Tag Archives: Keziah Hill

THIS WRITING LIFE: GenreCon 2013

Ahh, Brissy, what a warm and friendly city. And made even better by the staging a few weekends ago of GenreCon, the conference designed for that most excellent of authorly species, Genre Writers. I’ve been a quite a few Romance Writers of Australia conferences now and GenreCon was a lot like one of those, except it had men. A lively, lovely lot of them too. It also had, thanks to the irrepressible Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services, karaoke, an event from which my voice didn’t recover for a week. A week of gravel-throat and I didn’t even get to sing Dancing Queen or Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Although I did get hear editor and writer Patrick O’Duffy do the most amazing deep-voiced version of Total Eclipse of the Heart imaginable.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

 

Friday: The Start of Sleep Deprivation

 

Before karaoke and the conference proper, there was lunch on Friday at GOMA Restaurant with romance authors Amy Andrews, Anna Campbell, Keziah Hill, Rachael Johns, Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young and myself where much prosecco was drunk, rabbit terrines savoured, desserts drooled over, and happy birthday and Frocktober ditties sung. There may have also been unsubtle mention of the Penis Beaker Debate and He of the Mighty Wang (Amy Andrews’s fault). Personally, I think we added a nice splash of colour and noise to the restaurant although I’m not sure the staff would agree, but at least they were good sports about our rowdiness.

GOMA lunch ladies, left to right: Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Rachael Johns, me, Bronwyn Parry, Keziah Hill and Amy Andrews

L to R: Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Rachael Johns, me,  birthday girl Bronwyn Parry, Keziah Hill and Amy Andrews

Friday night was the opening night reception on the State Library of Queensland’s aptly named Queensland Terrace. Fantastic venue, partially open to the sub-tropical air and a great area in which to mingle, sip wine and eat naughty things.

Anne Gracie and Alex Adsett

Best-selling Regency romance author Anne Gracie and Alex Adsett

Anna Campbell, Lea Scott and Sandy Curtis

Regency romance superstar Anna Campbell with crime and thriller authors Lea Scott and Sandy Curtis

Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock

Good buddy and fellow rural romance author Rachael Johns with women’s fiction author and lovely lady Dianne Blacklock. Best-selling babes!

Amy Andrews and Sandy Curtis

Romance author Amy Andrews (and Penis Beaker Debate enabler) with Sandy Curtis

This was followed by a trek back to the bar at Rydges South Bank, the official conference hotel, then cabs into town to Fat Louie’s for some karaoke where so much silliness was had that this may become tradition. I hope so, although if next time anyone tries to make me sing Summer of ’69 again there will be reckoning…

Chuck Wendig in full karaoke throttle

Author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig in full karaoke throttle. I have no idea what he was singing but by that time of night I’m not sure anyone did!

Saturday: Brain Awakenings

 

Saturday opened with the Power of Genre Fiction, featuring speeches by Anne Gracie, Kathryn Fox and John Birmingham to well and truly put us in the mood. I then attended Rule of Knowledge author Scott Baker’s Worth A Thousand Words workshop which I found brilliant. Scott has spent the last year working with Peter Jackson on the Hobbit films and was also a consultant in the film industry as well as lecturing at the Australian National University in digital video. How well he knows his stuff was shown in the booktrailers he made which are nothing like I’ve ever seen and, quite frankly, amazing.

Scott Baker

Rule of Knowledge author and booktrailer guru Scott Baker

In fact, this was such an interesting session that I’m considering writing a separate post on it, so stay tuned! After lunch I attended the Writing Fast workshop with Anne Gracie, Charlotte Nash and Anita Heiss, hosted by Denise Rossetti. Thank goodness for Anne making me feel semi-normal over my painful writing process, because Charlotte Nash’s super speedy production levels just left me feeling completely inadequate and even more depressed about my output. But you know what? We all have our processes. I’m slow and horribly pedantic, but I get there in the end. Time to stop beating myself up about it.

Denise Rossetti and Charlotte Nash

Award winning erotic romance author Denise Rossetti and Ryders Ridge author Charlotte Nash

Writing Fast was followed by What Writers Get Wrong with Helene Young, Kathryn Fox and Deborah Burrows. My take away from this was that if you don’t know something, then ask. People tend to be fascinated by this strange writing business and are usually delighted to help.

Helene Young

Award-winning romantic suspense author Helene Young, looking lovely as usual.

John Connolly In Conversation was the last Saturday session and it was funny and fascinating, with the auditorium completely charmed and engaged. One point John made that struck me enough to write down was: In genre fiction, it’s the characters the readers care about, and authors can and do make a living off this affection and investment in character. An important thing to remember when writing.

