Left Field With Lily: On A Virginity Mission with Cate Ellink

Way back in the time, (I mean – it was last year wasn’t it? That’s forever ago), Cate Ellink and I met when we were both tagged by Jenn J Mcleod in The Next Big Thing. Cate, Kerrie Paterson, Allison Tait, Jenn and I, called ourselves The DIGRITS. (Dang. I got roped into this sh*t). A great friendship formed.CateEllink_small

Cate has a wonderful blog. I’m a very regular visitor because I love the raw honesty one finds there; plus it’s a blog where I learn something. On Sundays, Cate reviews a book she’s recently read. On Wednesdays, she reviews the local wildlife. (This is where I learn things – her science background comes through and there’s great pictures and information about spiders and cockatoos and lizards and bugs and… you know, the stuff one finds in a backyard). Then there’s Phallic Fridays… I suspect Phallic Fridays get lots and lots of traffic, but few commentators… probably because it poses tricky questions about fetishes and fantasies and menages and penis size and… ahem… if it was a coffee table book, Cate’s blog would be kept under the table.

I also, right from the outset, loved Cate’s writing voice. She’s a first person writer, which is a style I love. I’ve seen snippets of Cate’s writing on her blog. Not long ago she posted her entry to the Little Gems ‘Sapphire’ competition – and I loved it.Next Big Thing-1

I wish her every success in the world with The Virginity Mission and I’m so happy that she’s now just weeks away from her first full-length published book! Way to go fellow DIGRIT! (I am also SO very happy that I get to post her incredibly gorgeous cover on my blog… phew… is it getting hot in here??)

LM: Would you please share with us: The very first draft of the opening paragraph of The Virginity Mission, compared with how it looks now?

CE: I struggle with opening paragraphs. So when I write, I write whatever comes into my head. Then for the next year or so I fuss and bother trying to turn the mess I’ve written, into something readable – with a worthy opening! Finding how my story starts is never easy and takes me ages to get it right – and even then I’m not sure it is. So here’s the mess I made of The Virginity Mission

August 2011:

Being a twenty-one year old virgin is not something to skite about.  Which is why I keep it secret. No one need know about my non-existent sex-life. I have a heap of male friends, so no one suspects. At least, I hope not. This trip’s my big chance to break the curse. A holiday romance is perfect for bursting my cherry. Opportunities should be rife – a bushwalking trip, in mixed company, in the remote Daintree rainforest. If I can’t lose my virginity on this sort of trip, I have no hope at all.

What’s wrong: she sounds desperate, not really likeable. It’s all telling.

October 2011:

The first evening of the expedition a meeting’s called and we’re briefed. The Army will be giving vehicular support. There’s a murmur of appreciative female voices before we’re instructed that these men are not part of the expedition. They’re here to work not mingle. It doesn’t bother me. I’m looking to lose my virginity and any one of the sixty expedition men will do.

The rest of the briefing’s fine, the stuff I expect, until the National Parks and Wildlife Service guy gets up to give his safety talk. When someone calmly states, “If you’re three days from base camp and you get bitten by a snake, you can kiss your ass goodbye”, well, the reality of remote hits home. I’ve bushwalked for years… but I have always been within a few hours walk of civilisation. Suddenly we’re talking about being days walk from anyone. Hell. I was right to make no promises about my safety. My mother tried to make me promise I’d come home in one piece and I could only laugh and tell her I’d try. I was thinking about that piece of me I intend to leave behind – the dreaded cherry – and there’s no way I was telling my mother that! Now it seems there are scary things in the rainforest.

What’s wrong: too much irrelevant back story. She’s still desperate. Still telling.

Feb 2012: 

My eyes are drawn to movement as someone jumps onto the back of the truck. I blink. Once. Twice. My stomach and pelvic floor collide. Trouble. Stunning trouble. Shoulders loom from a snug khaki singlet that ripples across his stomach as he moves. Camouflage trousers do nothing to disguise the tightly rounded butt as he bends over to grab the next backpack to stow. The military man is all lithe controlled power. He climbs over the back of the truck holding someone’s gear as if it weighs nothing. Those shoulders are massive bunches of corded strength. His arms aren’t hugely bulging but deliciously defined. A sudden desire to have those arms wrapped tightly around my naked flesh burns my brain. Dear God. I’ve lost my mind.

What’s wrong: People liked this one. It’s more showing. She’s not desperate just appreciative of the view  With a little modification, it stayed.

The Published Version!

My eyes are drawn to movement. Someone jumps onto the back of the truck and I blink. Once. Twice. My stomach and pelvic floor collide.

Shoulders loom from a snug khaki singlet that ripples across his stomach as he moves. Camouflage trousers do nothing to disguise the tightly rounded butt as he bends over to grab the first backpack to stow. This military man is all lithe, controlled power. He climbs over the back of the truck holding someone’s gear as if it weighs nothing. Those shoulders are massive bunches of corded strength. His arms aren’t hugely bulging but deliciously defined. A sudden desire to have those arms wrapped tightly around my naked flesh burns my brain. Dear God,  I’ve lost my mind.

