Romance Writers of Australia Wrap-up!

I started this post about three days ago, the day after I got back from the Romance Writers of Australia 2013 conf. This was a particularly exciting and particularly exhausting conference! Exciting because in 22 years it was the first ever WA conference and exhausting because I was on the organising committee. Of course, there’s lots of plus’s to be on the committee as well – we got insider information on speakers, conference bag goodies and the food, which included a divine chocolate fountain on Friday night!

I arrived at the venue last Wed night and had a gorgeous dinner out with four people I chat to lots on line but only two of which I’d met before. We took American Maisey Yates to OUTBACK JACKS for a laugh! We is Jackie Ashenden, Robyn Thomas and Autumn Macarthur. I’d only met Jackie and Robyn before but you wouldn’t have known it to look at us. I bet onlookers thought we’d known each other for decades!!

Thursday was conference prep day! The committee and some dedicated volunteers packed our gorgeous RIDING THE WAVES envirobags, with the fab keep cup, Baci chocolates and six (yes SIX) free books from publisher sponsors! Thursday night was the Destiny welcome function, followed by the fab Harlequin Author dinner. I sat next to Leah Ashton, Nikki Logan, Victoria Purnam and Tricia Stringer. All gorgeous writers and fabulous dinner companions!

But the real conf kicked off Friday with Kim Hudson’s VENUS ON A HALF SHELL workshop. Unfortunately I missed two hours of this workshop – was at very fabulous meeting with my publishers – so I kind of lost my way. I do find the whole archetype thing fascinating and the lovely Kim sent me her powerpoint notes, so I’m looking forward to having a good look through them!

Friday night was the awesome Harlequin Nautical or Nice cocktail party. Sponsored by my fabulous publisher, this is a dress-up event and it’s always interesting to see the different takes people have on costumes. I went in a seal onesie (cos Nautical and easy). My gorgeous roomie Becca J Heath went as a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate and my friend Leah Ashton went as a Nice biscuit. I really wish I’d known cos then I would have gone as a piece of cake. Other costumes included pirates, sailors, mermaids, a ship and even an island!!


On Saturday I managed to get to a couple of workshops, the first being NIna Bruhn’s SAVE THE CAT. This was based on the book by Blake Snyder, of which I have but have not yet read. I’m gutted that I seem to have lost my conf notebook but she talked all about the ten types of movies (stories) and told us how most of us write only one or two of these. I  quickly ruled out a few – I’m not MONSTER IN THE HOUSE (Jaws, Fatal Attraction) and I’m definitely not GOLDEN FLEECE (Star Wars, Back To The Future) or SUPERHERO – and decided that I’m probably a little RITES OF PASSAGE and a little BUDDY LOVE. She also talked about the three act structure and a lot of other fabulous stuff. I’m now determined to read SAVE THE CAT asap!

Next I went to a more practical workshop – How to use the computer program Scrivener. While the presenters were awesome, I’m still not entirely convinced that Scrivener will enhance my writing process much. I did however like the fancy little thing that lets you know how much you’ve written and how close/far off you are to your goal! Maybe I’ll have another play later. Any of you use Scrivener!?

Other workshop highlights included the panel I moderated on self-publishing – really interesting to hear from three successful self-publishers about what worked for them – and also the published author roundtables. This is where authors get together in small groups of people similarly published to them (I’m in the Single Title camp) and discuss publishing business related issues. What’s said in Roundtables stays in Roundtables, but I came away with some nuggets of pure gold!

Saturday night was the Gala Awards night. This is the first year this hasn’t been a sit down dinner. We went for a dessert and champagne theme instead. The awards were zoomed through and afterwards Escape Publishing put on a dance floor, groovy music and the chocolate fountain. All in all another fab night!


Sunday we were all starting to look a little blurry eyed. Luckily I was giving away free Diet Coke and Tim Tams in the RIDING THE WAVES chill-out lounge!! The only workshop I managed that day was the one I moderated (the self-pubbing one mentioned above) but I spent lots of valuable time chatting with other writers!! This socialising and networking part of conference is almost as/if not just as important as the actual learning! It’s helpful to hear what other people are doing and the experiences they are having. Which leads into the BIGGEST thing I took away from the conf.

This was during Julia Quinn’s fantastic plenary speech on Saturday morning. She won me over when she waxed lyrical about her disorganisation skills, but the thing that really resonated was:


I strongly believe this too! It is so easy to compare oneself to others sometimes and feel a smidgeon jealous at another’s success but it is much more uplifting and beneficial to celebrate each other’s successes and work together to spread the word about our books!! I love all my romance writing friends and I’m so glad for such a uplifting and supportive organisation!


PS. I’ve only shared a couple of pics here but you can see the rest of mine on my FACEBOOK PAGE!


Reading Habits

Hi Folks

Hope you’ve all had a splendity-splendid weekend. I took the kids to see ROOM ON THE BROOM (based on the book by the fabulous Julia Donaldson) at the theatre in Perth today – an exhausting but awesome day. Lots of ice-cream involved too. Whoops. I drove most of the way there and back but my mum took a little turn towards the end and I got to catch up with some reading on my iPhone!