John Connolly in conversation

Internationally best-selling Irish author John Connolly in conversation

Dinner at Rydges was a great night with crackup author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig entertaining the crowd with his 25 Reasons Why I F**king Love Genre Fiction followed by a Q&A with Escape Publishing’s Kate Cuthbert. And then, surprise-surprise, another, even later night gasbagging in the bar.

Listening to Chuck Wendig

Some of the rapt dinner crowd listening to Chuck Wendig

 

Sunday: Can We Do It Again?

 

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services and karaoke organiser

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services and karaoke organiser

Sunday’s Plenery Session was The Future of Genre Fiction, featuring agent and contract lawyer Alex Adsett, Leanpub’s Peter Armstrong, and author and academic Anita Heiss. Alex, seemingly unharmed and in good voice despite Friday night’s  karaoke-ing, gave a great overview of industry changes (including a handy tip about reversion clauses on print rights with digital deals), while Anita’s discussion about targetting her audience was equally thought-provoking.

Anita Heiss

Author and academic Anita Heiss

Peter Armstrong of Leanpub

Peter Armstrong of Leanpub

But it was Peter’s rundown of the history of genre fiction and serialisation which had my mind a-spinning and triggered an excellent discussion with good buddy and GenreCon roomie Rachael Johns as we headed back to the hotel to check out, and which so caught us up that we missed the next workshop. A bummer because by all accounts Beyond Rippling Muscles and Uzi 9mms was a hoot.

Amy Andrews, Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock looking mighty fine for a Sunday lunchtime.

Amy Andrews, Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock looking mighty fine for a Sunday lunchtime.

Post another excellent lunch (the food was fabulous at GenreCon!) I attended the Thinking Like A Pro workshop with John Connolly, Valerie Parv and Keri Arthur, followed by Know Thine Enemy with Chuck Wendig, PM Newton and Kathryn Fox. The fact that I stayed awake throughout both after an extremely late night proves how entertaining they were.

Thinking Like A Pro Workshop. L to R: Aimee Lindorff (Chair), Keri Arthur. John Connolly and Valerie Parv

Thinking Like A Pro Workshop. L to R: Aimee Lindorff (Chair), New York Times best-selling paranormal and urban fantasy author Keri Arthur, John Connolly and romance queen Valerie Parv

The Great Debate: Genre Just Wants To Have Fun was a blast. John Birmingham opened strongly with a story about a certain literary author’s pillow problems that had everyone laughing, only to be neatly countered by Anne Gracie with her “Paris” jibe.

And a new nickname is born: Anne Gracie giving John Birmingham her "Paris" dig

And a new nickname is born: Anne Gracie giving John Birmingham her “Paris” dig

Lindy Cameron and Dianne Blacklock (gorgeous lady!) put in sterling efforts but the negative side, with their brilliant goblin story and Scott Baker’s clever revisioning of The Raven, were just too strong. And so it was proven that genre doesn’t just want to have fun. Which could be said for all GenreCon attendees, I think. We had fling your arms in the air and sing it out, loud and proud fun, certainly. We had karaoke, great food, met lovely old friends and made gorgeous new ones, but thanks to a fantastic program, excellent speakers and plenty of opportunity to network, we also learned an enormous amount. And for that I can’t thank Peter Ball, Meg Vann and their team of ninjas enough.

A wonderful conference. I’ll be back in 2015 with bells on.

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Keziah Hill

We’re getting sexy again here on Friday Feast and why not? Everyone else seems to be humming the Fifty Shades of Grey tune. How many millions sold are we up to now? And yes, if you’re wondering, I’m jealous. In the nicest possible way, of course. But if you could all be off buying my books like that I’d be very appreciative!

Oof, enough of my fantasies. It’s time to introduce Australian erotica author and jolly nice person Keziah Hill. Keziah lives in the beautiful Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and when she’s not admiring the glorious scenery, she writes erotica such as the deliciously titled Children of Aphrodite, Desire’s Dream, plus several others. She also runs an excellent series of author interviews on her blog called Life Bytes that are great fun and well worth checking out.

Keziah’s  also sharing something rather sensuous and gooey today but  first let’s take a look at her latest release!

CHAINS OF REVENGE

 

Lissa, Princess of Horvald, loved and lost her slave in chains ten long years ago. Then she was spoiled and selfish, thinking she could bend a warrior of Catiscal to her will. But time and adversity has changed her into a leader, prepared to give herself to the Warlord Death in order to save her people.

Will he accept her sacrifice? Or will his need for revenge blind him to the insidious chains of love wrapping around him? Chains even a powerful Warlord can’t resist. Or can he?

 

 

Ooh la la! Who needs Fifty Shades of anything when you have Chains of Revenge? And, like Keziah’s other titles, it’s available for immediate download from Kindle and Smashwords. So go get ‘em!

