Scamander, February 2023

In order to flex my writing muscles on the days my WIPs won’t whip, I’m free-writing whatever experiences come to mind. I’m aiming for about 500 words. Today’s effort is 780 describing a recent excursion on the river with my husband.

Scamander, Feb, 2023

The low thrum of the engine on our five-metre fishing boat, albeit registering eighty decibels on my watch’s volume warning app, presents the perfect white noise soundscape as we travel up river. The boat is not a sleek, modern craft, but rather the Holden ute, paddock-bashing equivalent of functional, much loved and well-used vessels.

The water ahead glistens with a mirror finish; the chaos that follows us can be described as three distinct trails—a wake from each side and one straight down the middle caused by the churn of the sixty horsepower motor thrusting us onward, its propellers well-clear of the riverbed to limit collateral damage both to creatures below and its own propellers.

Our immediate goal is a small indent in the river’s course, port-side, where we begin each fishing adventure. We’ve been successful here on previous occasions, harvesting the one or two black bream required to satisfy a meal for two. When our teenage grandson, JB (Junior Beloved) visited, he and I each caught a decent-sized fish on which we dined handsomely.

When I say, “I” caught…, I should offer a disclaimer. My Dearly Beloved (DB), once I’d lowered the anchor to stay the boat’s drift, retrieved the fishing rod notionally regarded as “mine”, attached the leader, sinker and hook, baited it, cast the line, then passed the rod to me to guard. I might point out that I’m quite able to do all of these steps myself, having been well-schooled in the art over the fifty years (next week) of my association with this man. I accept what he’s done, as intended, as an act of love and consideration.

Some time later, I set aside my weapon of piscatorial murder to deploy a micro-table on which to stand the Thermos, mugs, milk and this morning’s box of treats (Audrene’s Anzac Biscuits and the Cheese Puffins JB requested). In my brief absence, the line screams. JB captures the rig before the whole lot goes overboard, and hands it off to DB to reel in the trophy. JB assists by sinking the landing basket to hold the fish and raise it safely on board.

Having secured the catch, the males applaud my achievement. It’s the best specimen of the day. I ask you, can I seriously claim any level of credit? I hadn’t baited, cast, maintained any vigilance nor reeled it in.

“Well done, Ma.” (Teenager’s title for ageing grandmother.) “That’s an excellent catch.”

I accept the plaudits with good grace, (they’re well-intentioned), dole out mugs of tea and pass around the box of goodies. (Yes, I’m a feminist, still a grandmother.) It’s been a great experience building memories for all three of us.

Today’s foray is not so successful hunter-gathering-wise. Instead, the delights are aesthetic—a joy to the senses.

Sound: A cacophony of bird calls, laughing kookaburras, choked cries of honeyeaters, raucous crows and rasping black cockatoos. Overhead the hum of a plane (rare in these parts) disturbs the natural sounds for a mere five minutes.

Sight: Sun on the water, the surface so still it’s difficult to discern where the reeds near the bank enter the water and their reflection begins, puffball clouds in a stark blue sky.

Smell: The after-waft of engine vapours, then nothing. Clean, fresh, pure air—trademark Tasmania.

Taste: A salty residue on my lips displaced by the coconut macaroons and carrot cake for today’s morning tea.

Touch: The dratted march fly which persists in its attempts to suck my blood; a fine thread of filament my fingertips press against the carbon-fibre rod; the sun’s heat pervading the protective covering of my salmon-coloured fishing shirt.

We spend two hours or more communing with the natural world and feeding the fish (bait disappears in stealth attacks with monotonous regularity). DB turns the switch to start the engine then raises the burley trap. It seems the fish didn’t care for his concoction of ham rinds, leftover rice and teriyaki sauce. I weigh the anchor—a less heavy version than its predecessor, thank goodness.

The ride to the ramp takes fifteen minutes. We’re accompanied for a short time by a juvenile swan that, as much as it tries, flapping its wings and running on the water beside the boat, cannot lift its body into the air. Once we pass, it settles close to the shore, relieved, I suspect, to be left in peace.

Trailering the boat is quick, born of practised efficiency, and in minutes we’re home again. Tonight we will still have fish and chips as planned. DB will gather it from the local café.

