BOOKLUST, WANDERLUST: Best of 2014 in expat books

For those looking for some interesting reads from 2014, this blog post from The Displaced Nation has a list of books that are centred around travel and other cultures. Enjoy!

The Displaced Nation

Best of Expat Books 2014Kindle Amazon e-reader by Unsplash via Pixabay (CC0 1.0)

Seasons greetings, Displaced Nationers. That special time of the year is here again, when we publish our selection of this year’s books with meaningful connections to expats, Third Culture Kids, global wanderers, and others of us who have in some way led “displaced lives”.

Having assembled this list on my own in years past, I am pleased to be joined this year by Beth Green, our BOOKLUST, WANDERLUST columnist, who has also graciously agreed to sign over her column space for the month.

Let’s give Beth the floor:

Happy holidays, all! Preparing for this yearly special, I went back through all of the books I’ve read since January—not such an easy task; I read a lot!—and realized that I hadn’t actually read all that many that were published in 2014. I just now took a look at…

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A Happy Dance!

aus rom 2014 book of the year awardI’ve been quiet of late (as you’ve no doubt noticed), getting Flamenco Fire finished in time for my publisher deadline at the end of the year. I do come up for air every so often, and there’s nothing better than taking a break to celebrate winning an award! Oh yes, Luna Tango won Book Of The Year in the inaugural AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Awards!

Excuse me while I do a daggy happy dance …

Okay, am back.

Writers spend years honing their craft, living through self doubt, clocking up rejections, and wondering if the dream of being published will ever happen. Then when it miraculously does, more doubts creep in – Will readers like my story? Will I sell enough books? Will book reviewers hate it? And on it goes … So when readers vote for their favourite book, or author, cover design, or series, it’s a major boost in confidence to know someone out there loves what we’re doing.

With the Ausrom Today Reader’s Choice Awards, readers were asked to nominate authors and books in the various categories and once these were selected, the month long voting process took place and winners were announced on 1 December. There are some amazing authors who have been nominated and won other categories, so I urge you to go and check out on this page – http://ausromtoday.com/2014-ausromtoday-readers-choice-awards/.

Big congratulations to the winners and nominees in each of the categories and a huge thank you to all who nominated and voted for me. Your support is truly appreciated and I cannot thank you enough. Also, a very big thank you to AusRom Today for all the effort you put in to introducing Australian authors to readers around the world.

Now … back to those edits I go!

A Cover Story

No one can deny publishing is a tough business and every aspect of a book needs to be planned and created to give the book the best chance possible in the market. Covers are one such area that can make or break sales and I’ve been very fortunate that the team at Harlequin MIRA came up with such a lovely concept for Luna Tango. It has  captured people’s imaginations and I’ve received comments such as “breathtaking”, “stunning”, and “beautiful” (I agree, but then again I am a little …. okay … a lot biased!).

The dancers on the front of Luna Tango have always intrigued me and I’ve often wondered who they were in real life. When a book cover is designed, the photographs are bought but there’s rarely any information that comes with those images.

Last weekend a friend kindly offered to take copies of Luna Tango to Adelaide for a tango celebration with guest dancers from Argentina. The dancers were Fabian Salas (renowned for his stage shows and his roles in the movies The Tango Dancer and Evita) and Lola Diaz (a very accomplished tango dancer and choreographer who has travelled the world teaching and performing).

I’m not sure who got the biggest surprise – Lola when she saw herself on the cover of Luna Tango or me when I realised I have finally achieved my dream of finding out the true identity of  the Luna Tango cover girl! It was an absolute joy to thank Lola personally for being on the cover.

Now we’re in contact, I’ll enjoy learning more about Lola and Fabian as they travel the world, enchanting audiences with their beautiful tango dancing. Here are a couple of clips for you to enjoy:

 

Meet My Character – A Blog Tour

Flamenco_dancer_3467

Photo by Mazkeret Batia – Wikimedia commons

 The lovely Barrie Summy invited me to participate in a Meet My Character Blog Tour. I’ve chosen a character from my current manuscript, Flamenco Fire.

1.) What is the name of your character?
Charlotte Williams

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Fictional but in my head she’s real!

