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 

Photo credit:

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

Image courtesy of giphy

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.

Image courtesy of

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.

Image courtesy of someeecards

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 Nash Agency Writers' Retreat at Mt Tambourine in September. For more information click on the link  2018 Writers' Retreat

Monday, 18 June 2018

When a Novel's Setting Becomes Another Character

by Fiona Lowe

When I set out to write my Australian-set family sagas, my focus was initially on the relationships between siblings, their partners and their parents. I'd planned for those relationships to drive the story forward. However, it quickly became apparent that the districts and the towns where I'd set the novels had become characters in their own right and integral to the books.

Daughter of Mine is set in the Western District of Victoria, the home of the squattocracy. (Not Victorian? Think Bowral in NSW). The ancestors of many families still living in the district made a fortune in wool, built massive mansions and public buildings, entered politics and became the closest thing Australia had to an aristocracy. Today, their descendants still wield some social power in the district so that's exactly what my fictitious family does. Birrawarra's social hierarchy became an integral part of the plot and I had fun creating two glorious 1880s blue stone mansions for my families to live in.

Birthright is set in the heart of the north-east of Victoria because gourmet food, tourism, snow-skiing and a history of logging was a vital part of the book. Once again, the setting quickly became a character, adding an extra dimension to the book. I spent a lot of time craving gourmet goat's cheese, sourdough bread and red wine while I wrote Birthright!

When I was a child, I read Anne of Green Gables as well as the other five books in the series. Lucy Maud Montgomery used words to paint such vivid pictures of Prince Edward Island that I visited it as an adult. I know some readers have visited some of the mansions in the Western District as a result of reading Daughter of Mine.

When you read a novel, do you notice the setting? Have you ever visited a place because you have read about it in a novel?

Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker--an ideal careeer for an author who writes novels about family and relationships. A recipient of the prestigious USA RITA award and the Australian RuBY award, Fiona's books are set in small country towns and feature real people facing tough choices and explore how family ties impact on their decisions.

You can find her at,
and Goodreads. Daughter of Mine and Birthright (HQ Fiction) are her current releases.

Love to Love: the peace of the Victorian high country.

Love to Laugh: The Good Place on Netflix is making me smile a lot.

Love to Learn: I always thought latex was a man-made product but in the Age quiz I learned that latex is the white sap from plants like spurge and rubber trees.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Using Music to Create - 'Collector of Hearts' Release Day

By Cassandra Samuels

Tomorrow is the big day! Release day for Collector of Hearts, Book 1 in the Regency Hearts series. To celebrate I will be giving away a copy of my new book to one lucky person who leaves a comment.

buy here

Today I'm going to talk a little about how this book came to life and the power of music to help create. For me the spark of a story can come from many places but for this book it was a song, The Reason by Hoberstank. I thought, what if there was this man who is pretty messed up, who really needs someone to show him that he can love and also be worthy of love?

I pictured Robert Mallory, Marquis of Shelton, as being a rake, someone who was as notorious on the duelling field as he was in the bedroom. But what led him to this place? What happened to him to make him this way? The more I thought about it, the more I began to know this character, to understand him.

I entered my first chapter into a competition and it finalled. Okay, I was beginning on the right track. This entry became my first chapter but the comments from the judges made me realise that I needed to get the reader onside first. I worked and worked on the prologue because I knew if I didn't the reader would think Robert was a jerk. I entered the competition again, and again it finalled. This time the judges comments were more sympathetic, so I worked on the story some more. 

Image result for re-writing meme

I usually work with headphones on because, if I don't, I am distracted by every little noise in the house. The music gets me in the mood to write and then becomes white noise after a time. That's when I know I am in the zone 

Robert Mallory is definitely egotisical. He's been living off his reputation as the Collector of Hearts for years, and when he meets Arabella he has no idea how his life is going to be turned upside down. The song Writings on the Wall by Sam Smith sums up how important Arabella becomes to Robert in his search for himself and redemption.

