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


Thursday, June 30, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Amanda Ashby

A change of pace for this interview - time to ask some new questions for a different slant from those in my hot seat.

My guest author today hates bananas, loves Joss Whedon (don’t we all?!?!), collects old handbags, makes the best coconut, cream cheese and cherry muffins, is a football nut (soccer, not rugby, league, Aussie Rules or gridiron) and believes David Boreanaz is a God.

Now for the more official version of her bio…

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia, has spent eight years in England and currently lives in New Zealand. When she's not moving country, she also likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let's just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?).

She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children.

As well as writing, she works part-time at the children/teen desk of her local library, which basically means that someone pays her to talk about books.

Her debut book, YOU HAD ME AT HALO was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her current book ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH was listed by the New York Public Library's Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 as well as being nominated for the YALSA popular paperback 2011.

Amanda, welcome back to my blog! It’s great to see you again. She visited back in January this year, if anyone wants to go back and read that interview.

Let's get the low down on her latest release.

Title – FAIRY BAD DAY (out July 9th in the USA, and July 27th in Aust/NZ).

Setting – YA contemporary/paranormal.

Hero – Curtis Green.

Heroine – Emma Jones.

Scene you would never cut - The library scene when Emma and Curtis both have their chins on the desk while they are talking to each other.

Something your hero or heroine would never do or say - Emma would never say ‘eek, I’ve broken a nail’ and Curtis would never say ‘I hate you.’

What's one quirky thing about your hero/heroine?
Emma is pretty serious so I would say that her quirkiest feature is her self-delusions!! As for Curtis, right now his quirkiest thing is his adorable half smile and the fact that he’s got a broken leg and has to get around on crutches!

What do you think the readers will like about this book?
It’s nice and light and won’t make their head hurt. Plus the cover is really very adorable!

Book blurb –
While most students at Burtonwood Academy get to kill demons and goblins, fifteen-year-old Emma gets to rid the world of little annoying fairies with glittery wings and a hipster fashion sense. She was destined to be a dragon slayer, but cute and charming Curtis stole her spot.
Then she sees a giant killer fairy - and it's invisible to everyone but her! If Emma has any chance of stopping this evil fairy, she's going to need help.
Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Curtis. And now, not only has he stolen her dragon-slayer spot, but maybe her heart as well! Why does she think it's going to be a fairy bad day? 

What's next for you?
I’ve got a Mid Grade trilogy that should start coming out next year as well as another YA novel that is scheduled for late 2012 or early 2013, plus I’m really excited about the projects that I’m working on now so watch this space!

Favorite movie of all time – Toss up between Star Wars and Clueless (which again explains a lot about me as a writer!)

Favorite fairytale - Anything by Hans Christian Anderson.

Favorite story to disappear into - I’m a big Raymond E Feist fan and every year I look forward to a new book so that I can disappear back to Midkemia (and Kelewan since I’m just about to re-read Daughter of the Empire!).

Favorite TV program - So many that I couldn’t possibly pick one! I’m a massive fan of Buffy/Angel/Firefly as well as Deadwood, Skins and Friends.

First book you remember reading - When I was ten I remember reading Trixie Belden and THE HOBBIT in close succession (which is sort of a weird mix, but explains a lot about me as a writer!!!!).

Dog or cat person (or other) - Equal opportunity! Cats are so smart but dogs are so cute!

Author (living or dead) you'd most like to meet - Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen. Or both!

A romantic retreat for you would be... Sand. Water. Wine and a distinct lack of children (my own I mean, because while I love them dearly, it’s nice to have a break sometimes!!!).

What do you do to unwind or relax?
I try and walk for an hour everyday and it’s the perfect way to right the world and listen to music all while getting rid of the sneaky Twix bar that I no doubt ate for breakfast!

What era would you like to time travel and visit? And why?
Regency England, which is of course ridiculous because I’m sure it doesn’t look like a Pride and Prejudice set, but I’m stubborn so I really want to see for myself what it was like!

What does love mean to you?
Love to me is actions not words. It’s easy to say lots of fancy things but I prefer to see those words put into something physical and concrete – both in real life and in books/movies.

Amanda, thanks for being such a sport and answering all my questions. Here's to a FAIRY BAD DAY flying off the bookshelves (groan, yeah - OK, so that wasn't the best pun invented)!

