About Me

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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

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Book Review: Vienna Valentine by Antonia van Zandt

Review of 'Vienna Valentine' by Antonia van Zandt - out now with Etopia Press

Vienna ValentineVienna Valentine by Antonia Van Zandt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cover for Vienna Valentine had me hooked long ago. It just took me a while to work through my ‘to read’ pile before I got to read it. It didn’t disappoint.

This erotic romance/paranormal novella is filled with rich, descriptive prose, evoking the old charm of Vienna, Austria. From Johann Strauss to street buskers; from Swan Lake to Wagner’s Parsifal; from museums to Viennese coffee and apfelstrudal at CafĂ© Ritter – I felt like I was ambling down the tree-lined avenues of Vienna. Van Zandt’s style of writing had me captured in the moment, and in the city of Vienna.

See if this short excerpt doesn’t carry you along with the beauty of the location:
“I soon approached my favorite spot. By a small lake where ducks swam with their young, peace reigned, broken only by the constant hum of traffic out on the Ring. I needed to be alone with my thoughts, so I selected a bench near my favorite tree. The leaves of the ‘facherblattbaum – the gingko boloba – spread in dark green fans, but come October, they would flutter down from the trees and cover the path with tiny, bright yellow litter.”

Karl, the gorgeous, golden-haired man who captures Nina’s heart, is to die for. He has many skills, and quite a few secrets. The romance is touching and delicate, and their love-making is robust and very fulfilling.

I loved this book. Rich and sophisticated, Vienna Valentine is a most enjoyable read.

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Related link: "Vienna - Where the World Stops for Coffee" - an interview with Antonia van Zandt

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Late Bloomers are budding with great story ideas

Last year, after reading an article in the Huffington Post about famous authors who began their writing career quite late in life, I wrote a blog on that subject. Many writers who were on the other side of middle age, are now household names around the world.

In April this year, I published my first book with Etopia Press. I was - and still am - over the moon. As I nudge the top end of middle age, I find it inspiring to see that writing is not something we need retire from as we get older. Quite clearly, it seems that a lifetime of working and raising families can only temporarily hinder the creativity and stifle the urges of a writer. Once the gift of more time is bestowed upon us, many writers find that their creative juices flow, unchecked, from the rich tapestry of a life well lived. Life, love, travel, trials and tribulations all provide fertile fodder for wonderful stories.
The writers mentioned by the Huffington Post include such illustrious names as Laura Ingalls Wilder and Frank McCourt, both first published in their sixties. Even better, Mary Wesley and Harriet Doerr were well into their seventies!  ‘Watership Down’ author, Richard Adams, was in his mid-fifties, and the ‘babies’ of the group, Raymond Chandler and James A. Michener, were in their forties. 

I decided to do some research to see if any Australian authors were also ‘Late Bloomers’, and came up with some surprising finds.
Elizabeth Stead published her first novel, ‘The Fishcastle’ when she was in her late sixties. Now in her eighties, she has just recently had her fifth novel, ‘The Sparrows of Edward Street’ published.

One of Australia’s most acclaimed writers, Elizabeth Jolley, was fifty-three when her first novel was published.  She was a prolific writer and went on to have fifteen novels published, plus a swag of short stories and non-fiction books. Through her teaching of creative writing to students in Western Australia, (including Tim Winton), Elizabeth Jolley left behind a legacy of successful publications, all receiving significant critical acclaim.

Shirley Painter’s first book was published at the ripe old age of eighty-three! Her memoir, ‘The Bean Patch’ took a lifetime to get written, and tells of her violent and shocking childhood. I can only wonder of the amount of pain Shirley Painter must have endured, and am glad that the therapeutic act of writing her story may go on to help others similarly treated.

Christina Stead, an often controversial but very successful writer, was thirty-two when her first book, ‘Seven poor men of Sydney’ was published.  Christina Stead was listed in Time magazine’s ‘Best 100 novels 1923 – 2005’.

Polish immigrant to Australia, and survivor of the Holocaust, Jacob Rosenberg was first published at the age of seventy-two. His published works covered collections of poems and short stories, plus memoirs.

Glenda Guest, another mature-age first novelist, has won many awards and much acclaim for her novel ‘Siddon Rock’. In her bio on the Australian Literature Management web site, Glenda Guest says “Although I started to write late in my life I always knew that I would become a novelist. I am stunned to be receiving this attention which is a huge boost to my confidence and will help me to press on with writing my next novel. This shows that it’s never too late to start a new endeavour”. Ref: http://www.austlit.com/a-list-f-k.html

So, it is with much excitement that I too now throw my hat into the ring. As I crave, and approach, the glorious prospect of retiring from my day job, I realise that age does not dim the prospect of becoming published.

