Diamonds Down Under Revisited…

Posted in general post with tags , , on December 1, 2010 by Maxine Sullivan

IMAGINE…..  TWO POWERFUL FAMILIES…  FIVE MISSING PINK DIAMONDS… ONE BITTER FEUD SPANNING DECADES…

It’s hard to believe that three years have passed since the Diamonds Down Under series began. Even now we get a lot of visitors to this blog, and from time to time we’re still asked about the series. It’s exciting for us that people are so interested in it all, now more than ever with the availability of ebooks giving our series eternal life. 🙂 So, is love still in the air at DDU central? You bet! Let’s ask the Diamonds Down Under authors what they’ve been doing during this time, and see if they still have that sparkle in their eyes.

Paula says: Three years since Diamonds Down Under? Wow! Such a lot has happened in my world since then! For a start, Jake and Holly’s story was shortlisted in Romance Writers of Australia‘s prestigious Romantic Book of the Year award for 2008 (go, Diamonds!) and won Houston Bay areas’ Judge a Book By Its Cover contest.  I’ve also written three more books, and my fifth Desire, Promoted to Wife?, is due out in March 2011.  My third, The Magnate’s Baby Promise, was voted best Short Category Romance of 2009 by the Australian Romance Readers Association.  And all my releases have reached the Borders Books bestseller list – thank you, wonderful readers!  Oh, and my gorgeous baby boy turned 10 in 2010!

Bron says: During the past two years, I took a break from writing for personal reasons. Recently I finished the long-awaited Billionaire’s Inconvenient Bride, the follow-up to Magnate’s Make-Believe Mistress, which is scheduled for December 2011. Follow up books are planned for 2012.

Tessa says: I spotted an Argyle Diamonds advertisement for pink diamonds in an in-flight magazine recently…and it brought all the memories of Diamonds Down Under flooding back! The stories were fabulous and I loved all the family links in them. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past three years with my family, both older and younger generations, and it’s been time well spent. In 2010 I celebrated a couple of successes, The Billion-Dollar Baby Bargain finaled in the Romance Writers of Australia’s RBY Award AND Falling For His Proper Mistress hit the USA Today Bestseller list – thank you readers for making that possible! My next book, The Boss’s Baby Affair, is part of the Billionaires & Babies series and will be out in February 2011. And don’t forget to visit the Desire Authors Blog at eHarlequin for more news about the authors who write for Desire.

Maxine says: The last three years have been really good to me.  At the time the series began, Mistress & a Million Dollars was only my 4th book for Silhouette Desire, and now I’ve had 11 Desires published, with a new contract to write another four books.  Amazing!  Even more amazing to me is that some of my books reached #1 on the Borders Bestseller List, and this year His Ring, Her Baby and High-Society Secret Baby reached the USA TODAY Bestseller List. I’m definitely living my dream. 🙂

Jan says: 2010 has been a most eventful – even momentous – year for me. Study (Information and Library Studies); a month on the jury of a murder trial, the biggest fright of my life when a 7.1 earthquake hit my poor home town, gratitude that although there was a lot of damage, no lives were lost, and great sorrow last week when 29 miners were confirmed dead over on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, a couple hundred kilometres from here. Phew! Don’t know about the other Diamonds authors, but I could really use a little less excitement in 2011!!!

Yvonne says: In the three years since we all worked together on the Diamond Down Under series I’ve been trying to quell my desire for a large pink diamond! To keep myself distracted I’ve since released nine more Silhouette Desire books (including a continuity novella, set during polo season in the Hamptons) and one online title and in April 2011 I will have another continuity book out as part of The Takeover continuity, set in San Diego. Of all the things I enjoy about working on a continuity, research would have to be one of the things I enjoy most. Learning about new places and the sights and things to do and enjoy there is almost as good as being there! And almost as good as having a large pink diamond. 😀

As you can see, we’ve each been very busy with varying interests, but we’ve never forgotten how much the Diamonds Down Under series means to us. We’re very proud of it.

If you’d like to read the series, Harlequin has them all available in ebooks – just go here and type in “Diamonds Down Under” in the search facility.  Or you can get them  from Amazon here. 

Down Under Desirabelles

Posted in general post on August 6, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

You know the saying: as one door closes, another opens.  With much delight we announce the opening of a new blog for the down under Desire authors.  Our opening posts include news of a brand new sale, courtesy of one of the editor critique prizes offered here at Diamonds Down Under, as well as news and views from Romance Writers of America’s National conference in San Francisco.  We hope to see you there, where we will continue to chat about books, reading, writing, romance, and anything else that takes our fancy.

Bring on the Bling!

