Saturday, 29 September 2012

Another Week Come And Gone

Well, another week has passed and once again, it's been a busy one.

This week, myself and three other fantastic romance writers launched The Romantic Muse group blog. At The Romantic Muse you'll find a number of things to entertain you over the coming weeks including post on writing, interviews, a fantastic cover reveal and a number of short stories you can read in your coffee break.
So come on over! We'd love to see you all there.

As for my own blog, lext week I have Loretta Hill joining me and we will be talking about her current release, 'The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots' (which is amazing!) and how Loretta feels about the 'submissive female'.

On a more personal note, this week I've been all over the place and critters seem to be big this week.
My horse, better known as Mr Grumpy, has managed to score himself an interesting paddock mate. I'm not sure what to call her yet, but I'm shocked by the discovery that he seems to like her enough to share his feed. For all you horse owners out there, you must understand the magnitude of such an event. A greedy thoroughbred does not share his food with anybody!

I also had the pleasure of riding a camel this week. Some say its exactly like riding a horse. And I'm here to tell you it's not. If my horse were 23 hands tall I'd be needing more than an milk crate to get in the saddle. And thank God he's not nearly half as rocky.

To finish off this week's catch-up post, I have this week's Rural Five! Five lines from page 12 of 'What Happens in Ireland':

‘Aye, but there have been suspicions...’
Her cheeks warmed. ‘Suspicions?’
‘Well, we Irish lads suspect that they donna really come here for our fine horses but rather, for us fine lads.’
Kate’s heart skipped a beat when Jack winked at her.

Well, it's about time I returned to the study cave. Thanks for popping by this week!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Baby Love?

With digital publishing coming out, I've been seeing a lot more covers. And unfortunately, not all of them have been of quality.
I'm a visual person. I like a pretty cover. I think first impressions make a difference and whilst the cover is not relevant to the quality of someone's writing, a picture can convey a thousand words.
Now, something that has always intrigued me is an author's response to their covers. It's very rare that an author hates their cover. But dodgy covers aren't as rare as these responses.
So what is it that makes these authors blind to the blurry images and bad photoshopping? It is Baby Love?
Now, I'm going to be blunt. I was an ugly baby. But in my mother's eyes, I was gorgeous. The fairest in the land (I was so fair in fact, I was bauld for the five 2 yrs of my life. And she entered me and my twin sister into many photo competitions. My mother, of course, couldn't understand why we never won.
So what do you think? Are writer's suffering Baby Love? Does their love of their stories and the dream of being published blind them from realizing the faults in their designs? Or are they just saying they love them in hopes of convincing others?
Would you tell your writer friend that their cover sucks?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Another Rural Five!

Well, the weekend is just beyond the horizon and tomorrow will no doubt be spent counting down the minutes to those two days. But for now, treat yourself to a few lines from 'Deceive Me in Ireland'. Cara and William are back on the road to their happy ending once again, my writing stalemate conquered at last.

So, here it is. An extract from page 78:

‘Ye know, I think I have a solution to yer problem,’ he said suddenly, his voice bringing her out of her thoughts.

Turning her head to look at him, Cara felt suspicion grow within her.

What’s he up to this time?

‘What? You goin’ to write my speech for me?’ she asked, her voice layered with sarcasm.

When William opened his eyes, his gaze crashing into hers, his smile widened. Cara spine stiffened.

Another thing for my readers to look out for is my up-and-coming interview with author, Loretta Hill who appeared on the blog last week on my Rural Panel. Loretta will be sharing a little about herself and her own experience as an author and an engineer just like her heroine, Lena.

Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Back To Reading - Stalemate No.2

The last two years have been busy for me. Sometimes, it's been hard to stay sane. For the last twenty-four months my life has been dictated by study and work. And any spare time I've had, I have spent writing my novels. Getting caught up in make-believe worlds.

Until yesterday!

Yesterday, after a month of researching all my options, I brought two books! Rosalee Station by Mandy Magro and 'The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots' by Loretta Hill (who will be appearing on my blog in the very near future).

So when I got home last night, I had to toss-up between they two great looking books. And I settled for Loretta... Bad idea. I haven't been able to put it down!

