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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Who's that girl? Interview - Alli Sinclair

Please welcome another Aussie to the blog hot seat!

Name? Alli Sinclair

Where are you? Geelong, Victoria but I've lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada.

How many years have you been a member of RWOz? One year.

What genre do you write? Suspense with elements of romance and magical realism.

Who are your favourite authors? Jessica Andersen, Laura Esquivel, Anne Gracie, Philippa Fioretti, the list could go on and on and on!

What inspired you to write romance? Romance is a part of life, even bad guys have loved or been burnt in love (I love writing about the love lives of the baddies in my books!).

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? I won't name names but I will say I am looking for an agent who "gets" my writing, and will think outside the box in terms of getting my work published. As for publishers, I want them to fall in love with my characters and stories and for us to have a long and fruitful relationship (oh  my, that sounds like I'm on a dating show!).

What's the best thing about going to conference? Man, there's too many "best things"! Probably number one would be meeting all the lovely RWA members and putting names to faces.

This year was my first RWA conference in Australia (I've been to ones in Canada and the USA) and from the second I walked through the door, I was hugged and welcomed by so many RWA members I wasn't let go until I left on Sunday. I have never met so many friendly, happy, welcoming people in one place before. The workshops were inspiring and I was on a high for weeks afterwards. I enjoy the Romaus loop even more because I can picture people when I read their comments.

I can't wait for next year! I've volunteered to help out as assistant registrar & with pitches at the 2011 Melbourne Conference. 

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
my persistence and willingness to learn my craft.
A sexy heroine needs...to be strong and self-reliant.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...a flight attendant turned Indiana Jones in heels.
When I write I like to...get lost in the story and characters and think I'm right alongside with them.
My best writing milestone to date is...finally being happy with VESTIGE, the manuscript I'm about to start querying.

Alli is one of four writers blogging about culture, travel and storytelling from around the world. You can find her at her blog or on her Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brava Authors Blog (with Bronwen Evans & Meredith Simmons)

Over at the Brava Authors Blog, debut historical author, Bronwen Evans is "Grilled by Meredith Simmons", her Writing with the Stars mentee.

Meredith asks Bronwen some interesting questions about her experience as a debut author and her writing process.

There's also a chance to win a copy of Bronwen's debut novel, INVITATION TO RUIN, if you leave a comment. Don't miss out!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Talented Aussie & Kiwi Authors

I like a good book - who doesn't?

Nothing beats curling up on the lounge or in bed with a new book off your To Be Read pile and spending a few hours whisked away on some adventure whether it's in a paranormal world, an ancient time period or a contemporary setting.

The last couple of months I've been lucky to read quite a few local authors. If you're looking for some "home grown" talent why don't you check out some of these books?

Mel Teshco writes hot erotic paranormal romance for Ellora's Cave.
Christina Phillips writes ancient historical romance for Berkley's Heat imprint.
Nalini Singh writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy romance for Berkley Sensation.
Denise Rossetti writes erotic paranormal romance for Berkley Sensation and Ellora's Cave.
Helene Young writes contemporary women's fiction (with a twist of romantic suspense) for Hachette Australia.
C.C.Coburn write contemporary romances for Harlequin America Romance.





Have you any "home grown" authors you'd like to recommend to me? I'm always on the look out for new books!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas is...

Christmas is a time of being with family and giving, and while it can be a corny commercial time of year where we're bombarded with adverts encouraging us to "buy, buy, buy!", I like to take the time to think about each gift I purchase and make it something special for that person.

My greatest love is giving good books, whether they be fiction or non-fiction, depending on the interest of the person receiving the gift. There's nothing more special to me than celebrating a world of wonder or enjoyment among the pages of a book.

On the more light-hearted side, it means I get to visit some great bookstores looking for that perfect book for my family or friends (and maybe one or two just for me - LOL)! Hours spent browsing the shelves, flipping through the first few pages, scrutinizing the back cover blurbs, hunting down favorite authors.

Merry Christmas, book lovers one and all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who's that girl? Interview - Maggie Le Page

Brace yourselves everyone, we're visiting the South Island of New Zealand this week!