Posted in Treasure Hunt with tags on July 22, 2008 by Paula

And now it’s time for what you’ve all been waiting for… the grand prize draw!  To be eligible, we needed your answers to 12 questions, two from each continuity book.  The correct answers were:

January
Q1 – What is the name of the fictional diamond mine Kimberley and Ric visit in Vows & A Vengeful Groom?
A1- Janderra

Q2 – Bronwyn Jameson’s April 2008 release Tycoon’s One-Night Revenge is a spin-off from which series?
A2 – her Princes Of The Outback trilogy

February
Q1: How many carats is the Desert Star that Jessica and Dani admire in Pride & A Pregnancy Secret?
A1 – Just over eleven carats (but we also allowed ’11 carats’)

Q2: Apart from the United States , in what two other countries has Pride & A Pregnancy Secret been released ?
A2 – Australia and India

March
Q1: What is Briana’s hobby in Mistress & A Million Dollars?
A1 – photography / taking pictures

Q2: What is the name of the book of short stories written by 26 romance authors and includes 26 delicious recipes?
A2 – Sizzle, Seduce & Simmer

April
Q1 – What annual event was the Australian Governor General in Port Douglas to commemorate?
A1 – ANZAC Day Commemoration

Q2 – What is the name of Jan’s favorite team of alpha heroes?
A2 – The Canterbury Crusaders/All Blacks

May
Q1: What career did Holly originally want to pursue in Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir?
A1 – Interior designer/decorating

Q2: What is the English translation of Paula’s first German book?
A2 – My Mysterious Married Man

June
Q1: What is Rachel’s parting gift to Matt?
A1– Share transfer form for Blackstone shares (we also accepted ‘share transfer’)

Q2: In what month did Yvonne meet her significant other?
A2 – May

And the winner is……………. Gayle Baird from NH (New Hampshire?) in the US!!!   Congratulations Gayle, and we’ll be getting in touch with you asap.

Thank you to everyone who entered our contest and who read the books.  We loved bringing them to you each month 😀

It’s A Wrap!

Posted in general post with tags , , , , , , on July 20, 2008 by Paula

Well, the champagne’s been drunk, the party poppers exploded and we’ve all been well and truly danced off our feet.  Yes, it’s that time where we bid a fond adieu to all our characters from the Diamonds Down Under continuity and thank you, readers, for making it such a wonderful success.    And from our authors…

Yvonne says: When we embarked on the Diamonds Down Under continuity I had no idea how far reaching the involvement would be or how many wonderful readers we’d be privileged enough to get to know through our blog. It’s been a delight to meet so many new people and to learn how our stories have provided enjoyment and entertainment. For myself, and especially since I’ve been writing fulltime, I tend to get very insular with my writing. In fact my mind boggles when I think about the people ‘out there’ reading my stories, so the blog has been a great experience in taking a step closer to others. In fact the whole continuity has been a gift in human relations and I think our interrelations between one another as authors has created a new sisterhood. I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone involved, from my fellow authors, to our guest bloggers to our wonderful wonderful readers. You’ve made this journey an experience to remember.  Remember to drop me a line via my website, and come visit to keep up to date on my latest news and releases.

Maxine says:Well, it’s here. It’s time to turn off the lights and close the door behind us as we leave and move onto new ventures. But first, let’s open the bubbly and drink to a fantastic series. It’s been wonderful from beginning to end, with terrific support from MJ, Diana and Matrice at the Harlequin editorial side of things, and support and enthusiasm from agent, Jennifer Schober. And what about our fabulous guest bloggers – Fiona Brand, Nalini Singh and Robyn Grady. Everyone did a great job, not the least the other Diamonds Down Under authors who have given so much of their time to blog about the series over the last eight months, and to showcase so much of our own countries to the world. And finally, there are all you marvelous readers who have bought our books and helped to make the series such a success. Thank you one and all. Cheers!

Paula says: From the newest chick on the block, the series was an awesome experience: from the million emails, the collaboration to the actual writing, there’s been the highest of highs to the now-pretty-much-forgotten lows 🙂  And through it all, I’ve learned heaps, both personally and professionally.  Thanks girls, you are true diamonds.  And thank you, everyone who read Jake and Holly’s story and loved it, thank you for holding all our hands throughout the crazy, wild ride of the trials and tribulations of the Blackstones and Hammonds.  And in another first (hey, we Down Underers like to blaze a trail!) check out our brand-spanking new Down Under Desirabelles blog, which goes live next week during RWA Nationals.  Bookmark us and visit regularly because we have an awesome lineup of weekly posts on life, love, reading and writing for everyone who loves romantic fiction.  

Bronwyn says: When we decided to host this blog it was with some trepidation. We weren’t sure we had enough to talk about for six or seven months or if what we had to say would draw and keep an audience. You know that old fear: what if we threw a party and no one turned up?  Turns out that we had little to worry about on either front.  When we brainstormed possible topics the list grew and grew…much the same as when we brainstormed possible conflicts and complications for our series.  And as for the other fear: turns out there are folk all over the world who love to chat as much as we do.  It has been a complete delight to see the familiar names returning week after week, and to hear your viewpoints on reading, writing and romance.  Thanks so much to everyone who visited and to all our special guest bloggers who helped enrich our blog. Although this is the end of Diamonds Down Under, I know I’ll see you around the blogworld, including (I hope) at Bronz Blog.

