Saturday, 24 October 2015

43. Debut Delights

I’m not feeling as needed as I used to be and I’m still deciding how I feel about that as this month’s column shows.

Where did the time go? I could have sworn the year had barely begun. And it’s not only time that’s rushing by. The children I towered over at the beginning of the year are catching up to me as well. They’ve already grown out of the latest purchases of clothes and shoes. The youngest’s school shoes didn’t even have scuffmarks. And, like my kids, the grocery bill is expanding too.

Okay, I’ll admit it. My babies are growing up. The time is nearing when they’ll be spreading their wings and having their own grand adventures, and I’m not ready for any of it. It seems like only yesterday that they were toddling around, bumping their heads on the coffee table, and smearing goodness knows what into my carpets. Now we’re having arguments about whose turn it is to vacuum those carpets, (just ignore the stain marks) who ate the last biscuit, and making sure that they’re on track for their goals.

I remember looking forward to the day they were all grown up. While they were busy living their lives, I’d planned some grand adventures of my own. It seems time, along with reality, has altered that memory too.

To fill in my time now that I’m not needed quite so much (lol) I busied myself with a new novel and lucky me, I have the privilege of supporting a local author. J

The story - For twenty-five year old Tyler Morgan, being murdered was easy. Easy in comparison with working for the Grim Reaper.

Jonathon Grimm may have brought her back from the dead in exchange for working as a reaper for her hometown, Easton, but she has to find his lost reaper before she can enjoy her second chance at life.

Only … the lost reaper isn’t actually lost. He has a new body, a new life, and no intention of turning himself in, even if it means giving Tyler her life back.

Tyler begins the grisly task of reaping the souls of Easton’s dead while searching for the reaper. He could be anyone – the intriguing detective, Sam Lockwood; the handsome, wealthy Chris Bradbury; or the serial killer stalking the women of Easton. Women who bear an uncanny resemblance to Tyler.

But what is the ancient secret, kept hidden from mankind that has motivated Grimm to choose Tyler for such morbid work?

As the killer closes in and Grimm’s deadline draws closer, Tyler discovers she is fighting a much bigger threat than the Grim Reaper and time is running out for everyone.

I loved this. Lost Reaper (Ms Nolan’s debut novel) is a paranormal romance / mystery that will keep you guessing whether it’s figuring out the murderer’s identity, the heroine’s connections to the men in her life or the real reason the Grim Reaper chose to give Tyler ‘a second chance’ at life. Heartbreak abounds in this story, but along with it comes a fierce determination for Tyler to succeed and save not only her soul, but also the lives of those around her.  Tyler evolves into a woman of strength and conviction as the story unfolds, yet the writer allows the reader to see the heroine’s doubts and vulnerabilities. I cheered for her, I became teary in parts, and I rallied in her ability to rebuild herself each time fate dealt her an unfair hand.  Then there’s the climatic ending, which is where I may have uttered a swear word or two because now I have to wait for the second book to know what happens next for the surviving characters. Stalking authors for release dates is a thing, right?

About the author - Shelley Russell Nolan is an avid reader who began writing her own stories at sixteen. Her first completed manuscript featured brain eating aliens and a butt-kicking teenage heroine. Since then she has spent her time creating fantasy worlds where death is only the beginning and even freaks can fall in love. With books for both young adults and adults in the works, Shelley plans on writing for as longs as she has the power to type, and looks forward to when all her stories will be published.
Find more about Ms Nolan and her wonderful stories here:

Twitter – @ShelleyRNolan - https://twitter.com/ShelleyRNolan and my Facebook Author Page – Shelley Russell Nolan- https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyRussellNolan and here’s the link to her new release. J

Not only did I have the pleasure of reading Ms Nolan’s book, she graciously agreed to my ‘Twenty Questions’ interview. J

1. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve thought of myself as a writer ever since I started writing my first novel at age sixteen. But I didn’t feel I truly earned the title until I had feedback from someone other than my mum. So I started to feel like a ‘real’ writer after I got positive feedback from an editor in 2009. 

2. Do you have support from family and friends?

My family and friends have been great. Hubby minds the kids so I can go to writing festivals and meet up with author friends and my mum is quick to tell anyone she meets that I am the best writer ever. I also have friends who are happy to read my rough drafts and help promote my stories.

3. Do you have a particular writing style?

I don’t know that I’d call it a style, but I’m in the less is more category. While I love to read those thick books with dozens of characters and subplots that all interweave and take months or years to come to an end, I tend to stick with just one for two POV’s and events unfold relatively quickly. The events in ‘Lost Reaper’ take place in the space of a week, and I don’t spend paragraphs describing a tree.

4. What are your favourite story writing genres and authors and what draws you to them?

I love anything to do with speculative fiction. I do read other genres but there is something about the creation of new worlds or twists on this one that keeps sucking me in. So many possibilities, so many new worlds to create and discover. I love fantasy authors like David Eddings, Robert Jordan, Sara Douglas and Jennifer Fallon, and have recently devoured urban fantasy series by Steve Vera and Alan Baxter. I am also in love with Amanda Bridgeman’s ‘Aurora’ series. Basically, I just love a good story, one with great characters and a story that keeps me turning the page.

