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


Monday, January 31, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia, spent eight years in England and currently lives in New Zealand. When she's not moving countries, she also likes to write books for young adults.

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

Please welcome first time visitor, young adult romance author, Amanda Ashby.

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published? I tinkered with writing for a few years but didn’t get serious until 1999 when I first moved to the UK. I then wrote about twelve manuscripts before finally selling in 2005.

Of course along the way there were tears and tantrums and multiple genre swapping, but in the end I sold the right book at the right time for me (I’m a majorly slow learner so if I’d sold my very first book I think I would’ve struggled to adjust to it all).

Are you a panster or plotter? Is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book? I’m a panster, with a capital panster, though infuriatingly enough I often don’t get a character or a plot to guide me. Normally I start with a small slither of an idea and then have to feel my way around in the dark to try and decipher what that slither of an idea really means.

When I first started writing, I found my process very trying—especially all the re-writing that it involved—but these days I’m a lot more accepting of it. Sure I would love to be organized and not have to cut about a third of what I write, but now that I know I do finally find my story in the end, I’m happy to accept it.

Because of this, my books often start out fast as I get all excited about what’s going on. Then I hit a certain point where it all falls apart and that’s when I need to do a lot of work trying to uncover the real story from the false trails. However, once I finally nail that, then the final part of the book is normally pretty quick because everything is in place.

Can you tell us about your new release? FAIRY BAD DAY is out in the US next June with Puffin.

Blurb: My life seriously couldn’t get any worse.

First, my rightful designation of dragon slayer is STOLEN right out from under me by Curtis Green. Sure, he’s really cute, but that doesn’t give him an excuse.

On top of that, I am assigned to slay fairies. I know what you’re thinking—how hard could it be, right? Wrong! These menacing beasts with their tiny hipster clothes and mocking sarcasm love taunting me. And they won’t STOP!

But the thing that tops my list of stuff to ruin my day? That would be the GIANT KILLER FAIRY that I have to hunt down and slay because I am the only one who can see it. There is someone who can help me. Unfortunately…it’s Curtis.

It’s going to be a fairy bad day.

What’s the worst writing mistake you ever made that taught you a valuable lesson? After I sold my first book, I started on another one but I didn’t want to send it to my agent until I knew what the story was about (see above notes on my pansting process).

My CP (yes, Sara Hantz you were right) kept telling me that I should run it past my agent first, but I was too worried about it not being right so I kept on writing. So anyway, by the time I got to 50k I finally knew what was happening and sent a two paragraph blurb to my agent about it. It was a no! She just didn’t feel it was right for the market.

That was such a shock, especially since I was desperately trying to establish my new career. It was a big lesson to me on how to work with my agent. Now I send her a blurb before I even start the book to see if she likes the concept or not.

Thankfully that half-written book wasn’t wasted since I totally stole the world building and used it in my upcoming book, FAIRY BAD DAY (which started life as another book entirely but my agent hated the idea and loved the title so we had a little brainstorm and a new book was born!).

So my valuable lesson was that if you’re lucky enough to nab yourself a smart, savvy agent who you trust, then work with them, don’t work against them!!!!

What’s the most unusual book you’ve read that’s made a lasting impression on you? The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula LeGuin is probably the book that has made the biggest impression on me (there were more books in the series but they didn’t have the same effect on me as the first three books did).

What's next for you? What are you working on? I’ve just finished a mid-grade trilogy that should be out sometime in 2012.

It’s about an eleven year old girl who accidentally gets turned into a djinn the day before she starts sixth grade and then has to learn to deal with her new powers, while keeping it a secret from her mom. Oh, and her djinn guide happens to look like Zac Efron’s older brother and is addicted to Cheetos!

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors? In a way, being an unpublished author is the best way to really discover who you are as a writer and what kind of stories you want to tell because there are no expectations on you, so my advice is to enjoy this part and not be so desperately attached to the idea of being published.

My other advice is to really hold onto that belief you have that one day you will sell a book, because that will be the one thing that helps get you though the rejections and the self-doubt.

Oh, and eat chocolate, because that always makes everything more fun!

Amanda, thanks for joining me today!

Amanda's other books:

You Had Me At Halo
Zombie Queen of Newbury High

You can read more about Amanda & her books on her website. She's also on Facebook, Twitter, or you can read about her on her blog.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

INDUSTRY: Sci-Fi & Sci-Fi Romance Blogs

I thought I might share some the web addresses of the blogs I tend to surf if I'm looking specifically for sci-fi romance reviews, news or information.

Some of these are better than others (it's definitely a personal thing).
Happy Surfing!

#Author's Note: By no means is this a comprehensive list - just a list I've collated in my travels on the internet.

Picture from http://fantasyartdesign.com"> Fantasy Art 3D Wallpapers, digital art modern online gallery.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Who's that girl? Interview - Catherine Evans

We have another writer from Oz in the hot seat today!

Name? Catherine Evans (who also writes as Cate Ellink)

Where are you? South coast of NSW, Australia.

