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Queensland, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Queensland, Australia. www.noelleclark.net

Friday, November 13, 2015

Second Chance Cafe - It’s really not over until the final curtain call

I’ve had more second chances in my lifetime than I can poke a stick at. I’ve had some low times,
when all I could do was hang on with my fingernails and wait it out. Know the feeling? I’m sure most of you do.

You see, a ‘second chance’ is a metaphor for many things: faith, courage, promise, positivity, and opportunities.

Sometimes these ‘second chances’ are handed to us on a platter. Other times we have to work damned hard to find them, and then they often turn out to be useless. You see, in my experience, we have to be receptive to change for those opportunities to work. We can push the proffered chances away, saying things like, “it won’t work”, “it’s too late”, “it’ll never happen”…or we can timidly take hold and use all our faith in whatever we believe to make that tremulous first step.

I’ve often been a coward, and not taken up opportunities when the chance to do so was right in the palm of my hand. But on nearly every occasion when I have taken a deep breath, stuck my nose in the air, and stepped boldly into the unknown, it has worked out. Well, either worked out, or made me a better person, or helped me to see another way out of the situation.

Second chances have often taken years to emerge. I’ve waited, reasonably patiently, for something that I’ve wished for, longed for, and now – at this particular point in my life – I think I can see that it is finally happening. The exact nature of what I longed for has blurred at the edges over many years. It’s not as clear, nor am I as driven, as I once was to hold the dream in my hands. But, although I am scared to say it out loud, I think it has finally come. So now, as I take my first scary, tentative steps toward a new future, I’m holding my breath and closing my eyes tightly and hoping fervently that this chance won’t disappear before I’ve grasped it with both hands.

Life will be different when I take this second chance. I will miss some things. But I am determined to embrace all that the new opportunity has to offer, and to fall in love with life again.

In my short story, Encore, my lead character – Louisa Frank – has shown me how to calmly accept things both good and bad in life. She has demonstrated how patience is the proverbial virtue.

Thank you, Louisa Frank, for showing me the way.

Louisa Frank is a creature of habit, borne of years of discipline.

She lives with one foot in the glorious past, the other in the mundane and lonely present. If it wasn’t for Alfie Baretto, she might have been forgotten, lost in a sea of successful young starlets. 
In the narrow streets of Hell’s Kitchen, in a small but atmospheric diner called Café Cleo, Alfie ensures the Broadway star—Louisa Frank—will forever be feted by theatre-goers, and remembered for her amazing performances.

But the years have passed slowly for Louisa. Will the endless quest for a return to the glory years ever end?

Four tales of positivity and second chances, brought to you by:

Abbie Jackson
Susanne Bellamy
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Noelle Clark

Pre-order now on Smashwords.

Out on November 13th everywhere.
Barnes and Noble

Monday, November 9, 2015

Second Chance Cafe - meet Abbie Jackson

Second Chance Cafe is a collection of four very different short stories about love, relationships, and hope.

This anthology is proudly brought to you from four Australian authors:  

Susanne Bellamy
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Noelle Clark
and debut author - Abbie Jackson.

Today I spoke with Abbie Jackson.

Q. Abbie – firstly HUGE congratulations on your debut publication. I loved reading your story  – Shannon’s Legacy – in the anthology Second Chance Café, but have to admit to reaching for the tissues a couple of times. J  Can you tell us the inspiration for this story?

Thank you so much, Noelle! I’m so pleased to be a part of this anthology.

Yes, Shannon’s Legacy is not your standard romance novel, for sure.  The inspiration for this novella came to me after a lunch meeting with the other authors involved in the trilogy where we were all discussing ideas for Second Chance Café, and what ‘a second chance’ really meant to me.

I think, so often in life, things happen to us that are beyond our control, just as it did for Shannon.  What I wanted to portray to the readers is, sometimes you really need to push for your second chance in life, not wait for it to be handed to you. 

Q. What’s the best part about collaborating in a project such as the Second Chance Café anthology?

Oh, that’s an easy one – the knowledge and experience being bestowed on me by the other authors I am collaborating with.  As my debut publication, I have so much to learn about the publishing world and each of the ladies in the anthology are so gracious with their time and knowledge.  I really feel like I’ve won the lotto!

Q. It’s very obvious that you have a background in the medical or pathology field. Do you find
that this knowledge influences the type of stories you like to write?

