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 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:

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:

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:

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:

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

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
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 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. 

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.

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 and join her newsletter on the front page of the website. You can also connect with Annie via Facebook: and Twitter: and Instagram:

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.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Writing Through Illness - My Story.

By Cassandra Samuels

In 2014 my debut book A Scandalous Wager was accepted for publication.

My dream since I was fifteen was coming true. I thought the rest of my author life would just fall in line. I was wrong.

I never factored in illness.

In 2015 I started A Scandalous Secret, but was tired all the time and finding it hard to get into my creative space. Something wasn’t right. I already suffered from achilles tendonitis in both ankles, but now I had a pain in my toes that ached all day and kept me awake at night. I was a hot mess! I’d been diagnosed with seronegative arthritis eighteen months after my daughter was born but I had muddled through for over eighteen years and it had never stopped me from doing what I needed to do.

This was different.

Courtesy of Sage Friedman - upsplash

After a few tests my specialist said I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Okay, I thought, just get some new medication and get on with things, but it wasn’t to be for me. The next two years were filled with multiple medications, with debilitating pain and disappointment, and with side effects that left me wondering if I was ever going to feel like a functioning person again. I had brain fog, I lost a lot of my hair and there were times when certain parts of my body just didn’t want to cooperate or move at all. My stomach was a war zone with constant cannon fire audible to everyone. The worst was the fatigue, both mental and physical.

I couldn’t write.

courtesy of Max Van Den Oetelaar - upsplash

In fact, at times I struggled to make a decision as simple as which pair of black pants to wear to work. I had over 200 sick days built up before my diagnosis. Now I struggled to get through a week without needing a day or more off. I started injections that were supposed to suppress my immune system and stop my body from fighting itself, plus strong anti-inflammatories. Nothing worked.

Somehow through all this I managed to re-write, not once but twice, my current book, Collector of Hearts. It has taken me four years to get another book on the digital shelves. That it’s finally out there is testament to my determination and the support of my family, friends and critique partners, not to mention the understanding and patience of my editor.

Today, I am still struggling. I am on a new weekly injection that is, indeed, suppressing my immune system. The downside of it is, though, that I am more likely to pick up an illness – a cold or infection – and that I will most likely get it worse than someone who has an immune system to fight it. It will also take longer to recover. Fatigue is a constant battle, making it extra challenging to find time to write around a full-time job.

This takes a toll on my mental health as well. Stress is particularly bad for me and I am always trying to keep it together – not always successfully. I constantly feel like I am letting people down — my readers, my family, my work colleagues and myself.

There is one constant – I want to write.

I want to keep creating stories for people to enjoy. I may not be churning out the books as fast as I want to, but my will is strong and I will keep at it until the next book is written, and the next one and the next one. Why? Because I love it.

For me completing a book is not just a mission completed or a job well done, it is a triumph over my illness.

If you want to know more about Rheumatoid Arthritis click on this link.

Have you every had to fight through illness to do the thing you love?

Love to love: Younger - tv show on Stan Australia.

Love to laugh: At my funny little grandsons, Ryan, Finn and Eli

Love to learn: New things I can do on my laptop.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Romance Around The World: Spain

By Sharon Bryant
The Rich History and Culture of Spain
Spain has a diverse and fascinating history. The largest country in Southern Europe, in the early modern period, it was the first global empire in the world leaving a huge cultural heritage. Its art, traditions, music and food have been influenced over the centuries by a series of invaders, and by its location in the Western Mediterranean. The rich history and culture of Spain make it the perfect setting for a romance novel.


Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding is set in 1950, in post-war Spain. Alexandra de Falla, a romance novelist, travels to Andalusia in search of her estranged family on her father’s side. There she falls in love with a proud, passionate and intense Spanish count who disturbs and excites her. The cultural divide between her English home and her newfound Spanish one lead Alexandra on a tumultuous journey of love, intrigue and personal growth.

The Summer House By The Sea

The Summer House By The Sea by Jenny Oliver is set in modern-day Spain. When Ava’s elderly grandmother dies, just after she herself survives a bus accident, she decides to journey from England to her grandmother’s Spanish villa for a fresh start. She meets and falls in love with Tom, a retired actor. Ava’s brother Rory’s career is virtually destroyed after he makes one very foolish decision. His marriage was already on the rocks. Rory journeys to Spain with his young son, Max, and tries to mend things with his wife who is still back home in the U.K.

