Audio books galore!

I’m super happy to announce I signed a four book and two novella deal with Audible and the first audio book has been released today worldwide!

The first audio book released is BURNING FIELDS with the rest to follow shortly. I’ve recently found a love for audio books and I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do!

Happy listening!

 

Thank you!

 
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My very first book launch – Readings Hawthorn (Melbourne), 21 August, 2014

Today is five years since the launch of my first book, Luna Tango. It had taken ten years, three manuscripts (that will never see the light of day), lots of workshops and conferences, thousands upon thousands of hours honing my craft and a dash of luck to get to the point of seeing my first book published and available in bookshops. It was a dream come true and I’ll never forget that moment of standing in a bookshop and seeing my book on the shelves for the first time. It was a magical moment and scary at the same time. My story was out in the world and people were going to meet my characters for the first time. It felt surreal and I really did have to pinch myself (after wiping away tears of joy).

Before I was published all I had focussed on was getting a publishing contract. What I never expected was the wonderful friendships I would make with other writers, booksellers, book reviewers, journalists, librarians and readers. I love that my non-reader friends get behind me as well, promoting any events I’m doing or new releases. I adore the publishers I work with, their passion for the written word shining through in everything they do, and I am so thankful every day for my wonderful literary agent, Lucienne Diver, who works so very hard and is brilliant at what she does.

Never in a million years did I expect to see my books translated into other languages or be published around the world. I never expected to release a new book every year, be a bestseller or have one of my books voted into Australia’s top 100 books. I never expected that I would get the opportunity to do book tours in Australia and overseas, to be invited to literary events, mentor, and to teach workshops and run writing retreats with one of my best friends who is also a writer. I never expected opportunities to take my storytelling to the screen. But all these things have happened and I am grateful for every single one of these magical moments.

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A selection of books – more to come!

On this fifth anniversary, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for getting involved in this precious, uplifting, wonderful writing journey. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Alli 

New Writers at Sea retreat

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I’m very excited to announce the dates for our next Writers at Sea retreat which will set sail from Sydney, Australia, on 4 November until 12 November, 2019. We’re sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas and as I recently sailed with Royal Caribbean on a  family holiday, I  can assure you it is going to be an amazing adventure for retreat attendees!

We cater for fiction and non-fiction writers, beginners and experienced – whatever stage you are at, we have workshops and one-on-one sessions to help you develop your craft and make your work shine. And, of course, there’s the added bonus of pristine beaches, azure waters and warm sunshine!

If you’d like to find out more about the retreat you can visit our webpage HERE.

And you can sign up for the Writers at Sea newsletter to keep up to date with sales and special events HERE.

Behind the Story: Sarah Williams

Retouched 1.jpgToday I’m excited to introduce you to Sarah Williams. Sarah spent her childhood chasing sheep, riding horses and picking Kiwi fruit on the family orchard in rural New Zealand. After a decade travelling, Sarah moved to Queensland to raise a family and follow her passion for writing. She currently resides in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. 

When she’s not absorbed in her fictional writing world, Sarah is running after her family of four kids, one husband, two dogs and a cat. If that’s not enough, she also mentors and teaches writing workshops and hosts Write with Love- a weekly writers and readers podcast.

Sarah, please tell us your story behind the story!

The Brigadier Station Series is a family saga about three sons who each have their own love story. They are very family and small-town community focused.

The Sky over Brigadier Station is the second in the Brigadier Station series which is set near Julia Creek in the isolated Queensland Outback of Australia.

In this novel I reversed the gender stereotype. Riley, my heroine is very Alpha and dominates the relationship while Noah is the one who gets left behind on the station, so she can go fly Helis!

The Sky over Brigadier Station also touches on Domestic Violence and PTSD. These are both big issues I wanted to draw attention to.

The-Sky-Over-Brigadeer-Station-Kindle-FINALMore about Sarah’s book: 

Noah McGuire stayed away from Brigadier Station for a reason. He’s spent almost a decade in New Zealand’s South Island, trying to forget his past. But the memories still haunt him and the last thing he wants to do is see his estranged family and attend his brother’s wedding. 

