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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Month of HOT Heroes (Final)

Well, you've all voted - the tally is in.

Here are your top 5 finalists for the Month of HOT Heroes!

Hero #1

Hero #2



















Hero #3

Hero #4

















Hero #5




















Which one will reign supreme? It's up to you - pick the Hero of the Month and put your choice in the comment section to make it count.

Thank you for participating, anyone who voted (during the heats), your name is going into a draw for a surprise PRIZE PACK. I'll also announce the winner of that next week, too.

Stay tuned!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Month of HOT Heroes - Heat 4 winner

That should read - winners!

We had a dead head this week between Heroes #3 & #6. So they both advance into the final!


Join me on Saturday for the Grand Final!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Bec McMaster

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest... 

BEC MCMASTER writes romance novels featuring red-hot alphas, kick-ass heroines and edge-of-your-seat adventures. She is fascinated by all things dark, gothic and paranormal and spends her life with her nose in a book.

Her debut steampunk, KISS OF STEEL, is available Sept, 2012, from Sourcebooks. Read more about her at www.becmcmaster.com (under construction), or follow her on Twitter.

Author Facts
Pseudonym or given name on cover? Why a pseudonym?
I’m writing as Bec McMaster, for the simple reason that no one can ever spell or pronounce my surname correctly without me saying it first. I thought I’d make it easier for the world.  It also puts me about the middle of shelves for marketing purposes.
Location: Country Victoria.
Published genre: Steampunk/Paranormal romance.
Website: www.becmcmaster.com (under construction) 
First published in: September 2012.
Number of books published: This will be the first.

The Nitty Gritty 
Up to 5 significant events:
  1. One of the more significant events in my writing was joining RWA. Until then I’d always written, but I was floundering around with no set path or idea of where I wanted to go except for the fact that I wanted to be published some day. I joined RWA in late 2008. It was so important to meet other like-minded people and to make friends, as well as being the impetus for me to decide I don’t just want to write in my spare time, I want to give this a good red-hot go and make it a career.
  2. Reading one of Keri Arthur’s Deadline Dames blog posts. She’ll probably never know how much she influenced me and I can’t remember when it was, but the gist of it was how she was working full-time and to fit her writing in she did it in every spare second she had, lunchbreaks, after work, late at night etc. I realized that if I wanted to find the time to write I had to make it. I got up an extra hour earlier each morning before work, wrote on my lunch breaks, and stayed up late. It made me realize you’re responsible for your writing. It also made me realize that the time is there, you just have to use it productively.
  3. Joining the RWAustralia Critique Partner registry was another stepping stone. Through it I met Michelle de Rooy, my critique partner and cheer squad. She helped improve my writing dramatically, and I love having someone to chat about ideas with or meet deadlines with, to push myself to enter contests and just generally ask questions she might know the answer to. 
  4. Entering contests. I wouldn’t be where I am now without starting to send my work out. It was through a contest that I caught the eye of my editor.
  5. Finally selling! Possibly the most significant event and most likely the biggest stimulus for my writing skills – or at least I expect it to be.
What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
As mentioned, the RWAustralia CP scheme and contest feedback were both invaluable. You can only edit your own work with the knowledge that you have, so you always need another set of eyes on it to improve and realize its faults.

I also make an effort to take an online workshop once each quarter, though the impetus has changed from writing skills to more business/technical/marketing side of things these days. And I’ve read a few of those how-to books, though I’ve been largely under whelmed so far.

I read heaps of blogs and also a lot of work in my own genre, and lurk on several e-loops. There’s always a question popping up somewhere that I haven’t thought of yet, or useful links to follow. I think the most important thing is to never stop trying to learn and improve.

Can you share the special moment when you received The Call?
I’d won the Valley Forge 2011 Sheila contest and received a full request from the final judge, Leah Hultenschmidt of Sourcebooks. So I waited a week to do a last minute polish before sending it off to her on Tuesday the 14th of June.

Thinking I wouldn’t hear back for a while, I didn’t give it another thought, until the phone rang on Thursday evening at about 11:30 pm (Australian time). It woke me up but I recognised the phone number as American, and since I was waiting on the results from a few other American contests, figured it was one of them.

As soon as she said her name I think every coherent thought flew out of my head. I managed to understand that she was ringing to offer and somehow said thanks and requested a week to let some of the agents I was querying know. As soon as the phone call was over (the best moment of my life and I can’t recall a word of it!), I jumped straight on the internet and began re-querying the agents I’d just sent queries out to.

The next few days were a blur of waiting, then receiving a flurry of responses until I finally settled with Jessica Faust of Bookends. I don’t think I slept all weekend and I couldn’t get the grin off my face! 

