Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Crafty Fun - Astraea Press Pinterest Promo

For about two years now, I've lived gluten free. I know, I know. It's a fad. But really, it's a fad that works for me. It's helped my health in so many ways and following the paleo diet has helped me lose some inches and feel good about myself. I wouldn't say I'm as slim as I'd like to be, but that's how most women feel, isn't it?

Another very random thing but they're all connected: I LOVE PINTEREST. I have lots of recipes books and two huge recipe files but there's nothing I like more than posting a recipe I use on Pinterest. It saves paper and the environment and I can access the recipe at any time from my phone.

The section of my Pinterest account that has the most pins is my paleo / gluten-free recipes. Now, there's a recipe I've been making for years. I make it at least twice a month. It's delicious, easy to prepare and is gluten-free. It's not totally paleo as it has a bit of sugar and is loaded with good old dairy. This recipe is adapted from an OLD recipe book of mine that I've had since married.

Now, I'm not that into baking. I like good food and I'm a fussy eater - I like the ingredients to be pure and free of horrible things like corn syrup, MSG and gluten, etc. So, I generally do a lot of my own cooking. But I don't really enjoy it unless I can listen to the radio while I do it or my daughter helps. (Now, she's one who loves baking so much that she wants to open her own bakery one day.)

Anyhoo, the heroine in my novel, Three Tiers for Win, just loves baking. She's like my daughter - she loves making cakes. At the start of the story, she wants to move from baking for children's birthday parties to baking wedding cakes. To throw herself into the deep end, she takes up the mayor's daughter's offer to bake her wedding cake. When it sinks in what mammoth task she has taken on, she's not too happy when her brother's team-mates invade her house. Except for one of them ...

Here's an excerpt from Three Tiers for Win. Note the title of this book has great significance - three tiers in a cake and the hero's name is Win. Anyway, I shall leave you alone to read the excerpt and look down at the bottom of this post for the recipe of delish sago pudding. Here's the pin of a pic of my recipe: Sago Pudding

Mick’s sister had forbidden anyone to come into the kitchen. Since when did he keep to the rules? While the guys were joking loudly about some prank caller on the radio that morning, he stood up quietly and crept along the wall to the back door. He would walk around the house and find another way into that kitchen to find out what that smell was and beg just one piece of whatever it was. Maybe there was something meatier in the kitchen too. The kitchen had a back stable door and the top part was open. He peeped his head in and saw Mick’s sister bent over something in the centre table, very still as though she was doing something intricate or difficult. Not wanting to disturb her, he opened the door quietly and tiptoed to the fridge.

A bloodcurdling yell made his whole body leap up and his heart gallop more than it did in a race.

“You scared me,” she said.

He turned to face her, expecting a barrage of angry words. Instead she stared at him, her round face flushed a deep red, and her black hair tied up in a messy ponytail with curls escaping from all directions. She looked as though she was close to tears.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was hoping to creep in without you noticing.”

He must have been at least two feet taller than her, and he felt like a clumsy giant under her scrutiny. How did Mick land up with such a short sister?

“That’s great. I asked Mick to keep you guys out the kitchen.”

“Mick should have thought harder about what he bought for supper. I swam fifty or so lengths today and need some decent food.” He turned to face the fridge, feeling like needles were being poked in his back, but the hunger was stronger. Opening the fridge, he looked in some glass casserole dishes and found some leftover lasagne.

“Please may I have this?”

“All of it?” she asked, her voice high-pitched.

All he could offer her was a cheesy grin. Maybe that would pacify her.

“I was planning on having that for supper tonight, but…”

She waved her hands. “You take it — I probably won’t have time to eat, seeing I’m going to have to start all over again.” Slumping down on the bar stool tucked against the kitchen table that extended from the counter in a ‘T’ shape, she dropped her pointy chin on surprisingly long fingers.

“Start what all over again?” Win asked, coming towards her, taking in the scent of cake batter mixed with a soft, florally perfume that must come from the woman before him.

“I’m baking a wedding cake. It’s turned out too dry. Taste it and tell me what you think.”

Win didn’t waste time in taking the plate from her and biting into the spongy, sweet substance. It melted in his mouth, and he closed his eyes for a moment, savouring the flavoursome fullness.

“I think it’s perfect.”

“You do? But now I’ve cut into it!” Her face was so forlorn, and close up, he could see it was sprinkled generously with soft freckles against creamy skin.

“See it as training.”

“Thanks.” She turned away and began to mix things together again.

As he placed the glass dish in the microwave to warm up the lasagne, she dished up the cake onto a large silver platter. “Take this to the guys for me. They can finish it off. I have no use for it.”

Win considered taking the plate somewhere isolated and polishing it all off alone, but then he remembered how the extra carbohydrates and refined sugar would slow him down the next week. He was hungry, but he wasn’t clueless.

“Thanks, hey. What’s your name?”

She lifted her head tentatively, her cheeks turned pink, and she barely spoke above a whisper. “It’s Elaine.”

“I’ll be back for the lasagne. Is that all right?”

“As long as you’re the only one,” she said and then dropped the spoon she was holding with a clunk as though she was embarrassed by her statement — as if it implied something more.

He quickly took the tray out the room in case he made the girl mess up her recipe and to stop his insides from curling any longer.

Maybe it was just hunger. Mick’s sister was as demure as they came, but she sure knew how to make good food and he liked that in a woman, very much.

