Archive for Jan Colley

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.

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: April Clues

Posted in Treasure Hunt with tags , on April 14, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

Hi! It’s time for the Diamonds Down Under Treasure Hunt again. Each month, to coincide with the release of each book, two clues will be posted here at the DDU blog. Collect all the clues, submit your entry per the instructions on our website contest page, and some lucky, lucky person will win this stunning diamond-set pendant valued at US$350.Pendant

April Clues:
1/What annual event was the Australian Governor General in Port Douglas to commemorate? (From Satin and a Scandalous Affair by Jan Colley.)
2/What is the name of Jan’s favorite team of alpha heroes? (Hint – look on her website, hint hint: they play rugby!)

Remember, don’t post the answers here. Save all twelve answers and then at the conclusion of the contest in July, email your answers to the contest email address on our contest page.
Good luck, everyone!

Six Things About Satin & a Scandalous Affair

Posted in general post with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2008 by Bronwyn Jameson

The Hero: Quinn Everard

I originally thought of Quinn as Irish American, mainly because I thought we might like an American Hero amongst the Aussies and Kiwis to appease our beloved American readers. But he got lost somewhere along the way. As soon as I saw this guy’s face with his dark eyes and broken nose, I was on my way to falling in love. The juxtaposition of ruggedness versus his suave, man-of-the-world mannerisms excited me, although ‘my’ Quinn is a few years younger and has dark hair.

“Dani stared boldly back, seeing in her mind’s eye his tall broad form as he’d scrutinized her display window. How she’d admired what looked like an Armani suit – a rarity in the tropics – and his smooth, rolling gait as he’d straightened and moved inside. He moved like a fighter, and who’s to say he wasn’t? There was a definite break in his nose, the telltale bump high on the bridge, and a scar, smooth and pale, traced the corner of his mouth.”

The Heroine: Dani Hammond

I wanted someone younger than Quinn, the complete opposite of his cool sophistication. I loved this lady’s hair! I wanted her to have a colourful, zany sense of fashion, a breath of fresh air to cultured Quinn Everard. His cool against her flamboyance…

“She’d attempted to tame her wildfire hair with a scarf, but still, dark red curls sprang up in interesting dimensions. Her colour sense was outrageous, combining a red-and-pink-striped top with a captivatingly short floral skirt. She was exotic, unconventional, bubbling over with life and energy. He knew more beautiful women but none so colourful, so vibrantly original.”

The Setting: Four Mile Beach

I have visited Port Douglas five times! My very favourite part of each day is to beat DH out of bed and walk into town along this beautiful, almost deserted beach. It takes me about fifty minutes to walk into the township but I would never stay anywhere but Four Mile. Sometimes, I’ll catch the shuttle back after raisin toast and a lime thickshake. If I’m not too tired or it’s not too hot, I’ll kick off the walking shoes and splish splash back along the beach, from the view shown above right around the corner to where the white beach runs out.

The Finished Product:

This is the setting I imagined Dani came up with for the massive fancy intense yellow diamond Quinn commissioned her to design. Only you have to imagine the platinum cage is more delicate, and that there is a humungous yellow diamond in there! (I didn’t have any problems imagining that!)

“He looked first for impact, and got it in spades. A diamond inside a diamond. Mere filaments of platinum, like the gossamer wings of a dragonfly, held the huge trilliant-cut stone suspended inside a web cage.”

Nautilus Restaurant

Cemented in the history of Nautilus is the US presidential visit of Bill & Hillary Clinton in October 1996. One night at around 8:40 pm, with no prior reservation, and two small tables of “minders” already dining in the restaurant, two of the Clintons’ senior security officers entered the restaurant and spoke with Carmel. She was asked if all the guests had arrived, they had. The secret service men then proceeded to advise her that all of the restaurant’s telephones had been disconnected and that the President and First Lady would be arriving to dine in around 10 minutes. None of the other diners then present in the restaurant were allowed to leave.

Hillary had seen a feature on Nautilus in the New York Times and she had included a romantic anniversary dinner at Nautilus in their holiday plans. The restaurant was sealed off, Murphy Street was blocked at both ends and officers were stationed at all points including the kitchen. The Clintons dined alone, and enjoyed their own intimate “Nautilus Experience”. There was a small wedding party in the restaurant and Bill signed their wedding certificate and the bride presented her bouquet to Hillary for her wedding anniversary.  (from the Nautilus Restaurant’s website)

In five visits to Port, I have eaten here once as it’s pretty expensive. It was unique with the tables set amongst the trees so you hardly even realised there were other diners present. The food was beautiful and they served a very nice Nautilus wine – all the way from Marlborough, New Zealand! Quinn, Dani and Matt dined here in Satin & a Scandalous Affair.

The Dress:

Last year I was invited to my friend Deb’s wedding. She was stunning in a dress she designed herself, with a little help. It was exactly the sort of dress that Dani would wear to a posh, tropical wedding. The beautiful bride drove herself to the wedding (not by helicopter!) …

and I wish that was me with her but sadly, it was her best friend, bridesmaid, and this year’s winner of the Arnold Amateur Bodybuilding Champs in Ohio, gorgeous Jo Stewart.

Dani expected a few raised eyebrows about her dress, especially from her mother. Strapless and backless, the fabric was hummer orange but the chiffon overskirt was made up of thousands of tiny overlapping patches of deep pink blush and vivid orange. When she moved, the patches rippled with the richness of the sunset.

Rings, necklaces, pendants…pearls, platinum, diamonds…if you could be a jewellery designer for a day and the sky was the limit, what would you create? Comments to this week’s blog go in the draw to win a copy of my first book, Trophy Wives, and a little bling – can’t say too much, but it will have a pink ‘diamond’ in it!