Getting to know Rachael Johns

Please welcome Rachael Johns today, romance writer par excellence! Her latest novel Jilted is rocketing up the romance charts, and she has just scored a new two-book contract. Her second rural romance Man Drought, wil be available in January 2013. Now it’s over to Rachael …

Firstly, can I just say thanks for having me on your blog Jenny! I’m halfway through Brumby’s Run and loving it (if only I didn’t have edits to do and kids to look after, I’d be able to read a lot faster)! Stoked to be here today answering your very diverse questions!

How did you receive your first offer of publication? (That’s what I always love hearing)

I love hearing about Call stories too! They are so inspiring.

I’d been subbing to Mills and Boon’s Modern Heat (now RIVA) for almost five years when I FINALLY received an offer to publish my first book. But the offer wasn’t from Mills & Boon. All those years, I’d come close but never quite fitted their exact requirements for the line I was targeting. In 2011, I decided to try my luck with Harlequin’s then new digital-first imprint – Carina Press (www.carinapress.com)! Carina’s tagline was ‘Where No Great Story Goes Untold’ and since my last rejection was not on story, but rather not quite making the required sensuality expectations of the line I was targeting, I decided to sub my latest manuscript here.

You could have bowled me over with a feather when on April Fool’s Day 2011, I opened my email to find an offer from Angela James (executive editor at Carina) to buy my book! I was on Cloud Nine until a writing friend asked me if I was sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke. ARGH, I hadn’t even contemplated that. But it turns out editors may be scary, but they are not cruel. It was real.

Indirectly it was this sale to Carina Press, that also led to the sale of my first print book (JILTED). As an author in the Harlequin Mills and Boon empire, I was invited to the Harlequin Author Dinner at the Romance Writers of Australia conference last year. It was here I met my publisher Haylee Kerans and nervously admitted to having a rural romance novel she might be interested in reading. She gave me her card, I sent the partial almost immediately and the rest as they say is history! Yes, I’m full of clichés today J

It’s almost a year since I sold JILTED and it’s been one amazing experience after another. Edits are hell until I’ve handed them in and then it’s exciting to know I have a far better finished product. Reading the blurb for the first time, seeing my cover, actually signing copies of my book – all these things felt kind of surreal and I’m really looking forward to the second time around where I might take more in. Maybe. Since selling JILTED, I’ve sold two more books to Harlequin Australia – MAN DROUGHT will be a January 2013 release!

What’s the inspiration behind your latest published novel?

JILTED involves the revival of a small town theatrical society, which the hero and heroine inadvertently get conned into being a part of. A few years back when I had a young baby, the town we were living in decided to revive their theatrical society and put on a play for the first time in over a decade. I was gutted I couldn’t be involved (due to baby commitments) because I have a minor in Drama (teaching) and have always been a bit of a Drama Queen. This was right up my alley. Amidst my disappointment, it suddenly struck me that building a novel around a theatrical society might be fun. From there, I started brainstorming the characters who would be part of this revival and JILTED was born!! I was lucky the story I LOVED to write fit perfectly into the rural romance genre, which is currently doing so well in Australia.

What is important to you?

This was a REALLY tough question. Aside from the obvious – my family, my friends and writing, I had to really think. I realised I’m not materialistic. I don’t think there’s any bought possession (aside from books) that I couldn’t do without. I don’t care about owning a flash car or house as long as the first gets me from A to B and the latter has enough room for my books and the people I love in them.

What is important to me is MEMORIES – creating special ones for my family and making sure we record them (with photos) if that’s possible. Aside from the kid’s artwork, there’s not art on my walls but there are loads of photos. I feel so happy being surrounded by snaps of the people I love. Some special rituals I’ve created in my little family are board games on a Saturday night, pancakes on a Sunday morning and reading together – not just with my kids, but also with my husband. In such a busy life, setting aside time for these special activities means everything to me.

Thanks for that Rachael. It’s been lovely getting to know you better, and I wish you every success for your books in the future!

JILTED

She left him at the altar, but her heart was always his…

After more than ten years away, Australian soap star Ellie Hughes returns to the small country town of Hope Junction, determined to remain anonymous while caring for her injured godmother, Matilda.

But word spreads fast in the tight-knit community. It isn’t long before the people of Hope’s are gossiping about the real reason for Ellie’s visit and why she broke the heart of golden boy Flynn Quartermaine all those years ago.

Soon Ellie and Flynn are thrown back together again, forced to deal with the unresolved emotions between them. For Ellie is not the only one with secrets. Flynn has his own demons to battle, and Matilda is hiding something from her much-loved goddaughter.

When all is uncovered, can the ill-fated lovers overcome the wounds of their past? Or is Flynn destined to be jilted again?

 

Contact details:

Website: www.rachaeljohns.com

Blog: www.rachaeljohns.wordpress.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns/260103224001776

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/RachaelJohns

To buy links:

http://harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781921795503

http://www.amazon.com/Jilted-ebook/dp/B0083SNYI6/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS

Cathryn Hein and her Road to Publication

Please welcome the inspiring Cathryn Hein, fellow Penguin author and horse nut. She shares her publication story with us, reinforcing the notion that we make our own luck. I must admit that these behind the scenes accounts of the publishing process are my absolute favourites! So … over to Cathryn.

