Guest Post and Giveaway: Juliet Madison – Writer’s Craft Corner- 5 Ways to Choose Character Names…

Today my guest is the very talented Juliet Madison, author of Romagic Comedy, Women’s Fiction and YA Fiction. She’s not yet celebrated 12 months as a published author, but in that time has managed to release 2 Novellas and 3 Novels! Busy lady.

TheJanuaryWishcover

Today also heralds the beginning of a new type of post for my blog – Writer’s Craft Corner, where we will discuss the craft of writing and hopefully pass along a few tips.

However, in celebration of Juliet’s newest release, The January Wish, which will be followed up next month with another newbie, February or Forever, here’s Juliet with some craft tips for us…

5 Ways to Choose Character Names

I love this part of writing, coming up with new characters. It’s like having kids but without the pain and sleep deprivation. Here are some ways to help choose character names:

1. Random, first name that comes to mind: Many of my characters are chosen this way. I simply choose the name that pops into my head if it suits the character and story. Not all are that easy though, some take a bit more work and consideration.

2. Ask on social media for ideas: Online friends are a great source of ideas, so ask away! Many are happy to help as it can be fun to come up with character names. You can brainstorm as many names as possible and then create a shortlist for first name and surname, or even get readers to vote on their favourite.

3. Hold a competition: Similar to the above, invite people to submit their choice for a name, and put all contributions into a draw for a prize. If you choose one of the suggestions, that person wins, or if more than one person has suggested the chosen name, you can put them into a random draw to pick a winner. Perhaps the winner can receive a copy of the book when it’s released, or a previous book.

4. Look up ideas: Use baby name books, name websites, the phone book, movie credits..etc, anywhere there is a list of names. Highlight those that catch your attention, then choose the most appropriate, or again, get feedback or votes from others to make the final decision. Remember to choose names that suit the character’s age… you can work out what year they may have been born and look up popular names for that year, so that your choice is suitable to the era in which they were born.

5. Find one with a deeper meaning for your story: This is an interesting way to find a suitable character name. Think of the traits your character possesses, or something meaningful about their heritage or the themes of the storyline, then look up names that mean those things. This can be a fun way of adding an extra element to your book. For example, if your character has warrior traits, he could be called Alex which means warrior or defender.

In my new novel, THE JANUARY WISH, I used tip number 1: the names popped into my head. Dr Sylvia Greene, Mark Bastian, and Grace Forrester. But now that I’ve written more books I’m finding I need to think a bit more carefully about names!

Writers, how do you choose your character’s names? Readers, have you ever read a book where you really disliked the character’s name?,

Thanks Juliet – great advice. I struggle at times with names, and change them often! I use the online registry for Births, Deaths and Marriages to determine which names were popular in a certain year or decade for authenticity.

THE JANUARY WISH

When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it’s the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia’s small coastal town with secrets that can’t be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia’s well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered. 

Buy THE JANUARY WISH from all good ebook retailers:

Amazon – Amazon UK – Amazon Aus – iTunes/iBookstore – Kobo – B&N/Nook – GooglePlay – BigW ebooks – Booktopia – JB HiFi – ebooks.com – All Romance ebooks

Visit Juliet online at her website, blog, facebook, Goodreads, and twitter.

Juliet_Madison300dpi  Prize-blogtour

>> WIN! Enter via Rafflecopter below to win a $25 Amazon gift voucher and a coastal photographic print of the setting of The January Wish. Competition is open worldwide and the winner will be drawn at the beginning of February.

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World’s weirdest sports on Lily Malone’s Bunker-play blog hop and giveaway!

bunkerhop2  fairway to heaven

Today, as part of the Lily Pad Blog Hop,  to celebrate the release of Lily Malone’s  ‘Fairway To Heaven’, I thought we’d explore some sporting activities that are bound to end in years of intense physiotherapy and, perhaps,  a life long aversion to cheese…

5. Extreme Ironing…

extreme ironing cliff

The Extreme Ironing Bureau (yes, they have their own bureau!) defines Extreme Ironing as:  ‘the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt.’

Competitors from around the world press their shirts in a variety of extreme locations – underwater, on mountain or cliff tops, climbing walls, during cross country runs…you get the idea.

