Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Cooking: What's your coffee personality?

My Weekend Cooking post this week is inspired by a character in Sarah Addison Allen's The Peach Keeper. The character, whose name is Rachel, works in a camping store owned by one of the two main characters in the novel. She is the one who is responsible for keeping the cafe section of the store running and she has some very interesting ideas about coffee and how the coffee that you feel like having each day can be reflective of your mood! So if you come in happy you may want a frappucino for example, and if you are not so happy maybe something a little less frothy.

When I was thinking about this post I spent ages looking for information about what your coffee drinking habits reveal about you, and unfortunately for me, I didn't come out particularly well in the results that I found. You see, I am not much of a coffee or tea drinker. I will drink them when I go out, but it is very rare for me to actually make myself a coffee or tea when I am at home by myself. In fact, when I was cleaning out my pantry this week, I threw out two jars of instant coffee. One was nearly empty, but the expiry date was three years ago, and the other jar hadn't even been opened but expired even longer ago.

Luckily, someone has written a book that addresses this topic. The You Code was written by Judi James and James Moore and was released last year. It also looks at other topics like your favourite TV programme, to the filling in your sandwich and analyses what that says about you.

I am closer to a non coffee drinker than anything, but when I do have coffee, I will either have a cappuccino or a latte, so lets see what the results say for someone with my coffee tastes:

The non-coffee drinker:

"Unfortunately, the verdict isn't good. Frightened of coffee equals frightened of life. If the taste of coffee puts you off you really are a child and it's time to join the world of grown ups. But there's hope. "Twenty one days is all it will take to break your cycle of disgust and then you'll be back in the real world."

The latte drinker:

"Typically metrosexuals or cuddly-toy collectors, latte drinkers are pleasers with an overwhelming compulsion to be liked. A latte drinking boss will use a baby voice to tell you off. By taking a dark and dangerous drink and turning it into a comforting milky bedtime beverage latte drinkers reveal that while they may want to come across as hot shot contenders, they have an immature side."

The cappuccino drinker:

"Like their drink, cappuccino drinkers are all froth and bubble, bored by detail and liking - but not obsessed with - material objects. The cappuccino drinker enjoys sex but is easily bored by an unimaginative partner."
"Cappuccino froth gives the tongue the mother of all workouts and is all to do with the physicality of the experience rather than the basic consumption of the beverage."

The instant coffee drinker:

"These are cheerful, straight forward types, who like a laugh and live by the maxim "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". But instant coffee drinkers can be unadventurous in their careers and need to let others see the hidden depths in their personality. The no-nonsense instant coffee drinker is allergic to pretentious behaviour, and they are likely to keep their socks on during sex"

So what about the more hard core coffee drinkers?

The espresso drinker

The espresso is 'the unfiltered cigarette of the coffee drinking world'. Espresso drinkers tend to be moody, hard-bitten and hard working. They are into leadership and fast goals. They don't suffer fools but are hard living and prone to 'night-time shenanigans, followed by a rather louche attempt at day time repair". The espresso drinker can be an experienced, exciting and consummate lover but is not known for reliability or unswerving loyalty."

The decaf soy milk drinker:

"A self-righteous eco-worrier and attention seeker with a tendency to be picky, fussy - and squeamish in the bedroom. What's more, this faux choice implies a pretentious, high-maintenance type who wants what they can't have and is disguising their true personality."

The frappucino drinker :

"Flighty and shallow, the frappucino drinker will try anything once - especially if a celebrity has done it first. They fancy themselves trend setters but send out the message that they are someone who favours style over substance. The frappucino drinker's relationships often last as long as their drink choice"

To be honest, when I look at those there isn't really any type of coffee drinker that comes out of it very well!

At the beginning of this post, I said that it took a while to find examples of this. Turns out I should have just looked at Sarah Addison Allen's website as she not only has some recipes from the book, but also has some other personality evaluations based on your coffee choices (click on the Not Just Fiction link).

