Did you know it was Ed Sheeran’s birthday on Monday 17 February?
I did… and I was blogging about it – and books, music and romance over on Breathless in the Bush.
Go check it out here #mwah
I’ve been listening to a lot of the Wicked Wallflowers over the last few weeks. I have been a late adopter of Jenny and Sarah’s podcast and I LOVE IT. If it’s not in your ears yet, what are you waiting for?
Anyway, in their podcast, they’ll generally ask guests what was their first romance read and it got me thinking… what was MY first romance read. It certainly wasn’t Forever by Judy Blume – which I remember fondly, but DOES NOT have a happy ever after.
It wasn’t any of the Sweet Valley Highs I burned through as a teenager and which, frankly, became a little too dramatic and more like a teenage Days of Our Lives than I preferred!
It wasn’t any of the other BRILLIANT books I read at school including Lilith Norman’s Climb a Lonely Hill or Ruth Park’s My Sister Sif – if you’ve not read either, do yourself a favour. They’re great, and have stuck with me since I read them in primary school!
I also can’t really count my mother’s books that I stole away and read all the good bits from when I was WAY TOO YOUNG to be doing so. That catalogue included Lace by Shirley Conran, Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz and a book called Facades by Stanley Levine and Bud Knight that I really SHOULD NOT have been reading, although it taught me what Quaaludes were, and the word milequetoast. Lace also has the most inappropriately hedonistic scene involving a Sheik and a goldfish, but I digress…
It was <insert drum roll> the Chesapeake Bay saga from the Queen, Nora Roberts.
I read the four books in the series on a plane in the early 2000’s, which was no mean feat given they came in two volumes, each about 2” thick. No Kindle app in the early naughties! But I DEVOURED them, and they were then lugged around the USA because I was not leaving them behind. Those massive copies (in that thick, trade paperback size) still have pride of place on my bookshelf.
For those who haven’t read them, the Chesapeake Bay saga follows three brothers (in name, not in blood) unravelling the story of how they came to have a fourth brother, after their foster father passes away. Of course, in so unravelling, each comes to find their significant other – some who have been under their noses and others who have come from further away. But what I loved was that the family was a key part of the story and the general banter and that the relationship between the brothers was as much about the HEAs as the romances were.
I’ve never quite completed Nora’s back catalogue (somewhat surprisingly) although her Brides Quartet, and the InnBoonsboro series are books I’ll often re-read. But those Quinn brothers were my entry into Romancelandia, and were probably my first book boyfriends (I had a soft spot for the artist baby brother). He was an artist and, well, ‘paint me like your French girls’ is a definite thing for me!
Who was your gateway into Romancelandia? Have you been a long time resident or a new arrival?
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Today, I’m over on Breathless in the Bush blogging about why you should consider entering writing competitions… click here to check it out.
Anyone else been suffering from a serious case of conference drop over the last week?
Sadly, there is no cocktail bar at my house where I can find like-minded people to chat with well into the morning. There isn’t a breakfast buffet laid out for me each day with Coco-Pops (breakfast of champions) and an omelette chef to cater to my every eggy whim. And there certainly aren’t three-hundred likeminded writers in my house ready to talk story and plot and marketing and book boyfriends and publishers and … well you get my drift.
Every year, the three days of conference goes by in a blur of hugs, alcohol and information and, every year I promise myself that I’ll hold onto that crazy, excited, I can conquer the world feeling…
Until I get onto a plane and am so exhausted I fall asleep in my seat.
Until I get home and have all the ‘normal’ things to get done.
Until I have to go back to the ‘day job.’
Reality is really a bitch.
And so, this year, while waiting for said plane where – yes – I did fall asleep in my seat, I was thinking about ways to maintain my motivation over the coming 12 months.
This is what I came up with.
I love a good list.
I also know that if I don’t write it down, I’m going to forget it within about 5 minutes of saying ‘oh, I must remember that.’
