A long-overdue RWAus12 conf post… Part one!

I’ve been back from the Romance Writers of Australia conf for over a week now (sob sob) and so I’m hoping my memory behaves and lets me share with you my experiences. Since I returned, I’ve been very busy – finishing Man Drought edits (out January 2013 with Harlequin Australia), visiting my Gran who isn’t very well, catching up with washing, cleaning etc and… okay, I felt like I was doing lots more.

So here goes my RWAus12 conf recap:

This year I attended my first Author Day. I was lucky enough to be one of the few people who attended Jennifer St George’s Media Boot Camp. This was an intensive workshop for authors about how to deal with the media (everything from what we should have on our websites to how to deal with journalists). I had a great time mock-interviewing the delightful Helen Lacey and we all learnt how to deal with difficult questions and make the most of media opportunities.

After media boot camp we caught the tail end of Kate Cuthbert’s Getting Reviewed Right talk, in which she talked about how authors should handle getting AND receiving reviews. The main message was DON’T INTERACT! After a yummy lunch, we had the pleasure of listening to agent Helen Breitweiser talking about publishing, specifically in New York. Was especially fab to hear her raving about my mate Maisey Yates‘ new cowboy series coming out with Berkeley next year 🙂

To finish off author day, I enjoyed a very empowering round table discussion with other Single Title published authors. Although the publishing world can be a scary place, it also seems to be a very good time to be an author with so many opportunities and choices available to us!

On Thursday night for myself and the other Harlequin authors it was off to the fabulous Harlequin Author dinner! This was my second Harlequin dinner and it was just as exciting as the first. It was a pleasure to watch the established authors welcome the newly signed ones (Bronwyn Stuart this year), honour some of the authors with fun awards and then to hear the innovative new things coming from Harlequin Australia. We heard about Harlequin Aus’s new digital imprint – Harlequin Escape, to be edited by renowned romance reviewer Kate Cuthbert – and also that Harlequin Australia is officially now an editorial office and has opened their door for submissions. Very exciting indeed! I’m certainly proud to be one of their first authors 🙂

The theme was Naughty or Nice and there were whips and blindfolds on the tables. The editors and publishers present even dressed up! A couple of photos from the night are pasted below:


Joanne Grant – editor from Mills & Boon UK, with Haylee Kerans my gorgeous publisher

Me with the delightful and hugely talented Leah Ashton (writer for Mills & Boon)

Once again I failed DISMALLY in my efforts to take lots of photos. Have a few more to share over the next few days from the rest of the conf though 🙂 Until then…


Romance is for everyone with Robyn Thomas (and a give-away)!

Today I have VERY special guest Robyn Thomas, newly published Entangled Indulgence author and also fellow Sassy Sister. Robyn offers a very funny take on how to deal with those people who feel they simply MUST mock romance!

Take it away Robyn…

Please bear with me as I drag my soapbox to centre stage. Why? I was recently faced with the following comments: romance novels are all the same.

Uh, no, they certainly aren’t all the same. It’s a bit like claiming all people are the same! Some have similarities, but often it’s the nuances of a person (or book) that make them special and unique.

Yes, that’s all well and good, but all romances follow the pattern of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back and they live happily ever after.

Once again that’s incorrect. Romance covers a wide variety of genres and not all contain a boy and a girl, let alone follow that simplistic formula.  Even when they do it’s more complex, and often it’s the heroine who loses her man and has to work to get him back.

But all the characters are gorgeous and wealthy and successful. It’s unrealistic.

Okay, seriously, have you read a romance since 1978? Characters can be rich or poor, jaded or naïve, stunning or (at first glance) ordinary. They can – and should – be flawed. It’s one of the things that make them accessible to readers.

Every romance has a secret or accidental baby. Can’t someone teach these characters about safe sex?

A good story is often closer to reality than you might think. Not all birth control methods are failsafe, and in books (as in life) they’re not always employed as diligently as they could be. Sometimes there are other priorities in the heat of the moment!

It’s also worth noting that there are thousands of romances without babies, pregnancies or children.

It’s all hot sex and questionable morals, and I don’t like to read about that kind of thing.

Once again there’s something for all tastes. If you want hot sex then it’s available, up to and including erotica, but you also have a wide range of other choices. Deciding which heat level you find acceptable, and reading only that, shouldn’t prove difficult. If you’re new to romance then you might want to start with something that’s fairly sweet – let the cover and blurb guide you – and then you can progress from there.

