My Secret Life with Carla Caruso

I want to offer a huge welcome to Carla Caruso to my secret life blog segment today and also offer her a MASSIVE apology for for mixing up days earlier! Carla is published by Destiny Romance and I can’t wait to catch up with my TBR pile and read her second novel Second Chance. I’ll be quiet now and welcome Carla to tell you about what she does when she’s not creating fiction:

Carla Caruso - author pic (1)

When I’m not writing, I, well, I… write. Boring, huh?

Well, stick with me. It’s a different kind of writing this secret life of mine. See, by day, I’m a freelance journalist and editor, dealing in all sorts of non-fiction rather than the blissfully made-up world of fiction. Which can be stranger than the non-real, trust me.

Take the past fortnight for example. I interviewed seven female lawyers for an inspirational women’s feature, five ANZAC Day veterans, two rev-heads, one politician, and did a whole heap of editing work in between. Sounds a bit like that Twelve Days of Christmas ditty, but I digress…

Whenever I think I have a day to blissfully devote to fiction writing, I’m sidelined by a last-minute freelance journalism job. It happens EVERY DAY. Argh! Unfortunately, it’s the dilemma of being freelance – you never really know what a day or week’s going to look like… until the phone rings or the inbox chirps. I know the solution would be to rise at the crack of dawn and get a few hours of solid fiction writing done before the day started, but hey, I love my sleep! So the challenge continues.

But… the good thing is my day job can actually inspire my fiction writing. Like, for example, the highly organised woman I recently interviewed, who told her clients TWO YEARS in advance when she was going on holidays so they could prepare to exist without her. Little wonder her friends nicknamed her “The General”. Fun trait for a fictional character! Or the bride-princess I interviewed for a wedding magazine who replied in pink-coloured text and wanted the story’s emphasis to be on the “enchanted fairy-tale” theme of her nuptials (right down to her faux glass slippers by Christian Louboutin.) Great stuff.

The rural romance I’m currently writing is actually inspired by my first job as a full-time newspaper journalist. I’m a city girl from Adelaide, but learned the trade fresh out of uni in the lobster capital of Kingston SE, about 3.5 hours from the CBD. A lot of the things that happened to me while working there have inspired the novel, which has the working title of Pot of Gold – like trying to navigate a farm fence at a beef field day in heels (big mistake) or fondly patting a sheep at a shearing competition (not the done thing).

So, you see, whenever I dream about tossing in my day job, I worry that the well for my next novel ideas might just dry up.

Footnote: After writing this post, I’ve since taken the plunge to devote more time to fiction. I’m preggers with twins, so am off on a maternity leave break and have whittled my freelance work down to just editing one (five-yearly) magazine part-time. The rest of the time I’m calling my Year of Bubs and Books. Wish me luck!

Rach: Oh Lord! Twins.. HUGE congrats!!!! 

Book blurb: Carla Caruso’s latest book, Second Chance, out through Penguin’s Destiny Romance, features feisty heroine Flora, who time-travels back to the summer of 1998 after her phone malfunctions – and hopes to reunite with a past love! http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781743480748/second-chance

Second Chance by Carla Caruso

Second Chance excerpt:

‘I thought I said no questions.’ I sigh, fluffing up the feather boa I’ve stolen from the makeup room, currently draped over my semi-naked front in an attempt at modesty. This is where the Old Me’s tendency to throw caution to the wind got me: Major Humiliation Land.

Lance shakes his head, next to me in his Capri, parked in the shadowy side street alongside Xavier’s studio. TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ wafts from his radio. ‘You can’t turn up looking like that and expect me not to wonder what the hell is going on. You could be caught up in something terrible for all I know, like, I don’t know…a prostitution ring or something.’

I roll my eyes. ‘Thank you very much, but I’m not. Trust me, this,’ I gesture at my poor excuse for an outfit, including a pale blue hand towel masquerading as a skirt and, of course, my black bra, ‘looks worse than it is.’

Lance bangs a hand on the steering wheel, looking anywhere but at me. ‘Do you need more shifts at the newsagency? Is that what this is?’

Oh, man. He really thinks I’m moonlighting as an exotic dancer. He has me pegged for that sort of girl. I’m mildly offended. A sigh escapes through my gritted teeth.

‘Look.’ I turn around, readjusting the towel on my lap so I don’t reveal quite so much thigh. Unfortunately, the fabric has a suspect-looking stain in one corner. Ew. ‘I’ll tell you what happened only if you swear not to tell Ruben or Clementine or, okay, anyone for that matter. Promise?’

