Monday 30 December 2013

2013 Signing Off!

It has been way too long between blogs, and what better way to sign off 2013 than with a bit of a look at the year that was.

As far as years go, it has been a pretty big one. 

Only a couple of weeks ago, we welcomed little Chloe Eloise into the world on the 11/12/2013, a date thought by many to be lucky.  I know I feel lucky.

I also managed to write my very first manuscript for a paranormal romance novel, but not only that but I also managed to find a publisher willing to take a chance and publish it!

I'm currently working on my first round of edits to send back, and then with my fingers firmly crossed, by the end of January I'll be sharing my book with the world. (As long as the world doesn't have too high expectations - and is kind to a first time author...).  I'm sure it could be written better, have a better plot and better characters but for a first go, I'm pretty proud of myself.

As far as 2014 goes, I'm not quite sure what could happen to even come close to the events of this year, but perhaps a year to reflect on the amazing people I've met this year.  People I didn't know 6 months ago I now class as some of my closest friends.  Every day I thank the universe for bringing such incredible people into my life. Without their support, help and guidance, Of Fire & Roses would have ended up on the scrap heap.

Things I'm looking forward to in 2014 (in no particular order!)

  • Meeting more of these wonderful people in person (you know who you are gorgeous ladies :D)
  • 2014 RWA Conference in August (I'll be getting my first sales certificate - woo hoo!)
  • Actually seeing a book that I wrote published.
  • Watching my two beautiful girls grow up some more... and last but not least:
  • Be thankful for all the amazing things in my life and to remember, to take deep breaths when things get a bit rough (I do have a tendency to over dramatize somewhat!)
Have a fantastic new year everyone and go easy on the bubbly!


Sunday 8 December 2013

Cover Reveal - In Too Deep - by Tracey Alvarez

I'm excited to reveal the cover for a wonderful author, Tracey Alvarez.  Her new book In Too Deep will be available on January 20th 2014, the first book in the Due South series.

She vowed never to return.
To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island hometown where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who’s part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn’t stop the guilt she feels over her father’s drowning  death. Now nine years later she’s obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.
She’s a risk he can’t take.
West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can’t imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can’t resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?
Saying goodbye the second time might just destroy them both.


Tracey Alvarez lives in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) where she’s yet to be buried under her to-be-read book pile by Wellington’s infamous wind—her Kindle’s a lifesaver! Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy, she has two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.
Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, she’s the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories she writes. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes—Kiwi men, in other words.
When she’s not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, she can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres, nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars, or bribing her kids to take over the housework. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday 3 November 2013

Torn Souls Cover Reveal - Lisa Swallow

It is my absolute privilege to share the cover reveal for one of my close friend's new book, Torn Souls.  This is book 2 of the wonderful Soul Ties series.

Torn Souls Cover Reveal/Release Day Information

Now Available on Amazon!


Jack spends his life plugged into a fantasy online world he shares with his friends. Now he faces his hardest quest yet: leave home for college and live in the real world…
Jack’s fantasy crosses into reality when he discovers his new girlfriend is better at killing demons than he is. Only the ones she kills are real. And he’s not 100% sure she’s human.
Soul-hunter Dahlia’s role in the human world is to retrieve stolen souls from demons and return them to her superiors. Mixing with humans is an annoying necessity…
However, when she meets Jack, she can’t avoid her attraction to him, or explain the strange connection they share. She is drawn away from her world into Jack’s, and makes a choice which ties her to his world forever. But leaving her world behind isn’t as easy as Dahlia thought.
When her old life catches up with them, Dahlia and Jack are left facing a future they never imagined.
**Torn Souls is the second book in the Soul Ties series and is the story of Jack and Dahlia. The book begins a year before Soul Ties and also covers some events in Soul Ties from Jack’s and Dahlia’s point of view. The continuation of the Soul Ties story will be in the third book of the series.**


Lisa is an author of new adult romance and writes both paranormal and contemporary, often with a side of snark.
In between running a business, looking after her family and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally. Lisa loves all things from the Whedonverse and preferred vampires before they sparkled.
She is currently working on a number of projects including the remaining books in the Soul Ties series and a sequel to her new adult contemporary romance. Lisa is originally from the UK but moved to Australia in 2001 and now lives in Perth in Western Australia with her husband, three children and dog.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday 26 October 2013

One sentence can change EVERYTHING!

