Showing posts with label Boomerang Bride. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boomerang Bride. Show all posts

Friday, November 15, 2013

Taking Tea with...Fiona Lowe

It is my very great pleasure to welcome one of my best  buddies to take tea with me indeed we do in real life.

Fiona Lowe, HMB Medical, single title contemporary author and now indie author, RITA Award winner and old chum (and my 'go to' girl)... It is lovely to have you here today.

You and I have shared many a cup of tea and other, slightly stronger,  beverages. Perhaps you can tell me what is your most memorable cup of tea?

Thanks for inviting me to tea, Ms. Stuart! It’s  lovely to be here. I’ve drunk cups of tea all around the world but the most memorable has to be the one I had at 5am on a small station in the far north of Malaysia. We’d spent the night on a very over crowded 3rd class train, complete with people on the roof and chickens in the carriage. Unbeknown to us, our night of travel coincided with the eve of Hari Raya Haji, a huge Muslim festival and public holiday and everyone was trying to get home. That train journey is my most memorable!  Anyway, at 5am and with no sleep, we fell out onto our station and I had what I call ‘The night duty nausea.’ I felt so sick and I sank onto a bench seat and said, “I need something to eat.”

My ever-loving DH went looking for food and came across a man squatted down in front of a little fire making chapattis and sweet, hot tea. Now I am usually a black tea with milk, no sugar and served in a china cup girl, but here I was holding a glass filled with black tea, no milk and about an inch of sugar at the bottom.  It was THE BEST glass of tea I’ve ever had. I got a second. I ate the chapattis and fifteen minutes later, I was a new woman! I have never forgotten that cup of tea and just thinking about it braces me with new energy!

You began your writing career writing medical romances for HMB. Your career has taken a few interesting turns along the road.  What was the best career decision you made?

I love writing medical romances but they don’t go on shelf in the USA which is a big market . I was frustrated by that and I also  found myself at a point where I was feeling creatively stale so I wrote Boomerang Bride. It was a totally different book. For a start it was a single-title novel of 93,000 words with scope to tell more than two people’s stories. What I discovered was that it flexed different writing muscles but it also strengthened the ones I had. It brought the joy of writing back and now I love writing the two different styles of books. 

Best career decision? You know, I don’t feel I have made one. I haven’t had a lot of choice. I know we all hear the stories of a few lucky people who have publishing houses bidding against each other to secure their book, but although we hear those stories, they are in the minority.  Boomerang Bride faced 12 print house publishing rejections and I was left with a book I believed in and no one else did. I guess I had two choices back in 2010 when the publishing world was very different from the one we know today and publishing yourself was barely known. I either left it on the computer or I took a punt on it with an eBook publishing house. I chose the then new Carina Press because it was the digital-first arm of Harlequin.  Carina Press have been very supportive of me and their authors. It’s only because of their offer to print one eBook per author that made it possible for Boomerang Bride to be entered into the RWA Rita award and Australian RuBY award.

You recently launched yourself into the world of “Indie” publishing with a 12,500 word short story,  what was the inspiration for that story?

Last year I rode 591km/367miles over nine days on the Great Victorian Bike Ride. Three thousand cyclists turned tiny little towns into tent cities as we cycled up and over steep hills, through soporific heat and hypothermia-inducing cold. As I cycled along, I dreamed up a story about two fictitious people on the ride and then used the journey as the back drop to the story. On The Road Again is a reunion story. Can people change and if so, can past hurts be forgiven? It’s the perfect length to read just before you turn out the light at night.

I was with you at RWA National when you won the RITA for BOOMERANG BRIDE (which then went on to win the RUBY – the Australian equivalent), what were your emotions when your name was announced and what has it meant to you since then?

Fiona, Alison and the golden lady!
I was so blessed to have you as my ‘date’ that  night! I had taken the nomination as a win because I really thought I had no chance against the other more established, single-title authors. So that night, I was there for the glitz and glamour and to see if the author I had predicted to win, would. I remember hearing ‘Boomerang’ and then this whoop of noise went around the auditorium (there were a lot of Carina Press authors and Australian writing mates there cheering - AS: and your "date" was shrieking like she was a teenager at a Bieber concert!) and I remember  you hugging me as disbelief rushed me. I know Angela James , the executive editor of Carina Press, and I shared an ‘OMG, really?’ look.  The win took a few days to sink it. I kept stroking my golden lady and then getting out the cleaning cloth to remove my sticky prints ;-) (and of course everybody else had to have their cuddle too!)

