleen, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
my tenacity. My ability to get over rejection and move on. My ability to process the excellent advice of my writer’s group and make the needed changes. My dedication to writing so that I’m prepared to sit on my butt even though it is growing bigger and get the words down.
A sexy hero/heroine needs...a hero/heroine who can match him/her. And don’t forget a great body if it is the hero. A guy who knows how to put the heroine before himself even if she doesn’t want him to, especially when she doesn’t want him to. I love playing with power balances in a story.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...an ex commando and a book keeper acting out her "bad girl" fantasies.
When I write I like to...have the house to myself, be totally in the zone and have meditation rest stops. Make sure all my animals are fed because my chicken is very annoying when she is hungry.
My best writing milestone to date is...up to two thousand words in a school day when on deadline or when I’m obsessed with an idea.


Cathleen, thanks for taking the hot seat, and to your chicken for making a cameo appearance!

If anyone has any questions for either of them, feel free to post them in your comments. :-)

If you'd like to find out more about Cathleen, then visit her website.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

RWA 2011 RITA® & Golden Heart® finalists

A huge congratulations to all of the 2011 RWA RITA® and Golden Heart® finalists!

What a thrilling ride you're all embarking on in the build up to the Nationals in New York in July. Enjoy and make the most of it!
RWA® Golden Heart necklace
A special shout out to my RWA® 2010 Unsinkable Sisters who made it through again:
  • Sharon Lynn Fisher (Paranormal Romance)
  • Clarissa Southwick (aka Gail Zerrade - Novel w/Strong Romantic Elements)
  • Lisa Connelly (Contemporary Single Title)
  • Shelley Coriell (Young Adult Romance)
  • Nan Dixon (aka Nancy Evertz - Contemporary Series Romance)
  • Sharon Wray (Romantic Suspense)
  • Laurie Kellogg (Inspirational Romance)
And a huge woohoo to my fellow Science Fiction Romance Brigade members who made the lists:

Laurie Green
Golden Heart® dual finalist (Paranormal Romance)

Sharon Lynn Fisher
Golden Heart® finalist (Paranormal Romance)


Marcella Burnard
RITA® dual finalist (Best First Book & Paranormal Romance sections)

And the good news keeps coming! Congratulations to the DownUnder contingent for their RWA RITA® Award nominations:

Marion Lennox
(Contemporary Series Romance)

Kelly Hunter
(Contemporary Series Romance)

Sandra Hyatt
(Romance Novella)

For the full list of RWA RITA® & Golden Heart® finalists, click here.

Hit My Blog!

30 000 visitors!

Woohoo! Couldn't let it pass by without marking it in some way.

Thanks everyone for helping me achieve such a milestone.

Here's to another 30K!

A Few of My Favourite Things...

A light-hearted post this week on a few of my favourite things.

5 authors on my keeper-shelf (not listed on my website):
  • Pamela Palmer
  • Jacqueline Frank
  • Anne Aguirre
  • Denise Rossetti
  • Maya Banks
5 DVD's I've watched more than 5 times:
  • Underworld
  • Lord of the Ring
  • Firefly series
  • The Great Escape
  •  Harry Potter & the Philosophers Stone
5 flowers I love to pick for a vase:
  • Jasmine
  • Rose
  • Jacobian lily
  • Freesias
  • Wattle
5 rituals I perform before writing:
  • Make coffee
  • Clear emails
  • Light incense or a scented candle
  • Turn on my desk lamp
  • Put a DO NOT DISTURB sign up on the door
5 comfort "things":
  • my ug-boots
  • chocolate
  • a velvet covered pillow to lie on, on the lounge
  • my cats
  • air conditioning in summer

So, which category appeals to you and do you want to share your 5 Favourite Things in it?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Who's that girl? Interview - Erin Kuhne

Please say g'day to another RWAustralia member!

Name? Erin Kuhne writing under the name Erin O'Hara.

Where are you? Near Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

How many years have you been a member of RWAustralia? Two years.

