Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What A Character! - Lilliana Rose's Ashley

Hope you all enjoy our next character question with Lilliana Rose's Ashley. 

Character Questionnaire

Ashley, 24 years old, the main character from the short story, Following Dreams, published with Alfie Dog 4th Aug 2013.

It’s a young adult sweet romance.

Ashley has spent the last three years planning and studying to set up her own organic café, Zaphire. Her fear of failing in a tough industry threatens to stop her from following her dream. When she finally rents a shop, Ashley ends up with support from a stranger and more than a café.

What one thing from your childhood has had the biggest effect upon you as an adult?

My Nan. She believed in me. She supported me so that I would be able to set up my own café. Nan always encouraged me to cook, to get a business diploma, and to actually think about starting up the café instead of just dreaming out it.
What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?

When my Nan died. She left me money to start up my organic café Zaphire, but I just didn’t want to waste the money. It’s not easy starting up a small business, and this was her life savings, I didn’t want to waste it.

What do you do best?

Cook! I love to cook. Especially cup cakes and I like to ice them with thick chocolate icing.
Where do you call home?

Adelaide, Australia.

What makes you laugh out loud?

Rom coms. I love them. Have you seen ‘Warm Bodies’? I really liked that one. Who would’ve thought that there could be zombies in a romantic comedy?

Do you have a secret?

No. I’m a straight laced sort of girl.

On what occasion would you lie?

If I had a secret.

What is your greatest achievement?

Opening Zaphire. I can’t believe I’ve done it! I just wish Nan could be here to see.

What is your greatest fear?

Zaphire being forced to close. It used to be setting up my own business that was scary. Everyone had advice to give me, told me what I should and shouldn’t do. The economic climate isn’t good for small businesses, it’s too risky, wait a few more years. But I did that, and now I want to keep Zaphire open for years.

Tell us a memory of childhood?

Making my first chutney at 10. Mum had a fit when she walked into the kitchen and saw me sterilising the jars in boiling water. It was all fine, Nan had told me what to do. Mum loved the chutney too, and we sold it at the Lion’s food store on the weekend. People even put in for orders. It made me realise how much I love cooking for other people. I think it started my cooking journey.

Have you been in love and had a broken heart?

I’m in love now. At least I think I’m in love. I mean I thought that Craig broke my heart in year 12 but if Tim and I broke up I would be much more heart broken now. But Tim and I are going well, we might move in with each other soon. *squeal*

What is your current state of mind?

Happy. Ecstatic. Over the moon. Now that my life is on track and I’m following my dreams.

What would you change about yourself?

Nothing. I’m not perfect, but I’m me, and being me is perfect enough, even with all my faults.

Do you believe in luck?

Not really, but Nan was always so superstitious and I spent a lot of time with her growing up since she lived with us. I wonder if some of her sayings have rubbed off on me, I mean one of Nan’s sayings nearly stopped me from opening the business on Pirie Street. But no, I don’t think I believe in luck. I believe in hard work.

What do you hate?

Burning food and wasting food. I’ve set up to give any unsold food and produce from the café to the Salvos so they can pass it onto people in need.

What is your idea of happiness?

Now. Right now. I’ve got my café open. *squeal* Zaphire is doing really well, and I’ve survived the two month period – that time which can make or break a café. And I’ve met a guy, Tim, and he’s been a great support. So has my family of course. I feel my life is really starting now.

What is the strangest thing to happen to you?

Looking at the green door when I first went to look at the shop front. I’d forgotten about Nan’s superstitious sayings, and I knew that she would always mutter about never walking through a green door. It was weird. I knew that Nan wanted me to set up the business, but I thought that maybe this wasn’t the place. Strange how memories come back and haunt you. I know in my heart that she would be glad that I didn’t listen to the saying about the green door, and she would laugh knowing that I’ve painted it blue.

For more information about her varied work have a look at her website and her page at Alfie Dog 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Southern Speak - How to Sell Yourself & Your Book

With Victoria Purman

So you’ve written a book and it’s out there in the world, waiting for a home with a publisher. 

Or perhaps its about to hit shelves or e-reading devices.

You think the hard part is over, right?

Hah hah, she laughs maniacally. Now you have to actually TALK about it with others. Maybe that’s friends, readers (fingers crossed), on blogs, or to a journalist who’s interviewing you for a story.

Before you take to your bed and pull the covers over your head, here are some tips on how to handle the whole talking about it thang.

