Book group blues…

Egads! It’s book group tonight (or, ‘wine group’ as my hubby calls it) and once again I’m running to catch up. When I was in a book group in England we all read the same book and spent the evening talking about nuances and themes etc (very literary!! LOL)…but the one I’m in now is a lot less formal and we basically all put a few books in and then comment on whether we liked them/storylines etc. I guess it’s more of a book swap really. What I really enjoy about it is getting the chance to read other people’s recommendations (for free!).

IMG_1194So, last month I was a little, er, optimistic, when I picked the books I was going to read in ONE month…(okay, just plain greedy!). What on earth possessed me to take ALL these books? Collectively there must be millions of words there- and given that I was away for a lot of that month at conferences and have a deadline of Wednesday for my own book there was no chance I was going to get through that lot! I did manage to read The Silkworm, however, which is the second book by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) and it was great- a little more complex than the first one and with a lot more characters so it got a bit confusing- still, a good mystery! I’m now halfway through The Collected Works Of AJ Fikry which is a very enjoyable romp about a grumpy bookseller. 

I’m going overseas on Wednesday and am taking my kindle, so I’ll be handing that pile back, red-faced, for others to enjoy.

Talking of books, can I just mention that one of my medical romances recently won an award! How To Resist A Heartbreaker (Book 2 in the Infamous Maitland Brothers duet) took first place in the short sexy category of the inaugural KORU Award (Romance Writers of New Zealand). The judges are people in romance reading book groups across NZ, so I was thrilled. Even more special was the fact that my editor was at the awards dinner along with the gorgeous Sue MacKay (who wrote book one of the duet) so we all got to celebrate together!

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Me and Flo!

Me and Flo!

Sue and I

Sue and I

Okay, I best go now and finish my editing…or think about packing…or, maybe just read a chapter or two before I give those books back tonight! Are you in a book group? Is it a serious analyse-one-book kind of thing or a book swap?Where do you get your reading recommendations from?

 

 

 

 

 

First Lines

As the clock struck thirteen, the pope picked up her empty packet of contraceptive pills and told her husband he’d need to use a condom….

Ahem!

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about first lines. How to have a cracking first line that will make people want to read on. How to have a truly crazy first line that will grab someone by the proverbial (insert body part here) and make them carry on reading. Especially in these days of instant gratification, where people have short attention spans. You can’t have a few pages of purple prose, no matter how beautiful it is, if it doesn’t grab the reader, you’ve sadly lost them.

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The concept of a great first line came to me when I first started writing, obviously, but that was many years ago. You get told numerous times by teachers at school, tutors, writing instructors, that you must hook your reader with a great first line, paragraph or page. I’d paid attention to this advice, but I’d never really worked hard on that first sentence until a while back when I read, ‘Waking Up Pregnant’ by Mira Lynn Kelly. Mira not only has a great first line on the first page, but has a great first line at the start of every new chapter or scene change! I literally couldn’t put the book down because just glancing at the next chapter and scanning my eyes over the first line would hook me again and force me to carry on reading! I love that book. I learned a lot from that book and it really enforced my writing. It made me look at the books I’d written so far and examine those crucial first sentences. Were they as good as they could be? Here they are below:

1. Callie Taylor stared hard at the pregnancy test kit.
2. “Why the hell are there all these cameras? How are you supposed to get any privacy around here?”
3. “Ben? Ben, it’s me…open your eyes.”

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So what about you? What is the best first line that you have written? What’s your favourite first line from someone else?

Louisa x

The Ice Bucket Challenge

I’m sure most of the world knows about the ice bucket challenge by now.  Every celebrity and person no the planet seems to have done it by now.

And I have to confess to having a few favourites. Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Stewart…..

 

I also have a pet hate.

Lots of people are doing it without mentioning the charity that is being supported.  So my only request is – if you decide to take on the ice bucket challenge, please, please talk about the charity and your donation to them.  Because that’s the most important thing of all.

