Guest Post – “Politically Incorrect” by Jeanne McDonald

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Sex. Lies. Greed. Power. Scandal. Politics.

Political strategist, Elizabeth McNeal, has been called a lot of things throughout her career – bitch being at the top of the list – but she doesn’t let it get to her.  She’s bold, she’s blunt, and she takes orders from on one.  This is how she’s survived working in a man’s world.  She’s the master of diversion and her specialty is winning an election-no matter the cost.

That is, until she meets her new client, Democratic candidate, Congressman William Baxter.  Kind, considerate, insanely handsome, honest, and ten years her junior, he’s a unicorn among politicians.  He infuriates her.  He challenges her.  Most of all, he makes her see past the scandalous world of politics and helps her to discover the heart of the woman inside her.

With sparks flying between them and the election rapidly approaching, the last thing either of them need is to be caught in a compromising position.  Some lines are meant to be crossed and some rules broken, but for Elizabeth and Liam is it worth the cost of being politically incorrect?

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“Politically Incorrect” is the latest novel by Jeanne McDonald, and takes us behind the scenes of an election campaign, into the corridors of power, to look at what happens when passion and politics collide.  I caught up with Jeanne recently to talk a little about the story of Elizabeth and William.

Politically Incorrect is set in the behind-the-scenes world of election campaigns and political strategy and not many of us get to see what goes on in that world.  Did you have to do a lot of research for the story?  Have you worked in politics yourself?

That’s a great question. While I have never worked in politics, I’ve always been fascinated by it. When I first conceptualized Politically Incorrect I had no idea the amount of research this story would require. I had a foothold on ideas thanks to my love for politically charged television ─ House of Cards, Madam Secretary, West Wing, etc. ─ however, I soon discovered that wasn’t enough. Not only did I have to understand how politics worked, but I had to understand the jobs that each character would play. I had to have an in depth knowledge of not only Elizabeth and Liam’s jobs, but I also had to learn how Scout, Aaron, and even Harper fit into all the facets of politics. Needless to say, I had a blast and learned a lot.

Elizabeth is a strong character, and 10 years older than William, which is something we don’t often see between love interests. Was it exciting to move away from the more traditional pairings and did it present any challenges?

So often in romance novels we find characters at a precipice of their life. Something has set their world upside down and it takes that special someone to bring life back into focus. What I liked about writing Elizabeth as a more mature woman who was satisfied in herself, her life, and even her love life is that she broke free of the conventional. Her age was always a major factor for me. It’s taboo to think of an older woman with a younger man. As even Elizabeth points out, men her age want women her daughter’s age. So, it was important for Liam to see past their age difference to the brilliant woman inside. This did present a bit of a challenge writing, because I had to make Elizabeth strong yet vulnerable. I had to create a woman who didn’t back down but was also capable of giving in. If you ask my beta readers, I constantly pulled my hair out of scenes because they had to have the right amount of push and pull to make Elizabeth tick.

The book is very timely, given that it’s an election year in the US.  Do you see anything in the media coverage that mirrors Politically Incorrect?

Sadly, I haven’t, but then the media is full of Trump. I’ll keep my opinions about him to myself, but he does keep the media busy. I’m sure that makes all the other politicians in the country breathe a little easier because no matter how bad they might screw up, he always seems to TRUMP them. HAHA! See what I did there?

Your many novels cover a wide range of subjects and you tackle some challenging issues.  Do you enjoy exploring the different facets of human nature?

I really do. If I didn’t feel I would drown in my own emotions, I might’ve enjoyed becoming a psychologist. The way we humans analyze things, break them down, and explore our options fascinates me ─ even more so in the world of romance. For what is romance without the human element? It’s for this very reason I love writing romance. I get to explore the depths of emotion and desire. Two of my favorite subjects.

Do you have a set time of day when you prefer to write? Or do you just grab the opportunity whenever it shows itself?

I basically grab the time when I can. I tried that whole scheduling myself to write but found that when I did that my muse would never appear. If I just go with the flow of things, words come more naturally.

Where do you like to write?

One day I hope to answer this question with, “in my office,” but for now I have a couch set up in my living room where I cuddle up with my laptop and type away. Actually, I’m on said couch right now.

Do you have a favourite scene from Politically Incorrect that you could share with us?

Chapter sixteen, where Liam corners Elizabeth in the hallway after the rally. That scene is where this whole book started. I was struggling to write anything after I completed my last book, Compass. The words simply weren’t coming to me. So, I decided to do some free writing to clear my head. Before I knew it, I had the hallway scene almost completed. I jokingly told my beta that I was goofing off instead of doing what I was supposed to do. She asked to see what my goofing off looked like and after reading that scene she demanded I finish the story. In two days I had the whole thing plotted, outlined, and storyboarded. The rest is history.

Can you tell us about your writing process?  Do you write it all down then go back to slash and burn, or do you self-edit as you go?

Actually, I do both. I write a chapter, go back the next day and edit it, then I move on. After the book is done, I do a complete read through and tear it apart. I analyze each word, sentence, and scene before sending it to my editor. No matter how many times I read it, I always find something I feel I can improve.

Last question 🙂  Is there anything YOU would like to tell us about Politically Incorrect, and also, what’s happening next for Jeanne McDonald?

I think Politically Incorrect speaks for itself. The message is clear. Have faith, don’t try to rush fate, and most of all believe in yourself. As for what’s next for me, I’m now working on book 2 of the Taking Chances series. It’s slated to come out at the end of this year.

Thanks for chatting with me today. I really enjoyed myself.

