Friday, 29 January 2021

Be My Grl - A contemporary romance set in Western Australia

New release. Yay.

Let me introduce Be My Grl.

Ros Wilson had only meant to return a mis-posted package to the original sender. She never meant to have her demisexual world shaken by the thought of a hot, sweaty man, where his T-shirt clung ever so—

No. Enough of that. Sex was never her thing. She never had a crush, she never got all hot and bothered over a celebrity, she never had a single stirring in her loins. Ros was content with her job, her foster kittens and her lack of sex life. (Or was she?)

Then she met Everett Pak, with his exquisitely carved wooden boxes and delightful candy hearts. While it was nerves/lust/love? at first sight, Ros thought she'd never see him again, until her housemate texted him a flirty picture of Ros. (Honestly!)

And he replied most favourably. Maybe this flirting thing wasn't so bad. But flirting led to dating, and dating led to a relationship, and a relationship led to...  

Was Ros ready for this? Was she ready to give over her heart? Could she give more? Or would her own hang-ups ruin what promised to be the best thing to ever happen in her life?

* * *

Last year I wrote this contemporary novella for the "Be Mine: Valentine Novellas to Warm the Heart" anthology. This anthology was a limited run a bunch of us did for fun.

Then I entered it in the RuBY awards by Romance Writers of Australia. Go me.

Then I realised, if I won the RuBY, people would want to buy it and read it. So I commissioned a whimsical cover from a university graphic design student I know and I stuck it up on Amazon.

It's funny and sexy and not much like what I usually write. Also: it's got sexytimes. If you're of my delightfully large fanbase that prefers my cleaner reads, this is not for you.  But if you're okay with a little brown-chicken-brown-cow Spiciness in your Romance novellas, feel free to check it out.

Free to read on Kindle Unlimited. Might as well give it a go. It features foster kittens. 


Her Grace likes stretching her limits.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Fan Fiction: discusson from Concellation 2021

 On Facebook I am attending Concellation 2021, an online convention to make up for all the conventions that were cancelled in 2020. (I'm quite enjoying it!)

One of the recent discussions was about fan fiction, and authors who strongly discourage it (and why).

Much good discussion ensued. 

Fan fiction is something I don't worry about. I do think about it, from time to time. Used to even write it, a long, long, LONG time ago.

Personally, I am not opposed to fan fiction. It serves a useful purpose for the developing writer (says she who has written fanfic in the past, clandesinely, of course). I don't object to fanfic of my own works by fanfic authors.

That said, if/when there is ever fanfic created for my works, I can't read it. (No matter whether I want to or not.)  This is to legally protect my Intellectual Property (IP), and maybe someone else's, maybe. But mostly mine.

For example, what if I write the next story in a series features certain characters, plots, etc, and it turns out some smart cookie dreamt up the same idea and wrote fanfic of it? If I was in the habit of reading fanfic, there's a good chance that feelings would get hurt. Doesn't matter if I saw the story or not. If I read fanfic, the possibility exists. So, my policy is I can't read any fanfic of any of my works. Sorry.

You want to write fan fiction of my work? Go ahead. For the most part, I will not mind (with caveats. Your work causes me legal or personal problems, then me an my attorneys will start paying attention). In my experience, fan fiction is mostly harmless, and could be considered a form of flattery.

But do not ask me to read it. Certainly don't ask me to bless it, or verify it or even acknowledge it. Keep it to yourself and may it bring you personal joy.

Her Grace has seen the ugly side of fanfic. Don't be those guys.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Release date: CURRENTLY UNCHAPERONED - 13 January 2021

 I've got my release date for CURRENTLY UNCHAPERONED, the first book in the Currently Charmed series, out from The Wild Rose Press.

