Monday, 12 November 2018

The Rise and Rise of Aussie-Based Thrillers

by Tory Hayward

Its fair to say that one of the few areas in which Australian cultural cringe has been quietly thriving is the genre of Aussie-based suspense, mystery, crime and thrillers. It's always felt a bit daggy somehow. A bit try-hard.

Australian romance, especially rural romance is a different matter entirely. Loved to the level of iconicism, these stories are enduringly popular. Australian horror is similar. But when it comes to police investigations, conspiracy, murder and elite agents... aside from a couple of stand out authors, well, its just never taken off as a genre.

This has always bemused me somewhat. Its always seemed that Australia would be a perfect base for this kind of story. While we may be a small nation, culturally we have everything required for a 'westernised' thriller, but with the added interest of being Asia-Pacific based, with a tyrannical environment that can add isolation and complication at every turn. In a genre heaving with US and UK based FBI / CIA / NCIS / MI6 etc etc stories there is so much freshness to be found in Australia as a location.

So thank goodness Aussie based thrillers are starting to follow their romance and horror based cousins out of the doldrums and into the spotlight.

This slow growing popularity reached a tipping point in 2016 with the novel The Dry, by Jane Harper, and the hugely successful Canberra based tv mini-series The Code. Since then there has been a dignified but persistent scramble by publishers to acquire Aussie based crime and thrillers.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer, The Nowhere Child by Christian White, Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra, The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey, and Crimson Lake by Candice Fox followed on the heels of The Dry. Award winning and hugely popular, these novels have all started to define the genre and in doing so have piqued the interest of scriptwriters globally.

I, for one, am excited to see what local writers produce over the coming years (decades?!), and to watch them take ownership on the worldwide stage.

Love to love: a cup of tea!
Love to Laugh: at life!
Love to Learn: about what the future holds!

Take care
Txx










Monday, 5 November 2018

Who Reads Romance Novels?

Who Reads Romance Novels?


By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Romance novels have been outselling every other genre for many years. The most recent figures I found cited Romance/erotica sales as being at US$1.44 billion dollars and Crime coming in at second spot with sales of US$728.2 million. According to the Romance Writers of Australia website, of 10 million books sold each year in the United Kingdom, greater than 7 million are romance novels, and there is a Mills & Boon sold every three seconds in the UK!

So, who are all these voracious romance readers and is there a ‘type’ of person who’s more inclined to read romance?

In a fabulous article for Huffington Post, (see link below), Maya Rodale quoted facts and figures to dispel the notion that “It is a truth universally acknowledged that romance readers are single women in possession of cats and in want of a man”; “younger women who use them as emotional porn”; or “middle aged women who are bored in their marriages and want to fantasise about hard, chiselled men”.

A study of 2000 romance readers, published by the Romance Writers of America found that contrary to all the negative stereotypes, the basic demographic of the romance reader is a well educated woman aged from 25-64 years. 82% of the romance readers surveyed were female and 18% were male. A 2016 ARRA survey revealed that of 275 respondents, only one was male, and 78.1% said that 50% or more of the books they read were romances.

Now, on some level statistics may be interesting—particularly to publishers and authors who are trying to determine the emerging trends in the marketplace. To focus on these figures, however, is to overlook the essence of what makes a romance reader.

I believe the gender, sexual persuasion or age of the romance reader doesn’t matter, nor does their educational level or marital status. As far as I’m concerned, it’s of no consequence as to what sub-genre of romance he or she is likely to enjoy or whether they love billionaires, shape-shifters or cowboys. 

The crucial commonality is that all romance readers love to feel an emotional connection to characters as they read. It’s the emotional journey undertaken by the characters that the romance reader empathises with and finds satisfying. There’s your answer to the question ‘Who reads romances?’

Romance readers are generally compassionate people who feel deeply and possess great empathy. They’re usually positive people who love a happy ending, and have a knack of making others around them happy.

Sound like emotional claptrap? Well, just attend any romance reader event and see the friendships, the shared laughter and the sense of community! It's great to be part of the world of romance reading.

Who reads romance novels?

I do, and I’m betting if you’re reading this, so do you!

Love to love: Romance novels!!
Love to Laugh: Romance novels make me laugh just as much as they make me teary. It’s that satisfying emotional journey that counts!
Love to Learn: What other romance readers are reading and enjoying, especially finding a new author, so leave a comment below and perhaps make a recommendation of three romance novels you’d recommend to someone discovering the genre.


