Hello dear readers and welcome to part two of September’s adventures.
A few days ago, I attended the 2018 Rockingham Writer’s Convention. What an amazing day. :) Unlike last year, I didn’t have to drive through an ominous fog to get to the convention, nor did I forget to let the other half know I’d arrived safely.
My first workshop was Presentation Skills with Mr Glen B Swift. Mr Swift gave us the tips and tricks to make sure you are comfortable and prepared before you start your presentation / talk as well as making sure your audience is comfortable too. It’s funny how you don’t think of little things until someone points them out, and then they become glaringly obvious. He then asked what we wanted to gain from his session. I was the only one who’s terrified of public speaking. Everyone else seemed happy to talk anywhere, anytime, on anything. I know I can do it if I absolutely have to, and the workshop was a positive experience, but I think I have a long way to go on this confidence thing. :( Now, if I can just work out what’s triggering my fear response...
Next, I did a workshop on Marketing and Promotion with Tess Woods. Last year’s Twelve Steps for Novel Writing was brilliant, so I was keen for this session. Ms Woods is funny, smart, and sassy in her delivery, (and a speaker I would love to emulate.) She shared tips on self-promotion, navigating social media and making it work for you, building your community of readers, and showed us examples of authors who are successful with their social media campaigns. Ms Woods also shared a few hints on how to make social media work for us and left us all laughing by the end of her session. :)
After lunch we listened to a panel of authors who discussed Traditional Versus Independent Publishing. On the Traditional side were Natasha Lester, Tess Woods, and Deb Fitzpatrick. Our chairperson was Teena Raffa-Mulligan, who is also one of the Convention’s organisers. And on the Independent panel were Claire Boston, Shona Husk, and Rebecca Laffar-Smith. Ms Boston and Ms Husk have also been traditionally published, and Ms Husk is a hybrid author who publishes both independently and traditionally depending on her book content.
All the panellists felt it was important to know your strengths and weaknesses and to decide from a business mindset what would work best for you. Having confidence about your ability to organise or be able to complete book covers, graphic design, and editing helps if you wish to self-publish. If you’re not as confident, and you enjoy a teamwork environment where you are supported through the publication process, then perhaps traditional publishing is right for you. Both sides had strong cases for their chosen medium, but the underlying message was clear. There is no right or wrong way to publish your book. Choose what works best for you.
My final workshop for the day after catching up with friends and meeting some wonderful new writers was a session with Escape Publishing’s Kate Cuthbert called Romancing the Reader. Ms Cuthbert spoke about reader expectations of how a romance novel should play out and how we should honour that tradition but give our stories our own special twist within that accepted context. Romance must have its happily ever after ending, or a happily for now, which implies a foreseeable, happy future together. She also spoke about diversity in romance both from a writer and a character perspective and the exciting future this holds for the romance genre.
Something I found fascinating was the history of the romance novel. For each decade since the romance novel evolved, authors have created a fictional world that became a reality by the following decade. Authors were writing about women having careers in romance novels rather than leaving work once they were married, and in reality, this later became an acceptable practice. Likewise, women in fiction were becoming head nurses or doctors in their own right rather than subservient to their male counterparts and again, this became a reality. I’d love to learn more about this side of the romance genre because while romance is mainly reading for pleasure, it’s amazing how it has helped change society and a woman’s place in it. It was a fantastic session.
Overall, it was another brilliant day and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. A huge thank you to the Rockingham Writers Centre and everyone involved in this wonderful day.
Destination Romance – A Serenity Press Anthology
(ARC copy in exchange for an honest review)
Destination Romance’s characters begin their happily ever after’s in the town of Heart Springs in New South Wales, where the J’Adore Travel Boutique is at the centre of so many wonderful romantic connections. These magical moments happen in the town itself, coastal Western Australia, and then takes the reader globe-trotting to magnificent locations. Travel to France, London, the Greek Islands, and exotic Thailand without ever leaving the comforts of home. In fact, grab another cup / glass of your favourite beverage and your favourite reading snack, and indulge in the cruise or two of a lifetime, then travel back in time to a place of simplistic wonder.