The first thing to understand about journalists is that they have to know a little about a whole lot of things. It’s the nature of being called out to cover everything from an interview with the newest Australian Idol winner to a protest march through the city – on the same day. With shrinking newsrooms, there simply aren’t the specialist reporters anymore who get the time to learn in-depth things about a particular area.

So, when a journalist asks you if your book is like “Fifty Shades of Grey”, don’t sniff. It’s been big, it’s sold a squillion copies, and its kinda the obvious question.

What you don’t have to do is give the obvious answer. Instead of screaming, “I wish E.L. James had never been born!” or “I loved that book and why don’t you, huh?” there is another approach.

Try something like this.

“What’s amazing about that novel is that its helped readers discover a whole world of books they may not have known ever existed. Romance comes in all shapes and forms, and the kind I write is….”

Always remember the golden rule: there’s no such thing as a stupid question – only a stupid answer.

An interview is a chance to tell your story so don’t waste it! It’s almost like pitching to a publisher, in that you need to have a short, succinct description of who you are and what you write.

“I’m Betty Boop and I write medical romance.” Boom.

“I’m Jane Austen and I write witty Regency novels with biting social commentary.” Easy.
You get the picture. Having this pre-prepared line in your head and at the ready will help you overcome any nerves you might feel when talking about yourself and your writing.
The other thing to remember about being interviewed is common sense. Be nice. As I said before, don’t get huffy when you get what you regard as a “stupid question”. The journalist is just someone trying to do their job, after all, and may even be having a really bad day. Why not see the interview as an opportunity to spread the word about your book?

Another important point to remember is that the interview may not turn out exactly as you want it to. It will appear according to the journalists’ experience, knowledge, style, the information they have at hand, the space available in the paper, and the editor’s final decision.

Your killer quote was cut? The story was probably too long. You don’t like your photo? Get over it – that’s what you look like. They didn’t mentioned the name of your book enough times? It’s an interview, not an ad.

One more piece of advice. It’s worthwhile formulating a one-page bio/media release about you and your books. It’s handy to have on hand to give to a journalist and it will help you hone your message. Include a photo on it and contact details/social media addresses and so on. I’m always happy to help with that. If you want to see what I’ve done, send me an email at and I’ll flick it to you.

Happy writing! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

SARA News - The book so nice, it's been released twice...

Tamara Gill will re-release her medieval time-travel romance, Defiant Surrender, next month.

Check the new cover!  Stunning!

Unlucky in love, Maddie St. Clair hides behind an antique store and her mudlarking hobby. That is until she finds a medieval ring that throws her back to 1102 Cumberland and into the life of Lady Madeline Vincent, heiress to Norman lands and about to be married to an autocratic Baron, William Dowell, nine hundred years her senior. Lord William Dowell protects his own. Usually, from his closest neighbor and long standing foe the Baron of Aimecourt. Forced to marry his dead enemy's daughter, Lady Madeline, by King's decree, he hides his growing respect for his wife behind a wanton mistress. Yet when Madeline's life is threatened, William's loyalty to his kin is tested by the astonishing desire that flares between them. Not to mention the love that Madeline ignites that would last an eternity. If fate will allow . . . Sensuality Level: Sensual

Monday, August 12, 2013

SARA News - The Day of the Debutantes!

It's okay.  You may leave the frothy white dress with matching gloves in the back of your wardrobe, and stay in your seat with your coffee and your chocky bicky.

Allow us here at SARA to parade a few of our debutantes before you.  You can't see it, but I'm wearing a very nice tux right now.  

VICTORIA PURMAN is cordially inviting you to the launch of her debut book from Harlequin, Nobody But Him.  We can't be certain Victoria will be wearing a frothy white confection, but good times are guaranteed!

It's out on October 1st.  Need a closer look at that gorgeous cover?

She didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!
At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her home town of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.
But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.
The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.
What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.
You can find Victoria at her website, on Twitter and Facebook.  See you at the launch!

In other cover news, K E OSBORN has a smashing new cover for her debut book, Trust Me? (Book 1 of the Trust Me? Trilogy), which is due for release in September.  Again, not a voluminous white dress in sight, but we're very 2013 here.... 

When Jenifer Taylor (a young woman from the big city of Mornington Vale, California) gets up her day turns from bad to worse when on her way to work she is in a chain collision.