Jan says: I have so enjoyed your company over the last six months, sharing snippets of your lives, responding to our posts and showing your appreciation for our stories. It’s fantastic to have been part of such a diverse group of readers (and writers) from all over the world. There have been so many highlights. Huge thanks to our commendable guests and congratulations to our many winners, but I would like to mention a few special people. First up (since she wouldn’t have it any other way) please come on down, AviJ – and Limecello and LJ (I think) and accept my best wishes for your scholastic endeavors. I look forward to one day visiting one of your fine establishments, Avi, in your lovely part of the world. To those most voracious of readers, esp Pat and Christa, keep on reading! Azteclady, I hope you and your mum have many more years ‘laughing your heads off’ at each other. As well as the above-mentioned, would the following people please COME UP ONTO THE STAGE: Jane, Ellie and Ellen, Anne and Annie, Crystal B, JSL, Lois, Chelle, Pearl, Ruth, Mona, Waitingforthecall, Kim H, Minna, RobynL, Alissa, EvaS, Nathalie, Virginia H, Rebekah, Karen King and Serena. Come on, bunch up! Cyber chocs and flowers and heartfelt thanks to you all for checking in week after week, month after month. We have most enjoyed your company and hope you all keep in touch. And as the ancient philosophers used to say – and if they didn’t, they should have – BRING ON THE BLING!!! Good luck for the big Treasure Hunt draw.

Remember, post a comment for your last chance to win a cool book prize and cute Aussie keyring!

A reader’s view of the Diamonds Down Under series with Christa Runge

Posted in guest blogger with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2008 by yvonnelindsay

We figured that by now you’d probably all need a wee break from hearing about us and from us so we decided to invite one of our regular visitors to blog with a reader’s perspective on the Diamonds Down Under continuity. So let’s put together a very warm welcome for CHRISTA!

 

 

I felt privileged to have been asked to blog on this series. Each author did an exceptional job on her story. Readers were left to ponder various questions for the next 6 months. Readers were left wondering if son James, who was kidnapped at age 3, is still alive. What sort of relationship did Marise and Howard have? Who fathered Blake, Matt or Howard? Where are the diamonds from the Blackstone Rose? Will Matt be successful in his takedown of Blackstones?

Then in each story there are even more secrets.

In VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM we are left wondering if Howard really wrote his daughter, Kimberley, out of his will when she went to work for House of Hammond? Also, the CEO position at Blackstones has not been decided–who will it be, Howard’s right hand man, Ric Perrini, or Howard’s own son, Ryan? Would a union with Kimberley better Ric’s chances?

In Tessa’s PRIDE & PREGNANCY SECRET we are again bombarded with questions. Why does Jessica feel she has to end things with Ryan? Why did Jessica change her mind at the last minute about taking the flight that ended up killing Howard and Marise?

In Maxine’s MISTRESS & A MILLION DOLLARS we are left to figure out why Briana needed $1million dollars? How is it that Marise came into possession of stones from the Blackstone Rose?

Rumour had it that Howard was Danielle Hammond’s father and if not Howard then who was her father? This question is brought to the forefront in Jan’s SATIN & A SCANDALOUS AFFAIR. I know with me, I wondered how Quinn fit into the feud between the Hammonds and the Blackstones.

Another character throughout the series was Jake Vance. How did he fit? Was he a threat to Blackstones? Someone is blackmailing Holly to spy on Jake. Who? These issues Paula tackles in BOARDROOMS & A BILLIONAIRE HEIR.

Yvonne rounds out the series with JEALOUSY & A JEWELLED PROPOSITION. Here, Yvonne answers the question readers have been speculating for the last 5 months. She had the daunting task of answering all the previous questions but also giving Matt a story. She did this beautifully by having Matt subconsciously not give Blake as much attention because he wasn’t sure if he was his son and providing him with a heroine to match him.

In my opinion the books read as though the authors communicated quite a bit. I don’t think I came across any discrepancies in the books, so it would seem these authors had a great rapport and paid close attention to details. I found each story linked together marvellously. During the release of these six books the authors had other books released, so I’m sure a little time was taken from loved ones. I, for one, thank you. From what I’ve seen, this series has quite a following. As individuals, or a group, I love reading books from this group of authors. I live in Canada and each month these authors showed me parts of Australia and New Zealand.

 

Yvonne: Christa, thank you so much for blogging with us on the DDU blog. Your support and input on various discussion boards for the continuity has been much appreciated.

 

This leaves me with a question for the rest of our readers, what did you love the most about the series? Was it discovering the answer to a particular mystery, or even that you were right about ‘the truth’ of a mystery in the continuity. Or maybe it was a specific setting, or a set of characters that you just fell completely in love with? We’d love to hear from you. All blog comments will go into a draw where the winner will be randomly drawn to win a copy of Suzanne Brockmann’s EMBRACED BY LOVE, together with an exceptionally cute fluffy New Zealand sheep fridge magnet.

6 Unusual Search Combinations

Posted in general post on July 6, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

This week we’ve decided to have some fun by taking a look at the more unusual and amusing combinations that have brought visitors to our Diamonds Down Under blog over the past six months. And, might I add, what a fun task it’s been trolling through the list of hundreds and hundreds of phrases people typed into a search engine which led them here. Most make some kind of sense, some none at all, and some just plain crack me up.

