PATTERSON’S CURSE week two!

Hi folks

Week two is just kicking off here in PATTERSON’S CURSE land so as promised here’s my update.

Progress thus far:

  • two chapters
  • 10,348 words

This is not quite as far along as I was hoping to be by now as I’m aiming for 15k per week. However this week I had an evening event in a town two hours away and also the final read through edit of THE ROAD TO HOPE (out March 2015) to do. So I’m trying not to berate myself too much.

In addition to these chaps I made a lot more notes this week about what will happen in certain scenes and tried to jot down some sort of time line for necessary events. Much of my “plotting” happened when I’m out on my daily walk with Rose my dog and if I feel the need, I use the voice recorder on my phone to make I don’t forget.

I’m working my way into this novel, which is a little different (as I said to my others).

I have four sisters – Madeleine, Lucinda, Charlie and Abigail – and the challenge for me is telling their stories equally, knowing when to change from one point-of-view to another. I think this will be easier as I progress into the story but in these early chaps when I’m trying to set the scene, it’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle.

In my romances I try to get to the action of the story fairy quickly – I guess I mean showing the conflict and attraction between the hero and heroine at at least the first couple of chapters, but I have noticed in women’s fiction authors often take more chapters to set up the premise.  That is certainly my experience so far with PATTERSON’S CURSE. I’m trying not to stress too much about this and just follow my gut and I’m praying like crazy it’s working.

Hope to have more of an update on how the story is progressing next week.

Until then.

x

Rach!

A Fish Called Lisa – guest post! AND GIVEAWAY

Today I have a very special person on my blog. Not only have I just read her debut book BREAKING THE DROUGHT, which I loved but I have met Lisa Ireland and am lucky enough to call her my friend. Lisa’s new book is a rural romance published by Escape Publishing and tells the story of a city girl gone bush – one of my favourite rural romance tropes. I’ll stop babbling over and hand over to Lisa to tell you all about her inspiration for this great book, but don’t forget to comment at the end of the blog to win a copy of BREAKING THE DROUGHT!

Welcome Lisa…

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A Fish Called Lisa

In my recent release, Breaking the Drought, city girl Jenna is a fish out of water, struggling to survive a week in a tiny country town.

Poor Jenna, I really put her through the wringer in my story. She has to face some hard realities of country life (and she gets to reap some of the rewards too, of course!) After all I put her through Jenna might be comforted to know that once upon a time I was the new girl in a country town.

As a graduate teacher I was posted to a small school in rural Victoria. I was delighted with my appointment and was sure I would take to country life like a duck to water. After all, I came from farming stock. My dad grew up on a dairy farm not far from my new home. And I’d been holidaying in the country all my life. How hard could the transition be?

Hmm … Apparently weekends being spoilt by my aunt at her country home didn’t adequately prepare me for life away from the big smoke. I had more than one embarrassing moment.

Take for instance the time I ran screaming from the equipment shed because I spied a snake settled amongst the cricket stumps and volley balls. One of the grade six boys comforted me by explaining gently that it was “only a snake” and “he’s probably more afraid of you, Miss, than you are of him.” Yeah right!

Then there was the mousetrap incident. Not long after I moved to Longford there was a mouse plague. I was woefully unprepared for this event. In addition to being afraid of all rodents I’m also terrified of dead things. I tried to deal with the never-ending stream of mice in my house by using those plastic mousetraps that are completely covered so you can’t see what’s inside. But I was too much of a wuss to empty them so I would just put the whole thing in the bin. I was spending an absolute fortune on mousetraps!

When my colleagues discovered this fact I was the butt of staff room jokes for about a month. However, I’m happy to say my co-workers took pity on me and spent some time helping me to “mouse-proof” my house. And they took turns to come by and empty the traps for me too. How’s that for neighbourly love? Eventually my problem was solved for good when I acquired a cat.