You can buy Three Tiers for Win here: Amazon


Baked Sago Pudding:

Ingredients:
1 litre milk (which is about 34 fluid ounces or one quart)
1 cup sago
1 ml salt
60 g sugar
65 g butter
4 eggs
half a vanilla pod or 5 ml vanilla extract
ground cinnamon
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots - it tastes perfectly good without

Method:
1. Soak the sago in two cups water for about 30 minutes to soften.
2. Bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla pod seeds and the empty pod. Once boiled, stir in the sago and salt and cook over very low heat until the sago is transparent. Remove the vanilla pod.
3. Stir in the sugar and butter until melted and remove from the stove.
4. Beat the eggs and stir into the sago mixture with the dried apricots (if you want them.)
5. Pour into a large, greased oven-proof  dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
6. Place the dish in a pan of hot water and bake at 160 degrees Celcius (or 325 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 45 minutes to an hour.
7. Leave to cool and set for 5 minutes.
8. Serve with honey or apricot jam. Actually it goes well with melted chocolate or ice-cream too.



Friday, April 25, 2014

Dragonfly Moments Birthday Blog Tour and Sale


It has begun.

Today, is the first stop for the blog tour for Dragonfly Moments first birthday. And my book is on sale!!

There are some great prizes. Well, there are going to be if you help me decide on the smaller prizes.

There's going to be a grand prize of $15 Amazon Gift Card. I have to confess that an awesome, super, sweet, funny and bubbly writer friend called Nana Prah donated this prize for my blog tour. She's a fellow Ubuntu writer at Decadent Publishing and her Ubuntu book came out not long ago. It's called Midwife to Destiny and is an lovely medical romance set in Africa. You have to read this sweet, touching romance. You can get it here: Amazon and it's also on sale at the moment for $0.99.

Now, I'm not too sure what to give for a small dragonfly prize in the 5 dragonfly swag bags.

I used to be into beading. Like crazy. I used to make necklaces, bracelets, all sorts. Then suddenly, the craze died out. Don't know why. It just kind of lost its charm. Maybe because I couldn't sell them, the friends I gave them to never wore them, and well, you can only have so many of your own. But, I'm happy to take out my beads and revive the craft for my readers. So, I'd like to make a dragonfly necklace for prizes. Something like this: Bead Necklace Idea 1 or like this: Bead Necklace Idea 2. It wouldn't be exactly the same - depends on what beads I can find.

I've always enjoyed knitting. There's something about doing simple stitches and watching them form this amazing shape in the end. Somehow, that sense of endurance, having to work towards the end goal makes the triumph all the more sweeter. (Much like writing a book.) It's also easy enough to do in front of the TV. So, I'm very happy to make these little wall hangings: Knitted Dragonfly Wall Hanging or this really cute dragonfly toy.

So, there will be a vote. Put your vote in the comments below. Choose necklace, wall hanging or toy.  Also, to take part in the rafflecopter giveaway which will be live from 12h00 a.m. US time, you can comment below and say what special memory you have shared with a loved one.

"Dragonfly Moments" are those fleeting moments you share with someone special which you never forget. They're those moments that tug your heart whenever you remember them. Ryan knew that Tessa needed more Dragonfly Moments, not just a guarantee of forever. Don't we all? What's the point of forever if it's not that great?

“Will you tell me what the dragonflies mean?”
He swallowed a mouthful of food and put his plate on the picnic mat. Leaning forward, his eyes sparkling, he spoke.
“I want to give you memories. Dragonfly moments. We have these moments in life that we never forget. They’re short, but they impact us forever. I wanted to give you one of those moments.”

The birthday blog tour will take you to the following places where you can enter again:

Sweetly Clean Romances
Jessica Subject's Blog
Tara Quan's Blog
Mary Quast's Blog - Romantic Interludes
Krista Ames' Blog
Gracen Miller's Blog
ARe Cafe
Leigh Ellwood's Blog
Landra Graf's Blog - Rise of the Slush
Catherine Peace's Blog
Nana Prah's Blog

I may have a few mistakes in the list above. Sorry, if I've put your wrong blog as some of you have several blogs.

Rafflecopter Giveaway










Thursday, April 24, 2014

Excited and Amazed!

I love it when things just fall into place and seem to converge together into one point when you hadn't even planned it that way.

It started off with me requesting Lisa at Decadent Publishing if I could have a sale on Dragonfly Moments. I really wanted to promote my book and thought a sale would help. She said yes and gave me the official dates of my sale: 25 April - 12 May. The book is actually on sale already at Decadent Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance Ebooks. She suggested I get a blog tour going at the same time. I asked my fellow DP writers for some help and I had a stellar response. I have almost filled up every single day, except for weekends. I have also got onto All Romance Ebooks and another website for Sweet Romance writers.

What has also astounded me is I suddenly realised something in the midst of all this. Dragonfly Moments came out on 19 May 2013. That's practically a year ago (minus a few days.) So, my blog tour has automatically been converted into a First Birthday blog tour and sale.

I made a little trailer for my book which isn't great. (I know, yes, I should just stick to writing.) I want to share it anyway. My friend, Kirsty Ankiewicz, who does graphic design, is busy working on a better one for me. Yay! Can't wait to see it.

Here's the trailer: Dragonfly Moments Book Trailer

Decadent Publishing is advertising my sale on their newsletter. There are a stack of other wonderful older books on sale, too. So take a look by subscribing to their newsletter. Here's the link: Decadent Publishing Newsletter

Here's my banner for the blog tour:




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Guest Author Interview and Book Spotlight - Leigh Hann

Today, I have a special writer who is a friend, fellow homeschooler, and fellow SA writer. She's talking about her debut novel, The Beauty of Freedom, which has just come out with Soul Mate Publishing.