Good news is Amanda has one copy of FAIRY BAD DAY to give away (open internationally) - woohoo!

**Keeping in with the theme of FAIRY BAD DAY, share with us your favorite paranormal creature - nice or nasty - and why you like it.**

All answers put in by Wednesday, 6th July 2011 (noon Aussie time) will go into the draw. Just in time for FBD's release on the 9th (USA only - for Aussie/NZ'ers we have to wait until the 27th July).

Amanda's other books:

You Had Me At Halo
Zombie Queen of Newberry High

Amanda's website has excerpts and more details about her books.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Today's guest author was born in the county of Dorset in the UK, and has lived near Fremantle in Western Australia for many years. Writing is her passion. The settings she uses in her novels take her back to her Dorset roots.

The majority of her forty plus short stories have been published in popular magazines internationally.
Others are included in anthologies and a couple of stories written for children have been published in
educational series. With over 25 books in print, her novels are published with Severn House, Simon & Schuster UK, Robert Hale and Belgrave House.

Please welcome RWA R*BY winner, Janet Woods!

When did you start to write and how long did it take to be published?
I started writing 24 years ago, and was published right away in short story form. Almost immediately I put the writing aside because my eldest daughter became seriously ill, and she and her new baby needed constant care.

When I did get back to writing another two years had passed. I was inspired by a Mills & Boon book and thought I’d have a go at that. It was harder than I thought, and the book was terrible. It was also only 35,000 words long!

I knew nothing about what was good or bad about writing then, so sent it off anyway. The very thought that I’d written a whole novel gave me a huge sense of achievement, though it ended up on the compost heap. Big ticks to the publishers I sent it to, for their encouragement, rather than telling me it was rubbish!

I kept on writing, selling quite a few short stories on the way. Things began to hang together, and four years down the track I sold my first novel.

My second novel, in manuscript form, won third place in the Random House/Women’s Day competition, followed by the Romantic book of the year award in 2001 (or was it 2002?).

“Daughter of Darkness” is now available in e-book form, and recently I sold the Portuguese language rights. 

What sparks your creativity?
Discovering a well-motivated and emotionally charged character to work with.  Basically I’m a lover of melodrama.

I think that was fuelled by a childhood of Saturday morning children’s cinema. There, the heroines were often left tied to the railway line while the villain gave an evil laugh behind his hand and the train bore down of the hapless heroine. The hero usually appeared in the next episode to rescue her within an inch of her life.

I still tend to push my heroines to the limit just to see how they get out of it. I love mean villains and villainesses, and matching them up with an appropriate demise. I’ve killed quite a few of them, and in various ways.

My heroes tend to be quietly intelligent, reliable and reasonable types, though deadly when the need arises. If I were to compare them to an animal it would be a cat. On occasion though, sometimes they are large and rumble voiced, like bears.

I’m emotional, and like to connect on that level with my characters, so I understand where they are coming from and why. 

Can you tell us about your latest release?
LADY LIGHTFINGERS is set in 1850s London. It’s the story of Celia, a young female pickpocket who is educated, but impoverished. Left to raise her younger sister when their mother dies, she is befriended by one of her victims, and elderly cleric with whom she forms a fatherly relationship.

Approached by Charles Curtis, a young lawyer who tries to buy her innocence, Celia accepts the money but flees to the country home of a distant relative. There, she tries to hide her past.

Three years later it catches up with her in the shape of Charles Curtis, who doesn’t recognize her. They pair fall in love, and Celia fights with her conscience over the money she stole from him, and the need to fabricate her background.

When the woman who tried to procure her for Charles in the first place abducts her with the intention of selling her off to the highest bidder, Charles stages her rescue.

Are you a pantster, scener, or plotter? Is it your characters or plot that influence you most? What’s your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
I don’t usually plot up front, since for me, the characters dictate the story. For instance, all I knew about LADY LIGHTFINGERS when I started was that she was a pickpocket, and the book was going to be a bit Dickensian in nature. I might start plotting when I reach the middle section of the book if things slow down. I find that the middle section is the hardest part to write. Usually it’s a crossroad, where several paths are open to me.

