2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,300 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Top Reads of 2013

For the last few years I’ve been keeping a list of books I’ve read over on my Facebook page. Usually I post this list to my blog, but I decided if you want to read it, you can head on over to my page and have a scan. Click HERE!

I managed to read 66 (I think that was the number last count) books this year. This wasn’t as many as I’d hoped but I did actually start more than this, however now if a book doesn’t grip me within the first chap or so, I move on. Sometimes I’ll go back to it because sometimes it’s the mood I’m in, not the book.

The majority of my books were read in print as although I LOVE my iPad and Kindle for reading in theory, for some reason books annoy me when I read them in digital format. Saying that, some books only come out in digital format and I’ll make more of an effort with them – especially when they’re by fabulous authors I know and love.

So, without further ado my Top Five reads for 2013 were (no particular order and for many different reasons):

  • THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion – honestly if you haven’t read this book yet, I want to know why. It’s LOL and feel-good, with quirky characters (something I adore) and a cute plot. Also explores the more serious issue of Aspergers, which is something close to my heart.
  • SMALL-TOWN STORM by Elise K Ackers – I loved this book so much Penguin asked me to quote on the cover of the trade paperback addition. It’s a romantic suspense with a fascinating premise and fabulous characters!
  • WEDDING NIGHT by Sophie Kinsella – I haven’t read all Kinsella’s Shopaholic series but something made me pick up this book and I’m SO glad I did. I don’t think I’ve laughed so much while reading a book in a LONG time!! Such a hilarious set-up, which is quite unbelievable but the fact it COULD happen makes it work!
  • MAD ABOUT THE BOY by Helen Fielding – I’m a HUGE fan of Bridget from way back and when I heard there was going to be a third one, I just had to have it. NOW! It was a hoot to read – and I felt simultaneously sorry for Bridget while laughing with her and admiring her. It was sad that Darcy was no longer on the scene but I loved this book anyway.
  • WALLBANGER by Alice Clayton – I only finished this book yesterday and I think it’ll stay with me for a while. Despite the erotic sounding title, it’s not THAT graphic a book, but it has one of the sweetest romances I’ve read in a while.

Looking back on my fave reads, one things that stands out is most of them have a high level of humour. So, hit me with books you found funny and I’ll add them to 2014’s TBR mountain!!

 

The year in review – or did I meet my goals for 2013?!

Every year I make a list of writing goals for the next twelve months. They are not New Years’ Resolutions but things I can definitely achieve if I put my mind to it. Previous experience has taught me that if I make goals I am more likely to be productive and even if I don’t EXACTLY meet those goals I get close or do something similar.

Below are the goals I made for 2013 and in pink the outcome achieved:

1) Finish the next book in my “Outback” series and begin the third book. Submit the first book. – By next book I meant OUTBACK BLAZE. As it happens there was a deadline mix-up and I therefore achieved this goal by June 1st. That gave me the rest of the year to not only begin the third book but also finish it (OUTBACK GHOST – was handed in in Dec). 

2) Write another novella or short romance and/or the second in my Carina Press Hollywood series. Submit. – I didn’t achieve this and I almost wrote unfortunately but it is not unfortunate. I didn’t actually complete another novella or the second in my Hollywood series but I did write three partials I didn’t plan to write. THE ROAD TO HOPE partial was written mid-year and subsequently contracted by Harlequin Australia. I will be finishing this book in the new year. I also wrote another partial – FANCY MEETING YOU HERE – cos the idea just wouldn’t leave me alone. I plan to write this book this year also. In addition to this, I wrote the partial of a novella, which my agent has recently submitted. Watch this space! So although I didn’t specifically achieve this goal, I’m fairly happy with what I DID achieve 🙂

3) Read at least two books a week! – FAIL!! I only read 66 books this year, which definitely works out to less than two a week. Must try harder next year!! 

So, did you achieve your goals in 2013? I’d love to hear. And I promise on New Years Day to post my goals for 2014!! Let me know if you blog about yours – post a link in the comments section of this blog or my New Years Day post and I’ll come read yours!

