Character is in the eye of the beholder…

Hello, my lovelies!

I must apologise for the radio silence. I have been editing the BOOK THAT REFUSES TO KNOW WHEN IT’S BEATEN and my anal brain will not let me play on the blog until it is done.

But I have beaten my brain into submission for a moment, to share some thoughts about the book that I have coming out tomorrow (my time – 16th of September, all going to plan…)

DESTINY_Playingbytherules_cvr smallIt’s called Playing by the Rules and I think I have mentioned it before. 😉  Once or twice.  Not going to bore you with the details (you can follow the links if you want more info), because there’s something particular I wanted to talk about.

See, with this book, I have spread the word that it is available on Netgalley, for reviewers, with the result that I have some reviews on Goodreads already.

And I’m FASCINATED.

First, because not everyone gave it five stars.  What’s that about? 😉

Not really, folks.  Seriously, though, I am fascinated by how differently different people see characters.  Of course, not everyone is going to like every book.  And I can easily accept that some elements of the story don’t suit some readers.  But I’m intrigued by the reaction to characters, particularly, in this book, the heroine, Kate.

Now, Jo, the heroine of my first book, Rules are for Breaking, I can understand people not liking.  She’s prickly and difficult and set in her ways (although also very likeable, at least according to me).  But I thought Kate was a bit of a love.  In fact, the first time I wrote her, she was so nice she was boring.  Part of the editing process I went through with this book was toughening her up a bit.  And some people agree with me, that she’s nice – but others think not.  It seems she is a little like Mort, the cute lemur from the movie Madagascar.  For some people, he (and Kate) are like this:

A little sad, a touch vulnerable, but mostly adorable.

But for others, Mort (and poor Kate) come off like this:

A little annoying.

So I have a challenge for you, should you choose to accept it.

Playing by the Rules will be available very soon from all the usual outlets, for a very reasonable price (on the Australian Amazon pre-order page, it’s only $3.67).

If you would like to, buy the book, read it, and let me know what you thought of Kate and Josh and their story.  I would love to hear what you think!

(If you’d like to also leave a review on Amazon or iTunes or wherever you bought it, or on Goodreads, if you’re on there, that would be lovely too.  But I realise finding the time to read at all is a big ask for many of us, so please don’t think it’s expected.)

Thank you for considering the challenge and I hope all is well with you and your sometimes-adorable, sometimes-annoying friends (real or imaginary)!

~

PS – note on outlets.  It’s hard for me to check international sites.  It SHOULD be available from the 16th of September in your timezone.  If it isn’t, can you please let me know and I’ll get on to the publisher to sort that out.  Thank you!

My Baby’s up on Goodreads (and Netgalley)!

DESTINY_Playingbytherules_cvr smallApologies for yet another ‘look at my shiny book’ post.  It’s just that I didn’t know about all these groovy things like Goodreads last time, so this time, I’m revelling in all the little milestones.

Anyway, just wanted to say that Playing by the Rules is up on Goodreads.  This doesn’t mean an awful lot yet (except to me, because I love to go and look at the prettiness of a cover with my name on it), but I wanted to mention it to any readers who also happen to be book reviewers, because it means it’s also up on Netgalley.

(If you aren’t a reviewer of contemporary romance, look away for a moment, as I’m about to be completely shameless.)

If you like contemporary romance at the sweet end of the spectrum and you are on Netgalley, I would love it if you would consider Playing by the Rules for a review.  And if you have a review blog or site and would like to interview me or ask me any questions about it (or my writing process or whatever), I’d be happy to answer them!  If you would like more info or a sample first, please feel free to contact me (form below)

Thank you and hope you have a good weekend!

Home is the traveller!

I’m back! Back from Perth, back from the quite fabulous Riding the Waves Conference, put on by the Romance Writers of Australia and I’m finally getting around to telling you how it was.

(Just quietly, who ARE these people, who manage to get blog posts up WHILE THEY ARE STILL AT CONFERENCE?  Clearly people who spend less time in the bar than I do.)