How have you grown over the years as a writer?
I occasionally flick back through old manuscripts for a nostalgic trip and its always interesting to see how much my writing has changed and improved.

The hardest thing was finishing one piece (I have hundreds of half-started manuscripts on the hard-drive), but I’ve come a long way in terms of grammar and plot.

I think the main difference has been pacing and plotting. Not just letting the story drift, ‘...and then they went here and did this...’ etc., but keeping each scene relevant to where I want to go. I know there was a huge upheaval in personal-writerly-growth through 2010, as I started entering contests and getting feedback.

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
I think it’s hugely important to set goals. How can you work toward a career if you don’t know where you want to go or how to do it? I took the Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer workshop in 2010, and that was great at teaching me to set small, specific, achievable goals, as well as larger over-arching ones.

I actually find the smaller goals more important as they’re achieved in a smaller timeframe too, which means I see results quicker. It can be anything from mapping out the contest season according to who the final judges were (aim high (: ), to marking out workshops I want to take to improve my writing, self-imposed deadlines to finish my books etc.

In turn, all these smaller goals set up a stepping stone to the larger ones: get published etc. It’s important to make them achievable though. Becoming a NYT best-selling author is what I consider a dream, as it’s somewhat outside my ability to control. Writing the best book I can, however, is something that I can control.

Keep in mind, I’ve never been an organised, motivated person, but once I began setting goals and creating a career plan, writing became more important to me. Suddenly I wasn’t just writing for myself anymore, I was writing with a career in mind, which was a huge change and helped me land a contract. If I can do it, anyone can.

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
It usually takes me about three-four months to write a manuscript. The first 60,000 words blaze out of me so fast I can’t stop them, then I hit the dreaded slump, where I want to play with other, shinier ideas and slog it out until I can see the end. Then it starts racing again.

I plot a little, with a vague synopsis to work off, though a lot of that changes in the process. My computer is littered with post-it notes like, ‘aha, the vampire is.....’, or ‘need to insert wrap up scene re: hero’s issues’.  As well as the occasional note from my boyfriend like ‘Clean House’.

I like to leave myself a little room to play regarding deadlines. For example, the last manuscript I finished (Book #2 of contract) was due halfway through February. I finished it at the start of December and gave myself a month off to go play with those other ideas, then began to do a final edit at the start of Jan so it’s completely polished by the time February rolls around.

I’m one of those people who edits and tidies as I go, then do a final complete edit before setting it aside to percolate. I often find unfinished threads and thoughts pop out at me during that month of not looking at it.

So this final edit is mainly to flesh out certain scenes (and finish some of those post-it notes regarding plot holes or things that need adding). During this time, I’ll also start book three, which has been brewing for the last month or two in my head.

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
Writing that first dirty draft. Spewing all those words onto the page and getting excited about all of the fresh, crazy ideas that pop up when you least expect them.

What do you like least?
 Like most authors it’s the social media part of the gig, but I understand I have to put on my big-girl panties and deal with it. I’m a terrific stalker on Twitter and Facebook, but when it comes to putting myself – as the author – out there, I hate it. I’m a private person and a little socially inept in certain situations, so it’s hard for me to promote myself. I just have to pretend to take myself out of the equation and get on with it.

Most memorable fan-mail I’ve ever received?
No fan mail as yet, though I received some really lovely contest feedback this year. I think one of my favourite judge’s comments was about how the judge kept my entry until last because she wasn’t really into the genre or idea, but ended up sitting up all night because she couldn’t put it down!

Is there anything you think pre-published need to know about the business/industry before they’re published?
Study the industry, read blogs, talk on the loop, ask questions. Watch what’s going on in publishing land, what’s selling, etc. Know as much as you can before you try and leap in.

Also, be aware that you’ll have to learn patience. So far I’ve discovered publishing is all about long weeks or months of hearing nothing, then suddenly being asked to supply something (bio, revisions, author photos, copy edits) at the drop of a hat. Long periods of nothing followed by intense periods of work on your behalf.

