Friday, March 27, 2009

earth hour

What better excuse for romantic candlelight, than earth hour's request to turn off our lights for an hour on Saturday night?

From Yahoo news:

More than 80 countries will this year participate in the Earth Hour climate change campaign, that began in Australia in 2007 with just over two million people taking part.
More than 2,800 cities and towns across the globe have signed on to switch off - edging organisers even closer to their ambitious target of one billion participants.
Two years ago, the campaign began at Sydney's Opera House.
This year Egypt's Great Pyramids at Giza will be plunged into darkness alongside another 828 global landmarks, including New York's Empire State Building, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the famed Coca-Cola sign in London's Piccadilly Circus.
Earth Hour organisers say that by turning off the lights for one hour from 8.30pm local time on Saturday, people can send a powerful collective message on the importance of action on climate change.
World leaders are due to meet in the Danish capital of Copenhagen in December to design a new global strategy to fight global warming.
Scientists say a strong agreement must come out of that meeting if the world is to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
The Earth Hour gesture also serves as a reminder to people to think about the way they consume energy and to modify their daily habits to cut down on power consumption.
More than 70 public events have registered to be part of the campaign in Australia this year.
As well as sending a message on climate change, Swinburne University astronomer Michael Murphy said the event would return the full beauty of the night sky to Australians, at least for an hour.
"The night sky is one of the last great nature reserves, but most people in Australia can't see it because of the city lights," he said.
The event's also a good excuse to indulge in some good old-fashioned romance.
Candle-lit speed dating will be held in most capital cities, while a 700 candle message of "lights off" will be laid out on Sydney's Coogee Beach.
A list of Earth Hour activities in Australia can be found on the website of the conservation group WWF, which founded the event.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stunned in Tarzali

Yesterday, I checked my phone messages back in Townsville, and discovered the lovely news that Adopted: Outback Baby has been nominated by Romance Writers of America for a RITA in the short contemporary category.
How exciting!!!!!
This is my "grandparent" book -- about Nell and Jacob who were forced to separate and give up their baby, but found themselves coming together years later to care for their little grandson.
After gadding off to San Francisco last year, I'm afraid I won't be going to Washington DC for the awards ceremony, but I'm thrilled that three of my "writing mates" are also nominated.

Jessica Hart, who went to Yosemite with me last year, has a nomination for her 50th book Last Minute Proposal. Lillian Darcy's medical The Children's Doctor and the Single Mum is also up for a gong, as is Anne McAllister's Modern, Antonide's Forbidden Wife.

Yay to all of us!!!!!!!!
You can check all the RITA nominations here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I’m a tortoise. What are you?

I suspect that we writers have to accept our writing processes in the same way we accept our height, or our noses…

My process is slow… and I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. On days when I write fast (which are few and far between) I nearly always end up pulling a third of it out again next day, because I’ve gone down a wrong track, or set the scene in the wrong place, or from the wrong point of view.

I know other writers can fly through a first draft, writing thousands of words a day and then spend time picking it apart and rebuilding, rewriting. Sounds fabulous. I’ve tried it and it just doesn’t work for me.

I have to move forward in slow, careful, steps. Each morning I reread what I wrote the day before and I add extra details, layers and refinements … and then I push forward.

The thing I’ve learned to accept is… it doesn’t matter. We each have our own rhythm and pace.

So stick to what works for you, won’t you?

Sunday, March 22, 2009


On Saturday we decided that the best way to say goodbye to Townsville was by having a picnic lunch on the Strand. That's Magnetic Island in the background. Gorgeous, isn't it?
So now we're tucked away in the mountains in an equally beautiful part of Oz. Elliot's madly cutting grass and I'm .... you guessed it... writing.
I'm in the last downhill run of this book, but I'm paying careful attention to getting the ending just right. If I've had criticism from readers, it's been for my endings. Sometimes they feel rushed, apparently, so I'm working hard at getting rid of that feeling, without dragging everything out too much and driving my poor readers mad with frustration. It's a fine balance this writing game.
I think my own personal favourite ending in books I've written is The Cattleman's English Rose.
This was the first book in my Southern Cross Ranch series -- although the endings readers seemed to like most was the epilogue at the end of this series -- in The Mirrabrook Marriage.
Still... life's interesting when there's always something to learn and ponder...

Friday, March 20, 2009

we're off like a rotten egg... (as the pilot once said)

Today we're packing up and heading back to Tarzali -- reattempting to live there. Although our Townsville life keeps beckoning to us, we really love it up there in the mountains and we want to grow vegies this winter and really work on our vision for the house and garden.

I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How cool is this?????

Among the prestigious industry awards given out by Romance Writers of America each year, the Bookseller's award is a biggie. And this year, the • RWA Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year Award – is going to Rosemary Potter, of Rosemary’s Romances, Brisbane, Australia!!!!!!!!!!!

