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Romance Writers of Australia conference 2018

I’ve just posted a report of the RWAust. conference over on the Word Wenches, but I wanted to post more photos of the fabulous costumes that people wore to the cocktail party that always kicks off our conferences. We always have fun, and there were so many brilliant costumes that I couldn’t fit on the wench blog, so I brought them here. Even so, this is only a small proportion of them. 

This year it was a “royalty” and “Tuxes and Tiaras” theme as the conference hotel is one where royalty has stayed when in Sydney — including Prince Charles and Princess Di when they were still together. But people riffed off that theme in all kinds of great ways — from the glamorous to the silly. Guess what direction I tend?
Yes, so this is me, in my evil queen outfit — the tiara is a cheap one onto which I glued rubber rats, snakes and spiders and “jools,” I made the necklace as well, so those spiders are attached.

The three zombie brides below (Clare, Tanya and Kerry) won a prize for their outfits, as did “Prince” (TJ Hamilton) and in the middle is the new RWAust President, Joanne Boog.

Not everyone dresses up, and that’s fine — this is about fun, not pressure, and in this pic we have a gorgeous bride in her own wedding dress, a “lady-in-waiting” kind of outfit, or maybe she’s dressed for a garden party, and someone who is dressed up gorgeously  but not in costume as such. And they all look beautiful.

Here’s two agents and two authors , looking very glam and gorgeous.

And here’s a lineup of authors, including one from the USA and one from New Zealand. And believe it or not, that redhead in the middle claimed to be Megan Markle. LOL.

Here’s a snap of the crowd — and don’t you love that a member of Chinese royalty is represented, as well as someone possibly from Queen Victoria’s court?

Here’s a little piece of pure glamor and good taste. Doesn’t she look gorgeous? Definitely a visiting royal, possibly from a Scandinavian country.

And what royal gathering would be without Princess Fiona, (Fiona Marsden) who this weekend took out a positive fistful of prizes, including the NZ Koru, the RWAust Emerald — twice! — and I don’t know how many more.  Congratulations Fiona.

Below her is a fabulous couple stepping straight out of Wonderland — the mad hatter and the Queen of Hearts, looking scarily in an “off with her head” kind of mood. And what a brilliant riff off the “royalty” theme. 

There could so easily have been a whole tribe of Princess Di’s — which would have been hilarious — but the variety and inventiveness of these costumes just blew me away.

And to end, a good queen/evil queen photo — I’ll leave it to you to work out who is who. And is that supposed to be a corgi? I don’t think so. LOL

It was a brilliant party, so thanks to Harlequin for sponsoring it,  to the RWA conference committee who organized it, and to all the wonderful people who attended, making it so much fun.

A splash of gold

It’s winter in Australia, and though we don’t get the bitter winter of many countries, still it’s lovely when we start to see the first new intimations of spring.  I was out in the country with my dog this morning, on a damp and drizzly day. Our natural bushland is beautiful, with a thousand shades of gray and green. 

And then, among the soft grays and greens and sage colors, we spotted bright  splashes of gold, from wattle blossoms. Wattle is an Australian native plant of the acacia family. Some varieties are known as mimosa in North America, but generally in Australia, it’s just called wattle. (Read on to learn why.)

 Wattle blossom is so bright and cheerful and coming at a gloomy time of year, I suspect it’s why it became a national symbol — yellow and green are the Australian colors. The name “wattle” was because, as a hardy native with multiple branches, it was used by the early colonists as a building material for “wattle and daub” houses — the wattle branches provided the framework and the “daub” was local clay.

There are hundreds of different varieties, different shades of yellow, some pale and lemony, others a dark, burnished gold. But all with hundreds of tiny bobbles of brightness.

Some people don’t much like wattle because it makes them sneeze; my dad would never allow it in the house because of that. But I love it. 

A Morning 'Ride'

(The photo above is of David Gandy, modeling Massimo Dutti, the photograph is by Hunter & Gatti)

An excerpt from Marry In Scandal. The morning after the wedding night.

“Did you sleep well?” Galbraith was dressed for riding in buckskins and high polished riding boots. He’d shaved, which he wouldn’t normally do before a ride, but he was a married man now and the decencies had to be preserved. His hair was still damp.

“Yes, thank you, very well.”

“I wondered whether you felt like a ride.”

Her eyes widened. She glanced at the window, where the sun was peeping in through the curtains. It was a glorious morning. “Now?” she asked.

“Yes, before breakfast.”

It was as if the sun rose in her eyes. She glowed. “Yes, please.” She flung back the bedclothes and sat there, rosy and naked, a creamy mermaid in a welter of sheets. She made no move to get up, no move to dress herself. She simply sat in her bed, wearing nothing but a smile and an expectant look.

He moved to stand behind a chair. His body had reacted predictably to the sight of her naked loveliness. “Do you want me to ring for your maid?” he asked stiffly.

“No, of course not.” After a moment her smile faded, and became a look of puzzlement. “I thought you wanted ‘a ride.’.”

“I do. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to. I just thought, seeing it’s a beautiful morning, we should make the most of it. It could very well be raining by the afternoon.”

“Oh.” A blush suffused her whole upper body. It was fascinating. He tried not to stare. “You mean a ride?” She pulled the covers back over herself.

“That’s what I said.”

“On horses.”

“What else would I be wanting to ride?” He tried not to let the sarcasm show.

The blush intensified. “Nothing. I just thought . . . with your boots . . .”

“My boots?”

“Nothing, it’s nothing.” Avoiding his gaze she said in a low, hurried voice, “Thank you, yes, I would love to go for a ride, and if you would please ring for a maid, I’ll put on my habit and be with you in a trice. I’ll meet you downstairs, shall I?”

He didn’t move. He stared at her, and his lips twitched in the beginning of a smile. “You thought ‘a ride’meant—?” He arched a brow suggestively. “Because I came to your bedchamber in my boots?”

“Y—no, I don’t know what I was thinking. I was half asleep. Now please ring for my m—” She was adorably flustered.

His smile grew. “You did. You thought I wanted to f—have marital relations with you in my boots, didn’t you?”

“Well, you did yesterday,” she said defensively. “How am I to know what you mean when you say and do such strange things?”

“Strange things?” He prowled slowly toward her.

Her face was flaming by now. “Well, you called what you did last night, ‘dessert’.”

“And it was delicious. Am I to take it that you wouldn’t object if I took you again this morning—boots and all?”

She looked up at him, earnest and very sweet. “Of course I wouldn’t mind. It was very nice yesterday, though I don’t think the housekeeper would be very happy about you wearing boots in bed—” She squeaked as he pounced on her.

Nice, was it?” He edged her knees apart.

“V-very nice.”

“Pah. I’ll show you something better than ‘nice.”