Blurb:

Lea Finley’s daily routine begins with meditation. Today, though, she cannot focus. There’s something blocking her efforts.

She and Connor have been married for five years. Though she might not have the perfect marriage, her life seems peaceful. To prioritize her head, she decides to go on a short trip. Lea is a strong believer in living your passions. She paints for a living and believes strongly in her spirituality.

But when she meets Bill Hammington, confusion hits her between the eyes. Lea is on an emotional rollercoaster. She is drawn to Bill, but at the same time she battles with guilt over Connor. After all, Lea is not ‘that kind of a woman.’ She does not believe in cheating. Through all darkness and turmoil, there is beauty, love, forgiveness, and laughter.

Author Interview:

Before I begin answering some questions I want to thank Kathy Bosman for this opportunity. You are a beautiful and talented writer.

Thank you to all the readers who bought my book, supporting me and I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Lea, Connor and Bill. There are for sure many more stories still on their way.

Have a wonderful day and remember, Fight for Love as Love Will Fight for You!

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Friends and family will tell you that I’m the quiet one of them all. During conversation I’m usually the observer taking mental notes and pictures. Of course the opportunity has presented itself where I wish I could simply open my mouth and words will start to flow, but unfortunately-nothing-zero.

When it comes to pen and paper, I simply flourish. Words turn into sentences. Sentences develop into paragraphs and sometimes it’s difficult believing that I was actually capable of writing all that.
Having the ability to express myself is the best thing about being a writer.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
I’ve always had this urge since childhood, wanting to help people. A need to make a difference in someone’s life, even if only for a minute.

I had a bit of experience working/studying as a nurse student at a hospital. It wasn’t satisfying though. I want to reach people across the world.

Imagine being able to put a smile on thousands of faces or leaving a thought that makes someone think…what if? It’s about giving and being the cause of happiness for a second.

The hardest thing about being a writer in my opinion is wanting to reach millions of readers out there. You as a writer have this message you want to spread like wild fire, but it’s not possible to please every single person. Tastes differ.

What genres do you write and what genre is your latest release?
A couple of readers said my genre falls into the Woman’s Fiction section; others say its contemporary romance. I’m not going to sub-categorize. I’ll stick with Romance for now.

I have been leaning towards the sci-fi/fantasy category with a bit of writing lately. Who knows what characters will pop into my head and where the story will end up? It’s a fun journey though.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
When an idea or story pops into my head-write it down immediately. I dream a lot and many scenes incorporated into my novels were things I dreamed.

Write your ideas down!

I can create any world, become any being, and live out my wildest fantasies-because in books it’s allowed to be crazy. Perfecting the art of writing is taking your time nurturing the skill, cultivating resources, plotting scene categorization and honing your talent to put words out there. Captivating millions of hearts.

It’s the gentle approaches which make your work blossom in the end.

Who is your favorite heroine from your books and why?
In ‘The Beauty of Freedom’ it’s difficult to choose who my favorite is.

Lea is a troubled soul. Someone once pointed out that she is a drifter. She shouldn’t be with anyone until she found herself. At the time I didn’t realize it when I wrote her story. It just happened. Connor-I feel awful for him. His love for Lea consumed him, yet his routine comfortability clouded his visions. Bill had a rude awakening when he met Lea. He knew something very different was up with her-something he didn’t fathom.
Each of these characters has a story to tell and it’s interesting reading all the different opinions readers experience with Lea, Connor and Bill.

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. A very interesting character. A guy who is mentally totally screwed and uses sex as his coping mechanism.

Carter in Falling from Love. He is an ordinary guy who was involved in a horrific accident and feels completely responsible for one of his crew member’s death. He is filled with guilt not knowing how to approach Holly and mend her breaking heart.

I prefer the wounded characters that in the end make a choice and they walk out stronger from where they’ve been.

Tell us about your journey in writing this book?
Wow- a journey it sure was! June 2012 I had a dream of a man and woman sitting back-to-back. They didn’t touch or look at each other, but the intense emotions these two shared was incredible. It was almost like a 10 second dream. The next morning I woke knowing that this was the backbone of my journey.
Many scenes in the novel were things I dreamed and I think it helped me tremendously being able to describe a certain emotion due to the fact that I felt it either through real life experiences or in my dreams.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself?
I love watching Anime movies-Japanese animation. Especially the Studio Ghibli collection. My favorite are Spirited Away, Howl’s moving castle and Ponyo.

I play the multi-player online game-World of Warcraft. Been a member since 2004. My characters name is Yakone-monk panda and Krevenja-mage dranei.

I love swimming. I swim five days a week for an hour at our local gym swimming pool. I follow a training program through myswimming.org. You track your strokes, laps, times etc. My goal is to participate in the swimming annual Freedom Day challenge which you swim from Big Bay, Cape Town to Robben Island. It’s a 7.4km race in the ocean with an average temperature of 12°C. Crazy huh?

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page, e.g. music or a snack?
Every novel I write has its own music genre.

The Beauty of Freedom was written with Pan Pipe music.

Whiskey on Rocks was written with Pink, Kings of Leon, Adele, John Legend and The Civil Wars.

My Awaken Series-Book 1-The Clock of Innocence is being written with 2Cellos and Enya.

Been written with, I mean these artists music buzz in my ears through my iPod while I write.

