Author Interview: Pat Elliott – All In The Leaves

All In The Leaves by Pat Elliott

All In The Leaves by Pat Elliott

Today I am thrilled to welcome Pat Elliott, author of All In The Leaves, which tells the story of Anna, nearly thirty, living at home and single. When a chance bout of tears leads to a tea leaf reading she is shown a wonderful future: new career, new home, new husband. All by Christmas. All she has to do is get on and make the necessary changes to ensure it happens. When calamity strikes, the battle for happiness begins.

Pat spent eighteen years of her working life in a magazine company, before becoming self employed as a reflexologist. She has had factual pieces published on reflexology and on adopting a dog. All in the Leaves is her first novel, with a second, Leaves for Chloe, currently being written. She has also written a volume of short stories, called At Sanctuary’s Gate.

Pat was born in the Alexandra Palace area of London and currently resides in the Essex countryside, with her husband and adopted terrier. She has a great love for dogs, and is delighted when a rescue dog gets a second chance in life. She also loves to paint in watercolour. Her blog can be found here.

I asked Pat a few question about life, writing and All In The Leaves. I hope you enjoy learning more about her and her novel.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you decided to write fiction, after a life working in magazines?

I left the magazine world to set up my reflexology practice. I took up reflexology initially to help my husband, who had a back injury and suffered with subsequent depression. I feel that people who suffer injuries and depression are given short shrift in this world of ours – and if I can help them, I will. Living with injury and depression is not an easy road – either for the person suffering, or the one who tries to help. I see quite a few people who fall into this category. For the helper, it is paramount to maintain outside interests. With that in mind, I like to learn something new. I enrolled on an adult education course which attracted me – Creative Writing, Short Stories. This was such a fabulous course that I signed up for the follow up – Creative Writing, Novels. I was attracted to the fact that after initial instruction, you were out there on your own, getting on it with it. That fits my working life much better than something rigid.

It also means that I can be at home, yet still have an outside interest. The life of a writer can be one of any life they choose to write about. It’s a wonderful escape.

2. Your novel features dogs a great deal. Tell us about the dog(s) in your life

Pat and Missy

Pat and Missy

Yes, indeed. The love of dogs is a theme that runs in my novel. Anyone who owns a dog knows the unconditional love you get from these creatures. We are none of us so full of love, that we couldn’t do with a little extra.

My first dog was a jack russell, Spotty. She lived originally with my neighbours, but they were cruel to her. They’d split her head open by hitting her with a roofing tile – and then refused to take her to the vet. I took her. We spent our first night together under the duvet, on the sofa – after the vet had told us that her life hung in the balance. The first 24 hours were crucial. She lived, and stayed safe in our love for the next 16 years, until she passed, aged 18.

Once Spotty passed away, we went to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to adopt another, where we met the wonderful Missy. Still a russell, but long legged and long haired – the opposite of Spotty. That was important to me, so that we’d never compare the two. Missy was in Battersea for almost two years, waiting for a home. I have nothing but admiration for the care that Battersea took over her. She was 8 years old when we adopted her. She’s 16 now and still a cheeky little minx – but I like that in a dog.

3. All in The Leaves is about tea leaf reading and has sections that are very spiritual. Are these drawn from your own experiences?

There are elements of my own experiences in the story. I did indeed have an Irish relative who could read tea leaves and was surprisingly accurate. Being the daughter of a Irishman, there is great Celtic lore and spirituality in my genes – and this shows in my writing. I like to weave some of that into my stories. I feel it adds another dimension.

4. The novel explores the beauty of Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular. As someone who lives in Essex, is there a secret yearning to live over the border? 🙂

I do live in Essex, yes! Originally my family were from Waterford, then Wexford, Eire. When the work situation forced some of the younger members of the family to spread their wings, some moved to London and some to Scotland. So I feel quite attached to both. Would I live there? I’d certainly consider it, should the opportunity present itself.

5. All in the Leaves is the first in a series of novels. Did you always intend to write a series?

No, originally, I didn’t. I started to write All in the Leaves as part of my novel writing course. When I spoke to other book reader friends, they asked would it be a series? I quite like each book to have an ending, so that’s what I did in Leaves, but I also saw the possibility that there could be other tea leaf readings and other books. Each complete to themselves. That’s when I decided to make a series.

6. The next book will be about Chloe. Tell us a little bit about it; is it set after All in the Leaves (and will we see more of horrid Howard and adorable Angus)?

