Tag Archives: Australian Romance Readers Association

This Writing Life: The Australian Romance Readers Convention 2017

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Ooh, I do love a good get-together and the recent Australian Romance Readers Convention in Melbourne didn’t disappoint. It was a weekend packed with panels, gala events, keynote speakers and socialising. Everyone had a ball, from authors to readers to industry.

Hanging with your tribe… honestly, there’s nothing quite so affirming and though I came home absolutely stuffed I’m still on a high. ARRA events are loaded with positivity and warmth, but that should come as no surprise. We’re romance fans!

I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the organising committee: Debbie Phillips, Heather Kopp, Diane Robson, Pamela Diaz and Juliette Arthur. You created an amazing event that I hope you’re very proud of.

The ARRC 2017 organising committee.

My heartfelt thanks to the ARRC organising committee. Three cheers, huge applause and a big champagne toast to you all.

My sincere thanks also to the ARRA committee and to all the volunteers involved in the running of ARRC 2017.

I have so many highlights I don’t know where to start but I enjoyed the screening of the Love Between the Covers documentary about the billion dollar romance fiction industry hugely. I think I’m going to have to buy a copy so I can watch it again.

Keynote speakers Courtney Milan, Kylie Scott and Kristen Callihan were also wonderful to listen to. I love hearing about other writers’ lives and journeys, and how they approach their books. It’s endlessly fascinating.

Hot Choc Mark IIThe booksigning was a hoot, as always, and it was great to chat to so many readers, some of whom were new to me and some who now feel like old friends. Everyone laughed at the new, improved Hot Chocolate and he didn’t break down once. I think we might be on a winner with this little-but-loud horsey mascot.

The Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner was a wonderful night, and I was so thrilled for Anne Gracie who pretty much swept the pool. The Summer Bride and the Chance Sisters series were truly gorgeous and her wins were well deserved. You can find a full list of the finalists here and all the winners here.

I was even more thrilled when Wayward Heart won favourite cover. That was so cool! I love that cover to bits and it was such a rush to find others love it too. Thanks to everyone who voted for it. Enormous thanks also to editor Rachael Donovan for going with the idea and the Harlequin designers for their outstanding layout. If you missed the blog post where Wayward Heart’s cover model Kate Swan reveals all about the shoot and her sexy partner Jack, you’ll find it here. It’s great fun.

I was a bit slack on the photo taking front this time – too busy talking! But I managed to snap a few on my phone. Not the best of quality (sorry) but one thing all the photos show is what a brilliant event this was and the terrific time everyone had.

Enjoy!

Melbourne put on a lovely sunny welcome for us!

Melbourne put on a lovely sunny welcome for us!

Keynote Speakers

Courtney Milan's keynote address at ARRC was excellent.

Courtney Milan’s keynote address at ARRC was excellent. I particularly enjoyed her comments about issues such as cultural appropriation and diversity in romance.

Keynote speaker at ARRC17 Kylie Scott

Kylie Scott knows what kind of images turn romance readers on!

Keynote speaker Kristen Callihan entertained us all on the final afternoon.

Keynote speaker Kristen Callihan entertained us all on the final afternoon.

Booksigning

Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur at ARRC 17

Amy Andrews and Keri Arthur

Ebony McKenna and Bec McMaster at ARRC17

Ebony McKenna and Bec McMaster

Emily Madden at ARRC17

Emily Madden

Fiona Lowe at ARRC17

Fiona Lowe

Kandy Shepherd and Alli Sinclair at ARRC17

Kandy Shepherd and Alli Sinclair

Kylie Scott at ARRC17

Kylie Scott

Lisa Ireland at ARRC17

Lisa Ireland

Sandy Curtis, Anne Gracie and Donna Maree Hanson at ARRC17

Sandy Curtis, Anne Gracie and Donna Maree Hanson

Sarah Barrie and Amy Rose Bennet at ARRC17

Sarah Barrie and Amy Rose Bennet

Tea Cooper and Sandy Curtis at ARRC17

Tea Cooper and Sandy Curtis

TM Clark at ARRC17

TM Clark

Victoria Purman and MJ Scott/Melanie Scott at ARRC17

Victoria Purman and MJ Scott/Melanie Scott

Harlequin Author Drinks

Me, Rachael Johns and Alison Stuart at the Harlequin author welcome drinks.

Me, Rachael Johns and Alison Stuart at the Harlequin author welcome drinks.

Australian Romance Reader Awards Dinner

The ARR Awards dinner crowd.

The ARR Awards dinner crowd.

Rachael Johns did an excellent job as MC for the night.

Rachael Johns did an excellent job as MC for the night.

Anne Gracie collecting one of her many awards. ARRC17

Anne Gracie collecting one of her many awards. Love those cowboy boots!

Meeting reader Deb Bray at the ARR Awards dinner.

I was delighted to meet fan Deb Bray at the ARR Awards dinner. That was a great moment.

Wayward Heart's Favourite Cover Award.

Wayward Heart’s Favourite Cover Award. Wheee!

Panels and Other Miscellany

The Rise of Rural Romance panel featuring Pamela Cook, Charlotte Nash, Sarah Barrie and Nicole Hurley-Moore, with Victoria Purman moderating.

