Tag Archives: Romance Writers of Australia Conference

This Writing Life: RWA Melbourne 2019

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It’s taken a bit longer than I anticipated, but the promised This Writing Life post on the recent Romance Writers of Australia annual conference is now here.

I do have a good excuse, and it goes by the name of Eddie and the Show Queen which releases in only… *takes a deep breath* nine days. I am so excited and can’t wait for you to read about Eddie and Alice’s race for the Show Queen crown, and their absolutely gorgeous romance.

Before we get into some lovely piccies, I’d also like to remind you that, in a super special promo, Summer and the Groomsman is this week’s Apple Books Free Book of the Week. Yep, you can pick up the Eddie’s brother’s story for free on  Apple Books. How cool is that?

This offer ends September 7th, so grab it now if you don’t have a copy or share the freebie love by telling your romance lovin’ friends.

Right. The conference.

In one word: brilliant.

Lanyard and program RWA 19

Lanyard and program RWA 19

I loved it. Now, I usually say that about Romance Writers of Australia conferences because I adore catching up with writing buddies. I also always come home with some writing or business gem that I can use going forward. But, like everything, some conferences are better than others and this one was a good ‘un.

There were three highlights for me (other than the partying with friends). Nalini Singh’s Polish and Shine Beyond the First Draft was full of great tips for making books sing. It was so good I wish I’d done her session on Writing Novellas too, but I was very glad I did Melissa Storm’s workshop on Winning Ad Strategies, which was on at the same time. That was my second highlight, even though I’m still trying to get my head around the information. The final highlight was Amy Andrews’ hilarious and uplifting Closing Keynote. She had the room in stitches and earned a well-deserved ovation at the end.

My biggest takeaway was to do with advertising. It seems a ‘must’ now, rather than a ‘would like’ item for my to-do list. It’s not easy for readers to find books these days because there are simply so many. Not all of us subscribe to our favourite author’s newsletter or blog, and social media is hard when Facebook gives our page posts little reach, unless we pay to have it extended.

To be honest, the thought of advertising makes me want to curl up in a ball. I’ve dabbled a few times with Facebook and Amazon ads and not enjoyed the process, but life’s full of things we suffer rather than enjoy. Sit-ups come immediately to mind. Pap smears another.

My gripe with advertising is that it distracts me from writing. And I have to do maths. Simple maths, admittedly, but maths all the same. Yuck.

This from a girl with a science degree and a post-grad in business management.

There are three solutions. One, ignore the whole thing and just write and rely on other strategies and word-of-mouth. Two, contract it out. Three, train the man of the house, an engineer who is very good at maths and for whom spreadsheets hold no fear.

Methinks he’d rather play golf, though. So would I.

One to ponder

My sincerest thanks to the conference co-ordinator Tanya Kean and her team Donna Munro, Joanne Dannon, Kristine Charles, Nardia Sheriff, Eliza Renton, Di Inglis, Wendy Davis, Savannah Blaize, Melanie Coles, Rachael Howlett and Alison Stuart. An excellent job done by all.

Now for the bit you’ve been hankering for: piccies!

The Cocktail Party

As always, the cocktail party was a hoot. This year’s theme was Twisted Fairy Tales. As you can see, there were some very twisted costumes indeed!

Author Paula Roe at the cocktail party, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Paula Roe

Harlequin publisher Rachael Donovan with author Alison Stuart, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Harlequin publisher Rachael Donovan with author Alison Stuart

Authors Amanda Knight and Emily Madden, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Authors Amanda Knight and Emily Madden

Young adult author Bec Nicholas, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Young adult author Bec Nicholas

Elizabeth Duffield and Ebony McKenna, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Authors Elizabeth Duffield and Ebony McKenna

Leisl Leighton, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Leisl Leighton

Lisa Ireland and Rachael Johns, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Authors Lisa Ireland and Rachael Johns

Author Michelle Douglas, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Michelle Douglas

Author Sara Hartland, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Sara Hartland

Author Shannon Curtis, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Shannon Curtis

Author Amy Andrews, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Author Amy Andrews

Breakout Sessions

Emily Roach's breakout session on Standing Out on Social Media, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Emily Roach’s breakout session on Standing Out on Social Media

Melissa Storm's breakout session on Winning Ad Strategies, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Melissa Storm’s breakout session on Winning Ad Strategies

Nalini Singh's talk on writing series, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Nalini Singh’s talk on writing series.

