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!

Diamonds Treasure Hunt — June 2008

Posted in Treasure Hunt with tags , , on June 7, 2008 by yvonnelindsay

June is officially the start of winter down under. It’s the time of year when schools insist on full winter uniform (and most kids do everything they can to break the uniform rules) cars and house roofs are laden with frost in the mornings and temperatures definitely drop. Here in NZ I’m always amazed at how where I live has a much milder winter than our Southern counterparts. They can actually have wicked snow storms creating havoc on the roads and major stock losses for farmers, even snow down to sea level! Brrrr. Give me a balmier climate any day of the week, LOL.

 Anyway, all this talk of cold stuff reminds me of a line in ‘HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS” where they come up with an advertising slogan to “frost yourself” with diamonds. That kind of cold I really don’t mind and I’m sure you don’t too. So, here’s what you’ve really been waiting for, right? The final clues for the stunning diamond puff heart pendant, valued at US$350, in our Diamonds Down Under treasure hunt… (drumroll please…)

 

 

Clue 1: What is Rachel’s parting gift to Matt?
Clue 2: In what month did Yvonne meet her significant other? (Clue, check out the “What’s New?” page on Yvonne’s website)

 Remember, 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 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 About Jealousy & A Jewelled Proposition

Posted in general post with tags , , , on June 1, 2008 by yvonnelindsay

Wow, I can’t believe we’re up to release month for Jealousy & A Jewelled Proposition. It seems like it has taken forever to get here but at the same time, it’s all gone far too quickly too! I hope you really enjoy the wrap up of the Diamonds Down Under continuity. And here, to titillate your mind, are 6 Things about Jealousy & A Jewelled Proposition.

 

The Collage

It really helps me to stay ‘on track’ with my stories is to do a picture and word collage. I’d never tried collage until I was working on my fourth book for Desire, Rossellini’s Revenge Affair, and I found that the visual stimulus really aided me as far as keeping on track was concerned. I had some trouble getting Matt right in my mind’s eye and until I had an actual picture of the man I imagined I had a great deal of trouble getting into my story. Consequently, I had a couple of different guys on my collage before settling on the Mr Cool Calm and Collected you see here.

 

The Hero–Matt Hammond

I hadn’t had a fair haired hero before and as I mentioned above, finding the ‘right’ look for Matt was a bit of a challenge. I wanted a picture of someone who embodied the kind of man who, adopted as a two year old into a wealthy family, has always felt secure in his world and fortunate to have been chosen by his parents. As far as the man himself was concerned I had no trouble understanding Matt. He’ll do anything for his parents, they’re his family, and he’s honour-bound to clear the decades old Blackstone slur on his family’s name. Kind of reserved, Matt has hidden passions and it was infinitely rewarding to write the scenes where he battles with what he feels is a forbidden desire for Rachel and balance that torment against his responsibilities to his son and his parents.

 

The Heroine–Rachel Kincaid

Rachel was easier to know and understand. I had a visual image of her from very early on and as the daughter of one of the Hammond family retainers she’s very comfortable in Matt’s world. And Matt is her world in many ways. She’s loved him since she was a child and that love has grown and deepened over time. Even though she knows that Matt’s honour won’t let him touch her again, she’ll do whatever she can to care for his son, Blake, but when she feels that Matt is neglecting Blake she is as fierce about protecting the little boy as a lioness with her cub. She desperately wants to heal Matt’s wounded heart but with the questions hanging over them about Marise’s infidelity and Matt’s determination never to love again she has her work cut out for her.

 

The House

While not on a scale with Miramare the Hammond family mansion was fun to find and create. I love houses, particularly old houses or new ones that are designed to give the same elegant impression as older homes. When I have the time I love to pore over websites that show floor plans and building materials of the kinds of houses I’d love to live in (if I had a housekeeper because I sure as heck am not doing the vacuuming in some of these places J) As I’d always envisaged the Hammond family home nestled on the hillside of North Head in Devonport, I wanted something that reflected the history and atmosphere of the suburb, and still impart the elegance and exclusivity that came with the Diamonds Down Under series.

 

Devonport

Devonport is at the very southern point of North Shore City and was one of the earliest settled areas of Auckland. A deep water anchorage suitable for naval vessels was identified nearby, and the area became the base for our navy. Hence the name Devonport, after the English naval town. The Royal New Zealand Navy still has its national base here. The Navy also had a presence on North Head or Takapuna (65 metres), which is now administered by the Department of Conservation, and there are still military tunnels and bunkers there to be explored. Colonial architecture is a feature of the area. Devonport Village has wonderful range of unique specialty shops (including the wool/yarn shop where I took Debbie Macomber–yes, that Debbie Macomber–wool shopping nearly two years ago), cafes and restaurants, and can be easily reached – the ferry trip takes only ten minutes from Downtown Auckland direct to Devonport Village and the car trip twenty minutes over the harbour bridge. Devonport is the perfect destination for either a short day trip or select from the excellent range of boutique accommodation to stay and enjoy Devonport’s relaxing atmosphere – only ten minutes from downtown Auckland. This is an idea of the view from Matt’s home across the harbour and looking toward Auckland City.

 

Matt’s Heirloom Collection

I love jewellery, particularly old jewellery so it was no hardship to imagine Matt Hammond’s Heirloom range of jewellery designs. Honestly, I could get lost for hours and hours (and did!) searching sites for Art Deco, Edwardian and Victorian jewellery and my mind went into overtime thinking about how these stunning and elegant designs could be incorporated into modern materials. One of the pearl types I found fascinating were the Pacific Pearls, or pearls that come from the Paua shellfish. The colours are a veritable rainbow and with the variety of coloured gemstones available to offset…ah, the sky is the limit. Here’s a picture that inspired me when thinking about the Toi et Moi engagement ring featured in the book.

 

 

 

My prize, for one lucky blog commenter, is a copy of the anthology SIZZLE SEDUCE & SIMMER released by Harlequin Mills & Boon, under the MIRA imprint in Australia and New Zealand. SIZZLE is a collection of short stories and recipes by a group of Down Under Harlequin/Silhouette authors. Great for when you want a bite sized read!

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.