Tag Archives: Fiona Palmer

Teaser Tuesday!

10 Replies

Teaser TuesdayWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly series where I tantalise you with snippets from upcoming and past book releases, and works-in-progress. Except for this week, when I’m doing something special!

I’m blessed to have wonderful writing buddies with whom I share the ups and downs of this crazy business. We understand how much slog and sweat goes into a book, and how deserving a new release is of celebration. Which is why I’m handing over today’s Teaser to best-selling Australian author Fiona Palmer whose new rural romance, The Saddler Boys, hits shelves tomorrow. Rah!

This book is going to sell like crazy so make sure you secure your copy today. Order The Saddler Boys from Booktopia, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or your favourite book retailer.

Now here’s Fiona to tell you a little bit about her new release.

The Saddler Boys grew from my experience with small country schools. The kind that only have Fiona Palmertwo rooms, junior and senior, so you are mixed in with a heap of years like 4 to 7 or kindy to year 3. Our school also was closed and as a kid I didn’t see the effect it could have on a town back then. Now with kids of my own it becomes a big deal. So The Saddler Boys grew from this and the town of Lake Biddy was created and encompasses so many little towns that have been through the same struggles. There are other themes throughout this book as we follow Natalie’s journey to find herself and her place in life. Then there is Drew, finally allowing himself to love when his main focus has been his son.

I hope you enjoy the prologue for The Saddler Boys.

 

Peering out her car window, she waited and watched as kids piled onto orange school buses with bundles of energy. She scanned each face for likeness, for familiarity, for features she was trying hard to remember. But she had no clue if she’d ever spot him. Would she even be able to recognise him?

The buses pulled away from the school and she followed one in the direction she knew. It was weird being back here, in Lake Biddy – a tiny outback town in the middle of nowhere. And she wasn’t exaggerating; she meant tiny. A shop, a pub, a school and a few houses. It was all surrounded by empty paddocks and scrub. Being The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmerso isolated made her feel misplaced and slightly scared, like a flower petal blowing into the dry desert. Being here brought back waves of feelings she wasn’t used to, memories she didn’t want to remember, or deal with.

The large bus continued along the road and she kept following, knowing her boy must be on that bus. When it stopped at the familiar gate, she was overwhelmed with emotion. She reached for her cigarettes with shaky hands and quickly lit one, puffing away until the hit came.

She pulled over and waited for the bus to leave, then crept forward. A little boy with a large school bag walked to the bush on the left of the gate where a small tin shed was nestled. She watched him wheel out a tiny motorbike from the shed and start it. Could this really be him? He looked about the right age, but she was no expert.

He took off his school hat, and she noticed that his short clipped hair looked mousy blond. He put on his helmet. She cursed when she couldn’t see his face. Did she dare drive any closer? If he turned and saw her, what would he do? Approach her? Or run? Maybe she could tell him she was lost – or would she tell him the truth?

The boy roared his motorbike up the driveway, leaving a trail of dust behind.

It was probably for the best, she thought as she sucked the last bit of life out of her cigarette and lit up another one. She wasn’t quite ready yet. But soon. Soon she would be.

©Fiona Palmer

Click to subscribe to my newsletter

THIS WRITING LIFE: Hanging with my tribe!

12 Replies

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.

 

Click to subscribe to my newsletter

Rural Romance Book Heaven Could Be Yours!

How would you like the chance to win a Valentine’s bouquet that lasts forever? Well, perhaps not forever, but a bloody long time.

Then you need the…

AustralianRuralRomance.com

Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

There are 6 book bouquets – yes, SIX! – up for grabs, with each bunch containing 5 of the best from our Australian rural romance stars. We’re talking the likes of Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Loretta Hill, Helene Young, Tricia Stringer, Barbara Hannay, Fleur McDonald, Fiona McArthur, Jenn J McLeod, Mandy Magro, Margareta Osborn, Bronwyn Parry, Jennifer Scoullar and many more. And all you have to do to be in the draw is sign up to the australianruralromance.com blog. Easy-peasy.

Lucky me is in two book bouquets, one featuring a signed copy of Promises, the other a copy of Heart of the Valley. Check out the amazing company I’m in…

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Promises

 

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Heart of the Valley

And there are another four fabulous book bouquets up for grabs. Wow!

So either click on one of the images above or hit australianruralromance.com to lodge your entry.

This is a fantastic opportunity to score books from some of Australia’s most popular writers, for yourself or to share. Don’t miss out!

Winners will be drawn on February 14th. Australian postal addresses only.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

30 Replies

WHAT A FRIDAY! Can you feel the excitement, the buzz, the utter thrill of it? As you might guess I’m beyond excited. Not only is one of Australia’s most loved rural romance authors on Friday Feast today, with a great giveaway, my darling boys, the Sydney Swans, are into the AFL Grand Final. One sleep and it’ll be CHEER, CHEER, THE RED AND THE WHITE crazy time. Rah!

Author Fiona PalmerI really, really want to post an awesome video of them being magnificent but I’ll refrain and bore you with a paragraph of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news instead. Despite a very wobbly start and two balls torpedoed into dams, I managed to do some good things over the weekend and dropped a little bit off my handicap. No idea what caused this turnaround. Must have been the Swans excitement.

But now to our guest..