13 January 2021

I'll be talking much about this on social media over the next few months.  #CurrentlyUnchaperoned

Friday, 14 August 2020

Romance Writers of Australia Conference 2020: Love in Isolation - Mid-way Report

 Hello Australian Romancelandia, and to the rest of the world watching us having fun,

Here is a brief and incomplete mid-way report for my experiences at the #RWAus20 #LoveInIsolation virtual conference, being held Not-In-Fremantle Western Australia.

First of all, kudos to this year's committee, many of whom I know in-person, for dealing with These Times and the wrench These Times have thrown in the plans of the whole world. They took an in-person conference and converted it to a virtual conference with grace and elan. I've been a SMoF. I know what it's like to run a con this size, and all the problems that come with it. For a never-done-before conversion to a new format, it's been successful in the delivery. Granted, there have been a few minor hiccups, but these have been dealt with in a timely manner. You guys have been so impressive! Overall, things have worked, and I haven't seen an issue crop up that was unsolvable.

I am hoping that future RWAus conferences will consider keeping an element of the virtual conference by recording live in-person sessions and making them available online to those who are unable to attend the full conference. I'd love to see in-person membership and a virtual membership options. That way, if one is unable to fly to the other side of the country for the full convention, one does not have to miss out entirely.

_ _ _ _ _

But yeah. Enough about that.  Here's what I've gotten out of the conference so far:

Liz Pelletier's "Best-Seller" workshop, parts 1,2,3 plus Q&A

Ogmigosh, you guyz!!  Soo much good info!!!  Absolutely NO ONE watching even one session of this workshop couldn't help but level up.

What are the elements that make a novel a best-seller?  Liz told us. She took things apart, showed us how they worked and then put them back together. She told us what the important things were an author needed to focus on, and which petty things we didn't need to sweat.

Session 1 was about the writing. Session 2 was about editing. Session 3 was the marketing. I took so many, many notes. I will also watch the replays and take more notes. Then I shall apply the notes. If I can't take all the good info Liz scooped out upon our heads and make some serious Trout money from my next three books, it will be all my fault.

This workshop alone was worth the whole convention price.

Doctor Love Panel.  A whole lotta PhDs tell us about writing about Romance from Academia. I had no idea Romance Studies was a thing. Now I know what I want to do my PhD in.  (But lemmie finish  my MSci first. one more semester...)

Estate Planning.  Morgan Solomon, an art historian turned attorney explains the value of a good will and why a good will is important regarding your Intellectual Property (IP).  Note to self: update my will.

Getting Started in Self-Publishing.  Gone are the days when you could be a purely traditional author with a Random Penguin.  Many authors are either going hybrid, or turning to indie publishing for their entire careers. Elizabeth Stevens gave us the lowdown of what you need to know to get into self publishing and be successful. Even though I've had a hybrid side to my career for a few years now, I still learned a few new things.

Getting Ahead in Indie Publishing. Kevin Tumlinson of Draft2Digital adds on to what Elizabeth started. While I've been with D2D as part of my hybrid side, I learned of even more tools I should be taking advantage of. Author Page. I should use that more. Plus there are a few more bells and whistles I need to investigate. 

My personal business meeting with Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy.  One of the advantages of a RWAus conference is the availability of one-on-one business meetings with an industry professional. These can range from pitch sessions with a literary agent or editor to a business consultation with a pro. For me, Ricardo had a look at my author web presence and offered some good and useful advice to help me improve. Some of his advice bolstered up a few things I was already thinking. Other advice he gave me was stuff I hadn't even considered. But now he's  mentioned it, I see it for what it is and will be implementing it soon. Soo glad I met with him.

_ _ _ _ _

And now I'm out of time, for the next session is starting online.  I've taken over the home theatre, and am streaming the conference on my wide-screen projector.  

More later. Meanwhile, I'm off to have Carleton Chinner show me how to master plot structures.

Friday, 6 March 2020

The Rules for Books in the Toilet

Dear Australia,

I know you're currently suffering a massive toilet paper shortage. You've stripped all supermarket shelves clean. However will you wipe your butts?

A travesty, I know.

