Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Prizes, prizes...

The Pink Heart Society is celebrating its third birthday today, and there are wonderful books being given away. Hop on over, add a comment, and be in the draw.

Monday, September 28, 2009

original recipe...

The photo (on left) was taken by a family member last week outside a cafe in Outback Queensland...

For those of you who aren't Aussies, that burger would include slices of canned beetroot, an essential ingredient in an Aussie hamburger.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

crafty types...

As we all know, writing is only one type of craft, and there are many very crafty people "out there" -- not just painters and musicians, but people skilled at sewing, knitting, making jewellery, gardening...
Last week, while busy with my daughters (& Co) from Brisbane, I was reminded that I used to be interested in many different crafts. I loved knitting. I made many clothes for my children, including endless ballet costumes, and I even dabbled in patchwork. This was a quilt I made for my eldest, Emma, when she went away to university to study violin.

I remembered how much pleasure these activities gave me, and how I gave everything up when I started writing, because writing seemed so IMPORTANT. I could only pour my creative energy into one channel, surely? Funny that... considering that I tried all these other crafts while raising four children and teaching. I wonder what it is about writing that seems to be all consuming. And I'm thinking about all those lovely scarves and shawls and capes that are so fashionable now and how much fun they'd be to knit in the cooler months. (Not now -- summer has arrived in a series of dust storms that have covered the entire east coast -- yes, even all the way up here). One of my writing mates is making beautiful bead necklaces, and still writing gorgeous books, so perhaps my theory about one craft at a time, is rubbish. Or maybe I'll just make my characters good at other crafty things.

I can see I have a new thing to ponder on...

Last week, my daughters and I brainstormed a new story idea and it was so much fun having their input. Daughter Vicki (another crafty type) even made a collage of our ideas using picasa... I am so in love with this idea. I do hope it gets the nod from my editor.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The baby question...

As a promotion for Baby Steps to Marriage, Mills and Boon asked me to write a blog for their community and it's up now. Their community is a relatively new venture, so please pop over and say hello. The theme is babies and whether you like to read about them. Or not. Honest answers always welcome.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm a ping virgin, but am seeing what happens when I try a message. It should show up on my blog and twitter. Here goes. I ping!

a review and a recipe...

First, big thanks to cataromance for this interview and a nice review of Expecting Miracle Twins.

Also, I can now bring you the recipe for a wonderful salad that was part of our romance writers gathering at Tarzali a couple of weeks ago. Thanks so much, Mervet!! I can assure you, this is delicious!!!! My (southern) family are arriving tomorrow (school holidays, you know) and this will be on the menu.

Warm Salad of Bacon, goats cheese and grapes:

Serves 8 - cook time 20 minutes.

6 rashers of streaky bacon, sliced thickly
2 witloaf leaves separated
1 (200g fisee, trimmed50g wild rocket leaves (I use mixed leaves instead of these 3)
110g goats cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup (80g) toasted walnuts
150g small seedless red grapes, halved.
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup (60ml) white wine vinegar
2 tbl spoons walnut oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon caster sugar, salt and freshly ground pepper.
(I usually put the dressing in a jar and give it a really good shake so it fuses together - delicious!)

Friday, September 18, 2009


Yesterday, on the way back from Tarzali to Townsville, we'd run out of book tapes to listen to (had finished Joanna Trollope's Second Honeymoon). Before we left, we picked up new books at the PO, however, so I started reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief aloud to Elliot. It's not an easy book to read aloud because part of the experience involves seeing the way the words are set out on the page... but I think I managed to convey appropriate pauses etc. We got through Part One. Wow, what an imaginative leap this book is. Zusak originally wrote prizewinning books for young adults, but this is his debut adult book and it became a New York Times Number#1 bestseller in 2006!!!

Not a bad debut.

Markus Zusak is an Australian, living in Sydney, but his parents lived in Europe during WW2 and he'd heard their stories. This story is set in Germany during WW2 and the narrator is Death. An unpromising scenario you might think, but that's where this book is so clever. Death is afraid of humans and yet many of the human characters are so very appealing. It's a book about light amidst the darkness, I think, and it really is an amazing reading experience. Strongly recommended... even though I've only read Part One :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Name this hero...

