Friday, August 2, 2013

How do you Read?

Reading and eating are two of my favourite things - why not do them together!

I know lots of people like to read in bed. As a rule I'm not one of them. My shoulder gets cold, my arm gets stiff, my fingers get sore, the pillows slip, the book's too big, the sheets get wrinkled, the light's not good enough. Mostly when I finally get to bed I just want to go to sleep!

As a digitally published author, you'd think I'd use my Kindle all the time. I don't. It's usually buried at the bottom of my handbag under countless other things I rarely use and never quite manage to unearth. Shame on me.

I'm ashamed to tell you what else I found at the bottom of my handbag.
I prefer to read curled up in a chair, or on the couch with my feet on the coffee table or in a sunny spot in winter, sometimes outside in summer. Or you might find me with my nose buried in a book at the breakfast or dinner table. I know, it's terribly unmannerly but reading and eating are two of my favourite things - why not save time and do them both together? (In case you're wondering, did I use the excuse of a photo shoot to cook myself a yummy breakfast? Absolutely!).

 How do you like to read?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Long-lived, Happy and Glorious"

My favourite Twitter quote today following the birth of the new prince: " 'May he be long-lived, happy and glorious.' That should be said at the birth of every baby. It's a good hope." came from Sarah MacLean

If only all babies could be loved, treasured, cherished, protected and paraded with pride as the little prince was today, not only by his clearly proud parents but by millions of well-wishers across the globe. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we adored each and every baby born to each and every mother and showered them with the goodwill that bathed this little boy today?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Regency Reigns

When I began writing romance, and even though I'd read Regency romances extensively, the Regency period wasn't something I thought I'd enjoy writing about. I reckoned contemporary was more my style. However I've loved immersing myself in that period between February 1811 and January 1820 when George, Prince of Wales reigned as Regent. The times were not so unlike those we experience today: years of change, unrest, tremendous advances and achievements in technology, art and literature - an intriguing and dramatic period to be learning and writing about.
Today my favourite Regency word is 'Tippet' - a scarf, often of fur, thrown about the shoulders. A much more delicious word than 'wrap' don't you think?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Five Heart Review from Two Lips Reviews

My day got off to a wonderful start when I read this fantastic review from Mac at TwoLipsReviews. What writer could ask for better? Thank you so much, Mac. You brought tears to my eyes.

"The Duke's Blackmailed Bride swept me up from the first page"
"The Duke’s Blackmailed Bride swept me up from the first page and never failed to deliver intoxicating intrigue on every perfect page. Ms. Leigh D’Ansey shows her mastery of writing by creating characters the reader can root for and describing details that breathe life into every scene."

"The Duke's Blackmailed Bride is a story that, once read, begs to be read again"
"Vanessa uses logic and strategy to keep her home. She has a backbone of pure steel and no one, except the reader, would ever guess her secret dreams of true love. The reader cannot help but become caught up in this story and root for Vanessa to keep her home and melt the heart of her Duke. Ms. D’Ansey has created an extraordinary story. The Duke’s Blackmailed Bride is a story that, once read, begs to be read again."

Purchase "The Duke's Blackmailed Bride" on Kindle.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Introducing Shirley Wine, Romance Author

Shirley Wine is a born-and-bred New Zealander.

Shirley Wine's novels reflect her rural background.
 Shirley grew up just south of Auckland, New Zealand's largest and most cosmopolitan city. After she married, Shirley moved to the Bay of Plenty, and for the last ten years has lived in the tiny township of Waihi, an historic gold-mining settlement. Shirley has just published two titles, Yesterday's Sins and Return to Totara Park on Amazon Kindle. Return to Totara Park will be offered free on Kindle 14th/15th February (EST). Don't miss the opportunity!

 Does environment influence your writing?
"Every writer is exhorted to write what they know and write what they read. I grew up on a farm, have lived and worked on farms alongside my husband. Nearly all my books have rural settings and involve rural lifestyles. The land runs alongside the blood in my veins. I have had a lot of personal tragedy in my life and this is something that always comes through in my writing."