Another fun thing is to input your coffee order into The Oracle of Starbucks which will tell you your personality type based on your coffee order. Somewhat predictably, my result said I was lame!

You would have to wonder what the Oracle would make of some of the following orders:

As an aside, if you want some really fun reads and haven't read Sarah Addison Allen, I would highly recommend them. They also tend to feature a lot of food related story telling with emphasis on the magic of food. For example, in one of her books, there is a character who bakes cakes that effect the mood of the town, and in another there is a caterer who uses different edible plants in her food. Claire from Garden Spells makes a cameo appearance in The Peach Keeper, and it was great to see her again.

 Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Library Loot: April 27 to May 3

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!
Our local libraries were closed for 5 days over the Easter break and I have to tell you it was torture! When I went there early this morning it was apparent that I wasn't the only one who was missing the library as it was very, very busy!

This week I have decided to post about my reloot in particular a bit differently. Normally I put a small explanation as to why I am borrowing each book, but I am only going to do that with new loot from now on!

So here's my new loot:

Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole - Emma Cole is a pen name for Susanna Kearsley, so I just had to borrow this one. As soon as I have read this one though, that is it in terms of the books by her that I can access from the library!

Farewell to Lancashire by Anna Jacobs - I love a good saga, and this one is set in my home town of Perth, and is historical fiction, so ticks a lot of my reading boxes!

Bereft by Chris Womersley - This is the only one of the three novels shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Prize, which is possibly the most prestigious of Australia's literature prizes.


Claire is hosting the Mr Linky this week, so head on over to add your link so that we can come and see what loot you picked up from your library this week!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Little Paradise by Gabrielle Wang

It's only fitting that for this final Tuesday of Aussie Author Month that my teaser for Teaser Tuesday comes from an Aussie author. It is also fitting that the day after Anzac Day, the book is set during WWII. 

The teaser comes from page 122 of Little Paradise by Gabrielle Wang:

Slowly, carefully, she tucked the pouch into the corner of her suitcase. But at the same time she made a promise to herself: no matter what had been predicted, she was going to fight for JJ, fight to keep him, fight for their future together.

Isn't the cover on this book gorgeous! Even more so when you realise that the image comes from a photo of the author's mother!

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Head on over to find out  all about it, and how to join in!

Mailbox Monday - April edition (on Tuesday)

These public holidays are really throwing me out of sync. It was only as I was going out last night that I realised that it was Monday and not Sunday. As long as I remember to go to work on Thursday I guess it doesn't really matter, but I nearly forgot to do my Mailbox Monday post for this month!

If you compare this list of books to last month it looks pretty small, but really, it is still a lot for just one month. Here's what I got:

For review:

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross - When I was at ARRC 2011, there was a publisher representative there talking about various books. As soon as I saw this one, I knew I wanted it. The cover is stunning.

Trade Winds by Christina Courteney - This author co-blogs with one of my very favourite authors and so that was enough to make me want to try her books. Yes, I am that easy to tempt!

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton - I've been seeing some really good reviews for this book!

Queen by Right by Anne Easter Smith - I loved Anne Easter Smith's first book, but never read anymore. This one looks really good though, so when I was offered a spot on an upcoming book tour I jumped at the chance.

The Wedding Shroud by Elisabeth Storrs - Another gorgeous cover! If you are interested in finding out more about this book check out the Aussie Author Month guest post from Elisabeth, and for the Aussies, you can win a copy of the book too!


Netgalley is a dangerous, dangerous place to spend time in!

Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Shadow of the Wind is one of my favourite books of all time, but I haven't quite been brave enough to read anything else by him.

Royal Wedding anthology - Gives me a chance to finally try Stephanie Laurens.

A Dark Enquiry by Deanna Raybourn - I was very excited when I saw this was available. The previous book in the series was probably my favourite so I have high hopes for this one.

Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman- This got a good write up at BethFishReads the other week so when I saw it was available I thought I would give it a try.

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly - No matter where you live in the world, you would possible have heard me squeeing very loudly when I got accepted for this one! I have been waiting for this book for about 5 years!

Portrait of Seduction by Carrie Lofty - Carrie Lofty's Song of Seduction was the first book I read on my e-reader and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so happy to give this one a go too.


La Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver - This was being given away through Facebook following the Orange long/short list nominations. (whichever list came out not too long ago anyway).

Photographs and Phantoms by Cindy Spencer Pape - Free book from Carina Press.

Romeo, Romeo by Robyn Kaye- Can't remember where I go this one.


Soul, Tremble and Yearn by Tobsha Learner - won all three of these books from Meghan at Literary Life.


The Beauty Chorus by Kate Lord Brown - I tried to get this through Netgalley, but it was only available to Canadian readers! I thought about waiting to see if anyone got it here (ie at the library) but in the end decided that I wanted it too much.

Love Me Tender by Heather Boyd - Heather talked about the starting premise of this story at ARRC at the Up and Coming Authors panel, and I knew that I wanted to read it then.

Next month, I am going to have some self control. No really.

Mailbox Monday is on tour and for April it is being hosted at Passages to the Past. Head over there to share your links, or to see what everyone else has posted about this week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Anzac Day 2011 reflections

Today is Anzac Day, a day that for Australians and New Zealanders is full of significance, a day when we celebrate the sacrifices made by our soldiers during conflict. The reason why we celebrate on this day, is because on April 25, 1915, our soldiers arrived a Gallipoli, the first time that we had fought not as British soldiers, but as Australians.

The word Anzac stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, and this is a day that we share proudly with our New Zealand comrades. For all the jokes that are made at each other's expense, the sporting rivalry, and more, we know that in a time of need that New Zealand will stand by Australia's side and vice versa. This year, this was evidenced by the support and mateship that was shown in the aftermath of the terrible natural disasters that affected both of our countries.

The focus of the day is on all those who have served - from World War I to those who are serving now in conflicts around the world.

This year, in honour of Aussie Author Month's fundraising for the Indigenous Literacy Project, I wanted to acknowledge the part that indigenous Australians have played. Indigenous diggers signed up to fight for this country in World War I and subsequent conflicts, even though at the time they weren't even recognised as citizens, and they or their families did not receive the same benefits as their white Australian mates they had served along side when their war ended, either on their return to Australia or when they were killed in action. When visiting the Sydney Museum last month, I was reminded that it was only 4 years before I was born that indigenous Australians received the right to vote and to be citizens. I guess I like to think that we are a lot further ahead in these kinds of issues than we really are, and sometimes it is good for a non indigenous Australian, like myself, to be reminded of these things.

When I was trying to think about what I would write about this year, one of the things that I kept coming back to was the song Only Nineteen by Redgum. I remember being moved by the lyrics when the song first came out in the early 1980s and it still moves me now. Whilst the lyrics are specifically written about a young soldier in Vietnam, the sentiments are relevant to all conflicts I would have thought. I hope you will take a couple of minutes to listen to the song, but first here are the lyrics:

Only Nineteen - Redgum

Mum and Dad and Denny saw the passing-out parade at Puckapunyal
It was a long march from cadets.
The sixth battalion was the next to tour, and it was me who drew the card.
We did Canungra, Shoalwater before we left.

And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean.
And there's me in my slouch hat with my SLR and greens.
God help me, I was only nineteen.

From Vung Tau, riding Chinooks, to the dust at Nui Dat
I'd been in and out of choppers now for months.
But we made our tents a home, VB and pinups on the lockers
And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I stil can't get to sleep?
And night-time's just a jungle dark and a barking M16?
And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only ninteen.

A four week operation when each step could mean your last one on two legs
It was a war within yourself.
But you wouldn't let your mates down til they had you dusted off
So you closed your eyes and thought about something else.