How many years have you been a member of RWOz?  3 years.

What genre/s do you write? One part of me writes low-brow literary type stories; the other part writes erotic short stories.

Who are your favourite authors? Iain Pears, Jeffrey Deaver, Leon Uris, Enid Blyton, Isabel Allende, Ed McBain.

What inspired you to write romance? My husband still questions whether I know anything about romance! I fell into romance because RWA gave great feedback on a contest I entered. Most stories have some degree of romance but I'm not necessarily a HEA girl. I like to investigate the human mind and relationships. I also like to push boundaries - not just story but writing style/technique too.

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? My writing style (first person, not high brow literary) means I'm not suited to my dream publisher. I need to have some new dreams!

What's the best thing about going to conference?  Talking about writing with people who "get" it.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My best writing milestone to date is...
I have an erotic short story coming out in an anthology (Gotta Have It: 69 stories of sudden sex) in March. 

Thanks for answering my questions, Catherine!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day - fly the flag proudly!!!

Australia Day - the day when the First Fleet arrived in Australia back in 1788, now a day to celebrate what it means to be an Aussie!

If you want the official historical meaning of the day, check out this link. If you want to see what it means to me, click here.

But this year, I'd like to tell you a bit about the Aussie flag. Our flag was born in 1901, the year of Federation, when Australia no longer called itself a British colony but an independent nation.

Most people might know that Australia was once a British penal colony and part of their Commonwealth so that accounts for the British Union Jack in the corner of the flag. There's also a religious significance to them. The crosses are the first and last letters in the Ancient Hebrew alphabet - Aleph (x) and Tau (+) and when placed on the other the crossed crosses form the Union Jack.

The stars are the Southern Cross, a constellation clearly seen in the southern hemisphere over Australia. The large seven pointed star (known as the Federation Star or Commonwealth Star) is symbolic; its seven points representing the States and Territories in Australia:
  • Western Australia
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
All the stars on the flag have seven points, except for the small one which has five.

The three colours - red, blue & white - hold religious significance as most Commonwealth countries have a Christian heritage. Red signifies the blood covenant fulfilled in Jesus. Blue is the national colour of (Ancient) Israel. White represents the white robes of righteousness given by God to his people.

Here ends your history lesson for today, readers! And if you're an Aussie...

Happy Australia Day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal update

I've just been over on the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal Facebook page and read the good news.

Donations have broken the 1000 books mark - so far a grand total of 1159 books in less than a week!


Thank you to everyone who's donated and a huge hug to all our collection point members and those distributing the books!

Great job.

Sharon Archer give-away winner!

Thank you to everyone who dropped by to share stories about their old books with Sharon and I. There were some fun references!

Thanks also to Sharon for offering to give-away her latest release.

Sharon has drawn the lucky winner. She says: "I'd like to thank everyone for coming to share their treasures and information.

Clare Scott 

has been chosen as the winner. I really enjoyed her snippet about wifely etiquette at the start of the 1900s."

Congratulations, Clare!

Please contact Sharon directly to arrange the details of getting the book to you - sharon(at)sharon-archer(dot)com - and happy reading!

Monday, January 24, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Joss Ware returns!

I had the pleasure of contacting Joss Ware via a "fan girl" email when I discovered The Envy Chronicles, her post-apocalyptic romance series.

That first email eventuated into a guest spot here on my blog back in June 2010. Then in July last year at the RWA® Nationals in Orlando, Florida, I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at the Literacy Signing event.

Hi Joss, welcome back to my blog!

It’s an exciting time for you at the moment as your next book in The Envy Chronicles, NIGHT BETRAYED, hits shelves this week.

Let’s start with an easy question. Who is Joss Ware?
E-book special!
Joss is an uber-sexy, gritty, edgy, in-your-face blonde bombshell with a PhD who consistently puts off Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and Clive Owen--because a gal needs her beauty sleep. But she always has time for Robert Downey, Jr....

Oh, wait. That's just my fantasy. Oops.

Actually, Joss Ware is a pen name for Colleen Gleason, who writes historical vampire novels. Joss writes a series of post-apocalyptic romantic adventures with a paranormal twist.

Sort of like...Walking Dead or LOST meets Suzanne Brockmann. With a bit of paranormal woven in.

Are you a plotter or panster? How do you go about planning a series like The Envy Chronicles?
I am such a pantser. You have no idea. And when I figure out how one goes about planning a series like The Envy Chronicles, I'll let you know. Because each book is just a new adventure for me!

Ahh, a panster and a lady after my own heart! That must make plot arcs a very interesting process for you. So, with that in mind, is it your characters or your plot that influence you most? What's your writing process from start to finish when writing a book?
There are three things that influence me, pretty much equally: character, plot and setting, or world. They all work together to make what is just as much an adventure for me as it is, hopefully, for the reader.

I generally maul a work to pieces as I'm writing it, going back and forth and editing and tweaking and so on as I write. I tend to be unable to go far forward without making changes that I know need to be made. That means, though, that when I'm done with the book and type THE END...I'm pretty much done.