The night I won the RuBY, Angela James texted me to say Boomerang Bride was going into print in the USA. Right now it’s out in mass market paperback!

Have you left the world of HMB Medicals behind?

Not at all! In fact, I have a medical romance out this month. Gold Coast Angels; Bundle of Trouble is a stand-alone novel but it’s also book three in the Gold Coast Angels series. The other three books have been written by Marion Lennox, Amy Andrews and Fiona McArthur.   Bundle of Trouble is a recovery book; two people have been hammered by life and are finding their way back and daring to dream again. 

Which brings us to your “Wedding” trilogy. I loved, loved, loved Boomerang Bride and I am currently reading the second one. What was the inspiration behind this series?

Oddly enough, the inspiration came from a rejection I got on Boomerang Bride. That particular editor wanted the book to focus more on the town. Of course, that would have made Boomerang Bride a totally different book so I thought, I’ll write a small-town wedding series and that is how Wedding Fever and Whitetail, Wisconsin, with its large cast of characters came into be. Saved by the Bride (April 2012) is the first novel where the good citizens of Whitetail are trying to save their town from financial ruin and a mayor who appreciates their best intentions but thinks she knows best. Of course there is a very sexy business man who is a fish-out-of-water, a dysfunctional family and a lot of laughs and the occasional tear.

Picture Perfect Wedding (August 2012) features the sexiest dairyman you’ve ever met, a determined wedding photographer  and a family facing the biggest change in six generations. The final book in the series comes out late January and is Runaway Groom; an Aussie riding from Antarctica to Alaska on a Harley Davidson. What’s his worst nightmare? Being stuck in a town obsessed with weddings so yeah, I made that happen ;-)

Talking about bikes….both motor and the push bike variety, have you got a story? Share it with me and go into the draw for a copy of my short story, On The Road Again

A bit about Fiona:

Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin and Carina Press. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love. When she's not writing stories, she's a weekend wife, mother of two 'ginger' teenage boys, guardian of 80 rose bushes and often found collapsed on the couch with wine. You can find her at her websitefacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN (A romantic short story)

“Dr. Felicity Hamilton-Smith desperately needs a change of scene so she signs up for a ten-day bike ride around Victoria. The last thing she expects is to run slap-bang into her former fiancĂ©. For her, the past is over and best left behind, or so she thinks.
The last time Dr. Drew Baxter saw Felicity was when he broke her heart when he left to serve in Afghanistan. Now, seeing her again, is breaking his”

Available in all eBook formats for 99cents (AS: !) from

An author can dream... getting my dirty fingerprints of the Golden Lady when FL wasn't watching!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Post from Anaheim

"There's no place like home...There's no place like home..."'s time to leave the "Happiest Place on Earth" and return to the dull, drear Melbourne winter so this will be the last report from #RWA12. The first challenge will be packing - all those lovely books and the consequences of Tuesday's shopping spree have to be squeezed into a small baggage allowance.

Saturday promised another full day of workshops.

SESSION 1:  EMOTION - Brenda Novak

Brenda Novak is one of the (many) NY Times bestsellers one passes in the corridor at this conference so I attended the first part of her presentation on Emotion with some excitement.
Layering a story with emotion is about active writing and techniques for adding that all important emotion to your stories included

  • Use of internal thought (sparing)
  • Dialogue
  • Deep POV
  • Action
  • Metaphor

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the second part of her session because I wanted to hear Michael Hauge.  I'm a bit of Hauge fan girl, having heard his Story Mastery workshop at home and I own the DVDs...and the books, but I wanted to hear how he contextualised his theories for romance writing.


Yes, I'd heard it all before, but Hauge is a charismatic presenter and his exposition of the Hero's Journey is worth hearing over again. He makes it sound so easy...

