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Alli Sinclair on her 3-book deal, writing, and the allure of the tango…

I’m so excited to welcome my wonderful friend and writing critique partner, Alli Sinclair to the blog today! Alli and I have known each other just over two years now, and barely a day has gone by when we haven’t communicated via facebook message, email, text, or phone! I had the pleasure of reading her book, LUNA TANGO, in manuscript stage, and can’t wait to read the finished product when it releases in print and ebook on 1st August 2014! It’s a rich, absorbing tale of dance, romance, mystery, and family ties. I know readers are going to love it. 🙂

I decided to ask Alli a few questions in honour of her first book deal. Here we go…

 

alli profile1. Congratulations on your three book deal with Harlequin Australia! How did you feel when you received your offer of publication?

Stunned is the first word that came to mind. Hubby saw my face as my amazing agent delivered the news on the telephone and he said he’d wished he’d videotaped it because my expression was priceless. Needless to say there was a lot of happy dancing and squeals of delight from the entire family!

2. Tell us about your book series and can you give us a blurb for your August release, LUNA TANGO?

Luna Tango is the first in the Dance Card series that explores dances and music that capture hearts both on and off the dance floor—Buenos Aires and the tango, Granada and the flamenco, and Paris and the Russian Ballet. With stories about love, loss, passion, and betrayal, the Dance Card Series takes readers on a journey full of colour, glitz, and dreams.

In Luna Tango, journalist Dani McKenna delves into the world of tango to expose the decades of lies and deception that threaten three generations of her family. She’s desperate to understand the reason her mother abandoned her twenty years ago to become a world-class tango dancer, why her grandma lives in fear of all things tango, and how the brutal murder of a tango music legend in 1950s Buenos Aires now affects her family.

Dani meets the enigmatic Carlos Escudero, a revered tango dancer and man of intense passion, who helps her unravel tango’s sordid history. Despite Dani’s lack of rhythm, they create their own dance of the souls until the differences in their cultures causes a deep rift. As she seeks to reconnect with Carlos and rebuild her family, tango – the dance of passion – becomes a complicated dance of betrayal.

Tango-credit--CarlosLuque3. What made you want to write a dance series?

That’s an excellent question and does it sound lame to say I’m not really sure? I grew up with dance and was surrounded by it when I lived in South America so it felt like a natural progression to write about something I love.

4. If you could tango with anyone in the world, who would it be? (I think I know the answer to this!)

You really need to ask this question? Who else but the man who inspired the character of Carlos in Luna Tango – Gilles Marini!

5. Your book has a present day timeline intertwined with a historical timeline. Did you face any challenges writing a dual timeline book? 

It can be a challenge tying up loose ends from the historical timeline into the present-day, but my eagle-eyed critique partners, agent, and editors make sure none get missed! I truly believe it takes a village to write a book!

6. What would you say to aspiring authors who are struggling to get published and feel like giving up?

Try it. Give up for a week, or a month – set a time limit – and see how you feel. If you’re itching to get back to the desk then you’re a writer through and through. This is a tough business and we spend hours, months, years honing our skills and receiving rejection after rejection so the only thing that keeps us going is our love for telling stories and the  hope that one day we can share that passion. If you know you are born to do this then giving up will be the hardest thing you could ever do and that will be the perfect sign for you to continue with your dream. I am all about people pursuing their goals and reaching for the stars!

7. What is your favourite dance movie?

Ohhh…. that’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! No fair! Anything with Gene Kelly (I’m a sucker for Hollywood musicals), Dirty Dancing (that one’s for you, Juliet!), Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge, and… and… there’s too many to mention!

8. What are you most looking forward to about being a debut novelist?

Apart from holding my book baby in my hands? Sharing my characters with the world and giving readers a chance to go on a journey to an exotic destination and experience what it’s like to fall in love with tango.

9. You have a love of history and culture, what is your favourite place in the world, and if you could spend a year living in any time period which would you choose?

Another “pick your favourite child” question! But I have to say Buenos Aires, Argentina is my number one place in the world and has been since I first travelled there in 1995. And as for time period, 1920s Buenos Aires because that is when tango came back from Europe as a “civilised” dance, rather than frowned upon by Argentines like it was many years prior. That must have been an amazing time to see the elite Argentines finally embracing a dance that was once considered “uncouth”.