Lance glances at me, then, flushing, looks ahead again, his jaw clenched. ‘Fine.’

I suck in a breath, watching a fly tiptoe across the dashboard. Right. Speeding up my explanation might make it less painful, like ripping off a Band-Aid. ‘Okay, I responded to an ad in the paper about posing for a semi-nude portrait for an artist – a respected artist – but I got cold feet. Bad. I realised what a stupid impulsive idea it was and suddenly wanted to get the hell out of there. So I called you, then escaped out of the bathroom mid-shoot. Hence,’ I look down, ‘my lack of proper clothing.’

Thank goodness phones with cameras weren’t ubiquitous in the nineties. It would have been a money shot to catch me wiggling through the window in next to nothing. My arms and legs bear the scratches. Lance remains stony-faced as though processing the information.

Thanks so much for stopping by Carla!! I’m a wee bit jealous of all the fabulous opportunities you get for research in your day job 🙂 You can find more about Carla on her website, she’s also on Twitter!!

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Writing OUTBACK BLAZE

If you’re a friend on FACEBOOK or TWITTER, you’ve probably heard me screaming it from the rooftops that I’ve finished my latest book – OUTBACK BLAZE. So I just thought I’d share a little bit about this book, the inspiration and the writing process.

OUTBACK BLAZE will be the second in my first series. The books are all stand-alones but they are set in the same small town, many of the characters reappear throughout the three (at least) books and there is one storyline that is only slightly touched on in Books 1 & 2, which becomes one of the main plots in Book 3 (OUTBACK GHOST)!

I actually had the inspiration from for OUTBACK GHOST before the first two books, but some key components of this story were too similar to another story my publisher had coming out when I proposed the story. I was devastated. I LOVED the idea and really wanted to write it. Anyway I went back to the drawing board and tried to think of a brand new idea – I flicked through magazines, thought about my favourite type of stories, ate lots of chocolate, cried a bit when I decided I had nothing and my career was over – and THEN I realised the book I wanted to write could be written later down the track. I realised I could set seeds in two earlier books.

And this excited me, because so many of you had emailed me or posted messages on FB saying that you loved series and was I ever thinking of writing a sequel to JILTED or MAN DROUGHT (btw, the answer is yes to JILTED – stay tuned)!?

First step was brainstorming the main characters for each book. I wanted to write a friends to lovers story and that became OUTBACK DREAMS (due out in October this year) and I’d always wanted to write about a small town shop fire that affects all the community, and so I decided somehow I would make this the crux of book two OUTBACK BLAZE.

Thus, when I pitched this series, I had written a synopsis for book one, had almost the whole of book three in my head, and only a tiny seed of an idea for book two. The fire. I knew I wanted to start the book with a fire and I knew who my heroine was – we meet her in OUTBACK DREAMS. I figured I’d have oodles of time to come up with more of an idea, but then I found out my wonderful publisher wanted to publish these books a lot closer together and I realised I actually only had two and a half months to write OUTBACK BLAZE. EEK!

I had a small heart attack – moaned to my writing friends – and then I sat down to make notes. I knew the fire would not be an accident but when I started writing I hadn’t yet worked out who’d started it. Thus, I wrote my first ever story that included an element of suspense without having any clue as to who the villain was. I also had to write it faster than I’ve ever written anything in my life. (In the end I wrote 115k in 2.5 months)

I’m rambling a bit I know… but I guess what I wanted to say, was OUTBACK BLAZE has been a different writing experience for me. I didn’t have time to plan too much, do heavy research or stress that it was crap, I just had to write. There were times when I didn’t think I’d make it, but others when the pressure inspired me to write whatever came into my head. I went from writing 1k a day to more like 3k a day (although I didn’t write on every day).

I’m not sure I’ll write a book this fast again and I’m not sure I’ll go the suspense angle again either, but I really enjoyed the challenges that came with writing OUTBACK BLAZE and I cannot wait to share it with you in January 2014!!!

What have you done that challenged you lately?

x

Rach!

My Secret Life with Whitney K-E

My guest today is quite amazing!! I met her while she was doing her HSC (New South Wales year 12 exams for those not in Australia) at last year’s Romance Writers of Australia conference. She must be one of the youngest and most enthusiastic members of RWAus and her passion and dedication to writing means she’s definitely a writer to watch. I wasn’t at all surprised when I heard she’d sold her book earlier this year.

