Monday 29 June 2020


*Everyone who commented on Paula Roe's post last week will receive some swag from Thank you Paula!

Lockdown Reading - and Watching!

Darlings, hello from Sydney, where winter is finally here. Such snuggly weather to read.

To be honest, I thought when lockdown hit I'd read a lot more. No frantic rushing around. Stay! At! Home! was the mantra preached to us, and rightly so. So plenty of time for all the books.

Then online platforms began and I was connecting with friends and family in new and exciting ways. We bought a new TV and omigosh, Netflix entered my life. All those lovely romance movies were suddenly - right there! Cue me swooning. Suddenly I was reading and watching.

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My first Netflix binge was to watch the first series from  Robyn Carr's amazing Virgin River books. Has anyone read or watched this? What a great series. I don't know where they filmed it, but it is spectacular! The setting is a remote mountain town by the river, and wow, they nailed it. Plus, you know, look who's playing the conflicted male lead: yummy New Zealander Martin Henderson. I just gobbled it up and cannot wait for Season 2!

If you haven't seen Martin in anything, and he is amazing, I also recommend Bride and Prejudice. It's based on Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, always a fan favourite, only this time Bollywood-style. Am I gushing? (Yes I think I am.)

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I've really wanted to read feel-good books in lockdown, so I started reading cosy, lovely books, where it's all about growth and change and relationships and romance. I was all, yes please, throw them my way so I can hoover them up. 

One of these charmers is an outstanding new release from Josephine Moon called The Cake Maker's Wish. Isn't that the most divine cover? Single Mum Olivia and young son Darcy move from Tasmania to the Cotswolds, looking for a new start. She's pretty much given up on romance - but happily, romance hasn't given up on her! At the online book launch Josephine Moon tempted us with the book *and* a scrumptious looking cake. I dived into the book immediately. It was a complete bliss-bomb - even if I did become rather desperate for cake - and Josephine Moon's backlist is equally delightful. Go ahead and binge on The Beekeeper's Secret, or The Chocolate Promise, or one of my personal favourites, The Tea Chest. Bliss in a book.

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Another great read was The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. A bunch of very alpha guys get together to coach the ones who need it on romance - with advice gleaned from romance novels. I laughed so much at all the snappy back-chat, this was a total pick-me-up shot of romance fun - although it certainly had all the drama and all the feels. I launched straight into the second one, Undercover Bromance, which included an excellent nod to the Me-Too Movement.

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Last but not least, I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of Annie West's latest stunner, Claiming His Out-Of-Bounds Bride. Wow, this is such a powerhouse romance, I was thrilled from the get-go. A fabulous take on one of my fave romance tropes, the marriage of convenience. Done with style and so much swoony emotion it was dazzling. And set in Italy, oh my. Gorgeous. Thanks, Annie! You super-star!

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What's been keeping you sane during lockdown? What books, what movies, what streaming series?

Take care, my friends, stay well and healthy and able to enjoy all the life. And maybe, the odd slice of cake. 💓

Lots of love from Miranda xxx

Love to Love:
My new Netflix discoveries! My heart's just about exploded.

Love to Laugh:
At the hilarious guy talk in the Bromance books. 

Love to Learn:
Oh please, tell me more about Netflix. And your lockdown reads! 

Monday 22 June 2020

How to Keep Writing When your Life Sucks

By Guest Author, Paula Roe

Hello lovely readers and thank you BITB for inviting me to blog.  It's been quite a while between drinks so when it came time to decide on my topic, it really was a no-brainer.

About a year ago I had this idea for an interactive workshop, with writers discussing and sharing their challenges and techniques on how to overcome life's setbacks and detours. I'd like to share a few key points.

My Backstory

In 2006, I got the call that Harlequin Desire wanted to publish my book. I had been writing for over 25 years and this was my dream come true. YAY! At the time, my son was a challenging six years old, about to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum and struggling in an unsympathetic primary school. I was a single parent, sharing a house with my parents. It was an...interesting time. But I managed to stumble through my days, writing and publishing nine books with Harlequin Desire over the next eight years.



