Posted on

Guest Author- Elizabeth Ellen Carter

EECarter3Joining me today is historical romance author, Elizabeth Ellen Carter. Elizabeth is a local Brisbane author who has just released the third instalment in her Heart of the Corsairs Series, Shadow of the Corsairs!

Welcome Elizabeth and congratulations on your new release.

Thanks Bernadette, it’s great to be here.
Can you tell me what you love about historical romance stories?

Historical romances bring important events of our past to life. And, when well done, give an insight into how people lived in times past. I think that a great understanding and appreciation of history is absolutely vital because understanding history is all about understanding ourselves.
Whether we know it or not, we have a strong connection with the past – in fact it is built into our very DNA!
So, to live in another time or participate in historical events through the lens of a well-researched and well written historical novel is an accessible way to reconnect with our pasts.

What gave you the idea for this story? The series?

I came across an article about the pirates of the Barbary Coast which connected the dots between some of the events we’re witnessing in more recent times. For instance, the reason why France colonised North Africa in 1830 was to finally put an end to the slave trade in that region.
Between 1650 and 1830 between 800,000 and 1.25 million Europeans, some as far away as Iceland were abducted and sold into slavery.
The more I read about the Ottoman Empire and its slaving past the more I wanted to tell a story about how slavery affects individuals. Every main character in the Heart of the Corsairs series has been touched – directly or indirectly by the brutal and predatory tactics of the Barbary Coast slavers.

shadow-of-the-corsairs-cover

Let’s take a moment discover what Shadow of the Corsairs is all about- here’s the blurb:

The Past Casts a Shadow Over a Second Chance For Love….

Palermo, 1810

Morwena Gambino is struggling to keep her family’s business going against mounting troubles. Her widowed father, once shrewd, is now increasingly forgetful, letting debts mount and disavowing his sons. Morwena runs the shop behind his back, forced to hide her enterprise not only from her father but also her bitter older brother.

In Tunisia, Tewodros “Jonathan” Afua is struggling to stay alive. Once an Ethiopian prince, he is a captive of the corsairs who slaughtered his wife and children. When a US naval bombardment provides an opening for escape, Jonathan falls in with a seemingly deranged English pirate. Aboard Kit Hardacre’s rundown ship with its ragtag crew, Jonathan learns the real reason he was taken by slavers.

Reluctantly joining Hardacre’s crew, he meets Morwena in Palermo. The fiery young Sicilian woman is the opposite of his quiet reserve, but he is attracted to her despite mourning for his late wife. As he and Morwena grow closer, it emerges that they have something in common – secret betrayal by those close to them – and they must count what they’re willing to risk for a future together.

*****

Read all three books in the Heart of the Corsair series:

Captive of the Corsairs
Revenge of the Corsairs
Shadow of the Corsairs

*****

Historical fiction usually necessitates quite a deal of research. Was there any travel involved in preparing for this book and where did you go?

I would love to travel for research, but my budget doesn’t stretch that far! I had to content myself reading historical references and university articles on the subject – and spending a bit of time looking at beautiful photographs of Sicily, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey and Ethiopia.

A pirate is one of the secondary characters, did you take to the high seas before writing it?

I wish! One interesting thing I did discover was they don’t have notable tides in the Mediterranean – only a few centimetres difference between high and low tide. That wasn’t something which had occurred to me!

Do you have any historical hobbies?

I love museums, antiques fairs and historical architecture – it’s like a gift from the past that we can enjoy today.

What is your favourite genre to read?

I love reading history, historical fiction, historical romance, mystery, and the classics.

What’s next for Elizabeth Ellen Carter?

I’ve started a new series! The overarching hero of the Heart of the Corsairs series has proved to be so popular that I’m reaching back into his past. Kit believes himself to be an orphan. What he doesn’t know is his father is still alive – so what happened to separate them? That will be answered in the first book of The King’s Rogues series called Live And Let Spy.

*****

EECarter4Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.

You can find Elizabeth here:

• Web: http://eecarter.com
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethEllenCarter
• Newsletter: http://eecarter.com/index.php/homepage/book-club/
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/EECarterAuthor
• Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/eecarterauthor/
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabeth_ellen_carter/
• YouTube Trailers: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=elizabeth+ellen+carter

 

 

Posted on

Kendall Talbot’s Treasured Secrets Revealed

Kendall Talbot public pictureToday I have the pleasure of Kendall Talbot’s company on my blog. Kendall Talbot is an award winning author, thrill seeker and hopeless romantic. She’s travelled extensively, some 36 countries so far and she’s addicted to experiences that make her scream… white water rafting, scuba diving with sharks and hang gliding are just a few. Her stories reflect her sense of adventure and her love affair with her very own hero.