However, this is a sport with an enormous heart as they raise funds for various charities through their activities – good one guys. Great to see a sense of humour and charity work combined with creases so sharp they could be used to shave with.

4. Bog Snorkelling…

bog racing

If you’ve ever felt the desire to kit up in a snorkel and mask, don a wetsuit and swim through a 55 metre peat bog trench, then this is the sport for you. The world championships, which commenced in 1985,  are held  annually every August Bank Holiday in Wales.

No conventional swimming strokes are allowed, competitors must make it to the end of the course using fins/flippers alone. Another wacky sport that donates the funds raised from their annual World Championships to a different charity each year.

Loving your work guys – but please excuse me if I don’t want to give it a go myself. In Australia ‘bog’ is another word for poo, so I can’t see it taking off here!

3. Outhouse Racing…

outhouse

Okay, this one is actually sponsored by Pepsi and takes place in Mackinaw, USA  each January. Teams build an outhouse on skis and then race through the snow against other teams.  Here are the rules as stated on their website:

Outhouse must be approx. 4′ x 4′ x 6′ on skis
Must have 5 person team, one inside with 4 outside to push or pull
Must have toilet seat
Must have material to wipe with, (Yep, toilet paper!)

Their slogan is: “The best case of the runs you’ll ever have!”

Love it!

2. Unicycle Polo…

unicycle polo

Originating in Portland, USA, the Unicycle Bastard’s  motto is: ‘We are Portland’s premiere all-inclusive unicycling club. Do you like riding a unicycle, hitting people with a stick, and sweating/swearing?”

Their rule book states that each game must contain: frequent and colourful swearing,’ the consumption of ‘one alcoholic beverage prior to every match’ and ‘urination in approved restroom facilities.’

If that isn’t a call to kindred spirits then I don’t know what is.

1. Cheese Rolling…

This is one of the most bizarre and violent sports I’ve ever seen.  A wheel of cheese is rolled down a hill, followed by competitors who literally throw themselves down the hill in pursuit of the cheese in an attempt to beat it to the bottom. One year the cheese went off course and actually injured a spectator.

cheese cheese Gloucestershire "Cheese Rolling and Wake"

What more can I say, other than “Orthopaedic Surgeons and Physiotherapists line up and collect your new clients at the bottom of the hill”…

To celebrate the release of ‘Fairway to Heaven’, I will be giving away one e-copy of my debut novel, Hindsight, as part of the blog hop cache. Just leave a comment to be in the running!  Format will be either Amazon or ITunes only. This giveaway is open internationally and will be drawn on January 15, 2014.

Fairway To Heaven – the blurb…

When Jennifer Gates drives to Sea Breeze Golf Club to kick off date-night with her boyfriend, the last thing she expects is to find Golf-Pro Jack giving one of his lady students a private—and very personal—lesson in bunker-play. Lucky for Jenn, her best friend gives her the keys to the Culhane family’s beach shack on the shore of Western Australia’s Geographe Bay. Jenn hopes a weekend on the coast with her young son will give her the space she needs to rebuild her confidence after Jack’s betrayal. But she’s not the only person seeking sanctuary by the sea. Brayden Culhane is there too, and Jenn can’t look at Brayden without remembering the tequila-flavoured kiss they shared on the shack steps years ago. As long-buried feelings are rekindled, and a friendship is renewed, Jenn knows it is more than lazy summer days bringing her mojo back. Romantic sunsets, ice-cold beers and the odd round of golf can only go so far, because this time, trusting Brayden with her heart won’t be enough. Jenn has to learn to trust her body, too.

Buy links for Fairway to Heaven: (I’m reading this now and am loving it. I’ve even stayed up waaaaay past my bedtime to keep reading – which is not something I normally do as sleep is very important to me!)

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If you’d like to connect with the lovely and very talented Lily Malone, here are her social media links:

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Don’t forget to check out all the other blogs and the great prizes on offer here.

Author Limelight: Lily Malone, Contemporary Romance author…

Hello Lily Malone and welcome to Author’s Limelight! A huge congratulations to you on the release of ‘Fairway to Heaven’. I love that cover – very clever!

