Meet the Author: P.L. Harris

Peta’s top tip for aspiring authors: Seek knowledge from those that have been in your shoes. Ask those in your genre what works. Do courses and attend conferences if you know the content is going to help you as a writer. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can and know that everyone on this journey makes mistakes. The questions you have to ask yourself are – What did I learn from my mistake and how can I apply it in the future?

P.L. Harris writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and young adult with a twist of mystery and intrigue. Her books are rich in storyline and location with characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. She is a proud member of Romance Writers of Australia and America, Peter Cowan Writers Centre, Making Magic Happen Academy and has a Certificate in Romance Writing. P.L has published stories with Serenity Press, Blue Swan Publishing, Evernight Publishing and now publishes the majority of her books with Gumnut Press.

 

P.L. Harris is an award winning author. Hidden Secrets was a finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America’s 2017 IDA International Digital Awards, young adult category. Callie’s Dilemma, also a finalist in the Virginia Romance Writers of America’s 2017 Fools of Love Contest, short contemporary romance short category. Her upcoming romantic suspense new release, In His Protection was a finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Pro Award. (Due to receiving a publishing contract from Gumnut Press it had to be withdrawn from the contest).

She lives in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, with her Bichon Frise, Bella. You can visit P.L. Harris at her website: www.plharris.com.au or follow her writing journey on Facebook:

P.L. Harris author Page: https://www.facebook.com/plharrisauthor

P.L. Harris Readers Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/217817788798223

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I loved to make up stories in my younger days. My imagination would always be racing ahead of me. I loved being in a world of make-believe, maybe that’s why I went into the theatre and became a director and drama teacher. A few years ago, I took some time out for me and I started reading again and I realised I could forget the worries of the world for that moment while I was immersed in the story. I found Maya Banks and I was hooked on her books.

I realised I wanted to write stories and this was something I could do for me, something that made me happy. Over the past few years writing became an outlet where I could escape reality, and because I write fiction, it allowed me to put a little of myself, my life experience into my stories. I can create a world away from reality where I can go and lose myself in my storyline, my characters and my locations. A world where I have no worries except where to put a comma and if I have used the correct tense.

What inspires you? Oh my, that is a loaded question. I guess it depends what genre I am writing. My contemporary romance are inspired by my life and events that I have experienced and my passions, like the theatre. Whereas my cozy mysteries are inspired by the amazing covers by Mariah Sinclair. I fell in love with the covers, but had never heard of the cozy mystery genre. However, I was an avid Murder, She Wrote fan and my passion for writing cozies took off from there. My romantic suspense comes from my interest in the danger and high stakes. Watching characters fall in love on the page is wonderful, but when the stakes are raised and life is in danger the lengths they will go to for their soul mate always gives me a thrill to write.

How do you spend your non-writing time? I work full-time teaching Drama and also the Head of Dance and Drama at an Anglican Community School which, although I love it, can often be very time consuming. I also like to spend time with my family and friends.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? My self-doubt. It has been a long journey to a place now where I feel comfortable calling myself a published author. Fear of rejection is still something that will always be in the back of my mind, but I learnt a saying a while back which I try and keep in mind – If it is to be, it’s up to me.

How involved are you in the development of your books? I see the development of my books as a process from the inception of the idea to the final product. I am what the publishing world calls a ‘plotter’. If I can, I love to plan every detail out so I know where the plot and characters are heading. It doesn’t always work, but I find it gets me to the end destination, eventually. Being hybrid published means when I’m self-publishing it falls to me to do every aspect of the book from writing to editing to cover design and it’s a thrill to see it all come together in the end.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Apart from holding the physical book in my hot hands at the end of the process it’s hearing responses from my readers and what they have to say about my books. When you can transport someone into another world for a moment, it’s a wonderful feeling. When I get a review that says that they struggled to read the words through their tears because the storyline pulled at their heartstrings, it makes my day.

—the worst? Self-doubt. The self-doubt monster always likes to keep me on my toes. Lack of time to write and promote.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would definitely have learnt more about the self-promotion, social media side of the industry right from the start and started that much, much earlier. Follow the experts. If they have tried something and it didn’t work, think carefully if you are going to follow in their footsteps. I would have created another pen name for my different genres, which I have now done, but a year after the first cozy publication. Look out for Polly Holmes in the cozy mystery genre.

 What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? A heads up into the world of social media and self-promotion and how to go about it. Creating an author platform and how you go about this would really have helped me a little more in the beginning.

What do you hope readers will take away from your stories? I would like my readers to follow and immerse themselves in my characters’ lives and feel that they are a part of their world. Love them, cry for them, and dislike them where necessary. But also feel as if they have experienced something wonderful through the characters’ journey.

