Shades of Romance Author Event Wrap Up

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend an amazing romance-themed author event at my local library, where they featured not one, not two, but SIX of Australia’s best-selling romance authors.

Anyone who follows me on social media, would have seen how excited I was for this event as not only was the library showcasing some of the amazing local authors we have Jaye Ford/Jannette Paul (Amber In Alice), Michelle Douglas (Sarah and The Sheikh’s Baby), Annie West (His Majesty’s Temporary Bride) and Kaz Delaney (The Reluctant Jillaroo) – but joining them were rural romance superstars Karly Lane (Six Ways To Sunday) and Fiona McArthur (The Baby Doctor). To say I fangirled over these authors and the event as a whole, would be a sad understatement indeed.

    

My fangirling (and the fool I made of myself) over Karly Lane aside, the library hosted a truly amazing and unique event with these six authors. They split the authors into two even panels and they focused on each author’s individual style, message and romance perspective. Both panels took an in-depth look into what draws readers to romance books and the genre’s statistics, the misrepresentation of romance in the media and by the public, the various categories of romance and the personalities it features and how the Australian voice has captured and showcased a unique (and exotic) view worldwide. It was really refreshing to get such a wide, but in-depth, look into the world of romance and to see the authors themselves bust some of societies biggest misconceptions and myths was both a laugh and mind-blowing alarming at the same time.

Annie West and Michelle Douglas listening intently to Kaz Delaney (just out of frame)

The first panel of the day was hosted by Kaz Delaney and featured two hybrid Harlequin Mills & Boon authors Annie West and Michelle Douglas. All three of these ladies spoke passionately about romance and the need to stand up loud and proud for a genre that is often misunderstood and misrepresented in mainstream media and society. They rebuked many of the myths surrounding romance writers (and writers in general) and illustrated the power that the romance genre has to not only uplift society and women’s roles in it, but also the academia surrounding it and some mind-boggling stats about romance writing.

For example, one-fifth of the book sales worldwide are romance books, and it’s the second highest selling genre behind thrillers. Michelle Douglas, a PhD student at the University of Newcastle and a multi-published Harlequin Mills & Boon author, came armed with a truckload of astounding statistics – Harlequin sell on average THREE books PER SECOND worldwide! And yet it’s looked down on and degraded because it’s simply ‘romance’. 84% of romance readers in America are women, meaning a whopping 16% of readers are men! (There goes the myth that only women read romance!). What’s more, the average age bracket of readers is women aged 30 – 44 years of age, but there are significant outliers on each side of this bracket suggesting that readers of all ages not only connect but enjoy romance books regularly.

Another thing I loved about this panel was the way they looked at what it was exactly that drew so many people into romance books in the first place. Michelle Douglas argued that it is was because romance ‘was driven by emotions and it feeds the need to be loved, not only romantically, but through one’s family and friends as well’. Annie West added to this, throwing her support to the ‘innate need to belong, to have that [one] person to care for you’ and that it was all about the ’emotional journey’. Lastly, all three authors agreed wholeheartedly that a big part of the romance genre’s success and timelessness was due to the way it constantly evolved with the times, and simply because it was more often than not, a “conversation between women, about women in a world that was ideally set up for men.’

After a short morning tea break, the second panel took centre stage. This panel was led by Jannette Paul (aka Jaye Ford) as she spoke with Karly Lane and Fiona McArthur on their books, writing habits and what it was about small towns/rural settings and the Australian romances that both appealed to readers here in Australia and all around the world.

Jaye Ford/Jannette Paul, Karly Lane and Fiona McArthur

I haven’t heard Karly Lane or Fiona McArthur speak before at the author event, and I was fascinated by how in-depth the three authors looked at their work, the genre and the Australian market and it’s influence around the world.

While the Australian market might not be as mighty as that of its American counterpart, one thing stands out strongly with its romance novels, and that’s the distinct voice and setting that has captured hearts all around the world. While the setting can be changed, all three authors argued that it’s the heart and soul of the everyday heroes and the community that make these books what they are. Heroes, and heroic gestures, I should add that Karly Lane argued were not necessary grand, sweeping gestures and reminded us that “little things can still be heroic’.

When asked if they actively chose to set their books in Australia, rather than say America for the much bigger American market, Fiona McArthur admitted she was “happy to write about Australia for Australian readers’ as the country has “so much to offer and such a plethora to write about”. When it came to choosing her Australian heroes, the choice was obvious due to the “iconic Australian [personalities that one meets in small towns] who stick with you and [are easy to] relate to.”

Jaye Ford/Jannette Paul, Karly Lane and Fiona McArthur

Karly Lane, on the other hand, has dabbled in various settings having self-published a variety of sci-fi/fantasy writing and she kind of “fell into writing Australian books by accident” after a failed attempt at writing for Mills & Boon early in her career. Karly Lane argued that ‘rural Australia needs it’s own voice sometimes, and it’s good to the get [their issues] out there … to showcase some of the problems” and educate people from the cities about just how different living in small communities can be sometimes. A point thatFiona McArthur wholeheartedly agreed with, and whose work does just that showcasing the limitations on the medical facilities and the sometimes unexpected and harsh realities of rural life.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the morning spent listening to all six authors and it was really refreshing and unique to be able to listen to authors from all walks of life talk about what their writing has in common and what sets them apart not only within the genre but within Australia as well.