So, I went to the conference and it was fab.  I cannot go any further without thanking and congratulating the quite marvellous ALL VOLUNTEER conference team, who put on such a great show.  I always enjoy the RWA conference, but this was definitely one of my favourites.Selfie at conf cropped  There are too many people to thank individually and I would hate to forget anyone, but I’d like to do a special shout out to Shannon and her Mum who came up from Bunbury to help us out.  You guys helped to make my conference!

I am terrible at taking photos (as in, I forget to do it, not I’m a terrible photographer, although probably that too! 😉 ), so I only have a few.

I’ve included this one as it is a watershed moment – my very first selfie!  (My teen friends have informed me that it is a little lame to take a selfie in a mirror, but what can I say?  I’m rocking lame!)

This was me, prepared to go to the Friday night cocktail party, complete with pirate hat, to identify me as a conference-newbie helper.  I am wearing sunglasses, not because I drank rather a lot of champagne the night before a the Destiny Romance first birthday party (although I did, it cannot be denied) but because they always live on my head and I had to move them to put on the hat.  Yes, really.  In the picture below (at the cocktail party) I seem to have found somewhere to put them, but it’s also possible that they were just knocked off by the awesomeness of Cap’n Jack.JOHNNY

I am frantically busy finishing some projects at the moment, so I won’t go into detail about all the fabulous workshops I went to here (I will be expounding on some of the things I learned in future posts, so stay tuned for that).

But I can’t leave without mentioning two visitors I met who impressed me very much.

The first is Kim Hudson, who presented the Friday workshop on The Virgin’s Promise, her quite wonderful re-imagining of story structure.  Many parts of me are delighted by her work.  My latent academic is excited by the thoroughness of her analysis and the way she has shaped it into a proper theory.  The Hero’s Journey is a wonderful tool and it has been recognised as such for so long that it is very easy to think it’s the only way of looking at story.  But of course, it isn’t and work like this can start a whole new conversation about story and archetype that has far-reaching implications for how we see ourselves and our lives, as well as how we see stories.

The storyteller in me is also thrilled by a whole new approach to what makes story.  And the writer in me can see a whole swag of ways to use this practically in planning and deepening written stories.

So that was fun!  Also, Kim is an absolute doll whose presence was a joy.  A gifted presenter and a lovely person.

The other person I must mention is Sarah Wendell, from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  I have been a fan (along with thousands of others) of her smart, snarky, funny website and reviews, dedicated to romance, ever since I discovered them and in person she did not disappoint.  She is whip smart, very funny, a wonderful presenter, a generous and genuine supporter of romance and a barrel of fun.  I didn’t make it to all her workshops but I loved the ones I did and very much enjoyed the re-enactment of her session on romance clichés that went on in the bar afterwards (there were actions, apparently).  I had the pleasure of chatting with her a little at the conference and meeting her again in Melbourne at an event hosted by Penguin here.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was that, at the second function, she remembered my name.  There were over 300 people (most of them women) at that conference and I bet she spoke to a fair swag of them over the weekend.  I don’t suffer from false modesty, but nor do I imagine myself to be particularly fascinating.  To be remembered was delightful, of course, but also seriously flipping impressive.  The lady is a pro.  If you like romance at all and don’t already follow Smart Bitches, do yourself a favour and start!

As always, it was also a joy to see so many friends both old and those I previously only knew online.  Always fun to see who matches their avatar!

There’s so much more to say, but not enough time!  I’ll be back as soon as deadlines allow.  In the meantime, don’t forget that Playing by the Rules is coming out September 15.  There’s a link to its page at the top right of this page and that’s where you’ll find all the buy links as soon as they’re available.

So – what have you been up to while I’ve been gallivanting?

I pinched this picture of the Destiny trade table at the conf from the Destiny facebook page, because I didn't think to take a picture of my own book!  PR fail!