Is there any area of writing that you find especially challenging? For me, while I love writing I still find it challenging to grasp the editorial nuances needed for great editing. I can get my words down on paper, but are they correct….In the right order….Abiding by the rules of the genre….Maybe. That’s when you have to outsource and surround yourself with the best editorial team possible.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Never give up no matter how much you feel like it. The bad time will pass and if you persist, when the time is right, all the pieces will fall into place.

How important is social media to you as an author? Extremely. It’s the way of the future, but also you need to know the right social media outlets to use that will bring the best rewards. Having an author page or twitter account is the minimum I would say in order to promote your brand. Publishers want to know what you, as the author are doing or going to do to promote yourself.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Yes, especially when I am working on my cozy mysteries and I have to work on the murder, red-herrings and plot line. I try and step back for a while and maybe move on to something else. I often have a few select people who I can bounce ideas off and toss around plot lines. Usually this works for me and then I can get a rough outline down on paper. I do sometimes talk out loud to myself hoping I may be able to answer my own questions.

How do you deal with rejection? Not very well I’m afraid and I have been known to shed a tear or two. But I also remember someone once saying at one of the conventions I attended, “It’s only one person’s opinion at that specific time.” It’s a part of the industry and there is no way to avoid it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not emotionally crushing at the same time. I guess I try and learn from it so that I can make my stories better in the long run.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Engaging….thought-provoking….emotional

You’ve recently set up a small independent press. How did this come about and what is your dream for Gumnut Press? The main instigator of Gumnut Press was having my publisher, Karen McDermott believe in me and tell me that if she could do it, then so can I. While I had no idea that my writing path would lead me down the publishing track, I am excited to now be heading that way. You can never get tired of the feeling you get when you see your words in print and I want this for other people, so Gumnut Press was born. There is a lack of independent publishers in the northern suburbs of Perth and I want to fill that void with Gumnut Press. My dream is to make it an international company that houses many different authors of various genres, but all with a unique voice that must be heard.

How does your experience as an author influence you as a publisher? It certainly tells me what genres I like to read and therefore will publish. Being a writer also helps me identify a good piece of work or writer’s voice. Having a great editor has taught me so much since I started and therefore able to help me spot that writer’s voice which stands out from the crowd.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? USA Best-selling author, Maya Banks.  It was her books that ignited my passion for romance and writing. She writes so many different genres and heat levels that it blows my mind that she can hit each one with precision. I would love her to tell me what her secret ingredients are for my genres. Does she have a checklist of what she includes in each book? What are her writing techniques and how can I better write for my target market?

BOOK BYTE

In His Protection

P.L Harris

Every picture tells a story, but this family secret could be deadly. 

For Melody Maddison, life hasn’t been the same since her mother’s passing. When she discovers a photo of her mother and a mysterious child, she’ll stop at nothing to find the truth, even if the search makes her question everything she’s ever known about the beloved woman.

Noah St. Reeve has a soft spot for women in trouble. When he rescues Melody from an attempt on her life, he can’t turn his back on the fierce and beautiful woman in front of him. Torn between duty and passion, it will be up to Noah to keep his charge safe from harm, no matter the cost.

Melody’s quest for answers leads her from one dangerous path to the next. When the first shot is fired, the handsome and steady Noah is there to keep her safe. She knows she should back down, but Melody owes it to her mother to get to the bottom of a history that will rock her family forever. Except, the photo isn’t only a link to her mother’s past. It’s proof of a dangerous secret—a secret that someone is willing to kill to keep.

Buy links

https://www.gumnutpress.com/product-page/in-his-protection

https://www.amazon.com.au/His-Protection-Burrum-Ridge-Book-ebook/dp/B07MTQRPN7

https://www.amazon.com/His-Protection-Burrum-Ridge-Book-ebook/dp/B07MTQRPN7

Meet the Author: Sonia Bellhouse

Sonia’s top tip for aspiring authors: Think about what excites you, what inspires you. Write about that. Even if it’s not in now, you never know what will become the next trend.

Sonia Bellhouse grew up in England, but she now makes Australia her home. Inspired by Enid Blyton’s comment, ‘One day you might write a book,’ writing is Sonia’s lifelong passion. She has published in magazines both in Australia and the UK and was awarded two major short fiction awards.

Sonia completed a university English degree as a mature student. She is a member of Romance Writers of Australia. Her journey to publication is included in the anthology Writing the Dream. She also contributed to the anthology Passages.  A longtime member of Armadale Writers’ Group she is their speaker coordinator. Her book Fire & Ice combines her interests in ice dancing, Vikings, love that spans time and Bergen, Norway, a place that she loved when she visited. When not writing Sonia can be found ignoring the ironing in favour of playing with her cats. She reads six to eight books a month and reviews them on her blog https://soniabellhouse.blog.