I was also teased by my colleagues about a number of other “city girl” quirks, including my penchant for inappropriate footwear and my tendency to run out of petrol on a regular basis. I lived about 20 kilometres from the nearest petrol station. Having come from the city where there’s one on every corner I wasn’t used to planning ahead! Luckily one of the perks of living in a small town is that when you’re in trouble (conked out on the side of the road!) it’s never long before someone you know stops to give you a hand.

Just like Jenna, I was a fish-out-of-water when I first moved to the country from the city, but it wasn’t long before long rural life got under my skin.

I don’t live in Longford anymore, but I’m still a country girl at heart.

Thanks so much for sharing your hilarious stories Lisa. I know there are lots of country-girls-at-heart reading this blog and I hope they’ll read your story and enjoy it as much as I did. Read the blurb below and feel free to share your embarrassing or scary country stories in the comments section. 

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BREAKING THE DROUGHT Blurb:

When a smooth-talking, sophisticated city girl comes striding into town on her stiletto heels, he’s the last person who wants to notice…

When Jenna McLean gets roped into attending a matchmaking ball in a small country town, she holds no illusions of meeting the man of her dreams.  A no-nonsense magazine editor, Jenna doesn’t believe in leaving love to chance, which is why she’s developed Marriage Material – a fool-proof framework for husband hunting. Shearers and farmhands need not apply.

Sheep grazier Luke Tanner has met women like Jenna before, and knows not to waste his time. With the drought dragging on and bushfire season around the corner, the last thing he needs is a spoiled city girl like Jenna adding to his problems. He’ll help out with the ball because it’s good for the community, but he won’t dance, he won’t flirt, and he definitely won’t be matched.

It’s been a long dry season, but everyone knows when it rains, it pours.  

You can buy BREAKING THE DROUGHT From Amazon, Kobo and all good e-book retailers.

And you can find Lisa online on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.

Lisa is kindly giving away an e-copy of BREAKING THE DROUGHT to one lucky commenter. Leave your comment before midnight Aussie EST on Monday 28th of July to win!

PATTERSON’S CURSE week one!

Hi folks

I’ve been quiet on the blog for a while recently but I thought it might be fun to blog the journey of writing my next book. I’ll try to blog every Monday morning, updating you all on what’s happening in the book and how I’m tracking.

Today is the first day back at school for my boys for Term 3 and I’m kickstarting the new book. Details below:

Title: PATTERSON’S CURSE (this is a working title and may still change)

Word count: aiming for 100k but feel like I might go anywhere up to 120k

Deadline: Dec 1st for my publisher but Nov 1st for me. I like a few weeks to read through and edit.

I will aim to write every weekday and get about 2000 words. I’ll sometimes write on the weekends. I will likely take the October school holidays off to read and hang with the kids. I also have a week away for the Romance Writers of Australia conference in August and a tour with Fiona Palmer in September/October. This means I have about eleven weeks of writing time. At 2k a day I SHOULD achieve my goal. Of course, there’ll be kids sick days, school carnivals, edits and other things crop up in there but I will do my best.

And please feel free to ask any questions you have about my writing process or the book in the blog comments section :)

First things first… A clean and tidy desk.

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I’ll take another photo when I’ve finished the book!

I’ve also started a Pinterest page for PATTERSON’S CURSE. To check it out click here! There are four sisters in this story and it’s my first attempt at a more Women’s Fiction than Romance story. And as the title says it’s about a curse. The curse of the Patterson family, not the weed that plagues farmers!

In addition to Pinterest preparation, I’ve started a brand new notebook to record my thoughts, ideas and future directions of the story. I guarantee by the end it will be a total and utter mess.

photo 2-14Now I’m cheating a little bit because I proposed this book to my publisher a while back and wrote the first few pages back then. So I think it’s only fair that I share the first few paragraphs with you to start this blog series. While you read, I’ll get writing!!

 

Chapter One – South Australia

‘Dad.’ The word slipped from Lucinda Patterson’s lips on a whisper as she walked through gate 29 Adelaide Airport and spied her father. The last time she’d seen him was almost six months ago and she wasn’t sure if he looked better or worse. He’d lost weight and appeared to have grown a few more greys in his thick mop of black hair. He stood tall, his glasses perched on his nose as they always were and his arms folded across his chest as he waited in a sea of people desperate to claim their loved ones so the holiday season could kick off.