LM: Love it. Love it. Love it.

LM: What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’ in terms of Writing Craft?

CE: I think I’ve struggled with everything about the writing craft, and the more I learn the more I struggle. I spent 20 years working in science. I think it took me probably 10 years to learn the science-writing craft—dull, dry, factual, no colour, no voice, omniscient science style. And even then others were always correcting my stuff. Sometimes it would have more red pen on it than my own words! Science taught me not to be precious about my writing.

The last 5 years, I’ve been trying to un-learn the science-writing craft. And that hasn’t been easy. Show not tell did my head in. POV kept eluding me. Deep POV was too hard to fathom. Emotion nearly crippled me.

I don’t know that any one lightbulb has been greater than another. I just kept plodding along, thinking I had it, then finding the next thing I didn’t “get”. A lightbulb happened, I plodded onwards to the next problem. I’m not sure it will ever end.

LM: What keeps you awake at night?

CE: New people in my head. New stories. Answers to the problems I’m having in the stories I’m writing or re-writing. So many things! But once I’m asleep, I’m hard to wake 

LM: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? (You can imagine never-ending electricity & batteries).

  • ipod (with all your favourite music)
  • kindle (crammed full of a mix of reading material. I don’t mind what as long as it’s lots and lots of different things.)
  • your favourite paperback
  • your significant other
  • I will take my chances on there being a gorgeous girl, or gorgeous man (whichever the case may be) to help me pitch my tent
  • food I don’t have to catch first
  • wine (you can assume it will always be cold – unless you prefer red)
  • Nespresso & endless supply of Pods (and George Clooney – no, that’s cheating – no George)
  • a torch in case the candles go out
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB

Can I have something not on your list? Notepad and pencil (unlimited supply, please). I can’t live without scribbling down random ideas and thoughts, keeping notes, etc.

LM (snorting forcefully): Something NOT on the list!!! The nerve. Here’s a rebel. We’ll have to watch this one.

CE: p.s. I wonder what asking for something else means? I dread the psycho-analysis. 

LM: Wondering about the consequences of asking for something else shows you never paid attention when you read Oliver Twist!

LM: My book (out now with Escape Publishing) is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your partner?

CE: Loyalty. Life is tough but if someone’s going to stick it out with you, and you know they are going to, then it makes things easier. My husband’s incredible loyalty to his family was something that really attracted me. He was amazing with his Nan. He’d lived with her and when she was put into hospital and then the nursing home, he visited her every day, sometimes twice a day, for years. There’s nothing like that kind of loyalty.

LM: Tell us the best thing about The Virginity Mission? Who would absolutely love it?

Virginity Mission_small
Oh man! I love this cover…

CE: This is such a hard question. I think the best thing about The Virginity Mission, is that someone’s publishing it and Mac and Jason have stopped talking to me now. Their story is done, someone liked it, so they’re happy and gone from my mind. And that’s a great thing – there are too many people inside my head as it is!

The people who’d love this story would be those with a sense of adventure, who like a story about growing up, and who don’t mind explicit sex scenes, but it’s a loss of virginity story, so it’s kind of sweet for an erotic story.

LM: Can you share your favourite 250 words from your book? 

CE: It’s hard to have a favourite part in the story after sweating blood over it for years (I’m kind of over it)! This is the scene that started the idea for the whole story, so it’s the one that pops into my mind first, although it happens a long way into the story.

Mac (heroine) and Jason (hero) are in an outdoor spa with two others. Mac desperately wants to get Jason alone to see if he actually likes her (she’s still hopelessly confused).

Watching Jason is sheer pleasure. The top of his chest and upwards is all that’s visible but it’s keeping me occupied. Uninterrupted, huge breadth of shoulders, rounding to strong arms has my stomach turning to mush. I wish I could see more. My gaze roams freely over his face. There’s no embarrassment when he’s not looking. He has tiny lines at the corners of his lips and eyes. A small bump in the middle of his nose. A tiny scar at the point of his chin. But the most arousing thing is the dark stubble running along his jaw, across his top lip, and over his cheeks. I can almost feel the roughness beneath my fingertips as I dream of touching him. My fingers itch to reach over to him.

A foot brushes my ankle. I move my leg, thinking I’m in the way. Moments later, the foot grazes my calf. I jolt. Jason’s still asleep. I’m completely puzzled. Annie and Harry haven’t paused in their conversation and neither look like they’re moving. Whose foot is it?

The foot strokes my leg again, sending goose bumps over all my skin. Surely it isn’t for me? Is it?

My heart’s paused but ready to gallop in an instant. Every muscle is tense. I look at Jason again. His eyes are still half closed but from under heavy lids he meets my gaze. He smiles. His gaze is deep heated passion.

Oh. My. God.

LM: Oh. My. God indeed Ms Ellink. I can’t wait to read The Virginity Mission in June. I’ve pre-ordered and soon it will wing its way through to me!

If you’d like to read The Virginity Mission, you can find out more about it here.

Thank you for coming into Left Field with me Cate! And don’t forget to check Cate’s blog. Sundays. Wednesdays. Fridays. And any other day she has something to say.