Visit Sonia on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/soniabellhouse.author/

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I’ve always scribbled since I was very young, writing and illustrating stories. It is something that won’t go away. I don’t want it to. Writing is a part of my identity. I write to clear my head, to clarify or explore my thoughts.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? A lot more reading!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Procrastination and self-doubt.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover? Far more involved than most first time authors can expect to be. I have been exceptionally fortunate a writer friend, who was procrastinating on her own writing , sent me six sample covers.  They were all good, but one really spoke to me and I sent to the publishers as an example. After seeking the relevant permission they decided to use it.

The editor was one I had worked with before , so I felt very confident in taking her  advice, which was comprehensive.  There were 13 pages of notes, comments on the manuscript  itself and graphs showing character arcs and plot tension points.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The ability to create what you want, limited only by your own imagination. A close second is no workday commute .

—the worst? The usual – the insecurity and self-doubt. The critical voice in  your head. The feeling that you should write more, write faster, be more like another author.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Start earlier, be brave, send more work out, learn from rejections. Analyse what works, what doesn’t and remember you have a unique writing voice.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That the work hasn’t ended when you have written ‘The End’. in fact, it’s just the beginning of a much larger process.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Believe in your dreams you were given them for a reason.

How important is social media to you as an author? I’ll let you know! I enjoy Facebook and  ‘meeting’ authors that I admire. Now I have a Sonia Bellhouse Author page myself.

I also have a blog  https://soniabellhouse.blog  where I post about the 6-8 books I have read each month. It also includes aspects of writing and whatever else is on my mind And I dabble in Pinterest – I created a board for  ‘The Book I Am Writing’

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Luckily, I usually have two or three projects on the go at the same time , so if one stalls, I simply switch to another project.

How do you deal with rejection? It hurts!  I allow myself to experience it to rage , and  to feel they are unjustified. Then when  I have calmed down, I assess whether they have a valid point. Did I submit something unsuitable, or to the wrong place? If that’s’ the case, lesson learnt; if not then maybe they had just commissioned something similar.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? From my heart.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? I think this is the toughest question. There are so many wonderful authors I admire and for different reasons. While I have listened to writers at various events and conferences, a one-on-one would give personalised advice.

After much deliberation I choose Joanne Harris. I loved  her series with Vianne Rocher. It started with Chocolat,  continued in The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur Le Cure. The fourth in the series is due for release in April, that is seven years after the last book. What prompted her to revisit it? How difficult was it to return to those characters?  I enjoy how the series combines a fey quality of magic  with the practicalities of everyday life and well-drawn characters. Each book is different but continues the series.

I’d like to learn how extensively she planned it,  how difficult it was to get back into the mindset of the characters and whether she would do anything differently. Additionally, she has written other genres, they have a different tone and I admire her versatility.  There are even two cook books, some books spanning her French heritage Others on runes and fairy-tales. And we could always talk about our childhoods when we both lived behind a sweet shop.

Fire and Ice

Sonia Bellhouse

Olympic ice dancer Blaise Daniels’ partner has just called it quits – leaving her with no chance of competing at the Winter Olympics. Determined not to give up on her dream, Blaise travels to Norway to meet legendary skater Kristoffer Erikson. After a bumpy start, they connect both on and off the ice. Their partnership seems assured, but why do they both start having dreams of a mysterious Viking past? Can an ancient love be rekindled or will an old tragedy complicate their present?

The book is available from Daisy Lane Publishing, Book Depository and leading online retailers.

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Mirandi Riwoe

This week the spotlight is on a critically acclaimed author whose award-winning novella The Fish Girl is one of six titles included in the 2018 Stella Prize shortlist of extraordinary books by Australian women. The winner will be announced on April 12. In the meantime, meet Brisbane-based writer Mirandi Riwoe…

Mirandi’s debut crime novel, She be Damned, was released in 2017 and is followed this year with A Necessary Murder. She is the recipient of a Queensland Literary Awards fellowship and awarded an Asialink residency at the Shanghai Writers’ Association in 2018. Currently, she is Peril Magazine’s prose editor. She has won the historical category of the Scarlet Stiletto Awards and has been shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick Short Story Prize, Overland’s Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize, Fish Short Story Prize, and the Luke Bitmead Bursary. She has also been longlisted for the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize and CWA (UK) dagger awards. Her novella The Fish Girl won Seizure’s Viva la Novella V. Mirandi’s work has appeared in Best Australian Stories, Review of Australian Fiction, Rex, Peril and Shibboleth and Other Stories. Mirandi has a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Studies (QUT).

