Category Archives: As a Reader

Author Interview – Josephine Moon

I’m thrilled to have Josephine Moon with me today for a quick author interview.

What is your favourite part of being a writer?

JM : The days when I completely slip into another world and the characters are talking and everything is just rolling out in front of me so that all I have to do is keep up my typing speed to capture what I’m seeing and hearing… those days are gold. I am never happier than when I have been immersed in my current work in progress.

SD : Being immersed is the best, often our characters feeling more real to us than the real people on our life.

Romantic elements feature in most Women’s Fiction. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

JM : Of my own books, definitely Christmas Livingstone and Lincoln van Luc from The Chocolate Promise. That book comes the closest I’ve ever written to a straight love story and they are just such a beautiful couple. (Side note: Lincoln is named after my rather dashing black horse of the same name, who charms all the ladies with his snuffles and lashes, be they equine or human!)

SD : Lincoln is one of the sexiest male leads I’ve ever read!

JM : Other than that, I really loved Jess and Ed from JoJo Moyes’ novel, One Plus One. I have so much love for JoJo as a writer, for this book (I don’t think I’ve ever laughed or loved so much in any other novel), and for those two flawed and wonderful characters.

SD : Jojo is queen

Which five fictional characters would you love to have over for dinner?

JM : Albus Dumbledore (from Harry Potter) for his magic. Anne Shirley (from Anne of Green Gables) for her irrepressible spirit. Maria Lindsey (from my book, The Beekeeper’s Secret) because I suspect she has a few more secrets yet that we might coax out of her. Captain Jack Sparrow (from Pirates of the Caribbean… okay, he’s not from a novel, but still fictional, and can you imagine the calamity? Sword fights, thievery, witty banter, rum… brilliant!) Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, from Downton Abbey because her acerbic wit is something to behold. And I think she and Maria Lindsey would get on well.

SD : That sounds like an awesome dinner party!

What is one trait that one of your own characters has that you wished you possessed?

JM : Not so much a trait as a skill, but my character Sunny Foxleigh (from my forthcoming novel Three Gold Coins) can up-cycle old furniture she picked up at the dump into cool, trendy and beautiful new pieces that cost her next to nothing. In my head I’m that person, but then I try to do something as simple as open blinds without tangling them up and I realise how far away I am from being that person!

SD : I have a table I want to ‘re-do’, but I’m too sacred. Like you, in my head it will turn out perfect. In reality?????

If money, time and talent were no object, what job would you love to do other than write?

JM : I think I would be a vegetable and flower farmer. Again, in my head I already am that person, but the jungle of weeds out my window right now would suggest otherwise.

SD : Sounds idyllic.

What are you working on next and when can we expect it out?

JM : My next novel, Three Gold Coins, will be out at the end of March, right before Easter. It’s just about to go to print now!

Its blurb reads:

One coin for love, one for marriage, one to return to Rome.

Two days ago, Lara Foxleigh tossed three gold euros into the Trevi Fountain. Now, she is caring for a cranky old man and living in a picturesque villa, half a world away from her home and the concerns of her loving family.

Soon, it seems as if those wishes she made in Rome just might be coming true, and she may even be able to help heal a fifteen-year-old tragedy.

Until Lara’s past threatens to destroy everything she loves . . .

Three Gold Coins is a masterfully written celebration of food, family, triumph over adversity, and love—a deliciously imperfect life.

I am also halfway through the first draft of my fifth fiction book, one that doesn’t have a title yet, and all I can tell you is that it is set in Melbourne, and it will be out in April 2019 😊

SD : Have to say, I’m very much looking forward to Three Gold Coins coming out.

Thanks for stopping by Josephine. If you want to find out more about Josephine and her wonderful novels, you can find her here….

on her website

and here on facebook

S xo

 

 

Author Interview – Rachael Johns

This month I’m very excited to welcome international bestselling Aussie author Rachael Johns to my blog in the next in my series of author interviews. Rachael has 22 works of fiction published, ranging from Rural Romance to Women’s Fiction. Welcome Rachael.

