Friday, 21 March 2014

Getting to Know...Julia Phillips Smith

by Julia Phillips Smith

1) What genre do you write, and what attracts you to that genre?
I write in the vampire genre, as well as dark YA fantasy. I’ve come to this realization about the YA aspect over time – my stories are definitely dark, even though the fantasy is a coming-of-age tale. Yet I kept
attracting YA readers for Bound by Dragonsfyre. It wasn’t until I was at the movie theatre watching Catching Fire that I put two-and-two together.

What attracts me to vampire stories? I’m not sure why I’ve been in love with vampires since my girlhood, but that’s when the love affair began. The brooding menace of a vampire waiting in the shadows to feed is hard for me to resist. I love the fact that vampires don’t have to do a lot of chest-pounding – when they want something, they get it, and that’s that. Also impossible for me to resist is the long lives they carry with them.

As for dark fantasy, for whatever reason, my stories need to have swords, warring nobility, servants trying to make sense of it all, some aspect of the supernatural and a good dose of heart-squeezing jeopardy for the hero – then I’m good.

2) What’s your writing strength? What do you think separates you from other authors?
I’d say my biggest strength is my world-building. That seems to be a common response from readers. I would say that my background with poetry has helped me out with that. Poems require a large impact to be made within short phrases. In my prose, I also try to keep word choice high and word-count volume low. When I’m in revisions, can I cut three sentences of description into one phrase? One authentic detail can give a scene the weight of reality.  

3) What’s your writing kryptonite? What is always tough for you to tackle?
Plotting out a story before I’ve had a chance to work it out in pantser mode is not my idea of fun. Luckily, I’ve had the benefit of over a decade of writing workshops through RWAC. Some of those plotting sessions have actually rubbed off on me, believe it or not. I’ll always see it as a necessary evil, however.

4) Do you work with critique partners?
I spent a year with two critique partners, and that was the moment that the revisions light bulb went on for me. Following that year, I developed a rhythm of writing a finished draft, giving it to beta readers, making final revisions before handing the manuscript to a professional editor, and then making FINAL final changes. I find this works the best for me.

5) Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
I’m film and ballet oriented, so immersing myself in a film or a miniseries that deals with my genre, the subject matter I’m writing about or the time periods I love is the way I light my inspiration flame. I also watch as much ballet on You Tube as I can find – a lot of narrative ballet is fantasy, so I disappear into the heart of what I’m writing about when I watch dance.

6) What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
I don’t think it’s a piece of advice as much as realizing that everyone who had paid the membership fees to both the parent organization RWA and the local chapter were all declaring themselves to be writers. It’s a concrete piece of intention that goes beyond considering oneself a writer. Flowing naturally from that are all the many, many shared tips on how to carve out writing time in our busy lives, how to encourage support from those who miss us while we write, as well as all of the shared laughs over the things only other writers can understand.

7) Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’ve just re-launched Book 1 of my Brotherhood of Blood series this week – Vampires, Saints and Lovers with a new cover by the fabulous Kim Killion. Many thanks to my cousin and dear friend Julianne MacLean for her support with this re-launch. Peredur lives!

I’m also about to join several RWAC authors at the Halifax Author Event on Saturday, April 5th at the Lord Nelson Hotel, along with a wonderful group of local Atlantic authors from various genres. Check out the event Facebook page for more details --
In the meantime, I’m working on Book 2 of the Dragonsfyre series, which follows Scorpius deeper into the black heart of power – the flames of ambition threaten to bring down a noble house of the Eighth Dominion, while the burning scourge of the dragon plagues dukes and servants alike. The Lady Elysande offers sanctuary – until Scorpius finds himself in danger of losing himself to her.

Julia Phillips Smith

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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Getting to know ... Georgiana Harding

by Georgiana Harding

1. What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to that genre?
I’m basically interested in the short contemporary with a lot of sizzle between the (alpha-bigger than life) hero and a (feisty-non-submissive) heroine and it’s not an easy task to keep them apart and together for two hundred pages without crossing a lot of lines. LOL.   I also like the medieval historical where I might twist a few facts and go behind closed doors to ask ‘what if’ this is what really happened among the knights and ladies living in castles. Throw in a witch or a ghost and you’ve got lots to write about.