Then in 2013 life took a detour.

We had changed schools a year before to what became a 45 minute drive. I was thrown into an entirely new routine and suddenly had to be a writer with a virtual office. My Mac and wi-fi were my life line. I wrote three books that way, in a small private room in a local community centre while my boy was at school.

I spent the lead up to the 2013 RWA conference in my hotel room, hashing over edits for my book, Suddenly Expecting. 

This had NEVER happened before. I'd put back the deadline three times. I just could not finish this damn book and I could see it happening from afar... hell, I'd felt it on some level years before this, after I had just finished Promoted to Wife.

I was burnt out. Every day I was consumed with school drama, road blocks and hurdles, and my brain was barely functioning. I was emotionally drained.  And yes, dear reader, I had become jaded with the happy-ever-after stories which had once brought me so much joy.

We started 2014 with no school. I was trying to actively pursue my career as a published author, had garnered a small following and some loyal readers. I did not have the time or energy to devote to ANY diversion. But a new high school ended up being the worst five years of my son's life. I had to mentally deal with the uncertainty every day would bring, the stress and worry that physically manifested itself as pain and aches in his body. How his mental health took a major dive. And of course, my overwhelming helplessness, not knowing what to do or how to help. My gut dropped every time I heard the phone ring, expecting it was school, calling to tell me what he'd done, the unspoken inference that he was uncontrollable, which meant I was a terrible parent. It was hell and I could not bring myself to write stories that had an uplifting and positive ending when my own sucked so badly. 


To an observer, I just stopped writing. Even my family thought so; their casual, "so, when is your next book coming out?" was like nails on a blackboard. I stopped posting on social media. I closed my Facebook account. I let my RWA membership lapse and I drifted away from my tribe. Less than a handful of people knew the deep-down complications and churning emotion of what was going on in my life. I didn't want to hear about authors I knew getting published. I made a few anonymous Twitter accounts and started connecting with other people around the world. I talked about movies, celebrities, history - stuff far from my 'real' life and far from a genre I'd lost interest in. It was wonderfully freeing to be someone else.

Stress and worry and roadblocks are all unique and individual to every one of us. What I may find challenging (marketing, promo, sticking to a business plan) could be a breeze to another author. The same goes with life challenges. Marriage, divorce, family, work, injury, relationships, career.... All bring varying levels of stress and distraction.

Many, many sucky things can and will come at you in life. No one is immune to doubt, stress, distraction. Here's what I learned these past fifteen years, and some suggestions to help you get through.

Acknowledge there is an issue 

There is nothing - NOTHING - wrong with saying "this is too much for me. I cannot cope." And there's nothing wrong with having a cry and a mental health day. Lord knows, I had many of those. Do not compare yourself to other writers - you know, those who can write 3-10 books a year, who can hold down a job and write/plan/prioritise as their busy, active family are busily active around them. THEY ARE NOT YOU. Their plans and goals are not yours. If multi-published author Wendy Writes Alot, who has thousands of devoted authors and an active social media platform, makes you feel inadequate, address why and take steps to work through that.

Devote the time

Whether it's a family drama or a sick pet, take some time to focus solely on solving the problem, giving mental/physical support or putting steps in place to address it. Spend time with sick Rover, help organise mum's yearly bowling calendar, work out what programmes you can access to encourage your child's social engagement.

Hire help

I love the mantra "stress less, write better".  Here are some things you can hire that can ease your stress burden:

-a house cleaner once a week (stop worrying about dust!)

- part time admin assistant to do your filing, answering emails, updating your social media (family members can be great for this).

- hire a hubby/Airtasker service for all those around-the-home jobs that never seem to get done

-stop ironing (I did this years ago. Best decision ever.)

Get away

Many writers find it impossible to write at home. Before the days of social distancing, you could go to a coffee shop and take your writing device. Now we are living a new normal, so until those restrictions ease:

- Create a room in your house where you can close the door. Attach a sign saying you're working (not 'writing' - way too easy for people to dismiss as unimportant). Give a time that you will be available e.g. "I'll be finished by 4pm."