Thrusting her shoulders back and pushing her chin high to give an air of confidence she didn’t feel, Lucinda side-stepped a couple so lost in a passionate reunion that they either didn’t care or hadn’t noticed that they were holding up the traffic. Once upon a time she and Joe had been like that whenever he came home from his two weeks up north, but lately, not so much. Pushing that thought away, she stepped around them and her dad rushed forward, his arms wide open for her. Her handbag slapped against her back as she flung herself into his arms and dropped her head against his strong, broad shoulders.

‘Dad,’ she said again as tears welled in her eyes.

‘Lucinda,’ he whispered back. ‘My Lucinda.’ His voice held raw emotion, making her feel safe and loved and needed all at once. Still holding her, he shuffled them slightly to the left and out of the throng of people rushing to leave the plane. There wasn’t room for her and her dad and the tongue-locked lovers.

‘How are you, sweetheart?’

His heart-felt question almost unraveled her. It was she that should be asking him that. He’d been the one that had been six months without his soul mate. Although she too had been six months without her mother, living away she’d sometimes forgotten that her mum wasn’t still in their home town of Meadow Brook, making beds, cooking meals and greeting guests at the Meadow Brooke Motel. Living away she could sometimes still pretend that her mum was alive, but being back home for Christmas would put an end to that illusion pretty damn quick.

 

Exciting West Aussie tour with the gorgeous Fiona Palmer

I’m very excited to announce the dates for mine and Fiona Palmer’s RuRo tour in WA this coming September/October – see below for details.

Both myself and Fee will be touring for a week (plus an extra day or so on either side) and we will have both our new books, The Sunnyvale Girls and Outback Ghost with us. (They are released in October – and my cover is almost ready to be unveiled but in the meantime, check out Fee’s gorgeous new book down below). I’ve been lucky enough to read an advance copy so I could quote for the front cover and I promise, you are ALL in for a treat!

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We start off in Albany on Thursday the 18th September

Kojonup Monday 22nd night event

Capel Tuesday 23rd night event

Bunbury Wednesday 24th 10am event

Kalamunda Wednesday 24th night event

Dongara Thursday 25th 5.30 – 7pm event

Kalannie Friday 26th lunch event

Toodyay Friday 26th night event

Gosnells Saturday 27th 10.30am event

Then we head to the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre October 22nd Wednesday night event

Merredin Thursday 23rd October

Fee and I are both excited and exhausted at the prospect of all that travel! And we’re great friends and so promise you’ll enjoy us chatting together about our books, writing and love of reading. As more details and RSVP details come to hand I’ll post them on the Events page of my website. Until then, save the dates!

 

OUTBACK BLAZE is lift off!!

It’s May 1st, which means OUTBACK BLAZE should officially be EVERYWHERE!! I’ve already had reports of people seeing copies out and about in the wilds and hopefully today it’ll be downloading to lots of e-readers all over the place as well.

Release days are always happy experiences for us authors. I’d say they’re even better than a birthday or Christmas! It’s like the culmination of all our hard work is finally paying off. We can breathe a sigh of relief – our book baby is out in the wilds and there’s not much more we can do about it. Some people will love it (and post on FB or send gorgeous emails), some will not, but we’ve done all we can do.

I’m pleased to report that I’m already getting some gorgeous ratings and reviews for OUTBACK BLAZE.

The lovely Bree from 1Girl2ManyBooks posted one this morning that made my heart full. She said “Rachael Johns is fast becoming one of Australia’s most popular authors and with each release she justifies why – realistic, relatable characters, small towns with a great feel and storylines that keep the reader hooked and always wanting her next book. Waiting sucks!” The waiting she refers to is for OUTBACK GHOST the next Bunyip Bay book, which is out in October. To read her full review click here.

