Keep in contact through the following social networks or via RSS feed:

  • Follow on Facebook
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Follow on GoodReads
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Follow on Blogger

Going to the Conference

Next week I’ll be heading up to Sydney for the conference. “Which conference?” you ask. The annual Romance Writers of Australia conference.  Up until CoVid hit, I’d never missed a conference, but in the last few years we’ve had conferences cancelled and taken on line, and while one in Brisbane went ahead, the Queensland border was closed to people from other states. So this will be the first in-person conference I’ve attended in several years.

I’m looking forward to it, especially because it gives me the chance to catch up with writing friends I haven’t seen in years. I’ll also be giving a workshop on “Surprise and Delight Your Readers.” I always enjoy giving workshops.

Our conferences are also fun. They kick off on the Friday night with a Costume Cocktail Party with a different theme each year. When I first joined RWAust. the cocktail party used to be a “Meet the Authors” one, and everyone was dressed nicely but not many people were game to come up and talk to authors, who were madly chatting and catching up with each other. 

Because we were spread all across Australia, the annual conference was the only time most of us got to see and talk to each other.  It was lovely for the authors, but not so much for everyone else.

Then one year the conference was held in a historic hotel in Melbourne, and we changed it to a costume theme — from memory the first one was “Dress Retro” and even though quite a few people didn’t dress in costume, we encouraged people to at least get a feather boa, and it really changed the atmosphere.  Everybody chatted to everyone else, there was lots of talk about the various costume — “Ooh look at you!” and “Wow, I love your costume!” etc.

It was the perfect ice-breaker, and since then it’s gone from strength to strength.There’s no compulsion to come in costume, but these days a majority of people do. I always dress up — it’s no big deal for me to make a fool of myself: a friend and I used to run the drama cupboard when I was a teacher, and I enjoy dressing in costume. Especially silly ones.

Mine aren’t very fancy — they’re either home-made (very slapdash) with cheap fabric, and various bits and pieces from the $2 shops near me.  

The creature above in pink — no, it’s not Barbie <g>— it’s  me, some years ago dressed  as Dame Barbara Cartland, complete with pekes.

The pic on the left is me at the “Gone Wild” cocktail party and the headdress is made of a brown feather boa, with a series of spiky dried pods from my big old monstera deliciosa jammed into it. And hand-drawn spots on my face — which were ridiculously tricky to remove that night.

Another year it was all about “Fractured Fairytales”. I dressed as the wicked queen and made a tiara with glued on feathers, rats, snakes and spiders and attached plastic spiders to some of my jewellery. And here’s the photo.

Last time I didn’t go to a lot of trouble. It was a fairy-take theme and I went as Briar Rose, using a patterned velvet coat with roses on it that I had, a string of plastic roses from a $2 shop, some green eyeshadow “vines” on my face and a green feather boa wrapped around my head. The photo here is of me with my friend, author Trish Morey, who was borrowing my roses. Pity we didn’t realize how tastefully we were staged — just outside the male toilets!

As you can see, I do like a silly headdress — feather boas are remarkably easy to wrap around a head — tuck the ends in and they just stay there.  This year I’m not planning to go to a lot of trouble with the actual costume. The theme is “Glitter” and to be honest, I would have to make a costume from scratch, as I don’t have any glittery clothes, and I don’t have time at the moment — especially to make a one-off costume. I do have a beaded top, and I’ve bought a length of sequined fabric that I plan to turn into some kind of turban. I do have plenty of glittery jewelry though, and that will have to do. I’ll post some photos of the cocktail party when I get home again.

Do you like dressing up in costume, or not?





On Retreat (cont)

A few of my retreat friends are excellent photographers and their photos are streets away from my ordinary little photos taken with my elderly phone, so, with their permission, I’m sharing a few.

This was the sky last night, for instance, taken by my friend Marion Lennox. She’s on the 14th floor, so it’s a real panorama.

I love the contrast between the dark sky with the moon just breaking through the clouds, and the bright lights of the town below. And across the bay there’s a tiny gleam of lights from the city of Surfer’s Paradise.

 And below is dawn, taken by my friend, Fiona McArthur, whose photos I have shown before. She’s an early bird, Fi, and her facebook page is full of gorgeous beach and dawn photos.

Those colorful things on the beach you can see are temporary beach volleyball courts and change rooms — there’s a big national/international volleyball tournament taking place. We’ve watched a few games and wow! the players are so talented.

Mind you we don’t approve of the uniforms. The guys are in shorts and tank tops — fine — but the girls are in tiny bikinis or thongs and bikini-type tops! Talk about old-fashioned sexism!

We’ve been very lucky with the weather on this retreat. It’s been sunny and hot and quite humid but not unbearably so, and we have a pool and the sea over the road for swimming. And air-conditioning for when we’re writing.

But thunderstorms are predicted for today and instead of the misty ethereal, pastel dawns of the past few days, this morning was definitely a case of “red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” So when the storm hits, we’ll be hunkered down in our rooms, writing. That’s another one of Fiona’s photos, by the way.

On Retreat

I’m away on my “annual” one week writers’ retreat after missing it for the last three long CoVid years. We’ve been doing it for 15 years. There are nine of us, all romance writers of various sorts — I’m the only historical writer — and after the first few years where we moved around and held the retreat in different places and different states, we’ve settled in the last ten years at a place on the Gold Coast of Australia, in south-east Queensland.

We stay in an apartment hotel opposite the beach. I’m sitting in bed writing this, and looking out onto this morning view, with the waves swishing rhythmically and birds calling. They’re mostly rainbow lorikeets — gorgeously colorful,  chittering and screeching as they flit between the trees. The sea and sky make for a constantly changing, endlessly fascinating vista. 

We each have a separate apartment, except for two people who share a two bedroom suite, and that’s where we all gather to meet in the evenings. We each have our own rooms because it’s very much a working retreat — several are on deadline — so the mornings are quiet times for writing. (And an occasional quick swim before breakfast.)

We generally meet for lunch and dinner — home made or take-away — the hotel is close to all kinds of restaurants. Our rooms all have a kitchenette, so we can cook if we want. But the local restaurants are good and their food is tempting so at least one meal a day is bought. On the first night together we grab fish and chips and champagne  — it’s now a tradition.

On the first night we have a “round robin” where we report on our year and what we’ve been doing — professional but also personal, where appropriate. We’re on email throughout the year but this in person talking is more personal and intimate. Talking to real people makes a huge difference, and since we’ve all been friends for such a long time, we share quite a lot. We also talk about our plans for the retreat.  I’ll share mine in a day or two.