Name? Maggie Le Page

Where are you? Christchurch, New Zealand (aka QuakeZone)

How many years have you been a member of RWNZ? Three years – and they’ve been full-on!

What genre do you write? Contemporary romances with humour. Some might say romantic comedy. With a bit of suspense or whatever to mix things up. Okay, I admit it. I write chick lit. (cringes) I know, I know, chick lit is dead. But I say LONG LIVE CHICK LIT!

Chick lit is funky, and fun, and all my friends read it so I refuse to believe there’s no longer a market for it (she says, burrowing her head firmly in the sand).

Who are your favourite authors? Sophie Kinsella is my all-time favourite, but I have a whole swag of wish-I-could-write-like-her authors – Catherine Alliott, Marian Keyes and Jill Mansell, for starters.

I’ve recently discovered Angie Fox, Nalini Singh (yeah!) and Jane Porter, and I’m looking forward to being a fan of Leah Ashton (I loved her scenes in the M&B New Voices competition).

In other genres? Jeffery Deaver, Dan Brown, Stephen King, Wilbur Smith’s River God trilogy... and, Kylie, you really should put a limit on the number of authors we can list!

What inspired you to write romance? I kind-of fell into it, really, but I can’t imagine writing a story that doesn’t have at least a hint of romance. I like the escapism offered by romance, and I love happy endings. If I read a good book and everyone’s miserable at the end I feel seriously ripped-off! There’s enough misery in the real world without putting it in fiction as well!

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? One who loves my work as much as I do! (I’m still hunting…) Having just read that quick-fire response I’m now thinking "Oops, that sounds egotistical." But I don’t mean it that way.

The fact is you’ve got to love your own work because, in this business, you get so many knocks. And if you don’t believe in yourself and your work your writing career will simply wither and die. I’m determined not to let that happen.

What's the best thing about going to conference? The camaraderie. No, the workshops. No, the pitching opportunities. No, the ‘full immersion’. No, the Three-Whole-Kid-Free-Days part. No, the… hang on, do I really have to choose just ONE thing? You’re mean. I can’t choose. I love it all.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...
my determination. (I think…)
A sexy hero needs...a feisty heroine to stand up to him and really set the pages alight.
My latest WIP (work in progress) is about...Life’s complicated when you’re juggling kids and work. But it’s far worse when, thanks to your husband’s murderous lover, you’re stuck on a hospital room ceiling, unable to move and unable to remember. Now Faith needs to stop sulking, work out what happened and who she really is, then find a way back to her body – or it’ll be too late: they’ll switch off the life support.
When I write I like to...be alone. No kids, no partner, no interruptions. My muse only comes out to play when it’s quiet which, these days, generally means late at night. I also need close to hand a never-ending supply of tea (Earl Grey, Lady Grey, green) and snacks (home-made biscuits, chips, toast).
I usually write at the computer, but if a scene is refusing to work I’ll go out for a coffee and write by hand. It’s amazing how often the scene just seems to write itself while I’m enjoying a rare cafĂ© treat.
My best writing milestone to date is...finishing my first novel. That was the most amazing feeling. I felt as if I’d finished a Ph.D.! But a very close second was getting my website up and running (blows kisses to Jem and Gracie).

Thanks for answering my questions, Maggie!
Thanks for asking, Kylie!

If you'd like to find out more about Maggie, check out her website.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You know you're a paranormal author when...

You know you're a paranormal author when....

