The R*BY Awards – the Glamour in Romance

Post-party1  Two weeks ago I was busily packing my suitcase to attend the annual Romance Writers of Australia conference. As I was choosing a dress for the Friday night cocktail party and another for the Awards gala plus heels, jewellery AND make-up I knew I was going to enjoy the chance to get out of my winter writer’s uniform of track pants!

Somewhere in my subconscious is a vision of a glamorous writer, a neat tidy desk, no dust and no ring marks from my tea cup and perfectly manicured nails tapping away at the keyboard, but sadly that is not reality. But, for a couple of evenings at the annual conference, my alter-ego can come out to play.

Awards Gala dessert buffetThe ballroom looked fabulous for the Awards Gala. We were served Champagne and dessert (lots and lots of delicious bites) and everyone looked gorgeous.

SHH Bella's Wishlist Aust I was among the final four in contention for the R*BY (Romantic Book of the Year) in the short sweet category for my Medical Romance Sydney Harbour Hospital: Bella’s Wishlist so that was all the excuse i needed to wear my new blue dress (I can never resist the colour ).

RWA 2013 conference (11)I’ve been nominated before so I was just excited to be in the running again and so surprised and honoured to win! Being at the conference is always fun but winning the R*BY was amazing and I was so pleased to be able to share it with fellow Medical Authors Fiona McArthur and Amy Andrews and Sheila Hodgson, Senior Editor HM&B London (pic below).

RWA 2013 conference (21)

I know that everytime I wear my blue dress I’ll remember this night. Do you have a favourite colour or outfit that makes you feel great or is asscoiated with happy memories? I’d love to hear about it, but wedding dresses don’t count – too easy:)

With thanks to all the romance readers out there

Emily xx

Daring to Date Dr Celebrity, UK Daring to Date Dr Celebrity, out now

The Best Love Stories of 2013The Best Love Stories of 2013, Australia, Sept 13

P.S. A huge thank you to Amy Andrews’ husband, Mark, for th photos!

Maeve Binchy and Low Impact Aerobics

220px-Binchy33by Lynne Marshall

I was saddened by Maeve Binchy’s death last year, as I had enjoyed so many of her books, I kind of felt like I knew her.

The last book I’d read of hers was Heart and Soul“Maeve Binchy tells a story of doctors and staff, patients, family, and friends at a heart clinic in a community caught between the old Ireland and the new.”  That’s what part of the book synopsis reveals, and, as a Medical Romance author, having the story take place around a cardiac clinic got my attention.

Anyone who reads Ms. Binchy knows that she likes to throw several characters together by some sudden change, then follow this one or that one off into their personal lives, then do the same for the next and the next until circling back around to the big part of the book, and where they all fit in.

Which reminded me of, and leads me to, another Maeve Binchy book that I thoroughly enjoyed called Evening Class.  “A class called Introduction to Italian. A class where people from every walk of life come together. A class where long-buried hopes come alive again.”  I loved how the diverse group of characters slowly became friends as they studied the basics of this new language, and how they eventually planned a group trip to Italy.

So you may be scratching your head about now, wondering what in the heck all this has to do with low impact aerobics, right? bigstock-Vector-Silhouette-of-a-woman-w-6054502

In typical Maeve Binchy fashion, I’ll tell my part of the overall story.  I’ve always prided myself on being physically fit and healthy, but over the last year I’ve been hit with a couple of setbacks.  I tore my retina then I broke a bone in my foot. Nothing major, but both conditions stopped my forward momentum in the exercise department for several months.

Fast forward to low impact aerobics.  When I realized I couldn’t comfortably continue my all girls’ gym workouts, I went searching for something less stressful.  A flyer came to my house for Adult Education courses, and I found the ad for low impact aerobics and quickly signed up. Then I realized the class was at the local Senior Center. I rationalized that it was a new building and probably had to utilize as many rooms as possible for financial reasons.

When I walked in on the first day of class, I almost turned around and walked right back out.  Everyone was definitely a senior citizen – 70s all the way to one 90 year old!  Yes, I’m a baby boomer, but surely I don’t belong here yet! I’m not ready for this! The class can’t possibly suit my needs.

The instructor played music from the forties and fifties while we exercised, she also had a tendency to speak to us like we were children – probably expecting most of us to be senile?  Also, the teacher engaged all of the students in conversation while we went through the stretching routines—there around sixteen of us–which gives this writer a chance to learn new things.

