Monthly Archives: January 2013

MY LITTLE PART OF AUSTRALIA [Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!]

I’m excited to be part of the Book’d Out Australia Day Blog Hop! I, along with many other Australian bloggers and authors are running giveaways between Jan 25th and Jan 28th to celebrate Australia and the Australian writing community, so be sure to check out all the other blogs participating too – you could win lots of prizes! I’m giving away a $20 Amazon gift voucher and an ebook copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART, a heartwarming tale set in the small Australian town of Tarrin’s Bay (fictional, but based on where I live… read more about that below).

australiadaybloghop

MY LITTLE PART OF AUSTRALIA:

I moved from the mountains to the sea two years ago, and in a way, I feel like I’m on holidays ALL THE TIME. Not that I sit about relaxing all day – far from it! – but the location, my surroundings, the atmosphere, it has that magical holiday feel.

I live in a town called Kiama on the south coast of New South Wales. Every morning I step out on my balcony and gaze at the ocean, watching the waves crash against the headland and breathing in the fresh, salty air. I love it. And I love the surrounding towns too.

Here are some other things I love about my little part of Australia…

~ The people – Everyone is so friendly, from the stranger saying hello while out walking to the customer service with a smile at one of the many shops. There’s a real sense of community spirit and united appreciation for this beautiful place.

~ The landscape – We are lucky to have both a scenic coastline with beautiful beaches and also a vast rural landscape of lush green hills and farmland. It’s country and coast combined. Many tourists come to visit our two popular blowholes and stand by with cameras at the ready to capture the sudden, huge splurge of water shooting through the rocks from the ocean below.

~ The climate – Although we get some really cold days in winter and some really hot days in summer (45°C last week!), most of the time the weather sits in the perfect early to mid 20’s. I love that it’s not usually as hot as up north and I love that it’s not as cold as the mountains where I used to live (and needed gloves, thermals, two pairs of socks, and a heavy layer of blankets that required super human strength to lift off in the morning!). It’s a nice ‘in-between’ type of climate.

~ The best of both worlds – Being the first country town south of Sydney, it has that homely small town feel – no high rises, no major shopping centres, no McDonald’s…etc, while still offering all the conveniences of modern society.

~ The events – There is always something to do, especially on weekends (Kiama is a popular tourist destination  – it is packed in January!). The seaside markets are always popular… I love strolling around the harbour and looking at all the arts, crafts, jewellery, books, food, and other interesting finds while watching the sunlight shimmer on the ocean. There are jazz festivals, arts festivals, surfing competitions, a local show with fireworks, New Years Eve celebrations, and a wonderful Christmas carols in the park each year.

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Have I convinced you to move here yet? If there’s no chance of that you can still enjoy this special place through my upcoming series of novels set in the fictional town of Tarrin’s Bay, which I’ve based on Kiama and other surrounding towns. Watch this space! And you can read a bit about this series on my ‘books’ page. Remember to subscribe to the blog to keep updated on news.

And now for the giveaway…

>>To WIN a $20 Amazon gift voucher and an ebook copy of my short story SISTERS AT HEART, leave a comment below and answer the following question:

‘What do you love about Australia? Or if you’re not an Aussie, why do you want to visit Australia?’

*Competition open worldwide and closes at midnight 28th January. Winner will be announced in this post and notified via email.

And don’t forget, once you’ve left a comment, go check out the list of other blogs participating in this Australia Day Blog Hop at Book’d Out and Confessions from Romaholics.

Good luck, and ‘av a happy Austraya Day! 😉

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Past, Present, & Future with Rachael Johns

853370_flaming_cakeIn celebration of the imminent release of my debut novel, Fast Forward (see announcement here), I’m doing a series of interviews with authors about their past, present & future. Today, please welcome… Rachael Johns!

AND,  it’s her birthday tomorrow (25th), so let’s wish her a very happy birthday!!

PAST:

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Oh SO many things. I was one of those kids who changed occupations as frequently as I changed my socks. I wanted to be a vet, a teacher (which I did eventually become), a flight attendant, a news presenter, a jouLittleRachaelrnalist, an actress, a zoologist, a nutritionist… I don’t think there are many careers I didn’t contemplate at some time or another 🙂

2. What did you do before you became a writer?

I was a high school English teacher (but only for six months before I went on maternity leave)! Before that I was a checkout chick and front-end supervisor and a copywriter for an on-hold messaging company. Believe it or not I liked the supermarket work better AND it paid better too!