Thanks, Jeanne!  It was great to talk and get some insight into your work 🙂

Politically Incorrect will be released on 16 August, and will be available on Amazon – click here.

And you can learn more about Jeanne’s work at her website – click here 

Guest Post – “The Contract” by Melanie Moreland

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“The Contract” is the latest novel by Melanie Moreland and I was excited to talk to her recently about what this new story has in store for us.

Synopsis
Richard van Ryan is a tyrant by day and a playboy by night. Katherine Elliot is the PA who only tolerates him because she needs the job to achieve her goals. But Richard has goals of his own and shocks Katherine when he offers her something she never expected; a new role with a personal contract – fiancee instead of PA.
What happens when two people who loathe each other have to live together, and make the world believe they’re madly in love?

 

 Have you ever had to work for someone like Richard?

Unfortunately, yes. However, he never asked me to marry him, and he never changed. He is a complete ass still, but making someone else’s life miserable. It was so bad I had to change jobs. I tried to make sure Richard was still human enough, he could be redeemed. The man I worked for had no conscience, soul, or heart. Enough said? LOL

 

The Contract is your fourth novel and Richard is quite different from your other leading men.  Was it a challenge to write a character that you knew your readers might hate?

It was a challenge in that I didn’t want them to hate him so much that they would put the book down in disgust, but I wanted to show him as he was, and then show his growth. For a short time I was in a very bad place in my life and looked at everything in anger and detachment. After things got better, I wondered how someone who knew nothing but detachment would react to actually feeling something. Richard was born. It took a while for he and I to become friends…but eventually we did.

 

Do you have a favourite scene from the book, and if so, can you share?

My favorite scene, well one of them, is when Katy tells him off for the first time. My most favorite line in the whole book is “You want to fuck someone? Go fuck yourself VanRyan.” His reaction is one of shock, and both he and the readers see a different side to Katy. And I love the parts when Penny teases him and it makes him smile. His human side begins to emerge.

 

You have been writing for several years now.  What is the most valuable thing you have learned along the way?

That’s a hard one. Perhaps to trust my own gut instinct. It is hard when people give you their opinion, suggesting things that they see your characters saying or doing. I had actually changed a few scenes in the book, then went back and put them right. And a lesson I am still learning is trying not to compare myself with other authors and their work. We all are different, and we all have our strengths. I have to remember that more.

 

What’s next for Melanie Moreland?

A break. LOL. I have to have some surgery and I won’t have the use of my right arm for a long time. I have tried writing with voice software and it just does not work for me. So I will take a break and when ideas come use the old peck and find with the left hand to get the ideas out. I have some chapters written for the next book, an outline for one after and a long plan for a series. I hope to get to all of them!

 

Thanks for chatting Melanie, and good luck with the surgery. I know your readers will be looking forward to hearing more from you as soon as you’ve got the ‘old peck and find’ under control 🙂

“The Contract” is available now on Amazon.

Guest Post – Cover Reveal for Melanie Moreland’s “Beneath the Scars”

The sound of the ocean, the crash of the waves as they kick up against the sand and rocks—these are the only sounds Megan Greene wants to hear. She wants to leave the rest of the world behind, and find some peace.
The offer of a private house on the beach, set in a small town in Maine, is perfect. Time to think—to be by herself. It’s all she wants. It’s the escape she needs.
Until she stumbles across the painting that seems to echo her own chaotic mindset.
Until she meets the unfriendly artist behind the stormy painting and discovers his secrets.
All Zachary Adams wants is to be left alone. His canvases, and the unending scope of the ocean and sand, are his life. They direct him—fill his hours. Bring him focus.
Until she enters his life.
She dredges up memories of the past—the haunting images he has hidden for years; the fears he has never shared.
A story he keeps buried below the surface.
Can she make him see what he is missing? Can he trust her enough to believe?
Together they embark on a journey where their pasts collide and threaten to tear them apart.
Will their fragile bond hold or wash away with the ebbing tide?

—o0o—

My good friend, Melanie Moreland, has written a new book. It’s called “Beneath the Scars” and I’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peak.  It’s a beautiful story of love and trust,  about two people on a journey to discover themselves, as well as each other.  Zachary and Megan are two characters you can really care about, and their story is written with warmth and feeling, a touch of humour, and is rich with vivid imagery.  When I asked Melanie if she’d be happy to join me on my blog to answer some questions about her book, she agreed 🙂

 

It’s a stunning cover image.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The cover symbolises so much. There is a painting in the book that figures very much throughout the story and this image you see of the stormy waves is how I saw that picture.  The powerful image also represents the turmoil that is caused when Megan enters Zachary’s life.  The upheaval and chaos she stirs are like the constant pounding of the waves against the rocks, and the outside world is like a storm that threatens to tear them apart.  But within the ocean’s tumult, is beauty, and the colours that swirl in the water are the colours she brings to his life.

 

Where did the inspiration for Beneath the Scars come from?
There is so much emphasis placed on beauty these days. I started wondering what would happen if that was all you felt defined you…and that was suddenly taken away.  Could you learn to accept your real beauty was under your skin?
And Beneath came to life.

 

Do your characters ever deviate from where you want them to go?  And if so, do you try to pull them back in toline, or let them go and see where it takes you?
They usually deviate. I’ve given up trying to keep them on the straight and narrow. Now I write as they direct me and adjust my thinking to them, rather than try to adjust theirs.LOL – Because that never works.

 

Do you have a favourite place where you like to write?
I have a spot in my family room by the fire place. It’s warm and cozy in the winter, cool in the summer and when I need a break I look at the window and watch the trees sway and dance in the breeze.