This got me thinking that nowadays, with all the different reading options available to us, I usually have at least THREE books on the go.

I’m generally reading a print book and this sits by my bed – I’ll read it for half an hour or so (or as long as it takes me to fall asleep at night) and if I’m lucky maybe a few pages during the day. Currently my bed book is – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert whatever-his-name-is! Hey, we all know he’s really J.K. Rowling!!

Then I’ll also have an audio book on the go. If I do any long drives on my own, then this book moves faster, otherwise I’ll listen whenever I go for a run/walk, which at the moment is sadly on average of about once a week. My current audio book is The Woman He Loved Before by Dorothy Koomson. I’ve read four of her books before and have absolutely LOVED them – this is not my fave, but maybe that’s cos I’m listening to it in snatches. Haven’t had a long trip on my own for a while 😦

And my third book is an e-book. I’ve got a Kindle and I also read on my iPad and iPhone – I’ve got the Kindle App, Google Play App and iBooks app all synced to my pad and phone, so that wherever I am with whatever device I can pick up where I’ve left off. Currently on my phone I’m reading LICK by Kylie Scott (it’s getting RAVE reviews)!

So, I’m curious – are you faithful to one book or like me, do you read more than one book at once on different platforms?!

Aren’t we lucky to have so many options these days.



My Secret Life with Dakota Harrison…

I’m trying to recall exactly when I met today’s guest… but the first interaction I can actually recall was via email. She had the most fun interactive backgrounds to her email – lots of colour and happiness, and I immediately knew she was a good sort. We met later and in person debut Samhain author Dakota Harrison is just as lovely.

Dakota’s first book EXHALE was released this month and is on my Kindle waiting to be devoured. Today she shares with us what she does when she’d NOT writing!

Welcome Dakota!!

Michelle cropped at Jo's party

Good morning everyone! Thank you, Rachael, for having me today.

After reading some of the past posts in this vein, my life is rather ‘everyman’ (or ‘everywoman’) in comparison. Two children, husband (some might say that constitutes a third child… 😉 ), and various pets. I run my own mobile hairdressing business three days a week, which suits my writing life perfectly.

This is the view from my office – where the business side of things happen. Or not! Edits and all the other stuff happen here, the actual first draft takes place at the dining room table or recliner chair.


It’s certainly peaceful, and I can see if the kids are misbehaving!

I live in rural Queensland, a good three hours from Brisbane. When people think of Queensland, they think warmth and long sunny days. Not here! We have the reputation as the coldest place in Queensland. During summer it’s a blessing – winter, not so much.

One thing I do in my down-time is bake or cook. My favorite things to bake? Sweets. Cakes, biscuits, muffins, and most of all – brownies! I love them still warm, and as a fellow writer and good friend observed – they need ice-cream when warm like that. Also pumpkin soup is a fave in winter!


pumpkin ssoup

Another thing I love so to travel. I haven’t done a lot of it, but getting married in Hawaii on Valentine’s Day was a wonderful start! This is looking back at Waikiki and Diamond Head from the dinner cruise ship.

waikikiwaikiki 2

The visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial really struck a chord in myself and my husband. It was humbling to think of what had happened all those years ago, and that the sailors are still entombed there.

Hawaii itself, though, was simply beautiful.

Sunset Beach

This is Sunset Beach, the surfing mecca.

The sand is amazing, it doesn’t stick to you like our white sand. It’s more granular, like sugar, and if you look closely, it’s the prettiest mix of shades of pinks and whites. A week on Oahu simply wasn’t enough!

Thanks for spending a little time and having a sneak peek into my life outside of writing!

Good morning everyone! Thank you, Rachael, for having me today.

Thanks for stopping by Dakota and sharing some of your life with us!! You made my mouth water with those Brownie photos and I’m dreaming of a holiday! 

Be sure to check out the blurb of Dakota’s fabulous new book below and find her on Twitter, Facebook and at her website.

EXHALE – Samhain publishing

Exhale FINAL cover

Takeshi is finishing up a brutal double shift in the ER when a familiar—and bloody—face erases all thought of heading home. The broken body of the woman fighting for her life belongs to Gabby, his best friend’s mother. A woman he’s loved since he turned nineteen, when he foolishly declared his love for her.

She’s not dying today. Not on his watch. And not with a promise left unfulfilled.

Gabby has never forgotten the taste of the kiss Taka gave her under the mistletoe all those years ago. Or the silly promise that surely by now he’s forgotten. She’s wrong. Taka remembers. And she melts as he uses every trick in his highly trained surgeon’s hands to heal her—and rekindle the heat between them.

But there’s a secret lurking in Gabby’s past. And when it follows her all the way to Seattle, it threatens to drag the one man she loves into the nightmare she thought she’d left behind.

You can grab a copy of EXHALE from the following places – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, Samhain or your fave e-bookshop!