Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Yes, Lilly is now the big sister of twin baby girls. Not that she was there, on that morning. It was just the two sets of grandparents plus Andrew and Addy.
It was a reasonably long wait and we were all chatting away, trying not to look worried or the slightest bit anxious. And suddenly my son Richard appeared in green scrubs, with a huge smile. Within minutes, he was taking us into the nursery to meet Sophie and Milla. So perfect and sweet, lying together in a crib, holding hands. Is there anything in this world as precious as a newborn baby? Such an exciting moment.
I hope to bring you a photo of that moment soon, but for now, here they are a bit later, after gastro tubes were put in. For now, their mum, Lauren, is expressing her milk and it's being fed down the tubes. But I'm sure that won't be for long.
These little girls might be tiny but they're really strong. Watch out world!
Milla (above) and Sophie (below)
And in perfect timing I've just completed my duet, Baby Steps to Marriage.
Expecting Miracle Twins and
The Bridesmaid's Baby
will be out in September and October 2009.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Special thanks to my daughter Victoria, who knows how to dance.
For quite a few years, my younger daughter (known to most as Vicki, except her older brother who calls her Vixen, natch) used to be a professional dancer with Dance North, and so when I wanted a scene in this book where the heroine Sally, teaches Logan, her boss, how to dance, I immediately turned to Vicki for help.
By this time, Vicki had given up dancing and was busy in the middle of assignments at univeristy, but she downed tools to help me -- even wrote a possible scene, much of which I've used. That cheeky question that Sally asks, "Do you know how to count, Logan?' was Vicki's. So are the descriptions of what it feels like to waltz.
So again, a huge thank you, Vick!!!
She's a creative type, makes gorgeous cards and mobiles. This is a fire hydrant in Brisbane that she and her boyfriend painted. (The one on the right)
But last week, Vicki gave us an extra reason to be very proud of her. She graduated from the Univeristy of Queensland's Occupational Therapy course with first class honours and a prize for jointly scoring the highest grade point average over the four years of the course. Better still, she's going to work for Autism Queensland, as part of their Outreach Team, helping teachers and autistic kids all over the state.
My kind of heroine.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
On the weekend we made a hasty trip to Tarzali for a quick check. There'd been a wild storm up there, so we had broken tree branches to clean up as well as the usual mowing and weeding. In the wet tropics, grass and weeds are the gardener's enemy, but with drought elsewhere, we're not complaining.
Our Tarzali neighbours are currently caring for this dear little orphaned wallaroo (joey). She's called Ellie and she has been very sick, but is now doing very well and eating grass. She sleeps in a towel-lined bag with a slit in the side like her mother's pouch. Isn't she sweet?
On the way back from Tarzali, we photographed this roadside sign that someone has decorated for the festive season. It's out in the middle of nowhere -- so Aussie, isn't it?
Soon, we're dashing south to catch up with the southern half of our clan. As I now have wireless broadband, I hope to keep you posted. Fingers crossed that this year we aren't washed out the way we were last year, as we have to make it back for an important family event. Will no doubt be doing revsions in the midst of all this dashing about.
But at least I'm better off than the Australian author languishing in a Thai jail, because he wrote one sentence in his book that offended the Thai royalty. I'm inclined to agree with his lawyer who said..." it's about time the Australian government put Harry Nicolaides' human rights before its relationship with the Thai government."
Thursday, November 27, 2008
The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves. The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends!!! I have always thought this tradition is one of the very finest I've heard of in any country -- to encourage an entire nation to stop and reflect and give thanks.
And isn't this Norman Rockwell painting just so evocative and nostalgic and feel good and gorgeous?? I give thanks for works of art that lift my spirits.
I'm eternally giving thanks for great books. At the moment I'm nearly at the end of Susan Wiggs's Home Before Dark . I'm slowly catching up on Susan's backlist. Love her work!
