Rita H. Azar – Writer – Night of the Dragon

November 8, 2018
Novella, Box Set, Twisted Fairytales, Night of the Dragon,

Today I want to introduce you to my friend Rita.  Rita and I met online back in 2012 when we had both just started blogging.  Rita’s blog was called ‘The Crafty Expat’.  We met in person in 2014 when Rita was visiting Brisbane from Melbourne and we spent a good portion of a day together.

Rita is from Quebec in Canada.  Her parents are Lebanese.  French is her first language, Arabic is her second language (though she doesn’t write or read it), and English is her third.  She married an Australian Italian and moved to Melbourne, Australia to live.  Since I caught up with her in person back in 2014, she has become a mother.

I was very lucky to catch up with Rita and meet her now 3 ½ year old daughter in Melbourne on my recent visit for the 2018 Bupa Blog Awards.

selfie, ladies, two ladies,

Rita and I recently at our St Kilda catch up!  You can read and see a little more of our get together in Acland Street, St Kilda HERE.

Rita no longer blogs but has been kept very busy since joining a writer’s group – The Melbourne Romance Writer’s Guild (MRWG).  On 27 October 2018, members of the MRWG proudly released a Twisted Fairytales Box Set of nine paranormal romances, one of which was written by Rita!

Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, Box Set, Novellas, Twisted Fairytales,

Rita’s novella is called ‘Night of the Dragon’.  I’m so proud of her!

Novella, Box Set, Twisted Fairytales, Night of the Dragon,

Here’s Rita to tell you more.

Hi Rita – firstly congratulations!  I’m so excited for you!  Can you tell us how the idea for the box set originated within your writer’s group?

Hi Min and thank you so much for having me today on your blog! All the members of the MRWG are very excited by the release of this box set and, in fact, on the first of December we will also be releasing another one, a Christmas stories box set.

We had the idea of putting these two box sets together after discussions on how we can get new writers to access the self-publishing world. The group had published two anthologies before but this time, we wanted to look at publishing longer pieces to showcase the talent of our members. Some authors from our group had already taken part in various box sets and were happy to share their knowledge. Tamsin Baker managed the two box sets. This project would be a great experience for everyone, especially people like me who were new to the world of self-publishing, as to understand all the steps from writing the story, getting it professionally edited, having a graphic designer making the covers, putting the novellas out to the world and doing the promo.

These books are ‘Twisted Fairytales Paranormal Romances’.  Can you explain in layman’s terms what this means and what we might expect to read?

Every author picked a different fairytale and wrote her take on it. In some stories, people will recognize straight away the storyline of the original fairytale but in others, it can be only a loose link. In all of them, the reader will find some sort of paranormal elements such as magic or shape-shifter characters for example. They all are also adult fairytales as they all have some level of erotic elements in them. I definitely had to get out of my comfort zone to write these scenes but it was a great challenge to push my limits and test my writing.

Can you briefly explain the process you followed to write the book?  How much did you help each other, and how?  How long did it take you to complete the writing process?

When I started writing the first draft, I didn’t plot the story. I just wrote and see where it would take me. This was just telling the story to myself. Then, I used a process called the Thirteen Main Scenes Cards by Ebony McKenna (http://www.ebonymckenna.com/) to edit my novella and work out a timeline of events. After that, a rewrite of the whole story. Then, I read the story twice. The first time, I corrected grammar, re-wrote sentences, cut unnecessary words. Second read of the story was just a general check. Then the story was off to the professional editor who did three rounds of edits before we could say that the story was completed! Writing a book is a long process! The whole process took me about six months considering I write at night-time and on the two days my daughter goes to childcare.

We all helped each other as we created a Facebook group and share questions, doubts and insecurities we had throughout the process especially that, as I mentioned before, some authors were new to the publishing world.

With English being your third language, did you find this made the process that bit more difficult for you?

I found the process extremely difficult. Many times, a sentence or a word came to me in French and I tried to find the best way to say it in English which could be quite difficult. Although I now feel quite comfortable to write in English, creative writing is different. It’s about finding the right words to enchant a reader and keep him/her interested in your story and that is quite a challenge.

What would be your key learnings from this writing and editing experience that you would like to share with anyone who aspires to write a book?