I've made many friends through local and global writing organisations, and through social media. I love the writing communities I've been welcomed into. Bring on the next chapter in my life.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: The Unraveling of Lady Fury by Shehanne Moore

The Unraveling of Lady FuryThe Unraveling of Lady Fury by Shehanne Moore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not a fast reader, and for that matter, find very little time to read these days. I started reading The Unraveling of Lady Fury with anticipation, as I’d heard so many people talking about it. I wasn’t disappointed!

Right from the get go, I was hooked. The chemistry – and sparks – between Lady Fury and Flint had me ducking for cover. Intense, deep, witty, well written, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It has depth, action, riveting characters, devastation and elation. The past weaves its way into the present, causing Flint and Fury no end of trouble, and heartache.

Moore’s character, Lady Fury, is rich, full, and quite amazing. Such a strong character. At times, I was fearful for Susan, Fury’s companion, but then realised she had the upper hand in many situations.

I read this book in record time – for me. I couldn’t put it down. An absolutely must read.

Read this review on Amazon                                    Buy The Unravelling of Lady Fury here!
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A day in the life of: Author Louise Forster

This is first in a series of author showcases. I'm interested in seeing the 'writing workspace' of other authors, of seeing how their environment can influence their writing, or inspire them.

Today, we chat to Louise Forster, Australian author of ‘Finding Elizabeth’ (out now with Harlequin Escape). Louise takes us through her writing day, showing us the environment where she is so inspired. Louise lives in an idyllic place – the north coast of New South Wales (Australia). She has rainforests, mountains, and pristine beaches surrounding her.

Louise Forster
Hi Noelle, thank you for inviting me to your very first “A Day in the Life” author interview.

You're welcome, Louise. Are you a full time writer?
Yes, but in saying that I wouldn’t be able to support myself writing novels. I’m in awe of authors who hold down a job and write.

Do you to write to a set routine?
I have a loose routine. We live on a dual occupancy with other members of our family and my own space to where the door has never been closed. Kids walk in to say hello, or to have a chat after school. My sister in-law pops over for coffee. Our daughters and sons in-law do the same. I’m not an early starter, although we’re up early taking the dogs for a walk, after that we have breakfast, then I’ll answer my e-mails, then I’ll make coffee and read while sipping my one and only caffeine hit. After that I get to work on my latest story, unless my mailbox is winking, I can’t help myself I have to have a look, which is such a bad habit. But if I’m on a roll or there’s a deadline, I can work till quite late.
The view from Louise's verandah

What percentage of your writing time is allocated to promotion and marketing, for example, on social media such as Facebook and Twitter?
I have no idea, but far too much time, I’m sure. I keep trying to stick to about and hour each morning, but sometimes the social media networks is screaming to be attended to NOW, which I mentioned earlier I find hard to ignore. Perhaps someone has a remedy, or a way to detox :-)

Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantster’? Or do you just start typing and go from there?

Inspirational views from Louise's property

I’m half and half … Hmm, hang on a minute … I’m more a pantser. I’m writing a short fantasy at the moment and have pantsed my way so far, but I’ve come to a sticky end, or rather middle. And a real plotter probably doesn’t come across that very often, if ever. But while waking very early this morning I plotted out of the sticky middle.

How much research do you do on the setting for your books?
I do a lot of research. My next book, Finding Butterflies is set in the Whitsunday Islands. For non Australians, it’s part of the Great Barrier Reef. I have been there, so that wasn’t a problem. I have sailed and that wasn’t a problem either. But I had to research how a yacht behaved under certain conditions like a wild storm. Luckily, I was in touch with a yachtsman who lived at Airlee Beach and he was a lot of help. Anything I feel unsure about I’ll research it immediately.