Thank you for having me Sarah. You have very interesting (and tricky to answer) questions!

What was the first story you ever wrote?

Oh please don’t remind me. I called it Fringe Benefits and it has been the bane of my life for three years. It was my first attempt at writing romance and I think I threw every possible trope into it except Secret Baby. For example, it was a reunion romance, between a boss and employee, that involved a marriage of convenience. Midway through this year I dubbed it: “The Book That Shall Never Be Written” and abandoned it. Then I started Fairway To Heaven, which is now finished. (I had SO much more fun writing that).

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Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

Hmm. Having just answered the question about the First Story I ever wrote (and the book that shall never be written), would you believe that the character who I think is my favourite, is Seth Lasrey from That Book? Seth was the epitomy of a stereotypical romance writer’s hero, Arrogant, Tall, Dark, Rich. In my mind he looks like Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood, & Justified). This guy hits all my buttons. His character in Deadwood was even called Seth…

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?

It hasn’t changed me, except I have more confidence about my writing prowess having gone through the credibility check of having a Publisher say: “We Want Your Book”. Thank you Kate Cuthbert & Escape Publishing for accepting my debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful (published March 2013).

What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?

Right now we are living in a rental house and I don’t have a bookshelf. We really culled our bookshelf when we moved interstate at the beginning of this year. The print books I return to again and again are: anything by John Sandford, particularly the ‘Prey’ novels. The Twilight Saga. The Earth’s Children books (Jean M Auel). And the books that have been with me longest are The Silver Brumby books by Elynne Mitchell.

On my Kindle right now are: Gather The Bones by Alison Stuart, and Fast Forward by Juliet Madison, and I recently finished your book Sarah, Hindsight, which (along with The Yearning by Kate Belle & House For All Seasons by Jenn J McLeod) is one of my favourite books of the year.

Awww, thanks so much Lily!

HBOB

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

Unappealing?? Gosh. I love my food. I can’t really imagine I’ve ever eaten something that didn’t appeal. I enjoy cooking, but I’ve never been one of those women who can magically decorate a cake (for example) or garnish a meal so that it looks gorgeous. When it comes to food, presentation definitely comes second to me after taste. So I guess you could say that a fair degree of my cooking might ‘look’ unappealing, but usually it’s reasonably tasty. There. How’s that for a very long answer to what should have been a single word question!

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?

 a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Consider me your slave for life. Please. Please. Please, can I be Princess Leia. I have been a Star Wars nut all my life. I think Star Wars was my first obsession. Or it may have been Harrison Ford who was my first obsession. But that didn’t matter, the two went hand in hand.

As for changing the ending. Lordy, pick me up off the floor. Why would I want to change an ending where I (as Princess Leia) get to live and love with Han Solo (Harrison Ford when he was young and extremely do-able… err… gorgeous) for the rest of my life??

The ending change? I would not. (Yoda-speak)

Goodbye_Ride

Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

Kate Belle’s The Yearning. Such a gutsy, gritty book in my opinion. I have a lousy memory so even if you offer me all of history, I’ll tend to return to the most recent incredible thing I read.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Oh! I don’t know… just one superpower? I think I’d like to be able to use The Force… and a light saber.

My boys have light sabre night lights on their walls, Lily. Sooo cool! My husband even has one in his office, (big kid).

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?

I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with the William Wallace period of Scottish/English history. Possibly I’d go back to that kind of era. Or maybe Robin Hood. What would I take with me? A toothbrush.

Can you tell us about your works in progress?

As I mentioned way back when you started asking me these incredibly brilliant questions, I said I’d just ditched The Book That Shall Never Be Written. What I then started doing was writing a new story, Fairway To Heaven, based on my entry for the 2013 Little Gems (Sapphire). It’s a golf romance about love on the greens and lust in the bunkers. It’s a very personal story about one woman’s struggle to regain her sexuality and her independence after the birth of her son, and it’s set in the beautiful coastal playgrounds of Busselton and Margaret River in South West WA.

Now that Fairway is finished, maybe, just maybe, I’ll turn my head back to writing The Book That Might One Day Be Written.

LilyM_lowres

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from Fairway To Heaven, please?

