Monday 26 February 2018

Pinterest: What Is it and Why Do I Need It?

By Marilyn Forsyth
Image courtesy of giphy
Interested in a site with millions of images for your inspiration, education and entertainment? Before you dismiss Pinterest as just another social media site that you don’t have time to indulge in, check out this post to see how easy Pinterest is to use and what it can do for you.

I’m a visual person. You can give me written instructions to follow, or orally explain things to me until you’re blue in the face, and I just won’t get it. me a picture or an infographic and I’ll know exactly what’s going on. That’s why I love Pinterest.

Image courtesy of giphy

It’s visual, it’s fascinating, it’s easy to use and it’s lots of fun.

At its most basic, Pinterest is a photo sharing website. But it’s SO MUCH MORE. (Sorry to shout, but you need to understand this!) The site defines itself as "The world’s catalog of ideas. Find and save recipes, parenting hacks, style inspiration and other ideas to try." And that’s just the beginning…

screenshot of one of my boards
Pinterest allows you to either browse images on pin boards created by others, or to create a pin board for whatever interests you. A pin board is a theme-based collection of images. Think of one thing you’re into. Rural romance? Wildlife photography? Home decoration? I guarantee you’ll find at least one pin board on any topic you can name.

I started off with one board but I now have six, four boards related to my writing and two just for fun and inspiration. Inspirational visuals for the time-slip novel I’m working on appear on a ‘secret’ board which only I can see. Here, I keep images of characters, settings, objects, etc, to refer to when I’m writing. I’ll make it public when I’m closer to publication, like I did with my boards for The Farmer’s Perfect Match and Falling in Love Again. (The links take you to my boards.)

Image courtesy of Hotties From History

I love browsing boards with topics that relate to what I’m writing about. When I find an image I like, I save (repin) it to my board (a one-click operation). For example, one of the heroines in my work in progress is a medieval warrior princess so, from related boards, I've repinned photos of things like medieval dress, castle layouts, and maps of ancient Wales.  

Pinterest regularly alerts me to other boards I might be interested in, and also lets me know when someone has repinned one of my images. (Whether you want to interact with others is up to you. I haven’t gone down that road; I just like having access to inspirational images at my fingertips.)

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Once you have a board of your own (too easy to create), there are 3 ways to add images:
1.                  Upload from your computer
2.                  Repin images from any other board
3.                  Pin directly from any web page by adding the ‘Pin It’ button to your browser 

Like I said, it’s all so easy!

Go on, have a go! Click on this link to the Pinterest Home Page. When you get there, click on the 3 horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner of the page to get a list of general topic headings. Or use the search box if you know what you’re looking for.

This site gives a very helpful overview for getting started:

Do you have any Pinterest boards? Let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to follow you.

Love to Love: travelling. We're off to beautiful Wales in a couple of months to do some further research for my time-slip novel.😁

Love to Laugh: It's why I have a 'Fun Stuff' board.
Love to Learn: which friends are on Pinterest. On the Pinterest Facebook page look under Community (on the right-hand side) and you’ll see the names of any friends who use Pinterest.

Monday 19 February 2018

Scandalous Women in History

By Cassandra Samuels

Hi everyone. Can you believe we are halfway through February? I hope everyone has had a fabulous start to the year.

For this post I’ve chosen to talk about a particular aspect of the research I did for my debut novel A Scandalous Wager.  Lisbeth Carslake (my heroine) and Caroline Norton are both scandalous women, and both were abused by their husbands.

Caroline is a fascinating woman for many reasons. Born in 1808 as Caroline Sheridan she became the face of justice for women, but she didn’t start off that way. When her soldier father died in Africa, the family was left penniless. They were granted a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court Palace. Caroline and her sisters were highly accomplished and were accepted everywhere due to their upbringing at court.
Hampton Court Palace - copyright (c) Cassandra Samuels 2010

In 1827 she married George Norton, a barrister and MP. Caroline was witty and clever and used her skills to win favour for her husband and his political ambitions. However, he was a controlling husband and often had fits of rage and drunkenness. He physically and emotionally abused his wife throughout their marriage.

Caroline wrote prose and poetry to vent her emotions and earned money doing so. George disliked his wife’s success. In 1836 she left him. He took her earnings from her writing, so she racked up bills in his name. In turn, he decided to hide her children from her, a cruel blow to a woman who lived for her sons.

Her husband was insanely jealous of her friendship with the then Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, and sued him for Criminal Conversation (accusing him of having an affair with his wife). Melbourne took him to court and won.
buy a copy here

Caroline campaigned relentlessly for the rights of women to their children. Her intense efforts culminated in the Custody of Infants Act and the Married Women's Property Act. These acts gave women a legal identity where before they had none. I think we owe a lot to Caroline Norton.

buy a copy here

Do you have a favourite scandalous woman in history or even in the present?

Love to Love - watching documentaries on all things historical. This YouTube video on Caroline Norton and other scandalous women is just great.

Love to Laugh- At comedian Michael McIntyre - whose outlook on parenting and middle age is just hillarious.