And don’t forget I have a fabulous contest running for anyone who takes a #shelfie (photo) of OUTBACK BLAZE in the shops. Post it on my Facebook page throughout May to go into the draw to win a Kobo Touch e-reader!!

Here’s a #shelfie I took of OUTBACK BLAZE in our shop!!

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OH and because I’m feeling so damn chuffed today, I’m giving away one print copy of OUTBACK BLAZE (Aus/NZ entries only please) – comment on this blog post to win!

Happy reading folks. Thanks SO much for your support!

What EVERY author needs!

Today I’m massively excited to have one of my best writing buddies visiting my blog and she’s written such a feel good and funny post that I hope you’ll all enjoy as much as I did. 

Cathryn Hein Author Photo

Welcome Cathryn Hein! Cathryn’s next release the fabulous ROCKING HORSE HILL (don’t you just LOVE that title?) releases tomorrow and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll grab a copy ASAP! There might just be a giveaway on this post if you read to the end :)

Take it away, Cathryn…

Every Author Needs…

It’s often said that a writer’s life is a solitary one. We spend a lot of time with our computers or notebooks, having conversations in our heads with people that don’t exist. I have days, sometimes even a week – usually during structural edits with a deadline looming – where I don’t leave the house.

Which is why writing buddies are so important. They keep you sane when you’re too busy or too much of a stressed-out freak to get out in real life. They listen when you rant and rage, cheer when something brilliant happens, give sage advice or a calming word when needed, and share all the ups and downs of this strange but fascinating business. With a single email, text or phone call they can make the bad seem good and the good seem brilliant. They are, in other words, a must.

I met Rach at the 2007 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney. Fate had us sitting together in one of Valerie Parv’s sessions, a hands-on tutorial where we were asked to collaborate on creating a story premise with conflict. We came up with a completely over-the-top Cinderella type story set in a funeral parlour. It was great fun and we clicked in that indefinable way that people sometimes do, and been good friends ever since.

But Rach lives in WA and I live… well, we move around quite a lot but generally along Australia’s east coast. That means most of the time we only see each other at conferences. So we make up for it with phone calls, texts and emails. LOTS of emails.

At the risk of revealing how paranoid and self-doubting authors are, and exposing the embarrassing number of shouty capitals and exclamation marks we use in our correspondence, here are a couple of samples of the sort of chat that goes on…

From an exchange titled:

So…

RACH: I need to write but can’t settle with Lach at home. Am letting him play on the iPad and telling myself it’s okay cos he’s sick but still hard to concentrate with him at home. But am out at talk all day tomorrow, so NEED words. Although my house also needs desperate attention and I feel like making a cake. Maybe I’ll aim for 1k and if I do that can make a cake!

CATHRYN: Make the cake and write while it’s baking. Have a sprint to see how many words you can get in that time. I’m writing but it’s awful, horrible crap and setting my teeth on edge.

RACH: Can’t be any more horrible and awful than mine! Seriously!

CATHRYN: Wanna bet???

From an exchange titled:

Send in the white jacket people

CATHRYN: It has taken me almost ALL MORNING to tweak one bloody chapter!!! The book is going to send me INSANE! It’s all so wrong. Wrong, wrong, WRONG! ARGH!

RACH: LOL! Just got home from school drop off to your message!! I bet it sells its bloody socks off!! I cannot imagine ANYTHING you write being poo. I consider you a MUCH better writer than me, so I take on your paranoia too and think it must mean GHOST is shite!!

CATHRYN: You, my dear, haven’t a thing to worry about. Ghost will sell its bum off like all your others!!! 

Ahem. Okay, so I admit we sound like a couple of teenagers, with the same level of self-absorption, but that’s not the point. The point is that we rally one another and joke around even when we might feel we’re the worst writers in the universe or about to melt from worry.

Terrible articulation or not, I wouldn’t miss these for the world.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what we’re like when we actually meet? Just add hugs and squeals!

Yup, we’re as noisy in person as in our emails. Which just might be another reason why writers tend not to get out much…

Aw Cathryn, I wouldn’t have our friendship any other way either. Now happy blog readers, check out the blurb of ROCKING HORSE HILL below and enter the contest!

RHH cover - resized

 

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Tell us your friendship stories. The quirky things, the way you celebrate them, even how you met. Share and you’ll be in with a chance to win a signed copy of Cathryn’s brand new rural romance Rocking Horse Hill.

Giveaway closes Wednesday 30th April. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Cathryn and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter as @CathrynHein and Google+

 

 

The most expensive zoo trip EVER!!!

This weekend past was all kinds of exhausting and all kinds of fun. Because I’ve been going away a bit for my writing lately and feeling guilty about leaving the family, I suggested (when I wanted to go to the Australia Romance Readers Association Awards dinner) that they come too. A long weekend in Sydney, in which we could catch up with my cousin and take the kids to Taronga Zoo sounded like a nice idea in theory, but honestly, I think I must have been on drugs when I decided to do it!

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We took the midnight horror/red-eye flight out of Perth Thursday night and arrived in Sydney at 6am Friday morning. Thankfully the lovely lady at our hotel felt sorry for us and checked us in early so we were all able to have a lovely nap before heading out for lunch and a look around. As High Maintenance is studying the convicts in history, we went to The Rocks Discovery Museum and then had a lunch/breakfast/dinner (we weren’t really sure by then) at Pancakes On The Rocks. If you haven’t already worked it out already, I’m a HUGE pancake fan!

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But the big highlight of the boys’ weekend (aka the title of this post) was a trip to Taronga Zoo where we met with my lovely cousin Mike and his gorgeous girlfriend Leila for a few hours. I hadn’t been to Taronga zoo in almost thirty years and it is just gorgeous. We didn’t have long enough unfortunately.

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And we saw LOTS of eight-legged reasons why Sydney is okay to visit but not to live. There were MASSIVE spiders ALL over the zoo!! See pic below!

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Then on Saturday night, I dolled up and left hubby with the three heroes in training to attend the Australian Romance Readers Association Awards Dinner. It was a splendid night and huge thanks must go to Debbie, Heather and the whole ARRA committee for their hard work in organising this awesome event. My only complaint is that the night wasn’t long enough!! A few pics below :)

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Highlight of the night (aside from seeing fabulous friends) was Monty (Daniel Montgomery) from OUTBACK DREAMS winning Sexiest Hero!! Alas I didn’t win the other categories I was nominated in but huge congrats to Amy Andrews who won Favourite Contemporary for HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO and Anna Cowan who won Favourite Australian Romance Author. 1507004_10202276244960563_2004382424_n

A Harlequin Aus photo with Kendal Talbot, Victoria Purman, Christina Lee and Tina M Clark in the back row and Sue Brockhoff (my publisher) and myself in the front row!
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Some of my favourite people – Janette Radevski, Lisa Ireland, Cathryn Hein and Amanda Knight.BjUXlmYCcAA3O13.jpg-large

Me with the tall, dark and handsome John Purcell from Booktopia (a fab place to buy books online)!BjUYEsnCQAAshFO.jpg-large

Me and Sue again :)

For the official blog about the Awards click here. And if you love romance and aren’t yet a member of ARRA, I suggest you fix that quick smart!

What do you wear? An interesting idea with Georgina Penney

Have you heard of Destiny Romance’s delicious new chick-lit line!? A lover of chick-lit from WAY back in Bridget Jones days, I was excited to hear the news that Destiny will be publishing a chick-lit line and I’m delighted to have one of Destiny’s own with me on the blog today – the lovely Georgina Penney.

Georgina’s new book IRREPRESSIBLE YOU sounds absolutely hilarious (and I can’t WAIT to read it):

Irrepressible You Cover

You don’t become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down.

When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he’s hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn’t occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset – after all, it’s hilarious, and his readers love her!

It isn’t until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realise just how badly he’s cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?

And now over to Georgina to ponder something which really resonates with me (someone who spends most of my days in Bonds short or trackie pants depending on the weather). Welcome Georgina…

Last week I found myself up to my calves in water feeling the antithesis of glamorous. In fact, I was so saturated that the drowned rats swimming past were giving me their hairdressers’ business cards.