Yay! Wow, we have such a similar process it's scary, Joss.

For those who haven’t yet discovered The Envy Chronicles could you give a brief overview of what this series is about?
The series is set fifty years after a series of apocalyptic, deeply catastrophic events decimate the earth and destroy most of the human population. There are five men who emerge from a cave in Sedona to find out that everything's changed--they don't really know how they "missed" the apocalypse, but they did.

Now they have to find their way, to figure out how to live, in this new world. And each of them emerges from the cave somehow altered (that's where the paranormal aspect comes in).

The world is like the environment in LIFE AFTER PEOPLE, or WALKING DEAD. There's a feel of LOST in the series, as well as HEROES. The guys are edgy and sexy, like a Suzanne Brockmann Troubleshooter. And...there are zombies.

Not to mention lots of hot sex. ;-)

I saw LIFE AFTER PEOPLE before I started reading your series and it was one of the first shows I thought about when I did, only your books were a lot creepier with the ganga's. They give me the heebie-jeebies!!! LOL  
Now, we’re all eagerly awaiting NIGHT BETRAYED. Can you tell us a little bit about Theo’s story?
Book 4
Theo's story was heavily influenced by a book I read that was by a hospice doctor. He wrote about some of his experiences with death and the dying...the things he witnessed and experienced as people moved from a corporal life here on earth into the next plane...whatever it is. It fascinated me, and I decided that I wanted to explore that a bit in one of my books.

I settled on this book because, first of all, at the end of the previous book, Theo has been fatally shot. And secondly, I wanted the heroine of NIGHT BETRAYED to be special in her own right. She, as it turns out, was born during the Change (the apocalyptic events) and she has her own skills and callings...just as Theo does.

What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing this book?
I had a lot of fun with the fact that Theo, who's in reality about 80 years old, but looks 30, is matched up with Selena, who is a very fit, healthy, young-looking 50 year old. When she meets Theo, thinks he's way too young for her. ;-) Plus she's the mother of a teen-aged son. That gave me a lot of things to play with.

I also wanted to explore the lure/legend of the zombies in my world, and in this book the reader learns a lot about those horrible creatures.

Hmm, maybe I'll be reading this book during daylight hours only. AND with all the lights on!
When can we anticipate the next installment in The Envy Chronicles? Can you give any hints about whose story is next in the series?
The next installment in The Envy Chronicles is Fence's story. He's the guy who's always making bad jokes and puns, doesn't seem to have a serious bone in his body....but that couldn't be farther from the truth. It turns out Fence has a deep, dark secret that he's not telling anyone....until he meets a woman who forces him to face it.

NIGHT FORBIDDEN will be out in September!

Woohoo, another book this year! Can't wait!
Joss, it's been fun having you here and I look forward to read NIGHT BETRAYED!
Thanks so much, Kylie! I really appreciate being here. I'm happy to answer any questions from readers or commenters!

Avon romance link for Joss's e-books
To learn more about Joss and this fantastic series, check out her website, and you can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Joss's books in The Envy Chronicles:

Book 1
Book 2
Book 3
Book 4

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Who's that girl? Interview - Jennifer Jakes

We're headed O/S to the USA again! Please welcome another Unsinkable & 2010 Golden Heart® finalist.

Name? Jennifer Jakes.

Where are you? Midwestern, USA.

How many years have you been a member of RWAmerica? 2 years.

What genre do you write? (Erotic) Historical Western Romance.

Who are your favourite authors? Maya Banks, Kimberly Killion, AnnMarie McKenna, Sabrina Jeffries.

What inspired you to write romance? I don't know really. I was just always that little girl thinking "Once upon a time" & "They lived happily ever after".

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? I don't have one.

What's the best thing about going to conference? Meeting old and new friends.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
A sexy hero needs...to be an Alpha male -- preferably an emotionally wounded Alpha.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...Alaska, 1898, during the Yukon (Klondike) gold rush. Nora goes to Alaska to find her brother who has escaped from a mental asylum. My hero  (Garrett) is in Alaska to take his newly widowed sister back home. Out of necessity Garrett and Nora are forced to travel together to the gold fields - and of course their attraction for each other takes over. ;)  But when Garrett's sister is found dead, Nora's brother is the most likely suspect, making Garrett and Nora doubt everything about their new relationship and threatening to rip them apart.
When I write I like to...have complete silence.
My best writing milestone to date is...the sale of my Golden Heart® finalist manuscript, RAFE'S REDEMPTION, to The Wild Rose Press, Scarlet Rose line.

Jennifer, thanks for answering my questions! If you'd like to find out more about her, visit her website.

Monday, January 17, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: First Aid with Sharon Archer

I'm pleased to introduce and welcome a very special guest today - RWOz's own 2010 R*BY winner for the "Short & Sweet" category, Sharon Archer. She's kindly consented to a guest blog, chatting about a fascinating topic - first aid.

As a Community First Responder and first aid trained member of the NSW State Emergency Service, I put my skills into practice most times I go on a call out. So, reading about the forerunner techniques of what's employed today makes for amazing reading!
Take it away, Sharon!