Welcome Whitney K-E!!

whitney

What Really Happened in Ireland

Whitney K-E was shocked when she visited Ireland only to find out that the characters in her novel, What Happens in Ireland weren’t so fictional after all!

Now, it’s strange, but I wrote What Happens in Ireland before I actually landed on Irish soil! I’d been planning my trip to Ireland and the UK for two years and so overcome with excitement (not to mention frequently daydreaming), I put pen to paper. And that’s how What Happens in Ireland was born!

Planning my trip and checking out all the sights was great research. And more than a little fun. What I didn’t expect to encounter in Ireland when I finally go there however, were the characters I had dreamed up!

Now, I wish I could say I met my Irishman, Jack O’Reilly in a Dublin bar, but unfortunately, I didn’t. No Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Handsome for me. Not yet, anyway hehe. But, I did meet many of my other favourite characters.

Whilst on a tour to Bru na Boine, I met my mate, Jen Tully in the form of my tour guide for the Neolithic tomb, Mary. Mary was exactly how I imagined Jen; Chirpy, enthusiastic and brimming with a sarcastic sense of humour. In fact, I was so convince she was my beloved fictional character that I almost changed Jen’s description just to suit Mary’s! And to top it all off, Mary knew two of my other characters. If you’ve read What Happens in Ireland you’ll be aware that Jack’s parents were engaged on the Carrick-a-Rede bridge. Well, it turns out, so was Mary’s cousin! To be honest, I was so excited and more than a little jealous. Such a beautiful place to propose to the person you love and to find out that it was actually something that happened… I was beginning to suspect I was psyhic!

My next encounter was in Killarney, the hometown of my hero, Jack O’Reilly. Whilst in Killarney, I put on my riding boots and went on a trail ride through Killarney National Park with one of the local stables. And it was here that I met four of my beloved characters, three of which were of the animal variety 🙂

And here is one of my furry friends:

whitney horse

Clyde and Pascal, the gorgeous Irish cob crosses we rode were the real life embodiment of my equine dreams, Hero and Archie. Such beautiful horses and despite their giant frames, the comfiest horses my twin sister and I had ever ridden. Admittedly, we were wondering how much we would have to offer to take them home with us haha! Unfortunately, we could not afford the excess luggage :P.

And then there was the beloved barn cat and the queen of O’Reilly Stud, H.A.M.!

Whilst waiting for my toes to defrost after my ride, up jumps a purring shadow to keep me company on the bench. I wish I had a picture of my face when I saw the cat. I guess a picture of me with H.A.M. will just have to do.

whitney cat

And then there was my tour guide Emma. She was Kate. She travelled to Ireland to work with horses and not only did she fall in love with the country, but with a local Irishman as well.

I was a little disheartened to leave Killarney. It seemed like any second now I would run into Jack O’Rielly. But we had to move and on we went to Galway. Whilst in Galway, I met a couple whose relationship with each other reminded me so much of the love I tried to create between the two stablehands, Jen and Tom. It was amazing to see that love like that did exist.

And I suppose last but not least, I guess…I sort of did meet Jack. Whilst travelling through the Burren Valley, we stopped for a tour of a traditional farm. The countryside was beautiful and the owners of the farm reminded me so much of Jack, his brother William and their parents. Sadly, I don’t have names for these two men, but their larrikin nature, family respect and devotion to the farm had me thinking that these men were the O’Rielly boys.

Though, I’m not sure Jack would be caught dead wearing an apron hehe.

IMG_1730(note from Rach: These two look adorable. I’d love to read about them in a book)

And there you have it! What really happened in Ireland 🙂 I always knew Ireland would be magical. I just didn’t think it would bring to life the characters I had conjured in my head.

Thanks so much for coming Whitney and sharing your fabulous holiday. Isn’t it amazing, how much it was like your book 🙂 That must have made it extra special. Whitney is running a fabulous giveaway during her release period, details below. Be sure to check out her awesome book – to-buy links also below!

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this blog post or any of the other blog posts celebrating the release of Whitney’s debut to go in the draw to win one of two prize packs including a PDF of What Happens in Ireland, a handmade ribbon bookmark designed by Swagmaster Designs and a coffee mug. You can join in the fun on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/events/491411070916233/

Whitney’s Novel:

Ever wondered what happens in Ireland?

