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Friday, 9 October 2015

Letting your imagination fly

Pirate worlds
A recent post on a writers' group forum got me pondering the authenticity of what we write. What gives us the knowledge to create different worlds?
How much of our lives and experiences do we imbue in our characters?
Steampunk worlds
 I am sure our life experiences, our emotional connections, the people we love, and our friends all go into the mix of our stories.
The places we have been, the settings we have seen in movies and travel brochures, and have read about in other books. I've never been on a pirate ship, met a rock star, been a carpenter or an artist, flown a helicopter, lived on an Italian island, worked on a luxury motor cruiser, been a witch librarian, worked in a Tuscan restaurant, been a massage therapist, travelled in time or invented cosmecuticals! But my characters have had these experiences.
Rock star and time travel

But I have loved and been loved.
I've fallen in love.
I've been a my wife and a mother, and a daughter and a sister.
I've been a friend.
I've experienced happiness and sadness, and frustration with the world.
I've taken risks. I've experienced the death of loved ones and I've cried for friends who have done it tough in many ways.
I've worked in a variety of careers and I've travelled much of the world.

But  most importantly as an author, I have read. I've  extended my life experiences and emotions by reading.
Across genres.
Literary works.
Women's' fiction.
The classics.

Reading has enriched my life and helped me hone my craft.

Last night I began to reread Anne of Green of the first books I ever read, many, many years ago. As well as experiencing the life of Anne Shirley again, it took me back to my childhood and let memories and feelings surface that will influence my words as I write today.

As an author letting go of the real world and putting the stories in your head into words is liberating. You are able to bring your readers into worlds that they have never experienced and with careful research, you can create authentic worlds even if you have never been there. From your life experiences, you bring the emotions and the feelings that engage your reader.

Historical and paranormal genres require deep research and a vivid imagination. To be able to create authentic past worlds requires extensive reading. To be able to create imaginary worlds such as dystopian, steampunk or paranormal settings requires wonderful flights of imagination.

My latest release is dear to my heart. We had a sea change to the coast at a similar age to my characters, Dominic and Jilly. The beach I have used is where we still live today.
Is there a ghost in the story or not? Or can all the events be explained?
I'll leave that up to you.
I have to go and create a new world!

Happy reading

Out today:
Christmas with the Boss
Amazon US:
Amazon AU:
Amazon UK:

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The glamour and the grind...

Musings and ramblings on being an author in the twentieth first century…or the dreamy part of being a writer….versus the reality in today’s market place.
Sailing in the Whitsundays on a research trip
I am often asked why I write stories. Where do I get my ideas? And where do I get the inspiration for the exotic settings in my contemporary romances? How do I spend my...ahem... glamorous days as an author?
Readers and acquaintances look at you in awe and point and whisper…she’s an author.My gorgeous nine-year-old grandson tells his classmates that 'nanny' is famous... I wish.
I’d love to be able to say I have travelled the world…okay, maybe one day I will get to all of those places where I would love to set a romantic story. Machu Piccu, Marrakesh,  Istanbul, Lake Como, Venice, Patagonia, Bora Bora…my list inspires my dreams, and I could fill the page with places I would love to see. But i have been blessed with a few research trip/holidays. Last year I was lucky to cross Tuscany off my list and write a book set there.
Research in Tuscany
The reviews for Ten Days in Tuscany have been lovely and I think I managed to capture the setting. From an Amazon review ..."The way this Annie writes makes me feel like I'm in the story watching it unfold. I can picture things like the roads, the fields, Gia's cottage, and her family working in the restaurant. I love it when an author pulls me into their story so completely. I can't wait for the next book."
And I’d love to be able to say I have written my whole life. I have always dreamed of writing but for me, like most of us, life, family and career, generally make it a mammoth task to contemplate. As far back as I can remember I dreamed of being a writer, but many, many years passed between the little story I wrote when I was eleven years old and the contemporary romance Holiday Affair which I wrote some forty years later. In between that time, I wrote only one short story just after my children were born.
But I have no regrets. The breadth of my life experiences has enriched my writing. The places I have managed to visit have enriched my love of settings, and of giving deep description in my stories. Tropical islands, the northern Californian coast, Vienna, Scotland, Glastonbury, New Orleans, and the wild Australian outback… all make an appearance in my stories. And in the last four years I have written nineteen books. Click on the place names above to 'travel' to those places.
So why do I write stories? The simple answer is I write because I have to, and my inspiration comes from many places I have visited, dreamed about or read about. Even though at times it can be difficult—the times when you have an idea or a scene developing in your mind and you have to be social and interact with family and friends and all you want to do is get it written down before it slips away. The joys of an iPhone when you can make a quick note!
Where do I get my ideas? My first source of ideas is people watching. Sometimes on a simple trip to the local supermarket, I will stand in a line and watch and imagine. By the time I get to the checkout, I may have a whole life and romance written for someone who may have been choosing the best tomato in the vegetable section! You can imagine the depth of inspiration that hits me in an Italian supermarket in a little Tuscan village
Many of my ideas come through dreams. Some nights I will dream a whole story with characters I have not met or thought of in my waking hours. These are the people you then meet in my stories. The hard part is holding onto those wisps of stories before you lose  them in the reality of the next day
Research in Kakadu
Much of my inspiration comes from nature. .  The sound of the waves breaking on the sand, a fluffy cloud scudding across the sky on a windy day, the smell of fresh mown grass,  a spectacular sunrise or sunset has inspired the many a scene or setting. I am fortunate to live by the ocean and have many opportunities for seeing spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and wild oceans in the winter. All of my books have sunsets, sunrises, calm seas and gardens somewhere in them!
How do I spend my glamorous days as an author? Now we move to the sub heading of this article…from the glamour to the grit.
Writing and editing deadlines, constant promotion, blog tours, and social media now fill my days. But I do love every minute of it. 
Would I have it any other way? No.
I have achieved my dream. I have written a book—actually twenty books now—to make up for all those years I was doing other things. I have been published… and I now spend my days (between edits, deadlines and promotion) talking to like-minded people across the globe. My latest book, Beach House was written for a boxed set with author friends in the US and New Zealand.
Yeah… I’ll take the grind with the glamour.
Don't forget to check out my latest book.. Beach House in the gorgeous Love Down Under boxed set
Speaking of glamour, I have a print copy of Ten Days in Tuscany to give away. Comment below to go in the draw...on 30 May.
If you could go anywhere in the world for a week...where would you choose?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The highs and lows of a writing journey