I love old books - especially old medical texts!

On my book shelf, I have two first aid manuals – a silverfish-nibbled 1928 edition and a 1939 one. They are, more precisely, “The Authorised Textbook of the St John Ambulance Association being the Ambulance Department of The Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem” and they’re fascinating reading!

There are clues about the times in the framing of the sentences and the formality of the clothes worn in the drawings to demonstrate different techniques. Even a hint about acceptable mores of the day with the 1928 “Syllabus of Instruction” which comes with the warning, “It is contrary to the Regulations to hold Mixed Classes of men and women.” – an injunction that has disappeared in the 1937 edition.

I turn the slightly yellowed pages and wonder about the original owners. Did they learn their lessons well? Did they apply the techniques successfully? Were they nervous with their newly-learned skills or were they confident, eager to get out and practise the lessons on bandaging and resuscitation? What has changed over the years? What’s stayed the same?

I feel a bit like a sleuth as I comb the pages and give into my greatest temptation – procrastination by research!  So...

Specific Wounds
On page 131 of the 1928 textbook is a heading:
Among other measures, the treatment was
·      Give alcohol, such as brandy (in the case of an adult two tablespoonfuls in a wineglass of water)
Perhaps quite pleasant for the victim though probably not nearly enough preparation for one of the suggestions which followed...
·      If it is quite impossible to obtain the services of a doctor, apply a fluid caustic, such as pure carbolic acid or nitric acid, on a piece of wood, such as a match, cut to a point to ensure the caustic reaching the bottom of the wound.

By 1939, the heading was merely:
Apparently “poisoned weapons” had become less of a threat in the intervening eleven years. The treatment had become more specific for each injury.

For snake bite, “alcohol should be avoided” – though if your patient could swallow you could “give hot drinks such as strong coffee, tea or milk.”

For the bite by a rabid animal, alcohol could still be given in the moderate quantity recommended in the 1928 edition and again the fluid caustic was suggested if a doctor wasn’t available.  But now with added instructions – to prove effective every tooth mark must be probed and cauterised separately, as only by so doing can the virus be destroyed.
I can only imagine the desperation of the aid-giver and patient to try to avert this awful disease with its shocking mortality rate.

I was fascinated by a note near the beginning of both books in the Principles of First Aid... some first aiders must have been enthusiastic with application of medicinal alcohol because there’s this caution:
Stimulants. It is incorrect to suppose that alcohol is the only form of stimulant. Far too frequent use of spirits is made to restore a patient after an accident, often with serious results. The administration of alcohol must therefore be withheld until ordered by the doctor.

Hysterical Fits
The introduction to this section on page 167 of the 1928 edition says: “the patient, usually a young girl, in consequence of mental excitement suddenly loses command of her feelings and actions.”
In the section for Special Treatment we’re advised -
1. - Avoid sympathy with the patient, and speak firmly to her.
2. - Threaten her with a cold water douche, and if she persists in her "fit", sprinkle her with cold water.
3. - Apply a mustard leaf at the back of the neck.

(As far as I’ve been able to determine, the “mustard leaf” would have been a “ready-made mustard plaster”. Mustard plasters needed to be used with care least they cause painful blistering of the skin.)

Artificial Respiration
These days, we all have at least a passing familiarity with the mouth-to-mouth method of artificial respiration but that technique didn’t come into vogue until the middle of the twentieth century.

The 1928 and 1939 first aid manuals give both the Schafer and Silvester methods.

In the 1939 edition, we learn that the revising committee has “discussed with the Royal Life Saving Society the subject of artificial respiration and are in agreement with that Society that no method is so effective as Schafer’s”

In the appendices at the back of the 1939 edition, there is additional information for the more advanced first aider. The introduction says “They will be of special value to members of the Technical Reserves for the medical Services of the Forces of the Crown”.

The first - APPENDIX 1 – states:
"Carbon-dioxide is recognised as a powerful stimulant to respiration and where available should be applied at the earliest possible moment to the mouth and nose, preferably through a mask. The gas is applied for three minutes and left off for three minutes until respiration begins. It may be used with air alone or in conjunction with oxygen, according to the apparatus available. It must be realised that the gas can be drawn into the lungs only while artificial respiration is being performed.”

Well, I had to research further, didn’t I?  From the abstract of a 1994 article in the medical journal, Anaesthesia, I learned that “the use of carbon dioxide in resuscitation was advocated in the 1920s and 1930s” And to administer? You could use the portable Sparklet Carbon Dioxide Resuscitator.

As I read these techniques, I can’t help but be glad for the advances in medical knowledge.  Though on the heels of that thought, I wonder how today’s first aid manuals will be viewed in another fifty or a hundred years. What clever techniques will the first aiders of the future take for granted?

For first aid advice, including information on the current manual, visit the St John Ambulance websites.  You can even get first aid advice as an iPhone app!
In the UK - www.sja.org.uk
In Australia - www.stjohn.org.au
In New Zealand - www.stjohn.org.nz

So with these book treasures in my possession, I’m ready to pounce as soon as there’s a Medical Historical Romance sub-genre!

