Monday, 23 November 2020

Miranda's Bumper Christmas Musings!

It's never too early to say Happy Christmas in November, is it, darling ones? Particularly when this is my last post of 2020. Christmas brings such joy to me, and this terrible year is no exception. It's still something special to look forward to, even if things are madly different. We can find small blessings in the chaos, I'm sure.

I have heaps of exciting Christmas reading for you! Some already read by moi, and some saved TBR in December. I swear the festive books seem to mount in number every year, so obviously I'm not the only one loving it. A lot of these are new-to-me authors, so I'm delighted to share them with you. Pssst! This is a looong list, so feel free to scroll through and at least look at the pretty pics. Worth it. 💋


Picture credit: amazon.com


The first Christmas book I read was The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge, a new to me author - and I fell in love with it. Nik and Jess meet on a plane coming home from a toy fair, but the romance here is - hmm, maybe not what you think it might be. I loved the whole community in this book, including Jess' work colleagues, her Gran and the other people at Gran's care home, and her gorgeous and reliable flat mate Oliver. A little sprinkle of Christmas magic makes this book an absolute charmer.


Picture credit: amazon.com

Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan was another winner! To my delight, this is about book 5 in an ongoing series, which means - more joy in the catching up with the back stories! Jenny Colgan is such a skilful author I just went with the flow and enjoyed every festive moment on the amazing island of Mure. I can't wait to read the rest now. Oh golly, and the food! I wanted to be in the hotel kitchen or the cafe, all the time. I think I put on weight just reading this...


Picture credit: amazon.com

I love Debbie Macomber's annual Christmas book, and Jingle All the Way was no exception. A workaholic gets booked on an Amazon (as in the Amazon River) cruise - where she can't escape (heh) - then goes home for Christmas. But she can't get a certain someone from the cruise out of her head, and he can't get her out of his head. Lots of re-prioritizing has to go on before this unusual couple can be joyful. I must say, the unexpected Amazon cruise was fascinating, armchair travel at its best. 


Picture credit: amazon.com

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren was absolutely fabulous to read! It was Christmas meets Groundhog Day meets Romance - until Maelyn gets it right and can move into a happy future. Friends, this was novel and unusual, but so smart and superbly funny, you can't help feeling terrific and (mostly) optimistic as you read it. All the characters are endearing and wonderful, especially Andrew (swoon). Super highly recommended! Christina Lauren, meet your new fan. Happy sigh.


Picture credit: amazon.com

One Snowy Week in Springhollow was written by another new-to-me author, Lucy Knott. And let's face it, who doesn't want a wonderful childhood-friends-to-lovers story? Tender and amusing, with lots of issues from the past rearing their head before we get to the HEA. And ooh, he's a fab super-hero movie star (as in a cape and everything), but underneath it all a geek. Too adorable.  


Picture credit: amazon.com

The Christmas Swap by inspirational author Melody Carlson is another tender story. Musician Emma wants a white Christmas, so when the family she usually celebrates Christmas with does a house swap to get to the snow, Emma's thrilled. Little does she know the owner of the house is so intrigued by her, he stays around as 'caretaker'. The heat rating here is sweet kisses. Much to enjoy in this one, and much to think about. 


Picture credit: amazon.com

Missing Christmas is a quick-read novella from Kate Clayborn, author of the acclaimed Love Lettering (also worth a read!). It's a reprint from last year, when it was first published in the anthology A Snowy Little Christmas. It's a lovely, snowy, 'cabin' romance, where two work colleagues get (sort of) stranded over Christmas and take the time to talk about what's in their hearts - at last!


Picture credit: amazon.com

Where are the Aussies, I hear you say? Here they are, and definitely on the beach in Christmas at Kissing Point by Peta CrakeJacqueline Hayley, Clare Miles, Tanya Nellestein, and Kerrie Starbuck. Ladies, you are a welcome addition to my Christmas list, so pleased to meet you! Five wonderful chances at romance. Just the thing for a quick read between hectic shopping and preparations for Christmas. I'm saving this for December as the weather heats up. 😍


Picture credit: amazon.com


Drumroll! Breaking news and I'm so excited about this - look who's released a Christmas novella? Anne Gracie, that's who, with her brand new The Christmas Bride! And, ooh... As soon as I started I was back in the beloved world of Blake Ashton, and those glorious Chance sisters. The joy! And so poignant: it's about forgiveness, redemption - and love. Yes, there were a few tears. Fear not if you haven't read the Chance sisters, Anne is such a skilful writer you'll get the gist, and you'll end up wanting to read them anyway. And truly, why wouldn't you? Consider that hint my Christmas gift to you. 💕

In the spirit of things and because she is a wonderful person, Anne has offered a free e-copy of The Christmas Bride to one lucky reader who comments on this blog. I will draw the results at the end of the week starting 23.11.20. Go comment, you lucky ducks! Thankyou Anne, you are such a treasure!