Left Field With Lily: Meet Elise K. Ackers

Elise K Ackers new book, Ask Me To Stay, published with DestinyRomance is the first in a series of three Elise will publish with Destiny Romance this year. Elise has been on a singing, dancing, blogging tour through April that I must admit, leaves me dizzy just watching! So I am very glad she has sat down long enough to be my guest today!

The author with the best smile in the business, Elise K. Ackers
The author with the best smile in the business, Elise K. Ackers

 

 

LM: Would you please share with us the opening paragraph of your current book in at least two stages? 

EA: The very first version of Ask Me To Stay:

Death was damned inconvenient. Sure, Bree wasn’t exactly high-stepping it in her modern and somehow feminine casket, but her troubles were over.

Ethan’s were just beginning.

All eyes were on him, despite the occasion. He was neither the deceased nor the widow, yet his existence commanded attention. The rogue brother-in-law, home to offer his condolences after years of neglect. Dean’s kid brother. The youngest son, the youngest Foster.

Ethan thumbed his beer. He knew what they all thought of him. If he couldn’t guess, the locals were kind enough to whisper within earshot. A drinking problem. A falling-out with his brother. Off the tracks, headed for ruin.

It was all true enough.

And the polished version:

Death brought people together. It paid no mind to schedules, to relationships, to distance. And the more senseless and untimely the death, the more people seemed to fracture. Bree Foster, who had so often been described as full of life, was now anything but, and standing in the living room of the house he had grown up in, surrounded by mourners gathered for her wake, Ethan was struggling to believe that his sister-in-law was gone. Here one moment, gone the next – leaving behind a family she adored, and a brother-in-law she hardly knew.

All eyes were on him, despite the occasion. He was neither the deceased nor the widower, yet his presence commanded attention. The reprobated wanderer, home to offer his condolences after years of neglect. Dean’s kid brother. The youngest son, the youngest Foster.

Ethan thumbed his beer. He knew what they all thought of him. And if he couldn’t guess, the locals were kind enough to whisper within earshot. A drinking problem. A falling-out with his brother. Off the tracks, headed for ruin.

Some of it was true enough.

LM: 8 lines from the top of page 88 (yes, I stole this idea, sorry!)

EA:

away from the tree and stumbled the remaining distance. She needed her keys. And she needed to be away from the heartache she had inflicted on herself. Because she couldn’t do it again. She couldn’t stand there and watch Ethan leave her in his dust for a second time.

Sam wasn’t that girl – that girl who didn’t get it. She was smart and independent. She was courageous and she went after what she wanted. But Sam didn’t bounce. When she was hurt, it crippled her.

She had to leave town for a while. She’d come back when he was gone, pick up the pieces and move on. It was the only way to get through this.

LM: What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’ in terms of Writing Craft. 

EA: I used to struggle with short sentences. It took me a fair while to realise that a short sentence had the capacity to deliver far more punch than a longer, wordier one. That was a real light bulb moment for me – I used to try to say everything at once, amongst too many commas and semi-colons. Not so much now. I’m a big fan of varying sentence lengths now.

LM: Interesting Elise. I feel like I write ‘short’ too.

LM: What keeps you awake at night?

EA: Regrets. Things I said, things I didn’t. Better ways to have said things. But, if I can quieten that voice, then there’s always the crowd of characters jabbering away, telling me their stories. They can be pretty obnoxious about being heard sometimes!

LM: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? (You can assume there are magical batteries for anything requiring power). 

  • ipod
  • kindle/e-reader
  • your favourite paperback
  • your significant other
  • I will take my chances on there being a gorgeous girl, or gorgeous man (whichever the case may be) to help me pitch my tent
  • food I don’t have to catch first 
  • wine (you can assume it will always be cold – unless you prefer red)
  • battery powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods (and George Clooney – no, that’s cheating – no George)
  • a torch in case the candles go out
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB

Which suggests I’m up for a potentially romantic getaway, free from raw food, with a “get me out of here” tweet at the ready, should my castaway mate confess to loving skinny jeans, Collingwood and Vin Diesel films.

LM:Hey! That’s cheating. You did your own psychology analysis! You’re the first guest I’ve had who was ready to take their chances on a gorgeous bloke arriving out of the bush mists… This is a romance site, remember! It could happen! Go Elise I say.

LM: My book is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner? 

EA:Thoughtful, sarcastic, clever and generous. Someone who is willing to fight for who and what they want; someone passionate and spontaneous. A leader.AskMeToStay cover - Elise K. Ackers

LM: Can you share your favourite 250 words from Ask Me To Stay and tell us why it’s your favourite part?

Kneeling beneath the shower in the tub of the upstairs bathroom, Ethan gripped the new metal bar and surrendered his entire body weight to its mercy. Rowan and Nina watched from the sink counter, their feet bumping against the cupboard doors.

No one fell. Nothing broke.

Rowan and Nina each took a turn holding it. Rowan was more thorough in his testing than his sister, who attempted to use it as a monkey bar.

