Archive for May, 2008

6 Things We Didn’t Include In Diamonds Down Under

Posted in general post with tags on May 25, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

A more accurate title for this blog would be: 6 Things We, At Some Point, Considered Including in Diamonds Down Under But Which Didn’t Make The Final Cut. Considering how long we spent working on the continuity threads and thrashing out the storylines, there was much material to choose from and I have spent a delightful morning skimming hundreds of old emails and reems of notes to arrive at my final list of six.

1. Everyone Hates Howard!

That was one of our tongue-in-cheek ideas for a series title. It didn’t make the cut. *g* Those which we considered more seriously included:

  • DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
  • DIAMONDS, DECEPTION, DESIRE
  • HEART OF THE OUTBACK
  • DIAMOND DYNASTY
  • DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER

The titles we attached to our final book proposals were:

Book1: Perrini’s Boardroom Bride = VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM
Book 2: The Boss’s Mistress Secret = PRIDE & A PREGNANCY SECRET
Book 3: His Million Dollar Mistress = MISTRESS & A MILLION DOLLARS
Book 4: The Tycoon’s Unexpected Proposal = SATIN & A SCANDALOUS AFFAIR
Book 5: Return of the Bad Boy Billionaire = BOARDROOMS & A BILLIONAIRE HEIR
Book 6: The CEO’s Convenient Wife = JEALOUSY & A JEWELLED PROPOSITION

MJ came up with those final titles very late one night and we were thrilled with the creatively matched set.

2. Legend of the Lost Mine

Early in the planning stage we had Jeb Hammond, grandfather of the cousins who feature in our stories, missing for many years and presumed dead while searching for a lost diamond mine in the Australian outback. The name Jebediah was a nod to this original crusty-renegade-prospector character. Fiona Brand attached a folklore legend and a curse (which later became a blessing) and in her story Jeb was to be found. Alive! Ownership of the mine and diamond greed created another layer of dispute and conflict. But we had too many threads and layers, and when simplifying we had to–wait for it–*lose* the legend of the lost mine.

3. Tale of the Missing Heir

Once upon a time our outline featured a different version of Jake Blackstone and a very different Story 5. This Jake grew up alongside his siblings and assumed his mantel beside Howard at Blackstone Diamonds. However he didn’t agree with his father’s business tactics and left after a blazing dispute. Distancing himself from everything Blackstone, he struck out on his own and became a formidable success in West Australian mining. After Howard’s death, a lawyer was sent to bring the black sheep heir back into the fold. When we had a change of authors and Paula took over this book, she came up with a new story and backstory for the missing heir. We loved it! (The picture, BTW, has nothing to do with Jake or missing *cough* hair. It’s the inspiration on our group home page. I included it purely for the aesthetic.)

4. Diamonds Are Forever…unless they are stolen.

From the very start we knew that stolen/missing diamonds would be at the heart of the series. Hence, we used the name Heart of the Outback for Jeb’s amazing find of a ginormous pink diamond. Many versions of what happened to the stone ensued. One version saw only half the stone used in The Blackstone Rose necklace; the other half was either in Sonya’s possession or missing. Another idea involved an insurance scam instituted by Howard, complete with a paste “diamond” replacement for the stolen original.

5. Alexis and Ric (and other name changes)

Many of the characters went through name changes as the proposals came together and personalities and backstories developed. At one point Ryan was Bryce, at another Jack. Brianna was Leah. Jarrod was Nicholas. Blake was Connor. And Kimberley was Alexandra, Xandra, and finally Alexis. When MJ read the synopsis she pointed out that Ric and Alexis were a soap super-couple (General Hospital) and so perhaps I might reconsider.

6. Sonya Hammond: Heroine? Mistress? Villain?

Our very first submission featured 40-something Sonya Hammond as a heroine, finding love with a (yummy) younger man. That storyline didn’t get the editorial nod but debate continued for many weeks over Sonya’s role in the series. Had she loved Howard? Was she his mistress at any point in her life? Was she bitter at being overlooked, in love and/or at the will reading? Did this lead to vengeance and if so, as a misguided troublemaker or as an evil villain(ess)? We got quite carried away (plane tampering anyone?) before Jan reeled us in. The Sonya she created does play a significant role and, in true romance fashion, gets her happy ending.

Sonya was a wonderful secondary character with a role as mother and mentor to several characters. Do you like a glimpse of strong/quirky/wise/maternal/fun secondary characters in short books such as Desire? Or are you all about the hero and heroine, skimming scenes and narrative that aren’t them alone together? Let’s talk about secondary characters and their role. Have you read a particularly memorable supporting character recently? 

