Friday, May 31, 2013

An epiphany... that's just not me, but how cool is that?

I grew up in love with movies. I dreamed myself into more movies and TV shows than you can imagine. I loved movies so much that I wanted to make them. So I went off to film school and then started working in the movie business.

Maybe it's because I shifted from making real films to advertising that (finally!) helped me realise today's epiphany. There are people who believe in the art of advertising and who have dedicated their lives to crafting great TV ads, but from where I sit it's just the pretty face of selling stuff. There are people who love the process of making movies, the technical and creative challenges. Thank heavens for all those people - but I've finally realised that's not me.

It's taken me close to 20 years (okay, maybe not that long, but some days it feels longer!) to realise that I didn't really want to make movies, and that what I loved about them was stories.

I wanted to be involved in making stories and I finally am. Now I get to write stories that others can imagine themselves in. And I get to write the stories that I imagine myself in!
At long last I can watch a TV show, fantasise that I know the fictional characters ... and then write down those stories that I dream up. And I get to call it work! How cool is that?

Thank you Universe for helping me (finally!) discover a career as a writer, and thank you for letting me do what I love.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Endless Possibilities

It's very nearly pay day, so let's celebrate by getting our creative juices flowing with a game of Endless Possibilities. How to play? Just look at the picture below and let your imagination fly. Where is this? And who lives behind that door. Tell me your story...


My newest 1920s Rae Summers romance Prohibited Passion is free today and tomorrow only (Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May) on Amazon and Amazon UK. Please, please download!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Inspiration, opening chapter and Kansas

If you haven't yet got your hands on a copy of Waking up in Vegas, you can read the opening chapter here for free to try before you buy.

Finally, my heartfelt wishes go out to everyone in Kansas. I cannot imagine the devastation you're dealing with today, and I hope you're safe.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Out and About

It's been just over a week since Waking up in Vegas released and what an awesome ride it's been!

During this week I've been interviewed by Hot Pink Typewriter, received reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and Contemporary Romance Reviews and I've introduced you to my hero Max and to my heroine Phoenix. More fabulousness coming your way soon.

If you'd like a visual glimpse behind the scenes of Waking up in Vegas, including the settings as well as the characters, take a look at my WuiV Pinterest board.

I also want to send a shout out to my fellow Minx, Kitty French. Way to go, girl! (PS: I want to be like you when I grow up).

And now... YAY!! It's Friday! Roll on the weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The inspiration behind Waking up in Vegas

Today is release day for Waking up in Vegas!

And as you're reading this I'm sitting beside the road somewhere watching a Toyota TV advert being filmed. Hopefully I'm warm, comfortable and not too exhausted from an early morning start.

So what are you still doing here? Have you gone off and bought my book yet?
Oh, okay. If you've already bought your copy, then you're allowed to stay a little longer and read on...

Waking up in Vegas started with a dream. Not a metaphorical dream but a literal one. I woke up one morning and thought “now that would make a great story”.

I wrote the first draft three years ago, in 30 days during the mad month of November. I submitted it to a publisher only to receive a personalised rejection that said the opening just wasn’t innovative enough.

So I set the story aside, wrote a bunch of other stuff, learned the craft, and then one day late last year, as I was driving home from work, singing at the top of my lungs to Katy Perry (my car being the only safe place I can sing without being heard) it came to me – the perfect opening to Max and Phoenix’s story.

It was just about November and I was planning on doing Nanowrimo again, so I decided to give these poor star-struck lovers another go. I wrote the entire story over again from scratch. The only things that remained from that draft three years ago were the characters, and the fictional country of Westerwald.

This time it only took me 29 days to write their new story, and it was the most fun I’ve had writing. Ever. Thank you Katy Perry!

I knew in my heart this story was going places, so I made a list of my ideal publishers who I thought could do justice to it (all two of them) and sent off my manuscript. Cue two rejections (one of which has to be the loveliest rejection letter of all time). But I wasn’t fazed.

I still believed in this story, and I wasn’t going to let just anyone get their hands on it. If I couldn’t get a dream publisher to back this story, then I’d go it alone. I bought a cover and contracted an editor, and was all set to brave the Sea of Self Publishing.

A few days later, as I idly surfed my Twitter stream, I spotted a link to an announcement of a new digital first imprint from Harper Collins. I clicked on the link and landed up on a Facebook page. There wasn’t much information, what with the page being brand new, but I was sold.

Not only was this a Big 5 Publisher, but it had Kimberly Young at the helm. Since I’d met Kimberly at a conference last year, I sent off my manuscript straight away, with a cheeky reminder that we’d met. Then I sat back, anticipating a lengthy wait. After all, this is publishing - where everything happens two years from now.