Being fair minded, I let all of the above roll off my back along with the age bit, and took a chair.  Yes you read right, we exercise in chairs!  Red haired girl performing fitness exercises

Well, we start out that way, anyway.  Each part of the body gets thoroughly stretched while sitting in that chair, and guess what, it doesn’t bother my still-sensitive foot (the one with the newly-healed broken bone).  Next we use balls to work our abdomens and legs, then we stand to do more stretching exercises, then free weights for our arms.  After a short break—it’s a two hour class—we come back and do mild dancing for the aerobics portion.

Notice I’ve shifted from I don’t belong here to we?  Once I dropped my pride and said, I’ll try it once, I was hooked.  The class is exactly what I need. Besides, how often can a woman my age be the youngest in the room?

Just like Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class, I’ve come to learn so much about everyone in the class. We consist of diverse cultures and life experiences. There’s a Chinese couple, a Japanese lady with a name that rhymes with taco, An African American man with early Parkinson’s, a red-headed woman named Rusty (who used to be a natural redhead, but now she’s just going for that look), and there’s the ninety year old lady who likes to sing at the end of one particular dance song and who can still do the boot scootin’ boogie be it an extremely modified version, plus another American couple who each has one bad knee and who hobbles through the dance routines but they don’t give up.  And more.

As I already mentioned, it’s kind of nice to be the “youngest” again. They miss me when I skip a class, worry about anyone who misses more than once, and we always sing happy birthday for the guilty parties. The last birthday girl floored me. This cute little peppy lady who always sits on my right and who volunteers as an usher at our local Cultural Arts Center had turned 81!  I thought for sure she was in her early seventies. You never know, right?

It got me to thinking—wouldn’t it be interesting to learn the four men and twelve women’s stories? Or as a writer worth her salt, I could make up all of their stories and write my own Maeve Binchy-styled book titled Adult School.  I’d switch back between the 1940s, 1950s and the present.  Hmm, I think I’m on to something.

I may not be emotionally ready for this class held at the senior center, but, like any good Maeve Binchy novel, the interaction suits my needs. I feel a part of the group. We do line dances, waltzes (no partners, just moving around the room – one-two-three, one-two-three) the Charleston, the cha-cha, you name it! After each dance we have to check our pulses to make sure we’re challenging our hearts. I usually am.

Though I’ll admit I enjoy the class and the diverse students, and the senior center offers excursions to all kinds of places, don’t count this baby-boomer in any time soon for taking a road trip with the old folks!

Have you ever felt like a fish out of water, and how did you work it out?

Lynne’s two current books:

978-0-263-89896-5         9780373657568

Sydney Harbour Hospital – Finn, the King of Alpha’s meets his match! by Amy Andrews

SHHSo, in 10 days the UK release of the long-awaited finale (I know that cos it says it on the cover :-) ) to the Sydney Harbour Hospital series – Evie’s Bombshell – will be upon us. Eight Down Under authors toiled away at the series last year and we’re thrilled that it’s been so well received by readers.  Below is the full continuity booklist -

SHH #1 Lilly’s Scandal – Marion Lennox

SHH #2 Zoe’s Baby – Alison Roberts

SHH #3 Luca’s Bad Girl – Amy Andrews

SHH #4 Tom’s Redemption – Fiona Lowe

SHH #5 Lexi’s Secret – Melanie Milburne

SHH #6 Bella’s Wishlist – Emily Forbes

SHH #7 Marco’s temptation – Fiona Mc Arthur

SHH #8 Ava’s Re-awakening – Carol Marinelli

And here are some links if you want to check out/buy any of the ones you’ve missed before you get to #9 in case you’re like me and have to read a series chronologically or the world explodes!

http://www.millsandboon.com.au/products/search/Sydney+Harbour+Hospital

http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/pages/searchres.htm

I know many of you have been hanging out for Finn and Evie’s (the two continuity characters) story and I was stoked to be asked to write it because, even when I was writing Mia and Luca’s book (#3), my emotional investment in Finn and Evie was far greater (but shh, you didn’t hear that from me!)

And I have to say, I think a lot of that had to do with Finn. Honestly, I have never ever written such an awful, rude, callous, bloody-minded, exasperating man in all my writing years – I just had to give the stubborn man a HEA!! The authors who worked on the continuity were given Dr Greg House as an example of Finn’s persona and I think without that, I would have been lost because I just don’t write men like that. So, every time I had to write a Finn-being-a-bastard-again scene I would think – how/what would House say?

