Monday, 30 March 2015

Miranda's Musings

Darlings, there’s a crispness in the air at last... Such welcome relief from the heat we’ve been having down under! All the more reason to snuggle down in a chair with a tea (or wine) and read, read, read...

What did I love to love this month?

It’s all Jane Austen. How could we possibly not pay homage to this marvellous author? She is the source of all our Mr Darcy fantasies – and Mr Knightley and Captain Wentworth, and, and – well, you get the gist. The distinguished lady will shortly grace the British ten pound note, replacing Charles Darwin. All writers should be so lucky!

December 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of 'Emma', and the novel is still as fresh today as it was then.
I think Emma herself has the strongest character arc of all Jane Austen heroines: at the beginning of the book she is annoying and immature but oh, how she changes! I have to say, darlings, I stood on that infamous Box Hill last year (see pic), where Emma was so incredibly rude to poor Miss Bates, and I *immersed* myself in the scene. Especially where Mr Knightley tells her how badly she behaved. Such seething emotion, such tears, such drama! I think that was a real turning point in the book. What about you? Do you love 'Emma'?

What did I love to laugh at?

Not exactly laugh AT, but I did laugh along with the new Manga Classics version of 'Pride and Prejudice'. This was blissfully So! Much! Fun! to read! There are little bits in this version that (ahem) aren't in the original Jane Austen, but who cares? Not I. The overall story line and all the angst, drama, simmering tensions and divinely overblown and wonderfully drawn characters (with big, big, big eyes and long, long legs) are oh so very delicious. Mr Collins was particularly funny: he looked like a cowlick on a stick. And don't think the book is insubstantial because of the manga - it's 376 pages long! I loved the handy ‘how to read this book’ at the beginning – you read it like a traditional manga: backwards. My dears, the proposal scenes were to die for... And yes, there were a few sneaky (...romantic...) kisses. I’m sure Jane Austen would excuse them.

Do you enjoy manga? Which Jane Austen would you most like to read in manga?

And lastly, what did I love to learn this month?

The divine Suzi Love has written a series of books about Regency life, so in keeping with my Jane Austen theme, I romped through her lavishly illustrated 'Regency Overview: Book 1' from the Regency Life Series. Everything you want to know about the Regency period but didn’t know who to ask! I loved this titbit of gossip from a newspaper: ‘The fashionable Mrs Hog has taken No. 11 Manchester Place, where she will receive her numerous list of elegant friends, as soon as her little drawing-room has got the new paper.’ How very droll!

Suzi, oh my goodness, has generously offered three – yes, THREE – people the chance to win a complete set of her Regency Life e-series! This includes the above, plus 'Young Gentleman's Day', 'Older Gentleman's Day', 'Young Lady's Day' and 'Older Lady's Day'. Lucky, lucky you!

Leave a comment and you will be in the running for this fabulous set of books. Thanks so much, Suzi.

The three winners will be announced on next week's blog (with guest blogger, the lovely Suzi Love) so please check back then to see if you are among them.

Can’t wait to hear from you.

Everything Jane Austen! Hoorah!

Miranda xx

Monday, 23 March 2015

10 Things I Loved About the Australian Romance Readers Convention Canberra 2015

with Cassandra Samuels

Hi, Cassandra here. I had the great privilege of attending a day at the Australian Romance Readers Convention in Canberra on the 7th of March.

Here are just a few of the things I loved about the weekend..

1. Helene Young's keynote speech. Wonderful and inspiring to all women, Helene proves that there is no limit to what a woman can do. She told us how she became a pilot against the odds, how she bluffed her way to a job in England, and how she came to write some of her fantastic Romantic Suspense novels.

2. The hilariously funny launch of 'Tribal Law' by Shannon Curtis. She wrote the book based on the suggestions of ARRA members and all profits from sales go back to ARRA.

3. I met John Purcell, part of the Booktopia team and author of the Emma Series (under his pen name Natasha Walker). He was was very tall and a lovely person to talk to. Believe it or not, he is the runt of the family. Or so he says.

