Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Susan Horsnell

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week, I am chatting with Susan Horsnell, author of a some wonderful romance novels, including the very sexy Capturing Charlie ...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I grew up in Sydney, the eldest of 5 children. My parents immigrated to Australia from England in 1952 as £10 poms. Dad had met an Aussie when he was with the British Army in Kenya and decided Australia was where he wanted to raise his family.
I was a Nurse for 35 years, a good career considering I am married to a Naval Officer and we have frequently moved around. It wasn’t difficult to find work in each city.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

My most recent publication is Capturing Charlie. A western romance set in the 1800s in Texas. Yep, an Aussie who writes stories set in Texas. Charlie has been scorned by one too many women and takes off to begin anew. He dreams of owning a ranch and being surrounded by critters, alone. Until he meets Josephine’s Grandmother at the wrong end of a bullet. As Josephine nurses him back to health, he finds she has not only restored his body to health, but also his heart.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

The first book published was The Glenmore’s: Revenge. The first book of four in my series. I was so proud of it and when I sold the first copy and then received a five star review I was excited and humbled.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

My proudest achievement was when Blind Acceptance was awarded a 4 1/2 * review and a Crowned Heart Award for Excellence by Ind’Tale Magazine. It was then nominated for a Rone award.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I am co-writing a steamy romance set during the Vietnam War. It involves an Australian Nurse, (using my experiences), a Musician, a Marine – badly injured in Vietnam and a wealthy Hippie. It’s a great story. My co-writer is brilliant.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I love both. EBooks because when we travel I can load heaps of books onto it and I’m not weighed down. Paperbacks, because there is nothing like the feel and smell of a ‘real’ book.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Definitely Indie. I can do almost everything a publisher can, I have total control and I collect ALL the royalties.

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

Gone With The Wind. An absolute masterpiece in my opinion.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

I have visited, and lived, during my husbands’ posting, in Adelaide. Ah, Rundle Mall, shopping, churches and the exquisite beauty of the Adelaide Hills. We holidayed there a year ago. Friendly people. Please give my books a read. I really hope you enjoy them.

(I'm very much looking forward to your upcoming title, Susan ~ Kathryn.)


Website where my books can be purchased:


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How to Write Book Reviews

Ever wanted to know how to write a good book review? This handy guide is all you need ...

1. Your review should not focus on what the author set out to do when he or she wrote the book and what story they wanted to tell. Focus instead, on what you wish the author had done. Pissed off that Nora left her husband at the end of A Dolls House instead of suggesting to Torvald that they take up a BDSM lifestyle? Call that home wrecker Herik Ibsen out on his shit. 

2. Do not allow the reader to get their own taste of the book by using any extended quotes. Instead, tell them that it was TERRIBLE. (But add that you wanted to like it so that you don't sound like a bad person or that you only write reviews like this for their puerile entertainment value.) Use block capitals and numerous punctuation points to emphasise your point. Consider using half a dozen or so .gifs showing teenage actors, animated characters and animals doing stupid things to further emphasise your displeasure. Also, be sure to prove yourself as a literary genius by noting that you read almost half of Wuthering Heights last spring and by pointing out somewhere in the book that there should have been a semi-colon where a comma is placed. Do not worry if your review contains typos. That fact is irrelevant. Your only concern is the perceived, or perhaps dramatised, failings of others.  

3. Do not quote the author. Just allow everyone to take your word for it that the prose was bad and filled with errors. 

4. Focus on the small and less important details of the story. For example, if you're shocked and disappointed that the nurse in chapter six said a swear word whilst off duty--because you know that swearing is really bad and you don't want to read about it--tell us all about it and share your anger in explicit detail. Accuse the author of having a foul mouth. All the better if you can find a scene where a totally different character expresses their dislike of swearing. Then you can accuse the author of being a hypocrite or state that they are sending mixed messages. Try to add at least several WTFs and a couple more gifs. It is also important that you insert your personal set of values into the review as much as possible. It is recommended that you misread or misunderstand several key pieces so that you may complain about how bad they are in your review. Try also, not to learn or discover anything new or be challenged in any possible way by reading the book. After all, the last thing you want is to be educated or to develop empathy for the characters because, unlike you, the characters may have some flaws or strange obsessions that they work on throughout the course of the narrative. 

5. As you have now judged the book as being totally deficient cite examples of activities that you would rather do instead of reading it--such as sticking your head in a blender, swallowing an entire packet of razor blades or supergluing your anus shut and then eating an entire packet of laxatives. Make no effort whatsoever to try and understand what you did not like about the book and why it failed to inspire you. That, after all, is the fault of the author. (Who deserves to be shot and their family billed for the bullet. After all, it is a crime that this book that you got for free and are in no way obligated to keep reading or to review did not meet your expectations.)