Whatever! Now I can have an interesting book with realistic characters, without children if I choose, and at the heat level I want… but there’s no point reading when you know how it’s going to end before you start.

Oh, I see. Now I understand. If you’re against the idea of a happy ending then I’m going to stop arguing with you. Perhaps you do actually belong to the extremely small minority of people for whom romance novels are a bad idea. Wow, so you’re what a non-romance-reader looks like? Everyone else who has ever begun that argument has given up and converted part way through, but you’re particularly stubborn. No romance novels for you! Unless…

*speculates about the possibility of including you in a future book… a circumstance you could’ve avoided but chose not to.  Like I said earlier, romance is for everyone. 🙂

That was fabulous Robyn, as I’m sure we’ve all dealt with someone like that at least once before. For those who are hooked on Robyn’s writing from that tiny snippet, why not try her debut romance HIS UNEXPECTED FAMILY.

Sometimes you have to take the leap…again.

Newly widowed with a new baby, Ren Jamieson is putting her life back together after her thrill-seeking husband’s death. But when she’s called to show a high-end property to a prospective client—a commission she desperately needs—she meets a man who makes her pulse pound like nothing she’s ever known…

Cole Matthews is more than he seems. Real estate is only part of the reason he’s in Australia – the other is to see Ren, and make amends somehow for the life lost. The last thing Cole expects is a woman whose humor, sweetness and sexiness give him a rush greater than any he’s ever experienced…

Torn between her growing feelings for Cole and the risks of loving yet another adventurer, Ren will have to choose between keeping her feet on the ground…and taking the most dangerous leap of her life.

His Unexpected Family is available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon


For more information on Robyn Thomas, please visit her website http://www.robynthomasromance.com/ or follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/robynsromance and Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450177.Robyn_Thomas.


Entangled have generously offered a copy of Robyn’s book to one lucky reader! To go in the draw, answer this question:

What is the most annoying question a non-romance reader has ever asked you about romance books!?

Please leave a comment by Friday midnight, Australian Western Standard time to be in the draw.

Conference week!

I’m super excited this weekend as in three sleeps (yes, I have young kids so countdown in sleeps), I’ll be jetting off on a plane (or rather two) to the Gold Coast to the annual Romance Writers of Australia conf. To say I can’t wait is an understatement. The only reason I haven’t packed yet is that I have little space in my house to keep the suitcase out and also because this weekend, I’ve made a quick trip south with my Mum to visit my darling Gran who is 93 and not very well.

But as soon as I get home tonight, it’s all systems go for packing and organising my trip away. I’m going for four and a half days but probably need about twenty outfits in that time. The conference is just so jam-packed with goodness and socialising and learning. From Thursday morning (when my first ever Author Day begins), I’m busy almost non-stop. One friend on Facebook said she might have to book time to have a shower and I know exactly what she means. I’m working out when I’ll have time simply to wash and straighten my hair 🙂 But I’m not complaining at all!!

It’s only once a year I get to get together with my writing friends and I want to make the absolute most of it. This year, I’m particularly looking forward to:

  • The ARRA book-signing event because it’ll be the first time I’ve ever been on the signing side of the tables.
  • The Harlequin dinner and catching up with my publisher.
  • Seeing my bestest writing friends and just spending some time talking (okay and drinking) with them.
  • On Friday I’m spending the morning at the day spa with Cathryn Hein and Fiona Lowe and this is something I’ve been looking forward to for months.
  • The Awards Dinner on Saturday night, which is a time to celebrate the achievements of RWA members, and eat and drink!
  • Meeting friends I’ve met on Facebook and Twitter this year but have not yet met in person. There’s a few I’ll be giving a massive hug to when I first spot them 🙂
  • The workshops – and gleaning wisdom from well-established authors.

I promise to update Facebook and Twitter regularly with what’s happening at conference and I’ll TRY to remember to take photos to share as well. Before I go, I’ll leave you with a few photos from previous confs, to get us ALL in the mood:

Conf 2011, pre cocktail party with Becca J Heath, Jackie Ashendon, and Robyn Thomas

Drinks at a conf – can’t remember which one 🙂

Awards Dinner – my fab table – RWA conf 2011.

Me with the fabulous Cathryn Hein


The Things We Do For Love…

This is my gorgeous Old English Sheepdog, Rodger! Well, PC Rowan is actually his pedigree name but as he hasn’t been shown for donkey’s years, we’ve done away with that formality.

