RWA conference and ARR2021

There’s a big weekend coming up for me in August, focussed around romance writers and readers. The Romance Writers of Australia conference is being held at Mantra on View, Surfers Paradise. The annual conference is where I do my writerly professional development amongst a swathe of authors also writing romance – from contemporary and rural like me, through historical, steampunk, suspense, paranormal and fantasy.

The conference coincides with ARRA’s A Romantic Rendezvous on the Gold Coast where I’ll be signing a couple of my books, along with a who’s who list of Australian romance authors, on Saturday, 14th August, 2021 from 5.00 to 6.30 pm.

VIP tickets for the Rendezvous are on sale now. General admission tickets will be available soon, for one of two 45-minute sessions. Find out all the details here:

I’m looking forward to meeting readers new and old, so come along and say hello.

Cover Reveal: The Salignac Legacy

The new book is published by Champagne Book Group and is due out on November 16.

It’s a contemporary romance set between Melbourne, Australia, Edinburgh and the highlands of Scotland.

Catriona Cameron, petite and feisty Melbourne waitress, has a secret. She doesn’t know it’s secret so much as that it’s a recipe she has promised to hold in trust, to share with no one except her daughter. Everyone has their own family recipes, don’t they?

Lachie McKell is the modern-day Laird and his people are suffering. The last person he knows of, in the line of a 200 year old tradition is dead, the business is failing and people are losing their livelihoods with no hope in sight. But wait! Is that the same product on the other side of the world? What must he do to persuade an Australian recipe-holder to come home to Scotland with him, to give up her secrets and save his community?

The High Concept

The high concept is a construct with which I’ve struggled as a new entrant to fiction writing, so today I went looking for some down to earth advice.

I found quite a lot of useful information on a site called #writersstore.

Two writers caught my attention. The first was Steve Kaire who provided this succinct 5-point checklist for what constitutes a High Concept.

He says the high concept should reflect:

1. Original and Unique Premise

2. Mass audience appeal

3. Story specificity

4. Obvious potential, all in

5. One to three sentences.

Not a big ask at all, really???? Urk. It’s going to take a LOT of practice.

In romance fiction, sometimes it feels like there’s nothing new under the sun, but if one book is to be noticed above another, the high concept needs to be clear in any pitch.

So I tried to find more advice, and again, I landed at #writersstore.

This time, the author of the article was James Bonnet

This piece offered clear examples. Bonnet’s suggestion is to keep the high concept description to as few words as possible. It should revolve around a fascinating subject, a great title, the inciting action and the hook.

Check out what he says.

There may be hope for me yet!

PitchWars 2019

Well I’ve done it… I’ve entered PitchWars 2019. I looked at it last year but I guess it wasn’t the right time for me to try, so this year I’ve jumped right in.

What is PitchWaPitchWars logors? The PitchWars website explains:

“Pitch Wars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents.”

It gives writers the opportunity to work with folk who really know their stuff. The mentors are in hot demand, and they have lots of authors from which to choose. My chances may be slim, given the competition, but they’re a lot stronger than they were last year when I didn’t apply.

Wish me luck!



Blogging A to Z 2019

I’ve signed up for the April A to Z challenge again. I’ll use the trip I made in February this year, to India’s Golden Triangle (Delhi – Agra – Jaipur), as the theme for my few paras and, as usual, will include a haiku inspired by what I’ve seen, done or imagined.

I hope you’ll travel along with me. There were some amazing, confronting and astonishing experiences.

TP: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” (or how to survive NaNoWriMo)

This was the year that I didn’t think I would get those 50,000 words on (virtual) paper, for National Novel Writing Month. There was too much else that had to be done. One of my avocations is being a marriage celebrant (I love romance). Here on the Gold Coast of Australia, November is wedding season.  It’s the month where we’ve well and truly seen the back of winter but it hasn’t started to get too hot. Perfect for beach weddings. So there have been brides and ceremonies and planning and writing all month. Wonderful fun but none of it progressing my novel.

I made early mornings and evenings after dinner my NaNo time and the novel moved along. One word after another. A sprint here and there. And many cups of tea.

The story needs at least another  twenty thousand words to finish but it’s a start.

Terry Pratchett is reputed to have said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” This is the mantra I took in writing this month. The story is rough, rough, ROUGH. It lacks tension between the main characters, there’s a lack of depth in many of the scenes. Some of it doesn’t even make sense.

It’s a draft.

I locked my inner critic in the next room for the month, but I can hear the scratching at the door. Things will soon be back to normal.

I can’t say it’s been a great month for writing, but it has been productive. It’s a start my novel may not have had without the 50K goal. Now it’s on to finish, edit, redraft and re-edit. And maybe, at the end of all of that, there’ll be a publishable work in there somewhere.


V is for Valour and V is for Veterinarians in the country


Today is ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. ANZAC Day commemorates all those who have fought in wars under the Australian and New Zealand flags, including my own grandfather who served in both WWI and WWII. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The date remembers the Gallipoli landing on April 25, 1915, as part of the first world war, in which the ANZACs suffered major losses. The ANZAC spirit is the aspirational standard for those who serve, even now, in the defence forces of both countries.