On my recent Writing Retreat with the Saturday Ladies Bridge Club, we watched his DVD on the HJ and then sat down to watch Prince of Persia...with the timer on and lo...the Prince of Persia followed Hauge's Three Act Journey to the second. How does this translate into romance...I think, particularly in category romance, that first 10% (the hero in ordinary life) does not necessarily apply but in all other respects seems to follow the theory.

RITA Award winner Fiona Lowe and her "date"
Grabbed a quick, unsatisfactory lunch with Fiona Lowe and went up to my room with the idea of watching a little bit of the Olympics.  Next thing I knew it was 3.00 pm and with a booking for dinner at 5.30pm, togged out in the glad rags, that was the end of my conference! I sat outside in the warmth and read a book for a little while.

The highlight of the conference has to be the RITA Awards. As I may have mentioned I was extremely touched to be asked by Fiona Lowe to be her "date" for the Awards. Fiona's editor at Carina Press, Angela James and senior Harlequin staff had invited us out for dinner. Because we had to be back at the Marriott and seated ready for the awards by 7.30, we met at a local restaurant for dinner at 5.30.  Angela had organised a special celebratory dessert for Fiona.

Fiona and her editor, Angela James with good luck dessert
Like everything about the conference, the Awards were incredibly well organised. Golden Heart and RITA finalists had spent 2 hours in rehearsal that afternoon and we were all seated at tables at the front of the room. The MC was the delightful Victoria Alexander and was interspersed with little pastiches of our favourite romantic moments on film. Golden Hearts (for unpublished MS) went first and then the RITAs.  Other Aussie nominees Christina Brooks and Trish Morey missed out and then came the Single Title Contemporary Romance category.  Fiona had no expectations of winning and when her name was called out she sat there in complete disbelief. I was no help...jumping to my feet and screaming like a teenager at a Bieber concert. 
As I may have mentioned Boomerang Bride was one of my favourite summer reads and thoroughly deserving of its win. The other big positive for this win is that it is a "digital first" ie it came out solely as an ebook. It is now in print.

So there we are...your Anaheim correspondent is now signing off and returning to Oz to gather her energy for the Australian Romance Writers Conference in two weeks! Thanks for bearing with me.

Hey, a girl can dream....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Australian Abroad Day 2: Shopping

There is a slight chance my darling husband (DH) may be following my adventures in Wonderland so: "Hi, Honey! I did a little shopping today! Just one or two things. Only spent 6 hours at the South Coast Mall..." There was the little matter of the new dress I need for the Saturday night RITA Awards. I am attending as the "date" for my friend Fiona Lowe whose book, BOOMERANG BRIDE is a finalist in the Contemporary Single Title category. BOOMERANG BRIDE was one of my favourite reads this year so I am keeping everything crossed for her (and a bottle of champers on choice...I don't have a fridge)!

Alison aids the ailing American economy!
In my defence last time I attended a RW America Conference (New Orleans 2001), the Australian dollar was worth .57c. I could barely afford a souvenir fridge magnet, now I just see it as my civic duty to help our noble American allies in their hour of need. My next challenge is going to be getting the two bags I will now be carrying back on the plane!

Fortunately I had a willing ally in Sandra Allen who seemed quite happy to keep me company :-)

The Antipodean contingent has been drifting in over the last couple of days and we gathered in the bar of the Marriott this evening for drinks and a catch up. Needless to say Margaritas both liquid and pizzacal were consumed. Compared to New Orleans where there was less than 10 of us, there is a large, noisy representation from down under this watch this space.

Australia NZ detente....Alison with NZ writer Yvonne Lindsay
Tomorrow the conference begins for me with the "Beau Monde" mini conference (the Regency afficionados) and soiree (the costume came with me!). So for now, your roving Anaheim reporter is signing out ready for a 7.30 am start.

Meanwhile some photos from the last few days...

Spot the Aussie
Cars...Cars everywhere. Never even seen the movie!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Rediscovering Reading

This may sound a strange blog title...particularly coming from a writer but the sad truth is that in this busy world, I have lost the art of reading. Reading has been reduced to a self indulgent pleasure or a few snatched chapters before switching off the light at night.