And don’t go thinking this is a book for young love only. Destination Romance does offer that, but it also proves to its readers love can find you at any age, rekindle what was lost, bring about a kismet meeting, make you believe in love again, that anything is possible, or bring you face to face with your one true love – you know – the one who was right under your nose all along. Enjoy a myriad of emotions, (I laughed so hard I cried in one story, and I cried at the end of another because it seems I’m more of a hopeless romantic than I’ll ever admit to,) as you discover our heroines’ paths to true love. This anthology won’t disappoint. :) Pre-order your copy now. :)
Cruise It or Lose It by Carolyn Wren
Music teacher and movie buff, Rose, longs to support her best friend on her special day, but the bride-to-be is holding her wedding on a cruise and Rose is petrified of open water. The solution to calm her fears – the wonderful girls at J’Adore Travel Boutique in Heart Springs send her on a short cruise with the promise of a rescue in twenty-four hours if it’s too much for her. So, when her luggage is lost, her phobia kicks in, and a handsome gentleman named ‘Jack’ comes to her rescue, Rose knows one thing for certain. This mini holiday is about to become one ‘Titanic’ disaster.
The Boy Next Door by Tanya Kean
Grace has experienced much sadness in her young life, the death of her father, then her mother’s demise, and in-between, the shattering pain of her first heartbreak. Her next door neighbour and first love, Michael Barrington. vanished years ago without saying goodbye and a piece of Grace died that day too. But sadness has no place on holiday and Grace is finally going to live out her dreams. After a visit to her travel agent, she’ll stopover in London, and then spend a week or two lazing around some Greek islands. Then in London a rainstorm hits and the bad weather ushers her into a pub and across the bar is the last person she expected to see. Has she really travelled halfway around the world just to run into the boy next door?
The Next Stage – Jean Jenkins
Carol left Perth with a battered heart, painful memories of an abrasive ex, and the declaration she’ll never love another man again. Instead, she returns to her home town of Heart Springs to decide what she wants to do with her life. And just because she enjoyed a conversation with a handsome gentleman on the flight over, who appears to share her interests, doesn’t mean she’s going to start with him. Then her childhood friend, Maggie, suggests a short holiday cruise could be just the thing to help clear her head. They meet for lunch to discuss it, when who should serve them an amazing lunch but Bob, the delightful man she met at the airport. Just as well she’s heading off again soon. In New Zealand, Carol realises she feels happy again, but Bob is still on her mind. How did he sneak past her defences, and what happened to the promise she made about no more men?
Heart Swings by Renee Conoulty
Being the family representative at a family wedding in gorgeous Thailand sounds like the perfect escape for Brooke. So many life changing decisions about her future everyone else wants to make for her are more than she can take, and she welcomes the break. Of course, there’s just the small matter of being afraid to fly, but the handsome man seated next to her on the plane soon calms her fears. It’s then she realises he’s Heart Spring’s newest resident, who hates the small town his parents moved their family business to in hopes of a sea change. He’s also certain there’s not a decent cup of coffee to be found outside of Sydney, and for barista extraordinaire, Brooke, that’s just not on. But first, they have to get through her cousin’s wedding, an encounter with his ex-girlfriend who’s also a wedding guest and desperate to rekindle their big city romance, and a trek through the steamy native Thailand jungle for both Brooke and Ryan to realise where their hearts truly lay.
When Love Breaks Down by Lisa Wolstenholme
When Gill convinced her husband to take early retirement, she never dreamed it would mean he’d be constantly underfoot, in her hair, and driving her out of her mind. When had Jim become such a cantankerous ‘old’ man? Their daughter, Maggie, asks them to attend a tour called ‘Golden Oldies’ in Western Australia as a favour to her so she can recommend the tour company for her agency. Gill agrees, deciding a break is exactly what she and Jim need to put the spark back into their marriage. Instead, Jim’s temper is working overtime, spoiling the holiday and putting the other guests offside, and Gill has had just about enough. What happened to the man she married and how will they ever get past this latest hurdle and find each other again?