Here's a 'new' segment I'm trialling for the blog: From the Vault  (AKA from my TBR shelf). I could also call it Blast From the Past or something similar. What do you think? Which title do you prefer? (To be honest, I'm trying to read through my shelves and thought I might as well encourage myself this way. Then I get to share it with you lovely people. Win, win.)


Picture credit: amazon.com


The first to feature from my 'Vault' is a book from 2004, A Visit From Sir Nicholas by fan favourite Victoria Alexander. It's got a little of the Dickensian A Christmas Carol theme about it, with references to the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future! I'll leave you to find out how. Rather a tender tale with a marvellously strong heroine. I was excited to read from the 'vault', and - well, Victoria Alexander... 💝


Picture credit: amazon.com

Almost there, hang on, just a few more exciting books to tell you about! I've nearly finished a trilogy called Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotelin the M&B Forever line (always emotional). The first book about the three siblings, Christmas Reunion in Paris by Liz Fielding is, wow, be still my trembling heart good. About long lost lovers who suddenly meet again - in Paris! Swooningly fab, the gorgeous chef hero is one of the above mentioned Harringtons, and the heroine has so! much! courage! Here's book 2: 


Picture credit: amazon.com

Their Royal Baby Gift by Kandy Shepherd, everyone's fave author. Kandy, how do you manage to keep giving us so many excellent reads? This time it's Sally Harrington meeting a tall, handsome someone special - ta da, an incognito prince! - on a trip to Singapore. First Paris, now Singapore... Too enticing this Christmas, when we live to travel in our armchairs! And finally book 3: 


Picture credit: amazon.com

Stolen Kiss With Her Billionaire Boss by Susan Meier.  I've read several of Susan Meier's Christmas books and loved them. This one just slid into my Kindle, so I'm madly reading about Hugo Harrington (a few juicy/poignant secrets will come out, I'm sure...), and all the Christmassy bling taking shape at the Harrington Hotel. So much gorgeousness - loving it so far.


Picture credit: amazon.com


Secondlast one, I promise. Meet Me In London by Georgia Toffolo, a popular British celebrity, took my eye. Here's another family London department store opening, with the owner and a clothes designer pretending to be a 'couple' for the opening. Described as a classic rom-com/Christmas lit. I'm in! Another read to enjoy in December! 


Picture credit: amazon.com

Of course, after Christmas comes New Year! As I write this, it's anyone's guess what sort of festivities NYE will bring, so why not add to your joy at seeing the new year in - and truly, it cannot come fast enough - with this smashing anthology, Love And Fireworks? Our own beloved Jayne Kingsley (kisses, Jayne) has teamed up with the wonderful Aussie writers who brought us Christmas on Hope Street last Christmas: Megan MayfairStella Quinn, newie Anna Foxkirk and Marianne Bayliss. If you didn't catch it a couple of weeks ago, here's the link to read how they wrote it.

I loved it. The stories are related but so varied they're unputdownable. I was totally surprised by dinosaurs and singers, a cupboard rendezvous (I'm not making this up), twins, and more... There's total razzle dazzle when the story arc culminates in a Community Heroes Foundation cruise on Sydney Harbour. The new year gets fizzed in with fireworks and champagne and romance. We so need extra sparkles after 2020, so yes, yes, yes please! I did love the Golden Tickets given to some very deserving home grown Community Heroes. Such a lovely bookend to your Christmas reading. 

Phew! Well done for staying with me through all the above, you wonderful people. Now, you tell me what you're reading!

Finally, I wish you a great booky Christmas and New Year! Take care of each other, do the right thing for Covid-19, hug your precious ones, and be kind. Until 2021!

Much love from Miranda xxx

Love to love: Christmas books, Christmas goodwill, Christmas everything. 🎅

Love to laugh: at the long Christmas lists from certain young people I know. But pleased to report they're getting more thoughtful every year. Bless.

Love to learn: what you're reading. Always! Fire your list back to me. And don't forget one commenter will win Anne Gracie's ravishing new novella.