'Yesterday's Sins' is set in Clevedon.
Are your Kindle titles set in a particular place?
"Yesterday’s Sins" is set in Clevedon. The Birches, the mansion at the centre of this story is, of course fictitious. The heroine is a land agent...something I was very successful at for a few years. The story is set in a place I know like the back of my hand."

"Return to Totara Park" is set in rural Cambridge, involves a rural dynasty, the central theme the death of a child buried at Hautapu. This book always makes me cry and sends a shiver up my spine. It was a book I first wrote many years ago and after being let down on a publishing contract, I pulled an old file out of my computers and rewrote it. Little did I realize when I first wrote it, that years later we would bury our 29 year old twin sons in that cemetery. SPOOKY."
Return to Totara Park FREE 14/15 Feb

What made you decide to publish on Kindle?
"Both of these books have been previously published, Yesterday’s Sins here in NZ as Catriona/Kate and Return to Totara Park by Trebleheart books and as such were not acceptable to other publishers. After listening to Bob Mayer talking about republishing his back list at last year’s conference I thought why not give it a go? It has been an interesting exercise and a huge learning curve."

What have you learned through this experience?
"I have learned that technology is there to be embraced, whether you’re eight or eighty. (I am a long way from eighty mind!) It’s early days yet, but hey, failure is not about trying and missing out…the real failure is not trying in the first place."

Will you publish other titles via Kindle?
"I'm seriously considering doing so. I have a computer full of books, but all of these old files need to be refreshed and in a lot of cases reworked. It’s interesting pulling these old files and looking at them with the fresh insight of years of writing experience. The core idea is great. In a lot of cases the writing not so great."

Shirley's New Year kicked off with a request from Harlequin.
"My New Year kicked off with a request for a full manuscript from Harlequin (from a query letter sent after last year’s conference) for the MS that was Highly Commended in the Clendon, the same MS I was asked to revise for The Wild Rose Press. I’d just finished the revisions when the request came, so yes, I’m still looking for a mainstream publisher."

Family matters to Shirley
Family is important to Shirley
"I write romance because I am a sucker for a happy ending and because first and last… to me Family matters. And contemporary because try as I might I cannot get into the fantasy stuff…I know there are gifted writers out there who write fantasy, vampires and shape shifters…but I personally don’t GET it. While I enjoy some historical I can’t lose myself in the fantasy…my first serious reading was Dickens and this coloured my whole reading life."

Favourite romance writers?
"Sharon Sala…two of my all-time favourite books are Chance McCall and Chase the Moon she wrote under the pseudonym Dinah McCall. I am currently reading A Field of Poppies on my Kindle. I love Debbie Macomber, Cheryl Reavis, and more recently Kristin Hannah and Emily Marsh, but my all-time favourite author is Georgette Heyer. I have everything she wrote on my bookshelf and they are very well read."

Favourite writers in other genres?
"I love Agatha Christie, Dame Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendall. I enjoy mystery and who dunnits. I also love a good Western. I adore Jean Aeul and her Earth’s Children, Diana Gabaldon not quite so much; the series has begun to drag for me. I love Grahame Greene, Winston Graham, R. E. Delderfield."

What qualities/personality traits do you think writers need?"First and foremost is self-belief. So many people fail because they don’t believe they have what it takes to succeed. On top of this trait a writer needs a hefty dose of persistence, the ability to listen and preparedness to learn the craft. But none of these can take the place of the sheer fun of creating and fleshing out the people who roam inside my head."

What are the most valuable learning experiences you’ve had as a writer?

"It's up to you to choose which path to take."
 "Writing  has literally saved my sanity. It has been cathartic to write about grief and loss and the struggle people face in overcoming adversity. My most valuable experience is summed up in this quote from 'Return to Totara Park': “Life," a gruff voice echoed, soft and persuasive, "life goes on, Winsome and drags you with it. The years will pass, whether the journey is willing or unwilling. It’s up to you to choose which path to take.”  And sometimes the choice to go on is so damned hard."