 

The story is touching and emotional and makes us looks beyond the surface, to what lies beneath.  On a lighter note, after cleaning up after a party once, I found of blob of green jelly lurking beneath a sofa cushion.  Have you ever been surprised by something that lurks “beneath”?
OMG – YES! Today I was standing in the garage, talking to my husband, and something caught my eye. There right by my foot, peeking out from under the mat was a tiny frog. Scared the crap out of me and I screamed like a girl and ran. Matt laughed so hard he almost cried. Apparantly it’s been living there for about 2 months. There is a small break in the concrete and it hides in the dark, damp there.  UGH.

 

Mm…  think I’d rather find green jelly under the sofa.

Thanks, Melanie!  🙂

“Beneath the Scars” will be available for purchase in October.  For info and updates, check out Melanie’s Facebook page, Melanie L Moreland

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melanie-L-Moreland/512254118848084

Sea Glass

Sea glass plays a small, but important, role in my new story.

You know sea glass.  Those broken bits of glass you find washed up on a beach, their edges dulled and rounded, the surface scuffed and frosty from being tumbled in the waves and rubbed against the sand.  I’ve always thought sea glass was a bit mysterious.  Little shards of history that could be decades, even centuries, old, washed in from foreign lands, with a story to tell.

I went looking for sea glass a couple of Sundays ago, as research for the book.  My husband and son came too and we drove to Balmain, which is a Sydney suburb edged with a few small, pebbly harbour beaches.

Our son asked why we weren’t going to a proper beach, with cliffs and sand and waves.  I explained that the sandy beaches didn’t catch so much stuff, I needed somewhere with more rocks and pebbles.  Somewhere with places for these mysterious shards to get trapped.

“So, you want to go to a polluted beach?” he asked.
“Well, um, I suppose…in a way…”
“Where will the glass come from?”
“Oh, well it could come from anywhere!”  My imagination took over.  “It might have been swept in from the other side of the world.  And its journey could have started hundreds of years ago – a bottle dropped overboard from a ship travelling the Silk Route to China.”
“Really?”

At this point, my husband joined in.

“Basically, we’re helping Mum look for broken bits of beer bottles that have been tossed into the harbour by drunks on a night out.”

Okay, so his version was probably more accurate.  But I liked my version better.

We did find some sea glass.  And yes, most of it was beer-bottle brown.  But that’s alright.  Beer’s been around for a while, so who knows.  Maybe these had been ale bottles, dropped overboard by convicts transported to Australia on the First Fleet back in 1788.

Yes.  That would be it  🙂

Access Denied

 

I hate writer’s block.  In all it’s maddening forms.

And there are lots of forms.

Sometimes it can be a problem with a particular scene that just won’t work.  Or the frustrating, hair-pulling search for that single, perfect word.

It can be a character who keeps trying to deviate from the plot, coming up with their own dialogue or ideas.

And sometimes writer’s block looms over a whole story, like a bouncer at a nightclub door, denying access to the action going on inside, and telling you you’re wearing the wrong shoes.

I’ve been coming up against the bouncer for a while now.

It started a few months ago.  I was several chapters into my new story, with the ideas flowing and the characters growing, and then suddenly…

Nothing.

It was as though my characters all said “See ya!” and went into the nightclub without me.

I tried to follow.  There were moments when I’d get close enough to sense the excitement, see a flash of colour and movement and hear the music.  But every time I’d inch my way forward the bouncer would appear, blocking the view, and I’d have to step back behind the velvet rope again.

So while my characters partied on, I decided to ignore them.  I turned my back on the bouncer, and turned off my laptop.  I thought maybe if I took a break, things would right themselves.  But I was wrong.

Weeks went by and there wasn’t even a whisper from my characters.   And they didn’t respond to my attempts to get their attention.  I suspect they’d turned off their phones and changed their address. So I decided to re-work the story, make some big changes, give it a fresh location and a different opening, but that didn’t work either.  The first chapter read like a Year 7 English assignment.   And not a very good one.

It was ridiculous.  I mean, I already had several chapters written and I knew where things were headed, but for some reason I wasn’t privy to, the words had stopped coming.

Then I decided to abandon the story all together.  Which was a shame, because I liked the characters.  And their story, with its romance and mystery, had intrigued me.  But it obviously wasn’t going to happen and my imagination had gone dryer than the Simpson Desert, so it was time to say goodbye and let it go.

I toyed with a few other ideas that had been lurking in the back of my mind for a while, sketching out rough drafts and doing some reasearch, and then one morning recently, out of the blue, my female lead came back, and gave me a nudge.

“I have an idea,” she said shyly.

“Oh really?  After all this time?” I was all scepticism.  “This should be good.  Okay, lets hear it, then.”

“What if you keep the essence of what you’ve got, but instead of making me the new girl in town…”

I can’t tell you the rest because that’ll spoil the story.  Because now, at last, there is a story to spoil!!

And the answer wasn’t anything dramatic.  No big changes.  It was just a simple shift in focus, looking at things from a different angle, that did the trick.  But suddenly my characters are back and the words are flowing.

It’s like the nightclub has opened its doors wide and the bouncer has unclipped the velvet rope, stepped aside and ushered me in.

He’s even offered me a free cocktail!

But I’m not falling for that.  Instead I’ve grabbed my characters and run.  Away from the glittering disco ball, to a sandy beach, where we sit in deckchairs beneath palm trees, aqua water lapping at our toes, while they tell me their story and I write it down.