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style?
Readers might pick up as they read my stories that the ocean is always present some way or the other. I have explained in little detail on my website the connection we share.

I prefer writing in first person point of view. It draws the reader in immediately. As if they are the actual main character.

Within each book there are experiences I have experienced which makes it easier to explain or delve into that given moment and pour out your heart. Exactly mimicking a certain emotion and trying to do justice by it.

What book would you like to work on next?
Whiskey on Rocks is finished and has been submitted. The story involves a woman battling with emotions and life. She constantly feels as if been transported from another dimension to this place we call earth. What is life about? What is religion? So many what ifs. The character, Gramps is based upon my own experiences with my late grandfather. I have many regrets and unanswered questions. I think many many people out there can relate. What if you had one more moment left to say something to someone knowing they will not be there the next moment? There is definitely romance in this novel, but with a devastating twist.

The Clock of Innocence is my current WIP. It’s written out of a 10-year-old boy’s perspective. His name is Jimmy. Jimmy helps a young man who was in a horrific car accident and takes him home only to discover that his new friend is actually a ghost. No-this is not the movie Six Sense replica. This series involves reptilians feeding upon fear and Jimmy boy is the only anti-dote masking his own fears. This masking ability somehow spreads to others he has contact with. Any romance involved…of course! What did you think?

Excerpt:

“When you see the one you love with somebody else.
When the one you love does not recognize you or acknowledges you.
When the one you love walks by hand in hand with the other and he sees you standing there, but he chooses to ignore you because it make the hurt much less . . . For who?
Sadness and heaviness consumes your heart.
A piece of lead stuck in your chest and a lump in your throat.
Anxiety rushing through your veins and stinging you.
Confusion and anger, but all give in to the mercy of hurt.
The ultimate betrayal.
Why does he not choose you?
Why can he not see you?
Why can we not be together?
Since you are the perfect match.
Oh God!
Nails grow on your fingertips. You put your hand to your chest and dig in to rip out your heart, because the pain is unbearable.
Pools of tears well up your sockets and break through the wall pouring down like an angry waterfall, only to give no relief.
Your chest closes up; muscle spasms choke you from the inside and force the life out of your body. You scream for some relief, only to plump down to the floor with no voice.
Staring out in front of you and whispering softly to the wind- Please! Dissolve my body and make me disappear. Please- I beg for mercy from this monstrous hurt.”

Buy Links:

The Beauty of Freedom is available on Amazon as an eBook. Print copies will only be available within about 9 months’ time: Amazon

You can find Leigh Hann at www.leighhann.com and www.facebook.com/authorleigh.hann

Thanks so much for being on my blog and answering my questions. You're some mean swimmer!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Last Stop - What I Love About Africa



It's been quite a ride. I've loved seeing what everyone has come up with regarding pop culture in Africa. There have been such a variation of themes from Indian Moms (we know the Indian culture is a big part of Africa) to online dating, Grey's Anatomy, the real side of Africa and Rom-Com movies. As colourful as the continent, so has this blog hop been. Thank you so much to the authors for their excellence, dedication and camaraderie in this blog tour. It's been a wonderful experience and I hope those who have participated have enjoyed it, too.

Photo by Kevin Bosman
To be honest, I haven't known what to put in this last blog post of the tour. I could talk about my up and coming Ubuntu book, number two in The Creators Series. My heroine is a ballet teacher who wishes she could dance on stage. Dancing in Africa? Mmmmh, sounds interesting. But, the book is only due out later in the year, so I'm going to hold out on that for a later time. Here's a sneak peak of a rough trailer to give you a foretaste of what's coming: The Dance of the Firefly

Well, I've come up with something that epitomises the Ubuntu line: What I Love About Africa. Semhar Araia got #WhatILoveAboutAfrica to trend on Twitter in 2011. Okay, I know that's a long time ago, but I thought it was so cool. Read here.

I don't know if you get them in your news feeds on Facebook, but I like these funny or beautiful pics of Africa on Facebook, called "Africa, this is why I live here." Here's an example of one that's very funny and true to life in parts of Africa (and pop culture):


You have to check out some of the scenery photography on the "Africa, this is why I live here" Facebook page.

Firstly, I want to put my own "What I Love About Africa." I may not live in this continent the rest of my life, but I will always hold special memories from my experiences here.

Africa, a place of sunshine, of warmth, of friendship on many levels, of breathtaking sunsets, of quiet moments to ponder in the wild countryside, a place steeped in culture from centuries of people so like us and so unlike us in many ways. Africa is a place to rest your head, a place to put down roots and a place to discover. I don't think I would grow weary of discovering this continent and all it's mysteries. It's a place of modern, urban energy mixed with wide open spaces that go on forever.

I would love to hear from others in the comments below what they love about Africa, even if you've never touched the rich soil of Africa with your footprint.

This is your last opportunity to win the prizes offered up. Here is a list of them in case you've forgotten:

Grand Prize
$30 Amazon Gift Card
The Dashing Debutante Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Love Through Time E-book by Nana Prah
Wedding Gown Girl E-book by Kathy Bosman

Book Bundle 1
Lord Fenmore’s Wager Print Book by Alissa Baxter
A Touch of Winter Anthology E-book by Nana Prah
A Valentine Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 2
Send and Receive Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Three Tiers for Win E-book by Kathy Bosman
An Engagement Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 3
The Complete “Eternelles” Series by Zee Monodee
Adrasteia E-book
Seraphine E-book
Inescapable E-book
Indomitable E-book

To enter the competition, click the rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The previous blog posts are listed below:
9 April - Zee Monodee - Author's Corner
10 April - Nana Prah - Writing Romance and Loving Life
11 April - Inge Saunders - Inside These Lines
14 April - Kiru Taye Writes
15 April - Alissa Baxter
16 April - back here for a final chance to enter.





