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


Monday, February 28, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Kandy Shepherd

Today my guest author calls the Blue Mountains near Sydney (Australia) home even though she was born and raised in Sri Lanka, India, England and Ireland during her younger years. She lives on a farm with her husband, daughter and a menagerie of animal friends.

She's swapped a fast-paced career as an editorial director of a major magazine publisher for a life as an author.

Writing for the Berkley Sensation line her books are a delightful combination of romance, mystery and dogs!

Please welcome Aussie Berkley author, Kandy Shepherd.

Kandy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
I love visiting your blog Kylie and it’s quite a thrill to be here as one of your guest authors—thanks so much for inviting me to visit!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I write fun, feel-good fiction. My contemporary romances, LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, are published by Berkley Sensation. As well as writer and magazine editor, you can also count me in as wife, mother and “guardian” (so not PC to say we “own” our pets!) to a multitude of four-legged friends.

You can't beat living with some four-legged friends, they're great company. I'm a "guardian" to three of the feline kind!

So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
As a kid, I was always making up stories and forcing my family to read them—the teachers at school were much more encouraging than my brothers!

Barely out of my teens I had my first short stories published in women's magazines. Talk about beginner's luck! Then I got sidetracked into magazines—a career I loved. But the urge to write fiction—like an addiction—wouldn’t go away.

I kept plodding away in the time I could snatch between a challenging job, a family, those numerous pets and, of course, the dreaded housework. I had quite a few years wandering in the unpublished wilderness until I had my first novel MITCHELL’S NANNY (I didn’t choose that title!) published by a small Australian publisher and then went on to be published in the US by Berkley. I still work as a consultant editor on a food magazine.

What a great early experience you had with getting published and you're so right about writing being an addiction, LOL! And I think a lot of people are surprised when they realise many published authors juggle other jobs as well as our family life to pursue our passion. Making a living from publishing our books isn't the lucrative business some assume it to be (unless we're Nora or JKR or Debbie!)

I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
People, relationships, snatches of overheard conversations, odd pieces of information I pick up from reading and observing.

For example, in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD the heroine Maddy has a best friend Serena who is a dog nut. Visiting San Francisco, I heard about an upscale doggy day care center. What a dream job for Serena to run such a center! What if I created a hero who was as scathing about pampered pooches as the guy who told me about the doggy day care? And what if there was a mystery involved and he had to go undercover at Paws A While, my fictional pooch-pampering parlor? That’s how Serena’s story, HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS, was born…

Ahh, so next time you notice someone eavesdropping on your conversation you might discover they're an author in disguise!

This meeting and observing of people leads me into my next question. You've done a lot of travelling around the globe. What’s the most unusual place you have visited?
Quite a few years ago I travelled around the south of India with a charity I was helping with some publicity. It was like stepping back in time when we visited way-off-the-beaten-track villages whose people had not seen Westerners before—places no tourist ever sees. I will never forget those people, especially the children.

Kandy & Molly
You have what sounds like a large menagerie of animals on your farm. With your love for animals, do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write?
I am rarely without at least one cat on my lap as I write. Animals are such an important part of my life and sneak into everything I write.

The doggy characters in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS are as important as the human characters. (BTW, my dogs don’t talk and we are never in their viewpoint. They’re dogs!) Characterization is all-important in a romance and creating unique characters who connect emotionally with the reader is vital—whether they are human, feline, canine or equine.

With two books now out with Berkley, what's next for you? What are you working on?
I’m working on another doggy-themed romance and hope to have good news to share soon.

Can't wait to hear what that good news will be, Kandy (a new contract perhaps?). Hmm, we'll have to wait and see - doggone it!!! (heh, heh, couldn't resist, sorry)

To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
I wish I’d grown a tougher skin a bit sooner and not been so easily discouraged by early rejections. But I believe everything happens at the time it is meant to happen. Life and all its various experiences are a writer’s raw material. The more you engage in life, the more you have to write about.

The most important thing is to be true to your vision, develop your own voice and don’t give up. Oh, and keep butt on chair!

Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Kandy, it's been a hoot having you here.

The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Kandy has generously donated a copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS to one lucky person.

All you have to do is leave a comment or question for Kandy by Saturday, 5th February, 2011, and you'll go into the draw for this book. (open to everyone here in Oz or overseas).

For more information about Kandy or her books, please visit her website, blog, or follow her on her Facebook page.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

RWA Valerie Parv Award 2011

I hope all you unpublished writers have brushed up your category or single title manuscripts and are ready to enter them into the Valerie Parv Award - the only competition on the Romance Writers of Australia contest circuit that allows members and non-members to enter!

If not, why not? How can you pass up the chance of winning a 12 month mentorship with the incredibly generous and knowledgeable Valerie Parv?

Here are some of the details:

The Valerie Parv Award 2011

Opens:  25 February 2011
Closes: 8 April 2011, midnight Sydney time
Entries arriving before or after these times will not be accepted.

Enter: first 12500 words (max) + 1000 word (max) synopsis of your unpublished romance/romantic elements manuscript by email only.

Maximum three entries per person
Open to RWAustralia members and non-members 

Final judges: Valerie Parv will rank the 6 finalists and the top prize winner will also be read and critiqued by Mary Theresa Hussey, Executive Editor of Silhouette Books

1st - 1 year mentorship with Valerie Parv, plus $300
2nd - $200
3rd - $100

For the entry form and more information, click here.