And there isn’t a bouncer in sight 🙂

It’s nice to be back 🙂

beachhouse chair

 

Lets make eggnog!

Christmas is coming.  The tree is up.  The gifts are all organised (almost), and I’ve started working out the menu for Christmas lunch.  And as I’ve thought about hams and puddings and prawns and salads, I’ve remembered the eggnog incident of 2008.

It was the week before Christmas.  Friends had come over for dinner and as we chatted about all things Christmasey, the talk turned to eggnog.  None of us had ever tried it,  eggnog’s not a big thing in Australia, so I had a bright idea and said,  “Lets make some now!”

I wasn’t entirely sure what went into eggnog, apart from egg and milk and brandy.  Or rum.  Tracey had more of an idea.  She said there was cream and sugar too.  It all seemed easy enough, except for the brandy and rum, which we didn’t have.  But we did have Bailey’s Irish Cream.

We thought we’d start with a small amount, just a couple of cups worth.  So I grabbed the smallest mixing bowl and we whisked our ingredients, with a healthy dash of Bailey’s, until our eggnog was light and fluffy.  Then we stood back and admired it.  Perfect.

“Are we supposed to warm it up now?”  My mind flashed back to countless American Christmas movies where people come in from the cold, shaking snow from their coats as someone hands them a glass of eggnog to warm them up.

“I think so,” said Tracey.

So we stuck it in the microwave for sixty seconds.

You know where this is going, don’t you….

When the timer dinged we opened the microwave door and I wondered if eggnog was supposed to smell like that.  We pulled out the bowl…and we stared.

The egg had started to set.

We hadn’t made eggnog.

We’d cooked a bloody mini-quiche!!

I have since learned that eggnog is served cold.  Or at most, warmed gently on the stove top.

Not baked in the microwave.

I still haven’t tasted eggnog.  But if you’re looking for something different to serve your guests this Christmas, I can give you the recipe for a mean Bailey’s Quiche 🙂

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I’m working on a Christmas scene from Over The Edge and I’ll be posting it here on the blog in the coming days.  So if you’d like to know what Angus has under the tree for Zoe, stay tuned….  🙂

 

 

 

What a concept!

A homework machine! 

A machine that works out arithmetic problems and grammar questions perfectly, and even does social studies homework.  What happens when the teacher finds out what’s going on?

Synopsis for Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine

 

My son was looking for something new to read the other day.  All the books on his shelves had been read at least once or twice, or, in the case of a particular Wimpy Kid, seven or eight times.  So I directed him to the bottom row of our bookcase in the family room, to the corner where a couple of my childhood favourites sit, dusty and dog-eared.  And I offered him Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine.

This book was incredibly popular when I was in 4th class. It was 1975, and my friends and I bought our copies through the school book club.  For weeks, we spent every recess and lunchtime discussing how amazing it would be to have a computer like Danny’s.  Imagine, a machine able to answer any question typed into it, correctly and instantly.  What a world it would be if that were possible.

But of course we knew it wasn’t possible.  It was just a fantasy.  Practically science fiction.  It was right up there with Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone!

1975 was also the year we got colour television in our house.  To me, it seemed like the ultimate in technology.  I can remember thinking that there couldn’t possibly be anything left to invent after that.  Not even Danny’s homework machine.

It turns out I was wrong  🙂

As my son scanned the blurb on the back cover, he frowned.

“So, it’s about kids using the internet to do their homework?”

“Oh, um…”  Suddenly, Danny began to lose a tiny bit of his magic.  “Not the internet exactly,” I said.  “Similar idea, though, I suppose.  But it’s still a fun story.”

He looked at the picture on the front.  “Why’s the computer so big?”

“Well, the book was written a while ago.”  We checked the publication info inside the cover.  “See?  1958.  That’s how big they were back then.”

He nodded and glanced at his sister’s smart phone on the coffee table.  The same smart phone she’d used just a little while before to look up Rasputin for a history assignment.

“There are other books,” I said, directing my son back to the shelves.   He finally settled on a comic strip book called Footrot Flats and spent a good couple of hours chuckling at the antics of Dog and Wal.   And I tucked Danny Dunn back on the shelf, but not before I did a quick, sentinmental flick through the pages.  That’s when I noticed a list inside the back cover of other titles in the series.  This one in particular caught my eye…

Danny Dunn and the Anti-Gravity Paint

Anti-gravity paint?  Amazing!  What a concept!  Imagine a world where I could paint my car and float to work!  What a world it would be if that were possible.

But of course I know it’s not possible.  It’s just a fantasy.  Practically science fiction…. 😉

 

The Mysterious Portal at the Back of the Fridge

Look!  There’s a portal at the back of my fridge.

Behind the jars of half-used curry paste and pasta sauce, beyond that leftover slice of frittata, is a gateway to another dimension.  A place of adventure and mystery, where I can travel to the future.  Or the past.

Or maybe not.

Okay, so there’s no portal at the back of my fridge.  I just wish there was.

I used to do this sort of thing a lot when I was younger and doing chores.  In highschool, when I’d iron my school uniform I’d pretend I was a plastic surgeon with a new technique for removing wrinkles.  Drying the dishes?  No, I was polishing the crown jewels.  As for cleaning my room, well, that was an archaeological expedition and I was on the hunt for King Arthur’s sword.  Or the lost city of Atlantis.  But it’s years now since I’ve escaped into my imagination to relieve the boredom of chores.

Until today.

