Sorry for the long delay in getting more Australia photos posted. I had to concentrate to finish a novel. The cover is on the blog in the right frame (desktop and tablet) or in the cluster of images at the bottom (on mobile devices).
I worked on STOLEN when we were in Australia, but the setting of the book is another location I have traveled to twice, Monaco. Though it was so long ago I don’t even have pictures, Monaco is a glamorous place that left an indelible impression on me.
Of course the same can be said of Australia. Maybe not the glamour in the same way, but the indelible impression. On this trip we saw different parts, always scratching the surface you know, but pretty much blown away and left wanting more.
Broome, where Cable Beach is located, is an access point for the Kimberley wilderness in Western Australia. We arrived at the Cable Beach Resort, one of the places on my Must See lists, just before sunset. This was not accidental! Actually we were supposed to get there a few hours earlier, but our flight from Darwin was delayed. We were lucky not to miss the famous sunset.
Guests at the Cable Beach Resort were mostly Australians from the south having a beach vacation away from their winter. The Kimberley and Broome are way north, closer to the equator and have a wet and dry season. The season when people visit is Dry which runs, I believe, from May to August.
It was nice to be some of the very few Americans around. I’m not sure why we were, but it’s a long way, and there’s a lot to see in Australia (understatement). I think most foreigners hit Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock). Friends of ours who emigrated from the US to Australia have settled in Western Australia, and they were the ones who told us about the Kimberley.
Anyway, I love tide pools, and I went crazy with my camera at Cable Beach. Here are a ton of photos if you want to see what it’s like. If you can go, I highly recommend it.
A friend of mine reviewed my blog for me from the standpoint of marketing and suggested I talk a bit about my books. Who knew? LOL!
My new book that I just sent in to a publisher for consideration is a new direction for me. It is a romantic suspense, and what’s so cool about it (besides everything, LOL) is that it is set in an exotic locale I have visited: Monaco. Which in an odd way leads me back to my first book, Love Caters All. Okay, how? After all, Love Caters All is a “straight-up guilty pleasure” romance with a fair bit of sensuality. The new book is an action packed diamond heist set in Monaco with a PG rating (although we’ll see how it ends up by the time it is published). But the thing is I came up with that plot thinking about To Catch a Thief. I love Cary Grant. (Isn’t it great you can speak of late celebrities in the present tense because their movies live on?) I love his movies and he reminds me of my dad in many ways.
Well my first book was inspired by a Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn movie, one of my favorites, Philadelphia Story. Now, when you read it, you’ll say in what way is this possibly like Philadelphia Story? And those of you who have read it, right? Love Caters All is set in Maine,
whereas Philadelphia Story is set in, you got it, Pennsylvania. Different plot, different characters, different setting. But what I was going for was banter. I loved the banter in that movie, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted the book to be as light as a souffle, for the conflict to hinge on nothing more serious than shoes.
Here are some shots of Monaco, also by way of Morgue File, a great resource.
This castle plays a huge role in my new book
I hope you have a great weekend. I’m happy to report in California, we are getting rain!
Today you can get Dead to the Max for free. It’s the start of what looks like a great series. This is by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jasmine Haynes/Jennifer Skully, who signed with me, along with Adina Senft/Shelley Adina on Saturday at The Village House of Books!
Jasmine took a picture of me signing my very first book sale. Yes, that’s a friend. I had a lot of support from friends, which made me feel wonderful!
Here’s the free book. I already downloaded it and can’t wait to start!
A ghost, a psychic, and one very hunky detective, all tied up with a bit of murder and mayhem…
Thirty-something, down-on-her-luck accountant Max Starr has the unfortunate gift of being psychic, a newly-discovered wrinkle in her already messed-up life. Her husband, Cameron, is dead, killed in a botched 7-11 robbery two years ago. She’s cut herself off from friends, moved out of her San Francisco home in favor of a studio apartment, and dumped her flourishing career as a CPA to do temp work.
And now Max has developed an annoying penchant for attracting the spirits of murdered women. Okay, they possess her. And to exorcize them, Max must unmask their killers. But how?! By stepping into the void their deaths created, taking their jobs, befriending the loved ones they left behind. Max goes wherever she has to go and does whatever she has to do, with a lot of help from the ghost of her late husband Cameron and hunky and very enticing Detective Witt Long.
In Dead to the Max, Book 1 in the Max Starr series, Max steps into the shoes of a murdered accountant and starts to learn that even supposedly boring accountants can have secret lives and secret desires. Max just has to hope the secrets she uncovers don’t get her killed, too.
The second installment in John Holland‘s Heartland series, a novella length mystery, is now available.
A lovely English governess goes missing from the homestead on a local cattle station in the Australian outback. The local people think the mysterious Min Min light has something to do with her disappearance. Senior Police Constable Mick Creedy doesn’t buy into paranormal explanations and is exploring foul play. However, when the young woman’s mother, Eveling, arrives from England wanting a full investigation, including the possibility of a paranormal event, Mick needs to balance his methods with a grieving parent’s needs. Eveling’s inclinations further complicate matters as they might lead her into a danger Mick does not yet understand. Pressure mounts as unexpected feelings for the victim’s mother raise the stakes in this case that seems to have no leads.