Karly Lane and myself. Words cannot express how excited I was to meet her!

I want to thank all six authors and the library for organising this event and making it so much fun.

Lastly, I wish to encourage all of you who attend library talks to fill out the feedback forms and suggest the authors you would personally love to meet. I’ve been filling out mine steadily for the past five years or so and consistently requesting Karly Lane and the library made it happen! So request who you want to meet and you never know what might happen!

Let’s Talk Books With Sara Garrett, Avid Romance Reader

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This week’s superstar is none other than Sara Garrett, an avid romance reader who I met last year at Kell’s Bookmark Clique Readers Retreat in the beautiful Hunter Valley. If you ever want to know something about a book, or are looking for your next read, Sara is your go to girl.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Fearless by Nicole Edwards

What’s the last book you bought?

Don’t Speak by Katy Regnery

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

I prefer reading electronically, just for the sake of convenience.

If I was to walk into your house right now, what would you bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

A mess! Haha. I have one small bookshelf that is overflowing with books. I’m in desperate need of another one. I started with the best of intentions of keeping it organised. The top shelf was meant to be for my unsigned books, the middle shelf was going to be for my signed pretties and the bottom shelf was going to be for miscellaneous books. Well that failed. My signed pretties have taken over and are all over the place. Haha.

Like I said it’s all a mess!

How often do you read?

Every day and as often as I can.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

I love to have a balance of sweet and sexy. I love alphas who are romantic but still tough. My alpha would need to be in some type of uniform (police, firefighter, camo, etc.) and the heroine would need to be someone who has some back bone to her. I don’t like weak heroines. I like them to be tough but still have some softness to them.

How do you choose what to read next?

It depends. If I don’t have an ARC to read, then I typically go in the order I bought them. If I have an ARC due to arrive and it’s part of a series, I’ll go through and either read the books leading up to it or re-read the last one.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

I’ll typically finish it and give it a shot. Very rarely have I given up on a book and didn’t finish it.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey. I absolutely adored this book and found myself laughing out loud in parts.

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I love reading because I can block out the rest of the world and escape into the world with the characters. I get to escape my problems and any drama and just get sucked into reading what the authors have created. I also find it extremely relaxing.

What book are you most looking forward to reading next?

I can’t wait to read a new book I discovered at the recent Books by the Bridge author event in Sydney – Inarticulate by Eden Summers.

Let’s Talk Books With Sarah Barrie, Author Of The Promise Of Hunters Ridge

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Today I’m excited to host this week’s superstar guest, Aussie romantic-suspense author Sarah Barrie! With her third book in the Hunters Ridge seriesPromise Of Hunters Ridge -, having been released earlier this week, Sarah Barrie has been making big waves in the book community. It seems almost everyone I speak to lately has either read one of her books, or has the paperbacks sitting on their bedside table ready for them to read it next!

Sarah Barrie lives with her husband and children in a rural area on the Central
Coast of NSW. She divides her time between writing, being a mum and her position
as editor of an Australian equestrian magazine. When she finds a spare moment or two, she enjoys spending time with her Arabian horses and the various other  animals that call the farm home. Though her writing career has traditionally  revolved around producing articles for various publications, her true passion  lies in fiction and she enjoys writing contemporary romance, romantic suspense  and paranormal romance.   

What are you currently reading?

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

What was the last book you bought?

The one I’m currently reading.

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

I’ve always preferred to hold a print copy in my hand, however electronic can be really handy too – especially when travelling.

What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

Ah… crammed. I’d like to say I have a system – I do have a system, but my bookshelves struggle under the weight of way too many novels and once I can’t fit any more in, they just kind of get shoved in any available space.

How often do you read?

Every day when time permits.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

A bit of everything! Fun, action, suspense, humour, romance and of course, a happy ending.

How do you choose what to read next?

I tend to choose something based on my mood or my own work in progress. Sometimes I want to relax with a lovely romance and other times I want to scare myself silly with a thriller. If I’m feeling a bit more like the romance but have to attack a suspense plot in my WIP, I might pick up a romantic suspense novel to get me head in the right space.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

I try to give any book a decent chance to grab my attention, but there is so much to read, and so much to write that realistically, if I’m not hooked in the first three chapters, it’s going to be forgotten.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

There’s a rather extensive list. I have loads of books that are falling apart from use, and when they look like giving up, I buy them on Kindle.

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I love that an author can paint such a vivid picture of a story, yet there’s still room for a reader to interpret the words in the way that they want to envisage them.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing style. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?

I’m a plonster. Yeah, I know it’s not a term as such but it’s the best way to describe what I do. I plot, then I wing it, get completely off course, then somehow generally manage to bring myself back into line, only to veer off again. The beginning is as I plot it, the end is generally pretty close, and what happens in the middle is anyone’s guess.