The Rise of Rural Romance panel featuring Pamela Cook, Charlotte Nash, Sarah Barrie and Nicole Hurley-Moore, with Victoria Purman moderating. I enjoyed this a lot. Everyone had insightful comments and I was fascinated by Pamela’s mention of the controversy around her Hendra virus themed book Close To Home. I was also lucky enough to win a copy of Charlotte’s The Horseman. Rah!

Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Amy Andrews, Christine Wells and me in the bar. Surprise, surprise!

Loved this sculpture in the nearby Southern Cross Tower.

Loved this sculpture in the nearby Southern Cross Tower by husband and wife team Gillie and Marc. They also created the pit pony at Collinsville, some of the sculptures at Finger Wharf that I also featured on the blog, and the wonderful buried rhino at last year’s Sculpture by the Sea.

Lunch at Thai food guru David Thompson's new restaurant Long Chim at Crown.

The leftovers of lunch at Thai food guru David Thompson’s new restaurant Long Chim at Crown. Amaaaaazing. The Sydney version in Angel Place is now in my sights cos as we all know, a girl can never indulge in enough lunches!

I hope you enjoyed this look at the weekend. If you’d like to join the Australian Romance Readers Association and have opportunities like this to hang with friendly, like-minded people then please check out the ARRA website.

 

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This Writing Life: Hot Chocolate Rides Again. Well, almost.

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It’s Friiiiiidaaaay, and that means I’m in Melbourne for the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Convention. Rah!

Registrations for the convention have closed but you can still come to the book signing at Bobby McGees at Rydges Melbourne on Saturday afternoon, between 4 and 6 pm where you can chat with all your favourite authors, get your books signed, buy latest releases or just mingle and enjoy the buzz.

Breaking News

And in breaking news, if you drop by my table you’ll be able to meet the new, improved, all singing, all-dancing cousin to the late and sadly missed, blow-up wonder horse Hot Chocolate!

Eh hem.

Perhaps I should clarify.

In March 2015, I travelled to Canberra for the Australian Romance Readers Convention, arriving a day early because I wanted to take in the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

The exhibition was in its final days and the gift shop was offering great discounts on their stock items. One of these happened to be an inflatable horse. I was on my way back to my room via the bar when I was waylaid by some author friends (eyeballing you, Anne Gracie and Kelly Hunter) and on discovering I’d bought a blow-up horse, they insisted it be inflated (see piccies here and here). Kylie Scott then christened the horse Hot Chocolate.

Since then, Hot Chocolate has followed me to every book signing event, packed flat in my suitcase and then inflated back to gorgeousness when needed. It wasn’t long before a book signing didn’t feel like a proper book signing without Hot Choc perched on my table.

Cathryn Hein and her blow-up horse at the ARRC 2015 booksigning

Me and Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse.

Alas, Hot Chocolate wasn’t a hardy soul. Besides some serious conformation issues, he was rather thin skinned, and at the ARR Awards in Sydney in 2016 he sprang a major leak.

Naturally I pulled out all stops in my efforts to save him – as was outlined in this blog post: The Great Hot Chocolate Emergency – but on arrival at the ARRA booksigning in Adelaide August last year, it was obvious that Hot Chocolate’s injuries were catastrophic. Sadly, the decision was made to humanely dispatch him to that great horsey heaven in the sky.

Since then, I’ve been scouring the world for a replacement and discovered some mighty beasts (did you know you can get life-sized inflatable horses? I want one soooooo badly!) but none captured my heart until I discovered this little fellow.

He may be small, but what he lacks in height he sure makes up for in entertainment value.

Take a look!

Isn’t he the coolest?

So, if you’re in Melbourne this Saturday and can make it to the ARRC booksigning, please drop by my table and say hello. We’d love to see you!

 

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THIS WRITING LIFE: Ain’t Love Grand!

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Aaaaaand, the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia conference has been and gone for another year. This year was special too, being the 25th anniversary conference and with the fab theme Ain’t Love Grand. I think the organisers did the RWA and themselves proud. I had a ball, as usual, and I’m pretty sure everyone else did too. Thank you, ladies and gents. Bloody brilliant!

The Ain't Love Grand logoIt’s such a delight to catch up with writing buddies that I tend to talk to only online or via phone. There’s nothing like human contact, is there? The hugs and squeals, the laughter and sharing of challenges and triumphs, the late night bar sessions…

But enough of that. It’s piccies I know you’re after and I have plenty. Now, because there are so many photos, and I’m flat out at the moment finishing Santa and the Saddler and poring over Wayward Heart proofs, I’m not going to provide in depth descriptions. You’ll just have to look and enjoy, then book your own slot for the conference or ARRA book signing next year, and make yourself a part of these great events.

The conference was in Adelaide, South Australia, so what better excuse to visit my home town and family first in Mount Gambier, then follow it up with a road trip to Adelaide?

I caught up with my niece and nephews and watched the boys play basketball. As you can see, they didn’t take after their aunt in the height stakes. I felt very stumpy.

