Tag Archives: Rachael Johns

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 Rachael Johns

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Greetings my little Feasty elves, and welcome to the penultimate edition of Friday Feast for 2014. Yes, only one more to go before we take our annual break, but what delights we have for you! This week, everyone’s favourite rural romance author, a super tart and a book snippet you will adore.

But first, Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news… My putter is broken. It  looks perfectly intact but clearly it has developed a major fault because it refuses to tap balls into holes. I think Santa should bring me a new one for Christmas. One of those flash custom-made Scotty Cameron ones. In Sydney Swans colours. That’ll solve it, surely…

Author Rachael JohnsNow to my delicious guest, rural romance star and good buddy Rachael Johns. Rach, as you all know, has this year been delighting readers with the latest in her Bunyip Bay series Outback Ghost, but did you know she also has some fabulous novellas out? The first in the Wildwood Point series was The Kissing Season but now there’s a follow up, and just in time for Christmas too.

Check out…

THE NEXT SEASON

The Next Season by Rachael JohnsSometimes going home is the hardest thing you can do… and sometimes the hardest thing turns out to be the best.

When Zoe Bennett’s boyfriend cheats on her, leaving her homeless, jobless and practically broke, she returns to the only place she’s ever felt safe and at home – Wildwood Point.  She hopes to heal her heart and find a job to get herself back on her feet – but she has forgotten how small Wildwood Point is.

Until a couple of months ago Shaun Elliot’s life was sweet – a job he loved and big plans for the future. Until, that is, his long-time girlfriend turned down his romantic New Year’s Eve marriage proposal in front of all their family and friends. Angry, hurt and feeling like he is the laughing stock of small town Wildwood Point, Shaun has sworn off relationships while he works out what to do with himself and his life.

The last thing he needs is to find his high school sweetheart stranded on the side of the road. She broke his heart when she left him seven years ago, but he’s never been the type to ignore someone who needs help…

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And the ebook could be yours with just a few clicks. Buy from Amazon Aus, Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks or direct from the publisher Harlequin.

All loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy a tasty time with Rach.

The Season To Be Sweet

We all know I am a massive fan of Cathryn and in awe of her marvelous cooking (and all the fab guests on Friday Feast), so whenever she asks me if I want to come on her blog and share a recipe, I tremble. But like many people, I don’t know how to say “no,” so here I am!

As Cathryn mentioned I’ve got a new novella out now called THE NEXT SEASON, and surprise surprise, this little story features a chocolate café and therefore I name a lot of lovely cakes and treats.

Here’s a little snippet from the story about one of these desserts:

‘Hi, ladies. What can I get for you?’

None of the four women at the table even glanced her way. They were engrossed in conversation.

‘I shouldn’t have come,’ said an immaculately groomed bottle-blonde before covering her face with her hands. ‘This is so awkward.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ said her red-headed, big-busted friend. ‘This is your town as much as his now and you both need to learn to live in it separately.’

The penny dropped and Zoe only just managed to cover her gasp. The blonde was Melissa? Her grip tightened on her order pad while the conversation continued before her as if she were invisible.

‘Yes, but it’s his sister’s café,’ Melissa whined. ‘Surely there are boundaries.’

Yes, girlfriend, there are. Zoe’s jaw clenched as she tapped her shoes against the floor and contemplated the things she’d like to do to Shaun’s ex. Perhaps Melissa would order a molten lava cake too and then Zoe could accidentally drop the hot dessert in her lap, leaving a nasty stain on her white skirt. She’d felt so angry when he’d told her about Melissa. Maybe she had no right to feel this way—she’d turned down his proposal once too—but that was different. They’d only been eighteen years old for crying out loud. Every one knew marriages between people so young never lasted so she’d probably done him a favour. But it sounded like this Melissa had totally strung him along. And now here she was, flaunting herself in his face. Not even the decency to keep away.

Zoe found herself turning to look at him and her heart cramped at the expression on his face. Melissa being here must be simply awful for him. She looked back to her customers and cleared her throat. ‘Are you ladies ready to place your order?’

All four heads snapped up to look at her as if they’d only just realised she were there. She smiled down tightly at them, a little shaky about being rude, but knowing—considering who sat at this table—that her boss would likely be lenient if they complained.

‘I’m sorry,’ Melissa gushed, then after another quick glance in Shaun’s direction, she asked, ‘What do you recommend?’

