C.D. Cain


C.D. Cain

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Even though we live on opposite sides of the world, C.D. and I have become good mates over this past year. It is with great delight that, apart from sharing friendship, we also find ourselves debuting as authors in the same year –  C.D. with “When it Raynes” (Bedazzled Ink) and myself with “Twice Lucky” (Bold Strokes Books).

C.D. has very kindly offered herself up to the 10-to-1 gauntlet to give us a sneak peek into herself as an author, an individual, her writing style and her recently released debut work.

C.D.’s voice is unique. She eloquently paints the South, with all of its stunning complexities, drama and humour, into the tale that is When it Raynes. This lovely lady promises to be an author to keep an eye on, with When it Raynes being only the beginning of what promises to be an exciting literary ride with her book series Chambers of the Heart. I for one can’t wait to see how this series will grow and blossom.

Ten-to-one with C.D.Cain

1. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty and why? 

At an early age, I was fascinated with science. I fell in love with medicine when I was quite young. As a child I thought I was destined to become a doctor but then life happened. I was an only child until shortly before I graduated with my BS. At that point, I wasn’t ready to move away from my family; so I prolonged school. A few years before I turned thirty, my medical bug started to itch again. That was when I discovered Physician Assistant School. Through it all, I had this lingering desire of always wanting to write. I wanted to put words to the worlds I had created in my imagination. Last year I got serious about this and wrote my first manuscript.

2. I love the sound of your debut novel ‘When it Raynes’. Tell us a bit about it and what’s in store for the two main characters?

“When it Raynes” is the title of my first book as well as the name of its main protagonist, Rayne Storm. It is an oddly different book when you think of the “two main characters”. I didn’t realize when I first started writing that I was creating more than two main characters. Of course there is Rayne, who is the main protagonist. The book is her journey of discovering life. Alongside her is her maternal grandmother, Memaw, who sees Rayne for who she is and well…who she doesn’t yet know she is. Sam is the woman who will start to make Rayne begin to realize the side she had kept hidden from everyone including herself. The main character that slipped up on me is the Louisiana bayou. Writing the story, I realized I had given such life to the setting of the story that it was essentially another main character all together.As for what is in store for them…I guess I should answer by saying “life”. Wow, what power there is in this small four letter word. But it’s true, isn’t it? Life does get in the way sometimes. It gets in the way of our wants, our dreams, our desires. It becomes our reality far too often. My characters are much like real women I have met in my life. They are strong and overcome some hard realities of life—much like my readers have. I suppose my biggest wish is for a reader to connect with my character’s experience. I want them to be proud of the characters and in the process perhaps relive a bit of pride they had in their own lives. We also read for an escape into a different world so of course I wanted to add a good bit of laughter and love as well. When it Raynes

3. What’s the best piece of advice you were offered when you first started out writing?

The best piece of advice I got was to join the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS). I know that may sound like an odd answer but it is the truth. People had told me about Internet sites, blogs and books on creative writing topics but until I discovered the GCLS I was pretty lost. I was lucky enough to get into the Writing Academy. This has been a great program. The program has taken me from introductory grammar to genre directed lectures. Just last week we were taught by Georgia Beers. As you can tell, I’m really excited about this program. I plan on shadowing next year’s lectures if they will let me! I encourage any new writer to look into it. I’ll also be happy to answer any questions I can if they want to contact me.

 4. The ultimate party personality test – when it comes to toilet paper, are you a folder or a scruncher?

I have seriously been deprived in my partying because I have never been asked this before. Ha! Well now, let’s see…I’m neither. I’m a wrapper—unroll the paper by wrapping it around your hand. Now, which are you?

 5. What do those closest to you think about your writing?

I would say most of them are excited. However my partner has been the best. For Christmas this year, she made me an office in the spare bedroom and lets me sneak off in there to do some writing every now and then. My mother was probably the most embarrassing. She did a beta read for me and text me one night around eleven o’clock. Take it from me, you don’t really want to be awakened at that time of night to your mother texting, “Whoa! I even got a little heated up in the bathroom scene.” I didn’t go back to sleep for hours!

 6. ‘When it Raynes’, is the first book in the series, and I understand that the second book is underway. Can you share some more details on this next adventure?