Gala Dinner and Miscellaneous

Cathryn Hein at the RWA Gala Dinner, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Me at the Gala Dinner. Those late nights were catching up…

DB Tait, Trish Morey and Marion Lennox, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

DB Tait, Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Amy Andrews receiving her life membership, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Amy Andrews receiving her life membership

Gatecrashing Rachael Johns' book club live broadcast, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Gatecrashing Rachael Johns’ book club live broadcast

Conference goodie bag contents, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Conference goodie bag contents

Amy Andrews delivering her hilarious closing keynote speech, 2019 Romance Writers of Australia conference

Amy Andrews delivering her hilarious closing keynote speech

Cathryn Hein, the Monday after the conference

Me, the Monday after the conference, looking a tad red-eyed.

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I hope you enjoyed that brief behind the scenes peek at the RWA Conference. Remember, if you’re an aspiring writer, Romance Writers of Australia conferences are the jam. Learn more about this fabulous organisation and all it offers here.

Before I go, please allow me this gratuitous plug for Eddie and the Show Queen.

Here’s what fellow author Michelle Douglas had to say about the book:

I finished this on Friday night and it was an utter dream of a story. I loved Eddie so hard, wanted to be best friends with Alice (and Paige), the opening made me laugh, and the ending made me swoon. Just…perfect. Highly recommended!

Eddie and the Show Queen releases September 10th. Pre-order your copy today from your favourite online bookstore or these retailers.

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Barnes & Noble

Booktopia | Angus & Robertson | Bookdepository

And if you’re shopping on iBooks, remember to pick up your free copy of Summer and the Groomsman, which features Eddie’s shy brother Harry.

.

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THIS WRITING LIFE: Ain’t Love Grand!

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

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

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

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

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

With my tall niece and nephews

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

With Mum in Casterton

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

Strathdownie - fox haul

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

Me and Dad road trip

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

Glenelg Heart Sculpture

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

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

Harlequin author party

And me and Michelle later in the bar.

Me and Michelle Conder

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

Michael Hauge - Story Mastery

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

Leisl Leighton, RWA president. Awesome eyelashes.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Leisl Leighton

Anne Gracie and Keri Arthur.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Anne Gracie Keri Arthur

A crowd of flappers.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - crowd

Fiona McArthur and me.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Fiona McArthur and me

T.M Clarke and hubby.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - TM Clark and hubby

Me, Louise Reynolds and Jaye Ford.

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

Juanita Kees and me.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Juanita Kees and me

Jane and Richard Carter.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Jane and Richard Carter

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

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - song time

Me and agent Alex Adsett.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - me and Alex Adsett

The gorgeous Lilia Kanna from Harlequin.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Lilia Kanna

Michelle Douglas and me.

RWA 2016 Cocktail Party - Michelle Douglas and me

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

RWA Conference - Bronwyn Stuart and Trish Morey

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

RWA Conference - 25th anniversary fun

The state of publishing and bookselling panel.

RWA Conference - state of publishing and bookselling panel

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

RWA Conference - hotel love

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

2016 ARRA booksigning - Anne Gracie

Rachael Johns…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Rachael Johns

Juanita Kees…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Juanita Kees

Kandy Shepherd…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Kandy Shepherd

Mandy Magro…

2016 ARRA booksigning - Mandy Magro

Crowd shot…

2016 ARRA booksigning - crowd shot

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

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - crowd

Leah Ashton, Rachel Bailey, Daniel de Lorne.

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

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

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Suzi Love and husband Graham

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

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

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

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Me and James Kellow

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

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Karen M Davis

Rachael Johns and James Kellow.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Rachael Johns and James Kellow

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

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Rachael Johns Ruby Award

There was dancing! And photo bombing by Shannon Curtis.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - dancing and Shannon Curtis

Annie West and Michelle Douglas.