Then someone yelled out "Contact!" and the bloke behind me swore
We hooked in there for hours, then a Godalmighty roar
Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon,
God help me, he was going home in June.

I can still see Frankie, drinking tinnies in the Grand Hotel
On a thirty-six hour rec leave in Vung Tau
And I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle
Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row.

And the Anzac legends didn't mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real.
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn't even feel
God help me, I was only nineteen.

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can't get to sleep?
And why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what's this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me, I was only nineteen.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

Lest we forget.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Brunch

I was contemplated doing something Easter-ish for Weekend Cooking this week but in the end decided not to. Easter is kind of a strange holiday for me. I grew up in a religious household and was very involved in church activities so understand all the religious significance. Every Easter when I was a teenager I used to go away on church camps and there would be lots of discussion and celebrations etc. These days though, I really don't consider myself to be Christian, and so the fact that we have these four days off is something of an anti climax. Actually, this year we have five days off, and then I am taking Wednesday off as well so it is a six day weekend. I am not complaining about having time off at Easter, I just often feel at something off a loose end for it, especially this year as the boy has been away for a week, and only comes home tomorrow and my sister and her family have gone camping so there is no big family lunch like we normally have.

So instead of something Easter-ish I thought I might post a brunch recipe, because I did go out for brunch (actually turned out to be lunch by the time everyone got there) with friends this morning.

As much as I love a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, toast etc, I do also really like the idea of something that still feels like a breakfast but is just that little bit different. I was flicking through the free recipe magazine that you get from the supermarket, and saw this and immediately wanted to try it so this recipe has been added to the recipes-I-want-to-try-once-my-oven-is-fixed file.

Spanish Eggs with Chorizo, Potato and Tomato

1 tbs olive oil
3 chorizo, skin removed, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes (450g)
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 tsp ground cumin 2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smokey paprika
800g diced Italian Tomatoes
1 bunch coriander, leaves removed
4 Free-Range Eggs

1 Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add chorizo, potato and onion. Stir until combined. Cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are just tender. Add cumin, coriander and paprika. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Pour tomatoes over mixture and bring to the boil.
2 Roughly chop half the coriander and stir into tomato mixture. Form 4 indentations in tomato mixture with the back of a spoon. Crack an egg into each indent. Cover pan with a tight fitting lid or foil. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Remove cover and cook for 5 minutes or until egg white is just cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining coriander leaves. Serve.
Serves 4

 Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Library Loot: April 20 to 26

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel - I started reading this series since I was a teenager. There is no way I wouldn't be reading the final book, despite the fact that I haven't seen too many overwhelmingly positive reviews.

Harvest Moon by Robyn Carr - After overdosing on Robyn Carr's books late last year, this is the only one of her Virgin River books I haven't yet read.

The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark - I wasn't overly fond of the last book by this author, but the setting of this one sounded so interesting that I couldn't possibly not borrow it!

What loot did you get this week? Add your link to Mr Linky below so we can come and have a look!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Two Teaser Tuesday

This week I have two teasers for you again. One is from a book that I finished today, and the other is from a book I just started today.

First, I just finished reading The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith, the latest instalment in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. The teaser comes from page 146:

"In that case I would say to myself: It is an odd thing that Mma Ramotswe has done, but if that is what makes her happy, then I am happy too."

She looked at him fondly; that he had been sent to her, when there were so many other, lesser men who might have been sent, was a source of constant gratitude. That we have the people we have in this life, rather than others, is miraculous, she thought; a miraculous gift.

The second teaser comes from page 179 of The Last Letter from your Lover by JoJo Moyes:

He had cried with shame and relief when he got it. He suspected afterwards that part of it, the part she did not talk about, was that she still bore the humiliation of that hotel room, no matter how hard he tried to convince her of his reason for not making love to her. For all that he said, he suspected she was still not convinced that she was more than just another of his married women.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Head on over to find out  all about it, and how to join in!