Excerpt:

Then Geographe Bay unfurls before us, curving sweet as a wine glass, mile on mile of sand the colour of white pepper, strewn with dry strands of brown seaweed as if the mermaids cut their hair.

Busselton Jetty straddles the water far to the right. Where the famous landmark meets the coast, pines jut from the foreshore.

“There’s a train that runs out the jetty now,” Brayden says. “You’ll have to take him out there.”

“Maybe. We’ll see.” I don’t like forking out cash on tourist things Seb won’t remember. “This is a good spot.”

Brayden spreads the towels to mark our territory and I rummage in my bag for sunscreen to squirt over Seb’s arms and legs.

My city brain struggles to comprehend all this space. We’re in prime school holiday time, yet it isn’t packed. Near the jetty—with its fun parks and cafes—there’ll be crowds, but here, there’s nobody in our pocket. I like that.

“Here.” I hand Seb’s cap to Brayden. “You see if you have the knack to get him to keep it on.”

Brayden bends low to pick the bulldozer out of my bag and carries it to where last night’s high tide has left its signature.

He gives the dozer to Seb, and Seb squats on the sand. As he starts ploughing, Brayden stoops to my son’s level, and fits the cap over his curls.

I wait for those little hands to send that hat cartwheeling toward the sea, and of course, he leaves it perfectly in place.

My sun-smart little angel.

I lay back on the towel, resting on my elbows. The sand is incredibly fine. I bury, and then lift my feet, making sand pour between my toes.

A hundred metres to our left a group of kids plays cricket, every thirty seconds or so I hear the whack of bat on ball and shouts of “catch it” and “run”.

Beyond them, at least three different sets of people are walking—two in pairs, one solitary—all with dogs. A jogger cuts through them, heading in our direction.

The bay is millpond quiet. Shallow waters stroke the shore. A boat noses along an imaginary line where the aqua waters merge with the darker depths. I think the guy in the front is pulling crab pots, but I can’t tell if he’s having any luck.

 

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Sarah – thank you so much. I loved these questions and it is a pleasure to be part of your blog!

Thanks so much for coming Lily,  and congratulations again on Fairway to Heaven. I can’t wait to read it!

Author Limelight: Cate Ellink, author of ‘The Virginity Mission’…

Hello Cate Ellink and welcome to Author’s Limelight! What’s new?

Thanks, Sarah, for hosting my visit today. It’s lovely to be here. My ebook, The Virginity Mission, was released in June.

What was the first story you ever wrote?

Ebi The Wishing Dog, was the first story I ever wrote. I was six or seven and it was in homage to Enid Blyton and my dog, Ebi, who I adored.

Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

I don’t have a favourite. That would be like picking a favourite book or child. Each character has a tiny part of me in them, along with lots of other traits. Each person comes to me and tells me their story, in whispers and part scenes, usually in the dead of night. I love them for being part of my life while I tell their story. I could never choose a favourite.

Virginity Mission_small

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?

I don’t know that I’m the best person to answer this question! I think being published has made me more driven. I’ve never wanted just one book published, I’ve always wanted the multi-book career. So I see each milestone (like being published) as another signpost along a really long, but enjoyable, journey. Plus, prior to being published I said I’d never read reviews – and I have.

What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?

Lots and lots of books! My husband thinks I have too many books on the bookshelves. We often discuss this issue. E-Readers have been a godsend because he has no idea how many are on there!

I read fiction and non-fiction. Many of my non-fiction books I’ve carted around with me for over twenty years and they aren’t ever being left behind. Some fiction falls into this category too. Books have always been my best friends! I am non-discriminatory about what I read. If it’s words on a page I’ll give it a shot.

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

Mannish water in Jamaica. It’s a soup made out of all the left over bits of the goat after they’ve butchered it and taken away all the useable bits. It was thick with floaties, smelled like many-days-old road kill, and brought me undone. Until then, the Jamaicans thought I was an invincible Aussie (because we can drink their beer and Americans struggle with the strength, and we understand cricket!).

Oh Cate! You are a trooper! I struggle with a Bratwurst sausage, but Mannish water?

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?

 a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Gosh, this is a difficult question, Sarah, such a range of choice.

