Finally, a new blog post!

Thank you to everyone who entered my Goodreads November giveaway! Ten paperback copies of my novella, LIVE FAST, DIE YOUNG, are now on their way to ten lucky winners across the U.S. Congrats, everyone!

Some lovely reviews of the novella have come in recently. It’s always amazing and humbling to hear that people are taking time out to read my work. Soren from Ripley’s Booklist said it had “A nice blend of humor and emotion, with a realistic teen voice.” And Sabina on Goodreads said she “cried a lot,” which, believe, me is a huge compliment! I cried when I wrote this story too because I adore my poor tortured characters. Check out more reviews on my website.

Soooo, December, huh? This year went by in a flash. One of the highlights of 2016 for me was going to the U.S. for the RWA conference in San Diego, where I saw my two critique partners win the highest honours in romance writing — Pintip Dunn nabbed the RITA for Best First Book and Kim MacCarron earned a Golden Heart Award for Best Inspirational Romance manuscript. Golden Heart winner and fellow Aussie Gabrielle Luthy and I trotted off to a cat cafe and got our feline fix. We giggled over buying American laundry “souvenirs” from a supermarket — a magical wrinkle eraser and a Tide spot-stain remover. #ohtheglamour.

Kim and Pintip - winnahs!
Kim and Pintip – winnahs!
Gabrielle Luthy, Golden Heart winner and fellow cat enthusiast
Gabrielle Luthy, Golden Heart winner and fellow cat enthusiast
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Ghost-hunting with Kim in San Diego

My agent and I were treated to an impromptu dolphin show while we had lunch by the water. Apparently, dolphins are enlisted by the navy for mine detection among other things.

In Nashville, I saw my favourite band of all time, Duran Duran. (Actually, I almost missed them because my plane was delayed first by a janitorial issue and then storm activity.) Nile Rodgers and Chic were the support act. OMG – gobsmackingly good. DD and Nile performed a tribute to David Bowie, blending ‘Planet Earth’ with ‘Space Oddity’.

Spare a thought (or ‘Save a Prayer’) for DD, who’ve just lost a high court battle for the rights to their early works. Read about it here. Heartbreaking stuff. In the meantime, I urge you to listen to and download their later works, like the albums ‘All You Need Is Now’ (I made a tiny reference to it in my novella) and ‘Paper Gods’.

Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon.
Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon in Nashville.
John Taylor
John Taylor

In more heartbreaking news, my 17-year-old cat, Possum, has been diagnosed with an inoperable tumour. We don’t know how much time we’ve got together, but we’re making the most of it. She’s pretty much glued to my lap, “helping” me write as always!

Brave little Possum (who is actually a cat, I assure you!)
Brave little Possum (who is actually a cat, I assure you!)

How about you? Was 2016 a good, bad or meh year for you?

Around the World in 21 Days – Part 1

I’m recovering from an epic holiday that took me from Sydney to New York to Amsterdam to Berlin to Amsterdam and back to Sydney again. This trip was so epic that I’ll have to tell you about it across several blog posts. (And I’ve got to write it down before everything fades from my jet-lagged head.) So here’s Part 1…

In New York, I attended the Romance Writers of America national conference, where I caught up with some of my very best writing friends. Erica O’Rourke introduced me to Courtney Milan, and together we had a veritable love-in over Courtney’s Apple Watch. I honestly had zero interest in getting one until she said you could send someone your heartbeat via the watch.

A super-cool thing that happened in super-hot Manhattan was the OKRWA’s awards reception for the National Readers’ Choice Award. My book, THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, picked up the winner’s trophy in the YA category. Thank you SO much to the judges and everyone involved in this contest — this is a huge honour!

 

I went to a couple of great Broadway shows. Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons was hilarious as God in An Act of GodAt the stage door, he graciously signed autographs for fans. I got a brilliant shot of his forehead. My dear friend Kim MacCarron, who was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Award, took me to see Kinky Boots — a colourful, toe-tapping spectacular.