Her debut novel Lost in Kakadu (Escape Publishing, 2013) has resulted in a clutch of award nominations and most notably won the exclusive title of Romantic Book of the Year 2014.

Kendall collects junky jewellery and expensive perfume, her favourite night out is with great friends and a fabulous bottle of wine or two, and she rarely watches TV. She lives in Brisbane with her hubby, her two grown sons and her fluffy little dog, Josie McLuvin.

Welcome Kendall!

Thanks, Bernadette, it’s great to be here!

Tresured Secrets book cover mediumThis book is such an adventure, taking readers from Tuscany to a yacht off the coast of Greece. Where did you come up with the plot idea?

One of the major inspirations behind Treasured Secrets came from my 20th anniversary holiday to Tuscany. Florence is a treasure trove of history and architecture, bustling with tourists and little café’s eager to serve you bread and wine within seconds of finding a table to sit at. My husband and I went on a couple of city tours and one such tour took us to the Church of St Apostoli, a small insignificant church compared to many of the other magnificent churches dotted throughout Florence. Inside the church, inlaid in the mosaic floor tiles, was an oval pattern. Our tour guide told us it was the trap door where they tossed the bodies during the 13th century plague that killed 50 million people in Europe. My mind went crazy thinking about entire families being wiped out by that horrible disease. Then I began to wonder what happened to all their precious things they left behind. On the plane flight home, I began plotting my Treasured Secrets action adventure romance.

The way you research the books is kind of off the charts! (Witchetty grubs? You are a braver woman than I!) What type of research did you do for TREASURED SECRETS?

I was really lucky with those witchetty grubs I just happened to find them in my garden. How else was I going to get the flavour right in my scene? It’s important for me to write about and draw from actual experiences. Obviously many of them are pure fabrication, and thank goodness too, some of my characters go to hell and back. Treasured Secrets is as much a treasure hunt as it is a culinary adventure. Rosalina, my Italian heroine in Treasured Secrets is a talented chef, so food and flavours abound as much as the treasure hunt action. Every one of the meals she makes in my books I made for myself. In fact, recipes from “Treasured Secrets” debut in their own book “Rosalina’s Treasured Treats” you can find this on my website and cook along as you read the book if you like. In addition to the cooking, Rosalina’s home in Treasured Secrets is a 700 year old villa that I holiday in in Tuscany. Villa Pandolfini is in Signa, a little village just a fifteen minute train ride from Florence. This spectacular historic villa with extremely high ceilings, magnificent frescoes and original antique furniture was surrounded by vineyards and olive-groves and offered an extensive view of Arno Valley.

What are you working on now? Any new books on the horizon?

Book two in this series, Treasured Lies will be out in October 2015 and book three, Treasured Love, will be released April 2016.

I used to daydream about robbing a bank that I worked at in 1992. So guess what? I robbed that bank. In a book of course. Double Take my first crime novel, is a gritty Quinten Tarantino meets Nora Roberts story set in that bank I worked in. I also chose 1992 as the year its set, a time before the internet, mobile phones and electric windows. It was also a time of Cheers, Cagney and Lacey, boom boxes and Carrington Blush fake champagne. It was so much fun writing in that era.

Lost in Kakadu image003_jpg@01D07AB0 Rosalina s Treasured Treats Cookbook cover medium sizeTell us about the cookbook:

Treasured Secrets is as much a treasure hunt as it is a culinary adventure. Rosalina, my Italian heroine in Treasured Secrets is a talented chef, so food and flavours abound as much as the treasure hunt action. Every one of the meals she makes in my books I made for myself. In fact, recipes from “Treasured Secrets” debut in their own book “Rosalina’s Treasured Treats” readers can find this on my website and cook along as they read Treasured Secrets if they like.

What inspires you to write? 

The story. Once I get an idea for a story in my head it won’t leave me alone. I dream about it. I think about it constantly, even at work when I’m trying to do my boring bookkeeping job. It’s like I’m possessed and the only way to rid it from my brain is to write about it. My bank robbery stayed in there for 22 years, so when I finally sat down to write it, it took just 3 months.

Thanks Kendall, it’s great to get an insight into your writing life!