  • ...you can reel off the meanings of an acronyms such as DUF, F&F, UF, SF/F/P, HF, EF, PR, BPS, FU and varying combinations with alacrity
  • …you hear a strange sound and immediately reach for your backpack (which, incidentally, contains a wooden stake, holy water, a hand gun with silver bullets, a spell book for all occasions, a variety of amulets and lucky charms, an almanac of alternate realities, a handy pocket sized dictionary of demonic languages, a crystal ball with matching tarot cards and a ring of magic keys) and you head straight for the location you last heard it shouting, "Go ahead, make my day, hell-spawn!"
  • ...you think it's normal to open conversations about demons/vampires/shape-shifters/psi-powers in mixed company
  • ...you understand that “succubus/incubus” have plurals and that they’re “succubi/incubi”
  • …all the clothes you own are variations in the color black
  • ...you've made weapons out of your garden implements...just in case, because the next door neighbour's kid gives new meaning to the word holy terror
  • …when you hear the words “Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica, in nomine et virtute Domini Nostri Jesu + Christi…” and realize you aren’t at a baptism or partaking in Holy Communion
  • ...you realize the danger of shouting the expletive phrase “Suck me!” in a nightclub with people with pallid skin and who claim pointed canine teeth are the latest “vamp” trend
  • …the newest release of Keri Arthur/Laurell K.Hamilton/Sherrilyn Kenyon/(insert other fav.author) excites you more than sex does
  • ...you wear steel-capped boots, a long leather jacket, and an array of hidden weapons on your person when you step outside your house
  • ...the saying “his/her eyes turned red” can hold so many different meanings (not all of them good)
  • …your significant other plays the opening tunes to Star Trek/The Twilight Zone/Blood Ties/(insert other favourite program here) just to get your attention
  • ...you believe it makes perfect sense to decorate you house with necklaces of garlic, hang mirrors in every room, install fonts of holy water at every entrance, and burn twists of sacred herbs 24/7
  • ...the phrase “TRUST NO ONE” isn’t just an X-Files quote
  • …the word “World Con” has you salivating in 3 seconds flat
  • …an earthquake shakes your house and you dive for cover shouting, "Take cover! The Hellmouth is opening, the Hordes of Baccus begin the Reclamation!" and everyone else looks at you as if you’ve gone mad
  • …you understand exactly what the phrase ‘seduced by an succubus’ means and that it may be less alluring than it sounds
  • ...you find yourself translating magazine articles in waiting rooms (out loud) in fluently Elvish, Pernese or Ancient Runic script just to pass the time
  • …you think it’s normal to name your child Buffy, Angel, Acheron, Wrath, Sookie or after various pantheon deities

You know you're a paranormal author when...you immediately send this list to other paranormal authors, here and overseas, realizing that only they will understand!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Night Before Christmas Kiwi-Style

Maree Anderson over at Writers Gone Wild posted a fun parody of The Night Before Christmas.

I had such a giggle reading this classic but be warned it has a Kiwi-twist to it (that's New Zealand twist for those who haven't heard the term before).

You won't need an interpreter to translate the Kiwi slang, it's pretty self explanatory. For the Kiwi version, click on this link!


I've since discovered the author has also written an Aussie of The Night Before Christmas, too! If you'd like to read it, check out this link.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Who's that girl? Interview - Chris Taylor

Today, I have an outback Aussie author in my blog hot seat!

Name? Chris Taylor.

Where are you? Moree, NSW Australia.

How many years have you been a member of RWOz? I joined in 1991 and attended the very first RWA conference which was held at the Macquarie University in Sydney.  Life, marriage and children intervened and my membership lapsed for some years. I have recently re-joined (2009) and am loving being back!

What genre do you write? Single title romantic suspense.

Who are your favourite authors? Sandra Brown, Tami Hoag, Richard North Patterson, Kathy Reichs, Kathleen E.Woodiwiss (although her latest stuff is not as good as the earlier work).

What inspired you to write romance? I love romance, reading it, living it. I am a Cancerian, so am a real romantic at heart. I started reading silhouette desire in secret (my mum would not have approved) from about the age of 12 and I’ve never been able to shake my addiction to romance. Everyone loves a good love story, with real characters who have real emotions and find themselves in believable situations. 

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher? Bradford Literary Agency & Simon & Schuster or Harper Collins.

What's the best thing about going to conference? It’s been a long time since I’ve been to one, but I still remember how absolutely fantastic it was to eat, breathe, talk, dream romance writing with other wonderful, like-minded individuals.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My greatest strength as a writer is...my ability to get words down on a page. I regularly write about 3000 words a night.
A sexy hero needs...a partner who complements and balances him in every way.
My latest WIP (work in progress)...is about a profiler who works for the Australian Federal Police and is brought in to help solve the case of a serial killer who is kidnapping and mutilating the corpses of young women (sounds gruesome, I know).
When I write I like...to have hours and hours of uninterrupted time to devote to my computer (yeah, like that ever happens with a husband and five kids under nine in the house)...
My best writing milestone to date is... being a finalist (one of the top 6) in the RWA 2011 Single Title and Loving It contest!!!  Hopefully one of many small steps towards the ultimate dream goal of PUBLICATION!!!

Thanks for answering my questions. It's been great having you here, Chris and congratulations on being a finalist in this year's RWOz STALI contest - good luck with the final results!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Nice
It's that time of year again when chaos begins creeping up on us all.

Is anyone else feeling a bit like the (stuffed) Christmas turkey at the thought that Christmas is only 2 weeks away?

To alleviate the stress I thought I'd write a light-hearted list of 12 things to do in the lead up to Christmas.

12 hunky guys to oogle in their Santa suits
11 Chrissy cakes to bake (with the hunky guys' assisting)
10 Telstra calls to make on Christmas Day
9 TBR books to get through
8 mins to finish this list before my self imposed internet time limit is reached
7 Christmas lights to string outside (with the hunky guys' help again)
6 cupboards to search for missing decorations
5 new tinsel bits to buy (to replace the ones my cats shredded)
Naughty
4 garden beds to weed (with the hunky guys, so the house looks good for Christmas)
3 cats to brush (so they don't shed too badly in clean house)
2 books to write (with hunky guys in them)
1 new Christmas tree to resurrect (after the cats try to climb it - again - for the 3rd year in a row)

What's on your list this year? Are they naughty or nice? ;-)

The Gifted Gecko winner!

Thanks to everyone who dropped in to say hi to Robyn over at The Gifted Gecko website - there were some great hobbies/crafts/interests mentioned there.

Now for the fun part - announcing the winner of the lovely dozen mini-scroll sawed angels giveaway! Robyn put everyone's name into a hat and randomly chose one.

And that person is...

Jenn J.McLeod
 
Congratulations! If you can drop Robyn a line at robyns (at) clearmail (dot) com (dot) au you can make arrangements to claim your prize.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Few Good Books

My To Be Read pile seems to never end. I get a few from the top of the pile finished, add them to my keeper shelf (or not), turn around and the pile seems to have grown again. Sigh.

But why should I be complaining? I mean, really, what's better than having a few good books sitting on the shelf waiting to be read?

And, here's a smattering of the titles I have waiting for me should I feel the need for adventure!








Have you read a keeper lately? What was it?

I'm always on the look out for a new author or book to add to that ever-growing pile! :-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Erica Hayes' New Book Cover

Check out Erica Hayes' newest book cover for BLOOD CURSED, Book 4 in the Shadowfae Chronicles. Isn't it a stunner?!?! (I'm so envious!)

It's due for release on 2nd August, 2011 in the US & UK.

Here's the blurb:
Enter the fierce, fantastical world of the Shadowfae, where blood is a drug, magic is a crime, and love is the most dangerous weapon of all...

To a vampire, nothing is sweeter than bloodfairy essence — and Ember is the most sought-after fairy on the underworld circuit. Selling her blood to the highest bidder — and robbing her clients in the process — Ember has unwittingly become a target of dark and dangerous forces. Her enemies are everywhere. And if she hopes to survive, she needs protection...

Diamond is a glassfairy who, for better or worse, knows his way around the vampire underworld. Smooth as silk and tougher than trolls, Diamond is Ember’s only chance to keep her magical blood inside her body, where it belongs. But he also poses a threat to Ember, a strange kind of danger she’s never experienced before: She’s falling in love with him...


Erica's other books in the Shadowfae Chronicles:


If you'd like to know more about Erica, visit her website!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Magic Thursday - Death's Sweet Embrace

It's Magic Thursday over at the Dark Side DownUnder blog today.

Aussie urban fantasy author, Tracey O'Hara, is the visitor and she's giving away a "you-bewt" prize pack to celebrate her upcoming release, DEATH'S SWEET EMBRACE.

All you have to do is leave a comment and you'll go into the draw - how easy is that? So get thee over there and enter!

Who's that girl? Interview - Jenn J.McLeod

Welcome to the first in my "Who's that girl?" Interview series!

This is a chance for you to get to know some authors, published and unpublished, from three great writing organisations - the Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of New Zealand and Romance Writers of America.

The first guest in my blog hot seat hails from Australia.
 
Name? Jenn J.McLeod

Where are you? Country NSW, Australia - I run a B&B called Wagtail Cottage for people who travel with their pets.

How many years have you been a member of RWOz? On and off - around five years?

What genre do you write? Ahhhh! Yes...well...took me a while to work this genre thing out because I didn't seem to write 'anything in particular' (and...shhh!!...don't tell anyone, but I discovered I don't write romance - uh-oh!) The very first rejection letter referred to my ms as 'women's fiction'. Most helpful rejection I ever got.

Who are your favourite authors? Anyone who can teach me something as I read as much for entertainment as I do for education. So....Bronwyn Parry was like an epiphany, then came Helene Young, Lisa Heidke, Monica McInerney and Rachael Treasure (to name a few). The list continues to grow, with Fran Cusworth being my latest inspiration.

What inspired you to write romance? Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts encouraged me to write my first story many, many years ago. It was a romance and it sucked. (I told you...I don't do romance and I admire those who can.)

Who's your dream agent and/or dream publisher?OMG - I have just signed with my dream agency - Curtis Brown (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie oi, oi, oi). My dream publisher? Well, that will be the one who loves my book.! I'm very slutty that way. LOL

What's the best thing about going to conference? I ain't been to one yet :-( . Hopefully Melbourne 2011.

And lastly, finish these statements...
My best writing milestone to date is...I have two: RWA Bootcamp for giving me the courage and the tools to attempt Nano 2009 (which is when I wrote my current agented novel - A House For All Seasons)
My latest WIP (work in progress) is...I am doing a second Calingarry Crossing novel  (The Simmering Season: It's summer storm season and the town of Calingarry Crossing is sweltering.)

Jenn, it's been a pleasure having you here as our first Who's that girl? interviewee!
Thanks for having me, Kylie.

If you'd like to find out more about Jenn, check out her blog!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Gifted Gecko - craft of a different sort!

One of the things writers need to do is keep their "creativity well" topped up. Often that may involve getting away from the laptop and pursuing a hobby or craft or an interest.

I have a number of hobbies, some I indulge in (or take more seriously) than others. One I enjoy whenever the urge strikes (and I have my camera ready) is photography. Many of my photos are framed and on display around my house. Most tend to be of nature or animals, although I have done portraits and, for a time, I had a weekend job as an semi-professional wedding photographer.

More labour and time intensive is my love for patchworking - there's something so absorbing about creating patterns with different shapes and pieces of material. When I have an hour or so up my sleeve I like to get out in my garden (which mostly tends to fend for itself, thank goodness) and potter about.

Today, I have Robyn Styles, a professional artist and personal friend visiting the blog to share her passion for art. She and her husband, Darryl, have a number of specialised skills under their belts (some I'd never heard of until they introduced me to them) and this is something they've turned into a business over time.

Robyn, thanks for joining me here. Can you tell my readers a little bit about The Gifted Gecko?
Thanks for having me Kylie.
Robyn - owner of The Gifted Gecko

Firstly, The Gifted Gecko actually started out as Robyn's Crafty Celebrations but when I had sooo many women tell me that their husbands would put their foot to the floor if they saw the word craft as they drove through the village, I knew a name change was in order.

I was looking for something catchy & I love geckos, hence The Gifted Gecko, where unique handcrafted creations are born. 