I haven’t written anything in first person yet, but it’s something I’ve considered.

I find the mornings easiest when writing, and edit at any time of day.

Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?

More a genre of books. I loved romantic suspense. Especially those by Nora Roberts.

Do you have any advice to other writers out there?

You just have to be brave and write what you love. And keep at it.

And lastly, what are you currently working on?

I’m working on a spin-off novel from my Hunters Ridge series. It’s another Romantic Suspense.

Ohh! I look forward to reading that when it’s released.

To learn more about Sarah Barrie, visit the following social media sites:

Sarah Barrie’s Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Harlequin Australia |

By the time this is all over, she’ll know what it’s like to kill, or what it’s like to die.

Mia Morgan doesn’t let anything get to her. After freeing herself from an obsessive boss and saving loved ones from a serial killer, she feels like she can handle anything life throws at her. But now that killer – a deranged hunter who preys on women for sport – is coming for her. And if she runs, others will pay the price. As if that’s not enough, Ben Bowden, the brilliant detective who has made her life hell for the past four years, has some insane plan to protect her. If she collaborates with him, Mia might just have to acknowledge her true feelings. But if she keeps him out, will she let the hunter win?

Ben Bowden is sick of finding dead bodies. If being the lead detective on the biggest case in the country didn’t come with enough pressure, now the psychopath Ben is chasing has Mia Morgan in his sights. And Mia doesn’t want his help. She hasn’t forgiven him for the past, and is being less than cooperative with his investigation. Protecting her is a challenge, and the sparks that fly whenever they’re together aren’t helping. But he has to make her trust him – somehow – because she has a plan that terrifies him to the bone.

Can he convince her to work with him? Or will she risk everything to single-handedly turn the hunter into the hunted?

To purchase a copy of The Promise of Hunters Ridge, visit the following online retailers:

Harlequin Australia | Escape Publishing | Booktopia | Angus & Robertson’s Bookworld | Dymocks |

 

Let’s Talk Books With Polly McGee, Author Of Dogs Of India

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Welcome to this week’s edition of Let’s Talk Books! Today’s guest is none other than Dr. Polly McGee, the author of Dogs of India.

 

Dr Polly McGee is one part writer, and many parts assorted thinker, dharma do-er, mind explorer and dog wrangler. She has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multi-million dollar innovation grants programs, worked with hundreds of start-ups to refine their business ideas and source funding, and championed causes from a variety of soapboxes, lecterns and stages.

Gender studies and women’s rights locally and globally feature strongly in her academic work, as does the expression of identity through story and narrative. She is a passionate believer in philanthropy and the power of giving, and strongly advocates wealth and skills distribution as part of a bhakti business model. Polly is a bowerbird for technology and innovation and co-founder founder of entrepreneur support organisation Start-up Tasmania. She loves crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and has been known to crowdsurf like no one is watching.

Polly emphatically believes that the answer to most of life’s question can be solved with meditation, yoga and patting retired greyhounds, in no particular order.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Bodhisattva Attitude: How To Dedicate Your Life to Others by Lama Zope Rinpoche and listening to Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Audible.

  

What was the last book you bought?

How To Practice Dharma: Teachings on the Eight Worldly Dharmas by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

I’m pretty much exclusively ebooks and audible, I love being able to have a massive stack of books in a little device so no matter where I am, my books are with me.

What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

My bookshelves are electronic so they are lined up in order of purchase. Where I do have actual books, I do love a colour coded spine and also by shape and size.

How often do you read?

Every day. As you can tell from my current reading list, i’m doing a lot of Buddhist studies ahead of a month in retreat at Kopan Monastry in Nepal in November. I rarely read fiction, and have a deep love of learning so I read non fiction pretty exclusively and read every night for an hour or two before I go to sleep.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

A narrative that captures me and keeps me enthralled until the end. I want the story to linger in my mind, and pop up unexpectedly as I keep processing the ideas and learning new things. I want characters that are full of flaws and bursting with potential for redemption, and I want to love the people, place and words long after I’ve finished.

How do you choose what to read next?

I kind of follow my nose, and its usually related to what I’m studying and/or working on next. I’ve been in a sanskrit/yogic/buddhist rabbit hole for about 2 years now, and its showing no signs of light yet!

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

Discard it. I give it a good go, but if its not for me, there is plenty of other books to be getting on with.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

Gosh, that’s a hard one. The book that I think of that was one of the most memorable reading experiences was having my mum read me Watership Down as a child. I remember the characters and the emotion of that book so strongly, and so it would be to relive that discovery of the world of animals and their communities.

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I love learning, and books are a gateway to knowledge. I also love language and character and narrative, and books give me all these things. The exquisite joy of coming across a beautifully written sentence or description is my favorite part of reading. Like truffle hunting with words and ideas.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing style: are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?