So, while I was availing myself of decent lounge lattes at the airport, I wrote a list of the things I needed to wrap up after conference. The volunteering commitments I have over the rest of the year. The things I need to send off, and the stories I want to write. I also committed to Sunday night check ins with a few of my writing tribe, so that I had some accountability over the coming months.
I didn’t pitch at conference this year – but I did participate in a Twitter pitch during the conference and received a request (yay me!).
So, like I would advise to any pitcher who asked… I’m going to send my manuscript off before the end of the month.
If you pitched and received a request, if you met someone and you want to maintain that relationship, if you heard something which has encouraged you to make a submission to a particular publisher – DO IT.
And do it soon.
It doesn’t have to be immediate (although the sooner you send it, the sooner you can tick it off your list). But it’s generally advisable to send materials requested in a pitch within about three months of the pitch. And if you’re just looking to maintain that contact you made, you’re better to do that when people still have a chance of remembering you (there are a lot of faces at conference!).
The peeps I met at my first conference in 2015 remain my peeps. They’re extra special. They also live FAR away from me. And as I can’t convince any of them to move (I’ve tried) we have to come up with other ways to stay in touch.
Start a Facebook Group, a WhatsApp chat, a Twitter list. Set up regular Skype calls or, if you’re lucky enough to be a bit closer, regular meet up times. Make an effort to stay in touch because these are the people who get you and who understand how frustrating it is when life chucks roadblocks in the way of words. They’re always going to be gentle with you, but will tell it like it is.
Also, look for other groups in your local area. I work monthly with a critique group, and have recently also been invited to join Breathless in the Bush. Both of these are groups I can meet with face to face monthly and, together, we can work on maintaining motivation (as well as honing skills and reading books!).
If you’re like me, you’ll have picked up a nugget or two of gold while sitting in the various sessions at conference.
Read through your notes and make sure you find them again. Remember them. Write them on pieces of paper and post them above your desk. Write them down in your diary or stick them to your computer screen. Do what a friend did a few years ago and make up sticky labels to stick on her computer with her favourite sayings from conference.
And then, commit to trying them.
Whatever they are.
They may work for you. They might not. But you’ll never actually know unless you try to use them, or adopt them in your day to day life.
I have to declare a conflict of interest here… I’m the Ripping Start Contest Coordinator and I’d love everyone to enter my contest this year – as well as all of the other contests on offer through RWAus.
But, more seriously, competitions are great to keep you working towards a goal. While you may fall over the dreaded third judge (it happens), even if you don’t place in a competition, you will generally get some solid feedback you can use to advance your writing.
Just a tip though: don’t get ‘too much’ feedback, it just confuses you.
And give feedback some time to settle before you decide what to do with it. You’ll know in your gut what feedback is spot on and what veers wildly off into the trees. Trust yourself to make the right choices about what to do with it!
So, it’s been a while since I posted. But what’s new, right?!
Things have been a little more out of control than I’d have liked this year as my Dad (that’s him in the pic, doing laps of the hospital with me) has been pretty unwell. He’s a lot better now – not fixed but we have a bit more of a handle on the cause(s) – but in the last few weeks things have been pretty serious (including a stay in ICU, and no less than four doctors pointing out they’d never seen anyone survive a potassium level of 10.5).
And then there were the poor doctors who had to contend with me (the non medically trained youngest daughter and regular pain in the ass) asking questions and making suggestions for treatment. Bless. Most of them handled it well. Others… well, not so much.
It’s one of those things though. Having a loved one who’s really sick reminds you to make EVERY MINUTE COUNT. We don’t know how long we have on this Earth, and with loved ones. And every minute of whatever time we have is important.
Don’t squander it.
Thinking about time that way has also made me value my writing time a little more. Sure, writing time is time away from loved ones – but it’s something I have to do. For me. So it’s important, but I shouldn’t squander the time I have to write by spending most of it on Facebook, right! #masterprocrastinator
So, I am back, and putting words on a page. YAY!
