Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Last Saturday Elliot and I were involved in the Rainforest Writing Festival which was held in conjunction with the Yungaburra Folk Festival. The quaint little town of Yungaburra was overrun with visitors and the Tablelands rocked!

Elliot talked about writing freelance articles for newspapers and magazines and I, of course, talked about romance writing. I always love to mix with fellow writers and to have the chance to make new writing friends and I’m thrilled that there are so many living up here.

My mother has now flown back to Brisbane and it’s “head down” for me. I’m trying to write a book in a month!!!!


I’ve never done this before, have no idea if I’m capable, but I so want to write this story quickly. It will mean writing two thousand words a day. I love my characters already, but will the words flow?

So far I’ve written 2, 750 (over several days) and last night I gathered pictures for the collage I hope will inspire me. Haven’t found my hero yet, but other images are coming together nicely. Lots of pictures of the outback, so no prizes for guessing where it’s set!!

Meanwhile, Elliot’s working hard at clearing the messy corners of our little patch of countryside and my garden keeps calling to me. My goal is to get my writing done by 5 p.m. each day, so that I can go out in the cool of the afternoon to garden. Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and this morning I updated my website with news of next year’s releases.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lilly's baptism...

I've been caught up in family matters over the last few days and all because of this happy event -- granddaughter Lilly's christening. Pictured above are Addie (Godmother) Lauren (mother) and my sons, Richard (father) and Andrew (Godfather)

Happy and proud parents

The perfect baby -- didn't complain about being undressed and then dolled up in finery!

There was a lovely lunch afterwards, prepared by Richard. Two great-grandmothers were present, Lilly was handed around to many willing arms without complaint and a wonderful day was had by all.

Oh, and my cake was beautifully iced by a local cake shop, but I don't have a photo yet. And it tasted fine, too.

Back to writing soon...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

back to the city again...

Leaving the country... our front drive is part of an old railway cutting.

We came back to the city yesterday, brought with me a nasty tick bite, and will miss the kookaburras and the gorgeous rainforest, but didn't complain about the Thai takeaway for dinner last night and am off to the hairdresser this morning to become citified again...

Sent the final tweaks for my trilogy book to my editor . The trilogy book, by the way, will be Book 2 in a trilogy with Liz Fielding and Jackie Braun .

We've tentatively called the trilogy The Journey Home... as the books are about three women returning home to the UK, Australia and USA respectively after a journey in the Himalayas. Belle, Simone and Claire then embark on emotional and mental journeys, as they are prompted to fix up something in their pasts... mistakes that sent their lives in a particular direction, wrongs they now want to right.

It has been such a privilege to work with two such talented authors and my editor has really pulled out all the stops to help me get the best out of my story, so I'm very excited about this project. My book, by the way, has the working title of For Her Eyes Only... and it really fits the story, but we'll see what title the marketing people decide on...

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share with you some pics of our little piece of countryside that we took during our recent stay.

First... this is me ... the perfect way to end a writing day is working in our native garden, where we're trying to grow more rainforest...

Elliot's handiwork... He's restoring old window frames getting them ready for our builder Nails, (Yes, that's his name) who will be building our modest extension over the Christmas holidays.

Part of our front drive

We're growing a good crop of dandelions

On Friday my mother arrives and it's Lilly's christening on the weekend, so I'm not sure whether I'll have a chance to blog, but I'll be back as soon as I can.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The role of the writer's subconscious...

Jay Dixon talks about her own attempt to write a romance novel (she was later an editor but never a successful fiction author). She said: Emotionally drained myself (had been through a tough divorce) I could not summon up the energy to write “from my own experiences” (my words).

She goes on to say that “these books (romances) are an exploration of what life would be like if… if I were different; if society were differently organized; if my partner were different. That might explain why the author who looks like ‘a mumsy housewife’ and who has a happy marriage writes darkly seductive sexual novels, with aggressive heroes, and why an author with a dysfunctional family writes romances about young women growing into love, without any sexual confrontations.”

I found this very interesting… this idea that we create elements in our stories that express an absence in our own lives.

I’d been thinking about this quite independently. I realized some years back that my heroes are all versions of the imaginary big brother I created for myself when I was a child. I only had younger sisters and I longed for a nice big brother who’d stick up for me in the playground, who might gently tease me and who’d bring all his dishy mates home … That would be heaven!!! (And yes, Hugh Jackman in Paperback Hero, fits that bill beautifully)

And Gabe Rivers from my book A Wedding at Windaroo or Harry Ryder from Her Playboy Challenge could be typical of that kind of hero -- although I think there's a little of the big brother in all my guys.)

But I hadn’t noticed a connection between my subconscious and my heroines until just recently, when I tried to start a new book with a Katie Fforde type heroine. Silly me. I always get off track when I’m influenced by other writers. When will I ever learn? Anyhow, during this process, I realized that my heroines need to be quite strong – stronger than I am. I have never had much confidence and this possibly stems from being sent to school when I was only four. I don’t know. But I realized I need to admire my heroines for having qualities that I perceive to be lacking in myself. Now that I understand that, I feel more secure about my writing.