Princess Leia for a day. I’d like to live in space, have wild adventures and meet Hans Solo and Luke Skywalker. I’m not sure I like the bunches-above-the-ears look, so I’d rewrite that…plus I’d go with Hans Solo, Luke would never have been a choice!

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Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

Wow, these tricky questions keep on coming! Philosophy in the Bedroom (La Philosophie dans le boudoir) by the Marquis deSade. This book, for me, was my awakening to the power of erotic writing and the power of sex as an instrument for personal growth. It’s also a book with many underlying themes, and one no one can decide on its meaning. I’d like to be that clever and have people discussing my work centuries later.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Purely for my own pleasure, I’d like to be Aquaman so I could live underwater. I love scuba diving and to be able to do it without all the gear would be the best fun. I’d feel a little guilty that I didn’t choose a superpower for the good of mankind…but maybe Aquaman could be useful and fun!

That’s perfectly alright. The superpower is just for you!

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?

I know this is dull, but I’d go back to 2008 and take my ebook with me. I’d go back to prove to myself that I can get a book published. I’d tell myself to enjoy the journey and not fret so much, especially those days when I was really down.

Can you tell us about your works in progress?

I have 3 erotic stories at various stages. I like to get ideas down when they come and then rework/edit for the next century (or so it seems!).

The story furthest along is set on Lord Howe Island with a footy player hero and a triathlete heroine. It’s a fun story full of scuba diving, snorkelling, running, competition and sex.

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from the as-yet-nameless Lord Howe Island story, please?

My wolf whistle cuts through the morning stillness, loud, shrill and penetrating. The stranger doesn’t turn. His stride shortens for one step but that’s the only indication he’s heard me. A smile sneaks across my mouth, twisting as I try to stop it blooming into a full laugh. I’ve got no class.

I’m perving. Hidden behind sunglasses, squinting in the sunshine, I’m availing myself of the unexpected addition to the already stunning view. I usually go for long, lean athletes. This guy is more squat or stocky but he’s definitely an athlete. Muscles upon muscles, layered and sculptured to perfection. His gait is long and easy. He’s a little shorter than me and built, as my pop would have said, like a brick outhouse. A very attractive one if the rear is anything to go by. He has huge calves, thick flexing thighs, and tight butt cheeks rounding out his shorts decadently. I wonder how my hand would go curving around those gluteus maximuses or is it maximi in pairs? Butt cheeks will do. I’d need both hands for sure. They twitch, palms sweating, fingers wriggling, eager to close in on their target.

He’s alone and heading toward the dive shack, like me. I hope he’s solo. I wouldn’t mind him for a dive buddy. I’d have some delicious moments of viewing pleasure.

Wow! I like the sound of this book, Cate!

Thanks for having me to visit, Sarah. I hope Hindsight does well for you.

Thanks Cate. Same to you and Virginity Mission.

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Author Limelight: Erotic novelist, Kate Belle…

Kate’s novel, The Yearning has earned rave reviews since its release this year. Congratulations and hello Kate, welcome to Author’s Limelight!

Kate: Thanks for having me Sarah. Do you think we should explain that we are NOT related?

Sarah: Yes, very good point! Despite having the same surname, blonde hair and hailing from the same state, we are not related. Kate also has a chemistry degree which makes her much brainier than me with a business degree!

What was the first story you ever wrote?

The Only Survivor. It won the Benalla Ensign Bookweek short story award for under 15’s in 1978. It was a dramatic account of a person who survived an airplane crash – something I knew a lot about at 13 years old – given I’d never been in an airplane.

I still remember how proud I was to see my story in print.

Yearning lo res

Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

I have strange, confusing relationships with my male characters. I kind of fall in love with them. I even get a bit obsessive. They occupy my mind in the same way a real lover might. I think about them while I hang out the washing, fantasise about them when sitting in traffic, wonder what they might be doing now. When I’m writing them I often imagine them standing behind me, their hands on my shoulders, whispering the action into my ear.

It’s kinda creepy. Lucky for me they’re fictional, otherwise I might get done for stalking.

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?