You can purchase Treasured Secrets here:

Amazon

Booktopia

Kobo 

iTunes

Google Play

You can find Kendall here:

Email: kendall@universe.com.au

Web: www.kendalltalbot.com.au

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kendalltalbotbooks

twitter: https://twitter.com/KendallBooks

Posted on

A Chat with Louise Reynolds

Louise ReynoldsToday I’m talking with Louise Reynolds whose latest book, Outback Bride, has just been released. Welcome Louise.
It’s lovely to be here, Bernadette.
Congratulations on your second release with Destiny Romance. Can you tell us a little about your book?
Outback BrideLegal star Lara Burke has worked hard to escape her country past and is finally on the way to being made a partner at her city law firm. At the worst possible time, her former flame Jake Forester arrives, bringing tragic news from home.
Forced to return to her family property, Jindaburra, Lara must confront her past at the home she loved and lost. But big-sky country and bittersweet memories are not all that await her at Jindaburra.
Readers are certainly seeking out rural romance stories. Many of these have the city meets country theme. What do you think intrigues readers?
For quite a while (and certainly post GFC), much of Western society has been returning to simpler values – recycling, up-cycling, sustainability, making do – and there’s a perception that life is simpler in the country. Having said that, our big cities have never offered such an amazing variety in cuisines and entertainment. It’s natural for people to be drawn to both and that creates a tension between both worlds that’s interesting to explore.

Do you have country roots?
Not at all. In fact I’ve only started travelling in the outback in the last eight years but I love it.
What do you love most about Outback Bride?
I enjoyed creating Jindaburra, Lara’s childhood home. It’s her first love and is buried in her soul.
Destiny LogoWhat was the most difficult part of writing Outback Bride?
There’s a theme of family estrangement and that was difficult to write as, like many families, mine has had to deal with this.
Do you think it’s the similarities or the differences that form the strongest attraction between a hero and heroine?
Definitely the similarities. I’ve never been a huge believer in opposites attract.
How do you come up with your ideas?
For Outback Bride, I met a girl in an outback pub who was devastated that her brother would inherit the family property and her father had refused to consider her contribution and love for the property. That conversation stayed with me for a long time until the character of Lara was born. But generally there are strands from all over the place that come together to create a story.

What genre do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?
Definitely contemporary romance, city or country-based. I like romances that feature problems faced by modern women and I like my heroines if not strong at the outset, certainly resourceful. In rural romance I like to read Barbara Hannay. Otherwise, Jill Shalvis, Bella Andre, Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart.
Her Italian AristocratDo you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Think about why you are doing this. Make clear goals. Follow through.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing a contemporary romance that starts in the outback but moves to London then on to an old English manor house. I’m having a lot of fun with this one.
Thanks for introducing us to Outback Bride and to your writing life, Louise.
Thank you for having me, Bernadette. It’s been fun.
You can find Louise at:
Website: www.louisereynolds.com.au
Blog: http://louwrites.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LouiseHReynolds
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseReynoldsauthorpage?ref=hl

Outback Bride can be purchased on Amazon , Kobo Books , Apple itunes and Destiny Romance

Posted on

Interview with Sasha Cottman

small author pic sasha cottman (120x84)Today I’m talking with Sasha Cottman whose book, Letter from a Rake has just been released by Destiny Romance. Welcome Sasha!

Thanks for the warm welcome Bernadette.

You write Regency Historical romances. Can you describe your genre? What will readers find in a Regency Romance?

Regency historical romances are set around the turn of the 18th century. The period only lasted 8 years while the future George IV reigned in his father’s place, due to the King’s mental illness.  Most Regency novels loosely cover the period from 1800 to Victoria’s reign in 1837. Readers of Regency are often entertained with the story of dashing heroes and feisty heroines. The social and legal codes of the time restricted women’s lives greatly, but the modern Regency novel does tend to bend the rules, allowing the heroine to shine.  The grandmother of all Regency novels, Pride and Prejudice is set around this era.

Can you tell us about how your book Letter from a Rake came about?Letter From A Rake

Letter from a Rake actually came about from a failed attempt at writing my first novel. In that book, Millie (the heroine of Letter from a Rake) was a secondary character, but she was so strong she basically shoved the poor heroine off the page and demanded I write her story instead. When you are continually dreaming about scenes involving a secondary character, it’s time to listen to your muse. The scene in the maze, kept me awake night after night until I finally gave in and started writing the full story.

What do you love most about this story?

What I love about this story is the sense of family.  My favourite Regency novels have always been ones where the characters have family around them; Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series was one of the first Regency series I ever read and I fell in love with every one of her books.  When you have family around your main characters, it gives you lots of scope to work with, as well as helping to establish backstories.