References:











Monday, 29 October 2018

Inspiration: 15 Ways to Get It Happening


by Marilyn Forsyth


Image courtesy of giphy

Where does my inspiration comes from? Everywhere and Anywhere. If your muse has gone missing, you might like to try some of my favourite 'creative juice' feeders.


1. Read books. To be a writer, you have to be a reader. If you read only romances, try something different for a change. I bought a book of Celtic tales recently which has prompted an idea for a new story.


Image courtesy of pinterest.com




2. Read magazines for real life inspiration. Mags like Women’s Weekly have fabulous stories about people from all walks of life. Even headlines on covers are fodder for fresh ideas.








3. Watch movies. Sometimes a piece of dialogue will grab me, or an unusual setting will get me thinking. Movie trailers are good for that, too.


4. Listen to Music. Not just while you’re writing, but any time. I find many song lyrics and themes emotionally evocative.


Image courtesy of giphy

5. Have a life outside of writing. Get out of your cave and into the real world to observe what’s happening out there. People watching is endlessly fascinating and snatches of overheard conversation can stir up ideas. Places like airports have an inbuilt emotional ‘feel’ to them which can prove a jumping-off point for the creative process.



6. Travel. Discover new places, meet new people. Learning about different cultures can open up a whole new way of looking at things.


7. Dream. Sometimes the best ideas come in the middle of the night. Or you can daydream or meditate. Give yourself time to do nothing except to let your mind wander.


8. Go for a walk or a run. Fresh air is not only good for the body, it also stimulates your brain.


9. Human-interest pages on Facebook, Humans of New York for example, are well worth following for unique characters.


Image: author's own photo



10. Keep a notebook to jot down thoughts about an interesting character you’ve met, or to capture that utterly brilliant piece of dialogue that you just came up with. My inspiration for Falling in Love Again came from a note I made about opalized fossils after a visit to Lightning Ridge.






11. Write longhand. It doesn’t matter what you write. Don’t think about it, just do it without pausing for 10 minutes or so. Even thoughts that at first seem crazy can hold a gem of an idea.


12. Brainstorm. Free those ideas bubbling away in your brain. Even if those ideas are only half-formed, at least it’s a start.


13. Awaken your curiosity by playing ‘What if…?’ Or take 2 disparate ideas and make them fit together; cross-pollination can lead to original and intriguing outcomes. Cinderella + Hooker with a Heart did pretty well at the movies. 😉


Watercolour by Marilyn Forsyth





14. Be creative in a way other than writing. I like to paint and draw; using my hands instead of my brain allows my mind to roam.












15. Internet sites that feed your passion are a must. I follow a heap of Medieval-interest sites that constantly provide me with food for thought on characters and settings. Write with passion and you’ll always have fun with it.


There you have it: 15 ways to get inspiration happening. If your muse is giving you grief, I hope one of them works for you.


I never wait for inspiration to strike - I get out there and look for it. How about you? Do you wait for it to hit you over the head or do you go in search? 

Love to Love Kate Forsyth and Sarah Mills' Word of Mouth TV interviews with Aussie authors. Catch up on past episodes here.

Love to Laugh at the Graham Norton Show. Love seeing celebs being themselves.

Love to Learn how to improve my craft with feedback from RWAus competitions. For those interested, the Emerald and Emerald Pro close November 19th.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Author Spotlight - Kate Forsyth

Called 'one of the finest writers of this generation', she admits she writes, reads and daydreams. Please welcome Kate Forsyth!



Bio

Kate Forsyth is a best-selling, award-winning author of picture books, poetry, fantasy novels for children and fairy tale retellings for adults. She has a doctorate in fairy tale retellings, a BA in literature, an MA in creative writing. She is the only author to win five Aurealis awards in a single year, and she's a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of A Mother's Offering to her Children, the first book for children ever published in Australia.  Kate lives in a seaside area of Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback, a bad-tempered black cat, and thousands of books. You can contact Kate on Twitter: https://twitter.com/KateForsyth, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kateforsythauthor, on her blog: http://www.kateforsyth.com.au/kates-blog, and through her website:  http://www.kateforsyth.com.au



What is one must-have when you are writing?
A big cup of tea!

What are you reading at the moment?
A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings by Helen Jukes

Name one thing you're scared of?
Failure.

Like to share something that recently made you happy?
I signed a contract with the National Library of Australia to write a book with my sister, Belinda Murrell. We are co-creating a bibliomemoir inspired by the life of my great-great-great-great-grandmother Charlotte Waring Atkinson who wrote the first children's book published in Australia.