When it RaynesNow that one is a tough. How to answer without giving any spoilers? When we leave Rayne in ‘When it Raynes’, she has found herself at a crossroads after a tragedy strikes back home. With her foundation shaken, she has had to look inward for the answers of where her life is to lead her. ‘It Pours’ picks up there. In life (oops, there I go again), we are all faced at some point with decisions which seem not to have a winning answer. It is how you deal with the answer you have chosen that truly shapes your future. The second book carries her beyond her choices and the consequences which follow.

7. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Dang girl you ask some good questions! I was a bit of a tormented soul at eighteen. You know the age of trying to figure out all of the feelings your body was trying to tell you. At eighteen, I honestly didn’t think I would ever find happiness or a person to share my life. I was so afraid of the sacrifices I would have to make in order to live my life as a lesbian. I was afraid I would lose my family, never have a family of my own…all of those things. Of course there are still struggles of acceptance all around me. Yet here I am living as an out lesbian in a small community that for the most part accepts me for who I am. I share my life with my partner of twenty-two years and our four year old son. And I am about to have my first book released—happiness is all around me.

 8. Tell us a little bit about your writing style – what sort of stories do you write and why?

Thus far my writing style has been general fiction/romance. The ‘Chambers of the Heart’ series takes place in South Louisiana so I add a hint of Louisiana culture both in the scene descriptions and characters. I enjoy writing romance because it is my favorite genre to read. I can get lost for days in a book with a really good love story. For my next project, I am planning a doozy of a combination—historical fiction, paranormal and romance. Wish me luck!

 9. Which gay/lesbian writer inspired you the most? Do you have a favourite author(s)?

As for inspiration, I would have to say it was Ann McMan. She wrote the first lesbian fiction book I read, ‘Jericho’. I was literally blown away by her characters. The main characters were so real and I connected with them so strongly that I honestly could picture walking into them at the grocery store. I wanted to create characters like that! An exciting turn of events is being paired with Ann for a reading at GCLS. Can I ask for luck wishes again? I wouldn’t say I have a favorite author really. I read many different authors and enjoy each of them for the unique talent they have. I don’t think I could narrow it down to a few much less one.

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 10. With the New Year still fresh from the oven, what are three things you’d like to do or experience in 2015?

First, is the GCLS conference in New Orleans this year. I am so looking forward to July. This will be my first ever literary conference and a fantastic avenue to launch ‘When it Raynes’. I’m excited to meet authors/friends face to face as well as attend some awesome sessions. I am assigned to two panels, a reading and will be a presenter for one of the Goldie awards A dream come true!

Secondly, I would like to finish up the writing of the remainder of my series.

Lastly, I hope this may be the year I can get married. Most recent to this interview the SCOTUS decision was announced. My hope now is that Georgia will not find a way to prevent our marriage before we get to the alter. Gotta’ make an honest woman of my partner one day!

 

Want to know more or catch up with what C.D.’s up to? Then be sure and catch up with C.D. using her contact details below:

Twitter: @cdcain1019

Facebook: C.d. Cain

Goodreads: Cdcain

Email: cdcain1019@yahoo.com

Webpage:

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Franci McMahon

 

Franci McMahon

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When Franci and I first bumped into each other, we quickly became email pals, discovering in the process that we had a few things in common – a love of the land, fishing, animals and a liking for a good wee dram of Scottish whisky, and in doing so Christened ourselves SMS’s, otherwise known as Single Malt Sisters. Although Franci is a new author to Bold Strokes Books, she is no stranger to writing, with works such as “Staying the Distance” appearing on the Lambda Book Report’s best seller list.  It is with great delight that we both find ourselves having our books released in the same month, me as a debuting author with “Twice Lucky” and Franci waving the experienced author flag with “Night Mare.”

Franci has very bravely offered herself up to run the 10-to-1 gauntlet, offering us a sneak peek into herself as an author, an individual, her writing style and her upcoming release.

Ten-to-one with Franci McMahon

1. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty and why?

My first memory of imagining a life of my own was saying to my Mother that I wanted to go west where people rode horses wherever they went and I could live in a log cabin. She said, rather disdainfully, “We live as far west as you can go.” This was true being in Portland Oregon. The next memory is of wanting to be a Canadian Mounted Police(sic.) man. Another insurmountable hurdle. This one, instead of a time issue was of not being born a man. Then women came into my life and I didn’t care a bit what my career turned out to be, after all it was just a job. The next monumental moment question of ‘thirty’ was actually later than this. I discovered that I could create an alternative world for myself, where I could be a Mountie, live in the real west and gallantly court women.