With my tall niece and nephews

As many of you are aware, my mum has Alzheimer’s and is now in full-time care. I’d love to say she recognised me but in all honesty I don’t think she did. It’s such a shit disease, it really is, but she’s being wonderfully cared for and when Dad and I visited her, she was cheerful and perky, and in overall good health. We had a fun time taking her out to buy new slippers and a cuppa at the bakery in Casterton, Victoria. Here we are with one of the kelpie statues in town.

With Mum in Casterton

It’s lambing season across western Victoria and south-east SA. Not a good time to be a fox. Here’s a haul near Ardno Station, Strathdownie.

Strathdownie - fox haul

The next day it was road trip time! Here’s me and Dad cruising the Dukes Highway.

Me and Dad road trip

Then it was Adelaide or, more specifically, Glenelg, and what a conference location it was. The council even had a heart for us (it’s a permanent sculpture but we romance peeps laid claim to it).

Glenelg Heart Sculpture

After spending Thursday catching up with friends, lunching with my editor and enjoying high tea with other buddies at a local bookshop, it was time for the Harlequin author party. We were each presented with red feather boas on arrival, which was fun, but the venue and the conference hotel looked like a slaughterhouse afterwards with all the dropped red feathers. I bet the cleaners are still grumbling about us.

Here’s Michelle Conder, Annie West, Carol Marinelli and Fiona McArthur.

Harlequin author party

And me and Michelle later in the bar.

Me and Michelle Conder

The conference Friday workshop was with screenwriting expert Michael Hauge. I used his Story Mastery session and templates to start nutting out Eddie and the Show Queen, which is a kinda-sorta sequel to Summer and the Groomsman, featuring Harry’s rakish brother Eddie. Don’t ask when I’ll get around to writing this one, I have no idea, but at least now I have a plot plan.

Michael Hauge - Story Mastery

Friday night was cocktail party night where many choose to dress up. This year’s theme was Love Is A Cabaret, which meant feather boas, black ties and more. Take a look…

Leisl Leighton, RWA president. Awesome eyelashes.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Leisl Leighton

Anne Gracie and Keri Arthur.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Anne Gracie Keri Arthur

A crowd of flappers.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - crowd

Fiona McArthur and me.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Fiona McArthur and me

T.M Clarke and hubby.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - TM Clark and hubby

Me, Louise Reynolds and Jaye Ford.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Me-Louise Reynolds-Jaye Ford

Juanita Kees and me.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Juanita Kees and me

Jane and Richard Carter.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Jane and Richard Carter

Leisl Leighton serenaded us with a song from Cabaret to much applause.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - song time

Me and agent Alex Adsett.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - me and Alex Adsett

The gorgeous Lilia Kanna from Harlequin.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Lilia Kanna

Michelle Douglas and me.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Michelle Douglas and me

And the conference proper begins! Hardworking organisers and deadest legends Bronwyn Stuart and Trish Morey.

RWA Conference - Bronwyn Stuart and Trish Morey

They presented a fun talk and slide show of what the world was like 25 years ago when the RWA began. Such a hoot.

RWA Conference - 25th anniversary fun

The state of publishing and bookselling panel.

RWA Conference - state of publishing and bookselling panel

The Stamford Grand Hotel showed us lots of luuuuurve. Very cool.

RWA Conference - hotel love

Saturday afternoon saw the ARRA booksigning event which was another great success. Here’s Anne Gracie…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Anne Gracie

Rachael Johns…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Rachael Johns

Juanita Kees…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Juanita Kees

Kandy Shepherd…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Kandy Shepherd

Mandy Magro…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Mandy Magro

Crowd shot…

2016 ARRA booksigning - crowd shot

Then it was awards dinner time! Didn’t the room and everyone look gorgeous?

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - crowd

Leah Ashton, Rachel Bailey, Daniel de Lorne.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Leah Ashton-Rachel Bailey-Daniel de Lorne

Suzi Love and her husband Graham, who volunteers to help with the agent and editor pitches every year. Thanks Graham. I heard many singing your praises!

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Suzi Love and husband Graham

Wheeeeeee! Summer and the Groomsman had its time in the sun thanks to its best rural romance cover win. I cheered it. Cos, why not!

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Summer and the Groomsman best rural romance cover

Me and James Kellow, CEO of Harlequin and Harper Collins.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Me and James Kellow

Karen M Davis paying heartfelt tribute to her mother, the late Lynn Wilding, a founding member of RWA. Many of us suffered sniffles during this speech, it was so lovely.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Karen M Davis

Rachael Johns and James Kellow.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Rachael Johns and James Kellow

Rach taking out the Ruby Award in the romantic elements category with The Patterson Girls. Rah!

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Rachael Johns Ruby Award

There was dancing! And photo bombing by Shannon Curtis.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - dancing and Shannon Curtis

Annie West and Michelle Douglas.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Annie West and Michelle Douglas

More dancing…

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - dancing

And bar lounging…

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - post dinner lounging

As for what happened after that, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Despite appearances, it wasn’t all frocking up and partying. There were plenty of workshops, speakers and panels to check out. Here’s one of the slides from Kathryn Fox’s talk: Writer Like The World’s Best-Selling Author, where she talked about writing for James Patterson and what makes him such an incredible seller.

