Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Author Interview Charlene Wilson

Tonight, I have Charlene Wilson, author of "The Transformation of Anna," on my blog. Her book won the Reader's Favourite award. Let's get on with the interview as all the meaty stuff about her is in there:

Thank you so much for having me here today, Kathy!

1. What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
That has to be getting to share my worlds and characters with everyone. To have others fall in love with them and even want more is awesome to me!

2. What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
I’d have to say the technical side of it. I’m not a whiz at how things should be punctuated or divided. Lol. Thank heavens for editors.

3. What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write paranormal, science fiction, and fantasy. Though I have some contemporary stories on the sidelines waiting to be written. My latest, The Transformation of Anna, is a science fiction/fantasy. (Though some have classified it as a paranormal with the magic flying around.) It takes place in another dimension, and the main characters have advanced powers.

4. Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
My favourite heroine is usually the one I’m focusing on at the time. Lol. So, I’m going to go with Anna. We don’t get to know the true Anna very well yet in The Transformation of Anna—things happen that kind of hide her personality—but her soul is strong in her faith to her goddess. Even though her will is bent to adore her new Keeper and her soul is bound, it still cries to Arylin, Goddess of Love, when she sees the statue of her.

5. 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 love the tortured hero or one with low self-esteem who finds he’s more than he thinks, who rises above himself. Sometimes this is done in a way that comes across as cheesy. But when done well, I love it. I love Angel in the vampire series. Moody, searching for salvation, constantly tried, but plugs forward and proves himself over and over.

6. Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
This book—the series, actually—started out as a clip written about a nightmare. Chapter three is almost step for step what happened in the nucleus of it. I posted it on a writer’s site for critique, and while there were corrections, they wanted more. It turned into The Transformation of Anna and continued into book two of the series, Cornerstone Deep. The second book, Echoes, will be released the 10th of next month with book three later next year.

7. Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
Um, well… I jabber to myself as I do things, gotta hear it to make sure I’m doing things right. *wink* I cook a mean salad. (yeah, I don’t cook, but can throw together a few fresh veggies.) And…I have to have my soft snuggly throw around my shoulders while I write?  Lol.

8. What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
Gotta have my Ritz Bits. Yeah.

9. Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
Love crosses dimensions and lifetimes. Death doesn’t hinder soul mates from reuniting after they’ve been reborn. Eternal love and progression.

10. What book would you like to work on next?

Besides book three of Cornerstone Deep, I’m revising book one in my Aumelan series. There are four books written in that one and waiting for revision. The characters are still upset that I pushed to get Cornerstone Deep out first. *wink*

The Transformation of Anna

For centuries, Cole Shilo has harvested the homeless, wiped their memories, and delivered them as servants to the nobles of Cornerstone Deep.  When Cole is sent to harvest a second-class woman who has broken curfew, he expects no different.  But Anna Sinclair’s soul calls out to him.  Soul mates aren’t possible on Cornerstone Deep…
Are they?

“My life is a mirage of endless time. But you engulf me, rivet my mind, encompass my soul.”

What a fascinating premise!

An excerpt from her book:

Cole unstopped the slender vial and gently lifted Anna’s head to administer the potion. As he carefully tipped the container to her lips, tremors traveled down his forearms. His hands quaked. The amber liquid jumped to the brim and he quickly tilted it upright. Gods, Cole, control yourself. She needs every drop.

A soft palm rested on his wrist and Cole’s gaze shot to Elaina’s. When had she returned and how did he not pick up on the strong compassion emitting from her when she had? Her blue eyes looked deep into his, understanding with a touch of sadness. “Let me do that, Cole. You’ve been through enough.”

He wasn’t sure if the tremors were from anticipating a fortunate outcome or from sheer anxiety over the whole ordeal, but he accepted her tender attention as a blessing. Vincent’s intervention with her was evident. He watched as she patiently poured small measures into Anna’s mouth.

Elaina turned to Cole and lifted the emptied container. “Well, that’s it. She got it all.”

He sighed. “Thank you.”

“Anything, Cole.” She smiled and set the vial on the bed stand. “What about you? Can I get you a drink? It might calm you some.”

Nodding, he offered a small smile.

“Good, then. I’ll be right back.”

As she closed the door behind her, Cole eased himself onto the bed. “Don’t give up, Anna.” His faint words were swallowed by the silence of the room. “I’ll fix this and see to it nothing ever happens to you again.” Brushing his fingertips over her hair, he solemnly whispered a plea. “Don’t leave me.”

Her soft locks sent countless memories rushing through his mind. Her smile, her cheeky comments, her blue eyes dancing as if life itself was a game. Her Arylinite spirit embraced every moment of love, able to see beneath fa├žades that others deemed as truth. He sighed, knowing that side of her may have been unique to that lifetime—a result of her specialized upbringing in the Arylin colony of the northern territory.