With characters set, I have to concentrate more on where the story is going. This is where things might go wrong – sometimes just because I’m tired from sitting on my bum in the same position and everything aches. Sometimes there’s nothing new to discover about the characters, which means I’ve lost touch with them, and that’s a pain in the arse. Or I simply hit a flat patch. Sometimes the journey takes the wrong path, and I have to unravel it all to find out where I detoured, and get it back on track.

I like writing the first six chapters best because I’m developing the characters. I tend to rely on them to give me leads into the basic story line, and the story action. I rush the last third of the book, and in my eagerness to get it all down I usually clip the last couple of chapters, leaving out the details that build up the landscape, and the body language of the characters, so it’s jerky to read and more tell than show. I don’t worry though because the editing fixes it. That’s when I fill in the cracks. I always leave at least 5,000 words to play with in the edits, and usually use all of them up. 

What’s the worst writing mistake that taught you a valuable lesson?
It was in a sequel book, in which I gave a character a different name from the one he had in the first book. It got past my own 2 edits, my critique partners’ eagle eyes, the copy editor and proof editor, and made it into the book. I still didn’t notice it, but it didn’t get past one of the readers. She wrote and told me about it. I was tempted to hide under my desk and stay there for a year, but I came to the conclusion that worrying about it wasn’t going to fix it.

The lesson it taught me is that I’m not perfect (not that I’ve ever pretended I was). I’m not going to promise it won’t happen again, because I’m not infallible, and it might. I will promise that I won’t beat myself up over it if I do. One thing everyone can all be sure of, any mistakes that slip into a book are accidental, not intentional.

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

Persistence! Persistence! Persistence! Which, although it's an old chestnut, is advice that never dates.

Janet, is generously giving away one of her books. You'll have a choice of PAPER DOLL (which is set in the 1920's) or her latest release LADY LIGHTFINGERS (set in the 1850's). You have until Thursday 6pm (Aussie EST) to leave a comment to go into the draw.

You can find out more about Janet on her website or follow her on her blog.

Janet's other books:


Sunday, June 26, 2011


Please welcome sci-fi author, Amber Norris to my blog!

Take it away, Amber...

The Real Space Pilot's Life
We've all day dreamed about being a pilot. Walking the tarmac in that cool flight suit, the wind in our hair, cool glasses, and the helmet propped against our side by our forearm...oh, come on! It wasn't just me! When I began writing this military SFR book, I knew one of my main characters need to be a futuristic space pilot fighter. The experience was a double edged sword. I gained a lot of respect for the true pilot's and astronaut's life and came to the realization I could never have been a pilot or astronaut, let alone a space fighter pilot.


Most of their time will be spent in between action in constant conditioning, physically, technically, and mentally.

When you finally get your mission call, the day of is filled with briefings and planning sessions (like intelligence and coordination). In between all of this you're spending your time getting in "the zone". After hours of preparation, you finally get to head over to the ready room and get suited, then go to the launch deck and perform final checked and sign off on the million dollar vehicle you're taking out.

You and your 2 or 3 man crew crowd into the small cockpit with your bulky, heavy suit and sit...sit a long time. The final go for launch is zeroed down and then BHAM!, you shoot up and out of the satellite military station, up to several Gs pressure in seconds.

For the most part, your mission will be patrolling a designated zone, monitoring a specific area of space. This will be a loonnng and boring time. Hours upon hours of a standard flight pattern and silence. You're lower back, butt, and thigh will start to ache and tingle.

No, about 90% of your time will be boring and tedious and routine. In my newest release older sister, Nettie, is part of a 3 man crew. The excerpt below is about one of her routine patrols, that doesn't end so routine.