Interesting question! I hope not, I wouldn’t want it to. If anything it’s given me more confidence. If a publisher is willing to publish my work it can’t be complete rubbish. And it’s made me more anxious. In making a job out of being an author I’ve found so many new things to worry about, especially money. I worry about it in a way I’ve never done before.

What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?

We have 7 (count them) bookshelves in our home and they are overflowing with eclectic collections of predominantly second hand books. I have shelves of fairytales, erotica, Aboriginal literature, self help books (refugees from my 20’s), cookbooks, poetry, classics, psychology, astrology, and loads of Australian fiction. I’ve probably only read about 20% of it. I will die buried under my books, I’m sure.

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What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oh God, I gag at the thought of it. Smoked tofu. I went to Yum Cha with a Filipino friend one day and was thinking of smoked salmon when I ordered it. I couldn’t even swallow it. It tasted like it had been soaked in old cigarette butts for a week. I spat it out into my napkin. It ruined the rest of the meal.

Sarah: Did you see the episode of ‘Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year’ where Hamish ate 10 year old tofu? He gagged, cried and nearly brought it back up numerous times. One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?


a) Scarlett O’Hara
from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Definitely Thelma or Louise – I loved that movie. Of course, there’d be no driving off cliffs but a slow meandering down through Mexico where we would adventure with hot blooded male amigos. Sigh.

Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

I hate choosing just one but if I must – Pride and Prejudice. Because it’s just about as perfect as a novel gets. Gorgeous, insightful writing; compelling love story; convincing characters. Otherwise one of Sonya Hartnett’s books. That woman is a freak, her writing – double sigh.

KateBelle-glamfronthires

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

If I was 12 I’d say flying, but at this stage of my life I have to say cleaning my home to sparkling without having to lift a solitary finger. That or writing perfect first drafts. If you’re going to grant me one, either will do.

Sarah: Oooooh yeah! Good ones, Kate. Love them both.

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?

I’d go back to the Summer of Love – San Francisco 1968. I’d take a notebook and pen and write it all down. The passion, the discovery, the fight for freedom and human rights. I’d like to try the dope that was around then, live on a commune, march the streets with placards, talk to Gloria Steinhem, visit Woodstock, immerse in the zeitgeist. Actually I’d probably take condoms too – I wouldn’t want any nasty consequences from participating in the sexual revolution.

Can you tell us about your works in progress?

My second novel will be published mid-2014. Its working title is Saint but it’s unlikely to be published as that.

Fourteen year old Banjo falls in love with Jade the moment he sees her step through the school gate. Their close friendship evolves into marriage but Banjo is vastly unprepared for life with his self-determined, temperamental, damaged wife. After half a lifetime of struggling with Jade’s repeated infidelities he makes a stand and musters the courage to leave. Tragically Banjo is killed, but his spirit is still tied to the woman he loves and he returns to watch his family grieve. When their adult daughters discover Jade’s Book of Lovers Banjo embarks on a journey of discovery. Did Jade love him above all others? And who was the strange man he found Jade with the night he died?

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from ‘Saint’ please?

People argue about death. Some say it’s the end of everything. They believe life closes off, and who we are, everything we’ve ever been, disintegrates, sinking into the earth with our bodies. Others think life disappears from sight, like a mollusc retracting into its shell. It wasn’t like that for me. For me, death was a beginning, an unexpected roaring rebirth into a different kind of life.

Death dawned on me, cold and shrouded in fog. It was a shock, reaching out to feel nothing. I have no body, no physical presence. I know I exist because I can still think, see, feel, but it’s nothing like the reality of being three dimensional. I remember the feeling of a body, the gravity it gave me. I remember what it was to take up space, move among people, influence the world.

The only place I can’t go is the future. I’ve tried and it’s like slamming hard up against a locked door. If I’m honest, I’m not sure I want to go there. I might lose Jade altogether then. At least now I can still be close to her, hear her voice, let my eyes feast on the sight of her, send my love to her. On the other side of that locked door she might be lost to me forever. And I’m not ready for that. Even now, when I know I’m gone and I can’t have her anymore, I’m not ready to say goodbye to Jade.

