Friday, May 16, 2014

Southern Speak ~ Finding the Author 'you'

As part of my graphic design business run by my alter-ego, HelzKat Designs, I ask writers to think about the look of a banner or website/blog that I create on their behalf.

I get them to think about their author brand. To think about what public face and image they will have as an author. This is not the personal you. It's the professional you related to your writing.

Branding helps you and the reader know where you fit in. Humans love to categorise things. And because there are different ways to brand yourself, an author can find a way to market themselves that suits them.

Genre as your brand

For example, the author me writes mostly fantasy and paranormal stories, with the tagline, Doorway into Fantasy and Paranormal Fiction. I use a fairy as the avatar on my website banner and blog, and even on my business cards. I love the fairy as it indicates the fantastical, it can be bright and dark at the same time, which reflects my writing.

I've changed the look of my banner a few times over the years.

But early last year, I realised that I use the fairy for identiy on my business card and that I should change my banner it to reflect this.

My client and fellow SARA member, Maggie Mundy writes Dark Speculative Fiction and so the banner I created reflects this.

But how about if you are a writer that has many different genres?

That's okay, too. You don't have to be genre specific with regards to brand, though many authors like to keep their different genres seperate by different names.

For example, Nora Roberts writes her romances as Nora Roberts, but her futuristic crime series as J.D. Robb.

Jayne Ann Krentz writes as as Jayne Anne Krentz for romantic suspenses, Amanda Quick for historical romances, and Jayne Castle for her paranomal romances.

You know what type of stories you will get when you pick a book by the author name. This is reader expectation.

But as you can see with the J.D. Robb cover, Nora's name is mentioned - this is marketing and in the hopes of getting readers to pick up the book.

My client, Tracey O'Hara writes Dark Urban Fantasy but wrote erotic romance as Tracie Sommers. She's since changed this to have all her writing under one name - Tracey O'Hara - which is becoming more common. With the book cover to the right, I created the look of the short story that went with the rest of her Dark Brethren series.

Another client, Dakota Harrison writes both contemporary romance and fantasy/sci-fi. I created two banners for her to distinguish the two styles.

Your writing 'voice'
This can indicate your brand as well.

For example, Meg Cabot, writes adult, YA, and MG books. But it's her writing voice that makes it Meg Cabot. It's a fun, quirky style with bits of seriousness thrown in.

Cecilia Ahern writes quirky stories usually with romances and magical elements. Therefore the style of her website is generic but her books have an illustrated approach. The stories are set in this world but not quite of this world but in no means are what is called paranormal romance - that has a different connotation.


My client and fellow SARA Claire Baxter, writes fun, sweet, entertaining romance.  This is indicated with both her romances with publishers such as Random Romance and Entangled Publishing, but also with her self-published work such as More Than Just One Night.

You can go by theme

For example, Nikki Logan writes sweet romances, sexy romances, and romantic suspense under her A Romance with Nature tag. Her work involves nature in some way.

The name as the brand

Tara Moss writes both crime fiction and young adult paranormal stories. Her brand is her name - Tara Moss. This has seen her through her careers as a model, journalist, and TV presenter and most people relate to her.

Client and SARA member Virginia Taylor writes both historical romance and contemporary romance (with mainly a romantic comedy slant). Her  brand is her as is reflected in this design.


Fiona McIntosh (who will be a special guest at the upcoming A Fair to Remember) is now focusing her fiction on historical romantic adventures alongside her fantasy stories which she built her career on.

So have you thought about your branding?

Monday, May 12, 2014

SARA News ~ spicy illustrations, Weekend to Remember Plus a worthy cause!

Sassy news coming your way...

Spicy explicit illustrations!

Kyoko Church has a cover for her upcoming June release by Sweetmeats Press. This publisher illustrates the erotic stories. Explicitly. So rated Rauchy!

Except the cover is meek and mild...

Coming next month...


a weekend for writers and lovers of romantic fiction!!!

Brought to you by RWA and SAWC

Stop penning those love letters, put down the Mills & Boon, and forget those roses – it’s time for our inaugural genre fair – and it’s romance! RWA and SAWC have come together to bring you two days of whirling workshops, panel sessions, masterclasses, industry advice, meet the authors sessions, book signings and more. And on the Saturday night it’s the fundraising event of the year: our romance-themed lit quiz night. Full program and speakers announced in April.