4. The hot air balloons that rose up over Lake Burley Griffin in the early morning. Amazing site.

5. The goodies table was full of amazing things for readers to take home. Everything from bookmarks and pens to notebooks and chocolates.

6. It was my first ever ARRC author book signing. I met so many wonderful readers and found out that pens are a very popular giveaway item.

7. The Awards night was flappertastic, the theme being the 1920s. There were feathers as far as the eye could see (mostly on the floor). I wasn't a winner this year but I had an absolute ball with my new reader and writer friends.

8. The 'bling off' was great with at least a dozen up for the prize for best dressed. Even Fabio tried to get in on the act. The prize went to a lady who had an authentic 1920s dress that was divine.

9. The volunteer ARRC team did an amazing job of putting the convention together. I can't wait to go to the next one.

10. All the wonderful authors who gave up their time to come to the convention and participate in so many ways, in particular, the author signing. It was great catching up with so many friends.

All the authors who attended this year in all their flapper glory.

Which author would you like to see at a readers' convention?

Love to Love: meeting new readers.

Love to Laugh: at the amount of feathers lost during the Awards night.

Love to Learn: about other genres and how those authors approach writing their books.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Inspiration or Exploitation?

with guest blogger Nikki Logan

Nikki Logan
Remember the Canadian guy who recently advertised for someone with the same name as the woman who’d just left him at the altar to use his fiancĂ©e’s airline ticket and go with him on their non-refundable honeymoon? Or the insanely romantic photo of the man and woman kissing on the asphalt with London riot police in the background? Either one fabulous fodder for a fictional romance, right?

Mmm… Maybe not.

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Image courtesy of Getty Images: Rich Lam 

It’s an interesting line you tread when using people’s real lives as inspiration. Quite apart from the moral issue of exploiting someone’s life for commercial gain, you just don’t know whether those people will go on to legally protect their stories. Like the honeymoon guy—someone snapped up the rights to that story immediately for a future movie, so anyone using the premise is going to find themselves in a bit of copyright trouble.

I get it. We’re writers. Observing people and making up wildly creative worlds around them is what we do as readily as breathing. It feels creative and exciting to take a non-fiction moment and let it fuel a fabulous fictional story. Of my twenty books, I don’t even need a whole hand to count those that don’t have real-world elements in them somewhere. I use those vignettes to empower a story but I’ve always tried to stay away from using someone else’s life too centrally. That’s their personal copyright after all. It just didn’t feel…right.

Until it did.

The premise of my new release, Her Knight in the Outback, was inspired by an awareness-raising campaign my sister started for an old flame of hers who had been an official missing person for two years. She started to share a lot of pictures of other Missing (because the network is super supportive of each other) and I realised how enormous this problem was.
Image courtesy of Dee Scully
I dug further, I read professional reports and ordinary people’s experiences, I started to see the similarities in their otherwise dissimilar stories. So, the characters in Her Knight in the Outback are a kind of amalgam of the diverse personality types I saw in my research. The ones who give up their whole lives to the hunt for their particular Missing; the ones who moved straight to acceptance as a coping strategy; the ones who were entirely ready to forgive all if only their loved one would return alive; and the ones who lay crippled under their resentment and anger that someone they loved would intentionally cause them such pain.

You’d think amid all that suffering would be the last place an enduring romance could flourish, right? I thought different. It was easy to imagine a strong, independent woman so emotionally spent from her hunt for her brother that she needs rescuing…just this once. Her own personal Galahad.

A leather-clad Galahad, in this case.

Sometimes, I’ve decided, real life inspires us for a reason. And I hope that, as well as being an optimistic love story, this book helps bring a little awareness to the global tragedy that is the Missing.

How about you?  Do you think it's exploitative to use real life situations in stories?

Her Knight in the Outback
I love to love:  because if you don’t nurture it why would it stay?

I love to laugh:  at my 6-y.o. nephew’s hilarious and brutally astute life observations

I love to learn:  by buying obscene numbers of courses on just about everything from

Her Knight in the Outback
Falling for him was never part of her plan, yet having him there to catch her was a lifesaver.