10. What do you hope readers will get out of reading LUNA TANGO?

An experience that triggers many emotions and inspires the reader to get on the next plane to Argentina or book into a tango class!

11. How can readers connect with you or keep updated on your upcoming release?

12. And lastly, would you like to share your book trailer with us?

Of course! A very talented friend, Sean McGee composed the music and some incredibly clever photographers contributed to the trailer. View the trailer HERE.

Thanks Alli! I can’t wait to see the cover for LUNA TANGO when it’s available, and can’t wait for August! 🙂

*Photo credit of tango: Carlos Luque, wikimedia commons

 

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At Home With Victoria Purman

To celebrate the January 1st release of THE JANUARY WISH, the first book in my small town series set in Tarrin’s Bay; The Town of New Beginnings, I’ve started a new interview segment called ‘At Home With…’

VictoriaPurman-190-300x198Today, we’re paying a visit to coastal romance author, Victoria Purman!

1. Hi Victoria, where are you from and how long have you lived there?

Thanks for having me, Juliet! I’m an Adelaide girl through and through and have lived here my whole life. Some would say that’s pretty boring – others might say it’s lovely!

[Juliet – There’s no place like home! 😉 ]

2. What do you love about the place you call home?

Adelaide has a fantastic food and wine culture and the south coast’s beautiful beaches are only an hour away. When I worked in the city, it only took me twenty minutes to get there from home, so that’s pretty family-friendly, too.

3. Do you have a favourite local cafe, restaurant, bar, club, business, or store? Give them a plug here!

I absolutely love my hairdresser Megan Panozzo from In Awe Salon. I’ve been going to her for more than twenty years and she’s cut my three boys hair since they were were bubs! My other favourite places are those which make the things that sustain writers: Haigh’s chocolates (another South Australian classic) and the wineries Bremerton and Primo Estate.

[Juliet – A good hairdresser is worth their weight in gold!]

pet4. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? (Feel free to share a photo)

I have a very disobedient spoodle called Charlie who absolutely adores me!

[Juliet – I don’t think he’s camera shy either ;)]

5. What is your favourite room in the house and why?

My favourite place in the house is actually not a room, but the deck in the backyard. In summertime, an enormous Acer Negunda (Box Elder) tree gives us a cool canopy to sit under in Adelaide’s scorching heat.

6. If you had to evacuate your house, what three items (apart from people and pets!) would you take?

My Apple Mac – obviously! Passports and some undies!!

7. If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would change about your home or your town?

I would drag Adelaide a little closer to New York!

[Juliet – LOL! Not a bad idea.]

8. It’s movie night at your place, the popcorn’s out, and everyone’s nabbed their favourite couch corner or armchair… what movie/s will we watch?

BBC’s “Pride and Prejudice”. “High Fidelity” with John Cusack and “Nacho Libre” with Jack Black.

9. Imagine you have the luxury of a chef for a night and you’ve invited people over for a dinner party, what would you have the chef cook?

The best, juiciest steak… because I panic when I do it, fearing I’ll overcook.

10. Name three books on your To Be Read bookshelf or e-reader:

Nora Roberts “Dark Witch”. Cathryn Hein’s “Heartland” and everything of Amy Andrews. I’ve just finished her latest “Holding out for a Hero” and adored it.

11. Name something unique or uncommon that you have in your pantry or fridge:

Tahini. I make a mean Hommous.

12. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you go?

New York, New York. Because I may, simply by accident you understand, bump into Ryan Gosling or George Clooney.

13. You’ve just received a phone call from a friend or relative, and they’ll be arriving in five minutes for a visit. What do you do?

a) Relax on the couch until they arrive.

b) Put the kettle on; place some (probably homemade) snacks onto a tray; set the table; put flowers into a vase; and light a candle (and maybe even make some place cards with your super calligraphy skills).

c) Put the kettle on; tip out a few cookies onto a plate; check your reflection in the mirror, and wait.

d) Freak out; shove excess household clutter under beds, in cupboards, drawers, and the garage; trip over something in the process; hold an ice pack to your bruised forehead while swearing profusely; check the mirror to see if you’re still in pyjamas; frantically change into suitable clothing whilst simultaneously holding ice pack to your head; fall over again; alternate ice pack between head and location of new injury; then shove ice pack under bed and greet visitors with the fakest smile of pure calm you can muster.