Coastal Romance Christmas Blog Hop

Welcome Coastal Romance Christmas blog hoppers – I’m thrilled to be part of the Coastal Romance Christmas blog hop, the brain time of fantastic author and all round lovely lady Annie Seaton. If you’ve been following the hop, you’ll already know about the fantastic prizes on offer but if this is your first stop, don’t forget to check out the contest at the end, where you can win a $100 Amazon gift card and 26 ebooks from awesome authors! I’m also offering one lucky commenter the chance to win a signed copy of JILTED and MAN DROUGHT for themselves or as a gift. Just leave a comment below to win. 

Now… without further ado, my thoughts on coastal romance 🙂

I wasn’t raised near the beach, so a day at the seaside was an occasional treat rather than a way of life for me. Although I liked paddling at the beach, the vastness of the ocean and all the things that could be hiding beneath the sand scared me, so I did my swimming at pools rather than down at the beach.

However, all our family holidays when I was a child, happened to be in coastal towns. When we lived in NSW we went to Forster for two Christmas’s and then later when we moved to WA, we spent many a summer holiday down in Bunbury, Busselton  or Margaret River. All these places hold special family memories for me. I love the atmosphere in coastal towns, the quaint shops, the beach side cafes, the friendly smiles of locals and tourists alike, the strolls along the beach at sunset, the resorts, the caravan parks, the surfers (oh yeah), the lifeguards, the kids with buckets and spades, sandcastles, ice-creams…

archie beach

When I think of the coast, I conjure up all sorts of happy images and I often think of Christmas because my family spent many as Christmas holiday near the sea when I was growing up. So, when I decided to write a Christmas novella, it is no surprise I chose to set my little fictional town on the beautiful south west coast of Australia, which is very close to my heart.

My fictional town of Wildwood Point has all the things I love about the coast and I hope those who indulge in a few hours with my characters will love my little coastal town. I can’t wait to write more novellas set here.

Kissing Season final cover

So, for my future books, I’d love to know what your absolute favourite thing is to visit when you go to a coastal town, and who knows… maybe you’ll see that in my next Wildwood Point novella.

For more information on THE KISSING SEASON my coastal Christmas novella click here.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to leave a comment to enter my contest, enter the Rafflecopter give-away below for the Amazon gift card and ebooks and also visit the other authors on the coastal blog hop (listed below).

Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway 🙂

Our Christmas Blog Hop Calendar 

28 November Annie Seaton
29 November Jenny Schwartz
30 November E.E.Carter
1 December Nicole Flockton
2 December Dilys Carnie

3 December Elsa Winckler
4 December Maureen O Betitia
5 December Sherry Gloat
6 December Chris Stovell
7 December J’AimeeBrooker
8 December Susanne Bellamy
9 December Barbara Cool Lee
10 December Tea Cooper
11 December Juliet Madison
12 December Linda Mitchelmore
13 December Julie McCullogh
14 December Eva Scott
15 December Maureen Fisher
16 December Rachael Johns
17 December Susanne O’Leary
18 December Jean Joachim
19 December Demelza Carlton
20 December Lily Malone
21 December Marisa Cleveland
22 DecemberMonique McDonnell
23 December Lauren McKellar
24 December Annie Seaton  Prize Draw

All the books!!

I often refer to my ridiculous To-Be-Read pile. Lord knows I buy far more books than I read. It’s almost impossible for me to go somewhere that sells books and walk away empty handed. It just doesn’t seem right not to give at least one of those books a happy home. As a result, I have shelves and shelves of books and many of them are still waiting for me to read them.

This week, I decided to count these books and find out EXACTLY how many unread books I own. Note, this list only includes the print books and I shudder to think how many more are on my e-devices!! That Amazon and iBooks one-click thing is SHOCKING for book addicts.

Anyway am going to write my list of books below and I’d love you to let me know, which ones you’ve read and recommend. I’m taking three weeks off writing soon and hope to catch up on a LOT of reading in this time. WHAT should I read first?

Thanks for your help!
x
Rach!