I pinched this picture of the Destiny trade table at the conf from the Destiny facebook page, because I didn’t think to take a picture of my own book!
(Front, third from left, if you’re looking.) PR fail!

 

 

 

Ta-da! Book (and other) news

DESTINY_Playingbytherules_cvr smallI have a new cover!  Which is because I have a new book coming out.

Ta-da!

This one is another contemporary romance, a companion book of sorts to my first one.  Those of you who read it might remember Kate, the heroine Jo’s pregnant sister-in-law?  Well Playing by the Rules is the story of how she came to be Jo’s sister-in-law.

Here’s my quick, hasty-tasty blurb for Playing by the Rules…

Playing by the Rules is the story of Kate, a woman who had her life all planned out – until her intended dumped her. Now, her best friend is pushing her to have a fling and, with the gorgeous Josh on offer, she’s very tempted.

But she’s never been very good at casual. Before long, she fears she’s falling for him: a man who can’t commit to anything past lunch and who’s flitting off for another adventure at the end of the week. She doesn’t know the rules of this game but it seems its name is heartache…

Tempted?  I hope so!  And if you are, you don’t have too long to wait.  Playing by the Rules is out next month from Destiny Romance.  The buy links should all be live on September the 15th – trust me, I’ll let you know!  (UPDATE: There’s a ‘coming soon’ link up now, with a rather cute blurb on the Destiny site.  I’m coming soon!)

And now, for the reason why the blurb above is a quick, hasty-tasty one: I’m not in Kansas any more, Toto!  In fact, I am typing this from Perth – or, more correctly, for those who know Western Australia, Fremantle –  where I have come to attend the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference.  The conference doesn’t start till Thursday night, but I have family here, so I’ve come a bit early to catch up.

I probably won’t be posting much to the blog over the weekend, but I will be tweeting, from https://twitter.com/Imelda_Evans, so feel free to follow the shenanigans there.  And watch this space next week when I get back.  I’m planning a bit of celebratory carry-on for the new book, which will probably include prizes…

It’s always hard to know what readers will like, but this book is close to my heart.  I am very fond of the characters and the story and I really hope you will like it as much as I do.

But for now, off to the conference, to learn to be a better writer and to see my writer buddies.  I hope you have as great a weekend as I hope to!

Not quite sure what happened there… but there were books involved

Ahem.

It appears I have accidentally gone AWOL on my own blog.  I wish I had excellent reasons, but the real truth is that a combination of sick child, editing, school holidays, more editing and then sick me has just eaten the best part of a month and a half and the blog seems to have fallen off the list.

To anyone who has missed me, I’m sorry!  I promise I’ll make it up to you in the next few months, as in that time I put up about 25 draft posts or ideas for posts that never quite made it, so now that I’m feeling better, I have plenty of material to be going on with.

In the meantime, though, I thought I’d share a bit of bookish news, both mine and friends’.

The first is that my next novel with Destiny Romance, called Playing by the Rules is off with the editors and should be out in September (all going to plan)!  For anyone who read Rules are for Breaking, it’s Kate and Josh’s story.  For those who haven’t, I’m going to be offering a chance to win a copy of that one soon, so watch this space (and yes, I’m leaving it at that, because I like to tease).  I don’t have a cover yet, but when I do, you’ll be the first to know!

In other news, while I was ill, I did some reading and the next two books were just what I needed to make me feel better.  They were both easy to read, with characters I liked and could relate to and I enjoyed them very much.

Letter from a RakeThe first is Letter from a Rake, by my Destiny imprint-mate Sasha Cottman.  This is a charming Regency romp, with a heroine with an unusual background and a hero who is rendered quite charmingly clueless by her charms.

The second was the latest from my prolific friend Kylie Scott, who usually writes smexy books set in zombie-filled or otherwise dodgy futures, but this time has put out a sweet as well as sexy New Adult book about a 20-something who went to Vegas for a good time and woke up with a husband.  And a tattoo.  And paparazzi.  And a world of trouble.  It was gorgeous and if you don’t end it at least a little bit in love with the Licktattooed, guitar-playing, rock-god hero, I will be very surprised.