2. What’s your writing strength?  What do you think separates you from other authors?
Always open to new ideas and willing to climb or move the mountain. I guess that can also be called stubborn. As a decorator and artist, I love details, so I’m never short on description. I love to play with words to the point of making some of them up. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

3. What’s your writing kryptonite?  What is always tough for you to tackle?
I do have trouble with dialogue because I want the characters to sound interesting and have a reason to move the plot along without sounding like empty-headed Pac-Men.  My biggest problem is: I can’t type. Do you know how long it takes to write out a novel with two fingers looking at the keyboard? Whaaa….

4. Do you work with critique partners?
Yes, I have worked with critique partners in the past when I first joined a writing group. I also have a long-distance telephone writing partner I always bounce ideas with. And recently I have joined an after ‘chapter meeting’ group where we discuss our writing in progress once a month. There are six of us with varied talents and pet peeves.

5. Where are your favorite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
Ideas are everywhere! Mostly created in my head, but sometimes it’s a drop of reality mixed with day-dreaming or creative thinking.  I’m also an avid reader and love-love movies. One example of inspiration was the name of my latest heroine, Lia Sophia, came from a line of jewelry. It was explained that the name was chosen for the owner’s two grandchildren, so I’m saying my heroine was named after her two grandmothers…one French, the other Italian and we’re off with a new story about falling in love with a Spanish Count.

6. What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
Perseverance is a big one. Always keep an open mind to new ideas in the industry. Keep honing the craft. And…never give up.

7. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
Right now I’m hopping between a short contemporary, Sinful Night in Dubai, which I’d like to enter in the Harlequin’s ‘So you think you can write contest’. There, I’ve said it!!! Now I’ve increased the pressure on myself towards meeting a goal and reaching the 55,000 word mark. Let’s see if it works.  And my other love for the moment, a time travel to the fourteenth century with witches, Knights Templars and everything else but the kitchen sink called The Mystic Courtyard. It’s in the hands of my critique group now and we’ll see where it goes from there.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Getting to know ... Dawn Torraville-Cairns

by Dawn Torraville-Cairns

1. What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to them?
As I am 'reality challenged' - at least when it comes to writing – it's the paranormal beat for me. I write sci-fi, fantasy, ghosties, time travel, demons, vampires, shape shifters...You name it, I've either written it or have plans for it. Any stories that bear any resemblance to real life and real life situations are entirely accidental. Or a paragraph away from a zombie apocalypse.

2. What's your writing strength? What do you think separates you from other authors?
I love to write action scenes. When I'm hip deep in story-land, there's nothing I enjoy more than tossing obstacles at the main characters and 'watching' them sink or swim. <cue the evil laughter>

3. What is your writing kryptonite? What is always tough for you to tackle?
Writing emotional scenes. I've been working on this by writing short stories with strong emotional overtones. Most recently, I've been writing 'fear/horror' stories.

4. Do you work with critique partners?
I belong to a writing group in my home town, where we give/get feedback and encouragement on our stories.

5. Where do you find inspiration for new ideas?
Anywhere and everywhere. I am never short on writing ideas.

6. What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
Write, write, write. Even if you don't feel like it. Even if you're not inspired.

7. Can you tell us what you're working on now?
I am currently editing a short story on time travel and starting to work on the second draft of a demon romance.

Dawn Torraville-Cairns
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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Getting To Know ... Deborah Hale

by Deborah Hale

1. What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to that genre?
Anything historical – historical romance, historical fiction, inspirational historicals, fantasies set in pre-industrial world. History has intrigued me ever  since my grandfather first told me stories about our ancestors. Later I began researching my family history and discovered enough fascinating true stories to inspired any number of novels. I also love to read almost any genre of fiction if the story is set in the past.

2. What’s your writing strength?  What do you think separates you from other authors?
I have a really hard time identifying what draws readers to my books. I think part of it may be my voice, which was influenced by reading books from older periods when I was a child. I hope it sounds authentic without pulling the reader out of the story. I also like to rework elements from popular stories, films, myths and fairytales with a bit of a twist. I think readers enjoy that.

3. What’s your writing kryptonite?  What is always tough for you to tackle?
Love scenes, which is part of the reason I moved to writing inspirational and sweet romances. I also have a problem with overwriting. I usually end up with  more story than I need and have to go back and tighten. But I’d rather do that than feel like I had to pad a story.

4. Do you work with critique partners?
I did in the early years of my writing, but eventually felt I needed to be able to identify my stories’ weaknesses for myself. It also got to be time-consuming when I had tighter deadlines to meet. I think it can be very helpful for authors in the early stages when you need that feedback and support a critique partner can provide.

5. Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
My Muse hangs out on a section of road between Bedford Commons and Sackville. I’ve had several story ideas that came to me while driving there. The shower is another good font of inspiration. And if inspiration doesn’t strike, I just pull out my idea cards with the titles of various popular stories, films, etc (see Question 2) and start pairing them up until I come up with something that sounds interesting: My Fair Lady meets Sharpe’s Rifles, Pride and Prejudice meets The Phantom of the Opera, Jane Eyre meets Cinderella.

6. What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
There are so many, it’s hard to pick just one. I’ve learned something new and valuable from every educational session I’ve attended at RWAC. Thanks, everyone!

7. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I could, but then I’d have to kill you. Kidding, kidding! It is kind of secret for the moment, but everyone will find out next fall. I can tell you that I recently released my first intentionally-written indie book – Snowbound with the Baronet. It will be the first in a series called The Duke’s Daughters which I would describe as Sense and Sensibility meets Downton Abbey. Also in June the final book in my Glass Slipper Brides series will be coming out.

Deborah Hale

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7 Things you didn’t know about Atlantic Canadian author Renee Field

by Renee Field

1. What book got you hooked as a reader? 
James and Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I read this book and realized immediately a world of possibilities could be created by a person and that person could be me.

2. What was the scariest moment in your life?
I went on a trip to Florida with three male friends and two days before our trip ended we ended up in a hurricane at Busch Gardens and it was my turn to drive that day to Clearwater. By the time we ran to the rental car the water was almost to our knees. I could barely drive but managed to pull into the nearest motel I could find and we got a room. Our street had no damage but cars were in trees just two streets over. The weird thing is that night was the first time I kissed my husband-to-be. Funny how fate throws things at you when you least expect it.

3. Did life turn out like you thought?
Hell no. I studied journalism at Ryerson University and expected to work in the field but when I came home to Nova Scotia, CBC which is the largest radio network in the city, they were laying off people. I feel like I’ve done a million things in my life and none that I expected. I ended up working in the PR field for government briefly (turns out I hate red tape), editor for a university, marketing manager for a not-for-profit organization, and then took a 10 year break to raise my four children. A few years ago I jumped part-time into the work field, still juggling the hectic children’s schedule and after two years of working for someone else I started my own company –, which promotes authors. I’ve discovered I love to be my own boss!

4. Did your writing career turn out like you thought?
I’ve always written and while I viewed it at first as a hobby I’ve come full circle and view my writing now as a part-time business. But I still write what I want to write. And that means sometimes I totally switch genres. A few years ago I jumped into the young adult market to write three nitty-gritty novels and stepping out of my comfort zone truly helped me get back into the flow of writing. Today I still write erotic, YA, romance and I’m currently working on a new adult.

5. What challenges have you had to overcome?
My biggest challenge is saying “no”. Life is hectic with the children and I’m a firm believer in volunteering and helping out but over the last five years I’ve come to realize that it’s sometimes good to step back. I have very limited “me” time and I value that so to keep my sanity I’ve started saying no.

6. Are you romantic?
Not really. I know that sounds funny coming from a romance author, but I’m not one to gush when a guy gives me flowers. Now, a guy who cooks me dinner – that’s another thing. I’m pragmatic when it comes to romance. I’ve been married in May 2014 for 22 years and I love my husband more each day but will admit marriage takes work. He’s my BFF but we also go away once a year without the children to reconnect. We go away for 4 days and three nights which is long enough as our youngest is only nine and we have a blast – long walks, dinner and lots of cuddle time in the hotel – lol.

7. If you could be anyone who would it be?
I’ve often wished to be Angelina Jolie and it’s not because of her looks but because of her fortitude with living life and giving back for the greater good. She’s an experienced Goodwill Ambassador and uses her creative talent to produce and act. She’s not one-dimensional and I think that’s what makes her unique. I’d like to think she has good and bad days with juggling all her children, working and giving back to this world – now if only I had some of her money – that certainly might help.

What are you working on next?
I’m working on a new adult romance novella, called Loving Lies, that will be finished in May and I’m very excited about this as it’s part of a new series featuring five other authors. Then I’m polishing my young adult novel First Test – Siren’s Lure which I plan to Indie publish in June.

My latest paranormal romance novel, Bliss – Kindle Bestseller – is now available.

Bliss by Renee Field
A plague threatens his kingdom but one kiss could rule his heart...