In the meantime, I’d love to give away a copy of my last release to one of the commenters. So tell me, do you have any older books on your shelf? Perhaps a passion for a particular area of history?

A give-away, folks! Thanks, Sharon.

Sharon Archer
Don't miss out on this opportunity. You have a week to enter - the draw for Sharon's latest release will close midnight, Jan. 24th 2011.

The winner will be announced on Monday, Jan.25th 2011. (open to local & international visitors)

If you'd like to find out more about Sharon, please visit her website. You can read her bio here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Helene Young - After the Clean Up

I've just been over at Helene Young's blog reading her latest post, After The Clean Up.

She lives in far north Queensland and these recent floods have brought back a precious childhood memory of the Brisbane floods of 1974.

What was her wonderfully touching memory? Guess you'll just have to head on over and find out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal addendum

There have been questions raised about the prohibitive costs of sending book donations nationally as well as to Australia from overseas.

The RWA executive committee have put together a brief Q&A to answer questions that have been raised about this issue. I've placed it at the bottom of the article as an addendum on the Flooding In Australia post. Please see it for details.

Thank you again for the wonderful support and offers to donate books and in kind.

INDUSTRY: Paranormal Romance Blogs

Paranormal romance blogs are certainly a dime a dozen on the internet (very popular it seems) and some are really great value.

For the purposes of this post "paranormal" covers paranormal romance, urban fantasy & fantasy romance genres.
Find your favourite!

Picture from http://fantasyartdesign.com"> Fantasy Art 3D Wallpapers, digital art modern online gallery.

Friday, January 14, 2011

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal

The Romance Writers of Australia committee has started a drive for book donations. They're calling it the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal.

If you're one of my regular readers and would like to link this post to your blog or preferred social network, then feel free to do so. Pass it on to anywhere you think it might be useful.

The more people who know, the more books that can be sent to those who need them. RWA has said they'll take donations from anywhere, so long as people are willing to send the books.

If you read this information and feel moved to help, thank you in advance and with heartfelt appreciation.

Many thanks,


As some of you may already know, a team from the RWA commitee has started a drive for book donations...

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal

We've all seen the devastation the recent Queensland floods have wrought and have wondered how we can help. We know that for many affected families, books will not be high on their priorities list for some time to come.

But...we also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough.

So…with the aid of some wonderful volunteers, we've put together a Romance Writers of Australia Flooded Communities Book Appeal.

What we need?
FICTION BOOKS! Romance books, children's books, young adult books, genre books, whatever – either new or in sparkling condition.

Please send them to:

RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal
PO Box 1717
Noosaville Post Office
Noosaville BC
Queensland 4566 

When to send them?
Now! And any time over the next few months. The books will be boxed and delivered to the appropriate libraries/schools/neighbourhood centres/community centres in batches as soon as the communities are ready to receive them. We'll be liaising with councils, libraries and schools to ensure this is done appropriately. Feel free to pop a note inside, or if you're an author, sign it.

If you have a question about donations, email Jess Anastasi: Jess(at)jessanastasi(dot)com

If you work in a library / council / community centre / school in a flood affected area (in Australia), email Rachel Bailey: rachel(at)rachelbailey(dot)com(dot)au

Thanks for your cooperation and support!

Jess Anastasi
RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal Team

RWA will not be accepting cash donations for the RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal. Instead, we 
direct everyone to the charities already in place: the Premier's Flood Appeal, or the RSPCA Queensland.

Q. I’m overseas and would like to donate but the cost of sending books is very 
If you are an author, send one copy of a book. This will keep your individual 
costs down, but will also contribute to our book appeal.
 Alternatively, consider buying a book from The Book Depository, which offers 
free postage to Australia. The book can be sent directly to the appeal.

Cash donations can be made to the charities listed above.

Q. I’m in Australia and have many books to donate. What is the cheapest postage 

Australia Post offers a 3kg satchel anywhere in Australia for approximately 
$10. Please ensure the books are wrapped in bubble wrap to miminise damage in 

Instead of boxing books, you'd fit (if you could manage it) about 5-6 trade paperbacks, 17 paperbacks or 32 category books in a red, prepaid 3k satchel from Australia Post. So for $10 it's pretty cheap. If you put books in satchels, it would be nice if they bubble or cardboard wrapped them first, particularly if the satchel is still a bit empty. The books can tend to move around. There's also the 500g satchel that is $4-5 and fits a couple of books.

Band together with friends, your family, your writing group and send books 
together to minimise postage costs.

Q. I’m in Brisbane. Can the books be dropped off?

We have a drop-off point in Carindale available. Please contact Jess Anastasia 
- Jess@jessanastasi.com for further information.

If any other RWA member in Qld can offer a drop off point, please contact Rachel 
Bailey: rachel@rachelbailey.com.au

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aussie Humour

There's no doubt about it, the Aussie larrikin sense of humour is alive and well despite the devastating floods afflicting our country at the moment.