First, a quick look at the most popular search phrases. Let’s discount “diamonds down under”, the obvious, and move on to the next which included:

* movies about diamonds (Maxine’s post would have proven most useful)
* treasure hunt clues (hint: do you have YOUR entry in?)
* romantic settings (hope we helped with some good ideas!)
* famous diamonds (Jan’s post and links, par excellent.)

Then there are the odd, strange and just plain weird combinations. Choosing six is proving quite an effort. Can I cheat and give an honorable mention to a couple that struck my funny bone? Firstly, I’m tickled by the combination of Bronwyn + Angel. Then there’s “Christa says”. And how about “Yvonne Macomber”? (If there is an Yvonne Macomber out there and you google yourself, do say hello!)

“Australia the perfect place to live” speaks for itself, although I’ve refrained from including it in my list out of respect for our NZ sisters. They may want to argue the point. *g* Lastly, there is a reader who searched for “vows & a vengeful groom” + “diamond mine”. Hunting for the answer to a Treasure Hunt clue perhaps?

With those extras out of the way (at no extra cost), I now present to you Bron’s List of Six Funny Search Combinations that Brought People to DDU.

1. Diamond “too sparkly”: I can understand why this search might direct toward our blog but I don’t understand the question. Is this possible? Can there BE too much bling? Enquiring minds want to know.

2. How long are summer in new zealand: Yvonne did a fab post on summer in New Zealand. I doubt that she mentioned the length of a NZ summer so if I can just clear this up: summer in New Zealand is exactly the same length as summer everywhere in the world. Okay?

3. Pantyhose on the beach: This one is all down to Jan and her post about keeping the stingers at bay. It crossed my mind that someone may have thought she was pulling their (pantyhosed) leg and decided to do some extra research…which led them right back here. Anyone owning up?

4. Cougar dressed as mistress: I’m guessing that we don’t mean a feline cougar but a human one. While our series does include a Mistress title and several other references, I’m scratching my head over how a cougar reference brought up DDU.

5. Things men say in board rooms: Paula, this one is for you because I can only think that your “Boardroom” title led to this linkage. What DO men say in boardrooms? I wonder if I will get answers if I google that question?

6. Why God makes us wait cake analogy: If someone can explain this one to me, I would be most grateful. I have no clue. About the analogy or why a search engine pointed this way. Maybe I need to go google it…

Tell us how you found Diamonds Down Under, the blog, and your comment will enter you in the draw for this week’s giveaway: BEYOND CONTROL by Bronwyn Jameson, an Australian mini-notepad, and MISTRESS FOR THE TAKING by Susan Napier (a down-under author who truly is a diamond.)

Must-Read Books to Watch Out For!

Posted in general post with tags , on June 29, 2008 by Maxine Sullivan

The Diamonds Down Under authors have had a wonderful time with our series over the last six months, but now that the last book is out in the States (and will soon be out in Australia and New Zealand), what’s in store for future books?

MAXINE’S July release “THE CEO TAKES A WIFE” is the first in her new series about the Valente brothers, with Romantic Times magazine saying that Maxine “weaves a sexy tale”. Alex Valente is the CEO of The House of Valente, a family business set in the Australian perfume industry. Alex must marry or lose control of the business. But no ordinary wife will do. Fashion designer, Olivia Cannington, is in desperate need of funds to help pay off her mother’s debts, and marriage to Alex is her best option. But will their sacrifices for the sake of family responsibilities be enough for them? Only after their marriage does Olivia learn the second part of the marriage ultimatum – that Alex must produce an heir within a year. Unfortunately the one thing Olivia wants to give him… the one thing he must have… is the one thing she can’t offer him. Will they find that love is enough? I’m sure you already know the answer to that, but it’s nice to keep you guessing for a while. 🙂

Then see how Alex and Olivia are doing in the next Valente brother’s story. Nick Valente has his own book coming in February, and poor Nick is in for a shock when a woman from his past returns. After that there is the last in the series with Matt Valente having a surprise gift awaiting him from a one-night stand.

Next up for JAN is “BILLIONAIRE’S FAVORITE FANTASY” which will hit the US stores in July and downunder in August. It is set in Queenstown, New Zealand, a beautiful ski resort in the South Island. And yes, the white fur coat on the cover is very definitely part of the fantasy…and this cover is very definitely one of the author’s favourites!

They had shared the most amazing night of passion and billionaire tycoon Lewis Goode could not erase Madeline Holland from his mind. Lucky for him, a corporate acquisition had just made him her new boss. But Lewis knew Madeline would quit rather than have people think she slept her way to the top. So he’d have to use every negotiating trick he knew to keep her in his boardroom…and in his bedroom.

Madeline’s uncharacteristic lapse in judgment was to have dramatic and humiliating consequences, but their passion burned so brightly that when Lewis proposed one more night of fantasy to see if it lived up to the first, she was powerless to refuse.  After all, how many people get two chances at perfection?