Image courtesy of: kateforsyth.com.au

Like to share an embarrassing moment?
A few weeks ago I was at the Bendigo Writers Festival and was coming out of the auditorium to a big queue of people waiting for me to sign their books. My foot caught in the tablecloth, the table collapsed and I fell flat on my face in front of dozens of people. I hurt my foot and my pride.

Who is your favourite literary crush?
At the moment, it's Sarah Waters!

If you were the main character in your favourite book, who would you be?
Emily Starr, the heroine of L.M. Montgomery's series which began with Emily of New Moon. It was the first book I ever read about a girl who wanted to be a writer and I badly wanted to live on Prince Edward Island.

What is the premise of your latest book?
Beauty in Thorns tells the story of pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones and his lifelong obsession with the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale which led him to create a quartet of extraordinary paintings which became the most celebrated art of the late 19th century. It is a story of love, desire, betrayal and forgiveness told in the voices of four women who most inspired him, including his wife Georgie - the model for the first and last Sleeping Princesses - and his daughter, Margot, the model for the most famous.



What unique challenges did the book pose?
The Pre-Raphaelites are such a fascinating group of people - there were just so many wonderful stories, I had to pick and choose carefully, focusing on my core story. I still wrote far too much, and had to cut it back very hard. A very challenging book to write but so rewarding.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a new fairy tale-infused historical novel for adults called The Blue Rose. It is set in Imperial China and France during the French Revolution and was inspired by the true story of the quest for a blood-red rose.

Image of 'The Blue Rose' - old fairy tale set in China - courtesy of: kateforsyth.com.au
What is your writing schedule? 
I work most days, but there is a lot to do besides writing - administration, answering emails, doing interviews. Monday is my admin. day, then I write Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I often have a half-day on Fridays, work most of Saturday, and then catch up on my reading or do different types of writing on Sundays (i.e. poetry, short stories, essays). I walk the dog in the morning and then work through to around 4:30 pm when my kids get home from school and I have a little break. Then I work through until around 6:30 pm when I cook dinner. If I'm writing well, I go back to it after dinner - but usually I read in the evenings.

Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?
I don't like this term 'plotting v. pantsing' as it is divisive and sets up two equally important and valuable writing tools as binary opposites when, in truth, both can work together to help you discover your story. I plan my overall narrative arc carefully, and like to create a simple chapter outline, but there is always room for new ideas and inspirations. The plan changes as I discover my story, and sometimes I need to adjust my early ideas quite significantly. Often I know what needs to happen in a chapter, but have no idea how to make it happen on the page. I love free associative writing as it often sparks new ideas, but whenever I am stuck, having a plan can really help me see my way forward.


What do you love to love?
I love to write and read, obviously, but also to walk in a place of natural beauty, to work in my garden, to cook, to listen to music, to dance, to go to the theatre, to travel the world.

What do you love to laugh at?
My dog makes me laugh every day.

What do you love to learn about?
Each new novel I write teaches me something I did not know before. I learn so much, it astounds me. Not just about the time and place my story is set in, but also about writing and myself.


Monday, 15 October 2018

3 Writers: 3 Creative hobbies

By Cassandra Samuels


Today I have 3 amazing writers who do beautiful creative hobbies. So, I asked them a few questions and they were happy to share some of their work with us.

Alison Stuart is the author of English Civil War novels and she likes to make quilts when she is not sitting down writing words.
Buy this book here

1. When did you start quilting and why?

When I was in Form 2, my school introduced a new idea – extra curricular lunchtime activities (how the teachers must have hated it!). It just so happened that Mrs. Howard the science teacher offered up patchwork – and perched on the benches in the science lab I learned English Paper Piecing patchwork (which is a considerable improvement on anything else I learned in the science lab!).


Alison finishing her first quilt
Alison finishing her first quilt
2.How important to you is refilling the creative well?
I know I am writing better when I am sewing (I also do cross stitch). I I do love hand quilting in particular but it is an awkward piece of sewing and the discovery of a local machine quilter has made me rather lazy!

3. And have you ever suffered as a consequence of not doing so?
At the moment I am definitely suffering because to embark on a major quilting project I need the same amount of creative (and physical!) space as my writing demands. I have to plan my project and it takes me a couple of days to get all my ducks in a row and cut out the material for assembly and piece the quilt top.


Cate Ellink  likes to write spicy hot romances for Escape Publishing as Cate Ellink and small town romance under Catherine Evans, but when she is not making her readers hot under the collar she likes to take amazing photographs.