I cleaned the fridge out, you see.  One of those regular, boring, has-to-be-done, tasks.  And it’s never a matter of simply throwing a few things out, is it?  Because as you shift things around you notice other things, like the leak from the chilli sauce bottle that’s fallen on its side.  Then you see a splash of something on the wall at the back.  And that tomato looks fine from the top, but when you pick it up….eww.

Next thing you know you’re not just getting rid of some expired condiments and doing a wipeover, no.  Now you’re pulling everything out.  Including the shelves and racks.   And you’re scrubbing.  And chipping away at that puddle of chilli sauce because it’s hardened and dried like bloody concrete.

Anyway, today as I cleaned I remembered back to my days of plastic surgery and archaeological expeditions, and I wondered what the teenage me would have made of fridge cleaning.  Tomb raiding, perhaps?

In the end I decided I was clearing a pathway to a mystical portal that exists just below the temperature control dial.  Who knows, it might make a good story one day.  Maybe.  So if I ever venture into writing children’s books, and you come across this title, The Mysterious Portal at the Back of the Fridge, you’ll know where the idea came from 🙂

And now I have to go and put the groceries away.  Or am I really hiding plundered treasure?

 

“Innocence” by Elise de Sallier

innocence-cover-low-res

Today on the blog I’m featuring a new Australian author, Elise de Sallier.

Elise is a romantic fiction addict from way back, so writing her own historical and paranormal romances—and having others read and fall in love with her characters and the worlds she creates—is a dream come true. Elise likes to see her characters grow, experience passion and adventure, tackle some difficult issues, and find lasting love.  Eventually.

“Innocence” is Elise’s debut novel.  If you enjoy historical romance, this is a must-read 🙂

 

Innocence

Ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but in Anneliese Barlow’s experience, it leads to poor choices and unnecessarily tragic outcomes . . . and there is nothing blissful about either.

Forced to flee her father’s brutal heir, Anneliese masquerades as Lisa Brown, a servant in the grand, country mansion of the Duke of Worthington. Befriended by her fellow maids, she tries—and failsto avoid attention while awaiting the return of the duke, her father’s friend. Discovering her previous life of gentility was no more than a fairy tale, her new reality is a dark and forbidding place, and Lisa faces danger at every turn.

Captivated by the beautiful maid, Nathaniel Stanton, the Marquis of Marsden, decides the only way to protect the new girl is by offering her his protection. With her reputation ruined and all hope of returning to her previous station seemingly lost, Lisa surrenders her virtue to the man she has come to love almost beyond reason. Finding unexpected passion in Nathaniel’s arms, her senses are awakened to a world of sensuality she had not known existed. A world not without grave risks.

Believing it is the only way he can keep her in his life, Nathaniel asks Lisa to be his mistress, promising her a home and a future with him . . . of sorts. Despite her misgivings about its dubious morality, she accepts the position rather than be separated from Nathaniel. But her father’s heir, Lord Copeland, has not given up in his quest to have her for himself.

With her freedom, Nathaniel’s position in society, and the future of countless others at stake, she must sacrifice her future happiness and find a way to disappear forever. If her identity is uncovered, Lisa’s innocence won’t be the only thing that’s lost.

Available 17 December

for more information…

 https://www.facebook.com/elise.desallier

Guest author interview – Jacinda Buchmann

Over the past few months I’ve met some great new authors and this week for something different on the blog, I thought I’d introduce you to author of the Indigo Trilogy, Jacinda Buchmann. The first book in this YA series was published in May and had reviewers raving about its intriguing storyline and suspenseful plot.  The second book is on the way and Jacinda recently took time from writing to sit down and have a virtual chat with me 🙂

 

 

“Sixteen-year-old Tyler believed that his extra-sensory powers were a secret,but when his twin brother, Toby, is kidnapped by a covert government agency, he realizes that he has no secrets, and he has nowhere to hide.”

 

The premise for Indigo Incite is fascinating.  Can you tell us a little bit about the story, and where the idea came from?

JB:  Indigo Incite is a YA fantasy/adventure with a touch of romance. It’s about a group of teenagers who, unknown to each other at the beginning of the story, are pushed together and on the run from a government agency that wants them because they possess extra-sensory powers. Along the way, they find unexpected love and friendship. The idea came to me about four years ago when I told my grandmother that I wanted to write a book. She suggested that I should write something about Indigo Children because it’s a fascinating topic that not many people have heard about. Well, I tucked the idea in the back of my mind, thinking at the time that it sounded like a great idea, but not really certain about which direction I would take it. Then, a few months later, I was sitting at my desk at work, I was a school counselor at the time and it was my lunch break. I didn’t often get a lunch break free from students, but that day I found myself daydreaming and doodling on a piece of paper. And then the idea for Indigo Incite hit me full force. The entire concept and all of the characters were suddenly in my head and I couldn’t write fast enough. By the time my break was over, I had rough character sketches for all of the main characters and a general outline, for not only Indigo Incite, but the entire trilogy. The actual process to finish writing the book took a bit longer because I was working full time and had a baby, but now that the first book in the Indigo Trilogy is out, the second book is already in the works and is scheduled to be released in May of 2014.

You were a teacher in your previous life.  How much has that shaped the way you write for young adults?  Has it been a hindrance or a help?

JB:  Yep, I was a teacher and later a school counselor. I would say it helped, because as an eighth grade Language Arts teacher, I gained a general understanding of the plots and types of characters that students enjoy reading in books. As a school counselor, I was able to gain more insight into the thought process of the average teenager. (That’s insight not incite as in Indigo Incite, LOL! The title of the book is an intentional play on words that makes sense once you’ve read the story.) When I’m writing from the viewpoint of a teenager, it’s important to be able to really “be inside of the character’s head” and I think spending so many years around teenagers has helped me to gain that perspective.

