Tuesday, June 30, 2009

inspiring "how to" writing books...

I have two "how to" books by Donald Maass, which I've found invaluable. As soon as I read what he had to say about "tension on every page" I knew it was something I already strived to have in my novels, but would work even harder to maintain in the future.
Now he has another book out called The Fire in Fiction, and already word is spreading like... well... wild fire.
You might like to check out this interview with The Don which discusses his latest book and other pertinent matters. He hints at a technique called micro tension and I so want to know how to use it. Think I need that book NOW.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


One of the biggest dangers to a writer is distraction. I have no idea how young mothers with little children manage. Perhaps being young is the secret????

I had a lovely morning this morning at the Yungaburra markets, buying all kinds of vegetables and fruit and homemade jams, as well as plants and locally made ciabata bread and biscotti (there's a strong Italian community in FNQ). Afterwards we read the weekend papers at a cafe while we enjoyed coffee and cake, and then on the way home we called in at the local sawmill and bought timber to make rustic garden seats.

This afternoon I've changed "Lizzie" to "she", and "Jack" to "he" and... then changed them back again... sigh... and not much more.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

word magic...

As writers and readers, we all love words... Rub two carefully chosen words together, and magic happens.

Writing friends on one of my loops have been discussing German words lately. Schadenfreude came up. It's a German word that wikipedia describes as largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another, which is cognized as trivial ...
I'm sure we can all think of examples of this that we'd rather not mention..

But when it comes to emotions, I have always loved Sehnsucht, which means longing. From the moment I read the poem by Friedrich Schiller in high school, this word has entranced me. It seems to echo the pain and the sweetness and the necessary patience that comes with longing.

Definition according to google: Sehnsucht, is a German word that refers to longing, is a fleeting moment in which one feels an intense calling to a world completely unlike the one now lived ...

To me, it sums up what our books are all about.

Do you have a favourite word?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

an experiment...

It's too soon to report the latest findings in the Hannay investigation into brain function, writing output and diet...

However, I've found that some days my mind feels really fuzzy and unproductive and I can sit all day at the computer and squeeze out a few hundred words, while on other days a couple of thousand words can flow quite easily.

It's partly to do with the creative process and the muse, both of which are unreliable at the best of times. It's partly story problems and what else is going on in my life... but I'm also wondering about diet... and I'm experimenting with Vitamin B.

I'll keep you posted if I think it definitely helps.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

our winter visitor...

OK, this isn't exactly David Attenborough footage... but I'm very fond of this white heron. We bought our apartment on the edge of Ross Creek (and yes, still in the heart o' the city) in the winter of 2000. That winter and every winter since, this lone white heron has come to fish in the shallows at the half-tide.
I'm sure it's the same bird. It comes at the same time every year, always alone. I love to see him (her?), and I have no idea where he is for the rest of the year, but it's another of the wonderful cyclical mysteries of Nature, isn't it? Do you have any recurring visitors where you live?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back to earth...

Coming back to reality after the most amazing quick trip to Brisbane for (squeee) a Simon and Garfunkel concert.

Forty years ago (in the days when the flats I shared with fellow teachers dripped with candles in Chianti bottles and we stirred our coffee with cinnamon sticks, and we ironed our hair to try to straighten it, and had fondue parties) I bought my very first S&G LP (that's a long playing record for those of you who are too young to know such things).
I also used to teach Simon and Garfunkel songs as poems to my English classes and I lurrrved Simon and Garfunkel's music -- the beautiful, haunting harmonies, the evocative imagery, the emotion, the witty rebellion, the youthful angst, the intellectualism. Loved it all.
Never dreamed that forty years later I'd be sitting at their feet -- but we had front row seats in the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Wednesday night (what a shock when the usher led us to the front row!) and we loved every second of their concert -- all the old favourites, plus a few new, with all their fabulous backup artists.
During the applause that brought on two lots of encores, E gave Paul Simon a thumbs up and Paul actually looked E in the eye and returned the thumbs up. Swoon. How intimate is that? It was a night to remember. Occasional notes had been changed to accomodate aging voices (They're 68, after all) but on the whole they sounded as wonderful as ever -- even Art Garfunkel, with all those difficult soaring, high harmonies. Quite amazing really.
OK, count me as totally inspired. I'm back to work today. (Promise!)
Favourite song of the night? By a very, very narrow margin...
For Emily, whenever I might find her...
What a dream I had
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline
Of smoky burgundy
Softer than the rain
I wandered empty streets
Down past the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
Tripping down the alleyways
As I walked on
And when you ran to me
Your cheeks flushed with the night
We walked on frosted fields
Of juniper and lamplight
I held your hand
And when I woke
And felt you warm and near I kissed your honey hair
With my grateful tears
Oh I love you girl
Oh I love you

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rescuing your dream...