‘It’s not for playing on,’ Ethan warned. His stern tone made her pause. ‘It’s only for if you need help, do you understand?’

She nodded soberly.

He crossed to the countertop and removed something palm-sized from a supermarket bag. ‘I also got you guys this.’ He held it out to them. ‘Soap on a rope. You hook it around your wrist.’ He demonstrated on a wide-eyed Rowan. ‘You can’t drop it. See?’

Rowan uncurled his fingers and the soap bounced on its rope in the air. He did it again and again before he allowed Ethan to hook the soap over the shower tap.

‘When it gets skinny just ask your dad for a new one, okay?’

The kids returned to their perch and Ethan set about neatening up the wall tiling grout.

His audience was silent and patient. When Ethan was done, Rowan handed him a piece of paper. Ethan thumbed the sticky tape against the new shower rail. Rowan’s WET sign was back at work.

He stood back and admired the job. His heart fluttered when tiny fingers hooked around his elbow.

‘I wish you’d come before.’ Nina rubbed her nose as she stared at the shower.

Rowan nodded.

This is my favourite part because of how real it feels to me, like a scene in a movie. I see the faces of those gorgeous, grieving children; I hear their feet banging against the cupboard door. Their uncle is trying to fix their fractured lives however he can, and my heart goes out to Ethan in this scene. But this section is a real turning point for the three of them. It’s an important moment, and it has replayed in my mind countless times.

The blurb:

When family tragedy brings bad boy Ethan Foster home, he doesn’t expect a warm welcome. In the small town of Hinterdown reputation is everything – and Ethan’s was ruined long ago. Nobody wants him around, particularly not Sam O’Hara, the girl he left behind.

There’s still a powerful spark between them, but Sam is afraid to risk her heart again. And Ethan is hiding a secret that will have repercussions for his whole family. Will the townspeople ever forgive him? More importantly, will those he loves the most find it in their hearts to take him back?

Web links:

Website: www.elisekackers.net

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EliseKAckers

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elise-K-Ackers/145929782088997

Buy links:

Destiny Romance: http://www.destinyromance.com/products/9781742536118/ask-me-stay-foster-novel

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/ask-me-to-stay/id631063708?mt=11

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ask-Me-To-Stay-ebook/dp/B00C10FE6M/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1365916147&sr=1-3&keywords=Elise+K+Ackers

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Ask-Me-To-Stay/book-r3rQIwclqUmS_CEckMRJvQ/page1.html

Good luck with Ask Me To Stay, Elise, and with the series this year. You will be busy! Keep singing and dancing, we love that beautiful smile.

Left Field With Lily: Lilliana Anderson

Lilliana Anderson self-published two books in what she’s called, The Beautiful series. A Beautiful Struggle and A Beautiful Forever. A Beautiful Forever is her current release and she’s head down, backside up, on a new novel, Alter, due out next month.Lilliana

Lilliana and I clicked from the start. How can you not click when two people called Lily and Lilliana each release books with ‘beautiful’ in the title in the same launch month?

When I first ‘met’ Lilliana, A Beautiful Forever was ranking in the double digits for sales on Kindle, and it’s still sitting in the top 50 in the category ‘Coming Of Age’. Consider me uber-impressed! Did I mention she is a mum to four (yes, four) and wife?
Make that: Super-uber-impressed!

She is a fun personality who promotes author-love and ethics within self-publishing wherever she goes. Plus she is the first person I can turn to when I have a Facebook question, such as: How do you get a heart symbol? Answer < and the 3.

In short. Lilliana inspires me and it’s wonderful to have her as my guest today on my infrequent interview post: Left Field With Lily.

LM: Would you please share with us the opening paragraph of your current book or WIP, in at least two stages? 

First draft:

I’m standing in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, training one of my regular clients when I look up and see her, her movement is unmistakable. The two years I spent trying to get over her just fell away and I’m taken right back to where I was, wanting her, wishing I could touch her. There’s a pain in my chest when she looks at me and I see the recognition dawn on her.

Final version

Encouraging the sweaty, grunting man in front of me to tuck his knees closer to his chest as he does mountain climbers, I distractedly scan the people and the scenery in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, as I do every time I bring a client here.

LM: What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’ in terms of Writing Craft. 

LA: I had a big problem with show vs tell. I didn’t quite understand what it was I was doing wrong. Eventually one of my beta readers highlighted a section in the draft for this book and said – ‘Look! Right here. You’re telling me this – I want to see it’ and then it clicked. Hopefully I have the hang of it a bit better now!

LM: What keeps you awake at night?

LA: My three year old! LOL.

LM: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? (You can assume there are magical batteries for anything requiring power).

  • ipod
  • kindle
  • your favourite paperback
  • your significant other
  • I will take my chances on there being a gorgeous girl, or gorgeous man (whichever the case may be) to help me pitch my tent
  • food I don’t have to catch first
  • wine
  • battery-powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods (and George Clooney – no, that’s cheating – no George)
  • a torch in case the candles go out
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB (definitely my mobile, because it has music, books, facebook, email, twitter – everything I’d want to stay entertained and connected)

LM: So food, wine & communication. You might be a bit ON the nose, but you’ll be IN the know… (baaad joke).

