Archive for December, 2007

How I’d See in the New Year if I had the Blackstone/Hammond Wealth

Posted in general post with tags , , , , on December 30, 2007 by Maxine Sullivan

There are many ways to celebrate the end of one year and the start of another… so we Diamonds Down Under authors decided it would be fun to fantasize about how and where we’d like to party if we had the same fathomless wealth of a Blackstone or a Hammond. Picture this….

Bronwyn: If I had the resources to choose any location to see in the new year, then I wouldn’t travel any further than our own beautiful Sydney. The rich and privileged Bronwyn J. would throw a party in the grounds of a fabulous harbourside home…somewhere like Miramare, the fictional mansion I created as home to the Blackstones in Diamonds Down Under. It wouldn’t be a huge party, just a gathering of family and friends on the terrace and by the pool on a glorious summer’s night. We would drink vintage French champagne and dine casually on seafood and summer fruit. At midnight we would enjoy a bird’s eye view of the fireworks over the harbour. And the best part of this fantasy New Years Eve party (apart from spending it with the people I love)? I would pay Someone Else to do all the arrangements, from the catering to the cleaning up afterward.

Maxine: It’s sunrise on New Year’s Eve and I’m in a hot air balloon with my husband, drifting near Alice Springs in the central heart of Australia. It’s peaceful and serene and the air is still fresh and cool before the heat of a summer’s day kicks in. The spectacular colours of an early morning dawn compete with kangaroos hopping along the ground and cockatoos in their gum trees. The sheer immensity and diversity of the desert stretches endlessly beneath us, broken only by mulga scrub and spinifex grass, and the peaks of the MacDonnell Ranges in the distance. It’s a wondrous sight that takes my breath away. Afterwards, we go back to the luxurious comfort of our five-star hotel and lounge by the pool all day. Then it’s time to dress for the party of the year at a nearby cattle station owned by one of the wealthiest men in Australia. Celebrities from around the country will be flying in and it’s even reported that one of their special guests will be the gorgeous supermodel, Briana Davenport. I’ve read so much about her lately that I can’t wait to see if she’s as lovely in person. I bet she is. 🙂

Jan: Oh, to be rich! If I could see the New Year in anywhere, I’d choose – somewhere high, with a lot of sky, to watch the sunrise. Of course, there would be Les, champagne, and maybe the cats – if they could cope with the ride in my own Lear jet to get there! Perhaps I’d choose the Great Wall of China; the Taj Mahal in India (done that!); the Matterhorn in Switzerland, (done that too, but not at New Year’s); Antarctica; the Himalaya (well, I have watched the sunrise over Everest from Tiger Hill in Darjeeling, India); Mt Cook, New Zealand (done that, too!). I guess it’s the Great Wall for us…anyone care to join us? Maybe a couple of famous rugby players. Some fab diamond-studded authors I know. The heroes and heroines of all my books! Rowan Atkinson for the laughs. Pink Floyd or Radiohead, I couldn’t think of anyone better for that ‘big sky’ music, although Les would grumble. And Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Marilyn Monroe, which means I’d have to take Dad because he’s old friends with those three! Perhaps I’ll take two planes. I apologise in advance to the environment.

Paula: I’m a bit of a NYE Scrooge these days. I did all my wild partying in my 20s, with crazy all-night dancing, flirting and other unseemly behavior my mom doesn’t know about. 😀 But my ideal NYE would be to rent a room at the only six star hotel in Australia, the Palazzo Versace at the Gold Coast and spend the evening with David Boreanaz’s cloned twin (which I’ve already done with my masses of wealth) watching DVDs, eating chocolate and drinking Arrowfield Semillion Savignon Blanc (which I’d have to be rich to buy… they don’t make it anymore!) Then on New Years Day, have a private entry to Seaworld and swim with the dolphins, sharks and sealife, which is actually my son’s ideal day 🙂  And hey, I’m not fussy – if I can’t have Cloned David, I’d settle for the real George Clooney…

Tessa: Sheer heaven for me would be to do absolutely nothing to ring in the new year, except fly to Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private getaway in the British Virgin Islands and spend the day (make that the week!) lounging around on the beach with my husband, far from television, the internet and civilization. I’d take lots of romance novels to read, of course. <g>.  Or perhaps I’d jump on a plane and travel around the world like I’ve done a few times before. By the time I’ve travelled through all those time zones, I would have missed the whole thing.

