Saturday, 30 June 2012

A Month Of Rural Romance Writers: Double Weekend: Cathryn Hein

Welcome everyone to my final interview with some of Australia's up-and-rising Rural Romance writers. My last interviewee is the lovely Cathyrn Hein. She's a Penguin author and will be sharing her experiences as a published author with us today. Welcome Cathryn.

Hi everyone and thanks, Whitney, for inviting me on your blog. I’m delighted to be here.

I'd delighted to have you here. :) So Cathryn, first things first, tell us a little bit about yourself and your current release?

I was brought up in Mt Gambier, in South Australia’s rural south east, and was fortunate enough to have had an idyllic childhood dominated by horse mania. Post school I studied agriculture at Roseworthy College, followed by several years working in the pasture and turf seed industries in Victoria and NSW. These days I write rural-set romance for Penguin and have two books out – Promises, which released in September last year, and Heart of the Valley, which came out in May of this year. I’m currently working madly on the next, and all going well we should see that hit the shelves sometime around May next year.

Heart of the Valley is my tribute to the magnificent NSW Hunter Valley, a place I fell in love with during my pasture seed days when I worked in the area.

It tells the story of Brooke Kingston, a talented equestrienne whose world is turned upside-down after a terrible accident. When her well-meaning family, desperate to get her to Sydney so they can take care of her, hire a farm manager to take over her beloved property she digs in her spurs and refuses to leave. But Lachie Cambridge proves more than a match for Brooke...

Due to his job, my partner and I move around quite a bit, and this lifestyle has had a great affect on my concept of home. For me it’s wherever Jim is. For others home will always be a place. Heart of the Valley explores this theme. Is home a place or is it where your heart lies?

Wow. I just checked my book case because I thought I had 'Heart of The Valley' (Please understand, I don't have time to read at the moment) and guess what? You just sold a book hahah. It sounds fantastic. I'm a horse lover myself and this book sounds like my kind of book. Wishing you all the best with your new project, Cathryn.

Now tell me, how did you start out as a writer? Did you have a critic partner or an editor? Have you always written romance?

I’ve definitely always written romance – except for a period in my adolescence when I wrote a series of bizarre short stories involving cockroaches and all sorts of weird things. As for full length novels, I tried many times to complete one over the years but always struggled to make it past the 10,000 word mark. Between work, study and making sure my other half felt appreciated, I just couldn’t find the momentum to keep going. Only when my partner and I moved overseas and I had to give up work did I realise it was now or never. So I knuckled down and wrote a book. After that first book high there was no stopping me!

I’m fortunate to have critique partners and editors I can bounce ideas off.  I’d be hopeless without my crit partners though. They’re amazing support and it’s wonderful to be able to share the highs and lows with people who understand what you’re going through.

It always happens with a push. :) Critique Partners are special people and sometimes it can take a while to find the right one. I'm glad you've found yours :)

What is your favourite part of creating 'the novel'?              

The End! There is nothing quite like that ‘I’ve just finished a 100,000 word novel’ high. It’s seriously addictive.

I also love the opening three or four chapters. It’s an exciting time, full of possibility because you’re about to go on this wonderful journey. And I also adore black moments, when tragedy or disaster strikes. Bawling my eyes out while writing is weirdly satisfying!

Hahaha. Couldn't agree with you more. I've had a lot of author friends celebrating 'The End' of late. It seems to be a favourite. I like the first few chapters as well. :) It's where it all unfolds and you like your reader get to know the characters and what makes them tick.

So when was your first novel contracted? And can you tell us about 'the call'?

Promises was contracted by Penguin Australia just after the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2010. I’d sent off three chapters of a different novel earlier in the year and, knowing how long these things take, carried on writing. Then in early August I received an email saying that manuscript wasn’t for them. Realising Promises might be more what they were after, I wrote back pitching that book. From that point on things moved pretty swiftly, with a partial being requested followed by the full manuscript almost immediately afterward. I then met editors Ali Watts and Belinda Byrne at the RWA conference and had a chat about my writing and publishing experiences. By the end of September I had an agent and a two book deal. It was, to put it mildly, an exciting, heart in the mouth ride!

I can only imagine and hope to share that same experience one day soon :)
Now the nitty gritty. What do you find hardest about the publishing experience (e.g. the editing process, the wait between  receiving feedback etc)?