However, the only way he can collect his inheritance is if he returns to his family’s property and faces the demons he’s been hiding from. 

When it comes to rounding up hundreds of cattle in a day, doing so by horseback doesn’t do the trick quite like a helicopter does and Riley Sinclair is one of the best pilots in the country. It’s a dangerous job, but she has nothing to lose. Until she meets Noah and her bravery is finally tested.

Can they make a life together or is the pull of the sky too strong? 

To connect with Sarah or purchase her book: 

Print and digital through all the usual online retails. Here’s a link: http://www.books2read.com/TheSkyoverBrigadierStation

Sarah is regularly checking social media when she really should be cleaning. 
You can find her online at:
http://www.sarahwilliamsauthor.com
http://www.facebook.com/sarahwilliamswriter 
http://www.twitter.com/SarahW_Writer

Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

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Photo by Sébastien Jermer seb  (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the things Tina and I are excited about with the Writers at Sea retreat we’re running at the end of August this year, is the amazing places participants will get to experience. If the idea of sandy beaches and warm azure waters appeals, then the Isle of Pines is the perfect place to visit.

The Isle of Pines is situated 100 kilometres by ocean from New Caledonia’s capital, Noumea, and a visit to this beautiful island will leave you refreshed and inspired. Surrounded by the New Caledonia Barrier Reef, there’s plenty of opportunity to go snorkelling, paddle boarding, sea kayaking, hiking, or lying on the beach reading a book, working on your own book, or having a nap (because why not?).

The world’s largest gecko resides on this island that once served as a French penal colony in the 1800s. When Captain James Cook first saw the island he named it the Isle of Pines because of the tall native pines. It’s an impressive sight and one you’re likely to remember forever.

Aptly nicknamed l’île la plus proche du paradis (the closest island to Paradise), a visit to the Isle of Pines is likely to be high on your list of favourite places ever visited. Yes, I’m that sure you’ll love it!

We stil have some places available on the Writers at Sea retreat and Carnival currently have a sale on cabins so you can snap up a bargain!

For more details, please CLICK HERE.

 

 

Europe – a dream come true

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First real-life sighting of my book!

I’ve been very quiet on the blog lately, mostly due to deadlines (hooray – deadlines are good as it means I have books contracted!), plus a family holiday (cruises rock!), and the chance to fulfil a dream I’ve held close to my heart since I started this publishing journey many, many years ago – a book tour in Europe! Now things aren’t so hectic, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts about the cities I visited and I’ll include travel tips (the ex-travel agent in me can’t resist!). I hope you enjoy the journey!

When I found out that the translation rights for Under the Spanish Stars had been sold by my USA publisher, Kensington Books, I was ecstatic! The German publisher who bought the rights, Aufbau Verlag, are very well-respected and I was excited to see one of my books in a language other than English. The German market has always been in my sights as I had heard from German friends that their book industry is very strong as reading is a valued part of their lifestyle. Plus, German-language readers tend to like Aussie author’s stories. Always a bonus!

So when the opportunity arose to go to German speaking countries and visit booksellers, readers, authors and my publisher, as well as undertake research for future books – I couldn’t say no! I packed my bag and jumped on a plane (okay … three) and flew from Australia to Europe in a daze because I couldn’t quite believe I was about to tick a few items off my wish list. 

First stop was Vienna and even though I was jet-lagged I had to find the nearest bookshop and get a copy of Die spanische Tänzerin (The Spanish Dancer). I found the biggest bookstore in Vienna (four floors!), called Thalia and went in search of my beloved book. Yes, I may have squealed when I found a copy and the shop assistants were so very sweet when they realised who I was and why I was there.

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Inside the book

I had always hoped that one day a book of mine would be released in hardcover, but I didn’t expect to get so emotional to see if for the first time! The book designer at my publisher did such an amazing job, and the white on the cover feels like linen, and the graphics and type are glossy and raised. Inside is a gorgeous floral design and there’s also a built-in bookmark that is a lovely grey ribbon. One of my bookish German friends told me these bookmarks were very popular with the East German publishers and, as my publisher was originally in East Berlin (and was the largest publisher in the GDR), they’ve continued with this tradition. I found it very hard to stop gazing at this beautiful piece of art that my publisher had created. 

