Sunday With Mr Wigg

Inga Simpson PhotoIt is with great pleasure that I welcome Inga Simpson to Pilyara this Sunday. Inga is one of my absolute favourite authors! I’ve had the privilege of working with her as my mentor, and I consider her to be, along with Mark Tredinnick, one of Australia’s foremost nature writers. Just read her wonderful essay Triangulation (it won the 2012 Eric Rolls Nature Writing Prize) and I think you’ll agree with me. Inga’s recent release, Mr Wigg, has enchanted reviewers and readers alike with its unique and beautiful voice. ‘Sure to become an Australian classic,’ says one. ‘Reawakens our sense of what is right and good about the world,‘ says another. But enough of my raving! Time to hear from Inga herself  …

Welcome to Pilyara, Inga. Could you tell us please, about how Mr Wigg came to be published?

Mr WiggFrontCoverFinalI participated in the 2011 QWC/Hachette Manuscript Development Program, where I received a whole lot of great feedback from the publisher and went away and reworked the novel before resubmitting it. I felt reasonably confident the book would eventually get up but there was a bit of an extended conversation before I felt it was close. I had been expecting the call for a few weeks, forwarding my home phone to my mobile every time I went out … When the call finally came, I was at the train station saying good bye to my partner for a week or so. I saw the  number but the train was pulling in – I stressed out and didn’t take the call. Once I had put my partner on the train, the publisher called again. After twice dropping the phone on the floor of the car I managed to answer: CONTRACT!

What is your novel Mr Wigg about?

Mr Wigg appleMr Wigg is about the final year of one man’s life. He lives on what is left of the family farm in rural New South Wales, tending his magnificent orchard, cooking with his grandchildren, and telling them stories. Living alone is becoming more and more tenuous, but he takes on an ambitious project – forging a wrought iron peach tree – which all comes about because of a fairy tale about a Peach King.

In a way, it’s also a love story. Although Mrs Wigg has recently passed away, he reminisces about their life together. She was a bit of a character – with a particular fondness for the colour aqua.

What or who inspired the story?

To an extent, my paternal grandfather. He grew magnificent peaches! White ones
especially, which I’ve never tasted the likes of since. Wigg is the family name of one of his French ancestors, which really stuck in my head. When I travelled to rural France and saw the way people live – with their village plots and walled orchards, and so much emphasis on growing and cooking and sharing food – I wondered if my grandfather had been living out that part of his genetic  heritage without having ever been to France.  A character began to take shape, and I was calling the novel “Mr Wigg” long before I started writing. Mr Wigg took on his own character as the book evolved but some of the details, and Mr Wigg’s stories about the old days, are borrowed from my family.

Are there any parts of it that have special personal significance to you?

Peach treesThe novel celebrates the spirit of the landscape where I grew up, and the time – the 1970s. A way of life, too, that has largely been lost. Blacksmithing and woodturning were crafts practised in my family and I value the richness of having been raised among those traditions.

There is something of my childhood memories of my own grandfather in Mr Wigg, too. An honouring of his orcharding skills and generous approach to life.

What do you see as the major themes in your book?

Change was a big theme for me while writing Mr Wigg. Not just ageing, but the decline of big farming families, the landscape, and rural way of life. Care for the environment, too, and respect for our fellow creatures – living in a connected way within the natural world.

Thank you Inga, for answering my questions about your gorgeous new novel. I absolutely loved it, and can’t wait to read whatever comes next!

Mr Wigg

Mr WiggFrontCoverFinalA novel that celebrates the small, precious things in life by a fresh Australian voice.

It’s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm. Mrs Wigg has been gone a few years now and he thinks about her every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders when he’ll see her again.

He spends his time working in the orchard, cooking and preserving his produce and, when it s on, watching the cricket. It s a full life. Things are changing though, with Australia and England playing a one-day match, and his new neighbours planting grapes for wine. His son is on at him to move into town but Mr Wigg has his fruit trees and his chooks to look after. His grandchildren visit often: to cook, eat and hear his stories. And there s a special project he has to finish…

Trouble is, it’s a lot of work for an old man with shaking hands, but he’ll give it a go, as he always has …

Now, for the winners of the prize-pack draw announced a few weeks ago! Drum roll please! Brendat39 and Beverley Mayne. I’ll email you shortly for the address to post the prizes. Congratulations, and thank you to everybody who entered the draw.