Being an author is much harder work than I ever dreamed it would be. I am so lucky that I was able to give up my full time career and now have the luxury of writing full time.  I really, truly, admire authors who work, and those who have a young family at home. And those who do both!

The past four years has been such a steep learning curve for me...coming in as a mature aged writer and plunging head first into this new career.

I had always been avid reader of many genres and I believe that truly honed my craft. But I was a raw recruit and I had to learn so quickly

Point of view? Yes I had one about most things...oh you mean point of view in a story...ah never heard of it.
Filtering....showing and telling, wandering body parts... a whole new language and skill set for me to learn.

But it is easy to learn.. but it has taken dedication, structured working hours, patience and ... did I say...dedication.

The highs:

  • My very first publishing contract
  • The next nineteen contracts in four years
  • Holding my first book in my eager hands
  • Attending my first romance writers' conference in Melbourne
  • Making so many new friends who understood me!
  • Attending a writers' workshop in Tuscany
  • Meeting Eloisa James and helping her with a sticky plot issue over dinner
  • Meeting readers
  • Seeing my books on the shelves of the local library
  • Meeting my author friends in London for the first time
  • Attending a business meeting in Las Vegas
  • Signing a three book print deal with Pan Macmillan
  • Being taken out for lunch by my Pan Macmillan editors
  • Making best seller lists
  • Talking to beginning authors and showing them that hard work DOES pay off
  • My nine-year-old grandson telling his school that Nanny is famous because she writes stories
  • Thinking of a new story idea
  • Starting the first sentence of a new book
  • Working with editors to polish my work
  • Sending off the final edited version of a book
  • Being able to write anywhere...on the beach, in the car, in our boat
  • Release day... the joy never lessens... the excitement grows with each one
  • I could keep writing the highs forever... I DO love my writing life!

The Lows:

  • There are none :)

This week's high... 

The release of the third and final book in the Half Moon Bay Series:

Some people get under your skin.
Some get into your heart.
Bestselling author Liam Wyndham needed an escape, and Half Moon Bay, with its small town charm and beautiful ocean, is the perfect place to hide out from the scandal surrounding his estranged dead wife. A place where he can enjoy his writer's block in sweet isolation. But all of his plans to become a surly recluse disappear when carpenter Georgie Sacchi marches into his house…

Georgie wants an adventure, and she has a plane ticket that promises her everything she needs—excitement, independence, and a way to escape the memory of her last ruined relationship. Still, she has one last job to complete before she can leave the country. The last thing she needs is a recalcitrant author with a gorgeous face (and a hot body) distracting her from her plans.
But life doesn't always give you what you think you need…

Available from all e-tailers here.

Available here

For a copy of two of my earlier books from Dangerous Desire and Holiday Affair..comment and tell me what is your favorite book ever? It will be drawn at the end of the month.
Mine is Katherine by Anya Seton