While wading my way to my car, trying to remember exactly why I’d needed desperately needed to buy a jar of nutella, two other thoughts occurred to me. One was that I was bloody insane for thinking skinny jeans were a smart idea in this kind of weather and the second was that I hadn’t worn any shoes other than a daggy pair of thongs for a month.

A bit of thought on the subject had me wondering if the shoe situation wasn’t maybe the reason for why I’d been wearing pretty much the same pair of jeans paired with random T-shirts for months as well. My reasoning had been that anything else would just make me feel like I was trying to impersonate a peacock with pigeon legs.

But looking down at my flooded tooties, I came to a decision. Weather be damned! If I wanted to totter about in impractical footwear, I’d bloody well do it. There are just some moments where a lady has to take the plunge and force herself to have a goddamn sexy day, even if it does only involve a trip to buy milk and fill up the car with petrol.

So, decision made, I made a detour on the way home and brought a pair of nice cheap-I-don’t-care-if-they-die-from-drowning heels and put them on. That felt good. Really good. (If not a bit squelchy.) The minute I got home, I surveyed my wardrobe realizing just how many skirts, dresses and pants I hadn’t worn for months because I’d told myself I didn’t need to dress up because of the weather, the fact that I’m not going anywhere special, the heat, pms… you name it!

So the past two days I’ve started an experiment. I’ve put on makeup before starting my writing day, I’ve frocked up to go to the shops, I’ve swanned around the local open air fruit and vege market in a skirt and pretty shirt and wow, I’ve felt a million bucks. It feels like the romance is back, which is a bit handy if that’s a lady’s genre of choice.

It’s still raining. In fact, the flood water around our house is so high I’ve got fish swimming through my garage but there’s a benefit I’ve worked out about wearing nice shoes in the rain. I can always justify buying another pair if these ones die;)

Thanks Georgina! That was fun and I’m curious blog readers, what’s the most extravagant fashion item you’ve bought lately and have you worn it yet?! 

You can find Georgina on Facebook, Twitter and at her website!

 

 

 

 

The Writing Process Blog Chain

My gorgeous friend Alissa Callen recently tagged my in The Writing Process Blog Chian – much better than the old kind of chain mail – in which writers answer four questions on their writing process and then tag three friends!

Thanks to Alissa for tagging me. You can check out Alissa’s Writing Process blog here. When Alissa Callen isn’t writing she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who really does believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Her books are characteristically heart-warming, emotional and character driven. Beneath Outback Skies, published by Random House Australia, is available now as an eBook and from May 2014 in print. Down Outback Roads, also published by Random House Australia, will be out in May as an eBook. Alissa loves to connect with readers and can be found online at her website or Facebook.

Now here are my answers to the tough questions:

1) What am I working on?

Currently I’m 35k into a sequel or linked book to my first rural romance, which was JILTED. This is Lauren the nurse’s story and it will be called THE ROAD TO HOPE and published in early 2015. The challenge for this book is that when I wrote Lauren in JILTED, she was simply a plot device – someone who is in love with that book’s hero and a nemesis to the heroine Ellie – and therefore I didn’t give much thought to her motivations or goals/dreams. I have learnt from that in that whenever I’m writing a story ALL the characters must be fully-developed with their own backstories. It’s fun though, so now I’m having to make up a background for Lauren that fits with her personality in JILTED. However she wasn’t the nicest person in JILTED so I’m having to show her reasons and motivation for this and make her sympathetic enough in this book that she is a likeable heroine!