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The in-built ribbon bookmark!

After signing books I started my trek back to the hotel, exhausted but elated. As I walked through a gorgeous park and in front of a statue of Strauss, I found a group of people dancing tango. The DJ played music but it could only be heard by the dancers as they wore headphones. Given my first book was about the tango, I couldn’t help but take this as a sign that this trip would be unforgettable. Vienna had already captured my heart but that was just the beginning … Stay tuned for more!

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with new releases, give aways and author interviews, please sign up for my newsletter HERE.

 

 

Behind the Story: Bree Verity

bree.jpgToday I’m delighted to have the gorgeous Bree Verity on my blog. Bree grew up on a diet of love, romance, old movies and musicals and it’s no wonder she writes love stories – contemporary or historical, she doesn’t mind. Love and romance are timeless.

She lives in Perth Western Australia with her teenage son, her long-suffering partner, and her two attentive rescue dogs, Millie and Boofhead. She keeps it very quiet that she is equally a cat person.

She dreams of travelling the world, going off-grid and building a tiny house, although she realises she would very quickly go crazy in a confined space.

Thanks so much for being here today, Bree. Please tell us your story behind the story!

Quite a while ago now I attended my first writer’s group meeting, at a quaint white house alongside a lake, around which a university had grown.

I was struggling to complete what I thought at the time was my Magnum Opus, a novel of epic proportions, set in France during the revolution, that would bring me much fame and fortune on its release.

However, I had stumbled. It was incomplete. I was concerned that I didn’t know enough about the times, the customs, the laws. I had researched extensively, read many books, studied many articles. But I still felt dissatisfied.

Then, somewhere during the discussion at that first writer’s group, someone said, “Write what you know.”

It seemed a revelation. Of course! How on earth could I write about the French Revolution when I know nothing about it?

I set about creating a series of contemporary romance novels, set in Perth, Western Australia. I know Perth. I also know what it’s like to be single and in Perth. I figured I would write the contemporary series, find my writing feet, and then, when the time was right, go back and finish my historical.

I wrote the first contemporary novel quite quickly, using a Camp Nanowrimo month to get it done. It felt awesome, writing those words – you know the ones – The End. I think writing The End validates you somehow as an author. That you have the chops to craft something all the way to The End is a highly satisfying and smug-worthy feeling.

lydia-cover-smallThe book was published with little fanfare and, as expected, was downloaded by some of my friends and very few others. I wasn’t concerned by this. I knew it wasn’t a great book – it was a nice, fluffy, sunny day read. I continued on, writing the prequel story, and then started work on the second novel.

Writing these was my apprenticeship. Learning the craft, building characters, understanding plot, and then delving into the wild world of self-publishing; all my skills were honed writing the contemporary books.

I finished writing the second book and, while the satisfaction of writing The End was the same, I had a feeling in my gut that I simply couldn’t ignore. It gnawed at me, trying to tell me something. And it was only very recently that I realised what it was.

In writing that which I knew, I had stopped writing that which I love.

If you go for a browse on my Kindle, you’ll find hundreds of books, and at least half of them are historicals. I love the feel of stepping out of my time and into someone else’s. I love the pageantry and the manners and the romance. And I realised THAT was what I wanted to write.

So, I went back to my Magnum Opus (which over the years had shrivelled a little to become an historical romance, perhaps a little short at 75,000 words) and I finished it.

Writing The End on that book was a revelation. I understood for the first time that I didn’t need to know all the details, so long as my readers are transported by the story. It’s amazing the detail imagination will fill in.

amanda-cover-smlThe novel has been trimmed, changed and reshaped now, into something unrecognisable from the first drafts, but a novel that I am so proud of, mainly because it is a book that I would like to read. It’s currently with a couple of publishers. Hopefully it’s a novel they, too, would like to read.

I still plan to complete my contemporary novel series. They hold a place in my heart as the books where I learned to write people instead of situations. Where I took heed of a piece of writing advice to “Write what you know” and completed three stories all the way through to The End.

But I will be amending “Write what you know” to “Write what you love” in my author’s vocabulary. Being in the game for the long haul, writing what you love is a much better game plan.

