Monday, July 27, 2009

Finally...

Have been busy, busy, busy...not writing... feels bad. I start to get twitchy, but with my mum arriving tomorrow, I probably won't be writing for a while.


But I'm not so busy that I didn't notice the Southern Cross dipping below the horizon last night. This constellation is very special for Australians and New Zealanders. It circles the Celestial South Pole every 24 hours, so if you watch it for long enough, you'll see it tilt at some stage. In the southern parts of Australia, it never dips below the horizon, but here in the north, we can see it set, if we stay up late enough.




There's a famous Australian novel by D'arcy Niland, called Call Me When the Cross Turns Over, which refers to a shearers' saying, I believe. I still haven't read that book, but I'd love to track it down as I adored one of Niland's other books The Shiralee, which has been made into movies with Peter Finch (1957) and with Australia's Bryan Brown.


I think it's thanks to The Shiralee, that so many father-daughter scenarios have found their way into my books. (In the Heart of the Outback is one, and a new book coming out next year -- The Rancher's Adopted Family, is another -- see how they're gearing us for the American market? One of my heroes, a rancher?)
Shiralee is an Irish term, meaning a burden, which was how the father in Niland's novel, who was making his way around the Outback looking for jobs during the Depression, viewed his little daughter. But I can promise you the novel brings out his love for her in the most poignant and touching examples of "show don't tell".



Among the many jobs on my list, at long last I've updated my website... YaYYY!!!!!!!!!! and I think everything is in working order. (Don't hesitate to let me know if you find a glitch.)



You'll find information about my Baby Steps to MARRIAGE duo, including excerpts from both Expecting Miracle Twins and The Bridesmaid's Baby.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the best thing...

We're back in the hills again... after a busy, catching-up time in Townsville that included buying a new fridge (had to take off doors to apartment to let it in) and new vacuum cleaner, ( I heart my new Dyson) as well as getting together for several lovely family gatherings.
Now it's raining up here, so we needn't have worried that our plants would die while we were away. Everything's growing. We have snow peas almost ready to be picked. And we have a trailer full of fabulous sheoak firewood.
But one of the best things about being back in the country is being able to buy freshly picked produce straight from the farmers' markets. Love it, love it, love it. This was this morning's haul. OK, maybe I went a tad overboard.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

writing to finsh, or writing to escape...?

Fell over my deadline at 11.17 p.m. last night. After I hit the send button, I felt good for about two minutes before the doubts set in.

That's normal, mind you. For me, it happens with every book, and I'd be surprised if it didn't happen to every author on tight deadlines.

Now, however, there's a tiny hiatus to enjoy before the revisions wing their way back... (Although, wouldn't you know -- I've already started thinking about my next book. And, of course, it's going to be so much better. Every book is always going to be better than the last when it's still just the kernel of an idea.)

Still... I went for a nice long walk this morning, and I have a long list (which I must write down) of Things To Do.

My mum's arriving next week, so there's baking to be done, and the Australian Romance Writer's conference is looming, so there's dress-up clothes to consider, and I have things to post to friends, bills to pay, and a website to update, and the hairdresser to visit...

Many times, I am sure that writing is a very pleasant way to hide from real life. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A little bubble magic...



Combine a little girl, a doting uncle and aunty and bubbles...


and... (as far as I'm concerned) you have magic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comfort reads...

I've currently bypassed my TBR pile to return to an old friend -- over one thousand pages of Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher. She's still my all time comfort read. Unfortunately, she's now in her mid eighties and has stopped writing, but did you know she started out by writing for Mills and Boon?

I might have told this story before (deadline tends to fuzz the brain) but I first discovered Rosamunde Pilcher via a magazine story about her house, while I was staying in a cottage in France. It was just after I'd sold my first book to Mills and Boon and I'd been to London to meet the editors. I bought The Shell Seekers in Rome airport on the way home. All these details seemed to add to her magic for me -- and then there's the way she brings Cornwall and the north of Scotland to life. Books with a keen sense of place are my favourites. What about you? Do you have a favourite author or type of book that you find yourself returning to every so often, because you love the comfort of their story world?

The kind of mistake you don't want to make...

In Northern Australia you can't take risks with water. A woman yesterday drove her vehicle into crocodile infested waters - and got stuck!. She thought this boat ramp was a river crossing. Eeek!!


I'm pleased to report that she escaped unharmed, but others haven't been so lucky.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Driveway music...

You may have guessed that my deadline is looming and I have my head down. Can't think of much except what's happening to my characters.

But I did discover something new yesterday, while I was washing up and listening to the radio. It's the concept of driveway music - music on the car radio that's so gorgeous (substitute adjective of choice here) that when you get home, you can't turn it off. You have to stay in the car, in your driveway, and keep listening till you get to the end.


And then yesterday afternoon, I had a driveway music moment. I'd dashed into town for a couple of things, and as I turned in at our driveway (which is about 4 or 5 hundred metres long) they were playing the most fabulous music. Now, I have to tell you I don't usually go for brass band music, but this brass band was playing Freddie Mercury's Bohemian Rhapsody - and - it - was - amazing.


So yeah, I pulled up at the house and sat there and just - listened. Went back to work feeling uplifted.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Interview...