In the farthest sector of the outer zone, Nettie's shuttle cruised along through the silence of space. The picket beacons had been quiet for hours and the work had become droll. They used the boomerang surveillance method, slinging out the edge of the zone and slowly drifting back at an angle. Kaitlin and Nettie made small talk and joked, fell silent, and then started up small talk again. Jenny sat mutely in her duties, no matter how much the other two attempted to draw her out.
Understandably, she'd been distant, emotionally withdrawn. Nightmares plagued her at night. She wouldn't go to party settings, like the club. She also refused to go into the locker room alone. Yet, there were moments where she'd be the old Jenny. Times, when they were hanging out, or heading to a restaurant, and she seemed fine. Nettie hoped those moments would start to become the norm, instead of the rarity. The therapist said it was a matter of time. Jenny healed physically and now needed to heal emotionally.
In the eighteenth hour, a friendly shuttle crossed their path. "How's the silence?" their pilot, Ric, asked. "Well... quiet. Funny thing about silence, Ric, it doesn't have much to say," Kaitlin joked.
"Neither did my date last night," their engineer tech, Joel, chimed in.
"Yeah," Nettie said without breaking her constant analysis of her navigation grid. "Disappointment will do that to a woman." Laughter from both crews filled the communication line.
"Ha, ha. Very funny, Matterville," Joel said. "We've been dead all night. You guys pick up anything?"
"Nah, it's a ghost zone around here," Kaitlin said. "Its nights like these that remind you flight duty is not glamorous."
"Yeah, well don't tell anyone or our dating average would plummet," Ric warned.
"Couldn't plummet any worse than Nettie's record." Kaitlin jostled her friend.
Nettie flipped her the bird.
"Hell, Matterville, you need a date? I'm free," Joel snickered.
"Joel, I don't date outside my evolutionary species."
Both crews burst into laughter again. Jenny even hinted at a smile. Nettie continued to check her screens. All clear. The conversation would be the night's most active entertainment.
That's just sad. Nettie shook her head.
Control intercepted with reprimands. "Non-official communications are prohibited during patrol duty. Both crews are to re-engage patrol patterns immediately."
Ric's crew headed off. Beyond Ric's shuttle, from a distance of eight minutes, an unknown silver object swept by.
"Object detected in--" Before Nettie could finish, the enemy launched their armaments.
The charge blasted Ric's shuttle, sent it flying into the flank of Nettie's fighter. The collision jarred the framing. Nettie's shoulders slammed into her straps and her head jerked forward and then rammed back into her seat. A creaking groan warned of possible seal breaks.
"Shit. Control, request fleet assistance. Class A threat. In defensive engagement. Fighter RT4 hit with direct charge. We've been hit indirectly through collision with RT4."
Their fighter spun wildly, stuck in a fast vertical and slow horizontal spin. Kaitlin worked to regain control. Jenny isolated engine problems and redirected thruster power. Nettie tracked the enemy's route on her screen.
"Fleet assistance engaged. Recovery crews in route to your logged location. Defensive fleets in route to enemy coordinates."
"Our main forward thrusters are toast," Jenny confirmed. "Redirecting power to the minor forwards. You can use that, plus the armament combustion to help us out of this spin."
"Good thinking." Kaitlin gritted her teeth. The struggle with their fighter craft strained her face. She had a delicate balance with her physique. Too aggressive and she'd break off the pilot console. Too little and she wouldn't be effective. "This is a fun ride, but lasting too long for my taste."
Nettie scanned outside and quickly looked away. The stars zipped by at a dizzying speed. The low rate of gravity toyed with her equilibrium, making her nauseous. Kaitlin's struggle started to pay off. The fighter slowed and stopped its vertical spin, then its horizontal. They drifted in space, dead weight.
Out the viewer, Nettie spotted the other ship, still spinning off in the distance. "RT4, what is your status?"
"RT4, repeat, what is your status?"
More silence...

If you liked this, check out Amber's blog.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Few Good Books...

A couple of this month's good reads include some I've reread. There's nothing like going back to your keeper shelf and pulling out a book you really enjoyed and relive that experience again.

Re-reads include: 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


We head to the far west of Australia! So strap on your wings and let's go meet my latest guest...

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Western Australian writer published through Harlequin and writing for their ‘Romance’ line (Sweet in Au/NZ, RIVA and Cherish in the UK).

I write nature-based romance in that all my stories/settings have a nature flavour to them. I work for a wildlife organisation by day and have always loved nature so it was a natural fit for me to include it in my stories.

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
My journey was comparatively short from the time the words ‘Chapter One…’ first came from my fingers to signing a contract.

I’ve written for work most of my life (copywriting, magazine articles, press releases etc) but it wasn’t until 2007 when I had 6-months accumulated leave that I decided to write a novel (rather than go mad with no project over such a long time). I ADORED that six months in my little ‘garret’ with only my characters and my dogs for company, the most life-changing period of my life.