5. Where can we buy or see your works?

My debut novel, ‘Lost Reaper’, is available on Amazon and Smashwords, and so is my novella ‘Angel Fire’, which is part of the paranormal romance collection ‘Sisters of the Shadows’. I also have a short story coming out in the inaugural edition of ‘Specul8’, a speculative fiction journal showcasing the work of Central Queensland authors. ‘Specul8’ will be available on Amazon and ibooks.

6. Can you tell us what are you working on at the minute?

I am currently working on ‘Winged Reaper, the sequel to ‘Lost Reaper’. I’m hoping it will be released early in 2016.

7. How much research do you do?

Generally, I research as I go, checking out any facts as I need them. I’m a bit of a pantser so I don’t usually know what I need to research before I start writing. So I guess I research as little as possible.

8. Why do you write?

I write because I can’t imagine not writing. There are stories in my head that just want to be told, and I love watching them take on a life of their own. Reading books, writing stories, it is all that I ever wanted to do.

9. Do you have a writing routine?

I write during the week, while the kids are at school, aiming for around 1000 words a day when I’m working on a first draft. But it is easy to get distracted by visitors, napping with the cat and social media so I try to set myself deadlines to keep myself on track.               

10.  Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you get through it?

Sometimes I do find it hard to write, and I find that this is usually because I’m not sure about what happens next. So I will sit down with a pad and pen and write out ideas for what could happen next or brainstorm with a friend. Sometimes just talking about the part that I’m stuck on will unblock my brain and let me know what happens next. If I’m really stuck, I will read all my notes in an effort to reconnect with the story. Then I read what I have written so far and usually I’m able to continue writing after that.

11.  What book/s are you reading at present?

I have just binge read Michelle Sagara’s ‘Elantra’ series and am eagerly awaiting the release of the next book.

12.  What do you think of “trailers” for books?

I think they look lovely but word of mouth and reviews are still the best way to promote a book.

13.  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Go to writing conferences and festivals and meet other writers, make friends, share your work with beta readers, and read as widely as you can. The best thing I did for my writing was to start attending Writefest in Bundaberg. Not only have I attended workshops and masterclasses that have improved my writing, I’ve also made great friends. We cheer each other on and celebrate every win, commiserate every loss and get together any time we can to sit and talk about anything and everything to do with books.

14.  What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read, read and read some more, and spend time with my family. I also knit and do cross-stitch, and catching up on episodes of ‘Supernatural’, ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘Stargate’ on DVD. (I do the ironing while I’m watching so I don’t feel so guilty for spending so much time in front of the television.)

15.  What do you think makes a good story?

Great characters that I can relate to, that make me care about what happens to them, and a story that is believable and well thought out.

16.  If you write more than one genre, how do you balance them?

So far, all my stories have a speculative element, but I do have a couple of ideas for action adventure that I would like to write one day. But as long as the main elements are the same, with danger, action, excitement and a tough of romance I don’t see any issues arising with having non-spec/fic stories.

17.  Are you a plotter, panster or a combination of both?

I am mostly a pantser, though before I start writing I usually sit down with pad and pen and jot down ideas for what I want or think should be in the story. I may even write out a rough chapter outline. But when I feel I have the basic idea worked out sufficiently I switch to the computer and start writing. Sometimes I know how it starts and how it ends, but not what happens in the middle. Other times I have no idea what the end will be until after I get closer to it. Then there are the times I think I know what is going to happen and my characters do something completely different. (Cheeky buggers)

18.  What question do you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?

Maybe, can I publish everything you have ever written and give you millions of dollars?

19.  Any writing rituals / superstitions?

Not really, other than having a cup of tea or coffee close to hand. I just like a nice quiet house and no interruptions. (While I write this, I have a team of builders in my backyard working on a new room extension. Not exactly quiet.)

20.  How did you deal with rejection letters (if you had any?)

It is never nice to have someone reject your work, but I always try to look on the positive side, especially if I get feedback about why they didn’t accept my manuscript. The last two rejections I got came after an agent and an editor had read partials for two different manuscripts and then sent requests for the full manuscripts. I took comfort from knowing that the partials had been good enough to catch their attention. Now I will take another look at those manuscripts and see how I can improve them to make sure that the next editor or agent says ‘yes’ rather than ‘thanks, but no thanks’.

Thank you so much, Shelley, and I wish you all the best for your debut. J


My turn – I’ve been busy polishing some of my short stories for an upcoming anthology due for release in the early months of next year. I’ll also be taking my turn at editing work from other authors so I am enjoying reading plenty of stories, poems, and manuscript excerpts. There’s a few competitions coming up that I just might force myself to enter (ha ha) and as always, plenty of characters chattering away in my head. Oops, apparently some of those voices are the kids – the ones that are catching up to me and setting my precarious budgeting skills into overdrive.

What do you know; someone needs me after all. J