I suggested to John, “Hey, you should write a mystery.” We were on Google Hangout, so I could see his sly smile. A few days later he sent me The Light at the Bottom of the Garden. Once again I was drawn into his straightforward style and was delighted by finding John’s humor in the story. I still laugh every time I read the scene between Mick and Bessie.
We hope you enjoy the story! If you do get a chance to read this installment in the series, a review at your favorite online book review forum will help other readers discover John’s unique voice.
You can read the first 20% of this fun book at these outlets.
My friend John Holland let me edit his Heartland novella series. I love his work! We released the first installment, Somewhere Far from Iris a couple days ago.
A man struggling with depression travels back to his Australian outback hometown to reconstruct himself and walks into an explosive situation that is somehow entangled with the secret of his origin.
Here is the longer blurb. I also included my editor’s note for some background on how this project started.
Clinically depressed Shane Morris is trying to learn how to cope with his condition and find balance within the turmoil of his mind. He embarks on a mission to reconstruct himself by going back to his roots in the Australian outback town of his childhood. In Iris, this man who thinks he is nothing discovers at its extreme, life has two poles, the tender and the brutal. In the fires of the worst and best expressions of man, Shane learns he’s far from nothing and just where he fits into humanity’s broad spectrum.
When I first opened this file, I was sitting in our friends’ house in Sydney. We had left Townsville just days before. My husband and I spent three weeks with John and his family so John and I could collaborate on a novel. John sent me an email saying this story idea had poured out of him after we flew out. But, he said, he didn’t know where it was going and wasn’t planning to finish! No fair. I was riveted. So I demanded he finish. And when I received the finished draft, I was thoroughly satisfied with the story.
I never know what John’s going to come up with next for his stories. I found Somewhere Far from Iris to be twisty and intense.
I am pleased and honored to be John’s editor and thrilled to help bring this book to you.
Your reviews will really help other people find John’s work, so please post your review at your favorite online book review forum. Your support is very much appreciated.
I was very caught up in this story right from the start. The voice of the heroine is young and edgy, yet vulnerable. The hero is very strong. And even though I was right in his head, the twist at the end came as a surprise.
The characters’ life stories were painful and realistic, making for well-motivated actions. This is a romance, and follows the story arcs expected in the genre, but does so in a convincing and natural way. Such organic arcs flow from strong, realistic character motivations.
Along with the characters, the suspense, and the mystery, I enjoyed the author’s light touch with the romance. Feelings grow naturally and realistically while intimate moments are written sparingly. Actually, all the writing is quite spare, making for a strong contemporary fiction feel and fast romantic-suspense pace.
We have the author here today to answer a few questions.
Melinda, welcome! Great book. Tattoos and Tangles is a real page turner. Where did you come up with the idea for this book?
Melinda: A friend said to me one day (half-joking), “You know what the world needs? More tattooed bad boys. That’s what you should write!” So I laughed and replied, “Fine. I can do that.” So I started with the opening scene.
Nia: I was going to ask what came first: the characters, the situation, the plot, the livelihood… Apparently the tattoos. Can you elaborate?
Melinda: The tattoo parlor came first, and Cass’s story. I knew exactly what had happened to her from the first page.
Nia: You wrote in multiple first person. I was excited to see how you handled this point-of-view (POV) choice because my co-author John Holland and I decided to go with this POV for our novel. We went back and forth with POV, sometimes writing in third person but always coming back to first. First just felt right. Why did you choose first person and did you write it another way and change it or decide on first person from the start?
Melinda: I almost always write in first person. It feels natural to me. I wrote Cass’s first two chapters, but knew as soon as I was done with them that John needed to get up close and personal, too.
Nia: Where are you in your writing career? How long have you been writing, what else have you published and where do you hope to go?
Melinda: I feel like I’m just getting started in the part of writing that equals a career, but I’ve been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil. If you ask my parents, they’ll tell you that my room was covered with story notes from the time I was about 8 years old. In addition to Tattoos and Tangles, I have two Indie novels, Snapshots by Laura and Long Way From Home, both available on Amazon. I have a New Adult Romance coming out with Harlequin in the early summer. I’m currently working on another Romantic Suspense and just hope to keep going forever!
Nia: Congratulations. You are off to a great start with the career phase of your writing. Can you tell us why you write?
Melinda: I have a lot of stories in my head. I feel like I have to get them out. Like REALLY have to.
Nia: What do you like to read?
Melinda: Just about everything. I love historical romance and romantic suspense. I also enjoy a good thriller. I decided a while back that I was going to write a Young Adult novel, so most recently I’ve been diving into those. Last year, I read 55 books!
Nia: Thank you for joining us, Melinda. Bloggees, you can find Tattoos and Tangles at the link below, and you can find Melinda on the web at the links below as well.