When Australian, Kate Barrow, meets a handsome Irishman in a Dublin bar, she has no idea that he’s about to turn her world upside-down and inside-out.

In Ireland to take on a position on a thoroughbred stud, Kate is shocked when her manager-in-co reveals himself to be the same man she’d met in Dublin.

Jack is drawn to Kate. The problem is, she won’t have him. But Jack has always loved a challenge and the intriguing woman from Oz is one he cannot resist.

Harbouring the sting of another man’s betrayal, Kate is certain she wants nothing to do with love and nothing to do with Jack O’Reilly. But when naked torsos, Mother Nature and dysfunctional umbrellas start plotting against her resolve, she realizes the charms of an Irishman are going to be hard to resist.

If you’d like to read excerpts or buy Whitney’s novel, you can find it at the following:

Amazon

Secret Cravings

All Romance Ebooks

Smashwords

You can connect with Whitney on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and on her blog. Whitney also blogs regularly on group blog Romanctic Muse.

 

My Secret Life with Maggie Mundy

As I introduce today’s lovely guest the gorgeous Maggie Mundy, I too have a confession to make – I want to do what she’s doing! And I’m not talking about writing speculative fiction (I admire those who do but I’ll stick to my contemporary romance thank you very much)! Anyway, please give a warm welcome to Maggie and her secret life outside of writing…

maggiemundy

Rejections are like falling off your motorbike

I wasn’t one of those people who thought they would always write a novel, and equally I wasn’t someone who thought about being a bikie chick either.  My daughter had mentioned wanting to learn to ride and I said I would too. I didn’t think it would actually happen, after all you know what eighteen year olds are like. So when she said she was going to get her learners and you’re coming too mum, I didn’t have a leg to stand on. All I had ever done in the past was ride a moped back in the UK and been pillion on my husband’s bike so this was a huge step for me.

So I turn up at the learner’s course and don’t do too bad until the test where I freeze. Maybe the thought of having a licence that says I can go on the road was freaking me out. Second attempt and I thought I was doing okay until the test day when I had an instructor who was a male chauvinist pig to say the least. So I was not surprised when he didn’t pass me. Third time same guy failed me again. I was in tears and decided I would never do it again, and why was I putting myself through this.

Unbeknownst to me my husband and friend phoned up and complained about the instructor (they were not the first complaint about him) and I was given another chance. I passed with flying colours without Mr Grumpy around.

Over the next two years I practiced and decided to go for my full test. In the meantime the test centre had moved to the other side of town and I had to ride through a thunderstorm in during peak hour traffic and unfortunately didn’t pass.

I had another month before I could retake my test and there was a motorbike club get together in Mildura so I decided to ride the 400km. My husband and friends were saying are you sure you can do it, but I had to prove to myself that I was serious about wanting this. Now I’m not usually fearless and on the freeway I would get freaked out by the big trucks passing and the wind gusts blowing me around. My solution was to sing Akuna Mutate very loudly. It worked even if I probably looked demented.

Eventually did my test and past. That was last year and now I look back and have to say the experience taught me something about myself. When you fall off or get a rejection you should get back up and keep writing or get back on the bike no matter how bruised you are.

Be determined and persevere until you get there. I’m still not super brave but when I ride through a busy city now I break it up into small pieces so that I don’t get overwhelmed by what I am doing, and I can do the same with writing. Before I know it I’ve got there.

Years ago I did a fortune telling game and asked the question of whether I would get published. The answer that came back from the cards was to enjoy the journey. Now I do with the wind blowing in my hair.

As for my publication journey I have a novella called Blood Scent coming out with Rogue Phoenix Press in July and a book with Soul Mate Publishing called Hidden Mortality in 2014. I have been writing for ten years and have had more rejections than you could poke a stick at, but like with my bike I got up brushed myself off and tried again.

The top picture is me practising my tight u turns. It’s a killer at a slow pace but I mastered it eventually. The second picture was me riding in the Pink Ribbon Ride for breast cancer, hence the pink bras on our bikes. I am on the middle bike. Even my hubby put a bra on his big cruiser.

maggie bike

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thanks Maggie for that inspirational and encouraging story! And I’m sure we all can’t wait for your novella. In the meantime, you can checkout Maggie at her website and on Facebook and Twitter!! 

And I’d like to know – what thing have YOU done, where you’ve had to keep trying and trying again until you succeed?