Valerie Parv & Kylie Griffin
Check out some of the past winners:
2010 - Anna Cowan
2009 - Kylie Griffin (yep, that's me! - published with Berkley)
2008 - Erica Hayes (published with St.Martin's Press)
2007 - Barbara Jeffcott-Geris
2006 - Rachel Bailey (published with Harlequin Desire)

The VPA is your last chance to enter a contest for this RWA season - so don't miss out!

Will you be the VPA 2011 winner?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rachel Bailey give-away winner!

Thank you to everyone who made Rachel feel welcome during her visit.

As promised, Rachel has drawn a name for the give-away - MILLION-DOLLAR AMNESIA SCANDAL (or one of her back-list if you so desire). The lucky winner is...

Chris Taylor


If you could contact Rachel - rachel (at) rachelbailey (dot) com - she can arrange to get the book of your choice to you.

Happy reading!

TOPIC: Reading for Keeps

Every so often I sit on the floor to scan the books on my keepers bookshelf. You know the ones I'm talking about, these are books that have incredibly compelling or engaging characters who have evoked strong emotions within you as you read their story. The ones you'll never given away and will be buried-with-me-when-I-die books.

More often than not I'm looking for an example of a piece of writing that will help me demonstrate something I'm blogging about. And more often than not I end up with my head buried in one particular book as I find myself engrossed in the characters and their story all over again.

I end up finishing the book in one sitting, my previous task well and truly forgotten. And these are books I've probably read a dozen times or more.

Ever had that happen to you?

There's one series I've read so many times, I can no longer remember what reading I'm up to - Elizabeth Vaughan's Chronicles of the Warlands series. There are three books in it (to date) - WARPRIZE, WARSWORN & WARLORD - with a related series following them that I'm reading now - DAGGER-STAR, WHITE STAR & DESTINY'S STAR.

What makes them keepers for me? The characters and the incredible world-building. The heroes & heroines are flawed, gutsy, honorable, engaging...the sort you end up cheering or crying or sitting on the edge of your seat for with every page you turn. The secondary characters are just as fleshed out and memorable.

And the world-building lingers in your head weeks after you've closed the back cover and you find yourself talking with friends who've also read the book, wondering how the author came up with the idea for this or that. Then months later you pull the first book in the series off the shelf and read it again.

So, what keepers do you have on our shelf and why are they there?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Who's That Girl? Interview - Hope Ramsey

I have a real treat for you this week with a second guest author visit. Let's head across the Pacific and to the east coast of the USA.

Please welcome one of my "Unsinkable" sisters from 2010's RWA Golden Heart® contest.

Name? Hope Ramsay.

Where are you? Alexandria, Virginia (suburb of Washington, DC), USA.

How many years have you been a member of RWAmerica? I've been a member of Romance Writers of America for about 10 years.

What genre do you write? Contemporary Single Title.

Who are your favourite authors? This is a ridiculously hard question.  In romance, my faves are:
LaVryle Spence, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Jennifer Crusie.

I read widely in other genres.  I have other favorite authors, among them:  Ernest Hemmingway, T.H. White, Ursula LeGuin, Terry Goodkind, Sarah Douglass, and many, many others.

What inspired you to write romance? I've always loved books with strong romantic elements.  My first keeper book was JANE EYRE, even though I didn't realize it was a romance at the time.  I remember loving every single one of Leon Uris's novels, because they all had amazing (and usually tragic) love stories in them.  I don't think I read a book that was a "romance" per se until some time in the 1990s.  Then I was immediately hooked on the happy ever after endings.

I've always wanted to write novels.  So, of course, when I finally got around to actually doing it, I decided to write what I loved to read.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? My dream agent is my wonderful agent Elaine English, and I'm currently having a love affair with my publisher, Forever Romance.

What's the best thing about going to conference? I love going to romance conferences because it's a chance to meet up with friends who share a passion.  And also, writer friends are so simpatico.  They actually understand when you talk about the voices inside your head, instead of looking at you like you're an escapee from the funny farm.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
my ability to craft complicated and somewhat quirky characters.
A sexy hero needs...to have a serious heart and look good in a pair of blue jeans. 
My latest WIP is...HOME AT LAST CHANCE, which will be in bookstores in the fall 2011.  This is a story about a good ol' boy NASCAR driver whose car has been painted pink in order to advertise disposable diapers.  The poor boy has to don a pink driver's suit every week with a snuggle bunny on the back.  The heroine in the story is the marketing genius from up North who wrote the memo that put him in a pink car. 
When I write I like to...listen to music.
I have a playlist for every one of my books that usually includes a touchstone song that gave me the initial idea for the book.  In the case of HOME AT LAST CHANCE, the touchstone song is "From Good to Bad to Worse to Gone" by Ricochet.  For WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE, which will be in bookstores on March 1, 2011, the touchstone song is "God Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts.  As you can see I'm a big fan of country music.
My best writing milestone to date is...selling a four book series to Grand Central Publishing -- Forever Romance.  The series focuses on the small town of Last Chance, South Carolina and features the children of Elbert and Ruby Rhodes.  The first book in the series, WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE will be available in stores in US on March 1, 2011.  Here's the back cover blurb:

Dear Reader,

Yes, our town is way off the beaten path, but strange, wonderful miracles happen a lot around here.