- hot desking is out right now, but Air B&B can provide isolation and privacy to write. Be safe and make sure whatever place you choose follows cleaning and safety guidelines. Or you can hire an office space of your own (budget permitting).

- make space in your backyard for a table, a chair and some sort of shade for an instant writing place.

- talk to a neighbour/relative/friend who goes out to work or has a spare room available for a few hours. You could water their plants/walk their dog in exchange for uninterrupted hours.

Surround yourself with your tribe

I first mentioned getting yourself a group of like-minded souls back in 2003, at our very first Gold Coast conference. I have my writing girls and my online tribe, and I know I can go to them to talk/complain/cry about anything. No pressure.

Go learn

Can't write because you don't know enough about plot/your characters/three act structure? Do a course.  There's plenty of online workshops to suit all levels of writer and many/most festivals are now going virtual.  My go-tos are:

- local community colleges (I have a few online courses running next term!)

- Masterclass

- Savvy Authors Australian Writers Centre

- Writing NSW

 -TAFE also offer short online courses. 

-And of course, there is always YouTube and LinkedIn Learning.


Approach your community college or library and offer to run a creative writing workshop. Distance is no longer a problem with the move to virtual learning.

Do other creative stuff

All writers need to refill the creative well, which means doing something else to refresh and re-engage your brain. Knitting, painting, photography, reading.... Find out what you love to do in your down time and do it.

Throughout my "writing pause" years I still wrote. I never stopped. I just wrote for myself: stories without publisher guidelines in mind. Thoughts and poems. Fan fiction. A movie script. A TV series script. Online workshops. Honestly, it was freeing not having to worry "will my editor like this/is this what my publisher wants?" I worked through stories in my own time, when I was ready.

In 2018 I started a new business, which has been on my goals list for a while. The Wordable Writer is all about providing writing help, downloadables and writing products for writers - book cover design, to-do lists and my labour of love, Spark Cards (cute little boxes of cards to prompt your writing brain).  I then realised I needed more experience in design and drawing, so the business is on the back burner while I make my way through a diploma in graphic design. I LOVE IT and better yet, don't feel guilty about not writing.

Time Out

Stop writing. If your brain and life in general is abuzz with a gazillion distractions and writing fills you with dread, then stop. Deadlines can be either great motivation or give you a looming sense of impending failure, so make smaller or completely different goals. Instead of "I will write 1000 words by the end of the week", clean up three drawers in your filing cabinet. Throw out/shred old paperwork. Plant sunflowers in the backyard. Research something that interests you, or for a new book idea that's sitting in the back of your mind.Give yourself a break and do not feel guilty about it.

Caveat - not writing is a seductive and slippery slope. Binge-watching Game of Thrones is all well and good, but be careful not to lose sight of why you are avoiding writing. I've watched dozens of TV series and movies in the past six years because a) I love storytelling in all its forms but also, b) plotting and character development fascinates me, which leads to, c) learning from watching those shows and using those techniques in my own writing.

If, on the other hand, you find yourself enjoying doing anything BUT writing, then you need to have a serious conversation with yourself. Maybe you need to change genres? Novellas instead of novels? Try writing a script, a web series, a how-to instead of fiction.  Or is it time for a career change altogether?

So, there's a few of my obstacles and possible solutions. I'd love to hear from you guys.  What have you found challenging? How did you work around/through it?

Paula's bio

Paula Roe is an internationally published author, ARRA award winner and reformed Contest Diva.  You can find her books and articles on her website, follow her on Twitter You can also find The Wordable Writer on Twitter and Instagram

Monday 15 June 2020

The Importance of Multi Dimensional Characters

By Alyssa J. Montgomery

Romance writing 101 tells us how important it is to create multi-dimensional characters and how our readers want to be able to relate to the main characters—to admire the heroine, feel as though they could be friends, or even want to be the heroine. In the same way, our romance readers want to fall in love with our heroes.