Billionaire M.D. by Olivia Gates 

When Cybele awakens in hospital, she has lost all memory of her past life. Her husband Mel is dead and she learns she is pregnant. Cybele is being cared by Rodrigo Valderrama, M.D. When she is well enough to leave hospital, Rodrigo takes Cybele to his villa to convalesce. Cybele is attracted to Rodrigo, but cannot fathom how he is connected to her past. Her memories are slowly returning.

Have you read and loved any romance novels set in Spain? What was your favourite?

I love to love: We’re travelling to country NSW to see our eldest daughter soon. I can’t wait.

I love to laugh: We saw Unqualified at the Ensemble Theatre last weekend. The comedy was infectious. I couldn’t stop laughing.

I love to learn: My husband and I just spend the most marvellous few hours doing a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House.

Monday, 30 July 2018

When Characters Have a Mind of Their Own

by Enisa Haines

I had believed myself a plotter when I wrote my first manuscript. I planned out the plot - 'What if this?' and 'What if that?' - in comprehensive detail. I knew the characters and what would happen and when and where. I worked on the outline, the events of each chapter, the synopsis. I wrote the book and I wrote it fast, but when I reached 'The End' something about the process didn't feel right. 

Image courtesy of: CCO Creative Commons

I spent many an hour wondering why. Too rigid and methodical, I realised, for a writer like me, happiest when my creativity is spontaneous. And in that happy state, my imagination let loose a vision. I saw this guy on a motor bike travelling down a winding road and I got to thinking: Who is he? Why is he on the road? Where is he going? The answers and the visions that then appeared gave me my second manuscript, and another revelation.

I'm not a plotter or a pantser, 'flying by the seat of my pants' planning only the basics or nothing at all. I'm not a plantser, plotting some of the story. I am a scener. I imagine scenes. They come in no particular order so there's some juggling done for them to make sense but they and the characters they reveal are the story.

Image courtesy of: archanN on  Wikimedia Commons 

That's not all. One day I was thinking of a character and he spoke to me. Yes, I had visualised him, a product of my imagination,  but he wanted things done his way. At first I ignored his urging - characters don't speak to their writers - and wrote the scenes as I had imagined them. But he was persistent, rejecting what I'd written so I gave in and wrote what he wanted me to write and introduced another character I had not envisaged. A character I knew immediately was pivotal to the plot and the happy-ever-after ending my hero character deserved.

I soon understood that characters, though coming into existence from my subconscious, are real in my mind. They take on a life of their own with their own thoughts and feelings and react in their own ways to situations they find themselves in. Maybe it's weird but I believe their stories are not my stories. I just write them and that, in itself, is magic.

Do your characters speak to you, ordering you to write as they want? Do you let them shape the story or do you rein them in?

Love to love: reading, immersing myself in the tales of characters imagined and yet feeling so real.

Love to laugh: at the often-strange-and-funny quirks fictional characters have.

Love to learn: about the many differences that make the characters who they are.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Overcoming The Fear

At first glance writing may not seem like the scariest of endeavours. But writers, whether published or not, face an immense mental challenge, and this can turn into a crippling fear.

The first challenge is the empty screen. That flashing cursor waiting patiently for you to fill the page with brilliance.  

Then once you start writing the niggle that the story isn't quite right, that your middle will sag, that your middle does sag, that you're spending hours every day working on something that is an appalling pile of nonsense, even that somewhere there's another writer writing a story almost identical to yours... I call these the Doubt Demons.

The standard advice is to just keep writing... 

While I take Mr Bradbury's point, this kind of advice doesn't help when I'm teetering on the brink of an anxiety attack, consumed with self doubt and scrubbing the toilet as a virtuous form of procrastination.

Fear not, though.  I know way to overcome the dreaded doubt demons.

Its habit.

Humans are habit driven creatures.  Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg for a heap of fascinating research on this subject.  

In my writing I have harnessed this characteristic of habit, and used it to keep motivated and overcome the Doubt Demons.

Motivation-wise I've developed a habit of showing up.  8am, for one hour, I will sit down at my computer to write.  That is my habit.