Next I had to create a heroine who would be strong enough to put up with his nonsense and also love him despite his many faults. Originally, I had Arabella's twin sister having her own love story simultaneously with Arabella, but that meant less time for Robert and Arabella, and I needed all the words possible to make this love story work. I pared the story back and under the guidance of the all-knowing Kate Cuthbert, and with the support of my crit partners Marilyn and Enisa, I re-wrote the whole thing. But when I needed inspiration for how Arabella felt about Robert, I turned again to music. For Arabella I listened to Starving by Hailee Steinfeld.

In Collector of Hearts Robert talks about love as just part of a game. A game he always plays to win. He's talked himself into believing that this is how things are done, and when Arabella challenges that idea he sets about to prove himself right. Only he gets caught up in his own game and Arabella doesn't play by his rules. This sets him on a path to a place he never knew he wanted to be. Falling in love. True love. The epic song Beautiful Lie by Thirty Seconds To Mars seemed to sum it up perfectly.

 I hope you enjoy Collector of Hearts as much as I loved creating it.

Do you listen to music when reading or writing? What is your favourite song to listen to at the moment?

Love to Love  listening to music and discovering new ways to be inspired.

Love to Laugh at early copies of my work.

Love to Learn from wonderful volunteer judges in contests. Such feedback is priceless.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Romance Around The World: Italy

The Magic of Italy 

By Sharon Bryant

Italy is filled with romance. The art, architecture, history and culture are inspiring. Birthplace of the Renaissance, and cradle of the Ancient Roman empire, this setting has so much to offer the romance writer and reader. The natural beauty of places like Capri, Florence and Venice foster the imagination. And let’s not forget the masterful, passionate Italian heroes and strong, independently minded heroines. Their zest for life practically leaps off the page. Here are three of my favourite Italian romance novels. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


Julie Jacobs receives a letter from her recently deceased aunt. She discovers her real name, Giulietta Tolomei, and learns her aunt hoped she'd travel to Sienna to find her mother’s treasure. She flies to Italy where she meets the attractive Alessandro Santini, but is immediately wary of him. Julie gradually uncovers the tale of her ancestor Giulietta, whose life story inspired Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It soon becomes clear, criminals crave her mother’s treasure. Finding love with Alessandro but caught in a web of intrigue, Julie realises the curse from Shakespeare’s play, a plague on both your houses, may be real and impacting directly on her life.


Struggling to rediscover joy in life after the death of her husband, writer Sarah Halliman rents a 400-year-old villa, Rosamanti, on the Isle of Capri. On arrival, she learns the owner has died, and the property now belongs to a handsome but poor waiter, Pietro. As Sarah’s relationship with Pietro grows, she begins to write again, and becomes fascinated by Rosamanti. While researching the villa’s history, she stumbles upon clues that may help Pietro, or lead to disaster.

Hot Italian Nights 

A series of six novellas set in Italy. Each tale is loosely connected, the hero or heroine in one novella become minor characters in the next. Annie West creates strong, likeable, passionate men and women and page-turning plots. I found myself eager to learn the route to happiness each pair of star-crossed lovers took.

I love to love: I’m currently planning an overseas trip with my husband and father. Being with people you love is the best.

I love to laugh: The students I teach had a dance last night. They were playing limbo and having a ball.

I love to learn: I saw The Merry Widow with my father at the Sydney Opera House during the week and was fascinated to later research the history of this marvellous ballet.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Weddings through the ages: from Mediaeval times to today

I will admit I love weddings so I watched the recent wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. A lot of tradition there and yet with touches of 'new' ideas. How had those traditions come about?

The Ceremony

Photo by Enisa Haines of TV image
 courtesy of Channel 7, Sydney

In the early years of Christianity there were no marriage services. Instead, couples made a civil contract of marriage (a betrothal) by the joining of hands tied together with cord or ribbon (i.e, 'tying the knot'). The marriage act of 1754, aimed at outlawing 'clandestine marriages' not performed by priests, instead had couples eloping to Gretna Green.