It really is one of those books you can't put down. Just as the sticker on the front cover promises.

So there you have it. A two year stalemate has been broken. I'm finally back to reading for pleasure. And it's not the only stalemate I've broken this week. 'Deceive Me in Ireland' is now 2.8k longer than it was Friday afternoon. Which means, as I promised, I've been meeting my daily wordcounts. And as of yesterday, exceeding them.

Well, that it from me today. I have a few things to do tonight. Some study, of course. Then I'll settle down with a good book and hopefully write apart of my own book that hopefully, my readers just can't put down.

Whitney :)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Rural Panel: What Makes Rural Romance?

In August, I attended the RWA Diamonds are Forever Conference. It was one of the most exciting, nerve-racking four days I've ever experienced and one were Rural Romance was given a voice in the Diamonds in Dust Panel. It was great to share opinions and ideas, but one question really showed just how subjective Rural Romance is.

Rural Romance is a relatively young genre, but I believe it has hit the shelves with a bang. New authors are imerging and the genre is growing. And every story, is unique. Different opinions, new voices and yet they are all connected by something.

So, I just wanted to ask our authors, what is it about Rural life that inspires you to write RuRo? And what makes are Rural romance to you?

For me, it's the characters. It's old mate sitting out the front of the post office with his scruffy dog at his feet. It's battered hats, quirky senses of humour and tales that go for days. It's strong, passionate individuals who are fighting for something or against something. When I pick up a rural novel, I want to read and find the people I have met IN these novels. And I want to make a few more friends. That's what Rural Romance is for me.

Now for what everyone else has to say...

First up, we have author, Jenn J Mcleod (whose debut novel, 'House For All Seasons' is out next year). Jenn had this to say about what inspired her to write about Rural life:

'Country living to me is about the sound of silence. (With respect to Simon & Garfunkel!)
There is a crispness to the country, and I’m not referring solely to a what we see and feel. It’s the sharp silences, the stillness, what we hear--or don’t hear without the whirr of white noise that comes with city living.
That’s my kind of country.'

And how right she is. If you have never lived in the city, you might not understand this. But for me, a country girl at heart stuck in the city, this silence really is a sound. Not a lack of it.

For the Author of The Road Home, Fiona Palmer:

'Rural life for me is the close knit community full to the brim of bush characters that all have their own quirks. Yet we all live together, tolerating and supporting each other as a community wouldn't survive otherwise.'

Whilst Fleur McDonald doesn't write Rural Romance, but Rural literature, Fleur understands the impact rural life has had on the stories she writes. And on the world she lives in.

Farmers feed everyone and to me, it's the most important job in the world. That is what makes me passionate about writing Rural Lit. I simply love sharing my world with people who don't have the opportunity live it.

You all know the saying: If you ate today, thank a Farmer.

For Loretta Hill, whose fabulous novel 'The Girl in the Steel-capped Boots' has had great success in today's market, she had this to say about what makes a rural romance for her:

'Three things make a rural romance for me. Firstly, a strong, capable female lead. I think what attracts readers most to Rural romance are the feisty heroines who are often not just falling in love but also testing the limits of their own capabilities. These heroines don’t need the hero to triumph at the end of the story but he certainly makes the journey more interesting. I love the fact that rural romance heroines are often thrown out of their depth or put in situations which test them emotionally and sometimes physically to the limit. And yet they rise up and meet the challenges. The second thing, I believe makes a rural romance is of course the setting, not necessarily a farm but definitely not urban. Both books I have written for the Random House are set on the Pilbara on construction sites. I think it’s important that the setting is almost like another character in the book - that it interacts with the heroine as much as the hero does. And last but not least, I think the strong sense of community in rural romance is a big draw card in this genre. Rural romances always contain strong relationships. Not just between the hero and heroine but often between family, comrades, work mates, local townspeople or other farmers etc. They are the kind of relationships that are harder to find in big cities where people sometimes don’t even know their neighbours. I think readers really love that sense of “family” in small towns or workplace communities where everybody looks out for each other. There are many other great aspects of rural romances that I love but these are definitely the top three.'

Strong Heroines are my favourite. I love sarcasm and they all wear it well.