Leaves for Chloe is set after All in the Leaves. It charts what happens to Chloe in the year after the end of the first book. Yes, horrid Howard does appear a fair bit in book two, like a bad penny, he always turns up! The adorable Angus also returns, patient and kind as ever. Some may say pushover, but he does have a core of steel.

7. You self-published your first novel. Was that something you intended from the start? How did you find the experience?

All In The Leaves - about tea leaf reading

All In The Leaves – about tea leaf reading

Originally, I would have been thrilled to have an agent and a publisher. However, the more research I did, that route did not feel fine to me. The absolute decider was when I read about one poor man, who’d spent two years of his life writing his book, only to see it pulped after a few months on the bookshelves. It hadn’t performed as well and as quickly as the distributors wanted, so it was pulled.

I understand that they are a business, and shelf space is at a premium, but my heart went out to the man who’d lost his dream. I decided that if I self published, All in the Leaves could stay on the virtual shelves until it found its own market.

I chose to use ebook partners to convert and distribute my book. I couldn’t be happier with their service. I am not the person to spend hours over the computer, trying to work out how to format a book. Nor spend time dealing with different countries’ tax requirements. I much prefer to pay someone to do all that, so that I can concentrate on what I enjoy. Plus, they only take a fee. No percentage of your sales. That was a big plus to me, because it fit my idea of a professional service

8. You’re an artist and a reflexologist as well as an author; how do you manage your time? Do you find yourself torn between your different creative outlets?

No, I’m never torn. Reflexology is my bread and butter. That time comes first. In any spaces between clients, I balance the other two. As a writer yourself, you know there are times that you could bang your head on a wall, in frustration at not finding the right plot or device. In those times, I paint!

9. You have also published a collection of short stories, At Sanctuary’s Gate; how is writing short stories different to writing novels? Which do you prefer?

Short stories are for me quick insights. A novel is more of a slow, developmental burn. My short stories are more observational than dialogue filled, my novel is more about dialogue and personal interaction. I like them both. That’s not a cop-out – they both fulfil a different need in the writer me.

10. Finally, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in their writing career?

Firstly, write! If there’s a class available, get some instruction. A good tutor will encourage, instruct and inspire. If there’s no class, find the resources online or in your library. Help is there, if you look for it.

You can find out more about All in the Leaves and purchase a copy here. Thanks for reading.

Life’s Curve-balls: 2013 365 Challenge #253

My son's first full day at preschool

My son’s first full day at preschool

Today was a good reminder that, no matter how tough you think life is, it’s always worse for someone else (and it can always get a little harder for you, too!)

When I texted my friend last night, to find out what her daughter was wearing to school, she said she might not even make it to school as she’d had a tumble from her scooter and they were off to hospital. Sure enough, my daughter’s best friend broke her arm and missed her first morning at school. We didn’t tell my daughter, as expecting her best friend to be there was the only thing keeping her calm. As it was she was fine. She ran in smiling and says she cried a little bit when she realised her friend wasn’t there, but she soon made a new friend and came running out still smiling (I, on the other hand, nearly sobbed with pride!)

We stopped off to see the poorly girl after school and my daughter found that much harder: it’s the first time she’s had a friend incapacitated by illness or injury.

To begin with she was brilliant, playing nurse, letting her friend choose the games and telelvision programs. After a while though the novelty wore off. When we left she started crying and said, “Mummy I want my friend back, she can’t play with me properly.”

So what should be such a fun and exciting time for both of them is going to have an extra challenge for a few weeks. And my poor girl, who didn’t want to have to worry about looking after someone at school (having looked after her brother at preschool all summer) has now been asked to look after her friend.

I'm off, Mummy, bye!

I’m off, Mummy, bye!

Of course it’s nothing to what my friend must be going through. I can’t express how bad I feel for her. After seven years, to finally be within hours of having both children at school, only to have to stay home from work and nurse a distraught child after leaving A&E at 3am. It put my tiredness – after little man was up 1am-3am last night – into perspective. Of course it didn’t stop me being grumpy and leaving childcare mostly to my hubbie this afternoon. Sometimes, even if another’s lot is worse than yours, it doesn’t make yours any easier. It just made me pray that one of our kids doesn’t break something. Fingers and toes crossed.

P.S. I have an author interview live today, over on Paul Western-Pittard’s blog, That Thing I Said. It was fun to re-read it, as I wrote it a few months ago (it says that Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes is on hold as a project – shows how much things can change in a short period of time!)

