Friday, December 20, 2013

The thing about facebook

I'm on Facebook, of course — it's pretty much necessary as an author, but I've been advised by those who know this stuff that I really ought to be using my author page most of the time, instead of my personal page.

I've resisted this for a while — I feel more comfortable with a personal page, and I have heaps more "friends" on it than I do on my author page. But I've been eyeing off the "reply" function on some other authors' pages and I have to say I covet it. So much better being able to reply to a comment right underneath it, than doing it twenty comments later.

So now I'm biting the bullet and asking people to move across to my author page. But it's a really weird process.  What do you say?

Option 1: Please like me. Which sounds pathetic and needy.

Option 2 : Please click my "like" button. Which sounds vaguely pornographic.

Oh well, you decide. Pathetic and needy or pornographic -- it's over here.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lists — Best Books of 2013

I'm thrilled to announce that The Autumn Bride has been listed on two major USA lists for "Best Books of 2013."

The first was Library Journal's Best Books of 2013 — the journal for libraries in the USA. They said in their review. "This funny, dangerously addictive page-turner is a hands-down Regency winner." Thank you, Library Journal, I'm very honored.

And this morning the news came through that The Autumn Bride has also been included in NPR's Best Books of 2013. Thank you, NPR, I'm over the moon!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Revisiting the past

I spent yesterday afternoon at a high school I used to work at many years ago. It's closing down after 85 years fine service to the community, which is a very sad thing. I don't know if the lovely old brick building will be knocked down or turned into flats, but either way it's a shame.

 It was a good place to work — the kids were fantastic, and there was such warmth and goodwill between most of the kids and teachers. Even the ratbags had their fair share of charm and spirit. It was also fantastically multi-cultural — the teachers as well as the kids coming from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, which made for a wonderfully rich soup of culture and experience—and one which the school always celebrated in a variety of different ways.

I nearly didn't go — I'm always a bit apprehensive about revisiting the past, but this turned out to be lovely. I caught up with so many kids I used to teach -- it was an absolute blast seeing them and hearing about their lives now, and their reflections about their school days. I think I was still smiling when I went to sleep hours later. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mandarin season

It's mandarin season here, and as usual, I can't get enough of them.

Years ago when I was traveling (backpacking) I arrived on the tiny Greek island of Lesvos at the start of  mandarin season and I must have been deprived of vitamin C or something, because the whole time I was on that island, I ate mandarins by the bagful.

They were sweet and tangy and almost entirely seedless. It was the first time I'd come across seedless mandarins, and I was hooked. I ate mandarins for breakfast and lunch and only at dinner time did I have a normal meal.

Now whenever I buy myself a bag, I smile as I remember those happy days in Greece.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Shall I compare thee to a summers day?

I found this, that someone sent me and it gave me a chuckle. For all those experiencing heat - or not.
( From )

Monday, June 3, 2013

Quilt Gorgeousness

A parcel arrived today containing a wonderful surprise — a beautiful patchwork quilt made for me by a friend of mine's mother. She knows I like colorful things and decided to make me this, and isn't this simply the most gorgeous, colorful quilt you've ever seen?

 I'm thrilled. I spread it out on my bed, and took a few photos of it. It's not a quilt, she says, "it's just a throw" — but it nearly covers the whole bed, so I'm calling it a quilt. The sun was shining through my bay window, so the front part looks a little paler and the back a little dark, but it's gorgeous all over — bold and colorful and geometric and asymmetrical — all of which I really like.

It's a thing of beauty and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

Helen, thank you so much.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Look what just arrived on my doorstep.

I'm smiling.

I remember when they gave out the first RITA finalist pins — it was at the 2000 (I think) conference in Washington, and it was my first RWA conference, and my first book was a RITA finalist.

The pins were new and it was a surprise for everyone when, as we registered they gave them out. They gave pins retrospectively as well, and some people were pinning on three, four, twelve or more and everyone was grinning and exclaiming over them with delight.  It was SUCH a buzz, and all through the conference it looked like little silver ladies were dancing across people's chests.

This is my fourth RITA finalist pin and the buzz doesn't get any less. It's a thrill every time, and the arrival of this beautiful little silver lady on my doorstep just made my day/week/month.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dried Fig Jam Experiment

I used to make fig jam every year, until my friends with fig trees sold up and moved — people can be so thoughtless. :)

I don't eat a lot of jam, but when the weather starts to get cold, I do like to have some tasty jam for the occasional piece of toast. And lately I've really been missing my favorite fig, lemon and ginger jam, so when I saw dried figs on sale, I bought some and am now making up the recipe... and hoping it works. Dried figs, oranges, lemons and grated ginger. 

