Thursday, September 30, 2010

If you're in Cairns this weekend...

I'd be there if I could...


On Writing Stories and Film Scripts!

Would you like to know the secrets to becoming a very successful writer for both the screen and the page, as well as discover how to get your film produced or book published?

You are invited to a FREE seminar presented by Best Selling Author Michael Domeyko Rowland in Cairns! Michael has produced, written and directed a cinema film titled Being in Heaven, shot at Fox Studios. He also wrote the best selling book ‘Absolute Happiness’ (90,000 copies) and has written and directed documentaries, as well written and presented dozens of seminars.

The film Being in Heaven has been released across Australia by Palace Cinemas with every city extending their screenings by popular demand.

This seminar will give you the most vital methods to free your ‘inner’ writer and help you complete your story. It is fantastic information that is easy to apply.

Whether you are a professional or aspiring writer, this is a rare and unique opportunity to discover how to create successful stories and get your work produced or published. Over one thousand people have attended this seminar already all over Australia. Now you can join them!

The details of the free seminar are as follows:

Holiday Inn Hotel
121-123 The Esplanade, Cairns (Cnr Abbot St.)
Saturday, 2nd October
2:00pm - 4:00pm

Michael started as an Assistant Director on Wake in Fright (Jack Thompson), Age of Consent (Helen Mirren) and Skippy. He also directed several episodes of the worldwide smash hit series Return to Eden. His personal development seminars are the most popular in the country, with over 220,000 people attending over the past 20 years

Seats are limited, so if you would like to come, please register immediately!

To book phone 1800 67 62 62 or email If you do not book you may not get in as these book out very quickly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the writing life...

I've had quite a string of visitors and happenings over the past few weeks (or is that months?) I'd begun to feel rather twitchy about all the writing I was not doing, but I think I've benefited from the break. There's a fine line between keeping up the writing habit and burning out, and there's nothing worse for a writer than feeling like a hamster on a wheel. Now, however, I've dived into a new book and it's feeling good and I'm actually feeling a little flushed, as if I'm falling in love.
Believe me, that's GREAT. Writing days aren't always like that and I might have plenty of dry gullies ahead of me, but I'll keep plugging on, hoping for more good days. Like winning the lottery, I never know when it's going to happen. Not that I've ever won the lottery -- although I have to admit, I felt as if I had on that magical Friday 13th in 1998, when an editor rang me from London.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tropical Writers Festival...

Just in case you missed my (previously discreet) link on the side of this blog -- if you're in North Queensland, you could well be interested in this exciting writing and reading event happening in Cairns next month. There'll be lots of free events where authors will be talking about their writing and answering questions, as well as signing books. There'll be a literary dinner to which all are welcome -- and writing workshops delivered by James Phelan, Sylvia Kelso, Angela Murphy and moi. Places in my three hour romance writing workshop are filling up fast...
It's going to be fab and you can check out all the details here.
But I'll also be giving a six hour workshop (with lots of meaty details) the following weekend (Oct 23 rd) in Townsville.
I'd love to see you there!

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's spring in my country garden...

Daughter Vicki is visiting us at Tarzali and she wandered off into the garden with a camera...

Unfortunately we have to leave again and I won't see my agapanthus and hippeastrums open, but while we're away, things are happening...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Yungaburra Book Fair...

On Saturday morning, romance writers Helene Young, Elizabeth Martin and I spoke on a panel at the Yungaburra Book Fair. (Right - is one of Yungaburra's cute and yummy coffee shops) We had great fun, there was a good crowd, and lots of great books to investigate, All in all, a lovely morning...   Elizabeth's debut book, The Coffeeholic and the Cafe, a romantic comedy set in Far North Queensland, will be released on October 1st.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My morning walk...

Scenes from my morning walk in Townsville... I do think I'm lucky to have one of the loveliest places to walk each morning -- relatively free from exhaust fumes...

... although to begin with, our mall doesn't look too pretty at the mo. It's being dug up and changed back into slow-flow traffic in a bid to liven up the City heart, but while the suburban malls continue to thrive and grow, I'm not sure what kind of results we'll get here.

Flinders Street East has lots of lovely old heritage buildings. From here I turn left ...

...past Molly Malone's pub (left) and the ABC offices, to The Strand... where we come to what was once the Queen's Hotel. (below) This lovely building, looking out across Anzac park to the sea, is built in the grand old Victorian style. There were only two hotels in the world built to this design. The other hotel is in India (possibly Mumbai) and all the bricks were made in England and brought out by ship. This building is now owned by Channel 9.
. From the Strand, we get our first view of Magnetic Island. Maggie is a lady of many moods and looks different every day, depending on the sea, the sky, the clouds, the weather.