PAULA is putting on the finishing touches to her current novel “THE BAD BOY BILLIONAIRE“. The title will probably change, and she doesn’t have a release date or a cover, but her visual inspiration for Cal and Ava is the always-delectable Russell Crowe and gorgeous model Jessica Rivera. Here’s a sneak peak at Paula’s story:
 
Sydney’s most eligible bad boy, software developer Cal Prescott, must marry and produce an heir if he’s to keep his stepfather’s company from falling into the hands of his estranged step-brother, Zac.  So when he discovers his one-night encounter with a beautiful stranger has resulted in a pregnancy, nothing will get in his way of claiming the baby – and the woman – as his.

Ava Reilly knows her one passionate night with permanently-single Cal Prescott can go nowhere.  Now pregnant and deep in debt, Ava’s running out of options to save her rural bed and breakfast from going under.  The last thing she expects is Cal to come striding back into her life, demanding she marry him in a clear-cut business deal.  What she doesn’t know is Cal’s real reason he wants her as his wife…
 
After that, Paula will focus on Zac’s story, a secret mistress/office romance – all her favorites rolled into one!  And after that, stay tuned for a seduced-for-revenge/secret-baby-with-a-twist between a fiery Spanish heroine and a determined outback billionaire. And after that… well… we’ll see. 🙂

YVONNE had a whole lot of fun writing her August release “CLAIMING HIS RUNAWAY BRIDE“, which she describes as a Beauty and the Beast/runaway amnesiac bride story. Set to the South-East of Lake Taupo in New Zealand’s beautiful Central North Island, at Luc Tanner’s (fictional) luxury resort and estate, Luc and Belinda both need to overcome their past to allow their love to reach its true potential. As the back cover blurb says-“He Didn’t Want Her To Remember…The accident that had taken Belinda’s memory had provided Luc with the perfect means for revenge. His beautiful bride had no recollection of fleeing her groom on their wedding day…or the real reason behind their union. All she recalled was the unbridled passion they still shared-and the steely-eyed mogul planned to take full advantage of it.” But don’t let the blurb lead you astray, CLAIMING HIS RUNAWAY BRIDE isn’t a revenge story, it’s the story of a man who saw the woman he wanted, he got her and now he’s prepared to do anything to keep her. The big question is, can Belinda teach him to let go of his heart? In the lead up to this release Yvonne has a Desire Daily Online Read, THE BILLIONAIRE’S PROXY, over on eharlequin (http://www.eharlequin.com) starting 21 July and running until 17 August.

Tell us about any upcoming books you’re looking forward to reading and be in the draw to win Silhouette Desire author Robyn Grady’s first book, The Magnate’s Marriage Demand, plus a small stuffed kangaroo toy. We’re delighted to add that Robbie’s book is a finalist in the National Reader’s Choice Award.

Six Romantic Settings

Posted in general post with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2008 by Paula

As I was writing this post, I realised that all these places have one thing in common – beauty.  There’s something about nature that gets your heart pitter-pattering, so what more could you ask for than to share a gorgeous sunset or breathtaking view with your significant other?  So here’s my six favorite romantic settings in the world – some I’ve been fortunate enough to visit, others I’m still dying to see (anyone got a spare twenty grand?)

Santorini, Greek Islands
It’s not just the famous white-buildings-on-blue-sky photos that get you: intimacy abounds on every aspect of this beautiful yet simple island.  Head on up to Oia to witness the glorious sunset – a popular place to be, judging by the “please do not stand” notices painted on the natives’ roofs.  Made famous in paintings and photographs the world over, the scene is even more moving in person.

Paris, France
Ah, l’amore!  Take a walk down the Champs Elysee hand-in-hand, or through Tuileries Garden where lovers hug and kiss in complete abandon.  Stroll along the banks of the Seine and watch the local artists sell their wares (I’m still kicking myself for not buying one!)  And what could be more romantic (and breathtaking!) than Paris at night? 

Lagos and surrounds, Algarve Coast, Portugal
It doesn’t matter if you stay in a pensione or a four-star hotel, for sheer impact Algarve Coast’s breathtaking beauty is not to be missed.  Lagos reeks of history (very romantic!) but has the charm of a small cozy community.  With great shopping and wonderful restaurants, it guarantees intimate romantic moments. 

Ubud, Bali
Inland, away from the bustling commercial coastal towns, Ubud is a paradise to experience.  Take a moped ride up to Mt Batur, Bali’s dormant volcano, wallow in the decadence of one of Kamandalu Resort and Spa’s private jacuzzis or simply sample the beautiful heritage of a centuries-old culture. 

Likuliku Lagoon Resort, Fiji
I have a thing for bures on stilts… there’s something about being able to literally dive into the ocean as soon as you wake that’s deeply romantic.  Not to mention sparkling beaches and calm water (waves were fun when I was ten… now, not so much).  In Fiji you can sample one of the five top bures on stilts.

Queensland’s Tropical North, Australia
Nothing screams ‘intimate’ more than a private secluded island.  And Aussies are fortunate to have a swag of them just off the Queensland coast: from Lizard and Magnetic Islands in the far north, to Daydream, Hamilton and Stradbroke further down south.  Pristine beaches ideal for romantic moonlit meals (and strolls!), surrounded by nature and clear water.  And the Whitsundays (a bunch of islands in The Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Mackay) also boasts the perfect romantic spot – Heart Reef.  Ahhhh!

