Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

It's a beautiful first day of 2012 where I am. Last night we celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary with a few special friends, old and new, and one of them quoted from this poem by Robert Browning:

GROW old along with me!

The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, ``A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!''

I hope 2012 brings you peace, health and happiness and the chance to bravely and trustingly reach for your dreams.

And here's a pic I love of my grandson Tom and his dad in Paris for New Year, and appropriately overawed.

The best is yet to be...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

How was your Christmas?? ...

I'm so sorry that I didn't get to actually write this post the other day. Now, I can't even remember what happened to call me away from the laptop. So, as you can guess, it was a busy but fun Christmas for fifteen of us on beautiful Magnetic Island, where the usual feasting and gift giving was interspersed with lots of swimming in both the sea and the pool, as well as attending church (partly outdoors) on Christmas Eve.
Our son Richard baked the most scrumptious ham, which was served with barbequed eggs for  Christmas breakfast. (That's Bob in the background on egg patrol.)

Mangoes and lychees were a must -- so sweet and juicy and tropical.

And here's what our tropical Christmas plateful looked like. Turkey roasted with proscuitto. Beef capaccio, Roast lamb and vegies. Tomato and basil and bococini salad . Beans tossed in butter, garlic and champagne. Roasted cherry tomato relish on the side. It was all delicious and we were truly blessed.

Amidst all the fabulous presents, simple little glow toys (from a special friend in Melbourne) were a big hit! At night I went up to say goodnight to the girls who were lying in the dark gleefully squishing their glowing chickens and rubber balls.

But it was hot my friends -- very hot -- and the neighbour's dog found the coolest spot. However, this lawn was cool and shady in the afternoon and we had a great game of Italian bocce.

And now we're back in our cool misty mountains and I have a book to finish writing, but I feel refreshed and am keen to find out what happens next. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

3 Outback baby stories...

Already available at the Mills and Boon website -- three Australian stories about my favourite combination -- outback cattlemen and babies.

Gorgeous cover, isn't it? The books included are my story, Adopted: Outback Baby, plus One Small Miracle by Melissa James and Their Newborn Gift by Nikki Logan. And today Mills and Boon are offering a special 10% discount if apply the code xmas09p for paperbacks or xmas09e for ebooks.

Friday, December 16, 2011

T'was the week before Christmas...

December in North Queensland ... mangoes and lychees and a dinner of fish and chips on the beach with a balmy breeze blowing in from the Coral Sea... the glowing red of poincianas and the fragrant whiteness of frangipani blooms among glossy green leaves (PNG frangipani). 

We're in Townsville now and later in the week we'll head over to the island (that's Magnetic Island, of course, otherwise known up here as Maggie, to spend Christmas with half of our family.

Took E for a lovely walk along the beach at Rowes Bay this morning... now back into the airconditioning to plod on with the WIP.

Hope your lead-in to Christmas is hassle free and happy.
This is where we ate our fish'n chip dinner last night. Nice one.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Your chance to win...

Today, my Christmas dessert recipe (with the yummy caramel sauce)  is the featured recipe at the Harlequin Romance author's blog, with a chance to win a signed copy of Bridesmaid Says: 'I do!'

Don't forget, there are featured autjors with favourite recipes and giveaways every day from now until Christmas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Christmas shopping...

We're heading off to Cairns today to do our Christmas shopping. We're going via Mareeba where we'll call in at Coffeeworks, which has the most gorgeous gift shop. I said to E this morning that setting off for Christmas shopping is quite an adventure when you live in the country.

Of course, I could have done a lot of it online, but I like being in stores and touching and feeling potential gifts.
Mind you, I didn't mind Christmas shopping in the city either, when I could head downstairs from our apartment into Flinders Mall and do all my shopping within one or two blocks.
What I never enjoyed was trudging out to suburban shopping malls. Don't know why they were ever inented. They've destroyed so many city hearts.
I've also written a mountain of Christmas cards, as I missed sending them last year while we were packing up and moving.
We'll be spending Christmas with family on Magnetic Island. It's all getting close now, isn't it? Hope your preapartions are going smoothly.
Writing wise, I'm about to tackle a sex scene, so I'm quite happy to take a day off to take a deep breath before diving between the sheets. So to speak.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Tom and Lucy see London...