2016 RWA Conference - Kathryn Fox's workshop

Can’t wait for next year in Brisbane with Love Gone Wild!

2016 RWA Conference - announcing Brisbane 2017

For those wondering what happened to Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonder horse, the news isn’t good. Despite enthusiastic but inexpert veterinary care, Hot Choc suffered another puncture and was feeling very deflated about the whole affair. He made it to the booksigning but spent all his time sulking under the table. I fear this may be the last…

Hot Chocolate - deflated again

My heartfelt thanks to RWA, the conference committee and everyone involved in this year’s conference. The location was perfect – one of the best – the speakers and workshops were great, the parties fantastic and the friendship brilliant. Thank you, thank you.

If you’re an aspiring writer I can’t recommend that you join the Romance Writers of Australia enough. There is no doubt in my mind that without RWA I wouldn’t be published. I also wouldn’t have the wonderful friends I have or the chance to make new ones. And if you’re a reader, there’s the Australian Romance Readers Association.

So join up and hang online and in person with the people who love the same things you do. Go on. It’s fun!

 

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THIS WRITING LIFE: The Great Hot Chocolate Emergency

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Some of you may know that since the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra in March 2015 I’ve been carting around an inflatable horse to events. His name is Hot Chocolate and I bought him on sale from the gift shop at the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at National Museum for the princely sum of $5.

Here he is at his naming ceremony, with me and historical romance author Anne Gracie in the bar (naturally) at the QT Hotel in Canberra.

Anne Gracie with Cathryn Hein admiring Hot Chocolate the blow-up horse in the QT bar at ARRC 2015

I think it’s fair to say that Hot Chocolate is not a quality steed. His conformation is appalling and he squeaks like a mouse when you squeeze his off-hind leg, but he’s fun and I like carting him around.

Here he is at his first book signing.

Cathryn Hein and her blow-up horse at the ARRC 2015 booksigning

So it was with huge disappointment to discover on the morning of this year’s Australian Romance Reader’s Awards in March that Hot Chocolate had sprung a leak. There was no keeping air in him and it left both of us feeling very flat.

A saggy and flat feeling Hot Chocoalate

I took him home afterward with the great intention of finding his hole and patching him up. Alas, I forgot all about it until I suddenly realised I have the ARRA booksigning in Adelaide this Saturday and risked attending with NO HOT CHOCOLATE. We couldn’t have that. It’d put a jinx on everything.

Bathtub to the rescue!

Hot Chocolate being tested in the bathtub

Oh, did that horsey bubble. He had a giant hole in his chest seam and I thought it was curtains for poor old Hot Choc but a band-aid and a bit of sticky tape later and he’s all good. Not pretty, mind, but Hot Choc will at least be going to the party.

The hole in Hot Chocolate's chest

Emergency veterinary treatment for Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate rides again!

If you’re in Adelaide this Saturday, 20th August, come and see me and over 60 other romance authors at the Stamford Grand in Glenelg. The event runs from 5pm for an hour and we’d love you to come along for a natter and get your books signed. You can also purchase books at the event. For full details visit the Australian Romance Readers Association website.

You’ll even be able to pat Hot Chocolate!

 

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High Tea and High Fun at the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards!

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It was a gala day last Saturday with the Australian Romance Readers Association‘s A Romantic High Tea event and the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards, both held in Sydney at Cello’s Restaurant in the Castlereagh Hotel. And what a brilliant time was had!

Stuck in front of our computers, deep in imaginary worlds, writers tend to live comparatively solitary lives, which makes it huge fun to get out, frock up, and meet with passionate readers and writing buddies. Events like these are also terrific for the romance genre. They’re where we get to show off what enthusiastic readers and talented writers we have in Australia. We’ve known for years how special and important the genre is but many others have no idea. The message is getting through though, as was demonstrated by the industry representatives present at the awards and their generous sponsorship.

Here are a few photos from the High Tea and 2015 ARR Awards dinner. If you’d like the full list of awards and winners, you’ll find them all on the ARRA blog.

*

On Friday night before the High Tea, I caught up with Rachael Johns and Emily Madden at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in Sydney. Naturally, there was fizz!

Rachael Johns, Cathryn Hein, Emily Madden at dinner

Hot Chocolate the Blow-Up Wonder Horse has been coming to events with me since last year’s Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra. Admittedly, he doesn’t get a lot of care, being thrown around in suitcases and the occasional bar, but I had hoped he’d last a bit longer than a year. Sadly, with only a few hours until the High Tea, Hot Choc sprang a leak. As you can see, it left feeling him very deflated…

A saggy and flat feeling Hot Chocoalate

Guests on my High Tea table received April’s Rainbow mugs filled with Chupa Chups and decorated with ‘love’ butterflies. Cos we’re all about the luuuurve at Chez Hein and ARRA!

High Tea guest gift

Here are my gorgeous High Tea people! We had such fun. I can’t thank them enough for coming along and being such great company. As you’d expect there was LOTS of book talk. Cello’s Restaurant is a lovely venue too, full of light and pretty architecture. Perfect for A Romantic High Tea.