BB2013_Nominee

A Spicy Sunday With Kate Belle

Please welcome Kate Belle to Pilyara. Kate is the author of The Yearning, which is rocketing up the charts – and it’s not just because of its intriguing cover! Kate is a very fine writer, friend and member of my talented writing group, The Little Lonsdale Group. And now its over to Kate for an in depth Q&A …

KateBelle-trad lores zoom‘Thanks for having me over here Jen and hello to all your faithful readers.

I’ve taken over a month to get to this post, only because I’ve been writing my second novel and watching with envy as Jen overtakes my word count! Having traversed some of the writing journey with Jen, I’m very excited to see her second novel, Currawong Creek, released. I was planning to share a little post about my hounds because Jen is constantly amused by my hot-to-cold relationship with them, but I might leave that for another time.’

Kate, How did you receive your first offer of publication?

‘The Yearning was written over about 4 years while I worked part time and cared for my pre-school daughter. I attended two consecutive Year of the Novel courses at Writers’ Victoria where I met Jen and a number of other wonderful writers who are published (or soon to be.)

During these courses I ‘grew up’ as a writer and was able to develop The Yearning into a mature enough manuscript to try my luck in the publishing world. My first break came in August 2011 when I attended the Melbourne Romance Writers Australia conference. There I met Sheila Drummond, who agreed to look at The Yearning and rang me immediately after the conference with an offer to represent me.

Sheila started shopping The Yearning around late that year, but it would be another 12 months before she secured an offer for it. In the meantime she managed to get me a contract for two erotic novellas with newly launched Random Romance imprint. At the time I was working in a restructured job in the public service and was pretty miserable. When voluntary redundancies were announced I eagerly put my hand up. I had surgery on my knee in September 2012 and as I lay in bed recovering I received a redundancy offer and a contract for The Yearning on the same day. It seemed like divine coincidence. I crossed my fingers, signed them both, and prepared to start a new life as a full time writer in 2013.’

What is your story about Kate?

Yearning lo resThe Yearning is an exploration of love and desire, and the social and emotional boundaries we are willing to cross to get what we want. It’s an intimate account of the thrills and dangers of first love. My sixteen year old protagonist, who remains unnamed throughout the novel, lures her charismatic teacher, Solomon Andrews, into an illicit affair with erotic love notes. The pair are discovered and separated, but she can’t let her memories of Solomon go and is haunted by their affair until they meet again by accident twenty five years later. The ramifications of the affair have reverberated throughout both their lives and the two must come to a deeper understanding of their sensual relationship and what it really meant.’

What or who inspired The Yearning?

‘I find this question a difficult one to answer. The Yearning evolved over a long time. The letters my protagonist sends to Solomon come from unsent letters I wrote to lovers. In early drafts parts of the letters headed up each chapter.

Some of The Yearning was initially put together from a collection of short stories I saw had a common thread. In truth, I think I drew much of the emotional content from my own unfulfilled longings for a relationship in my past that was never quite fulfilled. I felt a spiritual connection to this person, but being at different points in our lives meant we chose to leave the relationship behind. This experience has provided great fodder for writing about unrequited longing.’

Are there any parts of The Yearning that have special personal significance to you?

‘The year The Yearning is set is a special year for me. 1978 was the last year we lived in the country town of Benalla, where I grew up. I was on the cusp of teenagehood and sensed an enormous change encroaching upon me. It was the year I learned about Countdown and boys and politics. Australia was in the aftermath of massive social, political and cultural change after the dismissal of the Whitlam Government. Civil rights, Aboriginal rights, Women’s rights movements were all shaking a sleepy Australia awake. It was a powerful time of change, a national coming of age if you like, and a perfect time in which to place a promiscuous teacher and his love struck student.’