For an excerpt of Her Knight in the Outback visit Nikki's website.  

Monday, 9 March 2015


by Karen M. Davis

Who inspires you?

Do you have a certain author, or numerous authors, who you admire above all the rest? Do you find them inspirational because you love, love, love their books, their writing style, or the particular stories they write? Do they inspire you because they are just so good? Or does it have more to do with their back-story? How they got to be where they are?

Success seems largely a matter of hanging on, when others have let go. William Feather

I’m inspired by hard work, determination and persistence; all qualities needed to, firstly, finish a manuscript, and then to continue writing manuscripts even when almost buried under rejection letters.

There are many Australian authors I love and find inspirational. To name a few:

Anna Romer,who doesn’t know the meaning of giving up, took fifteen years to land her first publishing deal for Thornwood House and Lyrebird Hill.

Katherine Howell (crime fiction author) wrote for years and did many creative writing courses before she became published, and then eight books followed. 

Even Kate Morton, Australia’s No 1. Best Selling author, took seven years to write her first published book, The Secret Keeper.

Clearly success does not always come easily and almost never overnight. 
Lynne Wilding

But perseverance pays off in the long run.

There are many examples of inspirational authors, and people for that matter. The one person who has had the most influence, and is still a true inspiration to me, is my mother, the late Lynne Wilding.

Of course mothers always impact our lives but what I’m referring to is her resolve and unwavering passion in regards to writing. I remember her sitting at the dining room table with her old typewriter, papers spread everywhere as she tapped away on the keys to all hours. I also remember the look on her face whenever she received a rejection letter. Forcing a smile she’d say, “I must be getting better. They wrote three lines this time instead of one.”

I used to wonder where she found the patience... That was until I started writing and discovered a buried passion of my own. Suddenly it all made sense. It took over ten years for my mother to become published and then twelve best-selling novels followed. She still worried after each book that it would be her last, that she wouldn’t be able to do it again. But even through self-doubt she never stopped writing. She was my inspiration when I was writing my first book, Sinister Intent, and wondering if all the effort was worthwhile.

She is still my inspiration, especially on days when the words are not flowing, or things are not going according to plan. I think we all need a little inspiration at times.

Have you got a story of inspiration? If so please share it with us.

I love to laugh... at anything really; any laugh is a good laugh.

I love to love... my family.
I love to learn
... new things about people I know.

Monday, 2 March 2015


Now that I have your attention…

In my quest for publication I’ve recently delved into how to heighten sexual tension. It seems everyone has an opinion on how to achieve it. After reading a plethora of articles, books, and even some advertisements, I think I have a better understanding myself.

Romeo and Juliet by Frank Dicksee
Sexual tension actually starts long before the first time the hero and heroine have sex, even before they share that first intimate, or quite possibly awkward, kiss. Right from the start of the romance a writer weaves in conflict, both internal (which often drive the protagonists apart) and external (which often thrusts the protagonists together). It’s the conflict that builds tension, hurling a reader into limbo, the limbo of 'will they/won’t they' get together.

“We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love.”
Tom Robbins

To create sexual tension, a writer uses the conflict tension along with word choice and sensory cues, often penning them into the inner thoughts of the point of view character. For example, if you say, “He kissed her,” you’re making a bland statement, but if you say, “His lips pressed down on her. She didn’t pull away as he had expected. Instead her emerald eyes fluttered shut and she moaned deep in her throat. Never had a woman given so much. He was at once aroused and awed by her strength, her beauty,” then you get a sense of the conflict and the tension between them. You start to feel worried that perhaps, just perhaps, she might pull away, that a kiss is not just a kiss, and there might not be a happily ever after…or then again, she might not pull away, that his kiss is THE kiss, and these two will forever be happy together!

“Sex is an emotion in motion.”
Mae West

What heightens sexual tension for you…in the books you read or write or in life?

I love to love my husband—when our life together gets tough, he somehow manages to get even sexier.

I love to laugh—with my family. It’s such a delight to see their eyes light with happiness.

I love to learn—about others…what makes them tick, who they are, and how they got there.