A Bit of Fun
Favourite colour: Blue. 
Hunkiest hero ever: Since I can’t decide, I’ll give you one for each; for book it would be Curran from Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series, for movie it would be Daniel Day Lewis from the Last of the Mohicans and for TV show, Damon from Vampire Diaries. I can’t resist a bad boy just waiting to be redeemed.
Most daring thing you’ve done in your life? It would have to be my home town’s charity event of It Takes Two, where I had to get up in front of four hundred people and sing. It’s my worst nightmare ever, but I always believe in challenging myself (see above: shyness, promoting myself). If my immediate response is “No way,” then I have to make myself do it just to prove that I can and get over my shyness.
Greatest love: Writing? LOL. I would have to say my boyfriend. He’s the rock in the madness of my life. He brings me back down to earth, reminds me there’s more going on than whatever ‘movie’ is playing in my head. He doesn’t read but I think I enjoy that. I spend so much time in my other world and on the computer that I need a break away from it, to actually live life rather than dream it.
Timeout/relaxation for me incudes: Playing netball or running. Anything outdoorsy. Hiking, riding a motorbike, wakeboarding.
Special quote/saying you like: Dreamers who only dream never have their dreams come true.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

GUEST BLOGGING over at Romancing the Genres

Head on over to Romancing the Genres! I'm helping promote Paranormal, Fantasy & Urban Fantasy Romance Month there with "It's All About World building!"

Check out the other PR, FR & UF authors who've guested there this month while you're at it!

March 10 - UF author Erica Hayes - Keeping It Fresh & the Lure of the High Concept!

March 17 - PR author Minette Meador - Tools for Creating a Paranormal Romance

Coming up:
March 29 - UF author Karen Duvall - What Is Urban Fantasy?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Month of HOT Heroes (Heat 4)

Here's Heat #4 in the Month of HOT Heroes poll.

Examine and judge the pictures of the guys and picking your favorite - a difficult chore, I know, but if you really tried, I'm sure you'd be able to force yourself to complete it. :-)

So, without further ado, here's the fourth heat of candidates. Place your vote over the next week (by quoting the Hero's label in the comments section), and I'll post the rankings so you can see which heroes proved popular in what order.

This will be your last chance to vote for any of the heroes in any of the heats - so make sure yours count!

Finalists (those with the highest poll rank in each of the Heats) in the Month of HOT Heroes will be announced on March 31st.

Hero 1

Hero 2

Hero 3

Hero 4

Hero 5

Hero 6

Friday, March 23, 2012

Month of HOT Heroes - Heat 3 winner

A bit of a tussle this week for top spot but the winner is...Hero #4.


Next week is the last heat before the finalist go head to head. Don't forget to vote!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Bite of...VENGEANCE BORN

For those who missed out on my blog tour or just want to revisit, there's a snippet of VENGEANCE BORN over at the Dark Side DownUnder.

Link on over and check it out!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Christina Ashcroft / Christina Phillips

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest...

CHRISTINA ASHCROFT is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in Western Australia with her high school sweetheart, their three children, an eccentric Maltese-cross and three regal cats.

She can't remember a time when she didn't write, and always managed to include an element of fantasy or the paranormal in her English essay homework. Luckily her English teachers didn't mind, despite the fact these stories generally finished with the hero, heroine (or both) coming to a sticky end.

Thankfully by the time she hit fourteen she discovered romance novels and the wonder of a Happily Ever After. She now writes about hot archangels and the women who capture their hearts for Penguin/Berkley Heat and her books always have a happily-ever-after.

CHRISTINA PHILLIPS has an eerily similar history to CHRISTINA ASHCROFT and is also owned by three cats who believe the world revolves around them. As it happens, they are quite right.

Pseudonym or Given Name on the cover? Why a pseudonym?
I write paranormal/fantasy historical romances as Christina Phillips and paranormal romance as Christina Ashcroft. I chose my middle name Christina because I've always loved that name, and Phillips is my married name.

Ashcroft came about half way through 2011 when my editor suggested a new pen name for my new archangel series as it's a different sub-genre to my Roman/Druid books. Half the time I have no idea who I am and will answer to almost anything!

Location: Born in the UK and moved to sunny Western Australia at the end of 1998.

Published Genre/s: As Christina Phillips I write historical romance with hot Roman warriors and magical Druid heroines, Highland Warriors and vampires (not all at the same time!!!)

As Christina Ashcroft I write about fallen archangels and the women who capture their hearts.

Website/s: http://www.christinaphillips.com     http://www.christinaashcroft.com 

First published in: My first novelette, FORETASTE OF FOREVER, was published in October 2008. My first full length romance, FORBIDDEN, was published in September 2010 by Berkley Heat.

My first book published as Christina Ashcroft, ARCHANGEL OF MERCY, is due for release on 4th December 2012. I've been assured the Mayans got it all wrong so here's to December 2012!!

Number of books published: Three full length novels (including ARCHANGEL OF MERCY in December 2012) and two novelettes.

The Nitty Gritty 
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication?
Hooking up with my critique partners, Amanda Ashby and Sara Hantz. I was the last one to be published and those girls kept me motivated through all the lows and helped celebrate all the highs. This journey wouldn't be half as much fun without them!

Finalling in the RWNZ Meet the Editor Contest 2008. This was the first contest I'd entered in years and it was a terrific boost to my morale to be highly commended. The certificate also looks very awesome on my wall!!!