What genre do you write? Romantic Suspense.

Who are your favourite authors? Stephanie Laurens, Anne Gracie, Susan Mallery, Jane Austen, Lee Child, Jennie Brumley.

What inspired you to write romance? I love reading romances and making up romantic stories.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? I would just love an agent and publisher and there are so many good ones. Anyone will do.

What's the best thing about going to conference? Meeting back up with the friends I make at each conference and laughing a lot with them.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
my imagination.
A sexy hero...draws me like a magnet.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...a feud between two Italian families and, of course, the hero and heroine come from these families.
When I write I like to...let my imagination run wild.
My best writing milestone to date is...having my manuscript requested by Debra Dixon (still haven't heard anything though).

Erin, thanks for joining me today!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mel Teshco Give-away winner

Congratulation to...

Chris Taylor

You won a copy of Mel Teshco's, MOON THRALL - or one of her Ellora's Cave back-list.

If you could contact her - melteshco(at)yahoo(dot)com(dot)au - and she'll discuss details with you about getting it to you.

Happy Reading!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Aussie Desire author, Paula Roe joins me this week to share some interesting tid-bits about herself and her latest release.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
How much space do we have? ;-)    In a nutshell, I’m a former office manager/software tutor/theme park games hostess/aerobics instructor.  These days I’m a writer/workshop tutor/website designer/mum.   Of course I’m a Gemini, which I think explains the multiple jobs.

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I first remember being encouraged to write in year 5 when my teacher read my short story aloud in class (it was about horses and he gave me top marks for using the word ‘cascading’ which apparently, was quite advanced for an 11 year old  ).

Then I moved on from horsey stories to sheikhs and pirates, which reflects what I was reading at the time.  I wrote a few wall bangers on the work commute when I was 18-20.

Joining RWA in 1994 was really the turning point for me, which opened my eyes to all the technical stuff like voice, point of view, scene and structure, plot and characterization.  I entered a few contests, then submitted to Harlequin Temptation in 95, which was promptly rejected.

Fast forward to 2006, where I’d entered close to 90 contests and submitted (and been rejected) full manuscripts.  I got the call from Silhouette Desire in September, so it only took me twelve years of serious yes-I-want-to-be-published writing to get there.

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
I’m more of a scener – I see full scenes in my head, write them down then attempt to string them all together in some cohesive, logical format.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not ;-)  Which is where Document Map becomes invaluable – I can see my scene summary at a glance and if it needs to be moved, changed or deleted.

My characters definitely influence the story most – if they’ve had a certain upbringing, had experiences and been through life-changing events, then that will definitely shape the story.  However, sometimes I want a story to go one way, which gets me thinking about what type of character I need to ensure that direction.  So sometimes each influences the other!

As to my writing process - I do characters sketches: physical characteristics, life influences, family dynamic, etc. The more I know about my character’s back story, the easier the story comes to me.

Then I draft up a synopsis, around 6 pages or so, then the first three chapters. I fiddle and tinker with that until it feels right, then, after I submit that to my editor, I write the rest of the book. Sometimes I’ll write my ‘itching-to-be-written’ scenes first, sometimes not.

My first draft is generally my only draft, because I edit as I go. And by this time, my editor may come back with some concerns or ideas which I look at.

It’s also important for me to get the whole story down without going back and editing every single time I sit down to write.  So when I come to a roadblock (could be a missing fact, could be a clunky sentence, could be something that just doesn’t read right) I add a comment flag in Word, type in the issue, then keep on going.  When I address all those little flags, I’m happy with my story :-)

I also have a list of my frequently used words (rather, overused!) and I flag those within the story.  Then when I’m in the last stages of writing, I’ll revisit those words to see if I can use a better one.

Tell us about your new release.
It’s called PROMOTED TO WIFE? and it’s out in the USA mid-March, Australia/NZ mid-April. I had heaps of fun writing this one, especially all the dialogue and the secondary characters, where we revisit the Prescotts (the hero’s brother Cal had his own story in The Magnate’s Baby Promise).