What is your favourite part of being a writer?

RJ: The covers – definitely the covers!! Seeing a beautiful sparkly cover with your name on it makes all the pain and hard work that comes before worth it. I think publishing a book is a bit like having a baby, once you have the actual finished book in your hands and see it on actual shelves, you forget all the suffering that came to get to that point! I also like the friends I’ve met and the fun I have with them at conferences. Being able to work from home and not get dressed or wear make-up is also a perk 🙂

SD: And your covers are so pretty!! PJs and good friends. What more can a girl ask for?

Rachael’s works of Women’s Fiction

Romantic elements feature in most Women’s Fiction. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

RJ: Well, that would have to be Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy. I love them on the page and I love them on the screen. She’s just utterly delightful in her imperfections and I love the way she cracks beneath his stiff, serious veneer to the real hero beneath.

SD: How can you not love anyone based on Mr Darcy?

Which five fictional characters would you love to have over for dinner?

RJ: Bridget Jones, Miss Havisham, Garfield, Hermione Granger and Silky from The Faraway Tree. And I hope Silky would bring some of her pop cakes!

SD: Now that would be an interesting dinner party!

What is one trait that one of your own characters has that you wished you possessed?

RJ: I would like to be able to play the violin (or any instrument really) like Abigail from THE PATTERSON GIRLS – I never put the hard work in as a child so my mum made me quit! AND I’d like to be able to knit and crochet like Tabetha from TALK OF THE TOWN – or I’d like to stick at these things long enough to actually make something. I can actually knit but I always give up after a few days.

SD: Abigail is certainly talented. I’m wondering if your mum making you quit is why you gave Abigail that trait…Hang on, I’ll just go get my psychology degree off the internet….

If money, time and talent were no object, what job would you love to do other than write?

RJ: Oh there are so many – that’s the best thing about writing, I can give my characters jobs that in another lifetime I’d have loved to have myself. I always wanted to read the news for Channel Seven, I’d also love to be an actress, or a voice narrator for audio books. At various stages in my life I’ve wanted to be a vet, a nutritionist and a flight attendant!

SD: Maybe we could convince Channel Seven to do guest news reader spots?

What are you working on next and when can we expect it out?

RJ: I’m currently working on HER MOTHER’S DRESS, which I’m hoping will be out late next year but that really depends on whether my life slows down and gives me the time to finish it by deadline. Currently we’re trying to sell a house, build a house and in November I’m doing a three week national tour for THE GREATEST GIFT. Time to write is running out BUT I can tell you it’s about four women and a wedding dress that connects them all. There’s a bit of a fun eighties theme and also touches on adoption and organ donation!

SD: You do have a lot on! HER MOTHER’S DRESS sounds great. Check out dates for Rachael’s tour here.

Thanks for stopping by Rachael. If you’d like to find out more about Rachael and her work you can find her here…

Website http://www.rachaeljohns.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RachaelJohnsRomance/

Twitter https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns

And if you’d like to win a copy of Rachael’s THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS before THE GREATEST GIFT comes out at the end of this month, stop by my Facebook page (here)  and enter my giveaway.

S xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shhhh! It’s a Library.

This month on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop Julie has set the topic of libraries, and I’m going to take a slightly personal approach today.

All my adult life I’ve wanted a library. A room filled with books, a quiet space to read and write, inspiration on every shelf around you. I mean, who wouldn’t want that, right? And given that I have over 90* unread books in my TBR pile, which you can read about here, and I don’t own an e-reader, it only make sense that I NEED a library.

Problem is, our house is small. Really small. I have books strewn from one end to the other, piled precariously, and nowhere to put anything resembling a library.

slight exaggeration, but you get my point

slight exaggeration, but you get my point

But, friends, all is not lost. You see, we (as in hubby and I) have come to the conclusion that our tiny, rundown, literally-falling-down-around-us home has come to the end of its useful life and we’ve decided to knock-down and rebuild.