He tilted his head and gazed over her still face. Her features were remarkably similar to Mianna’s. The gentle slope of her nose, the way she chose to wear her dark hair long, and he couldn’t deny her blue eyes when she’d looked at him. He cupped her cheek with his hand, gently stroking her lips with his thumb. They curved from a bow-tie center into a natural smile. So soft. Inviting. He leaned to her and lightly kissed them, then leaned his cheek to hers.

“Talk to me, Anna.” His breath was a plea. As much as he knew no answer would come, his heart called to her with his deepest wish.

He brushed his fingers down her neck to her chest, tenderly caressing her pale skin at the neckline of her gown. A strained pause caught his throat as he lightly followed her breast to her ribcage. “What’s in your heart?”

The tiny circles he drew on the thin fabric fed his longing for her touch. Supple creases followed his motion. To have her arms around him, the love they brought, had given him unmitigated comfort in a past life. It could be so again.

“My life was yours.” He kissed the circles he created. “Every moment, I found joy in you.”

He looked at her closed eyes. “Please, don’t leave me. Please promise you’ll be mine again.”

No emotion showed upon the visage of his love, but distant echoes of vows lighted his soul.

“Open to me.” He wondered if his whispered thought could possibly reach her unconscious mind. “Speak to me with your soul.”

Her lips parted and a chill flew through him. He waited, listened intently. Weak sensations touched his senses. “Anna,” he said aloud, hope rising. He cupped his palm to her cheek again. “Fight for it. Call to me.”
Anna remained silent.

Cole’s heart ached. Yet, that small reaction spurred his resolve. He framed her face as he lowered to take her lips with his. “I’ll help you.”

The scent of licorice and cream fell from his lips as he called on his Breath of Zephyr . His soul’s voice owned his words. “My life is a mirage of endless time. But you engulf me, rivet my mind, encompass my soul.”

She inhaled his sensual gift and gasped for deeper intake.

Yes. Hope impossibly filled him. His muscles tightened with expectation. His heart pounded against his chest. “Call to me!”

You can buy The Transformation of Anna here:
Barnes and Noble
Author site

You can connect with Charlene here:
Author site

Thank you, Charlene!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review of The Blog Affair by Alissa Baxter

I am so stoked to be one of the first people to read this book. Alissa offered me a review copy before the book had even been released. "The Blog Affair" is a new release with the Ubuntu Line of Decadent Publishing.

The Blog Affair is a story about a young woman, Emma, who has serious baggage from previous relationships with men. I can't imagine having gone through all the hurt and disappointments she went through. (Don't laugh. I know it's fiction.) Emma has erected a barrier over her heart but she's an absolute master at writing a blog about the pitfalls of disfunctional dating. (Note, the author of the book also runs a really interesting blog which I always enjoying reading posts from -see her address below.) Alissa seems to have an instinctive ability to understand psychology.

Anyway, Emma has run away from her previous boyfriend, Phil, to start a new life in Cape Town. She soon settles in and enjoys her new job working for mystery writer and journalist but rather mysterious and private Nick. Nick seems to carry his own baggage but is smooth, handsome, and appealing to Emma. But Emma doesn't date her boss so she ignores her feelings for him. There are way too many barriers in the way of her heart. Nick seems to respect Emma's reluctance to open up which only makes him even more attractive to her.

Besides dealing with her confusing emotions towards her new boss, Emma has to handle the very unusual young people she lives with. Her housemates' stories and her blog posts which are all put into the book, certainly reveal the dangerous world of modern dating. I think this book would be a great read for our daughters when they reach the age of dating to know which type of men to avoid. But, there's a touch of cynicism in her blog posts and reactions to her friends, which Emma soon learns to let go of. The character arc in this story is really good - the main character learns a balance between caution and finding true love.

While Emma writes her blog about serial datists, a commenter on her blog helps her to see that she has elements of serial datism in herself. She starts to fall for this man while also nursing a growing attraction to her boss.

This is a very different romance. I loved the way she grounded me in the setting very firmly. If I were an American or British reader, I would certainly understand South Africa much better after this read. She brings the country and culture alive in an often humorous way. I laughed out loud several times while reading this book.

Her secondary characters are colourful and unique. I adored Andre the most and wished she'd written a bit more about his fate at the end of the story.

The blog posts are very entertaining and informative. They definitely add a fascinating flavour to the novel.

The ending left me with hope for Emma's future - I was satisfied with it and the place Emma reached in her life.

This book isn't just a romance - it's a journey and a lesson for anyone looking for true love. A good read for young adult women embarking on the world of love.

You can buy The Blog Affair at Amazon and Amazon UK.