The Strand is beautifully landscaped and I love the lush tropical growth.

And each spring and summer I look forward to these gorgeous fallen flowers. I don't know what they're called, but they start off bright yellow and then open up to look like ballerinas, then fall on the ground like dying fairies. I love them.
Coming home again, I cross Ross Creek, always full of sailing boats and a constant reminder that the Great Barrier Reef and beautiful tropical islands aren't far away. The whole walk takes me between forty minutes and an hour, depending on which route I take. The only downside is the heat. I have to get up at six and be home soon after seven, or it's just too hot.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A reading feast

So what are these books I’ve been ordering?

Actually, I’ve had a little reading feast of Young Adult books lately. I’ve always, always loved these books – when I was young adult a hundred years ago, and when I was a high school English teacher, and now that I’m (oh, deep breath) a senior citizen, I STILL love them.
They’re so fresh, so experimental, so touching.
Young readers are highly receptive to writers who play around with story possibilities as much as they play around with words. I love the way they often play with the way the words are combined in a sentence as well as the way they look on a page. (The Book Thief is a prime example)
They also don’t shy away from darkness. I’m talking serious noir, actually. (At the conference we were told that turbulent teenagers love books that echo the maelstrom inside them.) But these YA books balance serious topics like death or near death (a popular theme) with lightness, optimism and damn good writing.
So what have I been reading?

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I can’t remember where I stumbled across this suggestion, but it was somewhere on the web and someone was raving about this debut novel. I took it with me to read on the plane on the way to our recent conference. I’m not a speed reader, so I didn’t finish it on the plane, and I was surprised to find myself wanting to sneak away from the conference and back to my room to read a little more…

The premise has echoes of Groundhog Day. A girl in a fatal car accident gets to relive her last day till she gets it right. the blurb says:

They say to live every day as if it’s your last – but you never actually think it’s going to be. You always think you’ll have more time.
That’s what I thought. But I was wrong.
The thing is, you don’t get to know when it happens. You don’t remember to tell your family that you love them or – in my case – remember to say goodbye to them at all.
What if, like me, you could live your last day over again? Could you make it perfect? If your whole life flashed before your eyes, would you have any regrets? Are there things you’d want to change?

After this, I was hungry for more good YA, and I remembered a book I’d started last year on a trip between domiciles, but forgotten to finish. So I started again on The Book Thief. Oh, wow! This book might not have quite the same fast-paced, compelling, page turning quality, but it’s wonderful! Truly, a great literary achievement.. Marcus Zusak, the Australian author, is a brilliant wordsmith (fabulous playfulness) and his book completely deserved its New York Times #1 bestselling status. The scope and the depth of his story are staggering and his characters are totally lovable. Even, amazingly its narrator… Death.

A quote: p 87

When the book closed, they shared a sideways glance. Papa spoke: ‘We made it, huh?’
Liesel, half-wrapped in blanket, studied the black book in her hand and its silver lettering. She nodded, dry-mouthed and early-morning hungry. It was one of those moments of perfect tiredness, of having conquered not only the work at hand, but the night who had blocked the way.
Papa stretched with his fists closed and his eyes grinding shut, and it was a morning that didn’t dare to be rainy. They each stood and walked to the kitchen, and through the fog and the frost of the window, they were able to see the pink bars of light on the snowy roofs of Himmel Street’s rooftops.
‘’Look at the colours,’ Papa said. It’s hard not to like a man, who not only notices colours, but speaks them.

And then I read If I Stay… by Gayle Forman, another NYT bestseller book, not unlike Before I Fall in that there’s another tragic accident, and more death, and yet totally different in delivery. Lovely, lovely writing and depth. I was so absorbed by the characters in this story -- and I think they were great roles models actually, so I'd highly recommend this book for any young person to read. And having lived with a musician daughter, I loved Mia (the cellist) and all the music and musos in this story.
I’m looking forward to the sequel. Where She Went.