Monday, 16 November 2020

What Makes a Great Romance Hero?


 by Enisa Haines



Of the many romance novels available to readers today, how do they choose which to read? To paraphrase Jane Austen, 'it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a romance reader falls in love with the characters, and thus is in want of an irresistible hero.' This hero sweeps us into the story and keeps us turning the pages to that all-important 'happy-ever-after' ending. 

He can be a billionaire businessman, tall, dark and handsome in his three-piece suit; or the lead singer of a rock band, strutting across the stage in black T-shirt and jeans. He can be an easy-going mechanic or a surly vampire. What he looks like and what his profession is isn't what makes the hero alluring. A great romance hero has traits that make him one we never forget.

He has flaws. He's not perfect, has a bias that influences what he believes and how he acts, and these flaws make him relatable to readers. Think of Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, so full of pride and disdain for those beneath him in social class, and the troubles his flaws cause him when he meets Elizabeth Bennet.






He leaves his comfort zone. Though it makes him uncomfortable, to win the love of the woman who holds his heart, he will step away from the comfort of the life he's been living. Robert Mallory, Marquis of Shelton and the master of seduction known for brutishly discarding broken hearts in Cassandra Samuels' Collector of Hearts, gives up his wicked amusements when he falls for innocent Arabella Fleming.  



He has emotional courage. Scarred emotionally by a tragic past, he avoids romantic entanglements. Then a woman breaks through his shell and if he is to have her permanently in his life, he has to conquer his demons. In JR Ward's Lover Awakened, the vampire Zsadist, mesmerised by Bella, vanquishes the torturous memories of his blood slave past and surrenders his heart.



He is heroic. He will do anything, no matter what it costs him, to have her. In Nora Roberts' Shelter in Place, Reed Quartermaine puts his life in danger in order to save the life of fellow mass shooting survivor and love of his life, Simone Knox. 



A flawed hero who moves out of his comfort zone, leaves his past behind and sacrifices himself for love. That, for me, makes a great hero. 

What makes a hero great for you? What character traits must he have?

Love to Love: lunch dates with friends

Love to Laugh: at dogs playing up on YouTube videos.

Love to Learn: about great romance heroes




Monday, 9 November 2020

Fanfiction and Romance


According to Rukmini Pande, fanfiction is a genre of amateur fiction writing that takes as its basis a “canon” of “original” material (like books, TV shows, movies and, on occasion, the lives of celebrities).

Fanfic origins (or at least fan communities) can be traced back to the late 1960s and 70s (mostly around science fiction shows). I fell down the rabbit hole in the early 90s, avidly reading Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and The X-Files fanfic. In fact, I still have a plastic bucket filled with about four or five reams of paper worth of X-Files and Lois & Clark fic in my garage. Back in the day I did not have the interwebs in my pocket so I printed stuff. A lot of stuff. I recycle to make it up to the trees I killed. I also started dabbling in writing fanfiction, and published a few X-Files stories around that time. Pretty sure they were terrible… but I had a thing for Scully and Skinner that just wouldn’t die.

Fanfiction itself can be controversial. There are valid arguments around copyright infringement and/or plagiarism but it seems that some/most creators are going with the flow. Reports say that Stephanie Meyer never read Fifty Shades, but she has graciously congratulated E. L. James on her success. J. K. Rowling has reportedly said that she is flattered by the interest, and by the fact that people take time to write their own stories.

On the other hand, George Lucas has apparently previously said that Lucasfilm wouldn’t take action against Star Wars fanfiction writers and editors but stipulated that fans should avoid publishing sexually explicit Star Wars stories. The company doesn’t seem to have pursued that (given there are plenty of sexually explicit Star Wars stories out there if you want them) but the whole issue of copyright (and moral rights) remains an open legal question. One blog reports that Fifty Shades was 89% identical to Master of the Universe (its fanfic origins). Frankly, I’m not sure this copyright question will ever be legally resolved as, generally, the fans of the source material are often also fans of the fanfiction and closing down the fanfic might be a little to much like biting the hand that feeds you…

As an aside, the seed of this blog was planted while listening to Fated Mates talk to Christina Lauren
about their journey from fanfic to publishing. You too can listen to the podcast here.

What horrified me in Christina Lauren’s discussion with Sarah MacLean and Jen Prokop was that, at the time that Christina Lauren were on submission with their first manuscript, Christina’s original story The Office (which was later reworked by both Christina and Lauren into Beautiful Bastard) was being shopped around to publishers by someone else as their own work. Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but this is a ballsy move.