Clergymen in the Middle Ages preached that marriage was for the procreation of children, was a remedy against sin and a way to avoid fornication. In 1076 it became law that a priest must bless a marriage. The bride and groom stood at the door of the church recited vows and exchanged rings before the priest or bishop. A feast with family and friends followed, where wine flowed and minstrels sang.

Today's brides may have a solemn, traditional ceremony or they may opt for a less formal celebration. The rigid rules of yesteryear are long gone.

Country Wedding
by John Lewis Krimmel, 1820
(sourced from H. Churchyard)

Photo by Enisa Haines of TV image courtesy of Channel 7, 
Wedding Dress

File:Bologna marriage women.jpg
The Marriage by Nicolo de Bologna,
 (sourced from

While men wore their best court clothing, olden day wedding dresses were of fine, brightly-coloured fabrics (often blue for purity) embroidered with gold or silver and enhanced with furs, fancy belts and jewelry.

(Wikimedia Commons)

The white wedding dress worn by brides today was not a popular choice until Queen Victoria chose it as a symbol of purity, youth and maidenhood, and women the world over followed.

Bridal Veil

File:Veils bavaria ncd 2012.jpg
13th Century veiling
from Isabeau of Bavaria,
queen of France,
H.G. Emery and K.G. Brewster
(sourced from The New Century Dictionary)

Veils, used as protection against evil spirits and an indication of respectability and status in ancient Greece, symbolised a bride's virginity and modesty in the 19th century. The bride wore the face veil during the ceremony, then either her father lifted the veil and presented the bride to the groom who then kissed her, or the groom lifted the veil and kissed her, showing he now took possession of his wife as a lover or his property.

Bridal flowers

File:Roman fresco of a woman wearing a garland of olives, from Herculaneum.jpg
Roman fresco of a woman wearing a garland of olives
by Ancient Roman artist,
1st Century AD (sourced from Pinterest)

People in ancient times carried pungent herbs and spices to guard against evil spirits and to attract good health and luck. And in the hope of new life and fertility, brides and grooms of ancient Rome wore floral garlands. In Victorian days the bride wore a garland of rosemary and roses. Gaining popularity in later years, flowers are used for bridal bouquets, to adorn men's jackets and decorate churches.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

(Wikimedia Commons - modified)

Something old  (continuity)
Something new (optimism for the future)
Something borrowed (borrowed happiness)
Something blue (love, purity and fidelity)
and a sixpence for her shoe (prosperity)

The rhyme, with its roots in superstition, first appeared in the 16th century.
Bridesmaids/flower girls/page boys 

Photo by Enisa Haines
 of TV image courtesy of Channel 7, Sydney

From Mediaeval times, English brides have had one bridesmaid in attendance. Now brides all over the world can have as many as they wish. Page boys, once servants or messenger at the service of a nobleman, assist the bridesmaids in holding up the wedding train. Flower girls, carrying sheaves of wheat for fertility and herb bouquets for prosperity in years long past, now sprinkle petals along the aisle as symbols of a happy life together.

File:StateLibQld 1 43355 Bride and bridesmaids, 1900-1910.jpg
Bride and Bridesmaids, 1910
(sourced from John Oxley Library,
State Library of Queensland)

That bridesmaids and flower girls dressed alike arises from superstition. Believing that evil spirits would harm the bride, to bridesmaids and bride dressed alike and the spirits were confused. And if there was intent to kill the bride, a bridesmaid was killed instead. (I was a bridesmaid once. So glad there were no intents to kill then!)

Wedding Rings

File:Gold medieval finger-ring of iconographic type (FindID 179200).jpg
Gold medieval finger ring
(Portable Antiques Scheme/
The Trustees of the British Museum) 

Around 4800 years ago ancient Egyptians viewed the circle of a ring as a symbol of eternity, of never-ending love, and the central hole a door leading to a future both known and unknown.  However, those rings, made of twisted and braided sedges, rushes and reeds, soon eroded and so were substituted for others made of leather, ivory or bone.

The Romans saw the ring as a sign of love, and also ownership, the 'claiming' of a woman. Later, when made of iron and engraved, the ring symbolised strength and endurance.

