Category Archives: Publishing News

Australia Day Blog Hop 2014

Australia Day! The holiday that can mean anything you want :)

I’m thoroughly enjoying the OzRomance Blog Hop and everyone’s different experiences of Australia Day. For me, it’s simply a day off. I don’t watch the fireworks (too noisy and the dog needs his paw held through the stress of it anyway) and I don’t think I’ve ever dressed in a flag — though more power to you if you can pull off that look! So the question was, what should I write about?

An Australia Day romance

An Australia Day romance


The answer is always food.

Australians come from so many different countries and we bring with us our food heritages, most importantly, our comfort recipes. So I thought I’d share with you one of my simple to make, but not so good if you’re dieting, recipes.

According to the internet, Blini are buckwheat pancakes. Not in my family. My mum learned from her mum how to make potato pancakes and we call them blini. All measurements are very rough in this recipe.

Peel about five potatoes. Chop them roughly. Put one in a blender along with an egg and blend smooth. Add the rest. (I’ve burned out blender motors doing this — so be warned — but it still beats hand grating the potatoes). Pour the liquid potato into a bowl, add a generous pinch of salt, a couple of heaped spoonfuls of plain flour (you want a solid pancake batter) and stir. Fry spoonfuls over a medium heat until cooked through. I use olive oil for frying. Serve with a VERY generous sprinkling of raw sugar.

I told you the recipe was a danger to diets!

If you’re looking for an Australia Day romance to read while eating your blini, my short story Mistaken Engagement has gotten some wow! reviews.

Happy Australia Day and good luck in the contest below.


Don’t forget to call in every day and visit the blogs, leave a comment, enter the raffle copter for the fabulous gift basket.

$100 and 26 e-books (some print) from our generous authors

drawn Australia Day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 1 Monique McDonnell
January 2 Sara Hantz
January 3 Annie Seaton
January 4 Imogene Nix
January 5 Caitlyn Nicholas 
January 6 Tima Maria Lacoba
January 7 Nicole Flockton
January 8 Wendy L. Curtis
 January 9  E. E. Carter
January 10 Susan Horsnell
January 11 Susanne Bellamy
January 12 J’aimee Brooker
January 13 Victoria Purman
January 14 Ann B Harrison
January 15 Cate Ellink and Demelza Carlton
January 16 Jenny Schwartz
January 17 Donna Gallagher
January 18 Lily Malone
January 19 Tea Cooper
January 20 Fiona McArthur
January 21 Max Henry
January 22 Jennie Jones
January 23 Alison Stuart
January 24 Eve Rabi
January 25 Kendall Talbot
January 26 Annie Seaton-Prize draw

The Outcast Hero

Last week, in thinking about romance novel trends, the idea of the Outcast Hero grabbed and kept my attention. Even when I should have been thinking of my WIP (“Home to Stay” is developing beautifully as a summer Christmas romance), I was actually thinking about heroes who truly live: “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. Except they NEVER think that of the heroine.

These are the heroes who don’t give a damn about society or its rules. They live their own.

PL Don Kiszot z la Manczy (Kami?ski) p00082

Don Quixote tilting at windmills

Think of the Hollywood matinee westerns. The drifter rolls into town, sorts things out while living by his code, then rides off into the sunset. Alone – yeah, there’s the bit I don’t like. The heroine needs to ride off with him.

These are the heroes who’ve taken a long thoughtful look at society and decided, “no, thanks”. They embody a broader societal theme of alienation.

Social commentators say it all the time: people are alienated from the political process (for good reason!), from organised religion, from their neighbours. There is a sense that our world is failing to meet our needs and that we can’t find a place where we belong.

Looked at this way, the popularity of vampires in romantic fiction is no surprise. Vampires are the ultimate alienated hero.

But importantly an alienated hero in a romance novel has to offer the heroine entry into a new world, one where she is valued.

In Kristen Ashley’s Motorcycle Man, the hero is the leader of a motorcycle club. Tack Allen lives life by his own rules and insists the heroine live life wild, too. Tyra tries it and finds “color” in her new world, the place where she belongs.

Interestingly, when I was thinking of a book to illustrate my point, I realised that Tack from “Motorcycle Man” is the key to the world shown in the TV show “Sons of Anarchy“. And that lead me to think about reality television and how many of the programs that follow people doing their work involve jobs that could suit an Outcast Hero, like wrestling alligators, long-distance driving, or salvage. TV producers have already identified that people are looking for heroes who have escaped everyday life.

Spies are classic alienated heroes, and surely part of James Bond’s enduring appeal is that his life is lived outside ordinary rules.

What we need to find are the Outcast Heroes who embody opposition to the stresses and strains of contemporary life. Who challenges the system? Who is building a new world?


Coastal Romance News

I have some fun things coming up for this blog.

Next month — and I know next month starts tomorrow. Eek! Has anyone else noticed how close Christmas is? *hyperventilates* Anyways, I’m starting a new series of guest posts in November:  ”In Love With Coastal Romance: [Fabulous Author Star]“. Guest authors will chat about what they love about living or holidaying by the sea, and perhaps, how they bring the relaxed coastal vibe into their own lives.

You’re going to love these authors and their posts!

And talking about the relaxed coastal vibe, I’ve fallen in love with Coastal Living magazine‘s Facebook page. You should check it out for some great ideas and the marvellous way they match a seaside quotation with a fabulous photo. Inspirational!

I’ve also realised a huge oversight in my Coastal Romance blogging – where are the books? There have been some wonderful recent releases in the subgenre.

Jayne Castle, Deception Cove, a Rainshadow Island novel. This is science fiction romance at its most fun. Suspenseful and delightful.





Coleen Kwan, Baiting the Boss. If you’ve ever dreamed of a tropical island, just you and your boss… How come I’ve never had a boss who inspired that sort of dream? :)




Victoria Purman, Nobody But Him. Second chance love is one of my favourite tropes. And it’s a gorgeous cover.





I caught up with my critique partner for lunch last week – where else, but by the beach? With a setting like this, putting the publishing world to rights was easy!

City Beach


Also – yep, there’s more! There’s a chance to win all three of my angel and djinn “Out of the Bottle” romance novellas as well as a witch’s bag full of other great books over at the Dark Side DownUnder blog where we’re celebrating Halloween and our birthday.

Coastal Romance: The New Wave of Rural Romance

wavesWhen Harlequin used the term Coastal Romance (or CoRo) at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August (see my notes here), it was a lightbulb moment for me.

Rural Romance is huge in Australia. It’s triggered discussions on the Australian Romance Readers Association loop and we all have our favourites.

I recommend Kelly Hunter’s Wish, Cathryn Hein’s Heart of the Valley, Rachael Johns’ Man Drought, Jennie Jones’ House on Burra Burra Lane and the romantic suspense of Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry, among others. So many great books.

The appeal of Rural Romance is its:

  • SETTING  The Australian outback is gorgeous, varied and dramatic. All by itself, it is romance.
  • HUMOUR  Often this is understated, but it is real. Aussie heroes and heroines can laugh at themselves, and underlying that laughter is hope. No matter how tough things are, they’ll survive and things will get better.
  • CHARACTERS  Determination, resilience and honour.
  • COMMUNITY  This is the big one. Against the sense of society fragmenting, of loneliness, Rural Romance celebrates the spirit of community. There is love — not just between the hero and heroine, but in giving them a place to belong, a web of relationships to support them.

To this, Coastal Romance adds two important elements:

  1. It taps our happy memories of seaside holidays.
  2. The sea has always meant freedom.

I remember the success of the TV series, Seachange. Coastal Romance doesn’t ask us to imagine a radically different life (most Australian cities and towns cluster on the coast), but to embrace the chance to be free, to be who we really are. When you stand on a beach and look at an endless horizon, anything is possible.

Do you have any favourite Coastal Romance novels? I enjoy the many books Jayne Ann Krentz sets on America’s north west coast, and can’t wait for River Road. And yeah, Coastal Romance isn’t just Australian :)

***Update: There is a new Coastal Romance group on Facebook. All welcome!

It's Love Dude cover

It’s Love, Dude – Release Day!

It's Love Dude cover


From our favourite short story writer comes a debut full-length novel about sand, sun, small towns, and surfing…

Zane Carlton is a World Champion surfer. Molly Georgiou is a shy, small-town girl. They have nothing in common except an instantaneous attraction and an impossible quest for a rare, endangered Australian marsupial. But Zane is determined to make it work, and invites Molly to take a step into his world. But Molly isn’t ready for the spotlights and attention — she loves her town, its quirks, its characters. Opposites attract, but can two such different people find both a woylie and forever?

Releasing a digital book in Australia is interesting. Some places have it for sale at the start of the release day – like iTunes Australia. Others are operating on American time and I have to WAIT till their clocks catch up – like Amazon (so worth the wait!). “It’s Love, Dude” is available in a whole heap of places, and Escape Publishing has all the links in a cute pop up here. Just click the “Buy Now” button.

To celebrate the release of this fun coastal romance, I’m chatting with J’aimee Brooker and to be honest, I’m a bit startled at how painfully truthful I am. Being an author is not for wimps.

Finally, don’t forget your chance to win a copy of “It’s Love, Dude” over at BookLikes. Open internationally, but closes 6 October.

Conference Notes – Part 2

Day 2 of the Romance Writers of Australia conference was just as busy. Survivor: Submission Island was brilliant — but I’ll get to that. First up, the MC for the conference was Jennie Jones and I have to acknowledge the clarity of her guidance and the whole conference team’s successful time management. For such a busy conference, our schedule remained tight yet never impossible.

