Monday 29 July 2019

Love Speaks: Romance Quotes

by Enisa Haines

I'm a romantic at heart so of course I love immersing myself in romance novels. I especially love reading gorgeous romantic lines that tug at my heart and thought I'd share fifteen of my Aussie-author favourites:

"Oh, devil take you, you awful man. Of course I'm in love with you."

"I've never known a place to feel like home - until I came to Red Rock Downs. And the reason it felt like home was because you were there. I could live anywhere and it would feel like home - as long as there was you."

"I love you, Ben. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you there have been days these last three weeks when I didn't want to love you, but the thing is, I have no choice. You're part of my heart."

"I love you. I don't think it's something I can switch off like a tap. It's there and there's nothing, it seems, that I can do about it."

"Please don't leave me alone with memories of how you look because eventually they'd fade and I'll be left with nothing but a soft picture of you and that's not enough. I want you. With me, beside me."

"I thought I had it all. Until you came into my life and brought the sun, the moon...everything that matters."

"I love you, Coop. I love you so much I want to weep and yell it from the rooftops all at once and I want to be with you."

"You amaze me. Inspire me. You make me feel ten feet tall. You're so wise and silly and surprising. I want you by my side when I wake. I need you with me forever."

"Love. You deserve it, Luisa. That's what I want to give you. If you'll let me try."

"I fought it for the longest time. I thought it was your rakish wiles I couldn't resist but it was you. Just you."

"When you come to me, I know everything's going to be all right. Your love pushes me and cushions me and leads me to the light."

"When I look at you I see my forever home. You have shown me what love can be, and what a relationship should be."

"I am drunk on you, entirely addicted to your kiss, your laugh, your voice."

"All I want is you. Everything else will be a bonus."

"Babe. This chance with you...You're it for me. You're my number one and you're staying there."

There you have it. My favourite Australian romance novel love quotes. If you have favourite quotes not listed here, I'd love to know them.

Love to love: the beautiful ways heroes and heroines in romance novels say 'I love you.'

Love to laugh: laughing is good for the soul, after all.

Love to learn: about everything. I admit to being very inquisitive.

Monday 22 July 2019

Okay, Just One More

I’m going to own up to this right now. I have a problem—it’s a good problem—but a problem none-the-less.

I am addicted to writing craft books.

I just can’t say no! They are like my own form of Pringles! Maybe not so tasty but certainly better for my hips. 

Image courtesy of

This has been a lifelong habit for me; Whenever I find a topic of interest I always go overboard. E.g. Husband bought me a rose, but how does one look after a rose? Off to the library I went, seventeen books on roses later, well let’s just say I haven’t killed the rose yet.

With writing craft books, I started small. I went to the library and borrowed/reserved every writing book I could get my greedy little hands on. There weren’t a lot that actually covered my genre: Romance. That meant it was time to dig deeper. Booktopia, Ever After Book Store, Amazon… One little click into Google and I was buried with suggestions on the best ever romance writing craft books.

My writing craft collection

Over time I’ve built up quite a little collection (see picture above) But I thought I’d do a mini run down on those that I CANNOT live without. These babies sit beside me as I write, their corners well licked from my desperate thumbing of pages to find the information I need.

GMC – Debra Dixon
I think this is like a unicorn craft book – all bright, sparkly and beautiful. It’s mythical in its printed form but I was lucky enough to score a hardback from my local romance store and boy do I love this book. The authors tone is enjoyable and her information so darn easy to understand.

The Emotion Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

I’m going to add here that ALL the thesauri are incredibly insightful and useful for writers of any genre. Also the websites; & are brilliant and I’ve often found myself losing hours just reading all the craft blogs and traipsing through the wonderful information contained on both of these sites. The emotion thesaurus though has REALLY added depth to my characters. It has improved my showing through visceral reactions, and I find myself now studying other people, matching their reactions to those outlined under the emotions in the books (yes I probably look weird; but I also hear voices in my head so really what hope is there!)

Romancing the Beat – Gwen Hayes
This is short, sweet and simple. I love the breakdown of beats for a romance novel. I mainly write category length, so I found this breakdown particularly useful for that. She also has some great follow up information on her website including a free scrivener template that has the beats laid out so you can just open and get writing. Her sense of humour had me chuckling whilst I soaked up her information like a sponge. I also found myself creating a playlist from her suggestions – though I will admit I can’t listen to it whilst I write.