Thanks, Jennifer, for inviting me onto your blog. I’m delighted to be here and having a lovely time catching up on your Ireland posts. What a wonderful experience! But rummaging around I also discovered the series you wrote revealing your journey to publication and that started me thinking about my own, and how far I’ve come since then. It’s funny how things come about. I used to think that my case involved a fair bit of dumb luck but, looking back, I can see that I made a good portion of that luck, or at least snatched an opportunity when it came my way.

Skip back to 2010 and I’d been writing seriously, with a view to publication, since mid 2005. I’d completed 6 (or was it 7?) full manuscripts, a couple of novellas, gawd knows how many short stories and, as is the wannabe writer’s lot, collected plenty of rejections along the way. But I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was young and I wasn’t about to stop. Plus I was getting closer, I could sense it.

In May, Karly Lane (whose book North StarI adored and Morgan’s Law is on my to-be-read pile) posted on a Romance Writers of Australia loop that she’d been contacted by an editor from Penguin Australia who’d seen one of her booktrailers and wondered if Karly had any more rural romances up her sleeve. My ears immediately pricked. An editor on the hunt for rural romance, my genre? Not a chance in hell I’d let that slide, so I emailed Karly and she kindly passed me the name of the editor.

Off went a snail mail submission to Penguin containing a rural romance that had received a bit of interest elsewhere, and for which I still harboured high hopes. A couple of months later an email bounced back saying thanks, but the book had too narrow a focus and didn’t quite fit what they were after. Armed with a better idea of what Penguin might be seeking, I shot back an email pitching Promises and asked if they’d be interested seeing it. They would. Off whooshed the synopsis and three chapters. That afternoon I had a reply from another editor, Belinda Byrne, who read it, loved it, and wanted the rest. It all sounded very promising but I’d been through this before with other manuscripts and publishers, and knew not to get my hopes up.

About a week or so after this was the Romance Writers of Australia conference where I was fortunate enough to meet and chat with Belinda about the book and my writing and I was left with a hopeful buzz of excitement. A buzz that turned electric when, one Thursday after the conference, I received a phone call from Belinda advising me she was taking Promises to Penguin’s acquisitions meeting the following Monday. I spent an entire day in disbelief, dazedly working on another manuscript, before finally realising it might be a bright idea to secure an agent. Multiple phone calls and emails later, followed by more phone calls and discussions across the weekend, I signed with Clare Forster of Curtis Brown Australia, my dream agent. Monday morning the phone rang. It was Belinda. Penguin wanted to offer on Promises. After all those years, all those words and books, all those false hopes and rejections, it had finally happened. I was to become a published author.

Now, two years later, I have two published novels and I’m close to handing in my third contracted rural romance. It’s been a learning curve, to say the least, with plenty of doubts and joys to add spice to the journey, but every moment has been worth it. My stories are on the shelves, the teenage dream reached. Luck or not it doesn’t matter. I made it.

Thank you so much Cathryn, for sharing your fascinating story with us. For those who haven’t yet read Cathryn’s latest novel. Heart of the Valley, you’re in for a real treat!

HEART OF THE VALLEY

Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled ­ some might even say stubborn ­ and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ ­ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.

Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won¹t go without a fight.

What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself ­ a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?

A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.

Out now from Penguin Australia.

Equitana 2012

Now the excitement of the release of Brumby’s Run is settling down, I think it’s important to return to some more important issues – horses! More particularly, Equitana 2012. Equitana is the most anticipated annual equine event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere attracting over 50,000 visitors. The next event will be held at the Melbourne Showgrounds from 15th to 18th November 2012. It will be four days of everything to do with horses, and will feature Olympic gold medallists, world renowned educators, aussie cowboys, an elite equine competition program and over 300 exhibitors making up the largest horsey shopping spree in Australia!

AUSTRALIAN STOCK HORSE STATE OF ORIGIN TIME TRIAL CHALLENGE

Sunday 18th November 3.15pm – 4.30pm, TuffRock Arena

This year there is a thrilling new addition to their outdoor competition program – the  Australian Stockhorse State of Origin Challenge. Ten top horses and riders,  from different states will complete a tight and demanding time trial course. This challenge is a high action competition against the clock, with a strong component of crowd interaction and excitement. Obstacles will be set in Australian bush fashion, with loads of surprises for competitors. It will involve lots of fast paced, precision riding and I can’t wait to see the best of the best competing!

