Hapless Heroes cover reveal

Tags

, , , , , , ,

I’ve got shiny new covers for my Hapless Heroes ebook series, and I’m excited to share them:

Marriage and the MermaidGoddessFeatureSex and the Stand In

If you love contemporary romance with hunky heroes who are romantically challenged, these stories will make you laugh, sigh and swoon. All the details and purchase links are on my Hapless Heroes webpage. Enjoy!

Coping with rejection

Tags

, , , , , ,

Business woman crying head in handsWriters submit manuscripts and get knock backs. It’s a fact of life that even multi-published authors have to deal with. Unless you’re Stephen King or JK Rowling (which I’m not) there’s a chance that your latest offering won’t be adored by the first publisher who looks at it. Intellectually I know that. But the heart and the head don’t always agree. When I started off in this business twenty years ago, rejection felt like this to me:

What? My precious baby isn’t what you’re looking for? How could you say that? I slaved over that manuscript. I poured my life-blood into it. I just offered you my heart on a platter and you stabbed it. Several times. Soon to be followed by: Does this mean I’m a crap writer? Maybe I should just stop kidding myself. Publishers know what they’re talking about. I’m just a woman sitting in her pajamas drinking too much coffee, fantasizing about worlds that don’t exist. I should get a day job. Something I’d be good at. Because I’m clearly no good at this…

Thankfully time has moved on, and many, many rejections have helped me re-frame my reaction to a “Thanks, but no thanks,” email. I’ve learned that publishers see lots of manuscripts that are of “publication standard” and from among them they have to choose something that not only suits the line of books they’re publishing, but also knocks their socks off. For most publishers, the choice to take on a book is quite subjective. I can’t have any control over that. I can only offer my best work and have faith that it will (eventually) fall into the right hands. Which of course it does.

Now I’m more likely to think this when I get a rejection email:

I really appreciate the fact that you took the time to consider my story seriously. I understand that not all publishers or even all fantasy readers will love my work. I’ve seen the different reactions to a novel at Book Clubs. So what I’m looking for is the one publisher who adores my story so much that they’ll advocate for it with their marketing department and fire them up with enthusiasm enough to spill over into their interactions with bookstores and online resources. I’m sorry you’re not that person, and that you’ll miss out on the unique opportunities my story offers. But I wish you well as I continue my search, having patience that the Universe moves in perfect timing. All is well in my world…

Yes, it’s a bit Pollyanna, but it works for me, and not only with writing, but personal relationships and other business dealings I might have. I’m not an “I’ll show those bastards!” type of girl. But if you are, you are going to love this latest offering from Marie Forleo who I thoroughly recommend as an inspiration and a resource for women in business. Her reaction to a patronizing comment is priceless:

I wonder, how do you cope with rejection in your life? Does it fire you up? Have you got any tips on how to turn it into motivation to keep going?

Australian Romance Readers Association Book Signing in Sydney 9 August 2014

Tags

, , , ,

ARRA2014signing

Along with 70 other authors who have romance in their novels, I’ll be participating in the Australian Romance Reader’s Association mass book signing on Saturday 9th August 2014 from 5-6pm at the Pullman Hotel in Olympic Park. If you’d like to attend, you can purchase tickets here. I’d love to see you there!

Inspiration from magical places

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s no secret that fairytales inspire me. They have for all of my reading life, but it never ceases to amaze me how an old fairytale that I’ve adored as a child can come back to me in a different format and engulf me in magic all over again.

Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite fairytale, because of its darkness, its inherent romance, and the transformational quality of the character development. I was fortunate to have the latest Disney version come out when my children were young, and I can remember watching it again and again, not just because the animated character were cute and endearing, or because I couldn’t help putting myself in Belle’s shoes and wanting to tame the beast, but because the song, Beauty and the Beast made me cry, every time I heard it. Embedded within it is everything I love about that story – the prince trapped inside the body of a beast, confronted with the delicate beauty of Belle, imagining she’d never even want to look at him, let alone fall in love with him. It inspired me to imagine my own stories with tortured heroes and clever, resourceful heroines who must work with magic – dark and light – to find their happily ever after.

That one song inspired more fantasy plotlines and characterization out of me than probably any other I’ve heard.

So you can imagine how overwhelmed I felt when I was watching The Voice Australia and completely out of left field, two of my favorite competitors lined up in a battle to sing Beauty and the Beast together. It was an inspired move by their coach Ricky Martin (who I adore) and the result is stunning:

I’ve had the song in my mind ever since, playing on a loop, happily inspiring more story ideas, and who would have imagined I’d find inspiration to write fantasy novels while watching a singing competition!

