Wednesday, 26 October 2016

55. Farewell for now, Queensland

Well I’m almost packed and the house is on the market (please wish us luck for a quick sell) and since I earned myself a bit of breathing room in between cleaning sessions and garden maintenance, I’ve managed to write (just a little) thanks to our BIAW (Book in a Week) programme through RWA’s (Romance Writers Australia Inc) Aspiring eLoop so my heart (and my head) are feeling much better about that. And now I can also share the reviews for those stories I had to put on hold waiting for their official release dates. Lucky for me, I managed to score a quick interview with one of those writers so not only do you learn a little about her awesome story, you get to know more about the equally awesome writer. :)

Author Interview – Rowena Candlish
1.      When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Writing was a secret I kept from everyone (outside my family) for a long time, and it’s only been in the last two or three years that I’ve outed myself. When I started to make the finals in writing competitions – even winning a couple – I began to think that perhaps I wasn’t too bad at this and started to think in those terms. Once I tell someone I’m a writer though, the first thing they ask is, “Are you published?” which causes my self-doubt to raise its ugly head. I’d much prefer they asked, “What are you working on?” but I guess this is something I’ll have to learn to deal with.

2. What are your favourite story writing genres and authors and what draws you to them?
My favourite genres are contemporary romance, New Adult and crime and or mystery thrillers but I’ll read anything. What draws me to an author is firstly their ‘voice’ and then the quality of the writing and story. I don’t mind reading tropes that have been done many times before as long as the author can take me on a journey and leave me fulfilled at the end. It’s hard to mention favourites – because there’s so many! – but here are a few of my must-read authors: Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jill Shalvis, Elle Kennedy, Kristen Callihan, Lauren Layne, Kelly Siskind, and Karen Rose.

3. Where can we buy or see your works?
My stories are available in digital format only, on these sites:

4. Can you tell us what are you working on at the minute?
Oh, so many things! The last few months have been about getting Worth the Wait in shape for publication – professionally edited and choosing the cover. I have a first draft of a story that I wrote a few years ago during a writing challenge called 50K in 30 days that I’d like to polish up and send to my critique partners. I’m a short way into another novella that I’d like get finished by the end of the year.

5. Why do you write?
I write because it’s the only way to silence the character voices in my head! I write for the satisfaction I feel after seeing parts of a story coming alive. I write because I’m not me if I don’t.

6.  Do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you get through it?
I do suffer from writer’s block at least once a year and sometimes it can last for months. I know some writers get twitchy and say they don’t believe in writer’s block, but for me, it’s when the voices have gone quiet and I just don’t have anything to say. To get through it, I like to watch some of my favourite movies as sometimes that will spark an idea. I’m a voracious reader and at times can read up to four or five books a week – that often helps, too. Sometimes I’ll read back through some of the unfinished stories I’ve started and that will be enough to get me writing again.

7.  What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Believe in yourself and your story. Writing is hard and often it’s a solitary pursuit. If you can, surround yourself with people who will encourage and inspire you, but also tell you the truth. 

8.  Do you have a story first and then a title or the other way around?
I definitely have the story first. For some reason, I’m really bad at choosing titles. Minnie’s Year of Living came easy because that was a plan integral to the story. How You Love Me and Worth the Wait are lines from the respective stories because I couldn’t think of anything else that really fitted. For me, that’s the toughest part of self-publishing – choosing the title and writing the blurb.

9.  Are you a plotter, panster or a combination of both?
I think I fall mainly into the panster category, though I try and start with an outline. Once I have an idea for a story, I mull it over in my head for a few days and then write out an outline. For The Baby Bargain, a category length novel – which came fourth in the Valerie Parv Award in 2014 – I wrote the last chapter first. Knowing where I wanted the characters to end up really helped me with the story’s direction and it was the first book I ever finished.

10.  What question do you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?
Can I give you a million dollars? Can I do your housework for you? LOL.

11.  How did you deal with rejection letters (if you had any?)
At first, it was really soul destroying. I was getting good feedback from my critique partners, beta readers and from judges of the competitions I entered, but no one in the industry was interested. Each rejection was like somebody saying, “You’re still not good enough.” The agents’ rejections were very vague with no feedback at all – so I didn’t know if I was close to the benchmark for publication, or way off the mark. I took a few days after each one and did things I enjoy doing, just for me. My family were encouraging, as were my writer friends, and although it’s still disappointing to receive a rejection, I’m learning that I’ll be a better writer in the long run for getting them.  

