Hi all. It’s been an exciting few weeks.
My family and I have officially lived in Western Australia for two years now. Still missing my family, but we’ve settled in, made a life for ourselves here, and I’ve met some amazing people. And what a bonus, some of them are amazing authors too. J
I travelled to Armadale to attend a workshop on ‘How to Write a Series’ with author Carolyn Wren, and caught up with her again a few days later when I made my way to Scarborough Beach to attend the West Coast Fiction Festival, which worked in unison with an amazing charity – ‘Share the Dignity.’ Half my immediate family celebrated a birthday, and we enjoyed surprise visitors from home who joined us specially to help us celebrate. And soon another friend from home will be visiting and I’ll get to show her around too. :)
Ms Wren’s workshops are always fun, inspiring, and informative, and this one was no exception. As with anything creative, there are always exceptions, but for the basics, Ms Wren suggested most authors know or have already planned the number of books they’ll write for a series and when it is time to let the story / series end. This usually happens when the main character / s have evolved or their issue has been resolved, or when the story comes to a mutually satisfactory conclusion. As for those exceptions, some authors start with trilogies, and then find themselves writing the eight, tenth or thirteenth book.
Ms Wren then gave us pointers on pitfalls of series writing. For example, recapping a previous storyline. They should never be more than a few sentences long and contain enough information for new readers to follow and previous readers to understand, yet not be bored. There’s also the importance of knowing your characters and keeping track of what they’ve done in previous books. Generally speaking, (and depending on your genre) you can’t use a character in book five if you’ve killed them off in book two. She also suggested writing the stories first rather than publishing a book at a time to ensure you’ve caught your mistakes and any continuity issues. Again, not all writers work this way. It’s always important to do what works for you.
We also learned how to tap into the different emotions to create characters and how they’d act or react to situations. This is something Ms Wren does effectively in her ‘Love Under Fire’ series, which I’ve been voraciously reading as soon as each book’s been released. J
Author and fellow RWA member, Georgia Tingley and I travelled to Scarborough Beach, Perth, and enjoyed meeting authors who were there for the Fiction Festival. While some authors were locals, some had flown from overseas to participate in the event as well as those who travelled interstate. They didn’t have much time to relax the first evening as they had to be up early to set up their book displays in preparation for the hundreds of writers and readers who flowed through the doors. Now I promised I wouldn’t fangirl, but meeting authors whom I’ve only previously chatted to on Facebook or because they’ve enjoyed the book reviews I’ve written was a big deal. And having a couple of big-name authors come up to me and say they recognised me from volunteering with RWA (Romance Writers Australia) – well, I may have squealed on the inside just a bit. J
After an early night we lined up with the other VIP guests, claimed our pre ordered books, and then made bee-lines for the authors so we could chat books, buy more books, and have them sign our copies. The wonderful Ms Wren had to endure my company again (I’m not stalking her, I swear) as I relieved her of more books from her fabulous series. She then introduced me to a new-to-me author, Ms P J Harris, who is every bit as lovely as Carolyn. I bought some of her books. Next, I got to meet in person ladies I’d been chatting to online – the amazing Serenity Press Goddesses and authors in their own right, Karen McDermott and Monique Mulligan. I then bought a copy of the book I did a review for in a previous blog, which was also graciously signed.