These are my top three and they have all helped add structure and depth to my stories J Particularly GMC – the first few manuscripts I wrote I have now revisited – realising there was an underlying story but not enough strong conflict to sustain reader interest. My characters were flat and boring without obvious goals and motivations. Now I have a better understanding of GMC I really feel my stories have improved dramatically. It’s been a lifesaver!

If anyone is keen on some further reading on GMC, please let me recommend these excellent Blogs:

I love to love... romance craft books
I love to laugh... at my terribly messy desk
I love to learn... what other’s turning points were for their writing

How about you? Do you have any favourite writing craft books you simply cannot live without?

Monday 15 July 2019

The Cover Quandary

We all want authenticity in our writing, right? Author Sandy Curtis thinks so. At fourteen, she wrote a story about a pickpocket stealing a wallet from an off-duty cop then wrote to Police Headquarters and asked them about fingerprints. Perfectly okay. Not so perfectly okay was her mother receiving a call wanting confirmation the query was genuine and then almost having a heart attack thinking her daughter was in trouble with the law! So began Sandy's writing world where crime and passion collide. Welcome, Sandy!

It's true.

You can't judge a book by its cover.

But readers do, and that's why authors cringe when their publisher sends them a cover that they instinctively know won't work. Or why indie authors spend days searching on-line for the perfect cover shot they can use or at least work into something that attracts readers and hints at what their story is about.

It's a lesson I learned the hard way. Many years and lots of naivety ago, I was lucky enough to be offered a three-book contract with a major publisher. At that time, no Australian author was published in romantic suspense in Australia, but US romsus titles were being sold here.

My publisher showed me some covers their graphic designer had come up with for my first book, Dance with the Devil, and said that there were only two that she liked and had chosen one of those. It wasn't the kind of cover I had envisaged, but I went along with it as (in those days) I always assumed the publisher knew best. That was my first mistake. My second was in suggesting that in order to show it was an Australian book and to have a motif that would go on each cover to represent the series, a small Cooktown orchid could be placed in the top right-hand corner.

Things seemed to be going well, especially when my publisher said how impressed the sales rep for a bookstore chain was with my story and had ordered a very large number. Wow! I couldn't wipe the smile off my face (See how naive I was?)

Months after launch, I received a call from my publisher. Returns were big. Unfortunately, booksellers didn't know where to place my book on their shelves. I should have realised this when I had discovered it in the horror section of our local Target store.

My publisher told me that I would now not be classified as a romantic suspense author but as a suspense author, the orchid was going, and book two would have a different style of cover. She was true to her word and the cover for Black Ice was a standout. Problematically, Big W didn't buy it as the first book's sales figures hadn't met their future purchasing criteria.

Luckily, sales in bookstores for book two surpassed book one, and book three sales increased again. Then my publisher told me it was difficult to 'grow' an author in mass market paperback so book four, Until Death, was coming out in the trade paperback. At last, I thought, a chance to recover from the calamity of book one's cover.

Alas, it was not to be. My heart sank when I opened the email showing the cover. It was beautiful. Truly beautiful. Unfortunately, totally wrong for the story. It depicted a young woman wearing only bra-top and panties, sitting on the floor, head on drawn-up knees, looking like someone contemplating a major life decision or resting between dance practices. With a title like Until Death, it could even be assumed she had just been given a serious medical diagnosis. The shout line, which would have given a clue to the story's true nature, was so tiny a reader would have had to pick the book up to be able to read it.

I argued against this cover. My publisher held firm. It went to print. Sales slid down.

The following year my publisher said, "I think we have it right this time." And they did. Dangerous Deception was a Book of the Month in A&R and sales flew up.

My sixth book, Fatal Flaw, fell victim to the global financial crisis when my publisher did not renew my contract. They said they were sorry, they loved working with me, and sent me flowers. I felt like crying. They had become like family.

Several years later, when another publisher picked up this book, I was impressed by the cover, but we still don't agree on the cover of book seven, Grievous Harm. This publisher also contracted my previous five novels as e-books, but making new covers for these went smoothly.

It's a tough challenge for both author and publisher to create and agree upon a cover that captures the essence of a story that has taken the author many months of love, sweat and inspiration. I know many authors who have bemoaned covers chosen by their publisher, but all we can do is hope that readers will turn a book cover, read the blurb, take a glimpse inside - and find a story they want to read.

If you love stories where crime and passion collide, you can find my books at:

Love to love: family, friends, animals.

Love to laugh: at funny cat videos, humorous books, and my grandchildren laughing.

Love to learn: about everything in this wonderful, fascinating world of ours.