I'm also on a deadline for my last book for this year. At the moment, I'm thinking I'll be grateful for next week, when I'm finished and I can lift my head up for a moment and start thinking about Christmas. But then, when I'm not writing, I soon start to get twitchy!!
Monday, November 24, 2008
To start with, you’re woken at 5.30 by very bright light – the bright mornings we North Queenslanders, immediately associate with summer holidays and Christmas. Outside it is very hot and muggy – even at this early hour – so walkers try to be home before six-thirty. (I took this pohoto at six o'clock this morning. See why we don’t need daylight saving?)
But I think the most spectacular thing – the thing that really sets NQ apart at this time of the year – is the number of flowering trees. For us, Christmas is heralded by poinciana trees and frangipani in glowing colour, as well as cassias and a host of other brilliant blooms.
I first came to appreciate this when I saw an exhibition of artwork by Brett Whiteley inspired by one of his visits to Far North Queensland. We see scenes like this painting on the left every time we travel between Townsville and the Tablelands. Funny how it sometimes takes an outsider to open our eyes to the beauty in our own backyards.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
It's still there if you'd like to read it all about teambuilding workshops and Myers-Briggs personality descriptions and how to dance...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Actually, I think the whole country must be holding its collective breath. We feel as if our nation will be on show for all the world to see and (hopefully) admire.
As a local journalist, John Andersen, wrote on the weekend: " There can be no half measure. Call something Australia and it has to be gigantic. It has to have a heart as big as Phar Lap’s. It has to be a million times bigger than Texas. It has to have the blood of Burke and Wills, Kennedy and Leichhardt thumping through its veins, and just like the Australia we all know, it has to be as beautiful as a bay horse galloping across a Mitchell grass plain and as tender as the pink sky of a Kimberley dawn."
Well, it seems Oprah Winfrey was impressed enough to devote an entire show to the movie and Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman were her special guests. To quote Oprah: "Congratulations (Baz Luhrmann) on your imagination, your vision, your creativity, your direction. Our hearts are all swelling because, my God, it's just the film we needed to see. I have not been this excited about a movie since I don't know when."
“It's the best movie I've seen in a long, long, long, long time. It is epic, it is magic, it is a spectacle and the scenery is so gorgeous you can barely stand it. Australia is going to make you jump on a plane and go Down Under."
So, that’s why we’re a tad excited and hopeful about this movie. If you remember, I visited Bowen last year when some of the Darwin scenes were being filmed and I saw part of the set, so I’ve been quietly looking forward to this movie for a long time. I love the Outback. I love romance. I love World War 2 settings (I have a half written novel set then still waiting to be finished.) This movie is definitely my cup of tea. So fingers crossed.
Good luck, Baz, Nicole and Jack!!!!!
Friday, November 14, 2008
I don't think it's so surprising. The big thing writers and actors have in common is getting inside their characters' skin, inside their heads.
I remember when my daughter Emma was twelve she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and for the whole week that the production was on, she became Dorothy at home. She was truly a different personality for that entire week -- and I don't think she was actually aware of it.
I feel a little like that about my current veterinary heroine. At the moment when anything to do with injured animals comes up, I'm on full alert. So when Presents writer friend Trish Morey shared a photo of a galah with a broken wing, currently being cared for by her mum, I was fascinated.
Doesn't this guy have character? And aren't vets clever? Mind you, I know I have to concentrate on my heroine's love life rather than her working life, but I'll go any route that helps her to become real for me.
Meanwhile, Elliot's excited -- he's been up at Tarzali watering our baby trees and he thinks we have a tree kangaroo on the block. They're in the area, but we haven't had one visit yet (that we've known about anyway). Mind you, at the moment he's only surmising from droppings he's found. :)
Monday, November 10, 2008
CALCULATE YOUR AGE BY DINNER & RESTAURANT MATHS
This is pretty neat. It takes less than a minute. Work this out as you read.