LM: My book (released in March with Escape Publishing) is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner? 

LA: He’s actually sitting right next to me – so I’d better make this good in case he looks over! One thing I find beautiful about my husband is his thoughtfulness. He works in hospitality, and every Sunday he finishes work early and stops off at my favourite coffee shop to bring me a coffee so we can sit and talk for the afternoon.

A lot of the time he produces a piece of paper for me to read. He cuts out articles from the paper that I might like and sometimes he has an idea for a future book that he writes down for me.

For my birthday, he filled a book with story ideas for me to show me how supportive he was of my work.

So that’s what I find beautiful, he doesn’t do grand gestures, because he knows I don’t want that – it’s the little thoughtful things that really matter for me and keep me smiling.

LM: Awww…. he sounds wonderful!

booktitleLM: Can you tell me the best thing about A Beautiful Forever? Who would absolutely love it?

LA: Originally I wanted to call this book A Beautiful Redemption (I came across another book with the same name so I changed it) because Elliot, who is the character that I carried over from A Beautiful Struggle, really redeems himself in this one.

We see him come into his own in this book and fight for what he really wants.

Everyone who loved Elliot in A Beautiful Struggle will love this book and so will anyone who loves a good romance about a couple who won’t let anything get in their way. I wrote this book so it could be read on its own, you don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy this one.

LM: Can you share your favourite 250 words from A Beautiful Forever and tell us why they’re your favourite part?

LA: I have a couple of parts that I’d love to share, but they’d really ruin the story line. This is the ‘safest’ of my favourite parts in Elliot and Paige’s story. They are at a bed and breakfast on their last weekend together before Elliot has to fly back to Australia.

A Beautiful Forever is written in a dual point of view – this section is in Paige’s voice.

“I just want you to know that I’ve never been happier than when I’m with you. I want you to know that I – ”

“Don’t Elliot,” I say quickly, cutting him off. “Don’t say anything to make this harder. I’m staying and you’re going. Please don’t try and change that.”

“It doesn’t have to end when I go Paige, you could come with me – or I could come back – or you could come with me and then we both come back,” he argues regardless. “Don’t end this Paige, you know how I feel about you, even if you don’t want to hear it, and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way about me. We can do this Paige; we can do this anywhere you want, any country you want. I just want you.”

Tears are threatening to spill from my eyes as I pull my robe back over my shoulders and close it tightly around me. “Elliot, you can do so much better than me. Why are you pushing this?”

“Because I love you damn it!” he yells suddenly, his outburst scaring the shit out of me as he jumps off the bed and starts to pace the room. I sit there, trying not to cry as I watch him work through his emotions. When he stops and looks at me his eyes are shining as well. “Why won’t you tell me what makes you so sad? Why don’t you trust me enough to love you no matter what you may have done?”

If you’d like to find out more about Lilliana and her books, it’s easy.

Visit her website and blog

Find her on facebook or Goodreads or Twitter

Buy A Beautiful Forever at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Kobo

A Beautiful Forever comes with a Mature Content Warning.

After ruining the best relationship he has ever had, Elliot’s life takes a turn for the worse and he isn’t happy with who he’s become.

Deciding to spend three months in the UK on a working visa, in a bid to find himself again, he boards a plane to London. During the flight he meets Paige, a fellow Aussie with a closed heart and a lot to hide.

The closer he gets to Paige the more he’s sure that she’s hiding something. Will it be enough to send him running? Or does he love her enough to fight this time?

This is Elliot’s story after A Beautiful Struggle, it can be read on it own but Lilliana says you will have better understanding of Elliot’s character if you meet him in book one first.

 

Juanita Kees: Left Field With Lily

Juanita Kees is about to release her second novel, Under The Hood, with Escape Publishing,
which makes thumbnail[2]Juanita an Escape Artist, just like me! It will be lovely to have
His Brand Of Beautiful published with Under The Hood at Escape in the same month.

Juanita is a writer, editor and wonderful volunteer at Romance Writers’ Australia where she pulls together the informative bit of weekly news,
Cruisin’ The Blogs.

Somehow, it seems rather apt to me that a lady known for Cruisin, would come up with a title called Under The Hood. But could Juanita change her own tyre in a crisis? That’s the ten thousand dollar question! And no, I didn’t ask it!

Thank you so much Juanita for being part of:
From Left Field…

The name of the game here is bravery! My blog has been about my path to publication, and while a writer can read any number of articles on writing craft, one of the most valuable things to me was reading excerpts, and well, just reading, to see how good writers put all that craft together.

So the first question I’ll ask is:

Lily M: Share with us the opening paragraph of your book as it began and how it is now.

Juanita K: Today I’m sharing from my debut release, Fly Away Peta. The funny thing: not much changed in the opening paragraph. The only change was it originally opened with the line of dialogue.

Peta tossed the cushion she’d been clutching back onto the sofa, irritated. ““No! Absolutely not! How can you even ask, Mark? My daughter is missing! This is not the right time for me to be out there pretending everything’s normal.”

