Yep. Against all the laws of blogging, it's been eight months since I posted something on my own site. I've been busy blogging on other people's sites, thanks to their generosity. The best thing an author or marketer can do is to find a group of like minded people and work with them in this regard. Authors Moving Forward is my group of choice.
You know why I haven't posted anything? Got nothing to say. Which, when you think of it, is not a fault. There are thousands of people out there blogging about whether they prefer whole milk or skim milk, or whether dogs are better for people in high rises than cats and...You get the drift. And when I'm notified of these blogs I DELETE THEM. Yep. The same way many of you will do when you see this.
And that, friends, is why my blog is silent.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
The internet is over-burdened with writers marketing their wares. And I’m adding to the general plethora out there. But hear me out.
I’ve been writing Regencies for eighteen years now and getting them published. Now my three main publishers have closed their doors, I have joined the endless queue of self-published authors. So many of us out here jostling for position like mid-field marathoners. The chances are you’ll never hear my plea. But I’m chucking this out there in the anorexic hope that you just might read this. Perhaps you have nothing better to do.
I hope you’re one of the many readers who like historicals, and in particular, the Regency era. It was such a short period in Britain’s history, but has given rise to many things such as the development of canals (as trade with its trading partners hotted up with the imprisonment of Napoleon, freeing up trade routes and resulting in large numbers of goods that needed to be transported all over England), the Royal Astronomical Society was founded, the early prototype of the bicycle, the development of the railway system, the Act of Union with Ireland in 1801 etc. All this is from the British point of view. Elsewhere, in the USA, Whitney came up with the principle of manufacturing interchangeable parts as pertaining to firearms. The statue of the Venus de Milo was discovered in Greece (1820) and so it goes on.
So in spite of many Regencies persuading you that it was all about Almacks and dukes, the Regency era was actually a time on the cusp of great changes, not just in Britain but all over the world. Minds were opening up, no longer relying on the dogma of ages past.
In 1814 The Times adopted steam printing. By this method it could now print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before—a fivefold increase in production capability and demand. This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels.
The Regency is also noted for its achievements in the fine arts and architecture (Nash springs to mind, and remember that striped wallpaper known as ‘Regency’?) This era encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic change that shaped and altered the societal structure of Britain as a whole. Remember that in London alone, the population increased from just under a million in 1801 to one and a quarter million by 1820.
One of the reasons that the arts flourished during this era was because of the patronage of ‘Prinny’, the fat and at times ridiculous Prince of Wales. We might laugh at him, but it’s thanks to him that the development of British architecture flourished, even if his schemes often left the common people paying for his over-the-top designs.
The Regency era opened up the market for many authors including Sir Walter Scott, Maria Edgeworth, Mary Shelley (who incorporated the general mistrust of science during the earlier part of the Regency era), John Keats and William Blake. Then there were the playwrights and artists…the list goes on and on to confirm how minds began open to new possibilities during that time.
Oh yes, there was a lot more to the Regency period than those autocratic dukes and the patronesses at Almacks!
My latest Regency historical is a re-release called Mr. Monfort’s Marriage wherein a chivalrous businessman who is not overly fond of the aristocracy finds himself married to an earl’s daughter. She teaches him about noblesse oblige, courage and joie de vivre, and he teaches her…all sorts of things!
Mr. Monfort’s Marriage:
My Amazon bookpage is here:
Friday, June 24, 2016
Not just for romance writers - no. So don't ignore this post, you who read and write fantasy and mystery etc. It has always been one of the most useful conferences on the planet when it comes to both writers and readers. For readers it's like being in a magic world of books, books, books, both e-books and paper ones.
And the speakers! NZ grabs knowledgeable people from all over the world for their conferences. For a small country it knows what's important.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
What is an Anzac?
Why is April 25 so important to Australians and New Zealanders?
Most likely anyone outside Australia or New Zealand would not have heard the term “Anzac.” It stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps and was first used during WWI. Both Australia and New Zealand were relatively new colonies when WWI broke out, (between Germany and Britain), so their ties with Mother England were still very strong. Most of the young men who died in the mud at Belgium and on the beaches and trenches of Gallipoli were only second generation Aussies and New Zealanders. From a country with a population of almost one million, New Zealand lost 18,000 men and nurses. This was the highest loss pro rata of any nation during both WWI and WWII .