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - Annie West and Michelle Douglas

More dancing…

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - dancing

And bar lounging…

2016 RWA Awards Dinner - post dinner lounging

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

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

2016 RWA Conference - Kathryn Fox's workshop

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

2016 RWA Conference - announcing Brisbane 2017

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

Hot Chocolate - deflated again

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

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

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

 

Never miss a new release. Click to subscribe to Cathryn Hein's newsletter.

 

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Hanging with my tribe!

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

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

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

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

COCKTAIL PARTYRWA Cocktail Party - Crowd

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

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

Christina Brooke, Denise Rossetti and Annie West.

RWA Cocktail Party - Harlequin Australia ladies

Harlequin Australia ladies Lilia Kanna and Michelle Lee looking gorgeous.

RWA Cocktail Party - Trish Morey and Marion Lennox

Trish Morey and Marion Lennox.

RWA Cocktail Party - Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie

Keri Arthur and Anne Gracie.

RWA Cocktail Party

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

RWA Cocktail Party - Michelle Conder. Annie West and Me

Michelle Conder, Annie West and me.

CONFERENCE

Angela Ackerman Workshop - collage of slides

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

RWA Conference - Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti

Michelle Douglas and Denise Rossetti.

RWA Conference - Tricia Stinger and Cathryn Hein

Tricia Stringer and me.

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

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

RWA Conference - Maggie Le Page

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

Marketing Masterclass - slide collage

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

RWA Conference - my raffle prize

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

RWA Conference - morning tea

Morning tea. More loudness, but with cake.

ARRA BOOKSIGNING

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein

Me and Hot Chocolate the Blow Up Wonder Horse.

ARRA Booksigning - Meredith Appleyard

Meredith Appleyard.

ARRA Booksigning - Shannon Curtis

Shannon Curtis.

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Le Page

Maggie Le Page.

ARRA Booksigning - Cathryn Hein and Helene Young

Me and Helene Young.

ARRA Booksigning - Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer takes her books very seriously.

ARRA Booksigning - Anita Heiss

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

ARRA Booksigning - Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey

Maggie Mundy and Trish Morey.

ARRA Booksigning - fans lined up

Eager fans!

RWA GALA AWARDS DINNER

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - pre dinner drinks

Pre-dinner drinkies.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner

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

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Ruby winner Amy Andrews

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

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Dance lessons

Dance lessons thanks to the Escape After Party.

RWA Gala Awards Dinner - Rachel Bailey and Annie West

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

OTHER STUFF

RWA Book haul

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

RWA Conference - cafe entertainment

Entertainment in the Hyatt’s cafe. Very civilised.

Melbourne - Yarra River

Melbourne looking pretty at night.

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

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

 

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FRIDAY FEAST with Victoria Purman

And so our favourite day of the week comes around again. What have you planned for the weekend? I’m feeling a tad bereft because there’s no more footy. Fortunately, I have boxed sets of my beloved Sydney Swans Premiership seasons to see me through the dark times. And lots of books. Lots and lots of books, including the debut release of this week’s Friday Feast guest, Victoria Purman. Austrlalian author Victoria PurmanAnd I tell you, if there was ever a story to put you in the mood for a long Aussie summer it’ll be Nobody But Him.

I met Victoria recently at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle and was immediately struck by her professionalism and easy going nature. Then again, she does hail from South Australia, my home state, so these things are to be expected.

Nobody But Him is the first in Victoria’s Boys of Summer trilogy (earworm anyone? Since I typed that all I can hear is Don Henley) and has just hit the shelves. Take a gander at this bronzed Aussie!

 

NOBODY BUT HIM

 

Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman coverShe didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her hometown of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

 

You can own your own copy of Nobody But Him with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Buy direct from the publisher Harlequin or try most excellent Australian bookseller and ARRC sponsor Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes and the new BigW ebook store.

Seriously, it makes me proud to see so all the Australian stories dominating our bricks and mortar stores and virtual shelves at the moment. Anyway, enough of me, here’s Victoria!

 

 

Lock, stock and barrel

 

Has anyone else ever wandered the supermarket aisles and become increasingly concerned about the growing profusion of packet mixes and insta-meals?