3. What is one of your most treasured memories from the past?

Going on holiday with my mother to England the year I finished school. It was an amazing holiday seeing places she’d talked about my whole life – I was born in England but we left when I was 18 months old and this was our first trip back. On this trip I also met my dad, my half-brother and half-sisters for the first time in my life. It was an emotional and rewarding holiday.

PRESENT:

4. What’s your latest release about and/or what are you currently working on?

I have two January releases – Stand-In Star from CarinRachaelJohns2a Press and Man Drought from Harlequin Australia. Although both are contemporary romances, Stand-In Star is set in the glamorous world of Oscar Academy Hollywood and Man Drought is set in a small Aussie country town.  In some ways both involve fish-out-of-water heroines who have to adapt to a new and sometimes scary situation.  You can read more about each book on my website books’ page .

Right now, I’m working on my first ever novella – currently titled The Kissing Season, but of course that’s subject to change!

5. What’s a typical day like for you? (If there is such a thing!)

Haha – I’d like to say a typical day involves a nice sleep in, followed by breakfast in bed delivered by my sexy manservant, following which he brings me my laptop and I write in luxury all day but that would be a lie. I don’t really have a typical day. About two days a week I have a kid-free, shop-free (that’s my day job) day. Those days I get up, get everyone else organised and off to school/day care, chuck on a load of washing and do the washing up (sometimes I leave this till later) and THEN I sit down at my desk, check emails, Twitter, FB, etc and THEN I write. On these days I aim for as many words as I can, ‘cos the rest of the week, I can only steal writing time in snatches, most of which are at night.

6. Name three things you are grateful for in your life right now:

My family, my family’s health and my health. I could say my writing career finally going to plan and I am thankful for that, but when I hear such horrible stories of other people and families suffering, I often have to pinch myself that we are so blessed right now. Really as long as you have your loved ones around you and they are healthy, I don’t think you MDcan ask for more.

FUTURE:

7. If you could fast forward in time to any age or year for just one day, what would you choose & why?

I’m not sure of the age exactly, but I’d love to fast forward to when my boys are adults. I hope they are all well and happy and I am just so curious as to what they decide to do with their lives!!!

8. If you could have any new technology or invention in the future that would make your life a whole lot easier (or more fun), what would it be?

It’d have to be a robo-maid-cook!! Need I say more!

9. What are your hopes & dreams for the future?

StandInStar_finalThat my family stays happy and healthy, my boys grow up into good men and that I get to keep writing and publishing books!!

Thanks Rachael, and have a FANTASTIC birthday!

Visit Rachael online at her website, blog, facebook, and twitter.

And don’t forget to give Rachael the best birthday present ever – book sales! Buy MAN DROUGHT from Australian bookstores, Amazon, Harlequin, or Google play, Kobo, and ibooks. Buy STAND IN STAR from Amazon, B&N, and Carina press.

A Motherhood Moment

I’ve featured various quotes at the beginning of chapters in my upcoming novel, FAST FORWARD. All of them relate to the themes in the book; ageing, beauty, birthdays, family, and following your dreams. Some are funny, some are heartfelt, and here is one of them:

VictoriaSecunda-quote

If you have a daughter, has this happened to you? Have you ever heard your daughter say something and thought, ‘Wow. She’s a mini me.’?

…By the way, only one week and four days until Fast Forward is released! You can see the details of my upcoming blog tour and grand prize giveaway here. 🙂

Past, Present, & Future with Victoria Connelly

In celebration of the upcoming release of my debut novel, Fast Forward (see announcement here), I’m doing a series of interviews with authors about their past, present & future. Today, please welcome all the way from the UK… Victoria Connelly!

Author pic 1PAST:

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a writer and used to make up my own versions of The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton.

2. What did you do before you became a writer?

I’ve always written but, to pay the bills before I got published, I did all sorts of jobs: civil servant, secretary, admin assistant, and English teacher.