In addition to these five rules, consider adding a sixth. Accept, as often as possible, books for review that you know there is no fucking way that you would enjoy reading so that you can complain about them afterward. And instead of putting them down if you do not enjoy them, be sure to force yourself to read every last page so that you can complain about that as well. Also never, ever pay for any of the books that you are reviewing. Go to sites like netgalley and just randomly click on a few titles (don't bother to look up the genre or description, unless you are intending to misread them) until you find a publisher who is stupid enough to approve a copy for you. Be sure to add in your review that you are glad that you did not have to pay money for this particular book. Also consider yourself to be the ultimate expert in what good literature should be and tell everyone that at every possible opportunity. Be a spokesperson for readers in your favourite genres. Berate the author as much as possible, put him or her firmly in their place as often as you can. Try to create a reputation for the book and its author, regardless of how inaccurate that reputation may be ...

Disclaimer: This list is a satire of John Updike's brilliant list of six rules for book reviewing, which can be read here.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art

Over the past few months, I have seen these gorgeous chalk smiley faces on a number of pavements around Adelaide. The first time I saw them was outside the Central Markets. Then I saw them in Victoria Square. Then I noticed some on the corner of Hindley and King William Streets, more on Rundle Street, some outside of the Adelaide Railway station and ... well you get the idea. Let me know if you have seen any of these smiley faces around Adelaide, (or any other city,) where and if you know who is responsible. (Or if you have a theory ...) I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Kathryn's Inbox Exclusive: Teenager Saves Entire Nation From Corrupt Goverment

A sixteen-year-old girl has managed to overthrow a corrupt government today, with a small amount of help from her best friend, a couple of quirky adults and Steele a broody and disenchanted young man who is actually quite attractive once you get to know him. Angelica Simmons, better known to her band of impeccably fit comrades as 'Angel' or 'The Avenging Angel' was once a typical teenager living in a futuristic version of a city that shared many geographical similarities to one famous city or another in the United States. The entire city had been walled and the only mode of transportation available was rail, which may help to explain why many of the residents of the city did not question some of the stranger goings on in their hometown--such as why no two teenagers had ever fallen in love before Angelica met Steele and had complacently followed the government's odd mate selection process.  

Angelica's rise to overthrowing the government came after she and Steele met on a stairwell inside an old, abandoned building. Steele was there simply because he enjoyed the thrill of riding down the elevator shaft; Angelica was there because although she was supposed to be on the way to the special ceremony that would officially betroth her to Lukas, the spoiled and nasty son of a government official, Angelica was feeling quite nervous about the betrothal and decided to run away, despite having never done anything like that before during her short life. After a brief altercation with Steele, Angelica was convinced to ride down the elevator shaft, despite having never done that before in her life either. At the bottom of the shaft, they discovered some poetic graffiti, which they eventually learned was the lyrics to Savage Garden's Truly Madly Deeply. This song (which was banned in their nation,) would later become the catalyst for their relationship, as would a number of high risk and unnecessary recreational activities such as riding in disused elevator shafts.

Although the exact nature of the corrupt dealings of their totalitarian government remain unclear but for the fact that they did not wish teenagers to fall in love, all of the corrupt politicians are now dead and Angelica and Steele have been installed as the new and unquestioned rulers. Their policies include allowing all teenagers to fall in love and to remove elevators from all high rise buildings ...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Funnies: Clean All the Things

Clean all the things is an image from Allie Brosh's clever blog Hyperbole and a Half. The picture was part of a narrative on the struggles the author had with her daily, adult responsibilities and was later included inside her book, also titled Hyperbole and a Half. What is remarkable about this one is the number of times this image has been altered and circulated across the internet. Here are a few of the more surprising entries:

And this little gem:

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Review: Misbehaving by Abbi Glines

It is difficult not to love Abbi Glines. At times, I can be a bit meh about NA romance, but I have an amazing about of respect for this author and her career. Glines not only knows and understands her target audience well, but she has done seemingly the impossible, moving smoothly and swiftly from independently published author to a best selling author with an astounding number of titles under her belt. Misbehaving is the latest Abbi Glines title to be released in Australia and forms the sixth novel in the Sea Breeze series. It is the first novel I have read in the series and I have to agree with the promotional material on the front cover that this is a scorching novel.) 

Misbehaving tells the story of Jess who is not only the bad girl in the community of Sea Breeze, but who is also badly misunderstood--and through the narrative, we soon learn why. As the novel opens, we learn that she is twenty years old and was raised by her single mother who works as a stripper at a crudely named bar. We also learn that Jess's boyfriend has been cheating on her and she has decided to teach him a very well deserved lesson, which goes wrong. Or as Jess puts it:
The sound of feet hitting the pavement let me know I was being chased. Well, shit. Not what I needed. I was having so much fun. Hank deserved that. He did. He was a rat bastard. I did not want to go to jail over this. Plus my momma would be pissed (p.4).

And then a comic twist in events lead Jess to Jason, a young man who is grappling under the shadow of his rock star brother. 