Anyway, so why did I want to touch on this topic?

Because there are some FABULOUS books out there which started life as fanfiction. There are also some BRILLIANT authors out there who cut their writing teeth in others’ playgrounds, plucking characters out of one world and dropping them in another (alternate universe fanfiction), taking them in another direction or developing the story beyond ‘the end.’ And, clearly, fans are hungry for the stories. Romance publishing does just fine thank you very much, even with there being so much free content available (although, yes, the free content can be hit and miss in respect of quality) because romance readers are voracious readers.

Which means that, if you’re a romance reader, you’ve probably read (or seen) something that started its life as fanfiction, often but not solely in the Twilight or Harry Potter fandoms. There are plenty of Pride and Prejudice retellings out there, as well as Disney and other fairy tale retellings and other versions on a theme. As noted above, the Fifty Shades trilogy started life as Twilight fanfiction, as did Christina Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard (one of my ALL TIME FAVOURITE books). Anna Todd’s After series started out as Harry Styles/One Direction fanfiction. And Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series appears to have started life as Harry Potter fanfiction.


Then there are some of my other (now published) favourites:

  • the Gabriel’s Inferno series (now being made into a moving on Passionflix);
  • the Submissive series by Tara Sue Me (personal view, this series is better than Fifty Shades and I wish someone would make these into a movie);
  • Wallbanger by Alice Clayton;
  • Pucked by Helena Hunting (which is hilarious, and spawned an eight-book series, with some further spinoffs); and
  • Clipped Wings, also by Helena Hunting which is more angsty but still a great read.

If you want to dive into the fanfiction world, there are plenty of places. Fanfiction.net was my entry point but now there’s also Wattpad, an Archive of our Own and Commaful. Be careful, these are wonderful sites for procrastination… it’s easy to get carried away! Some of these stories are LONG (Wide Awake, referenced above is 400K+ words).

Here are some of my personal faves from the Twilight fandom because, sadly, most of my West Wing faves appear to have vanished:

  • I was pretty excited to see that one of my favourite, but long unfinished, fanfics, Business Class Girl was being updated again (although damn slowly!);
  • Everclear and its sequel and Everclear Revamped which mixes Twilight and Evanescence fandoms (but beware, the third part of this trilogy, Everclear Reunited remains incomplete);
  • Wide Awake which is highly angsty, and appears to be being reworked for publication but remains online here;
  • Departures, ThePracticum and The Purple Banana Hammock by the FicChick.

That said – don’t think you’re limited -pretty much if it’s been a TV, book or movie you’ll find some measure of fanfic out there.

Go, explore! And don't blame me when you're at the bottom of that rabbit hole... 😆



Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at www.wordsbykristinecharles.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I love to love... fanfiction

I love to laugh... at great romantic comedies (see Pucked, above)

I love to learn... about US politics. Anyone else been caught up in US election fever?!

Monday, 2 November 2020

5 Best Podcasts for Authors

 By Cassandra Samuels


During these pandemic times I've found a lot of comfort and joy in listening to a Podcast or ten. There are so many out there to choose from in any topic you like. Seriously, pretty much any hobby or subject and there will be a podcast for it. These are just five of my favourite podcasts for authors.

1. The History Chicks

Available on all good podcast services

I've mentioned these ladies several times in my 'love to' parts of previous blogs. Who doesn't love finding out about amazing women in history. Susan and Beckett cover such women as Catherine the Great, Joan of Arc and Jane Austen, down to lesser known women like Typhoid Mary Mallon and Maria Montessori.

2. Stuff You Missed in History Class

Available on all good podcast services


Holly and Tracy love to cover the things in history that are so interesting but don't make the mainstream history lessons.

3. The Creative Penn

Available on all good podcast services

This podcast covers so many things. Joanna Penn manages to keep us up to date while spilling any frustrations she may be having with her own writing. She has amazing special guests as well and some really good resources for writers.

4. So you want to be a writer

Available on all good podcast services

Australian Authors Valerie Khoo and Allison  Tait bring some local flavour for writers with great interviews and plenty of writing chat makes this podcast a joy to listen to.

5. Writer's Life Radio

Available on all good podcast services

This is a great little podcast if you want a lot of info but given to you in 5 minute chunks. Some really great advice and their website has some really great resources for writers.


Do you have a favourite podcast you listen to? Any Podcasts you would like to share?

Love to Love - watching my granddaughter Charlotte learning to clap hands.

Love to Learn - about interesting bits of history I never knew.

Love to laugh - watching Gogglebox.