Many authors like to keep a blog - do you have one? How often do you post in it?
I don’t have a blog and I’m not sure that I’ll ever start one ;-)

Now, when you are writing, where do you like to write? The kitchen bench? In front of the TV? In your own office?
I have my own space, which I don’t have a name for yet, office sounds too much like I should be answering the phones in a tall building with lots of people doing stuff. Den sounds like I should be a fox or bear. Computer room nah. There are lots of books up there, maybe I’ll call it the library, but that sounds really posh :-) and not me at all … so it’s my room. :-)

Why do you write?
I enjoy putting a story together, manipulating the characters, getting them to do things out of their comfort zone and see how they react. For example: In Finding Elizabeth, Jack is dealing with finding love in freezing Canada. Katherine is giving up her ballet career. In Finding Butterflies, Kabe discovers he can deal with the news media, by being smart and not lose his cool. Belle can spend time alone with a hot bloke she had a crush on all through high school without jumping him. I love it, it’s so much fun.
Nearby pristine beaches

I’m very interested in locations for stories. Why did you choose chilly Canada for the setting of Finding Elizabeth?
I love Christmas. Being a romantic, Christmas with snow and cold and log fires and pretty lights twinkling on a cold night just felt right for the story, especially since I was bringing an Aussie in from the heat of Sydney’s summer to the bitter cold of Canada. It deepened Jack’s character, brought out his Aussie humour. Helped him stoically carry on even though some of his favourite body parts were feeling it; it didn’t deter him from going after someone who had made him feel warm, or rather…hot.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Louise's garden
Other than going places, I like to be creative, making things. I’m not a great gardener. I’ve tried it and I don’t have it in me. I absolutely appreciate a beautiful garden because I know the amount of work that has gone into making it look fantastic. But I’ll stick to sewing, knitting, while plotting the next book…in my head. I wonder if we ever stop writing. Even when I’m out, I’m people watching and questioning, what if those two meeting up were….

Where can readers get a copy of your books?
The links for Finding Elizabeth are all on the Escape Publishing website below, just click on the link, Amazon, iBookstore, Nook, E-books.com, Google Play, Kobo, All About Romance.
Then click on 'buy' and the online sellers will come up: http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9780857990235

Contact Louise:

Louise, thanks so much for joining me here, and for sharing with us all, the beautiful place you call home. - Noelle.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Romance will never be extinct

I was watching a trivia show on TV last night – Millionaire Hot Seat. For the first time I can remember, the very first contestant ‘passed’ on the first – easiest – question. I was aghast. The question was:
Which of the following is not extinct?
1.      Tyrannosaurus Rex

2.      Dodo bird

3.      Lesser Bilby

4.      Romance
I wondered at the time, whether or not perhaps the contestant was a dodo!

However, the incident made me think of an article I saw in the UK Daily Mail newspaper the other day. It was a story about Ida Pollock.
Ida is a romance writer, but what makes her so amazing, is that she is 105 years old – and still writing! She has published 123 novels under several pen names. These days, she dictates to her young 69 year old daughter, who types the stories up for her mother.
Some of the things Ida says really resonate with me. Ida said: 'A romance is never just a romance, there's adventure, mystery and movement.’ She also agrees you need a ‘grand, dramatic setting’.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about the importance of location for my stories. I like places with a bit of mystery, exotic places with lots to discover.
But what I like about Ida is that she has stuck to the ‘formula’ of good romance novels and given joy to millions of people over many decades. It proves that, in a world where the reality of life can often be harsh, sad, and hurtful, the romance of true love can lift us up and transport us to a heady utopia where happiness abounds.
So, unlike the hapless bilby, dodo and T-rex, romance will live forever, thanks to romance authors everywhere, and especially to people like Ida Pollock.


Nightingale in the Sycamore (1957)

'He moved to meet her as she moved to meet him and caught her in his arms, kissing her wildly, like a man who was starving. Her hair, eyes, cheeks, lips - he smothered them with so many kisses that before long he paused to draw breath himself. She was completely breathless, but clung to him as if never willingly would she let him go again, and for the first time for weeks she knew what it was to feel glad that she had been born. . . .'

Bay of Moonlight (1968)

'Their first kiss was unlike anything Sarah had ever expected of a kiss. It left her feeling as if a thunderbolt had come hurtling out of the sky and passed so close that it scorched her. And when his violent mood changed to one of gentleness, a tenderness that melted her bones, she knew that this was the moment for which she had been destined ... It was the very purpose of her life ...'

A Distant Drum (2005)

'She had been in bed no more than five minutes when she heard the door handle begin to turn. The movement was gentle at first. "Open this door, or I'll break it down," the Marquis ordered. When there was no immediate response his fist began pounding against the woodwork, and Fanny jumped out of bed. "I don't," his lordship told her, "wish to rouse the whole house, but if it becomes necessary I shall not hesitate to do so. Turn the key in the lock, Fanny.'
Ida, I take my hat off to you!

Related articles:
Shehanne Moore - From Vienna to Cambodia
Antonia van Zandt - Let Angels Fly