How do you come up with your ideas?

When I am walking on the beach near our beach house, ideas often just pop into my head, as a result I have learned to carry a notebook on my walks. Walking at lunchtime is also a great way to solve plot problems.

Do your characters appear first or do you have to go looking for them in the story?

Characters always appear first. Usually the emotional state of a character will find its way into my thoughts and then the rest of the character gradually begins to form.

What qualities do you see as most important in a romance hero?

Humour has to be the most important thing to me. I need to like a romance hero and bond with him before I can then fall in love with him. Alex, the hero in Letter from a Rake has a lot of the humour of my four brothers. There are a number of scenes where he does things that my brothers have done in real life. I spent a long afternoon chuckling to myself as I wrote the hangover scene.

What genre do you like to read and why?

I’m an historical romance girl, I have read a few contemporary romances, but I always come back to the historical ones, especially Regency.

I’ve read quite a few paranormal and fantasy fiction books along the way; I love the whole world building that goes with those genres. Once I discovered Tolkien at university, I became an unashamed Lord of the Rings fan. I visited the movie set in Wellington after I had gone to New Zealand on a business trip. If you own the extended directors cut of the Fellowship of the Ring DVD, you will find my name at the end along with the rest of the LOTR fan club members.

Who is your favourite author and why?

Just one?  Stephanie Laurens, especially her early Cynster novels. I think I own all her books. Special mention must go to Anna Campbell who runs a very close second, and is also a really lovely lady. I’ve picked her brains at several writers’ conferences.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Join a writers group; surround yourself with others who believe in their writing; it will help you to believe in yours. If you’re fortunate enough to join one of the romance writers groups somewhere in the world, make sure you volunteer some time to help the organisation.  From judging and critiquing of other’s work, I’ve learned a great deal.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing the next book in the Radley family series, which follows on from the epilogue in Letter from a Rake.  Yet another secondary character who demanded his own story.

Thanks for giving readers an insight into your stories and your writing life. Check out this short blurb below:Letter From A Rake

The unconventional Miss Millie Ashton, recently arrived from India, finds England a cold and dismal place. The fashionable ladies of London society look down their noses at her and it isn’t long before Millie is planning her return to the country she considers home.

When Millie befriends the high-spirited Lucy Radley, she also meets Lucy’s handsome brother, ‘Alex the Great’ and things take a turn for the better. Alex, the Marquess of Brooke, is considered the most eligible bachelor in London, yet he appears fascinated by the independent Millie.

Against the odds, their unlikely friendship deepens. But Alex has a secret and when a love letter goes astray, it threatens to destroy all their happiness…

Can Millie and Alex overcome the obstacles in their path to find true love? Or will one miscommunication ruin everything

Letter from a Rake is available as an ebook from Destiny Romance, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and Angus and Robertson.

Sasha Cottman is in the virtual world.

Destiny LogoWebsite www.sashacottman.com

Blog www.sashacottman.com/blog  The misadventures of an author in the Regency Kitchen.

Twitter www.twitter.com/@sashacottman

Facebook www.facebook.com/sashacottmanauthor

Posted on

Chatting to Jennifer St George

Jen St GeorgeToday I’m chatting with Destiny Romance author, Jennifer St George. Welcome, Jen!

Thanks for inviting me on, Bernadette.

Congrats on the release this month of The Love Deception. Can you tell us about the story?

The Love Deception is my third novel with Destiny Romance. It combines legal intrigue, courtroom drama and a dash of exotic Barbados.

The Love DeceptionWhen Felicity Carter wakes up naked in a strange bed, she has no idea how she got there. And no recollection of meeting the gorgeous man calmly offering her breakfast. Felicity flees – hoping that their paths never cross again.
 The last thing she expects is to discover that her mystery man is Damon Fullbright, partner at the law firm where Felicity has just started work – and her new boss!

Damon is appalled to find the out-of-control young woman he rescued has been hired to work on his team. Apart from anything else, he doesn’t need the distraction of a hot blonde with a barrel-full of issues. But one-by-one, Felicity blows all Damon’s preconceptions out of the water. When Felicity explosively reveals her dreadful secret, will he risk his reputation and trust her to discover the truth?

How did you come up with the idea for your book?