And I’m getting PSYCHED for #RWAus19 which is fast approaching! #cannotwait #mytribe
I’m assuming you already know the story but here there are spoilers specific to the movie. So, if you’ve not seen it yet, and don’t want to be spoiled about the bells and whistles, bookmark this page and come back to squee with me when you’ve seen it.
I may have seen this movie a few times now. And, for what it’s worth, I have a few favourite things about it that I wanted to share with you. So, of course, I decided to blog about it.
Ana owning her power
This whole series is (at least, for me) about Ana coming into her own. The series has always been driving towards that and – while we see Ana swanning around the office a lot, and not actually doing that much work – there is a definite power shift in her character in this movie both personally and professionally (externally evidenced by some great clothes. I love the blue dress – if only I was much thinner – but, I digress!).
For me, the real indication of this power, and Ana’s awareness of it, is the last scene. The turn of her head and that little smile, while she’s on her knees, just before the door shuts. Sure, she was topping from the bottom, but there she is. Anastasia Grey.
There are also other scenes. The scene when Ana’s dressing, and tearing shreds of Christian the same time for having his priorities all screwed up (as an aside, that is a pretty cool piece of acting Ms Johnson). The scene where she uses her safeword in the Red Room (#adulting, both of them). The scene with the Ben & Jerry’s in Aspen. There’s also the ‘you may call me Mrs Grey’ moment and the ‘if you can handle her, you can handle this’ moment when Christian tosses her the keys to the R8 which, IMHO, has to be the sexiest car in the world and brings me to—
The car chase
Hot. Hot. Hot. A chick more than competently driving a car (yes, I know it would have been a stunt driver and no one could drive that well that fast first time out but please leave my fantasy alone).
And car sex, so much yes please.
I came home and Googled the Audi R8 and, just so you know, I can’t afford one. Neither can I afford the $300 vibrator that Christian uses in the Red Room ($300!). But I could afford and have already bought—
I’ve loved all three of the movie soundtracks but I think, just on sheer number of songs I love, this one comes out on top. Capital Letters. Big Spender. The Wolf. High. Never Tear Us Apart. For You. Heaven. I Got You. And Love Me Like You Do (Squee. Love Me Like You Do and the original helicopter sequence. Yes please, take me to your helicopter, fly me to Seattle and … well, you get the picture!)
So, first a disclaimer. My name is Kristine and I’m a Dornan-a-holic. I have a serious thing for Jamie Dornan (and his back), funny little walk and all. I even loved him in The Fall when he was channelling a sociopath. Brant Daugherty* is also smokin’ (and OMG, how good is the Hannah line— ‘I might have an opening.’ I’ll just bet you do!) but—
If Max Martini wanted to read me the phonebook while stroking me with a peacock feather, I would NOT say no. Holy shit. That man’s voice. And he can absolutely wear a suit. And…
Crap. Google tells me he too is married. Back to the drawing board. Sigh.
So, #FWIW, I loved it. I went in there wanting to love it and, I confess, it would have had to be really bad for me to have not loved it. But I think it was a fitting end to a pretty good series.
What would I have liked to see more of? The whole thing. Even though it was about the same length as Darker, this movie felt short. I’d have liked more of the honeymoon. More of the conversation between Christian and Mrs Robinson (because who doesn’t want more Kim Basinger, even when she’s a villain!). More of the fight at the night club in Aspen. More sex (always… yes, I admit I’m a perve #makelovenotwar).
Now, all we have to wait for is Freed (i.e. the story from Christian’s point of view) which I expect will be out later this year (although I have no insider knowledge or actual facts). And whatever else E. L. James turns her hand to next. Apparently, she is working on another contemporary ‘provocative romance’ so, fingers crossed we don’t have to wait too long. I mean, it’s not like my TBR pile is shrinking but… #youcanneverhavetoomanybooks
Photos are the author’s