I've owned the Cut 'n Curl beauty shop for years, and I've seen folks come for a visit, then stay for a lifetime. Take Jane-that pretty firecracker of a girl who just arrived in town. I would swear she's running from something. She came with only five dollars in her pocket but she's worked real hard to make a fresh start. She's turned my son Clay's life upside down without even realizing it. 

And thank goodness for that! Ever since Clay left his country western band, he's played everything too safe. He needs to take a chance on Jane. Besides, the more he tries to keep his distance, the more he'll realize that he and Jane are singing the same tune.

But I should quit ramblin' and go check on Millie's permanent wave. Next time you're in Last Chance, be sure to swing by. We've got hot rollers, free coffee, and the best gossip in town.

See you real soon,

Ruby Rhodes

Click here to read an excerpt from this book.

Hope, thanks for joining me today. For anyone interested you can find Hope and other information about her on her website and Facebook author page.

She also posts regularly at The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog.

Monday, February 21, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Rachel Bailey

Today’s guest author lives with her own personal hero and four furry friends named Oliver, Dougal, Jazmine and Fergus. She also editor of Hearts Talk, the Romance Writers of Australia monthly magazine and a recipient of the RWA Lynne Wilding Meritorious Service Award.

Please welcome RWAussie Desire romance author & LoveCat DownUnder blogger, Rachel Bailey!

Rachel, tell us a little about yourself.
I live on the Queensland coast and I write for Silhouette Desire.

Things I love (in no particular order): dogs, cows, chocolate, Jane Austen, cats, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sticky date pudding, comedies (books & movies), sleeping in, and sunshowers.

What sparks your creativity?
Besides coffee and chocolate? ;)

Music, definitely, and to capitalise on that, I create a play list for each book I write. In fact, I'm writing a book set in Charleston at the moment, so if anyone has any suggestions of songs that evoke the southern US states, I'd love to hear about them!

So far I've got some country music (Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum & Rascal Flats), and the song 'Summertime', plus James Taylor's 'Carolina in My Mind'. I desperately need some more.

What do you think it is about your genre that readers find fascinating?
The emotional intensity. When I read romance, I'm looking for emotional stimulation. I want to be taken on an emotional journey: they'll make me cry with a touching scene, they'll make me worried for the characters, and they'll take me on the magical ride of falling in love.

Also, I think many readers find people inherently interesting, and romance allows us to really peek inside the life of another person, to walk a mile in their shoes.

Your latest release, MILLION-DOLLAR AMNESIA SCANDAL, has already hit the shelves in the US and is due out in Australia/New Zealand in March 2011, can you tell us about it?
An accident left April Fairchild with no memory, ownership of a multi-million dollar hotel and the nagging sense something wasn't quite right in her life. It also brought her intensely sexy businessman Seth Kentrell, whose late brother had left her the property. Seth believed her a gold digger - and how could April deny it, when she couldn't even remember her name? Now Seth was ready to play hardball to get the hotel back.

But April knew enough to refuse to sign over the property until her memory returned. And if that meant Seth needed to persuade her... well, that was something she could enjoy! At least until the whole truth came out...

What I wanted to do with this book was write a heroine with amnesia, so someone who knew nothing about herself, who's falling in love with a man who hadn’t met her before the accident - so he knows nothing about her either. Also, the heroine is a famous jazz singer / pianist, so everyone *thinks* they know things about her. That seemed like a recipe for fun to me. :)

Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic location where your novel takes place?
This setting - a lighthouse and hotel on the Connecticut coast - was heaps of fun.

It's the first book I'd written that was set somewhere I hadn’t been, so I spent heaps of time looking at photos on the net, reading blogs by people in the area, researching what constellations would be in the night sky, etc.

(And luckily my editors in New York are close to my setting because one of them picked up that I'd said the ocean was azure blue - she wrote on the manuscript that she dreamed of oceans that colour, but the water there was a grey blue. So even after all the research, a touch of Australia almost crept in.)

I know you have a menagerie of four-legged furry friends, so do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write?
I have four dogs who are great writing companions. I've managed to sneak Oliver into one book - THE BLACKMAILED BRIDE'S SECRET CHILD, which also featured my mother's dog, Misty.

A cat who was part of my family a few years ago, Winston, makes a cameo in my October 2011 book, THE SECRET HEIR'S REUNION BID. And I'm currently working out if one of my other dogs can make their way into my Charleston book. Wish me luck!

Rachel, it's been a pleasure interviewing you, thanks for visiting!

If you'd like to leave a comment by 6pm, Saturday 26th February 2011, you'll go into a draw for Rachel's latest release, MILLION-DOLLAR AMNESIA SCANDAL, or one of her back-list.

To find out more about Rachel, please visit her website or call in at the LoveCats DownUnder blog or follow her on Facebook.

Rachel's other books:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

SCENT OF A MAN winner!

Thank you to everyone who dropped in to say hi to Maree and answer her question for the e-copy of SCENT OF A MAN.

Without further ado, all the names were put in Maree's (clean) coffee cup and one was drawn out. The winner is:

Mel Teshco


If you can email Maree - maree(at)mareeanderson(dot)com - she can arrange for you to receive your prize! 

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Which heroine turns the pages for you?

Last time I looked at the types of heroes available in romance books. Today I thought it'd only be fair to check out the different types of heroines* within those same pages.

A crusader with attitude
So, who belongs to the sisterhood?