1. When did you start taking photos and why?

Ever since I can remember I’ve written and taken photos. My extended family are good photo-takers. I hate having my photo taken so I rarely take others.


Buy this book here

Buy this book here

2. How important to you is re-filling the creative well?
I tend to think of this as balancing myself and my life, rather than re-filling the creative well. If I’m indoors too much, I begin to feel confined. If I’m doing too much for others, I become drained.

3. Have you ever suffered as a consequence of not doing so?
My balance is never perfect! Some years back, I had a really bad run with lots of stressful life events in a short period and everything got totally out of balance. I ended up really sick. As part of my change of focus, I looked more at creative pursuits. 

courtesy of Catherine Evans

It’s so hard to pick a favourite photo but since I have to, I’ll choose this one I took at Uluru in 2007.   I’d never seen one like it, so I was happy (even if you can’t really tell it’s Uluru!)



Melanie Scott likes variety in her books and so she writes fantasy under MJ Scott, hometown romance under Emma Douglas and sports romance under Melanie Scott. When she is not creating new worlds, new towns or new sports' heroes she loves to create lovely watercolours.

Copyright Mel Scott

1. When did you start painting watercolours and why?

I took a class on a whim in 2014. It was a few years after my first book came out and I had started to realise that I needed another creative hobby that wasn’t my job as well. I’d always liked watercolour but never been particularly arty so was just trying something out. Happily, I loved it!


Buy this book here
buy this book here


2. How important to you is re-filling the creative well? 
For me it’s really important. I know writers who don’t read while they’re writing or don’t watch TV/movies etc but I can’t do that. My brain needs lots of stories being fed into it as well as looking at pretty things and nice colours. There’s so much pressure on writers to just write, write, write these days and I don’t think most of us can do that long term without burning out.

3. And have you ever suffered as a consequence of not doing so? 

I definitely notice when I’m stressed and I start doing mindless internet surfing etc instead of reading or watching something on TV or doing some art that it flows over into the writing not going well.


What is your creative outlet?


I love to love…sitting at a cafe with a view and enjoying a sweet treat.

I love to laugh….at the positions my cat Angus gets himself into.

I love to learn…about other people's creative outlets.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Romance Around the World: Wales


Wales: A Country of Majesty and Tradition
 

pixabay.com
Wales is a country with incredible scenery, culture and history. It is an ancient land with rugged coastlines, soaring mountains and beautiful National Parks. Inhabited by modern humans for more than 29 000 years, it is known for its medieval castles, Welsh language and Celtic culture. The Welsh people have distinct romantic traditions such as lovespoons which young men would carve for women as a sign of their affection.


Some beautiful romantic novels have been written about this special country. Here are the details of three books, I especially enjoyed.


After Forever Ends by Melodie Ramone



This beautifully constructed novel tells of a love to last a lifetime. Sylvia is from Scotland. She lost her mother at a young age, and her father is somewhat preoccupied. She goes to boarding school in Wales where she meets and falls in love with Oliver Dickinson, a rebellious young man and a twin. The story is told from the viewpoint of Sylvia, now widowed and a grandmother. She decides to return to the Welsh cottage in the woods where she lived most of her life. There is magic in the woods.



The Tides Between by Elizabeth Jane Corbett


 



This young adult novel with elements of romance introduces us to Bridie, a creative and imaginative young woman, migrating to Port Phillip Bay with her stressed mother and practical stepfather. She befriends a Welsh couple, Rhys and Sian. Rhys, a musician who suffers from agoraphobia, was regarded as a coward in his home town. Sian has special healing powers. We follow Bridie’s journey to adulthood and growing realisation of her love for Rhys.



Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney


 



When Nikki is a young boy, he is taken by his gypsy mother to live with his wealthy, titled Welsh grandfather. Feeling abandoned by his mother and scorned by his grandfather, he grows up, inherits the earldom and totally neglects the estate. Clare Morgan, the orphaned daughter of an impoverished Methodist minister confronts Nikki about the starving people in the village and the dangerous mine on his estate. She asks for his assistance. He counteroffers. What he wants is her reputation. If she will live with him platonically for three months, he will give her what she asks.



Have you been to Wales? Which part of the country did you like best? What is your favourite romance novel, set in this beautiful country?




I love to love: I went out to dinner the other night with my father, sister and husband. A very special evening.

I love to laugh: I saw 'Crazy, Rich Asians' at the cinema yesterday. This film is so much fun.

