Friday, March 28, 2014

UP-CLOSE with Mills & Boon writer Anne Oliver!

Tell us about your writing journey. How many manuscripts and years before publication? And what book number are you up to now?

My writing journey began in 1997 when I wrote my first manuscript, an epic 100,000 words with a reincarnation theme. It was a particularly ambitious project because it involved the two main characters living in two different time periods who were essentially the same in ‘spirit’. Imagine trying to write the synopsis… :( 

It’s still the book of my heart and now, seventeen years later, I'm looking at doing something with it. It needs a LOT of work, particularly the historical scenes which are not my strength.

In all, I wrote four full-length manuscripts which remain unpublished; all fantasy/paranormal/time-travel novels. They don’t fit into any single genre but did well in contests here and overseas under the ‘paranormal’ category.

My first book, Behind Closed Doors, was published by Mills and Boon in 2006. I’ve just completed my sixteenth book for them and am waiting on revisions. Any day now...

You used to be a teacher. What made you change route and target Mills & Boon? And are any past students fans of your work?

Yes, I taught for more years than I care to remember and more than I care to tell you! After not finding a home for my paranormal work in the published world, I wanted a change and turned to writing contemporary romance.

Mills and Boon seemed like a good place to start and I was lucky enough to be offered publication with my first two contemporaries. A few years after I was published, I resigned from teaching to write full-time.

As for past students being fans — they were 5-7 year olds, so no! I kept my teaching and writing careers separate.

Your books often have glamorous premises and locations. What’s the most glamorous thing you’ve ever done?

Glamorous locations and premises are part of the requirements for the Modern Tempted/KISS line. But me, glamorous? No. But I live vicariously through my characters and it doesn’t cost a cent.

If I could choose one glamorous evening, I’d be Chloe Montgomery in my book, Marriage in Name Only? Silky emerald and amethyst designer gown. The romantic package at the Burj al Arab in Dubai sounds incredibly glamorous — the table at the water’s edge, protected from the sand beneath by a Persian carpet and surrounded by Moroccan lanterns, tropical blooms, aromatic food and a glorious sunset. And an amazing guy’s attention as well, of course….

US actress/singer Vanessa Hudgens recently enjoyed your latest KISS release on a flight from LA to NY and shared this fact online (check out her Tumblr post here). A pinch-yourself moment, indeed! What else has been a career highlight?

Yes, it was exciting to see my latest KISS release tweeted about by Vanessa. It also helped boost sales for the KISS line in general, which was great since it’s a new line and trying to attract readers.

But my career highlight is winning the Romance Writers of Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year (the Ruby) twice with my first two published books in 2007 and 2008.

You have belonged to the Astronomical Society of South Australia and own a telescope. Ever imagine writing about an astronomer hero?

Not a hero, Carla, a heroine! I intend writing about an astronomer in future when I come up with a suitable plot premise because I love the stars and am conversant with astronomy and space travel.

In one of my unpublished works, the heroine was an archaeo-astronomer. Archaeo-astronomy is the branch of archaeology that studies the astronomical techniques used by prehistoric civilisations. For example, the construction of megaliths for cyclical events, such as Stonehenge with its accurate calculations of the summer and winter solstice.

My heroine found herself transported to another world in another time and was super fun to write! And not being published at the time, it was very liberating to write the way I wanted to write.

Dorchester read the first three chapters and requested the full and the sequel, which I’d written, but disappointingly nothing ever came of the request despite repeated attempts to contact them. (Not even a rejection…I think the manuscripts fell into a black hole.)

On your website it says a turning point in your life came when you researched your family history and unearthed a few skeletons . I’m intrigued! Can you say anymore, or has the research at least inspired some novel fodder?

Family history research is addictive. Sorting through old family photos from the late 1800s, learning about their daily lives, reading letters, newspapers and diaries of the time, locating their grave-sites. I was lucky — my Australian pioneer ancestors kept a lot of these personal records, and for me, this research became a spiritual journey as these people stepped out of the archives and into my world. Well, not exactly, but you get the idea.

A visit to a clairvoyant with some nineteenth century photos inspired my first story. “What if a nineteenth century widower with a young daughter emigrates to begin a new life in Australia? What if two hundred years later, an Aussie woman, troubled by a lifetime of unsettling dreams recognises her dream-man in a girlfriend’s old family photograph?  I love what ifs, don’t you?

For more on the lovely Anne Oliver, check out her site here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sassy Snippets

Here we have a new section called Sassy Snippets. This is where you will be able to share a snippet from your latest release to get our interest peaked.

This does not mean ‘What a character’ is gone. We are still open for business for character profiles on your heroes and heroines.

Today’s Sassy Snippet is from my book Hidden Mortality

This is the moment when Cara realizes her dream lover is real. The problem is if he has come to life are the murders she dreams about real as well.


Cara kept searching but couldn’t find the book she wanted. The assistant at the empty counter smiled politely as she approached.

“I’m looking for a book called Immortality and Witchcraft, Fact or Fiction,” Cara said.