1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to go out to eat. (more than once but less than 10)
2. Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold)
3. Add 5
4. Multiply it by 50
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1758...If you haven't, add 1757.
6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born. You should have a three digit number .
The first digit of this was your original number. ( I. e., How many times you want to go out to restaurants in a week.) The next two numbers are YOUR AGE !
2008 IS THE ONLY YEAR IT WILL EVER WORK
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Friday, November 07, 2008
Within an hour of being back in the city, a fellow tried to commit suicide by leaping off the top of our apartment block. He smashed windows in the lift well and there were police sirens blaring and police everywhere, and fortunately they prevented him from jumping. But what a contrast from our peaceful idyll at Tarzali.
Not that it's all bad here by any means. Lovely to see family. Our son linked up his laptop to the TV so we could watch Barack Obama's history making acceptance speech on YouTube, because we missed it during the drive down. And this weekend there's the Sydney Travelling Film Festival in Townsville. I have a lot of writing to do, but I do hope to get to see a couple of these fabulous films, especially the Italian film, My Brother Is An Only Child. Isn't that an intriguing title?
Did anyone watch Taggart last night? I loved the tension/conflict between Robbie Ross and his wife. It gave me inspiration for developing more conflict in the second half of this story I'm trying to fix up.
Monday, November 03, 2008
All writers know the advantages of point of view, of getting deep into a character’s thoughts and showing that world through his or her eyes. It can be fun sometimes to try writing the same scene from two different points of view to see which way is more effective.
What’s amused and fascinated me is that our veranda at Tarzali has provided me with interesting and practical examples of point of view, because each and every guest who’s sat here has looked at our view with different eyes and has offered a unique perspective.
A geologist friend looked out at the folded mountains and gentle valleys and told me all about how the landscape was made millions of years ago.
Another friend with a Fine Arts degree showed me how our view was a classic “stacked landscape” and how an artist would divide it into sections to get the right perspective.
A conservationist friend talked about the slip erosion on a neighbour’s property. A friend brought up in Ireland encouraged me to grow roses and pansies and daffodils on the slope immediately in front of the house (whereas we prefer to grow mostly Australian native plants.)
Someone else was more fascinated by the birdlife than the landscape. The reactions are as numerous and varied as the people who express them.
It’s been a timely reminder for me that our characters are shaped by their past experiences and their professions and their goals.
They will never all look at the same view with the same reaction!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
The duet I'm currently working on is about a group of characters who've known each other since they were this age. It's so much fun living in their world.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Our first jacaranda blossoms -- a big deal for us as we couldn't grow jacarandas in Townsville. When I was growing up in Brisbane, there was a saying that if students hadn't started studying for their exams before the jacarandas start to flower, they've left it too late!
I love the patterns of light and shade that play over the hills around us. The background for this tree goes through so many combinations in any given day.
This gap between the hills is known as Gentle Annie and it's one of my favourite sections of our view. The road to Ravenshoe, the highest town in Queensland, passes through here.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Now I'm hoping that readers like the book as much as the reviewer did.
"Being hired as a receptionist at Logan Black’s mining company happens just in time for Sally Finch – she’s drowning in debt. Sally’s intense, driven boss fascinates her, and as they get to know each other better – most notably while she’s giving him dancing lessons – it quickly becomes mutual. But Logan has a five-year plan that doesn’t include any sort of romantic entanglement, and Sally’s already made the mistake of falling in love. Barbara Hannay’s Blind Date With The Boss (4 ½) is a sweet, funny, Cinderella-style fantasy; Sally’s delightful and Logan is completely irresistible. Pure magic, beginning to end.”
Have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed writing this book. It’s out in North America and UK next month, and available on line now.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Currently reading: Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s raining here and I’m about to revise Mattie and Jake’s story. (Revisions not too heavy, says she gratefully)
It rains a lot in this part of the world, which is fine by me. No pun intended:) It means the garden grows while I’m not looking and it’s perfect writing weather. I’m snug in my little office and I can look out at lovely views of rain drifting across the hills.