Let's begin with the kick-ass heroine. She's the modern day super-hero, independent, tenacious and head strong. If there's trouble she's the one in the thick of it all, sorting it out, taking on the world (or enemies) with a never-say-die attitude. Don't get in her way.

A compassionate nurturer
The sister who compliments her is the optimist. Someone who listens, a compassionate, empathetic woman who takes care of others in a highly capable fashion. She takes her duties seriously.

A damsel in distress
The typical damsel in distress tends to endure any situation she finds herself in, hoping someone else will solve the problem or rescue her from trouble. She can be a little insecure and might even be a little child-like, definitely the girly-girl of the sisterhood.

A spunky spitfire
Opposite her is the gutsy, just-one-of-the-guys, don't-make-me-wear-a-frilly-dress heroine. She has lots of friends and tends to be supportive as well as the reliable one of the family.

I'm the boss
The heroine who likes to call the shots tends to take life a little too seriously. She's the work-aholic, competitive one with a boatload of confidence that can sometime come across as arrogance. Failure is not a word in her vocabulary and taking charge is an integral part of her nature.

A survivor to the core
Let's not forget the cynic of the sisterhood. She's the one who'll size up everyone in the room at a glance, has an in-built sense of distrust for everyone and everything. She can be a little mysterious or hides her softer side behind a tough exterior.

The understated siren
The prim and proper miss is our self sufficient heroine. She prefers to use her brains instead of her body to her advantage but underneath what can be a rather sensible or even mousy exterior beats the heart of a passionate woman just looking for the right man to bring it out in her.

A lovable spirit
The last heroine thinks with her heart instead of her head. She's the free spirited, playful, fun loving sister. Well intentioned, whimsical but may be seen as a bit of a ditz.

Long gone are the days when every heroine sits back and let's the hero rescue her or sweep her off her feet (she's still around, but now she's joined by a bevy of sisters with different qualities). Readers demand a heroine with flaws and strengths they can identify with.

Which sister do you like to see in the stories you read?

* Some "titles" for the heroines in this post taken from All About Romance website.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who's that girl? Interview - Vanessa Barneveld

Today, our guest in the hot seat comes from the Giant Coathanger city!

Name? Vanessa Barneveld.

Where are you? Sydney, NSW.

How many years have you been a member of RWOz? About 13 years.

What genre do you write? Young Adult.

Who are your favourite authors? I'm one of those people who has way too many favourites. I love Meg Cabot, Tina Ferraro, Anna Godbersen, Linda Howard, Julia Quinn...the rest of my list could fill cyberspace.

What inspired you to write romance? I grew up reading romances, from Sweet Valley High to Harlequins to sagas. In high school, I had good teachers who encouraged me to write, and I began by writing about what I knew best--romance. (Or the lack thereof at the time...)

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? My dream agent is my own--Robin Rue of Writers House. She has a dream assistant, too, who's excellent to work with.

What's the best thing about going to conference? The energy! It's wonderful to catch up with friends and be inspired by speakers and Call stories. I usually come home feeling like I could write a bestseller!

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
new ideas come to me all the time. I'm not saying any of them are good ideas, though.
A sexy heroine needs...guts. Which sounds soooo not sexy, but I mean I like a courageous heroine.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...superhero cheerleaders from outerspace who "borrow" a ship and crash-land on Earth. I've tossed this idea around in my head for the past year. By the time you read this, if I've been a good NaNoWriMo participant, it should be complete. Fingers crossed!
When I write I like to...be pushed around by my characters. If I feel like they're calling the shots, then the story comes alive for me and it's not so much of a hard slog.
My best writing milestone to date is...finishing my first book in 2004 will always be the most memorable milestone. It was a terrible first book, but the act of completing it meant I could truly call myself a real writer. And also being a finalist in the Golden Heart® two years in a row was pretty special, too!

Thanks for taking the chair, Vanessa!
Interested in knowing more about her, then check out her website. Vanessa also contributes posts to the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog (the Golden Heart® finalists of 2009).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who has your heart? Valentine winners!

There was certainly some heart throbs mentioned in this post over the weekend.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by to drool...umm, I mean share your fantasy dates for Valentine's day.

I popped all your names into my dragon coffee cup (dry & clean, of course), and the winners of the Valentine's Day special give-away books are:
  1. Alison
  2. Julieann Thomas
  3. Cate Harris
  4. Bec Skrabl
If you could send me an email with your address to - kyliegriffin (at) clearmail (dot) com (dot) au - I'll post your prize to you!

ARRA Awards 2010 nominees

Just announced, the finalists for the Australian Romance Readers Association awards for 2010.

Check out the local talent from here in Australia and New Zealand!

Congratulations goes to:
  • Nalini Singh *
  •  Keri Arthur *
  • Erica Hayes *
  • Amy Andrews
  • Annie West *
  • Kelly Hunter *
  • Melanie Milburne
  • Paula Roe *
  • CCCoburn
  • Anna Campbell *
  • Anne Gracie *
  • Kandy Shepherd *
  • Karly Blakemore-Mowle *
  • Lexxie Couper
  • Rhian Cahill *
  • Jess Dee *
  • Helene Young *
  • Cathleen Ross
* multiple nominations

Fantastic to see so many great books out there!

And thank you to the reading public for your support of our local authors!

(And a special cheer for Kelly Gay, a friend from the USA who was nominated in the Favourite SF/UF/FR section!)