Rodg reminds my hubby and I a lot of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. He’s so loyal and lovable but the poor old thing always looks sad lately. I.e. He’ll be in my way in the kitchen and I’ll say, ”Rodg, what are you doing inside?”  And he’ll turn tail (well, so to speak cos he doesn’t actually HAVE a tail) and head for the door outside, head hung low like Eeyore.

He’s such a right pain in the ass half the time – he’ll jump on the couch at night and scatter all the cushions, he’ll sleep on the bed (not allowed, have you seen how big he is? All 55 kilograms of him) when we’re not there, and sometimes at night he gets into the kitchen bin and scatters the contents all over the floor. The latter usually happens the day I’ve finally mopped.

But saying all this, he’s part of our family and he means the world to us. So yesterday when we saw him limping badly, we were worried. We took a look at his big paw and he flinched at being touched when usually he just laps up any attention. Today, we took him to the vet. They weren’t sure what was wrong but guessed something had been embedded in his skin and needed to be removed. He went under the knife.

A few hours later (and almost a thousand dollars) and it turns out a nail had punctured his paw and gone right through. We’re having roof renos done in the house and shop at the moment, so this sadly, makes sense. Vet bills are not cheap but in the end, I’d do it all again tomorrow.

Rodger, like all our pets, is a very special member of our family. xox

Theory on Thursday with Juanita Kees

I’m HUGELY excited to have fellow West Aussie, Juanita Kees on Theory on Thursday today! Juanita’s debut book FLY AWAY PETA released yesterday with Eternal Press and I for one can’t wait to read it. When I first read Juanita’s post – a few weeks ago now – I simply couldn’t wait to share it with you. So without further ado… here she is:

Welcome Juanita!

I would like to say a special thank you to Rachael for having me here today.  I am a huge fan of hers and if you haven’t read JILTED or ONE PERFECT NIGHT yet…what are you waiting for?

Today I’m going to be talking about my favourite subject – Writing from the Heart. It seems appropriate that as Romance Writers we put our heart and soul into our writing to create the perfect levels of emotion and reader engagement. Why? Because that’s what love is all about – the heart.

When I write, I think of it as building a house.

The heart is the foundation on which you build your story. It’s about people, emotions, challenges, victories and most of all love. Rely on all five senses to get into the hearts and heads of your characters. What are they feeling, seeing, touching, hearing or smelling? (Let’s hope it’s something good!)

The second step is laying the floor. A floor needs to be level, insulated against the creeping cold and damp, strong enough to resist the cracks that appear as it expands with heat or retracts when cold. The same applies to your plot. It needs to be strong enough to leap over the cracks when it reaches that dreaded ‘saggy middle’ and have enough give and take to keep the reader engaged until the end.

Next comes the walls. The substance and structure are the support for your story. Is there enough  of a story to keep the reader turning the page? Does it ebb and flow as easily as the incoming tide? Or is it spiralling out of control, choppy and all over the place like an angry storm? Make your walls strong. They are what protect the heart.

Let’s not forget about the doors and windows. Windows let in light and fresh air. These are your characters. Keep them fresh and appealing. They are the windows to the soul of your story and will shed light for the reader to follow them through the twists and turns of your plot. The front door is your story. Make it open and inviting from the first words on the page. An open door will draw them in and keep them there without the need to lock it behind them.

Grammar, spelling and punctuation are part of your finishing touches. This is the roof that will protect your investment; keeping your characters, the plot, your heart, and ultimately your readers, happy.  And the chimney? Well, that’s the finishing touch – the ‘bling’ if you like. These are those little gems that make your story unique and give it your own personal touch or voice.

Now that you’ve built your house, here is your key – the key to success, attached to your heart.

Happy Writing!


Thanks for sharing that outlook Juanita – I’m sure everyone found it as fascinating as I did 🙂 Juanita can be found online at her website, on Twitter and Facebook. Please check out the blurb of her new book – FLY AWAY PETA – below, which can be purchased online here!

The time has come to face her worst fear and the clock is ticking…

Peta Johnson will go to extreme lengths to protect her daughter Bella. When the Bella is
kidnapped, the search for her takes Peta back to the small Australian country town of Williams, a place she’d vowed never to return to. The town where her dreams were shattered and her nightmare began. Back to the place she’d been destined to meet two very powerful, yet very different men. One would break her heart, the other would destroy her soul. Both would change her life forever.