My hero, Zac, is a step down from the ultra-alpha – he’s so sweet, I love him to bits! And Emily is definitely shades of everywoman, with all the doubts and insecurities we sometimes stress about. I also loved writing Emily’s sister AJ who nearly hijacked every scene she appeared in. Of course, I have to give her a story of her own!

Here’s my back cover blurb:
Business, Pleasure...Possibilities? 

Running a multi-billion dollar company meant long hours for Zac Prescott. Thankfully, his super-efficient assistant made the workload almost bearable.  Theirs was a strictly professional relationship… until the night Emily Reynolds finally let her hair down.  And the tycoon took full advantage by stealing a kiss.

Suddenly, all Zac could concentrate on was his once plain-Jane secretary.  Too bad that after the kiss, she'd quit! Could he lure her back with better prospects… and add some pleasure to the job description?  Or was Emily looking for the ultimate promotion...to wife?

Despite the ‘wife’ mention, the story isn’t about the hero thinking the heroine is after marriage :-)

What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
A few – the night in a Valencia youth hostel that was an old converted stable. The torture instrument museum in the basement of an Innsbruck castle. The long, dark walk to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere in Austria that reminded me of A Werewolf in London when the guy got bitten. Think open rolling hills, no street lights, mist and snow and a tiny country road that went for ages. Creepy!

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you'd like to use in a future book?
I’d love to do a dark story with a damaged, tortured warrior hero who’s running (both physically and mentally) from terrible secrets from his past.  Of course, that’s not Desire material :-)  Which is why I’ve got this space opera/fantasy/erotic story fermenting in my head, a story that tackles the huge issues of love, betrayal, revenge and getting your heart’s desire. And growing up with the original Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr Who, et al, I adore those kinds of fantastical elements.

This book is such a labour of love, though, and I’m working on it in between my Desire commitments (and of course, now I’ve committed to it out loud, I’m sure my writer friends will keep me on track and ensure I finish it ).

Thanks, Paula, for allowing me to interrog--umm, I mean, interview you!

For more information on Paula, head on over to her website, or to follow her blog.

Paula's other books:

Saturday, March 19, 2011


There were a lot of fun, unusual places mentioned in the comments section of Helene Young's interview. I felt like Mr.X travelling the globe! "The Horn", Deadman's Bay, Antartica, a cemetery beneath the Vatican...

Thank you again to Helene for generously donating two books - SHATTERED SKY and WINGS OF FEAR.

Names were randomly drawn.

The winner of SHATTERED SKY is...

Tina C.

The winner of WINGS OF FEAR is...

Carol Challis


If both these people could contact Helene - heleneyoung01(at)gmail(dot)com - she can arrange to get your book to you! Happy Reading!


Yes, I know it' not Monday but I couldn't pass up having a special guest and my friend Mel Teshco visit today!

Bonus! You're getting a couple of guest authors this week!!! And a give-away!

So, who is Mel Teshco?
I’m a mum of three wonderful girls and a grandmother of a gorgeous little boy. My family has a thing for cats (four) and horses (three). And of course, we love books—well, my husband and two youngest girls do, my eldest daughter prefers to watch books at the movies (g).

I live in sunny Queensland, on a small acreage with gorgeous big gum trees and rolling green hills. And presently, a big empty pool (liners are expensive!! LOL).

Sounds like a nice patch of paradise, Mel! Must be great for the creative side in you when you're writing. Speaking of :-) - can you tell us about your new release, MOON THRALL?
MOON THRALL is about a woman desperate to escape the abuse of her ex fiancée. I can totally relate to this theme and thought this heroine truly deserved her HEA.

The hero has been waiting for his weren (werewolf mate) and is shocked to discover her ex fiancée is his werewolf enemy.