Yes! My dream house! Finally.

not my actual dream house, but hey!

in my dreams!

OK. So, there’s no way we can afford my actual DREAM house, but I figure if we’re going to build surely I can get included a few, little, things I’ve always wanted. Like a double oven. And, of course a library.

Now, I don’t need a huge library, although if someone with more money than we have offered to build me something like this…library

I wouldn’t say no.

I’m thinking more along the lines of this…home-library-3home-library-2

This has caused a few arguments (what do they say about building being one of the most stressful things you can do?!), as hubby doesn’t quite understand my burning desire to have a room dedicated to books, despite the fact he almost falls over the ones strewn about the house. The arguments became so problematic at one point, that my friend came up with a perfect solution…

library-planI mean, what’s not to love about that plan? Miss 10 did ask where she was going to sleep, but, you know, minor detail!

All jokes aside though, I have convinced hubby that a library/study-writing room is an investment in our future and will pay off once I get published (once, not if…once, not if…) and we met with the builders and the designer last week and I’ve put in my request. Cue fireworks.

fe-heart-fireworksWe should be getting the design in a week or so, so keep your fingers crossed for me that 1 – a library fits in with the plans and 2 – we can afford it (time to get a second job?)

What about you? If you were building your dream house, what would you want included?

*The TBR pile is now up to 105 – shhhh!

S 🙂

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-sept-2016

Book Blurbs and Bachelors

Today on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop, our fearless leader, Julie Valerie, has set the theme of “Jacket Copy”. I’ve written about covers before, here…and here. And I’ve talked about titles before hereand here. So I guess that brings us to the next most important part of a book’s jacket….

The Blurb

For me, and according to research the majority of readers, the first thing I do after a gorgeous cover catches my eye, is read the blurb on the back. And that is the point at which my purchasing decision is made or broken.

It’s a bit like dating, I guess. Pretty face (cover) – I’m listening. Great pick-up line (blurb) – let’s go on a date (buy the book). And just as with dating, the next step is to start delving deeper into the man’s (book’s) soul to see if we can find true love.

But the path to true love is never as smooth as we hope, is it? Here’s an example from my (long) “dating” history.

book tomorrow“Bachelor number one” – you had me at ‘hello’. Such a pretty face, an author I knew (like a friend of a friend – probably safe), book tomorrow coverand just you read those pick-up lines! What book loving reader wouldn’t want to date that?

Thankfully, the book delivered and we had a very happy and loving relationship.

But (oh, there’s always a ‘but’), blurbs can’t always be trusted. No. They are sneaky little things that can trick you with the hope of reader-heaven. But, just like a handsome man who knows how to talk the talk, a blurb can turn out to be nothing but empty promises.

100 names cover“Bachelor number 2” – Pretty face – check, same author (our 1st date was amazing), and a pick-up line that knew just how to 100 names blurbmelt my heart and appeal to everything I always wanted in a date. But oh, no. Mr Perfect turned out to be all talk and failed to deliver my literary dreams and left me disappointed, alone and drowning my disillusion in a tub of ice-cream. Oh yes, we’ve all dated men (books) like that before.

But just as in love, we can’t give up. We can’t let one (or two, or 10) pretty-boy-blurbs with no substance stop us from chasing our literary love match. We must throw ourselves back into the book dating game, knowing that our next literary affair of the heart is just around the corner, waiting to sweep us off our feet.

Thankfully, most blurbs do deliver. Thankfully also, that unlike finding that one special someone we’re meant to be with, books don’t insist on monogamy, and we can have as many book-loves as we like.

Have you ever been let down by a blurb you thought was brilliant but the books was just meh?