Visit her website and blog at www.breeverity.com, ‘VeryBreeVerity’ on Facebook, or @VeryBreeVerity on Twitter.

 

Behind the Story: Sandy Curtis

Sandy Curtis headshot June 2014.jpgToday I am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Sandy Curtis, who lives on Queensland’s Central Coast, not far from the beach where she loves to walk and mull over the intricate plots in her novels. Her husband says he doesn’t know how she keeps it all in her head, and her friends think she must be far more devious than she appears. After having dealt with the chaos involved in rearing three children, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and a kookaburra (teaching it to fly was murder), creating complex characters, heart-wrenching stories and edge-of-your-seat suspense is a breeze for Sandy.

Interviewers often ask Sandy to describe her normal writing day. “Normal is when the chaos in my life subsides to frantic rather than frenzied. I once told a friend that I must have a chaos attractor glued on my forehead and she said that creativity hovers on the edge of chaos, to which I replied that I’d long ago fallen off the edge into the middle.”

Her various occupations, from private secretary to assistant to a Bore Licensing Inspector, as well as hitch-hiking around New Zealand and learning to parachute, have given Sandy lots of people and research skills. It’s the paperwork going feral in her office she has trouble with.

Thank you so much for being on the blog today, Sandy. Please, tell us about your story behind the story!

Alli, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. It’s wonderful to be here.

Although my previous books were romantic suspense and short contemporary romances, my women’s fiction, Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause, has a lot of humour and focuses on the lives of the three main female characters (although there’s a gorgeous cop with a more-than-professional interest in Ellie and a novel use for avocado oil).

What inspired you to write Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause?

I’m not sure where the idea for this book came from. I started writing it over ten years ago, but after the first few pages I couldn’t keep going. I had envisaged the story of three friends whose lives suddenly implode and they are forced to confront the loss of everything they value. It was going to be full of angst and drama, and, frankly, it depressed me to think about it.

Fast forward ten years and my long-rejected characters, Ellie, Cass and Kandy, raised their voices in protest. They told me that I had had enough time to realise that women have the kind of enduring strength that enables them to cope with what life can throw at them. Yes, they might go down for a while, but they grit their teeth and get back up and take control of their lives.

But what they really emphasised is that women support each other. Women look out for their friends. And women often see the humour in life, especially when it comes to men and relationships.

So I started writing the story again, but this time with a different flavour. Yes, there are losses, and sorrow, but there’s also happiness and laughter, and the kind of friendships that I’ve been incredibly lucky to have in my life.

mmmop-coverWhy did you decide to set the story in Brisbane?

I grew up in Brisbane and although I haven’t lived there for quite a few years I still love the city, and I particularly love the suburb of New Farm. It’s such a diverse area and offers so many iconic settings such as the Powerhouse.

New Farm was also where I met the first person who considered themselves a “writer”. I left school at fifteen because Mum couldn’t afford for me to continue, but I’d always wanted to write. I tried to become a cadet journalist, but at 152cm and 43kg I looked more like a jockey than a tough “journo”, so started working for accountants. My boss, on discovering I wanted to be an author, introduced me to a bookkeeper he knew who wrote short stories and she invited me to lunch at her unit (called a ‘flat’ in those days). Greying hair, less-than-average height, plump, living alone, she was soft and gentle and kind, but to my sixteen-year-old sheltered self she was someone who was living only half a life. No excitement, no adventure – none of the things I wanted in my future.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we remember certain things. She cooked us lamb chops, mashed potatoes and peas, followed by lemon pudding and custard.

Although life, in the form of love, marriage and children, intervened in my writing journey, I never forgot the three-storey red-brick building she lived in, or the marvellous view from her unit to the river in the distance. Or New Farm park with its massive trees and echoes of past lives.

Those memories live in Murder, Mayhem & Men On Pause. As I wrote Ellie walking up the wide timber staircase to the top unit, I felt again the admiration I had for generations past who lived without the conveniences we take for granted. As I researched the furniture Ellie would need to give an authentic 1920s feel to the units, I marveled at the craftsmanship, the elegance, the intricate detail of the beautiful pieces. Like Ellie, I learned so much. And like Ellie, I felt the joy of having friends who were there for you no matter what happened in your life. So far from being the angst-ridden story I had initially envisaged, it became a joy to write, and Ellie, Cass and Kandy sprang from the pages and allowed me to share their lives.