The prize this week is your choice from Bronwyn Jameson’s backlist (NB: one or two titles not available) and a mini Aussie notebook.  (Prize drawn May 31.)

6 Movies About Diamonds

Posted in general post with tags , on May 18, 2008 by Maxine Sullivan

Everyone loves diamonds. We love to read about them in books, and we love to watch movies about them too, whether it’s about stealing them, killing for them, marrying for them, or even giving them up for love.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) – After extensive travels, James Bond (Agent 007) returns valiantly from South Africa having completed his mission to kill his arch enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. However, Bond arrives only to discover that there’s a pressing case waiting for him: a large amount of diamonds has been stolen from the South African mines and two offbeat assassins are killing everyone in the smuggling ring, one-by-one. Bond goes undercover as Peter Franks, diamond smuggler, in search of recovering the merchandise. (http://movies.yahoo.com)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but this blonde bombshell prefers diamonds, and lots of them! Glamorous showgirl Marilyn sets sail for France, intent on marrying a rich, yet boring, beau. But anything can – and does – happen with the beautiful and fun-loving Jane Russell acting as chaperone. From celebrated director Howard Hawks, this musical comedy classic features Marilyn’s signature rendition of the hit show tune “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.”  (http://www.dvdmg.com)

A Fish Called Wanda (1988 ) – Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) brings her new secret lover, Otto (Kevin Kline) to England to help her and her lover George and stuttering animal lover Ken (Michael Palin) steal $20 million in diamonds. Wanda and Otto then turn in George to the police so they can have the loot for themselves, but George has already moved the diamonds and only he knows where they are. All four of the criminals start double-crossing each other to try to get to the diamonds before anyone else. Wanda tries to find them by “getting close” to George’s barrister, Archie Leach (John Cleese), because if George pleads guilty he will tell Archie where the diamonds are to cut his sentence. Absolute hilarity ensues. (http://www.imdb.com)

The Pink Panther (1964) –Arriving at an Italian ski resort with a large diamond known as the Pink Panther, Princess Dala (Claudia Cardinale) encounters the suave Sir Charles (Niven), who also happens to be the notorious jewel thief The Phantom. Can Clouseau (Sellers), the clumsiest inspector ever to trip over a case, stop Sir Charles’ plot…or will The Phantom steal the “cat” and leave Clouseau holding the bag? (http://www.foxstore.com)

To Catch a Thief (1955) – Cary Grant plays John Robie reformed jewel thief who was once known as “The Cat” in this suspenseful Alfred Hitchcock classic thriller. Robie is suspected of a new rash of gem thefts in the luxury hotels of the French Riviera and he must set out to clear himself. Meeting pampered heiress Frances (Grace Kelly) he sees a chance to bait the mysterious thief with her mother’s (Jessie Royce Landis) fabulous jewels. His plan backfires however but France who believes him guilty proves her love by helping him escape. In a spine-tingling climax the real criminal is exposed. (http://www.amazon.com)

Titanic (1997) –After winning a trip on the RMS Titanic during a dockside card game, American Jack Dawson spots the society girl Rose DeWitt Bukater who is on her way to Philadelphia to marry her rich snob fiance Cal Hockley. Rose feels helplessly trapped by her situation and makes her way to the aft deck and thinks of suicide until she is rescued by Jack. Cal is therefore obliged to invite Jack to dine at their first-class table where he suffers through the slights of his snobbish hosts. In return, he spirits Rose off to third class for an evening of dancing, giving her the time of her life. Deciding to forsake her intended future all together, Rose asks Jack, who has made his living making sketches on the streets of Paris, to draw her in the nude wearing the invaluable blue diamond Cal has given her. Cal finds out and has Jack locked away. Soon afterwards, the ship hits an iceberg and Rose must find Jack while both must run from Cal even as the ship sinks deeper into the freezing water.  (http://movies.yahoo.com)

Can you think of any other movies about diamonds? Tell us about them and be in the draw for a copy of Maxine Sullivan’s The Millionaire’s Seductive Revenge, plus a small koala stuffed animal toy.

In Celebration of Mothers

Posted in general post with tags , , , , on May 11, 2008 by Maxine Sullivan

She’s wonder woman. She’s special. She’s the first person we fall in love with. And in celebration of Mother’s Day this Sunday, here’s what the Diamonds Down Under authors think about their mums:

Bronwyn: My mother is a pretty amazing woman, although she rolls her eyes whenever we remind her of how amazing she is. She does not accept compliments easily, although she should. She receives so very many of them. From my mum I learned to be a practical, capable, organised person…and that 99.9% is not good enough. From her I learned about style, colour, and what goes with what. She would have made an amazing stylist. Or interior designer. She turned 80 last year and this year she is building a new house. (Yes, I know!) I only hope I have half her energy and go-get-em attitude when I am her age.