Elyse Wellston escapes from her brutal, violent ex-fiancé to a remote cabin in Australia. Fearing for her life, it makes no sense for her to react the way she does on meeting the enigmatic Dane Maddox.

Only when she discovers he is a werewolf and she is his weren—his mate and a werewolf herself—does she begin to understand the hot, sexual yearning within. No longer does she need to act out a desire she doesn’t feel, Dane is everything she wants. But will her ex-
fiancé end her happiness, her sexual fulfillment, almost before it begins? 

What is it about your characters that made you want to tell their stories?
I think it’s things I can either relate to or that fascinate me in some way. The characters in MOON THRALL actually came to me after I imagined the opening scene. Movies can stay in my mind and influence my characters many years down the track. In this story, think of the heroine as Julia Robert’s in Sleeping with the Enemy. (damn good movie, too!) And the hero, he’s the rich, alpha male with a little bit of SNAG thrown in...gotta love that!! (g) 

Movies are a powerful visual, aren't they? I'm a bit of a movie buff too, mostly action/adventure, lots of SF/F and I'm always a sucker if there's a romantic element thrown in.

Now, for a question about your writing process. Do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write? Has your pet taught you anything about writing? If so, what?
My tabby cat Yammy (named after the Yamaha motorcycle, as a kitten her purr was LOUD).

If she’s not on my keyboard or in front of my screen, she’s on my lap or looking up at me with her puss-in-boots eyes, waiting for the go ahead to snuggle.

She’s my *special* girl. She used to stand up on her hind legs and give my little girl a hug when she was crying (this cat worries over crying). Yammy also used to have very bad epilepsy, but she seems cured now (touch wood!!)

Yammy actually was one of the influences for a bit of an odd fantasy novel I started, where the heroine attracted cats like bees to a honeypot. Yet another ms I will have to dust off and finish! 

So, what's next for you? What are you working on?
I’m having a little break from finishing off BELIEVE, my co-authored, never ending book (g) and revising a very old paranormal novel ‘Shadow Hunter’ which will need a name change.

I’m also about halfway through BROTHERS OF THE OTHERWORLD, an alien fantasy short novel for Ellora’s Cave.

Then I plan the third novella for the gargoyle WINGED & DANGEROUS series, which I hope to submit about halfway through the year. 

Wow, you're certainly busy! And I'm looking forward to seeing your next W&D book, especially the cover. They've been a great series! Mel, thanks for being my special "special" guest today! :-) 

And, as I mentioned at the start of this post, there's a give-away of MOON THRALL (or, if you prefer, you get a choice of one her Ellora's Cave back-list). Leave a comment by 6pm, Tuesday 22nd March 2011, and you'll go into the draw. Good luck!

If you'd like to know more about Mel check out her website, blog or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Mel's other books:

Free read!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who's that girl? Interview - Bec Skrabl

Moving around the countryside, we're headed south of the border into Victoria, Australia!

Name? Bec Skrabl.

Where are you? I live in country Victoria, about two hours from Melbourne and any decent bookstores. Thank Goodness for Rendezvous Romance Bookstore!

How many years have you been a member of RWOz? Two years. And it's been the best thing I've ever done.

What genre/s do you write? I switch between genres, but primarily paranormal and historical. Or a combination. (:

Who are your favourite authors? My absolute favourite author is Dorothy Dunnett of the Lymond chronicles (a perfect example of an author who's way smarter than me). I find it hard for a book to absorb me these days, because I'm constantly analysing it to work out what the author's done right, but Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook, Lilith Saintcrow, Linnea Sinclair and Nalini Singh are just a few of those who suck me in until I reach the end of the book and haven't earmarked a single page or made even one note!

What inspired you to write romance? As a kid I loved fairy tales (the old, darker style of Grimm’s or Hans Christian, which might explain a few things), and used to write endless stories about unicorns, sword-wielding princes and dragons. I started out reading epic fantasy when I was eight and Mum gave me the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series, but something was always missing. My favourite fantasy’s involved a strong romantic central storyline and one day I wandered into a different section of the bookstore…and found what I was looking for.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? ACE, Avon or Berkley.