3. What is one of your most treasured memories from the past?

There was a moment at our wedding that I absolutely adored. We’d hired a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and were about to greet the guests in the Great Hall after the wedding ceremony. Victoria Connelly weddingThe fire was lit in the enormous fireplace and the tables were all set with candles and we were on our own for a brief moment and it was really magical.

PRESENT:

4. What’s your latest/upcoming release about and/or what are you currently working on?

Just before Christmas, I released Christmas with Mr Darcy – the novella sequel to my Austen Addicts’ Trilogy. That’s out on Kindle now. My next paperback is coming out in the UK in May and it’s called Wish You Were Here. Set on a Greek island, it’s about a Plain Jane who suddenly becomes irresistible to men after making a wish on a statue of Aphrodite. I’m also about to release an ebook about our move from London to rural Suffolk. It’s called Escape to Mulberry Cottage so watch out for that one.

5. What’s a typical day like for you? (If there is such a thing!)

I try to write 1,000 words a day when I’m writing the first draft of a book and I work best in the mornings after walking our dog and taking care of our ex-battery hens. I settle down and work until lunch (I like a long lazy lunch!) and then continue writing in the afternoon until the dog comes and pesters me for her second walk. If the writing hasn’t gone well, I’ll work on into the evening. It’s hard to switch off when you work from home and I’m often still at my desk at ten o’clock!

6. Name three things you are grateful for in your life right now:

My husband, my home and animals, and my work.

 

Christmas_with_Mr_Darcy_cover 600FUTURE:

7. If you could fast forward in time to any age or year for just one day, what would you choose & why?

I wouldn’t want to go further than a year because I’d be too scared! So I’d take a very quick peep at this time next year and hope things are all well and good. I’d much rather go back in time, though, and say hello to Thomas Hardy or dance with Gene Kelly!

8. If you could have any new technology or invention in the future that would make your life a whole lot easier (or more fun), what would it be?

A heated keyboard and mouse. I have appalling circulation and my hands are usually frozen from September until May here in the UK! I often sit at my computer with a hot water bottle!

9. What are your hopes & dreams for the future?

That I can go on writing the books I want to write and rescue lots of wonderful animals and live a good life in the countryside with my husband.

 

Thanks for joining me on the blog today, Victoria!

Visit Victoria at her website, facebook, and twitter. Check out CHRISTMAS WITH MR DARCY at Amazon.

 

 

Anyone for cake covered in spit?

I’ve featured various quotes at the beginning of chapters in my upcoming novel, FAST FORWARD. All of them relate to the themes in the book; ageing, beauty, birthdays, family, and following your dreams. Some are funny, some are heartfelt, and here is one of them:

BobbyKelton-quote

If you can’t read it (yes you – reaching for your glasses! …It turned out smaller than I thought), it says:

‘Why is a birthday cake the only food you can blow on and spit on and everybody rushes to get a piece?’ ~ Bobby Kelton

The cake in this picture was made by yours truly for my son’s 16th birthday last week – gluten free red velvet cake complete with dripping wax and droplets of spittle – yum! 😉

By the way, if you missed the previous picture quote from Fast Forward, here it is.

Stay tuned for more! 🙂

Past, Present, & Future with Alissa Callen

In celebration of the upcoming release of my debut novel, Fast Forward (see announcement here), I’m doing a series of interviews with authors about their past, present & future. Today, please welcome… Alissa Callen!

AlissaPAST:

1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As a child I’d read books by torchlight and scribble stories that I’d put under my pillow for safekeeping only for them to end up in the wash. So have always wanted to read and write and lose self in fictional worlds where no washing ever needed to be done!

2. What did you do before you became a writer?

My background is in education and counselling but for the past fifteen years have been lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mum and traffic controller to four now-not-so-little children.

3. What is one of your most treasured memories from the past?

Reading. Being the eldest of seven kids peace and quiet was a rare commodity, so I’d take a book to the shearing shed and hideaway in the lanoline-scented silence. Even now I still have every horse book I ever bought as a child.

