Juanita Kees

Romance Author, Award Nominee, Dream Achiever


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Killer Doubt and Kicking Butt


Writing is like a balanced diet – everything in moderation.

Long before I was a writer, I was a reader. In embracing the art and craft of writing, we aim to improve with every book we publish. Each conference we attend, every workshop we take and with every round of edits on our manuscripts, we’re honing our technique and learning new skills. As a reader, I never noticed things like ‘point of view’ swings nor did I care about the hero or heroine’s ‘mirror moment’ or ‘character arc’. All I knew was that the story did or didn’t work for me. I didn’t understand what it was that drew me out of the story after the opening paragraph, made me reach halfway point only to be unable to finish the book, or (most importantly) what it was that kept me on the edge of my seat entertained until ‘the end’.

Then came writing, editing, research, competition entries and finally, publishing. I learned technique, the do’s and dont’s of writing a good book, publishers’ guidelines and styles…the list goes on to assist you in presenting the reader with a book you hope will be the next international bestseller. And who knows, you might just be lucky :)

So that’s book one on the shelf, all nicely packaged and ready for ripping through the roof of sales charts world-wide…until that devil named Self-Doubt comes knocking on your door. And you don’t have to be a writer for him to come knocking.

My current work in progress is a small town romance and I’m having a little trouble with my characters. I’ve plotted and planned out the chapters, defined their personalities, their arcs, their mirror moments, and generally organised them within an inch of their lives. Three chapters later, I’ve hit the wall with them dancing around each other like boxers in the ring with no fight plan. Right after that comes, “I can’t do this. What makes me think I can write a book? What if readers don’t like it?”

Why am I having trouble? Because I’m trying to stick to the ‘rules’.

When the monster Self-Doubt comes calling, I back away from my keyboard and curl up with my all time favorite author, Nora Roberts. It’s there I see all the ‘rules’ being broken that, as a reader, I didn’t recognize before. Here’s a few:

  1. Starting a sentence with ‘And’ – Nora did it
  2. Starting a sentence with ‘Because’ – Nora did it
  3. Starting a sentence with ‘But’ – Nora did it
  4. Switching in and out of POV’s – Nora did it!

 

The editor in me shouts “No!” while the writer in me shouts, “Yes, yes, yes!” Why? Because that’s how ‘real people’ speak and since our characters are ‘real people’, they should be allowed to speak naturally. What gives your writing a ‘voice’ is the uniqueness of your style, the way you structure your sentences, scenes and dialogue; that little bit of ‘you’ in every story. So perhaps it’s time I followed the same advice I give to others in my role as an editor – write from the heart and apply the rules later, if they apply. If we apply the same rules to our work all the time, all our books would be the same – like a recipe passed down through the family – until someone comes along and adds a twist to it.

Be that person to add the twist – in moderation of course, you don’t want to break the rules all the time! Write from the head and the heart of your characters, and you’re on the road to writing a book that will resonate with the ‘real people’ out there – your readers. And when Self-Doubt steps into the ring, tell it to rack off and remember: Nora Roberts did it.

Night TalesThe most succesful novelist on Planet Earth’ – Washington Post

Night Shield

Even though he agreed to protect her cover — even though her own dad vouched for him — Allison Fletcher refused to be seduced by Jonah Blackhawk’s smooth charm and good looks. She was too much of a cop to fall for a shady character like Jonah…even if her pulse did race at his touch.

If only she didn’t have eyes like prime whiskey and a smile that melted his insides. If only she weren’t Boyd Fletcher’s daughter. Jonah had never cared much for cops…until now. But Ally was definitely off-limits to a guy like him. If only he could stop wanting her…

Night Moves

The house had stood vacant for ten years, but Maggie Fitzgerald knew she could call it home. An award-winning songwriter, Maggie had sought peace and solitude from the Los Angeles celebrity hounds after her husband’s accidental death. Instinct had brought her east, to the small Maryland town of Morganville.

Instinct also told her that Cliff Delaney, owner of a local landscaping company, was just the person to revitalize her property. But once that project began, the remains of a dead man were discovered and everyone she knew, including Cliff, seemed to have a motive for the killing.

Could she trust her instincts again or would the truth be her undoing?


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Meet the Gods of Oakleigh


When a mythical Greek god of war meets a modern day Celtic Faerie Queen, sparks are bound to fly and the gods of Hell will be released. Yet through all the battles thrown their way, only true love can save their souls and bring together a Warrior and Queen.

I thought it rather fitting that my very first attempt at a Fantasy/Paranormal romance should be accepted for publication by Eternal Press, especially considering the locations where the action takes place. So I’m thrilled to introduce you to The Gods of Oakleigh, a three-book series that brings Greek gods to life in the 21st century.

After writing Under Cover of Dark, I fancied doing something a little different, something a little less ‘angsty’ and more…fun. All it took to inspire me was a photograph of a Greek model posted on Facebook and my imagination took flight. What if three gods returned to Earth  on a mission to redeem their souls? And what if they found themselves in the heart of the Greek community in Melbourne, Australia?