(a) Relax on the couch. With a half empty bottle of wine, of course!

 

Thanks for inviting us over, Victoria! 

>>Even though Victoria would probably love you to pay a visit, why not visit her online right now?

Website : Facebook : Twitter : Goodreads : Pinterest

>>And help her pay for that in-house chef (or housekeeper) by buying a copy of her book here:

Kindle : Harlequin :Google Play : Ibookstore : Kobo : Booktopia

NBH>>Victoria’s book: Nobody But Him

She didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her home town of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

Ten Awkward Questions with Sarah Belle [Plus Giveaway!]

In this segment, authors will be subjected to a list of awkward questions that may reveal more about themselves than they really wish to share, and they will receive a score on the ‘Braveometer’. If they choose to answer only five questions, they are a ‘Brave Author’, if they answer 6 to 9 questions they are a ‘Mega-Brave Author’, and if they answer all 10 questions they are an ‘Ultra-Brave Author’! 

Sarah BellePlease welcome my fellow Escape Artist author, who also writes romantic comedy with a dash of magic, Sarah Belle!

 

1. If only one of your books could have been / could be published, which one would you choose? (C’mon, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, I love them all, there’s no way I could choose.’ Time to be ruthless, these are the Ten Awkward Questions after all!)

HINDSIGHT  is my first, so I’ll go with that!

 

2. Okay, now which one of your children/family members would you… nah, just kidding! Which of the following words most accurately describes your best personality trait (you must pick only one!):

Punctual. Good listener. Neat.  Graceful. Generous. Cheerful.

Hmmmm…judging my bruises and scars, it’s not graceful! I’d like to say generous – I like to help out.

 

3. Which of the following words most accurately describes your worst most challenging personality trait (even if you’re perfect, you must pick one):

Always late. Blabbermouth. Slob. Complete klutz. Scrooge. Grumpy pants.

Oooh, these are hard, but refer to Q2 and I’ll have to go with a complete klutz. I can trip over thin air (or thick air).

 

4. Have you ever had a romantic crush on one of your characters? Who and why?

Not yet. In the next book there are some pretty gorgeous, sexy men, so I’ll save my crush for them!

 

5. When writing an important scene, do you act it out to allow you to better describe what’s happening?

It plays in my head like a movie, complete with varying camera shots and angles.  My writing process is very cinematic.

 

6. Do you talk to yourself when writing or coming up with plot ideas?

Yes, and there are many arguments! I also write them down on a whiteboard, complete with arrows all over the place, pointing to alternate outcomes. My brain works better when it’s less cluttered.

 

7. Who would be ideal to play YOU in a movie of your life?

Oh my god! These are really hard, Juliet! Ooooh…ummmm…I’d go with Asher Keddie. She does confused and foot in mouth really well.

 

8. If you could be any book character for one day, who would you be and why?

I’d be Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and others), because she’s incredibly intelligent, resourceful, kick ass and usually brings down the bad guy by herself as well as outsmarting every other character in the book. Oh, and she gets to shag Daniel Craig too.

 

9. You’re about to be left on a deserted island for a year, and while your basic food and water needs will be met, you can only bring one extra thing from the following. Which would you choose?

a) A pen and notepad that never runs out

b) An unlimited supply of books

c) An unlimited supply of chocolate, coffee, or alcohol (your choice)

d) A gorgeous man/woman depending on your preference

Wow, that’s really hard!  I could go without c) and d), ( I can hear my husband crying in the background!),  but a year without reading or writing? I think I would choose an unlimited supply of books because I can always write in my head, but I can’t go without reading other people’s words.

