Monday 31 December 2018

Happy New Year!

Wishing all our lovely readers a happy and healthy 2019, filled with lots of time for reading your favourite romances!

Monday 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all our wonderful readers the merriest of Christmases! 

We're taking a short break, but we'll be back in January with

(Our favourite romance reads of 2018)

See you then!

Monday 10 December 2018

Miranda's Bumper Christmas Musings!

Darlings, if you're a faithful blog reader with BITB, you'll know I get totally excited about Christmas and the exciting plethora of Christmas reading that floods in. Bring it on, I say, I love it! Here's a little taste of what I've been reading so far.

Something New:

Each year I simply cannot wait for Debbie Macomber's Christmas release. My life is not complete without reading her fabulous festive offering. Alaskan Holiday has a wilderness setting, the remote little town of Ponder. It pretty much packs up and leaves each winter, except for a few hardy souls. Josie Avery is also on her way out of town to her dream job as a sous chef in Seattle...but she misses the last boat out of town! Cue drama and angst! Cue (private) delight from reserved swordsmith - the smitten Palmer Saxton, who now has the chance to woo Josie into staying, forever. Swoon. 

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Something Magical:

Alaska put me in mind of Kristin Hannah, whose latest release The Great Alone is also set in Alaska (great read). Do yourself a favour. Rewind a few years and discover her absolutely magical Christmas novel Comfort & Joy. Joy Candellaro used to love Christmas, but doesn't anymore, and it's heartbreaking as to why. Then she meets a little boy facing Christmas without his mother...and things change. Suspend disbelief and simply enjoy this very special book. 

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Something Different:

Don't know about you, but every now and then I love reading Manga romance. I find them unique and fun, a throwback to some time ago (cough) when I was young and used to read comics all the time. I loved them then and still do. With Manga I get to combine both loves: comics + romance. Why not give Her Christmas Romeo a go? Quick to read, a lovely Cinderella story line from Carole Mortimer, and gorgeous illustrations from Kaoru Shinozaki, a romance illustrator with a tremendous backlist. Don't forget to read it backwards (you get used to it); enjoy!

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Something Aussie:

Can't help it. I'm a biased Aussie and I love reading Christmas stories based here, even though our Christmas is hot and steamy, not the winter wonderland of the northern hemisphere. Our Country Christmas is a terrific anthology from top-notch Aussie authors Darry FraserPenelope JanuFiona LoweEva Scott  and Jacquie Underdown. There might have been tears when I read your story, Darry, I saw what you were doing (sigh). And I love the baby Fiona gives us - such a cute Christmas present. All different stories, all very moving, even Penelope's prickly pear heroine, who can be melted...

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Something Regency:

Earlier in the year Anne Gracie, generous as always, sent me this amazing Regency anthology, The Last Chance Christmas Ball.  Oh my, look at the line up of authors! It was really hard to not read it before Christmas, but as December arrived I dived in with joy. All eight stories are linked around characters planning to attend The Last Chance Christmas Ball, held just after Christmas, 1815. It's absolutely delightful to see the same characters dipping in and out of the stories, hello again, hello again, swoon, swoon, hello again, etc., as eight couples find love. I couldn't put this book down, it's so lovely and lush and romantic. Add it immediately to your Christmas reading! It's poignant to see here a story from Jo Beverley, who sadly passed away after the book came out a few years ago; her story is a true gift. If you'd like to hear more from some of the authors, pop over and subscribe to the Word Wenches newsletter for your Regency fix.

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Three more Christmas books - can you last the distance?!

Something, uh, Grinchy:

Well, bah humbug, there's always someone who might spoil Christmas for us, isn't there? Happily, in Starlight Bend (isn't that a lovely name?), love conquers Grinchy growly moments. Seriously, he growls at her, which made me laugh. The Grinch of Starlight Bend by Jennifer Probst is a quick read for a busy day, a heartwarming Christmassy romance that's also a bit Beauty & the Beast, yum! (In fact, the B&tB library in this book gave me an instant case of library lust.) I love social workers, I'm one in another life, so this is a pretty special story. And wow, another super luscious cover! 