Fiona Palmer is one of the queens of rural romance, hitting best-sellerdom with her debut novel, The Family Farm, and never looking back. She’s also a golfer, which surely has to make her even more fabulous. There is a whole lot of buzz about Fiona’s new release, with good reason. Rachael Johns calls The Sunnyvale Girls a heart-warming tear-jerker, and the blurb sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it too.

THE SUNNYVALE GIRLS

Cover of The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona PalmerThree generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

Doesn’t that sound intriguing and with Italy in the equation how can anyone resist! You can buy The Sunnyvale Girls right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD the Bookshop, Angus & Roberston, Collins Booksellers, your favourite bookshop or chain store. You can also buy direct from Fiona via her website. If ebooks are your go, try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play,  JB Hi-Fi or your favourite outlet.

Now enjoy something buonissimo from Fiona!

Sunny Food!

Ah my good mate Cathryn, I’m back with you again for the awesome Friday Feast! Thanks for having me. Now I’m not the best of cooks, I leave my creativity for my stories and not the kitchen, but we still have to eat. And seeing as my characters travel to Italy in The Sunnyvale Girls I thought I’d share my simple pizza’s with you.

We aren’t big bread eaters in my house, I try not to eat it and prefer to use wraps. So this is what I use for my pizza bases. (I also like to put them in my toastie press and sandwich them together with all the yummy stuff inside)

After travelling to Italy myself I realised I was making my pizza’s all wrong. Actually all the Italian food I made was all wrong. They stick with less ingredients and less toppings. (Maybe it came from having fussy kids and making a spag bol with all the vegies I could find finely diced up was just how went.) But I also made my pizza’s the same, more topping just seemed to be the go. Maybe I thought it was healthier??

Pizza at Gubbio

I ate Pizza in Rome, Gubbio, Pisa and Florence and they all only had a few toppings, so that you could taste those flavours. Melt in your mouth divine pizza’s. Even the pasta we had in Pompeii looked like just pasta and a tin of crushed tomatoes on top but by crikey it was heaven.  (I think all those tomatoes grown in volcanic ash makes a hell of a difference!)

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, back home. My toppings are still on the more side of things but I use what I can from my garden. Tonight’s pizza was cheese, ham, onion, spinach, kale and sundried tomatoes. Yum. The good thing about having wraps as a base is that you’re not full on the thick base. You can also fold it over and eat it without having toppings falling off (great for those kids!).

Pizza ready for baking

Fiona's cooked pizza

Ah, pizza. It’s a food that makes everyone happy. I admit to doing the same as you, Fiona, and overloading my pizzas. Not anymore. We use very few ingredients and make sure they’re the best quality. Great idea with the wraps. That’s how to whip up a meal in a hurry!

Now, my dear Feasty lovelies, because Fiona is such a gorgeous person, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, this is your chance to win a signed copy of Fiona’s brand spanking new book The Sunnyvale Girls. And entering couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is share your favourite Italian dish. Simple!

Are you a pizza fiend, or do you prefer a simple dish of pasta or gnocchi? Maybe risotto is your go, or perhaps you have a favourite Italian soup or dessert? Maybe it’s plain grilled swordfish with salmoriglio, or barbecued sardines? Italian cuisine is so rich the choice must be endless. Whatever you adore from the land of amore, share and we’ll pop you into the draw!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 30th September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @fiona_palmer.

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Silvana who has won a copy of Fiona’s gorgeous new release, The Sunnyvale Girls.
Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun and shared your favourite Italian meals. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of lasagne lovers out there!

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

One Reply

Greetings from Mount Gambier, the Blue Lake city! Well, for a few minutes more anyway. I’m flying out shortly after a whirlwind three days spent chatting to wonderful readers here, and at Hamilton and Balmoral in western Victoria. What fun!

Speaking of fun, my Sydney Swans were awesome last week, with an excellent win over Essendon leaving us sitting 3rd on the AFL ladder. Rah! Sadly, the Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Author Fiona PalmerPlay Golf news isn’t as positive. I appear to have lost all putting ability. Probably because I can’t stop thinking about The Falls, my next rural romance, and its hero Lucas in the pool. Deep sigh. That man…

Speaking of great characters, best-selling Australian rural romance author Fiona Palmer is spreading her wings with a wonderful new young adult series and it sounds a cracker. The first book in the MTG Agency series is The Recruit and features Jasmine Thomas who is definitely not your average teenager.

This is so cool! Take a look…

THE RECRUIT

Cover of The Recruit by Fiona PalmerFrom one of Australia’s Queens of Romance comes the debut in a brand new YA series about secrets, strengths, and what lies beneath the surface.

Jasmine Thomas may not be completely normal, but she’s a pretty typical seventeen-year-old girl. She hates the rich mean kids, loves her best friends, and can’t wait to get out of school each day. Her spare time is spent at The Ring — a boxing gym where she practically grew up — learning karate, boxing and street fighting. So, yeah, Jaz can kick some major butt.

Life seems pretty normal until the day Ryan Fletcher enters her gym…mysterious and hot with heaps of bad boy charm. Sure, she checks him out. Who wouldn’t? But what doesn’t show on his gorgeous abs are secrets and lies that dominate his very grown-up world. Now Jaz has to figure out just how far she is willing to go to know more. Could Ryan really be offering the life-fulfilling life path she’s always dreamed of?

The first in the MTG Agencies series.

Doesn’t that sound a ripping read? You can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks. Buy the ebook from Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, BigW ebooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, ebooks.com, All Romance eBooks or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Wonderful. Now here’s Fiona.