Do you have a manuscript that you love, but "people" (editors, contest judges) are telling you it isn't quite right? Check out Susan Meier's workshop: Can this manuscript be saved? on the Harlequin Romance authors' blog.

Too cute for words...

Awwwww...... Isn't this baby boy beyond cute? This cover is so lovely, I have to pinch myself that it's on my book. Thank you... whoever's responsible.The Bridesmaid's Baby is out in October, the second book in my Baby Steps to Marriage duet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

a small progress report...

Not a book progress report. I'm not going to give you a word count -- because I have good days and bad days and really, you wouldn't want to know about the bad days. And I end up ripping out so much of what I've written that there's not a lot of point in counting the words. Here today, gone tomorrow...
I promise I'm writing between gardening, viewing plays, catching up with family and playing with babies.
The other morning I took a photo (at bottom of blog) of our steps. If you've been hanging around this blog for some time, you might remember when we made these drystone steps. This first photo only shows E doing the work, but it was a team effort. I swear. I did a lot of supervising. :) Actually, while we were working on these steps, I discovered an excellent use for our digital camera. Not just for taking shots of my DH! When we worked out how the stones fitted together (like a jigsaw) I would photograph them in position, but then we had to take them out again, to bed them properly in sand. However, we could refer to the pictures to see how they should go. Worked well. (I've heard since of another use for cameras -- if you take a pic of where you've parked your car in a big car park, it will help you to find it again. Too cool.)

Anyway, because we're not at Tarzali all the time, and we have so many projects on the go(including writing books) the progress on the garden is slow, but it is steady, and I thought I'd show you what the steps look like now. The photo's a bit shadowy and some of the flowers don't show up, but you can get the general idea.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

around the world...

One of the very coolest things about this job is knowing that women all over the world might be reading my books...

Translations of my books that (to my knowledge) are available this month are...

First, in Germany... my RITA nominated book Adopted: Outback Baby

In France, a reprint of one of my personal favourites (of books by moi) A Bride at Birralee is available in this anthology.

And in Sweden and other Scandanavian countries, in a 2 in 1 with Jessica Hart, The Bridesmaid's Best Man.

Friday, June 12, 2009

the play's the thing...

We writers often talk about the need to refill the creative well, so that our imaginations don't run dry.
There are many ways to do this... through travel, meeting new people, having new experiences (good and, unfortunately, bad), listening to music that speaks to us, reading wonderful books and poetry, watching movies... and less often, plays.
And you know... there's something about the tight construction of a really well written play and the immediacy of a live performance that can teach us a lot about characterisation, mining emotion, dialogue and plain, honest story telling.
Last night we went to see a play put on by the local amateur players. It was Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, which is one of Australia's most significant plays, written by Ray Lawler in 1959, and later made into a movie starring John Mills, Angela Lansbury, Anne Baxter and Ernest Borgnine.
It's about two cane cutters, Roo and Barney, who travel each year to North Queensland for 7 months of the year, then return to Melbourne for the lay off. Each year, when Roo comes back he brings a doll on a stick for his girlfriend, Olive . This summer is the seventeenth year he's returned -- and like all the best stories, it's a summer of changes, and the changes are hard for all the characters to deal with.

I loved every second of it, even though the actors weren't professionals, and I recommend checking out your local theatre to see what they're putting on. You might be pleasantly surprised -- and inspired.
And while I'm here, talking about plays... I thought I add these stanzas from an old Aussie favourite, a verse novel written in 1915... it's about a working class, courting couple who go to see "Romeo and Juliet".


Wot's in a name? -- she sez . . . An' then she sighs,
An' clasps 'er little 'ands, an' rolls 'er eyes.
"A rose," she sez, "be any other name
Would smell the same.
Oh, w'erefore art you Romeo, young sir?
Chuck yer ole pot, an' change yer moniker!"