I love to learn: We visited some of the monasteries in Meteora, Greece on our recent overseas trip. The meaning behind the artworks and the ancient traditions of the monks are absolutely fascinating.




Monday, 1 October 2018

The TBR Mountain - How I'm Taking Back Control



by Enisa Haines

Image courtesy of: giphy.com

Back in the days when life was simpler, a mix of school/university and leisure time, I hadn't met the TBR pile. I was always reading, devouring in a few days the ten romance novels Harlequin Mills & Boon published every month. Yes, ten novels. Soon a new publisher appeared, Silhouette Books, and the ten books per month grew to twenty. I could cope with that.

Then an explosion happened in the romance novel publishing industry. New publishers emerged, offering sub-genres never before published: romantic suspense, futuristic, fantasy, paranormal and Gothic. Harlequin Mills & Boon introduced new category lines. So many books vying for my attention but life was no longer simple, family and work obligations and using spare moments to write hacking away at my reading time. And the TBR pile took up residence in my home. Five books stacked on my bedside table.


Then the bedside table morphed into one bookcase, then two, then three, the shelves overflowing as the five books unread multiplied to 1500. Add the 1000+ eBooks waiting to be read on my Amazon Kindle app (eReader News Today daily bargain deals sure are tempting) and my stack is now a mountain!

























How did my TBR pile get so out of control? I love books. Too much, I now admit. I'll see a promo for a new book release or I'll read a review and I'm purchasing, so I know I won't ever stop buying, but I have to take control of my unread books and work through that mountain. How?


Image courtesy of: giphy.com


I've come up with a plan:

  • Resist buying more books to replace the ones read or donated (most important)
  • Read the back cover blurb and the first page. Does it grab my attention? 
  • Read the first chapter. Do I want to read on?                                                                                   (if the answer to either question is 'no', the book goes in the 'Donate to charity' box)

Am I being too ruthless? Sure, but ruthless I have to be to cull my TBR mountain.

Do you have a TBR pile? Is it out of control? How do you deal with it?


Love to love: reading romance novels

Love to laugh: at the funny gifs I find as I search the internet

Love to learn: all the ways how to tame my TBR pile







Monday, 24 September 2018

The Ethics of Writing

by Tory Hayward

Ethics and writing seems straightforward enough at first. Do not plagiarise, and that is about it. Don't take the work of others and pass it off as your own.

But if we dig a little deeper it becomes much less simple. Writing a story produces a 'truth,' or as Judy Nunn said in an interview on the Morning Show on the ABC the other week, "Reading is always a learning experience." Even when the reader knows they are reading fiction, they still learn from what you have written.

So does that then behoove writers to write meticulously researched novels? To produce some educational tome? Well of course not. It's fiction. Real facts can be woven into our stories, but in some instances there are no real facts. Our stories are imaginary worlds, and it's perfectly acceptable that our facts are imaginary too. How can the writer who has her romance set on a planet in a distant galaxy be writing something based on an accepted fact? Neither she nor her reader expect it.

Which brings us to the issue of context. Can the Aussie-born writer with no Asian heritage write an Asian heroine? And if not, where is the line that a writer cannot cross? Can an erotica writer write a story that romanticises a taboo relationship?

As we all know, a writer can write whatever they like, and in these days of self-publishing can find somewhere to publish it. And this is how it should be. Imagine for a moment a world where there were rules about who could write what. It would be a grey, dictatorial world at the very least.

I like to subscribe to Oscar Wilde's view:
Books are well written or badly written. That is all.
So go forth, my writerly friends. Leap into our uncensored world where it is ethical to write unethically. Twist facts, push the status quo, and let truth in your writing simply be your truth.  Everything is possible.



Monday, 17 September 2018

You’ll Never Know It All


By Valerie Parv AM



I’ve been asked many times why I still buy books on the craft of writing at this stage of my career. “But you have nearly a hundred books published and you write how-to books yourself. Don’t you know all that by now?”







I do write how-to books. My Art of Romance Writing is still out there in print and ebook, revised and updated and going strong. Giving lectures and masterclasses for writers here and overseas keeps me busy. I was even co-opted onto a panel of “legends” at the Romance Writers of Australia national conference last month, although I don’t feel especially legendary.

It’s true that I know a lot more than when I started out. But writing is a slippery customer and we have to keep up. In my first romance novels, exotic settings were the norm, lovingly described to take readers on a journey along with the hero and heroine.