What’s your idea of the perfect romantic spot?  A city, place or just wherever your partner is?  Post a comment and go in the draw to win a cute Aussie keyring and notebook.

Q&A With Mary-Theresa Hussey, Executive Editor, Silhouette Books

Posted in guest blogger with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

This week at DDU we are delighted to welcome Mary-Theresa Hussey as our special guest. As well as finding a good book to publish, Matrice also loves to find a good book to read and is a member — and MVP — of the New York Editors team in the eHarlequin 100,000 Book Challenge. She has graciously agreed to stop by during the week to talk about everyone’s favourite topic: books! To get the discussion started, we asked Matrice about her job, her reading habits and her favourite series.

Q: What is your current position at Harlequin and what does your job entail?

MTH: My title is Executive Editor, Silhouette Books, and it actually covers many facets! My main responsibilities are to coordinate the fantastic work of the Senior Editors for the Desire, Special Edition and Romantic Suspense lines. I’ll help resolve questions that arise from overseas or Toronto, give input on repackaging and direction of line and copy, approve contracts and legal bits, do the management aspects of the editors in the group, represent the lines to the sales group and overseas in meetings, and do all I can to support the editors in achieving their goals of selling more books every year. There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the main aspects of the daily life. Sadly, not a lot of reading or working on manuscripts, but I do have a lot of emails and phone calls and looking toward the future.

Q: Do you have authors you edit and are you still an acquiring editor?

MTH: I still have about fifteen authors and am selectively on the lookout for more. I have authors who write for Specials and Nocturne in series, and for LUNA and MIRA in single title. And I keep an eye out for more authors with compelling voices for both series and single title.

Q: What was your first job with the company?

MTH: I started as an Editorial Assistant for Silhouette Romance. Tara Gavin was Senior Editor of Silhouette Romance at that time and hired me because I was a fan of Diana Palmer and Ann Major, both her own authors!

Q: Which lines have you worked/edited for since?

MTH: Well, I’ve had a number of special projects over the years, and have had authors who have written for more lines as well. Hmm. I’ve acquired titles for Silhouette Romance, Special Edition, Desire, Intimate Moments, Shadows, Yours Truly, Bombshell, Romantic Suspense and Nocturne. And for Harlequin Intrigue, Historicals, Love and Laughter, Duets, Modern Extra. Love Inspired. I’ve also acquired for LUNA, MIRA, RDI, the new YA line and for the single title programs for Harlequin and Silhouette. So a lot of them!

Q: Rumour has it you’re an avid reader — has that always been the case? Do you remember your introduction to romance and Harlequin books?

MTH: I’ve always been an avid reader and I started out young in series — Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames, and all the other series like that. They learned to hook me from an early age!

When I was eleven we were spending three weeks in Ireland (my parents were born there), and I’d run out of books to read and was going crazy. So my aunt volunteered her Mills & Boon collection and I was hooked! The first one was “The Master Fiddler” by Janet Dailey and I devoured them all. Then, when I was back in NY, I discovered the library carried these books and used book stores and I was a goner. I got my first bank account so I could write checks to subscribe to the Loveswept series! My parents are not readers (though they read to us every night at bed and encouraged it), and are bewildered by it, but resigned as well.

Luckily I’ve got a commute where 40 minutes each way is on a subway, so I have some solid reading time that I reserve for printed books. And I’ll often go to the park at lunch, or curl up at the end of the day to finish the book. So that gives me an advantage!

Q: You mentioned reading series from an early age — are you still a fan of connected books, series and continuities?

MTH: I do love connected stories and read them for preference. There is a balance however, that needs to be addressed to make the stories move along in characters and plot in a way you can trust them. The J.D. Robb Death series moves the relationship along between Eve and Dallas but focuses on the mystery in a way that’s very pleasing.

But sometimes a series with a single character begins to feel forced and the author has to hold back some decisions or hard choices because of the impact down the road. I have trouble with that, because I like each book to deliver the strongest punch possible and want the author to trust her own creativity to fix it or deal with it.

Still, a world that I can return to heightens the level of trust and comfort and eagerness to return to a series. Lois McMaster Bujold has a SF series that in the first batch of stories she jumped around in time as well so we caught glimpses of Miles at various stages of his life (though the last four or five have been pretty much consistent).

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro did that with her Saint Germain series as well. I admire that and think it allows an author to experiment and keep things fresh.

Q: It seems you read widely across the genres — do you have a favourite genre or subgenre? An all-time favourite romance?

MTH: I find it hard to pick favorites. I like romance and fantasy and mystery and thrillers and paranormals and most of the subsets of those genres. I’m not really a women’s fiction reader; I’ll often prefer non-fiction over literary fiction as well. And what’s my favorite can depend on the mood. I’ve been unpacking boxes of books I’ve had stored for a while and falling in love with the books all over again. In the romance section, I’ve saved a lot of Essie Summers, Kay Hooper, Justine Davis, Rachel Lee, Sara Seale, Iris Johansen, Billie Douglass, Emma Darcy, Susan Napier, Susannah Hart and oh so many more!