PRESENT:

4. What’s your latest/upcoming release about and/or what are you currently working on?

Am very fortunate to have two books coming out in quick succession in 2013. January sees the release of What Love Sounds Like with Escape Publishing and then February 1 will have a launch title for the digital-first Random Romance list of Random House called Beneath Outback Skies.

Pony5. What’s a typical day like for you? (If there is such a thing!)

How my day unfolds is subject to the eating habits of a thirty year old grey pony. Depending on what time she finishes her breakfast, I will have either answered emails or have spent far too much time surfing the web. Then once she is back in her paddock (have learned not to start writing before then as can forget to untie her!) I write until twelve. Have lunch. Then write until school pick up at three. Then if am not required for taxi duties will sneak in a little more computer time before dinner.

6. Name three things you are grateful for in your life right now:

My long-suffering husband

Fabulous friends

Romance Writers of Australia

FUTURE:

7. If you could fast forward in time to any age or year for just one day, what would you choose & why?

I’d choose 4 days – one for each of my children – with no set date, just so I could share in one of their future milestones and check that they were doing okay.

Book cover small8. If you could have any new technology or invention in the future that would make your life a whole lot easier (or more fun), what would it be?

Would love an internet connection that never drops out and only has one speed – fast! And for my husband I’d like a set of car keys that would come to you when you whistle!

9. What are your hopes & dreams for the future?

To keep writing the stories that sprout like mental-mushrooms when I sleep and to live long enough to see my children grow into the special adults that they will be.

Thanks so much Juliet for having me and I wish you all the very best for your own present and future.  I don’t need a crystal ball to know that your future will be bright and filled with many fabulous new releases like Fast Forward.

You’re welcome, Alissa, and thank you for your nice words! 🙂

WLSLVisit Alissa online:

Website:  www.alissacallen.com

Blog: Words, windmills and plot wrinkles @ www.alissacallen.com

Facebook: Alissa Callen – Author

Random House

Buy WHAT LOVE SOUNDS LIKE via Escape Publishing or your favourite ebook retailer.

My Book Cover! Fast Forward comes to life…

Thanks to the fabulous design team at Harlequin Australia / Escape Publishing, I now have a cover design for FAST FORWARD, my romantic comedy novel releasing on 1st February 2013! I LOVE it… What do you think?

COVERFast Forward_Final

I love the light, bright colours as I think it suits the fun nature of the book, and I love that it shows a young woman but a 50 year old’s birthday cake! In case you’re new to this blog and are wondering what the book is about, here is the blurb:

Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her 25th birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.
Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?
By the way, I’m over at Jeanette Hornby’s blog today too where I’m sharing an excerpt from FAST FORWARD, so come on over and say hi! 🙂

Ever wondered this??

I’ve featured various quotes at the beginning of chapters in my upcoming novel, FAST FORWARD. All of them relate to the themes in the book; ageing, beauty, birthdays, family, and following your dreams. Some are funny, some are heartfelt, and here is one of them:

JenniferYane-quote

I love this picture, it’s a good representation of how Kelli feels when she wakes on her 25th birthday to find she’s a 50 year old housewife married to the high school nerd (although, the woman in the picture doesn’t look that old, I was much meaner to Kelli in the book 😉 ).

By the way, if you missed the previous picture quote from Fast Forward, here’s a link to it. 🙂

Stay tuned for more!

This Time Last Year…

690756_sydney_nye_2007_1NOTIFYFIRSTHappy new year! I just love January 1st and the feeling of a fresh start, and today is even more exciting… This very day one year ago I started writing a new story. I opened a word document, began typing, and before I knew it three chapters had been written. This story was FAST FORWARD. Now, one year later, it is not only finished but about to be published with Harlequin’s Escape Publishing. My first published book. The scheduled release date is February 1st 2013 and I cannot wait! So if you’ve been thinking of writing a novel, or have an idea for a new one – get writing! You never know, this time next year you could be celebrating a publishing contract. 🙂

So much can happen in a year. I think it’s nice to take a look back and celebrate progress, achievements, and good times…

In terms of writing, in 2012 I… edited a manuscript, did extensive revisions on another manuscript (which I’m still revising), wrote FAST FORWARD, wrote my first novella STARSTRUCK IN SEATTLE, wrote and self-published a short story SISTERS AT HEART, started writing my next romantic comedy HAUNTED HOUSEWIVES, received my first publishing contract, and made the finals in Choc Lit Publishing’s Search for an Australian Star contest with my manuscript THE JANUARY WISH. The events I attended were the ARRA awards dinner in Sydney and the RWA annual conference on the Gold Coast. I connected with a wonderful critique partner who is now a dear friend, and formed an online writing goals group. I also spent way too much time on Facebook and Twitter but we won’t go into that.