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was young and reading Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton. I wanted to tell stories that other readers could enjoy. I still want to tell enjoyable stories, but I also want my stories to be worthwhile.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I think maybe I’d be a school teacher.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I think it takes time to polish both your work and your skill at writing. Maybe the obstacle lies in your work and your writing not being ready. It’s also a pretty tough, competitive market to break into too.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? I’ve been lucky because my editors have each been wonderful, in that there is a lot of negotiation throughout the editing process. Not so much input into the covers. Usually you’re presented with what they think is appropriate, and you can maybe change things you think do not work.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Working in my own time and environment.

—the worst? I guess it’s not necessarily great pay for most of us  🙂

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Read like a writer.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d known more about the short story competitions etc., literary journals and sites like Aerogramme that notify writers of writerly things.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Covered a bit below.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? I like what a Varuna ‘Publisher Introduction Program’ judge wrote in her feedback one year – to treat your writing as a craft, like you’d treat any other artistic pursuit. For example, you don’t just decide you’re going to be a painter or opera singer – it takes years of honing, training or practice.

How important is social media to you as an author? I like it because it keeps me in touch with other authors, but I don’t know that it’s that helpful in garnering new readers.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Sometimes it takes me a while to ease into a scene or the day’s writing. I think it was Hemingway who said to always leave something for next time to go on with in your writing. I like that idea. So I’ll write what I can for the day but leave the next sentence, paragraph, idea for the next day, to get me going again.

How do you deal with rejection? Ugh rejection is so hard, I think at any time in your career. My biggest reaction to this, and what I say to fellow author-rejectionees, is to “keep on writing, keep on writing,” a bit like Dory.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? Well, I have always wanted to have a chat and a whisky with Val McDermid. I guess maybe I’d ask her how she copes with distractions, and if she works to a daily writing schedule.

BOOK BYTE

The Fish Girl

Winner of the 2017 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize

Sparked by the description of a ‘Malay trollope’ in W. Somerset Maugham’s story, The Four Dutchmen, Mirandi Riwoe’s novella, The Fish Girl tells of an Indonesian girl whose life is changed irrevocably when she moves from a small fishing village to work in the house of a Dutch merchant. There she finds both hardship and tenderness as her traditional past and colonial present collide.

Told with an exquisitely restrained voice and coloured with lush description, this moving book will stay with you long after the last page.

 The Fish Girl is available here.

 

 

Meet the Author: Tess McLennan

TESS’S TOP WRITING TIP: Always read your work aloud first before sending it away. It saves a lot of time later editing! And don’t be discouraged by rejection letters. JK Rowling was rejected by numerous publishers with her Harry Potter manuscript. Look where she is now.

Tess McLennanTess McLennan is a musician and instrumental music teacher who lives in a quaint country town south of Brisbane, Queensland. She is an avid reader and experienced traveller, and enjoys musical theatre and vintage artefacts. She has been writing since a young age, and Ghosts is her first novel.

Keep up to date with Tess’s writing life on Facebook.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Many reasons! Writing has always been like a therapy for me. I’ve written journals, stories and poetry since I was very young. I write when I’m happy, sad, overwhelmed, excited… Putting words on a page always de-clutters my overactive mind, and creating intricate characters and storylines has always been thrilling for me. You get to create a person exactly how you want, and decide what happens to them. It’s your own little world, and you’re in complete control of it.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I love musicals, and one day I would love to pursue a career onstage. Becoming a writer is just one of my many ambitions, so who knows… you might see me on Broadway next.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Finding a publisher who believed in my story.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The creativity. There is absolutely no limit. It’s such a fantastic outlet for me.

—the worst? Sometimes I overthink my work way too much, and wonder if it’ll ever be good enough for an audience.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I wouldn’t rush. I would take more care with the presentation of my work before sending it away to potential publishers. The publishing houses are not going to disappear if you wait a few more weeks and continue to perfect your manuscript.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Not everyone is going to love your work, and that’s okay! Also, a lot more goes into a publishing a book than just putting it on a shelf.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Finish what you start, never ever give up, and hard work will get you everywhere.

BOOK BYTE

After the mysterious disappearance of her mother Marella, Imogene is left as the sole carer of Ghostsher younger sister, Clementine. Forced to give up her dreams of becoming a photographer, Imogene vows to support her sister’s ambitions of becoming a professional dancer, taking a menial job at Johnny’s Mega Market in the girls’ hometown of Miller Creek. Discontented and unfulfilled, Imogene meets Henry by chance, and his sister Aggie, the embodiment of everything Imogene wishes she could be. However, when Aggie goes missing unexpectedly, Imogene and Henry come across her journal, which sheds light on Aggie’s fragile state of mind in the months leading up to her disappearance. Imogene and Henry then embark on a perilous journey to find her, while beginning to uncover dark and frightening secrets hidden in the rugged outback, and also answers about what really happened to her mother on the day she disappeared.

Ghosts is available here.

 

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