Waiting to hear back about a manuscript is a bit nail-biting. I might think the book is marvellous but whether my editor and her colleagues will think the same is another matter. I’d also rank waiting for edits pretty high on the list because I always imagine they’re going to be huuuuge and make me want to crouch sobbing in a corner with my arms wrapped around my head wishing they’d just disappear. They’re never that bad, of course. I simply imagine them that way!

The mind of a writers has a way of dramatising this, wouldn't you agree lol. The Wait is definately a bother isn't it. Time seems to always been the enemy.
Cathryn, what tips do you have for all us aspiring romance writer out there?

Write. Don’t fart around. Write. Because the more you write the better you get. You’ll be stunned at how much better your second and third books will be compared to the first.

Take the time to learn your craft. Writing isn’t easy – it’s very hard work and like any profession you need to hone your skills.

Always remember that everyone has a different process. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Some people are intricate plotters, nailing every tiny aspect of the book before they write a single word. Others are more organic and follow wherever their characters lead them. Some people write extremely rough first drafts then polish like crazy. Others – me included – can’t write another word until a chapter or scene is absolutely perfect. Whichever way you work, make sure you understand it because once you’re published you’ll have deadlines. So knowing your process - how long it takes to write and edit your work - is vital.

Find good critique partners. They are treasures you can’t do without. Not only for their feedback on your work, but for their understanding and support during the dark times. And believe me, there will be dark times.

Join the Romance Writers of Australia. This is an extraordinary organisation. With them you’ll find information, education and amazing support. And incredible friendships!

Excellent advice and all of it I can agree with. So there you have it everyone, my interview with the wonderful Cathryn Hein. Cathryn, its been a pleasure to have you and I can't wait to find some time to read your books. Might have to find you at the conference and get you to sign it too. :)

If you would like to know more about Cathryn and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, 29 June 2012

A Month of Rural Romance Writers: Double Weekend: Margareta Osborn

Today, I've got the wonderful, Margareta Osbourn joining me to talk about her experience as a rural Romance writer. Margareta is a Random House author and you can find out  more about her, her books and her life in the country at:
Why did you start writing romance? And did you start early in life, or did you just wake up one day and decide to write a novel?

When I was twelve I found my father's Billabong books, which were a series written by a (local) rural author Mary Grant Bruce in the early 1900's. Grant Bruce made the bush landscape in her stories come to life like a character in itself. At the same time she wrote about the adventures of young adults (Norah, Jim and Wally) and their life on the land. I lived and breathed those stories. I too helped my father on the family property, I too rode my horses through the bush and scrub. (There was also romance in Grant Bruce's books but it was very subtle.) I was in seventh heaven.

Move forward ten years, I discovered Di Morrissy and her first book 'Heart of the Dreaming'. It was the same again, a rural saga novel, the heroine a cattle station owner, the hero, a sexy stockman, but this time the romance was ramped up and very apparent. (At that time In my own life, I was a farmer's wife, living and and working the land.) I loved Di's book and I decided I too one day would write this type of novel. It would be a rural saga centred around relationships, family, community, living and farming in the bush. It would be a book that showed my passion and love for the rural life that I live and breathe every day, but at the same time it would have a romantic element to it. (Okay, so I'm an absolute romantic at heart.)
That's wonderful. I read 'Heart of The Dreaming' too. And absolutely loved it! It is a fantastic series and an inspiration to all. I hope you read the sequel haha.
Now for my next question, what do you like most about writing rural romance?

Three major things:

  1. I'm a fifth generation farmer in East Gippsland, a very beautiful and rugged place. My family have lived here for 150 years and my surroundings give me a sense of place, of community, of belonging. They also make me want to write. I have lived and worked on the land and with farmers my entire life. All this makes me who I am. It also gives me the ideas and the reasons to write about rural life. I can't help but write rural fiction. I guess that's what happens when you feel so passionately about something you love.
  2. My books are primarily about living on the land and relationships. I always have the strong female heroine as my lead character and the sexy stockman/farmer/dog tracker/whatever-I-dream-up-next, as her love interest. Personally, I am a sucker for a hat, boots, Wranglers or Levi's and a tidy looking bloke wearing them so I don't see why I can't foist that onto my heroine. I also get to rub my hands with glee and say, 'Righto, what can I do next to make it all even harder!' and then have lots of fun watching both characters twist this way, then that, trying to avoid the obvious romantic/sexual tension between them. I'm a sadist, I know.
  3. Writing rural romantic saga novels means I can indulge in my greatest loves (beyond my husband, children, family and friends of course). Farming, the bush and mountains and writing. It's a great combination for me.