Writing is the hardest thing I have ever done because it involves digging in to your feelings and emotions and constantly battling with self-doubts. But, having a story completed and published for people to read is also one of the most satisfying accomplishments I have ever experienced. Some people will love your story, other won’t, but if you want to write, find the time to do it. It’s a long and hard process but oh so rewarding.

I see that the box set can be purchased in Kindle form at only US$2.99 (approx. AU$4.16)Are there any plans for the box set to be released in paper form at any stage in the future?

At the moment, we don’t have plans as such but when the rights will be given back to the authors, each writer will be free to make arrangements to release their novellas in print format.

Finally, can you give us a bit of a teaser as to what your novella ‘Night of the Dragon’ is about?

My novella is loosely based on the story of the One Thousand and One Nights. For those who are not familiar with this fairytale, it’s the story of Scheherazade who, after witnessing her King marrying every night a different woman only to kill her the next day, decides to offer herself in marriage to save the women of her kingdom. Scheherazade starts to tell a story to the king every night without actually ending it. The king wants to know the end of the tale hence postponing the execution. The next night, Scheherazade starts another tale also without ending it. This continues for one thousand and one nights until the King falls in love with Scheherazade.

In my story, Sahira is a sorceress and healer of the kingdom. Zain is the King who lives with a dark secret. He is a dragon-shifter in an era where dragons are cursed. Here’s an excerpt:

“I lift my head up to the moon. Something in the corner of the garden catches my attention. Cold, green, piercing eyes gaze at me. The beast stands still, its grey body covered with scales, two horns rising from its head. I have never seen a dragon so close. An icy chill rushes up my spine. What is it doing here? Part of me wants to gather black spheres of magic and cast them in its direction, another part is totally mesmerized by this creature. Magnificent and strong. A creature able to destroy me and these walls in one breath.

We are two warriors. Watching each other, standing, waiting for the other to attack. Then, something passes between us. It’s beyond fear, beyond danger. It’s more terrifying than this. It’s as if we have a common understanding of each other, as if we are the same kind. A rush of adrenaline possesses me, my eyes lock in its eyes.

Smoke leaves its wide nostrils. I stand still, hypnotised by this creature. When the beast spreads its large wings, and takes its flight in a heavy whooshing sound, my entire body shakes. The flap of its wings is so strong, it creates a gust of wind, giving life to the dead air of this night. Shivers creeps all over my skin. My trance is violently broken. I collapse to the ground. My hair and my skirt spread around me, a river of black and red, like the colours of this spellbinding night.”

Thank you Rita for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog!

Did that excerpt get you hooked and wanting to read more?  It did me! 

Lucky for me I have purchased the box set and so far I’ve read Rita’s story ‘Night of the Dragon’ and one other, ‘Queen of the Wolves’ by Tamsin Baker.  Without giving too much of the stories away, I can tell you that I absolutely loved both of these stories and look forward to reading the other seven!  Focussing just on Rita’s story for now – it had me hooked right from the start and I couldn’t put it down.  Rita’s creativity and skill with which she wove her story into an adaptation of the original ‘One thousand and one nights’ fairytale was very clever.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

A big congratulations to Rita and the other eight authors: Elvina Payet, Kim Cleary Writer, Charmaine Ross Author, Sandra Carmel, Jess Devine, Tamsin Baker, Andra Ashe – erotic romance author, and Savannah Blaize.  What a wonderful achievement!

You can purchase the Twisted Fairytales Box Set for only US$2.99 (approx. AU$4.16) HERE.

Be sure to have a look at all the incredible reviews while you’re visiting over on Amazon.  Bravo to the ladies of the MRWG!

Don’t forget to keep watch on Rita’s social media (links below) for the release of the Christmas Stories Box Set on December 1st!


Ciao for now,

Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne of Deep Fried FruitKathy of 50 Shades of Age |
Deborah of Debbish |  Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey.
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all five blogs.