Q: Obviously these older favourites are print books, but are you an eBook convert?

MTH: I’ve got mixed emotions. I was an early reader on eBooks and supporter in the company. I’ve probably read about thirty or more, but it’s not my first choice. There’s nothing that compares to the feel of the book in your hand, the words on the page, knowing how far you’ve gone and how far you have to go. Though the bars are there in e-formats, when you’re holding the book in your hand and you see that there’s only a few chapters to go, the excitement level rises as you wonder how it will be all wrapped up! And I love flipping back a page to catch something and carrying the book wherever I go. I generally carry a few books on my PDA, and am looking to do more on an ereader, but it’s not fully converted me yet.

And I’m still trying with audio books, but am struggling there.

I find myself getting distracted fairly easily and losing the import of the words and phrases, even when the readers are strong. But I keep trying to see if I can learn to enjoy it, as I know many others really find it satisfying.

Q: I’ve always wondered, is it difficult to discard your editing pen and read purely for pleasure?

MTH: It is sometimes hard to read for pleasure, but I try to approach the books I read with a clear mind whenever possible. The minor typos and incongruities bother me, but I can let them go. I do often reflect on what I would have suggested to the author to change. What irked me about the characterizations or conflicts or perhaps how to tighten or expand areas. But if I tried to do that all the time I’d never be able to enjoy the book on its own terms, so I can usually limit it.

Q: Have you ever considered writing a book?

MTH: I have sat down maybe twice and got to page two before stopping. It bores me and I really have no interest in writing on my own. I love brainstorming and interacting with authors and am astonished by the commitment it takes to finish a novel. But for me, I’d much rather read someone else’s book!

To finish up, we posed a couple of fun complete-this-sentence questions…

The best part of my job is…

Dealing with the creative, interesting, challenging people in the office and out-the authors and readers as well as colleagues.

On my desk you will always find…

A mess! Tons of papers, magazines, books, pens in various colors. And I have an unopened gift that I leave there for a really bad day. It’s a potential treat that gives me a sense of hope and mystery and fun. Luckily, I haven’t had to open it, and its packaging is pretty so I can just smile at it!

If I wasn’t an editor, I would like to be a…

Hmm. Photographer — for children perhaps!

My favourite place in the world is…

Changes a lot! But I keep coming back to a hill I climbed in Ireland in Kerry twenty years ago. The grass was green and slightly damp, a waterfall was trickling nearby, the wind was freshening, the sun was peeking through the clouds, some mountains were behind for a cradling feel, and the sea stretched out before me dotted with islands that glistened in greens and browns amid the blues and grays and greens of the water that was shot with silver and white as the light caught it.

Whenever I’m stressed or tired, I can call that image to my mind and feel ready to take on the next task.

I have always wanted to…

Go into space! Perhaps one of these years I will….

My favourite piece of jewellery is…

A “History of Ireland” silver bangle bracelet my parents gave me a few years ago. It’s unusual, creative, a discussion point, and the images lead to so much more.

To continue the Q&A theme and start this week’s discussion, Matrice has a question for you: What makes you choose a book by a new author? What makes you try something new?

Your comment this week will enter you in the draw to win a 3-pack of books, handpicked by Bron to include new-to-YOU authors. (Prize drawn June 21.)

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SPECIAL EVENT: Join us for the drawing of Melissa Jeglinski’s critique on Friday, June 20 at 7.30am Australian EST–that’s Thursday, June 19, 5.30pm American EDT. All commenters in the Q&A with MJ are eligible for this fabulous prize. Full details here.
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Six Things I Love About Port Douglas

Posted in general post with tags , on June 8, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

I’ve wracked my brain to limit this to only six, it’s tough when I love almost everything about this quaint little town that feels as lush, humid and friendly as a tropical island. I’ve prattled on about my favourite thing – Four Mile Beach – earlier in this blog so will give that a miss, but there is so much to choose from!

1/ Desire readers like DANGER – especially dangerous alpha males – so I’ll begin with the four C’s: Cyclones.
Like tornadoes in the States, cyclones have a season and in Northern Queensland, it’s generally between November and end April. One of the worst was in March 1911, killing two people, toppling the lighthouse and almost completely destroying the emerging village of Port Douglas and the nearby town of Mossman.

Pic: Two children sit around a damaged piano in amongst the debris of cyclone 1911

Contrast that with Cyclone Larry in March 2006 which devastated sugar cane and banana crops, made thousands homeless and left 100,000 without power. But cyclones can be good too. They stimulate growth, cull old vegetation to make way for new, create vegetable pulp for the forest floor and flush out river systems, sending nutrients into the sea to feed the hungry coral reef. No cyclones, no reef!

Crocodiles – Northern Queensland has the smaller freshwater croc found in many parts of the world, and the much larger estuarine crocs, huge and aggressive creatures found in the mangrove swamps near the mouths of rivers. I did a night-time croc-spotting expedition on the Daintree River a few miles north of Port. We dangled our hands in the water. We stood on a tiny observation deck about three feet from the surface of the water. We didn’t see a croc, but next day at Hartley Creek Crocodile Farm, we were shocked when a guide threw a leaf onto a still-as-glass pond and a monster of about four meters long burst out of the water and leapt high into the air. Some estuarine crocs can grow up to seven meters long!