Our jacaranda is flowering for the first time – gorgeous, deep rich mauve bells.
Our neighbours have hatched masses of chickens which come down to visit us when it’s sunny. Neighbour’s daughter was carrying one little shivering, newly hatched chicken in a woolly sock the other day. She works as a veterinary nurse and I’m plying her with questions for my next book. Oh and I passed on a pile of M&Bs to said neighbour and she loved one of yours, Nicola Marsh!!!!!
Currently, in the WIP (work in progress, which I’ve had to abandon while I revise BK #1) my veterinary heroine is in a bridesmaid’s dress (after the wedding) and with the hunky hero’s help, she’s operating on a snake on her kitchen table. (The snake was left in a hessian bag on her doorstep after people ran over it) This sort of thing happens all the time to vets, apparently.
I’m having fun.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
One of the readers at the book club reminded me that it’s nice for "older" (35 +) women to read romance. Her big regret about settling down into a long lasting relationship was that she wouldn’t be able to keep “falling in love”, but she’s realised that romance novels allow her to relive that experience over and over. Yay! A possible convert! ?
At the hairdresser’s, I picked up news of a new book craze (or perhaps not so new to many) sweeping through teenage girls like a pleasurable disease and gripping young women. This was verified when I went to the high school. So what’s the good oil?
The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.
I’ve started Book one and I can certainly see why these stories have created such a buzz. This is another high school girl and vampire scenario – no doubt inspired by Buffy, but the setting is interesting in a tiny, rainy town in Washington state, the characters are fabulous and the sexual tension is really well sustained – over hundreds of pages…
I guess vampires are the ultimate bad boy heroes, but their superpowers make them great saviours as well – and if they’re good vampires and they’re extraordinarily beautiful and they won’t harm you, even though they’re desperate to have you… what can a girl do, but fall in love?
Meanwhile, on a completely different note, I’m writing about a country wedding in a dear little white country church like this one we photographed in the Outback town of Chillagoe a couple of months ago. Ain’t she sweet?
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I read yesterday that Colleen McCullough (of The Thorn Birds fame) has written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. She claims she’s done it to thumb her nose at the literati and I have no problem with that.
The new books is called “The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet” and the premise sounds interesting – it’s about Mary, the neglected middle Bennet daughter and her story is set twenty years into the future, when Mary comes into her own as an interesting middle aged woman, after years of caring for her mother. Mary has a late-in-life romance. All good.
Naturally, Mary’s sisters, Jane, Elizabeth, Lydia and Kitty all get a mention. Jane and Charles Bingley are happy with a big family. Kitty has transformed herself into a rich society wife. Lydia is not quite so happy.
But of course, it is Lizzie that we all really want to know about. Or not? Do we really want to know how her life with Mr. Darcy has turned out in the fertile world of Colleen McCullough’s imagination?
Apparently Mr. Darcy, now called Fitz, has gone into politics with his eye on being Prime Minister. OK, I can cope with that. He and Lizzie have lots of daughters and a disappointing son. Fair enough. They are a powerful couple. Totally believable.
Liz is not happy.
No, Colleen, no.
You can thumb your noses at the literati, and perhaps you were not impressed by P&P in the first place, but why interfere with the dreams and enjoyment of thousands of readers who love to think of Mr. Darcy as the ultimate romantic hero?
I do understand why writers often want to rework other pieces of fiction. When I was teaching I often got my students to write additional scenes for their favourite books… it makes them think harder about the original and of course, post modern thinking assures us that “the reader owns the text”. But isn’t this latest offering, just a tad too disrespectful to all kinds of people on many levels?
Of course, I haven’t read the book and I know the focus is on Mary, so perhaps the hint that Elizabeth isn’t happy is not a drama. Perhaps I don’t want to know.