 

10. If you had the attention of the whole world for two minutes what would you say?

I’d tell the corporate fat cats and many governments not to be so greedy. It is greed and a desire to make money that has resulted in devastation of formerly pristine environments, the extinction of many beautiful animal species, the ruination of native cultures and the starvation of millions of people. Greedy people either exploit the natural resources and people of certain countries, because they are of monetary value (gold, oil, diamonds), or turn their backs on them because they lack monetary value (East Africa, Senegal). It’s just not right.

 

Thanks for taking part, Sarah, you have been awarded Ultra-Brave Author status on the Braveometer!

Ultra-BraveAuthor

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

>>WIN an ebook copy of her debut novel, HINDSIGHT, by commenting below and answering the following question: If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? (Open Worldwide, winner announced Wed 17th July)

Or, don’t want to wait? Buy it now here! 

9780857990587_Hindsight

HINDSIGHT blurb: 

Humour, wit, and just a touch of humility: the swinging 60s as you’ve never seen them before.

The universe has sent Juliette a sign. She wishes it had been an email instead…

Juliette’s career is on fire, her marriage and family are in melt-down, and a red-hot goddess wants her husband. But those are the least of her worries when she wakes up on her lounge room floor in the year 1961.

Without any of her modern conveniences — nanny, housekeeper, surgically attached mobile phone, designer wardrobe, and intravenous lattes — Juliette is just over fifty years out of her comfort zone. But as she takes on the role of a 1961 housewife, with gritted liberated teeth, she discovers an unexpected truth: slower doesn’t mean boring, at home doesn’t mean dull, and priorities don’t mean sacrifices.

As she finds unexpected friendships, a resuscitated love life, tragedy and triumph, Juliette begins to wonder if she really wants to return home after all.

Mothers Day Giveaway – books up for grabs!

926565_gift300dpiHappy Mother’s Day for Sunday 12th to all the mums, moms, step-mothers, mothers-in-law, mothers-to-be, single dads, and mothers-at-heart! Read on for a chance to win some books…

I celebrated an early Mothers Day with my mum a week ago, so this Mothers Day I plan on having a relaxing day of reading (I doubt my son will bring me breakfast in bed, but that’s okay because I’m not really a fan of the whole crumbs in bed thing!). I’ve been writing like mad lately, so I think a day on the ‘other side’ might be just what the doctor ordered. 😉

With the special day on my mind, I’ve been thinking about motherhood in fiction (which was the topic of an article I wrote on the Australian Bookshelf blog). Have you read many books with mothers as main characters?

The main character in my novel, FAST FORWARD, Kelli, starts out as a childless twenty-five-year-old until she’s propelled into the future and finds herself as a fifty-year-old mother of two and a grandmother-to-be. Motherhood may be challenging, but it’s even more challenging when it’s suddenly bestowed upon you!

>> I asked around about different books that feature mothers as main characters, and here are a few that were mentioned…

A Man Like Mike by Sami Lee; Want to know a Secret? by Sue Moorcroft; Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips; Hello, It’s Me, by Wendy Markham; I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson; The Girl, The Gold Tooth & Everything by Francine LaSala, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

So if you like reading about mothers as characters, why not check them out!

>> And now, the part of this post you’ve been waiting for – the book giveaway!

PRIZE:

I’m gifting one lucky person three ebooks from my publisher: Escape Publishing. There are fifty books to choose from, and the winner can pick three they would like. I’ll be gifting them from Amazon.com, so before entering make sure you can receive ebooks from Amazon.com (ie, not UK). You can keep all three ebooks to yourself, or you can choose to on-gift one or all of them to your mother, or a special someone.

HOW TO WIN:

1. For ONE entry into the draw, simply leave a comment below and tell me what your ideal Mothers Day Present would be. If you’re not a mother, you can still let me know what your ideal present would be.

2. For TWO entries into the draw, do the same as above and also subscribe to this blog via email (in the subscription section on the top right corner of the page). In your comment please mention that you’ve subscribed. If you’re already a subscriber, simply say ‘I’m a subscriber’ in your comment.