Lily M: Man am I wildly jealous. I don’t know HOW many times I rewrote the first paragraph of His Brand Of Beautiful. It changed and it changed and it reverted and it changed and… need I say more! (Nightmare!)

Lily M: Share with us 8 lines from the top of page 88 (yes, I stole this idea, sorry!)

Juanita K: Peta’s heart felt as if it was being torn apart as she watched him absorb her question. Threatening tears burned at the back of her throat.

A shadow passed over Jaime’s face. What was she trying to say? That she didn’t want him around? “Peta, we need to talk. We need to sort this thing through. Now that this business with Paul is settled…” He broke off as Mark came into the room.

Mark’s expression was dark as he drew nearer the bedside. He placed an arm around Peta’s shoulder and hugged her quickly before releasing her again. “I’m afraid it’s not over yet,” he informed them.

Lily M: Mark is my favourite character in Fly Away Peta. I love how he looks after his sister.

Lily M: What is your greatest “lightbulb moment” in terms of Writing Craft?

Juanita K: Now there’s a tough one! Where should I start? Probably random POV switches that sneaked in when I wasn’t looking. I had to train my brain to spot them. I’m sure a few slipped through the cracks.

Lily M: What keeps you awake at night?

Juanita K: Ideas and scene planning in my head. I have to get up and write them down because I never remember them in the morning!

Lily M: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which would you pick? (You can assume there are magical batteries for anything electrical).

  • ipod
  • kindle/e-reader
  • my favourite paperback
  • my significant other
  • food I don’t have to kill or catch
  • wine
  • battery-powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods
  • a torch
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB

Juanita K: I’d choose the Kindle and I’d have: Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed (Anna Campbell), Cottage by the Lake (Karly Blakemore-Mowle) and The Viscount’s Pleasure House (Suzi Love) loaded ready to go. And I’d pick the battery-powered Nespresso and endless supply of Pods and George Clooney to make coffee for me and look like… George Clooney.

Lily M: Coffee before alcohol. That tells me much! And what’s this about George? From what I’ve picked up along the traps, I think you’re battling Jennie Brumley for prize-winning hubby in romance circles! I’ve been meaning to ask what Gavin got you for Valentine’s day? I know Ms Brumley got a bunch of (you guessed it) Lillies!

Lily M: My book is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner?

Juanita K: My husband can cook, clean and do laundry! I chose well.

Lily M: (I repeat: who needs George!)

Lily M: Can you tell me the best thing about Fly Away Peta? Who would absolutely love it?

Juanita K: I like to think Fly Away Peta has a little bit of everything. It has romance, intrigue, suspense and ‘real’ issues people deal with every day. The absolute best thing is the cover! I loved it from the moment I saw it.

People who are looking for a story that might not follow all the rules of category romance, will enjoy this story, I’m sure. It might also appeal to lovers of Australian rural romance being set in the small rural West Australian town of Williams.

Lily M: Can you share your favourite 250 words from your book (or WIP?) and tell us why they’re your favourite part?

Juanita K: One of my favourite scenes from Fly Away Peta is when Jaime sees Peta for the first time in ten years:

Dear God, he’d never thought it possible she could be more beautiful than he remembered. Tightness gripped his heart painfully. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. 

As he stood at the base of the stage staring up at her, she looked down at him and their eyes met and held. He heard her voice falter slightly as shock registered on her face.  She tore her eyes from his and moved away across the stage. Jaime felt his heart plummet from his chest down into his stomach. He didn’t want to feel this way! He should’ve stopped feeling this way about her after all this time. His lips tightened as he took one last look at her and strode from the hall.

* * * *

Peta stared down at Jaime’s departing back, her heart pounding. For a fleeting moment she’d thought her mind was playing tricks on her. Conjured him up as she sang the song she’d written for him. Panic seized her and she heard her voice falter. Desperately she tried to regain her concentration and banish him from her thoughts. She could not get caught up in the magic he weaved again! With difficulty, she fought off the waves of dizziness. She’d known it was a mistake to come back to this town. She’d avoided the place for ten years both dreading and anticipating this moment. 

As Jaime slammed through the rear door of the hall, she felt her heart shatter. Part of her wanted to leap off the stage and run after him, but she knew she wouldn’t.

Thanks so much Juanita for being part of Left Field with Lily.

To buy Flthumbnail[1]y Away Peta at Amazon, click here.

Or from the Publisher, Eternal Press, click here.

For more information or to connect with Juanita Kees, visit:

http://www.kees2create.com.au/

 

 

 

Jenn J McLeod: Left Field with Lily

Jenn J McLeod is about to release her debut novel, House For All Seasons, with Simon & Schuster.
Jenn J McLeod is about to release her debut novel, House For All Seasons, with Simon & Schuster.

Drum roll please!
I have been buried since Saturday in revisions for my book and that process alone has given me so many ideas for posts!
I will get to them. I promise.