My first book was a single title set in Africa with a bit of an intrigue thread but it’s a bit of a clumsy hybrid and so while it was winning comps etc it wasn’t getting a lot of meaningful interest from publishers. I discovered/joined Romance Writers of Australia in August 2007 and quickly realised everything that was wrong with my work.

I decided to try category romance instead to see how comfortable I was with the shorter length. I loved my first shorter-form romance and entered it in a couple of comps before busying myself writing another in the 2008 RWAust online event ‘50K in 30 Days’.

Not long after my first book won an opening chapter comp and got the interest of the (then) Senior Editor for Harlequin Romance, Kim Young who asked to see anything else I had. I sent her my (hastily polished) 50K book and after a few weeks she got back to me with an offer for that and my next book.

So my journey was really only 18 months long. Yeah, I’m one of the ones who skews the averages.

What do you think it is about your genre that readers find so fascinating?
Contemporary romance continues to be really popular but I think that my readers are responding to my natural settings and nature-based story arcs as much as the unfolding romance.

There’s only so many ways you can spin the conventional contemporary story tropes and so finding a fresh angle is important. Particularly when you’re up against the rich world-building and fascinating story possibilities of fantasy, paranormal and intrigues. To me, contemps should be just as rich with the world-building in order to arouse more parts of the readers’ brain.

Can you tell us about your latest release?
Coming up in July I have a double-whammy with A KISS TO SEAL THE DEAL coming out as a Cherish in the UK (my home market) side-by-side with RAPUNZEL IN NEW YORK for the UK’s RIVA. I’ve never been a shelf-mate to myself before, feels very odd!

Southern coastline of WA
KISS is set on the south coast of Western Australia and pits an overall-wearing heroine who sifts through seal vomit/faeces for a living against a disconnected hero whose farmer father has just died. My heroine was on the verge of signing an agreement with Dad to give over a bunch of land to the seals and then in walks my contract lawyer hero and it all goes to…seal poop.

RAPUNZEL is the first story I’ve written for Harlequin outside of Australia, set on Manhattan. I set it there because I wanted my heroine to study urban raptors from her high rise apartment and NY has plenty of both. I really wanted to modernise a fairytale but the Cinderella/Ugly Duckling thing have been done to death. So I picked Rapunzel and created a socially isolated heroine in a modernised ‘tower’ and a prince charming with a heap of baggage of his own. And some recent tragedy. What’s a fairy tale without tragedy.

Dunedin Peninsula, NZ
Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novel takes place?
A KISS TO SEAL THE DEAL is set in WA’s south coast but it's based on the research of a friend of mine from Dunedin in New Zealand. Her family’s farm is right on the tip of this amazing peninsula and when her research thesis was accepted (studying the foraging patterns of New Zealand Fur Seals) she only had to drive a kilometre to the boundary of their property and clamber down the rocks to the water’s edge to do her study.

I moved the story to WA simply because it’s a part of the country I know well and I thought I’d be better able to tell a convincing tale, but having now taken my stories outside of Australia I regret not setting the book in Dunedin and using the real Cape Saunders colony of seals.

RAPUNZEL IN NEW YORK: Raptors (or birds-of-prey) are the super-survivors in heavily urbanised areas. Peregrines and other hawks hunt smaller birds and make a really good living off of New York’s abundant pigeons.

In the absence of trees they make their roosts on bridges and television towers and high-rised window ledges and there’s many websites dedicated to them. I ‘borrowed’ a pair and moved them into a nestbox on my heroine’s window ledge but the parks and bridges around Morningside Heights in Manhattan are filled with urban raptors.

What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing the book?
This goes for any book I write. Easiest part is always the opening scene. Most of my books are conceived scene-first and then I just explore the idea and see where it leads.

Hardest part of all books (for me) is coming up with a credible internal conflict. I strive to find conflict already within the story/characters rather than labouring them with some kind of extreme background or motivation. Sometimes a conflict can come from an extreme event but I like the conflict itself to be very relatable and human.

What’s the worst writing mistake that taught you a valuable lesson?
I didn’t realise how dreadful this was until months later but I contacted Aussie author Tracey O’Hara out of the blue (I didn’t know her) and asked her if she’d read my manuscript simply because she worked for the Federal Police at the time and I had a Fed character in my book.