Yvonne: If I had the Hammond/Blackstone wealth, for New Year’s Eve I’d arrange for all my best friends and close family to be met at the Half Moon Bay marina by a luxury barge. Of course it will be a perfect balmy summer night and we’ll cruise the tranquil inner harbour, sipping only the finest champagne and indulging in delectable hors d’oeuvres. A string quartet will play in the background and my guests will mingle and chat, renew old acquaintances and share memories of the year just past. By 11:30 pm we’ll tie up at the Viaduct Basin, where, at midnight, we’ll have prime viewing pleasure of fireworks as they’re launched off the Auckland Sky Tower, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest tower. At the night’s end, everyone will be chauffeured home in a fleet of limousines, or put up for the night at the nearby Hilton Hotel on Princes Wharf, and as a special New Year’s gift, each of my guests will leave with a memento—a pair of diamond drop earrings for the ladies, and diamond studded gold cuff links for the gentlemen.

How would you celebrate your new year if you were rich? Would you like to share it with family and friends? With the famous? Do you want to do something fabulously wild or ridiculous, if only you had the money? We’d love to hear your ideas.

* BONUS!! Post a comment and you could win a copy of Vows & A Vengeful Groom and a cute Australian phone/bag dangler. Prize to be drawn January 5.

6 Things We Do For a Down Under Christmas

Posted in general post with tags , on December 23, 2007 by Maxine Sullivan

Christmas is Christmas the world over but Christmas Down Under is something unique. It’s summertime here in Australia and New Zealand and as the song goes, the living is easy. Sun, surf and sand glitter beneath bright blue skies, the gloriously red flowers of the Australian Christmas Bush sway in the hot wind, and Christmas stockings are more likely hanging beneath an air-conditioner than a fireplace. It’s called the “silly season” where everything is upside down or back to front, where New Zealand is the first in the world to celebrate a Christmas dawn, where we celebrate Christmas rituals in a traditional yet different way. It’s home and it’s what we know and for most of us Christmas wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.

So what are some of the things we do for a Down Under Christmas?

1. Santa Claus is coming to town! Our Down Under Santas may well end up with heatstroke but he’s everywhere you look. At the mall, where you can have your child’s picture taken with him. At the workplace, where he may’ve had a drop or two at a champagne breakfast. Or see him in one of the many Christmas parades held through out the cities and towns when the streets come alive with the spirit of Christmas. Everyone loves a parade, even Santa and his kangaroo-led sleigh.

2. Let’s have a singalong! You haven’t experienced Christmas Down Under until you’ve been to Carols by Candlelight. In big cities and country towns these open air concerts are very popular with everyone. Bring along a blanket, some candles, and sing Christmas carols to your heart’s content as the sun sets and the candlelight glows.

3. It’s holiday time! And summer holidays mean we usually break for Christmas and take a few weeks off to recharge our batteries. Families can spend Christmas Day at home eating until they burst or lazing at the beach… or both

4. And speaking of food… we celebrate Christmas Down Under in diverse ways. There’s the full traditional dinner with roast turkey and hot ham and all the trimmings still enjoyed by many despite the heat, all the way through to those saner folk who prefer seafood and barbecues. And we’re likely to be eating all that food at a beachside campsite or our own home.

5. Cricket anyone? Or a yacht race? The day after Christmas is another public holiday called Boxing Day, where you can either put your feet up and relax watching the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, or you can play cricket with the family in the backyard. Or perhaps you’d prefer to turn the television channel over and watch the start of one of the world’s most prestigious ocean races – the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race.