Monday, April 14, 2014

Fiancé by Fate - Book Spotlight and Review

Jennifer Shirk is one of my favourite sweet romance writers. She knows how to pack a punch and her sweet romances are sensual, touching, full of humour and downright always a great read. So, I signed up to promote her new release and put in my review of her book, Fiancé by Fate.


Her book is on sale for just $.99 for a limited time so be sure to pick up your copy today before they go back to full price!


About the Book
Title: Fiancé by Fate
Author: Jennifer Shirk
Publisher: Entangled Bliss
Pub. Date:April 14, 2014

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N

Sabrina Cassidy believes in fate. So when her fiancé breaks off their engagement, she’s convinced they’ll get back together eventually. But fate was not on her side when it brought Jack Brenner into her life—and work. Frustrating, gorgeous, and cocky, Jack has an offer that Sabrina can't refuse. Not if it means getting the life she’s always imagined.

Despite being one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, Jack has a reputation that’s working against him. He has to convince his father—and his company’s board—that he’s ready to settle down if he wants a promotion. But convincing Sabrina to be his fake girlfriend turns out to be the easiest part. What he didn’t count on was their intense attraction and how easily their lie would escalate. Sabrina’s still hung up on her ex, and Jack will never settle down. But fate has other ideas…

Follow the blog tour HERE!
(Starts 4/14)


Find Jennifer Online:


Here is my review of her book:

Once again, Jennifer doesn't disappoint.

Sabrina has just been told by her fiance that he wants some space. She goes with her friend to a fortune teller, desperate for some direction in her life. She's assured they will get back together so she determines that she'll do whatever she can to get back together with David. Even agree to pretend to date her work enemy, Jack, the resident playboy. Jack needs to look more settled down to his dad, the CEO of the company to obtain a promotion, so wants good-girl Sabrina to be on his arm. Sabrina wants David to see her with sexy Jack and get jealous. Little does Sabrina realise how quickly her hate for Jack will soon turn to love and little does Jack realise how high his propensity for love actually is. The sparks fly and I love the sparring dialogue between Jack and Sabrina.

This is a beautiful take on the fake engagement trope. The story was gripping, flowed fast and kept me reading when I should have been working.

The characters were lovely - I love the opposites attract scenario, although also, the character arc of the hero was deep and touching. He was gorgeous and very alpha yet not in a hard alpha kind of way - just the right touch of alpha, tease and kindness. I love a man who can tease.

Although we know it will be a happy ending in the end as category romances are, I enjoyed the twists and turns that kept me on my seat to get there.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Light My World with Zee Monodee


It's all about Ubuntu this week and today I have Zee Monodee, my wonderful editor of Dragonfly Moments and a talented writer, talking about her new Ubuntu release, a love story set in the exotic island of Mauritius which is also part of Africa. She's also answered my interview questions. Because she's been on my blog before, I'm not going to share her bio. The interview questions also give a good idea about the author. And she's so fascinating!

"Light my World" is a multi-cultural, contemporary romance, Bollywood style. It's book two of the Island Girls Trilogy.


Blurb:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that to find a prince, a girl has to kiss a few frogs along the way. But what happens when a modern-day princess comes across…an ogre?

So what if a girl has to kiss a few frogs to find her prince?

Tired of her Indian-origin mother’s relentless matchmaking, Diya Hemant is determined to find her Prince Charming on her terms. Armed with a definitive list of requirements, she is sure she’ll know her man when she meets him…

But looking and finding are two different things, especially on the tiny island of Mauritius…

When her path crosses surly British widower Trent Garrison’s, it’s hate at first sight. And though fate keeps pitting her against him, she’s certain he can’t be turned into a frog let alone a prince.


Can this modern-day princess overcome her own expectations and see beyond the ogre to the man beneath?

Excerpt:

Still squatting in front of the children, Diya peeked up for a first glance of him.

Brown linen trousers covered his long legs, and she craned her neck to take in his tall body and broad chest. He’d rolled the sleeves of his cream-coloured shirt to his elbows, revealing big, powerful-looking hands and strong forearms dusted in dark hairs. A tense, corded neck lay visible beneath the open collar of the shirt, with a slightly pointed chin above it. Strong jaw, and chiselled, taut, handsome features. Deep-set grey eyes, very much like the elder boy’s, squinted at her beneath thick eyebrows the same hue as the neatly trimmed dark hair on his head.

Diya gaped. This hulking Adonis was her neighbour?

He has offspring to boot, whispered a little voice.

She snorted under her breath. Just her luck, again. He was taken. What is it with this weekend from hell?

“You?”

The word rolled off the Greek god’s tongue, and the British accent and disbelieving tone dripping with spite jolted her like an electric current.

This man, and the savage who’d hit her car the day before, were the same person.

The surprise zinged through her; she gasped, and brought her hand up to cover her mouth.

In doing so, she lost her balance and toppled over onto her arse to lay flat on her back. Pain from hitting the hard marble erupted all along her spine, and she caught herself before the back of her head smashed into the floor. Quick save, and thank goodness most of the broken glass lay in her flat, and not in the lobby. She’d have been in for some major injury, otherwise.

“Are you okay, miss?” a little voice asked.