“A bad day’s fishing,” they say, “is better than a great day in the office.”

ARR2021 Author Spotlight

In December, A Romantic Rendezvous, ARR2021, is happening on the Gold Coast. In the lead up to the event, ARRA is profiling the authors who will be signing their books at the event. Today it was my turn!

Check it out at I hope to see you there to join me and the other outstanding authors.

And the big news today is:

emerald pro 2019 finalists

The Emerald Pro is one of the premier awards for Romance Writers of Australia. It is awarded for an unpublished work by a published author writing in a new sub-genre. So each of the entrants has tried out a new style. Perhaps an author usually writes fantasy and they’ve tried something different like historical, or contemporary or paranormal, or the other way around. You get my drift.

The winner will be announced at a Gala Dinner held in conjunction with the annual conference in Melbourne in August. Whatever the outcome, I’m chuffed to be on this list.

It takes a lot of effort organising competitions such as this and RWAus does it magnificently, relying on volunteers like Tracey Rosen who was the curator for this comp in 2019; volunteer judges who offer insightful feedback over two rounds, and the final judge who is an industry professional.  Huge thanks to everyone involved. It’s an awesome program, especially for those of us new to the discipline of writing romantic fiction.

When did I first want to write romance?

It’s seems ridiculous to state the obvious, but I’ve loved writing since childhood. I truly enjoyed daydreaming ideas and then turning them into stories. Like so many of my generation, earning a living had to come first and there was no guarantee that writing fictional stories could do that for me.

Still, I had the dream.

I was doing a post-NaNoWriMo cleanout over the weekend and came across this article I had saved from the Australian Women’s Weekly in 1993IMG_2438 written by Valerie Parv , an icon of Australian Romance writing.  Most of the content is relevant today, except maybe the tips on presentation for when you want to send off your manuscript. Some younger writers might not know the meaning of : “Use a clean ribbon or good quality printer typeface – not dot matrix.”

It was a balanced piece that pointed to the delights and how-tos of writing in the genre but it also warned that achieving publication was, statistically, not a likelihood. So, at once, I could imagine myself as a writer – yes, I can do this –  but then, just as effectively, it told me to stick to my day job if I wanted to contribute to the family finances.

The article appeared at a time in my life when I wanted to lose myself in writing romance, but it was also the time when I was slap-bang in the middle of research and writing for my PhD, an imperative for career advancement as an academic. The PhD was awarded not many years later but the romance writing was left on hold.

It was another twenty years before I took the risk to write romance and that was for my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month.

That story eventually became “Happy with the Millionaire” which was published in October.

I’m pleased to say that @ValerieParv is still providing encouragement for people stepping up to write romance. She warmly offers advice, counsel and mentoring.

To add my tuppence worth: If you want to write, don’t wait. Do it now, even if you have to make time to do it; find a good editor who will be blunt about what needs to be changed or improved; then go out and pitch the story especially when there are twitter pitch events happening. If the story is a good one, it will find a home.  If you want more direct control, then publish it yourself.

Keep writing.

Dreaming of the interactive novel

I don’t usually share things as mundane as dreams but the one last night was … interesting.

In the dream, I held a tablet in hand preparing to read  an interactive novel in my preferred writing genre of contemporary romance. There was a choice of about 20 starting points set out in icons. I tapped on one and read the first scene. Up popped the icon screen again for me to choose which path the story should take. I randomly selected the next scene. With that scene done, the choice screen reappeared. At this point, the dreaming me shoved the tablet to one side declaring that an interactive novel was a boring way to read a story!

The dream agitated me into wakefulness and I had to jump out of bed and walk around the room for several minutes to slough off my irritation before climbing back under the covers.

The waking me has pondered this all day. I have no experience of interactive novels beyond those written for children and I have shared a couple of those with my grandson who delighted in  the opportunity to experience so many different options. But I have never read one targeting an adult audience so I cannot fathom why the dreaming me was so judgmental!

My apologies to all those wonderfully creative authors who can follow the same story down so many different paths and still make sense. I won’t rule out ever reading an interactive romance novel but I think I’ll just hit the second icon from the top until my version of the story runs its course.