Sob sob

I was so looking forward to the Sisters-in-Crime event and the ARRConference this weekend, but after two days in hospital after falling foul of a Rodda virus I had to listen to doctor’s orders and stay home. Not that I had much choice – I still feel shocking – nausea, coughing and other symptoms that I won’t mention because it’s off-putting just to think about let alone describe, and certainly no energy.

So I hope that all you lucky ARRC attendees have a wonderful time this weekend. And hugs to my friends as I was looking forward to catching up with you all and I’m disappointed that it can’t happen.

When I get better I’m going to chase some immune system builders.

Gold Coast Writers Festival

The Gold Coast Writers Festival is on 26-28 October, and I’m heading off on the 25th on the long drive down. There’s a fabulous line-up of authors, publishers, and industry professionals all sharing their expertise with aspiring writers as well as giving readers insights into the industry.

On Saturday I’ll be joining Rowena Cory Daniells and Tony Cavanagh on the The Thrill of the Chase panel, with the CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre, Meg Vann, as chair. Meg also runs the Brisbane arm of Sisters-in-Crime and I’m sure she will have some interesting questions for the panel. The audience might go away with more than they bargained for 🙂

The panels at the festival are free, with seminars and workshops costing a minimal fee. It’s going to be a great event and I hope both writers and readers take advantage of the hard work the Gold Coast Writers Association has put in to bring this fantastic opportunity to the Gold Coast.

Thanks, ARRA

I’ve finally sent my seventh novel, Grievous Harm, to my publisher. Finding the time to go through the completed manuscript and tweak anything that might need it wasn’t easy. Not only am I trying to organise WriteFest, the Bundaberg writers festival, but I’m also trying to tidy my office. I’d love to be able to say that I live and work in a pristine environment, but … Clean it is, tidy is something else. But with the festival organising kicking into gear, I figure a neat desk will help me keep on top of things. And that might just give me enough time to start writing book eight.

So what has this to do with the ARRA, I hear you ask? Well, the Australian Romance Readers Association has an email loop, and they are a very generous and enthusiastic bunch, so when I couldn’t find the right name for a minor character in Grievous Harm, I sent out a “please help” email for suggestions. The responses were wonderful, names and reasons why those names suited my character came rolling in. I was most grateful for their help, but none of the names sparked that “Oh, yeah” sensation I was hoping for. Then it came. The perfect name for this character. He’s only a minor character in this book, but will become the main character in book eight. And now I can write his story. The plot has been percolating in my mind for some time, but without the right name, this character was too elusive to pin down. So thanks, ladies, I’m most indebted to you, and particularly to Debbie for sending me the name.

So it makes me wonder, how do other readers feel about characters’ names? Do you feel jerked out of the story if the character doesn’t fit his or her name? Does a soldier hero called Cecil make you shake your head and wonder what the writer was thinking? How does it affect you when a character has a name you can’t stand?

It makes you wonder …

I watched A Current Affair tonight and was appalled by the comments made by Yumi Stynes and George Negus on the tv show The Circle about Victoria Cross winner Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith. Cprl Roberts-Smith had been interviewed on another channel about his actions that won him the armed services highest medal and about his life as a soldier and a husband and father.

He risked his life to save the lives of his mates and displayed the kind of courage we are grateful our soldiers have. In his interview he also shared the personal story of his and his wife’s struggle to have children. He was articulate, honest, and showed the emotional courage that complemented the physical and mental courage that won him the VC.

I won’t mention Yumi’s and George’s disgraceful comments. They should hang their heads in shame for what they said.

I watched SAS Cprl Roberts-Smith’s interview, and thought at the time that the heroes that we writers create are reflections of true heroes like this man. Soldiers like him give me faith that our country is being protected by the best, and I thank them for their dedication and their devotion to duty.

Happy Easter

After months of rain and wind the weather has finally given us a day that doesn’t make a lie out of the tourist promotion ‘Queensland – beautiful one day, perfect the next’. I went for a swim in the little bay near here and quickly learned that with only one arm working properly I was soon swimming in circles. Floating was definitely the thing to do.

WriteFest is only four weeks away and I’m trying desperately to make sure everything will run smoothly. For anyone who is unaware of WriteFest, it’s a day of workshops by industry professionals for aspiring to advanced writers.  It’s fantastic value for money at only $75 and for that we even feed you! If you want more information check out

Just to give you an idea of the quality of workshop presenters we have every year, here’s a pic of New York Times best-selling author Stephanie Laurens and writer Di Wills (with me in the middle) at WriteFest 2009.

I went to a promotion and marketing seminar last Saturday and came away realising how much of a dodo I am when it comes to using electronic media. I have a facebook page but I don’t really understand all I can do with it. I am learning, however. That’s the way of it these days; if you want to be a published author you have to learn how to reach your readers in all the ways that they use. A writer friend of mine recently grumbled, “Whatever happened to the days when all you had to do was write a darn good book!” I can sympathise with her because I’m sure my brain is not hot-wired the way my IT specialist son’s is. Actually, without his help, I’m sure I would have given my computer to my husband to use as an anchor many times.

I’ve decided to change the title of my work-in-progress to Conceptions and Misconceptions. It follows on from Murder, Mayhem and Menopause – a completely new story, but continuing the lives of Ellie, Cass and Kandy and their families and friends.  This will be mainly Kandy’s story. After the bruising she copped in MM&M I’ve decided to give her something to look forward to, but she has to go through a lot of angst beforehand. I do wish I could say that MM&M has found a publishing home, but I still have my fingers crossed. I would dearly love to share these wonderful characters with my readers.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Easter.

Writers Festival

Sometimes I feel like I’m two people – the author who pounds a keyboard and hopes the story unfolding under her fingertips is going to attract the attention of an editor, and the organiser of WriteFest, the Bundaberg writers festival.

I’m currently wearing my organiser’s hat and telling any aspiring authors out there that we’re able to offer not only a fantastic day of workshops and a full-day masterclass at WriteFest, but that two editors (yes, that’s right, two) from Harper Collins have agreed to attend WriteFest to conduct editor-writer interviews. This is a wonderful opportunity for writers, doubly so because Harper Collins is no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts.

So if you are interested in taking advantage of this great opportunity, check out for all the relevant information. Submissions close Monday 22nd March – don’t leave it too late.

And check out the workshops and masterclass – there could be something there you’ve been looking for.