Hart Broken, is a compelling story about a rich elite, Cale, who was once able bodied but now living with a disability. The story is well written and it’s clear that Annie has done considerable research into the challenges that people with disabilities face and the many ways they can overcome them. Being someone who's worked with people with disabilities, I found the story realistic and relatable. I loved that Annie wasn’t afraid to address the discrimination people with disabilities face, even though Cale was wealthy.
I was pleasantly surprised when Cale's love interest was an attractive able bodied woman named Mickey. Annie effortlessly explored the many different dynamics a relationship of this caliber can have. I love that each character had so much depth and that time was put into illustrating how their pasts and insecurities affected not only their personal lives, by their relationship as well. This book will pull on your heart strings and definitely is a page turner.
It’s clear a lot of time went into character and plot building, which as a fellow writer, I really appreciate. The added element of humor was a nice touch and made a book that explored some heavy subject matter, much more enjoyable. You can find yourself on the verge of tears one minute, then busting out laughing the next.
The only thing that threw me off a bit, was the introduction of some personal insecurities, for both characters, close to the end of the book. At that point, I was looking for a wrap up and I felt that I had a pretty good grasp of each character. Even though Annie did a great job of tying these new elements into the original story-line, I found the placement a bit awkward. I just feel it threw off the rhythm, but I can see why the addition was made. My own suggestion would have been to work them in a bit earlier in the book.
Overall, Hart Broken, is definitely a recommended read. If you like unique books with controversial characters, that can break your heart and make you laugh, this is the book for you.
I also had the pleasure of conducting an author's interview with Annie. Read below to see what she said.
Hey Annie, Tell us a little about yourself.
Let’s get the boring stuff outta the way... I’m a Vietnamese-Canadian with my BSc in Biology and minor in English, which I don’t use. Run a fitness company to feed myself.
As for interests, I’m a bit of a weirdo. I enjoy a hodgepodge of activities. Love rock climbing, running OCRs, and shooting guns (not at people! haha). Also enjoy modeling for fitness and import car shows.
I’m somewhat of a nerd too. Love Disney. Love anime. Love Marvel. Have flown thousands of miles to attend Comicon many a time. Told you, I’m a weirdo.
Oh, and I tend to be long-winded. You’ve been warned...
When did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think that a conscious decision was ever made. I’ve just been writing ever since I can remember. Once I learned how to, that is. I actually didn’t speak English until Kindergarten but after I figured that out… I am writer! Hear me roar!! Tee hee.
Why do you write?
I can’t pinpoint a concrete “why”. I simply need to. I don’t believe it’s a choice. I’m the type to do whatever I want whenever the heck I want to. And writing just happens to be something I always want to do. So, yeah, if a thought, character, or scenario comes to mind, you better believe it’s going down on paper. Um, I don’t use paper anymore, but you know what I mean.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Well, it’s official. I suck at interviews LOL. Great question! Unfortunately, I don’t have a great answer for ya. I’ve always done everything ass backwards. And because I’m an “accidental” author, the experience has been quite a whirlwind. I haven’t taken the time to set solid long-term goals yet beyond releasing my next book. I’ll get on that. Pronto.
What has been the hardest part of building your career?
I certainly wouldn’t call it a career *grins sheepishly* but...
The hardest part has been the steep learning curve in regards to the technical aspect. I’m a total DIYer and have literally Googled my way through every step of how to create an ebook. For me, writing, along with marketing and sales, is the easy part. That all comes naturally. But slaying the technological beast…? *sobs in a corner*
Which writers inspire you?
This is going to make me sound like a complete butthead because I don’t actually have any writers who “inspire” me. My style is pretty darn quirky, not to mention, rebellious. I am the queen of intentional sentence fragments and overusing (even misusing) ellipses. I hope nobody inspires my literary faux pas *snickers*
With that being said, there are a ton of authors whom I absolutely adore and totally fangirl over. Roberts, Winters, Torre, Warren, Romig, Bane, the list goes on and on. Oh, and Hoover... Colleen Hoover. Wow. I am enamoured with her work!! The creativity of that woman astounds me. And her ability to evoke such powerful emotions… *sigh*
What have you written?
I’ve written a ton. However, if we’re talking about published works then it’s just my little gremlin of a debut novel and the second book, Hart of His, which will be released at the end of October.
Where can we buy or see them?
My author site. Facebook. Goodreads. I also have my books listed on Amazon and Kobo.
What genre are your books?
Contemporary romance with a wounded hero. Always with a wounded hero. They’re my jam.
Why did you pick that/those genre(s)?
Once again, I didn’t actively choose anything. More like it chose me. I’ve been writing romance and even erotica from an insanely young age. We’re talking about 9 or 10 years old. And yes, I remember writing mildly disabled characters (scars, a limp, etc.) very early on. So I think it’s been a pretty “organic” progression for me.
Moreover, disabled protagonists are few and far between. Not to mention, the rare instances where they are represented, it tends to be in either one of two ways: “helpless” or “inspirational.” Which is simply not the case. Disabled guys are just regular men at the end of the day. Nothing more. Nothing less.