On reflection, I think it’s kinder to write prequels rather than sequels.
I loved The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which is a forerunner to Jane Eyre. It tells the story of Mr. Rochester’s first marriage to the woman who is later mad and locked away in the attic. It’s a fascinating story in its own right and it doesn’t necessarily disrupt one’s reading of Charlotte Bronte’s original book.
I guess, at 71, Colleen McC has done it all, and she can’t resist thumbing her nose at all of us.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
My dear husband threw a spanner in the works by suddenly needing to fly to Townsville for a Very Important Meeting, so Wednesday morning found us up at 4.30am and heading “down the hill” to Cairns to put him on a plane. I decided that I could spend a day in Cairns Christmas shopping – a great idea in theory, rather exhausting in reality.
The crazy thing was, all I really wanted to do was curl up somewhere with Jodi Picoult’s “The Pact” and finish it. I tried to shop conscientiously, but I kept stopping in cafes to read, and then I would get so emotionally caught up in this gripping story that I would have to stop reading, go and do some more shopping to calm down, and then find another café for my next “fix”. I finished the book, sitting under a tree on the Cairns Esplanade with tears streaming down my face.
Wow – what a book. I don’t think I’ve ever been so emotionally invested in characters.
I bought more books (another JP, of course and a Barbara Delinsky, as well as a Bernard Cornwell for Elliot which he came home and read in one sitting. He’s an all or nothing reader – unlike me. I like to have little reads scattered through my day – little rewards for getting other things done.
Anyhow, on Wednesday, by the time I collected E at 5.30, we were too tired to drive back “up the hill” and we spent a night in Cairns. We ate at a Brazilian barbecue restaurant where a gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome Brazilian waiter brought all different kinds of meat to our tables on a sword. Yummmm… oh and the meat was nice, too.
Yesterday, however, was a wipe-out. I had a horrible headache and couldn’t drag myself to the computer. Today, I’ve planned my next book which has been filtering away in the back of my brain for some time. I’ve had an old friend drop in for a cuppa and I’ve done a little gardening. Tomorrow I must start my next book, which needs to be written fast as it’s a follow on from Jake and Mattie’s story.
The picture below is of my granddaughter Lucy and one of her kittens. This photo reminds me so much of my childhood which was filled with a procession of gorgeous kittens… Enjoy them, Lucy… they bring a special magic into your life…
Can’t you see I’m already slipping into the mood on my next heroine Amy McKentry, who’s a vet??
It’s spring and on the Tablelands that means all the bulbs are out or coming into bloom – agapanthus, hippeastrums, day lilies, crinum lilies… I’ve been madly planting bulbs to add to my collection. I like the idea of a river of blooms running down our hillside in spring.
This is very unlike the warm tropical coast, where – would you believe – many of the trees turn red and gold and lose their leaves in the spring. According to my son, they’re getting ready for the hot weather when they lose too much water through transpiration. It’s something I want to learn more about.
Went to the Yungaburra markets this morning and bought irises and dill. I know the deep blue irises will look gorgeous growing next to my red hippeastrums. And the dill will be scrumptious on potatoes or salmon. We’re eating home grown herbs with almost every meal these days.
I’m currently reading The Pact by Jodi Picoult. She’s an incredibly powerful writer. I am totally invested emotionally in the characters and I don’t want to put the book down. Pity about my looming deadline. I’m just hoping the ending isn’t quite as sad as the ending to My Sister’s Keeper.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Current abode: The City
I’m finding my dual life a tad disruptive. We can’t stay in the country for as long as we’d like because of E’s work (he still has monthly meetings and invariably other things crop up that mean we stay in the city longer.)
In many ways this is great, especially as I get to see more of Lilly. Last night we had a birthday tea for her dad and E cooked chilli quail, while I made Marion Lennox’s bread and butter pudding, using the recipe in Sizzle, Seduce and Simmer. Try it – it’s divine.