The woman typed the title into her computer. As Cara waited, someone walked up to the other counter beside her. She turned to look. Her world stopped as she met the slate grey gaze of the man staring straight at her. This wasn’t possible. He couldn’t exist. He was just a dream lover. Yet there he was, standing next to her as big as life.

She tried to smile, but it probably came out as more of a grin. He didn’t smile back. Her legs turned to jelly. If she didn’t breathe, she would pass out. She reached out and gripped the counter. One of them had to look away but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Someone was talking to her and the moment was broken.

“Excuse me.”
“Sorry.” Cara replied, as she forced herself to look at the salesperson. She was afraid if she glanced back, he would be gone. Her imagination must be playing tricks on her.

“It looks like we should have one copy left,” the woman said.

“I think I’m just about to sell it,” the other shop assistant said coming up to the register. “We could order it in for you. It might take a couple of weeks.”

“Please, take my copy.” The man at the other counter held out the book. His voice was deep, exactly as it was in her dreams. She was caught again in his gaze. The world disappeared and for a moment they were the only two people alive locked in the gaze they shared. Her hand went to her chest. She could feel her heart racing at the thought of him being near.

“Thank you, but no I couldn’t. You had the book first.”

“Please, take it. I have plenty of time to wait for another copy to come in.”

She found it hard to say no. Perhaps, it was the fact he was about six three and wore grey bike leathers. They added to the effect of making him look powerful. The shaved head and the stubble on his face gave a menacing look, but she wasn’t afraid of him. This wasn’t right. Her life was wild enough without dream lovers becoming real.

Plus, she wouldn’t want her other dreams to become real as well. She needed to say something, or he would think she was an idiot standing there with her mouth gaping. He held the book out to her. As she took it, her hand touched his. It was such a tiny touch and yet it meant he was real. She felt the heat rising up her neck as she blushed. She also sensed another heat inside her. It was the same way he had made her feel in her dreams.

“Thanks.” Cara paid for her book and listened as he confirmed his contact details. Seth Scanlon. She had a name. She wasn’t really stalking. Taking another book off a shelf, she flipped through the pages. He glanced her way before he left and caught her gaze once more.

She couldn’t fool herself. The look he gave her was so intense she felt he was seeing inside her soul. Her breath caught. She shivered although the shop was warm. For a split second, she considered following him and saying he must remember all the times they had made love.

She could just imagine the expression he would give her. He didn’t know her. She was a stranger. The shop became suffocating as she pulled at the collar of her jumper. She needed to be outside. There was no sign of him on the street. For a moment, she wanted to cry. At this rate, she would give the silly schoolgirls in the shop a run for their money.

Hidden Mortality out now on Amazon

Find me at 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I've been on a little bit of merry-go-round this month and so the SARA News suffered, but we are back with a whole lotta SASS.

Khloe Wren
Good reviews are coming in for Cinderella's Guardian

Cara from Smile Somebody Loves You

"I do think you’ll enjoy this book, a remaking of the classic Cinderella story. I also look forward to reading the future books in this series."
See full review

Kristin on Amazon:

"Wow! This book starts off with a bang and totally keeps going right until the end! This is the first book by the author that I've read and it certainly won't be the last."
See full review

Anne Oliver

Anne 16th book (!!)  has been accepted by M&B. Titled The Party Dare, it will be released in September, 2014.

Fantastic job, Anne!! 

Exciting news for Leesa as her debut book, a New Adult novel called Winning the Player’ is due for release Monday 14th April!!

We also have the lovely cover reveal today as well.... drum roll please....

and last but in no way, the least...

Lilliana was the the featured writer at Little Raven Press blog back in late February. There's a Q&A up on their site with her about writing erotic poetry.

~ Until next, time, happy Reading and Writing!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Southern Speak - Ergonomics is not a dirty word

I am currently typing very slowly with just my right hand. That's because my left wrist is currently bandaged up after my Carpel Tunnel Release Surgery.

Many years ago when I first finished Business College and started working full time as a legal secretary, I didn't give ergonomics much credence. Within two years I was in trouble. I'd need three weeks off each year to recoup my wrists. But still I didn't clue in to the fact it was my dodgy desk set up that was the issue!

Being all of about 20 years of age, the concept of going on WorkCover (workers compensation) scared the daylights out of me. So I learned to live with it. Moving to different work places I soon discovered the benefits in having a good work station set up correctly.

At home now I have an adjustable keyboard shelf on my desk and use an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. Normally that's enough. But about eight months ago, I got caught out. On holidays with just my laptop I continued to write on the tiny keyboard with it sitting on my lap (in my defense, I had editing deadlines!).

I tried to ignore it. Thinking it would go away... but it didn't. Finally (I'll never deny I'm stubborn) I went to the doctor and headed off to surgery. My right wrist is also playing up, but no where near as much as the left. But in two years (Doc tells me that's how long I have to wait) if it's still playing up I'll be back to get it fixed. 

Just one more week till the bandage comes off and the stitches come out... I. Can't. Wait!!
My muse has been very busy, I've got a whole new story that needs writing!!!