You can find Alissa Baxter on her:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Author Interview Zanna Mackenzie

Today, I have Zanna on my blog for an author interview. Yesterday, I was on her blog.

She's talking about her contemporary romance called "The Love Programme" brought out by Astraea Press. The cover is gorgeous!

Here are her interview answers. Oh, how interesting.

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Only one thing? There are lots! I’d probably say it’s the chance to create characters and escape into their world – I love that.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
Having patience. When I get an idea for a book and start doing the research and character development I have so many ideas flying around I get terribly impatient and want to write all of the book at once. I always feel as though I’m not writing or typing fast enough!

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write in romance and chicklit. I was fortunate enough to have two books launched by different publishers within a few weeks of each other this year – The Love Programme is a contemporary romance set in the Highlands of Scotland and How Do You Spell Love? combines chicklit with a hint of spells and magic.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
Both of my publishers provided wonderful professional editors for me to work with when preparing my novels for launch and I learnt so much about the technical side of writing from going through the editing process with them it was tremendous. I’ve also learnt launching a book is just the start and that there’s a huge amount of promotional work involved after the launch day!

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
From my two published novels I’d have to say Lucy in The Love Programme. For starters she’s a travel agent which I used to be too many years ago. She’s also a bit shy, awkward and very confused – I can relate to many aspects of her.
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’d say I prefer the flawed beta hero. The guy next door type, essentially kind with a great sense of humour, who makes you smile. In movie terms I’d say guys like the Josh Duhamel character in Safe Haven and the Jude Law character in The Holiday.

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
Oh wow! Tricky question! Okay here goes… 1) I’m fascinated by the weather and used to record weather stats every day in a log book as a child. I had a thermometer recording max and min temps, a rain gauge and hygrometer for humidity readings. I still have a wi-fi mini weather station in the kitchen so I can see at an instant what the temp and humidity outside is. 2) I don’t own a single pair of high heel shoes but I love boots and have several pairs of walking boots, four pairs of wellingtons and four pairs of ‘smart’ knee high boots.  3) I dislike shopping – unless it’s for books!

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
After I got my two book deals last year I was on a mega high and wrote like crazy for about ten months. I didn’t need anything to get me in ‘the zone’ and was constantly noting scene ideas down at all times of the day – including the middle of the night. Then I got burn out and couldn’t write at all. I was frustrated and worried I’d never manage to get back in ‘the zone.’ I sought advice from other writers and thankfully their advice worked. Now I’m careful to pace myself and like to play easy listening music when I write.

What book would you like to work on next?
I’ve just signed a contract for my next book with one of my publishers, Crooked Cat. If You Only Knew is in the chicklit genre and due out in Feb 2014 so I’m looking forward to working through the editing process over the next few months for that novel. In terms of writing, I’m currently extensively revamping the first book I ever wrote in the hope (fingers firmly crossed) it might see the light of day as a published novel at some point. The book is a romcom set in my favourite place – The English Lake District.

We have very similar taste in heroes - I loved Jack Black (Jude Law) in The Holiday and Josh Duhamel in Safe Haven. They were both stunning movies. And high heels are a definite no-no. Wellingtons are great but I've never owned them as adult until a few days ago. Thanks, Zanna, for an interesting interview.

Give us a blurb of your book and if you want, a short excerpt.

The Love Programme

Thanks to an embarrassing incident involving a wedding and her ex-boyfriend Marcus, Lucy has to leave her home town in a hurry and needs a place to escape to for a while. Best friend Fiona is convinced now would be a good time for Lucy to get herself a new life with some potential for romance thrown in. Fate seems to agree when Lucy is given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a TV show and be a contestant on The Love Programme - two weeks of luxury living on a grand Highland estate coupled with, she hopes, fun and romance in wildest Scotland. When Lucy meets Paul - the young, handsome owner of the Highland estate - she thinks she may have found the love of her life but who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life? When she discovers that Marcus is planning to follow her to Scotland to win her back Lucy has some serious soul searching to do. Does she have a future with Paul, with Marcus or is she yet to find the man of her dreams?