What are the best, and worst, things about writing and publishing a novel?

JB:  The best thing, for sure, is that I get to share my characters with everyone who reads the story. After spending every day with them for a year, writing and editing the book, they seem very, very real. I feel like when other people read Indigo Incite, I am introducing them to my friends:-) The hardest thing is definitely trying to sell the book to other people. I love to write, that’s what I do. It’s a lot harder for me to be a salesperson and say, “Hey, go out and buy my book…please”:-) But, surprisingly, I have found that, in the advertising process, I have met so many wonderful authors, bloggers, and fans. I never expected to make so many friends, just by social networking my book, and that has definitely been the best part of the advertising process. I also love all of the outstanding reviews that I’ve received on Amazon and Goodreads. Each review that I receive brings a thrill knowing that someone else has enjoyed my book.

What was the most difficult scene for you to write?  And why?

JB:  I actually had the opposite problem. I didn’t have difficulty writing any scenes. Before I begin writing, I find a quiet place to work, with no noise or distractions of any kind, then the story forms in my head, I hear the characters voices and I write a general outline of the entire story, so when I actually begin the writing process, every scene is already in my head. The problem I did have was a huge dilemma on which scenes to delete. When I wrote Indigo Incite, I simply wrote the entire story and didn’t worry about the word count. When I was finished I had over 140,000 words. The maximum suggestion for Young Adult novels is 90,000 words, so needless to say, I was faced with a dilemma. I loved each and every scene, and yet something had to go. It took a while to determine which scenes were absolutely critical to the story line and which scenes could be considered “fluff”. In the end, however, I did cut the story to almost exactly 90,000 words. It was difficult, but on the bright side, now that I have a blog, I can post my deleted scenes 🙂 I posted my first deleted scene a few weeks ago, and I plan to post one new deleted scene every month until, Book Two, Indigo Instinct, is published.

Sometimes inspiration strikes at the most awkward and inconvenient time.  Has this happened to you?  Can you tell us about it?

JB:  Each time inspiration strikes, it seems like I am in the car. Probably because I don’t have three little kids talking to me at once, so the quiet time allows for the characters in my head to “talk to me”. I have had more scenes randomly pop into my head while I was in the car than any other time. When I was beginning to brainstorm Indigo Instinct, a major scene popped into my head as I was loading my daughter into her carseat. My other daughter, who was already in the car, said, “Mommy, what are you staring at?” I don’t know how long I must have been “staring into space” seeing the scene unfold in my head, but that’s how it happens. One second I’m doing every day activities, and the next it’s as though a movie is playing in my head! I guess that’s how inspiration goes, LOL!

 

Some fun, quick questions…

What’s the location for your dream holiday?

JB:  Ireland and Scotland for sure! I have always wanted to go there. I’m hoping in a few years, when my kids are a little bit older, we’ll be able to visit. My husband has always wanted to go to New Zealand, so if that ever happens, then I plan to make a detour to see my good friend Suzanne Carroll, in Australia 🙂

If you could travel through time, where would you go?

JB:  I would love to go back in time to meet great-great-great(add a few more greats) grandparents. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of studying genealogy and creating a family tree. I think it would be extremely fascinating to meet my ancestors, first-hand!

What’s the last book you read?

JB:  I just finished reading Opal, Book #3 in the Lux series, by Jennifer Armentrout, and I am currently reading Empath, by HK Savage. You can look for my review of her book on my blog very soon 🙂

And finally, can you tell us what you have planned next?

JB:  Yep, I briefly mentioned Indigo Instinct. This will be the second book in the Indigo Trilogy. It is completely outlined and I plan to begin the actual writing process of the book next week. In the second book in the Indigo Trilogy, the Indigo Children will find themselves once again on the run while they are faced with deeper relationship issues. I actual have my next six books roughly planned out in my head. After the Indigo Trilogy is complete, there will be a few “spin-offs” of the story from various characters 🙂

Thanks, Jacinda 🙂

If you’d like to find out more about the Indigo Trilogy you can check out Jacinda’s Facebook page and website.

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoIncite

http://jacindabuchmann.wordpress.com/

Is it kitsch? Or is it vintage?

 pineapplestring

“While Jo and her apartment are beautifully styled, inside her kitchen cupboard all is kitsch.  It’s her guilty pleasure and the tackier the item, the better.  Quirky egg-cups, souvenir tea towels, oversized novelty spoons – her kitchen resembles a tourist-trap souvenir shop.”

From Over the Edge, p.57

It’s funny how little things from real life have made their way into my book.  Not that I have a kitchen full of kitsch like Jo, but I’ll admit I do have the odd item stored away.  Only, I prefer to think of them as momentos.

This little string-dispensing pineapple in the picture above has been in my kitchen for years, and my parents’ kitchen before that. Growing up, I thought it was something really special, especially with its inside lining of sparkly gold foil.  Although, as you can see, the gold foil is gone now. Long gone.  And modern-day balls of string don’t seem to fill it out like those of yesteryear.  But it’s still a fabulous piece of 70’s kitsch from my childhood, and it was the inspiration for one of Jo’s character traits in Over The Edge.