“The Canadian Association of Broadcasters report found that disabled “individuals are viewed as the objects of pity, and depicted as having the same attributes and characteristics no matter what the disability may be.” I am determined to obliterate these ridiculous stereotypes one book, one reader, one review at a time.
Oh, I’m also a stickler for accuracy when it comes to disabilities. Anatomy. Physiology. Kinesiology. All must be spot on.
Random tidbit: I have 4 paraplegics on “standby” at all times to answer my questions because I am that obsessed with accuracy. Might as well go straight to the source, right?
What inspires your ideas?
Oooh. This one’s tough to answer because honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night (TMI warning!) to pee and feel compelled to write down my dream. Or I’ll be driving down the highway and am forced to pull over and type a brain spark into my phone. Dead serious. A word of advice: Don’t ever write and drive. It totally messes up your writing.
Are there any correlations between the books you write and your life experiences?
Yes. Without a doubt. Last week, a reader asked me if I Googled the menu items of Six Seven (a restaurant in Seattle that I had in my book). My reply: “Um, no. I’ve eaten there. Lots.” Another reader was curious how I ever came up with the line, Best looking whack-a-mole that I’ve ever seen. (The MC thinks this after her sexy man pops his head up from the foot of the bed.) Ummm. I’ve totally said that to a man in real life. Out loud. He didn’t seem to mind *shrugs*
If you take the MC in my novel as an example, Mickey Hart is me. We are one and the same. Right down to her - our - favorite pair of shoes. Everything she’s done, I’ve done. Everywhere she’s been, I’ve been. Even the men she’s irresistibly drawn to… Yep. All me.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
Heh, I am a terrible example as an author. The worst. Sooo… Confession: I have never written an outline. Not once in my entire life. I let the characters guide the story as they evolve. It’s a bit out of my control, to be quite honest. I also have a bad habit of writing everything out of order. If it creeps into my head, I’m writing it down.
Tell me about your most recent release.
Ahhh, Hart Broken. This has been quite the journey for me. So, long story semi-short… I randomly sat down one day last year and started word vomiting this story, which was desperate to escape my brain. 8 weeks later, I thought, “Huh, I have over 40K words...um...maybe I should share this somewhere.” So I ran to Google, found an established fiction blog (my own site later on) featuring disabled male characters, and started serializing chapters.
When I finished, my very humble following of loyal readers asked me to flesh out the story and release an ebook for them. Well, I wrote up a bunch of extra content, edited (poorly), made a cover, and granted their wish exactly 3 weeks later. Yes. 3 weeks was a stupid deadline. But I’d already promised and I’m a woman of my word, even when it’s a disastrous idea hahaha...haha...ha...
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Not really a message, per se, as I hope each reader gets something personal from my writing. If I can touch, engage, and challenge them, then I’ve done my job. I absolutely do, however, have a vision for the wounded hero genre. To come into its own. Become more mainstream. Be seen in a new light. Defy expectations. Demolish stereotypes. This is my mission and what I am determined to do.
Any new projects we should look out for?
Yes, ma’am! I’m currently whipping up the 2nd book in my series. It shall be a novella titled Hart of His. Truth be told, I already have solid plans for books 2 to 4, which shall make up the next “arc” of Cale and Mickey’s story.
Do you think it’s hard to build and maintain a writing career? Why or why not?
Hmm. I’m not sure. I’ve always been one to leap before I look and never really stop to consider whether something is difficult or not. I’m a firm believer in Henry Ford’s principle of “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Easy or hard is irrelevant. If I want to do something, I’m going to do it. And I want to do this.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Surprisingly, I don’t have an ideal career. What I do have is a major issue with authority, so I would only ever work for myself.
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
“When life hands you lemons, make grape juice. Then sit back and watch as the world wonders how you did it." Best. Quote. Ever.
Any advice for dealing with writer’s block?
Funny enough, I’ve never experienced this. Quite the opposite, actually. I typically have so many darn ideas that I don’t have enough time to write them all down.
For those of you who do struggle with writer’s block. Um. Drink more coffee, maybe? Yeah, I have no clue.
I’m notoriously bad for completely tossing chapters and rewriting them in a whole new direction, though. This might be a result of not ever outlining, eh?
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Hmm. I’m a bit hesitant to answer this question, as I don’t believe I’m in any position to dish out advice. However, the following quote sums up my personal viewpoint on life in general... “In any given moment we have two options: To step forward into growth or step back into safety.”
Safety is something that truly scares me. My greatest fear is realizing that I chose not to do something I was entirely capable of doing. So I guess my advice would be to go for it. Ignore the possibility of failure. Keep your eye on the prize. Take risks. I truly believe that every single person is made of greatness. It’s inside us. It’s inherent. We just have to step out of our comfort zone and claim it… And now I totally sound like a fortune cookie. Next question?
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, that keeps you motivated?
To trust my gut and follow my instincts. I’m a huge sucker for criticism. A borderline masochist, actually, because there’s always room for growth, right? However, since I’m always seeking feedback, I often run the risk of losing “myself”, if that makes sense? So, yeah, from personal experience, I’d urge people to listen to the little voice inside that whispers, “Yep, it feels right.” Unless the voice tells you to kill somebody. That’s wrong. Don’t listen. Get help.
Where can readers connect with you?
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/anniearcane
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/anniearcane