2. I love the sound of your latest release ‘Night Mare’. Tell us a bit about it and what’s in store for the two main characters?

“Night Mare” hatched out of a fascination with the disappearance of the Brach candy heiress. While the story is not her story many of the true elements of her experience are in Night Mare.  There is a dark underbelly of the Horse Show world. The Sandman really exists who would put your horse to sleep for Olympic level riders who wanted the insurance payoff to buy a better horse. The novel is through the eyes of one woman who is caught up with a bunch of stolen horses heading for new identities. Miles comes into her life, the real cowgirl McCoy.

Night Mare

3. What’s the best piece of advice you were offered when you first started out writing?

As long as you find it entertaining, others may too. If you become bored, you’ll call it writer’s block.

4. The ultimate party personality test – when it comes to toilet paper, are you a folder or a scruncher?

I began as a scruncher but have morphed into a folder.

5. You divide your time between Montana and Tucson, Arizona – two very different landscapes and environments. What is it that appeals to you about these two places?

I swear every lesbian north of the freeze line has retired to Tucson. So, lots of bright, interesting women of a certain age, and I can swim outside all winter. The landscape is very similar to Montana, just no trees, all the plants are sharp, the landscape looks naked and there is no water. I think the lucky ones know where their heart lives, for me it is Montana.

6. As we eagerly await ‘Night Mare’, I understand that a sequel is underway. Can you share  some more details on this next adventure?

A “White Horse in Winter,” blends in to a snowy landscape. The phenomenon of the homophobic lesbian has not gone away, the queer who thinks she is invisible in the straight world if she wears enough jewellery and makeup. Georgia isn’t dressing playfully; this is serious camouflage. When a working student dies in Georgia’s high-class barn the questions come in a stampede. Jane defends her summer camp friend out of guilt, but Miles isn’t fooled by the woman who is desperate to pass. White horse

 7. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Men are the enemy.

8. Tell us a little bit about your writing style – what sort of stories do you write and why?

First and at the foremost I want a story about us. There are plenty of good books, great books, entertaining books to read about heterosexuals. I can translate from the straight books (and I must say it rarely goes the other way). But the only books about lesbians are the ones we write ourselves.  Because I like a good story with something happening to believable characters as well as the characters driving that action this is what I write. And the horses. They aren’t just window dressing. A woman on the back of a horse has leveled the playing field, in sport as well as war. The crucial factor becomes her relationship with the horse, and we all know that this bond starts at birth with girls and whether or not she actually ever sits astride, the horse carries her spirit.

  9. Which gay/lesbian writer inspired you the most? Do you have a favourite author(s)?

There are, so fortunately, many fine lesbian writers out there, but I have to say Marguerite Henry who wrote my favorite childhood books inspired me the most.

10. If you could have a super power, what would it be and how would you use it?

The super power I would wish for is to never be shy or awkward again, to know the right thing to say, be cool and sophisticated. I would love to stand in front of a beautiful woman who is flirting with me and not be reduced to a wordless, grinning rube. So, I’d rather be suave than fly. But then maybe it is like soaring.

Want to know more or catch up with what Franci’s up to? Then be sure and catch up with Franci via : email, web or Facebook

Franci's writing space

Franci’s awesome cabin writing space

 

 

Michelle Grubb-Moore

Michelle Grubb-Moore

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When I first heard that my debut book ‘Twice Lucky’ was to be released in March 2015, I will admit to feeling a tad giddy with excitement, albeit carried in a bucket of nervousness as a new chapter of adventure opened up.

Then to much delight, I found out that another Aussie author, Michelle Grubb-Moore, is also making her debut in March for the same publishing house, Bold Strokes Books. So proudly flying the Aussie flag in the BSB house, we have decided to unofficially declare March 2015 as ‘Aussie Author Month’.

Two Aussie authors, two debut novels, two cracking yarns – here’s a sneak preview into Michelle’s world and her penned alternative universes.

Getting Lost’ is Michelle’s debut novel.

Go on, seize the opportunity and get lost! You never know what you might find.

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 “28 days, 13 European countries…go on, get lost.”

Ten-to-one with Michelle Grubb-Moore

 1. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty and why?