The country clearly has a beautiful place in your heart. And I think that's something some miss out on having. Ha, I share your love of Akubra hat, boots and wranglers. Nothing like a Wrangler butt, right?

Oh so now a harder question, can you describe your writing process? Are you a pantser or are you plotter?

I try my hardest to be a plotter, but it doesn't work too well. I cannot, and I repeat CANNOT lay out an electric fence or disc a paddock in a straight line. The same applies to my writing. Best thing for me is to set some fence posts in place, something to head towards off in the distance but allow myself room for bends and deviations in the track. My characters tend to take over and there are days when my fingers race across the keyboard, then I look back over what I've written and mutter, 'But you weren't supposed to be doing that. Well, not yet anyway!' (Usually relates to a sex scene ;-) Other days it's like pulling along a sulky calf. Not a good look.

Hahahaha. That is an excellent way to describe it. It seems to me that conflict comes naturally to you. I wish it came so easily for me. Conflict was my greatest enemy in my first novel. Now that I'm aware of it, I've become a semi-plotter :)
So, what do you enjoy most about writing?

I love having written, if that makes sense. I don't necessarily enjoy the daily grind of writing, especially when the story is stagnant or not doing what I hoped it would. But then there are other days when I race through my farm jobs, just dying to get to the computer to put down a scene which has been running through my head for hours. I live for those days. I ADORE those days. My LandCruiser is littered with scraps of paper with words scrawled at odd moments. My Elders farm pocketbook has cattle numbers and cattle sale prices mixed with conversations my characters are having over breakfast. It makes for interesting reading :)

Hahah, I share your litter problem. :) And understand your favourite part. There is nothing like seeing how far you've come at the end of the day.
Do you have any dislikes about writing?
Can I say writing? Lol. No, I'm very lucky. I love what I do - both farming and writing. But there are some days, just like any other job, when you'd cheerfully throttle a character who is not doing what they're told or supposed to do. That's when I usually kill or do something nasty to the character to pull them into line. From my end the conversation usually goes like this, 'You can't do that, because I swear I'm going to do this to you - so behave!'
This is by far the most interesting interview I've held so far. Throttling chracters and what-not. :) But to be honest, it is all so very true. I can't count the number of times I've wanteds to bang my head into my keyboard or delete an entire story (all 130k of it).
Now, what's your current release? Can you decribe it to us in ten words or less?

BELLA'S RUN - An intoxicating outback tale of friendship, the search for love and a place to call home. (16 words … oops!)

Hahaha, *turns a blind-eye*
Now, Margareta, are you currently working on a new novel? What's do you have coming up next?
HOPE'S ROAD - My second novel for Random House, Australia comes out on March 1, 2013. The story centres on Tammy, a farmer in the Narree valley who is charged with the responsibility of running ‘Montmorency Downs’, a property that has been in her family for 150 years. Her life is sent into disarray when she finds herself dealing with an irascible relative, a sexy wild dog trapper and a desperate-for-attention child.
The novel is set in the mountains and valleys of East Gippsland, the same area featured in Bella’s Run. I love this new book. Like Bella’s Run, it has the love for the land flowing through, whilst I hope, portraying a gutsy, funny and heart-wrenching story.
I think I'm not the only one who can't wait to read it. It sounds great. :)
And my last question, but certainly not the least important, what is the best piece of advice you have to give to aspiring writers like myself?
Two things:
1) Belief in yourself. Don't listen to that inner voice, the one that strives to tell you can't because I am proof you CAN!
2) A good friend of mine once told me that to write a novel you needed to invest in stuff called 'bum glue'. I laughed because I knew exactly what she meant. You need to push aside all the excuses, sit down, glue yourself to the chair and just WRITE THE DAMN BOOK.
There you have it. Advice from, Margareta. And some excellent advice at that.
Thanks you so much Margreta for joining me on my blog. It's been an absolute pleasure and I have laughed all the way. Here's me hoping I get to meet you in person at the Goldcoast Conference.
Best of luck in your career. Looking forward to seeing HOPE'S ROAD on a shelf one day.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

My Lucky Seven

Some of you may have noticed a little game of tag going around. It's called 'Lucky Seven'. Well, I've been tagged twice by my writing friends Imogene Nix and Annie Seaton. The challenge is that you go to your current 'Work In Progress' (mine is the sequel to 'What Happens In Ireland...', 'Deceive me in Ireland') and you have to post seven lines/sentences of your work as it is.
These are my seven lines:

His green eyes lit up. Cara burned beneath them.