My grandchildren, Tom and Lucy, are on holidays in London. I just love this pic of them in their brand new jackets. What fun it must be to be there with them, sharing their excitement. Their parents are musicians, so they have a host of wonderful concerts and other exciting experiences lined up.
Go kids!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Harlequin Romance website...

Harlequin Romance authors (that's Sweet Romance authors in Australia, or Cherish/Riva authors in the UK) have a fabulous new website (thanks to the hard work of the energetic and amazing Donna Alward).

All the news about our books will be there in one place, with author bios and fun pages and giveaways.
Right now, there's a Chrismas giveway with masses of books from the fab authors in our line -- plus lots of mouthwatering Christmas recipes. So check it out!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Posthumous support for Sandra Hyatt

The romance community is great at helping one of its own. Sandra Hyatt's posthumous book Lessons In Seduction, is out tomorrow and her writing friends are spreading the word in the hope of increasing royalties for her family.

Lessons In Seduction
4.5 stars from Romantic Times Magazine.

A prince on a quest to find the perfect wife doesn't have time to
trifle with a commoner. But Adam Marconi's longtime friend and
sometime driver, Danielle St. Claire, has him contemplating a change
in plans. Why can't the royal have a little fun before finally
settling down? Then their supposedly quick affair suddenly turns

And Prince Adam finds himself in a quandary. Say goodbye to the one
woman who sets his heart and body on fire, or defy all the rules and
cause the scandal of the century.

And here are some buying links:

Barbara's Books (NZ) -
Amazon Print -
Kindle -
e-Harlequin Ebook:
eHarlequin Print:
Book Depository

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who would have thought...

Cleaning windows could be a game?

That's what it was for 3 little visitors this past weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rock a bye baby....

A pair of sunbirds built this nest just outside our bathroom window. Isn't it gorgeous? Only problem is they've suspended it from a tree fern branch, and these have a bad habit of dropping off (like palm fronds) . So we'll have to hope that the babies hatch before the bough breaks.
Elliot wanted to rush out and somehow strap the branch, but I'm afraid that will dsiturb the parents. One other summer, when one of our guinea fowl hens was sitting on a nest on the ground out in a paddock in relentless rain, E erected a tin roof over her. She upped and abandoned the eggs. Doesn't pay to interfere with Nature. Hard as it is for guys to accept, they don't always know best. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

A bottler weekend...

Something that has awed me about living in the country, or about living in this part of the country at least, is the fantastic way Nature gets on with her job with very little help from us. So many gorgeous flowers and fruits just appear in season. Aren't they clever?
We decided on the weekend that we had to do something about our abundance of peaches and tomatoes, so we tried bottling for the first time.
We made brandied peaches, which we haven't tasted yet, but we gave a bottle away on Sunday and have had reports that they're beautiful. Here's a pic of some of them... oh, and those are the first of our plum crop, too, and I have to say they are the sweetest juiciest plums. Yes, we did plant all the fruit trees, but this is the first year we've been around at harvest time. Yum!
Then we made  spiced roasted cherry tomato relish.
First we roasted the tomatoes with a little oil, cracked pepper and fresh thyme.

Have to say, they smelled gorgeous and I could immediately think of all sorts of uses for them.
We also cooked onion in cider vinegar.
Then added the tomatoes, more vinegar, salt, sugar, whole cumin seeds, whole coriander seeds, a chopped chilli and some tomato puree. The result had  a bit too much liquid, so we strained some off before bottling. Should go rather nicely with our home cured ham.
Meanwhile, our orchids this year have been spectacular!! There are some growing naturally down in the rainforest as well. Lovely Nature. So clever...

And yes, I'm writing too. Getting back to it now. I'm on 53 thousand words which is the longest I've ever written, but I have 37k to go, so head down.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Barb on Blog Bites...

I'm being interviewed at Romance Writers of Australia's Blog Bites today.

Come on over. There's a chance to win free books.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Produce (the noun)

One small, country woman boast. Have made pasta sauce with home-grown tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano -- and desserts of peaches, stewed, fresh, or baked. With own peaches. Our tree is so laden, branches are dragging on the ground. And the fruit has so much more flavour than the tinned stuff.