 Here’s where I warn you that I might use creative licence on some of these questions.
When I was twelve I wanted to be a professional hockey player (on grass, not ice. I can’t ice skate). My ambition was fraught with many flaws, the most obvious being that back then there were no professional hockey players. Plus, it turns out I wasn’t really good enough.
When I was eighteen I was supposed to go to university to study commerce and law. Instead I went to work in a bank. I’m neither a lawyer nor an accountant. Are you noticing a trend here?
At thirty, I began to wheedle my way into work injury management and safety. I studied and became a qualified safety advisor. Less TV and more study showed me what can be achieved when you put your mind to it, so I put my mind to writing after the study was over.
Writing is the first hobby I’ve had that’s lasted longer than five minutes. I have to admit, it’s a little more than a hobby now!

2. Looking at your initials – MGM – a cheeky part of me wants to call you “Hollywood”. Did you have any nicknames as a kid? What were they and how did you get them?

 The last ‘M’ is a recent addition, and I’ve been called worse, so Hollywood’s okay. When your last name is Grubb, people tend not to think too hard about what to call you, so for the majority of my adult life, I’ve simply been Grubb to most people.

3. I love the sound of your debut novel ‘Getting Lost’. Tell us a bit about it and what’s in store for the two main characters?

 Like many Australians, I travelled around Europe on a bus tour. I saw all the sights and had the time of my life. My experience was life changing and in many ways, led me on the path I’m on today.
Getting Lost is about tour manager, Stella. She’s sassy, smart and capable, but like everyone, far from perfect. Stella leads tours for a month at a time, so you can imagine it can get rather lonely, but pushing thirty, she’s ready to pull up stumps (sorry, couldn’t resist an Aussie saying. For those of you who don’t know about cricket, pulling up stumps means to stop).
Of course things rarely run to plan and Phoebe Lancaster isn’t in Stella’s plan. Phoebe was accused of the murder of her socialite girlfriend in Australia. She’s witty, intelligent and intriguing.
And because I wrote the book, I know how it ends! But needless to say, there’s some cheeky dialogue, some tender moments and of course a little steamy romance.

4. With your first book about to hit shelves any day now and another one contracted, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I dread being asked this question because I imagine my editor rolling her eyes thinking you should have asked someone who actually knows about being an author!
But on the off chance this helps someone else put pen to paper, here goes: Firstly, you probably have too many words. I did and often you don’t need them. Secondly, read and study books that are well written and that you enjoy. Take a close look at how sentences are structured and compare them to yours. Lastly, don’t complicate your plot to begin with. You can tie yourself up in all sorts of knots. Oh, and one more thing, get a white board. They’re handy and just dead cool.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you were offered when you first started out writing?

 Besides the advice I’ve provided, I think encouragement was the key in the beginning. My friends were fabulous at reading my books and offering encouragement.

6. Okay, the ultimate party personality test question, toilet paper – Are you a folder or a scruncher?

 Tricky question. Folder mostly, but a scruncher when the paper is really poor quality and you need loads of it (too much information. Sorry. You asked).

7. You’ve recently moved to a new country, the UK, and sound to be having a dreadful time, getting married, travelling, traipsing about the country side, posting big smilie photo’s of the two of you having a lovely time, is the plan to stay abroad, write your way around the world, or spend some time back in Oz?

 Firstly, I think I need a selfie stick so the smiley photos can take on a little more variety.
We will eventually be back on Oz and although temperatures in the minuses are a wonderful treat when you’re heading to work in the dark at eight in the morning, I’m missing the Australian summer. Having said that, Tassie seems to be lacking in summer this year.
I loath to say something so corny, but home is wherever my lovely wife is, so in reality, we could end up anywhere (I’m drawing the line at anything in the artic circle, even I have my limitations).
My next novel, Keep Hold, is set in Melbourne one hot summer. My third novel The Fifth Gospel is back in Europe and the UK. Maybe one day I’ll write something set in Tasmania.

8. Moving to a new country, what’s one of the surprising things that you have encountered?

I won’t say the cold, because I lived in Ireland for a couple of years and that was fairly cold.
I’m a little surprised that the garages over here don’t actually fit most cars inside them. I’m also surprised that only a few people have a hills hoist (clothes line). I’m also in shock that pizzas are so expensive but what I love most is that London is only twenty minutes away. Now that’s cool.

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9. As we eagerly await ‘Getting Lost’, I understand that your second book ‘Keep Hold’ is underway. Can you share some more details on this next adventure?