Maxine: Mothers are remarkable people. They give not only of themselves but in the legacy they leave the world through their children. On a personal level my mother’s greatest gift to me is a sense of independence. I was taught to stand on my own two feet, to keeping going through thick and thin, to give but not at the expense of myself. On a creative level, my mother’s legacy to me is a love of romance books. With these stories I found they called to something inside me – the handsome hero, the gorgeous heroine, and the journey they take, all wrapped up in a happy ending. Would I have found them without my mother’s influence? Probably. But I’d hate to think what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t. Thanks Mum for everything!

Jan: I must confess to a kind of love-hate relationship with my mum for a lot of years, but we got much closer – in spirit if not distance – as we aged. Her passing changed me in ways I couldn’t imagine and remains the hardest thing I’ve had to cope with in my life. Shortly before she died, a rainbow came in the window of the hospital room, and now, whenever I see one, I say it’s Mum come to say hello. It helps replace some of life’s colour that went with her when she died. I can hear her voice now: “If you think, my girl, that David Cassidy will be around in twenty years, like Frank Sinatra, I’ll eat my hat.” Got news for you, Ma, he is! And to quote ole Blue Eyes himself: “You better keep smiling, Smokey (Sammy Davis Jnr) so we can see where you are.”

Paula: She probably doesn’t know this, but my mum was universally liked by all my friends when I was a teenager 🙂  A great honor indeed!  I’m pretty sure I put her through her own personal hell during those years… a place I’m positive my own son will force me to visit in 10 years’ time!  But with age comes wisdom and as I’ve gotten older I realize the wonderful gift she bestowed.  She’s been there through the joys and the absolute lows, strong steady support when it’s needed the most.  She’s a true Taurean, stubborn, bullheaded and convinced that she’s right (even when there’s proof she isn’t!)  She also adores her family and will do anything for them, even the washing up and ironing – Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-winkle is a character synonymous with my mum 😀   

Yvonne: For me, a mother is the one person you can always turn to no matter what you’ve done and know, that even while she might not be particularly pleased with you, she still loves you no matter what. A mother is the person who unstintingly stands by your side as you struggle and learn and grow as a human being, without interfering with your choices, but occasionally gently guiding you away from what could be a terrible mistake. A mother is never unkind or judgemental. A mother is that special person that you can phone for a ‘how to’ hint in the kitchen to make the difference in making a ho-hum meal or a spectacular one (when she’s in the mood to give you all the ingredients she used the last time she made that dish for you) 😀 A mother isn’t afraid to offer advice but isn’t offended when you don’t take it. She shares your triumphs as if they were her own and doesn’t hesitate to tell all her friends about them either. That’s what my mother is, and always has been, for me—always there, always mum. A heck of a hard act to follow.

Tessa: I grew up in a thatch-roofed house with thick stone walls. In summer it is beautifully cool, in winter it’s terribly draughty. But it is a home where no one in need is turned away empty handed. A place where the gnarled street-sweeper is always assured of a cup of tea and a sandwich, and it’s the last port of call for the ancient flower seller who knows Mom will buy that last bunch of wilted blooms on a hot summer’s afternoon and offer a cool glass of lemonade. Over the years it’s been the safe refuge for too many strays to count – canine, feline and human.   And at the centre of that home beats a huge heart. Like so many homes, it’s a mother’s generous heart that bestows gifts of love on all who need them.  So today I’m grabbing the chance to say thanks to every loving, giving mother out there.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ~ Mother Teresa

Tell us something special about your mother and you could win a copy of Katherine Garbera’s Silhouette Desire, The Spanish Aristocrat’s Woman, plus an Aussie keyring.

Diamonds Treasure Hunt – May 2008

Posted in Treasure Hunt with tags on May 10, 2008 by Paula

Ahhh, May.  Yes, a time when the days are cooler Down Under and when Mother’s Day is upon us.  But did you also know May is National Family Reading Month, Autism Awareness and Jelly Baby Month?  In the northern hemisphere, the end of winter is celebrated with May Day and a traditional dance around the maypole.

And now onto those clues for that gorgeous diamond pendant valued at US$350 in our Diamonds Down Under treasure hunt:

Clue 1: What career did Holly originally want to pursue in Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir? 

