Monthly Archives: April 2013

Birthday Memories…

024Today, April 14th, is my birthday so I thought I’d do a birthday-themed blog post! It’s especially fitting because my debut novel, FAST FORWARD, which was released a couple of months ago, takes place mostly over one day – the main character’s birthday.

Young, hip, and gorgeous Kelli, from Fast Forward, is getting ready to celebrate her 25th birthday, but she wakes up to the birthday present of her nightmares – she’s jumped ahead to the future and is a 50 year old flabby, wrinkly, housewife, married to the nerd she used to tease in high school. Not only that, she has two grown children she doesn’t recognise, a daggy best friend, she has to give an important business presentation of which she knows nothing about, and she has no idea how to get back to her old, I mean, young life.

I’m glad to say I’ve never had a birthday as challenging or memorable as Kelli’s, but I’ve had a lot of good ones! (The photo of the chocolates on the plate was taken at a restaurant for my birthday a couple of years ago).

At my thirtieth I had a fancy dress costume party with a 70’s and 80’s theme. Guests had to come dressed as someone from either of those decades. I dressed as a psychedelic chick with straight hair parted in the middle and wore white flared pants and a multicoloured top, and my son dressed as Michael Jackson in the afro stage, complete with black shoes with white socks. A couple of my cousins around the same age as me dressed as girls from the eighties with lovely teased fringes (bangs, for my US friends), ponytails, and lovely eighties clothes and jewellery. We hired a juke-box to play music from those eras, and it was a lot of fun!

This birthday, I received a fantastic early present just a few days ago – an offer of publication from Escape Publishing for my romantic comedy novella, I DREAM OF JOHNNY! (More news on that later on). Now that’s memorable 🙂

I decided to ask a few facebook friends about their birthday memories, and here are their responses:

HelenEllisharleyHelen Ellis:

My best birthday memory was for one of those horrible ones with an 0 on the end. My family decided to treat me to a ‘ride on a Harley’ as I’d been rabitting on about it. I was collected from the house and driven right around the Gold Coast on this wonderful Harley motorbike, letting rip with whoops of joy as we zoomed around the roads. It was amazing. My ‘driver’ was a hoot and totally entered into the spirit of the thing, but a very good driver.

501576_barbieRos Baxter:

My mother was the archetypal feminist and she vetoed a series of dodgy presents from my wish lists over the years. Like the time I wanted a bride doll, and I got a Basil Brush puppet. Or the time I wanted Pretty in Pink Barbie, and got a budgie. All that changed when I was 12. I got some birthday money, and raced out to purchase Golden Dream Barbie. I brought her home, unwrapped her carefully, and discovered that I was kind of too old for Barbies by then anyway.
The weirdest thing is, 37 years later, my daughter has more Barbies than you could pack into a Barbie camper (mostly hand-me-downs from older cousins). And what does she want, more than anything in the world? A budgie. Go figure!!

coverPatsy Collins:

I won a novel writing competition with the prize of publication.

The book was scheduled to come out a few days after my birthday but when I mentioned that the publisher managed to bring it forward so it came out on my birthday (30 March last year).

Don’t think a writer could have a better birthday present than a copy of their first published novel.

1120987_colorful_message_balloons_1Gracie Macgregor:

I spent my 40th birthday alone and homesick, having just moved to the UK for a few years. I took a rowdy early-morning call from friends back home while I was in the dining room of a Scarborough hotel I’m sure was the model for Fawlty Towers, with shades of Mr Bean’s holiday hotel thrown in. The elderly hotel guests were tutting over their baked beans and kippers as this hysterical Australian woman howled with laughter (and a few tears) into the phone. At least the horror of the hotel eased the horror of turning 40!

What was your most memorable birthday?

