Monday 25 November 2019

Christmas Traditions

By Jayne Kingsley

One only had to walk into their local grocery store during the month of October to know that Christmas was fast approaching. Halloween merchandise made a gallant effort to hide the Christmas paraphernalia (for a while) but we all knew it was there.

I’m one of those people who secretly rejoiced the moment I spotted the first glint of tinsel hanging from the shelves. My last writing jaunt to my local cafĂ© had an additional spark with Christmas carols playing not so faintly in the background.
I am a Christmas tragic, in all my sparkly red and green glory, and I’m not afraid to say so.

Image courtesy of

My writing desk sports a mini Christmas tree (because whilst it amuses my husband ever so much to listen to me sing carols and decorate our kids fairy garden with tinsel, we have a rule that we don’t put the actual tree up until Dec 1). I have a sparkly reindeer that’s made its way to our dining room table and did I mention my website has snowflakes falling oh-so-delicately on it?

Since having kids we’ve developed a few family Christmas traditions. Our kids are young and still in that magical stage where Santa’s name is whispered reverently, and a single spotting can cause mass hysteria, so I thought I’d share a few of our Chrissy traditions with you on the blog today – to further along my Christmas cheer!

1.     We put the tree up on December 1. It doesn’t matter what day that falls on – we cook something super tasty for dinner, pop open a bottle of champagne (apple juice for the kids), play carols and we decorate the tree as a family. We have little wooden stars with each of our names carved in them and a whole range of handmade decorations by the kids. It’s a special evening that I look forward to every year.

2.     Christmas craft with my kids. Last year we built a Christmas village and as a special gift to my Instagram and FB followers I did a Christmas count down of watercolour sketches in the lead up to Christmas day. This year we’re colouring in Christmas cards to send to our loved ones and adding to our Christmas Village.

3.     We watch EVERY SINGLE Christmas movie available! Octonauts and Paw patrol Christmas rescues, Barbie helping Santa, every Hallmark movie I can get my grubby little hands on. And of course Love Actually on Christmas Eve. The cheesier and happier the movie – the better! So long as there's some Christmas element, it's on our tv. 

4.     Gingerbread house making! This is always fun (albeit a little messy and sickening to the stomach). This year we attempted a small replica of Elsa’s castle – which wasn’t structurally as sound as it needed to be, but boy did it taste great!

5.     Planning session with Mr Kingsley. This is a bit of a favourite for me. With young kids there isn’t always a lot of time or energy left at the end of the day to spend quality time together, but we always make sure we set one night aside where we just talk about the next year. We discuss holidays, life goals, and reconnect so we are on the same page for the year to come.

Image courtesy of

How about you? What are your family Christmas Traditions? Are they steeped in history or newly formed? Please let me know in the comments.

(Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to leave comments.)

I love to love... Christmas!
I love to laugh... with my kids whilst making gingerbread houses
I love to learn... new recipes that involve pumpkin and spice and all things nice

Monday 18 November 2019

Planning for 2020: Fail to Plan, Prepare to Fail

 By Kristine Charles

You’ve all heard the saying ‘fail to plan, prepare to fail,’ right?

It’s a (paraphrased) quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin* and, as a Virgo, it’s my mantra. I am also OBSESSED with stationary (Kikki K is my spiritual home) and I have a paper planner which I ADORE so… who better to talk about planning for 2020.

And YES, I know this is early. But if your life is anything like mine involving a day job, a writing job, family and volunteering commitments and something resembling an attempt at a social life, you want to be giving thought to what 2020 might look like for you well before 2020 arrives.

Otherwise, you just wind up with drunken New Year’s Resolutions that don’t last beyond Australia Day.

If you’re lucky enough to make it that far!

So, here are my three best planning tips for you to adopt in 2020.

1. Set priorities

You need to understand what your ‘big rocks’ are: what are the most important things you want to achieve in 2020? Is it finishing that manuscript you’ve been working on? Is it getting four new books out? Is it getting your kid through the HSC? Is it training for a marathon, or painting your house, inside and out? Write yourself a list of the things you want to achieve in 2020… and these become the things for which you would decline a romantic romp with Idris Elba (or whoever your Hall Pass name/names are!)

If you haven’t seen the Stephen Covey lesson about scheduling the big rocks, check it out here

2. Commit to focus

Hi. My name is Kristine and I am a Master Procrastinator.

Yep. I will be sucked in to cleaning the toilet if it gets me out of committing to focused work.

But half an hour completely focused on something will be more productive than two hours switching back and forth between tasks (and by tasks, I mean Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!).

So, once you’ve identified your big rocks, don’t let them get smashed under the weight of all your day to day stuff. Commit time to attend to them – be it early in the morning, later in the evening, on your lunch break, or in the car while waiting for the kids to finish... whenever.

Book those blocks of time into a planner (whatever form yours takes – paper, or electronic) and commit to them. Tell someone about your commitment and let them nag you into submission!

From a writing perspective, think about sprints, or techniques like the ‘Pomodoro Technique’ to help you set time for productive work and still give you time to clean the toilet…


3. Say No

You’ve identified your priorities for the year, and you’re committing time to attend to them, scheduling time in your planner of choice and… Jason Momoa calls you up.