Monday, 26 October 2020

The Anthology Love Affair

By Jayne Kingsley

 

Months ago—pre-Covid—a group of authors sat down over a bottle of fizz and an idea was born. One that involved a yacht, New Year’s Eve and a mystery benefactor. 

 

Next week (November 1) Love & Fireworks: A New Year’s Eve romance anthology will be out in the world and boy was it fun to write this anthology with some of my fantastic and fabulous author pals. 


I thought for my blog I’d share insight from each of us into why we all loved writing this anthology together. 

 

 

First up: Anna Foxkirk

 

“Let's start with the fact that being asked to contribute to this anthology felt like an act of inclusion, extending the hand of friendship. Last year, I was supposed to contribute to Christmas on Hope Street, but for a number of personal reasons, which I won't bore you with, I couldn't. I was therefore beyond thrilled when they offered me a second chance. Ever since meeting at the RWA conference in Brisbane in 2017, we've gelled so well as a group, and I feel nothing but gratitude for having met these authors, for their support and the joy of having become part of this writing crew.

 

The actual process of writing and reading others' work, giving feedback and editing the Love and Fireworks anthology became a bonding of writers, a real team effort. I immediately loved the premise - a mega party on a mega yacht on New Year's Eve. So exciting, I could envisage the fireworks already! When I sat down to write, the story flowed, as if it had been tailor-made for me to write - that is such a zen moment for a writer! An additional bonus was the opportunity this experience gave me to learn from Jayne, Megan, Stella and Marianne, in terms of studying their writing craft, but also benefitting from their savvy and know-how as self-published authors - as someone just embarking on a self-publishing career, boy, I have a whole lot to learn! 

 

Last but not least, working on this anthology has meant sharing the hard work needed to produce a book. That's no mean feat and I feel incredibly proud to have been even a small part of this collaborative effort. With less than a week to go, I can't wait to sing and shout about Love and Fireworks, but even more wonderful is that instead of celebrating solo, it's a shared joy, effectively a party!” 

 

If you want to find out more about Anna Foxkirk and her upcoming works of fiction check out her website: https://www.annafoxkirk.com or follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annafoxkirk/

 

 

Megan Mayfair

 

I enjoy working in collaboration with others, and the give and take to make sure that all the stories work as individual romances, but also as part of a broader theme. Having five stories all set around the same yacht party definitely involved some creative problem solving and negotiation, but it was such fun to work out those small details like the size of the yacht or the details around the countdown to create, hopefully, a consistent and fun read to ring in the new year with.”

 

If you want to find out more about Megan Mayfair and her upcoming works of fiction check out her website: https://www.meganmayfair.com or follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/meganmayfairwrites/

 

 

Marianne Bayliss

 

“I’ve had stories published in four anthologies. I enjoy writing to a theme and joining in with multiple authors to achieve a common goal, which is to produce a high-quality product that reaches as many readers as possible.

 

The Love and Fireworks anthology was a collaborative process with my writing group. This is the second anthology we’ve written – the first was Christmas on Hope Street – and this, like our first, was a passion project. I loved working on these two anthologies. The excitement as we brainstormed the concept, nutted out details and fine-tuned the words was infectious and united us more. We each drew on our individual skill sets to contribute to the book, whether it be editing, formatting,

proofreading or promotion and cheered each other on as the deadlines approached. 

 

This all-in method is a lovely way to work if you have trustworthy, reliable, supportive collaborators. I’m so fortunate that I do have such writers in my wonderful writing group. They make working together to produce a beautiful book an absolute delight.”

 

If you want to find out more about Marianne Bayliss and her upcoming works of fiction check out her website: https://mariannebayliss.com

 

 

Stella Quinn

 

“Some anthologies are grouped together around a loose concept, like regency Christmas romance, or valentine's day. Others -- such as our Love and Fireworks anthology -- have a specific event or cast of characters which need to be included. These anthologies are the type I enjoy writing for, as the collaboration process is so fun!

 

The collaboration process also means you have to employ a little writerly discipline. You cannot let your characters be in charge, you have to make them fit the premise of the anthology, which can feel a little like having to create jigsaw pieces out of words.”

 

If you want to find out more about Stella Quinn and her upcoming works of fiction check out her website: https://www.stellaquinnauthor.com or follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stella.quinn.author/

 

 

Jayne Kingsley

 

Lastly – me! I love reading anthologies, particularly ones based around a theme, so writing one was an absolute joy. To be able to write with some of my closest author friends is such a pleasure and a privilege. I also feel it takes the pressure off in some ways as you don’t feel so alone with your story (which often writing can be). 