My Ridiculous To-Be-Read pile:

  • Unforgiven – B J Daniels
  • The Bark Cutters – Nicole Alexander
  • Close Enough To Touch – Victoria Dahl
  • Love Is Bad Company – Jennifer Crusie
  • Freefall – Jill Sorenson
  • His Captive Lady – Anne Gracie
  • That Night on Thistle Lane – Carla Neggers
  • Don’t Cry For Me – Sharon Sala
  • The Luxe – Anna Goberson
  • Tell No One – Harlen Coben
  • The Tinkers Girl – Catherine Cookson
  • Beautiful Disaster – Jaimie Maguire
  • Beach House Number 9 – Christie Ridgeway
  • Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
  • Salem Falls – Jodi Picoult
  • The Pact – Jodie Picoult
  • All Fall Down – Megan Hart
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • Upside Down Inside Out – Monica McInerney
  • I’ll Be There For You – Louise Candlish
  • Smart Women – Judy Blume
  • Smitten – assorted authors
  • The Love Child – Fran Cusworth
  • Water For Elephants – Sara Gruen
  • Beautiful Malice – Rebecca James
  • The Perfect Man – Sheila O’Flanagan
  • Walking Back To Happiness – Lucy Dillon
  • The Fault in our Stars – John Green
  • The Goodbye Quilt – Susan Wiggs
  • Ondine – Ebony McKenna
  • The Love of my Life – Louise Douglas
  • The Inevitability of Stars – Kathryn R Lyster
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
  • Men I’ve Loved Before – Adele Parks
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – Peter Hedges
  • Secret of the Tides – Hannah Richell
  • Then Came You – Jennifer Weiner
  • Fly Away Home – Jennifer Weiner
  • The King’s Concubine – Ann O’Brien
  • IOU – Helen Warner
  • Trouble – Linda Howard
  • Afterwards – Rosamund Lupton
  • The Dreamers – Nora Roberts
  • Honest Illusions – Nora Roberts
  • The Other Daughter – Lisa Gardner
  • The Making Of Us – Lisa Jewell
  • The Ugly Duchess – Eloisa James
  • Flirting With Forty – Jane Porter
  • Untamed – Anna Cowan
  • Dare To You – Katie McGary
  • Pushing The Limits – Katie McGary
  • Her Mother’s Shadow – Diane Chamberlain
  • Since You’ve Been Gone – Anouska Knight
  • The Help – Kathryn Stockett
  • Black Hills – Nora Roberts
  • Dead Heat – Bronwyn Parry
  • Gold Dust – Kimberley Freeman
  • Belonging – Karen Ann Hopkins
  • Feral Bells – Peta Jo
  • The Long Ride Home – Mary Alice Monroe
  • A Woman Of Substance – Barbara Taylor Bradford
  • Goodbye Lullaby – Jan Murray
  • A Stranger In My Street – Deborah Burrows
  • Better Than Chocolate – Sheila Roberts
  • A Place Called Home – Cecelia Ahern
  • The Secret Ingredient – Dianne Blacklock
  • Half Moon Bay – Helene Young
  • A Duchess To Remember – Christina Brooke
  • Sweet Talk – Julie Garwood
  • While It Lasts – Abbi Glines
  • The Hive – Gill Hornby
  • Killing Time – Linda Howard
  • Mistress To The Crown – Isolde Martyn
  • The Hunter’s Wife – Katherine Scholes
  • Burnt – Karly Lane
  • My Brother But one – T M Clark
  • Driftwood – Mandy Magro
  • London’s Last Scoundrel – Christina Brookes
  • The Sanctuary – Nora Roberts
  • Dark Witch – Nora Roberts
  • The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton
  • Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah
  • Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain
  • Last Christmas – Nora Roberts
  • Before I Met You – Lisa Jewell
  • Kiss River – Diane Chamberlain
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
  • Ember Island – Kimberley Freeman
  • Eliza’s Gift – Rachel Herron
  • The Carriage House – Carla Neggers
  • The Way Back Home – Barbara Freethy
  • Chesapeake Bay series (four books) – Nora Roberts
  • Heart of the Outback – Lynne Wilding
  • Malicious Intent – Kathryn Fox
  • Slammed – Colleen Hoover
  • Point of Retreat – Colleen Hoover
  • The Light Between Oceans – M L Stedman
  • Come Back To Me – Sara Foster
  • Netherwood – Jane Sanderson
  • The Italian Aristocrat – Louise Reynolds
  • Rules are for Breaking – Imelda Evans
  • The Yearning – Kate Belle
  • You Had Me At Hello – Mhairi McFarlane
  • Outback Sunset – Lynne Wilding
  • The Alphabet Sisters – Monica McInerney
  • Hot For the Fireman – Jennifer Bernard
  • What I Did For Love – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Flowers From The Storm – Laura Kinsale
  • The Sweetheart Bargain – Shirley Jump
  • Heart of Texax – Debbie Macomber
  • And Then He Kissed Me – assorted authors
  • Sleigh Bells in the Snow – Sarah Morgan
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
  • Poppy’s Dilemma – Karly Lane
  • The House of Impossible Loves – Lopez Barris
  • A Family Curse – Elaine Crowley
  • Starry Night – Debbie Macomber
  • Naken – Megan Hart
  • Taking A Chance – Deborah Burrows
  • Picnic At Hanging Rock
  • The Devil’s Feather – Minette Walters
  • The Thornbirds – Colleen McCullough
  • The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks
  • How To Bake The Perfect Life – Barbara O’Neal
  • Witch In The House – Jenna McKnight
  • LA Candy – Lauren Conrad
  • Family Baggage – Monica McInerney
  • That Summer – Sarah Dessen
  • Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
  • And 22 Mills & Boons!