‘The molten lava cake,’ Zoe retorted without having to think twice. She wouldn’t really dump it in Melissa’s lap, but…

Now unfortunately I have NO idea how to cook one of those delicious-sounding creations but would love for someone to cook for me.

So, I’m going to be a little contrary and not share you a recipe that would complement the story, but rather something I experimented with a few weeks back. I’ve got very fussy eaters and so meals are usually boring and bland in our house, but every now and then I decide to surprise everyone with something different, fully expecting that no one (aside from hubby and I) will actually eat it.

The recipe I want to share today, was tweeted by my friend author Jen Tucker on Twitter a few weeks back and although I cannot find the link or what it was called, I do remember how I made it and how good it tasted. I also remembered it was easy and didn’t take long and that’s what I like in a recipe because that means more time for writing AND reading!

So here goes!! I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Maple Syrup Flan

Sweet Potato, Bacon and Maple Syrup Flan

What you’ll need:

*2 large sweet potatoes or 1 sweet potato and half a butternut pumpkin.

*olive oil

*6 rashers of bacon

*Maple syrup

*2 tablespoons caster sugar

*2 large onions

*a handful of grated cheese

*Cream to paint over pastry

*2 cups of plain flour

*145g butter

*2-3 tablespoons of iced water

What I did:

1. Chop up the potatoes and pumpkin into 1cm-ish cubes, toss in oil and then drizzle maple syrup over the top and put in a hot oven to roast until tender. I’m not going to tell you how long or give you an exact temperature, because I’m the world’s worst roaster and I’m sure most of you will do a much better job than me.

photo 1

2. While potatoes are roasting, make the short-crust pastry – I think homemade is best for this recipe and trust me, if I can make it, so can you. I used Donna Hay’s recipe, which you can find here: Donna Hay: Basic Shortcrust Pastry

3. While pastry is in the fridge (according to above recipe) and potatoes roasting, slice the onions, add a pinch of salt and cook them until tender. Take off heat and stir in sugar.

4. Slice up bacon and fry in a pan.

5. When the potatoes are roasted and the onions and bacon ready, roll out the pastry to a large round about 5mm in depth. Lay pastry in a pie flan/tin and then layer in the filling – potatoes, bacon, onion, cheese, and repeat.

6. Fold up the pastry at the edges (see picture) and then brush cream over the top.

photo 2

7. Bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes or until pastry is cooked and golden.

8. Serve warm and enjoy!

 

Oh, I will enjoy, Rach, because that sounds amazing. And we can all kid ourselves that it’s marvellously healthy because of the veg. What a win!

Hmm. I’m wondering what it’d be like with fetta… might have to test this out.

Okay, my scrumptious Feasty elves, what’s your favourite tart or flan? Are you a sweet or a savoury person? Maybe you get wobbly legs at the sight of a beautiful quiche Lorraine or perhaps a tangy lemon tart is more your go.

Me, I love a good frittata. They’re easy to make, make great leftovers or picnic food and, as long as you have eggs, you can stuff them full of whatever happens to be in your fridge. Although now that I’ve mentioned quiche Lorraine I have a terrible craving for that… In fact, I might make one for dinner.

So come along, share your tarty love. We’d love to hear all your clever suggestions!

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

Meet My Character – Teagan Bliss from The Falls

Yikes! I’m up to my neck in THE FALLS edits right now and completely forgot that Rachael Johns tagged me to a Meet The Character blog chain.

You all know Rachael, of course. She’s the best-selling author of wonderful Australian rural romances like Jilted (just released in the US!), Man Drought, Outback Dreams, Outback Blaze and her latest, Outback Ghost. Plus more!

Anyway, as I said I’m going just a little stir crazy over edits for my next rural romance as the deadline creeps closer. So, seeing as this book is front and centre in my brain right now, let’s hear about a character from THE FALLS.

1.) What is the name of your character?

Teagan Bliss. Some of you may remember her from Rocking Horse Hill as the close friend of Emily Wallace-Jones.

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

She’s pure fiction.

3.) When and where is the story set?

