Guest Post: Susanne Bellamy, Lady Of The Rings

My lovely writing friend, Susanne Bellamy, has a new book out this month called Engaging The Enemy. It’s set in Melbourne, and it’s doing great things on the book charts. I’m very pleased to invite Susanne to my blog to talk about her new book, but first, a little education from the Lady Of The Rings.Ring5

 

“Marry me.”

“Will you do me the honour of being my wife?”

“Let’s get hitched.”

No matter the form of the question, it’s a signal that life is about to change for two people. Usually. What is so important about an engagement ring, aside from the evidence of a promise to wed?

It began as braided grass around a woman’s wrist/ankle/waist as a means of ‘marking’ her as her mate’s property. Early Roman women wore an iron ring in the home to denote the wife’s legal acceptance of being owned. Asian sheiks used puzzle rings to track their wives.

Diamond rings appeared in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave one to Mary of Burgundy, flat pieces of diamond in the shape of an ‘M’. But it was the discovery of diamonds in the Cape Colony in South Africa that led directly to the booming industry today.

In 1886, Tiffany & Co. introduced the “Tiffany setting,” a six-prong ring designed to maximize a diamond’s brilliance by raising it up from the band.

Ring1My favourite piece of trivia though, involves Cartier who created the Trinity Ring—intertwined hoops in pink gold (love), white gold (friendship), and yellow gold (fidelity)—for Jean Cocteau to give to his lover, poet Raymond Radiguet. It is still a traditional wedding ring in France. Love, friendship and fidelity—these are the cornerstones of marriage symbolised by the three gold types. Who could ask for anything more?

In the case of my latest release, Engaging the Enemy, the proposal doesn’t happen quite as expected. Matt Mahoney needs Andrea de Villiers to agree to a fake engagement. To give credibility to their ‘engagement’, Matt gives Andie an emerald ring. Reluctantly, she wears it—sometimes. Unable to tell a lie to save herself, Andie finds living this lie more challenging than even she expected. They are enemies but Matt brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Here’s more about Susanne’s new book, published by Escape Publishing, called Engaging The Enemy.

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems. 

Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

For further reading, try: http://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/the-history-of-engagement-rings/

 

Buy the book:

Escape:

Amazon AUS:

Amazon US:

iBooks:

Google Play:

Kobo:

It’s Good News Week

A shout out to my wonderful Beta reading and writing friends, Jennie Jones and Juanita Kees, both of whom have had wonderful book-related news this week.

girls
Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees & Lily Malone, before Christmas 2013.

Jennie, Juanita and I met on Facebook last year, and then in person at the RWA Conference in Fremantle. We are all Escape Artists (published by Escape Publishing), and we’re living in West Australia, although I’m a fair way south of these two. This, by the way, is a good thing. I’m sure if we lived closer, we’d talk books and drink wine and very little writing would get done! After Fremantle we chatted loosely about joining forces with joint promotions or other bookish things… and this eventuated in the gem of an idea, that we form a Beta reading team.

So far, I’m proud to say, our record is exemplary! We started with Under The Cover Of Dark, Juanita’s follow-up story to Under The Hood in her Tag Raider series, staring the hunky Detective Mark and the lovely (but scarred) widow, Lily Bennetti. How could I not fall in love with Detective Mark when every line I’m reading has ‘Lily’ swooning over his cop charms? (And cop arms, and those big guns, – please, somebody stop me.) We had a giggle on Facebook mid-way through last year when Juanita posted a line about the sexy things Lily had been doing with Detective Mark, and someone (I think it was Susanne Bellamy from memory – thought it was ME!) So I wrote a little story about me, Lily & Mark which I hope to post here one day when Juanita says it’s okay.

Anyhoo… while we waved goodbye to Under Cover Of Dark and wished it well on its journey through the submission straits, I think next cab off the rank was my book, Fairway To Heaven, closely followed by Jennie Jones’ next book in her Swallow’s Fall series. This is ‘The House At The Bottom Of The Hill’ (the follow-up to Jennie’s blockbuster, ball-busting Escape’s biggest-selling wonder-book: The House On Burra Burra Lane). Yes, I am trying VERY hard to get Jennie to cull her book titles… but she does love telling a story on her front cover! Me, Jennie & Juanita call it THATBOTH… it’s much easier!

I like to think of Jennie as writing ‘Chardonnay Country’. You don’t find wheat fields, red dusty outback roads, sheep or cattle stations in Swallow’s Fall, instead it’s in the Snowy Mountains, all green and wildflower-filled, and the community and characters Jennie Jones has developed there never fail to make me giggle. I love visiting Swallow’s Fall, pet pigs and all.

page1Juanita’s writing is different. Her Tag Raiders series is romantic suspense… tackling all the tough issues like teenage gang culture, drugs, street kids, homelessness and the wonderful people who assist in the rehabilitation of these teens.