Little does she know this accident will set off a chain of events transforming her dull life and fill it with love and heartache - more than she has ever known before.

Her trust issues spark as she meets a new man (Aiden O'Connell) and she will be asked the ultimate question.

"Do you trust me?"

You can find K E at her website, or on Twitter and Facebook.  

In our final news tidbit, for the first time SUZIE HINDMARSH-KNIGHTS has been featured as Author of the Week at  Yes, I know.  No white dress there either.  There is a very cute puppy, though.  

Until next time, happy reading.


Friday, August 9, 2013

UP CLOSE with SARA member & competition queen Ella Audrey!

What competitions have you won or finalled in lately? And how many comps did you enter before winning anything?

I only started writing seriously about two years ago, and last year I entered my first contest, Spring into Romance, which I was incredibly lucky to final in. Just lately I’ve finalled in the 2013 Linda Howard Award of Excellence and was thrilled to come first in RWA’s First Kiss 2013. However, I’ve entered another couple of contests where I didn’t final, but I did receive valuable feedback about head-hopping, making the motivations of the characters more clear, and introducing conflict a little earlier in the story. I’ve tried to incorporate this feedback into my writing.

How do you mostly find out about the competitions?

Isn’t the internet an amazing thing? I initially took a look on the RWA (Australia) website, but the US RWA website has a huge compendium of contests. Stephie Smith has an impressive – and up-to-date – list of contests here. I generally decide which contest to enter based on who the final judge is. I think it’s pretty important as a writer to know who publishes for your target reader.

Any cool prizes? What do you generally get – just kudos or a certificate?

Apart from the cash prize for RWA’s First Kiss this year, which pretty much covers my contest entry costs (!), I think the coolest prize is having someone write comments like “excellent balance of narrative and dialogue, well done” and “you've got a nice writing voice and style - pump it up just a bit more with visceral, physical emotion and you'll be even more stellar”. It gives me tingles :)

Why do you enter comps? Why's it important?

I originally entered contests because I wanted objective, anonymous feedback on my writing. It’s pretty scary, as a new writer, to have someone you know read your story. What if they hate it? What if they can’t connect to the characters or the storyline? With contests, you get some honest feedback, and, while some if it may be a bit painful, I know it was meant in the spirit of helping me improve my craft.

Any examples of different feedback you’ve had which has been helpful, or not? Or conflicting comments?

Sometimes comments on the same story receive very different critiques. I submitted the story that finalled in Spring into Romance to the Valerie Parv 2012 contest, and that was fascinating, as I received three very different scores: 38%, 81% and 98%. That really highlighted to me that the judges’ comments are subjective, and as a writer you take what is useful, and politely ignore what doesn’t seem appropriate. To be honest though, the comments from the 38% judge were totally valid, and I do cringe re-reading some parts of that entry. Needless to say, I’ve edited that story pretty heavily!

What people have you been able to get your work in front of? Name-drop!

I’ve been lucky enough to have a partial with Harlequin Blaze editor Dana Hopkins. And Kate Cuthbert, Harlequin Escape, judged the First Kiss finalists, which was very exciting.

Where do you hope to see yourself in the future as a writer? Any publishers/lines you’re particularly targeting?

Like many new writers, I’d love to see my stories published someday. Life’s pretty hectic, so I’m taking the slow and steady approach to hone my craft, have a few more completed stories, and take on board the invaluable feedback I receive from my critique partners and contest judges. There are so many choices for writers these days, including the self-publishing route, but I’m kind of old-fashioned in that regard, and would love to see my stories published by a well-known romance publisher someday.

For more on Ella, check out her site here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A bundle of bouncing SARA News with Carla Caruso

SARA Member Carla Caruso, author of Destiny Romance's Cityglitter and Second Chance, has a double dose of very big news:

"My hubby James and I welcomed twin boys Alessio James and Sebastian Rocco Elsby on July 27 – two miniature dashing heroes, one minute apart! (Gushing mum pic below.)

I also have a rural romance in the hands of a publisher, with the working title of Catch of the Day, which features a secondary character, who is pregnant with twins. And there may be a “my water’s broke” moment at a country wedding near the end and a mad dash to the hospital (none of which happened to me!!)"

HUGE congratulations on the births of your gorgeous baby boys, Carla and James!  We love the names, very apt for future dashing heroes.   All the best for your next book, too.  So much exciting news.

Everybody at SARA wishes your beautiful family endless years of joy!