Now, I’m off to celebrate, eat some yummy food, and blow out the 25 candles on my cake (ha! I wish! Oops, you have to be careful what you wish for). 😉

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[Guest Post] Choreographing a Love Scene Underwater, and other things your craft book never taught you. – Ros Baxter

Please welcome fellow Escape author Ros Baxter to the ‘Writing Wednesday’ segment of the blog today! Ros is the author of Fish Out Of Water (Escape Publishing) and co-author of Sister Pact (Harper Collins).

rsz_ros_xmas_jpg_opt240x320o0,0s240x320Some people write romance.  Some write chick lit.  Some write fantasy.  Me?  I’m an omnivore, in reading and in writing. Like Mae West said: “Ten men waiting for me at the door? Send one of them home, I’m tired.”

That’s me when it comes to books. I’m far too nice to say the word whore, but I never really met a genre I didn’t like.

When I read, it’s all about the book.  When I write, it’s all about the story. For me, this time, and this character, it had to be fantasy. Rania, my deep sea mermaid living incognito as a small town cop, hammered at my brain.  She was tough. She was cool. There was simply no saying no to her.

I told my sister:  I’m writing a mermaid book.

She said something like: Ooooh, cool.  Fantasy.

I said something like:  No, don’t be silly, you know I don’t write fantasy.

Then she said something like:  Erhh…you know mermaids aren’t real, right?  I mean, I you had those pyjamas back when you were seven, but…

Et cetera.

So fantasy was kind of an untrod road for me.  And, like most paths less travelled, I had to learn some things along the way.  Good and bad.  I had lots of feedback from critique partners and other readers, and it helped shape what worked and what didn’t.

So first up, the good.  You know what I love about fantasy? You don’t just get to break the rules, you get to write your own.  If the whole sex-with-a-tail thing is just way too mind-bending – voila!  No tails.  If your action takes place between the deepest part of the ocean floor and small town USA and your characters need to whizz quickly between the two?  No problems.  Just invent a cool new way of travelling almost instantly – melting down to the very droplets in the air, with the aid of a very cool, very small blue fish.

And then the bad news. You know what’s tough?  There are some parts of any story that transcend genre, and they are the bits you absolutely have to nail. They’re also the hard bits. Story.  Heart.  And, you guessed it, sex.

And the problem is, very few of us have ever been intimate seven miles down.  With a boy who’s kind of a fish.  So what to do?  Two things really.

First, approximate.  Okay, so I don’t know how a mermaid gets lush and loose.  But I know some stuff about dolphins, whales, and other sea creatures (well, at least the internet does, and we’re really good friends).  I can look at the reality and approximate from there.

Second, keep what you know. The stuff that’s real (and important) from your own experience.  Touch, heat, connection. And then use your imagination about how those realities mesh with the new world.

Third (okay, I know I said two things, but like I already said, I’m not much of a rule-follower), don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Remember the basics – character, conflict, motivation.  Whether your character is human, fish, or something in between, your readers are humans.  And we need those human connections.

I hope readers can find that spark of connection with my wild heroine and her story of love, secrets and danger.

Thanks for having me.

[Thanks for being my guest, Ros! ~ Juliet]

 

Ros Baxter has been writing since she was eight and penned a whimsical series of short stories about a race of tiny people who lived on a rainbow. While they were a hit in the playground, a few things intervened – including a career in social policy and four noisy children. Ros started writing again in earnest three years ago. In that time, Ros has secured a two-book deal with Harper Collins Australia, published Sister Pact (a romantic comedy co-written with her sister Ali) and Fish Out of Water (Escape Publishing on 1 April), been a contributing author to the e-anthology URL Love, and finaled in the STALI competition.

Ros writes fresh, funny, genre-busting fiction.  She digs feisty heroines, good friends, quirky families, heroes to make you sigh and tingle, and a dash of fantasy from time to time.

Ros also runs a successful business consulting to government and the private sector.  She teaches professional writing skills and has authored a writing guide, Clarity.

Ros lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband Blair, four small but very opinionated children, a neurotic dog and nine billion germs.

You can email Ros at rosbaxterink@gmail.com or find her at www.facebook.com/RosBaxterInk, on twitter @RosBaxter, or www.rosbaxterink.com.

