Tag Archives: Paula Roe

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!



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?





FRIDAY FEAST with Paula Roe

Friday, Friday tra-la-la-la-la!

It really is the best day of the week, isn’t it? Not least because I get to introduce my next Friday Feast guest. This week Harlequin Desire author Paula Roe makes a very welcome return to the blog and with good reason, too. Paula, along with five fellow Australasian authors, Yvonne Lindsay, Jan Colley, Bronwyn Jameson, Tessa Radley and Maxine Sullivan, are celebrating the re-release of Harlequin’s hugely successful Diamonds Down Under series.

Paula’s story in the series is the deliciously sexy sounding Boardrooms & a Billionaire Heir which, on its initial release, was a Borders bestseller and a 2009 Romance Writers of Australia Romance Book of the Year finalist. Understandable when a book receives reviews like this:

Oh. Wow! This fifth title in the Diamonds Down Under series does not disappoint! …a rugged and emotional ride…  James’s return to the family is an emotional story too good to miss.” Robyn Lee, Romance Reviews Today

Check it out.





“I’m a man you sleep with, not fall in love with.”

Jake Vance was danger in a designer suit, a charming corporate raider. When he set his sights on Blackstone’s, Australia’s richest diamond dealers, Holly McLeod’s primary assignment was as his assistant; her secondary was as a spy. To her amazement, she learned her dangerously sexy boss was the long-lost Blackstone heir. And then Jake did the unthinkable: To save his new company, he proposed marriage…an intimate one…to her!



Ooh la la! How’s that to get your reader juices flowing? And of course you want to buy it right now, so get a clickety-clicking.

Done? Excellent. Now here’s Paula…


Birthday Treats


One of the most awesome things about being a kid (apart from Christmas morning and having no financial debt) is the excitement of your birthday.  And seeing as mine was this past Tuesday, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and share what was on the menu when I was young.

The first party I remember throwing was in Kindy when, to my mother’s horror, I invited every child in my class.  All thirty of them.  To our tiny three-bedroom home.  Thirty screaming, sugar-hyped kids running amok.  (And yes, my mother vowed ‘never again.’)

Aside from being the lucky recipient of 30 separate presents (yessss!) the food was your typical early 70s fare.  No kids birthday party would be complete without one – or more! – of the following:

Fairy bread


Plumrose cocktail frankfurts (on toothpicks)

cubed Coon (on toothpicks)

Salt and vinegar chips

coconut ice



red frogs

Chocolate Crackles

A themed birthday cake

After about 10, I migrated to McDonalds for a few years, then when I hit 18 I requested proper dinner at a restaurant.  Chinese, Thai, Indian, even Sizzler.  This went on for quite some time, way into my twenties and thirties.  Nowadays, give me a good Thai takeaway or my favourite Crust pizza and I’m happy!  There’s only one stipulation – NO store-bought cake: it has to be made from scratch every time.

So what food do you remember from your childhood birthdays?  What did you love?  Or hate?  Make a comment and you could win a copy my latest release, book 2 in the Diamonds Down Under rerelease from Mills & Boon Australia.


Ahh, over-sugared kids’ parties. Now that brings back memories. Definitely honey joys and chocolate crackles, and bags of lollies to take home afterwards. They weren’t sweet, but I used to also love that pizza bread type stuff. Not sure how they were made but they were a kind of grilled cheesy-toasty thing, cut into soldiers. Oh, and themed birthday cakes! They were the best. My absolute favourite was the one I had which had a Cindy-type doll plonked in the centre of a beautifully decorated cake skirt. Sigh. Loved that.

Anyway Feasters, you heard Ms Paula, start sharing your favourite childhood birthday party memories – good and bad – and you could win a copy of book 2 in the Diamonds Down Under re-release series.

But you’d better get those comments in quick because this giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 12th June 2012 AEST. Australian addresses only, sorry.

If you’d like to know more about Paula and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Goodreads.


FRIDAY FEAST with Paula Roe

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Desire author Paula Roe to Friday Feast. Not only is Paula an award winning author and all round lovely person, she designs gorgeous websites, with mine being just one example of her talent.

As for her post today, well, all I can say is that I’m extremely jealous. Not to mention more than a bit peeved I’m ineligible for her giveaway, because you just wait until you see the prize she has for one lucky commenter!

Here’s Paula’s quick bio:  British-born and Aussie bred, Paula is not only one of Silhouette’s rare Australian Desire authors: she’s also a Twitter, Facebook and odd-book-facts addict, serial RWAustralia volunteer (including six years as HeartsTalk editor) and former contest diva.

She’s worked as an assistant/secretary/PA, office manager, software trainer and aerobics instructor and writing since the age of eleven after getting hooked on the glorious historical romances of Johanna Lindsey, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Shirlee Busbee.  As a published author, her books have finaled in many awards, including the Romantic Times Readers’ Choice and RWA’s RBY.  She’s also a two-time Best Category Romance winner as voted by the Australian Romance Readers Association.

Take it away, Paula!

Thanks, Cathryn, for inviting me to be a Friday Feaster!