As I originally came to writing novels from a screenwriting tradition I was a total plotter. Australian writer Danielle Wood taught me to simply write and let the story come out, and that was completely freeing for my writing. I wouldn’t describe it as pantser in that I am systematic in what I want to produce, so I will know where my story starts and where I think it will end, who are the characters and what I am wanting to say in a macro sense. Then I sit down and let the story flow, and I am always surprised where the characters and narrative takes me. I write early in the morning, and work to getting a minimum word count done, and in the afternoon I research or take naps or get creative and just let what is going on on the page percolate until I hit the laptop again the next day.I write the whole manuscript, then I edit end to end rather than as I go, so I don’t get stuck working over a sentence or a word, I do it in a linear way once the whole story is out. I write in the third person for fiction and I favor an omnisicient voice so I can have lots of different characters points of view. In non fiction I write in first and third, as I’m often describing my experience as well as the actual subject matter.

Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?

No, it was a situation that inspired me to start writing, when I came across the native Indian Pariah dogs in a park in New Delhi and was inspired to tell a story about their lives. I had planned at some point to write non fiction, but hadn’t gotten round to it, it was only once Dogs of India was finished and out, that I thought I might keep going as a writer.

Do you have any advice to other writers out there?

Just write. It is really easy to be put off by the constant negativity about how hard it is to get published and the competitiveness of the industry, but if you really want to write, keep going. Follow your curiosity and your stories and see where they go. The more the write, the better you get, like everything it is a practice, and you will see your skills get honed. Share your work and ask for critique. Learn how to give and receive feedback and apply it to your work, as it is critical to be able to see if what you think you are writing is how the readers are receiving it. And be fearless and happy about the process and where it might take you.

And lastly, what are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished the manuscript for Bhakti Business: The Yoga of Business, this is a non fiction text for women who want to run heart centred businesses, that combines the ancient teachings of yoga and the Buddhadharma with lean start up principles. The intention here is to help women to be able to do what they love and build successful businesses that support ideas and outputs that are going to change the communities they live and or the world, or both. So its spirituality, and business and having a happy, contented life all in one. That book is coming out in March 2017, and once the MS is done with edits, I’m starting a new novel called Cellbound that will be coming out late next year. Lots of words on the go!

To learn more about Polly McGee, visit the following social media sites:

Author WebsiteFacebook | The Author People | Dogs Of India  | Twitter 

To purchase a copy of Dogs of India, visit the following online retailers:

The Author PeopleiBooks (AUS) | Amazon (US) |Book Depository | Booktopia | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 

 

Let’s Talk Books With K.A. Sterritt, Author of Impact

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Welcome back to another edition of Let’s Talk Books. Today it’s my pleasure to be hosting Aussie Author K A. Sterritt here at The Never Ending Bookshelf. K.A. Sterritt is the author of three contemporary romance novels – The Holly Project; Collision and Impact -, and was recently honoured as  The Sydney Author Event‘s breakout author for the August 2016 signing.

K.A. Sterritt is a contemporary romance author living in Sydney, Australia with her husband and three sons.

Her debut novel, The Holly Project was published in November 2014, her second novel Collision (The Fight for Life Series #1) was published in October 2015 and her latest release Impact (The Fight for Life Series #2) was released in April 2015.

She writes the kind of novel she enjoys to read.

  

What are you currently reading?

Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

What was the last book you bought?

Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

Electronically as I only get time to read in bed and need the backlit screen.

What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

I keep all my signed books together then all the others are sorted by genre.

How often do you read?

Every single day without fail. I never go to sleep without reading at least a few pages. It relaxes me.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

Great characters I can really get behind. I want to fully immerse myself in their world and their story. I love a good twist too!

How do you choose what to read next?

Sometimes I read hype books. Other times, I just stumble across something I’ve heard nothing about on Amazon or iBooks. I love recommendations from friends or FB groups. It really just comes down to my mood though. I have so many books on my Kindle, but also have a one-click addiction and can’t resist grabbing something that catches my eye.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

Sometimes I move on, but I’ll always go back to finish it at some stage. It will bug me otherwise!

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

Loving Mr Daniels by Brittainy Cherry. It resonated with me and I enjoyed every single word. Such a beautiful book that I sometimes go back and re-read.

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I’ve always been an avid reader. I love that whatever is going on in my life, I can open a book and be instantly transported somewhere else. It is such a beautiful way to relax.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing style. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?

I am a pantser!!! I have a spark of an idea then I just write and write until it comes to fruition. It can end up writing 150K words for a 75K book, but I get there in the end and it’s my way.

Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?

No one book in particular. I was so in love with reading romance and thought I’d try to write my own.

Do you have any advice to other writers out there?

Write what you want to read, not what you think the market wants. Then try to write everyday. You can’t edit a blank page!

And lastly, what are you currently working on?

I’m working on a standalone and I’m really excited about it. I’m about halfway and the story is far exceeding my initial idea. I’m in love with the characters and the story!