It would be lovely if you could stop by, not least because there is loads of great stuff on Paul’s blog.

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 

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“For God’s sake, I told you not to go.”

Josh rushed towards Claire as she walked away from the jet, dripping wet and clutching her neck. She immediately dropped her hand and forced a smile. Irritation fought with gratitude at the look of concern in his amber-flecked eyes. She longed to bury herself in his arms and have him smooth the pain away. At the same time, her hackles rose at his disapproving frown.

“What do you mean? It was excellent fun!” She looked down at her sodden clothing. “Do you mean this? I’m not as wet as I was this morning. I’ll know not to sit at the edge another time.”

Josh fell in step as Claire and Bethan waddled back to the bus to retrieve dry clothes. Claire willed her friend to stay with them as chaperone, but Bethan seemed oblivious to the brewing trouble, as she chatted to a couple of lads from the bus. Claire realised she was on her own.

“I’m not talking about you being drenched, and you know it. You were holding your neck, I saw you. You’ve given yourself whiplash, haven’t you?”

Claire went to shake her head, thought better of it, and folded her arms instead. “It’s fine. Nothing a cup of tea won’t fix.”

She heard Josh tut in annoyance, but he held his tongue.

*

Claire managed to avoid Josh for the rest of the day. She knew it was putting off the inevitable, but she couldn’t face a showdown. Her body ached with spent adrenalin and pain stabbed from her neck to her fingertips if she moved too quickly. A lecture from Josh would only exacerbate the already-blinding headache flashing in her head.

She was grateful they’d been allocated different dorm rooms and she had almost made it to bed undetected, when he finally tracked her down.

“Claire, please stop avoiding me. We need to talk.” He hurried after her, and she stopped in the corridor, not wanting him to follow her all the way to her room, which – judging by the raucous drinking going on elsewhere in the hostel – was likely to be empty at this early hour.

“Can’t it wait until the morning? I’m beat.”

“Do you need painkillers? I have some prescription strength ones that will help. I know you don’t want me mollycoddling you, I get it. But stupid to suffer in silence.”

“I told you, I’m fine. I took some ibuprofen earlier. What I need now is sleep.”

Josh rubbed his hand across the back of his neck and shuffled his feet. Something about his body language raised the hairs on Claire’s arm. She felt a declaration brewing, and didn’t want to hear it.

“Claire I–”

“Don’t say it.” She held up her hand. He reached forward and took it in a gentle grasp.

“No, I have to say it, before I chicken out. I haven’t had nearly enough beer.”

“Then go drink some more and let me go to bed.”

“I love you.”

The words rushed out and fell like rocks into her empty heart. Behind them a shout of laughter broke above the general hubbub, emphasising the silence between them. Claire felt acutely aware of his hand holding hers, as she stared at the floor and waited for it to open and rescue her.

After what felt like an eternity Josh spoke, his voice barely a whisper.

“Tell me you don’t love me. I won’t believe you.”

She looked up then, and saw a mixture of hope and assurance in his expression. She needed to speak, to end this. Short and sharp, like pulling off a plaster.

“I loved the idea of you: Josh the adventurer, Josh the husband and father. That’s all.”

“I can be those things again.”

He pulled her towards him but she tugged her hand free and folded her arms.

“You still are those things, just not with me. You have a wife who loves you, children who adore you. Don’t throw it away.” Claire thought about all she had lost. Her best friend, her boyfriend, her job, her family. There was nowhere she truly belonged.

“Don’t give up your readymade life for a pipe dream. What if we did get married and have kids? Life wouldn’t be any easier. Far harder, in fact. I’m not a natural parent like Fiona. You think it’s hard now, with her focussing on the baby? You’d be booking me into rehab after a week of looking after three children while my husband sodded off to England to nurse his guilty conscience.”

Suddenly her head crowded with the thought of all the pain this gorgeous man had caused, with his misplaced guilt and his refusal to take responsibility for his life. As he gazed at her like a puppy seeking praise, she felt a hundred years old.

“My advice to you, Josh? Appreciate what you have, before you no longer have it. Go back to Fiona. Beg forgiveness. Try harder. Hire a babysitter and take her out to dinner. Bring her breakfast in bed once in a while. Take the kids to the park so she can read a book or have a bath. And, for pity’s sake, grow up.”

As she walked away Claire remembered another conversation, a lifetime ago, when she’d said the same to Michael.