2008 was a turning point for me in my writing. Up until then I'd written contemporary romance for several years, and had just started writing paranormal romance. However, after my CPs dared me to try my hand at writing an erotic romance it was as if everything fell into place. I not only discovered how much I enjoyed writing erotic romance but I sold the first one I wrote. I took that as a Sign from the Universe!

Signing with my agent was a huge milestone for me, and helped validate the countless hours I'd spent hunched over my keyboard during the previous nine years.

What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
The best thing I did very early on was join the e-Harlequin boards. This was when I was targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon, and the wealth of knowledge from published authors and visiting editors on those boards was just amazing. There was a sense of real community and I made some wonderful friends, including my CPs Amanda and Sara.

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
Three months after signing with my agent she sent me an email on a Thursday saying that she'd had interest from an editor and should know more soon. I have no idea how I got through the next five days.

What did "interest" mean? Just how excited should I be by this news? (A totally redundant question since I was so excited I couldn't eat, could hardly sleep and kept breaking out into hysterical giggles at inappropriate moments!) Thankfully I was put out of my suspense the following Tuesday when Berkley made an offer :-)

Looking back over your writing career, how have you grown as an author?
You're not talking about the size of my behind, are you? OK, moving on...!

I was writing for nine years before I was published, and looking back I can see that each time I made the decision to change sub-genre - from category to single title, and then onto paranormal and erotic romance, I made a significant leap forward in my writing. I think it was because I stretched my writing muscles and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Even over the last two and half years I can see how my writing has improved and that's down to my wonderful editor who really opened my eyes about several things during our last round of revisions!

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
Before I was published I didn't think much beyond the fact that I wanted to be published. That was my goal. But I do think it's important to set realistic goals because they act as a motivator and reminder of what I want to achieve. By that I mean I give myself daily or weekly word/page goals. At the end of last year I gave myself a January goal - to finish the revisions on one book and edit a second book and I managed both by 30th.

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
The process couldn't have been more different between my two historical romances and my first Archangel book so that's a hard one to answer. Timewise I give myself six months from starting the book to deadline but of course there's a whole heap of other writing related stuff that needs to be done during those months as well.

FORBIDDEN and CAPTIVE both had only minor edits at copyedit stage, but at 70k into my Archangel book I received substantial revisions from my editor which entailed rewriting and finishing the book within a month. And then I had revisions on the full book. I've said it before and I'll say it again - my editor is a goddess!!!

One of the things I found challenging about being a published author is the constant juggling of tasks ie. writing a book, editing another, planning promotion, writing the prosposal for another (and usually this all happens while holding down another job or dealing with family/life etc.).

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
My fave bits in the publishing process is seeing the cover for the first time! I've also loved the back cover blurbs Berkley have done for my books, so I enjoyed reading them through as well. And nothing beats opening the box that has just been delivered by FedEx and giving your book its very first cuddle!

What do you least in the publishing process?
There's nothing in the publishing process itself that I don't like. The waiting can be nerve racking, but I've learned to just get on with something else in the meantime.

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
I will never forget the very first reader who contacted me. It was before FORBIDDEN came out and she'd seen a blurb about it on one of the reader boards. She also took the time to write to me after reading CAPTIVE to let me know how much she enjoyed the series.

Is there anything you think pre-publishers writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Expect the unexpected. Be prepared for rejection even after you're published. And don't take a stinging review to heart.

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color:
Pink.
Hunkiest hero ever: Clive Owen is hot in whatever movie he's in, and is still my darling despite the times I cheat on him with Henry Cavill. I also have a bit of a crush on Jason Momoa from Stargate Atlantis. *fans self* that guy is so big!!!
Most daring thing you've done in your life: Moving from the UK to Australia.
Greatest love: My long-suffering husband and our Darling Offspring. Mustn't forget the cats, either... 
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: Hahaha! Oh what, sorry...
Special quote/saying you like: OK it's an oldie now, but it's still a goodie - Never Give Up! Never Surrender! From Galaxy Quest.

Another one I live by (although not intentionally I can assure you!!!) is Never say Never. Because you can bet as soon as I say that I'll go and do it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

TOUCHING SHADOWS

Good friend and fellow author, Gracie O'Neil, is over at Regency Seductions chatting about her debut paranormal romantic suspense novel, TOUCHING SHADOWS.

Art expert and undercover psychic Megan Alistair is still searching for the painting that has haunted her since childhood. When businessman Dominic Stone gets involved, her lifetime's web of secrets and lies begins to unravel. This time her masquerade isn't protection; it's a threat—against Megan, but worse, against the man she’s learning to love.