Characterisation and plot may go hand in hand, but for me if the characters aren’t tangible and relatable, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is, I probably won’t finish the book.

When I’m asked to think back through the stories I’ve written and choose my favourites, my standouts have been because I’ve formed a really close “bond” with the characters rather than based on a favourite plotline or trope. 

India, for example, in The Formidable King, was definitely not the character I had in mind for my hero. I was intrigued by her and wanted to tell her story, but not in that particular book. But, she kept forcing her way into my thoughts and insisting she was the right heroine for my hero. 

What made her so interesting to me was the very lifestyle she’d led, the issues she’d had to deal with, the vulnerabilities she had and the strength she possessed so that she could overcome those issues. She was so ‘real’ that she ‘spoke’ to me. I was totally invested in her conflict, empathetic because I understood her background and motivations, and I was rooting for her to achieve her goals.

A summary of the most salient points I remember about characterisation from a stack of workshops I’ve attended and books that I’ve read emphasise that:

1.                                     Impact can be made when the character engages in some unexpected behaviour eg. the shy heroine letting loose at a karaoke evening or having a little to drink and propositioning the hero
The strong, successful heroine who becomes very submissive when she’s in the company of an elderly aunt who’s raised her and perhaps has been critical of her

The character has particularly strong beliefs about something but a shred of doubt emerges that starts making them question their perspective

Characters must have flaws. Life is unpredictable and complicated and the character who has a messy or conflicted life is easier to relate to than the character who’s got life all sorted and has no need for emotional growth.

Characters need to have vulnerabilities.

The dimensions of characters

First dimension is what you can see – physical appearance, quirks and habits, manner of speech – whether this is a mask or real. Many supporting characters may be one-dimensional.

Dig a layer deeper and you have the character’s backstory – what has happened to shape the character’s morals and reactions? Remember that a person is the sum of all their fears, dreams and experiences. The backstory can tell us why the character has unfulfilled desires, weaknesses, resentments, strengths and fears or conflicts. It’s these things that we may be able to relate to ourselves or that can make us more empathetic to them.

Then, we need to have an understanding of the characters ethics/morals or beliefs that lead to them to act a certain way. 

Character interviews are a useful way to get to know your characters well and to explore the driving force of the story – their goal, motivation and conflict. (Enisa Haines did a great article on this subject on the Breathless in the Bush Blog in October, 2016.)

 (Image : Courtesy of

Love to Love: My favourite characters are ones who have a good moral compass but who may veer of path and do something out-of-character because deep loyalty to a friend or family member and who are therefore conflicted by that action.

Love to Learn: If you had to marry one romance book hero, who would you choose? Likewise, if you could have one romance book heroine as your BFF, who would you choose?

Love to Laugh: At situations where characters do something whacky that is totally out of character.

Monday 8 June 2020

Scandalous Men in History

By Cassandra Samuels

There are so many scandalous men in history but I can only supply you with a few today.

First up is Ferdinand 1 of Naples. Oh boy, this guy was not nice. He was a dirty fighter and, after promising amnesty to his enemies, went back on his word and had them all murdered. Worse, he had them mummified and set up in a gruesome gallery. If he suspected anyone wasn't loyal to him he would take them on a tour of the gallery. If you didn't get the hint after that, well....
Courtesy of wikimedia commons
Next is King Edward 1 of England, otherwise known as Longshanks. He was 6'2" which was very tall for that time.  In 1304 Edward laid siege to Stirling Castle. For months he battered the castle with his favourite toy, the trebuchet. When eventually the occupants of the castle wanted to surrender he actually said no. Why? Because he had just had a new trebuchet called Warwolf delivered and he wanted to test it out. So he wouldn't accept surrender until he had bombarded them for a whole day with Warwolf.
By DeFacto - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Last of all is the Chevalier D'Eon, a successful French spy who was known for dressing as a woman and crossing over to Russia and even becoming a maid in Empress Elizabeth's court. Rumours started to abound: he was either very good or perhaps a woman playing a man all along so he could become a spy. It became such a hot topic that even the London Stock Exchange took odds on his true gender. So was he a man or a woman?
Wikimedia Commons - Chevalier D'Eon by Thomas Stewart
After being exiled for unrelated indiscretions, Chevalier decided to plead for mercy as a woman. He lived as a woman until his death where it was found he was in fact male but just had very feminine characteristics. Talk about a double life.