What an honour! This year's Australian Romance Writers' Conference will be in Brisbane. I can imagine Rosemary's shop will be overrun by avid romance junkies in August.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the twins are growing fast...

Milla (left) Sohpie (right)

Pisces are self indulgent...

Have spent my birthday money on the following:-

* 'The Joy of Writing Sex' by Elizabeth Benedict -- my writing friends tell me this book makes all writing joyful.

* 'His Captive Lady' by Anne Gracie -- my complimentary copy from Anne went missing in the post (sob) and I can't miss an Anne Gracie book.

* 'Writing Fiction' by Janet Burroway -- because Susan Wiggs recommended it.

These have all been purchased on line, but of course, while I was in Brisbane, I couldn't resist bookstores and I came home with:-

Classic Ecco -- a cookbook by Philip Johnson an amazing Brisbane chef -- for Elliot -- and he's in heaven.

Book Ends By Jane Green -- because she's such an accessible writer and she fires up my muse like no other.

How to have a Beautiful Mind -- by Edward de Bono -- because a girl can wish, can't she?

What books are on your wish list?

Monday, March 16, 2009

a weekend to remember...

I've just had the most wonderful weekend away. Last week was my birthday and my lovely son took me to Brisbane, to shout me to a birthday lunch beside the Brisbane River and to go to the opening match of the football season between our team the North Queensland Cowboys and the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos won by one point, but it was all very exciting, although vexing that a streaker disrupted the game at a vital moment for our team.

We enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast in Paddington with Vicki and her man and Richard flew home to his little family, while I stayed on to visit with my daughters and sister and my mum. I was able to give Mum her copy of The Billionaire's Baby Surprise, complete with a dedication to her.
Vicki and I visited the Gallery of Modern art. I had lunch on the Southbank with my sister and we were able to talk and talk.

I also visited daughter Emma and granddaughter Lucy is doing a report on me for school. Her teacher said I counted as a famous person if my name was on the front of a book, so I am sending Lucy the collage for Her Cattleman Boss that we made together when she was staying with me last year.

I was even able to go to a fabulous concert in the rainforest at Montville where my son in law played with stunning beauty on a Steinway piano -- Brahms Intermezzi, Schubert's trout quintet and Mendelssohn's piano trio among others.

I feel so blessed to have enjoyed such a fabulous, enriching weekend with my wonderful family, but now, of course, I have to work even harder to make my deadline.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

reading leads to writing...

My granddaughter is reading Twilight. Apparently it’s all the rage in Yr 4.

I was a little stunned when I heard this until I remembered that the romance in Twilight is very “sweet”…
and I remembered also that Yr 4 was the year I totally “tuned in” to books.

It was the year I read the ever memorable Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner. This book was written in 1894 (No I'm not really terribly old; my aunts gave me these books) when its author was just 24! So she was young and talented just like Stephenie Meyers of Twilight fame.

How I LOVED Seven Little Australians. Apart from the scene, which is forever seared on my brain, when the tree falls on Judy, there were romantic scenes too.
Meg, the oldest of the seven, falls in love with Alan, after certain mishaps.
She’s led astray by a flirtatious school friend, you see, and there’s a fabulous scene when she leaves the house at night and goes down to the river for a romantic tryst with Andrew Courtney – she’d sent a note to A Courtney – but his older brother Alan turns up instead.

Let me give you an extract…

There was a smell of cigar, and, looking closely, she saw to her horror that it was Alan.
Her heart gave one frightened, shamed bound, and then seemed to stop beating altogether.
She looked up at him, as if entreating him not to have too bad an opinion of her; but his face wore a contemptuous look she had grown to dread, and his lips were finely curled.
‘I – I only came out for a little walk; it is such a beautiful evening,’ she said, with miserable lameness; and then with a tone of justification she added, ‘it’s my father’s paddock, too,’
He leaned back against the fence and looked down at her.
‘Flossie gave me your note, and as it seemed addressed to me, and I was told it was for me, I opened it.’
‘You knew it was for Andrew,’ she said, not looking at him, however.
‘So I presumed when I read it,’ he returned slowly. ‘But Andrew has not come back tonight yet, so I came instead; it’s all the same, as long as it’s a boy, isn’t it?’
The girl made no reply, only put her hand up and drew the cloud more closely round her head.
His lips curled a little more.
‘And I know how to kiss, too, I assure you. I am quite a good hand at it, though you may not think so. Oh, yes, I know you said you didn’t want to be kissed, but then, girls always say that, don’t they? – even when they expect it most?’
Still Meg didn’t speak and the calm, merciless voice went on:
‘I’m afraid it’s hardly dark enough for you, is it? The moon is very much in the way, do you not think so? Still, perhaps we can find a darker place farther on, and then I can kiss you without danger. What is the matter? – are you always as quiet as this with Andrew?’
‘Oh, don’t!’ said Meg in a choking voice.
The mocking tone died instantly out of his voice.
‘Miss Meg, you used to be such a nice little girl…’

Of course, Alan doesn’t kiss Meg, who is sixteen. He gives her a stern lecture and humiliates her thoroughly… but marries her at the end of the next book… sigh…

Looking back, I know all the girls’ classic books have influenced me. In fact, this Seven Little Australians story takes place in both Sydney and an outback sheep station – so quite possibly it resonates deeply in me in many more ways than I’ve realised.