But, Saturday you’re already committed to a priority on your list. It’s written in your diary in really pretty ink, and… there are stickers!

One must be ruthless. Assess every invitation against your priorities for the year (and your personal priorities – which are also important! Sometimes family… or Momoa comes first).

But, if you value your priorities, and a hot night with a wildly attractive Hawaiian isn’t on the list well… the answer to Momoa must be no ☹ (unless, of course, you convince him to reschedule for a better day!).

This is the toughest tip to follow. But, believe me, at Christmas 2020, when you’re celebrating all the things you achieved in 2020… you’ll thank me for turning Momoa down.

I promise 😉

* As this is a blog about books and writing, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Benjamin Franklin formed the first public lending library in America, and the first fire department in Pennsylvania. So, thanks for the books, and the hot firefighters…!

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 or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Have any tips for Planning for 2020? Let me know in the comments.

(Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to leave comments.)

I love to love… coffee. Still. My one true love.

I love to laugh… at my nephew’s funny Instagram posts (@codyjon)

I love to learn… this month, about self-publishing.

Monday 11 November 2019

Romance Across Time - Regency Romance

By Sharon Bryant

The Regency Period in the United Kingdom occurred during the early 19th century. Architecture, technology and the arts flourished under the patronage of the wealthy, including the Prince Regent himself. The upper classes enjoyed power and privilege whilst the poorest people lived in squalor. The Napoleonic Wars took place during this period. The mini-renaissance enjoyed by the upper classes together with the strong stratification of society provide endless inspiration to romance novelists and readers alike. Not surprisingly, Regency romance is the most popular historical sub-genre. I hope you enjoy reading these novels as much as I have.

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick

The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman to pose as his fiancĂ©e for a few weeks while he is in London on business. A practical man who doesn’t wish to be bothered by the fortune-seeking mothers of the ton, he knows a paid companion will provide the perfect solution to his problems. A simple business arrangement with a woman who can act convincingly. Unfortunately, such a lady is proving impossible to find. Eleanora Lodge needs a job quickly if she is to avoid becoming destitute. Independent and feisty, she has trouble finding work, until the earl offers her the role and convinces her to accept. Eleanora quickly suspects her fake fiancĂ© of hiding secrets. Her new job is fast becoming far more dangerous than she first thought.

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

Minerva Highwood doesn’t expect to marry. Plain and bookish, she is easily flustered in the company of handsome men. Minerva knows she has made a momentous archaeological discovery. She must travel to Edinburgh immediately to present her findings to her peers. If she can persuade Lord Payne to take her, she will also be removing this dissolute rake from the company of her beloved sister. She doesn’t mind being ruined. No man wants her in any case. If Lord Payne won’t take her, she’ll go alone. Lord Payne admires her courage and resourcefulness, but has no desire to ruin an innocent. Nor can he allow her to travel unaccompanied. The journey this unlikely couple take is a real page-turner filled with dry humour, plot twists and romance.

Marry in Scandal by Anne Gracie

Shy Lily Rutherford has a secret. Bullied for it as a child, she doesn’t recognise her considerable character strengths. Lily becomes the victim of an opportunistic crime resulting in great societal pressure on her to marry Edward Galbraith, a well-known rake. Edward also has a secret – a terrible event in his past has ripped most of the hope and happiness from his life. He will offer Lily his name, but can never offer her his heart. Lily’s joy de vivre and caring nature make her a woman the reader would love to have as a friend. Readers also ache for Edward who tries to look after her, and would offer Lily more than simple caring, if only he could.

Do you read regency romance novels? Which one is your favourite?

 Love to love: Nights out with my husband.

Love to laugh: With my new grandson.

Love to learn: More about the craft of writing.

Monday 4 November 2019

5 Characteristics of a Romance Villain

By Cassandra Samuels

Villain: A  character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Don't we just love to hate a good villain?  This week I'll be exploring the world of the bad guy/gal and what's needed to make a good one. Villain in this post also refers to villainess.

In romance the villain is someone who could stop our love birds from getting together. Someone who could be the cause of past, present or future trauma. Or who might endanger either hero or heroine.

1. Villains have to have a backstory, something that made them into this person they have become. They can often be charming and quite likable until you learn their true motives. What are their motives and what brought them to this point?
courtesy of Cat Planet
2. Villains have a lot of the same characteristics as the hero, it's just that they are misdirected. They are often convinced that they have been hard done by or wronged in some way and therefore their anger and revenge is justified.
3. Villains will not stop until they get what they want, to the point of obsession.  Often their revenge will be the only thing that is keeping them going. They have committed their life to the pursuit of their justice.

4. Villains have to be a worthy opponent to your hero. It's important that your villain's actions prompt the hero to act, even if it is out of character for him. Otherwise why would the hero bother to act at all?
screen shot from the movie The Scarlet Pimpernel
5.Villains are smart and calculating and can't be fools, although they may play the fool to disguise their true motives. Ultimately, though, you want your villain to be as well fleshed out as your protagonists.

What do you look for in a great romance villain? What is your favourite romance villain from a book?

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

Love to Love  attending the Historical Novel Society conference

Love to Laugh at my husband and his dry sense of humour.

Love to Learn about writing and being an INFJ personality type