L-R: Malvina, Amy, Belinda, Me, Veronica, Suzanne, Jo (who came all the way from Edenhope, Victoria!).

High Tea guests

Some of the scrumptious treats on offer.

High Tea treats

Amy, me and Belinda.

Amy, me and Belinda at High Tea

Me and Suzanne.

Suzanne and me at High Tea

ARR Awards MC and Favourite Paranormal Romance winner Shannon Curtis doing her stuff. And do it very well she did!

ARR Awards MC - Shannon Curtis

Guest speaker Kat Mayo. Her speech “There’s never been a more exciting time to be a romance reader” was excellent. You can find the transcript on her Bookthingo Blog. Well worth a visit and read.

ARR Awards guest speaker Kat Mayo

Rachael Johns with one of her two ARR Awards. Way to go, buddy! Rachael won awards for Favourite Short or Category Romance and Favourite Contemporary Romance.

Rachael Johns with one of her ARR Awards

Me and special person Len Klumpp who’s a great supporter of Australian romance and ARRA, and who, along with his wife Carolyn, travelled all the way from Tamworth for the event. Len also presented Helene Young with the award for Favourite Australian Romantic Suspense (great stuff, Helene!).

Great fan and ARRA supporter Len and Cathryn at the ARR Awards

We had a lovely lady named Linda on our table. Linda had come all the way over from Western Australia, and was absolutely delightful company. I was so thrilled to have met her. The photo-bomber is Amy Andrews who just can’t help herself!

Cathryn and Linda at the ARR Awards

Me trying to pinch Shannon Curtis’s and Cathleen Ross’s ARR Awards. They really should share… Cathleen won her award for Favourite Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Futuristic Romance.

Cathryn, Shannon Curtis and Cathleen Ross at the ARR Awards

And finally, but not in the least bit last – in fact she was first, first, first! – Anne Gracie, who took out three awards on the night: Favourite Historical Romance, Favourite Continuing Romance Series and the big gong, Favourite Australian Romance Author. Well done, Anne!

Anne Gracie collecting one of her ARR Awards

I would like to thank the hard-working and dedicated members of ARRA for making the High Tea and ARR Awards such brilliant events. It was a very special weekend that I’ll remember very fondly. I, and everyone I spoke to, had a ball. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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This Writing Life: Finalist Fabulousness!

The Australian Romance Reader Awards finalists were announced last Friday and I was thrilled and honoured to be listed two categories: Favourite Australian Romance Author 2015 and Favourite Cover From A Romance Published In 2015 with Summer and the Groomsman. Yay!

happy gif

Seeing as Friday was my birthday, that was a very, very nice present.

Thanks to everyone who nominated me and Summer and the Groomsman. I’m grateful and humbled, and did I mention thrilled to bits? If I weren’t trying to be good at the moment, I’d crack some celebratory fizz, but we’ll save that for another day.

If you’d like to see the full list of finalists, you’ll find them on the Australian Romance Readers Association blog. And if you’re looking for your next great read, why not try an author or book from the lists? You’ll be guaranteed of a top-notch read and help our home-grown talent.

Winners will be announced at the Australian Romance Reader Awards dinner, Cello’s Restaurant, Sydney on Saturday 19th March.  Hope to see you there!

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the tantalising blog series where I share snippets from works-in-progress, up-coming releases and published novels. Unless I’m feeling lazy and invite good writing buddies to fill in for me, like today!

I’m very excited to show off a sample of historical romance author Anna Campbell’s new Regency novella. Not only do I adore her books, she’s huge fun at writerly get-togethers and is always up for a glass of fizz, which makes her very much my kind of person. Anna has won the Australian Romance Readers Awards Favourite Australian Romance Author so many times I nicknamed her the Romance Queen. A title. I must say, she wears magnificently.

Anyway, enough of me. Here’s Anna to tell you about her new release. This one sounds a hoot. Make sure you read to the end. There might be a special giveaway.

Author Anna CampbellHi Cathryn! Thank you so much for having me as your guest today.

Usually I’m drooling over the recipes on Friday Feast on your blog – it’s nice to be here for the low-calorie Teaser Tuesday spot! Snerk. Which doesn’t mean I plan on delivering one of those tasteless low fat cheese kind of teasers.

No, this one’s as full-blooded and swashbuckling as my hero in A Pirate for Christmas, my seasonal novella this year.

Actually Rory Beaton, the new Earl of Channing, isn’t a pirate – gossip just paints him as one. He is, however, neglecting his duties as lord of the manor and redoubtable vicar’s daughter, Bess Farrar, beards him in his den to point out his obligations – and to get permission to borrow his donkey for the annual nativity play.

Cue entry of mischievous donkey Daisy who was a lot of fun to write. Now, she really does have a pirate heart!

Here’s the first meeting between Rory and Bess – and if you catch a whiff of classic British comedy To the Manor Born, your nostrils are not deceiving you!

 

“If you leave a note, I promise to deliver it,” the man said.

Bess’s lips firmed as she shifted to find a comfortable spot on the unforgiving seat. The noble Earl of Channing didn’t want visitors settling in. Indications were that he didn’t want visitors at all.