 Keep Hold is a character driven romance set in Melbourne. Getting Lost has some action and adventure aspects intertwined with romance whereas Keep Hold is a snapshot of one summer in Melbourne when Claire and Kathryn find themselves and each other. Of course, there’s a few twists and turns thrown in to spice things up (like the fact that Kathryn is the older sister of one of Claire’s great loves).
I wrote Keep Hold as a pure romance story just to see if I could. It’s a bit steamy in places but my Mum wrote those scenes, so they’re staying. I’m kidding. Or am I?

10. With the New Year still fresh and hot out of the oven, what are three things you’d like to do or experience in 2015?

 I’m going home for my fortieth birthday in July, so that’s exciting.
I’d like to meet my writing deadlines!
I’m looking forward to experiencing a debut novel actually. You only get that chance once.

Laurie Salzler

 

 

Laurie Salzler

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I first came across Laurie Salzler when I saw one of her magnificent photo’s posted online. Via the lens, Laurie’s understanding, respect and reverence for nature and animals is evident from the outset, and I remember thinking to myself, this is one cool lady, never once thinking that she would grace our wonderful shores and come to live in Australia, or that I would be honoured enough to call her ‘mate’.

Since coming here, Laurie has been an amazing ambassador for Australia and it’s wildlife, spreading her love and new found knowledge of Australia with the world through her photographs and anecdotal descriptions. For those of us who have grown up Down Under, Laurie has refreshed and reminded us to look again at our wonderful landscape and its unique flora and  fauna. Through Laurie’s pictures, I find myself appreciating and falling in love all over again with my country.

Laurie has recently transferred to a new publishing house and is celebrating the re-release of her first three books: A Kiss Before Dawn, Right Out of Nowhere and , Positive Lightning and is warming up for the release of her new book in 2015 In the Stillness of Dawn.

 

Ten-to-one with Laurie Salzler

What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty and why?

My love of the outdoors and wildlife inspired my desire to be a conservation officer. Unfortunately despite me scoring second highest on the exam, at the time jobs in that field were very limited. So by thirty, I had to reassess. I started training dogs on the side as well as raising puppies for the blind. In between I also took part in another long time love, working with horses. I bred and showed Paint horses for several years until I had another reality check. There was no money in small-scale breeding. I boarded horses for a while and it was during that time I fulfilled a promise I’d made to a college professor…to write a book.

Okay, I need to put up my hand at this point because I am not au fait with horse’s – what is a ‘Paint’ horse?

It’s a breed of horse, which has to be either Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred.

Your love of nature and animals plays a big part in your life, your photography, your studies and your stories. Where did this love come from?

My childhood wasn’t exactly the best. My father couldn’t hold a job because of a medical condition. The woman who gave birth to me, my poor father’s wife, was not a nice person at all. But, because she liked animals, we always had many of them…and they were my life saviours. I spent a lot of time avoiding my family and hiding in the woods with my horse and/or dogs. During that time, I watched, listened, learned and became increasingly curious about everything non-human. I was a hermit in my own mind.

Sounds to me like you were a bit of a diamond, forming from a combination of deep challenging compressed forces over time, to come out like a precious gem, with your love and understanding of animals, nature and life.

No, not a gem… an introvert, definitely.

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In the Stillness of Dawn, is a sequel to A Kiss Before Dawn. What’s in store for the two main characters?

Chris and Mary Jo both experience reality checks, personally and professionally. In the sequel we learn how they deal with them. Oh, and Sky gets released from prison.

Damn, you let that bird get out? That’s a big dramatic tease you just threw in there.

One of my beta readers said she just about had a heart attack while reading it. (:-))

How do you go about constructing your stories? Are you a plotter, or a fly-by-the-seat of your (characters) pants writer?

My stories take on a life of their own when I’m writing. It’s like my characters dictate what they want to happen next, which makes me a panster. I can’t foresee creating an outline for a story because I’d just have to fill in blanks and figure out the ending…and I think that process would bore me to tears and then nothing would get written.

With several books published and working for different publishing companies, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

When I first started to write, I did it because I had a story to tell. Not to anyone specific. It was just one that needed to be penned. When I finished, it was then that I considered having it published. To answer your question, my best advice is to find a mentor; someone who is willing to help you through the process, and who is honest enough to tell you whether or not you need to go back to the drawing board.

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What’s the best piece of advice you were offered when you first started out writing?

Don’t make publishing your first goal. Write what’s in your heart and learn the craft from there.

Ahhh, simple, powerful words. I love it.

You have recently moved to a new country, Australia, and have a growing photographic portfolio of magnificent Aussie flora and fauna building. Do you think you might set a future story in Australia?