The morning started with Harlequin Australia‘s Sponsor Address. This included my editor, Kate Cuthbert, talking about Escape Publishing. Harlequin Australia will now be publishing Young Adult (woohoo! I was chatting with a local author whose book will be out soon – not sure if it’s still a secret). They’re also looking to increase their single title books over the next couple of years, although series/category romances remain big for Harlequin. Finally, after chatting about the rise of Rural Romances (and mentioning fellow West Australian Rachael Johns‘ amazing success), they announced their new big thing *drum roll* COASTAL ROMANCE. This was huge for me since I’ve started my Jardin Bay series. I love stories set on the coast, any coast. I think that’s my Cancer star sign :)

Almost forgot! For those interested in sub’ing their stories to Escape Publishing (and you don’t have to be an Aussie author), Kate said she’s particularly looking for science fiction romance, romantic suspense, rural romance, contemporary Australian romance and erotic romance. Since I write contemporary Australian romance I was interested to hear it sells strongly in the American market.

SURVIVOR: SUBMISSION ISLAND put a panel of editors and agents out the front of the conference room and first pages from anonymous entries were read out. When the experts encountered something that they thought would stop them reading a submission they held up a red “stop” card. If they were interested in a submission, they raised a green “more” card. Mostly “stop” cards were held up which was disappointing — but at the end of each reading the experts were asked why they’d raised their cards. The results were fascinating.

A recurring theme was that the genre of the story wasn’t instantly identifiable. Other issues were too much exposition (info dumps in dialogue and backstory paragraphs – don’t belabour internal monologue in the opening), slow openings (“we want action!”), small potential markets (as with a pirate historical — I was surprised to hear a few times that historical romance was a small market. Really???), over-extending the scene, cliched storylines, never open with a funeral or journey, and nice or competent writing isn’t enough (ouch!).  More positively, strong voice was appreciated, a title with a hook worked well, and solid characterisation works.

Sarah Wendell‘s presentation on social media was incredibly useful — plus she was smart, funny and energising. Let’s see if I can condense everything she said.

Readers now connect directly with authors and publishers. As authors we are building our brand, our promise to readers. We need our own social media policy (what we’re willing to talk about, at a minimum). Be genuine.

You don’t have to be fluent in every form of social media (Sarah spoke of the various media as different languages). With Facebook, include images (actually, I think this is true of all social media — but beware of copyright!). Interestingly, Sarah described Pinterest as aspirational. I liked this point — although it makes this medium difficult to use for book promotion; i.e. people don’t aspire to be books.

When you’re on social media, you must be present. Your website (and as authors, you MUST have a website) allows you to be present even when you’re sleeping. It should also direct people to where you hangout — e.g. Twitter, Facebook, wherever. Your website should include a booklist, contact details, simple bio (update quarterly) and links to social media. Also a press kit, so add a good photo to that list. (Eek!)

Sarah also recommended a mailing list. But remember, it’s a privilege to be in someone’s inbox.

Speaking of email inboxes, apparently some people suggest that readers should/could contact authors in non-email ways (Facebook, etc), but Sarah pointed out that we write about romance, which is about intimacy. People will want to email (talk privately) rather than share their stories/responses publicly, so keep an email contact option.

On BLOGGING (hey! that’s what I’m doing) she had a few comments:

  • a way to be online talking with readers
  • update regularly
  • blogs are the longest form of online communication
  • think about why reader is visiting your blog
  • check what works or doesn’t work on other authors’ sites

Or her three part sum up: generosity, authenticity, consistency.

Kim Hudson spoke on “The Voyage of the Writer” based on her book The Virgin’s Promise. She presented a full day’s workshop on this on Friday, but I was at the academic conference. Kim is so nice, but also wise. In looking at her use of Jungian archetypes to develop the idea of the Virgin’s Promise, she also applied that journey to her own life and showed how it not only develops stories, but gives meaning to our lives. “Virgin” originally meant “to know you are of intrinsic worth”. Apparently for Jung, stories were the way we engage with life and how we go through change. This resonated with me because I often think of stories as giving meaning, making meaning.

Basically, believe in your creativity and protect it.

The final break-out session that I attended was Shona Husk and Nicola Sheridan‘s “Beating the Tsunami: Getting Ahead on Paranormal Trends” and it was scarily good. There are so many monsters out there, so much mythology and supernatural thinking that transcends geographic boundaries. There was even a vampire with a glowing bum. I am not kidding! Great research and clear presentation, but my big takeaway from this session was the realisation that a memorable hero can come from imagining a huge villain and redeeming him. That might be obvious to you, but it struck me like a blinding light.

The conference wrapped up with more inspiring, funny and inclusive words. The sense of community was powerful.

Thank you to the conference committee and all the volunteers, the guest presenters, sponsors, the hotel staff (so professional and courteous), and most of all, to my fellow attendees for making my first ever writers’ conference an overwhelmingly positive experience.