Easing Into Winter

Oh I love the Friday Feast, thanks Cathryn for having me! It’s always great to be here and also a little scary. :/ I love eating food, I’m just not big on preparing/cooking it!!!  So as usual I’m going to share with you one of my foolproof recipes. (These are the only recipes I keep and tend to make over and over again.)

At the moment we are moving towards winter, I have already lit my fire and love sitting by it as it crackles away. So I’ve picked a meal my family loves to eat during winter. It’s a vegetable risotto with a twist.

Even my fussy child eats this, even with those awful vegies in it because the chicken stock makes it all taste the same.

So here it is: My Vegetable Risotto with Chicken Stock instead of Vegetable Stock

VEGETABLE RISOTTO

Fiona's vegetable risotto

2 cups sliced mushrooms (dice small if need to hide it from kids)

1 cup frozen beans (once again I cut these up into smaller bits)

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup diced red capsicum

1 onion finely diced

2 cups raw Arborio rice

6 cups (1 ½  litres) ready made chicken stock liquid

2 level teaspoons reduced fat margarine

1 level teaspoon crushed garlic   (when I’m cooking, nothing is ever precise. The

amount of ingredients that goes in depends on my mood.)

1/3 cup white wine (now I never seem to have wine when I cook this so I never put it in.)

3 level tablespoons parmesan cheese

2 chicken stock cubes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook this in a large non-stick saucepan. (Also have vegetables cut and ready before you start.) Melt margarine, add onion and garlic, cook 2 minutes. Add in rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 2 cups of stock liquid and stock cubes, bring to boil then simmer stirring frequently until liquid has been absorbed by rice.

Add in wine, once absorbed pour in 2 cups of liquid, bring back to boil.

Add mushrooms, beans, corn and capsicum, reduce to a simmer stirring frequently until stock water is absorbed. Add final 2 cups of stock liquid, when almost all liquid has been absorbed (rice should be cooked by this stage) stir in parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

I had never made a risotto before making this one but every time I’ve made it, it’s been a hit. (If you know me, then you know that’s pretty amazing!!) So what I’m trying to say is if you follow the recipe you can’t go wrong.

We are big parmesan fans in this house so we like a bit extra on top. 🙂

 

Thanks, Fiona. LOVE risotto and even better when it’s super easy to make and tasty like this one. And healthy with the veg too, not to mention comforting. There’s something really warming about risotto. Perfect for these cooler months. Ah, those Italians, they really know how to please a stomach.

What about you, Feasters? What’s your favourite winter warmer?

I adore steamy rich casseroles but also anything with pulses in it. We have an amazing baked bean with meatballs recipe that is a huge favourite. I tested out a new Italian beef and cannellini bean recipe last week that’s going straight into the favourites pile too. Pulses are just so hearty and lovely!

Must share that bean and meatball recipe on Friday Feast one day… In the meantime, how about sharing your favourite winter tucker?

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Twitter using @fiona_palmer and Facebook.

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Bloggy Goodness

2 Replies

With the release of Rocking Horse Hill I’ve been cantering around the blogosphere, waving my Come Read Me! banner and generally having a rompy old time of it.

Take a look at where I’ve appeared this week:

ROCKING ALONG

On wonderful multi award-winning Australian romantic suspense author Helene Young’s blog, where I show off how life really is in my office

Check this one out. It’s a hoot!

GETTING ANIMAL

With rural romance author Alissa Callen where I take a look at anthropomorphism. Something I practice a lot!

MOTHER’S DAY PRESENT DILEMMAS

Come have yours solved on Margareta Osborn’s blog. Not only are there some perfect-for-mum book suggestions, but revealing insights into what fellow rural romance authors Margareta Osborn, Fiona Palmer, Rachael Johns, Alissa Callen and I plan for this Sunday.

WRITERS ON READING

My answers to Pamela Cook’s wonderful series on books authors read and love. Discover my favourite literary villain, what book has made me laugh out loud, which has made me cry, and more!

OLDER BLOGS

Some blogs I’ve appeared on in previous weeks…

The Australian Romance Readers Association: Rocking Horse Hill Release Day. With a giveaway just for members too. Closes May 13th

My blog: 10 Secret Things About Rocking Horse Hill. All is revealed!

A Q&A with best-selling rural romance author Fiona Palmer. Quirky!

Write What You Know: a writing article on Write Note Reviews. One for authors.

A Q&A on book review site Book’d Out. Come see my sticky note obsession!

Aussie Author Round-Up on Book Muster Down Under. Discover my writing motto.

Friday Feast with Cathryn Hein ie me! Home-made Hot-Crossed Buns.

Friday Feast with Cathryn Hein (Again!). Sweet seduction with a dead easy chocolate pudding.

What Every Author Needs on Rachael Johns’s blog. Friends, that’s what!

Have fun. I did!

Six Sleeps Until Rocking Horse Hill’s Release!

Ha! That heading sounds almost poetic.

Only six sleeps until Rocking Horse Hill officially hits the shelves and one of those nights includes a visit from the Easter Bunny. Well, lots of chocolate anyway. Exciting times… or maybe that’s just the sugar high.

Now for news.