Clue 2: What is the English translation of Paula’s first German book? (Hint: you’ll find the answer on Paula’s website)

DON’T POST THE ANSWERS HERE. Collect them, save them, and when you have the answers to all twelve questions in June/July, send them to the contest email address. More details can be found on the Diamonds Down Under contest page. If you missed the other clues, you’ll find them all sorted under the Categories link on the right.   GOOD LUCK!

6 things you may not know about Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir

Posted in general post with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2008 by Paula

Only six?   errr… okay.  Not one to turn up my nose at a challenge, here goes!

1. Jake Vance – I based Jake, my hero, on David Boreanaz’s character Seeley Booth in Bones (any excuse to drool and overdose on Series 2 🙂  Same broody stare, same high intelligence, same deep-set convictions.  To get more into Jake’s character, I also read The Modern Machiavelli by Ian Demack and took copious notes. 

When his long fingers wrapped around hers, Holly’s skin heated with the contact. It wasn’t power he so clearly exuded. It was something much more seductive. Confidence? Control?

Intimacy.

The way his sharp green gaze swept her from head to toe, taking in her hair, her face, her business suit. The way those eyes probed hers until they finally came to rest on the small diamond solitaire at her throat.

It was exciting coming up with Jake’s backstory.  I was thrilled to get everyone’s “yay!” when I suggested the kidnapped baby scenario.  It gave me lots of wonderful conflict for Jake, complete with a chequered youth and that whole “I’ll never be like my father” thing, too.  

2. Holly McLeod – The picture inspiration for Holly came from an unnamed model on the Ezibuy site.  Holly was a tough one, because I obviously needed someone attractive (especially to Jake!) but not too attractive.

Jake snapped his eyes up to meet hers and it hit him again. It wasn’t the curve of her lips, nor the way her blue eyes tilted up at the corners. It was the tiny birthmark on the left side of her mouth, like some artist had painted it on to tease and tempt. To focus a man’s attention.

A prime kissing target.

My 7 yo son gave me the name of Holly’s home town – Kissy Oak. It’s his mispronunciation of the word ‘kiosk’. After we laughed ourselves silly, I told him I had to use it in a book some time.  And boy, was he tickled to see that in print!

And without Holly, there wouldn’t be Max Carlton, a guy I modeled on the gorgeous Jude Law. Same golden face, same charming smile.  But still a bastard 😉 

It was those innocent choirboy looks, complete with a mop of golden curls that made Max Carlton such a hit. The men liked him for his after-hours drinks and blokey talk about football and women. The women were flattered by his charm and good looks. And to her surprise, there’d been a spark of interest despite the unofficial gossip. He was an attractive smooth-talker and everyone knew it, especially Max Carlton.

I had a lot of fun writing Max’s scenes with Holly – I love writing dialog and the conflict it causes. And it was great to have a villian who was actually on the page and not dead LOL.

3. Nip, tuck.. cut! – BOARDROOMS was originally called Return of the Bad Boy Billionaire. In fact, every DDU story was called something different. But when Senior Editor Melissa Jeglinksi brainstormed, she came up with six gorgeous titles that tied in with the themes perfectly.

Speaking of cutting… I have a tendency to write looong, so it came as no surprise I had to cut a few things 🙂 My story originally started with an editorial-style article that appeared in a daily newspaper:

The Blackstone Baby: will we ever really know? – editorial comment by Dash Morgan

With only three months to go before Howard Blackstone’s six-month will stipulation expires, we are no closer to discovering the identity of the missing Blackstone heir.

For those who’ve been living under a rock, heir-to-be James Hammond Blackstone was just two years old when he went missing from his multi-million dollar Vaucluse home in November 1976. After both parents were cleared of foul play, the police investigation focused on their housekeeper. Of course, after the ransom note, nothing more was heard until the discovery five days later, when two bodies in a car at the bottom of Lindon River, five kilometres north of Newcastle were identified as the missing housekeeper and her convicted criminal boyfriend. The police concluded that James Blackstone’s body had floated out to sea, a finding that Howard Blackstone refused to acknowledge: after his plane crash and subsequent will reading this past February, it was revealed that the billion dollar gemstone king had been funding a thirty-two year private investigation to recover his son’s whereabouts.

Now, with MacNamara Investigations – the PI group who have apparently discovered a “promising lead” – remaining tight-lipped on the topic, I have to wonder… we will ever know what happened to the Blackstone baby?

The last tragedy to grip and polarize public opinion this tightly was Azaria Chamberlain. And we know how that ended up. Like the Chamberlains, the Blackstones have been tried by public opinion and are either baby killers or victims of tragic circumstance. It’s hard to argue what we already know – suicide, family infighting, mistresses, vendettas and boardroom battles are just another day in the life of a Blackstone. But is it a family blessed by extraordinary wealth… or cursed by it?