S

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-july-2016

Bookstore Bliss

For someone who has a TBR pile numbering over 95 books (I say over now as I might have been shopping since I wrote this post here – shhh), the topic set by Fiction Writers Blog Hop host Julie for this month’s hop being BOOKSTORES is a dangerous thing indeed. Just imagine the “research” I could justify, doing it all in the name of a blog post!!books gilmore girls.gif

Oh, and where to take the topic? Bookstores in films? Famous bookstores around the world? The death of bricks & mortar bookstores debate? Oh me, oh my.

For me a bookstore is a sanctuary of hope and possibility, where I might discover my next favourite author, where I can get lost for hours looking at covers and reading blurbs, trying to limit myself to buying just one or two of the many I decide I simply MUST have.

My sister and I have had discussions (albeit not very serious ones), about opening a cupcake café/bookstore back in our home town on the coast, where we’d be surrounded by books and book people and would get paid to buy and read our favourite titles – every day! Let’s just ignore for the moment the obvious problem of sugary frosting being smeared between the pages of Austen, or sticky chocolate ganache gluing the sheets of a Game of Thrones volume together, and just imagine the joy of turning up to work each day. And once our cupcake/bookstore is up and running and I become an established author, I can get my author friends to come and run writing workshops. Cupcakes and books and writer workshops….I don’t know about you, but that’s my idea of paradise.

Of course, the fact I can’t convince my hubby to leave Sydney, and the fact my sister and I don’t have any start-up money, and the fact that neither of us has any retail experience, and the fact that this becoming-a-published-author caper is taking much longer than I thought…means this cupcake/bookstore dream might just be that – a dream.

Oh, but I won’t let that dishearten me. I’m a writer, right? And that means I can create any kind of world I like on the page and spend as much time as I like there. So, good friends, in my newest WIP I have a bookstore! It’s not a cupcake/bookstore (I kind of exhausted my cupcake quota in my last work OF CUPCAKES AND DANDELIONS), but it is a bookstore…with a café… on the beach! Snap! And over the next few months, I plan to spend a lot of time there. This is my inspiration board for my WIP. Collage insp boardOh yes. I’ll be spending lots of time in this world.

If you can’t make it happen in real life, make it happen in your books I say!

If you could create your dream bookstore, what would it look like?

S

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-june-2016

 

 

Covers? No Covers!

This week on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop, our wonderful host Julie has set the theme COVERS. Despite the old adage, “never judge a book by its cover”, the simple fact is, we do. All the time. And for good reason. It helps us get a feel for what the book is about and if it’s something we’ll be interested in. Helps us cut through the masses of volumes out there to find something we’d like to read.

If you see on a cover a long-haired woman busting out of a corset, being held by a bare-chested hunk, you know instantly it’s an historical romance, and whether that’s for you or not. If you see a dagger dripping with blood on a black background, chances are it’s a murder mystery. If you see…well, you get my point. There are very calculated reasons why publishers choose the covers they do and there are marketing professionals out there smarter than me getting paid big bucks to figure all that out.

So I’m not going to go there.

But what if, just imagine, there were NO COVERS.

What if all that was printed on a book cover was the title and author’s name. twilight coverTWILIGHT, before it became a movie and we all knew what it was about, without its black and red theme and the imagery of temptation in the apple, might well be a story about an old couple falling in love in their ‘twilight years’. Who knows?

cross stitch coverAnd Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER, which was first published in Australia under the title CROSS STITCH, might well have been a non-fiction book about needle work if it weren’t for the cover suggesting it was actually a novel with something to do with Scottish standing stones.

 

And let’s take this one step further. What if there were NO COVERS and NO TITLES?

Well, people, it’s being done! Sort of. I saw this first somewhere on social media and the idea is intriguing. It’s known as Blind Date with a Book.