THE FALLS is a contemporary rural romance set in a (fictional) New South Wales village called The Falls, very close to the beautiful Blue Mountains. It’s gorgeously rolling countryside that once was farmed but is now heavily populated with hobby farms and horse properties, and rural retreats for wealthy city-dwellers. The village is tight-knit, gossipy and fat with quirky characters.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Teagan has fled her home in Levenham in South Australia after her father gambles away Pinehaven, the family farm that Teagan had put her heart, soul and life savings into.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Teagan is in a pretty bad way after the loss of the family farm. She’s desperate to escape the past but it has a rotten habit of following her around. After being betrayed by her own father, a man who was supposed to love and protect her, she finds it impossible to trust anyone. Especially sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, a man who seems to have taken serious interest in the new redhead in town…

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

To find sanctuary, both physically and mentally, where she can come to terms with the loss of her dream and, with the help of her kindhearted aunt, start a new life.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

It’s called THE FALLS. Keep an eye on the Books page of my website for more info or, better still, sign up to my newsletter at the bottom of the Home page. Subscribers get all sorts of special things, including all the news, regular giveaways and more.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

THE FALLS will hit shelves at the end of April 2015. Very exciting!

I’m now meant to tag three other authors to carry on the blog chain but as I’m running horrendously late and haven’t contacted anyone to ask if they want to play along, I’ll leave this bit blank. But if you want to continue, please feel free. I tag thee!

STOP PRESS! DB Tait will carry on the chain. Check out her blog on Thursday 30th Oct to meet her character.

THIS WRITING LIFE: Bloggy Goodness

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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!

UPCOMING EVENTS

May is such an exciting month. Not only is Rocking Horse Hill out there on the shelves, I’m getting out and about too.

Keep your diaries open for these events:

ROMANTIC WRITERS MORNING

10 am Friday 9th May, Penrith NSW.

Join me and good buddy Rachael Johns this Friday, at Penrith City Library, 601 High Street, Penrith NSW.

The event is free but you can book at the library front desk or call (02) 4732 7891

Come along if you can. This one’s going to be a blast!

BOOK LAUNCH

7pm Tuesday 20th May, Mount Gambier Library, SA.

poster

AUTHOR TALK

5pm – 7pm Wednesday 21st May, Hamilton Library, Victoria.

Cathryn Hein Flyer A4 (1)

AUTHOR TALK

10am Thursday 22nd MayBalmoral Bush Nursing Centre. Bell Street, Balmoral, Victoria.

MORNING TEA

10-30am for an 11am start, Thursday 12th June. Hawkesbury Library. Deerubbin Centre, Windsor NSW.

Come along if you can. I’d love to see you!

This Writing Life: Doing the Kermit Flail

kermitflail

Yes, this is me right now.

Why? Because today I heard that Rocking Horse Hill has gone to reprint again. That’s a whole lot of lovely horsies galloping about.

To say I’m thrilled to bits would be an understatement. I can’t thank everyone who has supported this book and spread the word enough. In the iconic words of Jeff Fenech, I love youse all!

Rocking Horse Hill is currently featured in the latest BigW and K-Mart catalogues, available in all the ebook stores like Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and JB HiFi, and from online retailers like Booktopia and Bookworld. Your local bookstore would also love to help you out with a copy.

Speaking of ebooks, my previous releases are all currently discounted so if you haven’t read Promises, Heart of the Valley or Heartland yet, now is your chance to grab an ebook bargain. Hurry though, these special prices are for a limited time only.

Last weekend I ventured up to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains for a booksigning at the new BigW store there. What a wonderful display the staff made, and everyone was really warm and welcoming. It’s such fun to get out and meet old and new readers.

BigW RHH 2.0

Speaking of meeting people, if you’re in western Sydney don’t miss A Romantic Morning with myself and Rachael Johns at Penrith Library, 10am Friday 9th May. We’ll be chatting about our inspirations and writing, and signing books. Tickets are free from the Penrith Library service desk.

I’ve also just confirmed a date for an event at Hawkesbury Library. Join me for morning tea and a chat, 10-30am for an 11am start , Thursday 12th June at the Deerubbin Centre, Windsor.

Keep your eye out for more events, including talks in western Victoria and the official book launch at Mount Gambier Library.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bottle of fizz to crack…

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!

THIS WRITING LIFE: The Writing Process Blog Chain

Are you old enough to remember chain letters? They were all the rage when I was a kid. Someone would come up with a daft pretence about creating good fortune or happiness or some other such thing, and write a (usually) naff letter to ten friends advising them they’re a recipient of all this good fortune and joy, but only if they send this letter on to ten of their acquaintances.Shocked person exclaiming: You're going to reveal what? How, in those pre-internet days, Australia Post must have loved these! Think of all those stamps that were needed, with demand growing exponentially as long as everyone kept the chain going.

I was never much of a participant. Probably sheer laziness on my part but I also thought they were pretty ridiculous.

NOT something that can be said about today’s post, which is why I’m taking part!