In both cases, the main characters were supported by some very likeable sidekicks who I suspect strongly will get their own books in future.

So if you are looking for some light relief from a chest infection, or just life in general, I would recommend both of them.

Finally, I’m happy to be among the first to show off a new work by a new name in Romancelandia.

A Fresh Start Book 1 Monica Donnelly

Monica Donnelly is an Australian author who writes contemporary romance. (And she’s a friend I made through the wonderful Romance Writers of Australia, if you hadn’t already guessed.)

Her Henley’s Bluff romance series charts the romantic entanglements of the Doherty family and their friends in the sea-side town of Henley’s Bluff.  The first three books in the series will be released between July and December 2013, so if you like the first one (pictured here, and isn’t is a nice cover?) you won’t have long to wait for the next couple!

A Fresh Start is the first one and will be available very soon.  Here’s the blurb:

Susannah Morrison is searching for a new life with her young daughter, Maisy, when a car accident, hospitalisation and a chance encounter with Declan Doherty puts her plans on hold.

Declan is only in the annoyingly tiny seaside village of Henley’s Bluff for a quick visit to support his father.  Agreeing to help Susannah by pretending they’re old friends and giving her and Maisy somewhere to stay was a huge mistake.  He has no intention of letting his attraction to Susannah derail his plans to return to life as a magazine editor in London.  It took him years to escape the town and his family and no convenient affair is going to change that now.

Except desire has a will of its own.  And soon Declan and Susannah are wondering if Henley’s Bluff is the new start they both need.

The next two will be A Wave of Love, in September and A Chance to Love, in December 2013.

If you’re interested in following the series, you can find Monica at  www.monicadonnellyromanceauthor.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MonicaDonnellyauthor

So, again, my apologies for the extended and unannounced absence, but at least with this post, I’ve fulfilled the Women and Wordplay parts of my title.  I’ll work on the wine for next time!

Cheers, Imelda

Beating carpets: or, why I don’t write historical novels

Yesterday, I beat my back door mat.

Those of you who read my previous post about my aversion to housewifery of the cleaning variety may find this odd.

Those of you who are aware of the existence of vacuum cleaners may also find it odd.

To the former, I say, even I get fed up with the crud eventually (and there is no end to the things a writer will do when the words are not co-operating).

To the latter, I say that, a mat walked over my by dog many times a day from our muddy back yard would challenge any vacuum cleaner (and there is a limit to what I am willing to ask of my nice, gently nurtured vacuum cleaner).

220px-Carpet_beater

A carpet beater, courtesy of Wikipedia. Not the human kind, you understand, but what the human kind would do the job with…

Now, as is often the case while my hands are involved in such tasks, my mind was busy doing other things – namely, wondering about the days when vacuum cleaners were not available and beating mats and carpets was the only option.

Inevitably, my mind wandered to the people likely to be doing such tasks, who were probably maids, at least in the times I was thinking of.  What would they be thinking of while they were so engaged?  Would they be happy to be outside in the sun (since you would be unlikely to beat the carpets in the rain, methinks)?   Would they be learning the right way to do it from an older woman?  Would they have the chance to chat while doing it, or would the billowing dust mean they were better off with a hankie tied over the mouth and nose?  What sort of household were they in?  Was it well run and adequately staffed, so that they could do these jobs with any level of enjoyment, or would they be so overworked that they could only think of how they would never get this done in time to finish their other chores in time and how their back ached and their feet hurt and they’d give the world to just sit down for a minute?

One of the lesser-known facts about me is that in my Arts degree, I studied history.  It wasn’t my major – that was English – but it was pretty much everything I studied other than English and I loved it.  But I stopped pursuing it as an academic subject when I realised that the history I was most interested in was not what is usually covered in history books.  I was interested in how people lived.  When I read of the movements of the court from one great house to another, I wanted to know who had to organise the provisioning.  I wanted to know if the cooks had nervous breakdowns before, during or after such an event and if the scullery maid got any sleep at all.  And I wanted to know, when they swept the rushes out, what they swept them with.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that these things aren’t studied in academe – they are.  But it’s the hardest area of history to study.  Piecing together people’s day-to-day lives is the work of lifetimes and involves many complimentary disciplines to do well – or at all, really.  It’s absolutely fascinating, but it takes forever.