Is it any surprise that after the emotion she spent on the page writing Tag Raiders, she threw us a curve ball? Juanita needed a holiday. So off to a Greek beach she went, while we all chewed our nails waiting on news about Under The Cover Of Dark… and phwoar, have we enjoyed watching her Greek Gods in their speedos on Mykonos… my little heart be still.

Then Jennie, in the space of a few months, wrote my favourite story of everything she’s done so far: 12 Days At Silver Bells House. This is a Christmas novella set in Swallow’s Fall, and it is absolutely delightful. Talking about ‘Chardonnay Country’ I loved how her heroine crashes her car in a paddock near Swallow’s Fall and awaits her rescue more worried about how she’s going to get the box of wine out of the boot (trunk), than how she is going to get out of the aforesaid mud patch in her designer heels. This novella is magic!

And the huge news that’s had us all dancing: Under The Cover Of Dark has been accepted for publication by Escape Publishing this week! And Jennie Jones has news too… although I’ll let her tell it!

So huge congratulations to Jennie and Juanita. They are two of the most generous people you could meet in the Australian writing fraternity.

And while I’m dishing out the love: It’s also been a big week (month) for two other buddies, Jenn J McLeod and Kylie Kaden, both of whom have new books (Simmering Season for Jenn, and Losing Kate for Kylie) in print and e-book that have captured readers’ attention in Australia and beyond.

It sure has been a good news week! #girlwritersrock #australianwritersrock

Arrgghh! Book Reviews…

My debut book isn’t published yet (but it’s oh so close, hurry up March 1) and so far I think I’m doing a reasonable job of not stalking Goodreads and Amazon looking for reviews that have come from bloggers who have had access to an advance copy. (Your version of ‘reasonable’ however, may well differ from mine – just saying.)

I’ve always found people love to criticise. In my job in journalism and then communications, I’ve ghost-written more columns over the years than Casper. Usually when I’d ask whoever I was writing the column for to give me some article ideas, I’d get: “Oh, I’ll leave it up to you.”

Okay. Fine.

But the minute you put a proof or a draft in front of someone’s desk, man do they channel the mini-critic. Well, one woman I recall in particular (a lawyer) drove me crazy, put a written word on the page in front of her and all hell broke loose. Thankfully, she was in the minority.

It doesn’t matter if it’s words on a page, or paintings on a gallery wall, or a voice raised in song. Whatever a person does in life, once you put yourself out there, you open yourself to opinion and criticism. You have to suck it up. Take the good with the bad and above all, remember that you can’t please everyone.

I’m part of Susanne Bellamy’s All The World’s A Page blog this weekend and one of the questions Susanne asks is how I react to reviews (good and bad). I’ve only had three thus-far. 4 stars & two 3-star reviews. Only the 4-star reviewer chose to write an actual review and luckily, it was very nice.

“This was a very slow building story but I found myself completely captivated by the characters and plot right till the end. Both Tate and Christina have personal demons they must resolve in order to have any semblance of a loving relationship, watching this development was enthralling. Lily Malone paints an extremely colorful picture making His Brand of Beautiful jump off the pages.”

http://tometender.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/his-brand-of-beautiful-by-lily-malone.html

I will never forget this review!

But what if it sucked? What if she gave me one star and a figurative slap in the face with a wet tuna fish? I know I’d be down in the dumps.

I told Susanne Bellamy in my interview that what I hope to do is take the good with the bad, grow a thick skin. If there’s anything constructive in the bad review, take it on the chin, learn from it. AND MOVE ON!

There’s been a lot of private discussion about reviews in the Yahoo Groups I’m part of, with fellow Escape Artists (all published or soon to be published with Harlequin Escape).

Some of the best advice I’ve heard came from Rhian Cahill, she says:

“Here’s my advice. Ignore reviews. They’re not for you. They’re for readers who all have various tastes. What one reader doesn’t like another does. It’s like dinner time at my house, it doesn’t matter what I cook not everyone (8 of us) at the table will love it or even like it.
The best thing you can do for you, your writing and your career is to write the next book. So forget about the reviews (which are often written by people who are seeking their 15 mins of fame) and get writing!!

Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing has also written on this topic recently, and it all helps put a bad review in perspective. http://www.martinisandmanuscripts.com/bad-reviews/

So, four days from Publication Date and counting down, let’s see how long my peaceful attitude about reviews will last!