When am I going to find a man who wants a partner not a parent?

Puzzling over the impossible riddle, Claire headed to her room.

***

September to Remember: 2013 365 Challenge #244

In the crow's nest

In the crow’s nest

My goodness, is it September already? I only realised because my KDP books sales reports have gone from ‘not very many’ to ‘ugly brown bar that will make you miserable until you sell a book’. Hopefully I’ll manage to get Baby Blues finished sometime soon to boost sales all round.

This September will be one to remember. This is the month when my son – my baby – turns three. My daughter – my other baby – starts school. My second book, Baby Blues, goes out in the world, hopefully in print and ebook format. My hubbie (hopefully) finds a job, and I get to wear jeans again at last as we move into autumn. I love autumn!

It’s been a helluva year and September always feels like that month when things begin to wind down. Crazy, as there are still four months left of the year, but it still does.

Building dens

Building dens

I’m hoping this September will also be the month of reading: I just won a bundle of books in a Ebook Escapes Author Tour rafflecopter giveaway! I never win anything, so I’m very excited. What a great way to start the month.

Actually I started the month lying in bed for an hour next to a comatose husband, while the kids took themselves downstairs to play. God bless them. Hubbie has been away playing cars for two days, so he is exhausted. I took the children out to one of the farms we visit yesterday, with some friends, and we tried very hard to wear the children out.

Four hours at the farm, riding ponies, making dens, digging in the sandpit, and we went back to their house for more playing, trampolining, den building, and craft, finishing with a loud, noisy, splashy bath which thankfully their daddy was in charge of.

My smart boy

My smart boy

My children were finally home and in bed at 8.30pm and I crawled up an hour later, thinking I could write my post in the morning while they slept in. Only they were up at 6.30am. How do kids do that?

And instead of writing my post I started filling out my Smashwords author questionnaire, before realising I was writing all about Dragon Wraiths when it’s locked into KDP Select until the end of the month! Oops.

So apologies for the random ramble of a post this morning: I’m trying to get my brain into gear to write the first Claire installment of September. Always the hardest of the month, as it’s hopefully the grab for people to download and read the ebook. By the way, if you know anyone who fancies a gentle read in nice, easy to manage, 20-25k chunks, do send them to Smashwords, Apple or Barnes & Noble to download the Claire installments. Or send them here, of course! 🙂

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 

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Claire stepped back, her face burning. Afraid to meet Josh’s gaze, she stared at the floor, until she heard him chuckle.

“Well, that was some welcome. I didn’t need to worry whether you’d be pleased to see me then?”

Claire’s cheeks burned hotter and she turned to collect her rucksack; feeling a strong urge to keep walking to the door.

Really cool, Claire, really clever. Flinging yourself at a married man like he’s your long lost lover. What were you thinking?

Retrieving her bag, Claire concentrated on long, slow, breaths, to calm her hammering heart and cool her red-hot skin. After everything that had happened in the months since she’d last seen him, it had been more than she could do to keep herself under control.

He’s still married. Just because he’s come to New Zealand to find me, he still has a wife and three kids.

She forced herself to smile brightly, and walked back to Josh. “It’s always nice to see a friendly face when you’re a long way from home.”

Josh raised an eyebrow and Claire prayed he wouldn’t push it. For a moment they were still and something seem to pass between them, although Claire couldn’t decide exactly what. He seemed vulnerable, as if he also needed a hug, a friend. She remembered his email had said precisely that.

Then a mask dropped over his features, and he was the old Josh. “So, how are you liking being on the right side of the world? Plucked up the courage to bungee jump yet?” He linked arms with her and guided her to a seat.

Grateful for his light words, Claire sought to do the same. “I love New Zealand. No I haven’t thrown myself off a bridge with an elastic band round my ankles, but I have been white water rafting and sand boarding. You’d have been proud.” She flushed, as memories of him coaxing her to jump off a waterfall came to mind. He felt like her teacher in the life of the verb and that led onto other dangerous thoughts.

If Josh noticed he didn’t say anything. “Yes, I’ve seen some of it on the blog. You’ve come a long way, I’m impressed. And how do you like the tour bus experience?”

“Ah, not so much. You know I missed the bus? At Cape Reinga? It’s not the same as having your own car. But at least I don’t have to think.”

Beneath the veneer of their words, Claire could feel the tension, the shared memories of travelling around England in her Skoda, of hiking and getting drunk together. He bore little resemblance to the scruffy man who had taken her to an observatory in the snow three months before.