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  • Reply Lydia C. Lee November 8, 2018 at 6:54 am

    Lovely that you formed a friendship that stretched beyond the blogging…

    • Reply Min November 8, 2018 at 1:05 pm

      Yes it is! Thanks Lydia 🙂

  • Reply Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond November 8, 2018 at 9:24 am

    How lovely Min to have kept the friendship going and also being able to catch up again recently. The books sounds like something I would enjoy and I’m always amazed at people who can write fiction. My school friend, Toni Pike has written 4 books since retiring and I’ve enjoyed them all. Thanks for introducing Rita and her books to us.

    • Reply Min November 8, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      It was wonderful to see Rita again Sue, and meet her lovely little daughter. Rita’s novella had me hooked from the first paragraph. I couldn’t put it down. The next story I read was the same. I’m hoping I get some time soon to read some more – 7 more stories to read yet! I am in awe of Rita writing in her third language as she has and she’s done a wonderful job too! Your school friend sounds very clever too – wow 4 books since retiring – that’s incredible!

  • Reply Sandra D November 8, 2018 at 11:12 am

    Great blog post! Congratulations, Rita, on the recent publication of your story. It sounds intriguing and magical.

    • Reply Min November 8, 2018 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks Sandra! I’ve read Rita’s story and can tell you that yes it is indeed intriguing and magical. It’s a fabulous read! 🙂

  • Reply Joanne Tracey November 8, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Bravo indeeed. I’ve been seeing some of these fabulous covers pop up on instagram. A compilation like this is certainly an amazing effort. I’ll be putting this one on my amazon list.

    • Reply Min November 8, 2018 at 1:10 pm

      Thanks Jo – I knew you’d appreciate what an amazing achievement this box set is. This will be you again shortly too! I’m looking forward to reading your ‘Happily Ever After’! 🙂

  • Reply Rita November 8, 2018 at 11:53 am

    Thank you so much Min for featuring my story on your blog today! It’s been quite a process to set my doubts aside and trust myself enough to write this story knowing it will be published. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    I can’t believe we’ve known each other for so long. It’s been so lovely to meet again in St-Kilda and hopefully we’ll meet again soon.

    • Reply Min November 8, 2018 at 1:13 pm

      It’s my pleasure to share your Novella and the achievements of the MRWG on the blog Rita! You have no need for self doubts any more – your story is wonderful, very gripping from the first page through to the last. I was sad when the story ended. Yes – we’ve known each other for around 6 years now – amazing! Hopefully I’ll see you again a bit later this month when I’m in Melbourne again! 🙂 xo

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au November 8, 2018 at 11:57 am

    How lovely that you could catch up with each other again – blogging has so many side benefits! And I’m really amazed at Rita’s ability to write in her third language – I have trouble writing in my first language!!

    • Reply Min November 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      It was fabulous to see her again Leanne (and meet her little daughter). She is incredible isn’t she, to be able to write this Novella in her third language?! As you say, it’s hard enough writing in your first language! 😉

  • Reply Kathy Marris November 8, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    That’s an incredible story. It just goes to show that we’re a diversified lot. Great that you were able to catch up again in Melbourne.

    • Reply Min November 9, 2018 at 11:32 am

      We sure are a diversified lot! The catch up was wonderful and especially as I was on my own – the good company was greatly appreciated! 🙂

  • Reply jodie filogomo November 9, 2018 at 12:53 am

    That’s so cool that you have her as a friend, and she’s so accomplished!!

    • Reply Min November 9, 2018 at 11:35 am

      She’s a lovely friend. It was so nice to catch up with her again after many years and of course to meet her gorgeous little daughter! 🙂

  • Reply Deborah November 9, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    This for sharing this Min and Rita and it’s such a great idea – to jointly publish something. I keep tell Jo Tracey we should write some cozy astrology mysteries together but I suspect she’s got too many books in the works already. I think I’d be more directed if I had someone depending on me though! A great initiative!

    • Reply Min November 10, 2018 at 7:44 am

      Cozy astrology mysteries sound great – I’d read those! I think being part of a writing group would provide the inspiration, guidance, and mentoring needed to launch into authorship! It certainly would for me anyway! 🙂

  • Reply Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit November 12, 2018 at 4:41 am

    So cool! What a great idea to write a box set as a Writer’s Group. Love it

    • Reply Min November 12, 2018 at 6:34 pm

      Fabulous idea and I’m enjoying reading them too! 🙂

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