3. For THREE entries, do the same as above (comment and subscribe), and tweet about this giveaway using one of the sample tweets at the bottom of this post. Include your twitter handle in your comment. So, your comment might look like this:

My ideal Mothers Day present would be a day on a Greek Island with a good book. I’m a subscriber. My twitter handle is @MyHandle

The winner will be drawn on Monday 13th May. Good luck, and please share this giveaway with your friends!

 

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***

 

Tweet this post >> Copy & paste any of the following into a tweet:

#MothersDay Giveaway – books up for grabs! via @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-he

#WIN three ebooks, your choice! #MothersDay competition via @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-he

What would be your ideal #MothersDay present? Tell us and win books! via @Juliet_Madison http://wp.me/p1jJti-he

[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

 

When wishes come true…

In January 2011 I moved into a new house, in a new town, to start a new life. Somehow, I started a new book too! This book was The January Wish, set in my new town but with a fictional name. And exactly two years later (January 17th, 2013) I got an email with an offer of publication! Yes, I am excited to finally announce that I’ve signed my second publishing contract with Escape Publishing, the digital imprint of Harlequin Australia.

So now, two wishes have come true… my wish to have this story published, and my character Sylvia’s wish to… well, read the blurb to give you an idea 😉

1204463_sxc_loveWhen control-freak doctor, Sylvia Greene, makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, she doesn’t expect it to come true, but a week later her ordered life is thrown into chaos when the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen turns up in town. While dealing with deeply entrenched guilt, small town gossip, and a burgeoning attraction for her emotionally unavailable colleague, she discovers her daughter harbors a secret that could threaten to tear them apart once again.

The genre of this story sits on the border between contemporary romance and women’s fiction, although it will probably be put into the contemporary romance slot because although the story has themes of motherhood, career, and friendships, tying the whole story together is an emotional romance that I hope will have readers aching for the hero and heroine to be together.

The January Wish is the first book in my proposed ‘Tarrin’s Bay’ series, with each book being a stand-alone story but set in the same town with some familiar characters appearing in each book. Each book is also named after one of the calendar months, and I’ll be working on the second book, February or Forever, later this year which I’m really excited about as I’ve been plotting it for months! I’m also creating a ‘Tarrin’s Bay’ website to help bring the town to life for readers. Tarrin’s Bay is called ‘The Town of New Beginnings’ – it’s where people go for a holiday to find they never want to leave. There are beautiful beaches set against a backdrop of lush green rural land, a close-knit community, friendly people, quaint shops – including an old fashioned bookshop, and an historic wishing fountain in the town’s popular meeting spot – Miracle Park.

What makes this book unique is that it has three points of view – the hero, the heroine, and an eighteen year old girl, with each of their lives and stories being linked to each other’s. There’ll be laughter, there’ll be tears, and there’ll be secrets revealed.

Last year, The January Wish was one of the six finalists in the Choc Lit Search for an Australian Star contest, and I was completely gobsmacked when I found out! Although I didn’t win, it gave me confidence that readers might enjoy this story, and I can’t wait to share it with you on 1st December 2013. It was going to be released in January to tie in with the title, but by releasing in December instead it allows time to build up some excitement around the upcoming new year, which is what starts off the story – at the Tarrin’s Bay annual Wishing Festival in January.

Here’s a little snippet:

The coin in Sylvia’s pocket cooled her warm fingers as she fiddled with it impatiently. At least this was all for charity. That would be her excuse if anyone asked why she – Dr. Sylvia Greene – sceptic and all round party-pooper, was making a wish. She had a great life; an interesting career, a best friend, good health, a nice house, and even a new boyfriend. What else could she possibly wish for? What was she doing here?

To see some pictures I’ve collected that give you a feel for the story, have a look at my Pinterest page for The January Wish here.

To keep updated on this book and the Tarrin’s Bay series, you can subscribe to my blog by filling in your email address at the top right corner of this page (if you’re on a smartphone, click ‘view full site’ at the bottom, then go to the subscribe form). I look forward to bringing you interesting articles and posts about this upcoming book and series in the lead up to it’s release!