After so many sad and disheartening moments in the last few weeks, I found this shot on one of the news websites.

King Wally lives on - thanks to some floaties, a snorkel and goggles!
The photo is a statue of Wally Lewis, Queensland rugby league football legend and icon, holding aloft the State of Origin shield. It's placed outside Suncorp Stadium in the state's capital city of Brisbane. The stadium was flooded but it seems King Wally survived, thanks to some generous soul.

Thank you for the laugh.

Who's that girl? Interview - Elisabeth Burke

Today, we're headed north and across the Pacific, folks! I'd like to welcome another fellow Unsinkable & 2010 Golden Heart® finalist to my blog.

Name? Leigh Stites, writing as Elisabeth Burke.

Where are you? Kansas City.

How many years have you been a member of RWAmerica? Three years.

What genre/s do you write? Historical fiction/historical romance.

Who are your favourite authors?
From childhood on: Mark Twain.
Two all time favorites for wholly different reasons: Anne LaMott and Stephen King.
General fiction:  Stephen Fraser, COLD MOUNTAIN, and Diana Gabaldon, OUTLANDER.  I never get tired of reading and rereading those books.
Historical fiction: a couple favorites are David McCullough and Jeff Shaara.
Romance: mainstays on my bookshelf are Susan Wiggs, Amanda Quick, Lisa Kleypas, Madeline Hunter, Lynn Kurland, Julie Garwood, Jill Marie Landis, Christina Dodd.  

What inspired you to write romance? I'm a history geek and a sucker for a good love story, so that's what I write.

Who's your dream agent?  A dream agent is kind of like a dream spouse. The one you never thought about ends up surprising the heck of you when he turns out to be Mr. Right. That said, my dream agent is someone who believes in me and is passionate about selling my stories, while at the same time has the professional contacts and business acumen needed to successfully negotiate the murky world of publishing. 

What's the best thing about going to conference? The people and the energy. I love meeting and getting to know other authors, agents and editors, spending time with people who are as passionate about books as I am.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
I write. All the time. Even when I don't feel like it.
A sexy hero needs...some weakness that makes him more human, more lovable.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...THE PRODIGAL is a story about betrayal, loss and the power of forgiveness. It's set against the backdrop of a historic railroad race in nineteenth century Kansas and follows the journey of a former Quantrill raider who sets out to salvage his honor but comes face-to-face with the bitter mistakes of his past when he falls for a wealthy widow he must deceive to keep her railroad from ruining his family.
When I write I like to...hole up without distractions and lose myself in the story.
My best writing milestone to date is...being a finalist in last year's Golden Heart®.

Thanks for answering my questions, Elisabeth! To find out more about her, visit her website, Facebook page or blog.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flooding in Australia

My heart aches every time I hear an update about the devastating floods in Australia at the moment.

SES volunteers
As a member of the volunteer NSW State Emergency Service, I've seen the damage and devastation storms and floods can reek on homes and communities. Losing a home or worse, a loved one, in a tragedy such as a flood, flash flood or drowning affects me the most. Sure, the physical cost of a disaster is staggering but it's the human cost that lives on in memory for years to come.

This morning I read 75% of the state of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone. The Northern Territory, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have all been hit by flooding in the last few weeks or are in flood now. Entire towns, villages and communities have been isolated, inundated or are experiencing the worst floods in 50 (and in some cases 100) years.

The only states not flood declared are Tasmania (although they're on flood alert with heavy deluges expected today) and Western Australia (they're in drought and are suffering bushfires!).

The flooding in Queensland alone has affected over 20 cities and towns and 200,000 people, and 38 local council regions have been declared disaster zones.*

The cost to the national economy so far is estimated at $6 billion, with agriculture and mining at the top of that list, and this value will rise as the clean-up and long term affects on communities are counted.*

For anyone reading this from overseas, I've included a couple of maps to give you an idea of the scale of the flooding. There's one with the USA superimposed over Australia and another with Europe.

There's also a map of Australia (various colours) that show the rainfall we've had. Using that as an estimate, look at the light green, green, light blue, dark blue and purple areas on it and you can pretty much say that's all land affected by flooding. Now compare that land mass to your superimposed images of the USA or Europe. Staggering, isn't it?

The news can be a double edged sword - you see or read the good, bad and ugly of the disaster. The generosity of people helping out (not just those in paid jobs), the homes and livelihoods lost, the toll on whole communities (and this case the whole country), the deaths, and the lower-than-scum looters.

Rainfall Percentages chart from the Bureau of Meteorology

But the most heartening aspect, and something I hold onto each day when I switch on the TV to watch the news? The way Aussies pull together to support each other.

Volunteer and government services are working around the clock to provide rescue, evacuation, essential supply drops or emergency accommodation. People are opening their homes to evacuees or people stranded because they can't get home.

Volunteers assisting with storm damage
And we can't forget the Flood Relief Appeal. While people may not be able to help physically, many have contributed financially.

To date, nearly $33 million has been raised. And this doesn't count the aid (eg.emergency service manpower) we've been offered from overseas countries like New Zealand and the USA.