Book Trailer: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

I am not sure why, but I happened to be looking at the events section of one of the local bookstores here (whose website I don't visit very often) when I noticed that they had an event with Geraldine Brooks coming up soon! A quick email to one of my friends who likes bookish type events, and I have now booked for A Conversation with Geraldine Brooks! Can't wait!

In the meantime, here is the newly released book trailer for Caleb's Crossing. If you would like to know more, see the Q and A that I posted a few weeks ago.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Aussie Author Month: Elisabeth Storrs guest post **includes giveaway**

I am very excited today to welcome Elisabeth Storrs to my blog as part of Aussie Author Month to talk about her book and about getting the word out about her debut historical fiction novel! I am even more excited to be offering a giveaway of two copies of her book (with the gorgeous cover!). By the way, if you are interested in finding out more about Elisabeth's book, head over to Historical Tapestry, where Elisabeth wrote a fabulous guest post including lots of images of Ancient Etruscan art for us a while ago!

Elisabeth's Storrs first novel, The Wedding Shroud, is set in early Rome and Etruria, and was researched and written over a period of ten years. It was released last September by Pier 9 /Murdoch Books in Australia and New Zealand Elisabeth is currently writing the sequel which will be released in 2012. She lives with her husband and two sons in Sydney.

The ancient world has always held a fascination for me. It must be in my genes because one of my fondest memories is that of my father telling me stories about the Greek gods. As a kid, I also found a book in our house that had been handed down from generation to generation within my family entitled The Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens. It was published in 1892.

This book has a leather cover, the spine frayed so that the webbing that binds the folios is exposed. The pages are mottled, yellowing. It is a treasure. Inside, the lives of the fickle, adulterous, benevolent or malevolent deities are revealed; their bickering and flaws similar to mortals but their ability to bless, curse and manipulate man’s fate, divine.

Discovering Berens was not enough. I want to read such tales in the language of those times. Nerd that I was, I eagerly studied Latin at school and then Ancient Greek at university while also learning the history that gives context to such literature. It was wonderful to at last be able to translate parts of the works of classical authors and philosophers such as Livy and Homer, Plato and Socrates, Euripides and Julius Caesar.

The greatest impact upon me was that of the poignant tale told by the Roman poet Virgil of Trojan Aeneas, and Dido, the queen of Carthage. How tragic their love was! For Aeneas, fated to found Rome, deserted Dido causing her to throw herself upon a pyre in despair as his ship sailed away.

My novel also tells a love story between two people from different worlds: Rome and Etruria (a civilization in Italy that predated the Roman republic.) A young Roman girl, Caecilia, is married to Mastarna, a nobleman from the Etruscan city of Veii, to seal a truce between two implacable enemies. She is determined to remain true to her Roman beliefs but finds herself grappling with conflicting moralities when she discovers a sophisticated culture that offers her independence and pleasure. She is also introduced to a mystical religion which gives her the chance to defer her destiny. And so the gods play their role in Caecilia’s life as she strives to woo the goddess of fate and avoid the demons of the Afterworld.

I researched the early Romans and Etruscans for ten years, sitting up reading history books into the night while setting aside two to four hours every week to write the novel. In that time I had to juggle the ups and downs of raising young children and running a business so I always looked forward to escaping into ancient times. I now have a contract to write the sequel so the chance to once again delve into the worlds of Rome and Veii is irresistible to me.

As Australia is such a small market, it was hard to find an agent and a publisher so I was lucky that Pier 9 was prepared to give a debut writer a chance. Promoting the novel has also proven to be quite a challenge. I’ve set up my own website which explains my journey and the inspiration for the book. I’ve also ventured into the world of Facebook and Twitter. I hope to start my own blog although the deadline for the sequel beckons! Local libraries have been very supportive in providing a venue for me to speak and I’ve enjoyed giving author talks to book clubs as well. Gaining publicity in the media, however, is very hard for an unknown novelist and so I was delighted to discover the blogging world with its wonderful community of historical fiction lovers. Ironically I’ve found it difficult to be reviewed in Australia; instead the most encouraging reviews have been from reviewers and bloggers in the USA which is fantastic. At present The Wedding Shroud can only be found in Australian and New Zealand but is available online at such retailers as,,,  and other Australian online bookstores.