Monday, February 14, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Maree Anderson

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

And in keeping with the romantic theme of this auspicious day, I have a romance writer visiting, well, actually, an erotic romance author!

She been here before, please welcome back to my blog Red Sage author, Maree Anderson (and she has a very special give-away - keep reading on after the interview!)

Maree, for those who haven't met you before, can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Maree – with 2-ees because my mum thought it’d be easier for people to spell that way.

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and I’m married to a real-life hero who has championed me every step of the way in my dream to become an author. He’s also a website designer extraordinaire, and even better, he works for hugs and kisses.

I have two amazing kids who are somehow able to decipher my vague and often incomprehensible answers to their questions when Ms Muse is hollering in my ear, urging me to keep typing. And one day, I hope to be as famous as my cat. (She’s had a book written about her, and her photo even featured on the cover!)

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started writing about nine months before my youngest started school because I figured it would be my last shot to have a go at writing a book before I had to look for a job.

I finished the manuscript within my self-imposed deadline and was immensely proud of myself. But yanno what? Getting a part-time job didn’t stop me from ‘having’ to straight away write another manuscript – funny that! And when I decided to take the next step and enter a writing contest, that first manuscript was a finalist in the 2004 RWNZ Clendon Award, and the second one was highly commended. Meaning I figured, gosh, I might not actually suck too badly at this writing business! And I was hooked big-time. Hunky bare-chested men astride wild horses with wings couldn’t drag me away from my keyboard after that.

My first publishing contract was in 2008, a novella that I’d entered in the Red Sage Alpha Male Novella Contest. That novella, EVEN DEMONS GET THE BLUES was published by Red Sage in 2009.

What's been happening in your world since the 2010 RWNZ Auckland Rydges conference?
It’s been a whirlwind of revisions, deadlines, filling out screeds of forms with synopses and blurbs and the like for my publisher, line edits, and promo. Followed by increasingly frantic efforts to coax my capricious muse into settling down to work on one particular project – kinda the complete opposite problem to suffering from writer’s block!

What sparks your creativity?
Books, magazine articles, song lyrics, quotes, TV, movies.... I can tell you what sparked the idea of every single manuscript I’ve ever written, but that would take up a blog post all of its own.

Come to think about it, I’ve already devoted an entire blog post to the subject of inspiration for stories. A fellow RWNZer, Helen Kirkman, and I were asked to present a workshop on “inspiration” to our Auckland chapter back in 2009. We called our workshop Sources of Inspiration: or, how the heck did you come up with THAT idea? The transcript for that workshop is up on my website.

Can you tell us about your new release?
I thought you’d never ask! *g* SCENT OF A MAN is my second novel-length release – yay, the first one wasn’t just a fluke! – it was released on 1st February.

I love historicals and I was toying with the idea of challenging myself by writing one, so I’d just bought Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester as a reference guide. I also had an idea for a paranormal story – I just can’t seem to help myself that way *sigh* – so I decided to combine the two ideas and write a paranormal with a historical flavour.

Except that, me being me, I just couldn’t resist twisting it a little more and creating a fanatically religious society where wealthy titled men dress like Regency dandies, but force their womenfolk to dress like Quakers and forbid them from wearing fripperies such as ribbons, cosmetics and perfume. I also wanted to play with role-reversal. My hero, Joseph, is the inexperienced virgin, and my heroine, Liliana, is the seasoned woman-of-the-world – and a foreign agent who’s trained in hand-to-hand combat to boot! Poor Joseph has no idea how to handle her, LOL.

The one woman who can resist him is the only woman he’s ever wanted....

Joseph is a highborn Anglian noble living in a harshly religious society where the Council and their clerics enforce chastity, and women are oppressed and treated like chattels. Overnight, Joseph undergoes a rare transformation and becomes a Scentinel, a man who exudes powerful sexual pheromones that make him irresistible to females. His people believe he is evil and will execute him on sight. He’s on the run, starving and desperate. He has nothing more to lose–or so he believes.

Liliana is a “morally corrupt” Europan woman with an agenda. She’s a creature even rarer than Joseph, a Null who can neutralize Scentinel pheromones. Her mission is to do whatever it takes to bring Joseph safely to Europan shores. There, he’ll join Empress Vashti’s elite band of Scentinel spies – provided he survives his training with his sanity intact, and learns how to suppress his pheromones at will.

And falling in love with the man she must ultimately betray was never part of Liliana’s plan.

To read an excerpt, click here.
Or visit Maree’s Red Sage author page.

What is it about your characters that made you want to tell their stories?
Um, they haunt my dreams and turn me into a grumpy, practically incoherent insomniac, until I give in and write their darn story?

What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing this book?
Easiest? Well, that was the first draft! At that time, because I was writing solely for myself and not with any specific market in mind, I didn’t much care that SCENT OF A MAN was an action-oriented paranormal/fantasy romance with a historical flavour and a rather erotic-sounding premise that was never fully realized. I just wrote the damn book. I didn’t consider important things like how it might be categorized or marketed. Doh! Little wonder it was practically un-publishable, despite having placed in various contests.

The hardest part? Well, you could be forgiven for thinking it would be cutting the word count from around 95,000 to 75,000, and excising three or four chapters written in two pivotal characters’ points of view, and then drastically scaling back those two characters, all with a contract deadline thrown in to make things interesting, right?