For a good portion of my 40 years on this Earth, I've stumbled around from job to job, hobby to hobby, desperately searching for something- anything. 

Family and friends rolled their eyes and patted me on the head sympathetically every time I enrolled myself in yet another course.  I've done everything from Candle Making to Sign Language, Pottery, embroidery, beading, calligraphy....

I'm not sure who I was trying to convince when I assured them that this time, this was it, this was the one thing that would make me happy... until the next time.

But one thing remained constant. It sat in the back of my mind, sometimes quite dormant, at others it was all I could think about. That thing was to write a book and see my name in print.

I didn't know my entire life could be summed up in one sentence.  My last blog, I was bemoaning the pain of rejection, but I knew that I'd see my name on a book cover, I just couldn't imagine how soon it would be!

I'm gonna be a published author!  

Monday 14 October 2013

The waiting game...

Nothing beats that thrill of finishing the last chapter of edits from your critique partners and beta readers, then shouting out to the world, here it is! I have finished a whole manuscript! Awwooooga!

But what do I do with it now?

The next step in this whole crazy process is to submit your precious baby to the whim of the publishers. For me, this was most probably even scarier than writing the darned thing.  How do you write a query letter that stands out, calls to publishers, drives them to want to read your novel and then, god forbid, publish it??

For me, it was a case of reading other successful author's letters, and putting something together that shows who you are and what your novel is about. It wasn't easy.

The first time I hit the submit button to a publisher, I thought I would pass out, vomit or possibly even both. But after that first click, it became like a drug, I needed to submit! I had to! So submissions were sent to another three publishers without a second thought.

Now! Come publishers, bow down before me and beg and plead to publish it.

Isn't that how it should be....?

Unfortunately not, as I sat in front of my email window hitting F5 every three seconds.


Fast forward two weeks, I've finally gotten over my refresh addiction. The keyboard is quiet, except for the occassional clattering of keys as I play around on Google.

Then one not so interesting evening, where nothing much really happened. My email pinged. There was no bells or whistles or chanting. It was just there.

The answer was, sorry, but no.

I strangely thought that I'd fall in a heap wailing and moaning, screaming why me and sobbing into a tear stained hanky.

But I was unusually calm about it. Was it perhaps because it wasn't one of my main publisher targets? Was it because I had pretty much built myself up for rejection anyway so it wasn't really a surprise?

I can't quite put my finger on it.  It could also have something to do with the fact that my second work in progress is starting off nicely and I feel it is so much better written so the first attempt is more of an embarrassment really. One of those things you chalk up to inexperience.

But I think, in the end, each rejection is a step closer to the ultimate publishing goal.

Never give up. Never surrender.  I will see my name in print one day. I just know it.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Do readers give a **** about adverbs?

It was a dark and stormy night, or was it a wild and windy night? Or perhaps it was just night...

A recent event got me thinking about various anomalies such as adverbs, verbs, nouns, subjunctives and the like and what, in actual fact, are they?

Do readers (and I mean readers, not authors who read - in my mind these are two very different categories of people) actually care if writing is full of them or not?

At this juncture, I must make a confession. While I can spell, and my grammar is relatively okay, it is all pretty inate. By that I mean, it's built in. I can structure a sentence but apart from the 'noun' I couldn't tell you wish was the verb, adverb or whatever. I just know what sounds right and what doesn't.

But why are authors so obsessed with these things? Is it a prerequisite of garnering an elusive publishing contract?