Here's an excerpt from this beautiful-looking book:

“Just sit on this suitcase, will you, Fi? I can’t get the stupid thing shut!”
Fiona, obligingly perching her bottom on the bulging case so Lucy could tug the zipper to close it up, said, “I can’t believe you’ve agreed to do this. You’re going to be on a TV show about love! Won’t you be embarrassed having everyone know all your business?”
Her face red from doing battle with the suitcase and, thankfully, managing to win, Lucy shook her head. “No. Where else could I get a few extra weeks off work and live the life of luxury whilst a man tries to impress me with extravagant dates? Plus, I’ll be getting relationship coaching from a top expert.”
Lucy checked around the room to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. “Do you think I’ve packed the right clothes?”
Fiona lay back on the bed, stretching and spreading her arms out around her as though she was making the duvet version of a snow angel. “How should I know?”
“Mel said the programme is being recorded at the home of some Scottish laird. It’s a real mansion with a spa and acres and acres of land.”
Fiona pushed herself into an upright position, suddenly all attentive. “A laird, eh? Sounds interesting. What else do you know about him?”
“He’s not going to be one of the dates so don’t get all excited. He’s just rented his home out to the TV production company. Apparently he’ll be away on business most of the time we’re there, so we probably won’t even get to meet him.”
Fiona shook her head. “Shame, how exciting would it have been? Meeting a real life laird would be amazing.”
“He’s probably about sixty, balding, as round as he is tall and arrogant to boot.”
Fiona slapped Lucy on the arm. “Don’t spoil it for me. I was just picturing him as about our age, the classic tall, dark and handsome type. Big brown eyes…” She sighed happily. “Is it just me or do you find all those green wellies and Barbour jackets the country gents wear incredibly sexy?”
“No, it’s definitely just you!” Lucy shook her head despairingly.
As Fiona stared into space, no doubt continuing her little country gent fantasy, Lucy flopped down onto the bed. “Do you think I’m doing the right thing?”
“Of course you are. This could be a life-changing opportunity.”
“I’d like to be able to go on dates without feeling guilty about Marcus all the time.” Sighing, Lucy added, “I want to be free to have relationships like everyone else does.”
“I know you do. So, how can you doubt if you’re doing the right thing? You have to go to Scotland. You know you do.”
“I suppose so but will you be okay? I hate leaving you with your wedding just weeks away. There’s still some preparations to do and I am chief bridesmaid. Maybe I shouldn’t go. This is all crazy, I won’t go. I must be mad even contemplating it.”
“You’re going! End of story! The wedding is being perfectly managed by my mum and by Luke’s mum, so no worries there.” Fiona hauled Lucy to her feet. “What time’s your train?”
“I’m getting the overnight sleeper up to Inverness and then Craig, the TV guy, is going to meet me at the station and drive me to the country estate.”
“I’m so envious.” Fiona sulked, folding and unfolding the corner of the duvet around her fingers.
“I thought you were happy with your Mr-Not-So-Perfect?”
“I am.” Fiona sighed. “But a girl can dream, can’t she?”

Buy Links:

"The Love Programme" can be bought as an ebook or print book at: Amazon and Amazon UK

Zanna Online:

You can connect with Zanna at the following places online:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ariella Moon (What a Gorgeous Name) Author and Book Spotlight

Today, I am spotlighting YA author Ariella Moon. She's a fellow Astraea Press author who has written a series of books for the Teen Wytche Saga. Her book, Spell Struck, which we will be talking about today, is book 2 of the series. The covers are soooo beautiful!

Ariella Moon writes about magic, friendship, secrets, and love in Books One & Two in The Teen Wytche Saga from Astraea Press. After a childhood spent searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia, Ariella grew up to become an author and shaman. Extreme math anxiety, and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred Ariella’s teen years. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She now lives a nearly normal life with her extraordinary daughter, shamelessly spoiled dog, and an enormous dragon.

About the Book:

Spell Struck

What if the one person who saw through your lies and loved you, harbored a secret that could cost you everything?

Back Cover Blurb
Goth outcast, Salem Miller, believes her love spell failed until Aidan Cooper arrives at Jefferson High. When he chooses her over the popular girls, Salem knows magic brought him. But can she summon enough wizardry to save her sister? Salem fears Amy’s next suicide attempt will succeed. Magic brought Aidan. Maybe it can cure Amy. Salem’s last hope lies hidden within a damaged grimoire, nearly destroyed by a wrongful love spell. Was her rightful love spell enough to restore it?

Newest Jefferson High transplant, Aidan Cooper, doesn't expect to be attracted to a goth. Then he realizes Salem is throwing a glamour—pretending to be something she’s not. Guess it takes one to know one, since his whole life has been a lie. But if his kidnappers discover he's broken their No Attachments rule, he'll never see Salem again. Worse, he’s terrified they’ll harm her when they discover she possesses the ancient grimoire. To protect Salem, Aidan must destroy the grimoire, and escape his captors.

While Salem races to unlock the Get Well Spell, Aidan scrambles to overcome his past. With their star-crossed paths at odds, will time run out for both of them?

Aidan lowered his hand. His finger pressed against my skin, shooting a delicious tingle up my arm. When I didn’t move away, he hooked his finger over mine. My breath caught. We stayed, frozen, hyper-focused, for what seemed like three lifetimes. Then Aidan trailed his fingertips across the back of my hand. The soundtrack, popcorn smells, and theater audience melted into the background. The world narrowed down to the unspoken grief and need entangled in Aidan’s touch.