Right now we’re fretting about a little grove of rainforest that we planted last week at Tarzali. Has it rained since we left? Have our poor trees wilted? It’s hard to know because Tarzali sits in a kind of radar shadow behind Mt Bartle Frere, so its rain doesn’t show up on the meteorology maps.
On the writing front, I’m in the last phase of my current story – busily trying to wrack up the tension and layer in lusciousness – wish I’d been to Barbara Samuel’s seminar at the RWA conference!
And yesterday I received a box of my next book – Blind Date with the Boss, as well as a complimentary copy of the 2009-2010 Australian Writers’ Marketplace. I’d completely forgotten that they’d asked me if they could reprint an article about category romance that I’d done for the Queensland Writers’ Centre.
I was busily hunting through the index, trying to find my article tucked away somewhere at the back when – crikey – I discovered it on … page one! Gulp. I remember before I was published I used to look on this tome as a kind of bible and now I’m in it. And here I am still struggling to think of myself as a “real writer”.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Blogger has finally let me back in. I don't know what I was doing wrong before or what I'm doing right now, but I kept being rejected by the blogger sign in. Now, at last I can post. Sorry about the silence.
For the past couple of weeks I've been taking care of my mum, who's been recovering from a knee reconstruction. I'm also writing flat strap, but now, I've found a way in, I'll soon be psting again.
Thanks to the lovely people who've written to me about Adopted: Outback Baby. It's always so wonderful to get feedback from readers.
Will be back her again soon.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Actually, while I’ve missed my annual chance to catch up with wonderful writing friends, I have to say I’ve had a productive few days at the computer. And I’ve learned something about my writing process.
You know… sometimes I can get up early and have a thousand words under my belt before breakfast. Other days I can sit at the computer for eight hours and still only squeeze out a thousand words before tea time. I’ve wondered why I have these differences in output. Is it something I’ve eaten or drunk that’s made the difference? Is it my level of tiredness? Are there problems with the story?
It could be any or all of these things, I guess, but I think the main thing is that some days I don’t really give my imagination a chance.
My best writing days come when I lie in bed and picture the next scene in the book. I see it like a movie in my head. I compose complete sentences and hear lines of dialogue, and this goes on until I reach the point where I practically leap out of bed and run to the computer.
It’s when I don’t have this imaginative playtime first that I run into trouble. Sometimes lying down after lunch will help me to visualise the next section of the book.
In a way I already knew this, but now I think I understand it more fully and I know that if the story’s not happening, it could very well because I haven’t had the privacy to dream. Sometimes there’s nothing I can do about that. But now I understand it better, I might find ways to get around the problem.
And by the way, I’ve discovered a new author and I’m currently glomming her books. I like Jane Green because of the depth of her characterization. By the time I get to the end of her books, I really feel I know the main characters as if they were part of my family. And she writes a lot about living in the country and gardening and cooking and all the things I love.
Check her out!
Monday, August 18, 2008
You know… I thought I was going to be such a good blogger, telling you all about our new lifestyle, but sadly, I still have deadlines…
And when I’m not writing, there are all kinds of fun things to do outside. And of course there has been the added distraction of the Olympics, so I’ve been spending very little time on the Internet. But I don’t want to lose touch with everyone, so I promise to be a better blogger.
Currently, I’m working on the first of two books in a duo (my duo) and that’s always fun. I love creating a world and peopling it with characters whose stories will last beyond 50,000 words. And when I’m not writing, we’ve been off to the farmer’s markets to buy all sorts of fresh produce, and we’ve been visiting friends, or gardening. Yesterday we made a herb garden just outside the kitchen with mint and parsley (Italian and ordinary), coriander, basil, rosemary, chives, garlic chives, Lebanese cress. Are you bored yet? Oh and there are petite marigolds and alyssum, which are supposed to keep insects at bay.
Elliot has made a tripod to support one of our cherry tomato bushes and of course I would like tripods for all of them.