And herein lies the rub, for me.

If I started in to write historical fiction, I would spend so much time tracking down what kind of button, say, that the hero had on his shirt that I would never get the story done.  In the joy of digging through the vast library of material on the internet, I might end up with a Masters in history, but the novels would lie sadly neglected.

So, for now, at least, I will stick to contemporary stories and enjoy other people’s historical stories – and the freedom to wonder about previous carpet-beaters, without having to know for sure!

~

Speaking of contemporary stories, I’m pleased to say that the print version of Rules are for Breaking is still available at Australia Post outlets for a limited time and that the companion story, Playing by the Rules should be available digitally later this year!

Feeling the Gratitude today

So, yesterday, Melbourne, my town, turned on one of those glorious autumn days that make you want to frolic and gambol and otherwise bask in the sunshine and revel in being alive.  And then I turned on the radio and this was on, which seemed appropriate:

Although in my case it was more go outside and loll in the hammock, rather than in bed, but you get the idea.

But I was good.  I did do some work, I just did it at a coffee shop with outside tables, where I could bask in the real sunshine (and frolic in my imaginary world).  And I enjoyed it.  And it has put me in a good mood today, which is lovely.  So I want to share some things I’m grateful for.  First, at the moment, I am most pleased with this:

Books actually bought for reading!

547323_332176723551639_366061772_nIt’s a book.  It has my name on it.  It has a gorgeous cover.  All of these things have existed since October last year.  But now it is available in three dimensions, with actual paper between covers, for people to buy*.  This makes me glad.  And a little squoogly.**

(*In Australian Post shops if you are in Australia.  My apologies if you aren’t!  One day I will have many books and they will be available in all formats everywhere, but it is not this day. Sadly.)

(**Squoogly is a word we have invented in our house for that combination of bashful and delighted that you get when someone compliments you fulsomely – or when you see your first book available for sale.)

I am also grateful to friends who bought the book (see first photo) and took pictures of it in the wild (see both photos).  They make me squoogly too! (See**, above.)

I am also pleased that we have a tiny, miraculously tiny frog in our frog tank.  Last year, our little frogs successfully bred in captivity, surprising and delighting us.  They produced one normal-sized frog and one we called Frodo because he was little and gorgeous.  But this year, although we got spawn and even tadpoles, we didn’t get any new frogs.  At least, so I thought, until I saw the tiny, tiny one the other day.  He’s the size of a quarter of a thumbnail.  He’s so small it was hard to believe he wasn’t just a trick of the light.  But he’s real and he’s still there and he feels like a tiny miracle.  I’m finding tiny tiny insects to feed him and hoping we can keep him alive and growing.

And then there’s this:

I enjoyed the Hobbit movie but best of all, I think was the dwarves singing.  I sincerely hope there will be more in the next two.

And there are many more things to be happy about, but I’ve rabbited for long enough.  What are you happy about today?

Fuel for the Worker

I’ve been writing a lot lately.  This is a good thing for my fiction.  Apart from getting one project finished, it also means that my fiction juices, so to speak, are flowing abundantly.  My brain it truly teems with endless schemes, both good and new.  I’m fired up, I’m excited, I want to write ALL THE THINGS.

Sadly, life will insist on intruding into my writing time.  I managed to ignore life for a bit while I finished the project o’doom, but while I was doing so, my desk became a minefield of bits of paper with jobs-to-do on them (some of which didn’t get done, as evidenced in Monday’s post).  So before I wade into the wondrous seas of NEW! SHINY! PROJECTS! I have to sort through the detritus and try to reclaim the non-writing portion of my life.

