L.M. Montgomery

CALEB 2011 Winner ... Paula Vince

Paula Vince

Paula Vince

My last featured author for January is Paula Vince. Paul won the CALEB 2011 Prize with her novel, Best Forgotten.

Welcome, Paula!

Please tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’m a homeschooling mother of three children aged between seven and seventeen. We live in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia which I’ve found is the perfect place to set novels. It’s beautiful all year round with four very distinctive seasons.

Ever since I was a young schoolgirl, writing fiction is all I ever wanted to do. I believe a story has its own awesome power to touch readers’ hearts in ways other genres don’t. I’ve had faith-inspired novels in the Australian market since 2000.

Your book, Best Forgotten, won the 2011 CALEB Award. Would you tell us about it and what inspired you to write it?

I’d been intrigued by the relationship between our thinking habits and what we make of our lives. Are our personalities a product of random events or the thoughts we choose to think about them? I’d wanted to tackle questions like that for a long time.

In Best Forgotten, I have a bewildered young hero with complete amnesia who develops an aversion to the person he used to be. He can’t understand the way he used to behave or the choices he made. His girlfriend is keeping him at arm’s length and he discovers that his best friend disappeared without a trace on the night of his own accident. The more he investigates, the more likely it appears that he was involved in something really sinister and shady. He is both hero and detective of his story and terrified that he may also turn out to be the villain. It’s a blend of mystery, suspense and romance.

Who is your favourite author and what is it about their work you like?

There are so many excellent fiction authors I admire, I’d honestly find it difficult to choose one or two. I would like to pay tribute to Janette Oke and Francine Rivers, though, because these ladies first made me aware that there is even such a thing as Christian fiction. Way back in the late eighties when I was still a schoolgirl, I sat up late turning the pages of their books, anxious to find out what was going to happen to their characters. These two authors are responsible for making me determined to try my hand at doing for Australia what they were doing for America.

What books did you read growing up?

I read a steady diet of the old classics. As a girl, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series and anything ever written by L. M. Montgomery. The formative book during my teens was Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I considered that book the prototype of everything a wonderful novel was supposed to include. I used to love studying its elements, pulling it apart and marveling at the perfect blend of characterization and plot, all enhanced by her wonderful descriptions of her local environment, the Yorkshire Moors. It still sits in a position of pride on my shelf.

What does a typical day look like for Paula?

I like to get up before others for some quiet time and a bit of writing. We have a relaxed homeschooling style based on reading books and following wherever the kids’ interests lead them. This results in a really interesting blend of studies and excursions, especially as their ages are so diverse. Fitting in a walk and a bit of reading is ideal, too, and there’s always housework. I’m definitely the stay-at-home type.

What advice would you give an aspiring Christian romance author?

If your personal daydreams about your characters and their potential storylines intrigue you, there is an excellent chance that they’ll capture other people’s imaginations too. Whenever the writing becomes more of a chore than a labour of love, perhaps you need to sit back and ponder how to re-ignite that spark.

Also, be prepared to revise and re-write a lot. Getting to enjoy the editing stage as much as the writing is an important part of the lifestyle.

What can readers expect in your next book?

Its working title is Along for the Ride. The heroine is a young woman who feels compelled to travel to the other side of the world to right a wrong she committed in her childhood that has never stopped eating her peace. The hero is a brilliant young man who faces the challenge of changing everything he ever believed was true. It also tackles the question of divine healing and whether God chooses to work independently of or in response to our faith. I always aim to draw tears and laughter from my readers. I hope this will be no exception.

Best Forgotten by Paula Vince

Best Forgotten by Paula Vince

Thanks for being part of my blog today, Paula.

To learn more about Paula and other books she has written, you can read her blog www.justoccurred.blogspot.com

Paula's books are available at Koorong, Christian Bookworld and independent bookstores.

Helen Lacey ... Romance From The Heart

Today, I'm interviewing debut author, Helen Lacey. Helen has a passion for horses, and her dream has come true with the recent release of her novel, Made for Marriage.

Helen Lacey

Helen Lacey

Welcome, Helen!

Tell us about your debut release, Made for Marriage, and why you decided to write romance?

I wanted to write romance from the time I read my first Mills & Boon novel when I was twelve years old. Made For Marriage is my debut book, published by Harlequin Special Edition. It’s the story of a former elite equestrian from California and her struggle to not fall in love with a single dad hero. Of course she fails and falls head over heels – but the journey was fun to write.

Finding a literary agent to represent us is difficult. Tell us about your experiences in finding an agent?

I had a short list of agents I felt would be a good ‘fit’ for me. And rather than submit the usual way to the agent I really wanted to represent me, I watched the Romance Writers of America chapter contest circuit and waited until he was the final judge for one – I entered that contest, won it, and a few weeks later was offered representation.

Who is your favourite author and what is it about their work you like?

Hard question – I have several. I grew up reading Danielle Steele and Barbara Taylor Bradford in mainstream romance, and too many to mention in category romance. I am currently reading a lot of Susan Wiggs and Debbie Macomber. I love their home town settings and the ensemble casts in their books.

What books did you read growing up? How have they influenced the person you are and your writing today?

Black Beauty, The Silver Brumby, The Black Stallion – see the theme? I love horses and they are a big part of the inspiration for my stories. I also read L.M Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder and discovered Jane Austen when I was about eleven. I believe the books we read as a child are some of the most important of our lives and am so pleased I had opportunity to read diversely.

You live in a beautiful part of Australia. Tell us how you came to settle in this area?

About five years ago my husband and I went to visit a friend who lived in a small town by the beach. We’d been considering a sea/tree change for a while and fell in love with this part of the world. The weather is moderate for most of the year and I have a fabulous view of the Pacific Ocean from my office window. Plus I get to have my horses in the back yard, which I just adore.

What does a typical day look like for Helen Lacey?

First I set my husband off to work and feed the dogs. If it’s a full writing day I’ll usually do emails first and check my website. Then I’ll start writing. I try to set a target of 1500 words a day, sometimes I do more, sometimes less. I keep a dairy to keep track of my word count for the week. I’m not a very organised person, so this daily tracking keeps me on target. In the afternoons I head outside to spend time with my horses – feeding, grooming or riding. Then I feed the dogs. I try to spend a couple of hours outside every day. And in between there are errands and house chores and seeing friends and family.

What advice would you give an aspiring romance author wanting to write category romance?

Just write the best book you can. And know what line you want to write for. Read everything current in that line that's available, follow the blogs of your favourite authors to see what they’re up to and what they are selling. Enter contests if you can, find a good critique partner, invest in professional assessment if you can afford it. But mostly, just write and write.

Made For Marriage by Helen Lacey

Made For Marriage by Helen Lacey

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Helen.

You can learn more about Helen and her upcoming books by visiting her website http://helenlacey.com

Helen's books are available at

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Marriage-Harlequin-Special-Helen-Lacey/dp/0373656483/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313399068&sr=8-1

Harlequin: http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=25098&cid=2868


Leave a comment below and put yourself in the draw for a copy of Made For Marriage.

Follow Helen's blog tour at http://rbpp-hl.blogspot.com/ for more giveways and a grand prize of an Amazon $50 Gift Voucher; and for those who like a little bling, a silver Pandora bracelet!