I used to travel extensively and would often wake up in a hotel in a foreign country and forget where I was.  In those first few seconds of waking, I’d always get a jolt of adrenaline and I’d wonder where I was. Of course I’d quickly realize I was fine, in a hotel and had to get up and go to work. I wondered what it would be like if you woke up and had no idea where you were. Felicity does just that at the beginning of the book. From that point on, her life is a rollercoaster ride in the search for truth, understanding and ultimately…love.

What do you love most about The Love Deception?

I love that both hero and heroine will do anything to protect the ones they love.

The Convenient BrideWhat is different about this book when compared to The Convenient Bride and Seducing the Secret Heiress? What is similar?

This book has an element of romantic suspense about it which is different to The Convenient Bride and Seducing the Secret Heiress. All three books include exotic locations, opulent settings and a hot, hot hero!

How does winning an award like the Clendon (as you did with The Convenient Bride) help your writing career?

I think being a finalist and winning awards helps bring you to the attention of editors. It also adds to your writing credentials, which is invaluable when drafting submission cover letters.

You work in PR, what are the three most important ingredients in promoting yourself?

  1. Develop a brand for yourself
  2. Get your online presence in order. This is important to establish before you are published.  Editors will look for you online.
  3. I’ve found getting to know popular romance bloggers has been very beneficial as they will feature/review your book and/or do an author spotlight

Of course ahead of all of this is to write fabulous books!

Seducing the Secret Heiress, Jennifer St GeorgeDo you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Probably the top things that helped me achieve publication were

1) Volunteering. I volunteered for Romance Writers of Australia. This put me in touch with lots of published authors and editors through my work in sponsorship
and media.

2) Education. I attended every writing workshop/course (highly recommend Margie Lawson’s online courses!!), author chat and conference I could.  I read loads of romance writing ‘how-to’ books.  I read lots and lots of books in the line I was targeting

3) Competitions. I entered so many competitions as possible with as many entries as were allowed.

4) I wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote.

How has writing changed you as a person?

Hmmm.  That’s a good question.  I probably watch people a lot more than I did before.  Especially for inspiration on how people react in certain situations.

What genre do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?

I read across a lot of genres – obviously lots of romance (mostly category as that’s what I write), but I also love crime (eg recently read Michael Connelly, Stieg Larsson, Gillian Flynn), historical drama/action (eg Bernard Cornwell) and literary authors such as Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes and Iain Banks (who sadly passed away several weeks ago). I don’t read too much fantasy, but I am ripping through George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I try to keep up with winners of the major awards such as The Booker and Miles Franklin awards (although I am very behind at the moment!!) and am still working my way through the classics. Only read To Kill a Mockingbird last year (I know, I know!).  Unfortunately I’m a slow reader so my TBR pile is huge!

I don’t think I have an all-time favourite author.

Destiny LogoWhat’s next for you?

I’m half way through my next book which I’m hoping my Destiny Romance editors will love and another contract will be heading my way!

Thanks for sharing your inspiration and words of wisdom with us today, Jen and all the best with The Love Deception

Posted on

What’s in Name?

Leisl Leightonby Leisl Leighton

What’s in a name? Apparently heaps.

A swimming teacher I work with told me the other day because of multiple negative experiences with boys called Jackson, and girls called Brittany, she couldn’t help but roll her eyes whenever she had a new kid to teach who had one of those names and think, ‘what hell are these ones going to put me through’. Now, I don’t think the kids’ behaviour had anything to do with their names, but it did make me think about what we see in a name, how it affects us and the lasting impressions it leaves. This question became even more important recently when I had to come up with a new name for the novel that Destiny Romance has just published.

When I started to write this novel, as usual, I had no idea what it was about. I am a true pantser (writer who doesn’t plot). But I had a re-occurring dream about a music producer with a dark past she wanted to hide and a rock star she wanted to work with whose fame threatened to bring her secrets to light. There was also a phrase that kept recurring in my dream, ‘sounding the heart’. The hero said it to the heroine when he was talking about what he saw in her. So, of course, that’s what I named it when I had to name my document. What I didn’t know then, was that it would turn into a romantic suspense novel with a stalker and murderer in the mix. I knew when I was subbing it that the name wasn’t right, but I couldn’t really think of anything else, because ‘Sounding the heart’ was what it was to me.

Destiny LogoOf course, that title would be good if it was a straight romance novel, however, it in no way suggests the suspense/murder part of the plot – which is a quite significant part of the story. My editor very carefully asked me how attached I was to the title (my answer when I was writing it might have been, ‘quite a bit’, but now, it was ‘not at all’.)  Knowing this question was going to be coming I had been thinking about the importance of titles and what certain titles said to me. I know there have been times when I’ve picked up a book just because of what it’s called. Of course, if the blurb didn’t appeal to me, I put it right back, but the title was the thing that caught my eye. So, it seemed, there was a lot in a name if I wanted people to pick up my novel and have an idea from the title what it might be about.