6. Doing your bit for the economy! If you don’t like cricket or watching yacht’s race, you can get some exercise by fighting the crowds at the Boxing Day sales, when the day after Christmas is notorious for stores slashing their prices and urging shoppers to spend big. All you need is money, strong elbows, and a sense of direction in the early morning stampede, then you’ll more than likely grab a bargain or two.

So is there anything different about your Christmas? Or do you celebrate it in the traditional way? Perhaps you have some favourite traditions you’d like to share?

Q & A with Melissa Jeglinski, Silhouette Books Senior Editor

Posted in guest blogger with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2007 by jan colley

Here it is! What all you aspiring authors have been waiting for: the real oil from Melissa Jeglinski, Senior Editor of Silhouette Books in New York. When someone suggested that as Desire authors from Australia and New Zealand had doubled in the last couple of years and maybe we should get together and write a continuity, Melissa did not flinch. She supported, encouraged and brainstormed and the Diamonds Downunder series was born. She even offered to critique some lucky winner’s manuscript as one of our major prizes to promote the series. Naturally, we weren’t going to turn that down! To kick this series off and lead up to this fantastic prize, we asked Melissa a few questions, just to whet your appetites!

1/How many author-led continuities have you been involved with?

MJ: Not sure if by Author-led you meant the authors came up with the concept – if so, Diamonds is just my second. Millionaire of the Month in Desire was my first.

If you meant the broader concept, here’s my response: At least a dozen, if not more. I’ve been working on them since I was an editorial assistant. My first author-led continuity was Montana Mavericks and I was very hands-on in that concept brainstorming. Since then I’ve worked on numerous continuities for multiple lines and I currently deal with two Desire continuities per year.

2/Why do you think continuities hold such great appeal for readers? Is it the whole ‘collectable mentality’ or that we still love and miss the great dramas of the ‘80’s, the snapshot view into the lives of the rich and famous and all their skeletons in the closet, like Dallas, Dynasty, and Sons and Daughters?

MJ: Readers tell me that they love to find out what happened to characters from prior books, so continuities give them a glance beyond happily ever after. It also creates a ‘family’ for the readers to become connected to…much like the nighttime soap operas of the past and those that are seemingly making a return nowadays. I think readers like the connection they feel to the characters, the stories. They enjoy discovering what’s coming next, maybe trying to uncover the secrets before the characters themselves do.

3/What intrigued you about the Diamonds Downunder premise?

MJ: I loved the machinations the authors created…the juicy factor of the feuding families and missing heir and scandalous plane crash. There was a lot to the concept…more than just several siblings in a cool location. The fact that the family were diamond dealers was also very compelling…what woman doesn’t love jewelry? I could see the covers from the moment the idea was formed and that usually means it’s a concept readers will enjoy as well. And, Desire had never done a continuity set in either Australia or New Zealand, much less both. The locations were so exotic, I just had to do it!

4/We know you’re busy but do you have any plans to visit your downunder authors anytime soon – say, if you received an invitation to a conference down here?

MJ: It is my deepest desire to visit Australia and New Zealand. Of course, a business trip would be great, but that’s not always up to me. I’d say yes in a heartbeat if the company offered to send me. Otherwise, I’m saving my frequent flyer miles and my pennies for a trip on my own. 🙂

5/Australian and New Zealand authors seem to be popular with Harlequin and Silhouette lately. Given that the market is so much smaller than the US, do you see this trend continuing, and why do you think so many have been bought recently?

MJ: I know, I can’t believe how large a pool Desire has of downunder authors. I think it’s just great because they all offer such unique voices and such different story locations. Although I will admit, as an editor, I’m always confused about your warm Christmases and chilly July’s. 🙂 I think I’m finally getting the hang of it, now.