Definitely! I’ve already a couple stories brewing.

Brilliant! Bring on the Aussie flavour. One of the things for me, reading your previous books, has been your detailed descriptions of the landscape and animals all around you. I can’t wait to hear your descriptions and take on the Australian countryside.

I’m looking forwad to penning it. As you can imagine there’ll be some humor in it… there’s bound to be between a Yank and an Aussie.

Moving to a new country, what’s one of the surprising things that you have encountered?

I’m limited to only one? 🙂 I guess the culture here is such that I feel it really easy to fit in. Aside from my “supposed” accent :-), people have embraced me as one of their own. I feel less like a foreigner every day. The other thing that has surprised me is the diversity of the land. I’ve never been in an area where the landscape changes from river, to cane, to pasture, to rainforest, to bush, to homesteads, to ocean fronts, all within a ten mile area. It’s an amazingly beautiful country.

And big! People assume, because Australia is so small on a map, that it is tiny, but I know that as long as I live, I will never get to see all of it. It’s humungous. And the variety is gob stopping for sure.

Rumour has it a coffee table book containing some of your favourite photographs is also in the pipeline for 2015. Can you share some more details on this next adventure?

It’s not a rumour. I’ve had so many people request a book of my photos that I finally decided to do something about it. My friend Sheila Pearsons and I are compiling one that will showcase photos, which are accompanied by some of her amazing writing.

Do you have a time slated for when it will be out.

Not yet. We’re still deciding on photos and prose.

A new year has dawned, a new country to continue to explore, what are three things you’d like to do or experience in 2015?

I definitely want to spend time traveling Australia. I want to experience more of the wildlife, diverse country and learn more about the people who inhabit this wonderful continent. A trip to New Zealand is also in the cards. I have so many so many things to see, photos to take and stories to write!

Sounds to me like you are going to be super busy.

Thanks heaps Laurie for sharing a little bit about yourself, your year ahead and your works-in-progress. 2015 promises to be a year full of excitement for you. Just be sure and save me a day sometime, for when I drive down the hill and kidnap you for a quiet afternoons fishing and maybe a cold beer or two at a local somewhere.

Bloody hell, are we done already? 🙂 You pick a day and I’ll shout you the first beer. Thanks for having me, Mardi. It’s been a lot of fun.

Do yourself a favour folks and be sure to drop by Laurie’s web site and check out her books, her blog and all the heaps of interesting things that Laurie gets up to. https://lauriesalzler1.wordpress.com/

 

 

The Boss in Oz

On the 3rd of January a group of approximately forty or so Aussies gathered on  a warm summer’s afternoon to crash Sandy’s parent’s house in Berkley Vale, NSW, to meet Radclyffe, her lovely wife Lee, and Sandy Lowe from Bold Strokes Books. Meeting The Boss and Sandy in person was something I never thought I would get to do  (with them living several thousand miles and a few decent stretches of water away in Bold Strokes HQ in the US, and me on the bottom side of the globe) so I will admit to feeling a tad excited and nervous, okay very nervous…incontinent sized nervous.

It was hot – sticky, humid, drip-off-your-nose kind of hot, but such was the quality of the afternoon that it became inconsequential, although a few of us early in the piece did draw straws to see who would go to the bathroom first just to lay down on the cool tile surface.

People came from far and wide to bask in the Boss’ shadow on this, her first visit Down Under, with the audience ranging from about 18 to 70, some having driven  ‘just around the corner’, to a young couple who had driven over 12 hours to be there for the afternoon. Rad was such a trooper – as well as coping with the heat, she was also doing battle with a head cold, which was a rather miserable gift for Australia to bestow upon her for her first visit.

During the afternoon, Sandy very generously offered up her Bold Strokes Books collection to all participants, much to her father’s delight, giving him some much needed storage space back.  Lee, Rad and Sandy shared some of their Aussie tourist adventures and impressions of their holiday, while Sandy’s Mum and Dad cooked up an Aussie feast  – a traditional Aussie BBQ, threw in some taste test dishes of grilled kangaroo, crocodile and emu, and delightful Aussie deserts including fresh fruit, pavlova, and lamingtons. The crowd was truly spoilt.

Rad entertained the gathered crowd, candidly sharing how she writes, industry insights, and put the icing on the cake with several readings, including two from her latest books. The interaction between the gathered crowd and Rad flowed easily from the outset as Rad set about getting to know her international audiences reading style, preferences and impressions on the industry, while the audience lapped up Rad’s stories and how she constructs them.

