Research Bound to Parkes

So, assuming there's no disasters between now and Monday, I'll be heading off with Master A on the first of two research trips for the next project. The trip will begin in Sydney but rapidly head west through the Blue Mountains and then hopefully end up in Parkes, which I've only ever waved at from the car on the way through before. I'm looking forward to it. Travelling with Master A means I haven't committed to be in any particular place at specific times, but you can be sure I'll plan to drop into any libraries and see all I can while I'm there. Of course I'm nerdily looking forward to seeing "The Dish", but if anyone else is from that neck of the woods and has any recommendations (8-month old friendly!) I'd love to hear them, and I'll try to post a photo or two of us on the road if I can.

Update November 2015 - The Horseman, the next project, and stuff

I've been pretty quiet these last couple of months, mostly because I've been feverishly working on a few things. Firstly, there's The Horseman, whose copyedit I've just sent back to my lovely publishing team at Hachette. I'm really happy with it, and that's the last big hurdle - I always brush a hand across my brow and think, there, that's really done now! every time the copyedit is sorted. It's due out next year, but in the interim we'll have the cover reveal, which I'll probably do first in my newsletter (so sign up if you haven't already :). Secondly, there's the book after The Horseman. In the writerly world we're always working 12-18 months ahead of what's already out, and so I've just started on the next and very exciting project, on which I can't reveal much yet but the research trip alone is bonkers exciting (and has also consumed a fair bit of time in the planning). Again, I should have some details very soon.

Lastly, of course it's the time of the year when I'm also marking student assignments. All this means that I'm quiet on blogging and social media - with a 7 month old in the house, I'm down to 2-3 hours work time a day, if I'm lucky, so I just can't afford time to blog/facebook/twit and still also write books. Such is the way of it at the moment. I still love receiving questions and messages, however, and I will always respond to those via Facebook or email. That's a promise.

So, that's it for now. Happy reading.

Struggling with time to read? Some life hacks to turn more pages.

IMG_5511As a writer, the adage goes read read read. That was what a kindly publisher wrote to me when, age 7 or so, I sent a short story off hoping to be published. Oh, haha, the blind hopes of youth (it was a blatant rip-off of Cinderella, but modified to be about dental health - clearly the dentist had exerted her influence). Anyway, the point (or theory) is that to be any good as a writer, you need to read a lot - to absorb the mechanics of story, the zeitgeist, maybe even the magical new book smell needs to be transferred to the blood by obsessive reading. Now, I'll be honest and say I'm struggling. Since some adverse experiences in primary school, I've had a difficult relationship with reading, but I can conquer that with a good deal of self-talk and good recommendations. But now being more or less a full-time writer, I find reading time hard to come by. Oh, I read a lot, but much of it is manuscripts, student papers, non-fiction research. I want to read more fiction. More than that, I need to.

So, here's some ideas I'm implementing to tip more pages into my day:

  1. Social media apps off the phone. Full credit for this suggestion to Peter M Ball, who pointed out the habit of using "The House of Zuckerberg" as a way of passing time. Guilty of that here, too, despite loathing myself every time I log on and just look at stuff I've seen before. The solution? Uninstall the app and put a reading app in its place, whether that's Kindle or whatever platform you use. Hell, do it for Twitter too if the Twitface sinks your time. Look at Facebook when you're on an actual computer, but don't use it to fill in your mental space when you're waiting for a bus/appointment/whatever. On a recent trip to the shops, I sat in a couch area where four other people were also sitting - everyone was on their phone, so this one is rampant. This has put so much more reading into my day already. Brilliant.
  2. Make use of your recorder. Am I the last person watching commercial TV? Perhaps. But if you're in the nigel-without-pay-TV club too, then make use of a recorder. I've often struggled to turn off a program once it's rolling, but if I do manage it, I've forgotten pretty quickly why I cared about who slagged off who on Ink Master this week. A few minutes setting up recordings ahead of the evening, and I can happily shut off the TV, and use the extra minutes to read. The evening consumed by TV is such a deep sink of time, this one is gold. I wind down better that way, the baby can't see any screens so he does too. Everybody wins. Sometimes I watch the recordings later, sometimes not. But recording means I get around the panic of thinking I'll miss something important, even if it's a doco I want for research. And if you're on a streaming service, or pay TV, great for you. You know your shows are going to be there for later anyway.
  3. E-reader lives in bag. I still read print books, but I have an e-reader, too. Keeping the e-reader in my bag means I never get caught without something to read when I'm out. Like the apps swap of no.1, that means if I'm stuck in a parents room at the shops, miss a train, or whatever, it's books instead of apps.
  4. Use devices to extend reading time. I can be an insomniac, even when (or perhaps because of being) extremely tired. It's an issue I've had since childhood in switching off mental traffic, and even sleep dep with a tiny baby hasn't cured me of it (I won't dwell on the injustice that with only a 3-hour window to sleep, I can sometimes sleep NONE of it). Perhaps I should meditate more. But! The point is that frequent advice for people like me is not to pressure yourself to sleep. If it's not working in 10-20 mins, then do something else and try again in a bit. An e-reader with a light is a lifesaver here (or a tiny book reading light), because it won't disturb the other half and lets me read while keeping lights low and restful. It also feels less brain stimulating than watching TV (don't recommend iPads to read here and other LED based screens). It works at 3:30 am, too.
  5. Audiobooks and podcasts. When I was doing a lot of travel for work, I frequently took the train instead of cabs because I wanted to be free to write or read without the pressure to make conversation. But many people don't have the option and commute long hours in the car, or spend long hours there because they drive for work. In that environment, there's heaps of great titles on audiobook, and podcasts of some short fiction if you like that, too. Also fantastic if you don't have your hands free, but aren't mentally occupied - a friend who worked as a cleaner used podcasts at work, and I find them great if baby has hands tied up. If you're into music while exercising, you could also contemplate switching in some podcasts instead, although music + exercise for me is idea generation territory and probably not to be mucked with.