And do you know, all those men and nurses who went to Gallipoli (Turkey, Germany’s ally) in 1915 were volunteers? On that very first day on 25 April 1915, 2,000 Australians died. Another 6,500 were killed or wounded by the end of the week. Australia was second only to Britain for the numbers of soldiers who fought in WWI.
They call it “the Anzac spirit” which took those boys – because most of them were mere boys – through battles along the Western Front at Ypres, Fromelle, the Somme and into the Middle East and Beersheba. The Anzac spirit determines that during wartime, Kiwis (New Zealanders) and Aussies can rely on each other.
The Anzac symbol is the red poppy that represents the wild poppies growing in the fields and roadsides throughout Belgium where some of the toughest battles were fought and where the flower of a generation perished. I’ve seen those poppies for myself, and it is astounding to someone from the Southern Hemisphere that those young men came so far to bleed out on soil so far from home. There is a poem that begins:
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
In the days leading up to April 25 Australians and New Zealanders all wear the symbolic poppy. And the Anzac spirit rang true throughout WWII, in Korea and in Vietnam too.
Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, commanded the navy and everything it did. He was removed from that post after the Gallipoli disaster. During WWII he was responsible for leaving Australians and New Zealanders stranded in Greece and on Crete. Methinks Winston thought of colonials as of no account.
Many Kiwis and Aussies fought on the Western Front (remember the book All Quiet on the Western Front)? The Western Front was the name the Germans gave to a series of trenches that ran 700 kilometres from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border.
World War I, 1914-1918, was the 'Great War', the 'war to end all wars'. Great battles were fought in towns with names such as Fromelles, the Somme, Bullecourt, Messines, Passchendaele, Dernancourt and Villers-Bretonneux. Of more than 290,000 Australians who served in this theatre of war in the Australian Imperial Force, 46,000 were either killed in action or died of their wounds. And remember that many returned wounded in spirit. We now call that post traumatic stress disorder.
I have a personal link to the Great War. My great-uncle William Tielle (nicknamed Teddy) was one of the many volunteers from his district. He was the only boy amongst a large family of girls and at 21 he died of wounds received at Passchendaele. He is listed on the honour roll at the Auckland Museum in New Zealand.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Every now and again I sit back and think about the books I like to read, and the writers who appeal to me. There are some excellent writers around, and I've discovered a few through BookBub. But the following are my favourites:
Most books by Tami Hoag such as Down the Darkest Road and Live to Tell. I think my favourite is Still Waters. Why? Because her novels are so detailed and the solution of the mysteries is never obvious. In fact, the character of the antagonists and protagonists holds the key to the solutions each time. For example, in A Thin Dark Line, it is the generations-old warped solution of ways to protect a family that bubbles to the surface and the bloody mindedness of an ambitious female cop who stands up for her rights amongst male chauvinism that would chop most women off at the knees, that points the way to reasons for the crime and the discovery of the perpetrator(s).
Friday, October 9, 2015
My friend Sloane, whom I 'met' when we were both Musa authors, writes hot stuff. Much warmer than what I write, and she does it with gusto and finesse (the two are not mutually exclusive). Read a little something about Sloane below. You see, she's not just an author - she's a magnificent cook. Take a gander.
By Sloane Taylor
Don is the hero of my erotic short story French Twist. Don Hobbs knows exactly what he likes in the bedroom as well as the kitchen. This Chicago born and bred man is a true lover of fried chicken. The lady in his life, Claudette D’Laquois, has no clue how to turn on a stove, let alone fry this scrumptious dish. But what can you expect from an Interpol agent? To make Claudette's life easier, I gave her the recipe so she can keep her man happy while he oversees an orchard in Nice, France.
Sloane’s Down-home Fried Chicken
1 tbsp. salt
6 chicken legs, or thighs or 4 breasts, skinless and boneless
1 cup flour
½ tsp. marjoram
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large egg
1½ tbsp. milk
½ cup solid shortening or lard, plus more as needed
Dissolve salt in a small amount of water. Add chicken pieces then cover with more water. Set this in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.
Remove chicken from fridge 2 hours before you plan to cook. Drain and pat dry.
Combine flour and seasonings in a paper or plastic bag. Shake gently to combine ingredients. Mix egg and milk in a bowl. Set a clean plate or platter on the counter to hold the breaded chicken.