When times get tough the outpouring of support and help is overwhelming and certainly brings a tear to your eye.

To anyone who has helped in any way - donations, physical support, prayers, volunteering...thank you, thank you, thank you!

My Country
(by Dorothea McKellar)
(partial poem, verses selected)

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Trained SES floodboat volunteers

* Figures, maps & some images from the internet article titled Queensland Floods, and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology site.
* SES photos from a variety of sources such as the NSW SES website (home site & individual units - Gundagai & Warringah) & The Australian newspaper.
* Poem by Dorothea McKellar taken from a website dedicated to the Australian poet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Barbara Binns

Today, my guest author is fellow Unsinkable, 2010 Golden Heart® finalist, Barbara Binns. Welcome to my blog!

Tell us, who is B.A.Binns?
B. A. Binns, that's the name I use for my YA novels, although my plans are to distinguish my adult novels (when I finally launch them) by using my given name. Since I'm concentrating on one genre at a time, B. A. works for now.

From what part of America do you hail?
I'm a Chicago area girl, born and raised. I went away to college at UW Madison and Michigan State in E. Lansing, then lived and for a brief time in Virginia and Washington D. C. before returning.  Of course, every year this time I wonder why I'm not in Florida or southern California.

How many years have you been a member of the Romance Writers of America®?
I joined RWA in 2007. And now I'm a member of several chapters, including Chicago North, WisRWA, YA RWA, The Golden Network and Rose City Romance Writers.  I am also pleased to be part of the Unsinkables, the 2010 Golden Heart® finalists.  (As you can tell, I'm a joiner)

What genre/s do you write?
YA Romance and Romantic Suspense.

Who are your favorite authors?
The problem with a question like this is I inevitably miss someone I absolutely adore. Lisa Kleypas, Sharon Draper, Tanita Davis, Simone Elkeles, Anne Golon, and the list goes on.

What inspired you to write romance?
I liked reading romance, and stories about people falling in love kept going through my head. There was this one about a former prostitute and a killer that wouldn't leave me, and while I know that's not the usual romance couple I couldn't shake them so I ended up writing them. That became my 2010 Golden Heart® finalist novel, and whether it ever finds a place on the bookshelves or not, I know it's one of the best things I've ever written.

I got into writing YA because I began reading YA, and the stories are compelling, vibrant, risk-taking, and keep pulling me back. Today's YA is so much more than what it was when I was young, and publishers are willing to take risks with subjects that are edgy, different and sometimes pretty much verboten in adult books. I write YA because the edginess appeals to me, and I have the opportunity to hear from young readers about how my words reflect and sometimes impact their lives. I love those emails.

I guess I write romance and YA for the same reasons I read them, they give hope. And youth is both a stressful time and the time in life when people feel the most passion about things. All that makes for enjoyable writing.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book, PULL, and its characters?
PULL is a YA romance between two high school students, David and Yolanda. Each has suffered loss and each has developed the kind of strength the other one needs. It’s also a coming of age story where both of them have to make choices that will forever alter their futures.

In the beginning David believes his only goal is to fulfill his dead mother’s last wishes because he feels guilty about not saving her life.  But there’s a deeper truth he hides even from himself--the fear that he is just like his father, the man who murdered the woman he supposedly loved. The stresses that descend on David as he struggles to protect his sisters and deal with his guilt only increases a natural feeling of resentment that leaves him fearing he should abandon his sisters to protect them from himself.

Everything is seen and experienced from David’s point of view and I hope male readers will see something of themselves in him. I hope girls will see the potential in him and in the young men in their lives and see Yolanda as a role model whenever they start feeling they are nothing without a guy.

One last PS - In English classes I used to hate when teachers talked about THEME. Now I realize I have a deep theme of my own. I write about relationships and people being more than just the sum of their parts.  PULL's t heme is our relationship with our parents, and whether we owe them a debt that includes giving up our own dreams for them.

You can check out Barbara's trailer for PULL here.
And here's the blurb:
Seventeen-year-old David can’t escape from a past that includes his mother’s murder at the hands of his father. When he departs the elite Grogan Hills Academy and enters a new school on Chicago’s south side, he’s prepared to give up sports, friends, and his desire for independence to care for his orphaned sisters.

His quest for anonymity is shattered when he’s obliged to rescue one sister from an attack by members of the school’s elite pack led by Yolanda, “The Dare,” the acknowledged school slut. David is prepared for the school psychologist’s attempt to force him out of the shell he’s drawn around himself. But he’s not prepared for the way guilt makes him lash out at the people he loves, forcing him to confront the fear that he’ll follow in his father’s destructive footsteps. Nor is he prepared for his growing attraction to Yolanda, a girl hiding a secret shame more destructive than his own. 

Do you have a dream agent and/or dream publisher?
My dream agent happens to be MY agent, Andrea Somberg from the Harvey Klinger, Inc. agency. Not just because she loved PULL, and I don't use the word love lightly, but because of the way she worked overtime to find my publisher, WestSide Books, all in a matter of months from the time she first read the manuscript. You can't beat that enthusiasm. And she gives great career advice too.