In the Google and Netflix era, most people have visited or can picture a castle in England, a ranch in Texas, or life aboard a space station. Book lengths have reduced significantly, too, keeping reader focus firmly on the lives and loves of our characters with the setting used as spice, with a light touch.



The rise of indie publishing has led to the creation of hybrid sub-genres where romance is combined with sci-fi, with paranormal elements, time travel, history crossovers, you name it. Love scenes can be as adventurous as you’re comfortable writing. In the #MeToo age, sex is evenly balanced with the heroine taking the lead as often as the hero, thank goodness.



These are the big-picture changes. Subtler changes include the style of dialogue, to the relationship itself. Reflecting modern mores, being a single parent is a lifestyle choice rather than a source of conflict. Heroes are no longer gruff authority figures who know what’s best for the heroine. Or if he pulls that one, she soon sets him straight.



I’m using him and her as defaults, but they can just as easily be M/M or F/F or any combination. Diversity is the keyword, not used as tokens, but as real people who reflect the diversity of our society.


As well, my characters tweet, Insta their meals, post on FB and live on their phones. I love that one of this year’s Valerie Parv Award finalists used a hashtag as her book title. Reading blogs and watching podcasts and my Kindle stocked with the latest craft and psychology info keep my writing senses honed. If I gain one new insight or piece of information from them, I consider the time well spent.


You can never know it all – and I’m delighted. It’s what keeps my writing - and me – excited by what I do.


How does that work for you? What changes are you most aware of in your writing? How do you keep up? I’d love to know what you think.

My new workshop, 'Romance Writing Rebooted', is on October 27 at the ACT Writers’ Centre, Canberra. I look at these issues and more with the aim of taking away a synopsis of your novel by day’s end. Please click on the link above if you'd like to know more.


Valerie Parv AM was made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the arts as a prolific author, role model and mentor.
With more than 34 million copies of her books sold and translated into 29 languages, Valerie is an Honorary Life Member of Romance Writers of Australia.
She loves connecting with writers and readers on www.valerieparv.com Twitter @ValerieParv, and Facebook and is represented by The Tate Gallery Pty Ltd, Sydney.


I love to love…real-life relationships where the love stays strong no matter the years.


I love to laugh…at daggy jokes and puns such as the medium who writes best-selling séance fiction.


I love to learn…obscure bits of trivia like the Mandelbug computer virus I used in my sci-fi romance Beacon 3: Homeworld.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Romance Books VS Romance Movies/Miniseries?

Miranda's September Musings


Big Question, darlings. How many of your favourite romance novels have you seen on screen...and which do you prefer? The book? Or the movie/miniseries?

Do you know what? When I started to think about it, I was hard pressed to remember if any of my favourites have hit the big screen. Maybe onto DVD, though, or buried at 3am on the Movie Channel. 

The biggie that instantly comes to mind is Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, a timeless classic. Oh, I do love reading it. And rereading it. Jane Austen's prose is still fabulous after 200+ years. But, wow, seeing Colin Firth - ahem, Mr Darcy - on the screen was totally worth the 327 minutes (5 hours 45 minutes) it takes to watch this miniseries. It's also possibly the time it takes to read the book if you're a fast reader. To answer my own question: I like both, book and miniseries. I think it depends on my mood which one I turn to.


Picture credit: amazon.co.uk


How about a more modern romance, like Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan? Apparently it's been called the 'new' Pride & Prejudice. Anyone read it? Anyone seen it on the big screen? Which version do you prefer...or is it both? I haven't read the book, although it's hovered on my radar for a while. Anyhoo, I snuck off to see the movie and absolutely loved it. It is truly a Cinderella romance, and the lead actors are gorgeous and incredibly lovable, as are some of their friends. It showcases Singapore at it's very best and OH MY GOSH WAIT TILL YOU SEE THE WEDDING (not theirs)! So OTT it is ridiculous - but I bet you sit there and think, gosh, wow, why didn't I have a teeny tiny bit of that razzle dazzle at my wedding? Cough. Or not. A very fun film, with lovely romance, family and true friendship at its core. 


Picture credit: amazon.com


Moving on. What about the (sometimes controversial) blockbuster Fifty Shades Trilogy by EL James, vividly transported from book to big screen? I have yet to finish watching the trilogy...and I confess I've yet to finish reading it... But I have read and watched the first book, Fifty Shades of Grey, and I preferred the movie. You?


Picture credit: amazon.com

There's obviously demand for romance on film. A 'Chick Flick' night at the local cinema usually features something romanc-y and feel good. I love those nights! Meanwhile, Passionflix and Hallmark continue to film favourite romance novels that might not hit the big screen but are accessible in your lounge room.