COST: 1 day = $130 SAWC and RWA members, $170 non members
2 days = $240 SAWC and RWA members, $340 non members
QUIZ NIGHT: $20 per head

BOOKINGS: Please book by phoning 08 8223 7662 or by emailing

Featuring SARA members Trish Morey, Victoria Purman, Amy T. Mattews, Bronwyn Stuart, Carla Caruso, Eleni Konstantine, Elizabeth Rolls, Kyoko Church and Tamara Gill!!

Come along to an exciting weekend!!

A Worthy Cause...

Every year, author Brenda Novack holds a huge auction to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes. This year, Maggie Mundy and her Soul Mate Publishing brethren are helping out with the auction.

Check it out!

~ Until next time....

Friday, May 9, 2014

UP-CLOSE with romance and crime writer Christina Carlisle!

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

I began writing romance in 1992. Three of us made a New Year’s resolution to write a romance and get published (we’d had too many glasses of bubbles at the time - jeez!) It was really an excuse to meet up once a month, drink bubbly and gossip, which we did. 

I had too many rejections to count and also didn’t realise I should “target” my manuscripts to particular publishers. I spent a fortune sending everywhere – how dumb is that? I had a lapse from writing for some years while colleague (and close friend) Diane Beer and I set up and ran the Romance Writers of America – Australian Chapter. That kept us very busy and we ended up with over 200 hundred members across Australia.

I was first published in 2005 when I had four books accepted by New Concepts Publishing - a boutique publisher in the US, in e-book format to begin with and then they were all taken into print.

At present I’m up to Number 25, but this includes four books which have been re-edited and re-published and four non-fiction books mainly about working with the media and corporate fundraising.

Chris, you’ve held down a whopping 27 jobs. Can you give us a brief history?

I won’t go through them all but rather will group them otherwise we’ll never finish. When I left school I trained as an engineering draftsperson – did this for nine years and also branched out over the years into architectural, civil, electrical and cartography.

I changed careers in my mid-twenties and became a horse-riding instructor; flight attendant; ballroom dancing teacher; ran hotels/motels/restaurants for 12 years and in 1984 joined the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as Director of Public Relations. I resigned in 2006 to write full-time, concentrating on the crime genre.

You’re an international ambassador for Variety – the children's charity, and a board member of Kidsafe SA. What’s drawn you to supporting children in need?

Kids are very special at anytime but particularly if they are sick or injured or disabled so yes, if I have made the slightest difference to make a better life for a child and his/her family, then I’m happy.

I was a founding member of Variety in SA in 1983 and held most of the positions on our committee over the years. I resigned from the board a few years ago (they were going very well without me!). I have been an international ambassador since 2001 and have attended most of Variety’s international conventions which are held in various cities across the world. I’m a life member of Variety SA.

I have been a member of Kidsafe SA for four years. This is a national body dedicated to the prevention of unintentional death and injuries to Australian children. We provide an information, education and resource service for parents and carers on all aspects of child safety and injury prevention. I don’t think you can get anything better than that!

I was extremely honoured in 2005 to receive the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for my services to children’s charities.

You've released a trilogy, dubbed Falling-In-Love. Why do you think trilogies are so popular right now?

I enjoyed writing this trilogy very much. Although they were connected by the individual stories of three friends who grew up together through boarding school and university, they can be read as ‘stand-alone’ books and that is what I think is the important thing about trilogies.

I have planned another one with a medical theme but at the moment it’s on the back-burner.

Your crime book, A Taste of Evil, was a finalist in the 2012 Novel of The Year contest and you’re also involved with the South Australian Crime Writers' Group. If you had to choose between romance and crime as a favourite genre, could you pick?

I LOVE crime - whether reading crime books or watching thriller movies, it sucks me in for some reason. A Taste of Evil was my first venture into a full crime novel and has been very successful. At the moment I am writing the sequel, Evil Attraction, which is keeping me riveted.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like romance. I think it is a wonderful genre, in fact, combining crime and romance works for me too and Falling for Nick surprised me by turning itself into a romantic suspense. Isn’t it fantastic when your writing gets away from you – the characters do things you are not expecting – and the plot veers from what you had planned? That is what is so fascinating and will keep me writing.

Crime Writers SA is a writing group based at the SA Writer’s Centre. It was established five years ago by our president, Stephen Lord, and we meet the first Sunday of each month at 10.30am. I’m happy to say I was there at the start and hold the positions of vice-president and secretary. We have 33 members with around an average of 15 who regularly attend meetings and others involved online.