Which made me pose the question, do readers actually give a crap or do they just want to be taken on a journey and enjoy the trip? Do they count how many adverbs the author uses? Or count how many times you use the word just? Before I became a writer, I know I certain didn't give a rats backside.

After a recent reading, it was made apparent to me that my writing is somewhat adverb heavy. Adverbs, for those that like me who needed to Google it, are those cheeky little monkeys that tell us when or how or in what manner something was done.

While they seem to be considered the devil by a large component of the authoring community, in my mind, these descriptive little words are what gives the reader a sense of emotion, place, time.

How do you inject more emotion, more feeling into characters without them?

I'll give you some examples of what I mean...

"I silently stared..."  If this was changed to 'I stared', would readers assume that it was done silently?  One could gasp while staring, scream while staring, talk while staring, mumble while staring.  I would not instantly assume that if one stared, it would be done silently.

"My stomach grumbled viciously..."   Again, would it be assumed that a stomach would grumble viciously?  It is my belief that stomachs may grumble low, perhaps quietly, I don't know. But to indicate the severity of the hunger, I have stated that it grumbled viciously.

As a new writer, I am still learning about the 'craft' of writing and I fear I may fall into the trap of counting adverbs or the number of times I use the word just, then, and or actually, instead of focusing on whether I've written an engaging, memorable image for readers.

But like Goldilock's proverbial porridge, how do you know what is too much, what is not enough, and what is just right? I fear I may never know!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

How is editing like an elephant?

You sit in your comfy lounge chair, computer perched on your lap, swimming in an endless sea of chocolate and coffee.

"I want to write a book, how hard can it be!"

So you type and type and drink more coffee and eat more chocolate and in your complete caffeine and sugar fueled state, you churn out fifty thousand words like butter. To you, they sound like literary genius, how could anyone fault your impeccable wordcraft and ability to tell a fantastic tale with more twists and turns than a formula 1 racing circuit.

No one tells you (well actually they do, but you refuse to listen) that editing is the hard part - beware! You find someone you trust enough to show your writing to and you receive back a document covered in red comment boxes. Your confidence takes a nosedive and you  throw your precious manuscript in the dustbin.

After a week or so, those dusty bits of paper lying dormant in the bin starting calling to you. So you pull them out and courageously start to read.

Spelling, grammar and punctuation corrections swim through your work like hungry piranhas. Not to mention the plot holes, clunky sentence structure and the completely confused timeline you have created.

But, you take a deep breath, read over the comments and make some changes. Small at first, then you find yourself bravely cutting huge chunks of superfluous junk from your manuscript. You read back through your edited work and realise that perhaps those authors who critiqued for you might actually know a thing or two.

And so begins the editing process. Going through each sentence, line by line thinking how could it be better?  Does it add to the story or can I cut it completely? You spend hours pouring over words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs trying to find the right way to say something. It might take weeks to get through one chapter.

You update, fix and repair and send it back for another check over. Gradually, the number of red boxes reduce.  But not only do the red boxes reduce, instead of screaming, "fix this!", they now say, "great writing," or, "this works really well.."

While editing has been one of the most challenging parts of this experience so far, it has also been one of the most rewarding. There is nothing like the rush of having a critique person, known for their acute attention to detail and impeccable knowledge of grammar saying that a particular chapter is "stunning" and they didn't make a lot of notes because the story was so engaging that they just got lost in the story.

So some sage advice from one newbie writer to another; don't be afraid of the edit, but don't expect to have everyone that critiques your work fawn all over you as if you were the next J.K. Rowling. Editing is a very long and often difficult process and if you don't break it down, it will swallow you whole.

So what has all this got to do with elephants? 

Well, how do you eat one? 

A lot like editing, one bite at a time...

Thursday 29 August 2013

'Because of Lucy' by Lisa Swallow - Cover Reveal & Release!!!

This wonderful gem from one of my favourite authors, Lisa Swallow is now available on Amazon!