What do you see as the major themes in your book?

‘It’s clear from reader responses there are many discussion worthy themes in The Yearning. I can’t tell you the number of people who have contacted me once they’ve finished it to tell me they can’t stop thinking about it, can’t sleep, need to talk to someone about it. It’s that kind of book.

Most chapters are introduced with quotes from the biblical Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) because that text reflects the passion of erotic love and the stanzas I chose capture the essence of the chapter theme. The sexual/emotional power play between Solomon and his student demonstrates the complexity of student/teacher attractions. The reader is prompted to ask, who holds the power? Who is seducing who?

I believe my anonymous protagonist’s experiences in love, sexuality and family are common to many women. I think lots of female readers will relate to her feelings of obsessive first love and loss, her expectations and disappointments in marriage, her joy in her children, her frustrations with her family, her attempts to live authentically in spite of the expectations of those around her.

The Yearning also talks to the cycle of damage done to men by their fathers (and mothers), the difference between sex and eros (or lust and love), the arbitrariness of the age of consent and how it isn’t really a protection from the ramifications of entering a mature sexual relationship too young.

It’s a complex book and I hope those of you who choose to read find much to enjoy in it.’

Thank you Kate for your thoughtful responses and congratulations again on your gorgeous book! And next time, I definitely want to talk about those dogs of yours …

Yearning lo resIt’s 1978 in a country town and a dreamy fifteen year old girl’s world is turned upside down by the arrival of the substitute English teacher. Solomon Andrews is beautiful, inspiring and she wants him like nothing else she’s wanted in her short life.

Charismatic and unconventional, Solomon easily wins the hearts and minds of his third form English class. He notices the attention of one girl, his new neighbour, who has taken to watching him from her upstairs window. He assumes it a harmless teenage crush, until the erotic love notes begin to arrive.

Solomon knows he must resist, but her sensual words stir him. He has longings of his own, although they have nothing to do with love, or so he believes. One afternoon, as he stands reading her latest offering in his driveway, she turns up unannounced. And what happens next will torment them forever – in ways neither can imagine.

Read an extract here: (http://issuu.com/simonschusteraustralia/docs/the_yearning_by_kate_belle)

Buy The Yearning:

Ebook: Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/The-Yearning-ebook/dp/B00BSVMRC4) or iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/the-yearning/id576561492?mt=11)

Print book: Target, Kmart, Myer, Collins, Dymocks, Big W, Eltham Bookshop and other independent bookshops (http://www.truelocal.com.au/find/book-shop/) and major airports.

Reading group questions here (http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/Yearning/Kate-Belle/9781922052643/reading_group_guide#rgg)

Kate is a multi-published author who writes dark, sensual contemporary women’s fiction. She lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets.

Kate holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternised with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Blog/website: http://www.ecstasyfiles.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/katebelle.x

Twitter: @ecstasyfiles https://twitter.com/ecstasyfiles

BB2013_Nominee

Brumby’s Run Q&A

CC 3The launch date of my new novel, Currawong Creek is fast approaching. Penguin Books (Aust) is offering a digital price promotion ahead of the new title’s release. The ebook of Brumby’s Run (usually $12.99) is available at $4.99 until the 28th June. For those who haven’t read it, today I’m posting a Penguin Q&A about Brumby’s Run for your information. Here’s the link for last week’s Currawong Creek Q&A

Penguin Q & A with Jennifer Scoullar, author of Brumby’s Run

What is your book about?

2nd BR CoverBrumby’s Run is a story about a young woman named Samantha. She discovers she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill. City girl Sam soon finds herself running her sister’s farm, high in the Victorian alps. This new life, Charlie’s life, intrigues her. Bit by bit she falls in love with the mountains, the brumbies and with handsome neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile lover. Sam begins to wish that Charlie might never come home.

What or who inspired it?

Originally I was inspired by the classic Banjo Paterson poem of the same name. It is one of my absolute favourites. But I was also inspired by the magnificent wild horses of the high country, and the fine work done by Australia’s various Brumby welfare associations.

