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On Retreat

I’m away from home at the moment, on my annual writing retreat. We’ve been doing it since 2007, and for the past few years we’ve come to the same place, a holiday apartment complex opposite the beach in southern Queensland. That’s the view from my “office” for this week.

There are nine of us in the group, all multi published, and though we started out all writing for the same publisher (HarlequinMills&Boon) we’ve branched out quite a bit since then. I was already with Berkley before that first retreat but others have moved to different publishers since then, and quite a few of us have dipped our toes into indie publishing (self-publishing). Publishing is ever-changing, so it’s good to keep up, share knowledge and keep trying new things.

We fly in from all over Australia, and the first night is usually catching up over fish and chips and champagne and then we discuss what we’d like to achieve during the week. I’m working on Marcus’s story (don’t get your hopes up — it’s going to take aged because I have to fit him in between other contracted work, but I’m mentioning him to show I haven’t forgotten him.) I’m also trying to work out a proposal for a new series, as the book that’s just gone in is the last book in the Brides of Bellaire Gardens series.

My publisher has also asked me to write a number of short pieces to promote the book that’s coming out in May — The Heiress’s Daughter. 

As well, I’m refreshing and updating an on-line course on Writing Romance that I have taken for Writers New South Wales for the last few years because they have contracted me to run it again in June. 

So this is very much a working holiday.

If you want to join in the brainstorming of suggestions for my next new series, feel free to chip in. 


Every now and then, I meet up with some friends from my high school days. Sometimes we just meet for lunch at someone’s place, at other times we visit exhibitions, or gardens or just have a picnic. It’s always a pleasure — and it amazes me how, even though until we started this after a school reunion one time and hadn’t seen each other for decades, we still have so much in common and really get on.

For our most recent get-together we met for breakfast at a local cafe, and then went to look at an exhibition in the Brunswick Town Hall. There were three different display sections — one was a display of children’s art. I always enjoy kids’ art — it’s often so exuberant —and this was no exception.







The next section was art by adults, and most of the pieces were making a good political point, with various degrees of subtlety. It was interesting to see the range of approaches.

But the display that I loved most was an installation, a whole room that had pieces of art work made of twigs and vines and leaves and wire and found objects hanging from the ceiling and lit by constantly changing colored lights.

The lights threw color and shadows on the wall, which added to the effect.  It was magical.  



I’ve always liked things made from natural materials, and have continued playing with them ever since I was a kid.  I used to make baskets out of willow and vines and all sorts, and also tiny ones made from pine-needles sewn together. And most years I  make some sort of Christmas decorations, even just a wreath from vines and twigs and fallen cones and seedpods, so this was right up my alley. But we all loved it. The effect really was magical.

I was particularly happy with the photo  below of my friend Jenny, who is a professional photographer, taking photos of the shadows and unconsciously adding to the display.

A Good News Story

We in Melbourne have been in strict lockdown for weeks now  — the latest one for 2 months and we’re not finished yet. BUT though we’re stuck indoors, we’re also watching the hatching of some peregrine falcon chicks in a nest on a tall building in the very centre of the city — 367 Collins St. There’s a live camera on it all the time.

I only discovered how many other people have also been checking on the mother falcon and eggs when people started talking about it on social media, for instance how, when the earth tremor hit us, the mother peregrine jumped off the nest and peered cautiously around.

And now all kinds of people are excited about the chicks hatching, which happened a few days ago.

So lovely to have a good news story. 

Here’s another little video of them feeding the chicks.