If you’ve ever had inspiration delivered unexpectedly please do share in the comments below. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

 

Thirty-seven years ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I heard some news that made me happy – not in a passing Hey, that’s cool kind of way, but a deep down bone-and-sinew kind of happy, the sort of happy that’s so strong and exuberant I went to sleep thinking about it and woke up this morning still thinking about it, still smiling. The sort of happy that confirms irrevocably that inside my chest beats an unabashedly geeky, sci-fi fangirl heart.

Disney (who now own the Star Wars franchise) announced that it has brought Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill back together to create Star Wars VII. I was out when I heard, having coffee with my writer pal Helen Lacey when she got news of it on her phone, and we were both stunned and thrilled, having shared a passion for sci-fi for twenty years. But as I went home to write and the day wore on, I became more and more happy, and couldn’t stop the snippets of memory that came to me from the distant past – thirty-seven years ago when I bought the first Star Wars novel, read it eleven times, then months later saw the very first Star Wars movie.

StarWarsCover  StarWarsBackCover

I remember that opening night so well. A lot of the dialogue from the paperback I’d read was replicated in the screenplay, so scenes I’d visualized as a reader were coming alive in front of me and I was mouthing the words along with the characters – fabulous lines like Leia saying to Luke on their first meeting, “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” And Han, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” That movie came along at a time when I was young and impressionable and it touched me in some deep place that has been lying dormant and is now happily awoken.

LouiseValentine2

I’ve lived and breathed the Star Wars Universe for decades, feeling breathless excitement every time I heard the fabulous John Williams opening music and saw the crawl rising up the screen:

I adored the developing romance between Han and Leia, and in the second movie when he said “You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life,” I was hooked. And when she said “I love you,” and his reply was only “I know,” I loved him even more. So much adventure, so much romance, such real relationships. Then when the prequel series came out years later I grieved for the lack of believable romance, the lack of relationships, and the kiddification of it all. I remember distinctly going to the cinema and watching the last movie of that prequel series, Revenge of the Sith and thinking as the opening credits rolled, “This is the last time I’ll ever see a Star Wars movie for the first time.” I’m not ashamed to admit I teared up. George Lucas had said he wasn’t doing any more. The movie franchise was closing, and I grieved for that too.

Then yesterday came something I’d never imagined might happen, something so wonderful I could scarcely believe it: Ford, Fisher and Hamill back together with writer Lawrence Kasdan who created the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. And so, so important to me, John Williams composing. The integrity these guys will bring to the project just makes my heart sing, in a teary kind of way.

Storytelling has been so formative in my life, but some stories and some characters mean more than others. I can tell from my bliss that these characters – Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker – are part of the fabric of my life, and to see them as characters thirty years on will be like meeting beloved old friends. I’m sure I’m not the only geek girl out there who’s blissing over this news. I’d love to hear if it touched you too.

Her beauty and her terror, the wide brown land for me

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

I’ve grabbed a line out of one of Australia’s most popular poems. My Country by Dorothea Mackellar, and here’s the context:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

I’ll post the complete poem at the end of this blog if you’re interested to read it, but the gist is that young Dorothea is being dragged around Europe by her father and is desperately homesick for Australia. Her English friends don’t understand, so she writes the poem as a form of explanation. I’ve always adored it, and it’s no coincidence that I’ve ended up living near one of our ‘jewel seas’, the Coral Sea. But it’s the beauty and the terror of our country that’s always inspired me as a writer, and when I met an agent in New York years ago who said, “I love Australian authors, their writing has such zest” I understood why. When the snake in your backyard or the spider in your boot might kill you, your life – and your writing – take on a different quality.

Earlier this year bushfires raged across the southern states of Australia, destroying property, taking lives, and decimating wildlife populations.

Bushfire HuddlingUnderAJettyTas Only a few months ago, so much of our country was scorched. Where I live has seen two devastating floods in the past five years, and today Cyclone Ita, a Category Five cyclone (the highest rating) is crossing the Coral Sea, driving a wall of water in front of its 80km core. It will ride roughshod over the Great Barrier Reef and cross the coast at beautiful Cooktown, 1600 kilometers (approx 1000 miles) north of where I live. It’s estimated to reach landfall at 5pm local time. That’s 5 hours from now.

Cooktown

Cooktown

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Cyclone Ita will undoubtedly create irreparable damage to land, property, wildlife and possibly human life, although authorities are taking every precaution, evacuating residents into reinforced shelters before the winds reach 100km an hour. At its height, winds are predicted to be over 300km an hour. Even for someone who’s grown up in Queensland with the expectation of at least one good cyclone a year, this is beyond my imagination.

Cyclone Ita

Cyclone Ita 11 April 2014

And yet, I know it’s happened before and will happen again. Living in Australia is a lottery. Every region has its unique dangers and its incomparable beauties, and if you grow up here you learn to appreciate one and have respect for the other. Is it any wonder that Australian authors bring some of that “edge” to their writing? I look back now at my fantasy series Shadow Through Time and the maelstrom I envisaged raging across four worlds, and can easily see where I’d found my inspiration!