That’s right, Noelle.  I spent thirteen years working in Pathology across different disciplines and always thoroughly enjoyed learning new things in the medical field.  That spark within me clearly shines through in Shannon’s Legacy and I look forward to writing more novels with a medical influence.

Q. I love the characters in your story: husband and wife – Shannon and Matt; and of course their little boy. Does your insight into family dynamics come from your real life?

Yes and no.  Shannon is based loosely on me, or more accurately, how I think I would react in a situation such as hers.  Matt is a figment of my imagination entirely.  His view on the situation is the flipside of Shannon’s, but no less real.  I love the way that he doesn’t agree with Shannon’s course of action, but still supports her all the way.  Little Anderson is based on my own son.  I adore that character!

Q. The minor character of Shannon’s mother, Joy, is well drawn too, and acts as I imagine any mother would in a situation such as Shannon’s. Did you consider that the character could have turned out to be anything other than supportive?

I really don’t.  Joy was the lynchpin in the story for me.  She was steady rock that kept the world turning for this family while Shannon and Matt found their feet.  She guided Shannon in actions that she wouldn’t have considered for herself and Joy kept the ‘big picture’ in mind, because at that time, Matt and Shannon couldn’t. 

Q. Both Matt and Shannon are dealing with enormous pressure, yet their love for each other never wavers. Did you set out to create characters who supported each other despite initially having doubts about the direction?

I didn’t intentionally create this dynamic.  When the story began to form in my mind, I knew Shannon’s medical history and the ending.  I consider myself a real ‘planner’ with my writing, but this story really wrote itself.  As each scene progressed, I had a picture of each character forming in my mind and asked myself questions like, “How will Matt respond to this?”

I really love how each character turned out though and am sure there are families out there who have unwavering support, just like this family.  Even though I had tears writing some scenes, I had a smile shining through those tears at the end.

Q. What can readers expect to see from Abbie Jackson in the coming months? Is there another book on the way?

Well, I’m pleased to say, Noelle, that I’ve been very busy since writing Shannon’s Legacy.  I have outlined a crime trilogy, Dealer Always Wins, and the first instalment is nearly finished.  I am also writing a children’s series called Pippa The Pirate.  So, hopefully the readers won’t have too long to wait!

Q. Can you please share a blurb about the story – Shannon’s Legacy?

Shannon's cancer has spread and she is running out of time.  Fast! She is determined to find a miracle for her death sentence, but what she discovers along the way may be just the second chance she needed.
Her husband, Matt wants to enjoy her remaining time as a family, not in a hospital, and Shannon must also prepare her young son for a future without her. Will Shannon's determination be enough?

Q. When can readers get a copy of the anthology – Second Chance Café?

Black Friday! November 13 will see the release of Second Chance Café on most good e-tailers.
Pre-orders open on 1 November.

And if you’d like to leave us a review, we’d consider it a fab Christmas gift!

Barnes and Noble

About Abbie Jackson

Abbie Jackson is a young mum of four toddlers, runs her own business, and in her spare time (that’s a joke), she writes novels and enjoys cooking and baking.

Abbie lives in South-East Queensland and has travelled extensively around the world prior to having her family. Abbie loves writing across multiple genres including fantasy, sci-fi, romance, crime and children’s stories.

Contact Abbie

Website: www.abbiejackson.net
email: authorabbiejackson@gmail.com
Facebook: Abbie Jackson
Twitter: AbbieJackson111

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Second Chance Cafe - meet Susanne Bellamy

Second Chance Cafe is a collection of four very different short stories about love, relationships, and hope.

This anthology is proudly brought to you from four Australian authors:  

Susanne Bellamy
Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Noelle Clark
and debut author - Abbie Jackson.

Today I spoke with Susanne Bellamy.

Q. Susanne, your story – The Wish List – in the anthology Second Chance Café is divine. I love that it is set in your real home town. Is this the first time you’ve used Toowoomba as the location for a story?
Yes. I haven’t felt comfortable enough as a writer before now to set a story in my home town, but this one is different, partly because it began in response to losing our beloved Anna in June. Setting the story anywhere else simply didn’t work for me.

Q. What’s the best part about collaborating in a project such as the Second Chance Café anthology?
I love the brainstorming, the support, the sharing of ideas, the vibe of working with such a wonderful group of writers. And I love how, this year, we are able to welcome debut writer, Abbie Jackson, and travel with her on the first step of her writing journey. It’s FUN!