Megan Alistair has a gift; simply by touching a work of art she can tell whether it’s a forgery or a real master. But in the art world those who appreciate such talent can be dangerous, so Megan uses her gift in secret through someone she can trust—art dealer, Annalise Waterford.

Dominic Stone also has a gift; that of financial genius. Everything he touches turns to gold. But while his talent has given him a freedom most people would kill for, it can’t buy him access to elusive family secrets. Secrets his stepfather died with. Secrets only art dealer Annalise Waterford might reveal.

Only problem? Annalise is missing—and half the art underworld is looking for her.

When Stone learns Megan may know where Annalise is hiding he’ll do whatever it takes to get the information. But Megan doesn’t need anything Stone can offer her—and couldn’t take it, even if she did. Because there’s more at stake than lost secrets and a missing art dealer, and Megan is better acquainted with Stone than he can imagine. Enough to be certain some things should stay hidden, and that any future together might well destroy them both.

Interested? Then get yourself over there and read the interview. Better yet click on the buy link and treat yourself! :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

GUEST BLOGGING over at RomCon

I'm over at RomCon talking all things paranormal and sharing some more snippets about VENGEANCE BORN - the characters, the races within the world, and there's a giveaway!

So, come on over and say hi, leave a comment and you'll go into the draw. :-)

Month of HOT Heroes (Heat 3)

Here's Heat #3 in the Month of HOT Heroes poll.

Examine and judge the pictures of the guys and picking your favorite - a difficult chore, I know, but if you really tried, I'm sure you'd be able to force yourself to complete it. :-)

We'll have a list of finalists for the HOT Hero final round in no time.

So, without further ado, here's the third heat of candidates. Place your vote over the next week (by quoting the Hero's label in the comments section), and I'll post the rankings so you can see which heroes proved popular in what order.

Finalists will be announced at the end of the month - so make sure your vote counts!

Hero 1

Hero 2

Hero 3

Hero 4

Hero 5

Hero 6

Friday, March 16, 2012

Month of Hot Heroes - Heat 2 winner

This week's winner by an absolute landslide is...

Hero #2


He'll join last week's winner in the final! Thanks for voting everyone. :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

GUEST BLOGGING...over at Writers Gone Wild!

What do you think about tormented heroines? Do you like reading about them? Does the idea of a tormented heroine interest you or turn you off reading a story?

I'm a guest over at Writers Gone Wild and we're talking about this topic - care to join me and go into the draw for a signed copy of VENGEANCE BORN?

See you over there! :-)

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Paula Roe

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest...

In PAULA ROE’s former (non-writing) life, she’s worked as a PA, office manager, software trainer and aerobics instructor and is an active RWAustralia volunteer and long-standing member (holding the positions of Secretary, Vice-President, Contest Co-ordinator, Conference Co-ordinator and Hearts Talk editor).

Her writing won and placed in various (MANY various!) US and Australian contests and as a published author she’s a RBY Award and Colorado RW Award of Excellence finalist.  Her books have been voted Favourite Category Romance of 2009 and 2010 and she’s also been nominated for Favourite Romance author of the Year with the Australian Romance Readers Association.

A Borders Books bestseller and Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nominee, Paula is currently published with Harlequin Desire and designs websites on the side. 

Author Facts 
Pseudonym or Given Name on the cover? Why a pseudonym? For my straight romances, my real name.  For my erotic medieval/fantasy stuff, an aka.  Why?  Well, I have a small child and there are some weird people out there... 
Blue Mts. - Australia
Location: I live near the gorgeous Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.
Published Genre/s: Currently published in category fiction and non-fiction. 
Website: www.paularoe.com and the coming-soon www.pollyarcher.com for all the naughtier bits :-)
First published in: 2007 for books. Before that, I had a bunch of articles in Romance Writers of Australia’s monthly newsletter.
Number of books published: by the end of 2012, I’ll have 7 books out, but I’m aiming for another 2 novellas in addition to that!

The Nitty Gritty
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication.

  1. Reading my first hard-core historical romance, Captive Bride by Johanna Lindsey. Up until then, I was strictly a cats-and-horses kinda gal.
  2. When my best friend and I decided we should actually write an historical romance. It was very basic, filled with masses of clich├ęs and was never finished, but it got me hooked on writing.
  3. Getting rejected by Harlequin Temptation in my early 20s. Of course, I can now see exactly what was wrong with that manuscript but at the time I was gutted. But it also meant I was determined to get better.
  4. Joining Romance Writers of Australia after years of tinkering with writing but never actually doing anything about it, and subsequently meeting this amazing bunch of writers who were working towards the same things I was.
  5. The first writing contest I won – it meant I didn’t totally suck and other writers thought so too!
What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
The internet – great for researching stuff you have no clue about!