I’ve tried to capture a little of that in Nash’s two tours of duty in Afghanistan in ‘A Baby Denied’. Like most of our heroes, he didn’t set out to earn that badge, he was just doing what needed to be done to keep his team safe.


Valourous deeds can require
sacrifice of self,
serving larger agendas.



When Danielle’s red kelpie, Meggs, is hit by a car in ‘A Baby Denied’, I had to work out how a vet would handle that and how survivable it would be for the dog.

This is  a little of how it translated into the story.

The vet took his time checking the underlip of the dog. “I’m checking for shock here, Brodie. [Brodie is Danielle’s six year old son.] Do you see how it’s taking a little while for the blood to come back in? That can mean she’s suffering shock. I’ll check her lungs and then we’ll get a drip set up quickly before we check anything else.

“Lungs sound fine. This needle thing is called a catheter and we’ll stick it into her leg right here and use a drip to get fluids into her.”

“Won’t it hurt?”

“It might, but she’s in shock, so she’s less likely to feel anything. The biggie we have to worry about is the fluid running out of her blood vessels. When that happens, she won’t have enough oxygen moving to her brain or her vital organs. And you know what happens if there’s not enough oxygen going to her brain?”

“She dies?”

“Probably. So, we work on that first to keep her alive, then we’ll take a look for broken bones and stuff like that.”


Country vets minister to
cats, dogs, horses, sheep,
Bring them all – I’ve healing skills.

P is for Penis Cafe, Bar Turrisi

Warning: Adult themes

This place had to make it into “On Board with the Billionaire” (in progress). Just like my husband and me, Nico and Tristan went looking for a cup of coffee.

We hadn’t even heard of this place. Surely the tour guide could have forewarned us? Well, she didn’t.

We were wandering around the tiny village of Castelmola in Sicily when I decided that I desperately needed a coffee fix. Behold! I heard a coffee steamer. Here’s a place! I dragged my dearest into the café and used my limited Italian to order due cappuccini per favore.

Oblivious, at first, I slipped a few coins into the tip penis, er, jar. I gulped and turned to join hubby where he sat at a table. The lamp was a phallic symbol. Okay, don’t look there. Oops, not at the interesting statue in the corner either.

This wasn’t an accident. Curious now, rather than shocked, I sat back and deliberately took in the ambience of the place. It linked with the baskets of colourful male members with key-rings attached that we’d seen at the souvenir shops. The coffee arrived, and our waiter had a knowing smile. My Italian language skills were not up to asking questions. I’d ask the tour guide.

As we were leaving, I thanked our host for the coffee. It was great coffee!! He offered local almond wine. Oh my! Yes, please!! As a flavourful beverage, it was amazing; as a restorative, it was perfect.

Our tour guide laughed uproariously when I tried to ask her about the symbolism and she shared her hilarity with the rest of our group. “Did you notice the penises? Yes? It’s a gimmick, a very successful one,” she assured us. An older lady shared with the group that she’d bought quite a number of the key-rings as Christmas gifts. “The red ones are more virile,” the tour guide laughed again.

Back home, I just had to find out more.


Coloured penises for sale –
Not for faint of heart.
Cackling, ladies bought many.

M is for ’63 Merc and Mt Arapiles

1963 Mercedes Benz

Ah, the ’63 Merc!  As we continue to consider some of the research that sits behind my novels, knowledge about cars in general is not in my purview. To consider the peculiarities of the ’63 Merc required quite a bit of research. My sister Iris and her son Jay (renowned petrol-heads) provided enough of a brains trust starter to get me moving on the troubles that might have befallen Mavis the Merc in “Merry Christmas, Liebchen.” The only drawback was Iris’ fierce defence of the brand! I figured that any car more than five decades old was going to have something wrong, (despite my little sister’s opinion), and I was able to come up with a substantial list. Mavis was important to the story because Jolene’s great-uncle had bought the car for her great-aunt so it had significant sentimental value. But the car was the only disposable resource that Ruby and Jolene had to be able to pay off the loan that would save their home.


The old Merc’s rep as being
challenges this writer’s wit.


Mt Arapiles

Mt Arapiles (A-rap-ill-ees) rises out of the Wimmera Plain in Western Victoria, Australia, and looks benign in the glowing sunset. It made its way into “Merry Christmas, Liebchen” because a painting of it hung on the wall of my study at the time I was writing the story. I wanted to throw in an Australian connection for the Vermont family and since one of the characters had died in a climbing accident, I thought, why not Australia? Research into Mt Arapiles showed that it has a variety  of climbs from Grade 9 to a seriously dangerous Grade 25. It was plausible then, that our climber could have been persuaded to climb just outside his skill level with drastic consequences.


Belaying rope tightening,
perilous climbing –
Arapiles siren call.