And Cate Blanchett? Well, I believe she has that strength and balance and groundedness (in her real life) that I want my heroines to achieve. Mostly on their own, but with a little help from their heroes. :) From my books... I think I'd choose Stella Lassiter in A Bride at Birralee and Fiona McLaren in In the Heart of the Outback as examples of strong heroines, although again, I think most of them are stronger than I am.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The changing nature of Mills & Boon novels

On October 28th I’ll be speaking at the Yungaburra Folk festival and the friend who twisted my arm to do this suggested that I talk about why romance appeals to women and to try to see its position in the cultural and historical scheme of things.

To help me get my head around this, I ordered jay Dixon’s book The Romance Fiction of Mills and Boon 1909-1990s.

What fascinating reading. It only arrived yesterday and I haven’t got all that far yet, but I’m hooked.

I hope jay Dixon won’t mind, but I’m going to post a short extract here:

“The Mills & Boon romances of the post-Second World War period depict problems that are specific to women. In the late 1940s the mainspring of their stories are such topics as the lack of job opportunities for women (both single and married) the difficulties that arise when living with in-laws due to the housing shortage; and the problems faced by wives when trying to revive marriages to men who have become strangers after being away at war for six years.”

I’m sure Mills & Boon books continue to reflect our current society this now. We still have fairy tale aspects such as stories with princes and sheikhs. (I can never spell that word.) But real life contemporary issues too. I’ve dealt with infertility (an increasing modern dilemma) in Their Doorstep Baby and the problem of a father discovering that his daughter isn’t his in In the Heart of the Outback (April 2007) a post-DNA phenomenon.

Natasha Oakley’s Accepting the Boss’s Proposal is about a divorcee with two children and Jessica Hart has written some wonderful stories about women becoming involved in blended families. And these are just a smattering of the issues relevant to these times that you will find in the books in our Romance line and I’m sure the other lines (especially medicals) cover these, too.

But of course, as jay Dixon would agree, I’m sure: it’s the emotional response from the reader that is more important than the issue itself. The issue simply makes the story relevant for the audience.

To quote jay again: “Emotional involvement of the reader – which is achieved by the particular style of the author – is all that matters. The kind of writing is, for the most part, intuitive. It must, to some degree, tap into the wells of the writer’s subconscious if it is to be effective in conveying the emotional intensity that is the hallmark of these books.”

When I sold my first book, editor Linda Fildew told me: “We bought your book because of the level of emotional intensity. Always remember that’s what we want: emotion, emotion, emotion.”

Monday, October 09, 2006

My husband is a writer too...

My husband is a writer too. He has been a journalist since he was about sixteen, has edited several newspapers and is an amateur bush poet. (Not totally amateur -- some have been published in the North Queensland Register" I'll probably post one every week or so.

Here's the first. I hope you like it as much as I do. (And watch out for "A Decent Dog" in the near future:))

The Bush at Night

Have you heard the curlew’s mournful cry
And the sounds of the bush at night
When the camp fire’s light begins to die
And the bats screech off in flight?

Have you heard the night wind moan and sigh
Or the scream of an unseen owl,
When the moon is lost in a clouded sky
And the dogs begin to howl?

Or does the darkness hold no fear,
As shadows cross the land,
When shy bush creatures venture near
And nature shows her hand?

I’m happy when the world turns dark
And the cross stands in the sky,
When the camp fire sheds its final spark
And my soul is free to fly.

(C) Elliot Hannay.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Have sent in my revisions and am back at our beautiful Tarzali. The picture above shows you a tiny section of our rainforest with birds nest ferns growing on trees. That pic was taken last January. It's lovely and cool and fine here now. My roses have all produced wonderful blooms while I was away. This is such a great place for R&R. And writing!

I've discovered something about myself this past week. I normally waste a lot of time. :)
I can sit at my computer all day and only produce a thousand words, but when I set myself deadlines (I wanted those revisions done so I could get on with next book) I can work really hard and get plenty of new words on the page!

New resolution -- set myself goals and deadlines, don't let myself drift and be distracted.

Have begun reading the launch books in the new Romance line. So far ... Accepting the Boss's Proposal by Natasha Oakley and The Sheihk's Guarded Heart by Liz Fielding.

Loved them both. Natasha's hero Miles is a wonderful example of a playboy bachelor falling in love with a most unlikely woman and Liz's sheihk is exotic and tortured and just gorgeous.

I'm so excited about the new line. The tough revisions the editors are giving us is an indictaion that they really want the best for our readers. For my part, I really appreciate that.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Major, major apologies...

I'm really sorry there's been such a gap in my blogs. I'm deep in revisions, wanting to pull the very best out of my current work and not wanting to let anything else distract me.

Protect the work... protect the work... has been my mantra this week.

I hope your patience will be rewarded by a really good book when I'm done.
Am nearly finished. Should be back here soon.

Very soon...