This was the least anxious wait I’ve ever endured. I knew this story was a winner, and I knew I had a back-up plan in case Harper Impulse didn’t like it. Two weeks into the wait I heard (via one of those friends of a friend but you can never remember afterwards where you heard it from) that the HI editors were having an acquisitions meeting. And I just knew.

That was when the sweating started. And the doubts. They’d only had my story a couple of weeks. Perhaps they hadn’t even read mine yet? Was I insane to think they’d buy my book?
I stalked my Inbox. A week passed. Nope, they definitely hadn’t read it yet. Or if they had, they hated it.
I gave up stalking my Inbox. Oh well, there was always Plan B…

Then, when I’d stopped watching my inbox altogether, the email arrived…

You can read more about The Call here.

You can’t get a better dream publisher than Harper Collins – unless it’s being a launch title for a brand new HC imprint, and unless it’s staffed by such lovely and talented people as Harper Impulse is.

Thank you Universe for sending me the dream that made every other dream come true!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Starting the journey with Harper Impulse

Since this is the week in which Harper Impulse launches, I thought I'd bring you a couple of posts on my journey so far with this brand new imprint.

Next week I'll give some glimpses into the inspiration, characters and setting for Waking up in Vegas, and once the exhiliration of release day is over I'll be back with normal scheduled programming (just in case you're looking for my Behind the Scenes in the movies posts).

* * *

There has been a great deal said recently, by some of the most respected names in self-publishing, about how publishers are a dying breed.

The most commonly cited reasons for the death of traditional publishing is that the big publishing houses don’t listen to their readers and that they are unable to turn on a dime.

The Big 6 publishers (now Big 5, but since I’m South African, that just makes me giggle as I wonder which publisher is the elephant!) have been likened to the Titanic, too large and unwieldy to avoid collision with the iceberg.

Harper Impulse have just proven that to be poppycock.

From their first submission call little more than a month ago, to launching their first titles in early May, they’ve proven that Harper Collins can move as quickly as anyone else in the digital age. Acquiring titles, designing covers, revisions and promotions and contracts, and a ton of other behind-the-scenes stuff that we readers and writers have no clue about – they’ve done it all in record time.

But what impresses me the most is that while they’ve been doing all this, they’ve also taken the time to interact with their readers. They’ve chatted on Twitter and introduced themselves on Facebook, run fun polls and started discussions. They genuinely want to know what readers want to read.

From the day the first submission call went out on Facebook, I’ve been excited about Harper Impulse. I love their vision for books that are fun and contemporary. I love that they’re actively looking for books that push boundaries and try new things. I love that they’re working towards turn-arounds that are previously unimagined in traditional publishing. And I love how excited the editors all are about this line.
I’m excited too. Are you?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Coronations and Celebrations

I have a confession to make ... I'm a Royalist.

Did anyone else catch the abdication of the Dutch Queen Beatrix on Tuesday and the coronation of her eldest son, Willem Alexander, as the Netherlands' first king in 120 years?
Sadly I had to work on Tuesday, so I only caught the highlights on German TV that evening, but I was riveted.

Why the fascination?

Back in my childhood my Omi (my German grandmother) used to get the Neue Post gossip rag (this was back in the days before Amazon and the internet, and the magazines used to reach us months after they were out of date), and she and I used to pore over the pictures of Europe's young royals. To this day, when I follow the goings-on of the European royals I feel connected to my Omi and the unspoilt innocence of that time.

I always felt more of a connection to the European royals than the British, probably because so many of them had children roughly my age (born in the late 60s and through the 70s). Those same children married roughly when I did, and now have young I do.

So Tuesday's coronation of the first of what I consider 'my' generation was already something special. Add in the fact that my imminent release, Waking up in Vegas, features a very similar coronation, and I'm sure you can see why I was so fascinated.

Admittedly, this real life coronation was a much happier family affair than my hero Max's ... but you'll have to read Waking up in Vegas when it releases next week to find out why his day is not the happy event it should be.

Aside from how genuinely warm and likeable the Dutch royals seem, the moment that captured my heart was the moment Queen Beatrix signed her abdication document and passed it to her son. The look she gave him as she handed him the papers wasn't the look a queen gives her successor. It was the look of a proud mother saying to her son "I believe in you. I'm proud of you. You can do this."

This is the way all coronations should be. No grief, no tears for the departed, just a simple handing on of the baton with everyone working together for the good of a nation. And the emphasis firmly placed on the future rather than the past. A lesson my own homeland seriously needs to learn.

Oh, and my heroine, Phoenix, gets to take a walk along a canal much like this one, though sans coronation finery: