Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two year old buddies...

Couldn't resist sharing this photo of my granddaughter Lilly helping her best friend Ellen to blow out her birthday candles.

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

a few shots from Tarzali...

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.
Last evening, to cap off a perfectly beautiful day, we had fireflies! At dusk, Elliot and I went for a walk along our cutting (our property has an old disused railway cutting running through it) and we counted sixteen fireflies! So exciting and beautiful -- exactly like Tinkerbell fairies, flitting through the trees and around our heads.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

thought for the day...

An idea I encountered in my reading today that I really liked... artistic excellence is incorruptible.

In the middle of the world's current economic turmoil and with all the finger pointing etc filling the media, it's a thought I'd like to hold for a little while...
And when I was hunting for an example I couldn't go past Michaelangelo's David. What purer example of artisitic excellence than this? Look at that detail in the hand... and to think it's carved from marble. I'll never forget standing in awe in front of this statue in Florence. One of life's precious memories...

Friday, October 24, 2008

check this out...

If you're a writer, rush over to Susan Wiggs's blog to see the wonderful notes she's sharing about a recent Michael Hauge workshop. Her report is so detailed and his interpretation of character arcs is the best I've ever encountered.

A big thanks to Susan for her generous notes!!!

And I love the sound of her Lakeshore Christmas, the next book in her Lakeshore series. Wonderful books -- single title versions of Harlequin Romance (I reckon).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How sweet the sound of a good review...

OK, mostly I pretend I don’t care about reviews. Many of my most poorly reviewed books have proved to be the most popular with readers. But this month the Romantic Times fairy has smiled on me, and Donna Alward kindly sent me this review.
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

A snug, rainy weekend...

Current abode: The Country
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

A week in the city...

I’ve spent the past week back in Townsville and it’s been a busy week. Apart from diving into Book #2 of my duet, which is humming along OK, I’ve given a talk to a reading book club and another to a Year Eleven English class and I’ve been to the hairdressers, the movies… coffee with a friend making the most of a week in town.

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

She dares to dabble with Mr. Darcy

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

Mattie and Jake have left the building…

They left on the last day of September, so what, you may well ask, have I been doing since then? I mean that’s two whole days and still no blog.

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 cafĂ© 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??

This is the post that should have been added last week, but... oops, I was too busy writing...

Back at our little place in the country again. We only have eleven days here before we have to be back in town, so am making the most of it, although I’m on a deadline which tends to keep me indoors too much.

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.