For Penguin Author Cathryn Hein (author of Heart of the Valley):

Besides a well-developed rural setting, I like my rural romances to feature characters who are passionate about the land and country life. They don’t necessarily have to be from the land, but it’s important that they feel a deep connection, so much so that the land becomes intrinsic to their happiness. Take them away and they’ll survive well enough – they are, after all, resourceful sorts - but their world won’t turn quite right. Return them to the place they love most and, despite suffering hardships and traumas (because where is the fun without those to test our hero’s or heroine’s mettle), the characters find home and a place that fills their hearts.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a broad-shouldered hero who looks damn sexy in a pair of moleskins!

We do love our broad-shouldered men haha.

Next in line we have Jennifer Scoullar, whose novel Brumby's Run was released in July. This is what Jennifer had to say:

A rural romance, like any other, requires a passionate love story. But it also requires much more. For me, a good rural romance is anchored in an equally passionate love story with the land. Rich, natural settings set these books apart. Australian readers find independent, tough-minded women coexisting with the land more appealing than the self-absorbed shopaholics who dominate chick-lit. The characters in rural stories are strong women who are not desperate for a new man.
Australia’s native flora and fauna are my main influences, together with wild landscapes. These are powerful settings. In cities, many people live lives so far removed from nature, that they rarely even touch the earth. But at what cost? The cost to our declining environment? The cost to our hearts? I think the world is hungry to re-engage with nature, to ground itself. Rural lit taps into this vein. The wildly successful movie Avatar did the same thing. Losing touch with wildness is losing touch with ourselves.

As a city dweller, I understand exactly what you're saying. As a country girl at heart, the best part of my day is walking to feed my horse who lives just down the road from me. It's 7am, the air is cool and the gums tree look magnificent against the sunrise. Some, don't understand the contentment I feel during that ten minute walk. Others, understand completely.

Breathless Publishing author, Ann B Harrison has just release her novel 'Taming the Outback' and today she will be sharing what influenced her to write a Rural Romance:

Apart from growing up a country girl quite simply the struggle my characters go through and how they come out the other end.
I like to pit them against their greatest fears and see how they cope. Life on the land is hard enough as it is but adding the emotional aspect can only makes the story better. It drags me in as a writer and I hope it does the same for my readers.
With my first book Taming the Outback I took a widow with an unruly teenager and a little lost girl and threw her the challenge of taking on two stations at a profit or risk losing it to the guy next door. That was enough of an incentive for Libby to pull out all the stops and show us what she was made of.
Well said Ann. :)

And last but not least, we have Jennie Jones. Jennie is unpublished, but has recently finalled in the Rebecca!

I didn’t set out with the intent of focussing on Rural Romance, but as I write, my characters are finding themselves in small town country environments where they fall in love, so my stories are turning out to be rural and romantic. The country image is of space, freedom and fresh air; a chance to start again perhaps. My characters might be building something, finding something, saving something or running from something. Of course, their dreams don’t come easily because living in the country is hard. There are a whole new set of rules. My little towns are fictional, but the areas I set them in are mapped on Google, and although I want readers to feel that they recognise the settings I also love to add a bucket of make-believe to the atmosphere and quirkiness of my towns and my characters.
A Rural novel isn't the same without its quirky characters!

So there you have it. What makes a rural romance. And what it is about Rural life that inspires these great tales.

I'd like to thank all the women who participated in this post. It was really interesting and I'd love to have you all back at the blog soon.

If you're a Rural Romance lover and would like to find out more about these wonderful authors, just click on their names and you will find their websites. The Rural Romance Writers and Reader's group on facebook is also a great place to get to know these authors, and discover many more.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Another Week, Another Rural Five!

Well, it's almost the weekend. Just one more day to go.

I've been picking up some bad habits this week. Procrastination being all of them. But I've made a pact. It's time to get the words following. 'Deceive Me in Ireland' is only half finished and I can't leave my Heroine and Hero waiting forever. They need their Happily Ever After.

So starting tomorrow, I'm aiming for at least 500 words a day. I've got a lot on right now, but I think half my procrastination stems from the belief that I don't have time, when really, I've managed to watch the whole first season of Big Bang Theory.

I've got an interesting post on Rural Romance coming up, so be sure to check it out!