So, the ingredients: (sorry, the quantities are vague because I'm making it up) 

2 packets of dried figs (2 x 375g) finely chopped.
Zest and juice of a couple of lemons, also finely chopped.
Flesh of a couple more oranges (because I had them and I figured more citrus wouldn't hurt.) 
a grated knob of ginger

1) Mix chopped figs, zest of lemons and ginger, and pour over sufficient boiling water to not quite cover.

2) Leave overnight. (As it happened I was a bit busy, so it sat in the fridge for several nights. The idea was to let the dried figs absorb the water.) 

3) If mix is dry, add a bit more boiling water. The next day it shouldn't have any visible liquid, just moist mush of figs.

4) Measure fig mix, and add not quite the same quantity of sugar. (I like it not too sweet)

5) Cook for 45 minutes, stirring regularly.

6) Test to see if it gels on a cold saucer, as jam should. My plan was: —
    a)  If it sets in a jammy way, cheer and bottle as usual.
    b)  If it doesn't, add more lemon juice and hope.
    c)  If it's still not setting try adding commercial pectin. (I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do this, because it would involve a trip to the supermarket.)
   d)  Otherwise, treat it as yummy syrup for ice cream, bottle and give to friends who eat lots of ice cream.

As it happened, version a) was the one that happened. Yay. That's my jam up the top. My mix made 7 medium jars and a bit left over. And here's how I plan to test it.
Do you make jam or is it too much mess and bother? What's your favorite jam?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trifles — and something exciting.

No, I'm not talking about the dessert made of cake, jelly, fruit and custard that I used to see when I was a kid; I'm just talking about small things— paper earrings — and then I remembered I should mention something not so small, and quite exciting (for me, anyway.)

 I haven't been posting a lot recently, as I'm deep in book-world, but I thought I'd just dive in quickly with a small insignificant thing -- ie a trifle.

Last year, for the ARRA (Australian Romance readers Conference) I made a few origami-style paper earrings from the cover of my books, and gave them away. I blogged about it here. So this year I made some more paper ones, only in a different style — little paper Autumn Bride books.

I'm thinking of going to the US to the RWA National Conference in Atlanta in July, so my question is, should I make some paper earrings to give away there? 

Oh, and I just realized I haven't put this on the blog — the something exciting — why might I go to the US conference? Because my book, BRIDE BY MISTAKE is a finalist in the RITA competition, the romance writers' Oscar, which I'm thrilled about. 

So. . . decisions, decisions.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

More pics from ARRA

I promised you some more photos from ARRC (The Australian Romance Readers Association Convention.) I didn't actually take many — I was too busy speaking  (on panels and on stage as well as to lovely ARRA members) to take photos, but I did manage to get a few, mainly on the awards night, where I didn't have much to do. So here's me, with the other keynote speakers, the wonderful Kristan Higgins and Rachel Vincent.
This pic was taken at the end of the Historical Romance panel. I'd brought a bunch of bright feather fans, to get us all in the mood, and at the end, when we posed for photos, well, things got a a bit silly. :) And for once, it wasn't my fault. I blame Cathy Maxwell for this one. LOL

And here's Aimée, a Melbourne ARRAite with a wicked sense of humour — appropriately attired. 

 Kristan Higgins did a wonderful job. She performed all her duties brilliantly — and still managed to get herself photographed with a bunch of firemen. If I didn't know better I'd suspect it was she who set off the fire alarm.
 Two ARRA heroines — Rose and Debbie P.
One of the features of ARRC is the "bling-off" at the awards night — everyone wears fabulous bling, and there's a competition for the best bling. Here are some of the competitors, lining up.
And here are the two joint winners — and don't they look fabulous?
It was a brilliant conference. Thank you Debbie Jay (Convention Coordinator), Debbie Phillips (ARRA Prez) and all the amazing ARRA volunteers who worked so hard to make everything go so beautifully. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of such a wonderful event.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

At the Australian Romance Readers Conference

I'm up in Brisbane, capital city of Queensland, at ARRC— that's the Australian Romance readers Conference, which is held every two years.

Friday night was just the kick off. We started with Lady Jane's Salon, which is an event that usually takes place in New York. It's a salon where romance writers read from their books, while the audience — a mixture of readers and writers and interesting blow-ins, sip wine and listen. Fun and very civilized.

I attended a New York one a few years back, taken there by Andrea Pickens/Penrose/Cara Elliot, along with Mary Jo Putney, Joanna Bourne, and Kelly Hunter. We descended into this dimly lit cellar-type room, filled with eclectic furniture and paintings and people -- masses of people. It was extra crowded because so many people were in for the RWA conference. We found seats and wine and settled in for a fun night. . .