 

FISH OUT OF WATER Blurb:

9089“It’s  Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum meets Splash in a sexy, smart-talking debut about a mermaid in a desert, a city under water, and the secret that no-one is supposed to uncover.”

Dirtwater’s straight-talking Deputy Sheriff has a lot on her plate: a nicotine addiction that’s a serious liability for a mermaid, a solider-of-fortune ex who’s hooked on her Mom’s brownies, a gorgeous, naked stranger in her shower, and a mysterious dead blonde with a fish tattoo on Main Street.

Oh, and one other thing.

She’s scheduled to die on her thirtieth birthday – in three weeks – unless she can ‘change the course of destiny and save the world entire’. Throw in a Mom who’s the local Mayor and a Dad who’s been locked in the county jail for twelve years, and that’s all the trouble she needs without her mermaid roots coming back to haunt her.Rania’s heading home to Aegira for a family wedding but she’s starting to have a sinking feeling that’s got nothing to do with hydroporting seven miles under the sea and everything to do with some weird connections that seem to be emerging between her, the dead blonde, her Mom’s shady past and a ten thousand year old prophesy. Now if she can just steal a corpse, get a crazy Aegirian priest off her case, work out who the hell’s trying to kill her and stop sleeping with the fishes, she might be able to unravel the prophesy, the mystery of the missing choirgirls and the secrets hidden in her Mom’s past. And maybe even save her own ass while she’s at it.

Buy Fish Out of Water.
Find out more at www.rosbaxterink.com

 

Past, Present, & Future with Natalie Charles (plus giveaway!)

In celebration of the release of my debut novel, Fast Forward, I’m doing a series of interviews with authors about their past, present & future. Today, please welcome… Natalie Charles!

 

Natalie Charles - past picturePAST:

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

I wanted to be an actress. Now it makes me laugh, but of course acting was very serious business. I used to write my own plays and direct kids in my elementary class, and I acted throughout high school. I fell in love with the idea of being someone else and bringing words to life, and I still draw on those experiences. When I write, I need to immerse myself in a character and to hear them speak. I spend a lot of my writing time on dialogue, listening to the rhythm of my characters’ conversations.

 

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

I was a sales clerk at my family’s independent pharmacy throughout high school, then I held odd jobs on my college campus like writing tutor, graduation program assembler, orientation leader, public relations assistant…basically I had no standards. If it paid, I wanted to do it. Over the summers I was a park supervisor in my town, which sounds like I was some kind of ranger, but really I made lanyards with local kids and told them not to swear. After college I worked in logistics for a construction company, shipping fixtures to national retail locations. That lasted about five minutes, and then I quit to work as a makeup sales clerk (seriously). Then I went to law school (seriously), and now I’m a lawyer.

I still work full-time as an attorney. I write laws, so it’s sort of a writing job, but not as much fun as writing romantic suspense.

 

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

Christmas Eve at my grandfather’s house. We’d have this formal Italian dinner and then these beautiful desserts: cannoli and cookies and fruit. I never ate the dessert or much of the dinner because I was too busy waiting for Santa to come, although I do remember eating pomegranate seeds. I can’t imagine one easily forgets the first time they eat pomegranate seeds.

The dinner took forever! There was a white tablecloth and all these fish dishes that I wouldn’t touch, and of course we had to dress up. Torture. My brother and sister and I would periodically excuse ourselves to dash to the living room, waiting for presents to appear under the tree. We practically wore the carpet thin, running between the living room and the dining room. At some point, we’d go to the living room and it would be filled with presents. We never saw Santa or had any idea that the gifts were being delivered. I was lucky to have such magic in my childhood.

 

TSDT-Cover-150x150PRESENT:

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

My debut for Harlequin Romantic Suspense is called THE SEVEN-DAY TARGET. It’s about an FBI agent named Nick Foster who discovers that his ex-fiancée, prosecutor Libby Andrews, is being hunted by a serial killer who leaves six signs over six days before killing on the seventh. She broke his heart, but now he has no choice but to protect her – even if it means putting his heart at risk!