Place one chicken piece at a time in the bag, shake gently to thoroughly coat, then dip in egg mixture, then return the piece to the bag and gently shake again. Set chicken on the plate. Repeat the process until all pieces are coated. Set the uncovered plate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the shortening in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Test to be sure shortening is hot enough by adding a small piece of bread. It should sizzle and toast quickly.
Carefully add the chicken pieces. Maintain the temperature, but adjust it so chicken doesn’t burn and grease doesn’t splatter everywhere.
Turning frequently, brown the chicken on all sides. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.
Lay pieces on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any oil. Transfer them to a clean platter and serve.
Here's a brief intro to Book Three of the Naughty Ladies of Nice series with Don and Claudette.
Spies and lies bring a deadly twist to the City of Lights:
Interpol agent Claudette D’Laquois is trapped in the hellhole of life and unable to trust anyone. Desperate to regain control, she flees to the safety of her uncle’s rundown chateau on the French Riviera. But Claudette soon learns the countryside has its own dangers when she finds herself alone with a sexy foreigner.
Uptight accountant Donald Hobbs ditches numbers for dirt to oversee his friend’s orchard for three weeks. His well deserved vacation is perfect until a seductive mademoiselle drags him into a dangerous world of intrigue and erotic fantasy.
Illegal drugs and Russian mobsters take a back seat to a lethal night of sinful pleasure for Claudette and Don.
Sloane Taylor’s books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.
Taylor was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Studly, her mate for life, and Taylor, now live in a small home in Indiana and enjoy the change from city life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her http://sloanetaylor.blogspot.com every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.
See what I mean? A woman of many talents. Leave her a comment. Make her day.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
WHAT BUTTONS TO PUSH
By ‘what buttons to push’ I mean what buttons do authors use to manipulate (yep, being honest) their readers’ emotions, to get them on side with the characters in their books. For example, perhaps the author creates unlikeable, evil antagonists and emphasises the sterling qualities of his protagonists.
The most obvious ploy is the ticking clock. It not only lends urgency but it yanks the reader along at a rush, keeping him intrigued.
Then there’s characterisation. Of course in this dynamic world, what worked ten years ago may not have the same appeal in 2015. The innocent 1960s virgin, so prevalent in romances of that time, would drive a reader from 2015 to drink. We are much more cynical, well-informed and downright demanding than we were then. Historically though, some classics retain their appeal because they are much more than the sum of their characters’ emotions. To Kill A Mockingbird’s racial tensions are still not outmoded today, and that lazy description of the syrupy south’s inbred attitudes is not far from the truth in some out-of-the-way places. And that is why books like these are classics. They endure not just because of the characters in the books but because of the settings and historical attitudes. And Harper Lee manipulated the readers’ emotions. Think of the way she pushes Scout’s lack of desire to be a ‘lady’ so that the reader is on Scout’s side.
Perhaps today’s writers manipulate the readers in more subtle ways. What of Dick Francis’s heroes who are often of the working class up against a criminal upper class or just up against class bigotry where he is on the outside looking in? Dick Francis does that so well that even if the protagonist is not your usual Everyman, the reader is still very much on his side. That’s right. The modern protagonist need not be a perfect hero as he has been in novels and movies of the past. Some have patchy backgrounds and they’ve made mistakes.
There’s Lee Child’s Jack Reacher who thrums a string in every male heart. They all want to be Jack with his freedom and lack of possessions but with an innate sense of responsibility. And of course Jack has been in the military and knows how to handle himself in vicious situations. Every man’s dream. There are a lot of wannabe Jacks out there. And Lee knows how to manipulate those readers.
Tami Hoag’s heroines are believably imperfect. They make mistakes and have hang-ups that readers can empathise with and they frequently have to form alliances with people they don’t trust. There’s that little brush of reality that lends credence to the stories.
So…empathy and sympathy are the buttons. And the harder those buttons are pushed by authors and movie makers, the more a reader/viewer becomes invested in the characters. We need to see how the protagonists get themselves out of a bind, or if the evil antagonists get their come-uppance. And the best books of all are where you know darned well that the author is pushing your buttons, but you just don’t care. The book is so good!