Dream publisher, again, right now I have to go with my publisher. How could WestSide not be my dream when they believe enough to put my guy's face on the cover of the hardback book they worked overtime to get published in under a year?  I do not write aiming at a specific publishing house. I wrote my story and then went out looking for people who shared that love and were willing to publish my vision. Not that WestSide Books didn't edit things carefully, and I spent many nights working on their changes, but they loved the overall vision.  I won't think about the so-called dream publisher until after my books are finished because I write the books of my heart. Hopefully I'll be able to stay with people who are of like minds.

What's the best thing about going to conference?
All the different people I get to meet. My first conference I tried to attend every possible session and just wore myself out. Now I go for the purpose of meeting people. Anything else is gravy.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
that I know how to pull a story apart and revise and edit it nearly to death before resurrecting a phoenix that's all the better for that near-death experience. I'm really not a great writer, my first drafts make me cringe. But I'm a darn good fixer, so once my page is no longer blank I roll up my sleeves and figure out how to fix those darn scenes, make the pace zing and whip the characters into shape.
A sexy hero needs...to really care about other people. Not just the woman he's falling for, but other people as well, and be willing to reach outside his comfort zone to help them. That's how the heroine knows he will always be there for her. My hero in PULL even tries to help people he doesn't like.  And, as one of PULL's reader said, "you can tell a guy's a keeper by the way he treats his mother and sisters." That's as important a part of being a hero as a six-pack (which he has) and good looks (which he also has in abundance). I made my David to be a keeper, and frankly, I'm jealous of his girlfriend.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...this really sexy con-man (ex con man, he wants to go straight in spite of the urges he still feels when he sees an easy mark), and a very brash high school psychologist who can't believe she's even attracted to a guy like him when the wealthy scion of a business magnate - and her brother's business partner - wants to marry her. Then her brother's secretary turns up dead and all signs point to our con man. But she can't make herself believe he's guilty, not even when someone begins stalking her.
When I write I like to...relax in bed and let the thoughts flow. I'm a late-night writer, so a good cup of hot chocolate and good music is what I need to get words pumping.
My best writing milestone to date is...having one of my novels final in the 2010 Golden Heart® contest.  Really it was gathering up the guts to send my manuscript into the Golden Heart® last year. That was a huge act for me, because I didn't believe anyone but its mother would ever love it.

For anyone wanting to know more about Barbara, she'd love to hear from you. You can find her contact details on her website, her Facebook page, and you can follow her on Twitter (barbarabinns).

Barbara, thank you so much for visiting today. It's been a pleasure having you here!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Top Picks for 2010

Top 10 Books I Read in 2010...(in no particular order)
RAPTURE - Jacqueline Frank

*Interesting to note all but one of these are new authors for me.

Top 10 Guest Authors on my blog in 2010...(based on stats & in no particular order)
Helene Young
Helene Young (Australian romantic suspense)
Joss Ware (apocalyptic paranormal romance)
Christina Phillips (ancient historical romance)
Tracey O'Hara (dark urban fantasy)
Erica Hayes (urban fantasy) x 2
Mel Teshco (erotic paranormal romance)
Cathryn Brunet (erotic contemporary/paranormal romance)
Maree Anderson (erotic paranormal romance)
Nalini Singh (paranormal romance)

Top 10 Personal Milestones in 2010...(in no particular order)
Publishing with Berkley (& working with my editor Leis Pederson)
Finding my super/wonderful/amazing agent - Elaine Spencer at The Knight Agency
RWA Golden Heart®
Winning an RWA Golden Heart® (paranormal romance section)
Meeting many of the 2010 GH "Unsinkables" in Orlando, Florida
Winning the WHRWA Emily contest & "The Best of the Best" (which led to Leis Pederson requesting my work!)
Placing in 6 of the 8 RWA® contests I entered
Attending the trifecta of romance writers' conferences in USA, Australia & New Zealand
Pitching at all three conferences
Fulfilling my writing goals for 2010
Growing my blog

Top 10 Popular Posts of 2010...(based on stats & in no particular order)
Winter Rose Finalist
Guest Author: Christina Phillips
Guest Author: Helene Young
Guest Author: Nalini Singh
Guest Author: Tracy O'Hara
Poison Kissed: Erica Hayes
Agents, Editors & Book Deals...oh my!
Guest Author: Mel Teshco
Rotorua, NZ
Have You Read A Good Sci-Fi Romance Lately?

Winner of .38 Caliber Cover-Up give-away

Many thanks, Angi, for generously donating an electronic ARC of .38 CALIBER COVER-UP.

I've thrown everyone's name into a my coffee cup (if you answered Angi's question) and drawn a winner.

The copy of .38 CALIBER COVER-UP goes to:

Janni Nell

Congraulations, Janni!

If you could get in touch with me - kyliegriffin (at) clearmail (dot) com (dot) au - I'll put you in contact with Angi.