Thanks so much, Sandy, what a fabulous story behind your story! Folks, you can find Sandy’s books here:

AMAZON

AMAZON (Australia)

KOBO

You can find out more about Sandy HERE.

The Happiness Jar – in review

IMG_5228On January 1, 2015 I started the Happiness Jar Project which was inspired by a writer and person I admire, Elizabeth Gilbert. Here’s the link to my blog post about it here.

It’s taken me many, many years to finally come to the conclusion I suck at New Year’s resolutions. If I utter the words “My New Year’s resolution is …” on December 31 of any given year, I can guarantee that the project or dream will crash and burn spectacularly. So I made the decision to enter 2015 differently and by doing so, the promise to myself has been a lot easier to sustain because it has been fun. All it required was an empty jar, a pen, and some sticky notes.

I started the year off with a bang and wrote down one good thing from each day but, as life has the habit of doing, things got crazy busy so I took to only writing the bigger moments of happiness. I did, however, also remember to note the quieter moments when a feeling of gratitude sneaks up out of nowhere and overwhelms you. Those, to me, are the most precious moments of all.

Of course, the year had quite a few downs, as is  the case of being human but as I am a glass-half-full kinda gal, I choose to focus on the positive. Even if it means finding an elusive silver lining out of a difficult or upsetting situation. If I learn from the experience, then that, for me, is something positive.

What I did find was friends often asked to contribute to the Happiness Jar. It sat proudly in the middle of the dining table so it ended up being a topic of conversation when visitors arrived. I’d hand over the paper and pen and they’d write down their happy thought then pop it in the jar. My children also got in on the act. It warmed my heart to see my two kids embrace the spirit of the Happiness Jar. I never asked other contributors what they wrote as I wanted to be surprised when the jar was finally opened. I’m so glad that I managed to quiet that curious cat inside me.

So how did 2015 pan out for me in terms of happiness? Thankfully, I can say that it has been a very good year. My family are happy, healthy, enjoying life and learning every day and really, I couldn’t ask for more.

Here are a handful of highlights randomly drawn from the jar:

Me: Spending the whole day at the National Gallery of Australia and gaining special access to Ballets Russes artefacts to research my ballet book.

Me: I love watching Master Seven working hard at gymnastics and making new friends. He has found his tribe.

Me: Amazing school reports for both kids. We are so very proud of our kids for trying so hard and discovering the joys of learning.

From a 7yo family friend: What makes me happy is coming over to this house and always being welcome.

Me: So very happy for my best friend who is now in extremely good health after a long and turbulent battle with cancer. She also just got her dream job – woo hoo!

Me: I love listening to Miss Nine sing – she sounds like an angel. Watching her face light up when she sings and the joy it brings to other people makes my heart melt.

Master Seven: I am class captain!

Miss Nine: I started tennis and totally enjoyed it!

Me: So very proud of my partner for all his achievements. I also love that his version of a romantic Valentine’s Day date is sharing a bottle of wine and watching The Walking Dead.

Me: I am so grateful to have found my passion–writing books–and to share this with people the world over. I love the comrarderie of my fellow authors and I love meeting and hearing from readers. I am truly grateful for entering the world of books and for being welcomed by so many.

And so begins 2016 with the whole family each adding a note to the jar.

And so begins 2016 with the whole family each adding a note to the jar.

These are just a snippet into the contents of the jar. As the family opened  up the notes we laughed and had a lovely time sharing memories. For me, this act was yet another moment in time that needs to go into the Happiness Jar. I’ll save that as my first entry for 2016. Oh yes, I’ll be doing this again! What about you? Have you ever thought about a Happiness Jar? Do you have some other way to record the events of your year? Or do you happily go from one year to the next without recording memories? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

And to all my wonderful blog readers–new and old–I hope 2016 brings you all the love, happiness, and joy you could wish for.