Christmas Present Madness with Jennifer St George! (giveaway)

The fabulous Jennifer St George, an extremely lovely, charming and gorgeous lady stopped by to talk Christmas presents with me. Welcome Jen!

jenn st george

Ahhhh – it’s December. Where did the year go? I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas.  But, I do enjoy the festive buzz. I love buying Christmas presents. Being a control freak, I’m really organised and have the present buying in hand.

My other half, on the other hand, leaves it to the last minute. He suffers in the Xmas Eve shopping madness almost every year. So, I always have to have a list of simple things he can buy me. (Rach: My hubby asks me to do this too as he reckons he’s HOPELESS at present buying) This year my list includes:

Beautiful notebooks. I have so many but I just love them. I love some of them so much I can’t bring myself to write in some of them. Sad but true! (I’m EXACTLY the same!)

Lingerie. Hey, I’m a romance writer. I don’t think you can ever have too many pretty under garments!!

Exercise gear.  With all the sitting down I do for writing, I try really hard to balance this out with lots of exercise. This year I started running again after a twenty year hiatus.  It’s been really hard, but now I run between five and seven kilometers three times a week.  As I’m rubbish at keeping up with the washing, I like to have lots of lycra lying around.

Books. Even though my TBR pile will probably keep me going for the rest of my life, I do love new books, especially writing craft books. (Funny thing all writers seem to have in common – absolutely ridiculous TBR piles. I estimate mine will see me until about 2027).

Perfume. I’m a sucker for sweet smells.

Clothes. I’m lucky that my husband has great taste and buys me the most fabulous outfits. But, as he is often rushed, this is usually a birthday option.

So, are you an organised Xmas shopper or do you suffer the madding crowds at the last minute.  Leave a comment to go in the draw to win a copy of my latest release, Sweet Seduction.

sweet seduction

Ooh a fab prize. Thanks so much Jen. This would be a gorgeous gift to self 🙂

Sweet Seduction Blurb:

Together for the first time in one heartwarming volume.

The Convenient Bride

Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family’s hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience that will secure his next business deal and save Sienna’s hotel.

 In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of luxury and opulence. Antonio soon realizes he has vastly underestimated Sienna. Unexpectedly, she gets too close, and when she discovers his dark secret, Antonio’s perfectly planned life begins to unravel . . .

Seducing the Secret Heiress

Diamond heiress, Charlotte Wentworth, is passionate about two things – cooking and her fiancée, Paul. Until the day she finds out Paul has been unfaithful. 

Charlotte flees to Europe, determined to build her own life without her family’s fortune. When she meets gorgeous TV producer, Gabe Grenville, she keeps her connections secret and soon finds herself the star of his new cooking show. But how will he react when he discovers Charlotte’s true identity?

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win a copy of Jen’s gorgeous book. You could also tell Jen and I what’s at the top of your Christmas list! Contest closes Friday EST time.

You can find Jennifer online at her website, Facebook and Twitter. She also blogs regularly at Lovecats Downunder 

To Buy Links:

Sweet Seduction is available through Big W and other good book stores. Ebook available at Amazon and iTunes.