Living in the Past – Melanie Page
Nae (Naomi) Campbell took a trip of a lifetime in an archaeological dig in France reliving thirteenth century history. Her ex fiancé, like their doomed romance, is far behind her. Thanks to careful planning by the travel agency in her home town of Heart Springs, she’s finally part of something she loves. What she didn’t plan on was falling in love with Phillip, who’s not only a gentleman, but a viscount’s son too. What chance is there for finding love and happily ever after in the past for an Aussie girl who’s way out of her league, out of time, and out of hope?
On Track for Tomorrow by Mel A. Rowe
A leg brace and streamline crutches, or sticks as Jessica calls them, don’t exactly inspire thoughts of a handy-capable woman preparing to embark on a six-day hike across the MacDonald Ranges. But for the first-year anniversary of the day that changed everything, Jessica’s determined to regain her strength, her confidence, and her life. In preparation, she rents a small house in Heart Spring’s from her client, Maggie. In between her capacity as IT guru, for half the town it seems, she’ll work on strengthening her legs without her eagle-eyed parents or anyone else hovering over her, ready to watch her fall. A pity then her next-door neighbour and full-time ‘god,’ didn’t get the memo. When Brett offers to help her train, Jessica is caught between her own stubborn determination and hope that Brett’s interest is one not born out of pity, but something beautiful and worthy of wonderful tomorrows.
Escape to D’Amour by Michelle Beesley
Caught in the past and in her remembered love for a husband who died two years before, the only thing that keeps The Tea Lady Café’s owner, Lavender Jones, going is working and baking at her shop. That and worrying how she’ll keep the lavender farm her late husband’s family owned from running into the ground. Then her travel agent friend, Izzy, has the perfect suggestion. Go to France on a gastronomical tour on the travel agency’s behalf, enjoy all the food and drink delights Provence has to offer, and learn as much as she can about their lavender farms before coming home. What Izzy didn’t say was she’d be captivated by everything she touched, tasted, and smelled including a French Chocolatier / lavender plantation owner whose delicate confections, passionate manner, and sexy accent show her he’s well versed in all things ‘Lavender.’
A London Minute by Michelle Rule
Ruby is at a complete loss as to what to do next. Her parents sold the family business, the one she thought she’d someday inherit, and took themselves off on a whirlwind trip overseas leaving her stuck in Heart Springs, with okay, a roof over her head, but no job prospects, and no real skills outside of the ones she learns at her parents’ sides in the town’s best Fish and Chip shop. Now it’s someone else’s dream, and no way is she going to work for them even if a certain green-eyed hunk is trying to convince her otherwise. But she can let her guard down enough to be his friend, because it’s not his fault his parents stole her dream. Then, just when things are getting interesting, her parents ask her to join them in London. In the blink of an eye, Ruby’s torn between the past she lost and an uncertain future.
Spoilt for Love by Monique Mulligan
Maggie Redmont is used to planning holidays for lovers and those whose hearts are waiting to be mended. The only heart she hasn’t been able to fix is her own. That’s because the man of her dreams appeared in a café in Scotland years ago, and when they looked into each other’s eyes the heavens opened and the angels sang. Then he disappeared and she never saw him again. Somehow, that brief meeting had spoiled her for any man since. So, when ‘Rafe’ arrives in Heart Springs to fill in for one of her fellow travel agents, and those same sparks fly, Maggie’s strict ‘no fraternising’ policy, (a lesson she learned the hard way,) means once again her happily ever after is off limits. Is he really going to slip through her fingers again?
Notes of Desire by Carolyn Wren
Jared Knight works for international governments together with a select group of colleagues, tracking down the worst criminals humanity has to offer. His highly secretive and dangerous profession leaves no time or freedom for relationships, especially not with the gently raised daughter of a prominent diplomat who catches his eye in the glittering ballrooms of Monaco.