Here’s my son

Broken Backs and The Doctor

I have a new book out this month…yay! The heroine is an equine therapist…double yay. Why am I so happy about that? Because I love horses and ride them often. I sneak them into many of my books, but this is the first one where the horses have been center stage. BUT as a funny twist of irony, the book has come out just as I’m recovering from a fractured vertebra as a result of…wait for it…a riding accident. Here’s a picture of my new and not-so-improved L-2 vertebra (if you’re squeamish, you might want to cover the image with your hand).

MRI of Tina's back

MRI of Tina’s back

Anyway, as you’ll see, the vertebrae all look like blocks stacked on top of one another. All except that one in the middle–that pesky L-2, which now looks like the tip of a spear (and kind of feels like one too).

So, I saw various doctors who poked and prodded and took lots of x-rays and pictures. But I have to tell you, I absolutely fell in love with one of the doctors. Yes, I stared at him for hours on end. Night after night. Sometimes I stared at him with my husband. Sometimes with my daughter (who just left for Japan). Sometimes my whole family would sit there and gaze lovingly at his image. That’s because it wasn’t just any doctor. It was The Doctor. Yes, I’d discovered Dr. Who. Since I couldn’t do much except lie on a couch and watch TV, my daughter talked me into watching an episode of Dr. Who that featured weeping angels. Uh oh. Scary. In more ways than one, because I was hooked. Hooked on a show that I’d heard about but had never seen. I devoured them. And I just finished the last episode of the last season three days ago and am squirming with anticipation of seeing what the newest iteration of The Doctor will do. And I do admit, I have a favorite. “Who” you might ask? ;) Well, because I’m a shallow girl, I think David Tennant made a dreamy Doctor.

My advice to you is to not fracture anything. Because he (The Doctor) might just hook you too! Here’s the clip from the weeping angel episode that was my downfall. Whatever you do…Do. Not. Blink.: 

For those of you who already watch Dr. Who, inquiring minds want to know. Who is your favorite Doctor? (This post is filled with the word “who,” did you notice? It’s everywhere!)

Oh, and here’s my equine therapist. Isn’t she pretty?

His Girl from Nowhere

His Girl from Nowhere

Conference Shenanigans! by Amy Andrews

Conference season is over for another year. Sad face….. So I thought I’d give you some of the RWAustralia conference highlights which was in Sydney this year.

Firstly up – the fabulous Cherry Adair was our keynote and she gave and gave and gave of her time and was wonderfully funny and fabulously generous with love, cheers, support and advice!cherry

 

 

Secondly – there was wine.vino

Thirdly – The lights in the function room at night were all baby pink which added a lovely soft glow to the room but left us all VERY pink in the pictures! Here is myself with Denise Rossetti and Christina Brookes at the Award’s Dinner on Saturday night. This was the same dinner where our fabulous Lucy Clark won the Ruby for her wonderful medical – One Life Changing Moment. Sooooo thrilling to be there when the name was read out!

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Fourth – being asked to sign a tin of Milo at the book signing by Brooke Del-Sewell was a delightful first. Why you may ask? All I can say is grab a copy of my current release -The Heat Of The Night and you’ll know why!!

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And….keeping the best to last – meeting up with some of the wonderful medical authors! I managed to get one pic with a few of us together. This is myself with Louisa George and Sue Mackay (both Kiwis) and new kid on the block Susan Hampton who is very glamorous and artistic and so very nice with it too!

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Sadly, there are no more conferences until next year now which means I have to get back to writing writing writing if I have any hope of convincing my husband to let me go to New York next year……

Do you have an event you look forward to ALL year??

 

 

 

I Know You’ve Got One…

It is oft said to be a good author, you should also be a good reader. I have to confess to a life of very eclectic – but nonstop – reading. I will go through a phase of only biographies, or books by one author (and then you inevitably end up mimicking their style for a bit. Don’t you? Just a little) – or thrillers, romances, travel books, foodie memoirs, tragic-childhood memoirs, magazines, epic tomes, short stories…. You get the drift.