Have you ever made a wish that came true? 😉

 

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

My ‘Call Story’

I’ve been writing fiction seriously for about three years, and when I first started I kept hearing people talk about ‘Call Stories’ but I had no idea what they were. I soon discovered that The Call is when a publisher offers you a contract for your manuscript, even if it happens to be via email. By the time I’d finished my first manuscript I was hooked on writing and hoped that one day I’d be writing about my own Call Story.

Three manuscripts later that day arrived!

But let me backtrack a little…

Late in 2011 I started getting ideas for a new book which would be my third. I came up with the premise (an image-conscious young woman wakes on her birthday to find she’s a middle-aged housewife married to the also middle-aged high school nerd), and let it simmer for a while. Gradually, the character developed in my mind and I came up with the title, Fast Forward. I was also playing around with another couple of book ideas at the time and getting started on some major revisions for my first manuscript.

At the start of 2012 (New Years Day to be exact), I was staying with family and planning on taking a few days off to relax and read a few books, but my muse had other ideas.

Over breakfast, I flipped through one of my mother’s many home and lifestyle magazines and an advertisement caught my eye. It was for an interior design course and showed pictures of beautiful furniture and homewares. Before that day, I had decided that my main character would be involved in designing homewares, so on a whim I cut out the ad for inspiration. I still hadn’t decided yet which book idea I would pursue and was pondering my options as I flipped through the magazine. I asked myself, ‘Which book should I start next?’ (and by next I meant in another few weeks or so), and on the very next page in the magazine was an article titled: Fast Forward.

This magazine cut-out inspired me to start my book.

This magazine cut-out inspired me to start my book.

I had my answer.

And I cut out that title too. (I’m sure my mother didn’t mind me getting all scissor-happy with her magazines ;))

I took this as a sign, or more accurately; a direct kick-in-the-pants to get started on this story, so instead of curling up with a book I opened my laptop and began writing. The first few chapters flew from my fingers to the keyboard over the next three days.

For the rest of the month I worked on editing a different manuscript and put Fast Forward aside until February, at around the same time as I found myself a fantastic critique partner. She read my chapters and enjoyed them and spurred me on to write more. I didn’t work on it every day, but rarely a week went by when I didn’t add more to the story. I couldn’t believe how fun and fast this story was to write. Sometimes I’d stay up till 2 or 3am because I was enjoying myself so much (although I suffered the next day). Don’t get me wrong, parts of it were plain hard work – especially figuring out how to make a 300-ish page story take place over just one day in the character’s life (I constructed a timeline in fifteen-minute increments!).

By the time June came around I only had another 20,000 words to go, so I signed up for RWA’s 50k in 30 days challenge and vowed to finish it by the end of the month.

Half way through June I typed ‘The End’. Overall it took me about four months to write.

I sent the rest off to my critique partner who gave me some very helpful suggestions and I went straight to work editing it. I didn’t want to put it aside for a while like many authors (rightfully) recommend. My heart was still in this story and I wanted to work on it while it felt fresh.

I edited the first three chapters many more times until I was happy with the beginning, and did a final read through. I then entered online pitch contests and began the time-consuming process of researching agents, publishers, and sending out queries. All in all I got about twenty agent rejections and two editor rejections, but received feedback and took (most of it) on board, tweaking some parts of the manuscript.

Then I pitched it at the RWA conference on the Gold Coast in August, and while I was there, learned of Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint, Escape. At first I didn’t think my story would be suitable (for starters, my hero was a nerd!) and I went home and sent off my other submissions. After seeing Escape’s tweets on twitter, I decided I should check out their submission guidelines anyway and they seemed fairly open-minded about different genres and mixed genres as long as it had a significant romance and happy ending. Mine was a combination of women’s fiction, chick lit, hen lit, comedy, romance, futuristic, and paranormal (what was I thinking?!). In the end I decided on romantic comedy and sent off a partial submission, knowing I’d find out in two weeks if it wasn’t suitable.

Much to my surprise I got a full manuscript request less than two weeks later, and three weeks after that I got an offer of publication. 🙂

On that wonderful day I remembered I’d actually had a dream about Harlequin Escape the night before – talk about prophetic! I checked my email as usual first thing in the morning, but there was nothing interesting. I decided to sit outside in the sun for a while to soak up some vitamin D and brought my iPhone with me. My email made that sound telling me I had new email and I glanced at the screen expecting it to be yet another ‘20% off all dresses, today only!’ or a very tempting ‘Booktopia Clearance Sale!’. But it was from Escape.