Thank you so much for your time, Rowena, and best of luck with your latest story. :)

Reviews
Worth the Wait by Rowena Candlish - When curvy IT manager Lena is invited to her ex-boyfriend’s wedding—where he’ll be marrying her younger, slimmer sister—Lena decides she must shed some kilos. Born into a beauty-obsessed family, Lena isn’t just battling weight but ghosts from her unhappy childhood, one where her beautiful sister was the preferred child. This time, however, Lena is determined not to come second best. 
Cute fitness-freak Caleb offers to help Lena, although he doesn’t understand why she wants to lose her sexy curves. To him she’s perfect and he sets out to convince her she doesn’t need to change a thing.

I had the privilege of being reading this story in the early stages and its development into the final draft. This is just the sweetest story but so many emotional highlights and heartbreak are sprinkled throughout its ‘pages’.  It made me so sad how badly Lena felt about herself. Her self-awareness was heart breaking, but as the story unfolded, not only did Lena go from strength to strength, she wasn’t just reliant on Caleb to see her true worth, she found it in herself. I can’t give away the inciting moments, but the reader will feel for Lena. That’s what I loved about this story the best – that and sometimes the story was more relatable that I’d care to admit. ;) A very wonderful read. :)

You can find more about Ms Candlish here.   https://rowenacandlish.blogspot.com.au/

Winged Reaper by Shelley Russell Nolan - Secrets, lies and the Grim Reaper: a recipe for disaster! 

Twenty-five-year-old Tyler Morgan is only alive—technically reborn—because the Grim Reaper offered her a job. Now she has to find a way to stop her ‘boss’ from starting a war that threatens the survival of mankind.

Weak and in need of fresh souls, the Grim Reaper has sent his Wraiths to Tyler’s hometown, Easton, and by the time he gets his fill, it could turn into a graveyard.
Tyler’s resolve is tested when old secrets surface and a new betrayal has her questioning where her loyalties lie.

Supported by the intriguing detective, Sam Lockwood; the handsome, wealthy Chris Bradbury; and sources she never expected to come to her aid, Tyler must fight her way to the truth if she is ever to find the strength to harness the powers she has inherited, and vanquish the Grim Reaper forever.

This is the second in Ms Nolan’s Reaper Trilogy. I enjoyed her debut novel, Lost Reaper – you can find my review and an author interview here - https://ddlineauthor.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/43-debut-delights.html

But not only did this flow seamlessly from the first book to the second – the pace was faster, the writing stronger and the stakes higher. Once again there were twists and turns I didn’t expect and one that came about which I was very happy with – I wonder if my hinting had anything to do with that? ;) If this is anything to judge by – the third and final story in the trilogy will be an absolute cracker. (And a ‘must read’ on my list).

I like the way Tyler embraced her gifts and the strength she found once she accepted them. Forced out of her comfort zone and her (at times) self-indulgent status, she has become a woman to be reckoned with and once she made this distinction, the character (and the writing) went from strength to strength. (Hmm – there’s a pattern forming here.) And the twists and turns.... Again, a paranormal mystery worth seeking. I hope Ms Nolan is ready for me to nag her about the next book.  :)

You can find more about Ms Nolan here.  https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyRussellNolan

Moon Thrall by Mel Teshco - Elyse Wellston escapes from her brutal, violent ex-fiancĂ© to a remote cabin in Australia. Fearing for her life, Elyse knows it doesn’t make sense for her to react the way she does upon meeting the enigmatic Dane Maddox.
Only when she discovers he is a werewolf and she is his weren—his mate and a werewolf herself—does she begin to understand the hot, sexual yearning within. No longer does she need to act out a desire she doesn’t feel. Dane is everything she wants. But will her ex end her happiness and her sexual fulfillment before it even has a chance to begin?

Once again, Ms Teshco is writing what she writes best – sexy, lusty snippets of naughtiness entwined with a storyline that leaves you wanting more – as in I want to know what happens next for these two characters. Elyse and Dane just sizzle on the pages and when the ex-boyfriend appears, the reader understands why Elyse was so desperate to get away. I enjoyed the fight scenes, and there was plenty of detail for this short story. Maybe I’d better start nagging Ms Teshco for more too. :)

What I’m Reading

Ms Jenny Schwartz’ latest in the Collegium series – Alchemy Shift.
Ms LJ Higgins’ standalone – On Delicate Wings and
Mr Paul Summerhayes’ second book in his - ‘Warden’ series.

Can’t wait to share the reviews. :)

As for me – I’ve been saying farewell to friends and family, drinking far too much coffee and eating things that I will probably regret later. This is the last blog I’ll be writing from sunny Queensland. The next one will be from Western Australia. :)  For now, it’s back to work. Does anyone have a spare house elf or cleaning fairy they could lend me? I’m happy to share the ‘domestic goddess’ title.


Until next time, may all your words be heartfelt, soulful and make you smile (even if it’s through your tears.)