So it was lovely to have Lady Jane's Salon held in Brisbane, and though there was no cellar, and the walls weren't red and covered with interesting artwork, there were authors reading excerpts from their books to a very appreciative audience. Here's a not-very-good photo of the participants — from left, Hope Tarr (who organized it), Amy Andrews, Keri Arthur, Anna Campbell and Cathy Maxwell.

After that came the ARRC welcome reception with drinks and nibbles, and the big surprise for me were these particular three options in the drinks menu — cocktails named in honor of the three keynote speakers, of which I was one.

So it was very cool to be drinking an "Anne Gracie" with my friends — it was a margarita, really, which happens to be one of my favorite cocktails. The "Rachel Vincent" was a mojito and it looked fabulous, stuffed with mint leaves, and the "Kristan Higgins" was an apple martini. Lots of fun!

I'll report on the rest of the conference in a few days.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Live Chat and Big Contest

For US readers — I'm going to be doing a live Spreecast video chat chat with fellow historical romance authors - Madeline Hunter, Julia London, Jennifer Ashley/Allyson James, and Juliana Gray. It takes place on Wednesday, February 27th at noon EST (that's USA time -- 4 am in Australia)

The chat will launch a special contest with a $250 gift card to an on-line bookstore of the winner's choice and 5 bundles of books containing a past title from each of the authors concerned. For legal reasons this competition is open only to US readers only, sorry.  You can check out the details and sign up for the chat here.
Click on the little blue RSVP button in the top right-hand of the screen and you'll get a reminder.

For details of how to enter the contest, go here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Valentine's Grinch

I'm a Valentine's grinch. We didn't celebrate Valentine's Day  when I was growing up -- it was a custom I read about in old books — maybe Anne of Green Gables — I think it mentioned Valentines, didn't it? Nobody I knew gave or received Valentines. It's a relatively recent thing here in Australia, and getting bigger every year, and we grinchly types see it as something wished on us by US TV shows and cynical commercial forces who try to guilt people into spending money...

I don't like obligatory demonstrations of love. I think they should come naturally, spontaneously and unexpectedly, and not according to the calendar. I subscribe to the "Love Actually" theory of love — that it's everywhere at all times, in different forms, and I'll celebrate it whenever I come across it.

Red roses are beautiful, but the beautiful red roses that proliferate on Valentine's Day usually have no scent, and to me, that's symbolic. A rose without scent is worse than no rose at all. Give me a blowsy, tattered, bug-nibbled rose that smells glorious instead of a pristine, tightly furled perfect scentless rose any day. One is real, the other is all for show.

That said, if you're feeling truly romantic this Valentine's day — go for it. Just don't do the romantic thing because you feel it's expected of you. Genuine or nothing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A small taste of the Autumn Bride

Excerpt from The Autumn Bride:

“I’ll take the very best care of you, as if you were indeed my beloved aunt. We all will.”

“I believe you child. You’ve already done me a power of good.”

Abby was puzzled. “In what way?”

“I was so bored before you came along! Now I have gels in breeches climbing through my window at all hours of the night, bringing me soup and conversation and plotting to sack my butler. And gels bringing me cats and kittens, and who knows what else? For the first time in…oh, forever, I want to see what the next day brings.”

Abby looked at her in astonishment, then found herself grinning. “It’s going to be an adventure for all of us, isn’t it?”

“It is, dear gel, it is,” Lady Beatrice said. “And I can’t wait.”

* * * * *

US Edition

The Book DepositoryUK

ISBN—13 (USA): 978—0425259252

Australian edition
ISBN (Australia) 978-1921901409

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Autumn Bride — blog tour

My new book, THE AUTUMN BRIDE comes out on 5th Feb, and I'm launching it with a small blog tour. At almost every blog, I'm giving away a book to someone who leaves a comment.
I hope you'll join me.

31 Jan  Fresh Fiction — winner Sharon D (California)

1st Feb  Romance At Random  — winner Diane (MO)

Also on Feb 1st Mary Jo Putney interviews me about my book on the Word Wenches    
4 Feb  Romance Dish  — winner Donna  (New Jersey)

5th Feb  The Book Binge

8th Feb Word Wenches

Also on 10th Feb Risky Regencies — winner, Crystal (KY)

Also on 12th Feb SOS Aloha

14th Feb  Interview with the wonderful Kate Forsyth, who also reviewed my book.

Also on 14th Feb — if you live in Melbourne, I'm taking a class on writing at the Northcote Library. (Booked out)

14th Feb  Live Writers Space chat at 9:00 PM ET in the USA (Australia Friday 15th 1pm)

Feb 27 at 12.00 noon (ET USA) -- (in Australia 4 am on Feb 28)  Special video chat event with Jennifer Ashley, Madeline Hunter, Julia London, Juliana Gray and me. Stay tuned for further details.