 

Plus writing about New Year’s Eve and finding love aboard a glamour filled yacht was just plain fun!

 

 

So how about you? Do you like reading Anthologies? If you’re an author do you like writing anthologies with friends?

 

I love to love... the sound of rain falling outside whilst I’m cosy inside with a good book

I love to laugh... with my friends over our typos (ice cub anyone?)

I love to learn... how to make giant paper flowers

Monday, 19 October 2020

What I Love About Being a Romance Author!


       By Alyssa J. Montgomery


The World of Romance Writing: How do I love thee, let me count the ways...



Even with some downs among the ups, my life’s been pretty darned good. It’s been made all the richer by being a romance author. Being a published author is the realisation of a dream and I think a fabulous lesson for my kids to see that I kept at it and with perseverance, the dream became a reality. And, there are so many great things about this element of my life that I probably can’t even think of them all but I’m going to list five broad areas that make this gig so great.


1.      Friendship – The romance community is wonderful. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with a group of up-beat, positive people who all love a HEA ending and who are able to empathise because they feel deeply?
I don’t know of a single romance author who doesn’t feel for another author who has a rejection letter or who doesn’t feel a sense of elation knowing that a fellow writer has got ‘the call’. I’ve made fantastic friendships with romance readers and authors both in Australia and internationally and it’s been a great journey. The RWAustralia conference, ARRA events and the Booklovers Convention are highlights on my annual calendar.



      2.      Escapism – After a busy clinical day as a speech pathologist, often working with children who have severely delayed speech and language/communication development, I love to escape by reading or writing a romance. As a reader, it’s that guaranteed feel good HEA ending and as a writer it’s holding the magic wand (or keyboard!). I can control the outcome for my characters and I know that no matter what hardships they face, I’m going to wave the wand and give them their deserved happiness.

    It’s a great creative outlet and a lot of fun.



3.      Satisfaction – How satisfying it is to see a story take shape, to come up with some sassy dialogue, some satisfying sex, a resolution to a problem that seemed insurmountable? Then there’s the thrill of having a story accepted for publication, the unveiling of the cover, the reviews and ... the sales!!
Just knowing that someone is out there reading the story is satisfying but when readers take the time to write and tell me they’ve enjoyed the story/series and can’t wait for the next release, or that they were able to lose themselves in one of my stories during a particularly challenging life event they were facing, makes me very happy.


It’s also been amazing and something of a thrill to see that the stories are being read in so many different countries of the world.


4.      Development – Having mentioned reviews above, yes most are satisfying. Even the reviewers who don’t like the story can leave reviews that are satisfying IF they lead to development. I’ve had some great comments from reviewers that might have been a negative, but that I take on board, weigh up, and – often – I can see their point of view and try to tighten up my writing as a result.
It’s been really satisfying for me to have the opportunity to develop as a writer through critique groups/partners, working with professional editors, attending workshops etc. I really enjoy the opportunity to revise a story and make it stronger.


5.      Giving Back – I’ve already mentioned how supportive the romance writing community has been to me, and now as a published author with fifteen titles under my belt, I’m at the stage where I feel I can offer support and some critiques to other authors. I loved presenting a workshop for the South Coast Writer’s Centre last year on plotting and am more than happy to help other writers in any way I can – particularly if it helps them achieve their publication dream.
I’ve also managed to turn two book launches into fundraisers – for the South Coast Autism School and for the Queensland Eye Institute.


    What do you like about being a writer? 


Love to love everything about this romance writing part of my life.


Love to learn how to develop my skills as a writer.


Love to laugh with all my friends in the romance community.


STOP PRESS: Alyssa's next title, "Five Dates with the Billionaire" is scheduled for release from Escape Publishing on the 4th of November.

Monday, 12 October 2020

RWA – Where Would We Be Without You?

 By Marilyn Forsyth



A month or so ago a question was posed on the RWA Community Facebook page that really had me thinking. That question was: What has been the most useful part of your RWA membership? 

I jotted down my immediate thoughts then started reading through all the other responses (in hope of having come up with something original to add to the comments. Am I the only one who does that??). 

Anyway, as I read, two things became obvious. Firstly, there is no way to define just one thing as the most useful part of belonging to the RWA. Secondly, the RWA is absolutely and totally an indispensable organisation for all writers – aspiring, emerging or established. 

Here are some of the comments that struck a chord with me... 