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THANKS FOR HOSTING ME SARAH!! Xxx

Author Limelight and Giveaway: YA Fiction writer, Vanessa Garden…

Today’s guest is my very good friend, Vanessa Garden. We met at the RWA conference in 2012 and, along with Susan Roberts, formed a trio with a promise that we would all be collecting our ‘First Sale’ ribbon at the 2013 conference. And guess what…we did! All three of were successful in being published in the same year. So, it’s with a huge smile that I welcome my friend and totally awesome YA author, Vanessa Garden to the Author’s Limelight today!

Hello Vanessa and congratulations on the January 1st release of ‘Captivate’. I have to say that it the most gorgeous cover I’ve ever seen!

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Thank you for having me, Sarah!

What was the first story you ever wrote?

It was a poem called ‘Shell’ – about… a shell!  I wrote it when I was six and it was published in our school newsletter. I was so excited. I think my mum still has it somewhere.

Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

My favourite character is Marko, my sexy young king from Captivate. He is so flawed and has so many layers that I just find him so intriguing.

 

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?

It hasn’t really changed me much as a person (apart from the huge smile that never seems to leave my face). However, one thing it has done is instil a little more confidence in my writing. I think sometimes we can all get stuck and doubt ourselves. All we need is a little belief and validation. I’ve also become a lot stricter with my writing schedule.

What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?

Anything and everything – especially books with romance. My bookshelves are double stacked with every genre you can imagine and I have books all over the house on coffee tables and couch arms. But Young Adult novels are what I read most. I love the Infernal Devices series, The Elementals, and also good contemporary writers like John Green and Sarah Dessen.

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

A slice of cold pig fat that I thought was cheesecake!

Oh my god! That’s so funny, Vanessa!

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?


a) Scarlett O’Hara
from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

Thelma or Louise – who doesn’t want to just hop in a convertible and see where life takes them?

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

 

Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men – it’s a beautiful book with so much heart it makes me cry every time I read it.

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If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

To not need sleep. That way I could write all night and still feel refreshed in the morning.

Ooooh, yes! Good one.

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?

I’d go back to when my mum and dad were little kids to see what their childhoods were like and to just get to know them as children. I’d take my own kids so that we could all hang out.

Can you tell us about your works in progress?

I’ve just completed book two, to follow Captivate, and I’m also awaiting edits on a YA sci-fi, Carrier, which will be released with Escape Publishing March 2014.   

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from ‘Captivate’ please?

Here’s a piece of dialogue from one of my favourite scenes:

I kept my arms folded and raised my head. ‘Yes, and I’m not pretending.’

‘So you want me to believe that you’ve suddenly fallen hopelessly in love with me,’ he said.

I ignored the smirk on his lips and said, ‘Yes.’

He folded his arms across his chest and stared down at me. Amusement sparkled in his eyes.

‘Say it, then. Declare your love for me.’ 

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Vanessa is giving away a signed copy of Captivate to one lucky reader! All you have to do to be in the draw is leave a comment.

This competition is open to Australian postal addresses only. It will be drawn on Monday Dec 23, 2013 but will not be received by the winner until January when Captivate is officially released.

Author Limelight: Charmaine Clancy, Author of Mystery, Adventure and Fantasy…

Hello Charmaine Clancy and welcome to Author’s Limelight! Congratulations on the recent release of  Dognapped: A Dog Show Detective Mystery.

dog

What was the first story you ever wrote?

We tell stories from the first moment we can talk, even if it’s in garbled baby-talk, and we start writing stories from the time we scribbled a green crayon swirl and call it an elephant. However, it was my first real failures at novels that led me to really study the craft. The first novel I finished writing was Dognapped? A Dog Show Detective Mystery, which turned out to be my second book published.

Of all the individuals you have created, do you have a particular favourite? What appeals to you the most about this character?

Dogs are always winners with me, and they often appear the most animated in my novels, however I do have one brash little pirate girl who is very impatient about getting her story finished at the moment.

Has being published changed you at all? If so, how?

I’d like to say it’s made me smarter, more market savvy, or even taller, but really, it’s just made me busier. I will say that publishing that first book, and receiving positive feedback, is a great way to finally feel like you just might be on the right path.

What would we find on your bookshelf / e-reader?