Monday, November 18, 2013
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR CÉLIE,
HEROINE FROM ‘LETHAL REFUGE’
1. Introducing myself: Yes, I’m Célie Francis. What’s your point? No. Not Céline. That’s the Canadian songbird. I’m a New Zealander. No, my unusual first name doesn’t cause any problems. In my job I need to stand out. I’m a torch singer, and I’d rather have my own name than be called by one of those kittenish stage names that some other singers use. You know, names like Silky Amber or LaKat Boom Boom. Damned stupid. Anyway, I’m in the book called LETHAL REFUGE that Vonnie wrote. It’s a romantic suspense, set in New Zealand.
2. Do I consider myself unconventional? Hey, I’m not the one out of step here. The rest of you are. I’m not unconventional. I’m just me. Take me or leave me. Sure, when I was younger I got hurt a few times by cretins who couldn’t work out what makes me tick, so I just toughed it out. I do that a lot. Tough it out. Works for me.
3. Do I embrace my uniqueness or have I always wanted to fit in? ‘Embrace my uniqueness?’ What the hell are you talking about? Like I said, I’m just me. About the fitting in thing, well…once or twice I’ve wished I could be a sweet young lady—you know, the sort of delicate flower everyone protects from life’s hardships and follies. Then fortunately I come to my senses. Take Brand Turner, the police psychologist from Lethal Refuge for instance. At first I wanted to be the sort of woman he probably admires—the well educated delicate flower thing. Then I discovered that Brand takes people as he finds them. Cool.
4. My role model? Well it sure ain’t my mother. Heh! It’s not Mother Teresa either. Nah, don’t really have a role model. I am what I am. I’d pretty much achieved what I set out to do until this cretin came calling and stuffed up my world, and a lot of other people’s too, of course.
5. If I could do anything without concern for the circumstances? That’s a no-brainer. I’d kidnap Brand Turner and keep him so he couldn’t get the chance to meet other women with PhDs and prissy relatives or who look like models who’d escaped from Balenciaga’s latest collection.
6. Is your ideal man unconventional? Laughs loudly. Nope, not at all. My ideal man is Brand Turner and boy, is he conventional. He does all the right things. Had a long-term relationship, concentrated on his education and achieved a doctorate, doesn’t blurt out stupid things in company, never looks before he leaps and is totally reliable. On the other hand he’s an independent thinker, doesn’t always say what you think he’s going to say, and boy, does he know how to make love. Nope. Not conventional there. Very innovative. Stupendous.
7. Any other juicy details? Nope. When this is all over I want to go back to my career so I’m damned if I’m sharing all my darkness. I’m thinking ahead to PR.
The nagging wail of sirens carried on the breeze. Too late.
Ellery laughed inanely and Roberta shuddered and clutched Brand’s jacket in a death grip.
What the hell had taken them so long? By the time the cops were stationed around the house, Célie knew they’d all be dead. Ellery was going to win after all.
He’d blame everything on Roberta. She’d take the rap for every single murder, attempted murder, assault, burglary, download of pedophilia and anything else he could pin on her.
Facing the Glock clutched in Ellery’s unsteady hand, Célie’s mind spun like a top, running through her options. There weren’t any. She was closest to Ellery, so she’d go first.
She shuffled her feet a little and Ellery frowned. He juggled the Glock as if it was a remote control and Célie remembered how awkwardly he’d held the weapon in the car. Brand had once commented on Parlane’s scorn for Ellery’s lousy test shooting. All well and good, but he wasn’t going to miss her at such close range. Even the newest, most nervous police cadet could manage a shot like that.
“Keep still,” Ellery growled at her.
Good. She was making him nervous. If she could distract him enough... With that one shuffle she had gained half a yard and changed the angle of her body. She looked across the room at Brand. “Love you,” she said.
Brand smiled and drew a deep breath. Then he nodded. Ellery stared at Brand and sniggered, his attention diverted. “How sweet.” His lip curled.
Célie launched herself and bashed hard into Ellery. He skidded sideways. Off balance, he fumbled to release the jammed safety catch on the Glock. The muzzle pointed at the ceiling.
“Bitch!” Ellery splayed his legs to steady himself and raised his free arm to smash it down on Célie’s head but she’d darted behind him. She rammed her arm up between his legs. He bucked, startled, as she grabbed him by the balls. Gritting her teeth, Célie thanked her lucky stars that a life spent fighting her way uphill had taught her how to play dirty.
Frantically Ellery tried to drag her hand away, but Célie increased the grinding pressure, gouging with her long, piano-playing fingers. Ellery screamed. The Glock clattered to the floor and Parlane swiped it away with his uninjured foot.