And speaking of reviews in previous blogs, I loved Alli Sinclair’s ‘Burning Fields’ because it contained so much of what life was like in Far North Queensland just after the Second World War, and it was set in the place in which my mother spent her formative years. After reading it, I couldn’t wait to tell Ms Sinclair how much the book meant to me. Her response was just beautiful. When I learned she was one of the authors who was coming to the WCFF, I was so excited. So, not only does she write wonderful books, she’s an absolute pleasure to talk with, and luckily for me, there was a lull just long enough for us to have a decent chat about books, family, and travelling. Meeting her was one of the highlights of my day. J
I also met up with authors from Central Queensland, and especially one from my hometown who again, I’ve reviewed one of her books on my blog and have been chatting to on Facebook. DL Gallie was also awesome to talk with, but boy did I feel homesick afterwards, especially when she chatted about some mutual writing friends whom I also miss. And of course, I had to buy another book. J
It was so exciting meeting and chatting to authors even though some chats were shorter than others because some of those lines to meet and greet were very, very long. Totally going to name drop a few of the authors I met - Nalini Singh, Rachel Johns (whom I not sure I even told her my name), Lisa Ireland, Tess Woods (who is the instigator and organiser of WCFF), Kelly Rimmer, Demelza Carlton, Shona Husk, and Claire Boston. Thank you to everyone who signed my books. J I had to take a trip back to my hotel room to offload a few, but by the end of the day, well, let’s just say I’ll won’t be running out of books to review anytime soon. J
Once the ‘meet the author’ part of the festival was over, we readied ourselves for the cocktail party. You’ll be happy to know there aren’t any photos of me dancing away on the dance floor although Georgia and I did get our groove on. Lol Again, it was our opportunity to mingle, but more importantly we learned the event had raised enough money for not one, but two sanitary vending machines for underprivileged schools. If you want to learn more about this amazing foundation and the fantastic work they do, click here.
Finally, a huge thank you to Tess Woods and her committee for organising such an amazing event. I can’t begin to imagine how challenging it would have been to coordinate so many authors to be available on the one weekend, and for them to travel as far as they did to participate in the event. We received pamper packs, had our prepaid books organised for us by Dymocks, a mini market stall set up, cocktails and live music, and an opportunity to meet authors we might not have a chance to meet otherwise, all of who generously shared their time with us. And I can’t forget all the amazing volunteers who worked just as hard behind the scenes to make sure the event ran smoothly. I hope you’re all proud of yourselves for the amazing things you’ve done. J
I have managed to make some leeway into that awesome pile of books as well as on my Kindle.
Amaranthine Kiss (Old School Book 6) by Jenny Schwartz
Army doctor Angelo Sanderson is an unlikely veteran of supernatural combat. A classified mission thrust him into a world most people never have to fear; a world of monsters, mysteries and magic. Coming home to Boston was meant to be about returning to ordinary life. After all, he has no magic of his own.
But Doctor Effie Eliades does. Effie is a healer by profession and by magic. She’s known Angelo forever. He’s her brother’s best friend. She grew up knowing that she could trust him with anything. Now, she’ll have to trust him with her secrets and her life because a supernatural threat is killing her patients, and she needs Angelo’s help to save them.
The threat is real, but Effie is wrong about its target. The Amaranthine Kiss isn’t after Effie’s patients. It hungers for her.
The sixteen-year-old girl looked as if she was ninety years old. Straggly gray hair wisped around a wrinkled, sunken face. Her heart was failing. Her lungs barely inflated. Every additional second of life was a struggle.
Dr. Effie Eliades leaned close. “Who did this to you, Jess? What did this to you?”
Soft as a sigh, final and heart-breaking, the dying girl answered. “A kiss.”
An intense, exciting urban fantasy in the "Old School" series. "Amaranthine Kiss" can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Army doctor Angelo Sanderson never believed in magic until he was handpicked for a dangerous mission involving a rogue sorcerer. And perhaps he coped better than expected because instead of the quiet life he’s craving, now he’s been brought in on another perilous assignment. But this one involves his best friend’s sister, a woman he never suspected had a magic gift, a woman he’s secretly loved for years.
Doctor Effie Eliades works hard in the mortal word as a qualified doctor, but she also has a magical healing gift, which not only benefits her patients but helps discharge the energy she holds when she shares it with them. She’s also been in love with her brother’s best friend forever, and while he knows most of her secrets, like her immediate ‘normal’ family, he hasn’t a clue about her abilities. But all that’s about to change when they have to work together on a strange medical case for not only are her patients and perhaps herself in danger, but so is any chance they have for a future together.
As with every book that’s come before in this series, I loved Effie and Angelo’s story. Once again there were unexpected twists to the story, and as always, Ms Schwartz’s main characters were strong in their own right, yet complimented each other perfectly, especially where it counted most. I can’t speak highly enough of Ms Schwartz’s paranormal romances. I love them all. J
Passion in Flames (Love Under Fire – Book 2) by Carolyn Wren
Simon Winters has a reputation for undertaking adrenalin-filled assignments. But even thrill-seekers need some down time. After an arduous desert mission, he asks for a more enjoyable assignment. Preferably involving a beautiful woman and a fast car.