As I type, a big truck is toiling up the hill to the house to deliver top soil, so we can top-dress the pad on the southern side of the house.
So life is quite different already from living in our Townsville apartment. I love hanging the washing outside and taking in the gorgeous view while I’m pegging clothes. I love waking up to that gorgeous view each morning and seeing a sky that is different every day. I love coming across a flock of guinea fowl wandering up our driveway, and I really love having a wood fire stove in the house. Who would have thought we’d need a fire in Far North Queensland?
I also love being able to fill a vase with flowers from trees that we’ve planted. Let me assure you, I’m not yet in danger of turning into a zombie. (One of my city friends is certain that’s what will happen to me if I spend too long up here). Perhaps I should have some built-in checks. This blog could be one of them. If I only ever talk about gardening and wildlife, I guess we’ll all know I’m in trouble.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Above is a pic of Barbara MacMahon and me with a view of the Yosemite valley behind us. You can see how hazy with smoke the view was, but also how stunning the landscape is. (You can also see that my hair needs a good wash!!)
We did lots of walks on the valley floor and saw beautiful waterfalls. I loved the huge, towering granite cliffs and the Ponderosa pines. And I was amazed to think I was at 7,200 feet. The top of our highest mountain in Oz is nowhere near that height.
Barbara and I walked to Mirror Lake while (sprightly young) Jessica Hart climbed higher on the Misty Trail. I found the altitude prevented me from too much climbing. We also went up to the Mariposa Grove and saw the fabulous sequoia trees -- the giant redwoods (biggest in the world) for which California is famous. Found myself humming that old song... 'This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York Island, from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters..." I think it was by the Kingston Trio -- one of the first records my parents ever bought...
OK... then there was the conference. And I guess, for us, the big thing was our workshop, although I went to a few fabulous workshops by others... Susan Elizabeth Phillips was an auto-hear. Meredith Bernstein gave a fabulous take on her perspective as an agent. And I loved Susan Mallery's Arc of the Trilogy.
In our workshop... we talked about the need to have emotion in our books to give them global appeal... To connect with women from many different cultures and backgrounds, we have to find those things we have in common, those things we all care about... families, health, jobs... we made a long list...
I talked about the main ingredients of emotional tension and emotional situations. Barbara M talked about the kinds of characters we need to connect with readers' emotions and Jessica outlined her methods for plotting. Then we divided our delegates into groups.
On the power point screen (yes, we used power point, which Jessica set up v effectively) we gave them these opening words.
Max opened the office door and stopped. And stared. "Tess, what the hell is a baby doing here?'
Each group then decided what this story was. (Surprise, surprise, they all decided that Max was a boss and Tess was his secretary! I couldn't persuade anyone that Max was an Outback cattleman. :)
The groups had to describe the hero and heroine, decide what would bring them together and what (internal issues) were going to keep them apart. And... where was the emotion?
The groups then pitched their ideas to editor Lucy Gilmour, who gave them very incisive and helpful feedback on whether these ideas would work for a Harlequin Romance.
We finished up with an extensive list of dos and don'ts for writing emotion.
From the feedback we've had it was very well received, which is gratifying.
In between workshops, I did as much sightseeing (oh, yes, and socialising) as I could. I saw all the main landmarks of San Fran that I wanted to see -- Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Nob Hill...
Below is a shot with Oz mates, Hq medical author Fiona MacArthur and Sil Desire author, Bronwyn Jameson.
Finally there was the RITA ceremony. As my roomie, Kelly Hunter, was a RITA finalist, this was a BIG DEAL. I happily threw a little soiree in our room for Kelly before the event. She looked utterly gorgeous and glamorous in sleek black and we trekked down to the auditorium -- had our photo taken before the stage... and sat with baited breath.
Above, moi with Kelly Hunter, Trish Morey (who was representing finalist Anne Gracie) and Bronwyn Jameson.