The Next Big Thing (the real one)

Next Big Thing-1

I was one of four writers tagged by Susanne Bellamy and Jenn J Mcleod in the Next Big Thing blog tour. Jenn dubbed her motley crew, the DIGRITS, which (if you’re wondering and I’m sure you are) stands for Dang. I Got Roped Into This S***. Susanne invited me too, a little later, and I hope she will forgive me for linking back to this earlier story!

I know Cate Ellink has done her TNBG (Cate was also in my The Next Bog Thing and her BOG answers were as good as her BIG ones). You can read Jenn’s here too and Kerrie Paterson. And keep an eye on Alison Tait for her contribution.

Here are my responses to the questions.

What is the working title of your current/next book?

My current book, which will be published in the next few months (March is earmarked), is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Right now, I am struggling mightily with my next WIP, loosely called Fringe Benefits. I am procrastinating my arse off, rather than knuckling down to write it. I’m blogging. Reading other blogs. Facebooking. Watching way too much cricket (C’mon Aussie, c’mon) and I even wrote a short story a while ago, just so I didn’t have to get back to Fringe Benefits. And I liked writing the short story so much (I will enter it for RWA Little Gems) that I then threw my effort at a Novella for a Carina Press competition called Harleys & Holidays… So right now, that’s the one getting the BS&T (hmmm… written like that it looks like I mean, getting the bulls***… I meant, getting the blood, sweat & tears).

Where did the idea come from?

I’m not sure where His Brand Of Beautiful ‘came from’ exactly. I think you’d throw me in the ‘pantster’ classification. Pantsters never know where their books come from, right? I know I didn’t want an angst-filled romance where the characters dithered and faffed about and were too stupid to live. I wanted it to relate to the wine industry (most of my ideas are loosely connected there – that probably tells you more about me and my love of all things red, white and rose than you need to know)… and I had this rough idea that I wanted the beginning to involve a case of ‘mistaken identity.’ (Before I knew that was called a Trope, thanks Rachel Johns). Beyond that, I really had no idea.

What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary romance for pantsters.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hugh Jackman would get the nod for Tate. There’s a lot of ‘Drover’ from Australia in Tate. Christina? Possibly Cameron Diaz (shorter though) in a hat and with a few extra pounds. Even Melissa George in a hat and a few extra pounds. Any woman in a hat with a few extra pounds. (Hey FOX, Universal – I could play her myself!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A man haunted by his past falls in love with a woman afraid of the future.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am thrilled to say a publisher will represent His Brand Of Beautiful, but all the paperwork isn’t finalized as yet, so I can’t say which one!

How long did it take you to write the first draft?

May 2011 I began writing it. I finished it fast and sent it out in about September of that year. The first rejections came fast too. They were a huge wake-up call and told me how much I didn’t know about creative writing. I grew much older and wiser in the next 14 months of rewrites and revisions and I will never forget the Saturday morning when I clicked open my emails and read one from a US publisher that said: “I really enjoyed your book and I would love it for our line.”

I was incredibly lucky that an Aussie publisher then told me they liked my book too. Deciding which publisher to go with has been my big dilemma. There are pros and cons to both. The legal side of things has been making my head spin. That’s something I think we could all use more of (by the way), there are so many great writing craft posts and tips, but it has been much harder to find contract and legal information. Once I’m more organized, I will try to shape up a post about what I’ve discovered on the ‘business’ route.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m sorry. I don’t know. I know that there are an awful lot of talented Australian writers writing ‘rural romance’. I don’t write that, as such, but it just happens that His Brand Of Beautiful includes an outback camping trip. I was lucky enough to completely freak out Jenn J McLeod & Rachael Johns the other day on Author Harvest and I won a copy of Rachael’s new book, Man Drought. So that will be my first Aussie read, and of course, I am saving myself to read House Of All Seasons.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ruebens. (Yes, the painter) and probably, Jennifer Crusie, though she would never know it. I think her writing is just amazing.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’d like to think it has a modern feel to it. My heroine knows what she wants in the world and she goes after it. The only problem is, she wants many things all at once and all of them, she tends to want… er… NOW. (No she’s not at all like me. I’m very gentle and patient!) People who like graphic design, branding and marketing may enjoy the subplots in the book. People who like wine might enjoy it too. That’s a pretty wide net, I’d reckon.

Thank you for getting through The Next Big Thing with me. If you are interested in what The Next Bog Thing was all about – check it out here! This Bog post was by far the most popular one I’ve ever done on this site, and that might say something about the people who post and visit here!