Out of all that, the only things I’d planned for at the start of the year were to complete Fast Forward and attend the RWA conference. Everything else ‘just happened’. My main goal for 2012 was to get a contract for one of my books, and I still smile when I think about how that goal came true. 🙂

So what’s the plan for 2013?? I’m still working that out, but I’d like to increase the amount of time I spend writing (or at least, write faster), and at a minimum, complete two full length books. Because I tend to shoot for the stars I’d also like to write another one or two novellas (the next one in my ‘Love Angel’ series to follow Starstruck in Seattle, and a brand new stand-alone one called ‘I Dream of Johnny’), complete a rough (or clean, whatever) draft of the first book in my young adult series The Delta Girls, and write a short story for a Christmas anthology I’ve agreed to participate in. I’d also like to find a way to survive without sleep.

Will I achieve all that? Who knows, but it’s worth a shot! I think the main thing is to keep moving forward, keep learning about writing and publishing, and keep getting those words down. Progress is an achievement in itself.

As for my blog, wordpress has created an annual report for me and I’ll share some of the stats with you:

  • May was my busiest month which coincided with my first ‘themed month’ on the blog; Mouthwatering May.
  • The busiest day was May 27th and the post on that day was Sunday Lunch with Jenn J McLeod.
  • The top five posts that received the most views throughout 2012 were:

1. How to choose a pen name / pseudonym

2. Setting the scene – bringing the story to life through a sense of place

3. Anita Heiss answers Juliet’s Awkward Questions

4. How to use the new Facebook page timeline & How to run a Facebook chat

5. Survey results – what do you like to see on author blogs?

  • I had visitors from 110 different countries! Most of my visitors came from Australia, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Most visitors were referred to my blog via Facebook, twitter, my website, Google reader, and Survey Monkey.
  • The most popular words/phrases people typed into a search engine to end up at my blog were:

1. List of awkward questions

2. How to choose a pen name

3. Juliet Madison

4. How to come up with a pen name

5. How to set the scene in a story

  • The most interesting, unique, weird, funny, or non-relevant things people typed into a search engine which led them to my blog were: Little Miss Bossy (me?), plastic surgery Florida (not a chance), luxury hotel foyer, where is Sticklepond (I don’t know, I wonder if they found out?), chatterbox characters, I work at the post office, It was a dark and stormy night (how original), in bed with Juliet (umm…), extreme sport reading (that’s my kind of extreme sport!), Santa Claus hat cookie, and starting fresh.
  • The top five people who left the most comments on my blog (and are now my new best friends) were:

1. Rachael Johns (who has a new book out today in Aus/NZ, Man Drought – check it out!)

2. Jenn J McLeod (whose debut novel, House For All Seasons releases March 1st.)

3. Juliana (any person whose name starts with Juli has to be awesome ;))

4. Rebecca Raisin (a talented writer and winner of short story awards!)

5. Imelda Evans (whose novel, Rules Are For Breaking was released recently)

Thanks guys! And congrats to Rachael for coming first (it was a close one, Jenn) 🙂

What’s in store for my blog in 2013? Lots of author interviews, including my new segment ‘Past, Present, and Future’, posts about writing, reading, life, publishing, and marketing for authors. And I’m sure there’ll be more competitions! Speaking of competitions, I’m giving away some goodies each week until the day of my book release, but exclusively to subscribers of my email newsletter. To subscribe, head over to my website and fill in the subscription form (you’ll also get my free Triple Treat with two short stories and an e-guide for living a life you love).

So that’s it for this New Year’s Day post. Here’s to an awesome, exciting, magical, spellbinding, successful, prosperous, entertaining, happy, fulfilling (and various other adjectives) new year!!

~ Juliet xo