Monday 29 April 2019

Audio Books: What's the Best Deal?

by Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of giphy

If you could do two things at once—say, clean the house (crazy idea, I know) and read a book while you’re at it—why the heck wouldn’t you??

The problem is logistics.

But there is a solution...

Audio books! 

Audiobooks have been growing in popularity for a while now, and the main reason is pretty obvious - we’re all time poor. The flexibility and time-saving aspect of listening to your current read on a road trips, or even just to and from work (either on the train or in the car), is what makes audio books so damn appealing.

For my own interest, I did some research into the main avenues for accessing audio books. here's what I found:

Image courtesy of  Audible

Audible is probably the most well-known here in Australia.

Your first book on joining is free. After that, for $16.95 per month you can access one book from their library (or pay an extra $14.95 for any additional books). The book comes in the form of CDs or an MP3 (which you then download to your listening device). You’ll also receive exclusive access to ‘Members Only’ sales and Daily Deals.

If you don’t manage to finish the book, you can roll over your credits. If you don’t like the book, they offer a ‘love it or swap it free’ guarantee (for a limited number of times). This is available even to trial members.

Image: Gage Skidmore

This raises an important point. The narrator can make or break a book. Richard Armitage reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz? Yes please! Pauline Hanson reading Anne of Green Gables? Not so much. To help you make the right choice with your book, Audible allows you five minutes to listen to samples.

Apparently it’s easy to pause or to cancel membership, too. (And the Rebel Wilson campaign is great).

Image courtesy of Bolinda
Bolinda Digital is a non-subscription service. Audio books (CDs and MP3) can be purchased for between $39.95 and $49.95 (with 15% off for members).

They also power a download service called BorrowBox. The app ‘makes it easy to browse, borrow and listen to your library’s eAudiobooks and ebooks…by logging in with your (library) member details’. It allows you to listen to a library audiobook via your iphone, ipad, Android, Android tablet or Kindle Fire. The app has a 3-star rating but does have mixed reviews as to its effectiveness.

In conclusion…

I used Jean M Auel’s book The Land of Painted Caves to investigate how much an audiobook would cost through different avenues. Here’s how it panned out:

Google Play $39.00 AUD to buy outright (but I have heard that Google Play is about to start an Audiobook Library)

Booktopia $24.95 (not in stock atm)

Book Depository CDs $32.00 AUD (free shipping)

Audible $16.45 AUD (with ongoing payments per month for new books)

Bolinda (unavailable for purchase or through BorrowBox)

I’ve listened to the different samples from each provider and would be happy to listen to any of them. However, it seems to me that Audible might be my best option. It’s an ongoing cost, but I’d probably send more than $16.45 per month on books, anyway (and I can roll over credit or even cancel if need be). Also, I’m quite a slow reader (I read at night in bed), so I’m thinking that if I’m able to listen while I’m doing something else, the book won’t take as long to get through as it normally would.

(Prices quoted are correct as of 28/4/2019)

Are you an audiobook fan? How do you like to access them?

Love to Love the final season of Game of Thrones.

Love to Laugh (in a kind of sad way) at Game of Thrones memes.

Love to Learn that Bookbub is soon to introduce CHIRP, a new promotional channel for audiobooks. Yay!

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Monday 22 April 2019


By Cassandra Samuels

ANZAC - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

Anzac day is very special to Australian's and New Zealanders alike. It is a day of reflection, of pride and of commemoration of all those who fought for our freedom.

Why do we celebrate it on the 25th of April?

On the 25th of April 1915 Australian and New Zealand troops formed an expedition to go to the Gallipoli peninsula and pave the way for the Allied navies to take Constantinople from the Ottoman Empire - an ally of Germany. It was their first engagement in the Great War and lasted until 1918 when troops were evacuated and the campaign a failure. The losses were heavy on both sides.

The Last Post is played at an ANZAC Day ceremony in Port Melbourne, Victoria - public domain
At first ANZAC Day was only to commemorate those who had sacrificed their lives in the Great War but now the ANZAC tradition encompasses 'all who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations' and 'the contributions and suffering of all those that served.'

Australian and New Zealand troops at a dawn service in Iraq in 2018 - public domain

What does ANZAC Day mean to you? 

If you live outside of Australia/New Zealand, do you have a similar commemoration for your own service men and women?

Love to Love: Watching the ANZAC parade or watching the Gallipoli movie with Mel Gibson.

Love to Laugh: at the wild tales the diggers have told  - some really were larrikins.

Love to LearnFrom the mistakes of the past so we don't repeat them.

Book Recommendations

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Monday 15 April 2019

Travelling the Romantic Destinations of the World, One Book at a Time

by Stella Quinn

Photo Credit: Depositphotos
Hi, my name is Stella Quinn, romance writer and romance reader.

