Saturday, September 29, 2007

away in the country...

I know I've been rather slack here, but the truth is, I've been more or less in retreat mode, tucked away in the country and writing hard. When I haven't been writing I've been weeding (we have endless weeds here) or planning future extensions (because we really do want to come and live here, we've decided).
This planning is great fun and involves lying down on the grass, where we think out future bed might be and checking out the view/ line of sight etc.
While we were here we also had ground excavated for a shed -- a two door garage, which will really help with storage!!
I'm having great fun with my current story, but put all that aside this weekend for a VIP visitor -- Lilly!!
This was her first visit to Tarzali and she had great fun.

The new pad awaiting extensions provided a great place to try out her walker, but there's nothing quite like the simple fun of playing in a "bath" outdoors. And of course Lilly got to meet Belle, our neighbour's beefalo calf, whose birth last December was recorded on this blog. Oh, and she met other cows and a pig, the farmer's dogs and chooks and young Brian (pictured). Now she knows what a real "moo" sounds like!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Townsville's Strand

One of my city's biggest attractions is our beautiful Strand and at the moment, for twelve days, ephemeral 'sculptures' are on display for us to enjoy. I thought I'd share some with you. Above is a "postcard" complete with chalk and duster, so that we can write our own message. That's Magnetic Island in the background.

This is one of the sculptures -- a woven boat and in the background, you can see the fishing pier.

I love this chair made from soft coral. Makes me think of Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid's Chair.

These are massive lamingtons made by my friend, Townsville artist, Sylvia Ditchburn. For those of you who don't know what lamingtons are, they are an Aussie favourite at any picnic and often sold for fund raisers -- squares of sponge dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut.

How gorgeous is this driftwood crocodile?

This was Elliot's favourite. Hmmm.... But it is clever, isn't it?

In this photo, you can see the permanent "sculptures" of silver coconuts on the ground -- some of them quite suitable for sitting on. And, in the background, ephemeral box jelly fish. Of course, there are many more sculptures -- about thirty in total, but these were among my favourites.

No Aussie beach is complete without a life guards' lookout -- even if there's no surf because our shores are protected by the Great Barrier Reef.

To put the Strand in perspective, if you turn from your view of Magnetic Island and look behind you, you see Castle Hill, a huge shoulder of pink granite. This photo's perspective hides the suburb of North Ward which sits between the hill and the sea.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Another day...

Am making steady progress on my book. Went to the library to get a few books to follow up on some threads I’m developing in this story. Got a biography of Brahms, mainly because I’m interested in him, but you never know, it might turn up in the WIP...

Brahms’s violin concerto is among my all time favourite pieces of classical music. There’s a section in the first movement when the music slows down that’s so beautiful I have to stop everything just to listen. Every time.

I’ve voted for it on the favourite concerto competition the ABC is currently running. As has writer mate, Anna Campbell.

Lilly and her Mum visited yesterday afternoon and had a swim. We have a lovely pool on the roof of our apartment block.

Last night we went to cinema club and saw Last Train to Freo (Fremantle). It’s a Western Australian thriller set on a train and it is majorly scary, but brilliantly acted. Fantastic characterisation.

The second movie was supposed to be 49 up, the next movie in the 7 up series, which I love and have been following since it started. However, there had to be last minute change because it was only available in digital and so we saw Romulus, My Father instead. Fabulous! Brilliant. Terribly sad, but so powerful. The young Raimond’s acting is sensational, but the whole cast is very, very good. Marvellous men. Gorgeous, brilliant Eric Bana. Inspiring art. I hope it does well overseas.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thank you

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. The official word has been handed down and the book will be called Adopted:Outback Baby.

I must admit that it's an economical title. Every word helps to tell exactly what the story is about. The fact that Nell and Jacob don't actually adopt Sam (it's almost impossible for grandparents to adopt, although they can become legal guardians) is splitting hairs, I guess.

On another matter, I'm pleased to report that I've taken a deep breath and dived into my next book. Just as well, considering the looming deadline. The first chapter has been polished and re-worked to within an inch of its life and I'm moving on to Chapter Two. I'm not one of these authors who can write a dirty draft.

You can follow the whole process of a book being constructed on Nicola Marsh's blog.

I must admit that while the actual flow of my story can be different from book to book, I always start the same way -- not with characters alone, but with a story idea -- a situation that intrigues me. In Claiming His Family, for example, I wanted to write a story that started where my other stories usually finish -- with a woman from the city (Manhattan - why not think big?) and an Outback cattleman, who have already fallen in love and married, but their marriage failed and they are now divorced.