I rotated my hand so my palm faced upward. Aidan hesitated. Our gazes locked in the flickering light. The spell link humming between us lit up like blue lightning. At least I think it was the spell link. Aidan plunged his fingers between mine. Our palms pressed together, igniting a current. Air shuddered from my lungs. Magic rippled from us in successive waves.

My heart stuttered. My breath ceased. Every cell within me vibrated. Troops of fairies or dragonflies took flight in my lower abdomen. It’s possible blue lightning shot from my boots.

Good thing I wasn’t holding the popcorn.

You can buy Spell Struck here:

You can connect with her at:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review and Author Interview - Karen Rock, author of Wish Me Tomorrow

Today, I'm privileged to feature an author spotlight, interview and even book review for Karen Rock, author of "Wish Me Tomorrow," a beautiful, deep, Harlequin Heartwarming romance. I was given a copy of her book in exchange for a review. On top of that, her blog tour has some amazing prizes which you could win by clicking on the rafflecopter link at the bottom of this post. This is a breakdown of the prizes to be won at the end of the tour (18 October.)

                    GRAND PRIZE
Signed copies:
  • Karen Rock's WISH ME TOMORROW
  • Robyn Carr's THE WANDERER
  • JoJo Moyes' ME BEFORE YOU 
Unsigned copies:
  • Bella Andre's I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
  • Pamela Tracy's KATIE'S RESCUE
Harlequin tote bag
RWA 2013 water bottle
RWA water bottle holder

                3 RUNNER UPS
$10 Amazon Gift Card

Wish Me Tomorrow

Can they build a future on hope alone? 

For years nurse and grief counsellor, Christie Bates, has been teaching her patients to confront their fears, express themselves and trust in hope. But as her feelings for cancer survivor, Eli Roberts, and his two children grow, can she overcome her own fear and love a man who lives every day with the possibility of recurring illness?

Tackling cancer and single parenthood simultaneously has turned Eli into a devout realist. Which is why he finds Christie's perpetually upbeat attitude so aggravating. Still, despite himself, she's making a place in his heart. If only he could offer Christie more than an uncertain future.

An excerpt from the book:
A black car idled by the curb when they stepped into the foyer. So soon. If only they had a few more minutes.
“Goodbye, Eli.” Her wistful voice produced an almost physical ache in his heart. They’d been through a lot tonight. Having it end after her painful admission felt wrong.
Worse, he’d let her share that without ever admitting anything about his condition. Maybe it would be better if she knew. At least then she’d understand why this really needed to be goodbye.
“I have cancer,” he blurted. “Had, I mean.”
She touched his arm, the gentle sensation lingering long after she dropped her hand. “I’m so glad you’re in remission. Tommy told me about your illness, but only because he knows I work with cancer patients. The children respect your wish not to talk about it.”
Now that he had not expected. Did she understand his reason for telling her? That he needed the reminder of why he shouldn’t see her again?
The town car driver honked and she opened the foyer door and walked out. He followed, pulling the car door wide for her.
“Goodbye, Christie.” He would remember this night—remember her—for a long time. “Thanks again.”
“Take care, Eli.” Her voice sounded quiet. Tired.
He nodded, unable to say more as he watched her duck into the car. His feet stayed rooted to the stone stoop long after the taillights disappeared into the rain. If only he was the kind of man who could see her again. A man whose future didn't blur into a question mark.
But now, as he trudged back inside the building, he told himself to focus on his kids and what they needed. If they were confiding in her that he’d put a lockdown on all cancer discussion, maybe his health issues bothered them more than he realized.
And while he might not ever subscribe to the touchy-feely brand of positive thinking that Christie did, he would make sure his kids had someone to talk to. Someone a whole lot better versed in this stuff than him.
Even though an energetic, beautiful nurse and counselor came to mind, he vowed to find someone else.
For both their sakes.

You can buy "Wish Me Tomorrow" in the following places:
In Paperback: Harlequin Heartwarming
As an Ebook: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

You can find her book on Goodreads too.

All about the Author, Karen Rock

In a quest to provide her ELA students with quality reading material, educator, Karen Rock, read everything out there and couldn't wait to add her voice to the genre. In addition to her work as a Young Adult romance novelist, she's now an author for Harlequin's Heartwarming line and thrilled to pen stories that moms can share with their teenage daughters. She's loved Harlequin books since she spent summers going through her grandmother's Presents books that she passed along in paper grocery bags each year. As half of the writing duo J.K. Rock, Karen also pens young adult romance. When she's not busy writing, Karen enjoys scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother's family recipes, reinventing her gardens to suit her moods and occasionally rescuing local wildlife from neighborhood cats. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, her very appreciated beta-reader daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels, who have yet to understand the concept of "fetch" though they know a lot about love.