90px-Penguin_logo_svgWhat was the biggest challenge, writing it?

My biggest challenge was finishing the novel in time to pitch to Penguin at the 2011 RWA Conference. I only just made it!       

What did you want to achieve with your book?

I wanted to share my love of Victoria’s beautiful upper Murray region, and pay tribute to the fabled wild horses of the high country. I also wanted to entertain readers with a passionate and unusual love story.

What do you hope for your book?

I hope it may be widely read and enjoyed.

Are there any parts of it that have special personal significance to you?

The horses are based on my own, favourite animals, past and present.

Do you have a favourite character or one you really enjoyed writing?

I have a soft spot for Charlie, and really admire her spirit.

What do you see as the major themes in your book?

One of the major themes in Brumby’s Run is our search for personal identity. The book also explores our relationship with animals and the environment.

high country horses

What made you set it in Victoria’s high country?I have a great love for this region, and it is where the Brumbies are.

Did the title come instantly to you or did you labour over it?I’d always wanted to base my novel on Banjo Paterson’s classic bush poem, Brumby’s Run, so the title was a given.

To whom have you dedicated the book and why?I’ve dedicated the book to Australia’s various Brumby welfare associations, in acknowledgement of the wonderful work they do protecting our wild horses.

Who do you think will enjoy your book?

Anybody who enjoys passionate love stories, set in Australia’s spectacular wild places.

Do you have a special ‘spot’ for writing at home? (If so, describe it)

Home Office I have a small office space off the lounge room (no door!), but with a noisy family, this isn’t always ideal. My favourite spot is over at the stables. Horses are good listeners, and don’t mind you reading aloud.

Do you like silence or music playing while you’re writing?

Silence. I’m easily distracted otherwise.

When did you start writing?

As a child I was an avid reader and loved writing stories and poems. I began my very first novel when I was eleven years old.

Did you always want to become an author?

I did, but then I grew up, and life kind of got in the way. There was long gap before I returned to my original passion for writing.

Tell us a bit about your childhood?

I was a horse-mad child. My family had a house in Melbourne as well as a property in the mountains. At every chance I escaped to the farm to be with my horses.

If you’ve had other jobs outside of writing, what were they?

I graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Law and Jurisprudence, and worked for a while as a solicitor. I have also raised four children, with the youngest one still at school. Now that’s a job!

Describe yourself in three words?Passionate, compassionate and curious.

capricornWhat star sign are you and are you typical of it?

I’m a Capricorn. That’s an earth sign, and I do feel a deep spiritual connection to the  earth. Typically Capricorns are ambitious and serious, with a strong work ethic. I suppose that describes me. They are also supposed to be neat and tidy. That definitely doesn’t describe me!

What three things do you dislike?

Cruelty, greed and indifference.

What three things do you like?

My family, my animals and having the opportunity to write, in that order.

Have you a family, partner or are you single?

As I said before, I have four wonderful children.  I am divorced and do not have a partner. Maybe no real-life man can measure up to my fictional outback heroes!

BB2013_Nominee

Aussie Author Month – Rural Fiction (Plus A Giveaway!)

Aussie Auhor Month. 2 pngApril is Aussie Author Month and celebrates the uniqueness and quality of Australian literature. It was started in 2011 by a group of reviewers and readers who wanted something special to celebrate Aussie authors. Genre and style doesn’t matter, it’s about a love of literature and a desire to promote home-grown reading to a wider community. Another important aspect of Aussie Author Month is recognising that literacy in this country isn’t as widespread as it should be, particularly among Indigenous and remote communities. It aims to raise awareness and fundraise for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Indigenous literacy FoundationI’m an Aussie rural author, and am proud to be part of a burgeoning publishing success story – one being led exclusively by women writers. In a challenging time for publishers, Aussie rural lit has defied the trends with sales more than tripling in the past four years. Authors such as Rachael Treasure, Nicole Alexander and Fiona Palmer routinely outsell other local fiction.