Without a doubt, contests. Not just RWA ones, but the US chapter-run ones, because I was targeting the American market.

I think it’s important to understand that not all judges’ suggestions should be followed. I was, for a time, a big crowd-pleaser – if one judge suggested a change, I’d immediately change it without understanding why or if I should.

I think as time went on, and as more people read my stuff, I got more confident with my voice and if any changes to my writing was needed.  That was certainly a big deal for me and, I think, for a lot of writers starting out.

When it comes to feedback, suggestions should always be a buffet, not a la carte - it’s ultimately up to you to chose what’s right for your story. 

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
It was an email :-)  I’d spent the first part of 2006 entering all RWA’s contests, some finalling, some winning and I’m pretty sure people were sick of hearing my name come up at the awards ceremony!

As a result of my Opening Chapter win and RWA Emerald final, my mss landed on the desk of Desire’s Senior Editor, Leslie Wainger.  After our conference – scattered with a lot of “why aren’t you published yet?'s  Keziah Hill encouraged me to email Demetria Lucas, the Desire editor who was reading it. A week or two later, on the 9th September, I got an email that started with “great news!”

And you know, as much as having a child is a joyful, life-changing event, the actual pushing one out into the world and the moments after where you’re completely out of it, in pain and just want to go to sleep really sucks.  I have to say, a “we want to buy your book!” email was a much more pleasant process ;-) 

Looking back over your writing career, how have you grown as an author?
I have learned A LOT since 2006 (wow, that’s six whole years!!)  First I’ve learned lots about the industry as a whole, which is always the first step in a writing career (“knowledge is power”!).

I’ve gotten better at plotting and discarding stuff I know won’t work for my line. I’ve understood writing techniques and why/when to use them to greater effect.

I’m getting better at editing – removing the scads of adjectives when one (or none!) will suffice.  And I can write really, really quickly when a deadline is looming :-)

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
I’m ashamed to say I haven’t done the career goals thing, just year-by-year ones, which I regularly list on my blog.

I really should, right, considering I’m writing different stuff and this year will be my 7th published Desire..?  But I can tell you this year I am DETERMINED to at least flesh out this medieval fantasy tome that’s been languishing in plot form for the last (ahem!) years. 

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
Usually the first meeting between my characters is fully formed in my head, and of course, I’ve had the go-ahead on a complete story synopsis, so my deadline is generally 6 months from initial submission to handing it in.  So now the fun begins – lots of daydreaming, going through old notes, scouring the internet for ‘character’ photos, then writing, writing, writing.

Then I get bored, then I complain about how much I hate the story, then I watch more TV/surf the internet.  I discuss some things with my writing group, the plot begins to take shape and I get those little sparks of insight into my characters and their actions/reactions.

Then suddenly, it’s 4 weeks until deadline and my boy gets sick, or has issues with school, or SOMETHING. And then I finish the book, reread it a billion times, then send it at midnight on the due date.

By this time I know there’s an issue or two still to be ironed out, and I call on my fabulous editor to “help me!!  Tell me what’s wrong with this - arrrghhh!!”

By the time I get his feedback we’re pretty much on the same track and there’s another bunch of edits to be done... Lovely, eh? 

One of the things I found challenging about being a published author is the constant juggling of tasks ie. writing a book, editing another, planning promotion, writing the proposal for another (and usually this all happens while holding down another job or dealing with family/life etc.).

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
The final edits!  Knowing that throughout the process, the story has vastly improved and you’ve given it your all.  That and seeing the cover for the first time... as long as it’s a good one (and thank the Gods, I’ve been fortunate so far...)

I also love writing down dates on a nice clean calendar.  Is that odd?  Release dates, deadlines, weeks I’ve blocked off for writing, guest blogging. I love my Day Planner and my Mont Blanc pen :-)

What do you like least in the publishing process?
I’m not much good at waiting – for edits, for a cover, for the release date... 

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
Actually, it was a response on a loop I’m on – a simple “you’re an idol of mine...”  Made my entire week! 

Is there anything you think pre-published writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Knowing what to edit out of your writing and knowing what to leave in is a fine art that only comes from writing, submitting and assessing feedback.

Rejection can get very disheartening  - that whole, “thanks but we’re going to pass on this” without knowing EXACTLY what you need to fix really sucks.  So if there’s any way you can give up writing, then do it.  If not, then understand there are many paths to publishing and sometimes it’s one step forward, one step back.  Some editors will love your stuff, and some will hate it.