Looking at him now, she wondered if she would have recognised him if she hadn’t known it was him in the lift. There was no hint of the unwashed hobo. His hair was short and neat, his skin tanned. His clothes had no patches or home repairs, no stains or holes. He looked every inch the doctor on vacation, in his polo shirt and jeans.

She felt herself under a similar scrutiny and wondered what Josh saw. Could he tell that her clothes hadn’t been washed in a fortnight? Did she look like someone whose world had collapsed in the intervening weeks since their last meeting?

At least I had a shower this morning. Thank god he didn’t see me when I got off the ferry yesterday.

“You look … well. A tan suits you.” Josh said eventually, his words breaking the silence. “You’re thinner, though. Are you eating properly?”

His low voice burrowed into her tummy, leaving a warm glow. Claire became aware of every inch of her skin, every sound around her. The receptionist greeting travellers with a cheery hello. The barista in the bar whistling over the sound of the coffee machine. Chinking cutlery as someone laid the tables for lunch. She could smell Josh’s aftershave, although he no longer carried the scent of wood smoke. She wondered if Fiona disapproved of him smoking.

As if remembering her name brought Josh’s wife into the room, Claire jerked, feeling as if she’d been doused in cold water. With a shake of her head she tried to recall his question.

“Yes, I’m fine. Being stuck on a tour bus is a great way to diet. And I was on the ferry that got turned back from Picton yesterday.”

Josh’s expression changed to a more professional concern. “Holy crap, are you okay? No bumps or bruises? I heard that was pretty bad. Ten hours on a boat, poor chook. Have you had breakfast?”

She nodded, unable to speak. It had been so long since someone had worried about her – since she’d felt herself to be anything other than a nuisance – that the tears threatened to spill down her cheeks again.

Josh seemed to sense her distress. He sat up straight and smiled, although his eyes remained troubled.

“Let’s get out of here. Do you want me to drop your rucksack in my room? Then we can go exploring. Did you see much of Wellington? Have you been up to Mount Victoria? It’s worth the walk.”

Grateful for his understanding, Claire nodded. “That sounds good. I didn’t see much, the weather was awful.”

“That’s a plan then.” Josh leapt to his feet and picked up her bag. “Let’s go exploring.”

Knowing she would regret it, but helpless to resist, Claire followed meekly in his wake.

***

Smashwords Stats: 2013 365 Challenge #243

Good news for me!

Good news for me!

I received an email from Smashwords this morning with some great information. I’m sure any authors reading have probably seen it, but if you haven’t had a chance to go through it, here are the highlights.

1. You can now complete an author interview on Smashwords (you don’t even need to have published a book, just to be registered with Smashwords).

I’d heard about this from Pat Elliott, who looked into it when releasing her short story collection, At Sanctuary’s Gate. However it was a useful reminder to me to get around to completing it. It’s now about #3 on my to-do list! (After finish August’s THSH and finish proofreading BBWS)

2. The results of Smashwords’ survey are in and they make interesting reading. The key points for me were:

  • $3.99 books sell better than $1.99 books (in numbers, not just revenue)
  • Longer books sell better than shorter books (115,274 words was the good average: Baby Blues and Dragon Wraiths are both around 113,000 words so this was good news, and against traditional publishing advice, which is to keep novels below 100,000 words)
  • The trend has moved away from 99c books but Free still does well. This is interesting in light of the discussion here on the blog earlier in the week.
$1-$1.99 not as effective as it used to be

$1-$1.99 not as effective as it used to be

3. You can now (or will soon be able to) set your self-published book up for pre-order. This is excellent news. The advantages of pre-order are many (see the link), but the key two are:

a) you can ensure your book has reached the premium catalogue before beginning promotion. It can take ages to get out to Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo (In fact, one of my Two Hundred Steps Home books still hasn’t made it to iBooks, which is annoying). Being able to do that in advance means it’s all in place

b) pre-orders go through as sales on release day for Apple and Kobo, meaning an influx of sales numbers all at once. This can be enough to put you on the bestseller list, at least briefly, and will really help rankings.

It’s too late for Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes, as it’s already been live for a while (albeit it with the unproofread version. An error on my part that I won’t make again!) but, for Class Act, when it’s ready for publishing next year, I will definitely make use of it. I might even re-release Dragon Wraiths through Smashwords, and see how that works, next time my KDP Select expires.