This is a writing process chain letter – or the modern, internet based equivalent – where writers reveal all.

Okay, so not all. But you get the picture.

My participation in this is all thanks to good buddy Rachael Johns who tagged me in her post to play along. Rachael is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a supermarket owner by day, a chronic arachnophobic, and a superstar of the rural romance genre. Her best-selling novels include Jilted, Man Drought, Outback Dreams and her Christmas novella, The Kissing Season. Keep an eye out for the second release in her Bunyip Bay series, Outback Blaze, coming May 2014!

And now onto my answers to the chain questions…

 

1) What am I working on?

My next rural romance The Falls. This one is set in a lush New South Wales valley whose idyllic facade hides a community simmering with tension. Some of it rather naughty! Lots of fun animals in this tale, including an evil cat, a couple of guinea pigs named Betty and Wilma, a dog named Goldi and an oversexed ram called Merlin. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the sexy farrier hero who bares more than a passing resemblance to a certain hunky Australian actor (makes for excellent research fun) and an emotionally battered heroine trying to find her heart again.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m a sucker for an emotionally charged romance and try to bring that to all my books. I also can’t help including animals that are characters in their own right. I know I shouldn’t anthropomorphise, but I can’t help it. It’s such a blast to have the animals getting up to all sorts of mischief and I think they also act as a great foil to the romance story.

3) Why do I write what I do?

The answer to that is pretty simple: Because I love these stories and want to read them myself.

4) How does my writing process work?

Messily.

Actually, that’s not quite true. It’s messy at the moment because I’m allowing it to be. My goal is to get basic story of The Falls written as fast as possible and then go back and fix it up. That’s not how I’ve operated for the last few books, though. When I first started out I was a complete fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants author, aka “a pantser”. But as I developed I learned to plot a lot more and concentrate very hard on the quality of writing. Unfortunately, as time went on, this search for perfection left me with an awful lot of hang-ups and my output became slower and slower. I went from taking 3 months to write a 100,000 word novel to 7 months. Finally, at the end of last year, I decided I’d had enough.

In December, while I was waiting for Rocking Horse Hill’s line and copy edits, I thought I’d try a new, just-get-the-words-down process. Thirteen days later I had a 40,000 plus word novella. I’ve NEVER had that level of output before. To be fair, I’d been brewing that story – April’s Rainbow – for a long time. Years, in fact. But the exercise proved I could write fast when I wanted. Most of all it gave me back my passion.

The experiment worked. Since January 6th I’ve polished April’s Rainbow and sent it to my agent, and written nearly 65,000 words on The Falls. Most of them pretty ugly but they’re there and editable, and that’s what matters. Because as (I believe) Nora Roberts once said, you can’t edit a blank page.

So at present, I’d call my process that of a born-again pantser. Long may it reign!

 

In the manner of all good chains, I’ve tagged the following excellent authors to keep the chain going. Check out their blogs on February 10th to read how they’ve answered the same questions.

Karly Lane

Cover of Poppy's Dilemma by Karly LaneKarly Lane lives on the beautiful Mid North Coast of NSW in Australia. A certified small town girl, she is most happy in a little town where everyone knows who your grandparents were. She writes women’s fiction – everything from romantic suspense to family sagas and life in rural Australia. Find out more about Karly and her excellent books (I’m a massive fan), including her latest release Poppy’s Dilemma, on her website.

Victoria Purman

Cover of Someone Like You by Victoria PurmanWhen Victoria Purman woke up one day and realised she’d spent most of her working life writing for other people, she decided it was finally time to tell stories of her own. Victoria is published by Harlequin Australia and is now thrilled to spend her days creating dialogue and happy-ever-afters for her imaginary characters. Her Boys of Summer series is set on the south coast of her home state of South Australia, somewhere she feels compelled to do a lot of research. Nobody But Him was released in October last year, and Someone Like You is out now. When she’s not writing, Victoria spends time with her husband, three sons, a disobedient dog, her loving, extended family and dear friends. She keeps promising to buy herself surfing lessons. Visit Victoria’s website for more.

Kris Pearson

Cover of Christmas Holiday Husband by Kris PearsonKris lives in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. She’s used this lovely city as the setting for six of her novels.  She writes hot, passionate, contemporary romances full of love and laughter. She has an advertising background and is the current membership secretary for Romance Writers of New Zealand. She writes and gardens, and these days is in business with her husband in the decor field. Check out Kris’s books and much, much more on her website.

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.

 

 

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