Have you heard any scandalous stories of historical figures?
Using Google Chrome as your browser will enable you to comment.

Love to Love being able to watch my grandaughter learning to giggle and playing with her toes.

Love to Laugh at the tv show The Great on Stan.

Love to Learn how keep my TBR pile under control.

Monday 1 June 2020

A Royal Love Affair

Not sure about anyone else but for any royal wedding I'm pretty much like this in front of the tv screen:

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Which is also what I look like watching any sort of hallmark royal romance movie, or reading royal romance novels. What can I say, I LOVE royal romance.

When I first had the idea for this blog, the big news around the world was Harry and Meghan doing a split from the crown (sad face). Now, of course, Covid19 has swept us away into a life of isolation and uncertainty (bigger sad face).

Today however, I’m hoping to drag you all back into a world of tiaras, duty and romance.

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Put your hand up if you aren’t a fan of royal romance. No one? Well I’m not surprised (plus let’s face it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t have a thing for royal romance J)

I’m a total sucker for a good royal romance – it’s the ultimate escapism read for me and as I’m just finishing up the final book in a three book royal romance series, my head is chockablock full of diamonds, sweeping ballgowns, glitz, glamour, duty and of course forever love.

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So I thought, if I love it, surely others do too, and I approached a few of my all-time favourite authors who write compelling, romantic, sensual royal romances that never fail to sweep me away into their worlds, and asked them what they love MOST about writing royal romance.

Clare Connelly on writing royal romance:

“There's so much I love about reading - and writing - royal romance. There's the fairytale, of course! The idea of becoming a princess, of all the trappings, but the thing I adore most is humanising these people we know so little about. I like writing behind the trappings and showing that their problems, worries and sources of happiness are just the same as ours!”

Click to find out more about The Secret Kept from the King

Annie West on writing royal romance:

“You asked my favourite part of writing a royal romance. It’s hard to pin down precisely, but I think the stakes are higher when royalty is involved. All the world is watching and there is tremendous pressure on royal characters to get things right – so when they don’t and things go wrong in a big way (we can’t make it too easy for our characters!) then the consequences grow and so does the tension. I think there’s something about a life lived under the weight of public expectation that adds an extra layer to a royal romance. Plus I love the fact that I’m writing real people with real emotions and in the end it doesn’t matter what their official title is – they’re the same as the rest of us when it comes to grappling with both heartache and joy!”

Click to find out more about Revelations of a Secret Princess

Alyssa J Montgomery on writing royal romance:

“There’s a lot of intrigue about royalty - all the privileges and responsibilities being born or marrying into that status entails. The fascination is no doubt fuelled by the fact that we’re fed a plethora of princess/handsome prince stories as children.

I loved exploring the burdens of royalty for my characters Princess Sabrina and King Gabriel, and what it meant to grow up as the “spare” for Prince Devereaux and Prince Marco - and the pressures brought to bear on Prince Khalid for being the “spare” thrust into the role of inheriting the kingdom. I loved their conflicts and their growth and I’m really thrilled that Escape Publishing are releasing all four stories together as a boxed set in September.”

Click to find out more about The Defiant Princess

I've shared some of my favourite royal romance books, I’d like to now put it back to you: Do you love reading royal romance? And if so, let me know your favourite?

Psst, if you’re looking for a little inspiration I also stumbled across this Goodreads list which I thought I’d share – thank you AusRom for putting this one together!

Let’s bring on the happy ever after, royal style!

I love to love... reading and writing royal romance

I love to laugh... with my daughters whilst playing dress ups (princesses and weddings, of course)

I love to learn... how to paint with watercolours (one of my iso crafting projects)