Last weekend, Ian Frazer from the Townsville Daily Bulletin published a feature story about my RITA nomination. I thought I'd share some his questions and my answers here.


I.F. Can you say anything more about the inspiration for Adopted Outback Baby? When was it written and how has it fared with readers?

B.H. Adopted: Outback Baby was written in 2007 and first published in July 2008. It seems to have been very popular with the readers, selling well in both the US and UK as well as being translated in quite a few languages.

The idea was born during a car trip between Townsville and the Atherton Tablelands. I was brainstorming with my husband, bouncing around rather ordinary ideas. As usual, I was saying: “No, that won’t work.’ ‘No, not good enough,’ and then, like the best ideas, the notion that the hero and heroine should be grandparents just “arrived”. I can’t remember who actually came up with it, but I immediately knew it was the story I wanted to write.

The ideas were further refined when I brainstormed them later with writer friends at a retreat in Queenscliff in Victoria.

For further inspiration, I made a collage of images and word pictures that were evocative of the mood that I wanted for this book. The collage included William Butler Yeat’s beautiful poem He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.
-- William Butler Yeats
I worked elements of this poem into my characters and into the story itself.


I.F. Does publicity about awards boost sales?

B.H. It’s hard to say. Very keen readers of romance would be aware of the awards. Editors and agents certainly take notice. Within my peer group, being a finalist in this competition is a really big deal.

I.F. Which of your novels has been most popular and how many have you written?

B.H. Outback with the Boss has sold the most copies so far. I’ve written thirty novels and two novellas.

I.F. Do the stories still unfold as you write, as Mary Vernon reported in `05?

B.H. Yes. I have a basic situation in mind and from there I start to develop characters and conflict. But I like to surprise myself as I go. It’s more fun than plotting ahead and knowing exactly what’s going to happen.

I.F. Are you still as disciplined?

B.H. I have to be disciplined. I have deadlines, but some days the words come much more easily than others.

I.F. Do you have time for reading fiction and if so what at present?

B.H. I love to read fiction. I think it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures, but I don’t read so much romance these days, because I’m dealing with it every day. Currently, I’m reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and books lined up to follow that are Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.

I.F. Was last year’s US romance writers’ conference the first you had attended?

B.H. No, I’ve attended other conferences in New York and Dallas.

I.F. What was your topic at the writers’ seminar (in San Francisco)?

B.H. I was involved in presenting a workshop with two other authors from the UK and USA, as well as an editor from the London office. Our topic was: Writing romance with global appeal, and as well as giving lectures, we ran group exercises. The groups then pitched ideas to the editor who gave useful feedback. As a former teacher, I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned to aspiring writers. Romance writers are surprisingly generous and nurturing. Perhaps because we’re mostly women??

I.F. Do you usually have any contact with other writers?

B.H. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet and email, I have daily contact with other writers. Writing is a lonely job, so this contact is a lifeline. I usually attend the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference, (which this year will be in Brisbane in August) but I also go on an annual retreat with a group of close writer friends. We stay in a guest house, work in our rooms during the day, but get together for meals and in the evening. We’re quite organised and have a list of topics we want to discuss that are related to either our craft or our industry.

I also chat to readers and writers via my blog.

I.F. How many other Harlequin/ Mills and Boon writers in Australia?

B.H. There are over 50 authors.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happiness continued...

As a follow up to my last post, I've just seen this news story which claims that Australia is the third happiest place on Earth. How about that?
It seems that Latin American countries have claimed nine out of the ten top spots for living happily. There's no mention of gorgeous Latin lovers, but they must play a role, surely?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Happiness

I'm having a very eclectic time with my reading at the moment. Am reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I rather liked British philosopher, Mark Vernon's thoughts on happiness and living a good life, and I've ordered his book Wellbeing.
Actually, I've had a great time this week, ordering books from The Book Depository. Last night, I ordered "A Week at Waterloo" by Lady de Lancey. It's a book of letters written by a young Scottish bride who accompanied her brand new husband to Waterloo. Her husband was Wellington's main offsider -- I forget the correct military term, and he died eleven days after the battle in his wife's arms. Apparently, Charles Dickens cried when he read Magdalene de Lancey's account of the battle, and her tragic but terribly romantic ten week marriage. Did you know The Book Depository will post anywhere in the world for free?

OK, over to Mark Vernon... and how to be happy...
1. Don't focus on your happiness, focus on how you are living your life. Happiness is a by-product of a life lived well.
2. Don't ask yourself what you enjoy, ask yourself what is most meaningful to you. Dump the rest, and go for that.
3. Truly prioritize your life around what and who you love. Many would say their friends are the most important thing to them, even as they move to the other side of the world to take up a better paid job.
4. Don't be afraid of the spiritual, even if you aren't very religious. In art, architecture, music and novels human beings have always searched for what lies beyond. There is a good reason for that.
5. Pain and struggle is not necessarily bad and might be very good. Ask any parent: the agony of raising children is usually, at base, meaningful agony.
6. Take time and find a regular space to contemplate the world. Less is definitely more in the art of happiness.
7. Don't read too many self-help books. You'll end up living the programme not living your life!