In all these things, of course, the idea is to make room for reading pleasurably - reading is never a place for martyrdom. But if you really would like to read more, perhaps some of the above will help. Do you have other suggestions? Would love to hear about them in the comments.

Aussie novels on the map!

So, this morning I came across a link to this fantastic map that pins the settings of favourite books on a world map. It's a great idea, the literary variation on the similarly cool American states by movie that's been around for a while (there was a better one for TV shows, but google isn't helping me find it again ... ). I get excited by things like this because I (like so many of us) am a highly visual person. (And I like maps. There's that too.) In fact, when I teach creative writing in workshops and lectures, I use a lot of examples from TV and film. I find it brilliant for engaging everyone, getting across narrative principles in shorter time spaces than reading text, and speaks to love of cinematic style writing.

The book map has one big flaw though - there's only two entries for all of Australia! So, for a bit of fun, I've pinned my book locations on a map of Oz through mapcustomizer.com - you can click on it to go to an interactive version that shows all the books. And if you've got favourite stories set in our great land, why not go and nominate them on the lovereading site? Put our stories literally on the map!


April news - the BIG news and Ipswich library event

It's been a BIG month. Crystal Creek hit the shelves on 24 March, and it's been wonderful to receive a fantastic response from readers - thankyou for the lovely comments on my Facebook page. I'm glad so many have enjoyed the story - I've been eagerly awaiting this third book, which rounds out the main Walker and Bell family stories, and satisfied it's finally here. For those not on my Facebook page, 24 March was also a big day because my baby son decided to arrive - a little early, but healthy and lovely. This gave publication day quite a dramatic injection, especially as I was supposed to be heading to ABC radio for an interview - almost felt like I was in one of my own books! Never mind, that's the nature of these things. In any case, the ABC interview with Steve Austin (about Crystal Creek, building rockets and a few other things) was rescheduled on 7 April, and you can listen to it here. In addition, next week on 30 April, I'll be at Ipswich library at 10:30am for an in-person event, talking about Crystal Creek and writing. If you're around that neck of the woods, would love to meet you there (it's free but you need to book - see poster below).

The other things that happened this month was the Ditmar and Aurealis Awards. Many of my readers know that I write science fiction and fantasy short stories - very different to my Australian novels, but very much my stories too. Well, this year two of my stories were nominated for national awards - a superb honour. And while others left with the final award, I feel immensely chuffed and encouraged.

So, that's it for April news. I'm working on a short story off and on, and THE HORSEMAN, my next Australian novel, is also in the pipeline. It will hopefully be out this time next year. Lots to do, but loving doing it all. Wishing everyone the same. :)

Paper tales Charlotte Nash pixels


Crystal Creek - cover reveal!

It's that exciting day for my next book Crystal Creek when I can show you the cover! So, here it is: CrystalCreek9780733631955 (Large)I love it, and I'm excited for Aiden and Christina's story to hit the bookshelves in March next year. For those who've read Ryders Ridge, Aiden is Dr Daniella Bell's dashing army captain brother. The story takes place in and around Townsville, and has romance, family drama, secrets and finding a new future (and some medicine, too!). I'd love to know what you think of the cover, too (post in comments or on Facebook), and if you'd like to pre-order, you can go to the links below.



Sailing the tropics, and what it's like coming back to the city

IMG_20141122_094907 (Medium)For the last week, I've been skippering a yacht in the Whitsundays, just my husband and I and a lot of sailing. I've long suspected the power of the ocean to dilate time - for that week has felt like two very pleasant months. The trip was part holiday, part research (I'm writing a book at the moment called Great Haven, a small-town on an island story with a little hint of gothic historical ghost), and also part satisfying that urge to sail that occasionally boils to the top of my psyche. I'm not sure if that's from the weekends sailing with my Dad around Moreton Bay as a kid, or something else, but I don't question it. I just go do it. The thing with being on a yacht is that it sounds really glam, and in reality, sort of isn't. You have low headroom, so getting in and out of a bunk can involve contortions and smacking your head and feet on various objects. The beds tend to be hard (my pregnant body didn't particularly enjoy that), the cooking space cramped. Your fridge and freezer is liable to act up as soon as you're out of port. The dingy outboard will refuse to start on at least two occasions. Wires will ping against the mast and a rolly swell will keep you awake. Your shirts will be grubby with anchor rust, grease and sunscreen (just take a look at the soak bucket in my laundry right now). It's not sipping cocktails on the back deck in your white bikini - unless you're just a day passenger on a corporate megacruiser. But then again, that's not why I go.

Because there's another interesting thing that happens out there. Your worries become much more primal than you can allow in the city. You no longer care about where your career is going, what people think of you, whether you remembered to set the recorder for the Great British Bake-off. No. Anything beyond the next few hours becomes irrelevant. Your worries become about whether you've put out enough anchor chain. Is this habour suitable for the wind forecast, and can I get there before dark? Has that bloody great motorcruiser doing the run from Hayman to Hammo seen you? Is the tide going to swing so you're worried about grounding? Have I put on enough sunscreen? Was that a shark I just saw? (it was) And where did this jar of nutella come from? (answer: clever Charlotte's preplanning).

After only two days, my brain switches off all the city bullshit. I can sit for hours at a time just watching the world slide past, in a way that would drive me nutty at home (oh, more distant land and ocean!). Taking responsibility for a boat is terrifying at first, then empowering, then it becomes the framework you live around. It becomes ... serene. Not the trouble-free kind (ask anyone trying to pick up a bloody mooring in a swell), but the kind that keeps the mind in a calm place. You're a very small part in a big powerful system around you (wind, tides, waves and sun), and you do the stuff that keeps you safe, fed and happy. That's it. It's lovely.

Coming back to the city, I woke this morning not to the sound of waves, but sirens. Now, I am very grateful to have my soft bed back, and be able to walk to the bathroom without banging head and feet, for easy showers and toilets you don't worry about blocking with more than 1-ply paper. But I'm also sad that the immediacy of living out there is fast slipping away in the face of the hundred or so emails in my inbox - things to plan and live out of the moment for are all sitting there.

My body still feels like it's on the boat, though, phantom waves still there even after a night on dry land. And I'd like to think I can remember what it feels like to be in a different mental gear. Until I can't anymore, and then it will be time to sail again. :)

IMG_1350 (Medium)

Halloween special: Characters I've killed

graves Every writer has a few skeletons in the closet, and in this context I mean the bones of characters who appeared in the first draft, but who vanished without a trace before the story saw the dim light of a reader's beside lamp. (Another time I might talk about characters who were actually killed off in the story, or ones that were going to be killed but ended up with a reprieve.)

For me, this seems to happen mostly with the secondary and speaking extra cast (whereas primary characters are more likely to have reconstructive surgery, a la extreme makeover - more about that another time). So I present a small tribute to the characters I've cut from my stories, and the very good reasons for doing so.

1. Hamish. In the first novel I ever wrote (The Q Line - still lingering in my bottom drawer) the early drafts had this lovable tweenage character who injected some light relief into the story. Or so I thought. Actually, Hamish was an irritating, wide-eyed troublemaker who created a tone problem (who would have thought in a dark sci-fi?) and stole scenes from the main cast. Every person who read the draft hated him. Now, likeability isn't a must, but distraction from a pleasing tone and core story are mortal sins. Cut.