Sometimes I might even start with nothing more than a story-rich title like Having the Boss's Babies.

Once I have an idea that excites me and which I know has the right ingredients and hooks for the Romance line, then I ask myself: who will this happen to? Why? How? Where? When? etc, etc. But this process is never orderly or predictable. Sometimes the characters arrive almost at the same time as the starting idea. Sometimes I'm halfway through the book, before I really get a grip on them. Sometimes, I outline the plot before I start. I can't say for sure that any of these methods is more successful than another.

This time I've planned as much of my story as I can before I start. I think it was the careful planning, wanting to have everything perfect in my head, that held me back from diving in. But there's a point when you hear that starter's gun and you just have to start dog-paddling and hope like crazy that you get to the other side. That's where I am now.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A straw poll

Now's your chance to have a say!

Possible contenders for the title of my next book are...

Adopted: Outback Baby

Outback Baby Surprise

A Baby at Koomalong

Finally, A Family

I would welcome comments from Romance readers on whether any of these titles appeal. Or you are also welcome to make other suggestions for a story about a couple whose baby was given up for adoption when they were 19 and who find themselves brought together by a twist of fate to care for their tiny grandson.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Something new and something blue...

I discovered this amazing Romance Television channel yesterday. You can see interviews with all your favourite American authors like Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann and Rachel Gibson, to name just a few. And there are reviews -- even an Oscar night style coverage of the RITA awards, with all the glamour and excitement. Crikey, if I'd gone, I really would have had to think hard about my "frock" -- oh, and a diet and a trip to the hairdresser and the nail bar. Much less stressful to stay home and garden.
It may be that I'm the last person on the planet to have discovered this channel, but I'm posting about it in case there are one or two others.
And how did I discover it? Can you tell I'm procrastinating before I dive into my next book? I've made lots of notes on little cards, in a notebook and on the computer and I have been doing masses of thinking, but there's been lots of "medical stuff" happening in our house lately. We're OK, but not great and I think I need to feel all the planets lined up to give me the go ahead and to recapture the thrill of diving into a new book. It will happen soon and it will be fun, I know, but first this morning, there's the dentist.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Our wonderful Sydney office

When I was in Sydney for the conference I met the dynamic Jackie Johnson from Harlequin Mills and Boon's Sydney office and she told me then that she'd organized a lovely gold foil Award winning author flash for my next Australian release.

Then she sent me a cover flat. Isn't it gorgeous? We really are lucky to have fabulous support from our office here in Oz.

On that note, I also want to tell you about another venture the Sydney office have launched and that is the publication of the super talented and much loved Australian author Lilian Darcy's single title book Cafe Du Jour under their Mira imprint. Check out Lilian's website to find out more about this wonderful book, which she says is a mix of popular and literary fiction.

Yay, Lilian!!!

I was lucky enough to be at Lilian's launch of this exciting book at the Sydney conference and I'm very much looking forward to reading it.

Both Needed: Her Mr. Right and Cafe du Jour are available at

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Puppies, plants and a veranda and oh, yes, a new book...

Home from Tarzali and about to get head down on my new book. There's nothing more exciting than a new book idea -- before I start writing.
It's all shining and wonderful and full of promise and I can "see" all sorts of gorgeous scenes. But, oh, this is also when the nervous flutters start. Will I ruin these lovely, bright and shimmering ideas when I try to get them down in words?

Anyhow, that's my worry, not yours. Thought I'd show you a few pics taken at Tarzali on the weekend.

This is me on a cool and misty morning, admiring the concrete slab which will be our new veranda.

Here is a gorgeous blossom on a native shrub we bought last year from Yeruga nursery.

It's a brilliant nursery at Tolga where, if you tell them which part of the Tablelands you live, will supply you with a catalogue of native plants suited to your area. Our plants are all thriving. Isn't this just gorgeous? Sorry, I can't tell you its name. I'm not that sort of gardener, although I'm getting better.

We were disappointed to have to leave the plant behind to flower madly and brightly while we weren't there to tell it how lovely it is.

And here is a new litter of puppies at our neighbours' place. I often write about blue heeler cattle dogs in my Outback books.

These puppies are a mixture of Smithfield Blue and Border Collie with an Australian red heeler mother.

My next book is set in the city and I don't know if I'm going to be able to have a dog in it. Oh, heck, why not? Yes, I think my hero must have a dog, mustn't he? But only if he looks after it well.