When I read romance, I want to escape the humdrum of work, drama and bills, and welcome the adventure of a book holiday. I especially love book holidays set in romantic destinations.

The South Pacific ... a vineyard in Italy ... or maybe a fictitious historic town set between mountain and lake where the people are adorable and the air smells like fresh-cooked cinnamon donuts ... and I don’t even need to check whether my passport’s expired before I jetset off.

Romantic destinations in fiction are such a treat to visit, but they are even more of a treat to write. Today I’m going to share with you two locations I’ve used recently.

Romantic Destination #1: Cathedral Springs, Upstate New York

Okay, I made this place up. But I made it up to be beautiful, as I am writing a small-town romance novel series set there. I needed historic buildings, snow-capped mountains, and a lake large enough to have an old paddle-steamer still operating on it as a tourist boat during the summer months. I needed grassy valleys where horse studs could be found, and I needed the sound of church bells ringing on Sundays. I needed an old-fashioned cinema, and a new coffee shop with a charming barista who made world-class coffee.

I used a map of Queenstown, in New Zealand, as my town and renamed the streets to suit myself. I googled “small town USA” images for inspiration. The picture at the head of this blog is how I imagine Cathedral Springs in my mind.

Sound like a nice place? Sounds like heaven to me. You can read about Cathedral Springs in my novella, The Umbrella Diaries, which was launched on April 9 by Literary Crush Publishing in the latest of their popular seasonal romance anthologies, April Showers, which you can find here.

Romantic Destination #2: The Australian Outback

Okay, I made this town up too, but I based it on pictures of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. And hey – I’ve seen Crocodile Dundee. I used a fictitious hiking trail in the outback as the setting for a short story called The Crocodile Track. This story needs a rugged, harsh landscape because the heroine, Lara, needs to go on a journey of redemption. She’s lost in life – and she needs to get lost in the outback before she can find who she wants to be by the time she reaches the end of the hiking track.

The Cockatoo Track is free to download for the month of April 2019 for everyone who subscribes to my mailing list – and the plus side is, then I can let you know when the next Cathedral Springs story is coming out (hush … it’s a secret ... but The Patchwork Project, a full-length romance novel starring cafĂ©-owner Vera and town vet Josh will (fingers crossed) be out before Christmas).

To join in and read The Cockatoo Track, click on this link.

Thanks for having me on the blog!

 I love to love ... gorgeous travel photos in Instagram.
I love to laugh ... with my kids about pop culture.
I love to learn ... crafty things, such as knitting cable-knit beanies. My bucket list project is to learn to crochet a retro owl tea cosy.

Have a great day!

Stella Quinn xx

Monday 8 April 2019

Miranda's April Musings!

ARR2019 fun - my tribe! ❤❤❤

In case you're wondering what ARR2019 means, the translation is A Romantic Rendezvous 2019 with the Australian Romance Readers Association Inc. (ARRA). Over four absolutely blissful days in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, ARRA gathered large roomfuls of absolutely fantastic (incredibly brave) authors, sat them at tables the authors decorated to the nines, complete with books, chocolates, samplers, pens and other sumptuous items, and - opened the doors to the public! 

Folks, this is my tribe. My people. My friends. And, I don't want to go too Lord of the Rings creepy about it, but the books are all my Precioussss…

The first thing I was handed at the Sydney registration was a bag of books, chocolates and little gifts, because I registered as a VIP visitor. Omigosh.

The second thing I was handed was another freebie - and what a funky cover - The Love Experiment by Ainslie Paton:

Photo credit:

I mean to say, by this stage I was overwhelmed. A bag of swoony stuff and I'd hardly gotten inside the door. Woot!

The next fun bit happened over the next three hours. I hugged and kissed and chatted my way around the room. YES I DID. In the middle I had lunch with some other lovely reader friends including our dear reader friend Helen S, and the chat went on there, too. Lots of 'Have you read...?', 'Have you read?', 'Have you read?'... Heavens to betsy, my TBR tripled in a nanosecond. And I already had that luscious bag of new books at my feet.

There were so many authors at ARR2019 I can't name them all, but I got absolutely swept off my feet by their love and wonderful-ness. And I got still more books! I might have also gotten more chocolates but there's no evidence remaining *cough*. But, the bliss. Fellow bloggers Alyssa Montgomery (at a splendid table), Enisa HainesCassandra Samuels and Marilyn Forsyth were there, plus lots of familiar friends. All for the same purpose: to enjoy the vibe and romance at its best! 