What you may not know, having been the Lucky Country for so long, and have previously had a never-ending supply of Sorbent or Quilton, that once upon a time, people didn't always use bog rolls for keeping the nether regions clean.

In 19th Century United States, last season's Sears catalogue and last year's Farmer's Almanac were traditionally found in Ye Olde Outhouse. Even in the 20th Century, the poorer people around the world made do with yesterday's newspapers for their doo-doo.

But now, with the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, will you turn to...

Books? *gasp*

While literary types and regular patrons of Elizabeth's might be falling into a swoon, let's face it. It might come to that. If you do choose a mighty tome to replace the long-lost toilet roll, please follow these rules:

  1. Remember, everyone is reading the same book. Please be considerate.
  2. For every loo visit, you must read x + 1 pages, where x = the number of people in your household. This rule also applies for men popping in for a pee. Yeah, you might not be using any pages, but if you don't keep up, you might miss out on a scene.
  3. You are allowed only ONE PAGE from the book for wiping. Otherwise, your housemates may hunt you down and see how good your memory is.  Remember, if you use more than one page, they might not have read up that far. 
  4. ONLY TEAR FROM THE FRONT OF THE BOOK!!!  It is a travesty to tear from the back of the book. They who wipe their butt with the climax of the story before its time ruins the ending for all.

Just saying, my novel God of the Dark is available in print and currently is cheaper than a pack of toilet paper. Also unlike a pack of toilet paper, you can actually buy a copy. (I swear, TP can't be had for love nor money off most Australian grocery store shelves.)

Okay, so what if you buy the even cheaper ebook version of God of the Dark but you still need to keep clean?

Here's how to use newspaper instead:

  1. Fetch in that free Community Newspaper some poor kid keeps leaving on your driveway. Be sure to get it before your Watering Days or your neighbour pinches it.
  2. Open it up and press each sheet with a hot iron. No, really. Ironing your newspaper will set the ink and prevent it from leaving inky black streaks in your nethers.
  3. Pre-cut newspaper into squares. Tearing it at time of use is only a recipe for disaster.
  4. Just before wiping, give the newspaper several rounds of crinkling up. This will open the fibers and improve the absorption properties.
  5. Don't flush it! Your sewer system really can't handle it. Please dispose of thoughtfully in the trash can. I recommend a sealed bucket, if the scent of the tissue may become bothersome.

Her Grace is sorely wishing she'd installed a bidet when Kneale Manor was built.

Monday, 6 January 2020

I think we invented a cocktail

I don't drink. Never have, and don't plan to in the future. I grew up in a teetotaler culture and now that I live somewhere that's known for its alcohol consumption (aka Australia), I discovered a social thread that says it's okay to not drink alcohol when out with the mates. The famous Australian Lemon, Lime & Bitters is the drink you drink when you don't want to drink. Everywhere makes it, everyone drinks it.

But sometimes you want something different. Mocktails are always served alongside alcoholic drinks, but they are often sweet, fruity and a little OTT.

Sometimes you want something subtle and sophisticated.

Enter the Cucumber Ginger Fizz.

I discovered this drink last year when I was asked to come up with some mocktail recipes for a High School Prom pre-party. A few of the students weren't into the sweetie-fruitie drinks, and asked if I could come up with something different.

A quick google gave me several different recipes for many fun things, but this recipe for a Cucumber Ginger syrup was the winner of the night.

I had a half-bottle left over from that night, and forgot to drink it.

Then came Boxing Day.

His Grace has a set of wonderful friends from his University days. One of their annual traditions is "The Box on Boxing Day" party.  During their school days, they had a Box, which contained everyone's alcohol. Each person would contribute something different. By pooling their poor student resources, they were able to enjoy a wide variety of adult beverages.

Over the years the collection grew, as it got added to and forgotten about, until it had a bar's worth of various liquors, cordials, etc. There's even a bottle of  'genuine' absinthe in there, and a bottle of grenadine, my personal favourite. (I'm a sucker for a good Shirley Temple, if made with ginger beer.)

