Look for this superhero in a cobalt blue riding habit with a black top hat set at a jaunty angle. Read on and find out more…
If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?
I’ve been writing stories since childhood and I still do have copies of my early attempts. I’m Australian and one particular story I have stashed away focuses on the adventures of two koalas. It was a primary school (early middle school) assignment and my story even had chapters and illustrations. Boy, did I get into it! In my teenage years, I fell in love with historical romance, but my first writing attempts were pretty woeful I must say. I have a handwritten copy of one very Gothic tale (I was very much into Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier back then) that begins with the heroine travelling in a carriage to a supposedly haunted castle. Aside from the fact I’m impressed I used the word ‘discerned’ correctly, there’s not much else to recommend my first real effort at romance writing. I’ve written it from an omniscient point of view—there’s way too much telling and waxing lyrical about the landscape and the refinement, beauty and considerable accomplishments of the heroine. It could definitely be used as blackmail material if someone got their hands on it!
All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.
LOL, I am pretty mild-mannered all the time! In my ‘other’ life, I’m very happily married to my very own alpha hero, and I’m the proud mother of two wonderful teenage girls. I’m currently writing full-time but before I took the plunge into authordom, I practiced as a speech pathologist for many years.
Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?
I’m very proud to be part of the Regency writers group, the Bluestocking Belles. Each member of our group (there are eight of us) brings a different skill set to the table as we all have different professional backgrounds. In fact, I’m in awe of the superpowers of these authors and am quite chuffed I was invited to join. There are some fabulously talented women in our group!
Where do you get your superpowers from? No one else in my family writes but my mother was very much a bookworm and she passed her love of reading onto me. So I’m thinking that’s where my powers come from.
Where is your secret lair and what does it look like? I don’t really have a lair. As long as I have my laptop with me, I can write anywhere—planes, trains, cars, in the midst of a houseful of family at Christmas time, coffee shops… I guess the ability to maintain concentration anywhere could be considered a super power!
What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good? I’m an avid reader within my genre (although I don’t read as much as I’d like to now I’m writing my own stories too). I’m also a member of Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of New Zealand and Romance Writers of America. Since I joined Romance Writers Australia (RWAus) I’ve attended their annual conference three years running so I can pick up new skills at all the fabulous craft workshops on offer. I particularly love the camaraderie in the historical loop of RWAus. I’ve learned so much in a very short space of time from this wonderfully giving group of authors. I’ve only been seriously writing for three years and became published (in novel length) in August last year so I still consider myself to be a bit of a fledgling superhero. I know I couldn’t have achieved what I have so far without the support of these professional groups.
I’ve also taken advantage of the wonderful writing contests that all of these organizations offer. The feedback I’ve received from the judges has been invaluable in helping me to hone my skills. I’ve even finalled in and won a few (both unpublished and published) contests. My most recent win was in the RWA Hearts through History Chapter’s Published Novel Contest for 2015—my Regency romance Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal recently came first in the Georgian/Regency/Victorian section. I’m still happy dancing!
When I’m a little more settled and organized (I’ve moved house twice this year!) I’d love to give back and be a contest judge for RWAus.
Granted, you probably don’t get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?
A cobalt blue riding habit with a black top hat set at a jaunty angle—in my dreams! Most days I just wear a shirt and jeans. Not very super or glamorous, just functional and comfortable.
What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?
I never seem to be able to write at the pace I want to even though I’m no longer working as a speech pathologist. This year has been particularly hectic (as I mentioned, I’ve moved house twice). I’m really looking forward to getting into a routine again. Even when I do have more time, I’m also a bit of a plodder when writing. Aside from the fact I’m a dreadful typist, I tend to edit my writing as I go rather than getting down the first draft as quickly as possible. That being said, my first draft is fairly clean and because I’m also a plotter, I find I don’t need to do any major rewrites. So it’s not all bad.
What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?
Moving house, having too many projects on the go and spending a fair amount of time promoting my first three stories has not been conducive to getting my latest work-in-progress done in the time frame I wanted it to be written in. Spending time on social media—whether its blogging or hanging out on Facebook—can be fun and rewarding, but I find it can easily eat into more core writing time if I’m not careful. I did recently finish my latest Regency romance though, and now I’m into the edits. I hope to have this story polished and winging its way to a few editors’ and agents’ inboxes very soon. I think time management will always be an ongoing battle! Writing is a busy business that’s for sure.
What important lessons have you learned along the way?
Write the story you love, but always be open to developing your skills as a writer. I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting to learn more about the craft as I want to write the best books that I possibly can. And never give up no matter what curveballs get thrown at you! You’ll never know if you never have a go.
What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?
A few things spring to mind. I have a clear memory of finishing my first single title historical romance and then entering it into Romance Writers Australia’s Emerald Contest for unpublished manuscripts in 2013, right after I’d joined. I had no idea how I’d go, but I ended up coming second that year and the following year too! I’ve recently accepted an offer of publication for this story from a house that I’ve longed to be part of—so that’s a really fabulous moment too! I also recall the first time a reader from the other side of the world contacted me to say how much she loved my first novel. It was such a thrill!
If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?
I don’t think I’d change anything. Things happen when they happen. You just need to keep moving forward.
What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.
In my early writing attempts I was guilty of the backstory info dump at the start of the story. Hearing from other writers that it’s better to cut out unnecessary detail and weave the most important bits of the character’s backstory in as the story progresses was some of the best feedback I ever received to help me progress from a newbie to a more skilled and strategic writer. I also received a fabulous critique from one of my favorite authors on the first fifty pages of one of my manuscripts which helped me to understand and write deep point of view. Now when I read another writer’s story and deep POV is missing, I really notice it. And after you’ve finished a manuscript, let it sit for at least a month to six weeks before you attempt edits. It’s surprising what you notice when you look at it with fresh eyes.
Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.
I have a novella, All She Wants for Christmas, that’s been recently released as part of a Christmas box set entitled Mistletoe, Marriage, & Mayhem by the Bluestocking Belles. It’s a sweet-sensual Regency romance about a seemingly mismatched, thrown-together couple—a confirmed bluestocking and a rake. It’s the first time I’ve penned a Christmas story and I had such fun writing it. All proceeds from our box set are being donated to the Bluestocking Belles’ chosen charity, the Malala Fund, which supports education for young bluestockings around the world.
What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve recently accepted an offer of publication for one of my single title novels so that should be out next year. I’ll also be submitting my newly completed single title Regency romance to several publishers and agents (I’m thrilled I’ve already had a few requests for the full). I’m also planning on writing a second novella in my self-published Improper Liaisons series—I anticipate it will be ready for release on Valentine’s Day next year. It’s on the hotter side of Regency romance. I also have a few series in various stages of the planning process. I’m never stuck for ideas!
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