Hah! Boy was I in for a shock. The story was contracted “as-is”, before it was rewritten as an e-rom, and I was terrified that my editor had too much faith in me and I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Aside from that, the hardest part was weaving the intense sensuality and sexual awareness required of an erotic romance into an already defined story structure, plot, and set of character motivations. It probably would have been easier to scrap the entire manuscript and start again, to be quite honest.

During the revisions process I would often spend days re-working a section, trying to make a new scene fit seamlessly into the original plot, only to realize that it wasn’t the new scene that was the problem: it was the original story. Large chunks that my editor and I loved from the original story had to be scrapped during the re-writes. Sometimes it took me far too long to work up the courage to let those scenes go and more forward. It was gut-wrenching and very very character-building.

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you'd like to use in a future book?
I’d like to write another Demons novella and revisit the hugely fun world I created for EVEN DEMONS GET THE BLUES and LET SLEEPING DEMONS LIE. Asmodeus, my sarcastic, amoral, and devilishly handsome Demon King, seems to be a reader favourite and his fans are asking when I’m going to write his story. I also have a few ideas for another futuristic based around a character who featured in FROM THE ASHES, so who knows? 

What's next for you? What are you working on?
What’s next? I’m gearing up for the June 2011 release of my first ever print story in the Red Sage Secrets Volume 30 anthology. My contribution to the anthology is a light paranormal novella called Kat On A Hot Tin Roof and when my editor read it, she paid me the highest compliment I’ve ever had about my writing. She described it as “howlingly funny, deliciously tender, and super-hot”. But what I treasure the most was when she told me that reading my story got her through a really bad day.

What I’m working on? I have an idea for a YA churning round in my head. But at this stage, I’m not entirely sure what’s next writing-wise. I have some hard decisions to make, so all I can say right now is “it depends’.

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
Do your research.
Be professional.
Be kind.
Never give up.

Thanks for hosting me, Kylie. As always, it’s been a pleasure!
It's always a hoot having you, Maree! Thanks for visiting.

And I’d like to offer one of your readers an electronic copy of SCENT OF A MAN. So because I’m insatiably curious, to be in with a chance to win, please leave a comment and answer this quesion...

Tell me who your favourite fictional historical figure is – hero or heroine, book, movie or TV series.

Looking forward to your responses!

Thanks, Maree. How cool! A Valentine's give-away to one lucky person who answers her question.

You have until midnight, Feb.19th and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. 

To find out more out Maree check out her website for her other books and latest news, or her Writers Gone Wild Blog, Facebook page or Twitter link.

Maree's other books, available from Red Sage:


Sunday, February 13, 2011

KING ROLEN'S KIN give-away winner!

Thank you, everyone, for dropping by and welcoming Rowena to my blog and participating in her give-away.

Rowena's lovely husband drew the name of the reader who's won the give-away. KING ROLEN'S KIN has been won by...

robyn r


If you contact Rowena using this email - rowena(at)corydaniells(dot)com - she can make arrangements to have your prize sent to you.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Who has your heart?

February 14th - Valentine's Day - an auspicious day in any romance writer's calendar.

A day to celebrate the enduring love between partners, lovers, wedded couples, boyfriend & girlfriend and possibly to renew a commitment to a relationship in some special way.

I thought I'd take a different slant to Valentine's Day. One a little more...scintillating...and it involves you getting tenderly romantic, waxing a little poetic, maybe even hot & heavy. Interested?

Who is the hero (or heroine, depending on your preferences) from any book/movie/TV series that you'd love to have a Valentine's date with?

I'll start the ball rolling with a book character from one of my "keepers". I'd go on a date with Julian, Sherrilyn Kenyon's love-slave from FANTASY LOVER. I mean what more could a girl ask for - he's considerate, gentle, compassionate (look how he treats Grace in the book - sigh), a Spartan warrior, skilled in the art of romance and loving (having spent over two thousand years as a love-slave), and he's seriously ripped (because he's a warrior, but I already mentioned that, didn't I?).

Sam Worthington as a warrior makes your heart beat, doesn't he?
So, tell me, which special hero/heroine who sets your heart a-flutter, makes your pulse race, your mouth salivate, your skin tingle with excitement? - and yes, you can use your imagination here and have as an adventurous a date as you like!

I've four special book prizes to give away to keep in the theme of Valentine's Day. Leave a comment by midnight (Aussie DST) February 14th and you'll go into the draw. (open to local & overseas entrants)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cover Model interview

Woo-ooo-eee!!! Hawt cover model alert!

I've just spent 15mins reading engrossed and fascinated by an interview with Sam Bond (of "Atlas" fame from the UK Gladiator TV series) over at Maree Anderson's blog.

Sam was chosen as the cover model for her Red Sage release, FROM THE ASHES. There were heaps of fantastic questions asked and Sam was very open and forthright with the answers he gave.

Worth your time to check out this interview...oh, and the pictures Maree has included of Sam aren't half bad either *grin*.

Who's that girl? Interview - Jess Anastasi

Another southerner graces us with her presence today - no, not from the USA, but from one of the southern states of Australia!

Name? Jess Anastasi.

Where are you? Central Victoria, Australia.

How many years have you been a member of RWOz? Around 7? I think. I can't actually remember which year I joined, LOL.

What genre/s do you write? The question is, what genre haven't I tried to write?

I started out wanting to be a regency author, then I moved onto paranormal romance, then tried my hand at romantic suspense, then had another go at paranormal and finally ended up writing sci-fi romance, kind of. 