Jo’s kitsch obsession started one morning as I sat at the dining room table, drafting out some character profiles.  Jo was chic and modern.  Confident.  A woman of her times with a stylish studio apartment that could have come out of Vogue living.  When I’d finished her profile I went to make a cup of tea (and eat some Tim Tams) and while I waited for the kettle to boil, the little pineapple caught my eye.  Rarely used, it sat on a high shelf; a relic from the past, surrounded by today’s mod cons and a neutral colour scheme.  It seemed so out of place and somehow unexpected, and slowly, I began to see Jo a bit differently.  What if, beneath all the sleek and modern, was a passion for anything kitschy?

I went back to the laptop and began adding to my notes.  The little pineapple string-dispenser morphed into a pair of pineapple-shaped salt and pepper shakers that Zoe gave Jo as a gift.  And then that led me to drag out the shoebox stashed in the bottom drawer of my dresser.  The one with “Souvenirs” marked on the lid.  The one I hadn’t looked in since I moved out of home a couple of decades ago.

It was like stepping back in time.

Jo’s gold-fringed, black velvet cushion from the Kiama Blowhole was inspired by this little object d’art below.  We’ve all seen these, haven’t we?  Souvenir spoons?  This one actually came from a Kiama Blowhole tourist shop on the NSW south coast. The matching mug and egg cup are from Surfer’s Paradise on the Queensland Gold Coast.  The orange Luna Park cup came from, you guessed it, Luna Park.  Lots of childhood holidays.  A bit of kitsch.  Some great  memories.

 

If I saw the pineapple or the spoon or the egg cup in a shop today, I wouldn’t buy them. But because of the memories these ones hold, I won’t part with them. Call me sentimental.

But maybe my little momentos aren’t kitschy, after all.  When I went on-line to research more stuff for Jo’s kitchen, I discovered, surprisingly, that some of the items in the photo have become ‘vintage’.  Or at the very least, ‘retro’.  Maybe even prized ‘collectables’.  I don’t know when this shift happened, but it has.

See?  I was always just ahead of my time 🙂

 

 

The fantasy ends here…

I’ve started writing a new story.  That’s what the picture above is all about.  There are artists and paintings involved, but you’ve probably already guessed that.  It’s very early days, but this afternoon I managed to write almost 800 words during my lunch break, which is pretty good for me.  I was on a roll, losing myself in my characters and their story, but the clock ticked on and too soon I had to stop, just as I got to the bit about the lighthouse and the lavender oil.  So I saved my document, emailed it to myself, went back to the spreadsheets and travel bookings, and fantasised about what it would be like to quit work and spend my days writing.  Just writing.

It was a good fantasy.  One I’ve had often, usually while clearing a paperjam in the photocopier.  The fantasy involves a comfy chair and a fireplace and I toast my toes in thick socks while I tap away at my laptop, stopping only to sip hot chocolate from my classic Winnie the Pooh mug.

Sometimes the fantasy takes on a more tropical theme.  A shack by the beach where I’d sit beneath palm trees, writing to the gentle sound of aqua water lapping at the sand.  In this scenario the hot chocolate is replaced by a Malibu splice cocktail. And a bowl of hot, salty chips.

In some ways, these fantasies are almost achievable, if only for a weekend (and that would be the first dent in the fantasy, right there).  I could rent a mountain cottage or a beach shack for a couple of days, but I know the reality would still fall way short of the ideal.  Even if I had my fireplace and my comfy chair, the hot chocolate wouldn’t appear on its own (nor would breakfast, lunch or dinner).  The fire wouldn’t light itself.  I’d have to gather wood, and light it, and then poke and prod at it to keep it burning.  The room would eventually become stuffy and I’d fall asleep and spill my hot chocolate all over myself and the keyboard.  At some point there’d have to be a toilet break and you can bet going to the bathroom would feel like a trip to the Antarctic after the toasty, cosy fireside.

The beach shack doesn’t really work, either.  I can’t imagine sand and laptops go well together.  The Malibu splice, like the hot chocolate, wouldn’t arrive on its own, and I sunburn easily.  And I’ve learned from experience that  seagulls will swarm, and fight almost to the death, for a chance at a hot chip.  It’d be like a scene from that Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds.  They’d descend on me and I’d be screaming and flapping my arms while running in frantic circles before tearing back into the shack, leaving my laptop behind.  From the window I’d watch the seagulls feast on my fantasy.  And afterwards I’d have to clean bird pooh and bits of chip out of my keyboard.

So yeah, probably best to let the fantasy stay a fantasy.

Mind you, my real writing place is pretty good.  It’s in a nook off the bedroom.  My husband built my desk for me, and it sits by a window that looks over the garden and the bushland beyond.  It’s beautiful.

And there’s not a seagull in sight  🙂

 

 

 

 

A zombie romance?

A model of the zombie apocalypse, courtesy of the Young Man of the House.

My son asked me recently if I was planning to write another book. He looked thoughtful when I said yes, and then told me, very seriously, that I should definitely include zombies in this new story.

This isn’t the first time he’s made such a suggestion. Several times while I was writing Over The Edge he’d recommend throwing in a zombie. Or two. Maybe a whole undead army. Just to keep things interesting.

A couple of weeks ago I was at my desk, plotting out some ideas, when he came in to see what I was doing.
“Are you writing the new story?” he asked.
“I am.”
“You’re not writing about a boss in an office again, are you?”
“No, no bosses or offices this time.”
“Is it another romance?”
“There’ll be some romance, yes.”
“Will there be zombies?”
“Er, no. I don’t think so.”