I quickly came up with a bunch of titles that encompassed different aspects of the novel – the twin connection, the music, the dark creepiness of the stalker and combinations that encompassed elements of two or three of these. I really wanted something that would speak of the way the hero and heroine’s music spoke to each other (so touching on the feel of the original title), but also suggested the darker side of the novel.

Killing Me SoftlyIn amongst all these suggestions was my favourite, Killing Me Softly. I liked it because it hit the darker elements nicely, but also references Roberta Flack’s 1973 song about a woman listening to a musician whose song speaks to her soul (something that is mentioned by the heroine in the novel), so it shows the importance of music in the hero and heroine’s journeys. Luckily, my editors loved it too and picked it among the dozen others I’d thrown out there.

So, after years of calling the novel by another name, it is now called ‘Killing Me Softly’ – and do you know what? I love it. It feels good, much better than ‘Sounding the Heart’ ever did. It tells me so much more about the story. And I hope it speaks to readers too.

Killing Me Softly is out now. Find it at www.destinyromance.com, Amazon, Kobo or iBooks.

Posted on

Talking with Leisl Leighton

Leisl LeightonToday I’m talking with Leisl Leighton who has TODAY released her debut novel Killing Me Softly. Welcome Leisl

Thanks Bernadette. It’s so lovely to be here.

Please tell us a little about your story and what genre it is.

Killing Me Softly is a romantic suspense and is about reclusive music producer, Alexia Deningham and rock star, Daemon Flagherty. Alexia guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon and his band, it is on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behaviour.
Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?

Can you tell us about how Killing Me Softly came about?

I was thinking one day about how songs can mean different things to different people and then I had a dream about a music producer who was having difficulty with a rock star she was working with until he heard her music. The dream wouldn’t leave me alone, so I began to write. Funnily enough, when I sat down to write Lexi’s story, it didn’t even start with the rock star at the time, but a scene in an asylum where she was visiting her identical twin sister. The story blossomed from there.

Killing Me SoftlyWhat do you love most about this story?

I love the way music is so central and personal to them and yet it’s how they relate to themselves and others. It feels very true to me. I walk around singing all the time, I even sing ‘going to bed’ songs to my sons, or ‘it’s time to get dressed now’ songs etc. Music is a massive part of my life and I love that in this story that passion of mine came out in my characters. I also love the romance between Lexi and Daemon and how they get past so much to trust themselves and each other.

Tell us more about how you come up with your ideas?

As I mentioned above, I dream my stories. Sometimes the dreams are just about a character or characters who keep coming to me and won’t let go. Other times I dream a scene over and over. And sometimes, I dream a scene that then continues the next night and the next and so on, until I have the beginning of a story. Then, as I’m writing, the rest just comes to me. I’m pretty much a pantser, which means lots of re-writing, but I’ve tried plotting and it just doesn’t work for me.

What qualities do you see as most important in a romance hero?

I think he needs to be wounded or not whole in some way that only the heroine can help him with. And he needs to have something in him that is especially for her.  He doesn’t have to be an Alpha, but needs to be strong within himself, but not so strong that he can’t be emotional and caring and listen. Listening is really important. Even if he doesn’t act on what the listening tells him or denies it at first, he is smart enough to let it sink in and eventually do something about it. And most of all, he doesn’t have to ‘rescue’ the heroine. I like a heroine who can rescue herself.

What genre/s do you like to read? Who is your favourite author?

My bookshelves are filled with fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, historical romance, YA and contemporary romance – so I’m a bit of a genre slut, sharing my likes around! I don’t have an all over favourite, but I do have favourites in each genre. My favourite fantasy author is Raymond E. Feist. Paranormal – Nalini Singh. Historical – Anne Gracie. YA – Richelle Meade. Contemporary and romantic suspense – Nora Roberts.

When and how did you get ‘the call’? How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing forever, although up until about ten years ago it was mostly scripts for theatre and cabaret with a little dabbling in writing an epic fantasy novel I intend to go back to when I figure out how to weave all the elements together properly.