3.) When and where is the story set?
Mostly in Granada, Spain with a few scenes in London scattered throughout. As I love my dual storylines, part of the story is set during the Spanish Civil War and World War II and the rest of the story is present day. Of course, the storylines will meet up in order to solve a mystery involving flamenco!

4.) What should we know about him/her?
Charlotte is a talented painter but has quashed that dream in favour of a stable career and life. Her ailing grandma tips that upside down when she begs Charlotte to go to Spain and find out who is the anonymous artist behind a painting belonging to her great-grandfather.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Charlotte works as an insurance broker and spends her days assessing risk both in her professional and personal life. When she meets Mateo Vives, a Spanish flamenco guitarist and free spirit, she is forced to reassess her own beliefs and listen to her heart. What she doesn’t realise is the discovery of the identity of the painter will set off a chain of events that have dire consequences that spread across multiple generations.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published?
Flamenco Fire will be published in 2015 by Harlequin MIRA

What happens next? See the names below in green with links to their websites? Those authors will be posting on Oct 16, 2014 about one of their characters. In fact, you might want to click through now and find out more!

Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a supermarket owner, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. She rarely sleeps and never irons. She writes contemporary romance for HQN and Harlequin Australia and lives in rural Western Australia with her hyperactive husband and three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training. Rachael loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her website at www.rachaeljohns.com.

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in various short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. The only downfall about writing about gorgeous men who have brains as well as brawn, is falling in love with them – just as well they’re fictional. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true, once in a lifetime love.

Heidi Noroozy is a translator, blogger, and writer of multicultural crime fiction. Her travels around the globe have led to extended stays in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico and Iran. Heidi’s Cold War story, “Trading Places,” was published in the “Secret Codes” issue of Nautilus and draws on her experiences living in the GDR in the 1980s. Other stories appeared in German crime anthologies and have been translated into five languages. She lives in Northern California with her Iranian-born husband and is currently writing a novel set in present-day Tehran.

Pamela DuMond is the author who discovered Erin Brokovich’s life story – Pamela though it would make a great movie so pitch it to Hollywood and the rest is history. She writes romantic comedic mysteries, romantic Young Adult, time travel novels and New Adult romance.

The Macana Brothers

One of the reasons I find tango so fascinating is the various forms in which it can be danced. It’s not always a serious undertaking or hot and sexy or gut wrenchingly dramatic.  Los Hermanos Macana are from Buenos Aires and are a pair of super talented choreographers and dancers who bring their unique dancing and humour to stages across the world. They’ve shared stages with artists such as Mikhail Baryshnkov and Placido Domingo and I am hoping, hoping, hoping they’ll return  to Australia in the not-so-distant future.

Many tango experts will happily give an opinion as  to why men traditionally danced tango together. In fact, there are a lot of theories about how tango started and who danced with whom and why. That’s a whole can of worms and I’ll do a blog post on this in the near future. But I will mention a couple of theories for now and they’re the ones that really get the tango aficionado’s knickers in a twist. The idea is  tango originated in brothels where the men danced with women while they were waiting their turn to step into a room and close the doors. This theory rose in popularity when Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, declared this as a fact and his fans agreed without raising any question. But as Argentina was short on women early last century, it’s hard to imagine why they would be dancing with clients when they could doing … um … what they were employed to do. Another brothel theory is men danced with men while they were waiting their turn to spend time with the prostitute of their choice, and they honed their dancing skills in tango as a way to impress women who had never stepped foot inside a brothel.

Whatever the true reason, when men dance tango together it tends to take people by surprise, even in this modern era. The Macana Brothers have taken traditional tango, added some personal touches, and turned it into a magnificent art form that has captured the hearts of many. I hope you enjoy their work and it brings a smile to your lips!

You can learn more about the Macana Brothers on their website here.

Luna Tango book launch and tango event

To celebrate the launch of Luna Tango, a special tango event will be held at Readings Hawthorn bookstore on Thursday, 21 August at 6pm. The evening will include a dancing demonstration by some of Australia’s finest tango professionals as well as wine and food and a basic tango lesson for willing participants. The cost of the event is $10 per person and proceeds of ticket sales will go to Parkinson’s Victoria.

Please note: ticket bookings are essential as places are limited.

To find out more, please click here.

Photo by Susana Moreno

Photo by Susana Moreno