Can you tell this is all new and exciting for me? We also have a pair of rails mating in our garden. Would love a little rail family.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A handy writing course...

Are you looking for that little extra help to make your writing stand out in the slush pile? Canadian Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward is running a course at Savvy Authors.

Check it out. It sounds great.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Girls' weekend

Have just had the loveliest weekend in Brisbane with my daughters, Emma and Victoria (aka Em and Vicki).
We rented an apartment in the city with glimpses of the river...

We sat on our balcony and talked and talked (and enjoyed some bubbles) .. there's always so much to catch up on, isn't there, especially when there's a wedding in the air? (Vicki's, next April)

We dined (of course) by the river...
And we enjoyed Saturday on the Southbank, joined by Vicki's future mum-in-law -- lovely coffees, hearing Em's young Conservatorium orchestra (in which granddaughter Lucy plays cello), lunching and then cruising the Southbank markets, enjoying the river and the lovely bougainvillea walks.
On Saturday night, we went to the Brisbane International Film Festival and saw 'Like Crazy' which I can highly recommend. We all gave it a 4 stars. Dinner afterwards, more chatting and then we still managed to stay up talking till 1 am. Lazy morning and then brunch yesterday, once again beside the river...

All in all, a memorable weekend...

Oh, and I've read One Day by David Nicholls... a truly memorable book, one I almost need to read all over again. Straight away. That doesn't happen often.

Now, back to writing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cata Romance review...

Bridesmaid Says 'I do!' is on sale in Australian bookstores this month and here are a few snippets from a review. You can read the whole review at Cataromance.

"Funny, feel-good and deeply emotional, Bridesmaid Says "I Do" is the flirty new novel from reader favourite Barbara Hannay!"

Barbara Hannay is one of category romance’s most reliable and most consistent authors. Her dialogue sparkles, her characters leap off the pages, her plots move at a zesty pace and her vivid descriptions of Australia make me want to hop on the next plane down under! In her latest Harlequin Romance, Bridesmaid Says “I Do”, this multi-award winning author has penned a fresh, compelling and wonderfully entertaining tale of family, friendships and forbidden desire that will charm and entertain her legion of fans.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Temporarily... Angelic teens...

Here's my musical daughter Emma conducting some of her boys. Count me as one proud mum.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

India all lit up...

Saw this on Facebook....
It's an aerial photo of India taken during the Festival of Lights. Isn't it stunning? I've never been to India, but I think it's a fascinating country. I need to read more books set there. Any recommendations?

The questions of covers...

Once again, two very different covers for the same story.

I wonder if you can guess which one is closest to my vision of Bella and Damon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A favourite recipe

I've been handing out this recipe all over the place lately. Nearly everyone who tries it, wants the recipe and it's so easy. I decided it's about time I shared it with you.

Greek Lemon Cake

125 g butter
1 cup caster sugar (I use raw caster sugar)
4 eggs
1 cup coconut
1 cup SR flour

1 lemon (juice and grated rind)
1 cup sugar (again, I like raw)
½ cup water

Preheat oven 160 º-180º C. Greaseproof a round 20 cm cake time. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time with a wooden spoon. Stir in coconut and flour. Bake in oven 45 mins to 1 hour.

Make the syrup after the cake is cooked. Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and rind on stovetop and bring to boil. Let cake stand for 15 mins and then gently spoon syrup over cake while syrup is still hot. Spoon syrup little by little to prevent cake from collapsing.

You might think you have too much syrup, but keep going. The cake can take it and will be all the better. Serve with cream, or icecream, or both. And enjoy!!!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Voices... second stage...

OK! The race is on to find our top 4 finalists in this year's New Voices competition. The readers who drop by this blog are very savvy in my humble opinion :) so YOU are needed  to vote for your favourite entry and become the 4th Judge. The POWER is in your hands!

Why not make a cup of tea, and have a read of the top 21 and cast your vote!

Voting ends 26th October 5pm GMT.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Do you like classical music?
My WIP is a single title novel I'm writing for Penguin Australia and one of my three main female characters plays the cello. There's a scene that involves this piece, which my musician daughter Emma told me about and which I now totally love...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An entrepreneur in the family...