I get the heebie-jeebies every time I read the back of the label and barely recognize anything that seems like real food.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a working mother of three teenagers and I’m certainly not averse to doing whatever it takes to feed the Hungry Horde.

And I’m not what you might call a health nut, either. Those who know about my consumption of wine and chocolate know this to be true. (To those who don’t know me, I consume a lot of wine and chocolate.)

But I don’t want my kids to be loaded down with salt and preservatives and chemicals when I can make the real thing at home – salt and preservative free – for much less.

Hence my recipe for my weekly, reliable standby: Chicken Stock.

I approach cooking as I do writing a book.

On the surface, it’s all exciting – doing the shopping, looking at the labels and the recipe books, making everything look beautifully plated up and Master Chef-y.

The writing equivalent is spending lots of time online with search engine terms that include “shirtless” and “man”; thinking about your cover; and how famous you’re going to be when it sells squillions.

But when you get down to it, there are some basic you shouldn’t ignore.

No matter what genre you write in, every book needs a solid story at its heart.

I think of my Chicken Stock that way – a solid base of flavour for a zillion meals.

I’m not kidding when I say Chicken Stock is easy. The Hungry Horde doesn’t have time for complicated.

I cook up a batch on the weekend and have it sitting in the fridge so I can scoop out what I need during the week for meals in the slow cooker, casserole dishes, stir-fries or soups.

It’s especially handy for those dreaded days when all you have left in the fridge is a couple of near-dead zucchinis, a floret or two of broccoli and a cauliflower (you know, the one you bought in the vain hope that your kids would actually eat it).

Gather the veggies, chop finely, cook them all up in the stock until tender, give it a whizz and voila – vegetable soup. My kids love it. Even when I tell Boy13 there’s zucchini in it.

 

Victoria’s Chicken Stock

 

  • Chicken carcasses (I use two because they come that way in the supermarket). Don’t worry about trimming off the fat – while important, that comes later.Stock pot with chicken carcases
  • Veggies – celery, carrots, onion, minced garlic
  • Pepper (and salt if you wish)
  • Water

Use a big stock saucepan and place the chicken bones in it.

Raid the fridge for whatever veggies you have. I always keep a few celery leaves and stalks in the freezer (did I mention I hate wasting food?) and pop them in to the saucepan with an onion chopped in half (you don’t even need to peel it), and a roughly chopped carrot. Add some minced garlic (from the jar I have in the fridge), a little pepper, and add water until the chicken bones are covered.

Bring to the boil.

Chicken and vegetables in the stock pot ready for boilingWhen it’s boiling, turn down to simmer and let the magnificent aromas fill the house. I usually leave it for about an hour, so the flavours really intensify.

Let the stock cool, and then strain out all the chicken and the veggies. Pour into a container and chill overnight. This step is really important, as the fat congeals at the top and can be easily scooped off the next day.

Your stock is ready, totally delicious and made from real food.

Make soup! Add to day-old rice in a wok and it will taste delicious! Use a cupful any time a recipe calls for stock cubes or stock powder!

Here’s stir-fry rice I made with the stock. The Hungry Horde loved it.

 Stir fried rice made with Victoria's chicken stock

 

Ahh, Victoria, you’re a woman after my own heart. Actually, can a girl say that or is that a man to woman thing? Hmm. Dunno, but you’re definitely a kindred spirit with all that wine, chocolate and home-made stock. Must be our South Australian genes!

Now, my darling Feasters, don those bikinis and budgie smugglers and channel your favourite summer past-time because Victoria has generously offered a most fabulous giveaway. Reveal what you like to get up to over summer and you could win yourself a copy of Nobody But Him. Perfect relaxation material.

Me? Over summer I play golf and eat lots of seafood washed down with wine, which is probably why my golf game is terrible…

What do you get up to for summer fun? Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 8th October 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Kerrie who is in for a whole lot of reading fun with Nobody But Him. Thanks to everyone who joined in. 