REVIEWS

They’re coming in now and they’re WONDERFUL. I’m thrilled to bits that people are loving Em and Josh’s story. Here’s what a couple have said already:

I absolutely loved Rocking Horse Hill. Aussie author Cathryn Hein has created a masterpiece with this novel, her best yet in my opinion. Her beautiful descriptions are so well done as to make it easy to feel I was there with Emily and her animals, gazing at the cypress trees, laughing at the antics of the duck, and chasing the donkeys when they escaped their enclosure, ransacking Em’s vegetable garden. A wonderful novel which I have no hesitation in recommending highly.

5 stars from Brenda on Goodreads

This is a story that will pull you in from the start the charachters are rich and add so much to the story as do the wonderful pets that Em has on the farm. Josh and Em have a lot to overcome and with a bit of danger added to the mix and Granny B meddling they will get to their HEA. This is a story of family and friendships and love lost and won again don’t miss this one.

5 stars from Helen on Goodreads

A book of charming characters from Emily, Josh and Digby to the infamous Granny B, Rocking Horse Hill is a well written story set in South Australia, that has suspense, friendship, loyalties, family relationships and second chances all put to the test for each of the characters in the book. An enjoyable read that takes the steadfastly close Wallace-Jones family through challenges and circumstances that have you on edge in so many pages. Heart wrenching moments and tension that will keep your eyes to the book. Character stories intertwine to form one big story that was a impressive read.

4 stars from Talking Books

And 5 stars from 1 Girl, 2 Many Books with a review and 2 book giveaway to come. Watch out for the link.

GIVEAWAYS

Six sleeps until release means there are only 6 days to get your Goodreads giveaway entry in. Visit Rocking Horse Hill’s Goodreads page, or click on the graphic below. Simply click the Enter To Win button and you’re in. If you’re not a Goodreads member, it’s easy to sign up. It’s a great place to talk books with others, leave reviews and recommendations, and discover new stories and authors.

Goodreads giveaway image - orange border

If you miss out on Goodreads, there’ll be more opportunities throughout the blogosphere, including tomorrow here on Friday Feast. Stay tuned for details on this blog, on my Facebook page, Google+ and Twitter via @CathrynHein.

EVENTS & APPEARANCES

Come and join me for a booksigning at BigW Katoomba on Saturday 26th April. I’ll be there from 11am for an hour or two. I’d love to see you.

Catch me and fellow rural romance author Rachael Johns for A Romantic Morning at Penrith Library, 10am, Friday May 9th. Rach and I are good buddies so this is going to be a blast.

I’m officially launching Rocking Horse Hill in my home town. Come and help me celebrate at Mount Gambier Library, 7pm Tuesday May 20th.

I’ll be chatting at Hamilton Library on Wednesday May 21st from 5-7pm. This will be a lovely evening. About time I gave a chat here. I’ve been meaning too for ages.

Join me at Balmoral Bush Nursing Centre on Thursday May 22nd at 10am. I’m so looking forward to this visit.

 BLOGS

I’ll be visiting…

18th April – Friday Feast with me, here! I’m sharing my recipe for breadmaker hot cross buns. Or uncrossed buns in this case. There may be a giveaway…

22nd April – Rachael Johns’ Blog. Learn how we became friends. There’s even an embarrassing sample of our email correspondence.

24th April – A fun Q&A on bookblogger site Book’d Out. Discover my (second) favourite scene in Rocking Horse Hill, my love of sticky notes and more.

24th April – Write Note Reviews – My view on writing what you know.

30th April – Another fun Q&A, this time with best-selling rural romance author Fiona Palmer. Discover who I’d get to play Josh in the movie of Rocking Horse Hill.

5th May – I’m revealing my writing space to Helene Young (and the world). Scary!

7th May – Join me and Pamela Cook where I discuss my reading loves. Find out what books made me laugh and those that made be bawl like a baby.

I’ll also be answering Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions – and they were! Plus in another post I’ll be revealing my 5 favourite Australian romantic novels.

 

Phew! Looks like I’m going to be one busy girl. Good thing there’ll be plenty of chocolate on hand!

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

Welcome to Friday Feast! I’m very excited about today’s guest. Not only is she a fabulous writer and gorgeous person, she’s taking us on an armchair trip to my favourite country, Italy!

First, an update from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly, because I know how much you hang on it during my beloved Sydney Swans off season. I’m beginning to believe that all the golf balls I buy are suicidal. Fiona Palmer author photoI can think of no other explanation for why they keep diving for eel ridden dams and blacksnake infested rough. Spookily, it only ever seems to happen to the brand new ones…

Enough of that. Time to say ciao bella to one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, Fiona Palmer!

Fiona is a born and bred country girl who shot to ru-ro (as we fondly call it) stardom with The Family Farm, following that huge success up with Heart of Gold, The Road Home and The Sunburnt Country. All best-sellers and complete heart-warmers. Now Fiona has another story for your rural library, and this is being touted as her best yet. Take a look at The Outback Heart.

 

THE OUTBACK HEART

 

The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerIndianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.

He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?

As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.

The most heartfelt and moving novel yet from favourite Australian rural romance writer and bestselling author of The Family Farm.

 

Footy, love and the outback, how can you resist? Hie thee down to your nearest bookstore or get that mouse a-clicking. Signed copies of all Fiona’s books are available now from her website, and between now and Christmas Fiona will throw in a stubbie holder with every purchase. Otherwise, for the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, direct from Penguin Australia, your local independent bookshop or nearest chainstore. For the ebook visit Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks or JB Hi-Fi.

Now enjoy your Italian holiday.