Now, clearly, I can’t do this kind of work on my own.  We all know that writers are fueled by caffeine and chocolate and I am no exception (although I would also add potatoes to that list – it’s the Irish heritage).  But when it comes to the tedious-but-necessary non-writing tasks, the writer needs more.  I don’t just need caffeine, I need moral support with my caffeine.  Someone cheerful and encouraging, but quiet and very unlikely to make ‘helpful’ suggestions.  Fortunately, I have just such a friend.

Allow me to introduce Bruce:

IMG_0542

For those of you not familiar with the concept, Bruce is a tea-cosy.  He is made of wool (what else? he’s a sheep) and sits over my adorable small, just-for-me-sized teapot and keeps the tea warm.  He is special for several reasons.

First, and possibly most important, he’s adorable.  He makes me smile and trust me, when I’m sorting out finances and the like, I need all the help I can get with that.  Second, he’s hand-knitted and being in the presence of awesome handcrafts also makes me very happy.  Third, he was a gift, from my Mum and one of my sisters, who found him in a craft shop and had to bring him home.  (There is nothing that shows our kinship more than our inability to leave in a shop a truly fabulous piece of craftiness.)  Fourth, he is the perfect size for my little teapot, which was a gift from another sister, which has a serendipity that pleases me.  And fifth, his name is Bruce and for reasons I can’t explain, it’s a name that makes me smile.  Especially when given to a sheep tea-cosy (The sister who bought him named him, once again demonstrating the kinship.)

Although, now that I think about it, we are not the only people amused by the name Bruce for animals…

Although my Bruce is, I’m sure you’ll agree cuter.  And not as dangerous.

I just hope that he has as much stamina as a shark.  Because I foresee him getting something of a workout over the next few days as I detangle the cat’s-cradle of crud I’m drowning in.  Wish us luck!

What are you up to your eyeballs in?

More on helping authors you love – and finding new ones to love.

Super Reader, as found on freedigitalphotos.net

Super Reader, as found on freedigitalphotos.net

Sorry, my bloggies and blogettes for the late post.  I have posts almost done, but also have a deadline and right now the deadline is winning.  Because I’m hoping that, if all goes to plan, this deadline will lead to a companion story for Rules are for Breaking (squee!).  For those of you who’ve read it, it’s Kate and Josh’s story and it’s close to my heart, as I love these characters.

But enough of that!  The other day I wrote a post on how to help authors you love stay in print.  Well, today (in a break from the ms) I read another author’s post that illuminates another aspect of how things beyond an author’s control can affect availability of their books.  The post is about the barney between Barnes and Noble and Simon and Schuster and you can read it here.

This is a sad state of affairs for this author.  But the point I want to make is that one of the big problems that all these things cause, for both writers and readers, is in how they affect discoverability.  How do you find the books and authors in the first place, so that you can love them and pre-order new books?

Continue reading

Younger Readers Review: The Truth about Verity Sparks

Verity SparksToday I once again welcome my stalwart reviewer for younger readers, the SSH (Secret Squirrels Helper) with her review of The Truth about Verity Sparks, by Australian author Susan Green.

The official blurb for the book begins as follows:

Verity Sparks is a thirteen-year-old orphan working as a milliner in Victorian London. But Verity is no ordinary girl; she has an almost perfect memory and possesses the talent of Teleagtivism. She can easily find things that are lost! When Verity is wrongly accused of theft and dismissed from her job, she goes to live with the Plushes, a slightly Bohemian family who run a Confidential Inquiry Agency. Verity helps them solve cases and slowly becomes one of the family. But patches of the truth about her past begin to surface, along with the special talent that Professor Plush is helping her explore…

And now, here’s what herself has to say about it…

 Who doesn’t want them to know the truth about Verity Sparks?

This story opens with Verity Sparks, milliner’s apprentice and heroine of the piece. Ms Green creates a delightful blend of adventure and mystery; it moves from feathers and rubies to the truth about her past. Continue reading