Would this nightmare ever end? She must appear like an undignified heap, and there went all the leverage she could bring to this meeting. Humiliation piled onto her anger at being caught in such a stupid position, in front of him, no less.

“No, I’m not okay.” She glared at the oaf. “It’s all because of you, you beast.”

“Dad?” Matthew asked. “What’s he done?”

Confirmation he was the boys’ father. Great. Could something, anything, go right for her?

“Oh, forget it,” she said as her voice broke.

Shoot, she wouldn’t cry, would she?

“Of all the people in the world….”

He spoke the words softly. The disbelief in them wiped away her feelings of self-pity, and hurt like a stab, in the same go.

Was he rude by nature, or did he always itch for a fight? Either way, she wouldn’t let him off the hook.

“What?” she asked. “Go on. What were you gonna say?”

“Nothing,” he said through clenched teeth.

“It’s not nothing. So don’t be a chicken. Say it.”
He remained stubbornly silent.

She glowered up at him. “So?”

He tightened his jaw. “You’re the one person I hoped to never meet again.”

This had to strike beyond rude. What a bastard.

Outrage at his insult filled her, but the distaste for him and his cavemen-like ways won the battle. “Same here, mate.”

“You know each other?” Matthew asked as he peered back and forth at them.

“Yeah,” they both growled.

Buy links:

Decadent Publishing
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

Book Trailer

Author Interview:


What is the best thing for you about being a writer?

Working from home! While I love interacting with people all the time, I am not exactly a social person in the sense that I’m more of a pyjamas and comfy slippers gal. I rarely, if ever, wear full makeup, and I put myself together only just enough to not appear like a hag when I go out. So having to dress and cake on the makeup to go to work every single day is not my cup of tea (did I also mention I have tons of bad hair days?) I thus love the freedom to be me that writing enables. And since I am also a huge control freak, being able to work on my own schedule is a huge bonus – I get to do everything I set myself to do during the day.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?

Getting over the jitters and apprehension to actually start writing. Never mind if it’s a new book, new chapter, new scene – there’s always this nagging little voice keeping me back and poking at me to ask “can I hope to write something as good as what I’ve written so far?”

To me, writing demands a lot of courage on behalf of the writer, because you’re not only putting yourself out there through your work, but your first critic will always be you, like when you see that blank page or go through what feels to you like the word vomit you’ve barfed out that day. My inner chicken comes to fore way too easily, and it’s hard sometimes to tell her to shut up and leave me alone. J

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?

Well, my main genre is contemporary romance. Whether this takes place with an Indian-culture slant set in Mauritius, or in more mainstream types like my small-town romances set in England, at the heart of all my stories is a romance.

I’ve tried my hand at romantic suspense/dark espionage, too (felt scary coz I seemed to like the dark themes way too much!), and also at paranormal romance/urban fantasy with the self-pubbed Eternelles series co-written with my bestie.

But my latest is the genre I love best – contemporary romance with a comedic bent. I love romcoms and though I cannot write funny to save my life, I can do light and fluffy rather well, if I may say so, and this comes out in much of my contemporary romances.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?

That you’ve got to trust your gut. If something’s not feeling right, listen to what your gut is telling you – it is always spot on the mark! And I’ve also learned that I have my way of writing and putting a story together, and that it’s okay if this way doesn’t agree with how other writers work. I plan a lot, plot a lot, overthink my stories in daydreams a lot, and then one draft where it all goes onto the page and I’m done with the writing part (editing is another matter from this point on!)

Find what works for you – that’s the best advice I can think of giving any writer.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?

Lol, I would have to say Diya Hemant from Light My World. She and I are the most alike – we’re girlie girls who know what we want and how to set out to get it, and we’ll let nothing stand in our way. At the same time, Diya is infused with very solid morals and her flighty exterior hides a deep and fragile persona that she camouflages with the ditzy butterfly façade.

To me, Diya is the embodiment of all a girl should be – if I had a daughter, I’d wish for her to grow up to become like Diya.

What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.

I don’t like super alpha men – makes me want to bash them over the head too much! Wounded....yes, it would mean they have been taken down a peg or two and be more of a realist and less holier-than-thou as most men tend to be....

So, yeah, definitely somewhere in between. My type of hero can be a headstrong Alpha or the more easygoing type – but there’s always this line he would never cross; there’s a limit to what he’ll take in the name of love, a boundary that keeps him from being a doormat.

I suppose all my heroes fit this ‘template’ (so to speak).

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.

Well, I’d never planned on writing this book at first! I didn’t even know Diya Hemant existed! I started her sister’s story (Lara in The Other Side) and suddenly, there she was, the baby sister, barging her way through and being a cheeky and almost-adorable brat.

And back then, when I’d started writing (Light My World is my second penned book, btw), I kept thinking I had to use hard and desperate conflicts in my book, like in literary stories. But as I wrote, I realised ‘heavy’ and me were like oil and water; we’d never mix. At least not like fluffy and light merged with my style and persona.

So I knew Diya’s story, with her being so upbeat and well, yes, tiring with her extra energy, would have to be a comedy, all the way. How to make things more and more complicated all while keeping it light? That was a journey I had tons of fun with – putting roadblocks along her path, little setbacks that have huge consequences. Probably the book I had the most fun writing!

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.

Hmmm... Let’s see....

I’m a good cook but I hate cooking. I know, sounds like an oxymoron, but there you have it. My dream is to afford a cook!