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Something Inspirational:

Melody Carlson, award winning Inspirational author, gives us tender Christmas stories each year. This year it's A Christmas by the Sea, with a widow and her 12 year old son trying to fix their beachside cottage to sell, to pay the debts from her late husband's cancer treatments. Already your heart wrenches, doesn't it? Along comes local craftsman Caleb Colton. I'm in. I'm in, I'm in, I'm totally into this book. A sweet inspirational about spiritual growth and provision from on high. (P.S. I think I could live in that divine little cottage, and I totally loved the shell decorations.)

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Something with Amnesia:

Their Christmas Miracle by Barbara Wallace is really something special. I love the amnesia plot, where Rosalind is shocked when her husband accidentally finds her in an isolated hotel in the wilds of Scotland (and there is a slight mystery about that hotel, hmmm). She's forgotten everything about her life before 6 months ago - and then she starts remembering snippets...and they're not always complimentary to her... Wonderfully, miracles do happen at Christmas!

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Last but definitely not least (thanks for staying with me!):

Something Fun:

Office romance! Geeky computer guy! Sunshiney heroine! Unrequited love! Disastrous Christmas party! Casualty department! All the fun stuff! Tinsel in a Tangle by Ainslie Paton is fast and festive, guaranteed to give you all the feels and put a smile on your face. Thanks, Ainslie, you rock.

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I do hope that's given you some stocking stuffer ideas? Maybe you can pop one of these into your own stocking and settle down in a blissful post-Christmas moment to read, read, read.

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear what new Christmas books you've discovered? Show and tell!

Happy Christmas - and may all your presents be books!

Stay safe, and I can't wait to see you in 2019!

Until then, much love from Miranda xxx

Love to Love:
Everything Christmas. The tree, the lights, the gifts, the goodwill, church, family & friends, the food...etc!

Love to Laugh:
At the funny Grinch memes coming out. I'm totally keen to drag some children to the new Grinch movie.

Love to Learn:
I know I say it over and over, but tell me what Christmas reading you've discovered. Do share.

Monday 3 December 2018

A Literary Escape: The Joys of a Writers’ Retreat

By Alli Sinclair

One of the biggest challenges for a writer is finding time to do what we love—write! Life is busy with work, family, friends (and let’s not even mention housework!). So escaping for a few hours or even a weekend into our fictional words can become an impossible task. 

There is, however, a solution.

The past few years has seen a rapid growth in writers’ retreats. From weekend getaways in the country to grand-scale sojourns in Europe, there are retreats to fit every timeframe and budget. The one thing they all have in common is the opportunity for writers to fully concentrate on their manuscript, develop their craft, and be with like-minded writers. More often than not, the friendships made on these retreats are long lasting and who doesn’t love having a writing friend to share the highs and lows of this industry.

This year I teamed up with good friend and fellow author T.M. Clark to offer Writers at Sea—a retreat giving writers the chance to not only immerse themselves in their writing, but to relax and have a holiday at the same time. Tina and I have different strengths and have taught workshops around Australia (as well as having done manuscript assessments and mentoring), so working together to offer a well-rounded retreat was a logical step.

We wanted to give writers something unique, so a cruise in the South Pacific was the perfect choice! We gave workshops and mentoring sessions, scheduled time for attendees to write and, on the days when we were in ports, a chance for everyone to swim in crystal blue waters, shop in exotic markets or explore jungles and villages. It proved the perfect combination of holiday and writing.

Not every writers’ retreat is equal, so do your due diligence before committing. Ask questions and, if you can, talk to someone who’s been on the retreat previously. 

Here are some suggestions of what to do before handing over your deposit:
  •  Cost: what is/isn’t included?
  •  Who are the facilitating writers, and what qualifications and experience do they have?
  •  How many people will be attending?
  •  Will there be time to socialise and network with other writers?
  •  If you’re on a strict budget, ask if they pair writers in the same room to save costs.
  • Will there be workshops, a critique of your manuscript, brainstorming sessions, writing sprints? A good writing retreat should give you ample time to discuss your project with the facilitator/s, and workshops should be aimed at developing your craft, identifying the habits holding you back and helping you create new methods for your writing to grow. 
  •  Find out if you’re expected to help with cooking or if all meals prepared and served (a big one for me—the beauty of getting away to write means no household chores!). And can special needs (e.g. allergies) be catered for?
  • Does the retreat cater to writers at various stages of development or is it geared towards a certain level of experience? 
  • Is the retreat for fiction or non-fiction writers?
  • Are there cancellation fees? Can you pay in instalments?
  • What is the accommodation like? What facilities are there? How easy is it to get there?

Another good idea is to find out if it will offer experiences other than writing. Stepping out of your comfort zone can help you gain new insight; if the retreat offers excursions and cultural experiences this can inspire and help you grow.

A retreat should block out the day-to-day distractions of your regular life and help break through any issues you may be facing with your writing. With the right guidance and feedback from your facilitators, your manuscript should shine and your writing craft develop. Most of all, a writing retreat should fuel creativity and leave you inspired, ready for the next step in your writing journey.

Have you been on a writing retreat? What was the best thing about it?

I Love to Love bingeing on my favourite tv shows.

I Love to Laugh at myself when I walk into things (which happens a bit too often!).

I Love to Learn about people's passions.

About the Author: An adventurer at heart, Alli Sinclair is a best-selling and multi-award-winning author who has lived in Argentina, Peru, and Canada. She’s climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South America, and has travelled the globe, immersing herself in array of exotic destinations, cultures, and languages.

Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery. Her latest book, Burning Fields, is an historical set in 1948 in northern Queensland. Alli’s website is:

If you would like more information about Writers at Sea, please contact Alli or Tina, or go to our website:

(All images are the author's own or free to use.)

Monday 26 November 2018

Excerpts from 'A Very Aussie Christmas' Anthology

By the Breathless in the Bush Bloggers

Restore your faith in the power of the human spirit with 6 warm-hearted romances. Celebrate the joy and occasional heartbreak of the festive season, where love shines through against the odds. For all lovers of a little romance at Christmas time, here are some excerpts from our Christmas anthology A Very Aussie Christmas.

Link to Buy

Endings, Beginnings by Enisa Haines

Ash-blonde hair fashioned into a loose bun framed a face deserving of an angel. Eyes the blue of sapphires. Wide eyes emanating an internal agony. He lost himself in the depths, in an emotion he’d never before felt.

Was it possible to fall in love in an instant? His sisters, ever reading those penny dreadful novels, would say ‘yes’.

Desert Fire by Sharon Bryant

White Cliffs. The battered black sign appeared on her right. Littered with holes as if someone had taken a shotgun to it. Emma turned the car. No more main road. Much safer. She frowned. She was being ridiculous. Her stalker didn’t know where she was going.

He couldn’t possibly know.

’Tis the Season by Lynne Boyd

Why the hell was Mr Immaculate going to her parents' place? Was he a salesman or someone from a mining company trying to harass them? On Christmas Eve! What if he was from the bank? Had her parents been keeping problems from her and her brothers?

Well, Kelly would find out soon enough.

Christmas at Castle Bay by Helene Cowan

A class reunion ball on Christmas Eve... Ella’s blood chilled. Callum Anders would be there! No way could she face him. Not even after ten years. The raw bitterness between their families, the public scandal, was still unforgettable. Having to confront him after all this time would be truly embarrassing. Yet how could she avoid the ball?

Millie’s Christmas Miracle by Cassandra Samuels

“Millie, hurry.” Her father’s booming voice broke through the hum of the dining room. “It’s Will.”