What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Kathy! The best thing about being writer is creating stories, characters and a world that I get to live in until I type the last word.

What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
The hardest thing about being a writer is having to say goodbye to the characters and world that I’d created. I grow attached to these places and individuals, a reason I also reread my favorite books by other authors.

What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
I write contemporary young adult and adult romance as well as suspense and paranormal novels. I’ve had two releases this summer: In July, the first in a YA romance series, Camp Boyfriend debuted followed by my contemporary adult romance, Wish Me Tomorrow, on September 1st.

What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
This answer could take up pages! I’ve learned so much. But I’ll keep it to the essentials. I’ve learned to be a storyteller first and a self-critic second. It’s the only way that I’ve been able to complete four books this past year without getting blocked or side-tracked. I now trust in myself to tell the story first and that any problems with regard to wording, sentence fluency, voice or even plot or characterization issues can be fixed during the revision. But you can’t fix what isn’t there so the best way to finish a novel is to tell it first.

Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
My favorite heroine currently is Christie in Wish Me Tomorrow. I love her because she’s a study in contradictions. Her optimistic approach to life hides her dark past and her guilty role in it. I love that she counsels other people, but doesn’t recognize how badly she’s dealing with her own issues. At heart, she is a loving, generous, and funny person and I care about her for that, but it’s the layers of her that are revealed as the story progresses that make me root for her.

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. 
My favorite male characters are not super alphas. I know lots of readers thrill for the guy that is emotionally unavailable, physically hot, and commanding. Yet I find that to be a turn off (not the physical part!). What I find to be sexy in a man is someone who is good-looking, makes me laugh, is intelligent, witty, thoughtful, strong and respectful. He’s so comfortable in his male skin that he doesn’t have to insult women or play games. Those are the men in my books because they’re the kind I want to spend time when writing, the type that I fall for.

Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
I was co-authoring a YA romance series with my co-author, Harlequin Super Romance author, Joanne Rock and received a mass email from her agent, Barbara, about a new line for Harlequin called Heartwarming. These were to be contemporary love that were deeply romantic and tender. My imagination went haywire. I love the raw emotion of YA literature and here, at last, was a line from Harlequin that would allow me to go to the emotional places I prefer. I wrote Barbara (now my agent as well) and asked her if my idea of an oncology grief counsellor with a dark past falling for an embittered single father recovering from osteosarcoma had potential. She shot the idea to the editor in charge of the line, Victoria Curran, who asked to see three chapters and, after submitting the, later contacted my agent with a contract offer. I now have another contract for four more Heartwarming romances and each story is so special I can’t wait to finish them!

Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
I’m addicted to reality TV- and not even the cool kind- I will watch thinks like ‘Strange Addictions’ or ‘Hoarders’. There should be a reality TV show for reality TV show junkies like me- lol. Maybe it’s because I write fiction that I like reality? I don’t know, but it’s weird. Another quirky thing about me is that I can’t bear to kill any living thing. Even the tiniest spider is trapped in a plastic solo cup and carried outside. Just yesterday, I used a pillow to guide a fluttering moth from my kitchen, through my living room, into my hallway and out the front door. Success! Finally, I’ll eat anything for breakfast. Seriously. Anything! I’ve eaten leftover LoMein, heated up frozen chicken wings, a meatball sub... I don’t discriminate except when it comes to eggs. Now who would eat those nasty runny things before your eyes can even focus? Lol.

What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack?
I squirt some imaginary butt glue on my chair, sit myself down and tell myself I can’t get up until I’ve reached my word goal. And I stick to it (figuratively J) I typically write about 4-5,000 words a day with the idea that no matter how messy it is, I will spend all of the next fixing them. The day after than I write another 4-5 k words and repeat the process.

Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
I’ve read so much that it is hard to say that there is anything that I do that other writers aren’t equally strong at... However, I can tell you what is recognizable about my writing style and that is a distinct voice, humor, quirky, flawed characters, intensely emotional scenes and unpredictable plot twists that make readers say, “oh no she didn’t!” Oh yes, I will. I like to push the envelope on issues that people are afraid to confront because it’s not ‘nice’ or  easily understandable. But neither are human beings and ultimately isn’t that what the goal is of most writers, to capture a slice of humanity and reflect it in their story; help readers to share in experiences they recognize as familiar to their own so they know they are not alone.

What book would you like to work on next?
I just finished my most recent Harlequin Heartwarming, His Hometown Girl. I have three more contracted, yet am also working on a new YA romance proposal with my YA writing partner, Joanne. As a solo writer, I’m fascinated by the idea of writing a science fiction, YA romance and look forward to writing it!