2. The Ambos and Mike. In my next novel Crystal Creek, the early drafts included two ambulance officers (whose names now escape me - probably more evidence to the wisdom of cutting them) and Mike, a friend of an important secondary character. The main problem with these three was that they created convenient situations for the heroine to solve certain problems. When I removed them, I actually forced the heroine to be more proactive, solving her own problems rather than having other characters prompting her to do so. It made a more compelling story for her, so Mike was eliminated, and the ambos reduced to speaking extra characters in one scene only.

3. The Unnamed Sister. In the first draft of Crystal Creek, the heroine had a sister who figured in a secondary plot. The trouble with this was what that plot did to the story - because of the kind of character she was, it injected a dark and melancholic tone, which was at odds with the overall tone of the book. So I cut the character along with the secondary plot (and later had to create a different character and a new secondary plot to take it's place).

Actually, as a writer, I seem to be much better at spawning characters in subsequent drafts than killing them, and some of them (like Valerie Turner in Ryders Ridge) are favourites of mine. The ones that get cut have some fundamental problem for the story. I was never going to care about them anyway, so the story is better off without them.

So if you're a writer, pay attention to the secondary cast if you have problems with tone or your primary characters being reactive or passive - maybe one of them could be sacrificed to give the main story room to move. And if you're a reader, I'd be curious to know any stories where you think a character would have been better off not being there! Happy Halloween :)

Does romance fiction give women unrealistic ideas about relationships?

beachheartAt Brisbane Writers Festival a few months ago, I was on a panel with Kim Wilkins, Kate Cuthbert and Kylie Scott to talk about 'love stories', and the above question was posed to the panel. At the time, we talked about women being smart enough to tell the difference between fiction and reality and some other things, but the question has been bothering me ever since. And I think I've finally figured out why.

The short answer is, yes, sure. I reckon romance fiction could give unrealistic ideas about relationships – but in the same way that ANY made-up story could give unrealistic ideas about anything.

But the problem, really is in the question. Why are we asking this? What does 'unrealistic' mean? So let's unpack it.

At the core, this question seems rooted in a cynicism that is probably only rivalled by our attitudes to politics. We expect all politicians to lie, to be shallow and evasive – it doesn't surprise us when this turns out to be the case. These stories enforce ideas we already hold about the scummy world of politics, a kind of confirmation bias that props up the way we see the world.

So when someone asks about unrealistic expectations and romance, I see the same kind of bias loading up behind the question.

I write across the genre spectrum, and I've been on panels for both romance and science fiction at the same festival or convention. The thing is, this kind of question is never asked in science fiction. We don't ask – does science fiction give people unrealistic expectations about the future? Or about the world around them? No. We ask – does science fiction inspire science? Or, does science fiction predict future technology? We're interested in the positive effects of the genre – its ability to influence our direction.

I've often felt the need in such discussions to bring up the flip side of those conversations – that science fiction tends to give a skewed view to science ethics, through the mechanism I'll call 'narrative bias'. Narrative bias is the tendency for stories – especially fictional ones – to focus on the problems or conflicts of a situation. Therefore, for a new technology (say, something to do with genetics) there's a tendency to have in mind all the problems science fiction stories have thrown up about that kind of technology (Gattaca, anyone?). Watch the news and you'll see how often a story leads with "it's supposed to be the stuff of science fiction, but ...". Science fiction is intertwined with how we think about science. Therefore, this narrative bias is important to how we conceive potential problems.

Romance seems, however, to get the flip side argument as default. (And this is despite the strong cultural pockets we have who are just as heavily invested in sci-fi as perhaps some other readers are in romance.) We begin with 'unrealistic expectations' not with 'does romance fiction inspire better relationships'. And I have to wonder if that same political-style cynicism is at work here. We somehow expect that all relationships will be difficult. That men will cheat. That women will change. That women are naturally somehow given to fits of unreality, especially when it comes to relationships, or, that women's thoughts on this subject are to be questioned and mocked. That the idea of a more exalted way of being with each other – that two people are truly in love with and respect each other – is some kind of unattainable pipe dream, like the interstellar travel of the future. And such challenge seems to be seen as positive for genres like science fiction, because they stretch the possible. Ask questions. Pose answers. Give us new visions of being, even if those are a long way off. But somehow, in romance, such questions and visions are to be derided, even though they challenge the most fundamental and common situation that any of us will encounter. Few of us will go into space – but many of us will have romances.