This year, I remembered the half-bottle of Cucumber Ginger Syrup lying dormant in my fridge, and I brought it along, in hopes that someone would realise its potential.

Initially I made mocktails for people to try. "Hmm," said one mate. "This would go really well with gin."

I'll take your word for it. So, we mixed up a drink, garnished it with a cucumber slice, and the drinkers gave it a go.

Gin for the win!  Everyone loved it.  Did we just invent a cocktail?

Apparently, we did. I went home after the party and attempted to look up the actual name of this new-ish drink we discovered. Surely someone else had come across it before?

Yes and no.  While we came across similar drinks, like the Mule, no recipe I found duplicated its flavours exactly.  They either had lime or mint or both, which changes the aromatic profile enough to make them sibling drinks, but not the same.

So yeah. We invented the Boxing Day Special. You're welcome.



Cucumber Ginger Syrup

1 medium cucumber, grated
1 knob of fresh ginger, grated
2 c sugar
2 c water

Combine sugar and water together in a saucepan and bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved. (This is Simple Syrup, and is often used in cocktails to give a sweetness without the grittiness of granulated sugar.)

Place grated cucumber and ginger in a bowl. Pour the hot simple syrup over and let steep for 2-3 hours.

Strain and bottle until needed. Keeps in the fridge for several weeks.

This Cucumber Ginger Syrup is versatile ingredient for drinks. Combine it 1:3 with soda water for a sophisticated mocktail, or go fully adult with this recipe for a Boxing Day Special.

Boxing Day Special

In a highball glass, combine:

2 shots Cucumber Ginger Syrup
2 shots London Dry Gin
Top up with soda water (approx 2-4 shots). Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Sip sophisticatedly.

And that's it. It's a simple recipe that delivers a broad palate with a flavour journey of cool cuke, hot ginger and aromatic juniper.

* * *

Here's an interesting fact I learned on Boxing Day: garnishes aren't just to make the drink look pretty. Sometimes they're used to add an extra aromatic note to the drink. For example, the gang made Mint Juleps. The mint itself didn't get blended in. We blitzed up some ice, poured over a nice Honey Bourbon, then pushed in a long sprig of mint. Then to drink, you bruised the mint, inhaled and then sipped. The mint was scented, not tasted, and this apparently changed the nature of how a drinker experienced the bourbon without affecting the flavour.

The cucumber garnish in a Boxing Day Special gives you the initial scent of cucumber, which then lifts more cuke flavour from the drink, so you get the full experience.  

The things you learn.

Her teetolling Grace will trust that this truly is a nice drink, and not her friends being nice to her. After all, they were not afraid to completely pan her attempts at a home-brewed apple cider a few years prior.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Buck the system; I want chocolate milk

It came from this tin.
A friend of mine shared a story how she had horrible childhood memories of school milk. To this day, she cannot drink milk, no matter how fresh and cold, because of her enforced experience.

I, too, received milk every day at school. Unlike my friend's, ours was safely refrigerated. Still, plain milk was never my favourite. It was an all-or-nothing kind of situation. If we chose to open our half-pint carton of milk, we had to drink the whole thing. We couldn't just open it, have a few sips and be done. We had the option to not drink, but that meant we had nothing at all to drink.

Once a week we got chocolate milk. We didn't know what day of the week it would be, but guaranteed that it would happen. Oh, how I loved chocolate milk! I would have cheerfully drunk all my milk every day if it was chocolate.

Then one day in Fifth Grade, I got an idea. What if I brought in my own chocolate milk powder? So I did. I got an old empty McCormick's spice tin, disguised it with a cover so it wasn't obvious, and filled it with chocolate milk powder. It was small enough to fit in my pocket. I brought this to school with me every day. Whenever it was a plain milk day, this tin would come with me to lunch and I'd tip a few spoonfuls in my milk carton, shake it up, and enjoy chocolate milk every single day.