Despite his attraction, he vows to keep Cecilia Benedict in his past, until an unknown stalker threatens her future.
Cecilia has been receiving letters from an admirer, one who knows far too much about her. Her father seeks help in dealing with the growing menace and Jared steps out of the shadows to become her protector. Cecilia finds herself intensely intrigued by this quiet man with deep grey eyes, and when they are emotionally thrown together, he becomes so much more than just her bodyguard.
But someone is biding his time in the shadows, threatening to destroy their relationship before it can even begin.
One brief moment was all it took for Jared Knight to fall for Cecelia Benedict, but he knows his lifestyle has no time and no place for a woman like her. But when her life is threatened, Jared steps up to do what he does best, protect innocent lives. Normally he doesn’t have the added complication of attraction, and when he realises the feeling is mutual, it makes this mission the most difficult he’s ever undertaken.
Cecelia is fascinated by the quietly spoken, and much too handsome, agent assigned to protect her when unsettling letters become a regular part of her daily life. She refuses to hide away from what she feels are idle threats, but she’s not about to upset her father, and especially not Jared when it comes to her safety.
When things escalate and people are hurt, Jared realises he can no longer keep his work and his private life separate. But the person watching Cecelia is well aware of this change in circumstances, and they’re about to take full advantage of his ‘weakness’ for Cecelia is well and truly spoken for just like the letters proclaim.
I loved this story. Ms Wren kept the pace going from start to finish. The twists and turns were exciting, and I love how Jared and Cecelia’s feelings developed throughout the book. Being a self-confessed Daddy’s Girl, I also loved the strong, loving relationship between Cecelia and her father. And it’s the strength in both the romantic and the father-daughter relationships that struck a chord with me. Wonderful reading. :)
Doc Holliday by Paul Summerhayes
Traveling near the wasteland, Marshal Pat Garrett and Roberts happen upon a sleepy borderland town…but nothing is as it seems. By chance, the lawmen stumble into the infamous poker player, Doc Holliday and he is desperate for their assistance. Begrudgingly, the marshals agreed to help him and that’s when all hell breaks loose.
The servants of the elder gods advance their master’s vile cause, heedless of how much innocent blood they spill. The gods of darkness’ goal is to rule the earth and the final destruction of the human race.
The Sky Fire Chronicles is a weird western series set in America during the late 1800's.
Nothing is as it seems in the much too quiet town that’s much too close to the demon-filled wastelands. But strangeness has a way of attracting the strangeness in others and Marshall Pat Garrett and Roberts soon meet a charming gentleman ravaged by disease in a bar that’s seen better days, much like the gentleman himself. But Doc Holiday is no ordinary man, and when the merciless heat of the sun vanishes for a few blissful hours, someone else, or perhaps, something else takes his place.
Strange things are happening in town. People are disappearing. Livestock are behaving strangely, and an oddly-shaped creature prowls the shadows. Garrett and Roberts are drawn deeper into the mystery when Doc Holiday asks for their help, and in return, Roberts demands the Doc join them in Tombstone where a great destiny awaits. But first there’s the small matter of getting out of town alive.
Once again Mr Summerhayes teases and tantalises the reader into discovering how the key players in his series meet in their quest to stop the strange demon invasions that have befallen the wild west. While the focus remains on Doc Holiday’s story, Garrett, Roberts, and Billy the Kid still make their presence known, and makes the reader curious to know how the story / series will end.
I just finished beta reading a YA paranormal story with the most amazing first kiss scene. I can’t wait until this story is published so I can share it with you. I really enjoyed the first-person account seen through the eyes of the male lead. One of the stories I copy-edited features an older female having a second chance at romance. It was a very saucy story, which I’m sure readers will love.
I have more books on the ‘to be read’ list, and I’m up to date on my copy-editing work, which means time to work on my own stories. I mentioned above I attended Ms Cuthbert’s workshop. She shared a tip or two I can utilise in my stories and I’m keen to put those tips to work.
So, until next time, may the words of wonderful stories become the lyrics of your soul. :)