Well, what an interesting interview! I also love reality TV, Karen. And your books are very unique, from having read Wish Me Tomorrow, I have to say so. Yes, you did push boundaries in your book.

Here is my review of Wish Me Tomorrow:

Christie is a nurse and grief counsellor. When Eli comes into her cancer support group meeting with his friend, John, in a wheelchair, at first Christie is annoyed with his cynical attitude. He finds her breezy optimism a tad irritating, too. But the chemistry is there. Then John has a stroke in the meeting and Christie handles the emergency with such confidence and skill, saving Eli’s friend’s life, that his interest in her is more than piqued.

They meet again when Eli’s teenage daughter reaches crisis point in her relationship with her father who is in remission from bone cancer. Christie fills in for her colleague to be their family counsellor. The relationship progresses from there.

The barriers between their relationship run deep. Christie still struggles with guilt from the past and Eli fears the future. Running parallel to this tender and very touching romance, is the bond developing between Christie and Eli’s two children which helps mend the broken teenage daughter, Becca’s heart. I have always loved stories with bonds developing with the kids. This one does it so well.

Whew! This book isn’t your standard formulaic romance. The writer took me on a roller-coast ride. One moment, I was filled with joy and hope, the next with despair and hurt for the characters in this book. Does she know how to get a reader to empathise with the characters! She made me feel. Really feel.

When I first started reading this book, I have to admit I was wary of the dark subject. I love to read romance because of the usual light-heartedness of the genre. There’s a happily-ever-after and the characters fall in love along the way. When I saw the book was about a man who’d had cancer and she was a grief counsellor for a cancer support group, I was nervous. But the story line looked good.

Karen Rock handled a very painful and delicate subject with immense tenderness and skill. She helped me understand what it was like to be so close to death or the terminal illness of a loved one. She touched a subject that is not often touched in a romance novel.

(spoiler alert) I have to comment on the ending. I can’t say I was totally sold on it in the beginning but I thought it was written in a wonderful, thought-provoking way. In fact, I think an ending that makes you ponder and think about the book for days afterwards is truly the best ending. That's what I loved about this book - it was unique and not just a formula romance. I can tell it was written from the heart.

This book will keep you thinking about it for days afterwards. The romance was beautifully written, slow-brew, and touching. A romance that grew slowly and tenderly and just right for the characters. Skillfully crafted.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Informal Blog Tour

Today begins an informal blog tour for my new release, Three Tiers for Win. Thank you so much to my fellow Astraea Press authors for being willing to host me on your blogs. I'm also going to have the privilege of hosting a couple of them on my blog for the month of October.

Here is a list of all my blog stops if you want to pop in and visit some other authors:

9 October
Karen Morison-Knox whose pen-name is stunning - Ariella Moon. She writes beautiful young adult stories sprinkled with magic. Ariella Moon.

14 October
Felicia Rogers who writes an amazing mixture of romances from contemporary to historical to suspense to inspiration and even chick lit. Very versatile. Felicia Rogers.

16 October
E A West who writes touching romance. To be honest, she's one of my favourite authors. Her book, "Jordan's Battle" had me wiping tears almost all the way. I definitely have her other books on my "to read" pile. E A West.

22 October
Zanna Mackenzie is a UK based sweet contemporary romance author. Love the look of her books. Zanna Mackenzie.

24 October
Amy Mullen hails from New York and is a recently published medieval romance author. What an awesome time period to set a romance! Amy Mullen.

31 October
Iris Blobel is an Australian romance author who leans towards tender woman's fiction in her books with family relationships. She chooses interesting settings for her books. Iris Blobel.

Two quotes from my book:
"They were meant for each other. Something was drawing them together, no matter how much life seemed to pull them apart. She was going to fight for him with everything that was within her and nothing was going to stop her."

"Something clicked inside of Win at that moment, something profound and stirring. He loved a woman. And Elaine was that woman. Sweet, bubbly, deeply caring, yet stubborn Elaine."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Very Unprofessional Rant

I know I shouldn't be doing this on my blog but really, I have to let out all this frustration as a writer.

I work hard. Very hard. I spend hours each day writing and doing promotions for my books. I've spent hundreds of rands on adverts.

Why don't I get sales? I know I haven't seen my sales reports since I've placed the adverts. I sincerely hope they have changed things.

Why, when I hold a giveaway on my blog and Facebook for my latest release, only one person enters to win my book? Are my books that bad? Does no one want to win a copy of my book because they've read my previous books and really, they're not worth the time? If that is the case, why did the publishers publish my books?