Close to home, Elizabeth’s Bookstore in Sydney is doing it. And a quick search on google brings up a plethora of results, so this is really a thing. Everywhere.

a selection from Elizabeth's Book Store Blind Date with  Book

a selection from Elizabeth’s Book Store Blind Date with a Book

Basically the staff at the book store wrap (a) book(s) in brown paper and use a few key words to describe the book.

blind date booksCan you imagine picking a book like this? At the moment it’s just a bit of a gimmick to get people to read outside their comfort zone, or a fun way to gift books. And I think it’s a great idea. I don’t know if I’d be game enough to try it. What if I got something that was totally not my thing? But then, that is the whole point, right? And apparently if you get something you’ve already read, you can exchange it. So maybe it’s worth a go. Might be a bit of fun.

And that’s what is – a bit of fun, and any idea that’s fun and gets people reading, is alright in my book (no pun intended).

But, hang on, just wait.

What if this takes off?

What it becomes more than a bit of fun?

What if it becomes a publishing norm (you know, cost-cutting and all)?

Imagine if this was the ONLY way to purchase a book? No more pretty covers, no titles, no author name, no blurb on the back! No. NO! I couldn’t live in a world without all the pretty covers.nooooo oooooo

What about you? Would you ever blind date a book?

S

To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-may-2016

So Many Books, So Little Time

So this month on the Fiction Writers’ Blog Hop, our wonderful host Julie Valerie, challenged us to a theme. We didn’t have to stick with the theme, but I figure if she’s going to the trouble of setting one, I’ll go to the trouble of sticking with it. (Not that it’s any trouble. In fact, it makes it easier to have a topic picked for me:) )

The theme she picked was….Show Us Your TBR Pile!

the book ends I bought specially

the perfect bookends

I have blogged about my TBR pile before, but figured there is ALWAYS a way to look at something from a fresh perspective, so here we go.

Firstly, I thought to really look at my TBR pile, I have to get all my unread books in one place, instead of having them spread all throughout the house. So I gathered them all up and made one (3) big pile (s). Perhaps the reason I haven’t done this before, is because it’s scary…

after I took this I found a few more hiding...

after I took this I found a few more hiding… so a total of 95

Oh me, oh my! How long will it take me to get through all that? Well, thanks to google, I found out. On Read It Forward’s website there is a handy little calculator where you type in how many books are in your pile, how many you read last year and how old you are. Here are my results….tbr calcu

Admittedly, I am the world’s slowest reader. Just ask my poor, long suffering CP. She’ll tell you (wave Hi Lee if you’re reading). But boy is that sobering. And that’s assuming I don’t buy any more books in the mean time.

So then I thought, ok, how can I make a bigger dent in this pile, reduce that time? And I googled again looking for answers. Here were some of the top tips…

  1. Read More – well, yes. Obvious much? I have thought of that. But if I read more, I could justify buying more…see the problem?
  2. Read Multiple Books at Once – um, no. Can’t do that. I get plots and characters confused. Tiny brain can’t cope with that.
  3. Learn to Speed Read – I reckon this is how my hubby gets through all his reading, but I also reckon he must only get the gist, not the delicious layered nuances and plots and themes, and that’s the best part of reading. I don’t want to miss that.
  4. Get a Book Buddy or Book Club – I already belong to a book club, and we have books from the library, which just ADDS to my TBR, and I often don’t finish my book club books and then the ladies frown at me and make evil staring faces and I feel really guilty.
  5. Accept the Fact You Will NEVER Get Through You TBR Pile – think I might just have to go with this one.

So, that’s my TBR pile. As long as I don’t buy anymore books between now and 2032, I’m set. Hang on. The postie is at the door….

And look what he brought me…d’oh!

Once Lost by Ber Carrol

Once Lost by Ber Carroll

That might just push me out to 2033!

So, friends, how big’s your pile? Go on. Be honest.

S

Thanks for reading! To return to the FICTION WRITERS BLOG HOP on Julie Valerie’s website, click here: http://www.julievalerie.com/fiction-writers-blog-hop-apr-2016