In between Rad’s conversations, it was fabulous getting to know the wonderful ladies who gathered for the event, all of us sharing a common interest in the passion and keen interest of lesbian romance. As a new author, to be welcomed and supported by both of these factions, the publisher and the readers, was a gift indeed that will stay with me for a long time to come.

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With much encouragement from Sandy (and maybe a poke in the ribs) I got up and gave my first reading from my upcoming debut book ‘Twice Lucky’. To my delight, no one fell asleep (or if they did they were too polite to snore), the earth didn’t stop revolving and I think even the neighbour from over the back stopped his lawn mower for a few brief minutes. My knickers stayed dry, but sweat did drip off my chin at one stage, hit the paper and blurred some of the lines on the last paragraph of my print-out; It occurred to me, as I watched the droplet turn into a dark inky rivulet to run onto my jeans, that Rad’s idea of using an iPad was probably pretty darn clever, but then I wondered were they waterproof?

Rad did duck inside briefly, (to which I figured she was probably taking her turn lying on the tile floor in the bathroom) as she took a much needed break. Did I mention it was hot already? One good thing about the heat though, it helped to disguise middle aged ‘power surges’  as everyone was treated to a steam bake, until a beautiful afternoon breeze snuck up  late in the piece, which carried us through another reading and shared snippets of Rad’s writing career.

There were so many memorable moments to come out of a handful of hours, ranging from Rad asking me about how I go about constructing my stories, (to which I eloquently replied with a shrug, “I just make shit up”), to listening to the excitement in people’s voices as they heard about two homegrown Aussie BSB authors debuting in March, and getting to know an extraordinary bunch of lovely ladies.20150104_124305

The following day, as I pointed my car away from the coast, to head inland, back up into the mountains, I took the time to stop off and cool my feet in a lovely mountain stream – it occurred to me how valuable those few hours were. As a new writer,  I now had a lot to think about, a lot to ponder and I look forward to the challenges that lay ahead with  renewed energy and a sense of excitement.

20150104_124433Meeting Rad, Lee and Sandy was quite simply ‘the ducks guts’. The moment when Rad came up, looked me in the eye and shook my hand, I think the room stood still for just a nano second as Rad said “Welcome aboard.” For that small isolated slice in time I felt blessed with the warmth that becoming a new member of the BSB family brings, and I’m not sure, but I think I may have grown just a little bit taller in that one small moment. 🙂

 

 

Reality bites!

After what has seemed like an eternal wait, it has been announced that the release of my debut book “Twice Lucky” has been pencilled in for March the 1st, 2015. I say ‘eternal,’ but that description comes from an over excited newbie author, who is nervously hopping up and down on the inside, wondering what happens next and when do I start the nitty-gritty chewy efforts of editing, in preparation for proofing and the final, big print.

Of course, while I am hopping about, wondering what is going on, the reality of it all is that it is in the queue of a wonderful publishing house’s production team who, no doubt, are working away like factory navvies. In my mind, I sort of picture them as having job descriptions a lot like Santa’s elves – long lists of things to do, in incredibly tight time frames, servicing many, with limited hours in every day, driven by a love for the job, the profession and wonderful leadership and vision.

So having danced about in anticipation and excitement mentally for months, after having been initially picked up by Bold Strokes Books, the announcement of the release date of March the first was… lovely.

I say ‘lovely’ and not ‘wonderful’, or ‘delirious’, for good reason. Am I excited? Oh, most certainly I am, but within the same week, I saw another, earthier piece of news given to me. The eldest of our two dogs, Ripley, was diagnosed with bone cancer. To add salt and lemon juice to this enormous open wound, we were told we have, perhaps, two months with which to love her and care for her.

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So I write this now, while she is still very present and very here with us, as a celebration. It honours, in part, how wonderful she is, and how rich she makes everyday she is with us feel.

Our darling Ripley came to us unexpectedly when we were still recovering from losing another wonderful, wise soul. She taught us that, through the tears, and through the greatest of hurts, it is possible for another door of love to be opened, to grow and develop with the smallest, youngest of  souls.

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A shade over ten years ago, we originally went to town, with the intent of pricing a new television, to replace our near thirty years old antique electrical monster. A puppy was the last thing on our mind.