But in the meantime, I am so thrilled to introduce the
WOMAN of the moment! Jenn J Mcleod who has her debut
novel, House For All Seasons, coming out with Simon & Schuster
in March. Thank you so much Jenn for being part of:
From Left Field…

The name of the game here is bravery! My blog has been about my path to publication, and while a writer can read any number of articles on writing craft, one of the most valuable things to me was reading excerpts, and well, just reading, to see how good writers put all that craft together.

So the first question I’ll ask is:

Lily M: Share with us the opening paragraph of your book as it began and how it is now. 

Jenn J: Okay, on 13/03/10

Prologue    

‘I’m not going back there. Not for three months, not for three weeks, not even for three days.’ Thirty-eight year old Poppy Hamilton, once powerful playground prima donna, still knew how to command a crowd. ‘As lovely as it is to catch up with you ladies after all this time, I can’t do it – I won’t. Sorry. Besides, it makes no sense.’

‘Didn’t you understand?’ Sara tried to project her voice. ‘The Will is conditional on us all doing it – starting with you in spring.’

On 01/03/12 (final edits and I ditched the prologue way back, as advised, changing it to Chapter One)

‘I’m not going back there. Not for three months, three weeks, not even three days.’

Two decades on and Poppy, once powerful playground prima donna, could still command a crowd. ‘As lovely as it is to catch up with you ladies after all this time, I can’t do this. I won’t. Sorry. Besides, it makes no sense.’

Time pressured—as usual—Poppy stood apart from her three companions, alone and restless on the window side of the conference room. She eyed the wall clock hanging at one end of it, then her friends.

Former friends.

Strangers.

Lily M: Share with us 8 lines from the top of page 88
(yes, I stole this idea—did I mention I was head down in edits and time-poor—sorry!)

Jenn J: This is from House Of All Seasons: Part One – Surviving Summer (characters Sara and Will.)

Breathless by the time she’d reached the car, her disquiet turning to exasperation, Sara said, ‘Don’t be angry, Will.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because it’s not like you to be angry.’

‘Everyone’s funny guy, eh? Yeah, that’s good old Will Travelli. The guy who gives you all a good laugh. The guy who reminds you how lucky you all are. Well, newsflash, Sara, that’s not who I am twenty-four/seven, and not without a lot of bloody encouragement. And by that I mean my kids. Without them I wouldn’t even be here. They were the only thing that made me put up with the frigging pain and humiliation. Can we just go?’

LIly M: (Love those 8 lines Jenn). What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’
in terms of Writing Craft? images

Jenn J: Only one?  Then I’ll go with ‘voice’. I was trying to write stuff that wasn’t me and … well, it wasn’t working. Then I read a Lisa Heidke novel (What Kate Did Next) and bingo! I even blogged about my bingo moment. (The link is easier than me explaining).  http://www.jennjmcleod.com/2010/07/12/so-thats-what-a-fresh-voice-means/

Lily M: What keeps you awake at night?

Jenn J: At this moment in time? The idea that reviewers are reading my book and that my life’s work, my impossible dream that somehow came true, now depends on five little stars or the words they choose to write. (Okay, possibly a little over-dramatic. But you did ask.)

Lily M: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? There are magic batteries for anything electrical!

  • ipod
  • kindle/e-reader
  • my favourite paperback
  • my significant other
  • food I don’t have to kill or catch
  • wine
  • battery-powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods
  • a torch
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB

Jenn J: Hello, my name is Jenn and I am an addict!  Yes, I picked:

  1. mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB. How pathetic is THAT! I do love my iPad.
  2. my significant other (to keep me fed and watered while I write, Twitter and Facebook.)
  3. Dilemma. I don’t need a torch. The iPad will double as that and I don’t need moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush as there is no mirror so who cares? Hmm, tough one. Fresh clothes are a must, but so are wine and (to a lesser degree) food.

(Indecisive, isn’t she our Jenn! And not particularly practical. I’d like to see some of those Tweets written on a tummy filled with wine and no food! I think I have to take Answer 3 as ‘fresh clothes’. This is probably just as well for any lost bushwalkers who happen upon this campsite.)

Lily M: My book (being released by Escape Publishing in March) is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’?

The dogs. Jenn's brand of beautiful, bad breath and all!
The dogs. Jenn’s brand of beautiful, bad breath and all!

Jenn J: Hairy, bad breath, annoying at times, but a happy tail and unconditional love. My muse, Strawberry & Daiquiri.

Lily M: Can you tell me the best thing about House For All Seasons? 

Jenn J: The best thing about my book?
The cover.

Oh, you mean inside…story like…?
Hmm, the four characters, based on the four seasons, written in four parts. It’s like four stories in one all tied up with a whopping big secret. I’m inspired by the changing seasons. I love the contrast – and contrast makes for great characters and conflict. So I wanted to create four female characters as different as the seasons.

So, House for all Seasons is four separate journeys of the heart set in a small town with heart: Surviving Summer, Tall Poppy, Autumn Leaves and Wynter’s Way, in which readers witness both the unravelling of friendships and a tightening of family ties.

Jenn front cover

Lily M: Who would absolutely love it?