To my shame, I get hopping mad when my husband starts to read because he is utterly single minded. He will sit and read a book from cover to cover in one sitting given half a chance and while I'm flitting around the house being busy and doing "stuff", he is sitting there READING A BOOK. He will then take it to bed and read it into the wee small hours without a thought that the light is driving his companion crazy!

I have just returned from a week in beautiful New Caledonia, most of which I spent by myself in a hotel in Noumea. DH  (who was doing a site visit in the north of the island) joined me for the weekend. The 4 days I spent by myself, I DID very little. Normally I have to train for holidays which are spent madly rushing around trying to see and do as much as we can in a short space of time.

Instead I wrote, I thought, I plotted and I read.

In keeping with my commitment to the Australian Women Writers Challenge I read Australian Women authors and here is the list.

A small child is found alone on a dock in Australia 1913 with nothing but a small white suitcase containing a book of fairy tales. This story traces the story of that little girl and the search for her identity. It is told through the eyes of the child as an older woman, her granddaughter and the mysterious "authoress" of the fairy tale book. What unfolds is a complex story of social class and rejection in the late nineteenth century. It is not a pretty tale and the fairy stories themselves give more clues to the true story and hints at a darker story than the one revealed on the surface. As the story moves between not only the three women's point of view, but also a fair smattering of the secondary characters, it is not an easy book to "get into". However once the rhythm is established it is a compelling with a satisfactory ending, at least for the granddaughter, Cassandra, who has her own demons to bear. 

INTRODUCING THE HONOURABLE PHRYNE FISHER:  The first 3 Phryne Fisher novels:  Kerry Greenwood
The wonderful Phyrne Fisher is the subject of seventeen books and is shortly to appear on our screens (ABC) in a series of single episodes based on a number of her books. Phryne is a "modern woman" of the 1920s, totally confident in her abilities and sexuality. Of course it helps to gorgeous and independently wealthy! The first 3 Phyrne books establish Phryne in Melbourne society and her cast of characters that surround her. Kerry's portrait of 1920s Melbourne is not tinged with rose. It was a rough and ugly world if you were poor and even though the root of the book is firmly local, the stories are universal (and just the right length for an easy holiday read).

Fiona Lowe writes as HMB "medical author" and Boomerang Bride is her first venture outside that sub genre into the wider world of romantic fiction with a "feisty" Australian bride turning up in small town Wisconsin looking for her online fiancee. Instead she meets Marc the viking. This is a wonderful story, written with a deft and light touch. Fiona's deep affection for a part of the USA she know well comes through and the cast of secondary characters are beautifully drawn with the right amount of pathos/humour. Despite knowing this is a romance and it will end HEA, there are enough credible twists and turns along the way to keep the protagonists at a distance while they come to know not only each other but their inner selves.

I did what my husband normally does...I read this book from cover to cover in one day. Admittedly most of that was spent on a long boat ride to an island, followed by an extended sit on a tropical beach. This is the last of Anne's Devil Rider series and I've loved them all. What I particularly like about Anne's writing is that she doesn't shy away from the reality of the period. Most of Regency England was spent at war and the men who returned from the war were inevitably damaged - physically and emotionally. Anne doesn't hold back in depicting the horror of what they endured and Luke, more than any of the other Devil Riders, is a badly wounded hero (all right I am a complete sucker for wounded heroes!) but so is Bella and together they have to heal the wounds of their horrible war. 

I also started:  HOUSE OF WOMEN:  Ann Whitfield also writing as Anne Brear

All Aussie women writers and all different! The only actual book I took with me was the Anne Gracie, the rest were transported via Kindle (imagine lugging that many books in your suitcase!). I am a total convert to ebooks!

In his few days with me, DH polished off his latest book (Dan Brown...say no more!) and "in desparation" picked up and read the Anne Gracie - in twenty four hours. A great fan of Bernard Cornwell and the wonderful Sharpe series, he chuckled his way through Luke and Bella's adventures and when he finished (with a smile on his face) pronounced it a "lovely story". Consider that a review!

What have you been doing for your holidays (summer or winter!) and what reading has taken your fancy?