The truth is I don't have a garret. I know dear readers you are all very shocked by the news. I also don't own a beret and I don't smoke elegant cigarettes in long holders or drink copious amounts of rum while I write. (Good news on the last two because I might well be dead if I did - though I don't mind a wine in truth when writing some of the sexier scenes).
Even without the garret I do spend large chunks of time tucked up at home alone with my characters. Now, even though my characters feel like real people to me when I'm writing them, even I know that they're not. Real people laugh and tell jokes and wear fancy dress costumes. Yes you read that correctly, fancy dress costumes. I know this because I'm heading off to Melbourne for the #RWAus15 or the annual Romance Writers of Australia Conference.
This year I believe that means that along with just shy of 400 other delegates I will descend on the Park Hyatt in Melbourne for three days of writing, reading and learning my craft. It is in fact the largest writing conference held in Australia. I've tried to work out how many I've been to and I do believe this is my 6th or maybe 7th (non-consecutive conference).
If you don't know about the RWA and you write then you should pop by their website and learn all about them.
If you're American check out the Romance Writers of America
The conference brings together traditionally published writers, indie authors, fledgling writers, publishers, agents and other industry professionals for a weekend of fun and knowledge.
I was at the RWA a couple of years once and I happened to run into a journalist who was doing a story on the conference for a local paper and she was blown away by the kindness and positive energy of the event. I know everyone thinks almost 400 women (There are a few men) man that must be witchy but the opposite is true. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more supportive group of people.
So I'm packing my bag, my business cards, my fancy dress costume and my enthusiasm for a weekend that I hope will be filled with friendships old and new, lots of laughter and hopefully some inspiration too. I would pack my beret if I had one, maybe they sell them in Melbourne...
8/15/2015 7 Comments
What’s All The Fuss About Rural Romance?
If you live in Australia and have frequented the book section of any of the big chain retailers (Big W, Target, Kmart) or even bookstores in the last few years, chances are you’ve seen quite a few covers featuring girls wearing hats, possibly on horseback and maybe with a windmill somewhere in the distance. What you have witnessed is the still growing phenomenon that is Australian Rural Romance.
So what is this thing called Rural Romance, why do Australians love to read it and why is it still so popular?
Since the queen of the ‘genre’, Rachel Treasure, first appeared on the shelves back in 2002, title after title has been published. And it’s not all about the romance – crime, suspense, environmental concerns, social issues, family relationships, history – a whole slew of themes are dealt with by writers who may or may not live on the land. Most of the novels being written do contain romantic elements, if not a straight romance narrative, and all of them are set in country towns or on properties hence the category, Rural Romance. Best selling authors in the genre include Fleur McDonald, Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, and Cathryn Hein to name just a few.
At the time I wrote my first published novel, Blackwattle Lake, in 2009, I’d never heard of Rural Romance. But by the time it was accepted for publication (by Hachette) in 2012 the genre had become well established. And it’s popularity has continued to grow, which isn’t all that surprising given our cultural history.
Australians have always had a love affair with the bush. Our literary heritage is based on the writing of Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson, Neville and a long list of other writers who used various country or outback locations as settings for their stories. The narratives were often about tough men and hardy women who braved the dangers of the land, overcame disasters and often faced death but finally succeeded. Today’s versions of those stories aren’t all that different. They appeal to our desire to see the underdog triumphing over adversity and to our love affair with open spaces where even those of us who live in the city find a sense of escape and freedom.
The heroines of today’s Rural Romances aren’t the man-desperate-swooners many people associate with the back-in-the-day Mills and Boon titles. They’re independent, feisty, smart and have a lot going on in their lives which makes the romance side of their stories much more interesting. If they’re going to have a man in their lives he’d better be worth it – and that brings us to the heros of the genre. These guys are hot, sometimes brooding, but with a lot more to them than a six pack and a bare chest. And when the couples do finally get together the sparks fly – sometimes with the bedroom door open just a crack for the reader and often with it ripped right off the hinges.
As I mentioned earlier the wide variety of ‘sub-genres’ within the Rural Romance category really does provide something for everyone. Whether you like your romance undiluted, or if you like to cross over into the realms of crime, mystery or history, you’ll find a story to suit your taste. Don’t be fooled by the covers – while the girl with the hat on the horse thing is a way of marketing the books to the target audience I’m sure there’s a lot of other readers out there who would really enjoy these stories if they gave them a try.
Love, get-away-from-it-all locations, sexy heroines and heros, interesting characters and page-turning storylines – what’s not to love about Rural Romance?
You can check out who is who in the world of Rural Romance and browse the virtual bookshelves right here on this site: www.australianruralromance.com
Close to Home is Pamela's latest release -
A compelling story of love, lies and loss in a small country town.