Dr Elizabeth Barrett's life was peaceful and methodical until someone tried to burn down her research laboratory with her inside. Now she has to contend with a handsome, flirtatious agent living in her home, who has an annoying habit of putting her in more perilous situations than he keeps her out of.
The danger escalates as a straightforward mission turns deadly. Someone wants Beth and her research dead.
Will the charismatic agent and his sexy scientist escape with their hearts, and their lives, intact?
Natural born flirt Simon Winters takes romance in his stride, but with a dangerous job like his, it never pays to get too close to anyone. He’s always on the move. That doesn’t stop him from enjoying the thrill of the chase though, and he’s never met a woman he couldn’t catch. The urge to chase the next thrill vanishes when he’s asked to protect a sexy biologist who resists his every signature move.
Doctor Elizabeth Barrett is used to dealing with problems on a micro level, but when a giant-sized problem disrupts her quiet, structured life under the guise of protecting her life, ‘complicated’ takes on a new meaning. She’s meant to be concentrating on finishing her project, not the handsome agent who’s driving her mentally and physically crazy with his seductive ways. It’s like her knows her every want and need before she does. But ‘Beth’ has no time for Simon’s games because unless she can prove her test results, not only are they in danger, so are the lives of everyone who’s counting on her to keep them safe.
Loved this. Simon and Beth are such different personalities. While Simon’s laid back, debonair and smoother than James Bond on his best day, he’s all business when it comes to work. Beth loves nothing more than to be involved with her work and spend her days (and most of her nights) staring into her microscope, but she’s discovering she has a passion for a little danger. Simon’s flirting had me grinning the whole way through because I knew when he fell in love, he was going to fall hard. And Beth’s reactions to his romantic onslaught in the midst of danger, disaster and doubt were perfect. All I can say is thank goodness I had the next book in the series to read. J
Glittering Obsession (Love Under Fire – Book 3) by Carolyn Wren
Bryce Black can invent, build, or hack anything. Preferring to leave the danger to his fellow operatives at the agency, Bryce is happiest designing gadgets, and pursuing his hobby of creating replica diamonds. He accepts an assignment protecting a fortune of real gems on a blockbuster TV show and finds himself unexpectedly falling for the lead actress.
Katrina Abbott is determined to walk away from her acting career. The loss of privacy and invasion of her personal life have become overwhelming. Bryce has her contemplating a new life, far from the glaring spotlight. But first she needs to film the finale of her wildly popular series.
One obsessed fan does not want the show to end and has a decidedly different view of what Katrina's future should be.
Calm and methodical, Bryce Black isn’t interested in the thrills his fellow operatives crave. He’s happiest when his hands and mind are busy creating tech for the team and crafting beauty for himself. A routine assignment in a not so routine situation opens his eyes to a new world and a woman who enchants him in a way he can’t ignore. Even better, she finds him equally captivating.
Katrina Abbott’s life has revolved around a fictional character for close to a decade and it’s time to close that chapter of her life. She’s grateful for her fans and wants to give them a finale to remember. Then she’ll have a long-earned rest and maybe she’ll convince the quiet, yet utterly charming guardian of the diamonds she’s been wearing for the show to come with her.
But encountering someone who can’t sort fact from fiction puts Bryce and Katrina’s plans in jeopardy and places more than just the couple’s future relationship in danger.
Another wonderful story from Ms Wren. I love how neither man character was looking for love, yet they were smitten the moment they set eyes on each other, that their feelings and attraction were genuine. I also loved the heightened stakes in the final chapters and Bryce and Katrina’s reaction to the situation. Now I just need to know when the next book is coming out. J
Apart from reading more fabulous books, I have four editing jobs over the next two months, and I’m working on my new story. The family birthdays are almost done, and my visitors will be on their way home again. Of course, then I’ll blink and it will be Christmas. Oh my! It’s almost Christmas!
Until next month, may beautiful words and happy memories fill your heart and shine through your souls. J