I still remember being blown away when I watched these four Nora Roberts books on film. I totally adored the books, especially my favourite Montana Sky, but the films were fabulous too, they brought the books to life. 


Picture credit: amazon.com


So... Your thoughts? Romance book? Or film? Or - BOTH!? 

Love from Miranda xx

Love to love: 
Romance movies. Always have, always will. 
Love to laugh:
at all the memes Mr Darcy inspires. A lot, I've discovered.
Love to learn:
if anyone subscribes to Passionflix? I'd love to know how it works in Australia. Please?

Monday, 3 September 2018

Romance Novels and the Empowerment of Women

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Smart, savvy, articulate and empowered women read and write romance books that reflect cultural shifts, and arguably contribute to cultural shifts. Some "feminists" argue that romances are harmful to the empowerment of our gender, while others say romance novels have helped women evolve. I guess it depends on how one defines feminism and feminist values. I assert that the heroine's happiness is pivotal to the modern romance novel and her needs - whatever they may be - are prioritised and supported and that this is a feminist ideal.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com


I believe the huge popularity of the romance genre, written mostly by women for women, stems from the values in the novels resonating with female readership, being a fabulous platform for promoting open discussions about love and relationships and because they celebrate feminine power and success in a way that's very culturally relevant.

Romances focus on issues that are important to women. Our stories deal with all sorts of hard-hitting issues that modern women face - rape, abuse, loss of children... Name a problem and there'll be a romance book which features a heroine who's faced it. The message to female readers is that we're strong and capable of determining our own futures. We possess inner grit to endure and prevail over hardships.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Romance novels define what women and men expect of and will accept in a romantic relationship. Important messages are sent to female readers, not least of all is that a woman deserves a partner who'll respect and value her and what's important to her, and who'll treat her well. Messages in our romance novels seep into the very fabric of our society - that career women can still be attractive to men, that women can have a work-life-family-love balance and that there are plenty of men who appreciate the strength women have to balance different facets of their lives in order to achieve their goals.

Image Courtesy of Pixabay
Then there's the whole issue of sexuality. Romances promote sexually liberated heroines who seek sexual pleasure without hang-ups or fear of judgement. Gone are the days when nice young women didn't know or talk about sex. Modern romances don't rate the heroine's chief virtue as being her virginity. The sexual revolution hit and romance novels began to portray women as having sex outside marriage. This validated the choice many had already made, and perhaps broadcast to other women that it was okay to follow suit.

Heroines in modern romances are unapologetically sexual creatures who know how to communicate their needs and find a partner who can fulfil them. Social stigmas and traditional relationships are being overturned in place of new models of relationships including menage, BDSM, lesbian romance and more.


Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Love to Love: Living in this time and embracing my feminism.

Love to Laugh: At the ridiculous, ill-informed commentary written by those who call romance novels "trashy".

Love to Learn: What do you think? Have romances impacted upon the empowerment of women, is it the other way around or is it a two-way process?

Monday, 27 August 2018

An Interview with RWAus President, Joanne Boog




By Marilyn Forsyth






I’d like to introduce you to the new RWAus president, Joanne Boog. I spent a delightful few minutes chatting with her at last week’s conference in Sydney. She is truly honoured to have been selected for the position and enthusiastic about the future of RWAus.






What is your vision for the future of RWAus?

I want RWAus to be the best it can be by combining new ways of thinking with ways that have proved successful in the past.



What inspired you to apply for the position?

Firstly, I was surprised at the small number prepared to put their hand up for the position. Yes, it’s a big role, but it’s also a vital one, and reliant on volunteers.

I felt I had the ability to do the job but I wasn’t sure I’d be acceptable. I subsequently found out that not only was I acceptable but the selection committee wanted to know where I’d been hiding.



What do you bring to the position of President?

I’m a graduate of the Institute of Company Directors and have both experience and expertise in writing policies and procedures. Having managed a law firm for fourteen years, I think I have a pretty good feel for the running of a large organisation.

More importantly, I’ve been a member of RWAus for ten years which puts me in a position of knowing what RWAus is all about.





What do you see as your role?

To represent RWAus to the world at large. I want to not only support our current members but to encourage more people to join. Our current membership is about 700, having decreased over the last couple of years. I’d like to see that situation reversed.




How do you envisage doing that?

The fabulous new committee and I are committed to providing our members with more than education about the craft of writing and publishing opportunities. We want to inspire our members.