One reason for the popularity of this genre, is that the heroines are generally tough, independent and capable people. Unlike the characters in a lot of chick-lit, they are not obsessed with shopping and finding a man. But there is another, more important reason. At the heart of this sort of fiction is a passion for the Australian countryside. Speaking personally, while I love to explore the complexities of human relationships, my narratives are always informed by the bush, together with its flora and fauna.

Brumbies In The BushAustralia’s wild landscapes are powerful settings. In cities, many people live lives so far removed from nature, that they rarely even touch the earth. But at what cost? The cost to our declining environment? The cost to our hearts? I think the world is hungry to reconnect with nature, to ground itself. The rural lit genre taps into this vein. When we lose touch with wildness, we lose touch with who we really are.

To celebrate Aussie Author Month I’m giving away a copy each of Brumby’s Run and Wasp Season. Just leave a comment saying what you love about Aussie stories for your chance to win! Winners announced April 30th. Aust & NZ entrants only.

BB2013_Nominee

One Little White Lie – Loretta Hill

Loretta HillPlease welcome Loretta Hill to Pilyara. Loretta is a number one best-selling author of contemporary fiction set in unique Australian settings. Her books sell like hot cakes. In fact her new novella One Little White Lie is currently sitting at the top of the ITunes charts! Today she gives us an insight into her writing and hints about what’s coming next.

Good Morning Loretta. Tell us about the sort of stories that you write?

Broadly, I write commercial women’s fiction which incorporates some romance.  Specifically, I have written two big outback stories set on the Pilbara. They are called, “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” and “The Girl in the Hard Hat.” These stories are about strong woman trying to work in a male dominated environment against the glorious backdrop of Australia’s red north. I have also written two romantic comedies set in urban Sydney, “Kiss and Tell” and now just released this month by Random Romance, “One Little White Lie.”

So tell me about your latest release?

One Little White Lie CoverOne Little White Lie” is a romantic comedy novella that will be released as an e-book only.

 It’s about a girl called Kate who is the current project of the match maker from hell. She knows that her best friend is not going to stop fixing her up with strange men unless she tells her that she is happily dating someone. Who knew that one little white lie could so blatantly backfire?

The imaginary boyfriend she described to her friend suddenly walks into her life and starts making himself comfortable in it.  Trapped by her lie, poor Kate is powerless to stop him. But the real question is, does she really want to?

Where did this idea come from?

HardHat cover finalWhen I was much younger, I’m talking high school, my single girlfriends and I always used to get a giggle out of talking about our dream guys.  When you’re young and going through all that teenage angst, you always think you’re never going to meet anyone. I always thought, wouldn’t it be great if one day my fantasy guy just appeared in my life as if he’d always been there.  This is sort of what I did to Kate. It was such a fun story to write. I think everyone’s been in an embarrassing situation brought about by their own foolishness.  You know the feeling where you just wish the ground would open up and swallow you. I loved giving Kate exactly what she wanted in exactly the wrong way.

What are you working on next?

Steel caps coverAt the moment I’m working on the third and final instalment to my Fly in, Fly out Girls Series. The title is The Girl in the Yellow Vest. It will include some characters from my previous two books but also a lot of new ones. The job is now in Queensland at the Dalrymple Bay Coal terminal. I think this one is going to be heaps of fun. If readers haven’t tried one of my books before, I know Random House is offering a free e-sampler. (http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/loretta-hill/loretta-hill-sampler-9780857980304.aspx)

Thanks Loretta, and I look forward to your next great read! For more information about Loretta and her books see www.lorettahill.com.au

BB2013_Nominee

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

australiadaybloghopTHE ORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS

Welcome to this Australia Day book giveaway blog hop. It’s the brainchild of Shelleyrae and Confessions from Romaholics. The aim is to connect aussie authors and readers. My post today is about the original Australians. I’m not talking about our indigenous people, who share a proud history with this continent dating back at least 50,000 years. No, I’m talking about the flora and fauna that evolved along with our land over millions of years.