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2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Rural romance is currently a hot genre in Australia and I’m one of many authors writing it. I think my point-of-difference is that I’m at the romance end of the spectrum. This spectrum is quite large from some authors who write books very rural focused and farm based, in which they highlight agricultural issues, to others who set their books in a small rural town but focus more on the relationships. My focus is the community and how the people interact in these close-knit communities and although some of my stories are set on farms or feature farmers, the rural comes second to the relationships for me.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because Fiona Palmer and Cathryn Hein told me to! LOL, that is not actually far from the truth. For about four years I worked hard targeting my writing at Mills & Boon and although I got VERY close to publication with M&B, I kept falling in between their stringent lines. When I was at a point where I was almost ready to give up writing – or so I said, doing so might have been harder – rural romance was booming and I happened to be living in a small rural community called Kojonup in Western Australia. Fiona and Cathryn told me not to lose heart but rather change tack and try write a rural romance, using my knowledge of living in a small town. This book was JILTED and although the hero is a farmer, the main plot point of that book was the return of an old resident to the town and the revival of their theatrical society.

4) How does my writing process work?

It’s all over the place, much like the rest of my life. I start with a tiny seed of an idea – in THE ROAD TO HOPE for instance this was Nurse Lauren, because lots of people had told me they wanted a sequel. I then searched my mind for other things I’d thought might be good to write about and remembered that I thought a locum doctor travelling around Australia might make a good hero. Seemed the perfect hero for a nurse because they would automatically be thrown together but then I needed to work out the backstory for Lauren and work out WHY Tom was travelling around Australia.

Then I come up with goals, motivations and conflicts for each character and if possible the turning points and the black moment of the book. And then, the fun begins… I sit down at the computer and let my fingers do the talking. Mostly this works well for me but because I don’t plan in too much detail or outline the whole book, sometimes I get stuck! But hey, working out how to get myself out of a fix is all part of the fun!

I’ve tagged three very good writing friends (see below) and you can read their posts next Monday 3rd of Feb.

Cathryn Hein:

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write.
You can find Cathryn at http://www.cathrynhein.com or chat with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Leah Ashton:

An unashamed fan of all things happily ever after, Leah Ashton has been a lifelong reader of romance.  Writing came a little bit later, although in hindsight, she’d been dreaming up stories for as long as she can remember. Sadly, the most popular boy in school never did suddenly fall head over heels in love with her…

Now she lives in Perth, Western Australia with her own real life hero, two gorgeous dogs and the world’s smartest cat. By day, she works in IT, and by night she considers herself incredibly lucky to be writing the type of books she loves to read, and to have the opportunity to share her own characters’ happy ever afters with readers.

You can find Leah at http://www.leah-ashton.com and chat with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Jackie Ashenden:

Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax, two kids, two cats and some guppies (possibly dead guppies by the time you read this). When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

You can find Jackie at www.jackieashenden.com or follow her on Twitter.

Book’d Out Australia Day Blog Hop

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The Australia Day weekend always coincides with my birthday – how lucky am I to usually have a long weekend? While we don’t have any particular traditions for the day in our family, it’s about relaxing and hanging out together. Because we own an IGA X-Press supermarket in a small country town, we rarely get more than a day off at a time – luckily we’re only open six days a week. So a public holiday means two days in which we (or rather my husband) doesn’t have to get up early to set-up the shop.

This long weekend we’re spending it at a house we recently purchased in the Perth hills. It has a swimming pool – owning one was a childhood dream of mine – and I plan to spend much of Australia Day lounging by the pool with a book and my lovely Diet Coke. Maybe I’ll even splurge and buy myself one of those blow-up pool loungers, so I can read IN the pool?! Who wants to predict how long I’ll stay on top of it with three young boys splashing round me?

Whatever you do, wherever you are this Australia Day, I hope you are relaxing and doing something you enjoy with someone or people you love!

Kissing Season final cover

Tell me what you’re up to this Australia Day to go in the draw to win a rare (it’s not actually available in print to buy) print copy of my recently released novella THE KISSING SEASON. Leave your answer in the comment section by Tuesday midnight (EST) and I’ll announce the winner Wednesday. Contest only open to Australian and New Zealand residents.

Thanks to the fabulous Shellyrae at Book’d Out Blog there’s a whole host of other people offering prizes on their blogs for the Australia Day blog hop. Click here and you can see the whole list of other blogs and how to enter more contests!!