Who are your favourite authors? Suznanne Brockmann, easily my fav. I used to like Sherrilyn Kenyon, but her Dark-Hunter/Dream-Hunter/Were-Hunter series just confused me in the end, so I gave up after I read ACHERON.

I LOVE Linnea Sinclair, she is brilliant. Also, JR Ward's Blackdagger Brotherhood series is awesome...I could go on, but we'd end up here all day.

What inspired you to write romance? The first romance I ever read was one by Judy Garwood, HONOR'S SPLENDOR. I already had some idea I wanted to be a writer, but after I started reading romances, I knew it was what I had to do. I just loved the exploring the developing relationships and complexities of people in love. 

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? Jessica Faust (from BookEnds LLC) is my number one dream agent, I've been stalking (ahem, I mean following at an entirely sane distance) her for years, but no luck yet.

In my top ten I also have Kristen Nelson or Sara Megibow (of the Nelson Literary Agency), or Laura Bradford (from the Bradford Literary Agency), and have recently added Suzi Townsend at Fineprint Lit.

I'm not fussy, I'LL TAKE ANYONE! No, I'm not that desperate. I really would like to have an agent though (hear that, agent-gods, I'm praying really hard here!). As for a dream publisher, I'm not as specific. I'd just like to have something contracted with one of the major publishing houses. 

What's the best thing about going to conference? I don't know, I haven't made one yet! I fully plan to get to Melbourne 2011, though. I imagine there are lots of great, fun things about going to a conference. No kids. No husband. Cocktails...what? Oh, you mean in terms of writing. Well, I'm sure the workshops and stuff are good...

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
ergh, really? Um, OK, I'll say I don't really do a first 'rough' draft. I tend to edit heavily as I go, because I hate the idea of facing an entire manuscript worth of editing all at once. So I like to get it as close to polished while I'm writing it, so it only needs basic adjustments at the end.
A sexy hero needs...to be totally ripped, intelligent and caring at heart, but tough on the outside. And maybe be in possession of a really big gun...now you're asking yourself which way I intended that 'big gun' bit, aren't you? I'll leave it up to your imagination!
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...SEVERANCE, the second book in the Sanctuary series, Alastor and Nakita's story.
When I write I like to...EAT! Seriously, every time I sit down at the computer, I get a major case of the munchies. In fact, I'm eating while I write this. I don't know how I don't weigh like 100kg.
My best writing milestone to date is...getting published! Easily best. No, maybe getting my first book cover was. I don't know, it's all pretty good really!

Jess, it's been great having you here!
Thanks, Kylie. 

SEVERANCE (Book 2 in the Sanctuary series) is available on February 14th, 2011 from Noble Romance Publishing.

Nakita Branson made a deal with a demon to rescue her best friend. But when things don't go the demon's way, he dumps her off on a derelict spacestation with no money and no way of getting home.

A year later, Nakita is still searching for her friend, but finds trouble instead. And the only thing worse than the possibility of getting killed by a fanatical jerk? A familiar green-eyed demon turning up just in time to save her.

Alastor is back with news that the contract they agreed to is still intact and until he can find a way to break it, he is compelled to protect her.

The last thing Nakita wants to do is go anywhere with the demon who has a history of screwing her over. Not only that, but when he looks at her with that emerald gaze, intense enough to burn, she feels something she shouldn't for the gorgeous demon.

With the demon monarchy in chaos and enemies all over the universe, they are forced to rely on each other while unraveling the mystery of two sacred relics, and the contract that still binds them.
But, by the time Alastor and Nakita find a way to sever their deal, the idea of being apart may no longer be what either of them wants.

For a sneak peak at an excerpt from SEVERANCE click here.

Jess's other books:

Click here to read the blurb and excerpt for DEAD REALITY.

Book 1 (Sanctuary series)
Click here to read the blurb and excerpt for SANCTUARY (Book 1 in the Sanctuary series).

For more information about Jess, check out her website or her blog.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Help for the Newbie Writer

I've just been over at Regency Seductions reading about Help for the Newbie Writer.

Bronwen Evans (an historical romance author published with Kensington) interviews Gracie O'Neil and talks to her about how she helped her when she was a beginning writer.

In a past life Gracie was a teacher and while she's no longer in the classroom with children she's transferred those skills to helping other writers learn their craft. Her alter-ego created Romance She Wrote, a website that discusses and dispenses advice on things such as the craft of writing and other writing related topics.

Check out Bron's interview with Gracie over at her blog. You will be inspired by Gracie's story and amazed by the wealth of knowledge she's willing to share with other writers.

There's also a free lecture packet on offer from her called "How to Write a Synopsis Without Turning Homicidal".

GUEST AUTHOR: Rowena Cory Daniells

Fantasy author, Rowena Cory Daniells, has been involved in speculative fiction since 1976 when she and a friend set up a small press publishing house.

Since then she's run a bookshop, a graphic arts studio, established her own business R&D Studios, sold nearly 30 children's books, and two fantasy trilogies.

She's a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, has served on several management committees (RWA, the Queensland Writers Center, the Brisbane Writers' Festival, the Aurealis Awards) and was one of the founders of Fantastic Queensland and the VISION writing group. Currently, she's an associate lecturer at Qantm College.