Now his thoughtful look was back as he told me I really should think about including them. And apparently he’d been giving this quite some consideration because he began acting out a whole storyline, complete with actions and sound effects. And actually, it was pretty good. Two warring zombie armies with humans caught in the middle, trying to defend themselves.
“What about the romance?” I asked.
“Zombies don’t love, they’re dead,” he said simply. “But I guess you could make two of them fall in love if you really want to. Oh, and the man zombie should be called Steve.”

A zombie romance. Now there’s a thought.

And though I probably won’t end up writing an epic tale of zombie love in wartime, I’ve told my son that, somehow, I’ll sneak a zombie called Steve into my next book. Maybe one of my characters will play zombie video games. Or watch movies about the undead. Perhaps my heroine will wake screaming from a zombie nightmare?

Oh, the possibilities. It’ll be fun choosing one 🙂

 

My tic, my editor and me

NowThatii

I have a couple of new story ideas brewing, so I’ve begun making notes.

Over the past few days I’ve been fleshing out plots, writing snippets of narrative, describing locations…and at all costs, avoiding the word “now”. I use it too often in my writing, you see. My editor cut about eleventy billion of them from Over The Edge. 

I remember getting the email from Shay after she’d read an early draft. The email said, “I’ve found your tic!” Of course, the first thing I thought of was an engorged, blood sucking insect.

That’s not what she meant. Fortunately.

Turns out a tic, in this case, is “a frequent quirk in the narrative”. For some writers, their tic might be a particular word or phrase. Maybe a too-oft repeated character trait. Whatever it is, it’s usually small, but its repetition can be enough to drive a reader crazy.

For me, it’s the word “now”.  And, apparently, “that” isn’t far behind it. My narrative was peppered with them both. I hadn’t noticed the overuse when I’d read through the draft, but as I sat back and looked at the document Shay had returned to me, with all the little yellow highlighted bits glowing in track-changes, I couldn’t believe how I’d not seen it before. “Now” and “that” were everywhere. I’d been throwing them around and dropping them like frisbees at the dog park.

This is why we have editors 🙂

All writers have tics, Shay said. She also said when I wrote my next story I’d be so hyper aware, I’d probably cut out plenty of “now”s and “that”s myself, before I even sent in the manuscript.

She was right. See the last sentence about being hyper aware? I just cut two “that”s out of it. Yep. Two. I had one before “when” and one after “aware”, but I caught them. Go me!

But I’m wondering if I’ll replace my old tic with a new one (I sooo wanted to write “now” after “wondering”, but I resisted). Maybe in this next manuscript it’ll be a phrase I overuse and don’t notice. Or I’ll unwittingly give all my characters red hair and a lisp. Even the cat.

Actually, a lisping cat could be interesting 🙂

So there you have it. My writer’s tic, all exposed. What do you think of that, now?

Imagine this…

Sue - Book

I saw my book, in the flesh, for the first time yesterday.  And it didn’t happen quite how I’d expected.

Over the past year I’ve sometimes imagined that moment when my book and I make contact for the first time.  The moment when I would finally hold the finished piece, the end result of months of work.  A lifetime goal.

I always saw it happening at my letter box.  Beside the driveway, beneath the magnolia tree that always blossoms at the wrong time of year. I’d tear the brown paper and string from the package that bore my publisher’s logo (yes, I know it’s 2013, not 1913, and the wrapping is more likely to be a plastic padded postbag, but, you know, I like the classics).  The brown paper would flutter to the ground, the string would snag on a shrub, and I’d see my novel for the first time.   Such a big moment.  Then I’d run down the path to the house, waving the book in the air and calling for my family to come and see.

That big moment happened yesterday  🙂

Though it wasn’t quite like that.  It was much more real.  And a lot of fun.

For a start, I was in the office, not at home.  There wasn’t a magnolia tree in sight.  Or a letterbox – unless you count the departmental pigeon holes for internal mail.

It was about ten o’clock, and my friend (and co-worker) Robyn, called me from her office and said she had something for me to sign.  I assumed it was a work thing, though I did wonder why she sounded so excited.  And almost giggly.   The conversation went something like…

“I have something for you to sign.”
“Oh?  What is it?”

“Your book.”

“What book?”

“Your book.

There was a confused pause from me and Robyn had to explain that she’d pre-ordered my book, given the office address for delivery, and received it this morning with her mail.  I’ll add that, at work, only Robyn, and two others know about my writing.

“Oh!  My book!”

“Yes!”

“You have it here?”

“Yes!”

“Aahhhhh!”

So I dropped the phone, ran into the corridor and waited, practically hopping from foot to foot, like a kid that needs the loo.  Robyn appeared a moment later, grinning and holding out her copy.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here it was, my book.  That first contact.

It was sooo beautiful.  All glossy and shiny and real. And there were words inside.  My words.  I was speechless.

There were hugs and laughs and Robyn asked me again to sign.  “Write something,” she said.  “I’ll leave it with you if you like and you can bring it down when you’ve finished.”

So then it was just me and my book.  I decided to take a photo (that’s it up above).  I thought I’d text it to my husband.  It was the closest I could get to running down the front path yelling “Look! Look!”  But my hands were shaking and I’m not good at selfies, so that’s why the bottom of the book is cut off in the picture.  I figured he’d get the idea, though.

Once the photo was done and sent, I grabbed a pen and wrote inside the front cover.  But my hands were still shaking so the message looked like a chicken had stepped in ink and then danced the Macarena across the page.  I sat there,staring at the scrawl, grinning and just soaking up the moment.

A big, fabulous moment.  Unexpected and fun and real.  And shared with a good friend.

And when I got home yesterday, my copies were waiting for me in the letterbox  🙂

Just thought I’d share 🙂