Jenn J: I once heard Jodi Picoult say:

“The best books straddle genres and attract a
variety of readers.”

That influences my writing, and with intricate themes that deal with family ties and friendship there is definitely broad appeal. The four-part approach has something for everyone.

I write what the business calls ‘commercial’ fiction. This means stories with broad themes and appealing to a broader audience (making the distinction from what is referred to as more ‘literary’ works). But a broader audience means more people reading my work and that, after all, is why I write. I believe my novels can comfortably sit on a shelf alongside more literary works, general fiction and contemporary romances.

So I’m not sure who would love it. But what I’d hope is that they remember the story, or a particular scene, and talk about it in much the same way people talk about a favourite movie.

Lily M: Can you share with us your favourite 250 words from the novel and tell us what makes it your favourite?

Jenn J: One Favourite Part?! I have lots! But for different reasons. One that makes me cry. One that makes me laugh out loud. One where I sit back and say “Did I really write that?”

For you, I have this one. I hope you enjoy it (and it’s not too long).

(Lily here: AHEM! Did you not see me say 250 words!)

House For All Seasons – Surviving Summer

‘Will said you were back in town,’ Jennifer continued. ‘He mentioned it in passing last night after picking me up and giving me the most beautiful bunch of flowers, then taking me out to dinner at, of all places, La Mystique restaurant in Saddleton, where we drank champagne and he made a toast, to me, of course. It was my birthday, you know.’

Was the woman still breathing? Sara began to wonder, having listened to the longest sentence in history. Maybe Jenny was cheerleader for the verbal Olympics these days. Despite the long-windedness of her monologue, the message could not have been any clearer if she’d tattooed it on that tummy next to the navel stud: Back off, Will’s mine.

‘Well in that case, happy birthday, Jennifer,’ Sara said, trying not to smile.

She should put the woman out of her misery, tell Jennifer she was here to close doors, not bang her head against them by chasing after a twenty-year-old attraction that was never reciprocated in the first place. Sara had moved on from Will a long time ago. She was interested to know how he was doing despite her unforgivable lack of contact and concern, but after fulfilling her obligation with the house, Sara would go back to Sydney. Staying permanently in Calingarry Crossing had never been a consideration. Never again would the town tie Sara down. By summer’s end she would be ready to face the world as a new woman, get a job and get used to how life was for her now. Telling Jennifer she need not worry about any competition from her was the right thing to do, but the devil in Sara decided to let the woman make her own assumptions. Jennifer was probably quite skilled at it.

‘Morning, boss,’ Jennifer chirped as she sashayed past Will on his way back over to Sara.

‘I think my arrival may have upset Jenny … I mean, Jennifer.’

‘Not sure I follow.’ Will wrinkled his nose the way he always used to, except for the time a Saddleton team bully broke it in a high tackle.

‘Jennifer? Your date last night? Wildly romantic dinner? La Mystique? Ringing any bells?’

‘Is that what she just told you?’ He chuckled in a sweet, sympathetic way. ‘Poor Jen. Her husband left her last year. Ran off with a backpacker working at the Saddleton pub. Yesterday was her first birthday alone and I thought a night out would be nice, cheer her up a bit. Besides, she’s a good worker and hangs around to help me close up. She never claims overtime.’

‘Oh, I’m sure she feels amply rewarded, though.’

Sara was teasing, but the pangs of jealousy jabbed a little too seriously hard. Why had there been no Will and no knight in shining armour to rescue Sara when her husband had run out, dumping her at the worst possible point in her life?

Don’t go there.

‘So, speaking of dinner, Ms Sara Fraser, how about you have it with me tonight?’

‘Oh my, La Mystique two nights in one week?’

‘Ah, actually, I was thinking more Le Café, as in here. It’s wages night so I’m slaving over pays after I lock up, but I can have Dom knock us up a meal before he finishes. When I’m done with the wages I can just bung the plates of whatever in the microwave.’

Bung whatever in the microwave!

Sara laughed so hard, the lack of control over her normally tightly controlled emotions surprised her.

‘What’s so funny?’ Will asked, doing a lousy job of keeping a straight face.

‘You—and you know it.’ She buckled her helmet and unhooked her sunnies from the neck of her shirt, preparing to leave. ‘I guess it’s microwaved whatever around six. I’ll be here.’

****

Lily M: Microwaved whatever at six sounds great to me! What a guy is Will. I’m lucky to have two Will excerpts. Thanks Jenn.

Jenn J: Thank you for having me, Lily.

Lily M: Hmm. You’re being nice now after getting 650 words by me hey? Okay then. You’re welcome!

To find out more about House For All Seasons, and about Jenn J McLeod,
visit: www.jennjmcleod.com

or

http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/House-for-All-Seasons/Jenn-J-McLeod/9781922052049

And you can pre-order it here:

http://www.dymocks.com.au/ProductDetails/ProductDetail.aspx?R=9781922052049#.UP5vUEsUVZc

Plus it will be available in bookshops and wherever books are sold
(incl Big W, Kmart and Target) from March 1. Also e-book, Kindle & Kobo.