My life savings. There are enough books on my shelf to last several decades (if the zombie apocalypse hits, I’ll be set… unless I need food and water), and ebooks on my Kindle to last several lifetimes (I guess there’s nothing stopping me moving to Mars now).

The books I keep are always fast paced, deeply engaging and often funny. Terry Pratchett takes up a fair bit of space, but he’s earned it.

What’s the most unappealing thing you’ve ever eaten?

Eggplant. And I don’t buy that whole ‘acquired taste’ rubbish. I can easily say, ‘Here, try this crispy bacon, or this chocolate mud-cake thick with icing!’ Good-tasting food doesn’t require perseverance.

charmaineclancy

If you could be any of the following characters for one day, who would you be and why? How would you re-write the ending?

 a) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind.

b) Thelma or Louise from Thelma and Louise.

c) Princess Leia from Starwars.

d) Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanys.

I think I may have gone through a selfish stage in my teenage years where I was a bit too much like Scarlett and Holly, and I don’t think I could pull it off anymore. Princess Leia is a pretty good role model, although I think I’m too lazy to keep up her save-the-universe schedule and although there are days (luckily not too often), where I could encourage Louise to just keep driving us over that cliff, most of the time I’m pretty optimistic. Ooh, I’d be the cat in Breakfast at Tiffanys!

Of all the books in history, which do you wish you wrote and why?

The Book Thief is my idea of literary perfection and something I know I could never reproduce. On a smaller level, every time I get an idea for a novel, Jackie French has already written it.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Invisibility, just so I could take naps without anyone noticing.

If you could go back in time, where would you go and when? What is one thing you would want to take with you?

I love all things 40’s and 50’s, I would go back in time to meet Agatha Christie and I’d bring a magnify glass with hopes to solve a murder mystery. Or maybe I’d just take post-it notes and pretend I invented them.

MyZombieDog-Cover-WebUse-Lge

Can you tell us about your works in progress?

I work on multiple projects at once, but at the moment, my attention is on Warracknabeal (a title that will probably go before production). It’s a story that looks at belonging and isolation from within the family to community and even on a national level. My protagonist is 13 year old Harry, son of the local copper in a small country town in Victoria. The year is 1939 and Harry’s childhood is about to be shattered. He will uncover family secrets, sinister acts and even a body. Suspicion is passed on like chinese whispers when the local racetrack clubhouse burns down. Harry must decide who to trust and follow a dangerous path of clues to rescue the one person he cares about most. These events are set against the backdrop of fires about to burn through Victoria like none before and none since, along with the lingering fear of an inevitable war.

This project is a lot darker than my usual goofy stories for kids!

Sarah says – I have had the privilege of meeting Harry and his GrandPa on paper and must say that I just loved the little bit I saw. I can’t wait to read this when it’s released! 

Finally, can you give us a sneaky excerpt from Warracknabeal, please?

Here’s a snippet from a significant scene – it’s still a first draft, so no doubt it will change drastically as it’s reworked:

Remembering the stories from the Penny Mysteries, Harry decided he was looking for ‘the spot where the fire initiated: burst gas pipes, heaters that may have been left on, empty fuel cans, clumps of rags, or anything smelling of lighter fluid.’

His attention was drawn to a large sheet of collapsed roofing. He moved closer to the iron sheeting and not worrying about keeping his clothes clean, he crouched down and grabbed hold of one edge. It was still warm. He pulled hard, but it proved to be quite heavy. Trying a different tactic, he stood above the sheet and tried to raise one side, hoping to flip it.

Dusting off his hands, he scanned the room. He’d give the roofing one more go and then he’d leave. That copper wouldn’t be far away now. He crouched down low, got both hands under one edge of the iron and heaved. It did the trick, too well. The iron sheeting flipped over, sending Harry sprawling. He pulled himself up to a crawling position and stared, stunned and disgusted, at his find. Laying beneath him was a partially burned body, the young woman’s blackened face stared vacantly back at him. Amazingly, perhaps because it had been protected by the iron, her strawberry blonde hair that he remembered so well, was mostly not singed. In one charred hand, the corpse clutched a his grandfather’s favourite silver lighter.

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Thanks Sarah for having me on your blog today!