‘I donna think I’ve introduced myself,’ he said, offering her his hand.  ‘I’m Patrick. Patrick O’Leary.’

Accepting it, Cara hoped her cheeks didn’t look as red as they felt.

Unfortunately, her reaction to his touch was far more than she’d predicted. When she’d seized his hand, pleasure swamped her. His palm was rough. Calloused. But she wasn’t repulsed by it. She was tantalized. The slight friction it created against her skin was electrifying.
Well, I hope that was a little entertaining for you all. Now to nominate my new lucky seven:

- Rachael Johns
- Pat McDermont
- Fiona Palmer
- Coleen Kwan
- Nessa Mills
- Cathryn Hein
-Lucinda Brant

Now girls, here's what you have to do:

§Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript (fiction or non-fiction)
§Go to line 7
§Post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are – no cheating
§ Tag 7 other authors to do the same
Have fun everyone, don't forget to post a link in a comment here.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

A Month Of Rural Romance Writers: Fiona Palmer

Well, here it is everyone, my interview with Fiona Palmer. Fiona is published by Penguin and currently has three fabulous novels out (one of them in german :) ). Please welcome her. It's been a pleasure to have her on this blog and I hope you all enjoy the interview as much as I did organising it.
So firstly, Fiona, tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a mother of two, live in the tiny rural town of Pingaring 350km south east of Perth . I work one day a week at the local shop, just to get out of the house and I try to concentrate on writing when I’m not busy chasing my kids around, doing housework or community jobs.
I think it's great that you work at the local shop and can understand your need to get out of the house. :) I think any job dealing with the general community is great. You get so many interesting character and terrified some may be, some end up in novels.
So who are you biggest writer influences? I think ever author has writer influences even the best of the best must. :)
I was never a big reader, but one of the first big books I read in primary school was Danielle Steel’s Summers End. I think this is where my love of romance really grew. Since then I’ve become a big YA fan also and have written my own YA book, which I hope to find a publisher for.
When did you start did you start writing Rural Romance? And was there a reason why?
I started writing at the worst time of my life, when my kids were just babies and I was working full time running the local shop. But I started to write mainly because I had this story in my head about a girl on a farm. I love the country and my lifestyle, so this is what made me write in the first place. I don’t write because I love words, I write because I love the story. After 2.5years of sitting on my book a friend gave me Rachael Treasure’s book, Jillaroo and I knew then that there was a market/genre for this type of book and it kicked me into gear. It just took off after that.
That's excellent. Funny enough, Rachael Treasure is a favourite if mine and one of the first romances I ever read.
Does your life in a small town influence what you write?
Yes, I’m living in the rural community so I am writing it as truthfully as I can. Our area went through a drought a few years back and it guttered the community, it also influenced my fourth book, which is set around a town in a drought.
I think it's great that you can bring such devasting issue to light. Personal, I don't think city people truly understand drought. But through fiction, I think perhaps we might be able to get something across to them. Fiction writing is great for portraying emotions and I couldn't think of a better way to humanize such a need for help.
Anyway, would you mind telling us in ten words or less what your current release is about?
The Road Home is about a country girl who ends up being citified, but finds out the country is where she really belongs.

That sounds great, Fiona. I wish you all the best with it. :)
Now I had a earlier post a month or so back, where I spoke about where writers write. Do you have any special conditions a writing space that you write most comfortably in? Do you have a picture to share.

I write in our office. Its not fancy and is crammed full of stuff but it does the trick.
I think that just it. It just seems to work for you. And Fiona has been nice enough to provide us with a picture of her study :)

Once again, thank you for joining me today, Fiona. It was a pleasure meeting you. Best of luck with your career and I hope to see you at the conference in August. :) Perhaps get you to sign a copy of THE ROAD HOME haha.

For my readers, you can find Fiona one facebook at this link:!/fiona.palmer.37
And on her website where you can find out more about her releases here:

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Month Of Rural Romance Writers: Rachael Johns

Hi everyone,
Thanks for joining me here today for my first interview with Rachael Johns.
Rachael is a rural writer who writes for Harlequin Australia and she'll be sharing some information about her inspirations, writing career and her current release 'JILTED'.
So please, give her a warm welcome and feel free to find out more about her in the following places:

So Rachael, did you grow-up in the country, or like myself, did you live in the city and gain an interest?