We critique each others' work and have regular guest speakers such as criminal lawyers, major crime detectives and so on. Among our regular members are a pathologist, lawyer, senior policeman and criminologist, so we are well provided for with regard to research. Many of our members are now published and achieving success.

Several of your books have been published by digital publisher Champagne Books. What do you like about them and being published digitally?

The Champagne Book Group (CBG) is a super publisher based in Canada. I’m delighted to be one of their authors and was thrilled when its editors voted me as one of their five finalists in their Author of the Year Awards last month. I didn’t win but considering they have 143 authors on their books (excuse the pun), I was extremely happy to achieve this recognition.

All the staff at CBG are very professional and I have learnt heaps from my editor. They produce mainly digital novels but also take some of their books into print, which is what they have done with A Taste of Evil. As well as their own website they distribute on all major sites such as Amazon, Kobo and so on...

Finally, thanks for asking me to take part in this Q & A session. I very much appreciated it.

Many congratulations to the members of SARA. It has been so exciting watching the wonderful achievements of the various members.

So long for now…

For more on Christina, check out her site here.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reading Adventures in May

Hello, dear readers! 

Let's not dally!  On to our sasstacular SARA Reading Adventures for May!

Reviews for Virginia Taylor's Dr No Commitment:
A mischievous romantic comedy, about a man who’s always run from love and the girl who just might catch him.Ally was warned about Rohan Sinclair when she first moved to town – and she is determined she won’t let this gorgeous, model-dating doctor distract her from being the best nurse she can be. Problem is, this bad boy just happens to live in the room next door . . .It’s hard enough to resist his persistent charm at home; almost impossible when they are thrown together at work . . . But a little innocent flirting never hurt anyone, right?  Wrong. Ally knows it’s a terrible idea to fall for a man who will never commit, but what if in every other way he’s her perfect guy?

"Hands down the best dialogue I’ve read in a book this year." - The Never Ending Bookshelf, Goodreads

"One of those books that read effortlessly and just wrap you up inside the plot and setting, pitting you right there beside the characters as you watch it all happen like a movie inside your mind . . . Witty, warm, and engaging - the perfect feel-good romance." - Zee Monodee, Goodreads

"This is a great book for summer nights – fun and flirty!" - Sam Still Reading, Goodreads

"This was a fabulous book. It not only kept me on my toes but it truly grasped the truth behind the insecurities between lovers. By keeping heated scenes it's top priority's, this book had swindled me into it's oh so tempting pages, and will soon lure you to crack this book's spine time and time again." - Evelyn Rookey, Goodreads

"AWESOME BOOK !!!! Just finished reading this book and all I can say is I couldn't put it down. It has everything I look for in a good book, romance, sex and some comedy. The love story between Rohan and Allison is hot and steamy and is worth taking the few hours to get to know them." - Annie Mallais, Goodreads

"An enormous novella with a no-nonsense heroine, a charming hero, some great one-liners, a refreshing medicine backdrop and best setting on the planet! Love how this story showcases our hometown. Well worth a read!" - Emmeline Lock, Goodreads.

Maggie Mundy has been reading JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood:

I decided to start reading the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I had read two books in the middle I had been given a long time ago but I have now finished book one and I am about half way through book two.

I love JR Wards writing. The men are kick ass and the women are tough. The story has a good subplots and great characters and the sex is hot. I have to say I get bored when the lesser who are the antagonists. It is a bit overwhelming trying to remember all the brothers but I am getting there.

Personally, I've been on reading rampage (again, ahem), and here's a quick list of the books I've rated four out of five stars or more - these are crackers!

The Zenith Trilogy (Its about rockstars, people!)The Sister Series - Leanne Davis
Attachments, Eleanor and Park, Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell (Rowell would be my favourite author of this particular bunch.  A new must-buy.)
Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss Series) - Stephanie Perkins
Marine for Hire - Tawna Fenske
Shadowfell Trilogy - Juliet Marillier
A Charm of Magpies Series - KJ Charles.  

So HARD to pick favourites, but these have stuck with me the most:

Attachments:  really clever, deep characters.

"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?


The Magpie Lord, first book in the Charm of Magpies series.  I found this really interesting.  I was always wanting more.  The m/m love story was charming.  

A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.

A Charm of Magpies, Book 1

Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.

Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude…and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.

Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die. 

Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing.

Until next time, happy reading!