What's the best thing about going to conference? This year was my first one and I loved every second of it. How do I sum up the best bits? Meeting friends I knew only via email, making new friends, meeting Nalini Singh (and sending a text to my boyfriend when she sat two seats up from me, "OMG, you will never guess who is sitting at my table!", to which he replied, “Don’t embarrass yourself.”).

Or maybe it was sitting down with people and having serious discussions about writing for hours on end, and having them understand what I was talking about. I don’t know, it’s too hard picking a favourite thing. Least favourite – having it all end for another year ):

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
definitely not plotting. Maybe world-building?
A sexy hero needs...a little bit of arrogance, a lot of respect for the heroine and a hint of vulnerability. A wicked smile doesn’t hurt either.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...a steam-fuelled Victorian London, with a heroine in hiding from the monster hunting her and a hero hiding from the monster within. (:
When I write I like to...drink copious amounts of tea and torture my stubborn alphas with strong-minded heroines who bring them to their knees!
My best writing milestone to date is...signing with Natalie Fischer at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency in April. I nearly choked on my toast when I got the email saying she loved my work!

Bec, thanks for sharing and it's been great having you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Helene Young

SHATTERED SKY is Helene Young's latest release.

The book is aptly titled considering Helene recently survived TC Yasi, a category 5 tropical cyclone that made landfall not far from her home town in Queensland, Australia.

Welcome back, Helene!

Kylie, thanks so much for having me on your blog. I love reading your posts – I’m guaranteed to learn something every time!

What's been happening in your world since the RWAustralia Coogee Beach conference?

Kylie, the RWA Coogee conference seems like a million years ago. I can’t believe New York is only a touch over three months away and Melbourne a mere five months. I keep thinking I must have slipped into a time warp somewhere!

2010 was an incredibly busy year with my day job where I fly aircraft for a regional airline. I changed roles within the company, which meant I was back on the receiving end of training instead of being the trainer. That made my brain rev into gear at full speed…

The release of SHATTERED SKY was moved forward a month to February, leading to some pretty hectic editing and a few very late nights.

Cairns, Queensland
I was also fortunate to be part of the Brisbane Writers Festival and from that I’ve been signed up to run one day workshops for QWC in Cairns and Townsville later this month. I’m looking forward to that as I firmly believe teaching people always brings new insights. Of course, there’s a fair bit of preparation that goes into a full day’s training so I’m madly polishing that as well as pushing on with book three.

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?

I’ve always thought I was a panster, but a friend introduced me to the term scener and I think that fits pretty well. When I start writing a story I have a theme I want to explore and a series of scenes. I can see my characters in situations, but from there I’m happy for them to take me on their journey without a clue where we are headed. While that leads me up blind alleys occasionally, I do think I know the characters better for the winding path. Sure I then have to cut more words than if I’d rigidly written to a plot line, but because I have to be so pedantic in my day job I enjoy not knowing the exact ending. (It would be a bit of a worry if the passengers didn’t know where the flight was landing, lol.)

Can you tell us about your new release?

SHATTERED SKY was a long time in my head. Lauren, a secondary character in WINGS OF FEAR (previous title was Border Watch) was always trying to muscle in on that story. I knew she had to have her own book and I knew just the man she needed to cross swords with.

The theme in SHATTERED SKY is people feeling trapped by forces outside of their control. The story explores organized crime, and particularly the Outlawed Motorcycle Gangs, as I think they reflect the changing cultural make-up of Australia. Their move into global crime is part of that change.

Lauren uncovers a people trafficking operation that’s bringing in women for the sex-slave trade. Her search for answers takes her deep into the wilderness of northern Australia and she’ll need the reluctant help of Naval Patrol Boat Captain, Callam Granger. Will their history force them together or apart or will it risk more lives?

It was so much fun seeing these two find their way forward!

Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novels takes place?