And so the story of Ajax Polemistis and Arian Kendrick was born. Part myth, part fantasy and a whole lot of research and imagination later, Ajax the Great walks the shores of Van Diemen’s Land. For two thousand years he wanders in search of redemption until finally in modern day Melbourne, Zeus sets him a task that will change his life forever.

 

Blurb:

Descendant of the Celtic Faerie Queen and Restorer of Souls, Arian Kendrick is enjoying a vacation in Mykonos with her best friend, Evie unaware she is a queen-in-training or that her would-be queendom is under threat from Hades.

For a long time, Arian has felt she doesn’t quite ‘fit in’, and when she rescues a little girl from drowning in a freak wave, she begins to discover powers she didn’t know she had. When she meets Ajax for the first time, she feels an instant connection with him, one she must fight against to avoid having her heart broken again.

After falling on his sword after the Battle of Troy, Ajax the Great is sent to Van Diemen’s Land as Jax Polemistis where he spends two thousand years, neither dead nor alive, searching for a way to redeem his soul. In one last bid to prove himself, he is sent by Zeus to Mykonos to act as protector to the future Queen of the Faeries, Arianrhod.

Ajax vows never to trust a woman again after his betrayal by Athena at the Battle of Troy. He certainly has no desire to play bodyguard to one until a near-drowning incident brings him into contact with the woman he is sent to protect. A woman who has such a devastating effect on his heart, he is forced to face his fears and fight a battle he never expected to have to—the one to regain his life.

Ajax must overcome his ego and understand courage comes from love both to save his soul from Hades forever and to win Arian’s heart and trust.

Arian must embrace her mythical legacy and history to take her place as queen and save her people, as Hades threatens to destroy Paradise forever.

From the shores of Mykonos to the hustle and bustle of Melbourne Australia, Arian and Ajax fight many battles until they conquer the enemy, and their own misgivings, to find their hearts are a perfect match and that sometimes in life (or death) true love is worth fighting for.

“Juanita Kees delivers a wonderful twist on the Battle of Troy with this story that starts on Mykonos and moves to modern Melbourne, with a little detour to Paradise on the side. Anything with swords and shields and gorgeous Greek Gods will get my attention, plus this one had football and a Twitter meltdown by social mediaphobic Zeus himself.  I loved it. ” ~ Lily Malone, author, Fairway to Heaven.

Links:

Oakleigh, Melbourne’s Greek heartland

Van Diemen’s Land

Ajax the Great

Arianrhod, Celtic Goddess of fertility, rebirth and the weaving of cosmic time and fate.


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Never Stop Learning


A good writer never stops learning. Whether it be from your own mistakes or by taking part in workshops and attending conferences. It’s not only your craft you need to hone but also your marketing skills. Technology provides us with so many opportunities these days and we need to learn how to make them work for us.

A group of Perth writers recently got together – thanks to the fabulous organisational skills of Claire Boston – for a marketing workshop run by Glennys Marsdon. Now I’ve attended a few of these in my professional past and was convinced I couldn’t possibly learn anything new. Well, I am very pleased to tell you…I was wrong! The day flew by and my head was filled with new information, new understanding and a better grasp of social media and internet marketing. Not only was Glennys an excellent presenter and speaker, but the interaction and input from the writers around the table was gold.

We had a mix of new and established writers, all happy to share advice, experience and encouragement. We had such a marvellous time that the delegates from the course in the next room wanted to abandon ship and board ours! Can’t say I blame them really ;) We did a lot of talking, giggling and laughing out loud. Aroma did a roaring trade in coffee and I’m fairly sure the WA State Library is still recovering from the onslaught of sixteen authors wandering through the shelves of books with stars in their eyes. There may even be a hint of a story involving The Librarian with the Dragon Tattoo in the making…so a huge thanks to Claire, Glennys and RWA Member Grants for making this workshop possible.

One of the best decisions I made for my own writing was to work as a freelance editor for the last four years. I have learned so much about structure, rhythm and story-building from editing. The more I edit, the more ‘unconsciously competent’ I become with my own work. I can recognise and correct mistakes before I make them or, at the very least, pick them up before it’s too late. Now that’s not to say I’m an expert because I have a lot more to learn yet and I always will have. I’ve barely scraped the surface on my learning and writing journey.

Here are a few more ways I keep up with changes and learning opportunities in the writing world:

And most importantly:

  • Write, write, write!

Regards, Juanita headline

Links in this Blog:


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Writing on the Go


It’s been an exciting start to the year and already I have learned so much more on my writing journey. At the beginning of 2015, I set myself a list of goals, and so far I’m pleased to find I’m on track. Although, that could change at any time. Here’s what I’ve been up to so far:

  • Hadassah holds a copy of her book, Courage and Conquerors

    Hadassah holds a copy of her book, Courage and Conquerors

    Two years ago I met an inspirational lady named Hadassah Pomeroy. Hadassah grew up in Tel Aviv during World War II and her life reads like a book on its own. Last year I worked closely with Hadassah to write, edit and publish her collection of short stories, Courage and Conquerors. It was a long, educational and insightful journey for both of us because Hadassah writes her manuscripts in a beautiful, flowing handwriting and they need to be interpreted and typed up. Every moment of that journey was worth it when Hadassah held the first copy of her book in her hands. The fabulous cover was created by Patti Roberts at Paradox Book Covers and Hadassah was overwhelmed at the beauty of her wolf cover.