Monday 8 July 2019

Romance Across Time: Medieval Romance

by Sharon Bryant

The Medieval Age in Europe spans a huge time period from the 5th to the 15th centuries. It begins with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and ends with the Renaissance.

Men dominated society and woman had to "know their place". For example, in the United Kingdom women needed their parent's consent to marry, could not divorce their husbands, or own property unless they were widowed. Teenage brides were common in wealthier families, and girls usually had no say in who they married. Married women left their father's control and came under the control of their husbands.
This period affords the romance author challenging and exciting opportunities to write about love between masterful men and spirited women. Here are some of my favourite medieval romance novels. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Captured by a Laird by Margaret Mallory

Lady Alison Douglas is relieved when her abusive husband dies. So relieved, she burns his bed. Looking forward to a lengthy widowhood, Alison is shocked when David Hume, Laird of Wedderburn storms her castle as an act of revenge, and compels her to marry him. Passion quickly flares between these strong, independent protagonists. However, David is determined never to fall under a woman's spell as his father did, and Alison, given her abusive past, cannot trust David or believe in him. Margaret Mallory's expert weaving of historical fact with fiction make this novel an extra special read.

The Bride by Julie Garwood

Alec Kincaid, a Scottish laird, must marry one of Englishman, Baron Jamison's daughters by order of King Henry. He chooses the baron's stepdaughter Jamie who is being treated a lot like a servant in her own home. Jamie is strong, brave and accustomed to speaking her mind. Alec expects absolute obedience and subservience from his wife. The clash of cultures, expectations and sheer willpower of these strong, brave and thoroughly likeable characters make this book a real page turner.

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson

Utilising themes from the tales of "The Goose Girl" and "The Prince and the Pauper", Dickerson has written a beautifully constructed story of medieval excitement, love and loss. This young adult novel features Magdelene, who leaves her home to marry a duke at her mother's behest. Evil servants force her to switch places with a young servant girl, Agnes.
Duke Steffan is returning home from university in Prague when an attempt is made on his life. On arrival at his castle, he poses as a servant until he can work out who is trying to kill him. The growing love and trust between this young couple while they work out how to regain their rightful places in society is a joy to read.

Have you read many medieval romances? Which is your favourite?

I love to love: We became grandparents for the first time recently. It's such a special time.

I love to laugh: I watched "Lost in Austen" the other night. This mini-series is so much fun.

I love to learn: Everything I can about writing.

Monday 1 July 2019

5 Characteristics of a Romance Hero

By Cassandra Samuels

What makes a great hero, someone we can fall in love with?

Here are my five 'must haves' for a hero.

Definition: A hero is someone who gives of himself, often putting his own life at great risk, for the greater good of others - with or without a cape!


In Romance, a hero doesn't always have to be saving the day. Instead he is trying to win the love of the heroine. He still needs to have the characteristics that will make, not just the heroine, but also the reader fall in love with him.

1. A sense of duty

You want your hero to be able to stand up and do his duty, whether that means to family, friends or country. He may not know, understand or want to at the beginning of his journey but there will be something in him that makes it impossible for him not to do his duty in the end.

2. A sense of self-awareness

The hero must know he has faults as well as strengths. He must try and work on his faults and not rely on his strengths alone. This may be something he isn't aware of at the beginning of  the story but by the end he has a better understanding of himself and how he can be a better man for the heroine.

3. A sense of mystery

A hero who is an open book is dull - there is nothing special about him. He needs a bit of mystery. Something that is, perhaps, propelling him towards something that is not evident to the heroine or the reader. Maybe he has a secret or a bad past, but it is the fact that no one is quite sure that makes for an interesting character.

Andrew Measham - unsplash

4. A sense of individuality

Our hero has to to have something about him that is different from the other men around him. A quirk, his physicality, or even his heritage. Whatever it may be, it has to be intriguing enough for the heroine to want to know more about him.

5.  A sense of worthiness

Tim Mossholder - unsplash

If we don't empathise with our hero he is lost. There has to be something about him where, at some stage in the story, we are on his side. Whatever his past may be, whatever his experiences have been, whatever his goal may be. If he is likable, despite his sometimes irrational (to us) decisions, and we still want him to be happy, then the author has done her job well.

There are many more characteristics that make a great hero. Can you add any?

Who is your favourite hero and why?

Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to leave a comment.

Love to Love  how my grandson's greet me at the door with excitement and hugs every afternoon.

Love to Laugh at the tv show 'Have You Been Paying Attention'.

Love to Learn: about other authors' processes.