Do you know any little people who need sun savvy clothing?

My daughter-in-law Lauren has just launched SML clothing.
Fair skinned, blue eyed, Lauren has lived in the tropics all her life and now has three little fair skinned, blue eyed daughters.
Lauren knows how careful they need to be, living in our savage sunshine... and because they love to live an active lifestyle, she began searching for sunsafe clothing that was cool and comfortable and affordable.
This was so very difficult to find that she's started her own clothing company. SML (Small, medium, large. Something Mothers Love.:)

There are tops, dresses, swim shirts, hoodies and full length swimsuits... hats and more to come soon...

Check out her website.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Things that go bump in the night...

I forgot to shut the French doors in our bedroom last night (curtains were drawn across and didn't notice). Woke to thump in middle of night -- E couldn't find anything. I went to bathroom, am sitting on loo and see a snake on bathroom floor. Called quite calmly to E.
'It's a tree snake,' he calls calmly back.
Snake is blocking my exit. I stand on loo seat while he throws a quilt over it, then I dash past it to safety and we bravely close bathroom door.

Have cups of tea and eventually get back to sleep. This morning snake is gone (through bathroom window), but I found photos in my office (next to bedroom) knocked off the top of the filing cabinet.

The amazing thing is I'm not spooked. But I will definitely check windows and doors in future -- and think about flyscreens for our bedroom. :)

This photo is of a similar snake that turned up in a Cairns airconditioner recently.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Diane Cilento...

I'm very sorry to hear that the actress Diane Cilento has died. For Queenslanders in the 50s and 60s, the Cilento family were a very big deal. Diane's parents were Sir Raphael and Lady Cilento, both very famous doctors, and Lady Cilento wrote a column called Medical Mother in the Courier Mail, which my mother read religiously. I remember, she examined me when I was in teacher's college, to make sure I was fit to be a teacher. :) She told me to have my ear syringed.

Diane's most famous role was as Molly in Tom Jones, for which she received an Oscar nomination. The scene where she and Tom seduce each other at the dinner table is unforgettable.

 Diane also married Sean Connery (and thus earned the envy of about ninety percent of women in the western world:)

Later, she returned to Australia and opened the Karnak Playhouse at Mossman, here in FNQ. It's a big regret of mine that I still haven't been there to see a performance.

However I did hear Diane read a winning short story at a Tableland Writer's dinner in the Malanda hotel a few years ago. Her voice was amazing, deep, lush, earthy, sensitive. It was a memorable night that proved to me that people become famous because of enormous talent.

Vale Diane Cilento... 1933 -2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

This spring in my country garden...

My favourite spring flowers in my garden this year are these gorgeous deep red hippeastrums.  They just look so vibrant and eye-catching against the green.
The ones in the vase below, were too heavy for their stem and broke off, so they've been cheering us up in the dining room.
Life's always better with flowers.

And books... :)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Cover chats...

Over at RT Booklovers, they're talking about the new trends in Harlequin's titles, including Bridesmaid Says: 'I do!' You might like to check it out.

In other news, some of my writing mates are currently at the Women's Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. I was lucky enough to attend the first of these fabulous events in 2004, and I'm thrilled my friends are there now. They kindly sent me a pic of one of my books, translated into Italian and currently on sale.

The beautiful model holding the book (in a plastic wrap) is medical author, Alison Roberts. Can't you just feel that Italian sunshine?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Two year old power struggle...

One twin has the watering can, and one twin has the hose. A power struggle becomes a lesson in co-operation. Fascinating.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Calling all aspiring romance writers...

A message straight from Mills and Boon...

If you think you would loved to be a published romance author, then make sure you check out the New Voices competition. M&B are looking for a new author to join the glittering talent at Mills and Boon and it could be you!

During the competition you have the chance to work with a range of author mentors, including moi, so come along and join in the fun at

Friday, September 16, 2011

I heart this Aussie cover...

This collection includes one of my personal favourites... In the Heart of the Outback.

Dido's song White Flag was the inspiration for my heroine Fiona McLaren.