Wednesday, February 5, 2014

FALLING FOR THIS DEBUT AUTHOR OF "FALLING FOR THE FARMER" & Book Giveaway.

Mary says: Meet fellow Australian, Narelle Atkins. Click on her name above for more details about her.

As far as I am aware, until now there was only one other Australian author besides myself published in the Heartsong Presents book club when owned by Barbour Publishing. Jenni Adams is now a multi-published Harlequin author in their Sweet Romance line. I was so excited to hear at last of another Australian signing contracts for Heartsong Presents inspirational romance which is now owned by Harlequin in their Love Inspired line.

Over several years it has been a real privilege becoming a friend of this vibrant author, Narelle Atkins. I am delighted to have this fellow Australian share some of her writing journey so far to achieve an amazing six book contract by an unpublished writer.

Mary: Narelle, you reminded me a while back that although we’d had contact for some time through email, we met for the first time at the 2007 Romance Writers of Australia conference. We are both members of several other writer organisations.

How important has this been for you to achieve your first book sales?

Narelle: Writing organisation memberships are invaluable for numerous reasons. I’ve heard writers complain about the cost of writing memberships and I think they’ve missed the point. If you want to become a professional writer and published author, you need to invest in your writing education in the same way a doctor, teacher and other industry professionals invest in their education and professional development at college and university.

Writing organisations can provide writing contests, online classes, conferences, networking opportunities, relevant publishing information, newsletters, critique groups, and many other helpful services and resources. In August 2012 I read about Harlequin’s purchase of the Heartsong Presents line on both the ACFW and FHL email groups. I followed the link to the Harlequin Community Forums and learned they were open for submissions, including international settings. I may not have heard about this opportunity if I hadn’t been a member of writing organisations that catered for my chosen genre.

Mary: For an unpublished writer, it is a great achievement to have signed a six book contract with Harlequin Love Inspired. Can you share how you believe you satisfied their guidelines and your submission and acceptance process?

Narelle: I was thrilled to read on the Harlequin Community forum that my editor, Kathy Davis, was open to contemporary romance submissions with foreign settings. The initial sale process for my first manuscript happened quickly, approximately seven weeks from the initial query to offer of publication on September 20, 2012.

I accepted the offer for my first book and Kathy asked if I’d written anything else. I had three complete mss, including the sequel to the book I’d sold, and a runaway bride story. A couple of days later I sent my runaway bride story to Kathy and this led to discussions regarding two 3-book series. I wrote three proposals for brand new stories over the next few months, and revised the proposal for the sequel to the book I’d already sold. I submitted all the proposals before Christmas in 2012 and I received the offer for a 6 book contract on February 7, 2013. 

The Heartsong Presents guidelines allow for a more overt faith element in the story. I love how I can share my characters’ faith journeys in my stories in a real and authentic way. Their interaction and connection to a church community is an important element in a Heartsong Presents story and I like having the freedom to explore this aspect of their lives.

Mary: Have you had any difficulties with your plot, characters and Australian setting in trying to reach an international readership.

Narelle: I have been blessed to have two American critique partners who have pointed out numerous Aussie expressions that don’t translate to a North American audience. For example, in Australia we call flip-flops ‘thongs’. I can’t have my characters’ talking about wearing their thongs to the beach, even though that’s a normal and respectable thing to say in Australia.

I also entered a number of unpublished writing contests in the US, which helped me to gauge the reader expectations for my genre. I appreciated the generosity of the judges who provided helpful feedback and explained why certain story elements could be problematic due to cultural differences.

I use American grammar and spelling because my home market is North America. It’s a juggling act to keep the authentic Australian flavour in my stories and use language that makes sense to a North American, Australian and international audience.


Mary: With Falling for the Farmer being the first in a three book series, can you tell us about the series and also the next three book series you have signed contracts for.

Narelle: Falling for the Farmer is set in Snowgum Creek, a fictitious town I created on the western slopes of the Snowy Mountains, Australia. Snowgum Creek is situated in the region that includes Tumut, Batlow and Tumbarumba. The Nurse’s Perfect Match (May 2014) and The Doctor’s Return (August 2014) are also set in Snowgum Creek. It’s a continuity series and either the hero, heroine or both are minor characters in a previous book in the series. The Nurse’s Perfect Match starts two years after Falling for the Farmer ends.

I love my Snowgum Creek series, and I have a number of ideas for future stories that I hope to write.

My second series, titles to be confirmed, is set in Sydney, Australia. These are urban stories and have a different feel to my Snowgum Creek books. For example, my heroine in the first book is a former party girl and recovering alcoholic. This series is set around the northern beaches region of Sydney where I grew up. I love Sydney and I’m looking forward to sharing the real life setting with my readers.

Mary: Is there anything you would like to share with international writers to encourage them in their writing journey?