I know I bought both Tessa and Maxine from the eharlequin.com online story pitch. I was already working with Bronwyn and Jan. And then suddenly other downunder authors were getting agents and those projects were being sold to Desire. It was like a new door opened and I was so excited to see all the talent. With Desire’s editorial guidelines changing, I think it also made the fit easier. My downunder authors have NO problem doing the alpha male dead on! I am totally open to more downunder talent and do see this trend continuing as veteran authors share their knowledge and mentor new writers.

6/Are there any storylines you are seeing too many of – or not enough of – at the moment (talking specifically Desire here)?

MJ: I’m seeing a lot of revenge plots without a lot of emotion behind them. I love a good revenge plot, don’t get me wrong. But there needs to be something behind the characters’ motivations besides “you destroyed my father.” I need it to go a step deeper. I’m also looking for books with western setting or western heroes – not the “aw shucks, mam” guys, but really rugged alpha men… who are also quite successful. And I always love a good boss/secretary story.

7/Do you have the time to read for pleasure, and if so, what do you like to read?

MJ: I love to read romance in my spare time, really! I actually read a lot of historical romance, specifically European settings. Regency is my favorite. I do like some contemporary romances and I love J.R.Ward’s vampire books, although I haven’t gotten very involved in other paranormal stories, except for Stephanie Meyer – I love her series.

8/Are you a diamond girl yourself or does something else push your buttons romantically?

MJ: I love anything with bling! The more sparkles the better. I just bought myself a pair of diamond stud earrings while I was in St. Thomas this past May. I love them. And I have tons of costume jewelry that I enjoy wearing. Jewels just make you feel so happy, you know?

*   *   *

There you have it! We thank MJ for her valuable support. Please post your comments here. One lucky person’s post will be randomly chosen toward the end of the series. The winner will receive a critique of a partial or full manuscript by the Senior Editor of Silhouette Books in New York, OR a twenty-minute phone call at MJ’s expense, to chat about anything to do with writing, submitting and publishing romance. Details will be posted on the Contest page of our DDU website soon. Good luck to all, and remember, you’ve gotta be in to win!

6 things you may not know about diamonds

Posted in general post with tags , , , , , on December 8, 2007 by Paula

Throughout writing our series, there’s been lots of research… and I do mean lots!  Not only did we get to check out jewellery sites where you’d have to sell your first-born to even get in the door, but there were the mining and technical aspects.  For me, I read about how diamonds were formed, how old they can be, how to judge a good cut, what kind of cuts there were (square cut is my favorite, in case you’re thinking of buying me one 😀 ).  And of course, pictures of diamonds in not-so-flattering settings so we’d have an idea of what the Blackstone Rose actually looked like.   So for the purposes of this blog, I managed to narrow all those facts down to six:

1. The name diamond derives from the ancient Greek word adamas, meaning “invincible”, and they come in various colors ranging from blue, green, champagne, canary, yellow, pink, white and black.

2. Our ancestors were enjoying diamonds long before their true value was known.  The first recorded history of the diamond dates back around 3,000 years to India, where they were probably used for decorative purposes and as talismans to ward off evil spirits. 

3. A diamond is the hardest known material on earth, and can only be scratched by another diamond.  Its hardness and high dispersion of light makes it perfect for use in industrial applications (cutting and grinding tools)… and of course, jewelry, especially in engagement and wedding rings, where every-day wear durability is paramount.  The hardest diamonds in the world are from the New England area in New South Wales, Australia.  And not all diamonds are found on Earth – a carbonado diamond, found in South America and Africa, was deposited via an asteroid impact (not formed from the impact) about 3 billion years ago.   

4. The richest diamond deposit in the world was discovered in 1979 near Lake Argyle in Western Australia.  Since then, Argyle has become the world’s largest volume producer of diamonds, producing over a third of the world’s diamonds every year.  The pink diamond is the world’s most rare and valuable, with the Argyle producing 95% of the world’s supply.  However, pink diamonds are not abundant – less than one tenth of 1% is classified ‘pink’.