Tasmanian TigersIn Australia we have an exceptionally high number of unique species, yet we also have the highest extinction rate in the world. 126 species of plants and animals have vanished in just 200 years. Another 182 species are classified as endangered, and 201 more are threatened. Many are locally extinct, only surviving precariously on offshore islands or in captivity.

Brush tailed BettongThankfully we have moved beyond the worst cruelties of the past. For example, in the early twentieth century, live Brush-tailed Bettongs were sold for ninepence a dozen to be chased and torn apart by greyhounds. Today’s flora and fauna face more modern threats. Habitat loss and feral animals, such as cats, foxes and cane toads, are contributing to a second wave of extinctions.

We all have a part to play in protecting our precious native plants and animals. Why not celebrate our national day by doing something to help these original Australians?

  • BilbyGrow native plants. They provide wildlife with food and shelter.
  • Keep your cat inside, at least at night. Most marsupials are nocturnal and birds are at their most vulnerable at night.
  • De-sex your cats and dogs.
  • Put in a birdbath.
  • Avoid using pesticides in the house and garden. Most are toxic to reptiles and insect eaters.
  • Look out for native animals when driving.
  • tasmanian devilInstall nest boxes in trees for hollow-dwellers.
  • If fishing, do not leave fish hooks, line, sinkers, plastic bags or any other litter behind.
  • Join as a volunteer or member of a wildlife or conservation group.
  • Donate to groups like Bush Heritage Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

I’m giving away two signed books – one copy of Brumby’s Run and one copy of Wasp Season. Just comment on this post, naming an extinct or endangered Australian plant or animal. Entries close at midnight on January 28th. Winners announced Sunday Feb 3rd. Giveaway for Australian residents only.

Click these links back to Book’d Out and Confessions from Romaholics to visit other participants in the Blog Hop and Book Giveaway. A peaceful and happy Australia Day to everybody!

BB2013_Nominee

Rachael Johns and Heroes

Rachael Johns 2In 2012 a fresh new voice burst onto the rural fiction scene. Rachael Johns (author of Jilted) writes heartwarming, contemporary romances with engaging characters and well crafted stories. She is proving to be one of Australia’s favourite rural romance novelists. (Rachael is also enviably prolific!) I’m very pleased to welcome her to Pilyara for a chat about her new releases, and her sexy small town heroes, including her husband …

Hi Jenny

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!! I’m really excited to have two books out in January – STAND-IN STAR with Carina Press and MAN DROUGHT with Harlequin Australia  – and today I’m talking my MAN DROUGHT hero.

Gibson Black is a rather grumpy and guarded character when he first arrives in the book. Personally, I’m rather partial to grumpy heroes but I knew I needed to give him something (and quickly) that would make him sympathetic to the readers.

In addition to giving him a gorgeous relationship with his grandfather, which showed he could be a nice and caring person, I also made him a volunteer ambulance officer. In my rural romance books I like to explore all aspects of small communities and since living in rural Australia myself, I have noticed that it is the volunteers that keep the towns going.

Probably at least half the adult population of small towns volunteers for some community group at some stage or another – whether it be a sports group, community daycare, clubs, fundraising events, the fire brigade, State Emergency Services or the (in WA) St Johns Ambulance.

My heroine’s best friend goes into premature labour in MAN DROUGHT and Gibson is called as an ambulance officer to attend her. I won’t give all away, but suffice to say both Gibson and Imogen (the heroine) see a different side of each other this night. Imogen realizes there is more to Gibson than meets the eye – that to give so much of his own time to a volunteer role and to be so tender with her friend, he must be a good bloke underneath. This insight piques her interest and she determines to find out more.

craig amboI’m lucky that when writing these ambulance scenes, I had my own hero at home to read what I’d written and make sure it was authentic. My hubby, Craig, has been a volunteer ambulance officer in two different rural towns for six years now. I love the ad on TV that shows these volunteers as heroes rather than some of the people given hero status in our community. Craig goes out in the night, he leaves our business sometimes for hours on end to attend to calls. He has spent four out of the last six Christmas’s always from our family for part of the day doing ambulance work. All unpaid, all because he knows this can be a life or death service in rural Australia. Craig is one of many men and women in rural Australia who gives hours, even years of their lives to helping their towns and the people in it.