Orphaned at thirteen, Charlie Anderson has been on her own for over half her life. Not that she minds – she has her work as a vet and most days that’s enough. Most days. But when she’s sent to a small town on the New South Wales coast to investigate a possible outbreak of the deadly hendra virus, Charlie finds herself torn between then haunting memories of her past and her dedication to the job.
Travelling to Naringup means coming face to face with what is left of her dysfunctional family – her cousin Emma, who begged Charlie not to leave all those years ago, and her aunt Hazel, who let her go without a backward glance. But it also means relying on the kindness of strangers and, when she meets local park ranger, Joel Drummond, opening her heart to the possibility of something more …
As tensions in the town rise, can Charlie let go of the past and find herself a new future in the place she left so long ago?
Close To Home will also be available at Big W and your local book store.
You can find more about Pamela and her novels at her website: http://www.pamelacook.com.au/
Q&A with author Tracy Krimmer about her new novel Jay Walking
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
Two things really made me want to write this novel. Jay Walking always was an idea brewing, and I began writing it before with a different character. I wanted to write a book that dealt with body image after having a baby. When I published Caching In and saw people’s reactions to the best friend in that book, Chelsea, I knew Chelsea needed her own story, and this was it.
2. When did you take up writing?
I barely remember I time I didn’t write. I started in grade school and for a long time focused on poetry. It wasn’t until recently, maybe 2012 or so, that I began to feel the urge to write again. Before that, it had been years since I wrote, maybe a decade.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
I write what I know, so I don’t venture much out of the state of Wisconsin (USA). In Caching In, my character goes to Nevada, but in Jay Walking everything is set in Wisconsin. I may take my character’s travels to different states, but not quite yet.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
I really like Chelsea’s dad. He loves her and his grandson so much. He’s harsh with Chelsea, but he only wants what is best for her.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Head down. Keep writing. After a book release it is so easy to get caught up in reactions and reviews, but I need to just keep going. Once I finished ARC’s for Jay Walking, I dove into another book and am doing great on that. I think this is because I decided to keep moving.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
Not really. Not yet, anyway. Right now I leave my laptop out and write when I can. Come September my plan is to write about an hour and a half a day in the morning. After my workout of course!
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I used to be a complete pantser, but now I am in between. I know the ending, and I know the beginning. I get the beginning scenes down in a few sentences and when I have about 12 chapters, I start writing them. Chapter 12 on I depend on my characters to do the rest.
8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
This is always hard to answer because there are so many I love. I just finished reading Let’s Be Frank by Brea Brown and loved it. My all-time favourite’s are Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and the Glamourist Series by Mary Robinette Kowal. I know, none of them are chick lit!
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
Sure! The Pastime Pursuits series will continue with Kate’s story. Kate was a character in Caching In and people have asked about her. I don’t have a publication date set yet. I hope 2015, but most definitely 2016.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Build yourself a great community of writers you can learn from and teach as well! I belong to many online writer’s groups and have “met” amazing authors. I wouldn’t be anywhere without their support.
Tracy’s love of writing began at nine years old. She wrote stories about aliens at school, machines that did homework for you, and penguins. Now she pens books and short stories about romance. She loves to read a great book, whether it be romance or science fiction, or any genre in between, or pop popcorn and catch up on her favorite TV shows or movies. She’s been known to crush a candy or two as well. Her first romance novel, Pieces of it All, released in May 2014 followed in December with Caching In, a romance mixed with the hobby of geocaching. She also has written several short stories.
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This week we have a Japanese exchange student staying with us. It has me thinking about my own experiences living in the US as a 15 and 16 year old. It's a pretty obvious trigger of course.
It's also exactly 30 years since I made that journey...so many triggers.
My novel A Fair Exchange drew on my experience as a exchange student. There are certainly some resemblances between the main character and myself and I did end up on the Massachusetts North Shore. Like Amelia's character I struggled for a prom date but the story is fiction.
Many of the really funny things that happened I didn't appropriate because I wouldn't want to tell anybody else's secrets.
The book is however, of all the books I've written, is the book of my heart. (Well aside from Mr Right and Other Mongrels which was my blessing and my curse). That's true because I got to go back in time and revisit the joy of being young and brave and taking on the world.
Matt, the male character in the book, while not even remotely based on anyone I know is my favourite male I've written and I like that Amelia struggles along the way because I know so many women who were bright and shiny at sixteen who lost their way as life went on. I wanted to write a happy ending for all those women. The book also has great female friendships, I should mention that.
Yet here is a truth writers don't like to discuss. That has been my least successful book. My favourite and no one much has read it. Heartbreaking really from a writer's point of view. Was it the timing? The cover? The story? The blurb? The marketing? Do my readers not like stories where people get a second chance at love? Check, all of the above?
It's so sad to think the thing you most want to share is the thing that languishes. This happens to writers more than you might expect. We all want everything to go well and we know it won't but I'm sure many writers would name unlikely choices as their books of the heart.