OMG *blush*. She was very gracious and kind in declining my generous offer to waste a heap of her time, and ages later it dawned on me how very inappropriate that was. Fortunately, Tracey is either very forgiving or has a short memory because we’re friends now, but it’s still something I cringe on looking back.

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you’d like to use in a future book?
Oh don’t start me…. I had a week’s writing retreat at a lighthouse and so would love to set a story at one. Something about all that solitude and danger.

I’d love to have a crack at a goth heroine. And a badboy. An actual badboy. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for all the people and places queueing up waiting for their turn. I’ve done remote islands, rooftops, the Kimberley, cave systems, wildlife sanctuaries, eco-resorts, whale-rescue…

What’s next for you? What are you working on?
As I write this I’ve left my poor heroine and hero bundled together in a crushed Honda wedged on a cliff-face in Tasmania. He’s a search-and-rescue type hero (something I know you can relate to, Kylie!). Oh, S&R, my kinda guy! LOL

I wanted to explore the phenomenon of the intensity of relationship that can form when people either work closely together or are in some kind of crisis together. It would be so easy to later write the feelings off as not ‘real’ but I wanted to look at what happens if they were real and neither of them did anything about it. It’s a story about second chances and sacrifice.

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you’d like to share with unpublished authors? Find-and-Replace is your friend. Learn how it works. Change your life.

Kate Dickson is a mad-keen mammologist, studying a colony of fur seals which live on a difficult-to-reach beach at he base of a bluff. The bluff is part of a property recently inherited by Grant McMurtrie, a city lawyer intent on shutting down their access to protect the land's resale value. To finish her study and get the seals protected status, Kate needs a piece of information only Grant has. And he's not sharing.
Grant was never farmer-material. How ironic that the fate of the farm he turned his back on now rests in his hands. He's got nothing against the seals--some of his fondest childhood memories involve them--but he definitely isn't interested in helping a bunch of greenies tie his land up in restrictions that will prevent him selling. Falling for Kate definitely wasn't on his business plan.
Giving her what she needs to finish her study and make her career means he could lose his father's property. But protecting his farm will render her life's work meaningless.
Unless they can find a way for everyone to win.

Viktoria Morfit has built herself a safe, convincing life in her Manhattan apartment following a tragedy in her life five years before. Her latest project is to attract a pair of peregrine falcons to the nestbox she's installed on the ledge of her highrise apartment, giving her back a little bit of the nature she misses so much since she quit rockclimbing.
Landlord Nathan Archer has no idea how badly Tori relies on the handful of walls surrounding her, any more than she knows what kind of a childhood he endured in the building she thinks so highly of. He's planning on razing every last brick to the ground and burying his memories along with it, but the more he discovers about the gentle Tori and her whacky bunch of neighbours, the harder it's going to be to put his demons to rest.
When the chips come tumbling down will Nathan be able to set aside the misery of his past to protect the beautiful peregrine falcons and the wild, passionate Tori who both call his building home?

Nikki website has more information about her and excerpts of her books! Check it out! 

Nikki's Books:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

RWAustralia Valerie Parv Award finalists!

Breaking news - Romance Writers of Australia has announced the finalists for this year's Valerie Parv Award...

Jennifer St.George
Jo McAlister
Lee Christine
LeeAnn Morgan
Michelle de Rooy
Rebecca Skrabl

RWA VPA medallion

Three cheers for the VPA manager, Erica Hayes. Great job, E!

Winners will be announced at the RWA Awards dinner at the annual conference (Saturday, 13th August 2011).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

VENGEANCE BORN...drum roll please!

VENGEANCE BORN: A Novel of the Light Blade
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born…

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King, longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy.

With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…

How's that for a book cover and blurb? Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited? :-) Thank you, art department at Berkley! This is a superb first cover - it was everything I was hoping for. You nailed Annika to a T and elements of her story are woven into it. Sigh.

The release date for VB is February, 7th 2012! I can't wait (this feels almost like a birth announcement of a baby! LOL).

And you can already pre-order it! Here are some bookstores where you can place a pre-order.

In New Zealand:

In Australia:
And some on-line bookstores if you prefer to go that way.
How exciting!

