Tag Archive | Border Watch

Weekend of Romance-Author Signing

ARRA Author SigningI was lucky enough to take part in the author signing during the ARRA 2013 Convention. It was beautifully organised and set up with around 66 authors involved from the fabulous Amy Andrews, Anna Campbell, Anne Gracie and Nalini Singh through to Helene (Helium) Young. Somewhere in the middle were the Destiny team of myself, Jennifer St George and Imelda Evans. Over two hours, readers filed past, getting us to sign the amazing souvenir booklets which contained information on each of the authors. And oh what information! Who knew that one of Anne Gracie’s celebrity crushes was David Tennant (I’m with you Anne!) or that Anna Campbell would love to live on the west coast of Scotland or that Kelly Hunter would really like to be James Bond?

I got to sign the print version of my book for the first time. It was difficult to know what to write but hopefully I’ll be forgiven if it was a bit lame. What was most amazing to me was the reader interest in paranormal/fantasy stories. It was gratifying to speak to so many who read widely in the genre that I love. I guess I’m not so odd after all.

Writers are, first and foremost, readers and the weekend was a wonderful opportunity to network with other readers who are most definitely passionate about romance and books in general. There was a great sense of being with one’s ‘tribe’ and for solitary writers, which we all are, this was an opportunity too good to miss. I’m so glad I attended!

Burning Lies Review

I love it when a story makes you reflect on life and that’s what Burning Lies, by Helene Young, has done for me. It made me think about lots of issues such as working single mothers, volunteers, undercover police, the danger of fire in rural communities, grandparents parenting their grand children and more. There were so many issues in this novel and any one could have been the basis for a story on its own.

Kaitlyn Scott is trying to be all things to all people and not really succeeding with any of it. She has unbelievable tragedy in her recent past and has fled from Canberra to the Atherton Tablelands in the hope of a fresh start. Her mother Julia and son Daniel are part of the fragile life she has created for herself in the heart of the bush. Kait is able to pretend she has put her past behind her until the community begins to suspect an arsonist is at work on the Tablelands.

Hunky but troubled undercover cop Ryan is sent to investigate and takes up residence on the property next door. He is immediately drawn to Kait and her family and begins to imagine a life where safety doesn’t depend on a lie. But Kait is more involved with the arsonist than she could have predicted and soon all their lives are under threat.

We’re used to damaged heroes in romance, and Ryan is definitely one of them, but damaged heroines aren’t so common. Kaitlyn is one such lady, trying hard to ‘fix’ her life so the pain of the past can’t hurt her again. She’s only half alive as she battles to recover from the past and build a new reality for herself and her son. Guilt is a big motivator for her and she is willing to sacrifice time with her son to battle bushfires in the belief that by doing this she can right the wrongs of her dead husband.

I really came to understand Kait through the book and was fully invested in her future by the end. Ryan was a lovely hero whom I immediately felt empathy for. There were so many small elements that came together to complete the story eg Uncle Jack’s diary. Much thought has gone into this book and the technical details felt so accurate. The ending is bittersweet with sadness and more loss for Kaitlyn.

Ryan and Kait do get their HEA but tempered with the ever present threat of Ryan’s undercover past. Good job Helene! This story is your best yet. You can find more of Helene’s books here: http://www.heleneyoung.com/books/

Interview with Helene Young- Part 1

Today I’m talking to romantic suspense author Helene Young.

HELENE Young, Shattered Sky 

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

Bernadette, thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you. It’s great having such a vibrant community of writers in NQ RWA, albeit a widely spread group! Congratulations on your upcoming debut release! Exciting times for you.

Thanks, I can’t wait for the edits to arrive. Your first two books, Wings of Fear and Shattered Sky have seen you win reader awards for Romantic Suspense. Can you reveal what this means to you?

Thanks, Bernadette, it is lovely to win awards that are judged by readers not critics as is the case with the Romance Writers of Australia’s RBY and the awards from the Australian Romance Readers. At the heart of my writing is the aim to entertain, to take people on a journey with my characters, so awards like this mean the world to me.  When I’ve spent twelve months tapping away at the computer keys being able to connect with readers is the ultimate thank you!

Wings of Fear             

You began your writing journey in 1998. What made you start writing? Can you describe your writing journey up until ‘the call’? 

I’ve always been a bit of a writing dabbler. I wrote the obligatory angst ridden poems during my teens and early twenties and assumed one day I’d write a book. Life had other ideas and aviation captured my imagination so writing went onto the back burner. It was only in my mid-thirties when we moved to Cairns for a new job with an airline that I suddenly had time on my hands again. I started writing in my spare time and didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. When I finished my first manuscript I hid it in a filing cabinet drawer while I contemplated what I was going to do with it.

My husband found it while I was away in Brisbane with work and he was responsible for really pushing me to take the next step and submit. I did that and was politely rejected, but part of the rejection, and subsequent submission to an assessment agency, was the best piece of advice I’ve received in my writing career. Join RWA. I did that and my manuscript came second in the Emma Darcy Award in 2004.  It was beginners luck, but it was so motivational for me. I used the RWA contest circuit to hone my writing ability. The feedback was at times hard to take but I learnt so much, I toughened up and realised I had a long way to go. The RWA conferences were a source of inspiration and learning – and the camaraderie of Romance Writers is second to none!!

My fifth completed manuscript, Wings of Fear (Border Watch), was a finalist in the Golden Heart Contest with RWAmerica. Having that on my resume was enough to get a request from Hachette for the full manuscript. After taking Bernadette Foley’s advice and rewriting the manuscript I was offered a two book contract.

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

Editing is the time when your work really starts to shine. I was so fortunate to have Bernadette as my editor. I learnt so much from her about my own writing and the process of editing.  I’m a committed pantser and I doubt I will ever be a plotter. I write my story and then I plot it out so I can tweak in the editing stage to ensure both conflict and tension are there.

For new writers I like to reassure them that the rules are there to guide them. Sure grammar and punctuation is a given, but POV, conflict, chapter length, narrative vs dialogue are all areas where opinions differ. I cringe when I hear presenters saying, ‘You must not’ or ‘You have to do it this way.’ Everyone has a different creative process and the rules will help you work out which ones are appropriate for you.

Hearing about a writer’s journey is always so fascinating. Be sure to watch out for part 2 of my interview with Helene when I ask her about her day job, her stories and her hopes for the future.

You can check out Burning Lies and Helene’s other books here: http://www.heleneyoung.com/books/