All I ask of myself is that I show up. That's it. I don't have a word count goal. I don't expect anything else of myself except that at 8am I am seated in front of my laptop.  Sometimes the hour flies by, and I'm there for another two.  Sometimes I've got nothing and spend the time researching (which is fine, the goal is to move the story forward and research will always do this).  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with self-doubt and can only focus on the washing that needs folding, the toilet that need scrubbing or the dogs who need walking...

This is where I also use habit.

Self doubt, negative self talk, overwhelm, anxiety... this fear, or negative mental state is a habit.  For me, as soon as I lose where the plot is heading, struggle with a scene, or have anything be remotely challenging the Doubt Demons take over my inner dialogue.

These issues are always going to be there when I'm writing. A plot never goes smoothly. Scenes suck. Challenges come out of nowhere.  I cannot change the 'trigger' for the negative self-talk habit.

However, I can (and have) changed my reaction.

First, I don't let myself entertain the negative self-talk.  As soon the inner dialogue starts I redirect it.  I refuse to think negatively.  Generally I give focussing back on the story a go.  Sometimes that works. But not always, so...

Secondly, I think 'ooh a problem to be solved.'  I turn the negativity into something positive and interesting.  I like to solve problems. I find it engaging and enjoyable.  I take time to pick apart the problem, and nut out solutions.

Doubt Demons do not have to have a place in your writing life.  They are a habit.  And habits, with patience, persistence and practice can be changed.

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Trouble with Choices - the Backstory for the New Story

by Trish Morey

Once upon a time there was a family called Faraday living in the Adelaide Hills. There was big brother Dan, twin younger sisters, Hannah and Beth, and little sister, Sophie. Dan was a serious (read: grumpy) cherry orchardist who needed casual pickers. Enter Lucy - fresh out of the US - blonde, tattooed and nose-studded, two out of three of those things just about an indictable offence in Dan's book. Dan and Lucy were polar opposites, but is it they say about opposites attracting? Yep, bam, despite all their efforts, they ended up slap bang in love.

The book was Cherry Season, and it came out in 2015 (that's like, years ago!)

Anyway, while Dan and Lucy were out there luxuriating in their happy ever after, the three girls were all sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. They weren't too happy about it either. Eventually they got together and formed a lobby group, and the next thing is, they're all banging on in my ear about wanting their own happy ever afters. Crikeys, you should have heard the din!

I finally relented, thinking I could do them all one at a time, but you should have heard them then. It was all, "Pick me." "No, me." "Move over, you bitches. Me, first!" Things got pretty catty there for a while, and I realised there was only one way to shut them up, and that was to tell all three stories in one book. Yep, three romances in one book - talk about value for money! Of course, they all wanted to star in the first chapter. (I made them draw straws for that - they couldn't argue with me then.) They still bitched about it, of course - especially when they others learned that Sophie abused the privilege and went and got herself drunk at brother Dan's wedding. Oh, boy. Hannah went right off.

Eventually I managed to get them all sorted. I think. And now Sophie, Hannah and Beth all star in their own book, The Trouble with Choices, (along with their octogenarian grandparents, who are having issues of their own, a male cat named Fat Cat, a gorgeous Irishman called Declan who is looking after a baby joey kangaroo (aw!), a big-hearted, bushy-haired handyman called Harry, and a sexy apple orchardist called Nick. Plus a couple of cute kids, a sweet little dog called Boo and a Vacola bottling outfit. Yep, this book's got everything, including the kitchen sink!

The trouble wit they come with consequences.
Three sisters, three tough choices, and the ties that bind a family together.

The Trouble with Choices is out now. It's the kind of book you want to read with a box of chocolates, a bottle of Prosecco and a box of tissues, just in case.


I love to love...romance. Just a happy ending.

I love to laugh...I do, which is why I adore romantic comedy. Love and laughter - what's not to love?

I love to many characters are going to get to their very own happy endings. Three-quarters of the way through a book, I often wonder.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Conversion Romance!

Miranda's July Musings

I adore curling up in a comfy chair with a drink and a book, summer and winter, and reading the afternoon away. You? Well, yes, gorgeous people, of course you do. Otherwise you wouldn't be reading this. But some people aren't reading romance...! Shockingly sad fact. 

How to convert them to the treasures you love to read?! No-one shares your exact reading taste, but finding the right romance can set your new BFFs along a new and very happy reading path. The trouble is, which ones? 

Here are a few conversion suggestions. Limiting myself is killing me, a truly horrible dilemma, because I'm leaving hundreds and thousands out and it pains me to my soul. However...