Too bad for the noble Earl of Channing.

“So he can ignore it, the way he’s ignored my other correspondence?” she asked sweetly.

A Pirate for Christmas by Anna Camobell coverThe studious-looking man avoided her eyes. “His lordship has been busy since taking over, Miss Farrar.”

Bess glanced around the dusty, empty great hall. “Not with domestic matters.”

“His lordship—”

His lordship stormed in.

At least Bess assumed that the disheveled auburn-haired man who crashed through the door at the other end of the hall must be Penton Abbey’s elusive new master. He stalked past her, brandishing a sheaf of papers.

“That blasted Farrar besom is hounding me again, Ned. I thought I asked you to put her off.” His Scottish brogue added an exotic edge to his heated remarks.

He didn’t see her as his long stride ate up the tiled floor. It would be hard to make out an army in this gloom, especially with the sky darkening for snow.

“Rory, for heaven’s sake,” the other man stammered, casting Bess an embarrassed glance.

Bess stood and performed a perfunctory curtsy. “Good afternoon, my lord.”

He turned on her. He was as tall as his friend, but much more heavily muscled. A more formidable character altogether, she could already tell. “Just who the devil are you?”

She permitted herself a cool smile. “I believe I’m the blasted Farrar besom.”

“Oh, hell,” he muttered, staring at her thunderstruck. He looked as shocked as if one of these iron-hard oak chairs had stood up, bowed and asked him to dance.

©Anna Campbell

You can read a longer excerpt and the blurb on my website.

A Pirate for Christmas is only 99 cents on Amazon! Buy from Amazon.com, Amazon.au and Smashwords.

GIVEAWAY!

True to the tradition of Friday Feast, which I know this isn’t, do you have a favourite cheese? I must admit to a liking for brie and gouda.

Anna's favourite cheeses

I’ve got two Kindle downloads of A Pirate for Christmas: A Regency Novella to give away to people who share their cheesy stories today. Good luck!

Please Note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 6th November 2015. Open internationally.

That’s TWO BOOKS UP FOR GRABS, lovely readers. So get commenting!

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FRIDAY FEAST with Michelle Douglas

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Greetings dumplings, and welcome to another delectable edition of Friday Feast. This week we have wine, babies, and beef. Although not in the same recipe, as I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know.

First, the frustration that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Bad. Very, very bad is all I can say about my game at the moment. I even tried marking my balls with bright blue love hearts in the faint hope it might amuse Oh, Great Golfing God, but no. Recent form has proven that it only made him crankypants. However the weather has been glorious and the company enjoyable, and, really, when one is playing this atrociously the only way is up!

Michelle Douglas authorAs much as I would like to move on to the wine bit of this week’s Feast, the baby must come first. My guest is the ever-delightful Michelle Douglas, who received her first rejection letter at the age of eight for Keri the Koala Baby.

Michelle has since moved on from koalas but not necessarily babies, and is now a multi-published author writing for Harlequin’s Romance line. Her latest is Reunited By A Baby Secret, part of the Vineyards of Calanetti continuity and a guaranteed heart-tugger. Check it out.

REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET

Reunited By A Baby Secret coverShe’s back in Calanetti…

After a vacation in paradise, Marianna Amatucci returned to her family vineyard determined to make a fresh start. But her plans changed in an instant when two blue lines on a pregnancy test reveal she’d returned home with a souvenir!

When she finds the father, Ryan White, he’s nothing like the laid-back surfer she met on the beach. In a tailored suit, he oozes masculine authority, and he’s staying in the penthouse! What will walking into his high-flying corporate world mean for their baby…?

Did you hear that, my lovelies? Vineyards! A baby! A sexy hero! Just what you need to give a smile, a sigh and maybe even a little tear. And Reunited By A Baby Secret can be yours right now with a mere click. Buy from Booktopia, BookdepositoryAmazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

All set? Good. Now feel free to get beefy!

Fine Vines

To be visiting Cathryn today and talking about wine does seem rather appropriate. Not that I mean to be telling tales outside of school or anything, but Cathryn and I do seem to find ourselves in the bar together on a rather regular basis at RWAust and ARRA conferences. 🙂

Authors enjoying a tipple

Wine has been on my mind quite a bit recently because my latest release REUNITED BY A BABY SECRET is set in the rolling green hills of Tuscan wine country, and my heroine is a viticulturist. Mind you, Marianna is pregnant so wine tasting is out for her, but it wasn’t for me. And, naturally, a girl has to provide due diligence and perform appropriate research. So off to the Hunter Valley I went to look at vineyards and taste wines. I discovered two things:

  1. Wine country is gloriously beautiful regardless of what part of the world you’re in.
  2. One shouldn’t wine taste at 11 o’clock in the morning if they haven’t had breakfast. 😉

So, in honour of all things wine-related, I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes with you. This, amazingly enough for me, is ludicrously healthy. It’s also incredibly simple. And despite what the photo looks like (I’m terrible at taking pretty pictures of food) it’s utterly delish.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef and red wine casserole

Place the following ingredients into a nice big pot: ½ kilo of diced beef, two diced onions, two large sliced carrots, 2 sliced sticks of celery, a diced green capsicum, 200g sliced mushrooms, a clove or two of crushed garlic, a can of tomato puree (415ml), a teaspoon of Italian herbs, a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and ½ cup of red wine.