Doreen an' me, we bin to see a show --
The swell two-dollar touch. Bong tong, yeh know.
A chair apiece wiv velvit on the seat;
A slap-up treat.
The drarmer's writ be Shakespeare, years ago,
About a barmy goat called Romeo.

"Lady, be yonder moon I swear!" sez 'e.
An' then 'e climbs up on the balkiney;
An' there they smooge a treat, wiv pretty words
Like two love-birds.
I nudge Doreen. She whispers, "Ain't it grand!"
'Er eyes is shining an' I squeeze 'er 'and.

'Wot's in a name?" she sez. 'Struth, I dunno.
Billo is just as good as Romeo.
She may be Juli-er or Juli-et --
'E loves 'er yet.
If she's the tart 'e wants, then she's 'is queen,
Names never count ... But ar, I like "Doreen!"

A sweeter, dearer sound I never 'eard;
Ther's music 'angs around that little word,
Doreen! ... But wot was this I starts to say
About the play?
I'm off me beat. But when a bloke's in love
'Is thorts turns 'er way, like a 'omin' dove.

If you'd like to read the entire poem, you can do so here...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm tweeting

Yes, I've caught the Twitter bug, and discovered it's easy and fun . You can find me here.

Monday, June 08, 2009

the table in situ

To see the story of how this table used to be, check here...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

memorable poetry...

Downunder, autumn has actually progressed to winter now, but while I was writing today, I was thinking about the full moon. A bunch of words popped into my head and I found myself remembering a much loved poem that my recent blogs seemed to echo, so I thought I'd share it with you. It's one of five poems (yes, five only) written by T.E. Hulme and it was first published in 1912.

A touch of cold in the Autumn night -
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

T.E. might have only written five poems, but he sure had a talent for imagery.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

An author to lunch...

Yesterday, we were thrilled that fabulous Presents author Trish Morey and her husband could visit us. They'd flown all the way to FNQ from South Australia for the Queen's Birthday long weekend, and they zipped up from a resort on the coast for a day trip to the Tablelands in a snazzy sports car.
Of course we talked shop over lunch. Not entirely, but honestly, that's a big reason why writers like to get together, and our dear husbands understand this, the tolerant darlings. I was able to share with Trish some old Mills & Boons I found in the Salvation Army at Mareeba by treasured favourites from a bygone era -- Mary Burchell, Violet Winspear, Anne Weale, Sally Wentworth. As I was a late discoverer of M&Bs, I love the chance to read some of these older books. Even though romance stories keep changing with the time I still like to understand the genre's roots.

Thanks for dropping in, Trish, it was fab. Hope you're having a wonderful time for the rest of your weekend.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

awakened by moonlight...

If knew how, I'd put Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata as background music for this post. That music seems to speak to my very soul and it's one of the pieces I often write to.
It’s been rather cloudy here lately and I haven’t noticed what the moon was up to. Last night, however, at around a quarter to four, I woke and thought we’d left a light on outside.
When I got up and went to the window, I found the clouds had lifted and the sky was ablaze with stars, and a fat yellow moon was hanging in the western sky, sending light onto the laundry wall.
I went out into the kitchen to get a better view and wow! Our valley was filled with white mist, like a cauldron steaming with a magic potion, and the moon was lighting up the scene with a mysterious soft beauty.
Memorable - even better than this (public) photo, which I didn't take -you know why.

So if it's not too cloudy where you are, check out the moon tonight. What's it doing?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Now you're just going to have to believe me...

... when I tell you that the table is coming along beautifully... but I can't show you, because the battery in our camera has died and we've left the recharger back in Townsville.

E was even down in the garage working on the table last night while I had my feet up watching State of Origin. (No, I don't feel guilty. E's actually enjoying himself.)

So I'll have to show you a pic of a North Queensland football star (and man of the match) instead. You should see JT kick a goal. As one of the commentators said last night: 'It's like a tracer bullet.'

Monday, June 01, 2009

New covers...

Mills and Boon in the UK are bringing out new covers in August, and in many of the lines the books will be sold as 2 in 1s.

While I can't say I'm thrilled with this move, I am at least pleased that my first book in this format will be Expecting Miracle Twins, (the first book in my duet) will be teamed with Marion Lennox's first book in her new trilogy, Claimed: Royal Secret Son. Marion is an author I love both as a fabulous writer and a wonderful friend. Let's hope we bring each other good luck in this new format.

This is what the cover looks like. I'm afraid I couldn't save the larger version. What do you reckon?