To learn more about K.A. Sterritt, visit the following social media sites:

K.A. Sterritt’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon |

To purchase a copy of K.A. Sterritt’s books, visit the following online retailers:

Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK | iBooks | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | SIGNED  PAPERBACKS

Let’s Talk Books With Maddie Jane, Author Of A Backpack And A Red Dress

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Welcome to this week’s edition of Let’s Talk Books. Today’s special guest is New Zealand romance author Maddie Jane.  Maddie writes quirky and strong female heroines with the most sizzling and undeniable heroes who are more than ready to take the girls to task. I’ve read and really enjoyed her books and am thus super excited to be hosting her on the blog today.

Maddie Jane lives near the beach in Christchurch, New Zealand, with her husband, three children and a very hairy dog. She has a journalism qualification as well as a degree in history and English literature from Canterbury University.

She started reading romance novels when she was far too young and hasn’t stopped. When she isn’t reading or writing she likes walking on the beach and planning her characters’ happy ever afters.

 

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Buried by Kendra Elliot. I’ve read a few books by her now, but I seem to be reading them out of order.

What was the last book you bought?

My most recent purchase was When I’m Gone by Emily Bleeker.

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

I love my Kindle because I don’t have to wear my reading glasses. I just make the font enormous, much to my husband’s amusement.

What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

I try to arrange by genre/subgenre. I have shelves for classics, vampires, historical romance etc. The top shelf is the stuff I don’t want the kids to notice…

How often do you read?

I fall asleep with a book in my hand every night.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

Romance (or course) but with a bit of something else too, whether it be suspense, humour, something that makes me cry, a quirky character … It’s hard to define what makes a book perfect. Often it’s just a fresh twist …

How do you choose what to read next?

Books seem to find their way onto my Kindle. I have so many author friends and I try to read their books. If I discover a new-to-me author I often go through their backlist and binge read.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

I used to finish everything but I’m pickier now, as time is precious and I could be focusing on my own work. I always give a book a good go and read a few chapters before I decide it’s really not for me.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

I’ve always been a re-reader of favourite books and love them just as much, so no one book stands out as the perfect one to read again for the first time—though if I was to read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series again, I would definitely not start with book three…

What is it about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I’ve always been a reader, particularly a reader of romance novels. You can disappear into a book and imagine yourself to be anyone or anywhere. I love books that make me laugh and cry or both at the same time even!

Can you tell us a bit about your writing style. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?

I’m definitely a plotter. I plot out all my scenes so I know where I’m going with them and I know what my scene goals are as I’m writing. The how is the pantsy bit. That sometimes takes off in directions that surprises me. I write in bursts, depending on what my family/work/life allows, generally during the day.

Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?

No. I just sat down one cold winter and started writing. I wrote half a manuscript before deciding it was awful and writing was going to be more difficult than I’d thought. I was hooked though, and so I joined Romance Writers of New Zealand and have never looked back.

Do you have any advice to other writers out there?

I’m still at the stage where I’m taking advice from more experienced writers myself! But I would say to newbies, just keep writing. Keep learning and keep striving to write better and better stories.

And lastly, what are you currently working on?

I’m having lots of fun with my current WIP. It’s a contemporary rural romance set in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. There’s a gorgeous farmer, a most unsuitable lingerie model, a baby, a cute Jack Russell and the promise of a happy ever after.

To learn more about Maddie Jane, visit the following social media sites:

Author Website | Escape Publishing | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon |

To purchase a copy FIXED UP, visit the following online retailers:

Escape Publishing | Amazon (US) | iBooks | ibooks (NZ) |  IBOOKS AU | GOOGLE PLAY |ANGUS & ROBERTSON’S BOOKWORLD | BOOKTOPIA |

 

TO PURCHASE A COPY OF A BACKPACK AND A RED DRESS, VISIT THE FOLLOWING ONLINE RETAILERS;

ESCAPE PUBLISHING | AMAZON (US) | AMAZON (AUS) | IBooks (NZ)Ibooks (AUS)Ibooks (US) |

Let’s Talk Books With Kate D, An Avid Romance Reader

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Welcome back to another edition of Let’s Talk Books! Today I am super excited to be hosting a fellow avid reader and a good book friend of mine Kate D on the blog as we chat books. I’ve only known Kate for a year now, but I find whenever we are together my TBR triples!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Seducing My Assistant by J S Cooper.

What’s the last book you bought?

The last book I bought was The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

I prefer to read in print but due to storage space and cost electronically is more suited to how much I read.

If I was to walk into your house right now, what would you bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

If you were to walk into my house my bookshelf is organised by author.

How often do you read?

I read daily.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

My dream book includes a HEA, children, surprise pregnancy, laughter, tears and a bit of suspense

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

How I chose my next book goes to if it is a author I love and has a new book out I will bump them up over everything. If I have completed those books I will do a random pick from my TBR list.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

I have a habit of I have started a book I have to finish it no matter if I am enjoying it or not. If I am struggling to finish I will skim read so I can finish it so I know what happens in the end.

Sometimes this is slightly annoying when my TBR list is long and most likely filled with books that I will love.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

If I could read a book again for the first time it would be Living Again by LL Collins as it is my all time favourite and the whole Wanted Series by Kelly Elliott

 

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

Books appeal to me as it is a stress relief and I can escape the daily grind for awhile and relax.