Trinity Beach
Hmm, these maybe more interesting than fun!

Trinity Beach was used during World War II as a training camp for the Australian Army. Vasey Esplanade takes its name from Major General George Vasey who died in a plane crash in the waters of Trinity Beach in 1948. He’d been a hero in the New Guinea campaign and was much loved by his troops.

The largest recorded crocodile was shot in 1957 by Mrs Kris Powloski on the banks of the MacArthur River near Normanton in North Queensland.

Golden Shouldered Parrot
It was a whopping 28 feet, 4 inches long.  If you, your partner, and your two children lay head to toe in a straight line this monster would still be longer than you all! You wouldn’t want to meet his big brother on a dark and storm night.

Cape York is home to the Golden Shouldered Parrot, which is one of Australia’s most endangered bird species. It only lives in very small areas and is really sighted.

What’s the most unusual place you have visited?

Antarctica! Without a doubt, the coldest, driest place on earth is amazing!! We did a twenty-six day voyage starting from Bluff in New Zealand, tracking right down into McMurdo Sound before returning to Hobart in Australia.

Scott's Hut, Antarctica
The history of the early explorers, the wildlife and the ice itself were overwhelming! To be standing in the hut where Scott and his men camped out before they began their ill-fated journey to the south pole was inspiring. Their clothes, their food, their skis were all there, frozen in time.

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you'd like to use in a future book?

I want to set a novel on Macquarie Island. We visited there on the way back from Antarctica and it’s had more than its fair share of dramas and adventures. The early whalers have always fascinated me. They were so mentally and physically tough. I’m dying to write that story, but it will have to wait its turn…

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?

Persevere! Writing is about being stubborn. Keep knocking on doors. It’s one tenth talent and nine-tenths determination.

Join Romance Writers of Australia. Rejections hurt so a more gentle way of toughening up is to use the RWA contest circuit. Writers such as Kylie, Anna Campbell, Tracey O’Hara and Erica Hayes all used those contests to hone their skills and learn their craft. I can’t speak highly enough of the organization and the opportunities it offers. And it’s not just for category romance writers!

Kylie thanks so much for having me here today.
Helene, it's always a pleasure!

As a special extra, Helene has generously donated a copy of her books SHATTERED SKY and WINGS OF FEAR. 

If you'd like to be in the running to win one of them, please leave a comment about the most unusual or favorite geographical location you've visited.

Please leave a comment by midday (Aussie Eastern Daylight Savings Time), Saturday 19th March 2011. The 2 winners will be posted by that evening.

If you'd like to know more about Helene go to her website, follow her blog, Facebook page or on Twitter

Helene's books:


Saturday, March 12, 2011

TOPIC: Search for the Holy Grail...umm, Agent! (part 2)

Last post I asked the questions – Should you get an agent? Where do you start? How do you know if they’re reputable? Who do you aim for? What should you include in a query letter? Do you go snail mail or email?

Steps 1 & 2 were all about researching agents and making a prioritised list of your preferred agents. Let's move on.

Step 3 – Write a query letter and/or collate appropriate sample pages/partials as per the guidelines for each agent. Some will want only the query letter, some a QL and 5/10 pages of your work, some a QL & synopsis.

When you start this process only work on 5 submissions at a time. Too many and you run the risk of confusing specifics and there’s nothing more unprofessional than sending the wrong thing to your “dream” agent and it’s a sure way to be culled.

Check the guidelines. Double check. Then check again. How easy is it for an agent to disregard your query when you haven’t adhered to them?

*Some advice for query letters, no fluffy stuff. Agents don’t have time to read waffle, not with 50 to 100 queries a day (and that’s a conservative estimate, I’m sure). They want to know what your book is about, the conflict, the idea - think back cover blurb, and any relevant info about you. Keep it brief, no more than an A4 page. The details about characters and your more complete bio can come later once you’ve hooked them with your story.