So, there you go. The world of self-publishing gets better and better. I’m looking forward to seeing what Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes can do outside of the KDP Select Program. I am going to be more patient with this one and not enroll unless sales are at zero for several months. It’s all exciting stuff!

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Below is the next installment in my novel Two-Hundred Steps Home: written in daily posts since 1st January as part of my 2013 365 Challenge. Read about the challenge here.You can catch up by downloading the free ebook volumes on the right hand side of the blog: 

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Sunlight flooded the room, dragging Claire from sleep. The rays of light felt like needles entering her eyeballs and she pulled the duvet over her head with a groan.

You’re too late, sun. We needed you yesterday, not ten foot waves and the roaring forties in full swing.

She tried to ignore the call of the yellow glow and go back to sleep. But the light was insistent, urging her to leave her bed and go outside to explore. It was the first time she’d see the sun in the capital and after a few minutes she threw back the covers.

“Alright, you win. I’m up.”

The voice echoing in the empty room didn’t sound like hers at all. The rasping noise reminded her of her thirst and the long day spent on the ferry fighting nausea. Her tummy rumbled into the silence, recalling midnight hunger that had only increased while she slept.

A glance at her phone told her it was nearly time to check out. Surprised she had slept so late, Claire hurried into the en-suite for a shower. It seemed a waste not to take advantage of the facilities: to stand in the cubicle and not wonder who else had used it since it had last been cleaned.

Maybe I could stay another night. It was rather glorious to sleep in a proper bed.

Claire dug her fingers into her scalp, trying to wash away the memories of her ferry ordeal and the fact that she would have to go through it again soon if she wanted to continue her trip.

Maybe another night wouldn’t hurt.

Then she thought about the sunshine pouring in the window, telling of the beautiful day outside. If she was going to try the ferry again, today would be the day: assuming she could get a ticket. There were another two or three hundred people also on the wrong side of the Cook Strait after the events of the day before.

Deciding she could do nothing while in the shower, Claire rinsed her hair and quickly towelled herself dry. Pulling on the cleanest clothes she could find, and spraying them with deodorant to mask the smell, Claire stuffed her belongings into her rucksack and left the room.

First things first, it’s time for breakfast.

She asked the lady on reception where the nearest café with free WiFi was located, and tried to memorise the directions.

After wandering for twenty minutes she at last found the place and ordered croissants and coffee. There was a booth in the corner and Claire threw her bag on one seat before slumping into the other. It took a moment for her tablet to connect to the internet and Claire tapped the table with her nails. Eventually her email loaded and Claire wondered why she had been so eager to reconnect with the world. There was nothing of interest in her inbox: no new comments on the blog or messages from home.

I don’t know why I thought there would be. The only person who has even noticed my absence is my potential future boss, who I’ve only met twice.

Claire sipped at her coffee and flicked through the emails, pausing at a name that didn’t look familiar. When she opened the message, her hands shook and she plonked her cup back on the table with a clatter. As she read the words the room receded until the only reality was the email on the screen.

Hi Claire,

Sorry for contacting you again. I need to see you. I really need a friend to talk to. I saw on your blog that you were in Wellington and I really hope you still are. I know it’s a long shot, but there’s an event on over the Queen’s Birthday weekend that I’ve told Fiona I’m going to. I’ll be staying at the Travelodge. If you get this email, perhaps you could stop by.

Josh

Claire’s mind pitched and tossed like the ferry that had brought her back to Wellington. Josh, here? Was it fate? And the Travelodge: he’d been staying in the same hotel as her. If only she’d managed to read her emails the night before. Would he still be there?

She gulped down her coffee and quickly consumed the croissants as the words of the email replayed in her mind.

Really need a friend? Last time he said that he admitted to killing someone, albeit by accident. Now what? And telling Fiona he’s at an event, not that he’s come to meet me? More lies.

Even as she sensed the seeds of doubt forming, she pushed them aside. This was Josh. Of course she would see him; that went without question.

It seemed to take forever to get back to the hotel and when she arrived the sweat had soaked through her top and she knew she must stink.

Great. So much for having a shower this morning. This rucksack is too heavy for carrying around in the sunshine. The sooner I get back on the bus the better.

Even as she thought it she wondered what her plans would be now. Josh wasn’t about to come to Picton with her or travel around the South Island. How long would he stay in Wellington? He wouldn’t fly all the way from Australia just for a night, would he?