You are now retired. Do you feel any disadvantage as an ‘older’ writer?
"Am I older? Yeah I guess I must be with great grand babies springing up all around me. Funny, I don’t feel any different inside. Am I discriminated against? I’ve never found it so, but age and maturity have given me a keen insight into human nature and frailties and I never cease to be amazed at how people choose to use life’s experiences. I write every day but have long left behind the compulsion to sit at my computer to the exclusion of life and family. I write for pleasure and enjoyment. When it ceases to be a fun activity I may stop."

How do you overcome difficulty? "Grit my Teeth and Dig Deep."
"Reaching into the black hole in my psyche and pulling out the things that hurt my soul and airing them through a character’s eyes. In Return to Totara Park there is a scene where a young mother pulls her dead child from a pond. That scene hurt my soul to write, it hurts my soul to read and readers have told me it makes them shiver it’s so real, the reason…it is real. Only my baby died in his crib at six months old. And that’s a memory I’ll take to my grave. How do I overcome it? Grit my teeth and dig deep."

Check out Shirley's blog:
Download Return to Totara Park on Kindle - FREE download 14/15 Feb (EST).
Download Yesterday's Sins on Kindle

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Duke's Blackmailed Bride, Tribute to a Legend and other Updates

Time is a precious commodity.
It's been a while since I updated my blog. Life seems to have rushed away on me the last few months. Work, family, household and writing commitments all take a chunk out of time, that most precious but elusive commodity.

The Duke's Blackmailed Bride has continued to sell well on Amazon and other sites. Most reviews have been positive, insightful and constructive. Thank you to those reviewers and wonderful readers who've purchased a download. Thanks also to The Wild Rose Press who published The Duke's Blackmailed Bride. I know I'm in good hands with TWRP: for the fourth year in a row they've been voted Best Publisher of the Year by Preditors and Editors. I've truly appreciated their editorial input, great communication and efficient administration.

I was also thrilled to learn that The Duke's Blackmailed Bride has been selected for production as an audio book. My mother uses audio books so I'm delighted she'll finally be able to 'read' my book. I'm not sure what the selection process involves but I guess all will be revealed in time.

I'm continuing to write in the Regency genre, working on a full-length novel and another novella which I hope will be finished soon. These stories and characters will be connected to The Duke's Blackmailed Bride and I'm really enjoying layering the existing characters and getting to know new ones.

Another exciting development is the publication on Kindle of  Tribute to a Legend by well known NZ outdoor writer, Connor McKenzie. I've always been fascinated with e-publishing so this has added another dimension to my learning. If you or someone you know enjoys reading westerns, you'll love this collection of stories which pays tribute to the men and rifle (the Henry repeating rifle) that won the west. Connor is a regular contributor to NZ Outdoor Hunting magazine and his published books include Hunters, Rogues and Heroes, Quinn of the Valley and Classic Pig Hunting Stories. Connor is a total technophobe, so in publishing and promoting Tribute, I don't know whether I'm Arthur or Martha most days.

I continue to build a following on Twitter although Facebook sometimes still has me baffled. I love reading my favorite blogs by Kristen Lamb, Rachelle Gardner, Jody Hedlund and Julie Musil among others.

Writing retreats are wonderful.
Early in January I enjoyed a short writing retreat with three friends. Retreats are such a great way to share ideas, build on what we're already doing and learn new ways to explore and practice our craft.
What's ahead for 2012? More writing. After 30 years or so I feel as if I'm finally getting the hang of it! Children, grandchildren and elderly parents make for a rich blend of generations and time with them all is precious. For a Regency writer it can also be useful. Taking two elderly ladies out for the day gave me a good angle on the responsibilities of a lady's maid!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

'The Duke's Blackmailed Bride' - this Little Story is Doing Great on Amazon

'The Duke's Blackmailed Bride' is currently sitting at #10 on Amazon's Kindle Regency Romance list, #26 in Historical Romance. It's so gratifying. I struggle with longer length fiction so the world of e-publishing and e-reading is ideal for me. This little story has received some really good reviews but I must meet the challenge of completing something more substantial.

I'm hard at work on another Regency - floundering a bit with character development and plot but I know if I just keep typing, the story will work out in the end. I'm too easily diverted by research, finding intriguing details and spinning off into parallel reading that's fascinating but not necessarily productive to my work in progress.