FRIDAY FEAST with S.E. Gilchrist

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Phew! What a week. Despite having been home from the RWA conference and our mini holiday for a while now I still feel like I’m catching up. But that’s okay. It was worth every minute.S.E. Gilchrist author photo

Speaking of worth every minute (oh, what a segue!), I have a fabulous guest for you today, who’ll be sharing the perfect recipe for warm weather lovers and the time poor. After several years travelling around Australia, S.E. Gilchrist now resides in one of my favourite places, the NSW Hunter Valley, and writes across a range of genres, including fantasy, sci-fi/futuristic, ancient history and post-apocalyptic. I also hear she has a most excellent rural romance in the works – as she should coming from the Hunter! – so keep your eye out for Dance In The Outback.

S.E.’s single title release is a full length sci-fi Legend Beyond The Stars. Check it out…

 

LEGEND BEYOND THE STARS

 

Legend Beyond The Stars by S.E. Gilchrist coverSeeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders. But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon.

When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…

Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes.

In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.

 

Doesn’t that sound fun? With so much at stake this is guaranteed to be a rollicking read and you can own your copy now with just a few clickety-clicks. You can buy direct from Escape Publishing or try Kobo, iTunes, Amazon (Kindle), Amazon UK, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, All Romance eBooks, Nook, or most excellent Aussie bookseller Booktopia. In other words, from all you favourite booksellers.

Ereader loaded up? Excellent. Now you can play with S.E. Gilchrist!

 

My Kitchen Disasters

 

Where do I start? If you ask my three children (now in their twenties) they could probably write a book on the disasters that occur in my kitchen. Thankfully, none of them are into writing, so I’m safe. Until now that is, as the talented writer Cathryn Hein has hit me with an invitation to her blog post Friday Feast.

Since I’m such a hit and miss cook and often stick a pile of food stuff on the stove and wander back to my desk and keyboard, the list of meals I bring to the table in an edible state is pitifully small. I’m lucky in that I can eat just about anything and don’t really care what the meal looks like ie a dog’s dinner or cordon bleu is all the same to me. Alas, my family is a bit more picky. And this (thank the stars) has culminated in everyone cooking for themselves except on the rare occasions when I stir myself to visit the stove. I excuse myself with: (a) I’ve been doing the house-mum thing for too long and it’s your turn and (b) I need to squeeze in my writing time after doing the full time work thing all day.

When I do cook, there will be a book propped up on the sink which I will read will pretending to supervise the cooking process.

In the spirit of bearing all, I’ll like to share with you a few of my disasters:

  • the usual burnt offerings which have been reduced to blobs of carbon and the baking dish has to be thrown out since it was impossible to scrape the mess off the bottom. Needless to say this also includes the copious times when the smoke detector blares into life which sends the dogs into a frenzy of barking.S.E. Gilchrist's dog Rex looking innocent
  • a dozen raw eggs dropped onto the kitchen tiles. Seriously, has anyone tried to mop up raw egg from the floor? Slimy and slippery it makes my skin crawl to remember.
  • the substitution of plain flour for self-raising floor in the mistaken belief that the sponge would still rise and be fluffy. Think leather boots and an insane dash to the shops to buy a last minute birthday cake.
  • the tray of frozen meat shoved out the kitchen window onto the carport roof to defrost. In Summer. And totally forgotten about until the next day. The steak had cooked and provided a pretty decent meals for the flies.
  • the day the dog made off with the chicken (again defrosting but this time on the kitchen bench) and the humans ate vegetables for dinner.

Really I could continue but in case you’re thinking I’m a total loss in the kitchen, I can cook a mean roast dinner, a hearty and tasty green pea and bacon hock soup, fluffy quiches and wow, you should see me toss up a salad. The last two are favourites in summer. Oh, and I can really lay out a cheese platter.

 

Quiche

A delicious looking quiche

1 sheet ready made short-crust pastry

3 eggs (beaten)

1 cup cheese (I usually use light tasty cheese)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach (if I have any)

One layer of thinly sliced tomatoes over the base or

1/2 to 1 cup chopped cooked BBQ chicken.

1 tablespoon french mustard (which gives it a nice tang)

1 chopped cooked onion

1/2 cup light milk (or soy milk)

Method: Throw everything in a bowl and mix together (after you’ve cooked the onion that is). Lightly grease quiche dish and place one sheet of the pastry over. Cook pastry in hot oven for about 10 or 15 minutes then pile the ingredients on top and bake for about another 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

Serve with salad of your choice.