I get so few reviews on my books. I give away so many free copies and no one takes the time to review them. Cosmetic Heart came out in July. It's still sitting on Amazon with one pathetic 3-star review. It hurts. It's hard work to organise a giveaway and even more so to write and edit a book. It's really, really hard work. I hardly watch TV or do relaxation things. I write in my free time. That's my passion and I love it.

I will never stop doing it but I still wish I had a feeling that people liked my books.

The crazy thing is when someone does love my book, I don't believe them. I think they're just being kind and making me feel good. Do all writers feel this way about their babies?

As writers, we really do hang onto those scathing reviews in our hearts, those terrible ranking figures on Amazon, those days when no one enters our giveaways or even reads our blog posts. We think of those and we forget the good reviews, the readers who say they love our books (although I really wish I had more of those so I didn't think it is a handful of rather crazy fans.) Why don't we ride on the wave of those positive reviews and new contracts?

Many days, I wonder what I'm doing wrong. What should I change about my writing to make it more popular? What do readers look for? Should I change my whole writing personality to make sales? Am I wasting my time?

Or do I see it as a business and keep on writing, keep on promoting and never give up? I have to do this because I can't give up. Just like those long years of waiting for a publishing contract, so I'm waiting for that breakthrough - for my books to be noticed in cyber space. No seriously, there are just so many writers out there and so many blogs and so many books. How do you get noticed? There are so many giveaways to enter that it's overwhelming. I don't have time to enter them all myself. I don't have time or the finances to read every gorgeous book I discover on the web. So, I don't blame a single soul for my dilemma.

Maybe it's best to build a loyal fan base, one person at a time. Start small and then grow with loyalty, networking and time. Write and write until one day my book touches hearts, several hearts. It's good to dream.

I'm not going to give up but I had to let out all the hurt and frustration and disappointment. It's just one of those days.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What's the Key to Winning Readers?

What do some books have that others don't? I read quite a bit - mostly romance but I also like an entertaining light mystery. Occasionally I'll read fantasy or drama but not too heavy. Some books have me hooked right from the beginning or close to the beginning and I don't want to put them down. Others drag. Some I even put down and don't finish. Several books have been a soul-touching and incredible experience.

Who doesn't want to write a book like that?

I've been trying to put my thumb on what exactly determines whether I'll stick to a book or even more so an author. I'm battling to come up with one definite key. I've read books where there are grammar and typographical problems. They irritate me immensely but if it's a good story, I'll still carry on reading. They can even hop from one point of view to another in the middle of a scene which knocks a reader off for a moment. It's annoying, yes, but if the story's good, I will continue to read.

Poor characterisation is not so easy - when characters don't appeal to me or they seem mean or unsympathetic. I hate it when the story drags and nothing happens.

I've recently put a book down because there wasn't enough conflict. There was a little pulling away between the hero and heroine but nothing dramatic. They were engaged and she was struggling with some issues from her past. But I wasn't invested enough in the book to continue. I mean, they mostly have what they need anyway.

To me the greatest key is to make me feel. Connect me with the souls of the characters. I want to feel their need, their pain, and their joy. Don't kill them off, please. Not in a romance. That makes me feel way too much.

So yes, the story could be quite ordinary but if I really feel elated and touched by the romance, I'm satisfied. With a mystery and thriller, the plot is more essential but characterisation is key. I enjoy Nancy Mehl's mysteries. It's not so much the mystery but the way she weaves her character's lives together. There's a touch of romance in them but not deeply developed. That's why I won't just read a thriller or mystery for the suspense. There must be something to touch my emotions.

I think I speak from the point of view of most romance readers.

So, how do we touch emotions? It's really hard to do. To make our reader feel, we need to feel it, too. Write something that's close to our heart or touching a chord somehow. We may not have experienced what our characters have but we've felt a touch of the emotion in our lives. But doing this doesn't guarantee to touch our readers.

I've read something recently about chemistry. Just like the chemistry between a couple, not all readers will have chemistry with your book / books. There are some really good-looking guys around whom most girls will squeal over but they mean nothing to me. There's no chemistry, no attraction. What causes it are many unknown factors. There are many excellent books out there. A top-selling inspiration romance writer, Karen Kingsbury, is one of the most popular writers amongst Christians at the moment. I've tried her books. Really tried. I actually cringe when I see one of her books on a shelf. I really, really don't gel with them. She's probably an excellent writer. She must be if she's so popular. The chemistry just isn't there.

I used to get so depressed when I got a bad review for one of my books. I still don't like it but I'm able to see it more objectively. Everyone has different taste. Okay, I do take to heart what they say and try to improve on my books, but not everyone will like my book. Joining a book club has just cemented to me how different everyone's taste is in books.

The essential thing is to make more and more people like your books. Make them feel. Make their heart soar on the wings of romantic love.

I'm still not 100% sure of the key, but this is my own conclusion. Enough rambling for one blog post.