So, last weekend I went on my first ever cruise – three days of sea, food and relaxation (or so I thought).  While there was indeed lots of sea, the relaxation thing didn’t really happen -at least not long enough with a 11 year old boy in tow 😀 But you can bet there was food – and lots of it!

THURSDAY: We had booked a suite, and after priority check-in, we discovered a few delightful treats.  First, the bottled water was free (awesome!  I drink like a fish!) as was the fridge contents (Coke and diet, lemonade, Sunkist) and the fabulous Nespresso machine refills. (BTW I think I’m a convert).  Plus, a plate of beautiful canapes just waiting to be eaten… which I promptly did.  Camembert and mango, salami, prawn, smoked salmon, pate. YUM!!!

Then the phone rang.  Would I like to reserve a seat in either the Bordeaux or Burgundy rooms for dinner?  After much umming and ahhing, I decided we should check out the buffet, so I declined.  Not a problem, said the perky maitre d.  But if I changed my mind, she’d be on call.

Even though we hadn’t sailed yet, the restaurants were open for lunch, and we were starving.  We ended up at the Burgundy Room with the a-la-carte menu, and ordered fresh rolls with real butter, chicken nuggets with chips, delicious beef with wedges and mushrooms, and a decadent chocolate brownie with vanilla bean ice cream to follow.

Of course, some ship exploring was necessary at this stage, which is when we found the New Zealand Natural ice cream bar.  🙂  A tub of bubblegum ice cream later, we returned to our room where another surprise awaited.  Our personal on-call steward, Rex, let us know we could order room service breakfast the next day, plus a complimentary afternoon tea.  Waaay-hey!

Then, another knock on the door – a complimentary fruit bowl with grapes, apples, pears, a banana and an orange.  Yep, I’ll take that.

After spending some time in the video arcade, dinner rolled around.  The buffet was crowded, so we ended up at the Burgundy room again, where the perky maitre d remembered our names (always a good sign).  We had the rolls and butter again, some lovely fish and chips (the chips were apparently, “just as good as McDonalds!”) and grilled red snapper fillet with garlic and olive butter, three bean casserole and silverbeet.  Unfortunately the snapper was dry and by this stage we were both beginning to feel the effects of seasickness.  So we went to bed early (even our pillow chocolates couldn’t tempt us!), to the disturbing rocking motion of the open Tasman sea.

FRIDAY: two adult servings of breakfast arrived – boiled eggs, bacon, sausages, toast and fresh fruit…!  OMG.  After a bit of a walk-round, then watching Voyage of the Dawn Treader twice in a row (they have daily movies on a loop) lunch was on offer – a buffet which included potato, pasta and green salads, hamburgers, hot dogs, bocconcini and rocket rolls, chicken wings.

Some more exploration of the ship was necessary, and this time we found the gift store, spending some credit on chocolate and Pringles (as if we didn’t have enough to eat already!)  Back to the room for the afternoon tea – tuna salad sandwiches, cinnamon cookies, scones with jam and cream.  By this time, my son was getting the hang of the Nespresso machine and could make a mean cup 🙂

Dinner was a wonderfully cooked steak with sweet potato mash, and fish and chips (again!).  By this stage, the trip was beginning to feel like a never-ending loop of food.

SATURDAY: we opted for scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fruit.  Still way too much (*four* slices of toast!) and I felt absolutely terrible leaving it.  But there’s only so much free food you can eat, right?

Lunch was simple.  Chips.  That was it.  Oh, and three viewings of Ice Age 2, The Simpsons, Chocolate Wars and Cake Boss (see, if we weren’t eating it, we were watching it!)

Saturday night Dinner was definitely one of the highlights – a 6-course degustation menu.  Pork belly with pickled rhubarb, duck consomme with shitake mushrooms, grilled barramundi with pesto jus, marbled steak with sweet potato and green beans, then a cardamom tart with vanilla ice cream.  I simply could not eat the blue vein cheese for the last course and finally, we rolled out of the dining room to our beds.

It was only the next day I realised our cruise had been advertised as a Wine and Dine special.  I really should’ve twigged when I saw the the program listed coffee appreciation, cheese tasting and ice carving as part of the on-board activities (damn – I really would’ve loved to do that cheese tasting thingy…  hmm… more food)

And so, on our final day, we braved the crowded breakfast buffet after being spoilt rotten with room service, priority disembarked and came back to our normal ‘eat or be eaten’ lives… where we promptly ordered Thai takeaway because we couldn’t bear to cook.

Which brings us to a giveaway and a feast of a different kind.  What’s your ultimate foodie experience?  Comment and you could win the brand-spanking new 2012 NSW Firefighters calendar.  That’s right – 12 months of lovely, shirtless real men!  Yum 😀

Paula’s next book, Bed of Lies, is a March Australian release with Harlequin Mills & Boon, but unfortunately contains no major food-drooling experiences.  She is, however, working on an idea which involves a reluctant heiress, a five-star cruise ship and an alpha male who’s determined to expose her as a fraud.   You can visit her at www.paularoe.com


Thanks, Paula. Loved hearing about your cruise. Sounds very indulgent. Right up my alley!