There will be teams of two riders from five states, representing Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.  Both state rider’s points will be added together, to obtain the winning score and determine who will gain the title of “Challenge Master” of the Equitana State of Origin competition. I’ll be barracking firmly for Victoria of course! Perhaps I’ll see you there …

For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.equitana.com.au

Foster’s Little Bookshop

Our independent bookstores are national, cultural treasures! I’m doing a series featuring some of these gems. What better way to start than with Foster’s Little Bookshop, the brainchild of Jan Bull and Bob Morris. They hosted the regional launch of Brumby’s Run last Friday as part of their Twilight Talks. There’s a stellar line up of authors still to come – Helene Young, Margareta Osborn and Sydney Smith. Foster’s Little Bookshop is widely considered to be South Gippsland’s premiere book store, and is a vibrant contributor to local community life.  And now, it’s over to Jan!

Jan and myself at the launch

We opened on Saturday 22nd July 2006 to much amusement and bewilderment from the locals.  Family and people who knew us well said, great idea, you’ll do well, go for it!!  Folk who didn’t know us said “what? a bookshop?”  Other traders said we’d need to rely on visitors during the holiday season.  We didn’t agree, believing the local community was our major market and that’s where we put our emphasis.  Becoming involved in the community meant spending more of our time than our money, and developing not just good customers, but good friends.  These are the people who’ve continued to support us over these six years.

Signing books!

We’ve developed a following from Melbourne requesting books for when next they visit. People from interstate and overseas, with families in this area, make purchases for birthdays and at Christmas via our website. We hold events each month for both children and adults. Our customers are encouraged to write reviews on any proof copy books we get from publishers, and these are submitted to the ‘book review’ page on our website.  We’re involved with book club members from the local College and are invited to primary schools to participate in events.

Our radio program on the local community station 3MFM has been going for over three years and we have a load of fun each Sunday morning. We write a regular piece (The Book Nook) in one of the lifestyle magazines that cover South Gippsland, and provide the local paper, The Mirror, with a monthly column and many articles.

The last six years have been hard work and fun work and we are both pleased that we took (what the locals saw as) the chance to build this business.  Our little bookshop is becoming well known in some unexpected places!

Do you have a favourite independent bookshop? Tell me what makes your store special and it might feature here in the future. And congratulations to Shirley Forrest and Carol Toogood who are the lucky winners of the Brumby’s Run giveaway! I’ll be in touch very soon. (JindivickWildlifeShelter – you’re the winner of the giveaway on Cathryn Hein’s blog)

Foster’s Little Bookshop, 4 Station Street Foster, Victoria  3960

Ph: (03) 5682 2089

Email    flb@virtual.net.au

Website http://www.fosterslittlebookshop.com.au/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/FostersLittleBookshop

Brumby’s Run Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Brumby’s Run I’m giving away two signed copies!

Brumby’s Run, was inspired by an iconic Banjo Paterson poem of the same name, first published in The Bulletin, December 1895. I’ve always loved this poem, and the story behind it. The term Brumby was just entering the language. There are various explanations for where the word came from. I believe it was based on the Aboriginal word, baroomby which means wild.  At a trial in the N.S.W. Supreme Court around the time this poem was written, the Judge, hearing of Brumby horses, asked: “Who is this Brumby, and where is his Run?” Banjo Paterson was so amused by the misunderstanding, he wrote his poem. So add Banjo’s poem, to my childhood love of the Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell, and Brumby’s Run was the result.

For your chance to win one of two signed copies, leave a comment. Competition closes 7.00 pm Sunday 8th July

(Aust and NZ residents only – Sorry!)

Release of Brumby’s Run

With the release of Brumby’s Run just a few hours away, I’ve decided to give this blog over to some shameless self-promotion. For those of you in south-east Victoria, the regional launch of Brumby’s Run will be at the Stockyard Gallery in Foster on Friday 6th July, courtesy of Foster’s Little Bookshop. The launch will be held as part of the Twilight Author Talks series, and I’m in fine company! The other three authors in July are Helene Young (popular romantic suspense author), Margareta Osborn (fellow rural author) and Sydney Smith (well-known writing mentor and debut author of a fine memoir)

TWILIGHT AUTHOR TALKS

July 6th – Jennifer Scoullar’s first novel ‘Wasp Season’ had its regional launch at one of the first Twilight Author talks we ran.  It is with very great pleasure that we also launch Jennifer’s second book ‘Brumby’s Run’.  Jennifer is an author of rural and environmental fiction.  She lives on a property overlooking the Bunyip State Forest in West Gippsland and has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Her first novel ‘Wasp Season’, an environmental thriller was officially launched at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival in 2008.  In May of this year she was writer-in-residence at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.  ‘Brumby’s Run’, her second novel will be released by Penguin July 2nd.

Bookings can be made at Foster’s Little Bookshop by phone 5682 2089 or by email flb@virtual.net.au .  Cost is $22 per head which includes a glass of wine and finger food.  The Twilight Talk sessions are held at the Stockyard Gallery from 5.30pm to 7.00pm each Friday evening in July.  Numbers will be limited so book early

Brumby’s Run will also receive a grand metropolitan christening.

Acclaimed novelist Andrea Goldsmith will launch Brumby’s Run at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. The venue is The Cube at 2.30 pm Saturday 25th August. All welcome!

 

I have received some lovely early reviews. Here are the links!

http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/brumbys-run

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/343262394