What book are you most looking forward to reading next?

The book I am looking forward to reading is The Protector by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Let’s Talk Books With Kim Kelly, Author of Jewel Sea

letstalkbooks

Welcome to this week’s edition of Let’s Talk Books. Today’s special guest is Aussie author Kim Kelly! Kim writes sweeping historical saga’s that will sweep you away into another time and place all without leaving the comfort of your very own arm chair! Her writing is stunning and I’m really fortunate to be able to host her on the blog today.

 Kim Kelly is the author of four novels and one novella about Australia, its heritage and its people that are loved by readers all over the world.  Her stories shine a bright light on forgotten corners of our past and the tales of ordinary people living through extraordinary times. A striking characteristic of Kim’s writing is her ability to lead readers gently and lyrically into difficult terrain, exploring themes of bigotry, class conflict, disadvantage and violence in our shared history, which still plague the world today.

Kim is an editor and literary consultant by trade so stories fill her everyday – and most nights too.

Love is the fuel that fires her intellectual engine. In fact she takes love so seriously she once donated a kidney to her husband to prove it, and also to save his life.

Originally from Sydney, Kim now lives in Millthorpe, a tiny gold-rush village in the wide, rolling hills of central western New South Wales, where the ghosts are mostly friendly and her grown sons come home regularly to graze.

     

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m reading a gorgeous manuscript by a well-known Australian author. When I’m not writing, I’m a book editor and literary consultant, so I read a lot of books before they step out into the world, and I’ve had a great run lately of three magnificent manuscripts in a row – stories by Australian women that really sing. I can’t divulge who the authors are – that would be breaking the rules of Secret Editors’ Business – but sometimes this job is the best job ever.

What was the last book you bought?

Anita Heiss’s wonderful historical fiction, Cherry Blossoms and Barbed Wire. I love Anita’s crisp, straight-up storytelling and this is a story that needs to be told – of the Indigenous experience of World War II, and of the ‘enemy’ Japanese prisoner-of-war experience, as well as exploring the way love breaks the barriers between us. The novel plays out on Wiradjuri Country, and that happens to be where I live, too. Bringing stories like this – of the forgotten characters in our history – into the mainstream is something I’m very passionate about.

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

The older and blinder I get the more I’m moving towards electronic editions – so I can increase the type size! I still buy the paperback for all emotionally significant purchases, though – those books I know I just have to keep.

What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

On the surface they look organised, but like my brain they are very much ‘lost and found’. Half the fun of looking for a book is the hunt, isn’t it?

How often do you read?

All day every day. Whether I’m writing or editing, it’s my job. It’s my relaxation, too. No wonder I’m going blind…

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

Characters who speak to my soul; a story that illuminates something for me; the writer’s delight in words and their burning need to tell their tale; and hope. That last one has probably become the most important to me in recent years. There is enough cynicism and despair in the world. I love stories that take me into dark places but light the way out as well.

How do you choose what to read next?

For my pleasure reads, I am a random ranger – a friend’s recommendation, an industry whisper, a lovely cover flashing across my Facebook feed, there is no rhyme or reason behind my choices, usually.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

Because I have so much to read at any one time, I have to be pretty disciplined and I try to avoid putting my playtime energies into things I don’t enjoy. I’m more often likely to shelve a book for another day, though, rather than discard it. I have a profound respect for all authors, and an understanding that my reading mood might be clouding my enjoyment of a story. Having said that, poor editing or sloppy research will make me want to throw a book across the room. No, I’m not going to tell you the last book that made me feel this way – suffice to say it was a very popular and much lauded one that I was really looking forward to, and the disappointment cut deep.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

Several years ago, at a time when I was very down and wondering what the hell I was doing writing novels and even editing them, I picked up a book called War Crimes for the Home by Liz Jensen. I’d never heard of this novel; I was just looking for distraction, really. Well, I got more than distraction: this novel reignited my excitement for storytelling exactly when I needed it. A strong, unique narrative voice, one that breaks the rules, that sparkles with wit and depth of character – it had all the elements of writing and reading I love. I wish I could bottle that feeling, of opening those pages for the first time and seeing my own passions reflected back at me. It was almost as if that book was telling me: keep going, things will work out, keep believing. I feel a bit teary just thinking about it now.

What is it about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I grew up in a house full of all sorts of books – from potboilers to poetry – and one where all stories were valued, however they might be told. Words are at the heart of my fascination with books: their power to connect minds across time and space, but also the mechanics behind the strange jumble of dots and dashes we read that make this magic happen. That perfect sentence, that breathtaking image, that spark of wonder between writer and reader only they can share – that’s might favourite joy in reading.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing style. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?

I always begin with an idea, a bunch of questions I want to investigate and characters I want to get to know. Because I write historical fiction and I am a total Australian history junky, I usually know roughly what major events my plot will hinge on at an external level, but at a character level, I have no idea what will happen when I set out. My characters become very real to me very quickly and they steer the narrative – often surprising me with where they go and what they get up to.