I've changed my hero's name three times this week, but at last I think I've got it right. It looks right on the page. It feels right in my head, in my gut. I like it.
This isn't unusual. I often have to write my way into a story before my characters gel. This time I've planned more in advance than I've ever planned before, but it hasn't helped the actual words on the page factor. It's still a challenge to convert the story dream to written reality. But now that my hero has a name I like, I feel better.
And he has a face. It's in a collage on my wall. And I know his future. I just has to feel my way into his present and I'll be smiling.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Monday is washing day...

...but I never mind hanging it out at Tarzali.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's spring! A few snapshots from my world...

First, these orchids are growing in the fork of a camphor laurel at Tarzali. I know camphor laurels are weeds these days (in Southern Australia), but this tree is so ancient and huge and magnificent we will never chop it down. After all, it's still taking in masses of carbon.
In the tree fern forest at the bottom of our block, we have native orchids flowering right now.

This is part of the forest where they grow. It tumbles all the way down a steep hillside to a creek at the bottom.
And this is a quintessential view in Townsville showing the old and the new -- the old Shamrock hotel, with new high rise, another hotel with a funnel on top fondly referred to by Townsvilleans as The Sugar Shaker, and part of Castle Hill which dominates our town, once known by the Aborigines as Cutheringa. This view is from our favourite local fish and chip shop, Simply Tops.
And of course there are palm trees and frangipani everywhere in Townsville.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Free books... free books...

For a whole year, my RITA finalist book, Adopted: Outback Baby will be available as a free download at Mills and Boon's new website everyone' . There's a free book available from every line, so head on over and start reading for FREE!!! And spread the good news.
Other free books available are:
Diagnosis: Danger by Marie Fariella
Mistress Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure by India Grey
The Rake's Unconventional Mistress by Juliet Landon
Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposal by Heidi Rice
The Midwife's Little Miracle by Fiona McArthur
Father Material by Kimberley Van Meter
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
The Player by Rhonda Nelson
The Billionaire's Baby Negotiation by Day Leclaire

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

No such thing as easy money...

If you think writing a novel is hard, you're not alone. Check out this fabulous blog by Stephen Fry.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

An inspiring weekend...

On Saturday, five romance writers who met a couple of weeks ago at the conference in Brisbane gathered at Tarzali for a whole day of 'talking romance writing'. For this isolated author, it was bliss.

These writers (who are all talented cooks as well) are in the photo below, getting our amazing lunch ready. From L to R they are Noreen Allan from Ravenshoe, moi, Mervet McClintock from Townsville, Becca Quin from Mareeba, and Shannean Moncrieff from Cairns. So you see, everyone had some distance to travel, which made the destination all the more appreciated, I believe, and although these galz might not be published just yet, stand back world. I'm sure it won't be long.

We had the most scrumptious lunch and afternoon tea while we brainstormed story ideas, teased out the subtle differences between the Harlequin lines, considered the benefits of collaging, and nutted out how to deepen story conflict.

Even though I was "supposedly" the mentor, being the most experienced, I'm sure other teachers will agree that there is always a lot to be gained from sharing knowledge. It's never a one way street.

To start with, I have "A Walk in the Clouds" to watch later today, a movie I didn't even know about until yesterday. And after so much brainstorming with others, I was lying in bed this morning at 4 a.m., thinking: now, how can I deepen the conflict and emotion in my next book?
I think we've all been inspired to set new writing goals... I'm going to think about plotting my next book instead of my usual method of 'flying into the mist'. Will keep you posted on whether it works...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

holy croc

Before I leave the croc theme, this is a pic of Elliot with an exact, anatomically correct replica of the biggest crocodile ever captured in Australia. E's six feet four, so that gives you some idea...
This fella was shot in 1957 by a Polish woman immigrant who formed a croc hunting team with her husband and lived at Karumba. These days, crocodiles are protected. Not sure that's a great idea.