5. A carat is the unit of measure used to determine the weight of a diamond. The term “carat” is derived from the original method of using carob tree seeds to weigh diamonds. One seed from this tree was equivalent to one carat and the actual weight of one carat is now established at 0.2 grams.  The worth of a diamond is judged on the 4C’s – cut, colour, clarity and carat. Of all the 4C’s, cut is the only characteristic directly influenced by man.  A skilled diamond cutter can unlock the brilliance of a diamond, which will, in turn, demand a higher price.

6. The Monaco Grand Prix isn’t just about racing cars – it’s also a lucrative time for diamond company, Steinmetz, in partnership with Sotheby’s, to showcase their glittering goods on a yacht for their valued clients. Some of the world’s most expensive diamonds are on display in a private cabin (including a rare pink diamond worth $10M), guarded by eagle-eyed security.  And if that’s not enough exposure, drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were presented with special diamond studded race helmets.  In the past, McLaren Mercedes drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya had their steering wheels emblazoned with diamonds.  In the 2004 Grand Prix, both the Jaguar Racing R5 cars ran with Steinmetz Diamonds livery to represent the upcoming film, Oceans 12 starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt (who were present at the race). But when driver Christian Klien crashed in the first lap, it took two hours to get a crew to the site and by then the diamonds had been stolen.  Talk about a brilliant idea for a story involving blackmail, greed, revenge, glamour..!

I found it hard to stop at six, actually!  I was going to include the 60th wedding anniversary = diamond but figured most of us would know that 😀  Do you have any interesting snippets you’d like to share? 

Vows & A Vengeful Groom, Australian Cover

Posted in general post on December 5, 2007 by Bronwyn Jameson

Diamonds Down Under will be released in Australia and New Zealand from February 2008.  Here’s the first cover; do you like this version?

6 Reasons To Visit This Blog

Posted in general post with tags , , on December 1, 2007 by Bronwyn Jameson

Hello and welcome to the Diamonds Down Under blog, the place to visit for the scoop on this exciting new continuity series from Silhouette Desire. Six authors, six books, and six-plus-one months of weekly posts that will take you behind the scenes and inside the pages of Diamonds Down Under. We hope you’ll bookmark us as a favourite, but if you’re not convinced here are 6 reasons to visit often:

1. The Diamonds.

The Diamonds Down Under series is all about love and diamonds. It started decades ago when old Jeb Hammond found the massive pink diamond he named Heart of the Outback. Throughout the series, the diamonds cut from that one stone turn up unexpectedly or are chased down and impact on all our key characters. The Blackstone and Hammond families are involved in all facets of the industry. We will take you from the fictional Janderra mine to the billion-dollar business behind it all. From the designs of Dani Hammond to the glamorous Blackstone Jewellery and House of Hammond stores. There are glitzy fashion shows, gala balls and society weddings. The research was a lot of fun and we have oodles of fascinating legends and facts about the ‘Girl’s Best Friend,’ plus some gorgeous jewellery sites for you to ogle, and a beautiful diamond necklace for some lucky reader to win!

2. Down Under: the settings, the events, the lifestyle.

The Diamonds Down Under series is set in a range of fabulous down-under settings. There’s Sydney’s beautiful harbour and beaches and bustling business heart. Cosmopolitan Melbourne, the shopping and festival capital, and Auckland, New Zealand’s city of sails. Take a trip to Port Douglas in Australia’s tropical north, to Tahiti in the South Pacific, and to the rugged Kimberley region. Some of these settings are familiar, some exotic, some unique and unexpected; all are an integral part of the stories, as are the special events, festivals, celebrations, and the lifestyles of our New Zealand and Australian characters. Over the next months we’ll be blogging about some of these locations and events as well as our unique down-under spin on life.