Love to Learn - Listening to Podcasts by the History Chicks. If you love learning about women in history you will love this podcast.
Go to their website here

Monday 12 February 2018

Romance Around The World: Scotland

The Romance of Scotland

Scotland is such a romantic place. The majesty of Edinburgh Castle set atop towering cliffs in the centre of a bustling city. The beauty of the deep blue and green lochs, surrounded by rolling hills, carved by ice eons ago. Tiny villages in the high country accessed by winding roads passing fast flowing streams and craggy hilltops. A colourful history of strength and fortitude that so many Scotsman and women have displayed in the face of adversity.

It is unsurprising that so many romance novels have been set in this beautiful country. As you may have guessed, I’ve been reading romance novels set in Scotland lately, and would like to share two of my favourites with you.

On Dublin Street

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young, tells the story of Jocelyn Butler who has never come to terms with the sudden loss of her family. She copes by avoiding getting close enough to anyone to need to confide her past, and thus succeeds in blocking it out. This works reasonably effectively, until she leaves the USA for Scotland where she meets Scotsman, Braden Carmichael. Realising that Jocelyn is terrified of commitment, Braden proposes a sexual relationship with no expectation of anything else. Jocelyn agrees. I loved getting caught up in their passionate romance cleverly woven by Samantha Young, and observing the characters’ growing love and self-knowledge.

When a Scot Ties the Knot

When a Scot Ties the Knot: Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare introduces us to socially anxious Madeline Gracechurch, who avoids her London season by inventing a Scottish sweetheart, Captain Logan MacKenzie. She writes him letters over several years, talks about him with her family, and eventually invents the death of her fictitious love. It turns out that the army has forwarded her letters to a real man named Logan MacKenzie, an army captain, who needs to find a home and means of support for his men following the war. The Captain arrives at Madeline’s property to claim his bride and her assets.

Have you read any romances set in Scotland lately? Which was your favourite?

I love to love: We spent several wonderful days with our extended family over the Christmas period.

I love to laugh: I’m watching the mini-series Cranford at present. The antics of the ladies of the town always bring a smile to my face.

I love to learn: We had a mini-break in Mudgee earlier this month, and visited the town of Rylstone. It was fun wandering through the town, reading the historic notices, observing the old sandstone buildings and imagining how life was in the past.

Monday 5 February 2018

Winter in Wales Writers Retreat with Tess Woods

by Enisa Haines

'Twas a cold winter's night in Wales at yon writers' retreat
Seven writers eager they did journey there and in joy did they meet.'

After a year of planning and anticipation, so began my sojourn in Criccieth, a seaside resort town on the north-west coast of Wales in the United Kingdom. I, and five other writers, joined Tess Woods (award-winning Harper Collins author of Love at First Flight and Beautiful Messy Love), her husband Paul and teenagers Tom and Lara, at Mynydd-Ednyfed Country House, a luxurious, heritage-listed property.

Enthusiastic greetings, a guided tour of the property and gifts given in welcome, then a week of delicious dishes for every meal and an endless supply of snacks and drinks...Tess and her family ensured we were comfortable. But it was more. We felt very special.

Each morning began with opening a happy pill fortune cookie. With messages like 'step with confidence onto a new path' as inspiration, we gathered together for the daily workshops Tess held. Using her own experiences as an author, she talked of the common elements in page turners, of the mistakes she'd made since becoming an author, and of sex scenes, editing, marketing and the importance of social media.

Free time to write or work on edits followed the workshops. We gathered in the lounge room and focused on our own work. If being together was too distracting and focus turned to talking, our individual rooms provided silence and privacy.

A bonus was the one-on-one professional critique session with Tess to discuss the work we'd sent her prior to the retreat (first 40 pages of our manuscripts). For me that session was the highlight of the week. Two hours spent going over every page, complimented at times and others shown in ways so clear how to make the writing tighter and more powerful.

A second bonus was the session we each had with Tom. Learning our likes and dislikes, he updated or created our websites. And they all look amazing!

From day 1 to day 6 we spent many hours quietly writing and when we weren't writing we joined together for chats, frolicked in the falling snow, explored the gorgeous scenery of Criccieth or the more populated town of Porthmadog, the home of a local pub The Australia. Then day 7 came, the day we said goodbye. So hard to do when we all wanted to stay.

December 9 - 15, 2017. A week when inspiration and encouragement flowed. A week when our writing took a giant leap forward on the path to publication. And a week when seven writers became friends in friendships that will last for life.

Have you been to a writers retreat? I'd love you to share your experience.

Love to love: the fun times we writers (and a few family members) had at the retreat.

Love to laugh: six Aussie ladies invading a Welsh shop one cold afternoon and loading the counter over and over with purchases. It was closing time but the smiling salesman sure didn't mind!

Love to learn: Tess Woods' Winter in Wales Retreat was worth every moment.

If you'd like to know more about the retreat, (and I definitely recommend that you do) watch this video (made by Tess's daughter) of us being interviewed by Tess's husband Paul.

And if you'd like to know more abut Tess Woods, her books and her retreats, visit her website at

Congratulations Helen Sibritt! You are the winner of our giveaway from last week. A copy of A Very Aussie Christmas will be on your kindle soon.