The Christians first used the ring in marriage ceremonies around 860. The ring then was elaborately decorated with engravings, decorations the Church considered too elaborate, turning people to a simpler appearance symbolising the union of hearts.

Through history wedding rings were worn on different fingers, on the thumb and on the left and right hands. Romans believed a vein, the 'Vein of Love' in the ring finger of the left hand, led directly to the heart, and so the left hand/ring finger tradition was born. In early Christian marriages, the priest took the ring and touched the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger, then, uttering 'Amen', he placed the ring on the ring finger to seal the marriage.

Wedding Cake

Today's tiered wedding cake began in the Middle Ages. Guests brought unsweetened wheat buns and placed them on top of each other. The bride and groom then attempted to kiss over the cakes without knocking them down. Spiced, alcohol-containing fruit cakes, popular to today, appeared in the 17th century.

Photo by Enisa Haines
of image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph
Toss the bouquet/Toss the garter

Image result for tossing the bouquet commons wikimedia
Tossing the Bouquet (Wikimedia Commons)

File:Millieicaro Bridal Garters 2048x2048.jpg
Wedding garter - For the 21st Century Bride
(Wikimedia Commons)

Tossing the bouquet and garter began in mediaeval England. Brides were believed to be lucky and to share in their luck guests would rip off pieces of the bride's dress and flowers. Seeking escape, the bride would toss her bouquet and run!

The history of tossing the garter is split into two tales. One says the groomsmen, in an attempt to steal some of the bride's luck would rush up and take the garters as a prize. The other tale reveals that in days long gone the bride and groom had to provide evidence of their wedding consummation. Family and friends would enter their bedroom and the groom would remove the garter--a symbol of the virginal girdle proving the bride's chastity--and by this act have the right to take his bride's virginity.

Today, the bride tosses her bouquet over her shoulder to unwed female guests at the reception. The groom also removes the garter at the reception (for reasons of modesty) and tosses it to unmarried male guests.

The Honeymoon

Off for the Honeymoon 
by Frederick Morgan, 1903 
(sourced from Bonhams)

Honeymoon comes from the Old English 'hony moone' warning couples about waning love. Hony points to the long period of pleasure and tenderness newlywed couples experience. Moone indicates the short time the sweetness lasts. Very different to what the word means today.

Carrying the bride over the threshold

File:NMP 1780s House interior Door Sill.JPG
Wooden threshold
(sourced from Infrogmation of New Orleans)

In days long gone thresh (straw and animal bedding) was kept inside the house, a foot-high piece of wood at the door stopping the thresh from falling outside during winter months. The groom, when stepping over the wood (later called the threshold) would have to carry the bride.

Have weddings changed much from Mediaeval times? Not really. We continue to recite vows and exchange rings in celebration of love.

And I'm all for it. Are you?

Love to love: the whole spectacle of Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding

Love to laugh: American preachers sure are passionate when giving a sermon!

Love to learn: weddings last but one day but they sure take time and a lot of effort to prepare!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Taking a break from your writing career doesn't mean its broken

I've barely written for the last 3 years, and I haven't blogged in a long time either.  Yet here I am, thinking about what I want to say, carefully choosing my words and remembering how much I enjoy the social media aspect of being a writer.

I was first published way back in 2007, and have been published seven times since.  These days only two of my books are available in e-book form - feel free to check them out!  I'm immensely proud of both of them.

Writing is one of those things that never leaves you.  You can take 3 years off, 10 years... whatever... it doesn't matter it is always there.  The trick is knowing when to stop and when to start, and that question is not nearly as easy as it sounds.

My decision to stop writing was a consciously made one, and the whys-and-wherefores of it would fill a blog post on their own.  Simply put, I burnt out. Big time.  That said, it never occurred to me that I would never write again.  I just knew that for a time writing was not going to be a part of my life.

Then in the middle of last year, the urge to write started to nag.  But I didn't listen, made many excuses, put it off, didn't feel like it, promised myself I'd start tomorrow... this went on for weeks and weeks until a couple of things came together.