Where do characters come from with Pamela Cook

Today I have the delightful rural romance author Pamela Cook visiting. She’s talking about something I’m sure many of you find fascinating – characters and where they come from. I know as a writer and reader I’m always interested to know about other writer’s processes and characters are a HUGE part of writing a novel.

Welcome Pamela… take it away!

pamela cook

Character Inspirations For Essie’s Way

One of the questions writers are sometimes asked is “Where do you get your characters from?” The answer is usually a combination of real life and our imagination and that’s certainly true for the characters in my new novel, Essie’s Way.

So today I thought I’d give you a run-down on where the ideas came from for the two protagonists and a couple of the support cast.

But first of all, here’s a quick outline so you know who’s who:

Miranda McIntyre looks like she has it all sorted. A successful lawyer, she is planning her wedding and ticking off all the right boxes. When searching for something old to go with her wedding dress she remembers an antique necklace from her childhood in the shape of a horseshoe encrusted with pearls. When she asks, her mother denies any knowledge of it. But Miranda is sure it exists. Trying to find answers, she discovers evidence that perhaps the grandmother she thought was dead is still alive.

Ignoring the creeping uncertainty about her impending marriage, and the worry that she is not living the life she really wants, Miranda takes off on a road trip in search of answers to the family mystery but also in search of herself.

A reclusive old woman and a handsome horse trainer help show Miranda what she is missing. Ultimately, she will find that looking back can lead you home.

ESSIE’S WAY is a touching story about finding yourself and learning from past mistakes.

Miranda

The inspiration for both Miranda and Esther’s characters came from a week long writing course I did years ago called Catch The Whisper. The idea was to write whatever came into your head using a series of prompts which ranged from cue cards to photos to music. In the fragments I wrote that week Miranda started was a I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore type of girl who catches her boyfriend in bed with her best friend, has an epiphany and decides it’s time for a sea change. The Miranda in Essie’s Way is a lot more mild-mannered, at least to start with but she is certainly searching for something, and it’s not just her grandmother. She’s young, professional and has the world – apparently – at her feet. The question is: is it the world she wants?

Esther

Esther’s character also appeared that week and she appears in the book as she came to me then – playing a melancholy song on her violin as she sits on the verandah of her cottage by the sea. But Esther isn’t all she seems – a bitter old woman hiding away from the world. She’s tough and independent on the outside but underneath her brittle shell is a past filled with love, passion, grief and betrayal. I guess I drew on a lot of the strong women I’ve met in my life who carry on regardless, making the best of what they have, including my own mother. I really enjoyed imagining Esther as a young girl and writing in her voice for the diary section of the book, seeing her evolution, for better or worse.

Belle

Belle is Miranda’s best friend and they are total opposites. While Miranda is quite conventional and plays by the rules, Belle is much more of her own person and doesn’t care quite so much for what she “should” be doing. She follows her heart and says it how it is. While Belle doesn’t appear that much throughout the book, she’s a great support and is always there for Miranda when she needs her. The idea for the character didn’t come from any particular person but I’ve often noticed that best friends can have completely different character traits and that’s what I wanted to explore in this relationship.

Vincent

Vincent is a local horse trainer who Miranda comes across on the beach at Pelican Point. Once again he isn’t based on anyone in particular – if only he was! While he’s tall, dark and gorgeous he has a laid back charm and sense of vulnerability that Miranda finds herself attracted to, despite her engagement to another man. He is kind to Esther and loves horses and animals – what’s not to love! In his relationship with Miranda I wanted to explore the idea of instant attraction – not necessarily love at first sight, but something close to it, something that’s enough to make you wonder.

I hope you enjoyed this insight into the characters. There are a few others in the book who you can hopefully meet between the pages of Essie’s Way. When you do I’d love to know what you think of them.

Thanks for having me on the blog, Rachael.

Happy reading everyone!

essies way

Thanks for that insight Pamela, I’m even MORE eager to get a copy of Essie’s Way now. For all you readers who agree with me, you can grab a copy online at Booktopia, Amazon, iBooks and all other good bookshops 🙂 Be sure to pop on over to Pamela’s website, or visit her on Twitter and Facebook!