We have been working on a number of ideas, some of which will be presented to the membership for their consideration.

We intend to maintain the great relationships we have with all the Australian agents and publishing houses and hope to expand that area globally.

The great beauty about RWAus is that it provides support for all writers, whether multi-published or yet-to-be published. We will continue to do that, while promoting and providing opportunities for authors seeking traditional publication or who wish to follow the independent route.






How much work do you think will be involved?

I realise the role will be time-consuming, but RWAus has done so much for me that I feel I need to give something back.







In what ways has RWAus helped you personally?

Through the conference sessions, the OWLs, the competitions, it’s made me a better writer. And it’s given me opportunities to promote my work.

It’s encouraged me to be the best writer I can be.

A Message from Joanne: 'RWAus is a great organisation that needs to support the volunteers and members. If you know anyone who has left RWAus please ask them to let me know why. I can be contacted at president@romanceaustralia.com. If you would like to volunteer please go to the website and fill in the form. You will be most welcome.'



If you have a question for Joanne please leave it in the comments. 

Joanne
Loves to Love: the colour purple.
Loves to Laugh: often.
Loves to Learn: everything I can.

Monday, 20 August 2018

The Joy of Research

by Annie Seaton


Best-selling and award-winning author Annie Seaton believes in living and breathing her stories. Each winter Annie and her husband leave the beach to roam the remote areas of Australia for story ideas and research.

I love the research that takes place before I write a story. Travelling across and around this beautiful country that we live in, up close and personal. Over the past six years we have travelled the north of Australia to research my settings, and books have been set in the Kakadu, the Daintree, the east Kimberley, and most recently with my new release in the magnificent Whitsunday region. My next two books will be set in very different locations, one in a city and one in the desert, but again with the consideration of issues threatening the landscape, and stories that embed a sense of community and family.

One of my favourite destinations is the Whitsunday region where emerald-green islands sparkle in a sapphire ocean. Secluded beaches, coral reefs and towering hoop pines are all part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. It is a stunning and pristine landscape threatened by human activity and I thoroughly enjoyed the research here for Whitsunday Dawn.





For me as a storyteller, presenting the authentic settings that I have experienced personally is as important as the historical research of the time periods that I explore. I have been variously described recently by some of my reviewers as an 'eco-adventure author', and an 'activist eco-writer'. I am passionate about the preservation of our pristine landscapes and I enjoy raising a variety of environmental issues in my stories, as well as exploring community relationships and the importance of family.

The research for my current release Whitsunday Dawn was very special. We were fortunate to spend a total of three months (over different periods) in the region last year as I researched. Not only did I explore the setting in depth as we went to the islands, but back on the mainland I spoke to locals who had lived there in the war years when part of the story is set.

https://www.amazon.com/Whitsunday-Dawn-Annie-Seaton-ebook/dp/B079WT4KT7

The locals described for me the war years in Cannon Valley and provided a rich tapestry of life in the region when it was only a tiny settlement of farms and fishermen. The historical research was deep, and I also used primary sources on the National Library Trove site. A recent review says:

"Seaton deserves much praise for her dedication to her research and for bringing these facts to our attention via a compelling narrative."

But so much credit must be given to those I interviewed during my visits to the Whitsundays.

Readers...tell me what is your absolutely favourite place in Australia...and why?

Annie Seaton lives near the beach on the east coast of Australia, fulfilling her lifelong dream of being an author. After majoring in history at university, her career and further study spanned the education sector with the completion of a Masters Degree in Education. Then working as an academic research librarian, a high school principal and a university tutor, until she took up her full-time writing career. Annie's Porter Sisters series is published in printed in Australia and New Zealand with Pan MacMillan, and Whitsunday Dawn with Harper Collins in the Harlequin MIRA imprint to be followed by Shadows of Undara next year. Annie also has many books published digitally internationally across many genres and they are listed on her website.

If you'd like to learn more about Annie Seaton and her stories, please visit her website http://www.annieseaton.net/ and join her newsletter on the front page of the website. You can also connect with Annie via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnieSeatonAuthor/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/annieseaton26 and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seatonannie/


I love to love my beautiful family. They are my life and the love of family shines through my stories.

I love to laugh with my friends...and with my characters, laugh until I snort.

I love to learn about our beautiful country, the landscapes and the history. I love to travel in our caravan and learn about new places, and experience the beauty of sunrises in the outback, sunsets over the ocean, and every other beautiful location that our Australia offers.

Thank you, Breathless in the Bush, for having me.