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Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale has to be one of the most beloved historicals ever. Christian Langland, Duke of Jerveaux, is a brilliant mathematician, but he's also a bit of a naughty boy (code for 'rake'). Horrifyingly, he's afflicted by a sudden stroke and his family thinks he's gone insane and lock him up in an asylum. Enter beautiful, quiet Quaker Maddy, who will be his saviour. This one will bring you to your knees, people. A beautiful, enduring story. 

Romantic Suspense 

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Open Seaon by Linda Howard is a fun pick. I could have chosen from a zillion others, like favourties Karen Robards or Nora Roberts, but this is an old bestie. It features librarian Daisy and Jack, a cop, two must-read characters. Boring old Daisy (she's not really, but she thinks she is) gives herself a make-over for her 34th birthday and goes out to party her new look at a nightclub. When she suddenly sees something she's not supposed to, and the villains know she saw it, Jack  comes to the rescue. This is a perfect combination of romantic suspense and humour. Tell your friends!


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None better here than Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, set in California's Gold Rush territory in the 1850's. Angel was sold into prostitution as a child, so imagine the life she's living. Along comes Michael Hosea, who obeys God's word to marry Angel and love her. This is not an easy road, folks, but it is beautiful. One to cherish.

Something fun

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Manhunting alerted me to relatively new author (back then) Jennifer Crusie. This made me laugh from beginning to end. Business woman Kate goes looking for Mr Right all wrong, to the amusement of Jake, who's sworn off high powered people like Kate forever. A lot of people converted when they read Crusie's Getting Rid of Bradley, but this one is even more fun, IMHO.

Something intense

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Darkling I Listen by Katherine Sutcliffe will grab hold of you and not let you go. Bad boy Hollywood actor Brandon, a flawed hero if there ever was one, is released from gaol, only to discover the dark forces that worked to put him in there are still out there... Alyson, a reporter, stumbles into this dark mess and the two get caught up in very tense things. Very tense. Very. Read it with the doors locked. 

Something supernaturally vampire-y

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Dark Lover by JR Ward made a lot of people sit up and discover there's more to supernatural romance than ever before. These are the good guys (vampires, think Angel on steroids +) battling big bad guys (vampire slayers). BIG bad guys. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is intense and compelling. You'll just want to keep reading the series because they're all amazing.

Wild card 

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne was a wonderful discovery. This is fresh, fun, flirty and inventive, a game changer in romance. It's an office romance (love them) between a geek and a chronic crowd-pleaser, at war with each other. Ridiculous scenarios ensue that somehow work fabulously well.

There's so many I've left off, so heartbreaking not to even mention them in this conversion kit. Happily, if none of these appeal there are lists out there, such as: All About Romance's top 100, and always fun recommendations on Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Book Thingo. So much to choose from.

What would you choose? Have you got a Top 5? What romances would you use to convert to a non-romance reader?

Tell all darlings,

Love from Miranda xx

Love to love: Game changer romances.

Love to laugh: At Marilyn's game name here: 'oodle' fun. My new name according to the rules is Moodleroodlendoodle. I could get used to that! 😊

Love to learn: What you've been reading lately. Any conversion romances? 

Monday, 2 July 2018

Avoiding Isolation as a Writer

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Ernest Hemingway said, "Writing at its best, is a lonely life." I can see it might be but I'm grateful for our wonderful Romance Writers of Australia organisation and the work the committee members do to ensure it's not a lonely life.

Next month (August 17th-19th), romance authors, aspiring authors, readers and industry professionals will descend on Sydney for the RWA annual conference. I attended my first conference in 2003 as an aspiring author and was blown away by the positive energy and friendly vibe of the event. More than a little in awe at meeting and actually being able to speak to authors whose books I'd devoured since my early teens, I couldn't believe how supportive everyone was in giving me tips to help me achieve my dream of publication.

All these years later, I'm still excited to be attending the RWA Conference. Whilst being able to work in my
pyjamas, not having limits on the hours or location of work, and having the ability to work without interruption are all very attractive aspects of the writing lifestyle, the monthly meetings I attend as part of the Breathless in the Bush Group, and the annual conference give me vital face-to-face contact with my fellow writers. Much more satisfying than contact through social media!!