Agent blogs sometimes address what makes a good query letter. Two blogs with good examples include BookEnds Literary Agency and Pub Rants by agent Kristen Nelson.

Step 4 – Keep track of your submissions. Whether you create a database on the computer or on paper you stick to your office wall, know who you sent a query to, when you sent it, what manuscript you pitched, the timeframe they suggest contacting them if you’ve haven’t heard from them, what response you got etc., any information that tracks your progress in your search for an agent.

Send out 5 queries at a time. As one comes back, send out another to the next agent on your list. And so on.

I highlighted any agent who sent back something more than a standard rejection eg. personal comments about the manuscript. It meant they were interested enough to take the time to do that, and they’re the ones to target with a new pitch and new manuscript next time. Just refresh their memory about your prior contact with them in any subsequent QL.

Step 5 – Celebrate your successes. When you get a request for a partial or full, pat yourself on the back, even if they’re eventually rejected. Share the good times with your friends. It keeps the batteries recharged and makes the slog worthwhile.

Also note down on your database the agents who requested partials or fulls – again they liked your voice enough to possibly request and read other work by you.

Just remember:
  1. Aim high – agents can only say no, but they might also say “I'd like to officially offer you representation.”
  2. Research your agents carefully – if they offer you representation you want to know you’re signing with someone you can work with.
  3. Maintain a professional & polite attitude – rudeness will come back to bite you. If you end up with several agents requesting fulls have the courtesy to tell the others there are “X” number of agents also reading your work (no need to name them specifically). It lets them know others are interested.
  4. Persevere – anyone with an agent will tell you they didn’t give up looking for one after getting a rejection or two.
Good luck in your hunt for an agent!

Friday, March 11, 2011

GUEST BLOGGING: Over at Jennifer Jakes blog...(busy week!)

I'm guest blogging over at Jennifer Jakes' blog today (The Ramblings of a Sleep Deprived Romance Writer) - don't you love the tag line? She's a fellow Golden Heart® "Unsinkable" & TWRP published historical author.

Jennifer posed questions about driving down bumpy roads and smooth highways, what troubles me, and oh yeah, some about writing!

Come on over and say hi if you have a spare few...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who's that GUY? Interview - Kenneth Zak

A break from the ladies of RWA®, RWOz & RWNZ.

Today, please welcome my fellow Unsinkable "classmate" and the only man to be a 2010 Golden Heart® finalist.

Name? Kenneth Zak.

Where are you? San Diego, Californa, USA.

How many years have you been a member of RWA®? Just celebrated my 1 year anniversary. Where are my gifts? Everywhere.

What genre do you write? Novels with strong romantic elements (set around islands & water).

Who are your favourite authors? Garcia Marquez, Paulo Coelho, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Michael Ondaatje, Milan Kundera, Rumi, Pablo Neruda. 

Koh Chang, Thailand
What inspired you to write romance? Life.

What's the best thing about going to conference? So many wonderful storytellers gathered in one place.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...wonder.    
A sexy hero/heroine needs...soul.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...a son discovering secrets of his late father's life, and his own, through his father's lovers.
When I write I like to...lose (and find) myself.
My best writing milestone to date is...my debut novel, THE POET'S SECRET, being a 2010 RWA Golden Heart® finalist.
Steps to Amoud

Thanks for answering my questions, Ken! Thank you for including me!

Click on the link if you'd like to visit Ken's website or feel free to "friend him" on Facebook (Kenneth Zak, San Diego).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

GUEST BLOGGING: Over at Regency-Seductions

You can find me guest blogging over at Regency-Seductions.

I'm talking to Kensington Brava author, Bronwen Evans, about my upcoming Light Blade series with Berkley Sensation, the first of which will be released in February 2012.

If you feel like learning more about the first two books in the series, drop on over! Bron and I would love to see you there.

Monday, March 7, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Darynda Jones

My guest author today comes all the way from the USA. She and I first met up on stage at the Romance Writers of America® Awards dinner. As the 2009 Golden Heart® winner (for the paranormal romance section), she presented me with my 2010 Golden Heart.