A twist of fate and a turn down a country dirt lane was all it took. She was the last of a litter of ten. No one wanted her. Yes, she was beautiful (what puppy isn’t?) and we thanked the owners for letting us see her and cuddle her, and we hopped back into the ute and drove away, the silence echoing off the truck walls in deafening waves as we were each deeply lost in thought. We debated long and hard, driving around for a very long time …’Puppy or a telly; Puppy or a telly…” was our mantra as we wove round and round the country lanes, a pair of soft brown eyes haunting us with every turn of the car wheel.

We went to a supermarket to pick up some groceries, still debating. The cashier asked us what we were gabbling on about, so we told her. She looked at us, offering the simplest words of wisdom. “You can’t cuddle a telly.” And on the power of those words alone, we looked at each other, and knew no truer words had been spoken. We hopped straight back into the car and headed back down that dusty dirt road.

[Needless to say, it would be another several years before we bought a new sqwark box].

So the momentous news concerning my debut book release date is most wonderful, it truly is. It is a dream come true, and I am very, very excited, but it is tempered with a bite of reality.

None of us, two legs or four, are here for ever. No matter whether our time is long, or short, each of our foot prints leaves an indelible mark on the lives around us.

And so my greatest gift and lesson perhaps in all of this, is that no matter the wonderfulness of even the most anticipated, exciting moments in your life, nothing… nothing, can eclipse the unconditional love that exists here and now, the kind that is given freely and generously.

Reality has both blessed and bitten me, and in doing so, she has shown me that it is important to love every moment, the good and the bad, but more importantly, it has reminded me to cherish the here and the now.

And so with great anticipation, I look forward to not only the process of being a part of presenting a book to the world, but in equal parts, I am going to relish the immediate weekend ahead, full of cuddles, dog hair and sunshine filled shared walks in the paddocks surrounding the house with the gentlest of souls by my side.

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St Florian’s Day

It’s been a while since I added anything to the page, so today, the fourth of May, being St Florian’s Day, seemed an appropriate day to get my hand in with some blog practice. Not personally being of a religious bent, St Florian still holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons, but primarily because he is the patron saint of fire fighters. As a fire fighter, I think it’s kind of chuffy to have your own personal saint looking over you. Training, teamwork and sometimes luck, all help to keep us safe when we are on the job, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to have your own personal patron saint in your corner either.

Where I come from, St Florian’s Day  is marked by the Fire Service with the presentation of Bravery and Internal Service Awards to members on the feast day of St Florian. As an honoured recipient of one such award, the fourth of May holds a special place in my heart, reminding me of both the fragility and the beauty that comes with the gift of living and being priviledged to do what I do.

So who is St Florian? He is most well-known as the patron saint of fire fighters, fire, and chimney sweeps. His association with fire comes from his life as a Roman army commander, when one of his collateral duties was organizing the fire fighting brigades.

His death came at the hands of his own Roman army, due to his faith, dying after being thrown into the river Enns (Austria) with a millstone tied around his neck.  He was retrieved from the river by a faithful woman of the town and buried nearby, with his body later exhumed to be placed in the Augustinian abbey, St. Florian (Sankt Florian), near the current-day town of Linz, Austria.

In addition he is also invoked as the patron saint of soap-boilers, who seek protection from him against floods and to avoid becoming a drowning victim, presumably because of the way he died. But that’s not all, coopers and brewers consider him their patron saint too. A large fire in the 8th century, in the town of Nurnberg, Germany, was reportedly put out by St. Florian, though whether it was beer or water that used to douse the flames is not clear. But since that time, people who make and store beer have considered him their patron saint as well.

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Personally, I’d like to think he put the fire out with water and that he got to enjoy the beer at the end of a hard days work. To me, St. Florian sounded like a pretty admirable person, one to which I take my hat off and salute, as I feel we have a few things in common. Obviously there’s the fire element, and sometimes floods. The soap-boilers part was a surprise bonus, because fire fighting is a stinky, dirty job, with soap and a hot shower being your best friend at the end of the day. Throw in that good old Saint Flo’ is also a patron saint of barrel-makers and brewers, in my mind, makes this one heck of a good guy to have on your team. So it seemed only fitting that I pay homage and offer St. Florian an honourable mention in my debut novel Twice Lucky being released by Bold Strokes Books in early 2015.

So tonight, I shall raise a glass of brewed beverage, (having been careful not to have drowned in a hot bath earlier), and toast “Cheers!” to my fire fighting brother. Happy St. Florian’s Day.