Oh, and reviewers have the right to their opinion as much as you have the right to ignore it :-) 

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color: blue.
Hunkiest hero ever: Hmmm... I ADORE the character of Seeley Booth in Bones.  So complex!  And you can’t go past Mal Reynolds (Firefly).  ::swoon::  Oh, and Vin Diesel’s voice just sends me to pieces...
Most daring thing you've done in your life: That’s legal? ;-)  backpack around Europe.  Live in another country.  Or possibly, ask a guy on a date.
Greatest love: My boy, my cats, that new-release rush, handbags.
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: Surfing the internet and watching TV.
Special quote/saying you like: There’s two: “A goal without desire is just a meaningless dream” which I have over my computer.  And one I made up:  “Stop complaining, put on your big girl pants and deal with it.”

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Review from Jenny Schwartz

Jenny's taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012.

She recently read VENGEANCE BORN and posted a lovely review on her blog. I'm chuffed she compared the book to some of the late 20th century fantasy novels she'd read, as I also devoured many and was influenced strongly by these books.
I grew up reading fantasy and I have a weakness for the fantasy books of the 1980s and early 90s written by women. Books like The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. These were fantasy adventure quests with a spice of romance. Vengeance Born fits into this tradition but adds a touch more romance.
You can read her review in its entirety here.

Month of HOT Heroes (Heat 2)

Here's Heat #2 in the HOT Heroes poll.

Examine and judge the pictures of the guys and picking your favorite - a difficult chore, I know, but if you really tried, I'm sure you'd be able to force yourself to complete it. :-)

We'll have a list of finalists for the HOT Hero final round in no time.

So, without further ado, here's the second heat of candidates. Place your vote over the next few days (by quoting the Hero's number in the comments section), and I'll post the rankings so you can see which heroes proved popular in what order.

Finalists will be announced at the end of the month - so make sure your vote counts!

Hero 1

Hero 2

Hero 3

Hero 4
Hero 5


Hero 6

Friday, March 9, 2012

GUEST BLOGGING over at Dark Faerie Tales

Dark Faerie Tales has invited me to take part in their Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge in March.

I'm guest blogging about "How real is the paranormal?" and there's a giveaway!

Come join me and have some fun. :-)

Month of Hot Heroes - Heat 1 winner

The voting last week was tough and for a while it was hard to separate the contenders in the poll. Thank you to everyone who took on the onerous task. But now, the votes have been counted, and you have decided.

The winner of Heat 1 is...


Hero #2 & #6 came a dead heat for second in the voting, followed by #1, #3 & #5 in that order.

Email from a Reader

Have you ever sent an email or letter to an author when you were touched by their work so much that you just had to let them know?

I've done it several times but it wasn't until the other day that I realised how much an author appreciates this type of letter.

A friend (who rarely reads any sort of fiction book) sent this one to me.
Hi there, dear Kylie,

I have reached chapter 21 [in VENGEANCE BORN]. Chapter 20 was a great reminder of a special moment many years ago. Thank you for taking me back.

It's hard to explain such a personal subject but since my back pain has been such a problem, moments like those are a memory, feelings that is. Your words stirred them up again.

I haven't read any further as yet as I'd like the feeling to remain in my mind awhile and not get re-lost in life's problems.

I do hope I've made sense. It's my way of saying a big thank you. So when I see you again in person you may just have to get a major big hug. ♥ :)
To know that something you wrote evoked such powerful memories and feelings is one of the reasons why I love to write.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Sue McKay

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest... 

SUE MacKAY lives with her husband and a retired hunting dog named Boss in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds at the top of New Zealand’s South Island where she can indulge her passions for the outdoors, the sea and cycling.

As a medical technician she’s worked in haematology and biochemistry laboratories in Auckland and Nelson. Combining this medical background with a love of the romance genre, it is no surprise that she writes medical romance stories. An avid reader all her life she wrote her first story at age eight, about a prince of course. In 2000 she submitted her first book to HM&B. Ten years later she finally sold them her sixth submission and has gone on to sell five more so far.

Author Facts
Marlborough Sounds, NZ
Pseudonym or Given Name on the cover? Why a pseudonym? Sue MacKay. I don’t use a pseudonym.
Location: I live in the Mahau Sound, Marlborough Sounds.
Published Genre: Mills & Boon Medical genre. 
Website: www.suemackay.co.nz 
First published in: 2010
Number of books published: 4