Kassandra grew up with myths of Titans and Sirens thanks to her father, but never did she imagine one of these mythological creatures would pop out of an ancient book she discovered in the library. Darius is unlike any man she’s known. He’s commanding but loyal to his family and he shows her a secret power she never knew she possessed. When he claims to need her help, Kassandra vows to use her special talents to help.

Darius is a Titan of the sea, trapped inside a book for a decade when he left his home on a mission to save his world. He’s on a deadly time crunch and fears the plague, which had been destroying his undersea kingdom has spread in his absence, and is forced to bring along Kassandra, knowing it could very well put her life in jeopardy.

Forced to find magic relics that could end the plague, Darius comes face-to-face with the decision of a lifetime. Let Kassandra drown or give her the kiss of life which will turn her into a Siren and bound her to him for eternity.

But one kiss can’t change the woman. Darius must learn to trust in Kassandra’s abilities if he’s going to find a cure for his undersea kingdom, all the while trying to avoid being captured and leading them both into a fate worse than death.

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Friday, 7 March 2014

Getting to Know...Shawna Romkey

by Shawna Romkey

1. What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to that genre?
I write young adult paranormal so far. I’ve written other genres, but that’s the one that got me published and I feel comfortable in that skin really. I may never leave. 

I’ve always loved dark fantasy. I loved reading Poe in school and Robert Browning’s darker poetry, and Shakespeare’s tragedies interested me a lot more than the comedies and histories. Then I taught junior high, high school, community college and university, so I think I know that age group from 13 – 33 pretty well. I was those ages, I interacted with those ages daily and still do teaching at the community college level. You can do a lot with emotion and you can take things to extremes. I think with both the young adult part and the paranormal part, you can get very intense. I’m a drama queen. I dig that.

2.     What’s your writing strength?  What do you think separates you from other authors?
Probably my marketing background. I am able to get my book and my author self places that people who aren’t comfortable with marketing might not. I’m not afraid to ask for things like interviews, appearances, and that sort of thing, and asking gets you closer to where you want to be.  Marketing is almost half the battle with writing. You can spend easily as much time marketing as writing, so understanding it helps a lot.

That and persistence. It took 20 years for me to publish my first book. I didn’t give up.

3.     What’s your writing kryptonite?  What is always tough for you to tackle?
I don’t write fast. I have a day job, a side job, volunteer work with an animal rescue, a needy husband, two sons and two dogs. There are lots of distractions. It’s tough for me to make time to write.

4.     Do you work with critique partners? 
Not critique partners but beta readers. I have at least three people read my book once I think it’s ready for submission, and then I revise it those three additional times. Even now before a book comes out, I’ve started having three new people re-read it, even once the editor is done with it, just to catch typos or mistakes that might have been missed.

5.     Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?
Song lyrics help me a lot when I’m thinking about what to write next. Walks help too. And talking with my brainstorming partners from my writers group when we go away to our retreats. They rock.

6.     What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?
I’ve gotten lots, especially from brainstorming partners. I’ve seen some great ed sessions, too. Julianne MacLean and Bev Pettersen’s session on indie publishing and marketing has really stuck with me. I go back to look at those notes quite often. Also Paula once suggested Goals, Motivation and Conflict to me by Debra Dixon, and Annette’s suggestion for Save the Cat. Both have helped my writing a lot!

7. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I’m working on the third book in the Speak of the Devil series. It’s called The Devil You Know. The second book, The Devil Made Me Do It comes out in September, and I’m currently celebrating Speak of the Devil’s first birthday with lots of fun stuff over at my blog, so come take a look

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Getting to Know...Magi Nams

By, Magi Nams

1)What genre(s) do you write and what attracts you to that genre?

I'm completing my first contemporary romance, which I'll publish under a pen name, and have made rough outlines for several others. All my romantic story ideas are set in places I've lived – a few of them at remote ecological field stations – so they fit right into the contemporary genre. I describe my fiction stories as 'Romance with an Outdoor Twist.'

As a non-fiction writer, I've completed a family travel adventure book set in New Zealand, which I'll indie publish in summer 2014. I've always loved to read about other places in the world and wrote this book to share my family's experiences in NZ with other travel adventure enthusiasts.

2) What's your writing strength? What do you think separates you from other authors?

I'm not sure about this one, but I really enjoy piecing words together to create evocative images. As far as separating me from other authors….hmm. Perhaps my love for the outdoors. I try to make true-to-life settings and situations come alive for readers, like a cinematographer does for movie-goers.    

