Saturday, September 1, 2012

Guest Post with Alicia Hope

G’day, I’m Alicia Hope, indie author and bird lover. With the help of my fine feathered friends, I’ve published four books this year - two novels, Glass Ceilings, and The Long Road to Loving Grayson, and two short stories, Maggie, and Her Fortescue Diamond. I’ll tell you more about the novels a bit later on, but for now I’d like to share some observations with you.

We hear a lot about writers’ muses, and many of them take furry form, like a favourite cat or dog. Well, mine take feathered form. My little brown muse sits on my shoulder and obligingly listens to me without interrupting as I read my chapters aloud, checking for pacing, flow, grammar, etc.

To ‘help’ balance things out, my cockatiel critic screeches insults at my attempts at humour, and has been known to shout ‘Hey, boyo!’ with perfect delivery and timing during the reading of a sensual first kiss scene. ;-) 

But my most surprising feathered fan is a wild King Parrot. This avid listener heard me reading my latest chapter aloud, and must have become engrossed in the tale, for he flew over to the window, to get a ‘birds-eye view’ of the author reading her story (photo right - apologies for the poor quality. I’ve posted another one below, of a pair of Kingies on our bird feeder).     

Anyway, His Royal Highness sat determinedly on the sill, flapping his wings occasionally as though begging, ‘So, what happens next? C’mon, don’t leave me hanging, I just HAVE to know!’ Needless to say, I took his visit and seed-er-feedback  as a compliment.

And it reminded me of the importance of two things: 1. To consider my audience in everything I do with my stories. As writers, we aim to please readers, so we should always strive to connect with them, entertain them, make them laugh or cry, surprise or shock them, enthral them, make them fall in love with our characters, and/or feel all warm and fuzzy (feathery??). And that often means finding the right target audience - we don’t want to aim a hot erotic fantasy at a religious church goer in the twilight of her life, now do we? No, she’s definitely in the ‘inspirational’ focus group (or so she’d like us to think!!). So we need to be careful to choose the right categories for our little darlings. 2. That said, I have to remember to never assume anything about the readership. Readers from all walks of life will consume all sorts of books, and there’s no pleasing all the people - or feathered fans - all the time. But as long as I please most, or even just some, my work is done! Now, as promised, here’s the skinny on my books, both contemporary romances set in Australia.

 In Glass Ceilings, ambitious career woman Verity Parker (who I pictured played by Emily Blunt) shatters the glass ceiling of a multi-national mining corporation, snatching the job of CEO from the waiting hands of ruthless corporate nemesis Royce James (in whose role I would cast Gerard Butler - mmm mmm!), only to find herself in danger of losing more than just her tenuous hold on the job—her love-scarred heart and even her life are at risk. A web of workplace mischief, treachery and sabotage entangles the rivals and Royce, guilty of his own resentful duplicity against his new CEO, suddenly finds his life in her hands. Preoccupied with mounting professional barriers, Verity is almost unaware of the cracks beginning to appear in the toughened glass protecting her wary heart. Corporate glass ceilings aren’t the only things meant to be broken ... and when someone determined enough shatters the glass, watch out everyone below! (Available as an e-book and paperback from Amazon)

 In The Long Road to Loving Grayson, we find out what happens when two hearts, one badly bruised and the other trapped in an unhappy marriage, meet at the junction of long outback roads. Set in the remote north-west of Queensland, known as ‘Australia’s warm heart’, the story takes the reader along an adventurous and emotional journey. Better, buckle up, ’cos there are plenty of roadblocks and obstacles ahead! Being in love with one man but married to another isn't a situation uber-capable HR officer Maggie (in my mind, played by Ashleigh Judd) had prepared herself for; and when civil engineer Grayson (I envisaged Sam Worthington in this role) travels to a remote western Queensland town to relieve for six weeks, he isn't expecting to have to summon the Flying Doctors, survive a tropical cyclone, or lose his heart.
 So when he finally sets off on the journey back home, neither of them realises that Maggie is also on the road ... the long road to loving Grayson. Available as an e-book and in paperback from Amazon) and from Smashwords  and numerous other distributors. Thanks for being interested in my observations - I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you! Cheers from ‘Oz’, Alicia