I know you and Darryl are the artists behind many of the works displayed in The Gifted Gecko. Can you share your stories about how you both ended up in this business and your experience with the art you produce?
Long story short, I had a job then didn't have a job. Work in the area is almost non existent, and the government said I had to look for work.

Having family members with serious health issues meant I needed to be flexible to fit in doctors visits, hospital stays & the like. So, the only option I open to me was to work for myself. So, I turned to what I knew best. Craft.

I've always enjoyed some form of craft and most of it I've learned from family members, was self taught or from a course I attended (ie. leadlighting). My love's are leadlight, woodwork & paverpol (garden statues made from fabric), but I do lots of other craft as well (knitting, recycled art, crochet etc.).

I'm always learning something knew & I also love to share what I know. I can honestly say I am never bored, it's just a case of which craft.
 
Darryl's been doing woodwork in some form or other most of his adult life. He's taught me so much & together we learned the art of scroll sawing. His health does not allow him to do much, however, the business gives him the opportunity to poke around in the workshop producing beautiful pieces of work for the shop.

Do you display your art anywhere besides your shop?
I've just spent four days at the Coonabarabran Arts & Craft Expo selling my work & demonstrating various crafts. I've also attended the woodwork festival in Tamworth and gone to some markets.
I list where I'm going to be on the CLASSES & EVENTS page of my website.

I've also organised craft activities for bus & school groups (bookings essential) in the shop. There are some interesting things to see & do within the local community while you're here - the Diprotodon Walk following the sign-posts around the village, the look-out over the Liverpool Plains at the top of High Street, visit the oldest war memorial in Australia in the local park, just to name a few. 

I've spent quite a few hours having a cuppa (among other things) and chatting with you at The Gifted Gecko. It's also the place I sometimes go to nut out plot points and character motivations (must be the caffeine)! It doubles as a tea-shop, doesn't it?
Yes, it does, Kylie.

The Gifted Gecko is located in a small village on the Black Stump Way, a major highway through inland NSW, & I thought most people travelling through might like the idea of stopping for a cuppa and a browse, so I've made The Gifted Gecko a tea shop as well.

The menu is simple, healthy and tasty. My specialty is a delicious pancake with fresh fruit, ice cream (low fat) & syrup. 

Where can readers find The Gifted Gecko online?
The Gifted Gecko website, my blog or page on Facebook.

On the website I have divided the products into categories to make shopping easier. Simply copy & paste the product code & description (which can be found when you click on the photo) onto the order form & send it to me I will then email you with the total including postage & payment details.  

Where can travellers find The Gifted Gecko and when can they drop in?
You can find the The Gifted Gecko in Tamba Street, the main street that runs through the middle of Tambar Springs. The shop is painted black and white, you can't miss it.

The village of Tambar Springs is situated between the townships of Gunnedah, Coolah & Coonabarabran on the Black Stump Way in NSW, Australia. So, you can say "it's in the middle of somewhere!" LOL

Normal business hours are:
Wed-Fri 10am to 5pm
Sat & Sun 10am to 2pm
(or by appointment)
ph. +61 (02) 6744 2445
* Any closures, planned or otherwise, are put on my blog. 

Robyn, thanks for sharing with us your passion for your work. I hope everyone else has found it as interesting as I have. 

As a bonus, Robyn has generously donated a dozen mini-scroll worked angels as a give-away.

All you have to do is drop over and visit her website and leave a comment about what you like to do to relax or take time out from your busy schedules. It can be a craft or hobby or an activity you like doing to unwind. 

We'll both announce the winner on our websites on December 13th.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Flooding (part 2)

Do you realise the incredible power water has and just what it can do to roads during flooding? Here are a few photos of how it can undermine the road you can't see because it's cover with water.

They demonstrate the danger of crossing floodwater in a vehicle and the risk you put yourself, anyone in the car with you or the people who have to rescue you in when you do.

Road markers and the sides of roads can often be swept away in floods and trying to get across stretches of water like this is extremely dangerous. You have no idea how fast it may be flowing nor the extent of any undermining of the road base.
Many people think 4WD or larger vehicles are more likely to cope - wrong, the force of water can push OR float any vehicle off the road.