Her mind twirled with questions as she went to the check in desk and asked the same receptionist who had given her directions earlier whether Josh was still in his room.

She leant against the counter and chewed her lip while the woman called through to check. Her voice murmured too low to be heard and Claire held her breath until she hung up the phone.

“He’ll be right down.”

Claire exhaled and grabbed the desk for support. She wondered if she had time to go and freshen up. She shouldered her bag again and was searching around for a ladies sign when she heard the ping of the lift.

Turning in what felt like slow motion Claire stared at the lift doors as they opened. The person that stepped through was so welcome, so familiar, that Claire had to force herself not to run across the floor and fling herself into his arms. Instead she waited for him to make eye contact, and then she smiled.

His answering grin made her heart flip-flop in her chest and her skin tingle. She took two steps towards him before stopping, uncertain.

“Hi, Claire.”

With a sob she dropped her rucksack and ran forwards.

***

Interview With Author Amanda Martin and “Two-Hundred Steps Home” + Giveaway

Interview With Author Amanda Martin and “Two-Hundred Steps Home” + Giveaway.

Today I have the pleasure of being interviewed over on Susana’s Morning Room, talking about my daily blogging challenge and Two-Hundred Steps Home, with a free giveaway of the completed Baby Blues and Wedding Shoes to one lucky commenter.

I’ll be back in Susana’s Morning Room next week, talking about Dragon Wraiths.

Author Interview: Rinelle Grey

Rinelle Grey

Rinelle Grey

Today I’m happy to be interviewing Rinelle Grey, author of Reckless Rescue, A Barren Planet Romance.

Tell us about your routine as a writer (and more importantly how do you fit it all in with home-schooling your daughter and selling stock photography?)

Hmm, routine. That sounds nice.

I’d love to have a routine, but life here at home is so chaotic with all three of us (me, hubby and daughter) home all the time, that most routines go out the window. About the only routine we have is my daughter’s weekly outside the home activities. However, my husband and I take turns taking her to these, and getting work done. Homeschooling fits in around it all, everything we’re doing is a learning activity really. My daughter is getting a great introduction to the publishing world!

My photography has been taking a bit of a back seat to my novel right now, but luckily it goes on earning money for me even when I’m not doing it. (Just like my novels will). It’s cyclic, and some months I will get a lot done on one thing, some months focus on another. It all seems to work out in the end most of the time.

Reckless Rescue is your first published novel: Is it the first novel you have ever written? If not, why did you publish this one first?

No, Reckless Rescue is the third or fourth I’ve started, and the second I’ve finished. I started writing in November 2006 during NaNoWriMo, and finished that novel in January the following year. I LOVE that story, but it’s a lot more complex than Reckless Rescue, and I didn’t really feel it was a good bet for a first novel. I do still plan to go back and fix it (first novels need a lot of fixing!), when I have a little more experience under my belt to do it justice.

Reckless Rescue, follows the story of Marlee and Tyris. Can you tell us more about them, and their story (without giving too much away!)

Marlee and Tyris are from two very different worlds, in fact, the working title for this novel was Worlds Apart, but it had already been  used a few too many times by other people. Marlee’s world is simple, slow and small, while Tyris’s is a slightly exaggerated version of a city today, with people rushing around busily, and technology making every chore easier. It’s hard to imagine that they would have anything in common.

Their worlds are also opposite in that Tyris’s world is overpopulated, and many people (himself included), have been forbidden to have children, while on Marlee’s world, they are in danger of dying out due to a pollutant in the atmosphere, and couples who are unable to conceive are “encouraged” to try again with a new partner.

When Tyris crashes his spaceship on Marlee’s world, they have to work together, and pretend to live together, while they try to repair his ship and escape from the planet. But as they battle the harsh winter on the planet together, keeping their distance becomes even more challenging than the snow, the council and the risks of a real relationship…

 

Rinelle's first novel

Rinelle’s first novel

Reckless Rescue is set in the future: Do you think this is where our civilisation is heading? As a reader and writer of Sci Fi/Fantasy does the future worry you?

I did deliberately use many of the current issues in our world (overpopulation, fuel shortages etc) to base issues in Reckless Rescue off. However, I choose not to set the story in our world (Urslat and Zerris, the planets in the novel, are fantasy planets, not Earth in any way), so that I could explore these issues without implying that the events in the novels were what I thought would happen in our world.