The other day, I was idly gazing at the (enormous) stack of books beside the bed and decided I needed a bit of a clear up. Instead of reading all of the unread books by the bed – I kept acquiring new ones (everyone goes into the bookstore and comes out with more than they planned, right?). So I’ve rearranged it so that I can tackle it anew. Then I thought – I’d love to see everyone’s bedside pile. Or sofa side – or wherever you read. I tend to have a bed pile, a book in the handbag, a book by the stove and a few stuffed under the table by the sofa (which turns into a stack ON the table once it is officially Light a Fire Every Day Season).

So here it is – my bedside stack:P1140622I am in the throes of Butcher’s Crossing and absolutely love it – LOVE it.The double-whammy Medical Romance from Carol Marinelli has already been read and enjoyed. The Portrait of a Lady is next on the list – I’ve had it for ages and it’s been one of those books I was sure I had read – and then it turned out it wasn’t true. It is also on a recent list I read – Top 100 Romance Novels. Ever. Ditto to Norweigan Wood.

Now – here’s the pile that will slow down finishing of above pile:P1140619This one’s a bit of a misnomer as the middle two are my husband’s. This is the Beside the Sofa pile. Silas Marner - again – one that sounds like I should have read it – but haven’t. The Little Stranger - now…I started that one in the winter – got side-tracked by -uhhh – other books (and spring and summer)- and now that’s it’s beginning to be crank up the fireplace season – I am back into finishing it when I’m in the right room.

P1140623Here’s the pile Behind The Bedside Pile:

I’ve shown you mine….show me yours? 

What a wonderful few days … with so many firsts!

I never planned at my age on experiencing a first, let alone multiple firsts in such a small space of time. The time for notching up firsts, I naively imagined was over, until I made the decision to register for Romance Writers of Australia’s Romance Rocks Conference and then a few months later board a plane bound for Sydney. Said plane was a little heavier due to my overweight luggage filled with everything that I might need over the four days ….and then a few more reserve pairs of shoes and earrings… and an extra scarf or three.

As I mentioned my first first was attending the conference. Although I had often planned to attend, registration had always closed before I had made a firm decision. Now after thoroughly and completely enjoying the 2014 conference, I will not miss another conference without a damn fine reason. The event was huge in vision and even grander in delivery. The committee have set such a high bar with their attention to detail, variety of speakers, abundance of delicious food at every turn and functions designed to make ‘newbies’ like myself feel so welcome. I feel that I have made new friends and look forward to many more conferences and one day being able to offer advice to a ‘newbie’ the way it was so generously given to me.

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The second first was my ‘first sale’ ribbon presented to me by the RWA and proudly worn on my super handy conference ID pouch. This blue ribbon will find a home in a small, elegant frame and sit on my bookshelf for everyone to admire.

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My third first was being a part of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) book signing event. What an amazing hour, to sit with my two Mills & Boon Medical Romance releases, poised pen, chocolates to entice readers and all in the same room as the most gifted and wonderful romance writers in the world. The romance readers and reviewers I met were so lovely and encouraging and I felt very fortunate to be a part of this event and very grateful for the support I have received from ARRA. IMG_0944

My fourth first, and by no means the least of my firsts was meeting my first Mills & Boon editor, the gorgeous Flo Nicoll. She is so sweet and just as encouraging in person as over the telephone and in email. I am very proud to be a part of the Medical Romance family. 1407413377902

I had initially only remembered four firsts until images of the waiters’ biceps came rushing at me just as I was about to hit publish on my blog.   The Harlequin Author Dinner saw our drinks poured by men naked from the waist up and it was definitely another first. Generally when dining my waiters are fully dressed, most times quite conservatively, and it was a refreshing change …although I suspect a little chilly for them in the cool evening air.

If I kept thinking I am sure more firsts would jump onto the page….just when I thought I was on the dull side of fifty, I am starting to throw that idea out of the window and think this side has just as many firsts with a lot less angst! Have you experienced any firsts recently?