 

Pizza Passion

 

Thanks to my mate Cathryn for having me, I love her Friday Feasts. Today I thought I’d talk about Pizza. (An all time favourite of mine because its easy and my kids eat it!!) This is funny because I hadn’t eaten a Pizza Hut pizza until I was 18. We ate plenty of frozen McCain’s pizzas growing up but I’d never had a fresh made one. I was living in Perth and had part time work (while at College) at the Peppy Grove Pizza Hut and that was the first time I’d ever eaten one, especially hot out of the oven. Then I couldn’t understand why I’d never eaten one sooner.

Anyway the reason I’ve gone with Pizza for this Friday Feast is because I just recently went to Italy for 3 weeks on a ‘research’ tip for my next book. And I ate pizza. I didn’t go over board while there, I shared it around with the pastas and we cooked for ourselves for 11 nights while in Montone (a small village in Umbria) and we had lots of salads. (Must even up the carb/veg ratio)

But as I was looking back through my photo’s for a ‘Pizza’ pic I was quite shocked to see how many photo’s I had of me eating pizza! Crikey, it makes it look like that’s all I ate!

One thing I realised is that the pasta and pizza’s are really simple in Italy. They are not full of other ingredients. We make pizza’s or pasta at home and have heaps of vegies and herbs in them, in Italy its simple. In Pompeii we had a pasta dish which just looked like pasta with a tin of crushed tomatoes in it and a basil leaf on top.

But you know what? It was soooo tasty. We think it must be the delicious tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils. Maybe we put too much ‘stuff’ in our dishes? I do tend to load my homemade pizzas with every topping possible to make sure I’m getting plenty of vegies lol

Fiona Palmer aunt and cousin eating pizza in Florence

So here we are eating pizza in the street in Florence. We’d caught up with my cousin who just happened to be in Italy on her trip at the same time as us. My Aunty Lorna and I were the Pizza testers. I never pizza’ed alone. (We did wonder if we’d have to attend a Pizza Anonymous group when we got back!)

Fiona Palmer eating pizza in Gubbio

This is yours truly pigging out on a yum slice of pizza in Gubbio. (An amazing Medieval town not far from where we were staying in Montone. We actually found this place by accident. A wrong turn somewhere landed us here. Much to our delight!)

A pizza meal Fiona Palmer enjoyed in Perugia

When we visited Perugia (another town south of Montone) we went to this little restaurant which was down a little alleyway. It was gorgeous with round exposed rock ceiling. And it seemed small but as you kept walking you came to other little eating areas. Just to note, my Aunty and I couldn’t finish these ones but took the rest home to eat later. 🙂

A pizza meal at Brancaleone, a bar and restaurant in Rome

When we were in Rome, we found a fantastic ristorante/pizzeria right behind our hotel. Sadly we wished we had found it two days earlier!! But we went there so often that we felt like locals and the managers were so lovely. Even their little girl was gorgeous.  They had a big pizza oven and the size of our pizza’s were huge. But the nice thin base made it possible to eat the whole lot! One night we had something different (see I didn’t always eat pizza) and they brought us one of the pizza bases which had been coated in oil, sea salt and sprinkled with rosemary. OMG it was delicious and perfect with our meal. They also served their own fresh cooked potato chips while we waited. Brancaleone the place was called. Loved it. I won’t mention the yummo choc cake we had too.

So that was a snippet of my time in Italy. I have since tried making a few of the things we had over there like the basic oil, sea salt & rosemary pizza base. Goes great as a side to salad. 🙂

 

Sigh. My jealousy of you right now, dear Fiona, is ENORMOUS! Italy is such a wonderful place. Gorgeous people, beautiful scenery and language, all that history and art, and the food! Simple and delicious.

Now, Feasters, we have a giveaway, Simply share your favourite pizza topping in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Outback Heart. Easy!

So… are you a traditionalist, and prefer a good old Margherita? Or maybe you’re a modernist and enjoy exotica like tandoori chicken or roast pumpkin, fetta and chorizo? I’ll admit to the youthful indiscretion of loving pineapple on my pizza but now I’m a Margherita girl through and through, although I did once have a wonderful pizza made with tiny slivers of potato, garlic and herbs that I’d be happy to scoff again. So what’s your preferred topping? Reveal and you could win!

Entries close midnight Tuesday, AEST, 19th November 2013. Australian postal addresses only please.

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Melissa who has won a signed copy of The Outback Heart. Thanks to all who took part. I hope you’ll join in the fun again.

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Sex and the Rural Romance Author

Got your attention? Good, because this is serious stuff!

There was an interesting article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers recently about ‘heat’ ratings in romance novels, which prompted me to ponder sex in our home-grown rural romances and what reader expectations might be on that front.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein coverI have no idea, and that bothers me because I’m all for fulfilling my readers’ expectations, but I’ve had no feedback or seen any comment about the sex in my books at all. The explicitness has varied with each release, so what then do readers prefer?

For me it all depends on the characters. Callie and Matt in Heartland, being the people that they are, seemed to suit spontaneous, rompy sex and I had a hell lot of fun writing those scenes.

Matt stumbled his way to the single bed until they fell in a tangle of sweaty arms and legs amid creaking springs and laughter. Callie’s shorts winged across the room, following his cargo pants, the last of her underwear sling-shotting after them. Callie laughed as Matt’s jocks caught on his springy cock, enjoying his hungry, almost pained expression as she levered him out and tugged them over his hips and down his legs. Grinning, she twirled the jocks around her finger before flinging them toward the wardrobe.