I mentally prepared myself for another rejection. All I could see was a couple of lines of a message preview:

Thank you for submitting Fast Forward to Harlequin Escape. I am delig…’

Delig? Was that part of the word I thought it was? …Delighted?

Then I thought it might say: “I am delighted that you wrote this story but unfortunately it is not right for us.’

But I knew it wouldn’t. I knew what it was going to say and my hand shook as I pressed the screen to open the message.

‘I am delighted to accept it for publication.’

Here I am just about to sign my contract.

Here I am just about to sign my contract.

The shaking intensified and lots of ‘Ohmygod’s’ spewed repeatedly from my mouth. I’m sure my neighbours thought I was having a heart attack. It was a really humid day and my palms were so sweaty from heat and excitement I could barely scroll the screen down to read the rest of the message!

I had to keep the news fairly quiet at first so I just rang my parents (who sent me a huge bunch of flowers later that day), and then my critique partner (90% of our conversation was the word ‘exciting’), and spent the rest of the day with a permanent grin on my face and completely unable to do anything productive.

It still amazes me that it was only less than a year ago I started writing this story and now it’s about to be released. I love how fast digital publishing works and I’m looking forward to getting this story out into the big wide world of the internet! I’m also excited to be involved with Harlequin, a company who has such a strong foundation and worldwide brand.

To all the writers out there – keep writing, editing, polishing, and submitting, and embrace the digital age.

To all the readers – keep reading, reviewing, and telling your friends about great books.

Thanks for reading my call story! 🙂

…To celebrate this milestone I feel like being generous and giving away stuff! To win some goodies, keep an eye on the blog (or subscribe if you like) for a giveaway coming very soon…

Past, Present, & Future with Helen Lacey

In celebration of the upcoming release of my debut novel, Fast Forward (see announcement here), welcome to the very first interview in my brand new blog segment: ‘Past, Present & Future’. Kicking things off is Harlequin romance author, Helen Lacey. Read on as I delve into her past, her present, and (bring out the crystal ball) her future!

PAST:

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

I wrote my first book when I was seven years old, so I guess I’ve always known I would be a writer. It was a romance about two horses and was sixty four handwritten pages long.

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

Well, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer. But a couple of years before I was published my husband and I had a sea change so that I could write full time. Before that I worked as a manager in a department store.

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

When I was thirteen I got my first horse. I had wanted my own pony since I was a small child and the day my parents bought me my very first horse, whose name was Oakie, I felt as though all of my dreams had come true.

PRESENT:

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

My latest book is my November release from Harlequin Special Edition called Marriage Under The Mistletoe. It’s a Christmas romance and was just so much fun to write. I have another release out in January called His-And-Hers Family and another book scheduled for the middle of 2013.

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

I write every day. I send my husband off to work around 6.30 am and then try to work on achieving 1500 words a day. Of course this depends on things such as edits and revisions or new releases etc. Around three every afternoon I head outside to spend a couple of hours with my animals, which include eight horse, three dogs, two cats, three birds and a house cow named Ginger.

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

The wonderful life I share with my husband and family. That I have a career doing what I love. And most definitely my animals, as my pets, particularly my dogs and horses are a big part of who I am.

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 go to the day that was meant to be my last day and work out which of my dreams/plans hadn’t been achieved and then come back to the now and make sure I did everything I could to achieve those dreams.

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? Oh, that’s easy – a robot to do housework.

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

To stay happy. To surround myself with wonderful family and friends. To travel to Africa. To write books and create stories I can share with readers.

Thanks for joining me on the blog, Helen, and all the best for the future (I’ll have one of those housework robots too, please!)

Just in time for Christmas you can pick up Helen’s book, ‘Marriage Under The Mistletoe’ via these retailers:

Amazon     Amazon UK

B&N     Book Depository       Harlequin      Mills & Boon Aust

Visit Helen online:

Web        Facebook           Twitter          Author Page