Q. It’s very obvious that you are a dog-lover, and the dogacter (that’s a doggie character) Anna is – I know – a tribute to your recently dearly-departed German Shepherd, Anna. I imagine you cried a lot while writing this story. Did you find comfort in having her star in a gorgeous story such as this?
Dear Anna - who sadly passed away a few months ago.
Anna was such a big part of our lives and our children’s growing up. With her passing, there is also the loss of that final link as both ‘children’ are now adults living away from home and studying at uni. I did cry, quite a lot at first, and I had to put the story aside for a couple of months as I couldn’t get past the loss. However, our beautiful girl now has ‘her’ story; ‘Anna’ is very much like real life Anna was. And yes, we used to have many conversations.

As a bonus, Jack’s dog, Bear, is based on our Ricky who was big and black and a real Houdini hound
Susanne's new puppy, Freya
in his younger days, but so gentle and protective of our son as a toddler.

Q. I love the lead (human) characters too. Julie and Jack are opposites in many ways, yet are brought together initially by a shared devotion to their dogs. Had they both not been ready to embark on a new chapter in their lives, do you think they would have struck up such a good friendship?
That’s a really good question about relationships. My husband and I have had discussions about how important timing is to whether an attraction is pursued, or relegated to the land of ‘might-have-been’. I suspect that most people need to be in the right head space to follow a romantic attachment through. And I do think there is a lot of truth in the idea that opposites attract. Perhaps we subconsciously look for someone to ‘complete’ us, who is better at things we’re not. Jack is a ‘numbers man’, logical and factual; Julie has more of an emotional reaction to life and work. Together, they are just what the shelter (and each other) needs.  

Q. Both Jack and Julie have issues they are dealing with  -  pressures from others, injuries from the past. Did you set out to create characters who had the ability to heal each other, where they couldn’t seem to heal themselves? Is this a theme that you see in real life, where people find freedom through the help/friendship/understanding of another person?
Funnily enough, both characters started out rather differently but, as is often the case when I’m writing, they told me their back story along the way and The Wish List evolved. I didn’t set out to create this pair with the ability to heal each other, but they found something in each other more than pure physical attraction.
If we’re honest about it, in real life, there is usually that first impression that either strikes a chord with us, or doesn’t. In Julie’s case, it was Jack’s voice; the fact that he is hunky is a bonus, but for her, a dog lover (especially one with another Shepherd) says much about his personality – caring, and careful of others. I think they give each other the freedom to grow and to be more together than the sum of their parts.

Q. Can you please share a blurb about the story – The Wish List?
Julie Aster has worked hard to make the animal shelter a success but money is short. Then the sexy Jack Shulz sweeps into her life with an answer to all her problems.
But when a client lets out a secret about Jack, she wonders if she really knows him.

Can she trust this man who seems to have all the answers... and more to the point, can she trust her heart?

Q. When can readers get a copy of the anthology – Second Chance Café?
Black Friday! November 13 will see the release of Second Chance Café on most good e-tailers.
Pre-orders open on NOW on Smashwords.

And if you’d like to leave us a review, we’d consider it a fab Christmas gift!

About Susanne Bellamy, author of The Wish List
Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne Bellamy is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations, and rural romance set in Australia. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters.

Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her.

Susanne is a member of the RWA and was a finalist in their 2011 Emerald Award. She placed third in the 2015 Pan Macmillan short story competition with Chez Romeo. Mentoring aspiring writers, and working as a freelance editor keeps her off the street! She loves connecting with readers and fellow writers. 

You can find her at the following:
a.       Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7
b.      Twitter            https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy 
c.       Website           http://www.susannebellamy.com/
d.      Pinterest          http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/ 

Books by Susanne Bellamy
  • Second Chance Love (Aust store) amzn.to/1FEJyx4
  • Second Chance Love (A Bindarra Creek Romance) bit.ly/1O5ngaN
  • Sunny with a Chance or Romance amzn.to/1Cmy9jM
  • One Night in Tuscany amzn.to/1dKLyX6
  • One Night in Sorrento amzn.to/1brE2Jp
  • Winning the Heiress' Heart (The Emerald Quest) amzn.to/1B9TVUJ
  • A Season To Remember: Four Short Stories For Christmas – a book by Susanne Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Noelle Clark and Eva Scott
  • bit.ly/1ynJsTZ
  • Engaging The Enemy amzn.to/1wrYGHQ
  • White Ginger  amzn.to/MiDjVr 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Second Chance Cafe - meet Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Second Chance Cafe is a collection of four very different short stories about love, relationships, and

This anthology is proudly brought to you from four Australian authors:  

Susanne Bellamy

Elizabeth Ellen Carter
Noelle Clark
and debut author - Abbie Jackson.