So come on, folks, get commenting. There are firefighters up for grabs! Entries close midnight Monday, 12th December, with the winner posted here and in the comments.


Natasha, please check the comments for details on how to claim your prize, and thanks to everyone who shared their ultimate foodie experience. It was huge fun!


Remember Strictly Ballroom, the film where Paul Mercurio strutted his stuff like a sexy but benign toreador? Well, I met him last Saturday. He even signed his cookbook for me. In fact, he even *gasp* put his arm around me. And yes, I went a little bit silly. Not as silly as when I met Rick Stein, mind you, when I giggled inanely while he patiently waited for me to offer up my name so he could sign my copy of Seafood Odyssey, causing my girlfriend Carol to almost prostrate herself with laughter. No, not that silly. I’ve matured since then. Sort of. But Mr Mercurio does have that actor’s way of making you feel a bit special. A girl’s bound to get a bit silly.

Then again, it could have just been the beer we’d been sampling all afternoon. See, last week was Newcastle’s inaugural Craft Beer Week, with functions held all over town. On Saturday, at The Albion Hotel in Wickham, it was the Cooking With Beer session, with Paul Mercurio manning the barbecue and matching craft beers with recipes from his Cooking With Beer cookbook. And did we have a ball!

The place was packed, the atmosphere fun and laughter filled, and the food was, to put it mildly, fabulous. Highlights were the caramelised scallops, crisp prosciutto and hollandaise de la beer, the crisp beer-battered prawns, the kick-arse hot beer mustard, and the barbecued American-style pork ribs. The wagyu steaks and chocolate tarts weren’t bad either, but there were plenty of other treats on the menu. In fact, so many we couldn’t try them all but from the sounds of appreciation emanating from the crowd, they were good. As for the beers, we tasted some crackers. Beer of the day, as unanimously voted by our merry band, was Holgate’s Mt Macedon, but the beers from Stone and Wood, Mountain Goat, and Wig and Pen were also excellent and we’ll be trying them again.

Judging from that day, and talking to people who had attended other functions (some of them every function throughout the week, which is a hell of an effort), Newcastle Craft Beer Week proved a raging success. So if you’re in the area next year when it’s on, take in one of the many events.  You’ll have a ball. We did!

Now, I was going to share my favourite beef in beer recipe, but being December and the start of what will no doubt be another long hot Australian summer it’s not really the weather for it. So instead I’m featuring something nice and salty and fatty to eat while drinking beer. Ahh, yes, if you’re going to go unhealthy, you may as well do it properly.

Hope you enjoy the happy snaps from our Cooking With Beer session. Sorry some are a bit wobbly. Nothing to do with the beer tasting. Nope, noooothing at all.

Don’t forget to come back next week when I’m hosting fabulous Harlequin Desire author and awesome web designer Paula Roe.



2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons tomato sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons extra hot chilli sauce

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 kg chicken wings

Cut wing tips off the chicken wings, then divide wings into mini drumsticks and other nibbly bits.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Pour over wings and stir until wings are coated in marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 200ºC.

Remove wings and place on a lined baking tray and bake for 40 minutes until golden and slightly crispy.



News and a Promises giveaway

Well, the first round of edits for Heart of the Valley is complete and the next will be here any day. In the meantime, I’m working on my next book, which I’ve christened Where Hope Lies. Not sure if that title will stay but it’ll do for the moment, and WHL is a nice easy acronym to use in emails when I’m chatting with my writing buddies. Not as good as HotV, mind. That one was a beauty!

Heart of the Valley is scheduled for release in May 2012. No sign of a cover yet but I promise to post it as soon as I get the go ahead. Can’t wait to see what it’s like. It’s always a huge buzz to see a new cover.

On the blog touring front, today I’m a guest on Rachael Johns’ Theory on Thursday segment, talking about writing craft and also giving away a signed copy of Promises. So if you want to be in the contest, click on over to Rachael’s blog, discover the answer to the simple question I’ve posed and leave it in the comments. Entries close at midnight Sunday, 20th November 2011. Australian addresses only, sorry.

While you’re there, check out Rachael’s debut release, One Perfect Night, available in December from Carina Press. I have a preview copy of this book and I can honestly say it’s fabulous. A great romantic romp from a wonderful new Australian writer.

If you happen to be wandering down Beaumont Street, Hamilton, NSW on Sunday and are wondering where all that laughter is coming from, it’s probably all the attendees at the Australian Romance Readers Association lunch. A great group of local readers and writers are coming along so it should be a fun day. We’ll be at Cafe de Beaumont from 11am. Please feel free to stop by and say hello. I promise you we’re all very friendly!

And last but not least, I’m very excited to announce that I have some fabulous Australian writers booked for Friday Feast guest appearances over coming weeks, including best-selling historical author Anna Campbell, and gorgeous Harlequin Desire author and website designer Paula Roe. Can’t wait to see their feasts!