3) What's your writing kryptonite?

Lack of confidence. Years ago, long before I joined RWAC, I wrote half a romance and  abandoned it because it seemed too daunting a task to finish it. However, the  day after I attended my first RWAC meeting, I started writing a completely new romance and have persevered with it (admittedly in bits and pieces). I still struggle with lack of confidence, but have been so much inspired by RWAC that I am determined to write the books I've always dreamed of writing.

4) Do you work with critique partners?

Not at this stage. I've had beta readers and found their diverse comments immensely illuminating and helpful for identifying holes in my manuscript.

5) Where are your favourite places to find inspiration for new ideas?

I'm usually inspired by places I've lived or visited, but sometimes a conflict idea or character jumps into my mind seemingly out of nowhere and is so powerful it starts my creative ball rolling.

6) What piece of advice has stuck with you most since joining RWAC?

Finish the book. Through RWAC, I have been both inspired and supported in my writing aspirations. RWACers have repeatedly shown me that having a successful career as a writer can be done. Now I'm giving it my best shot.

7) Can you tell us what you're working on now?

The contemporary romance I'm finishing features a scarred wildlife photographer as the heroine trying to regain her nerve after being mauled by a grizzly. A stranger's scorching look across the sand brings her to southwest Manitoba, where she falls in love with the rancher and his young son, only to discover they have emotional scars of their own.

I've also begun writing another travel book based on an amazing year my husband and I spent in Australia. I enjoy working in both fiction and non-fiction and find that what I've learned writing one of those genres complements the other. Both keep me steeped in the outdoors, which is where I want my writing to be.

Check out my nature blog at

Monday, 3 March 2014

Getting to know...Linda O'Toole

Linda is one of RWAC's newer members - please welcome her to the blog!

What genres do you write?  What attracts you to that genre?
As a new author it is hard to answer this question.  When I first joined the group back in May of last year I thought I had that answer.  But as I worked on my writing I have changed my mind, or the truth is I cannot pick just one.    I like to write contemporary romance, paranormal, fantasy and there may even be a steamy book or two started on my drive.

I like to use my imagination and make things up to suit my stories. I like the idea that anything I decide is the truth.  It is my world and what I say goes.
What is your writing strength? What do you think separates you from other authors?

I believe my writing strength is my ability to block out all that is going on around me.  I like to sit in a coffee shop and write.  It does not make any difference if the shop is crowded or empty.  I can write anywhere, anytime.  What would separate my stories from other authors will be that they will be written from my heart and my passion.  It may be the same title or the same story prompt but my story will be quite different than theirs.
What is your writing Kryptonite?  What is always tough for you to tackle?

Tough for me is sitting and “interviewing” my characters or trying to outline.  Once I get an idea I just want to dive right in and start writing, and I quite often do.  If I don’t then the story will drive me crazy until I at least put a few words to the page.  If I take the time to interview my characters my first draft is much better and I do not end up deleting as much of what I have written. Another piece of kryptonite for me is ideas.  I have so many that I find it hard to sit down and write about just one.  Right now I have many stories started and only a couple finished.
Do you work with a critique partner?

I do not have an official critique partner, but I do have a friend who is also a new writer and we get together to discuss our writing and ideas.  I also get some really good ideas at the RWAAC monthly meetings and lunch.
Where are your favorite places to find inspiration for new ideas?

 A lot of my ideas come from life.  Sit in a parking lot for a couple of hours some afternoon or the mall and you will see what I mean.   A good friend of mine will comment on some strange story that was on the news or social media, and he always says “you just can’t make this s***t up” and he is right.  Life is full of inspiration and/or funny things that are better than anything I could make up.
What piece of advice has stuck with you since joining RWAC?

I attended a writers’ retreat a couple of months after joining RWAC.  I was unsure what to expect when I got there.  I have to say it was one of the most memorable weekends of my life.  I laughed and wrote and learned an incredible amount of things.  There were many memorable bits of advice I got that weekend but one that truly sticks out was to keep writing.  Rejections happen, let it roll off and keep writing.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I wrote a business plan for myself for 2014 and it has a number of goals.  I am hoping to submit a short story or two to magazines, one is done and I am working on another.  Over the last year I have worked on a number of ideas that I hope to turn into a novel and at least one novella.  My idea book is filling up quicker than my fingers can type!