Her heart stopped. Will? A smile broke out across her face. Her William was back!

He’d left her twelve long months ago, promising to be back by Christmas. When no letters came, she’d feared something terrible had happened and she had fallen into despair. But Will always kept his promises and now here he was.

Home for Christmas by Marilyn Forsyth

Melissa had no right to begrudge her mother a life after Dad’s passing, but an invitation extended to Doc Bailey for Christmas lunch? What the hell? If she’d been uncertain about the relationship developing between her mother and the doc, that settled it.

Still, if she could finally allow herself to move on, she should allow her mother to do the same.

Shouldn’t she?

We Love to Love peace and joy at Christmas!

We Love to Laugh at animal Christmas gifs.

We Love to Learn what each of us will choose for our favourite 2018 Aussie Romance book (to be announced on the Breathless List in January). 

(All gifs and pictures in this post are free to use.)

Monday 19 November 2018

Sexy History With Mystery!

BITB welcomes guest blogger  MADDISON MICHAELS

Hi everyone! I'm Maddison Michaels and I write sexy history with a dash of mystery! Being a historical romance writer, one of the things I absolutely love doing is researching. I particularly adore learning about historical inventions. For example, have you heard of a waterproof canvas bag in the 1800s?

I certainly hadn't - until I needed to do some research for my second novel THE ELUSIVE EARL. You see my heroine, Brianna, had a very special journal that she needs to take with her on her adventure through the Italian countryside, and during her travels there may be an occasion where she and the journal take an unexpected swim... But because I needed to have the journal remain legible, I had to research what sort of materials were available in the 1850s that could actually work to protect the journal from the water...

Photo credit:

I was thrilled when I read about the Macintosh waterproof canvas, which was a material invented in the Regency era by a chemist names Charles Macintosh. The material itself was made by sandwiching a thin layer of Naptha-treated rubber between two layers of cloth. It was made famous when in 1827 on a voyage to the North Pole, a bag of cocoa (which was made from Macintosh's waterproof canvas) fell overboard into the sea, and when it was retrieved, the Captain said that 'it did not suffer the slightest injury...'.

So in 1856 (when my novel is set), the Macintosh canvas was often used to ensure things were kept waterproof. In fact, the Mackintosh Raincoat (spelt slightly different to the inventor's surname, but still in existence to this day), was made from the same material. So YAY, the material was in existence back than and was just perfect for the perils my character was going to have to face… LOL!

Photo source: Carson, Pirie, Scott & CO. catalogue, 1893, within the public domain

What about you? Any cool historical inventions you've discovered in the course of reading?

From Maddison 

I Love To Love: with all my heart.

I Love To Laugh: until I cry (happy tears of course).

I Love To Learn: something new every single day!

Monday 12 November 2018

The Rise and Rise of Aussie-Based Thrillers

by Tory Hayward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take care

Monday 5 November 2018

Who Reads Romance Novels?

Who Reads Romance Novels?

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who reads romance novels?

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

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


Monday 29 October 2018

Inspiration: 15 Ways to Get It Happening

by Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of giphy

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

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

Image courtesy of

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

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

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

Image courtesy of giphy

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

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

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

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

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

Image: author's own photo

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

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

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

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

Watercolour by Marilyn Forsyth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love to Learn how to improve my craft with feedback from RWAus competitions. For those interested, the Emerald and Emerald Pro close November 26th.

Monday 22 October 2018

Author Spotlight - Kate Forsyth

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


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

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

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

Name one thing you're scared of?

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

Image courtesy of:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 15 October 2018

3 Writers: 3 Creative hobbies

By Cassandra Samuels

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

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

1. When did you start quilting and why?

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

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

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

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

1. When did you start taking photos and why?

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

Buy this book here

Buy this book here

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

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

courtesy of Catherine Evans

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

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

Copyright Mel Scott

1. When did you start painting watercolours and why?

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

Buy this book here
buy this book here

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

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

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

What is your creative outlet?

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

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

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