As for voice, first person, present tense is a favourite home of mine. This voice lends itself to my attempts to bring the past into present – to ask that fundamental question of whether history truly is past or if it resonates indelibly through now – and it also feels natural because my characters are so real to me. Yes, I know, I know, accepted wisdom says we should avoid the sustained tight-focus of first person, present tense, but I’m a rule-breaker. My latest novel, Jewel Sea, plays with a mix of first person, present tense; first person, present tense reflective; and third person, past tense. My first four novels were written in dual first person, present tense; while my last story, Wild Chicory, is a blend of first person, present tense and third person, past. The manuscript I’ve just finished is a further experiment in voice, involving a mix of present tense transcript, that morphs into dual third person, present tense, that then morphs into dual first person, present tense. These shifting perspectives lend themselves to another fundamental wonder inside all my stories, and that’s following the shifting truths within story itself.

As for how I work, I treat my writing days like all other work days and show up at the desk at about eight am every day. I try to finish by five or six in the evening, so that I can share a meal and some conversation with my husband and other real-life humans that might be around, but when I’m nearing the end of a manuscript, I tend to get a bit out of control, with my head full of voices 24/7 – little sleep and a lot of madness.

 

Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?

I’m constantly inspired by other writers, and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t entranced by story and words, wanting to make some of that magic myself, but I can trace back my love of exploring Australian history and politics through fiction to Frank Hardy’s Power Without Glory, which I read when I was thirteen.

Do you have any advice to other writers out there?

Respect your work enough to invest in it – time, money and tears. Build your skills all the time through reading and thinking about your work. Study the work of others you admire, steal their magic and make it your own. Know that there is no end to this learning and thieving and reinventing, and that success is not seeing your name on the cover of a book. Success lives brightest in the completion of each piece of work and in your perseverance against the knowledge that nothing you do will ever be truly finished. Success is your white-knuckled and tender-hearted courage to do this thing despite all your reasons not to. Don’t count your worth by the measures of others – ever. Let love and curiosity drive your ambition, let them take you to places you haven’t dreamed of yet. Value those who tell you that your work means something to them – value their criticisms and their every compliment too – because they are your gold.

And lastly, what are you currently working on?

I have three stories swirling around in my head right now. One is a manuscript that’s almost completely written – a gold-rush story exploring bushranging and racial bigotry during our own Wild West days. Another is a whip-cracking yarn about a legendary lady equestrienne acrobat who became a worldwide sensation, and the other is the beautiful true-tale of an equally legendary doctor who changed the lives of thousands of Australian children. Each of these stories is competing for my heart, and I will finish them all eventually, but if you or your readers have a preference, Jess, please do tell. Help this addled author on her way!

Do you have a preference to any of the above manuscript ideas? Make sure you leave a comment bellow letting Kim Kelly know!!

     

To learn more about Kim Kelly, visit the following social media sites:

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | The Author People | Goodreads

To purchase a copy of the jewel sea , visit the following online retailers:

the author people  | Amazon (US) |  IBOOKS AU | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble | koboBook Depository 

 

Make sure you check back tomorrow, as Kim Kelly is on the blog tomorrow as well for her Jewel Sea blog tour!

Let’s Talk Books With Laura Bloom, Author Of The Cleanskin

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Today I have the absolute delight of introducing you all to a fabulous Australian author, Laura Bloom. Laura is a new-to-me author whose work I am currently devouring.

Laura grew up in Sydney and graduated with a BA, Communications from the University of Technology, Sydney. She has worked in the areas of youth policy, social justice and health promotion, and has travelled widely, including living for spells in Germany, India, the UK, and ­ as a toddler­ in New Guinea, which is where she began her love affair with the sub-tropics.

She now lives in a small town near Byron Bay on the East Coast of Australia with her chosen family, including her godson and her son ­who has autism. For such a word-based person it’s been an extraordinary journey to learn to love and communicate beyond words.

It’s the people traditionally left out of the frame who interest Laura the most, as well as what happens after what would be the climax in many stories. A couple reuniting after the war, in IN THE MOOD; a woman who has changed her name and started a new life, only to find her old life catching up with her, in THE CLEANSKIN; what happens when you break up with the perfect person, in CHOOSING ZOE.

Laura’s novels have been shortlisted for the NSW Literary Awards, the ABC Fiction Prize and the Young Australian Readers’ Awards and published in France, the US and the UK.

 

What are you currently reading?

Usually I read something non-fiction over a long period of time, and fiction in big gulps. Right now my non-fiction book is SPQR, A History of Rome, by Mary Beard. She writes so interestingly about the Ancient World, pointing out how cruel it was in some ways, at the same time as being so civilised in others, and drawing many interesting parallels with our society, today.

I’m also rereading While I was Gone, by Sue Miller.

In some ways it’s similar to my new novel, THE CLEANSKIN, in that it’s about a woman who participated in something awful in her youth, and then rebuilt her life, closing the door on her past … almost. I’m a big fan of Sue Miller’s work generally, and this book is wonderful.

What was the last book you bought?