Destiny LogoIn regards to how I got ‘the call’, I pitched an epic paranormal to Carol George at the RWA conference last year. I met up with Carol at a Penguin workshop in January where she passed on the novel I pitched, but kept assuring me that they really liked my writing, and the ‘no’ was because the story I’d pitched just didn’t have a strong enough romantic thread in it. She asked me if I wrote anything other than paranormal and I mentioned I used to write romantic suspense. I pitched her one I thought was most ready and she said they’d love to see it. I rushed home, spent a few weeks polishing it up and sent it to her in mid Feb. I got ‘the call’ from Sarah Fairhall a few weeks later. I was so used to getting ‘we love your writing, but don’t have a place for that story at the moment’ or something similar, that it took a few minutes for it to sink in that she was saying they wanted to publish my novel. I kept saying, ‘Really?’ and probably sounded like I was away with the fairies, although I think Sarah is used to that. It took ages to sink in, but my family and writing friends helped there, as they each threw a party for me and my husband kept buying champagne, because there seemed to be something to celebrate every second day.

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

Firstly, write. Secondly, keep working on your writing – join a writing group, get a critique partner, enter competitions, read books (both in the genres you’re writing and books on writing techniques) and keep writing. Thirdly, write some more. You can’t improve if you don’t write. And fourth, don’t give up – aside from writing, perseverance is key.

What’s next for you?

More writing. Hopefully more published novels. I’m working on another romantic suspense at the moment and a paranormal series I’m excited about and there’s always that epic fantasy I first wrote that I want to get back to one day and do justice to, not to mention all the ideas floating around in my head for more stories.  I’m a writer at heart and I would love to build a career out of that sharing what I love with other people.

Thanks, Leisl, for sharing so much of yourself with us today. Look out for part 2 of Leisl’s feature where she talks about the process of naming her book ‘Killing Me Softly’.

 

You can find Leisl at http://www.leislleighton.com/  and links to her book at http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781743482612/killing-me-softly-destiny-romance

 

Posted on

Milestones

MilestonesToday my blog reached the milestone of 4000 hits. It took just over 12 months to climb to this and while I’m sure it sets no record, it’s still an amazing achievement. I’ve had a great time creating content for this blog and tried to stick with the romance theme.

Finishing line

I thought you might be interested to discover the most clicked of my 40 previous posts was The Most Romantic Dr Who which continues to get clicks on a regular basis. Next most popular was the Alpha versus Beta Heroes post.

Looking for Inspiration

 

I want to thank my readers for their continued interest and encourage you all to comment when you feel moved to do so. Here’s to reaching 10 000 hits within the next 12 months. I do love a challenge!Destiny Logo

 

 

In the coming weeks, I’ll have a series of interviews with Destiny Romance authors. I can’t wait to discover their new releases, writing lives and writing secrets. Until then…

Posted on

Untamed by Anna Cowan

The latest Destiny Romance offering is Untamed by Anna Cowan. A big congratulations must go to Anna whose book has already delighted readers as the reviews demonstrate.

Untamed CoverOutspoken and opinionated, Katherine Sutherland is ill at ease amongst the fine ladies of Regency London. She is more familiar with farmers and her blunt opinions and rough manners offend polite society. Yet when she hears the scandalous rumours involving her sister and the seductive Duke of Darlington, the fiercely loyal Katherine vows to save her sister’s marriage – whatever the cost.

Intrigued by Katherine’s interference in his affairs, the manipulative Duke is soon fascinated. He engages in a daring deception and follows her back to her country home. Here, their intense connection shocks them both. But the Duke’s games have dangerous consequences, and the potential to throw both their lives into chaos…

Wildly romantic, Untamed is a passionate and beautifully written debut novel. This decadent historical romance defies convention and will shock and delight in equal measure.

‘A  strong and original voice, a unique story and characters you won’t  easily forget — this is an exciting and memorable debut. Anna Cowan is  an author to watch.  Anne Gracie 

‘One of the most mesmerizing books I’ve read this year.’ Dear Author

Utterly absorbing, beautifully written, and full of insight and humor.’ Ruthie Knox

Good luck with your debut novel, Anna.

Posted on

Interview with Sophia James

Image Lady with the Devil's Scar (Harlequin Historical Series #1102)

Today I’m talking to Harlequin Historical author Sophia James.

Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions, Sophia.

That’s OK, Bernadette. It was lovely to be asked and I am so thrilled you have been picked up by Destiny Romance (Penguin) for your 5DI Princess Avenger. http://www.romanceaustralia.com/5di.html

Your historical romances are much loved. What can a reader expect from a Sophia James historical?