I would have felt awkward doing the same for Sophie and Aaron in Promises because they were quite sweet characters, while describing the bedroom antics of my 2014 release Rocking Horse Hill’s privileged heroine would have made me feel like a dirty perv. She’s definitely not the sort of person who would appreciate others being privy to her private life (although, given Rocking Horse Hill’s sexpot hero, I bet she has an amazing time in the bedroom).

So I asked a couple of rural romance buddies how they decide how explicit to be with their sex scenes…

 

Fiona Palmer, best-selling author of The Family Farm, The Sunburnt Country and other great rural reads is of similar opinion to me:

Cathryn, I agree that it is up to the characters. In one of my books it happens on the back of a ute and in another book the sex scene called for a more soft gentle approach.  The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerSo I go with what I feel, what I think the characters would do and see where it leads. I do love good sexual tension in books and so I like a little sneak peek of when they get to finally act on this tension. I personally enjoy the hot parts, but it doesn’t sway my like or dislike of a book if it has hot sex or not. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes just the touch of a hand can mean so much more.

I haven’t heard back from any readers saying they didn’t enjoy the sex scenes in my books. (In fact I have the blokes asking for more!) So I will just keep going based on what I think the characters need and want.  Here is a snippet from my latest book The Outback Heart and this paragraph is the raunchiest of the whole sex scene.

‘Amazing.’ Troy’s gaze swept across her breasts as she arched her back, waiting for his touch. A shaky hand caressed her soft skin, his thumb flicking over an already hard nipple. Indi tightened her legs around his waist as he bent to taste one bud, before moving to the next, his tongue flicking and teasing. His hand went down to where she was hot and moist. Indi dug her fingers into his shoulders as a moan fell from her lips.

 

Rachael Johns, best-seller and Australian Romance Reader Award winner expands on the sex depends on character theme:

I consider my rural books very much romance books and therefore exploring the chemistry between the main characters is a must for me. But how heated and graphic that exploration is really does depend on the hero and heroine in each book.

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsThings such as whether the characters have just met play a factor and also their previous relationship experiences. In my first book Jilted, Ellie and Flynn were high school sweethearts and the attraction between them was always spicy but at the beginning of the book they are trying to fight it because of the hurt they both carry.  In Man Drought, Imogen and Gibson experience instant attraction but they both have reasons to steer clear of the opposite sex, however each interaction between them gets hotter and hotter till it blows up in his ute on the side of the road. That might be my sauciest rural romance scene.

If I know my characters well, I find the sex scenes almost write themselves. In Outback Dreams, my latest release, Faith and Monty have been best friends forever but have only just realized they also find each other attractive, so their first sex scene had a different tone again.

Her smile gave her consent and within seconds they were tumbling backwards, pausing only to tear up the zip on the tent, before collapsing on top of their waiting swags. She couldn’t tell who hit the ground first but they both reached for each other, tearing at each other’s clothing like hungry beasts. In complete darkness and with no method to their madness they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so Faith pulled back and took care of her own clothes. Monty did the same and when he reached for her again, she felt his warm, naked flesh against hers.

A moan of approval slipped from her lips.

Damn the dark. She willed her eyes to adjust so she could look her fill at the specimen beside her.

And then he was touching her. He pulled her towards him, tugged a blanket over the top of them and smoothed her hair. ‘You okay?’

Okay? Words could not do justice to her level of okay-ness. Why had they never gone here before? ‘Yes.’

I like reading about the sex between two people who are in love or at least on the road to falling in love, and so I like to give a glimpse of this to my readers as well. However, I don’t get too graphic with my sex scenes as I believe it is the emotional not the physical side of a love scene that is most important.

 

Karly Lane, best-selling author of North Star, Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice is also mindful of her readers:

I’ve noticed a steady increase in what my editor and publisher expect in my books. In North Star I was asked to trim a lot of the scenes, but in Morgan’s Law I was asked to show the readers more!Bridie's Choice by Karly Lane I think publishers are aware of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey epidemic and that women’s fiction is undergoing a shake up at the moment, and so they’re willing to stretch the boundaries a little more than they may once have.

I personally, write what suits my plot and characters. I won’t write an explicit love scene just to keep up with a current trend. I had a reader who told me she allowed her young teenage daughter to read my books because she knew they weren’t too overly explicit. I’m very conscious of what my readers like which is why I won’t be jumping on the mommy porn band wagon just for the sake of it.

This quote from Bridie’s Choice gives a good example of Karly’s boundaries.

She heard him groan softly next to her ear, and she urged him onto his back, following him down until she straddled him. His surprised chuckle soon faded and was replaced with an intense look as he cupped her face in his hands, holding her gaze silently for a long moment. The depth of feeling in that one shared look made Bridie quiver with a mixture of emotion and lust. Leaning forward, she kissed him, pouring into the kiss the feelings she knew she couldn’t voice.

His hands slipped to her waist, holding her firmly as she began to move slowly against him. The gentle moans of their mutual need drifted away on the breeze above them.

 

Mandy Magro, best-selling author of Rosalee Station, Jacaranda and Flame Tree Hill has a different take:

I like to leave the bedroom door wide open, in ALL my novels. Driftwood 3Actually, I love to take my characters out of the bedroom to make it even steamier 🙂 When two people fall in love, the most intimate way to show this is through love making, be it slow and sensual or hungry, hot and steamy. I love writing these scenes and will endeavour to include them in each and every one of my future novels.