Rowena's book, THE KING'S BASTARD (Bk 1 of KING ROLEN'S KIN trilogy) has just been nominated for a David Gemmel Legend Award for Fantasy. And the cover has been nominated for a Ravenheart Award (for best cover).

Please welcome Rowena as she guest blogs about a topic close to her heart... 

What’s the movie term ‘Resonance’ got to do with writing?

When you talk about how a movie resonates with you, you mean the way the characters linger in your mind after the movie finishes. You mean the way the music keeps playing in your head. Maybe you can’t stop thinking about the place where the movie was set. Maybe there was one line that encapsulated the theme of the movie and you keep hearing that line.

That’s what Resonance is, something that resonates with you.

As a writer, I develop a Resonance File for the different series I’m working on.  Being a visual person rather than aural, it won’t necessarily have music in it, but I will know the kind of music the characters listen to in my invented secondary world. Some of my friends who write have told me they create play lists and have the music going in the background while they write. I’ve never gone that far.

But I must confess that I vary my desktop picture depending on which series I’m writing. While I was working on the KING ROLEN'S KIN trilogy, I had a snowy scene on my desk top. Yes, you guessed it most of the KING ROLEN'S KIN trilogy was set in winter. I also wanted a Medieval Russian feel for the series, so I described the castles as having domes and towers.

But there’s more than the setting in my resonance file. (See here for a glimpse of my KRK Resonance File). It also includes my research. In fact my resonance file starts long before the book’s first words are ever written. I’m always watching documentaries and reading books about historical events and how different societies operate. So, long before I know what I’m going to use it for, I’m collecting details that will help make my world richer.

I must have been eleven when I read an account of someone who was caught out in a snow storm. They saved their children’s lives by building a snow cave. So, when I came to write KING ROLEN'S KIN, everyone built snow caves while travelling overnight during winter.

When writing fantasy we authors invent a secondary world and we need to keep the locations of towns and rivers etc straight in our heads, so we come up with maps. The way a land is shaped, shapes the people. Feudal Japan with its small areas of fertile land, spread over four main islands led to constant warring for resources. This is part of the motivation that drives the warlords in KING ROLEN'S KIN.  (For my KRK maps see here).

And lastly, there is the feel I wanted to create for my world and its people. When ever I sat down to write I needed to be in the right frame of mind to slip back into those characters. When people read my books, I wanted the characters to resonate with them, so that they would think about Piro, Fyn and Byren after the book was finished.

Currently, I’m working on The Outcast Chronicles. When ever I think about this series I have a strong sense of the Byzantine empire of the twelfth century, richly decorative, beautiful and complex, coupled with dark intrigue. 

Do you keep a Resonance File? What do you put in it? Are you visual or aural?

Thanks for visiting my blog today, Rowena!

 Now for the extra special bit! Rowena is generously giving away a sign copy of the KING ROLEN'S KIN trilogy (above). Just answer this question:

What is your favourite secondary world and why?

Make sure you answer in the comments section by 8pm, Sat.12th February 2011, and the winner of the give-away will be announced on Sun.13th February 2011. This giveaway is open to all - local & international.

Rowena's other books:

The T'En Trilogy
Check out Rowena's website for more information. She also a regularly posts over at Ripping Ozzie Reads, a Aussie spec.fiction blog.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Which hero turns the pages for you?

Heroes have come a long way from the dashing, tall, dark and handsome characters of yesterday's romance novels. We have alpha heroes, beta heroes, and everything in between and examples of them can be found in most books, movies and TV shows of today.

What archetype* attracts you? What sort of hero do you like to read about? Who makes the story intriguing, exciting, page turning, sex-alicious for you?

Best in the fleet
Is it the tough, goal-orientated, decisive alpha who excels in everything he does? A prince, a leader, a feared gun-fighter, the multi-millionaire or CEO businessman? A man who knows what he wants, how he wants it, and just what to do to get it?

The bad boy
Could it be the street smart, charismatic rebel who flaunts authority? The outlaw? The boy from the wrong side of the tracks? Do you like to live on the wild side?

Or maybe it's the intently logical, honest, unassuming, but faithful introvert? The guy who'll save the world one formula at a time?

None of these?

The quiet friend
Well, what about the helpful yet caring Mr Nice Guy? The good guy? The hunky neighbor next door-type? Does a beta male who listens and supports the heroine do it for you?

A gambler & charmer
Or do you fall for the charming, sometimes scandalous rogue or playboy? (couldn't resist showcasing Johnny twice - he's just so yumm-alicious and a darn versatile actor to boot!)

The secretive lost soul
Does the vulnerable, secretive type float your boat? The tortured outcast with the brooding gaze? Is he the one you like to see find that happily ever after ending?

The reluctant warrior
Could you fall for the noble, reluctant hero? The man who defends the weak, the protector of society's underdogs? The one destiny has chosen to succeed whether he wants it or not?

The swashbuckling adventurer

Wait, what about the fearless, cheeky daredevil? The man who loves adventure and action? Can you see yourself beside him, traipsing all over the world in search of secrets and fortune?

So many types of heroes, so little time, eh? Good thing they all exist between the pages of a good romance. It means we can pick and choose whatever type we fancy, whenever we like.

So, who is it that does it for you? The warrior, unassuming geek, best friend, military or emergency serviceman, rancher or cowboy, playboy millionaire, undercover cop, rogue or someone else who makes your pulse pound?

Who has your heart?

* Some "titles" for the heroes for this post taken from the All About Romance blog.