Hemingway also said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." That may well be a quote only other writers can understand. There's a definite sisterhood in romance writing as we've all travelled/are travelling the journey through initial rejection to the thrill of first publishing contract. We all know how deflating those rejection letters and poor reviews can be, how thrilling it is to reach publication and to have a reader make contact to say they've stayed up all night turning the pages of your novel because they simply couldn't put it down.

Other writers understand that an author's not really schizophrenic or delusional when they hear characters in the novel speak to them, and they're not certifiable when they sometimes feel they've merely channeled the story!

For the other days of the year I'll embrace the solitude of my hours spent writing, however this August I'll get dressed up and rejoice at being among a group of lively, lovely romance writers. I'll revel in being part of the Harlequin stable as I catch up with other Harlequin authors at the annual get together, and generally enjoy the camaraderie, networking, enduring friendships and stories of the frustrations and joys of both the actual romance writing and the industry. Will I see you there?

Love to Love: Connecting with this fabulous group of romance writers and celebrating their successes, and helping aspiring authors.

Love to Laugh: With author/writer friends over a cocktail or two.

Love to Learn: The latest news from the romance industry.

Postscript: Due to a change in blog schedules, I will be overseas when this blog goes 'live'. I'd love you to leave a comment on your thoughts, but if I don't respond it is due to lack of internet access as I'll be exploring the Amazon!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Approaching Experts for Help with Research

By Marilyn Forsyth

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So, you’ve got an idea for a story with, let’s say, a paramedic as your heroine. It’s the perfect career for the feisty but compassionate female character you have in mind, but it’s also a job you have zero knowledge of.

Where do you look for the information you’re going to need to add authenticity to this character?

The internet is the obvious place for background knowledge. But you don’t want just general stuff, you want job-specific info—the nitty gritty details, the day to day realities that will make your character and her experiences come to life on the page.

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You need an EXPERT to answer the myriad questions burning your brain. Questions like: what are you thinking as you weave an ambulance through heavy traffic? How do you insert a canula? What do you say to a patient who believes they’re about to die?

This is the scenario I faced with my work-in-progress.

Rather than ask those questions on a site like QUORA (and hope the answers come from a ridgy-didge medico) or emailing the local ambulance station, I opted to make contact with the sister of a guy in my sons’ footy team who works as a paramedic.

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Being a bit of an introvert, I was apprehensive about approaching her at a social function but the lovely Carol was happy to meet with me over coffee. Since then, her ongoing help has been invaluable in keeping the medical aspect of my story believable. (Apparently she got quite a few laughs from my sketchy medical knowledge in my early drafts.)

On my recent research trip to Wales, I again pulled on my big girl panties to request help. My Aussie heroine belongs to a Welsh Hazardous Area Response Team. After contacting the HART at Bridgend (near Cardiff), I was invited to visit the base and given a tour of the facility by Dai, the Training Manager. Not only that, but the next day I was fortunate enough to spend the morning with a group of HART operatives training for water rescues at a white-water rafting centre.

So much fun! Not only watching the procedures, but also interacting with the team. And talking with the team members has given me a great insight into the types of characters who make this job their life. All excellent fodder for my book.

In the past, I’ve contacted people by email or phone to ask questions—the researchers at the National Library of Wales, an opal dealer from Melbourne, a guide from a pearl farm—but nothing beats that personal contact.

So, here are some things I’ve learned about approaching experts for help with research:

  • People passionate about their job/interests are more than happy to share their knowledge.
  • Be brief and straightforward in stating your reason for the research.
  • Prepare your questions beforehand, and only ask what you can’t find out for yourself elsewhere.
  • Make notes as you go (or record any interviews), and take photos (with permission, of course).
  • Show your gratitude by mentioning them by name in your Acknowledgements.
  • Let them know when the book is published.

The handsome HART heroes (from left): Keith, Dom, Gavin, Martyn, Craig.

Approaching people in person isn’t easy (for me, anyway) but the rewards of direct contact with an expert, as I discovered, are astronomical!

Do you have any stories about asking an expert for help with your book? I’d love to hear them!

Love to Love getting together with my crit partners once a month to discuss all things writing.❤

Love to Laugh at the silliest things. Something doing the rounds recently on Facebook was to post your name replacing every vowel with 'oodle', so my name came out as Moodleroodleloodlen. Go on, do it! It's fun. 😄

Love to Learn how to improve my craft, which is why I'll be attending the 2018 RWAus Conference in Sydney in August.