Anyhow... back on track! If you want to write books, you're going to be hammering out thousands of words a day (hopefully) so you need to do it right to prevent injury. Use this diagram to help you get things straight:

Happy Writing!
Khloe Wren

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Reading Adventures in March

Have you ever wondered what romance authors read when they're not writing?  Well, you've come to the right place!

Hello and welcome to SARA's awfully sassy March Reading Adventures.

Now, I don't know how Carla Caruso does it.  Despite releasing new reads with Destiny Romance, penning freelance articles for various sources and looking after her rather gorgeous twin babies, she also finds time to keep me in the loop with her reading shenanigans.  If anyone's looking for Wonder Woman's lasso and red high-waisted pants, I think Carla's got them...

Here's Carla:

I just read Stresshead by Allayne Webster, prompted by two things – a) meeting the lovely Adelaide writer in the flesh (we have a bit of a Kingston SE connection – she grew up in the Big Lobster-owning town and I worked at a newspaper there for 1.5 years!) and b) wanting to try my hand at YA after a few years of having the thought at the back of my head and not doing anything about it.

The book took me back to the fiction I used to love to read as an angsty teen (hello Judy Blume and Melina Marchetta!) In short, it’s about a youngster, amid a family of lawyers, who’s not sure if she wants to go the legal path. Nor is she sure if she and her boyfriend still ‘work’. It’s written in an easy-to-read style, with a well-drawn cast of family and friends, and also tackles serious issues like cancer, teen pregnancy, and sexuality. I especially like that this book doesn’t try to tie up all the loose ends in pretty bows. I’m onto reading another of Allayne’s books now, Our Little Secret, which is apparently a little more controversial… Can’t wait!

Also in my to-be-read pile are Nobody But Him by SARA’s own Victoria Purman, House for all Seasons by Jenn J. McLeod (after reading an interview with the author by Adelaide’s Rowena Holloway), and A French Affair by Katie Fforde (heard a radio interview with this UK writer!)

Speaking of Wonder Women, Eleni Konstantine has also been keeping us in her reading loop:

I’ve been reading Shona Husk’s Court of Annwyn series and have been thoroughly enjoying them. Annwyn is the place between life and death where fairies live. 

The Outcast Prince (book 1) is a book about the changeling (but not as we know a changeling), Caspian, and his ability in psychometry. While assessing objects of a deceased estate, he meets Lydia - a human who can capture his heart. He must protect her from his world and this may mean walking away.

Lord of the Hunt (book 2) is about Verden who becomes fascinated with a newcomer, Taryn, to the Annwyn Court. However, he a sworn loyal servant to the King who shows interest in her. Taryn seeks the King’s favour to pardon her exiled parents. With so much in the balance, these two fight being together.

I love the world-build
ing in these stories. While each is a stand-alone story, the progression of Annwyn’s demise is seen through both of them. The stories took me away and are an easy read.

I am lucky enough to have read the novella that will be between book 2 and book 3, The Changeling Soldier,  as I’m designing the cover. A great read also - keep an eye out for that mid 2014.

I'm very glad Virginia Taylor has also let us know what she thinks of The Rosie Project.  I was so intrigued, I've gone out and got myself this one on Kindle...

A romantic comedy by Graeme Simsion.

I didn’t want to read this book. My neighbour told me I would love it, but he’s a guy and the book is written by a guy. I presumed the orange-red cover with a silhouetted male cyclist was designed to grab male readers. Ghastly. I kept the book for two weeks, unopened.

To be fair, before returning this eyesore, I needed to read the first few pages, satisfy myself that I couldn’t read any more, and give the book back with my thanks. Hm. Didn’t happen. You know that ‘you caught me at hello’ thing? GS caught me at ‘The timing was extremely annoying. The preparation could be shared with lunch consumption . . .’ and that was the sixth line.
By the time I had read the first chapter, I totally agreed with the reviewers on the cover of the book and thought The Rosie Project was ‘endearing.’ Strange way to describe a book but it’s exactly right.
The story set in Melbourne was told in first person by a man named Don who isn’t an ordinary sort of professor of genetics. Because he doesn’t seem to be too popular with the other sex, he decides to find a wife by handing around a questionnaire to find the perfect partner. However, he wants every question completely right so that no woman can mess with his preference list. He isn’t interested in vegetarian women, frex, but he can’t ask if a woman is a vegetarian because there are so many variations on vegetarianism and one might slip through. His question is ‘would you eat a kidney if you had to?’ Of course, he doesn’t want a smoker or drinker either.
Enter Rosie, a vegetarian barmaid who smokes and drinks and is never on time. Fortunately, she isn’t looking for a husband, but a father, and Don can help her with a bit of DNA testing while not worrying if she might be a suitable wife for him.
I couldn’t put this book down. I missed lunch and I ate dinner while still reading. I stayed up late. It’s wonderful, and different, and this guy did write a romantic comedy. Although I wish I could give the story five stars, I can’t. When I had finished, although the ending was satisfactory, I felt let down. I think I didn’t want Don to change as much as he did. That was the only thing I can think of to explain the ‘oh’ I felt at the end.

Thank you, lovely ladies.  As always, a stellar job.  

Until next time, happy reading.