Nina Campbell responded with ‘Finding my tribe’. It wasn’t until I joined RWA (and learned that the Breathless in the Bush writing group was looking for new members) that I realised there was a whole community of people out there experiencing the same things I was going through in my writing life. Who knew?? 






As Elisabeth Rose put it, ‘the support of like-minded people (is) where RWA is so strong.’ 






Another wonderful thing RWA provides is ‘the collective wisdom that everyone is happy to share’, as mentioned by Bree Vreedenburgh, No matter what stage of the writing journey you’re on, there will be something you can either contribute to, or learn from the RWA Facebook Community discussions. 





Buy link

‘The generosity of established authors to newbies(is) amazing,’ Nicole Flockton pointed out, and I couldn’t agree more, having been on the receiving end of all manner of advice from some of the most well-known Aussie romance authors. But it’s not only about the support of peers and established authors, it’s also about ‘most importantly, the friendships’, as Immy Moore reflected. 









Some of my tightest friendships are with the lovely people I’ve met over the years through RWA and, like Renee Dahlia-Geelen commented, ‘being able to talk about genre romance to people who get it and aren’t going to snicker about porn’ is a wonderful thing. 









On yet another level, the work that RWA puts into providing ‘enormous support and education possibilities for emerging and aspiring writers’ (Pamela Freeman) is exceptional. Heidi Wessman Kneale agrees, citing ‘levelling up in my skills, not just in the craft, but in marketing and more’, as among the most useful results of her membership. The monthly OWLs (Online Writing Labs) are well-priced and so worthwhile. OWLs 






 
Lisa Ireland wrote, ‘the opportunity to pitch directly to agents and publishers directly led to my first contract’. It was the same for me. Thank you, Sue Brockhoff, for believing in the potential of The Farmers Perfect Match and taking it to the team at Harlequin MIRA.









Last but not least, Leisl Leighton nominated ‘the two Cs – contest and conferences’ as her picks. Entering (many) contests and taking onboard the feedback enabled me to get my first book published. A dream come true! 



As for conferences – they’d have to be the highlight of every RWA member’s year; an unequalled opportunity for professional development. Sadly, this year we didn’t get to mix in person with our tribe or the stalwarts of our industry, but what a mammoth effort the conference team put in to make sure the online conference was a triumph. Huge congrats to you all! 



Thank you, RWA, not only for all you have done for me personally, but for all you’ve given to those of us chasing the goal to be published. Where would we be without you?? 

What do you love about being a member of RWAus?

Love to Love being a member of RWAus. Click on the link for more info RWAus

Love to Laugh at the black humour of Fargo, the series (available on SBS On Demand). 

Love to Learn that there is light at the end of the tunnel after a hip operation. I won’t say it’s been easy, but I know it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Monday, 5 October 2020

Romance Settings - Marooned and Trapped



Romance novels where the hero and heroine are unexpectedly isolated, often as the result of a disaster have always intrigued me. Each character's strengths and flaws are highlighted as they battle against the odds, sometimes struggling for their very survival. Such dramatic circumstances can lead to a love unlike any other.

Withering Hope by Layla Hagen

 
 
The light plane Tristan Bress is flying crashes in the Amazon jungle. Aimee, the only passenger, was on her way to her wedding in Brazil. Tristan has a traumatic past which he struggles to hide, however it has prepared him far better for survival in the jungle than Aimee's legal career. Tristan and Aimee must learn to work together in a hostile environment where there is no option, but to constantly watch each other's backs.

Stranded With Her Ex by Jill Sorenson


Daniela Flores, conservation biologist, suffered anxiety attacks following a major car crash. The trauma she experienced exacerbated the communication problems in her marriage eventually leading to divorce. Daniela is thrilled to have the chance to work with a group of researchers on the wild Farallan Islands. This is a chance to prove to herself that she has recovered, and to get her career back on track. She is shocked to discover her ex-husband Sean is a last minute addition to the research team. Sean's experience and expertise makes him more valuable to the team, but Daniela is determined to stay. There is a growing air of menace on the island as progressively more terrifying things befall the small group. Sean is determined to protect Daniela at all costs.

Not Your Prince Charming by Kate Johnson


Princess Elizabeth (Eliza) gives her security team the slip while holidaying in the Caribbean. She escapes to a private party where she is drugged then kidnapped. Xavier Rivera is working undercover on the boat where Eliza is trapped. He frees her, then persuades her to jump overboard and climb into a life raft. They drift to a tropical island where they must learn to survive.