Shifting perspectives back and forward between Jason and Jess, the novel tells the story of their rocky, but sexy relationship and their personal struggles. As I have not read the other novels in the series, it was a bit difficult to keep up with some of the stories about other characters who obviously form an important part of the series, but this did not distract from the story. There was a bit of a time jump partway through the novel which was a little annoying.  Misbehaving is a quick, escapist read and it's images of sun and romance were a perfect distraction on a cold winter afternoon. Recommended for those moments when you just want to take some time out.

Finally, a big shout out and thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my review copy.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Hettie Ashwin

Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I'm chatting with the very awesome Hettie Ashwin, who lives on a boat in northern Queensland and is author of seven novels, including suspense novel The Mask of Deceit...

Tell us a bit about yourself …

I have downsized my tupperware and live on a boat in Far North Queensland. Our yacht "Dikera" has been my home for 8 years as we (husband and I) sail around the Queensland coast. We are planning on doing the world trip thing starting next year via Indonesia. As we sail, I write. I have always been a stationary tragic  (read, pens, paper, fancy envelopes etc) and began writing in earnest 11 years ago. Besides novels, I write for boating magazines, short story mags online and in print. I also like the medium of radio and have written several audio pieces which have been broadcast.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

This is Mr Tripp buys a Lifestyle. It is a novel which incorporates the mishaps of our sailing adventures and other embarrassing stories people have told us in our travels. It is full of humour and LOL moments. I have had a really good response from people who have purchased the book who say it is a fun read. It is loosely styled on an old movie called "Mr Blandings builds his dream house" a particular favourite of mine. They say write what you know and I sure know about embarrassing moments on the boat.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

I had a funny piece published in a work newsletter at a private hospital I was working for in Townsville. It was about how to negotiate the tea room idle gossip and was a hit with the readers. Now I write a humour column for the local newspaper--Port Douglas and Mossman Gazzette--called Slippery Grip. 'slippery grip is for fun and for those whose grip is slipping'.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

That is easy. Getting 7 novels out there for people to buy and read and enjoy. I am an entertainer and to see readers actively enjoying my work is so satisfying. I have won competitions etc, but having a body of work is great. To see them being bought, downloaded and read is what it is all about for me.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

I am working on a Rom Com. 'Romantic Comedy' called Barney's Test. Romance is a new field for me, but humour is my forte. I love trying to get all the elements of a good story coming together with the payoff of the joke. My humour is very much slice of life, Doh moments. I study people and their foibles and work that into a plot.

Synopsis: When Barney Vokes comes up to bat in the game of love he finds that there are a few googlies coming his way. Two women, a bit of miscommunication and a chance to play with the Australian Cricket team in a charity match all have Barney on the hop. When Barney wins a competition to play a charity match, he finds he really has talent. His love life blooms as his notoriety skyrockets, but there are a few lessons to learn along the way. Humility, hubris and hand/eye co-ordination all play a part in being the man of the match. What he thinks he wants, what he really wants and what he eventually gets sees Barney, the hopeless romantic, discover that love is a bit more complicated than cricket.

It is half way complete at this stage with all the chapters plotted. The writing or filling in the gaps, is the fun part. I am also working/researching a literary novel "A Slow Catastrophe" about a bushfire and a missing child in 1910 Murray Bridge. This is a novel about how one event can have far reaching consequences and bruise a life, a town, forever.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

I use both so I don't really have a preference. If the book is a tome of 600 pages then an e book is great cause you don't get sore wrists in bed to hold the thing up. But living on a boat having something without batteries that doesn't need charging is a bonus. We have solar and wind power, but sometimes on a windless, cloudy day a real book is the only way to go. I won 37 new books from a competition recently and so I have reading matter for a while yet. I also keep track of specials on the IBook etc and download when they are cheap. The best of both worlds I reckon.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

I have both and really there is no difference. I still am required to promote my work, make sure the proof is good to go and give input for the cover. In fact I did all my covers except one. Having self published 4 of my titles the money from the sales is good as you don't share the proceeds with a publisher, book shop etc, but having said that, sometimes the public like to know a publishing house thought enough of your work to back it. Barney's choice will go though the query process, but now I only give it about 50 shots before I just do it myself and get it out there to sell. I figure there is still time for it to get picked up when it is on the hustings. It happens!

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

Life is so Good by George Dawson. What a man. He learned to read and write in his 90's. His was a story of discovery and gladdens the heart to know there are people in the world like that. Such a nice man. We all could learn from his tolerance and understanding and goodness. I sound gushy, but I have bought this book for many people and they all say the same. Worth a read.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

As I sell my books in the markets and meet my readers every week, I know there are people out there who like a good book and love to read. Whether it is mine or someone else's, the act of reading is the thing that carries us forward. Read a book, any book and discover something, enjoy the moment, share the story and marvel at imagination.