Romance, too, being narrative, writes about conflict and problems. A story (at least, in the way we understand it) doesn't exist without that element. But the part that seems to attract attention and scorn is the happily ever after ending. Somehow the idea that the characters have worked out their problems, have come to some better place, is 'unrealistic'.

Now, of course, we know that in real life, this does not always happen (nor should always happen). I've read plenty of romances with stories and endings I thought were stupid, demeaning or ridiculous. But the same can be said of any other genre's narrative too – the heroes do not always win; the world is not always saved; we are not always freed from the yoke of tyranny. I've read plenty of science fiction that's stupid, demeaning and ridiculous, too. And yet, other genres do not cop the cynicism of creating unrealistic expectations the way romance does. Other genres are allowed to be aspirational – perhaps at times silly or farfetched – but certainly lacking the negative connotations attached to a question like: Does romance fiction give women unrealistic ideas about relationships?

So let's be honest. There's a jaded energy boiling behind such a question, which speaks perhaps of frustration and hurt, of a long history of concern over what women are reading in books, and maybe even a trace of mocking romantic relationships as serious fodder for stories. And perhaps there is the nub of the issue – while science fiction tends to speak to our pragmatism (except where it taps deep fears), romance is deeply emotional, and we deal far more easily with practical problems than emotional ones.

But maybe that's also, if we are brave, why romance in fiction is important. Because it is the genre that aspires to understanding ourselves in the ways culturally we least like to – within our most vulnerable parts. Our needs, especially as women, and especially where those issues connect with sexuality and power. Easy to mock. Not the stuff of Hollywood heroics, nor the bare-faced bleakness of the worst real-life conflicts (and there's a genre for that too). But it is no less courageous, and the fact the question comes so loaded seems to suggest that romance fiction has power – enough that someone worries about what that power is doing to women.

And maybe that's the most interesting part, and worthy of questions, and more discussion.

Book 3, news, and radio silence

Dear readers - it's been busy busy these last few months as I'm working a contract job (and madly writing/editing at night!). The good news is that Book 3 has a new title (more on that soon), and I'll be at Brisbane Writers Festival next weekend - come and say hello at my Sunday panels (10am for spec fic and 11:30am for Australian romance) :-) I'm also working on another short story which I'm hoping will be available free before book 3's release next year. That's all for now!

Insanity week!

So, it's a crunch week. Working a new job full-time, Base Nowhere manuscript due in next week, two workshops to prep and I can't tell you what else. But! I've got five minutes to say what a great time I had last week at Cleveland Library, talking about Iron Junction, and then at BayFM with Bruce Walker. Thanks to all the staff and attendees who made the day flow flawlessly (including the awesome display!). And I'll look forward to those coming to the creative writing workshop this Saturday at Victoria Point Library. More news in a few weeks when deadlines have been met and sleep caught up. :) Clevelandlib (Large)

Books From Our Backyard, launched!

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Books From Our Backyard launch at the State Library. BFOB is a fantastic project - a catalogue of books by Queensland writers across a huge range of genres. It's gratifying to see so many excellent local writers being published, and an excuse to get together with some of them to celebrate never goes astray. I was very happy to spot Ryders Ridge in the mix (despite my poor attempt at selfie). There's tons of great reading in the catalogue, so check it out - there's something in there for you. Wonderful Queensland Writers - Rachael Amphlett, (me), Christina Brooke, Tina Marie Clark, Kendall Talbot, Noelle Clark and Helene Young.

Attempt at selfie goes awry ...

Best to leave the camera to someone else!

Ryders' entry into the catalogue :)

Upcoming Events and New Page

Hello all :) The EOFY is just a few days away, which means the year is about to turn the corner into Festival Season, which I look forward to each year. I'm pleased to say I'll be at Brisbane Writers Festival again this year, Brisbane's premier event for readers and writers. Drop down and say hello at one of the panels - I'll let you know which ones I'm doing closer to the time. In July, I'm chuffed to have been invited to give book talks and a workshop in some of the council libraries across Brisbane. These are:

  • Victoria Point Library - Creative Writing Workshop: 26 July, 9am–1pm. If you've ever wanted to write a story but don't know where to start, this is for you. Please contact the library to book.
  • Indooroopilly Library - Author talk: 15 July, 10:30am.
  • Cleveland Library - Author talk: 17 July, 11am–noon.

Finally ... I've published the first version of my FAQ Page for Writers. Any feedback appreciated, and I endeavour to add more resources and information over time.