Do you enjoy novels with a marooned and trapped premise? What is your favourite setting for such novels?


I love to love walking on the beach.


I love to laugh at the Vicar of Dibley.

 






I love to learn and embrace new challenges.




Monday, 28 September 2020

Surprise Box: Five random things keeping me entertained during the pandemic


By Kristine Charles

Hello Romancelandia

It’s the four-hundred and thirty second day of who knows what month in the year 2032… no, seriously and, even as I sit to write this, I’m not sure whut iz wrds?

You all know what I’m talking about, right?

2020 has been a ride. 

And it ain’t done with us yet.

Borders are still closed, international flights are still grounded, people still aren’t wearing masks and washing their hands, and my employer’s just cancelled all of our end of year events (what a Grinch!)

And so, when I started thinking about the blog for this month, I started thinking about what might ease that slide into the holiday/New Year period. And I decided to share with you all the five random things keeping me going during the pandemic.

1. Spring has sprung

Sun. Pretty flowers. Daylight Saving. Bring it all on. At least I can shift the work desk in the backyard to work and not freeze my tail off! And I can head out into the yard with the Kindle and a coffee… see #2.

2. Books

So, the day job requires me to be on the computer, and the writing gig requires me to be on the computer, which means I’m often on the computer procrastinating on Amazon.

Some of my new finds are:

Naughty Brits

The idea for this anthology was, apparently, conceived by the authors while drinking in a hot tub while on a writing retreat.

That right there suggests quality content!

And the stories deliver. Connected through a one-night gala at the British Museum, each of the stories also stands on its own and progressively grow in heat level. This anthology also includes Sarah MacLean’s first foray into contemporary (and hopefully not her last).

Great, quick, escapist reads (my personal fave is #3 Not a Bad Boy by Louisa Edwards).


The One That Got Away

The latest from Karina Halle.

have to admit, I kinda wanted to grab Ruby (the heroine) and shake her until she grew up… but the story is quite the rollercoaster* and Luciano is quite lovely! And Karina writes beautifully (with some spicy sex). Worth a read (and her earlier novel, The Forbidden Man is also a fantastic read).

* I promise there is a HEA.



Katee Roberts’ Wicked Villians Series

This is a six-book, dark erotic romance series with the last book due out on 10 November 2020… and warning, this series is hot.

Set in and around a ‘neutral-ground’ BDSM club centred in a city run by different crime syndicates, all of the villians and other characters (loosely based on various Disney characters) are out for something. My personal fave in this series is currently A Worthy Opponent (Hook and Tinkerbell!) but, if you like your heat level set to scorching (noting that there are also some dark themes in these stories - but all consensual) this entire series is for you.


 

3. Silly Zoom backgrounds

If you’re spending a substantial number of hours every day on Microsoft Teams (or Zoom, or whichever platform you use) having video meetings with people you’re not allowed to be within 1.5 metres of… random and funny backgrounds make everything feel a little lighter.

Currently I'm working through a series of Hogwarts themed images, but every so often I throw up a padded cell, or a mug-shot background. Or the cover of Cosmopolitan. Or a picture of my office (that one feels very much like Inception!).

4. Gabriel’s Inferno

If you’ve not yet heard of Passionflix, you should. Passionflix is romance-movie-Netflix and they’re currently releasing a three-part film adaptation of the book Gabriel’s Inferno. The first two are currently available to watch and the third part is due for release on 19 November.

If you’ve not read Gabriel’s Inferno (and it’s sequels Gabriel’s Rapture, Gabriel’s Redemption and Gabriel’s Promise), do it! It's a great read (I love a Professor/Student romance). And then you can binge watch the first movie in its three part entirety in November. Passionflix is great because it works with the reader in mind -  the adaptations are really faithful to the books on which they are based - and they're always careful to include all the little romantic bits that other movie makers might miss (hands touching, toes curling etc!)

5. Memes

Finally, who hasn’t enjoyed the cornucopia of memes that have blessed us during the pandemic. Three of my faves are:




(Memes sourced from the interwebs)

So, tell me in the comments below, what’s keeping you going during the pandemic?



Kristine Charles writes sexy tales where coffee (and red wine) is abundant, designer shoes and handbags are cheap, chocolate has no calories and men always put the toilet seat down. Find her at www.wordsbykristinecharles.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I love to love… shirtless Jason Momoa (yes, I'm feeling just a little shallow!)

I love to laugh… at great memes.

I love to learn… about great new books.