I was very excited to meet Celeste Bradley, who had flown in from the US for the event. I trembled as she signed a copy of Wedded Bliss for me. We shared a little story about the US Deep South, so she wrote in her book: For Miranda, Keep travelling! It makes your life longer. ❤ Celeste Bradley. Ooh. 

Photo credit:

I was also excited to meet new-to-me author Michelle Montebello.   Her new book The Quarantine Station is set in Manly, close to where I grew up. The book is now on my TBR and I can't wait! I visited and in fact stayed at the Quarantine Station not that long ago and did a tour (it's now a hotel). Michelle's inscription to me reads: To Miranda. Break all the rules. Fall in love. ❤ Michelle. x Yes please, thankyou very much!

photo credit:

The marvellous thing about romance authors is their warmth and love. I'm not kidding. Everyone had a smile on their face, everyone was ready for a chat, everyone was just super amazing - and this included other readers I became instant BFFs with, just standing there chatting about our mutual love of this or that book/author/genre. Everyone shared the love around. The vibe was happy, relaxed and fantastic. 

THANKYOU ARRA! I had the best day!

Love to you all from a very happy Miranda xx

Love to love: 

Going to an ARRA event. It's all romance books, fans, authors, good stuff. And chocolate. Have you been to something like this?

Love to laugh:
At heart I'm still a swoony romance reader fan. Meeting authors gives me such a buzz! How about you?

Love to learn:

Are you like me - trembling at the knees when you get to meet someone you've read and loved?

Monday 1 April 2019

Character Motivation

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Debra Dixon's much cited writing bible, 'Goal, Motivation & Conflict' explains that the motivation is what compels the character to achieve his or her goal. (If you're a writer and don't have this book, I can tell you it's one of the most helpful how-to books I own.) On motivation, Dixon writes "Keep it simple. Keep it strong. Keep it focused." Motivation is also referred to as the Why of the story and can be a key element in helping the character be three dimensional and also have the reader empathise with him or her. For a reader to become engrossed in the plot, the motivation must be clear and should be compelling.

There are many different goals a character can have, and even those who share the same goal may have different motivations for doing so. If you're looking for different character motivations, check out the sites:


Newton said that an object will tend to remain at rest unless it's acted upon by an outside force. Perhaps it's an internal motivator or perhaps it's an external force, but there has to be something that motivates a character into action and to direct the choices that character makes.

Coming from a large and very loving family, I know that through my close bond with my parents and siblings, any one of us would be prepared to go to whatever extraordinary lengths possible to in order to help each other. I've used family motivations in a number of my books. In my medieval 'Knight of Her Heart' (published as Alyssa James) I have a heroine who's trying to save her sister's life and in 'Knight of Her Desire', a mother who's trying to protect her child. My hero in the former is motivated by revenge and in the latter, the hero is motivated by a sense of duty and conscience.

I tend to like motivations which involve family because I find them compelling and easy to relate to. Whether the character is motivated to do something to help a relative survive, get out of debt, achieve a career goal - I'm happier to read these types of motivating factors than a motivation centered around attaining a career goal or wealth or something material. That's not to say those stories aren't appealing to me - just that the family motivations appeal more.

In my latest contemporary release, 'Seduced by the Enemy' the heroine is motivated to become a part of her niece's life and to try to save her life. In each of these stories, the motivation was urgent and ensured the characters would meet the roadblocks and challenges I set for them to make it difficult for them to achieve their goals.

Obtaining Justice is my hero's motivation in 'The Irredeemable Prince' and it's such a strong motivation he doesn't mind attracting the scorn of a nation to do it.

Honouring a sense of duty and feeling a sense of guilt are motivating factors for both the hero and heroine in my novel, 'The Defiant Princess'. Their motivation drives them to their goal, despite their beliefs that this goal stands in the way of their own personal happiness. Now, while in this story the characters have the same goal and motivation, the conflict arises because they both want to achieve the goal in a different way.

Whatever the character's motivation is, it needs to be set in a way that the reader can relate to it - feeling the same sense of urgency and investment, struggling with the choices that need to be made but understanding and relating to those decisions.

How do I decide what my characters' motivations are? Like most authors I do an author interview that helps me to know each character's backstory. Who are they? What makes them tick? What's happened to them to make them the way they are? What do they most want? Why do they want it?
What's stopping them from getting it? How are they going to overcome the roadblock?

I'd love to hear from you.
Of the romances you enjoy reading, do you have a favourite motivational theme?
Have you ever read a romance where you have come across a really unusual motivation for the character - or one you simply can't relate to? 
If you're an author, do you gravitate more frequently to one type of character motivation than another?

Love to Love: Characters motivated to help others whether it's their friends or families.
Love to Laugh: At comical situations created by authors as the characters try to attain their goals.
Love to Learn: About what makes characters tick. Why do they want what they want?