Which leaves me to the Rural Five. This week we have a snippet from page 99 of 'Deceive Me in Ireland.

Happy reading!

If there was one thing Cara had learnt about herself over the years it was that she wasn’t a psychic. She couldn’t predict the future. Hell, she could barely predict the weather.

Her current situation was no different. And despite how anxious it made her, a kiss was not a promise. William had deceived her once, perhaps he would again.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Rural Five!

This weeks rural five is a snippet from page 155 of 'Deceive Me in Ireland'. It is in my Hero's (William) POV and Jerry is what the Aussies would call, your 'Old Mate'. Hope you enjoy it!

Cara would be leaving soon and the thought left him wishing she’d stay a little while longer. Just… long enough for this infatuation to end.
And what if it doesn’t?
When Jerry’s hand cupped his shoulder, he jerked out his contemplations, his attention returning to the present.
‘Watch out for lassies like this one,’ Jerry teased, winking at Cara who finally wore a true smile. ‘They are hard to forget. And even harder to find.’

Friday, 7 September 2012

Beginnings? Endings? Or middles?

If there is one thing that I have always found with the books I've written (and those I still have to write), it is that the first three chapters are ALWAYS my favourite.

At the moment 'What Happens In Ireland' is just sitting on my desktop, 'Deceive Me in Ireland' is begging to be finished and yet... I can't help but write the first chapter of my latest Rural Romance.

I encountered this need at the beginning of the year as well and of course, I couldn't ignore it. With the aim of writing a short story for the Little Gem competition, I actually ended up writing the first chapter of a historical. And the next two... Until my priorities returned.

So, I think I have a little thing for the first three chapters. I love it when my characters meet, when true identities are revealed, when lies are exposed and when the attraction is just beginning. It is the beginning of my characters. They are growing as the words flow and they take shape in my head. The first three chapters really are the funnest chapters to play with!

Don't get me wrong, I love the middle, the end and all those wonderful bits inbetween but I think the first meeting is important.

Do you love writing the first three chapters? What's your favourite part of the writing process?


Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Rural Five!

Here's this week's Rural snippet. Five lines from page 84 of 'Deceive Me in Ireland' the second novel in my Irish Series.

Cara felt her cheeks warm.
Damn, she hated it when he looked at her like that. Hell, she hated it when he touched her like that. It made her feel reckless and filled her with longing. Longing she was determined to deny.
‘Don’t give him a chance to deceive you again, Cara,’ the voice inside her head warned.

Happy reading!


My First Conference!

Hi everyone!
Well, as you know I attended the RWA Diamonds are Forever conference, on the Goldcoast. And what a weekend it was!

Between pitching, panels, seminars and parties, I got to meet the wonderful writers I have meet over the last year and many more.

Now, when they said there would be giveaways and such, I did not expect to come back with this!

A big box of goodies!

Yep, with these and the shoes I brought, I struggled to get off the plane. But I was smiling. Who wouldn't? A woman who is depressed about owning a bag full of romance and shoes? Unheard of.

Anyway, I had a great time. I pitched my novel 'What Happens In Ireland' to two publishers and had much success with two full requests! I was very nervous about my pitch, even after attending a seminar on pitching hosted by Belinda Byrne. But if there is one piece of advice I can give it is this:
When you're pitching, remember who you are. What links you to the novel you've poured all that hard work into? When you sell your book, you sell yourself. So be yourself, be straight forward, honest and tell it how it is. :)

Well, for those of you who haven't been to a conference before, I cannot express how important it is for you to attend. There are so many opportunities. New friends, new publishers, agents and the panels are a great and in the case of the panels I attended, a humorous way to check out the market, to see what everyone is looking for.

Well, that's my much delayed conference post, but I really do recommend every writer who wants to get serious about their career go. Writing, in my opinion, isn't a solitary profession. You need a support group and you need people who are going to take you to the top. All those people, you are sure to find at the RWA conference.

In the next few weeks, I'm hoping to host a few new interviews and if you went to the Rural panel at the conference, you're going to love what I have in store for you in a few weeks time. I'll be hosting a discussion with some of your favourite RuRo writers on what makes Rural Romance. So keep your eye on this blog.