I’m glad in MAN DROUGHT I got to pay small tribute to the work that these amazing volunteers do! And I hope that if you read MAN DROUGHT, you won’t judge Gibson’s grumpy exterior too quickly. He’s soft and gorgeous inside!

(NB. The photo is of my hubby – but it’s a few years old, he won’t let me take a recent one! )

What about you? What qualities do you like to see in a hero? And what is something that immediately puts you off?

Blog – www.rachaeljohns.wordpress.com
Website – www.rachaeljohns.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns

Thanks for this great post Rachael. Nice to know you have your own real life hero at home! Best of luck with your new releases …

ManDrought_C2 (1)Man Drought – January 1st 2013, Harlequin Australia (currently only available in Aus/NZ territories)

Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival.

Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground…and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing.

Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too?

To buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Drought-ebook/dp/B00AB9VS0G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354267465&sr=1-1&keywords=man+drought

Harlequin Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781460892978

Also available on iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.

StandInStar_finalSTAND IN STAR – January 7thst 2013, Carina Press

As an anthropologist, Holly McCartney is more comfortable in a museum than shopping on Rodeo Drive. She isn’t prepared for the media frenzy on her arrival in L.A. to accept a posthumous acting award for her late sister….or for her sister’s gorgeous friend Nate Devlin to come to her rescue. Though he resents her for some reason, she can’t fight their irresistible chemistry—especially when the paparazzi force her to stay at his mansion.

Photographer Nate only agrees to help Holly survive Hollywood for her sister’s sake, but she soon gets under his skin in a way no other woman has. The more time he spends with her, the more his attraction grows and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never expected. But will ghosts of the past stand in the way of their perfect Hollywood ending?

To-buy links:
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Stand-In-Star-ebook/dp/B00A22UVJQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354516932&sr=1-1&keywords=stand-in+star

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stand-in-star-rachael-johns/1113832187?ean=9781426894909

Carina Press – http://ebooks.carinapress.com/AE8854D0-A46D-4313-926A-F5A35553A6F9/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=1CF30CE0-647B-44D8-8A96-5EEF7044BB18

BB2013_Nominee

RWA Conference 2012

I’ve spent the last few days at the RWA Conference, held this year on the Gold Coast. This conference offers some remarkable opportunities for new and emerging writers, not least of which are the pitch sessions with agents, editors and publishers. The place is bursting with key industry professionals!

I’ve rubbed shoulders with leading authors in my genre, and attended some of the best imaginable professional development sessions. The most useful of these by far was Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, presented by Alexandra Sokoloff. She began her career in the theatre, moved to screen-writing, and is now a bestselling author of seven supernatural, paranormal and crime thrillers. She teaches novelists how to apply the tricks of film pacing and suspense, character arc and drive, visual storytelling, and building image systems. Her advice is simple and practical, such as just where in your novel the dramatic set pieces should fall, thus avoiding altogether that dreaded mid-book slump. This system works to structure and color your novel for maximum emotional impact, suspense and riveting pacing, no matter what genre you’re writing in. I can’t wait to analyse my work in the light of this new information

 

Last night’s Awards Dinner saw me sitting at a table with, among others, leading writers in my genre such as Fiona Palmer, Cathryn Hein and Rachael Johns. My lovely publisher, Belinda Byrne was there, along with the legendary Rachael Treasure, and Penguin publishing buddies Helene Young and Kathryn Ledson. It was a fabulous evening, topped off by Helene Young (my blog guest last week) winning Romantic Book of the Year for Shattered Sky. This is the second year in a row that she has won in this category. Congratulations Helene! … and congratulations to the organisers of this fabulous conference, all volunteers I might add. It has been a stunning success.

Now I need to prepare for the next exciting event in my writing life – the launch next Saturday of Brumby’s Run by Andrea Goldsmith at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival (2.30 pm 25th August.) Free event. All Welcome!