I'd love to hear if you have any recommendations -- what's been your favourite recent read?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


I've talked before about The Book Depository, my favourite online bookstore. It sends books worldwide at very reasonable rates without charging postage. One of my new reasons for loving this shop -- apart from the fabulous range of books it provides -- is the fact that each book comes with a gorgeous bookmark. Not promotional material from an author, but individually designed pieces from artists around the world. When I checked this out, I discovered that the Book Depository ran a competition for its customers to design bookmarks, and the winners are the bookmarks we're now receiving. I so love this idea. My current bookmark, pictured here, is by Donna Jensen of Australia and the design is called donna heart. The artist's favourite book is also featured on the back of the bookmark and Donna's is Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Have you read it? It's fab -- about the year of the plague in Great Britain.
Of course, if a prediction made at our latest conference is true, in five years time, 70% of all books sold will be ebooks. Bookmarks will become a thing of the past -- collector's items. Museum pieces. Times are a changing and I can't help feeling sad about that. But I won't resist ereaders. I know they have all kinds of advantages. No.1 for me -- they won't gather dust, or take up walls and tabletops and floor space , or curl in the damp. But I'm not embracing them either. I'm watching the tide coming in and waiting for it to wet my feet.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Protect the work...

My thirty-sixth book is done and dusted and I'm about to start another, but before I talk through possibilities with my editor, I'm trying to clean out my study. Emphasis on trying.
In the process I'm discovering old computer manuals from two computers ago... my entire family's astrological profiles... a folder of maps from my daughter's trip to Europe oh, about eight years ago... minutes for meetings of associations I no longer attend... and occasional precious gems -- like a printout of Jenny Crusie's article Taking Out the Garbage: How to Protect Your Work and Get Your Life.

As I was cleaning up, it seemed appropraite to stop and read something that started withTaking out the Garbage, and I guess everyone interprets advice in their own way and to suit their own needs, but on re-reading this, I immediately gave myself permission to stay away from places that take up too much thinking time for me -- places like twitter, Facebook etc. -- even (NO point in watching those numbers -- I've learned they bare little relation to how the book's doing overall).

In other words, I'm not much of an internet networker. I do like to save most of my time and energy for my writing and my family. I'd so much rather be writing or dreaming up new ideas for new books or reading other people's books that totally inspire me... or posting a little item here -- I guess this means I'm an introvert, but I hope I'm not anti social.

I suppose I shouldn't be admitting that here, because I'm so grateful to the people who do drop by and say hello. If you're a writer however -- do think about the slogan Protect the Work, and think about what you need to do to achieve this.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Can there really be a favourite?

I've been asked to name two of my favourite books (of mine) and they're now available as an Author's Choice release.

To be asked to choose a favourite book that I’ve written is a bit like being asked to name my favourite child. It’s not possible. While I’m writing each book, the characters always feels intensely special to me. This is how it must be, otherwise I couldn’t give my best effort.

But when I look back over the books I’ve written, I do find myself remembering some stories with special affection. In the case of Her Secret, His Son and A Parisian Proposition, the settings gave these books extra meaning for me. They reflected my love of Australia – especially the Outback, and the Atherton Tablelands – as well as my fascination with exciting cities I’d visited overseas. They also captured some of the emotions I’ve experienced while being in these different places.

In spite of A Parisian Proposition’s exotic title, a great deal of this story takes place in the Australian Outback, and before I wrote it, I visited a cousin’s cattle property near Roma. I attended the Roma cattle sales (just as Camille Devereaux does) and I welcomed the new steers when they arrived home that evening on the back of a huge cattle truck. I also “helped” with branding and vaccinating them the next day – okay, I worked the gates. 

I loved every minute of this experience and of course everything I learned went into Camille and Jonno’s romance. I also included very special memories from my fabulous trip to Paris in 1998, which followed my first meeting in London with my Mills and Boon editor – a very exciting for me, I can assure you.

Her Secret, His Son was inspired by two special events – the VP 50 celebrations in Townsville, when I first became aware of the very strong ties between Australian and American military forces that have continued since WW2, and my first trip to America in 2003.

In New York I attended a fantastic Romance Writers’ conference, and afterwards my husband and I travelled to Washington DC to stay with friends we’d made during VP 50. I visited Arlington cemetery and the Pentagon, where I saw a chapel rebuilt from the rubble of 9/11, and I also visited the Washington and Lincoln memorials. I came away feeling very moved, and my head was buzzing with story possibilities. As soon as I arrived home I started writing Her Secret, His Son. It was a story that seemed to hold me in a deeper emotional place.

But beyond these settings and situations, I also loved the characters in these books. Yes, I fell more than a little in love with my reluctant hero, cattleman Jonno Rivers, and my sexy SAS soldier, Tom Pirelli. I admired Camille Devereaux’s spunk and Mary McBride’s faithfulness, and I had a wonderful time giving them their well deserved happy endings.

I hope you enjoy these books, too.