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I love lorikeets — small rainbow-coloured parrots and usually, when I hear them chittering and screeching in my tree at home in the morning, I smile. It’s such a happy sound.

But here in Coolangatta, where my writers’ retreat takes place, hundreds of them nest in the Norfolk Island Pine trees that line the street outside. So in the evening, when they come in to sleep, and at dawn when they wake, they make a tremendous racket. It’s quite deafening. By the time the sun’s up, they’re gone to wherever they go to forage for the day. (Probably to the nearby Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where people love to feed them.)

You should be able to hear them on this link. Turn the volume up.

The video was taken by Fiona McArthur, one of my retreat friends, this morning at dawn. It explains why I sleep with the doors shut, even though the sea breeze is gorgeous.
If  the link doesn’t work here it is again.


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. 

Last day of the retreat

It’s the last day of our writing retreat. I’m saying good bye to Queensland and my friends, and heading home in a few hours.

It’s been a very productive week. As well as writing — all of us are multi-published and all have deadlines, we have talked about the changing face of publishing, we’ve brainstormed plots and a series (which was plotted in the spa!), and we’ve talked and shared a lot about self-publishing. Three in the group have never tried it, and are cautiously preparing to dip their toes in.

For some of the group, self-publishing their old books, to which they have their rights back, has become an interesting sideline.  Some of them  are bestsellers and have had millions of books in print (that’s no exaggeration — four of the group have each published over a hundred books internationally!) but not all their books came out in the USA, so it will be interesting to see how they go.

There’s also been swimming and shopping and eating and most of all a LOT of talking. We meet for lunch, and then again before dinner, and that’s when the stories start to fly. We are all storytellers and oh, the stories that flew around the room this last week. Some very very funny, others amazing, and a few sad. But mostly funny.

Now it’s time to have a shower and pack my bags. We’re meeting in an hour for a farewell breakfast, and then heading off in different directions — we come from all over Australia, and one is from NZ. It’s been a wonderful inspiring, stimulating and fun week. To finish, here’s another fabulous photo taken yesterday by Marion Lennox.