That’s enough baring of souls for me. I had hoped to have my next indie published book up and out there but alas it’s been delayed. But please look out for my forthcoming Aussie rural contemporary romance, Dance in the Outback.

Thank you so much, Cathryn, for hosting me here today. It’s been a blast.

 

My pleasure, S.E. and thanks so much for that quiche recipe. Delicious, easy, portable and a definite crowd pleaser. There aren’t too many people who’ll say no to a piece of quiche and, as you say, it makes a perfect meal for warmer weather.

Okay, lovely Feasters, what’s your favourite spring recipe? Besides lots of seafood I can’t wait to get into my repertoire of hot, sour and spicy Asian salads. All those fresh ingredients are perfect for warm evenings and lazy weekends, and they’re super easy to whip up. But perhaps you love a good old barbeque, or maybe lightly grilled Mediterranean inspired dishes? Share away and make our mouths water!

If you’d like to learn more about S.E. and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and the Hunter Romance Writers blog.

 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

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

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

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

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

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

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

All action at the ARRA booksigning

All action at the ARRA booksigning

Amy Andrews came prepared...

Amy Andrews came prepared…

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

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

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Me!

Me!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

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

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

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin.

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

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener

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

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

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

A glamorous night awaits!

A glamorous night awaits…

...with desserts. Lots of desserts!

…with desserts. Lots of desserts!

The rural romance girls!

The rural romance girls.

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

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

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

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Me and Fiona McArthur

Me and Fiona McArthur

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books

 

 

 

Hot News & Events!

Keep your eyes out for some fantastic events happening now and soon…

Heartland Review Fun

A wonderful review of my latest rural romance Heartland on the Australian Romance Readers Association blog.

“I’m missing the people in this story. I didn’t realise until I read the last page and shut the book. When I walked away, from it, I realised I felt bereft.” Rosalie for the ARRA blog.

Isn’t that a lovely thing to say? I’m so delighted.

If you’re an ARRA member, leave a comment and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Heartland. Giveaway closes 17th July.

You can read more about Heartland, including an excerpt and the story of how the book came into being, on my website.

 

Booktopia’s Australian Romance Month, Featuring Fabulous Giveaways

Join most excellent Australian online bookseller Booktopia for their Australian Romance month, where I, and a fine line-up of Australian romance authors, will be entertaining you with our witty answers to questions like: Who do you swoon over? and Tell us something very few people know about you, and the ever so tricky, Finish this sentence: I would do anything for love, but I won’t do  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____

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You can read my answers to those questions and more on July 12th.

There are plenty of other rural-set fiction authors joining me across the month, including Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Rachael Treasure, Barbara Hannay, Jennifer Scoullar, Loretta Hill, Mandy Magro, Bronwyn Parry, Margareta Osborn, Helene Young, Nicole Alexander, Jenn J McLeod and others!

Plus all month there’ll be competitions to win great books, and if you order an Aussie Romance Author book from Booktopia in July, you’ll go into the draw to win a fantastic book pack. For more details, click on the banner above or visit Booktopia.

 

Romance Writers of Australia Conference, August 16th-18th 2013

It’s only 6 weeks until the RWA Conference in Fremantle, W.A. and I can’t wait. This is THE event of the year for romance authors, published and aspiring. A chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, plus learn more about our business and craft. There are also opportunities for authors to pitch their work to leading Australian and international editors and agents.

I have a great deal to thank the RWA for and can’t recommend the organisation and its conference highly enough.

For more information on the RWA and the conference, visit the website.

 

Australian Romance Readers Association Booksigning Event, Saturday 17th August 2013

I’m signing and so are 55 others local and international authors. These events are a hoot! Register now at the ARRA blog.

BSE3 I'll be signing 500

 

 

J’aimee Brooker’s Spotlight On Aussie Rural Novelists

Last week I answered a series of fun questions on contemporary romance author J’aimee Brooker’s blog as part of her week-long spotlight on Aussie Rural Novelists. Find out the one author I’d spend my last $20 on, who I’d be if I was a character from a novel and more!

Also featured were Rachael Johns, Karly Lane, and Jennie Jones. Check it out!