3. The Authors and Their Books.

Leading the Diamonds Down Under lineup is multi award-winner Bronwyn Jameson, whose contributions to Silhouette Desire include the awesome Princes of the Outback series (triple RITA finalists in 2006.) Bronwyn’s VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM launches the series in sparkling style while introducing many of the continuing characters.

Hot on the heels of her bestselling Billionaire Heirs trilogy comes Tessa Radley‘s PRIDE & A PREGNANCY SECRET. Tessa’s sale to Silhouette Desire in 2006 was one of the catalysts that lead to the series as we finally had six Down Under Desirable authors. With an amazing five books published in 2007 Tessa is already a firm reader favourite.

Maxine Sullivan uses a million dollar temptation in MISTRESS & A MILLION DOLLARS as she uses her talent as one of Silhouette Desire’s best selling newcomers to evolve the continuity in a new direction. If you enjoyed Maxine’s Australian Millionaires miniseries, then you will love this book which kicks off with a spectacular wedding!

In SATIN & A SCANDALOUS AFFAIR Jan Colley uses her love of Port Douglas, a jewel in the crown of Australia’s tropical north, to expand another branch of the Blackstone/Hammond tree of scandal. Jan’s clever use of setting as an additional character in her books lends her writing her own inimitable sense of style, and you will love her insight into the world of jewellery design.

Paula Roe whose name has graced competition finals for more years than even she wanted to count sold to Silhouette Desire in 2006 and Forgotten Marriage garnered a 4.5 star Top Pick! from Romantic Times and was an instant bestseller. The planning for the continuity was well under way when Paula picked up the challenge to join Diamonds Down Under and create BOARDROOMS & A BILLIONAIRE HEIR, where the arrival of the missing Blackstone heir REALLY shakes things up!

Yvonne Lindsay brings the series to a dazzling HEA conclusion in JEALOUSY & A JEWELED PROPOSITION. Yvonne took Desire – and the bestsellers lists – by storm with her New Zealand Knights miniseries and this book features her trademark emotional and sensual intensity as she tells the tale of one incredibly proud and ambitious man…and the woman who understands his conflict.

4. The Guests.

As well as us (the continuity authors), you’ll meet some super special guests we’ve invited along to visit and share their views. We are especially chuffed to have an interview with Senior Editor Melissa Jeglinski in which she talks about Silhouette Desire, the appeal of continuity series, and whether diamonds really are a girl’s best friend. Check the sidebar for when that will be posted and watch for regular updates to the schedule.

5. The Prizes.

Join in the fun and win some fantastic prizes over the next six months. There’ll be plenty of book giveaways, plus the chance to win a manuscript critique by an editor or an agent. Or perhaps you’d prefer to win a 20 minute chat on the telephone with the senior editor of Desire (what a cool prize!) And if that’s not enough excitement, stay tuned for details of the grand prize – a treasure hunt culminating in some lucky person winning a gorgeous diamond pendant valued at US$350. Get ready to sparkle!

6. The Surprises in Store.

What is a continuity series without surprise twists? Here at the Diamonds Down Under blog we’re staying true to that ethos, with surprise guests and giveaways and topics for discussion. As for the series…we hope you’ll grab the books and read along as we ask (and answer) questions such as:

What was Marise Davenport-Hammond doing on Howard’s plane? Why did Jessica Cotter leave that fatal flight just before takeoff? Just how far is Brianna Davenport prepared to go to clear her family name? Is Quinn Everard out to ruin Blackstone Diamonds, or does he have an even bigger secret to keep from Dani Hammond? What does rogue businessman Jake Vance want with Blackstone Diamonds, and who really is Blake Hammond’s father?

Vows Cover

Book 1, Vows & A Vengeful Groom by Bronwyn Jameson, is now available for advance purchase from eHarlequin both as a print book and as an eBook and will be in American stores in Jan. 08 and in Australia and New Zealand in Feb. 08.

Diamonds Down Under: the cut, clarity and cost of family.