Bring it all to the boil and then cook on low, covered for 90 mins.

My favourite way to eat this is with mashed potatoes and green beans. But crusty bread is perfect with it too. Pasta would work as well. Also, it’s a forgiving recipe. I’ve made it with one onion rather than two, and when I haven’t had a green capsicum on hand I’ve used a zucchini to fine effect, so feel free to mess about with the ingredients. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me to visit, Cathryn! I always love hanging out with you (whether wine is involved or not).

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A pleasure to host you, Michelle! Your casserole sounds beautiful and just the thing to enjoy with a glass (or two) of Hunter shiraz. Then a nice relax with Reunited By A Baby Secret and a very pleasant evening is to be had.

Okay, food lovers, what would you serve with Michelle’s casserole, or a casserole like it?

I love the idea of crunchy green beans but we do adore our bread and would probably have a nice crusty loaf on the side to mop up all that tasty gravy. What about you? Share away!

If you’d like to learn more about Michelle and her gorgeous books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Goodreads.

Friday Feast recipe index link.

THIS WRITING LIFE: Hanging with my tribe!

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If you love romance, writing, or both, the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference is the RWA Get Fresh logoplace for you. Every year I come away with my head spinning from all I’ve learned, my heart warm from all the darling friends I’ve caught up with and the new ones I’ve made, and my body buzzing at all the exciting ways in which we can give our readers the best reading experience possible.

The 2015 conference, held recently at the glorious Park Hyatt in Melbourne, was no exception.

On a professional front, the highlights for me were Angela Ackerman’s Friday workshops Larger than Life Characters and Show Don’t Tell, CS Pacat’s How To Plot A Page Turner, Sarah Mayberry’s and Sara Hood’s Marketing Masterclass, and the ‘If I Knew Then What I Know Now’ published author panel. Social highlights? Well, let’s just say every day was a social highlight!

Here are a few happy snaps from the weekend. As you can see, there was plenty of laughter, great information, and even a few dress-ups.

COCKTAIL PARTYRWA Cocktail Party - Crowd

A happy crowd. You would not believe how loud it was.

RWA Cocktail Party - Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West

Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West.

RWA Cocktail Party - Harlequin Australia ladies

Harlequin Australia ladies Lilia Kanna and Michelle Lee looking gorgeous.

RWA Cocktail Party - Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Trish Morey and Marion Lennox.

RWA Cocktail Party - Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie

Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie.

RWA Cocktail Party

Robin Aldridge and Fiona McArthur, both attending their TWENTY-FOURTH conference in a row. How cool is that!

RWA Cocktail Party - Michelle Conder. Annie West and Me

Michelle Conder, Annie West and me.

CONFERENCE

Angela Ackerman Workshop - collage of slides

Some of the slides from Angela Ackerman’s brilliant Friday workshops.

RWA Conference - Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti

Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti.

RWA Conference - Tricia Stinger and Cathryn Hein

Tricia Stringer and me.

CS Pacat's fantastic How To Plot A Page Turner - slide collage

C.S Pacat’s session on How To Plot a Page Turner was soooo good. Fantastic information.

RWA Conference - Maggie Le Page

New Zealand author Maggie Le Page, who won the guess the number of jelly beans competition, lucky thing.

Marketing Masterclass - slide collage

Some of the great slides from Sara Hood’s and Sarah Mayberry’s Marketing Masterclass session. The full set of slides from the presentation can be found on Sara’s Marketing4Writers website.

RWA Conference - my raffle prize

My raffle prize: martini glasses and two Sandy Curtis romantic suspense novels. Rah!

RWA Conference - morning tea

Morning tea. More loudness, but with cake.

ARRA BOOKSIGNING

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein

Me and Hot Chocolate the Blow Up Wonder Horse.

ARRA Booksigning - Meredith Appleyard

Meredith Appleyard.

ARRA Booksigning - Shannon Curtis

Shannon Curtis.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Le Page

Maggie Le Page.

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein and Helene Young

Me and Helene Young.

ARRA Booksigning - Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer takes her books very seriously.

ARRA Booksigning - Anita Heiss

Anita Heiss, who I had the great pleasure of sitting next to.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey

Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey.

ARRA Booksigning - fans lined up

Eager fans!

RWA GALA AWARDS DINNER

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - pre dinner drinks

Pre-dinner drinkies.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner

Celebrating all our achievements thanks to Anne Gracie’s stand-ups.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Ruby winner Amy Andrews

Ruby winner Amy Andrews received many lipsticky congratulations on her win.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Dance lessons

Dance lessons thanks to the Escape After Party.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Rachel Bailey and Annie West

Rachel Bailey and Ruby Award winner Annie West in the cocktail bar.

OTHER STUFF

RWA Book haul

My book haul! Although I may have read that bottom one a few times.

RWA Conference - cafe entertainment

Entertainment in the Hyatt’s cafe. Very civilised.

Melbourne - Yarra River

Melbourne looking pretty at night.