Narelle: I encourage international writers to not give up on selling their books with international settings due to lack of market opportunities. I was told numerous times that it was virtually impossible to sell an Aussie contemporary inspirational romance to a large traditional publisher in the US market. We do need to have realistic expectations of the market and reader expectations. Plus, work hard on learning the craft of writing in order to produce the best possible stories.

Mary Says:
Narelle, all your hard work has sure paid off and I do congratulate you for this first book.


Being a farmer’s daughter, I know a little about city and country differences only too well. As a minister’s wife for nearly fifty years now, I have seen some of the problems and differences of family, faith and church issues that Christian couples may need to work through to achieve a happy marriage. Your Kate and Jack are real people with real problems and I thoroughly enjoyed reading their story.

I had indeed “fallen” for the author as a good friend and sister-in-Christ quite a while ago and so proud of you. Congratulations on these contracts with Harlequin and I look forward very much to reading many more books from Narelle Atkins.

For more details about Failing for the Farmer, click HERE

Book Giveaway: Narelle has been an active contributor to ICFW blog since it commenced and would like to give away a print copy of Falling for the Farmer. The book giveaway is worldwide and includes the giveaway on Valerie Comer’s book review post yesterday.

Readers can gain two entries in the drawing if they comment on both today and yesterday’s posts. Entries close on St Valentine’s Day, Friday, 14th February, and the winner will be announced on Sunday, 16th February in the Sunday Edition. Please leave an email address [ ] at [ ] dot [ ] where you can be reached.


"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."


Mary Hawkins is multi-published and a best-seller in inspirational romance. All except her Baragula single title trilogy are now out of print. However, she is delighted her Barbour Heartsong Presents novels are again available to readers as e-books through their Truly Yours Digital Editions. Check out the video trailer for her historical Great Southland series: http://youtu.be/mN5Mym_3doU

She enjoys speaking engagements where she can share the writing journey God is still taking her on. She is a member of several writing groups and as time permits, tries to help other writers, especially those targeting the romance genre.

Her latest manuscript, Her Outback Cowboy, is her latest single title just completed and now in the submission process. Checkout the latest news on her blog and more about Mary from http://mary-hawkins.com

23 comments:

  1. Yay, Narelle, I'm so happy for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We love Narelle. She work so hard helping other writers and thrilled able to do something for her too.

      Delete
    2. Hi Suzie, Thanks for stopping by :)

      Delete
  2. Thanks, Mary for the extra insights as to how Narelle broke through the tough papier-mache ceiling!! And LUCK hadn't any part of it, just faith-filled hard slogging. (And of course, talent.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often wonder if readers realise just what hard work writing can be - hard work but also very rewarding!

      Delete
    2. Hi Rita, Yes, writers work hard to produce their books, and hopefully enjoy the journey :)

      Delete
  3. Really enjoyed this good, meaty interview. Thanks, Mary and Narelle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jo-Anne, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview :)

      Delete
  4. Don't forget to add your email addresses to be entered in the draw.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I think some readers know how hard it is especially now days but most wouldn't have a clue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jenny, I think the volume of writing information online can give readers an insight into the writing life. I know you understand :)

      Delete
  6. Knowledgable ones like yourself do who have heard so many of us whinging, Jenny. LOL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. also places like seekerville show what goes into a book. but many readers just read and dont think about what it takes to make a book.

      Delete
  7. Thank you for this really insightful interview Mary and Narelle. Yes, the task of writing for America from the Southern Hemisphere is indeed a challenge! I laughed aloud at your example of wearing thongs to the beach. I was once corrected by a group of writers for something I'd written in a devotional message that would have been almost pornographic in America! Praise the Lord for other writers! shirley@shirleycorder.com.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Shirley, Yes, critique partners and beta readers are invaluable when it comes to picking those little details that could accidentally get us into big trouble :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Firstly, well done, Narelle, on your book contracts. You're truly and inspiration to us all. Thanks, Mary, for the great interview.

    I totally agree with Narelle that being part of a writing group is of vital importance. The investment is so worth it. I joined ACFW a year ago and two months after joining wrote the novelette that is now contracted for publication with Pelican Book Group as part of their Passsport to Romance series (international settings stories). I would never have heard about the opportunity if not for the group, neither would I have gotten it to a place of being ready for submission if not for my crit partners on ACFW.

    My sister fell for a farmer some years after her first husband died. Her farmer hubby is the best thing that's ever happened to her. I'd love to win a copy of Falling for the Farmer so I can share it with her. Please enter me to the drawing. marion.ueckermann@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Marion. I wrote for far too many years without contact with other writers, especially novelists. It is even more important nowadays to be a member of writing groups to try and keep up with changes in the industry as well as continuing to learn from other more experienced writers. All the very best with your Penguin novelette.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Marion :) ACFW is a great investment and the Beyond the Borders ACFW zone group caters for international writers. Good luck in the drawing!

      Delete
  10. Congratulations, Narelle. What a wonderful achievement! So proud of you!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Look at you!! You are amazing! Whoop whoop!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you Dottie and Jenn. Narelle's achievements are sure amazing!

    ReplyDelete