4th Anniversary Celebrations Blog Hop – Secret Cravings Publishing 10-11 January

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Secret Cravings Publishing is 4 years old this weekend and they’re having a blog hop to celebrate.

I’d like to encourage everyone to check out all the participating authors, and hear all the stories.

And, this gives me the perfect opportunity to tell my story.

How do I thank someone who changed my life?

Answer? I cant, it’s impossible, but here goes…

In 2009 I was a book-keeper with a newly discovered love of writing, and a folder on my desktop ambitiously titled ‘Carolyn’s Books’

I knew nothing about editing, or how books appeared in the world…well, let’s face it, I was clueless about everything. I started researching publishers, just in case I was brave enough to take my writing further.

My first introduction to Secret Cravings Publishing was through their website.  I liked the name.  I loved the ribbon heart logo, so I started exploring.

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The more I read, the more impressed I became.  I bookmarked their page, and waited until I built up enough courage to do something about it.

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By this time, I had joined the RWA (Romance Writers of Australia) and submitted one of my stories, The Hostage, into a couple of contests.  To my utter shock I was listed as a finalist for both of them.  I was flabbergasted when I actually won one of them, the RWA Emerald Award for unpublished authors.  I had a trophy. A writing trophy! Maybe, just maybe, I could write? Bolstering my courage with an entire bar of chocolate, I composed and sent a submission letter to Secret Cravings offering a Romantic Suspense novella called Diplomat’s Daughter. It was the first book I ever wrote.  It was number one in my ‘Carolyn’s Books’ desktop folder

They said yes.  I had my first contract. More chocolate was consumed.

A couple of months later, I received my first ever book cover…cue chocolate overload.

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The editing process for this debut book was daunting, scary and lots of hard work. I quickly found out books don’t magically appear as soon as you send a manuscript to a publisher, but my editor, Tara, was incredibly supportive, and Secret Cravings helped me every step of the way.  They answered all my naive, idiotic questions and helped me to turn a raw manuscript into a published book.

Something amazing happened the following year.  That very same book won the RWA ‘Ella’ award for 2013 Novella of the year. My second writing trophy.

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Fast forward to 2015.  I just received my fourth writing award nomination.  I have eight books published through Secret Cravings with another two coming out this year.  After my second book, I was allocated a new permanent editor, Larriane, who keeps me on my toes, instructs me on how to correct my mistakes, and  generally makes my books awesome.

I hope she doesn’t ever try and leave me, otherwise I may have to track her down.  I write books about covert operatives and secret agents, you know. I’ve learned a trick or two during my research. I’m pretty sure I could find her if she tried to escape being my editor… (only kidding, Larriane…probably)

Okay.  That’s my author story, and it brings me back to my original question.

How do I thank Secret Cravings for everything they’ve done for me? I have no idea.  I guess in this case, a few pictures really does add up to a thousand words.

This image describes my writing life in 2009.

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The following pictures describe it in 2015

My stash of book goodies.

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Receiving the Emerald Winning certificate and a finalist certificate for the Daphne Du Maurier Awards.

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My incoherently happy speech after winning the Emerald.

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Showing off the Emerald and Ella trophy’s.

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My latest nomination.

Carolyn Wren

Happy 4th Anniversary Secret Cravings.

Your hard work, your ridiculously long hours and your commitment to your authors is extraordinary.

I consider myself very blessed to be part of the team. Here’s hoping 2015 and beyond brings you great happiness and great success.

With all my love and thanks

Carolyn Wren

www.carolynwren.com

To celebrate the blog hop I would like to offer a $10 Secret Cravings gift voucher to one person who leaves a comment.  The winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck.

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2014 – How to lose an entire year because of a bushfire. AKA – extreme home renovation

I didn’t do many blog posts in 2014.  It turned out to be a bit of a chaotic year.

Before I talk about 2014, I should mention I had a very busy 2013.  Two family weddings, one of which was overseas, one other overseas holiday, seven books published, and, oh yes, I was on the committee for the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference, in charge of the Gala Awards night.

Do I take on too much? probably, but you know what they say.  If you want something done, give it to a busy person.

Anyway.  By the end of 2013 I was looking forward to some down time.  All my contracted books were out in the world, the RWA conference was a roaring success, the family weddings and holidays all went well.

On December 31st 2013, I raised a glass and declared my intention to relax and unwind for a couple of months, and then hit the promotion trail.  I had great plans. Update all my social media platforms, master the art of twitter, create interesting and informative blog posts and generally be an extremely organized, socially active author…

Famous last words.

On Sunday January 12th 2014, a bushfire started a mile from my house.  The temperature at the time was well over 100 degrees, the wind was gale force and the fire raced through the streets as if it contained the hounds of hell. We were instructed to evacuate, with only enough time to grab the barest of necessities.

57 houses were completely destroyed.  Mine was saved by the incredible courage and determination of the fire department and volunteer firefighters, but it was badly damaged.

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Every window broke from the intense heat, creating a surreal situation inside.  Of all our worldly possessions were in exactly the same place we left them…except they were completely with soot, smoke and dust.  Most had to be thrown away.

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The garden was a blackened shell, ash and soot were ankle deep, and retained the heat so much, it melted the bottom of my runners whilst walking on it a full week after the fire was extinguished.

The shed burnt down, the pergola melted. Even the washing line melted.

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It was four months before we could move back in.  The entire plumbing and electrics had to be replaced-they melted too- and the house had to be cleaned, cleared out, painted, renovated.  In other words, we had to start from scratch…oh, and all the beautiful trees, over 20 of them, surrounding our property had to be cut down.

This weekend it’s 12 months since the fire.  It’s taken all of that time to get back to normal.  My darling husband and I are finally putting the pieces of our lives back together.

Even my poor blackened garden is coming back to life.

Before…

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After…

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Yes, it was a challenging, stressful year.  But, you know what? We survived it. We were well insured and our house is clean and repaired and feels like home again.

I will never be able to thank the emergency services for what they did that terrible day last January.  When we were finally allowed back to our suburb, 4 days after the fire was finally extinguished. I stood in that blackened garden and saw the house still standing, and all I wanted to do was grab a firefighter, any firefighter, and hug him until he squealed for mercy.

I didn’t make any new years resolutions for 2015. But I hope its a little bit quieter and slightly less eventful than 2014.

Carolyn Wren

http://www.carolynwren.com