All set? Excellent. Now you may have your drool-worthy reward!

 

Resistance Is Useless

This weekend just past I attended a friend’s fiftieth birthday party out in the Central West of NSW. It was a twenty-first century and Australian version of a weekend in the country. Much the same as Regency house parties, a large number of people descended upon the hosts and a series of meals with much tea drinking occurred, followed by a huge ball. In this case throw in a Bollywood themed dress code and a half finished straw bale house surrounded by mud and you get the idea. We all had a fabulous time, particularly when the band started playing baby-boomer covers. (“Rhiaaaaaannon…..” my arthritic back is still recovering and I hope no one took a picture.)

The pièce de résistance was the birthday cake. My God. The best cake I’ve ever tasted. A three tiered flourless chocolate and hazelnut cake with rosewater butter icing and a pattern of a lotus on the top. Such a work of art the candles couldn’t possibly desecrate its magnificence.

It reminded me of a much more low key but wonderful cake my sister used to bake a lot in days gone by. I make it too but haven’t for a long time. After this weekend it’s back on the menu.

Like a lot of families in the 1970s, we experienced a French revolution as Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking appeared in paperback on Australian shelves. My mother’s culinary skills took off.  Chops and three veg were replaced by coq au vin and this cake. Reine de Saba. The Queen of Sheba.

My mother loved Julia so much she bought copies of MTAOFC for all of us when we left home. I still have my browned and stained two volumes.

Reine de Saba is a chocolate and almond cake, but we didn’t care for the almond meal and substituted hazelnut meal. We also didn’t much like coffee and rum, preferring brandy. But you could use what you like. My sister used to double the amount and make a big cake that was soft and pudding like in the middle. We also didn’t bother with the icing and just dusted with icing sugar and served with cream.

Reine de Saba

(measurements in Imperial sorry! Here is a site to do conversions)

Preheat oven to 350F

8 inch round cake tin 1 ½ inches deep

4 oz plain chocolate

2 tbls of rum or coffee or brandy (hey, you could have all three, it’s your cake!)

¼ pound softened butter

¼ lb castor sugar

3 egg yolks

3 eggs whites

1 tbls of castor sugar

2 oz of pulverized almonds (I substitute hazelnut meal)

¼ tsp almond extract (I don’t use this at all)

2 oz of sifted plain flour.

Butter and flour the cake tin. Melt the chocolate over very hot water with your preferred coffee/rum/brandy. Cream the butter and sugar together until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

Separate 3 eggs. Beat the egg yolks into the butter and sugar mixture until well blended.

Then beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form, sprinkle on the tablespoon of castor sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. (I have no patience with beating egg whites – when any kind of peaks form I judge them done and I don’t add sugar).

Use a rubber spatula to blend the melted chocolate into the butter, egg and sugar mixture, then stir in the almond or hazelnut meal. Fold in one quarter of the egg whites. When partially blended, sift in one quarter of the flour and continue folding, alternating with more egg whites and more flour until all is used.

Turn the mixture into the cake tin. Bake in the middle of a preheated oven for about 25 minutes. The cake is done when it has set so that a needle comes out clean on the outside 2-3 inches but comes out oily in the centre. The centre should be a little like a pudding.

Allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes then turn in out on a cake rack. It must be thoroughly cold before it is iced. As I said, I don’t use icing for this cake but if you want to, here is Julia’s recipe for Claçage au Chocolat.

2 oz of plain chocolate

1 tbls of rum or coffee or brandy

2 oz unsalted butter

A bowl of cold water

Small saucepan set over very hot water.

Stir the chocolate and rum/coffee/brandy in the saucepan over the hot water until the chocolate has melted into a very smooth cream. Remove the saucepan from the hot water and beat the butter into the chocolate a tablespoon at a time. Then beat over cold water until the chocolate mixture is cool and of spreading consistency. At once spread it over your cake with a spatula or knife.

Julia says to decorate with almonds, but I think some fresh raspberries would be fab.

 

GROAN. As if I need any more gooey chocolatey goodness. Oh, hang on, given the way I’ve been working my bum off (or on, in this case) at this computer trying to finish my next book, I jolly-well do! Anyway, what’s life without out sexiness and chocolate? Rather boring I should think.

Now, my Feasty lovelies, you saw the tweaks Keziah made to Julia’s recipe – and what a brilliant tweak it is, I must add. Hazelnut meal is deeee-licious. So…curious minds wish to know…

What tried and true recipe have you altered to suit yourself? What corners have you cut that worked out just fine?

We’d love to hear what you’ve done. Cooking is like writing. Always something to learn!

Speaking of learning, if you’d like to discover more about Keziah and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter.