Tag Archives: romance

It’s been 84 years …

The Joy of Not Blogging or Do I have an Excuse.

It wasn’t until I decided to write a blog post that I realised it was over two years since I last blogged. Ironically it was for my last Escape Publishing release A Matter of Trust. In between I’ve published three other rural romances for another publisher and several historical novellas in anthologies. (See my Books in the Wild page). Also life happened.

Book cover for A Matter of Trust. Image of red headed man embracing a young woman against a rural Australian background. Beside it is the quote "Twelve Years is a long time to keep a secret ... or two. 4th July 2021 from Escape Publishing.
Remember this? A Matter of Trust. It even won a Koru Award of Excellence. Escape Publishing Release 4th July 2021.

So here I am, finally, with book two in the Redemption Creek series.

A Chance to Believe is the story of Shayne Smith and Cassie Long. Two strangers who found a connection and left it behind for reasons of their own.

It will release on the 1st February, 2024.

About the Book

Can a fling turn into a family?

After a chance meeting in Brisbane, Shayne Smith and Cassie Long had a perfect fortnight together. But when Shayne returned to his historic sheep property, they both assumed there was no future in a relationship between a city girl and a grazier.

Six months later, Cassie arrives at Maiden’s Landing to let Shayne know they made more than memories in their brief idyll. She has no expectations, only a duty to let him know.

Shayne’s life is already complicated with a property to run and a sixteen-year-old daughter growing up fast. He never expected the woman he can’t forget to turn up on his doorstep bringing news that is all too familiar.

Fiercely independent Cassie isn’t asking anything of him, but he persuades her to stay at his homestead until the babies are born. Cassie’s difficult pregnancy means that any possibility of romance must be put on hold – despite the intense attraction they feel for each other. How long can they resist? And will each of them overcome their own baggage so they can build a future together?

Isn’t this pretty? A historical homestead. Two people destined for a HEA, eventually, and sheep. Also jet trails in the sky. One of my favourite things. Unless you count forearms.

Pre-orders are available now. Click on the image to go to the Harpercollins home page or choose your preferred seller below.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3sMNoU2

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3sMtVTn

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3EABE9W

Google Play: https://bit.ly/468GlmO

Jane Austen: Contemporary Romance Author

I can’t believe I’m blogging again. And no, no-one I know has died. At least, no-one I know well enough to blog about.

Unless you count Jane Austen. She has been dead a while though, so it’s hardly news.

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This urge to talk comes about because someone on social media commented that they don’t read Jane Austen for the romance. It was phrased in such a way to imply the “romance” was the lesser part of the story, almost incidental to the greater good of the books.

Now I know when Austen was writing, romance was a term for any tale that was not true. Even rather fanciful. It has only been in the last few decades that the Romance Genre has been strictly defined. I totally blame pulp fiction, but that’s an argument for another day.

What I find interesting is that we tend to think of Jane Austen as a historical author. Not surprising when you consider the number of costume dramas filmed in the last century based on her books. But of course she was a contemporary writer. She was writing about her peers. Not dukes and peers of the realm, but society as she knew it. Bobbing about just under that class of people but definitely above the general masses.

It made me wonder what she might have written if she lived in our contemporary society. Would she be writing about a Bridget Jones and her Mr Darcy or might she be tempted to get a little raunchy after reading some Jilly Cooper or Jackie Collins.

With better health care might she have lived to be a wicked old lady being interviewed by James Corden and doing a little car Karaoke. I wonder who her favourite modern music artist would be.

God forbid, maybe she would have been picked up by Harlequin Mills & Boon and be writing Presents romances about billionaires and feisty heroines adding a touch of snark about the hangers on. Imagine if she’d been the scriptwriter for Pretty Woman.

But no. Jane would have been above all that. She would have written some deeply meaningful snark about society published by Simon & Schuster and no-one would have wanted to film it.

Or would they? Would she have hidden the snark behind a romance between a stuffy politician and a eco-warrior who spends her time protecting an obscure bird that only nests in a swamp outside Meryton from the incursions of an army of messy campers including a charming rogue who tells a sad tale of meeting injustice from the politician.

Nah. Not likely.

All I do know is that two hundred years later, Jane Austen is still being read and filmed and no-one I know has watched Pride and Prejudice sixteen times for the social commentary. At least, not solely for the social commentary.

Valerie and the Wannabe Minion

The Valerie Parv Award was the first competition I ever entered when I discovered Romance Writers of Australia. It promised the world. Or at least a twelve-month mentorship with Valerie Parv, a noted best-selling author of Mills & Boons. As my dream was to become a Mills & Boon author (I didn’t really know much about the Harlequin thing at that point) I figured this would be my goal.

In the meantime, I discovered Valerie Parv was the featured author at a writing retreat at a Pacific Island resort. Naturally, I signed up. This was back when I actually had an income. DH could do his photography thing while I bathed in Valerie’s wisdom.

Valerie Parv signing books at the 2019 RWAus Conference.

Sadly, it never happened. They didn’t get the numbers to make the writer’s retreat possible. You are all cursing about now because it was a missed opportunity that will never come again. I have never forgiven those unnamed people who did not sacrifice themselves to my need.

I first met Valerie Parv in person at the Gold Coast conference ten years ago. I also met Presents great, Helen Bianchin so it was a red letter conference. The funny thing is that I don’t remember reading Valerie’s books when she was first published. I desperately wanted to travel so I looked for books set mostly in Europe and Britain and the American outlier, Janet Dailey. I have since made up for that initial lapse by collecting and reading dozens of her books. They are fabulous and apart from the phone thing, have worn well.

I did discover at that conference that Valerie’s winners became her Minions and that became my primary ambition. To become a Minion far outweighed the whole being published thing. My plan? Become a Minion and then get published.

My interactions with Valerie continued over the years, on her blog, on social media and at conferences. Peak Valerie experience was receiving a VPA Highly Commended for my book “Tell Me No Lies” at the 2017 conference. When I spoke to her afterwards, she joked that it was probably just as well I didn’t win as she suspected we would butt heads all year.

Bookcover with young couple embracing
My VPA Highly Commended book Tell Me No Lies.

I had one more attempt at minionhood the following year but after receiving flack for entering while having several novellas published, I sadly set aside that ambition and self-published my 60k VPA finalist thus making me no longer eligible to enter and removing all temptation. Had I known there would only be two more Valerie presided competitions, I might have made a different choice.

I last spoke to Valerie in person at the 2019 conference. She would often in her speeches or seminars, mention how she was embarrassed at having the award named for her. I told her at the time and later in a post that she put in the work and she should own it. She contacted me last year to ask if she could include my comments in her autobiography, “34 Million Books”. Naturally I said yes and there I am on page 216.

So, I may never have become a minion, but I’m in her book. Not a bad alternative.

It is the end of an amazing era and she will be sadly missed.

Vale Valerie Parv.

The Joy of Competitions

Or why Craft and Story make a perfect couple.

This manuscript, originally completed in 2012, which I recently released on Amazon worked it’s way up from midfield to being highly commended in the VPA in 2017 and 2nd in the Emerald Pro in 2018. I have thanked the RWA Judges in the dedication because their feedback was invaluable to improve the MS.

I’m taking a break from sending out competition results and contemplating the emotions that will be felt by both finalists and those who didn’t make the cut this time.

I’ve been entering competitions for more than six years now, with varying results. I know the angst of coming THIS CLOSE to finalling and then the next year finishing a lack lustre mid field or lower.

I know the frustration of that ONE judge. The other two loved your work but that ONE judge marked you down far enough that the top marks of the other two couldn’t push you into the winner’s circle.

I’ve had the humiliation of a judge make the assumption that I’m a new writer just starting out when I’ve got competition wins under my belt. (That manuscript is going straight to trash)

But wait. There’s more.

The last two years I’ve been coordinating one of the RWAus competitions. I find it fascinating as I’m checking through the forms, to see the scores and the comments of a whole range of judges on a wide variety of entries. It’s taught me a lot.

Because when it comes down to it. Judging a piece of literary work is always going to be subjective.

Not that the judge who marked me down was wrong. But when they put on their judging hat, they are not necessarily looking for the same things as the other two judges.

For some people, and they may be judges, STORY will trump CRAFT every time. They figure an editor will fix those things if they are relatively minor, but a great STORY deserves to be out in the world.

For others, CRAFT is vital. They figure that no matter how good the STORY, if the CRAFT is faulty, no publisher will touch it.

They could both be right, and they could both be wrong. The fact is that editors are time poor and publishers are risk averse, so they want the full package. The drama of a half-polished manuscript that is fought over for six figure sums comes but rarely in this world.

CRAFT and STORY should be in balance. If you are getting unbalanced scores in competition, take a note of that and read the comments carefully. It will help you to know where to focus your attention. If you are getting all mediocre or low scores, try to focus on CRAFT. You can’t tell a great STORY if the reader can’t get past the first page because you need to work on those skills.

Even if you think the feedback is wrong it can be valuable. Because if you look at the feedback and try and understand why they think that, you might still learn something.

And a better manuscript, a better submission will always be the result of learning from feedback. And there is nothing wrong with that outcome.

Tell Me No Lies.

I’m so excited to finally send this story out into the world. I first wrote Lucas and Harriet’s story back in 2012 and it’s been doing the rounds as I tried to find a place for it.

It finalled in the 2017 Valerie Parv Award at the Romance Writer’s of Australia Conference and Valerie mentioned how much she liked reading about a heroine with a disability.

In 2018 I entered the manuscript into the Emerald Pro Awards and was thrilled when it came second after the other manuscript I entered.

While there was a lot of interest from publishers, sadly, none felt it fitted for them so I made the decision to publish it. I have a Pinterest Page if you like to look at images that inspired me. Beware spoilers.

It’s Available on Amazon for $2.99US $4.25AU or Free on Kindle Unlimited.

US Link

UK Link

Oz Link