Sunday with Helene Young

It is a tremendous pleasure to welcome Helene Young to my Sunday blog. Helene is an acclaimed romantic suspense novelist who lives in Trinity Beach, on the edge of the Great Barrier  Reef in North Queensland. Her work as a senior pilot with a major  regional airline takes her all over the east coast of Australia. She is the RUBY-award-winning author of the popular romantic suspense novels Wings of Fear, Shattered Sky and her new one Burning Lies. In 2011 Helene was voted the country’s most popular romance novelist.

It was a great thrill and privilege to be Helene’s Penguin publishing buddy in July, with the release of both Burning Lies and Brumby’s Run on the same day. And now, it’s over to our flight Captain, taking us through her Call Story and giving us an insight into what is important to her  …

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Jenny. I’ve enjoyed reading Rachael and Cathryn’s call stories. They’re proof that dreams can come true with hard work and a little dash of luck. Here’s mine!

I’d been writing with intent for almost ten years before I received my call.  Along the way I discovered Romance Writers of Australia and its fantastic network of writers. I entered all the RWAustralia contests and I was fortunate enough to be a finalist a number of times, but never a winner. The feedback was encouraging, but I wasn’t quite hitting the mark.

In 2007 I decided I needed to be brave and write a romantic suspense story that had been simmering in my imagination for some time. That was the start of the Border Watch series, set in the aircraft I fly and based in North Queensland where I live. Wings of Fear (Border Watch), which was my fifth completed manuscript, finalled in the RWAmerica Golden Heart contest.  That same year I pitched to Bernadette Foley from Hachette at the RWAustralia conference. My resume of contest results was enough to give the manuscript credibility and she asked to see the full manuscript.

Her answer was, ‘You’re not there yet, but…’ She gave me detailed suggestions for improving the manuscript with the offer of resubmitting if I felt I could work with her ideas. It would have been easy to take that as a rejection, but I rolled up my sleeves and several months later I sent her the next version. Then waited…

My husband and I were heading off on holidays to go sailing in the Whitsunday Islands and I was hoping she might call, but was terrified the answer would still be no. I also knew phone reception would be sporadic for the next ten days.

We dropped anchor for the first night and my husband was peeling the foil of a bottle of champagne when my mobile rang. It was a Sydney number. No voice will ever sound as sweet again as  ‘Hello, Helene, this is Bernadette Foley….’ The smile lines were tanned into my face!

I always get a little spine tingle at stories like that! Could you tell us a little bit about what’s important to you?  This could be writing related, or something else altogether.

I thought ‘What’s Important to Me’ would be an easy post to write, but it wasn’t! Family and friends are important, sense of community is up there as well, but the idea was harder to nail down than I thought.

Ultimately I think making a difference is important for me. I’ve spent most of my working-life teaching people something – the restaurant trade, adventure sports, flying, and now writing.

As a flying instructor nothing could beat the satisfaction of the mile-wide smile on a student who’d just completed their first solo flight. As a climbing instructor, seeing the wonderment and pride in the face of a young teenager who’d successfully climbed a sheer cliff then abseiled back down was pure gold. Receiving emails from writers to say something I’ve said in a training course has turned a million watt light bulb on in their mind is a reward all of its own.

I’m never going to change the world, but if I can help someone achieve one of their goals along the way then my day hasn’t been a waste.

I can understand now why some of my teachers at school carried on long past their retirement date because the job was its own reward!

Wow Helene! You certainly like heights, don’t you – flying and climbing! And reaching great writing heights as well. How fortunate your students are, to have a tutor who’s so generous about sharing her knowledge. Thank you for telling us about your passion for teaching and for sharing your Call Story.

Helene’s new novel, Burning Lies, is out now and is earning rave reviews.

“Lies, all lies. It didn’t matter how attractive he might be. She didn’t really know this man . . . He was living a lie and she didn’t know why.
”

Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband’s death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.

Ryan O’Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn’s world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.

With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.

Visit Helene at http://www.heleneyoung.com

Find Helene on FB at : https://www.facebook.com/HeleneYoungAustralianAuthor

Follow her on twitter at: https://twitter.com/HeleneYoung

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