The Nitty Gritty
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication:
  1. My very first rejection would have to be the most significant thing that’s happened in my writing career to date. That rejection was a huge shock. Being told my book wasn’t good enough made me very determined to do whatever it took to write a selling story.
  2. I discovered Romance Writers of Australia and through them Romance Writers of New Zealand. Wow. What an eye opener those first newsletters were. Until then I didn’t know anyone else who wrote books and suddenly I had access to people and information. Unbelievable.
  3. My first RWNZ conference blew me away. Everyone I met was so friendly and willing to share information. The speakers and workshops were fantastic. I didn’t sleep much for fear of missing out on something. Every conference I’ve attended since in New Zealand and Australia has still held that magic and excitement of being with like-minded people dedicated to their careers.
  4. Getting a revisions letter for the second book I submitted. At the time I thought if you got one of these you’d made it as there’d just been a succession of writers who’d sold fairly quickly after revisions. My excitement was huge. I didn’t sell, instead I got a second revisions letter – did they really do that? Yes, and they still rejected me.
  5. My husband rolling his eyes and asking if I was going to join him watching boring TV whenever I told him I was giving up writing after yet another rejection from the publishers.
What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
How-to books, courses and conferences were helpful as I learned more and more about my craft.

But I think my biggest asset (at times) is my determination to succeed and my pig-headedness whenever things got tough as they seemed to do with monotonous regularity.

Looking back over your writing career, how have you grown as an author?
Apart from my expanding backside from sitting too much, I guess my writing has improved heaps with every book I’ve written. After that first rejection I found the more I read about writing the less I seemed to know, but finally it all came together. Not that I’ve stopped learning. No way.

How important is it to set career goals?
I set daily, weekly, yearly and five yearly goals. Without them I doubt I’d be published. Goals keep me focused and on track. If I’ve got a year to write a book then I’ll take a year, but if I’ve given myself a six month goal then I’ll do it in that time.

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
February 2010. After three lots of revisions on my current story I was beginning to despair of ever selling when my husband said early one morning that there was an email from my editor. Did I really want to get out of bed to find it was another rejection? Of course I did. Hope never completely disappears. And the hope scale shot through the roof when I read that the editor would be phoning at ten pm that night. What a long day.

I desperately wanted to tell my writing friends but a part of me kept whispering, What if the editor feels bad after all these revisions so is phoning to tell me ‘Thanks, but no, thanks.’  As if. I was so relieved to hear her  say that HM&B wanted to buy my book it took a moment to realise she’d actually said they wanted to offer me a two book contract.

My husband had had no doubts about what the call was about and brought out the expensive bottle of bubbly he’d apparently bought eons ago. It had to have been a long time ago because when he cracked it open it had gone off. Never fear, we had a back up.

What a moment, what a night. Well worth the wait. It was everything I'd dreamed of and yet better – because it was for real.

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
My story ideas usually begin with a very clear opening scene. Then I work on characters to suit the situation and grow the story from there. I spend a lot of time on my hero and heroine’s conflicts, backgrounds, needs and careers. Nowadays I do a very basic plot outline which does my head in as by nature I’m a pantser, but I got tired of writing myself into a corner about the middle of the story so try to have some idea of where I’m going.

My writing day starts with a ten kilometre walk which is great for nutting out plot problems and thinking through the scene I intend writing that day. I do four hours writing in the morning, aiming for 2000 words minimum. Afternoons are taken up with all the other things connected to a writer’s life – proofs, ironing, blogs, dinner, revisions on the previous book as per my editor’s comments. Once the book is written I then spend almost as long on revising – again and again and again.

I’ve made my deadlines on my latest contract tighter than previously in an attempt to stop wasting time. I’m a great procrastinator. Since when did vacuum cleaning seem so attractive?

One of the things I found challenging about being a published author is the constant juggling of tasks ie. writing a book, editing another, planning promotion, writing the prosposal for another (and usually this all happens while holding down another job or dealing with family/life etc.). 

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
I love the whole publishing process, though opening the carton and taking out that first copy of my book is always the most thrilling.

What do you least in the publishing process?
The only area of this business I struggle with is the internet side of things. Blogging still gives me nightmares. But thanks to some very patient women at the Love Cats DownUnder blog I’m getting there.

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
Most memorable fan-mail is one I’ve had often. Apparently I made the readers cry. I love that I’ve touched people’s emotions.

Is there anything you think pre-publishers writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Pre-published authors need to know that selling your first book makes all the hard yards, the rejections, the “I’m going to give up days”, the many lonely hours spent in front of computers well worth it.

The other side of receiving the call is another learning curve but, hey, it’s a lot of fun and more hard work. But the reward is that you get to see your book in print. What can be better than that?

A Bit of Fun
Favourite colour: red.
Hunkiest hero ever: Sean Connery's Bond. The voice gets me every time. 
Most daring thing you've ever done in your life: first solo airplane flight. 
Greatest love: my man.
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: reading, being with close friends, travel.
Special quote/saying you like: What would you do if you knew you could not fail? (Don't know who wrote this)