Mandy demonstrates just how steamy with this excerpt from her November 1st release, Driftwood.

Taylor panted as she reached out and gripped the sides of the rock, her hips arching into Jay’s lusciously warm mouth, his tongue and lips seducing her into seventh heaven. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as she teetered on the edge, her entire body quivering. How could a man send her into a sexual trance so beyond the normal realm she felt as though she was floating into an abyss? Finally, succumbing to his enchanting mouth, she toppled over the edge of self-control and screamed out his name, pulsating against his ravishing tongue as she climaxed to the point of breathlessness, every centimetre of her shuddering.

So, dear readers, what do you prefer? Well described sex or more teasing hints? The door open or closed? Do you need sex to complete the romance side of the story? Or does it depend on the characters or plot?

Comment away! Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to know more about Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and their books, or wish to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you’ll find all the links on their websites. Just click a name below to discover more.

Fiona Palmer

Rachael Johns

Karly Lane

Mandy Magro

Cathryn Hein

 

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Riding a Post RWA Conference High!

I’m home and back on the writing job after a week away in Western Australia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia Riding the Waves conference. What a ball was had! Romance writers are the kindest, friendliest and most generous people out there which makes conferences a hoot. They’re also hugely inspirational, loaded with wonderful craft and business information, and a fantastic way to connect with people who understand exactly how crazy this writing affliction can be. I always return from conferences more than a little bit excited and ready for action, which is just as well considering I have edits coming and a new book to write. This lark can’t all be flitting around Australia, hanging with glamorous authors…

I had hoped to share a pile of glossy, vibrant photos with you, but some numpty managed to upset the camera settings and half of them came out blurred. Sigh. Fortunately a few survived that I can present for your viewing pleasure.

Oh, and so you’re warned, this post is LONG!

Opening night on Thursday was Destiny Romance’s first birthday and, boy, was it loud. Plonk a hundred or so romance writers in a room, feed them cupcakes and bubbly, and you have a racket on your hands. But what a fun night, and what a delight to receive a fabulous Classic Penguin goodie bag at the end of it. Mine contained Anna Cowan’s much lauded Untamed and Peta Crake’s Harbinger, both of which I was thrilled to collect. Afterwards, Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia authors were treated to dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and more chatter.

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny's fabulous first year

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny’s fabulous first year

Fab bag and even more fab reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Gorgeous bag and even more gorgeous reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Friday saw dedicated delegates attend either the Venus On The Half Shell workshop presented by Kim Hudson, or the Elizabeth Jolley Conference – Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century. Me? I snuck off and played golf at Joondalup Resort. What can I say? A girl has to wear off cupcakes, fizz and spaghetti vongole somehow, and the course was brilliant!

But I was back in time for the all-important Harlequin Nautical or Nice cocktail party. At my first RWA conference, back in 2007(?), hardly anyone dressed up. A feather boa here, a quirky outfit there, but mostly normal cocktail-conference dress. Now everyone’s into it and the atmosphere is fantastically silly.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

???????????????????????????????

Ondine series author Ebony McKenna. You can show me to my berth anytime, Ebs!

Paula Roe as the world's most glittery desert island!

Paula Roe as the world’s most glittery desert island!

Rural romance author and good buddy looking super cute in her onesie!

Rural romance author and good buddy Rachael Johns looking super cute in her onesie!

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Saturday morning saw the conference proper begin. Julia Quinn’s keynote address of her top 4 list of top 4 lists was wonderful and if there’s one thing I’ll forever remember from Riding the Waves it’s her saying: You will never hurt your career by helping another author. Yeah.

Harlequin’s sponsor address followed with Margaret Marbury (Vice President, Harlequin Single Title – HQN, Mira, Luna) and Sheila Hodgson (Harlequin Mills and Boon, London) talking enthusiastically about eHarlequin, their range of imprints, and what Harlequin can offer authors.

Paths to Third Party Publication saw Abby Zidle (Simon & Schuster, New York), Nina Bruhns (Entangled Publishing), Sheila Hodgson, Bernadette Foley (Hachette Australia), Kate Cuthbert (Escape Publishing), Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press), and moderator Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing Services) take the stage to discuss how to submit to publishers and what they’re looking for. My impression was that they were all hungry for your work. Really hungry, and throughout the panel I kept thinking what a great time it was to be an author. We are wanted, no longer beholden and we have options. A lot of options.

Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

L to R: Alex Adsett (moderating), Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

Morning tea: bacon and egg muffins and pastries. Enough said!

For my first breakout session I did Nina Bruhns’s session on Save the Cat! which I loved. She talked about the 10 types of movies (fascinating stuff), loglines and why you need them, and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheets for plotting. Really useful stuff and some of the worksheets are available on Blake’s website under the Tools tab. Quite a few writers I know swear by his Save the Cat! book and after the amount I got out of this session I’ve decided to join the crowd and have just ordered it.

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

I loved Nina’s “when you’re stuck” tip, which I’ve heard a few times before but it never hurts to hear these things again. If you’ve come to a standstill, make a list of 10, 20 or more different things that could happen in your book. Be outrageous, take the editor off your shoulder and just brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if they’re clichéd or unrealistic, write them down. The more you list the more likely you are to come up with something fresh and unexpected to brighten and intrigue your reader. I’m testing this right now as I broaden the plot outline of my next rural romance and have already come up with a couple of good ideas.