  • Come to Cafe Nix

    Come to Cafe Nix

    Last year I got together with thirteen other fabulous Escape Publishing authors, and we created Ainslie Paton’s brainchild, Cafe Nix. This project seemed bigger than Ben Hur, but with great direction, a logical marketing plan, team effort and Ainslie’s whip-cracking, we went live ahead of schedule on Wattpad. Edited by Belinda Holmes, Cafe Nix will be up on Smashwords on April 2 for your reading pleasure. If you can’t wait until then…check it out on Wattpad.

  • This year I tried my hand at a little magic by sharing some short stories on Wattpad, two of which were entries in the RWA Little Gems contest. We all need a Touch of Magic every now and then in this crazy world we live in. I’m thrilled to say it’s getting quite a few views. Take a peek and let me know what you think.
  • I love Greek Mythology, so I tested the boundaries of my imagination by bringing a couple of Greek gods back to life. Seriously, what sane man tells a 21st Century woman he’s an honest-to-god Greek god? Ajax the Great does in Finding Paradise. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how his story goes…
  • Last but not least, I finally got down to the business of creating a newsletter. Not one that will hit your mailbox with annoying regularity, but one I hope will be informative, exciting and readable at erratic intervals when the muse strikes or if there is news to celebrate. Want to stay in touch? Sign up via my Facebook page.

Links:

Hadassah Pomeroy

Courage and Conquerors

Escape Publishing

Cafe Nix

A Touch of Magic

Paradox Book Covers (Patti Dunn)

 

 

 

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AUTHOR INSIGHT: LILY MALONE


Juanita Kees:

The Pink Beanie Queen and a slice of Heaven. Lily Malone’s latest release is a great read set in the Southwest of Western Australia.

Originally posted on Write Note Reviews:

lilym_lowresWA author Lily Malone, one of three guests at my Stories on Stage: Date Night event (April 29, 2015), and I met online and have since become friends (even though she’s mad about sport and I’m clueless about it). Like me, Lily has worked as a journalist, juggles family and part-time work with writing, likes gardening, walking, wine, and walking in gardens (sometimes with wine). She took up romance writing in November 2010, after an ill-fated dalliance with colour-field painting that ended when her youngest son put a golf club through the canvas. In March 2013, her debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful,was published with Escape Publishing, and in May 2013, she self-published her novella The Goodbye Ride. Her third published work, Fairway To Heaven, about love on the golf course and lust in the sand bunkers, is due for release in April. To connect with…

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I Love You a Latte: The Cafe Nix Cover & Parade of Authors!


Juanita Kees:

Come and share a coffee or two with us at Cafe Nix!

Originally posted on Sandra Antonelli:

lovelatte

Fourteen Escape authors, one contemporary romance, fifteen happy endings. Welcome to Cafe nix

Long distance relationships don’t work
Nix Sutherland is at a crossroads. She loves running the family business, the famous Sydney Harbourside Cafe Nix, and she also loves Linc, whose vet practice is in Melbourne.

After months of jumping on planes and swapping cities, both of them too stressed and tried to enjoy being together, it’s all come to a head. In the middle of a typically busy day at the cafe that includes everything from broken hearts to breaking waters, cops to canoodling couples, Nix realises that loving the cafe means giving up Linc.

Meet Nix and characters from the novels of your favourite Escape Publishing authors (like me!) in fresh original shorts, and experience a day in the life of Cafe Nix. You know there will be coffee.

WELL LOOKEE HERE! WE HAVE A COVER!!

Nix composite cover

Edited…

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2014 Awards: winners


Juanita Kees:

The results are in! The winners of the ARRA at the 2015 conference in Canberra are:

Originally posted on Australian Romance Readers Association:

AwardsThe winners of the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards were announced on 7 March at our Awards Dinner in Canberra. We started the announcements off with our Members’ Choice awards:

  • Favourite Cover: the winner was Play by Kylie Scott.
  • Sexiest Hero: the winner was Adam in Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns.
  • Favourite New Romance Author: the winner was Alli Sinclair.

In the main categories the winners were:

The Favourite Paranormal Romance for 2014 is Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh.

The Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance 2014 is Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews.

The Favourite Short Category Romance 2014 is The Honeymoon Trap by Kelly Hunter. The award was sponsored by Harlequin Australia and presented by Cristina Lee.

The Favourite Historical Romance 2014 is The Winter Bride by Anne Gracie.

The Favourite Contemporary Romance 2014 is Play by Kylie Scott. The award was sponsored by Steam eReads.

The Favourite Erotic…

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