Cassowaries – a spectacular, flightless bird related to the emu and ostrich, stands up to two meters tall, covered in coarse black feathers with brilliant reds and blues above its neck and a bony casque on its head, used to batter its way through undergrowth and– apparently – to headbutt nosy humans. They eat whole apples in one and run like the wind – frequently after cars! And they are reportedly very bad-tempered when approached. There are around sixty reported human deaths from these birds.

Cane toads – are poisonous to most small animals who want to eat them, including household pets. Originally brought in from Hawaii in an unsuccessful attempt to eradicate a beetle that was decimating the sugar cane, the toad population exploded, having a detrimental effect on native wildlife. They are regarded as a hateful pest, but one very Australian way to get revenge is to visit the Iron Bar and Grill on Macrossan Street on race night. If you’re lucky enough to be picked as a jockey, you get to kiss your numbered and fancily-dressed toad and then encourage it to race the length of a table by blowing party kazoos.

One of the more obvious dangers around Northern Queensland are the stingers that frequent the beach in the summer months. Stinger nets are a fact of life on Four Mile Beach between October and June. Box Jellyfish can be deadly and have been known to kill within 3 or 4 minutes. There is an antivenom if you’re lucky enough to be close to a medical center. If not, vinegar helps. I have seen a sign along the lines of “Beware the Stinger, if it doesn’t kill you, the pain will make you wish it had!” Apparently, two pairs of pantyhose, one worn the regular way, the other with the crotch cut out and pulled over your head, putting your arms through the legs, also offers some protection.

But far and away, the most common danger of Port are the locals teasing you to death!

2/ RESTAURANTS – probably around fifty eating establishments in this tiny town, from the 5-star Nautilus, fine dining amongst the trees to my personal favourite, Salsa, tropical modern Australian cuisine, showcasing the best of local delicacies such as Seven Pepper Fried Soft Shell Mud Crab with Daintree green tea noodles, jaggery and galangal glaze. A perennial favourite is Going Bananas, famous for its Barramundi Wings – and the large bearded man wearing a skirt, lashing the waitresses with a cardboard sword and stuffing unsuspecting diners mouths with jelly snakes. And of course, Mango Jam on Macrossan Street for its gourmet woodfired pizzas. Although I haven’t done it yet, Flames of the Forest, 15 minutes north of Port, is apparently a magical place where you dine in the rainforest at night beside a river, before being treated to an intimate story telling experience from a local aborigine, whose ancestors have told the same stories in this very place for thousands of years.

3/ THE REEF – over 2600 individual reefs and 300 islands, The Great Barrier reef is the largest complex of coral reefs in the world. It covers 2000 kms, half the size of Texas. Quicksilver is the largest tour operator here but there are many smaller ones, notably an authentic Chinese junk called Shaolin. Once at the isles, you can snorkel, explore by semi-submersible or check out the incredible colours of underwater life on glass-bottomed boats.

4/ KURANDA – a picturesque mountain village, accessible by historic train along the Great Dividing Range or by Skyrail where your cable car hovers over the rainforest. Kuranda started out as an alternative hippy settlement but now is well and truly a tourist gem right in the middle of the rainforest. There are local markets, animal parks, bungee, handicraft shops and galleries, and restaurants and hotels. The breathtaking Barron Falls and aboriginal dance performances are not to be missed.

5/ HISTORY – Port has had a checkered history since being its discovery in the late 1700s. Over the centuries, the area has flourished and died in gold, tin and copper mining, farming, sugar cane, banana and corn crops booms and busts. Named in 1877 after the current Premier of Queensland, Port took over from Cairns as the business and political hub of Northern Queensland, but this was reversed in 1885 and development of the town slowed considerably. The cyclone in 1911 almost killed the town off. But with the opening of the Cook Highway in 1933 between Cairns and Port, things began to improve. Sugar cane was now well established and rail links were built between Cairns and Mossman. Australians loved to holiday here during the winter months for its balmy temperatures and proximity to the Reef and the Rainforest, but it wasn’t until the Sheraton Mirage Resort opened in 1988 that the rest of the world discovered Port Douglas. Paradise was now firmly on the international tourist map.

6/CARNIVAL – I was lucky enough to take in the Port Douglas Village Carnival and what a hoot! There are float and fashion parades down the main street, sand sculpting and other beach activities, regattas on the water, golf challenges, the Longest Lunch on the boardwalk of the Marina, rugby tournaments, a triathlon, street theatre, food and wine festivals and the finale, the Sunday seafood extravaganza where you can stuff yourself with seafood for hours and all for next to nothing. Yum!

Those are just a few of the things I love about Port Douglas in Northern Queensland, Australia. I have travelled a lot in the past and there is not a place that I wouldn’t go back to, but Port is my second home. See you there soon!

All comments will go in the draw for a copy of my next release, Billionaire’s Favorite Fantasy (US spelling) due out in the States in July (Oz/NZ) in August, or any of my backlist.

Have a great week, everyone!