There are some great examples of Finn’s razor tongue in this fabulous review. Yes! Evie’s Bombshell already has a 5 star review!   :-)

http://harlequinjunkie.com/review-sydney-harbor-hospital-evies-bombshell/

If you’re interested, pretty soon Harlequin UK should be posting a short scene I wrote last year which is the “prequel” to Finn and Evie. It’s a snapshot of their first meeting and I had a lot of fun with that scene :-)

Oh and if you love continuities as much as I do there’s a fab new one out this year from our US authors centred around a NYC children’s hospital nicknamed Angels . It also has an Aussie spinoff of 4 books (set at the Gold Coast) of which I’m writing the last. The first Angels book (there are 8)  is out in March and maybe one of our US authors will come and tell us all a bit more about that if we ask real nice and promise them chocolate :-)

But, in the meantime, tell me about you. Did you read/like the SHH books? Got a favourite (and no, it doesn’t have to be mine – my ego can stand it, trust me). Do you like your Alpha’s alpha like Finn or Alpha with a nice big slice of beta to keep him tamed?

 

 

A tour of Sydney: the places that inspired settings in the Sydney Harbour Hospital Series

For those readers who are enjoying the Sydney Harbour Hospital series I thought I’d give you a bit of a tour of  the Emerald City (Sydney) and show you some of the places that appear in the books and/or inspired places in the books.

My husband’s been working in Sydney on and off so I’ve been lucky to have a few trips up there. The harbour really does make it one of the most beautiful cities in the world which is ironic given it started life as a penal colony!

When a series is written, the authors involved come together to make a few decisions. As Sydney is a huge city we had to ‘place’ SHH. We chose North Sydney, which is just across ‘the coat-hanger’ otherwise known as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  This photo shows Kirribilli House (the Sydney residence of the Prime Minister) with buildings behind it. One of those buildings is Kirribilli View, the block of apartments where many of the staff of SHH live.
The swimming pool where Finn does his laps everyday to keep his pain at bay is the North Sydney pool.Emily Forbes suggested this and what an amazing place it is.  Even I’d swim laps with that view!  Luna Park is just next door.

The  beach-side cafe with the ‘best big breakfast in Sydney’ which  Tom and Hayley go to was based on  Doyle’s in Watson’s Bay.Doyles is a family owned and operated seafood restaurant which has been trading since 1885! In Australian terms that’s a very, long time.

Half of the Doyle’s experience is the very pretty ferry ride and it is magic on a sunny day. Once you arrive at the restaurant, the tables are virtually on the sand and the old wooden fishing boats are pulled up on the beach. You can sit and watch the ferries pull in and out and easily while away many hours and in the distance you can just see the tall, city buildings.

This is the view of Doyles from the jetty in the other picture. It was taken on my birthday last year.
Parkes University where Tom lectures
was inspired by  the
glorious sandstone of Sydney University. Isn’t it just fabulous? How could you not be inspired to study surrounded by architecture like that. Graffiti tunnel really does exist but unlike the scene in SHH: Tom’s Redemption, it is very safe. I love
walking through it and checking out all the art.
Amy Andrews came up with the idea of ‘Pete’s’, the bar/watering hole where the staff gather when they’re off duty. I’m not sure if she had a pub in mind or whether she was thinking of ‘Cheers’ but hopefully she’ll call by and tell us!
One thing you might be interested in is the picture I had in my mind of Tom when I
wrote Tom’s Redemption. It was from last year’s Sportscraft catalogue. The male model I felt depicted Tom perfectly….slightly ruffled and that jacket says ‘sexy professor’ don’t you think? And just picture the model with chestnut hair and we have Hayley.
There are eight books in this series of SHH and all are stand alone stories but they share an interesting thread between the enigmatic Finn and the lovely Evie.  The authors involved are Marion Lennox,
Alison Roberts, Amy Andrews, Fiona Lowe, Melanie Milburne, Emily F
orbes, Fiona McArthur and Carol Marinelli and yes, you guessed it, we all live in
 Australia or New Zealand, but ironically, none of us live in Sydney!
I hope this little pictorial tour adds to your enjoyment of the books. We’d love to hear what you think about the series so far!
Sydney Harbour Hospital:Tom’s Redemption is Fiona’s 16th Harlequin Medical romance novel and the first book she’s ever set in a big, city hospital. Riding on a gorgeous big, green Sydney ferry, flying on a helicopter over the opera house and the harbour bridge and eating at Doyle’s for research was extremely hard work and she hopes her readers appreciate her dedication to the cause.  ;-)