 

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

I wake up too early and cook my husband and daughter breakfast. Then I head off to work, where I draft legislation and do my best to not muck up anyone’s life too much…unless that’s what my clients want, of course. Then it’s home to make dinner, bathe my daughter and put her to bed. I collapse on the couch to write after all of that, and when I’ve finished writing, I collapse in bed. Sometimes my husband and I manage to fit in a conversation, but you asked about a typical day.

 

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

I have so much to be grateful for! I’m grateful for my health, first and foremost. My youngest brother is a childhood cancer survivor, and I try to remember to never take a healthy day for granted. I’m endlessly grateful for my family, especially my husband and my daughter and the baby we have on the way. And I’m grateful for the support I’ve had in reaching this point in my life, because I haven’t done anything alone.

 

HeadshotFUTURE:

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

Tough question! I don’t know that I’d want to do this. I’m definitely a person who dwells in the future, but I like my future unwritten and full of possibility. I think that actually seeing the future might make me feel like some kind of destiny was involved. Naive or not, I like to imagine I’m in control.

 

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?

I’d want a teleporting machine like they have on Star Trek. This way I could travel all over the world in a matter of seconds. I live in New England, where we have dark and cold winters. Summers here are absolutely beautiful, but I’d love to hop a teleporter to somewhere tropical on the winter weekends, or spend a chilly afternoon on a beach in Fiji.

I hope someone smarter than myself gets on that, stat.

 

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

You mean besides writing the Great American Novel? I want to raise children who call me regularly as adults and travel to beautiful places with my husband. I plan to continue writing what I love to write, and if I happen to make a living at it, that would be a dream.

 

Thanks for visiting the blog, Natalie!

>>To WIN a copy of Natalie’s book, THE SEVEN DAY TARGET (blurb below), leave a comment for Natalie.

*Competition open WORLDWIDE (US/Canada residents will receive a signed print copy, international readers will receive a Kindle copy. Winner will be drawn Wed 10th April (Sydney time).

Good luck!

 

Natalie on the web:

Website        Facebook         Twitter

 

The Seven Day Target

He never meant to speak to her again. Back in Arbor Falls for a funeral, Special Agent Nick Foster has moved on. He has no plans to stay in his tiny hometown-or to reunite with the beautiful Libby Andrews. His onetime fiancée broke his heart, and what’s past should stay buried.

Libby doesn’t want his help. Her childhood sweetheart can never know the real reason she ended their engagement three years before. But when a serial killer targets her, she must team up with the rugged agent for her own safety. Something in her past has put her in danger, and the passion they’ve reignited puts their future in deadly jeopardy.

Read Chapter One

Review by Cataromance

Read Reviews

Buy Links:

Amazon          B&N         Powells        BAM        IndieBound

 

Top Ten Things I’ve Learned About Writing A Novel

I’m over at the Life In A Pink Fibro blog today talking about how to write a romance novel and the ten things I’ve learned on my journey to publication. It was interesting to look back on where I was a few years ago to where I am now. I hope you’ll get a lot out of this post!

Here it is.

 

And if you haven’t visited my blog for a while, here are some other recent posts you might like to check out:

– I took the plunge like Jenn J McLeod did and interviewed myself! Past Present Future with…me!

– Annie Seaton shares her Promotional Tips for Authors.

– Sandra Antonelli and I discuss the issue of ‘older’ women in fiction at the Escape Blog.

 

I’m also thrilled to have received some great reviews for Fast Forward recently, over at Novel Escapes, YA Novelties, and Chick Lit Club! A BIG thank you to the reviewers for taking time to read the book and write the reviews. 🙂

 

Coming up soon on the blog, an interview with Natalie Charles, a guest post by Ros Baxter, and a post on Twitter Basics for Authors. Stay tuned!

~ Juliet