That thought got me wondering about other parts of the world, and how those landscapes and climates affected the writing done there? I’d love to hear about how your environment affects your writing in the comments below. And simply because I adore this poem, here is My Country in its entirety (first published in 1908):

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

Dorothea Mackellar

Surfers Paradise hosts innaugural Indie Authors Down Under book signing

Tags

, , , ,

IndieAuthorsDownunderMarch2014

This is me!

I’m late blogging this, but I wanted to share the awesomeness of the very first Indie Authors Down Under mass book signing event organized by book bloggers Jodie O’Brien of Fab, Fun and Tantalising Reads, and Jess Savage of A is for Alpha, B is for BooksJodie and Jess are dynamos who pulled together a professional and fun event at the luxurious Outriggers Resort in Surfers Paradise. Prior to the event, the seventy authors who attended shared the joy across their social networks and that resulted in over 400 readers and book bloggers attending, many of whom traveled interstate for the chance to socialize with their favorite authors.

There were big lines to the tables of International bestselling independent author Abbi Glines from the US, USA Today best-selling Australian romance author Kylie Scott, and Australian young adult sensation Jessica Shirvington who organized a special early release of her new novel Disruption to reward loyal fans. There were authors of Young Adult, New Adult, Romance, both Historical and Contemporary, Fantasy, Erotica, Paranormal, Suspense and Science Fiction, and the organizers thoughtfully positioned authors of the same genre beside each other so readers who loved a particular genre could just move on down the line!

KylieScott&LouiseCusack

Catching up with Kylie Scott

I grabbed a photo with Kylie Scott when she was having a break. Her latest novel “Play” was about to be released, and heaps of fans were beating a path to her table.

Early in the day some pretty scrumptious firemen turned up (terribly distracting) selling the Fireman’s Calendar to raise funds for burns victims. But Jodie and Jess weren’t finished with the distractions. Oh no, they had Richard Lawrence (UK personal trainer and cover model) roaming around shirtless for the entire day happily posing for pictures with readers and authors alike. This snap is of Richard with Novels on the Run book blogger Michelle.

RichardLawrenceMichelleNovelsOnTheRunIt was just a fabulous day and I wish, wish, wish I’d been able to stay at Outriggers for the weekend, but other commitments meant I could only attend the actual signing. However I want to send a shout-out to all the readers and bloggers who came over and said hello! It was a busy day with very little down-time, and lots of great networking, laughs and book chat. Big thank you to Jodie and Jess, and when I get the date for next year I’ll keep the weekend free!

IndieAuthorsDownUnderBanner

 

Review: Winter’s Tale

Tags

, , , ,

I see a lot of movies and I don’t often cry in them, even if they’re particularly soppy. This movie wasn’t soppy at all, and I cried. Twice.  If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer:

I have to begin by saying I love Colin Farrell as an actor. He brings such vulnerability to his roles and was fabulous in Saving Mr Banks and In Bruges. In this movie Russell Crowe was truly menacing as his adversary, Pearly, and while part of me wanted him to just leave the lovers alone because they had enough trouble already, the storyteller in me loved the complexity that Crowe’s character brought to the story. Jessica Brown Findlay as Farrell’s love interest Beverley was amazing. I wish I’d written her. She was pure and funny and so thoroughly engaging I fell in love with her as Farrell’s burglar character Peter did.

Winter's TaleThere was magic and destiny, everlasting love (which I adore), and when the movie ended I felt as if something had been left with me that I couldn’t put my finger on. As if an answer to a really big question – like why are we here – had been implanted into my brain subliminally. I just felt good. In fact, even days later, I just feel good, as if  somehow I’d had it proven that life does have meaning and we are all here for a purpose.

It’s such a simple story, as fairytales often are, but it had a profound impact on me. Beverley’s father, played by William Hurt, was a particularly poignant character, and there’s a scene with a furnace late in the movie that ended with me in tears, quite unexpectedly. The movie was visually beautiful, and the story delightful in parts, frightening in others. I’m not sure I’d take children under ten to see it, but then again I can be a bit old-fashioned when it comes to censoring violence.

SPOILER: The only downside in the movie for me was Will Smith cast as the ‘big bad’. How producers imagined that one half of the comedic Men in Black duo could possibly look like he had authority over a terrifying Russell Crowe is anyone’s guess. But I didn’t buy it. I kept expecting Smith to crack a joke, and it threw me out of the story every time he was onscreen. Luckily it was a small part of the plot and didn’t mar my overall enjoyment.

So summing up I’d have to say Winter’s Tale filled me with hope, I loved the soundtrack and I can’t stop thinking about the characters. I don’t buy many movies on DVD, but this could be one that I’d like to add to my small collection of keepers. A romantic, thrilling supernatural love story that has all the fairytale elements I want to read and love to write myself. Definitely thumbs up from me.