I’ve got severe myopia and have worn thick glasses since I was 8. So yes, no wonder I was one of the ‘nerds’ in school!

I’m a lip balm and lip-gloss junkie – I can never get/buy enough of them! There’s this store called Reserve Naturelle and my husband always tries to steer me away from its outlet at the many malls here because if I go in, you can be sure I’ll be coming out with a tube of lip-gloss or a pot or two of lip balm every single time!

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.

Not a ritual really, but whenever I sit down at my desk with my laptop, I’ll light up a scented candle. The delicious smell helps me centre myself and focus better, it seems.

But otherwise, I just tell myself “come on, girl. This is what you gotta do, so do it! Now!”

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.

Mauritius. It’s the setting and the backdrop of many of my stories. While there are other Mauritian authors, I don’t think any uses the light and fluffy, pop/commercial fiction angle I use in my books, and my experience as an Indian-origin young woman in this setting and melting pot of cultures gives me a distinctive writing style with unique elements, I believe.

What book would you like to work on next?

Well, I have a few books contracted and releasing this year, so it depends on the series I have out and when they’d need their next instalment out.

But if it were just me, I’d get to work on a story I have that’s titled “Against The Odds.” It’s part of the small-town Daimsbury Chronicles series, but this one is a longer/full-length book, and the focus is the unlikely coming together of an Indian-origin heroine who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her billionaire playboy boss whom everyone dismisses as a party animal. Both of these characters, Megha and Magnus, hide aspects of themselves from the rest of the world, and it’s only together that they can show who they really are.


And another thing – Megha’s journey with breast cancer, from her diagnosis to her treatments and her recovery, is very much my own journey with the disease as it happened to me the first time I was diagnosed 9 years ago. In it, I want to demystify breast cancer, and show women that there’s hope even after such a devastating diagnosis.


I read this book and I have to say that Diya is such a sweetie and you'll fall in love with her as well as the hero. Zee, I love your scented candle idea! And I agree, cooking sucks! But working from home rocks. It was so lovely to learn more about you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ubuntu Line April Blog Hop


Pop Culture in Africa

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning "I am what I am because of what we all are." It speaks of unity and working together. So, as authors of the Ubuntu Line with Decadent Publishing, we are working together to bring awesome books set in Africa.

This April, we have organised a blog hop with wonderful prizes and an opportunity for you to discover more about Africa. The theme of this blog hop is "Pop Culture in Africa." The modern Africa is very different to what has been portrayed in classical literature. It's a continent full of colour, life and fascinating culture. Won't you Escape to Africa for the next week and a half and discover things you didn't know about the lovely continent.

Art Pop Culture

Today, I'm going to talk about art in South Africa where my book is set and specifically street art. In my Ubuntu Line book, Tessa is an artist struggling to get her new gallery going. Ryan takes her to see some pavement art in the centre of Johannesburg. The moment they share while looking at the 3D realistic artwork painted on the pavement, touches Tessa's soul. She feels an intense bonding with Ryan but her need for stability holds her back. To her, Ryan is a free spirit and not someone to depend on, or so she thinks. She wants Mark who is good father material for the family she's dreamed of for years.

South Africa has some fascinating street art but is fairly new in terms of being graced with pavement art. Kurt Wenner, the pioneer of pavement art in the world, drew three 3D artworks in chalk for Hyundai in April 2013 - one in Durban, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg. Kurt Wenner was a scientific illustrator for NASA who gave up his lucrative position to live in Italy and study the old Roman masters. He has spent most of his life teaching others art and produces magnificent works himself. He's even published a book called "Asphalt Renaissance" talking about the revival of street art through 3D pavement art. Street art has a power that other art lacks in that it touches everyone - the man on the street, the everyday person. It's not confined to galleries where often only the cultured, financially stable or educated visit. Street art is often done by the ordinary person too. I love this African street art at Khayelitsha township.

Street art is a big part of our culture - from designated (controlled) graffitti to African art on buildings and structures and several sculptures adorning shopping malls around South Africa. I think pavement art takes it to a whole new level. There's nothing like walking down the road and seeing a picture that takes you into its world with a quality of depth perception and reality that's beyond the norm. If you're interested, take a look at one of Kurt Wenner's works done in April last year in South Africa: V&A Waterfront Pavement Art

Here's a little excerpt from the scene in my book when Ryan takes Tessa to see the art:

“It’s down a back street.”

He drove in silence, the muscles in his arms like orchestra music, so in sync with every movement. She turned away and watched some wide-eyed school children carrying their heavy bags from school, playing recklessly with one another by the road. Longing tugged at her heart a moment, and she swallowed a lump in her throat.

“Here it is,” he said with a dramatic whisper. He parked the car and opened the door for her, escorting her to walk with him down the road. What could be so interesting and artistic about this place? Maybe there was a secluded artist living in one of the flats with a hidden talent—a modern-day Picasso.

They crossed a busy street over to the center of a traffic circle, like the eye in the midst of a storm. Then her eyes opened as if for the first time. Her legs remained rooted to the spot. People walked past them as if they were on any street or sitting on an ordinary park bench.

“Can I step on it?” she asked.

“Go for it.”

Traffic roared around them. Taxi drivers shouted for their passengers through their windows, hooting at the other cars. But those sounds didn’t take away from the experience. She stepped on the artwork painted directly onto the paved middle of the traffic circle, her body wanting to take the spiral staircase that majestically wound itself down to a dungeon scattered with treasures, artifacts, and ancient statues. The astounding detail and use of perspective created a depth that was beyond reality.