Monday, June 20, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Barbara Elsborg

Barbara always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed that to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.

Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, and she hopes they are much fun to read as they were to write.

Barbara is also a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade.

Let's put her in the hot seat and see what we can get her to share with us!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I live in West Yorkshire in the UK with my husband, son, son’s partner and their dog – oh and all their furniture because they’ve moved out of their place and into ours temporarily with all their possessions.

I’ve had to forget that I’m a neat freak! Even my writing room is full – three guitars, two amps and a dismantled coffee table. My view of the garden is obscured by boxes. Actually, that’s a plus! Stops me staring out of the window.

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I’ve always written – started with fan fiction as a teen and progressed in my twenties to thrillers. I only started to write romance when I grew tired of the thrillers being rejected and thought I should try something new. I wrote several romantic comedies and then tried my hand at erotic romance.

The first of those I wrote, PERFECT TIMING, was accepted by Ellora’s Cave. I wanted to call it Driving Ms Daisy, but they wouldn’t let me.

So from writing to acceptance in this genre was very fast, but I’ve collected my fair share of rejections over the years!

What sparks your creativity?
Dreams – those you have before you sleep and after you wake.

Music by guys like Robbie Williams and James Morrison.

My family and life in general.

Are you a pantster, scener, or plotter? Is it your characters or plot that influence you most? What’s your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
Pantster – I plan and plot nothing. I sort out my characters’ names and then sit down and write.

It’s characters that drive my plots, though I do start with a rough idea of what the book will be about and how it will end. As I write it, I make notes on plot and scenes and characters and then I go back and add detail.

I have some great critique partners who read as I write and I really couldn’t do it without them.

Can you tell us about your latest release?
ROCKED – which is out with Loose-Id – is a gargoyle story. I always wanted to write one of those. It’s a paranormal ménage with a lot of funny bits.

The Rock
Desired by men and women, Eli’s good looks make sexual conquest easy until he attends a party at the Supernatural Museum, where they land him in deep trouble. He says no to the wrong women, and his punishment is to learn the ultimate meaning of loneliness.
The Stone Maiden
Much to her family’s disappointment, not only is Pepper single but she works a hard and dirty job as an apprentice stonemason. Pepper loves bringing stone to life with her chisel but struggles with the isolation that comes with being different. Then there’s her attraction to her boss, Alessandro, who appears to prefer men. When Eli materializes out of nowhere, Pepper can hardly believe her eyes. Now she’s caught between a rock and a hard place.
The Hard Place
His hands hardened by years training to become a master stonemason, Alessandro is an expert at his craft, but not in matters of the heart. A daily frustration when he’s in hopelessly in love with Pepper and the man of his dreams has disappeared. As Alessandro’s team begins to restore the Supernatural Museum, he, Pepper and Eli are drawn into the building’s secrets and risk losing everything they hold dear.

What is it about your characters that made you want to tell their stories?
As with all my books, my heroes are beta not alpha males. I like flawed guys not the butch aggressive types. I like to delve deep into characters’ hearts to let them learn something about themselves by the end of the story.

I like flawed heroines too. I admit many are tall and blonde – so am I – and slightly clumsy – yep, hand is up – can’t tell left from right – me too. So I guess there is a part of me in every woman I write about. The guys are all gorgeous hunks of course! Bad boys but still appealing.

Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novel takes place?
ROCKED is set in London, but in a made up place called the National Supernatural Museum. I had fun imagining what the outside of such a place would look like, and developed it from the Natural History Museum in London that has a fabulous façade with all sorts of terracotta animals.

What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
An ice cave in Austria. I based my story – Snow Play – on a trip under a glacier. I was petrified. They said it would be safe in ski boots, but I had to go up and down several almost vertical metal ladders and I was scared I’d slip or even worse, get stranded down there.

I hadn’t realized how claustrophobic it would be. Wall, floor, ceiling of ice only a couple of feet wide and maybe six feet high. I was on my own in the group and I didn’t speak German. Not an experience I’d repeat.

Do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write?
My son’s dog – a long haired, blond, miniature dachshund called Winston Kennedy. Winnie sits at my feet when I write and follows me everywhere. Even to the bathroom. Every now and again he reminds me I need to get up and walk round. He likes me to chase him!