Today I spoke with Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Q. Elizabeth, you must have enjoyed being part of an anthology with other authors last year, as you’ve decided to do it again. What’s the best part about collaborating in a project such as this?

I have had so much fun working with you, Susanne and this year Abbie. There is something very special in getting together with you beautiful women to talk about books and share a passion for writing. I’m deeply privileged to know you all. The support and encouragement makes much brighter the sometimes low times of being an author (the looming deadlines, the absent muse, the trials and tribulations of publishing...)

Hop Pickers

Q. September Harvest is a sumptuous read. I loved it. What was the inspiration for the recurring and predictable harvest season?

I was fascinated by the idea of the itinerant workers leaving the hot and sometimes diseased city of London for the fresh air of Kent. Of course there were no paid holidays, so many thousands of workers would go on a working holiday. There’s something warm and predictable about the harvest seasons and I wanted to juxtapose the reliability of the seasons with the unpredictability of young love.

Q. All of the characters are well-rounded and likeable. Tilly is quiet but forthright; Andrew is so likeable; and Noah is an unassuming young fellow. How did these characters evolve, and did their growth (in age and in maturity) shape the direction of the plot?

This story came as a surprise to me Noah was there, much like the seasons itself – predictable, reliable, honest. I’d describe him as autumn. Tilly is like the spring, fresh, joyful and youthful. Andrew is lively and full of passion. He is the summer sun. But life is not straight forward and sometimes the winter of our experience reveals a greater truth. 

Q. Can you please share a blurb about the story – September Harvest? 

Seasonal crop picker Andrew is still a boy himself when he introduces 12 year old Tilly to reading. Instantly besotted both with Andrew and with books, Tilly eagerly awaits his return to her village over the course of 7 summers. Childish adoration is now a young woman’s love but has she misread his feelings for her over the years?

Q. When can readers get a copy of the anthology – Second Chance Café?

It will be available from Friday, 13 November from all good e-tailers – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and Smashwords!

About the author - Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Elizabeth Ellen Carter’s debut novel, Moonstone Obsession, was published in 2013 by Etopia Press. Earlier that year, the Regency adventure romance had been shortlisted in the Romance Writers of Australia Emerald Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript. Set in England and France during the French Revolution, it was heralded as ‘edge-of-seat adventure and intrigue’ and ‘a rollercoaster of love, blackmail, ill-gotten gains, treason and trickery’ with Carter described as ‘a writer worth keeping an eye on’ with ‘a hint of classic suspense novelist Daphne du Maurier’.

Her second novel, Warrior’s Surrender, was published by Etopia the following year. Set in Northumbria in 1077, it sets the relationship between a displaced Saxon noblewoman and a Norman baron against the turbulent backdrop of England in the years following the Norman invasion of 1066. Reviewers found the novel ‘a fast moving and passionate read’ with ‘strong characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty of action… a sexy romance to be savoured’. Readers agreed, voting Warrior’s Surrender Favourite Historical Fiction in the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards.
Also in 2014, the short story Moonstone Promise, spinning off from Moonstone Obsession as part of Etopia’s Valentines Heat anthology, followed the fortunes of one of the supporting characters back home to 18th century Pittsburgh in a tale of ‘second chance romance’.

Warrior’s Surrender (now in print as well as eBook) was named Favourite Historical Fiction at the 2015 Readers & Writers Down Under Readers Choice Awards in March this year.

Carter moved up to 1802 for the light-hearted romantic short story Three Ships, part of the Christmas 2014 anthology A Season To Remember, and ventures briefly into contemporary romance for the first time with her Romance Writers of Australia annual Little Gems competition placegetter, The Tin Bear, publishing in August 2015.

And another Moonstone Obsession character, the sinful Lady Abigail Houghall, features in the full length novel Moonstone Conspiracy, coming from Etopia Press in 2015.

Carter is currently working on her fourth novel, set in ancient Rome and tentatively titled Dark Heart, which will bring together the elements for which she has become known in just a few years – in-depth historical detail woven through gripping adventure and captivating romance.

The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats. A former newspaper journalist, she ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years.