My huge thanks to Kate Ledsen, Kate Belle and their team, along with the RWA committee and all the volunteers for putting on such a wonderful conference. Very fresh indeed!

As you can see from the above, romance authors are super-savvy about their business and craft, generous with their time and expertise, and know how to have a good time. If you’re searching for your writing tribe, perhaps the RWA is the place for you. It certainly is for me.

 

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THIS WRITING LIFE: Spirited – Australia’s Horse Story

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While I was visiting Canberra the other week for the Australian Romance Readers Convention, I was fortunate enough to catch the Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story exhibition at the National Museum of Australia before it closed.

Being horse-mad from birth, I can’t resist the call of anything equine and the museum was only a pleasant stroll around the edge of Lake Burley Griffin from the QT Hotel where the convention was being held. A sunny autumn day, some horsey goodness… perfect.

The museum released a great video of the exhibition which is well worth a look. It certainly got me excited!

It was rather thrilling to be confronted with more video on entrance to the exhibition, this time showing wild brumbies in action. An elderly man, who said he used to help his dad break brumbies, and I stood mesmerised by the footage in warm, horse-loving companionship. We were so entranced we watched the video loop through twice. Even when I left to take in the main exhibits, he stayed on. I don’t think he wanted to leave.

Video still of brumbies at the Spirited exhibition

As expected, the exhibition was a trove of interesting artefacts and information. Look at this: A first edition of The Silver Brumby alongside Elyne Mitchell’s typewriter.

Typewriter used by Elyne Mitchell and a first edition copy of The SIlver Brumby

The first displays were interesting, focusing on colonial life and the important role horses played in the development of the colony and agriculture. Horses were uncommon in the early years of settlement. A few arrived with the first fleet, but according to the museum guide book by 1791 only one stallion, one mare and two colts survived, and horses remained scarce for several decades.

There were some wonderful artefacts on display from Springfield station, near Goulburn, including this magnificent dress harness fitted with the Faithfull family crest.

Carriage harness with Faithfull family crest decoration from Springfield station.

From Burrungurroolong station, also near Goulburn, came this wonderful rocking horse. I would have killed for something like this as a kid. That’s a go-fast rocking horse if ever there was one!

Wooden rocking horse from Burrungurroolong station.

I thought this carved-out log trough was amazing too. Imagine the hard work involved in its creation.

Carved log feed trough.

I also really liked this forging anvil, which was used by blacksmith Samuel Sinclair, who arrived in Bermagui in 1904 to set up shop after having served as a farrier in the Boer War. I know it’s hard to tell from the photo, but this thing was HUGE and weighed 348 kilograms.

Forging anvil.

My favourite display was probably the trophy cabinet. This contained, among other things, the 1866 Melbourne Cup won by The Barb, and is our earliest known intact cup. Initially, the Melbourne Cup was a prize – a gold watch or cash – and the first actual cup was awarded only in 1865, which makes this version particularly precious. The other two trophies are the 1867 Melbourne Cup and Queen’s Plate won by Tim Whiffler. Apparently two horses called Tim Whiffler competed in the Cup that year, with ‘Sydney Tim’ taking the prize, along with the Queen’s Plate two days later.

Ornate Melbourne Cups and Queens Plate

The exhibition had its quirky items too. Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, here’s Jackson, a toy horse used in the 2007 alternate Birdsville races when an outbreak of equine influenza caused a ban on the movement of horses and shut down the normal event. In typical outback fashion, the show went on, with mock races fielded with stuffed toys.

Jackson, the stuffed toy Birdsville races competitor

And more quirky exhibits. An inkwell made from a horse’s hoof. This makes me think of the snuffbox the British made from Marengo’s hoof, Napoleon’s favourite warhorse, and was presented to the Household Brigade.

Hoof inkwell.

There was even an old horse-drawn dairy carriage, circa 1947, complete with poo (out of shot, unfortunately). One of the plaques told a great story of a bakery horse who was so habitualised that it simply set off on his route when flu kept its driver from turning up to work.

Lincoln Park Dairy delivery cart

This sculpture had so much life, and was (ironically?) surrounded by anatomical specimens, including bits of Phar Lap.

Wire man and horse sculpture

There was much, much more in the exhibition, including information on breeds in Australia, a fascinating video on the use of the whip in horse racing, medals from Olympics and other major events, pony club tales and photos (rah!), and pieces on all the various equestrian sports Australians compete in, from dressage to campdrafting and everything in between.

Definitely worth the visit but for those who missed it, never fear! The National Museum of Australia has pages and pages on its website about the exhibition. There are photos, videos, and deeper stories about horses in Australia. You can spend ages on there. A fantastic resource for those who love horses or are simply interested in our history.

And here’s my souvenir from the exhibition: Hot Chocolate the blow-up wonderhorse. What a steed!

HotChoc3.0

Not quite the real thing but at least he’s house trained, doesn’t eat much, and packs away flat. Sadly, he will never, ever compete with this darling. Not in my eyes.

Cathryn as a little girl with Mysty

My first horse, the romantically named Mysty. Best horse evah. Sigh.

Yep, once a horse-girl, always a horse-girl!