For breakout session two I moderated the Shark In Your Story panel (which for some daft reason I couldn’t stop thinking of as the Jump The Shark panel) with Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and Bronwyn Parry. As you’d expect from ladies so highly acclaimed for their romantic suspense novels, the panel was full of fascinating titbits, especially when it came to crafting great villains (Shannon likes to get her freak on; Bronwyn tends to get her ideas for villains from the news). I wish it had gone on longer but there was lunch and more chattering to be had!

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

For breakout three, I joined best-selling historical romance author Anne Gracie and a round table of published authors to discuss business. Again, I wish we had longer because I feel like we barely skimmed the surface, especially when it came to rights and contracts. These are issues authors can never know enough about. Maybe next year in Sydney, when author day returns, we’ll get to talk about the business side of writing a bit more.

Thanks to the Australian Romance Readers Association we had another authorfest on Saturday afternoon with an ARRA booksigning event. 50+ authors seated in the one room with their books for sale and pens poised for signings.  Not quite as loud as the Destiny Party, but close! I sat between paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin and best-selling author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots (and others) Loretta Hill. Kylie’s books sold like crazy which was delightful to see, and I was seriously chuffed to do a few signings myself. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that thrill. It’s something very special.

All action at the ARRA booksigning

All action at the ARRA booksigning

Amy Andrews came prepared...

Amy Andrews came prepared…

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona MacArthur only needed her charming self.

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona McArthur only needed her charming self.

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Me!

Me!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Oof, those romantic suspense types... Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Oof, those romantic suspense types… Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin.

Kylie Griffin. There weren’t many of those books left by the end.

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener. I was thrilled to score Michelle Diener’s kindly donated raffle prize, complete with pretty bookmarks, and look forward to sinking my nose into her stories.

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Then it was out for dinner and a frock up before returning to the Esplanade Hotel for dessert and the RWA’s Awards Gala, where there was much applauding and cheering for our contest and RuBY winners, and where I was delighted to see Bronwyn Jameson awarded life membership of the RWA. So well deserved. Then we had… dancing! I tell you, these romance girls (and boys) know how to rock on.

A glamorous night awaits!

A glamorous night awaits…

...with desserts. Lots of desserts!

…with desserts. Lots of desserts!

The rural romance girls!

The rural romance girls.

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Harlequin Sexy author and hot sheik expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Harlequin Sexy and Presents author and hot sheikh expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Me and Fiona McArthur

Me and Fiona McArthur

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel's bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel’s bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews…

...Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

…Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

Sunday morning. Ahh, yes, a few bleary eyes can be seen, but all in good cause: ie fun. Harlequin’s second sponsor address followed and my heart was all a-flutter at Kate Cuthbert’s news that Escape’s Australian-set rural romances are doing well in the US. Could this be the start of an Aussie invasion? I hope so!

Then the scary Submission Island panel with Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency), Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum (PanMacmillan/Momentum) and Alex Adsett. Manuscript openings were read out and the panel held up STOP signs when they’d heard enough. Wow. Just… wow. If you ever needed a show of how hard it is to hook an editor or agent then this is it. But what also sank in for me was how subjective opinions are when it comes to manuscripts. Some panellists dropped out early, others hung on to the last. Sometimes there was a point where a few would be put off by the same sentence or paragraph and cards would flip up all at once. Overall, it was a insightful demonstration of how authors not only have to have thick skins, but tenacity too. Keep trying. Just because one or two agents or editors don’t like your work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who’d love it.

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

I did Anne Gracie’s The Power of Detail for my first Sunday breakout session and enjoyed it immensely. Anne is a passionate speaker, with a real knack for getting information across in a way that resonates, and I walked away with excellent tips on how to bring the particular and every person together in my writing.

For the post lunch breakout I attended the self publishing panel with Cathleen Ross, Nina Bruhns and Kandy Shepherd. As with all the other panels, this contained more gems of insight from highly experienced authors, from the importance of meta-data, to advertising, to making sure that your books look as professional as traditionally published editions, and beyond. Given the attendance and range of questions, I suspect there’ll be even more on self-publishing at next year’s conference.

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

My last session was a free-for-all chat with Julia Quinn where delegates could ask her anything. I was so pleased to hear she was an edit-as-you-go writer too, because that’s how I work and I can’t help feeling that it somehow lets me down productivity wise. Doesn’t look like it’s hurt Julia!

Those that attended the Navigating the Choppy Waters of Online Reviews panel with Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), Kat Mayo (Bookthingo and Booktopia) and Kate Cuthbert said that was worth attending too, offering plenty of cautionary advice about social networking and online communities.

We closed the conference with plenary addresses from Kim Hudson and Sarah Wendell, more raffles (I won something, rah!), the announcement of next year’s conference venue (Romance Rocks at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, double rah!) and Anne Gracie’s now traditional stand-ups where we celebrate all our achievements for the year (rah, rah, rah!).

After that, it was back to the bar for more chatter, a few drinks and farewells.

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

To the Riding the Waves conference committee and the RWA, I say thank you and bravo. Wonderful, wonderful conference and I can’t wait to do it again next year. So much so I’ve even put my hand up to help.

So now I’m home, furiously plotting when all I really want to do is soak up the glorious weather we’re having and snuggle down on the patio with a book from my RWA haul. But where-oh-where is a girl to start when she has all these beauties on offer?

Books