I lived the first eight years of my life in Sydney and the next fifteen in Perth - so I definitely grew up in the city, however I've always loved the country. In 2005 when my first son was only three months old and my hubby was unhappy in his job, we jumped when the opportunity came to go rural. We've lived in a small country town ever since (two all up) and I think the benefits FAR outweigh the negatives. I miss my friends from Perth (although I've made good ones in the country) and the shopping (although with recent advance in online shopping, this isn't so bad)!
Haha, I don't think you'd be the only girl who is thankful for online shopping.
So tell us, has your own life have a great impact on what you write? Most of my inspiration comes for those around me and I was wondering if the same goes for yourself.
Hmm.. tough question. I'd say yes, to the extent of the inspiring country people I interact with every day. The people I've met and the massive community spirit I've experienced in country towns, inspired me to start writing rural-set novels.
I don't think you could have put it any better.
Which  of your novels would you say is closest to your heart?
I'd have to say JILTED. It's my first print novel, but also my first longer novel where I got to focus on more than just the hero and heroine. I've always been a bit of a sucker for secondary characters (It was one of the reasons M&B kept rejecting me), so I love that in Jilted, I got to play with a wider cast and explore the stories of more than simply the hero and the heroine.
I'm a sucker for secondary characters too. I think it comes down to those rural influences. I always warn my friends that they might end up in one of my novels. :)
Now, I believe that with every story I write, a part of myself, whether it be a philosophy or a personal trait, is embedded within the main characters. Is this the same for you? And if so, which of your heroines do you think is most like yourself?
I think it's definitely true. My first published heroine Peppa was a voice talent (a career I'd love) and had a car I've always wanted. Ellie from Jilted is an actress and I did a minor in drama at uni. Are you seeing a theme here? LOL. In the book I've just subbed, Imogen has the name I would have used had I ever had a daughter. After three boys I've given up that dream, so decided to use the name for one of my beloved heroines. All of my heroines are feisty at their core and I'd say I am too.
I have to say, I hope you don't become an actress. You're to good an author LOL.
Now for your current release JILTED. Can you tell describe it to us in ten words or less?
JILTED - Australia soapie actress returns to town where she jilted farmer.
Sounds great. :)
Now Rachael, I know for a fact that you also write urban fiction. Are you a woman who’s divided between country and city life? Or do you just enjoy writing urban romances?
I'm well and truly a country girl now. The reason I wrote/write urban romances is that I was once targeting my stories to Mills & Boon and the line I wanted to publish with required urban settings. Personally I prefer the rural ones because stories about small communities are what I like to read best.
Small communities really are the best, aren't they.
So, I heard you've got a new story in the works? Would you mind sharing a little about it?
I've just subbed MAN DROUGHT (working title) about a widow (city-chick) who moves to a small country town and buys the rundown pub. Of course, she encounters a red-hot country boy who not only doesn't think the pub needs fixing, but he seems to have a vendetta against her as well.
Sounds like my kind of read.
Thanks so much Rachael for allowing me to interview, it's been a pleasure and I hope to see 'MAN DROUGHT' soon and 'JILTED' in the bestseller's. Best of luck with your career. It's been an honour to have you. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

This writer is getting social.

Hey, everyone.
I've got some exciting interviews coming up.
This month, is my rural writers month.
This Sunday, Rachael Johns will be joining us and is going to share some details about herself and her current release, 'Jilted'!
The Friday after that, I've got Fiona Palmer joining us and she will also be sharing some details about her current release 'The Road Home' and her writing influences.
So don't forget to drop in and welcome my guest Authors.
Happy reading/writing everyone!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Week Just Gone And Those to Come...

Hey Everyone,
Well my 30k challenge is over and guess what? I did it. 'What Happens In Ireland...' is ready for submission.
I learnt a great deal of skills from this challenge. I learnt to refine my work and I also learnt time management. All in all, it was a success.

So now for some good news. I pitched for the first time to Entangled publishing last week. I was expecting to be accepted (as this was just a practice pitch for the conference) but it turns out, my pitching skills worked some magic.

So at present my work is sitting in front of two editors! Fingers crossed we get some good new in the weeks/months to come.

So a little bit of encouragement for all you fantastic writers out there: If an opportunity arises, go for it. You might just get lucky :)

Moving on to the weeks to come, I've got some exciting stuff coming up for you on this blog. I'll be hosting an interview with Rachael John, a wonderful rural romance writer, and have some more interviews lined up with some fellow rural writers.

So keep an eye on this blog and if you have any request, send them in.

Happy writing/reading everyone! Here's me hoping you've had a successful week. :)

Whitney K-E
Aspiring Romance writer playing the waiting game. :)