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

Electronically. I don’t buy print novels anymore, unless it’s one I love so much I want to have easy access to it on my shelf. I bought Life after Life by Kate Atkinson for this reason.

What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

We have a wall of shelves in the living room for pocket paperbacks, and then another in the dining room for the bigger sized paperbacks. However, now that we’ve gone ‘electronic’, we’re slowly weeding through our books, keeping only our favourites and giving the rest to the second hand bookshop in town.

This is my new bookshelf, that I can carry around with me, everywhere:

How often do you read?

At least a couple of hours a day. I don’t know how people cope when they say they can’t find time to read.

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

Honesty – that startle I feel when the author describes something or someone, or makes a connection in an original way that feels true. Emotional intensity and complexity. Characters behaving in ways that feel true yet I didn’t expect.

How do you choose what to read next?

If I get so much as a whiff of a recommendation, from anywhere, I’lll download a sample on my Kindle and give it a try. I also tend to binge read an author, so if I’ve enjoyed one of their books, I’ll keep going until I’ve read them all.

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

Discard … unless someone’s told me it’s worth the investment, and then I’ll keep going. I’ll also have ‘rests’ sometimes, where I’m enjoying something but it’s not suiting my mood at that moment. A light hearted novel, for example, can be perfect for some moods, but not for others, in which case I’ll come back to it later.

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

Pride and Prejudice. I still remember reading it for the first time as a teenager and it made me so happy. The freshness and wit of the dialogue between Elizabeth and Darcy was a revelation, and the romance when she first sees Darcy’s wonderful mansion and grounds at Pemberley … I think that’s where my love affair with real estate listings first started.

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

I love the intimacy a novel gives you with another person’s internal world; the journeys you can take in your imagination, and experiences you can have, which, I’ve found, have the potential to change you and expand you, and heal you sometimes, as well as entertain.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing style: are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?

I’d like to be able to get up early and write first thing, but at this stage of my life I am a 9 to 4-er, to fit in with my son’s day.

I prefer to write in third person, as it feels to me that it allows more ‘oxygen’ into the story.

Pantsing or plotting: this is one of the Big Questions I’ve struggled with my whole writing life, and I still don’t feel I’ve found a good answer. I want to be a plotter, but so far I’ve been a panster. The plot of my most recent novel, The Cleanskin, took me six years of writing and thinking and many drafts to work out. I’m now plotting my next novel, but I’m already a little concerned that the ideas my ‘planning brain’ are coming up with are boring compared to the ones that arise organically out of the story. It would be so wonderful, though, to know where I was going and smoothly proceed. My fingers are still crossed that this could work for me.

Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?

I can’t remember ever not wanting to be a writer. That said, it wasn’t until I was thirty one that I published my first novel.

Do you have any advice to other writers out there?

Be as truthful as possible, staying with your characters through their difficult, painful and vulnerable moments. It can be confronting sometimes, but it’s those moments that create a deeper and richer reading experience.

And lastly, what are you currently working on?

I’m putting the finishing touches to a novella about a friendship that springs up between a teenage a girl and a young boy very similar to my son, who has autism. The inspiration for it is captured in this photo of my son and our friend, below.

Soon that will be finished, though, and then I need to commit to what I’m going to work on next. I have a few ideas swirling around, and a few chapters of each written, but right now I am intrigued by all of them, so it’s a difficult decision to make. I think I probably need to keep working with them all for a little while longer and see which one comes to the fore.

Thanks so much for chatting with my Laura Bloom.

To learn more about Laura Bloom, visit the following social media sites:

Laura Blooms’ Website | The Author People Website | Goodreads | FacebookInstagram | Twitter 

  

To purchase a copy of The Cleanskin, visit the following online retailers:

The Author People | iBooks | Amazon | KOBO

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Books With Leanne, A devoted Romance Reader

Let's Talk Books

Today  the guest I’m excited to introduce you all to Leanne, a devoted book lover and good book buddy of mine.  Being a local, I’ve chatted for hours on end with Leanne about books we both love and really need to read. We’ve been to a couple of recent retreats and most recently the Sydney Author Event a couple of weeks back together. She is an extremely passionate and devoted romance reader and I’m really love chatting books with her. So without further ado, I give you all Leanne.

What are you currently reading?

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover’s

What’s the last book you bought?

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover’s

Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?

Electronically

If I was to walk into your house right now, what would you bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?

I have just sorted my books into alphabetical order….for now anyway.

How often do you read?

I try to read everyday

Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?

Romance, angst between characters, happy ever after.

 

How do you choose what to read next?

It depends what books have been released, what’s been recommended by friends, what mood I’m in or what I’ve already got sitting on my kindle waiting to be read

 

So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?

I’m more likely to discard it

If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?

The Wanted Series by Kelly Elliott and The Beautiful series by Christina Lauren. I can’t decide as i loved them both so much

 

What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?

The escapism, to go into another world into someone else’s lives and feel what they are feeling

 

What book are you most looking forward to reading next?

I need to finish off Kelly Elliotts books that she has released in the last few months