I went on then to read the rest of Ethel Turner, as well as the Anne books, (in Yr 5 I asked a girl to be my "bosom companion' and she looked askance and fled. She wasn't a reader and we didn't stay friends:) There were The Little Women series, the Katy books etc.. all romances really...
This last illustration is of one of the seven "naughty" children washing kittens.
Do you have a stand out book from the past that has stayed with you in vivid detail forever?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Outback Romance

I've written a post for the Harlequin Romance authors' We Aim For the Heart blog ... It's all about why I love to write Outback Romance.

You can check it out here.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

International Women's Day

Have just been to an International Women's Day breakfast where the guest speaker was a young woman from Bangladesh who was the victim of an acid attack, because she refused to marry the guy down the street.
Apparently it's still an accepted practice for jilted men to throw acid on the hapless women who reject them. No other guy will marry her if she's disfigured.
I feel so angry and helpless when I hear these things. But I guess awareness is always the first step.
Maybe these guys should have romance novels read to them every day for a year?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

a mild distraction...

My writing this weekend has been interrupted by frequent visits to the website of the Queensland Bureau of Meteorology to keep an eye on Cyclone Hamish. Nice name Hamish, isn't it? Too nice for a cyclone. Anyway, he started somewhere way up in the Coral Sea around the middle of Cape York and he's been storming down the Queensland coast for several days now.
This is how he looked a few days ago -- when I was a tad worried that he might visit Townsville. We hurried out and bought water, batteries, tinned food etc.

This morning he was a Category 5 and had passed us and was threatening the beautiful Whitsunday Islands to the south of us. Now, he's continuing further south, travelling parallel to the coast. Let's hope he stays out there, but heaven knows where he might end up. I don't think the Met Bureau know!

The Billionaire's Baby Surprise is set on a tropical island during a cyclone. These things are fun to write about -- a very different thing to live through. If you live further south, in Hamish's path, stay safe!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 06, 2009

an artist to love...

I'm being rather boring at the moment. Head down writing and all that. Have to have this book done by end of month. So I thought I'd give you some lovely images to look at.

These are by woodblock artist Cressida Campbell and I just love them. Isn't it amazing to think that she first carves these images from wood, then paints the wood block and makes a mirror image print from that? She only ever makes one copy! All my heroines love her work, too, and their homes are often versions of these interiors.
If you are lucky enough to live in or be visiting Brisbane, there is an exhibition of Cressida Campbell's work at the QUT museum and it will continue till April 16th.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A smile, a smile...

The twins have started smiling...

Someone caught this photo of Sophie smiling at Aunty Vicki when she was here as part of her new Outreach job last week.
And what about that little smile? As my friend Trish Morey described it: "sort of like a baby bird trying to fly. Concentrating really hard, all the bits not quite working for take off, but so almost there."

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

a new motto... ?

So many things come via email that don't necessarily click with me. This one did. It's a message I need to give to the heroine in my current work in progress, right about NOW.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

In a store near you this month...

This month, Her Cattleman Boss goes on sale in the UK and in North America and online in Australia.
Before I started writing this book early last year, I knew I wanted to write another Outback story and I had been increasingly fascinated by the almost dying art of cattle droving. I'd heard stories that recently, because of the drought and the economic downturn, more and more cattlemen have turned to the "long paddock", as the droving stock routes are called.

In the summer of 07-08, while I was holidaying in the south, I quizzed a cousin who owns a cattle proprety near Roma, in south western Queensland . OK, yes, I cornered the poor guy and drove him mad with my questions about stock routes and droving, but I did ply him with food and drink in return.

And I talked to another writer friend who had reserached aspects of droving, who then sent me maps of actual stock routes so I could plan Kate and Noah's journey authentically. During this time, I was also looking after my granddaughter, who helped me make a collage for the book and who named Noah's daughter Olivia (after one of her schoolfriends). You can see that the maps played a big part in the collage.

A sense of place has always been very important to me in the books that I write and those I read. And I have to have the names right before I can settle into a story. So a huge thanks go to Malcolm Douglas, Gordon Smith and to Lucy... and Olivia.

I hope you enjoy Noah and Kate's adventure!