Either way, like Azaria, too much time’s passed and the story has moved into urban legend folklore. And of course, it’s brought out the pond scum, those claiming to know the whereabouts of James Blackstone, demanding their fifteen minutes and payment before their hoax is revealed.

Let’s not forget a baby disappeared. It’s a tragedy for any parent to live through. But I’m betting that after August, the Blackstone Baby will be chalked up in Australia’s history under the heading “We’ll Just Never Know.”

I managed to do the rest of the cutting (all 30 pages of it!), keeping the important bits and sprinkling them into the rest of the story. Strangely, I have a love-hate relationship for the story at this stage 🙂 Michelangelo puts it best when he said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

4.  The Dresses – Ahhh, dresses!  I took guilty pleasure in researching the gowns everyone wears to the Blackstone Charity Ball.  Holly’s dress is based on the glamorous print ad for Givenchy’s Organza parfum.  I’ve had the picture for years and was excited I could finally use it in a book! 

He was staring out the kitchen window, at a glittery cruise ship in the harbour when he sensed Holly behind him. Then he turned and all brooding thoughts fizzled from his brain.She was dressed in a white clingy creation, the vertical pleats emphasizing the gentle curves of her body. With her hair pulled high and back, curls cascading over her shoulders, she looked like some Egyptian goddess. The gauzy material draped across her breasts almost lovingly, and it was held up by small shoestring straps, leaving her arms bare. Beneath his unabashed staring, goosebumps spread over her skin.

“Is my dress okay?” She nervously tugged at the neckline, tweaking the fabric into place. 

“You’re more than okay.”  Amazingly, after everything they’d done together, after every body part he’d teased, kissed and caressed, she blushed. He’d never get tired of seeing her blush.

Of course, I consulted Bronwyn, Tessa, Yvonne and Maxine to find out what the other women (and men!) would wear.  Briana was sexy in red (picture found at a prom dress site), Kim elegant in a strapless black creation (this photo is from a vintage site), and Jessica pregnant and glowing in a silver halterneck.

 5. Blackstone’s Head Office – Research (aka surfing the ‘net) is the best part of a story! I used my artistic license and removed the Sydney Hilton from it’s George/Pitt Street location and plonked Blackstone’s right there in the center instead. The location is prime real estate with a squillion shops – from the Pitt Street Mall, Centrepoint Tower and Queen Victoria Building – just a stone’s throw away. My favorite is the beautiful historic Strand Arcade. Opened in 1891, it was the last Sydney arcade to open and the only one to still remain in original form. It’s full of elegant jewellery stores, milliners, one-off designer gear and coffee shops ::::sigh:::

Okay, back to Blackstone’s! Here’s a shot of the interior:

Originally, I had an interior description when Jake first fronts up in the foyer, but that was eventually cut. Here’s what didn’t make it into the book:

Jake strode across the foyer of Blackstones Diamonds, ignoring the lush, expensive fittings. He barely glanced at the Tom Bass bronze sculpture that took center place on the polished marble floor, the smooth dip and flow of modern lines doing nothing to calm his tightly wound tension.

The security desk lay dead ahead, but it wasn’t the young guy behind it who captured his attention. It was the woman.

6. Holly and Jake’s apartments – I studiously trolled many real estate sites, imagining the kind of places Holly and Jake would live.  I even went into the city and took a walk around, picturing myself in Holly’s shoes. For Jake’s place, there was no contest – Sydney Wharf is a brand-new harbourside development and an obvious choice for a man who has it all. Here’s a shot (left) of what I imagined Jake’s apartment looks like inside…

Holly is fortunate enough to have a room mate (the mysteriously exotic Miko Tarasai… I get the feeling she’ll want her own story one day!) whose parents own the apartment she lives in.  Like many people in real life (myself included!) Holly started off with one career in mind, but instead just ‘fell’ into another – in her case, she wanted to study interior design but ended up at Blackstone’s.  However, she still gets to call on her creative energies – here’s what she did with her apartment.

The whole concept of DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER was as thrilling as it was scary. But having five other authors I personally know and (still!) love working with me, the whole writing process was a lot less insular and a heap more fun. Truly, I have the best job in the world!

Boardrooms & A Billionaire Heir is now available at Amazon and as an e-book from eHarlequin.  Check out Paula’s website for more behind-the-scenes info.  And remember to post a message if you want to be in the running for a gorgeous diamond keyring!