Characters that a reader hopefully grows to feel like they know well.  My stories are quite sensual and I hope, intelligent reads.

What inspires you to write historical romances?

I have always read historical romances as I really like them.  I have written a contemporary and would like to try another but I guess my heart just belongs in Historicals.  I like the sense of history. I like that conventions then were different than they are now.

You have a wonderful knack of selecting intriguing names for your heroes. Can you tell us the secret of this talent?

Asher, Taris and Cristo Wellingham were always characters I knew I would write about ever since I can remember. They were in my very first practice book. The name Asher came after meeting a friend of my nephews, Taris was a guy we bought a car from and Cristo was kind of snatched from the Count of…Other names I have found from a map of the South Island of New Zealand. They have cool old English names all around Christchurch. Cath Evans sent me a whole list of great names too. I love to play around with names. My latest hero is Taylen shortened to Tay.

Describe your writing journey up until ‘the call’?

I won the Clendon with my first book and did a lot of revisions on that story. I was picked up by Harlequin on the book in 2003.

I got an email while I was at work and my husband rang me.  When I came home he had brought a whole bunch of flowers and printed off the email and all the family were gathered around. I guess they knew how much I had wanted this and were really supportive. I always wished I could have got a midnight phone call though.

How many books have you published and do you have a favourite?

I have had 10 books published and another is out in April 2013.

Favourites…??? I guess I just love the Wellinghams although my medieval stories hold a special place in my heart. It’s always hard to choose a favourite and in fact the more I think of this question the harder it becomes. I like them all but in different ways.

High Seas to High Society One Unashamed NightOne Illicit Night
Do you have another job to supplement your writing income?

I don’t now. I gave up my teaching job a couple of years ago and have never regretted it. The full time teaching just became impossible when balanced against 4 book contracts and everything I did was falling to pieces ‘cos I was so stressed trying to do both well.

What does a typical writing day in the life of Sophia James look like?

I get up and always get dressed. I love the idea of writing in my pyjamas in bed but I can never do that…it feels like I am not working and I need to put on my good clothes and sit at my desk.

I try to write 1000 words a day but some days that is impossible.  I nearly always write for four to five hours. After that I seem to barely get a word out so then it is mainly my thinking time. Because writing is so sedentary I usually go for a walk or do a gym workout

You put a lot back into the writing community, mentoring and running workshops. Why?

I love teaching. It is so much a part of who I am. I was so pleased and also a bit scared to be asked to be a mentor for 5DI in 2010 but I loved it and amazingly was asked back for 2011. This year I have done a 2DI in Blenheim with a small group and also I spoke at the RWNZ conference about layering in a book.

I think it is really important to give back to the writing community and if I can help another writer to realise their dreams of being published then that is wonderful.

Who do you rely on for support in your writing career?

My husband, really, as I doubt I could pay the bills if he wasn’t there J

My writing friends are at the end of the phone and my mum and sister always read the first draft of my stories.

You’ve just released Lady with the Devil’s Scar. What do you love about this book?

Isobel the heroine. She turned into such a gutsy in your face sort of woman, a really easy character to write as I could just see her striding across her land in boys clothes and incredibly competent in protecting herself and her people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re currently in revisions for the fourth and final book in the Wellingham family series. What can we expect from this story?

Lucinda is the little sister in the series and has often kind of been in trouble with her forthright ways. In this story she is married off to the Dissolute Duke, Taylen Ellesmere, after a scandal and he causes all sorts of problems for the Wellingham family. I loved seeing the brothers reaction to a man who gave them no leeway, and an honourable hero in spite of all that had been said of him.

What technique/truth have you learned in your writing journey that you wish you had known at the start?

I’m not much of a technical writer. I never read ‘how to’ books and I seldom understand the complex methods you often hear touted at conference.

I just have always written what I would like to read. So I don’t honestly think that I write differently now than I did at the beginning.

How do you feel about the burgeoning e-book industry?

I love it. I love the fact that there are other ways to publish your book now and that it leaves such a great chance for everyone to explore differing alternatives.

Where to from here? Where would you like to be in ten years?

I got asked this question at conference and I found it hard to answer. I love my editor, Linda Fildew, and I would find it really difficult to not have her input in my book if I changed lines.

Sometimes, though, I think I would like to write a series of books based on a community in New Zealand. I have actually started that but need time to develop the concept.

Thanks Sophia, for showing us around your writing life and good luck with ‘Lady with the Devil’s Scar’.

You can find Sophia and her books at http://sophiajames.net/index.html