If you weren’t doing what you do today, what other job would you have?
I’d test out male models to see if they were up to scratch! Oh yes, please!!!!!

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you’d like to use in a future book?
You’re going to laugh but I want to use Walmart as the setting for a story except I’ll probably have to give it a different name. I had a dream – oops someone else said that before me – but my dream involved Walmart and it was so intense, I really want to write it. I can’t say too much or it will give away the plot!

What’s next for you? What are you working on?
Not Walmart. My next story will be a paranormal involving faeries. I’ve written about the fae before but this story will be exclusively about them.

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you’d like to share with unpublished authors?
Read your work out loud. You’ll hear mistakes and repeats you easily miss when reading in your head.

Barbara, it's been great having you visit, thanks for dropping in.
Thanks so much for having me to chat!!!!

Some of Barbara's other books:

If you'd like to see what other work Barbara has or follow her goings on, check out her website and blog.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Who's That Girl? interview with Linda Lovely

Don't let me keep you in suspense...my South Carolina guest will though...read on to find out why.

Name: Linda Lovely.

Where are you? I live in Upstate South Carolina on a peaceful lake where I enjoy jumping off my dock to swim—even if it means disturbing a honking big turtle (that I give a healthy wide berth).

How many years have you been a member of RWA? I joined RWAmerica in October, 2006.

What genre/s do you write? Romantic suspense and mystery/suspense with strong romantic elements.

Do you have a new release coming out? Can you tell us a bit about it? Absolutely! DEAR KILLER, a mystery/suspense novel with a strong side of romance, has just been released in e-book and trade paperback formats.

The book opens when Marley Clark, a retired military intelligence officer, finds a naked corpse stewing in a hot tub. And, unfortunately for the residents on sleepy Dear Island, South Carolina, the pun-loving killer is just getting started.

Asked to serve as the lead investigator’s liaison, Marley soon finds she’s Deputy Braden Mann’s target as well—for romance. Yet their steamy attraction doesn’t deter the pair from sorting through a viper’s nest of suspects as the body count grows and the vicious killer plans a grizzly epitaph for Marley.

Who are your favourite authors? My tastes are eclectic. I enjoy novels filled with poetic imagery, a good laugh, romance or chills—depending upon my mood. Favorites include Susan Isaacs, Jennifer Crusie, J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts, Janet Evanovich, Cindy Gerard, Charlaine Harris, Pat Conroy.

What inspired you to write romance? I’ve always been an avid reader of mysteries and romantic suspense/thrillers. Yet I believe there’s no greater mystery than the attraction between a man and a woman, and nothing ups the stakes more than the desire to protect a loved one. So romance always plays a pivotal role in my manuscripts.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? With the market changing so rapidly, it’s hard to know if today’s dream may become tomorrow’s mistake. So I’m not really sure what to wish for next.

However, at the moment, I’m very happy with L&L Dreamspell, the small traditional publisher of DEAR KILLER. There are definite advantages to working with smaller publishers who have a lot of sweat equity in developing their authors and helping them learn the ropes.

What's the best thing about going to conference? Gee, where to start? The panels and interaction with other authors recharges the batteries and opens your imagination. It’s super to meet people face to face when you’ve only interacted online.

Networking opportunities abound. And it’s always great to shake up your routine—and kick your butt out of what might otherwise become a comfortable but predictable rut.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...my ability to plop my fanny in a chair for as long as it takes to meet a manuscript goal—be it number of pages, completing a scene, or revisions. (My biggest fault is an inability to let go. I’d tinker/revise forever without deadlines.)
A sexy heroine needs...a sense of humor to make her lover—and me—laugh.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...a married woman in 1930s Iowa who’s framed for murdering her estranged, philandering husband, and a deputy who realizes a corrupt sheriff has his own reasons for revenge.
When I write I like to...mornings. Give me a cup of coffee, a clear mind and a blank screen.
My best writing milestone to date is...making the Golden Heart finals in Romantic Suspense and getting a publishing contract.  Sorry—couldn’t pick. They were equally awesome. 

Linda, it was wonderful that you could join me today on my blog, thanks for sharing snippets of yourself with us!

If you'd like to learn more about Linda or her books, check out her website!