Causeways can have the tar stripped from its surface, then the dirt underneath is eroded away. This is not a wide strip but it's wide enough to trap or snap an axle on a vehicle.
 Culverts can be damaged. Look at how much this one has been damaged. Imagine if the tar remained but what was underneath it had been washed away. The "crust" of a road may look solid but underneath may have been eroded. That's happened to this culvert before.


 Underwater you can't see these sorts of potholes. This hole is a foot and a half deep (half a metre).
A good foot of this road and half a lane has been washed away.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Flooding in Australia

If you've been watching the news you'll know a lot of the eastern states of Australia - Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria - have spent the last week being deluged with massive amounts of rain.

After a decade or more of drought, it was finally good to see the land being restored by revitalising rain. I've been living in my area for almost 20 years and this is the best I've seen it in that time.

But now a slow moving pressure system has deluged my area with over 7 inches of rain in less that 4 days creating almost record height flooding. And I suspect, looking at the long range forecast, there is more to come.

Bumper wheat, cotton and canola crops are now rotting and perishing in sodden paddocks, if they haven't been washed away. Roads are being lifted and eroded by flood water. People are being evacuated from towns and villages. Local councils will soon need to apply for disaster funding to repair the damage. Heartbreaking stories are airing on the local news.

Mother Nature continues to amaze, inspire and devastate me at what she's capable of. It reminds me of the Dorothea McKellar poem My Country.

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror -
The wide brown land for me!


A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold -
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.


An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

INDUSTRY: Romance Rocks!

I received my RWA® Romance Writers Report magazine* in the mail the other day. There was a very eye-opening article called 2009 ROMSTATS about how romance fiction sales are holding steady in a weak US economy.

What continues to astound me is the market and selling power of romance fiction. To many non-romance readers some of these facts might astound and even surprise you. Let me quote some facts from the article for you.
  • Book sales increased slightly to $10.274 billion in 2009 as compared to $10.223 billion in 2008 (and this is despite the struggling economy)
  • Romance fiction sales in 2009 were $1.36 billion as compared to $1.37 billion in 2008
Those figures defy comprehension, don't they? And think about just how many (US) consumers enjoy reading romance fiction. Holy love stories, Batman!

Let's break it down further to genres of fiction in 2009. (Source: Simba Information)
  • Romance fiction: $1.360 billion
  • Religion/inspirational: $770 million
  • Mystery: $674 million
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: $554 million
  • Classic Literary Fiction: $462 million
Romance fiction outstrips any other genre with the largest share of the consumer market at 13.2%. That's all good for romance writers, eh?

And now, let's check out the Romance Subgenres published in 2009 (of the romance releases tracked by RWA® in 2009).
  • Contemporary (series) 22.83%
  • Contemporary 18.55%
  • Paranormal 17.16%
  • Historical 15.66%
  • Romantic Suspense 9.45%
  • Inspirational 7.56%
  • Romantic Suspense (series) 4.28%
  • Young Adult 2.28%
  • Other (erotic & chick lit) 2.21%
The article went on to say that romance fiction dominated the best-seller lists such as the NY Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly and that romance fiction ranked as second only to movie tie-in books on the best-sellers lists.

The top 10 romance imprints on the best-sellers lists in 2009 were:
  1. Mira
  2. Berkley
  3. Avon
  4. Little Brown
  5. Pocket
  6. Dell
  7. Grand Central
  8. HQN
  9. Ballantine
  10. Zebra
The top performing romance sub-genres included history, suspense, fantasy and horror titles, while some of the biggest challenges to the romance fiction industry were quoted as being - competition from other entertainment sources, book piracy, book selling into non-bookstores and online retailers and the perceived value of a book.

These figures all indicate continued good news for romance writers. It seems the appeal of a good love story, no matter the sub-genre, is a great form of entertainment and is valued by a huge readership market.

Romance rocks!


Reference material and statistics taken from:
* RWR magazine (November 2010, Vol.30 No.11) published by the Romance Writers of America® - The Voice of Romance Fiction