My agent, Beth Miller, took me and hot debut author Pintip Dunn (also my agency sister, critique partner and fab friend) to the Frying Pan on the Hudson River. Once a lighthouse, the Pan is now a floating bar/eatery. Their sangria cured me of motion sickness, I think. 😉

When I wasn’t purchasing discounted shoes at Macy’s or getting my hair did at the Drybar salon with Pintip, I was actually attending writing workshops. In the Seven Sins of Self-Promotion, I learned it’s useful to keep a bunch of promo postcards, bookmarks or even a physical book in your handbag. Give them out at parties, etc, when people ask that perennial question, “So what do you do?” This can be more effective than simply leaving a bunch of promo material in a conference goody room because you’re actually interacting with potential readers.

On my way to JFK airport, my taxi was rear-ended by another driver. It was minor, no damage to either vehicle. Definitely nothing compared to the bike accidents that I would have days later in Europe… More on that next time!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a Qantas Inflight Radio song that haunted me during the many hours in transit, ‘Beloved‘ by Say Lou Lou, a twin-sister duo from Australia/Sweden.

Paranormal Party Guest – Kim MacCarron

Yes, the Paranormal Party is still going! Thanks so much for coming by. I hope you’re having a good time. If this is your first visit, you might be wondering what the occasion is. Some of my YA writer friends are blogging each day to celebrate the release of my debut YA, This Is Your Afterlife. (Hooray!)

Today I’m welcoming Kim MacCarron to the party! Kim is a four-time YA Golden Heart nominee, and no wonder — her books are packed with emotional punch.

What can I say about my critique partner Special K? A lot! She’s a wonderful author who writes about strong friendships, courage and love. And as a person, she epitomizes those qualities too. This is a woman who’s legendary for hauling a blender to a conference and making us margaritas in her room. A woman who bought me a Broadway ticket to Wicked and firmly said, “I don’t want to hear a word. Take it.” A woman who took a wrong turn on the way to Albuquerque and ended up in Roswell, where she quickly blended in with the locals. She’s fun. She’s cute. She’s the one and only Kim MacCarron.

Hang out with Kim on Twitter and on her website.


Kim MacCarron

Vanessa, thanks so much for including me in your Paranormal Party Posts to celebrate the release of your debut, THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE.
In keeping with the paranormal theme, I thought about writing about my experience with the Ouija board, but it gives me the heebie jeebies even after all these years. Instead I’ll tell someone else’s experience, which inspired me to write my own short story based on the idea.

My friend had purchased a secretary at an estate sale or auction, but soon after moving the piece into the condo, strange things started to occur. A feeling in the room. A coldness. Creaking noises. She just felt something wasn’t right.

Then the deadbolt started to lock her door at the exact same time every day—right before her husband was due home from work. This caused some irritation because he kept asking my friend why she kept bolting the door when she knew he was on his way. She couldn’t understand how this kept happening. Again and again.

One day her husband called while on his way home, so she went to the door and double checked that the door wasn’t bolted. It wasn’t. She went to the sink to load a few dishes in the dishwasher, but turned off the water when she thought she heard a noise. She heard the distinct click of the deadbolt. She rolled her eyes, thinking her husband had used his key the wrong way, and he clearly had been doing the same thing all along.

She walked to the door to confront him about his mistake, but there was no muttered cursing on the other side. She turned the dead bolt, opened the door, but nobody was there. Just as she was about to close the door, her husband stepped off the elevator.

When she backed into the living room, she felt chilled. She told me later that she wasn’t scared so much as confused. What did it all mean?
So, being a writer, I often wondered about this. Curiosity made me crazy. Why did the ghost always lock the door at the same time? Who was it? And why did he/she hitch a ride to her condo in the secretary? Wouldn’t he/she have felt more comfortable in a familiar place or with family members? Why stick with a piece of furniture and be at the whim of whoever bought the piece?

My friend’s experience always stayed at the back of my mind. I’ve made up many little stories about why the ghost stayed with the antique secretary. Sometimes it was spooky. Sometimes it was a mystery. In the end, I made it into a romance.

– Kim


Wow, what a creepy story, Kim! Thanks so much for sharing it and your haunting short story, Just Believe. I wonder what secrets the previous owner held in that secretary!

Giveaway!

So, partygoers, how would you like to win a $50 Amazon e-card and a Kindle copy of This Is Your AfterlifeAll you have to do is enter using my handy Rafflecopter giveaway mechanism right HERE.

Have you ever experienced a haunting? Had an object or piece of furniture with a life of its own? Leave us a comment below!

Join us tomorrow to mingle with another great YA author, Stephanie Kuehnert!