First I read The Alchemist - a stunning tale about finding your life's purpose.

Then I had a delightful morning tea with Alyssa Montgomery ... and this led to an invitation to join Breathless in the Bush - putting me right back amongst a group of passionate and knowledgeable writers.

And finally it was the discovery of a woman called Mel Robbins.

Mel's TED talk resonated with me in so many ways, and I immediately grabbed the audio version of her book The Five Second Rule (which I highly recommend, Mel is a talker, not a writer and the audio version of her book works a lot better than the written version).  Well, that book changed EVERYTHING.  Using her techniques I sat down, stopped making excuses, and figured out a plan of what I wanted to do, and how to do it.

Easy huh?

Nope.  Not at all.  I'm still lazy, easily distracted, procrastinating, often napping... but, I'm doing something, every day, towards my writing goals.  I want to write. I want to. I haven't wanted to for the longest time but now the joy is back and I want to.

Taking a break from your writing career, no matter how long or short, doesn't mean its over or broken.  Writing (or music, or quilting, or bog snorkelling... ) is part of who you are, and you can't flick it on and off, it's always there.  But its ok to rest for as long as you need.  It's ok.

Tory x

Monday, 14 May 2018

The Crazy Things I Do in the Name of Research

by Kendall Talbot

I'm so excited to have a new series coming out. My Maximum Exposure series is three stand-alone, romantic suspense novels all set in a wonderful remote location that I've visited. The first book, Out of Reach, is set in Mexico's Yucatan jungle. In 2017, I went to Chichen Itza, which is a 1400-year-old complex of Mayan ruins in the middle of the Mexican jungle. I found it hard to believe something so magnificent was abandoned and left to be swamped by the relentless creep of the voracious vegetation. But it was.

My visit to the temple was just one of approximately 1.4 million people who visit the ancient site each year. And whilst the bucket-list experience was truly incredible, it had me pondering how wonderful it would be to discover an ancient temple. That thought inspired Out of Reach.

Many scenes in my action-packed books are inspired by personal experiences. For example, a few years ago I was thrown from a rubber raft while white water rafting in Bali. I was sucked under, and in the few seconds I was trapped in the swirling torrent, I was completely at the mercy of the water. I clawed for the surface yet it was impossible to know which way was up or down. It was terrifying. In Out of Reach, I drew on those terrifying moments to bring life to my character's peril.

When I did a four-day mountain hike over Milford Track, New Zealand, my 18-kilo pack contained my food, water, clothes, bedding and, of course, blister Band-aids. It was a brutally challenging, yet utterly rewarding experience. This came in handy while writing about my character's battle through the Mexican jungle.

In the late 1980s, I visited Pompeii and it's still one of the most fascinating places I've ever been to. Back then we could get close enough to touch the artifacts and I always knew that those memories would feature in a book one day. Out of Reach is that book.

For my first book, my characters were lost in the Australian wilderness, so they had to eat some god-awful things to survive. One day, whilst digging in my garden, I found some witchetty grubs. I decided that the only way I could describe their taste was to actually eat these nasty-looking creatures. So that's what I did. Much to the disgust of my children, I ate the grubs both raw and cooked, just like my characters did. FYI cooked was much better.

So, whilst I've never experienced a plane crash, helicopter crash, snake bite, nor some of the other hell I put my characters through, I do try to experience as much as I can to give authenticity to my books.

eating snails

If you want, you can follow my travel experiences in my blog:

Out of Reach: When an ancient lost Mayan temple is discovered by a team of archaeologists deep in the Mexican jungle, Liliana Bennett is thrown a lifeline to a family mystery that's taunted her since her father's sudden death. Out now:

I Love to Love: good food and great wine. Bring it on.

I Love to Laugh: always. Especially at myself. I don't like to take life too seriously.

I love to Learn: anything. Learning doesn't necessarily mean something that has a certificate at the end, it can be something as simple as a new recipe, or a new word.