Because of Lucy Cover Reveal Information

Coming August 2013…


"In life, there are some people you have to lose in order to find yourself."
Ness’s parents are shocked when she turns down her place at Leeds University and takes on a full-time job in a call center. Determined to begin her adult life the way she wants, Ness moves to Leeds to live with her best friend Abby.
One night she meets Evan, who is everything she hates about guys. He may be hot but he’s also drunken, arrogant, and on top of that, he apparently has sex with girls and forgets about it. But Evan isn't what he seems and Ness soon discovers they have more in common than she thought.
Evan is struggling to escape from his past too, and when Lucy appears she threatens his new relationship with Ness. Unsure if she can deal with the effect Lucy has on Evan, Ness makes a decision about her future which pulls them apart.
When their new lives don't go as planned, Ness and Evan are both faced with difficult choices. All because of Lucy. 
*Recommended 17+ due to strong language and sexual content*


Lisa was born in the UK and she moved around Europe with her military family before completing a BA (Hons) in English at the University of Leeds. Her home is now in Perth, Australia with her husband and three children. Lisa has written since she was a child - moving from writing poems and short stories aged nine to writing novels in the last few years. With the encouragement of her family and local writers group, Lisa found the confidence to share her latest paranormal romance series with the world.
In between running her home based craft supplies business, looking after her family, and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally, enjoying walks with her dog and time with her family. She loves all things from the Whedonverse and preferred vampires before they sparkled.
Lisa enjoys reading both classics and modern fiction. Her favorite genres are gothic, paranormal and urban fantasy, but she also enjoys contemporary new adult. She is currently working on more books in the Soul Ties series, and has other projects lined up waiting.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Letter from my 6 year old self.

I have loved to write since I was young, I've just found proof. 

My Mum was going through some old boxes the other day and came across something pretty special.  One of the first stories I ever wrote, I was 6 years old. It's even illustrated.

I just wanted to share this with everyone.

Friday 2 August 2013

So you want to write a book...

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, "life is what happens while you're making other plans. If you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it."

When my dad asked me the all important question when I was 6 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I knew then I wanted to be an author.  That was 34 years ago. Somewhere along the line, I got a little lost.

But wanting something and getting it are two very different beasts. One of the hardest things about becoming an author is knowing how to get a foot in that gilded, golden door  before someone else younger, smarter and with a much better idea body slams you out the way on their way through.

That was until 6 weeks ago when I met a local author which set the proverbial snowball in motion.  I was introduced to a couple of people, who put me in touch with a couple more people, who knew even MORE people. All of them craftsmen in their own right and truly amazing humans, each and every one. All of a sudden I was talking to real live published authors and now I find myself sitting in front of a 50,000 word manuscript and hoping beyond hope, that a publisher might offer me a contract. 

If I have one piece of advice for writers just starting out and looking for that elusive way in, one very effective way is networking.  Talk to people, make contacts. Go to book launches, readings, sessions at your local Writer's Centre and talk to people. Don't just sit in the corner hiding and leave when it's over, get out of your comfort zone. Go and talk to the author, introduce yourself to other writers AND not forgetting the most important group of people, the readers! Get on social media, join some author groups, there is an abundance of information and help just waiting for you to tap into it.

 As it turns out, authors are not the frightening, unapproachable rock-stars I thought of them as. They are the ones that will help you with your first draft, help you with critiquing and beta reading, and you will find these amazing people becoming lifelong friends.  They have been where you are and can provide more advice than just doing the occasional writing course and hoping magically publishers will fall all over themselves to get your manuscript.

 These people will become your support network when you are feeling low, hate what you've written and are close to binning the lot, can't find the write word or phrase, need to get more words out or just need to vent.

The only other snippet I would offer at this juncture is; be prepared to have to work hard, you aren't going to be able to give up your day job on your first book sales, or your second, or even your third.  Write because you love to write.

It won't come to you,  you have to go and get it, grab it and hold on.