Today we have Robena Grant who has a cool book trailer for one of her romantic suspenses. Check it out… it really captures the mood of the novel.
Robena, welcome! What prompted you to get the book trailer made, how did you do it, and do you feel it is helping increase awareness of your book?
Thank you for inviting me, Nia. This is so sweet of you. Desert Exposure was my RWA®Golden Heart® finalist book from 2012, so it was special to me. I had not done book trailers for the first two books in the Desert Heat series. I had a friend who had hired GWExtra for hers: www.gwextra.com and I liked the result. I’m not sure trailers do anything toward selling a book though. : )
NS: This is the third in the series — how did you do the research to create the town of Almagro and the neighboring towns?
RG: I moved to the Coachella Valley in Southern California, which is a desert oasis, about eight years ago. I love exploring and became fascinated with the disparity between the poorer small farming towns butting up against the flashy vacation, golf-course-ridden bigger towns. I created Almagro based on my own town, but I moved its location further east.
NS: You created a villain that had real motivation and was three-dimensional. Kudos! Was that a deliberate effort and what made you want to spend the time to develop the villain instead of falling into the common pattern of making villains pure evil?
RG: Thank you. I believe there is good and bad in all of us. I’m interested in what might motivate a person to choose a life of crime. I wanted to show my antagonist’s good side through his loyalty to his family, his brother.
NS: Many of the minor characters were also richly nuanced. Did you work up character sheets for them? (Grandpa, Manuel, and Fernando?)
RG: I don’t do character sheets. When a character first appears to me I’ll flesh him/her out, try to figure out what makes him tick, choose one or two things that make him different from other characters in the story, and then I let him evolve as I write.
NS: Which leads me to my favorite question, are you a pantser or a plotter?
RG: I’m basically a pantser in that I think the story through as I walk, drive, exercise. Then I write a rough draft. With romantic suspense there has to be some plotting as you need to weave both the romance and the suspense. Plus there’s usually a subplot or two. : ) I focus on writing toward the major turning points.
NS: What is your favorite part about writing?
RG: The discovery part of having a character show up and whisper in my ear that they have a story to tell. Then discovering who he/she is, what they’ve done, and how I can do justice to their story.
NS: What is the hardest part about writing?
RG: For me it’s grammar. I still make ridiculous mistakes. I’m getting better at finding them, but thank heavens for editors.
NS: How long have you been writing?
RG: I started in the summer of 2000.
NS: I’m pretty close. I started in the spring of 2001. What are your dreams for your writing?
RG: To be a hybrid author. I adore The Wild Rose Press and I’m currently working on my fifth romantic suspense title for them. I hope we have a long career together. However, I have a couple of contemporary romances already written, and I’d love to secure a contract with a big house, just for the experience, and I’d also like to dabble in indie publishing.
NS: I see you are a nurse. Do you plan to ever try writing a medical romance?
RG: I retired from nursing in 1980. There are many medical stories in my head, but I’m not sure how they would sound on paper. Medicine, technology, all of that has changed so much in thirty years that I doubt I’d ever get it right. I have friends who write for HM&B and there is a real art to the storytelling. Thanks again for hosting me, and I hope you and your readers have a great day.
Barb, welcome! Caught in the Crosshair was a terrific romance. The hurricane sequence was fantastic. Have you ever been through a hurricane or was it all research?
Thank you so much for hosting me. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I’ve cruised around three hurricanes, all at a safe distance. Even so, the swells were large enough to make the ship sway. The captain joked that if we wanted to talk straight, we should drink.
NS: Can you tell us a little about your writing journey? How long have you been writing?
BH: Thank you so much. I’ve been seriously writing fiction for nine years. Before that, I worked as a journalist and a freelance writer for a number of years.
NS: No wonder you’re so good. That’s a terrific background. What made you want to write fiction? Romance?
BH: Great question. I love romance because it’s fundamentally about love. Love heals. If you want to see the effect of the absence of love in people’s lives, visit a prison. It’s filled with people who grew up without it. Love is powerful.
NS: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
BH: I’m a hybrid. Now that I’m writing under contract with Harlequin Intrigue, I pretty much have to plot my stories. But then, as I’m writing, the story takes over and doesn’t always stick to the plan.
NS: Congratulations on writing for Harlequin Intrigue. What is the hardest part about the craft of writing?
BH: Letting go.
NS: What is your favorite part about writing?
BH: When I first started out, I used to love the creating part of writing. I didn’t plot, so I’d just run with an idea and let it take me where it wanted. Editing was a nightmare and I’d end up cutting quite a bit later. That was painful. As I’ve matured, I actually began to appreciate the revision process. I accept the fact my first draft is going to be awful because I’m getting the big ideas out. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Once I get through that, I get to play with language, sentences, create nuance, etc. That’s what I love doing. That’s when the story really comes alive.
NS: That describes me as well. Do you have any tips about the writer’s life or craft that you’d like to share with us?
BH: I once heard an author say, “Discipline is more important than talent.”
I wrote it down and taped it next to my computer. It’s my mantra.