And with that, I'm about to dive into the Base Nowhere manuscript, which means a few weeks of relative silence from me. See you on the other side. :)

Resources for Writers

Helly lovely readers. Well, June is well and truly here and that means that I'm not only marking student assignments, but shortly will be deep in an edit of my next book (due in at the end of July). I'm itching to get back to it! At the same time, I'm receiving lots of questions from both my students and other writers out there. I love hearing from everyone, but it's clear that a few questions are common and I could make my website more useful by answering some of them online. To that end, I'm working on a "For Writers" page, which I'll stock with FAQs about writing, getting published, and a few useful resources. Stay tuned :)

Winter Warmer Gift Pack - Winner!

Winter GiveawayThankyou to all the wonderful readers who entered my winter warmer gift pack giveaway - we had 70 entries and I enjoyed seeing the photos and reading your comments. However, there can only be one winner, and after folding and shaking all those entries, and blindfolding my husband to select the lucky piece of paper (drumroll ....), that winner is Ted and Delores Bebbington, who posted over on the Facebook thread - congratulations! I'll be in touch to have the gift pack speeding your way very shortly. Sorry there can't be a winter warmer gift pack for everyone, but I hope you're finding other ways to keep warm in your part of the world. Wishing you a good day, and happy reading :)

Winter Warmer Book Pack Giveaway!

Winter Giveaway Now that the chilly brrr weather is finally upon us, it's the season of coats, doonas and hot drinks. If you're down south, maybe you're already cracking ice off the windscreen. And if you're up north, well, maybe you finally put on a t-shirt instead of a singlet!!

Regardless of where you are in our great land, to celebrate the appearance of winter, perfect season for reading in your long socks, dressing gown, or snuggie**, I am giving away a winter warmer reader's gift pack, including:

  • Personalised signed copy of both Ryders Ridge and Iron Junction
  • Chocolates to nom nom while reading
  • Tea mug to hold hot beverages (perfect for melting chocolates in mouth into saucy heaven). To set the mood for your rural reading adventure, mug is carefully selected to be at home either in a station kitchen or crib room, aka "trendy industrial chic"***
  • Tasty tea to brew in above mug! I've included both Perth Breakfast, in honour of Iron Junction's WA setting, and Toasty Warm, the toasted marshmallow of teas, perfect for winter nights.
  • Bookmarks to keep your place when you get up to make more tea.

Simply comment on this post (or on the Facebook thread) to enter - winner to be chosen by random draw. Entries close midnight (Brisbane time) on Wednesday 21 May 2014. Gift pack will be speedily in the post soon after that - good luck!

**any brave people who post (either here or on the Facebook page) a picture of their favourite winter house socks, blanket, snuggie or other snuggly reading companion (animals accepted!) will receive a double chance to win!

***I claim no special knowledge of what is "trendy" or "chic". But, mug is guaranteed to hold hot beverages. :)

Update: Although my books aren't available for sale everywhere overseas (yet!), I'm quite happy to ship to an international winner, so enter away, even if you're outside Australia :)

Brrrrrrrrrr! Or, a few days in Canberra ...


I'm in Canberra for a few days this week, mainly for some tech writing work, but also sneaking in some writing and catching up with friends. Today, on a mission to find a scanner in our nation's capital (which I've done more than once on the road when editing must be returned ...), I went on a long chilly walk. Canberra is really very pretty, in an almost alien fashion. It's autumnal, showing off foliage in shades of umber, orange, rust, lime, yellow and every shade in between...


... but it's also very ordered, with geometric shapes that look best from the air; manicured, sprawling streets; and lots of feature buildings. Every time I come here, I look forward to a few things in particular: Questacon (of course!), the War Memorial, the relaxed traffic experience, and the postcard moments around every corner.


And on chilly days like these ones, when the cold air gives the sunlight a hard edge, I also think about Silver Brumbies in the snowy mountains just a few hours south, like I'm reading Elyne Mitchell under the covers again. For now, I'll have to suffice with a laptop on my knees, a hot cup of tea and some good wordage. But I've got an idea in the pipe for a winter book giveaway when I return, so stay tuned for that. :)


Talking romance

Yesterday, I had the fortune to be invited to the Roses Down Under readers' group at Rosemary's Romance Books. Rosemary's is a boutique bookstore dedicated to romance of all flavours, and has a level of personal service that immediately makes you feel at home. We spent a lovely few hours talking about books (a lot about mine, which no writer can really complain about) and I learnt a few things, too (like the upcoming Outlander TV Series, how did I miss that?). Everyone was warm and welcoming and I thank Rosemary for the invitation. 20140503_153045