Please welcome St.Martin's Press paranormal romance author, Darynda Jones.

Welcome to my blog! Let's start with an easy question - who is Darynda Jones?
Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Darynda was born spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike.

After the Golden Heart final, she pimped herself as best she could, landed an amazing agent and sold to St. Martin’s Press in a three-book deal. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at www.daryndajones.com

So, that’s the official story. The real one, the story behind the story, is much more interesting. It involves murder, car chases and random explosions. Just kidding. I’m about as boring as a girl can get, but I sure have fun pretending I’m not. Except for that one time I was thrown out of a restaurant for impersonating a CIA agent. That took some explaining.

You impersonated a CIA agent?!? I bet you won't be doing that again in a hurry. LOL

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started writing when I was five. Yep, a born storyteller. Not, however, a genius. I didn’t actually learn to read and write until I was six. No way was I going to let that stop me. I would scribble on a paper and swear it was a romantic play or a story about a boy and his duck. (Long story.)

I wrote on and off for decades, taking breaks with kids, school, and career, until I finally got serious and started writing toward publication in 2002. It took me seven years to sell.

So, what's been happening in your world since the RWA conference in Orlando?
My first book, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, just came out from St. Martin’s Press, so I’ve been super busy with promo and socializing. I’ve been amazed at how intricate and involved the process it.

I've been following part of that journey via some of your blog interviews. Phew! What an exhausting process!

It's always interesting finding out what sparks a writer's creativity. Is there anything that helps yours?
Anything and everything, but mostly music, movies and other books.

Hmm, a lot of my guests speak of similar interests. Now, onto one of my favorite questions - what do you think it is about your genre that readers find fascinating?
The impossible coming to life.

Part of my job as a writer is to make the unreal real. I have to make it so believable, so everyday, that you jump into the story and never doubt it’s possibility for a minute. If you do, then I haven’t done my job. The men are powerful and surreal, the woman strong and clever, and the stories are so much fun and inventive that the reader just loses him- or herself. Pure escapism. Pure entertainment.

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
I plot like there’s no tomorrow, but the characters definitely influence everything about the book. The characters always come first. It’s their story, after all. If they are not at the wheel, then the story loses its soul and I am telling a story for the sake of plot. I am giving directions to the nearest gas station. Not something I want to read, nor would I expect my readers to put up with that.

Please, tell us about your new release!
Absolutely! This is from the publisher:

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.  Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it's her job to convince them to "go into the light."  But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice.  

Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she's been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life...and it turns out he might not be dead after all.  In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley?  And why can’t she seem to resist him?  And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.  

Whoo-eee! What a story, I can't wait to read it! So, what's next for you? What are you working on now?
With books two and three of the Charley Davidson series, SECOND GRAVE ON THE LEFT and THIRD GRAVE DEAD AHEAD, safely with my publisher, I am now working with my editor on a young adult series that also sold to St. Martin’s, the first of which is titled GRIMSIGHT and slotted for an April 2012 release date.

Congratulations! It must be incredibly satisfying to have another series on the go with three books coming out! I wish you well on its success, Darynda.

For those looking forward to reading Darynda's debut series (with St.Martin's Press), here are the US release dates:


All right, last question, I promise! For those out there on the long journey to seeing their work in print, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
Just this: Finish the book. And as soon as it’s finished, start the next and finish it too. Practice makes perfect.

Thank you so much for having me, Kylie. I was so honored to present you with your Golden Heart® in Orlando and can’t wait for your book to hit the shelves! 
It was a pleasure meeting you too, Darynda. That's a night I won't forget in a hurry. Thanks for visiting my blog, it's been a hoot!

If you'd like to know more about Darynda or want to read the excerpts from her books (*spoiler alert, proceed at your own risk!), click on this link for her website. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Darynda's other books:

Second Grave on the Left
Third Grave Dead Ahead