“Who painted this?”

“I can’t remember his name, but we can get the tourist brochure at the info booth if you want to find out. He has several more scattered about town. I know where they all are."

The moments when they stood, poised, Ryan’s arm brushing hers, the whole world seemed to fade. She imagined herself with him in the ancient dungeon, walking through wooden treasure chests overflowing with twinkling jewels and chunky gold chains and coins. She bent down at the base of the stairway and touched a large ceramic pot with primitive artwork painted on its middle. A snake peered out from the eye socket of a skull sending a shiver down her spine. The dusty pavement and the noisy people didn’t distract her. After some time, she glanced at him and the gentle smile he gave her, with a breeze whipping his hair, completed the whole picture. They didn’t need to talk. The time was for reflection and savoring, a moment in her life to remember forever.

Purchase Dragonfly Moments here: Amazon

Here are the prizes you can win by entering the Rafflecopter giveaway below - just click on the link.

Grand Prize
$30 Amazon Gift Card
The Dashing Debutante Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Love Through Time E-book by Nana Prah
Wedding Gown Girl E-book by Kathy Bosman

Book Bundle 1
Lord Fenmore’s Wager Print Book by Alissa Baxter
A Touch of Winter Anthology E-book by Nana Prah
A Valentine Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 2
Send and Receive Print Book by Alissa Baxter
Three Tiers for Win E-book by Kathy Bosman
An Engagement Challenge E-book by Kiru Taye

Book Bundle 3
The Complete “Eternelles” Series by Zee Monodee
Adrasteia E-book
Seraphine E-book
Inescapable E-book
Indomitable E-book

To enter the competition, click the rafflecopter link below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For tomorrow's hop, go to to Zee Monodee's blog.

The blogs you will visit during the hop are:
9 April - Zee Monodee - Author's Corner
10 April - Nana Prah - Writing Romance and Loving Life
11 April - Inge Saunders - Inside These Lines
14 April - Kiru Taye Writes
15 April - Alissa Baxter
16 April - back here for a final chance to enter.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bringing Your Baby into the World

Getting a book out there for people to read isn't a simple process. I tend to see it like having a baby.

First the baby is conceived. The book idea is come up with and the first words are penned. Sometimes, the beginning of a book is exciting, new and full of promise. Sometimes, it takes much sweat and tears to come up with the idea. I know for some women, to conceive may take much travail - fertility injections and timed love making. I'm so grateful that I had the opposite problem, hence my second and third children coming a little earlier than planned!


Next the baby (foetus) develops slowly in the womb. I'm going to compare the first trimester to the writing stage of the book. Being pregnant is a mixture of pure thrill and intense discomfort and trouble. I've been pregnant three times. Each time, there were some challenges and each time, there was the magic excitement of bonding with the child inside me especially when they began to kick or I saw an ultrasound scan (which weren't too clear in Zambia years ago.) This is the time period of writing the book. There are days when the words just flow and other days when it's like swimming in mud. Some books require extra research and rewriting of scenes. Some pregnancies require extra care like in my first pregnancy, I had to take bed rest for a week or so because of spotting. With my second, I had persistent bladder infections. (TMI, sorry.) Some books flow and are finished within two months. I can't say I've had any very easy pregnancies but I think some women just fly through them.

The second trimester is that euphoric stage when you've sent off your book and received a contract for it. The second trimester means usually all the morning sickness has gone, you have the pregnancy glow and you have the physical outward sign of all your hard work - carrying the baby. So, once you have a contract, you have something to show for all your hard work. It's a euphoric feeling. Your baby is going to see the world and the world is going to see your baby (book).

Then towards the end of the second trimester and entering into your third, you have this lo-o-o-o-o-ng waiting feeling - that stage between receiving the contract and waiting for your first round of edits.

I don't know about you, but those nine months tended to drag when I was pregnant. The time seemed to almost stand still. Especially towards the end, when your stomach is expanding and stretching your skin to the max, when your belly button is no longer a meteor hole but a mountain. When you can't reach your feet to cut your toenails and every movement is a great effort. Forget about shaving your legs. Afternoon naps keep you sane and you wonder if you'll ever have this baby.

That's how I feel at the moment. I have four babies in the womb at the moment. Four babies I've spent the last nine months or so working hard to ready for the world and they don't seem anywhere nearly ready to come out.

Then the day comes. You go into labour. You receive your first round of edits. Ouch! Editing. Your body is wracked with pain, you writhe, you don't know if you're going to make it. Is your baby going to survive and come out healthy? Will you survive or lose your voice totally? No, your baby will come out flushed and let rip a huge scream after a lungful of air to announce to the world that he/she is healthy and full of life. So, hang in there, those painful few moments before your book is birthed are the hardest but they will come to an end!

Those first few days are so exciting! You are riding on the high of bringing your new child into the world. You are bonding with how she looks (the new cover) and how perfect she now is. You sometimes doubt yourself. Will you be a good mother? Will you give this child all the attention and nutrition she needs? Will your child be happy and succeed in life? Will you be able to promote this book so it sells? Will this book succeed? Will it take off and find a life for itself in the world?

That I can't answer you but I'm sure you'll be a wonderful nurturer of your baby.

My oldest son with his newborn sister - 2003
For those reading this blog who aren't writers or women, I hope you weren't bored silly. It was fun to write though. Possibly, this analogy could be compared to bringing any dream of yours to completion. It takes time and hard work.

PS: Once the baby is born, the real work begins. Once your book is published, the real work begins. Promo!