A sound like rolling thunder presaged a crash as the door flew open and Ralston burst in, followed by a flurry of uniformed cops.
“About freaking time,” Célie snapped.
Here’s a link to my Amazon page where you can purchase LETHAL REFUGE:
It’s also out as a paperback from The Wild Rose Press
I’m at www.vonniehughes.com
DON'T FORGET TO RETURN TO LINKYLINK TO READ THE NEXT BLOG:
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Yes, yes, I don’t blog very often. I’ve never seen the sense in telling the world what I’ve had for breakfast.
But now I have something to say!
Last weekend (October 11-13) I attended the GenreCon Australia conference at Brisbane. Yup. Beside the River Walk. Pretty. And cool, considering the temperatures were up around 30 Celsius and it’s only October. A really hot Spring this year. We genre writers and readers were a vocal bunch, representing predominantly the worlds of romance, SF and paranormal. Or maybe they were the noisier ones.
We heard about the power of genre fiction and also its history. Stemming from the days of Charles Dickens’ serialised novels, this popular as opposed to literary fiction is more than holding its own. It is constantly evolving and that’s the great thing about genre fiction. Rather than looking inward, it is looking outward.
And, and, and…genre fiction is at the forefront of e-publishing, they said. No kidding! Advice re contracts (common terms, reprint rights) and self-publication was dished out generously.
Some writers were given the chance to pitch to publishers’ representatives and agents such as Kate Cuthbert and Alex Adsett. Alex has to be the world’s most pragmatic agent. No high falutin’ rubbish there. She tells it like it is, with her main message being “It’s damned hard out there.”
Most useful to me was the research information from the outspoken suspense author, Dr. Kathryn Fox. Not being a native Australian, I often stress about whether my ideas of the hierarchy and tasks of the special squads of the Australian Federal Police are accurate or not, and Kathryn’s advice on where to look for this sort of information was gratefully received.
All-in-all a great conference and thank you to Queensland Writers (QWC) for their input.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Wondering about these three disparate pictures?
I’ve just completed my second Book in a Week with April Kihlstrom. Now I don’t know April personally, but I do know that receiving tuition from April is the next best thing to getting your book published. That goes for whether you are already published or not. At the end of my first BIAW with April, the book I thought I was writing got shelved, and I began an offshoot of it, a far deeper book than my original idea. It was published by Robert Hale Ltd, UK.
This time I was floundering to find a logical, twisty solution to a work in progress, a suspense novel with the working title of Innocent Hostage. Three days after plunging into my second BIAW with April, I set IH aside and began another suspense, a very different sort of book. At the same time I knew I had a Regency novella to complete, part of a three book series already contracted. So I wrote both at the same time.
I feel compelled to tout this lady far and wide. Nearly all of April’s books are Regencies (although, even as we speak, she is branching out into very different realms). And yes, I, too, write Regencies, but because of the way April’s BIAW is constructed, it doesn’t matter at all what genre you write in. Also, note, her emphasis is not strictly on fiction but she also coaches non-fiction writers.
I’ve often wondered how April is able to hit the nail on the head when it comes to constructing books so I did some checking. This lady has had books published steadily since 1982! Experience. A willingness to share knowledge and reference bases. Enthusiasm.
So a male fantasy writer reading this might think, “Huh. No use to me.” Buster, you’d be so wrong. When you’ve answered questions like:
What frightens your protagonists most of all?
Where will you be dropping forewarnings of the plot?
Is your work ethic appropriate for your lifestyle?
Have you ever assessed your writing methods? How?
Try index cards for a basic outline even if you are pantster.
For each book, a file or group of index cards helps keep it all together for press releases.
The above are only one-hundredth of the questions and suggestions that April will make during BIAW. You might have seen many of them before. But I guarantee you haven’t seen all of them. And those two or three that make you really think, those are the kernels that April will draw out of you. Also, as with any BIAW, reporting back and forth to other candidates keeps you going, keeps you honest.
Best of all, unlike other BIAW, April is with you every step of the way. She answers all queries. Next time you see where April is running a BIAW, get to it. For an extremely low fee, she will bring out the best writer you can be. I believe her next BIAW will be during the second half of September. (It’s never really a week – more like 12 days). You can sign up here closer to the date
Enjoy! (Because you will. The bounce will come back to your writing).