As a reader and writer of Sci-fi Fantasy, and someone who is very interested in science and technology in general, I do see problems happening in the world. However, I also see the potential in science and humanity to rise to the challenge, and find better solutions in the future. I’m an optimist at heart, and I do feel that many of the problems we face can and will be solved, and much will be learned from doing so.

Your novel focuses heavily on the ability to have children: is this something you feel passionate about or did the theme develop with the novel?

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to have kids. In fact, I still have my primary school report card, where my “What I want to be when I grow up” is filled in with “mother”. So pregnancy and babies seem to make their way into every novel I write in one form or another!

The theme of infertility though, wasn’t one I have any personal experience with. It came up as the novel developed, and I went with it.

Did you always intend Reckless Rescue to be a series? Is that your preferred type of novel?

Initially Reckless Rescue was going to be a stand-alone novel, but as I wrote it, it began to expand into something that was just too large for one novel, so I ended up splitting it into two. It worked out well, with one novel being set on each planet. I have ideas for some follow up novels, following the story of some of the other characters in both Reckless Rescue and Reckless Rebellion, but we’ll see how they fit in with all the other stories I want to write!

You clearly love Sci Fi/ Fantasy romance: what other genres do you like to read (or write)?

I read pretty much everything romance! Fantasy is my favourite, and I’m just discovering Sci-fi. (I didn’t know sci-fi romance existed until I found I was writing it!) I like romance for its heavy focus on characters and character interaction, and the guaranteed HEA (Happy Ever After). I’m not a fan of sudden surprise horrible endings (like City of Angels, that movie will live in my mine as a trauma forever). I can handle sad endings that fit in with the story (like Love Story), but HEA’s are my favourite by far.

I haven’t read much paranormal romance, it just doesn’t appeal to me, and I’m not into suspense/thrillers at all!

You had an unusual upbringing, including living in a variety of homes (shacks and tents). How much did this influence Reckless Rescue and Marlee’s planet Zerris?

I think probably it did. I loved my childhood, and I never felt the lack of money or technology, I was too busy climbing trees and fishing in the river to notice! And I loved the freedom of not having to go to school (I had a lot of bad experiences with bullying before we started homeschooling), and to do all the things we would have missed if we hadn’t been home.

I think though, that Zerris was influenced as much by my experiences as an adult as those I had as a child. Even though I spent a few years enjoying city life, and all it has to offer, I was eventually drawn back to the country (where we live now), and to the simpler life of veggie gardens and backyard chickens. I’ve read a lot about homesteading and simple living, and many of the ideals appeal to me. However, I’m also not ready to give up my computers, internet and dishwasher!

I’m enjoying writing through the differences in the two lifestyles, and hoping I can find a balance between the two, both in my real life, and in the novels.

The Sequel

The Sequel

You’re busy writing the sequel to Reckless Rescue, Reckless Rebellion. I can’t wait! How much of the story for book two did you know when writing the first one? Has it been difficult, knowing the first novel is already published?

I had about 70% of Reckless Rebellion written when I published Reckless Rescue. Initially I had planned for them to be one novel, but I had to split them due to length, and I think they do work better as two separate stories. I didn’t have a complete ending though (I write sequentially), so trying to find an ending that works without changing anything that was written in the first book has it’s challenging methods.

If I was the patient type, I would have loved to have both books written and edited before publishing, but I’m just not. I’m more the ‘get out there and do it, and make it work later’ type!

Finally, you recently took part in the A to Z blogging challenge. Did you feel it was a worthwhile experience? Did it teach you anything about yourself as a writer?

The A to Z Blogging Challenge has been really great for me. I’ve struggled on and off with keeping up with my blog, even though I love to write it. With so many other things going on in my life, blogging tended to take a back seat, and there were many weeks when my blog didn’t get updated at all! The challenge helped me see that a lot of my problems with blogging were in planning, so I’m working on having a monthly blogging schedule (complete with what posts I’ll be writing on each day) worked out in advance. So far it’s working.

However, writing has suffered a little as a result. With a schedule for blogging, it tends to seem more urgent (have to have this post out by Wednesday…) than writing, so I tend to blog first, write second, and this often leads to me not getting to writing! That’s not a good thing, and I’m working on finding more of a balance between the two.

Links:

Webpage: http://rinellegrey.com – here you’ll find my blog with info about self publishing and writing, and my books.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BLY2VB0 – with links to buy my books if you’re interested

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950185.Rinelle_Grey

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RinelleGrey

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/rinellegreyauthor