As for the myths of Greece and Rome, I still keep Berens beside my bed, a little piece of family history as well as a great resource. Sadly my father died a few years ago without reading my book. I think he would have liked learning about Etruria, I hope you will too.


Elisabeth is pleased to have two copies of The Wedding Shroud available to win for Australian readers! If possible, it would be great if the winners could review the book within two months of the competition to help spread the word. In addition, Elisabeth is always happy to be interviewed or provide guests posts as well so if you are interested in hosting Elisabeth please contact her through her website

To enter the giveaway click on the link to the form below. The giveaway is open to Australian residents, and will close at the end of Aussie Author Month - April 30.

And in closing, here is the trailer for the book!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Salon: ARRC wrap up - Part 2

After last week's wrap up post of the Friday and Saturday of ARRC 2011, this week I am going to tell you about Sunday, at least what I can read of my notes!

I should note that this wrap up is in no way comprehensive. I am just attempting to give a taste of the sessions that I attended. If I was to type up all the notes I have, I would not only be here all night typing them up, but I am pretty sure I would lose readers!

The morning started at 9.30 on Sunday. I had gone to bed relatively early as I was trying to get my voice back, but I know that there were some hard partyers who struggled to get to the first session on time. It is yet another sign that I am getting old that just thought of that is tiring to me!

Cindy Gerard

Cindy Gerard was the third of the key note speakers, and was our US guest. She is a writer of romantic suspense, and the only one of the key note speakers that I hadn't already read.

She started her speech by declaring that Anna and Nalini had stolen her thunder, as she was going to talk about Australians in romance until Anna did that, and then she thought that she might speak about writing series, until Nalini did!

Cindy was funny and entertaining, and enjoyable to listen to even though she was a bit worried about speaking to readers not only authors. In the end she gave a speech on success. First though she talked a little about her road from reader to published author. She was very naive in that she sent her first manuscript to LaVyrle Spencer because she had answered some fan mail some time before. As a result of the feedback that she was given, Cindy joined Romance Writers of America.

Most of what Cindy talked about was about having the ability to confine, control and dominate self doubt, no matter whether you are talking about being a writer or about whatever avenue you are following in your life. She never knows where in the process self doubt would hit - could be starting a new book, could be in the copy edits, but it happens at least once in every book. What she has learnt is that she thought she was the only writer who felt like this, but it is true for a lot of them.

What she know she should do is eat security for breakfast and self doubt for lunch. the most important thing is to give yourself permission to be who you are and who you aren't.

She finished with saying despite the battle with self doubt she loves publishing, loves other authors, and loves readers. Even with lower than lows and higher than highs she is proud to be a romance writer.

Concurrent Session 3 - Up & Coming Authors

Left to Right in the picture:

Helene Young
Heather Boyd
Shannon Curtis
AB Gayle
Maggie Nash 
Jenny Brassel

This was another small session that ended up having really good interaction between the authors and the attendees, and I have to say that Jenny Brassel did a fabulous job of moderating the panel. She had loads of questions ready for the panel. I am not going to go through all of the responses, but they encompassed topics like

  • What made them want to become a writer
  • Were they a reader or a writer first
  • What would you never write
  • If you were not writing romance, what would you write
  • What is your absolute favourite book and why
  • Describe one of your character that you love
  • What authors influenced you most
  • What is the favourite book you have written?

Some of the conversation related to e-reading, what do readers want to see when it comes to promotion for up and coming authors, how do you find out about new books, what are deal breakers for readers in terms of content and where do you want to be in 5 years. I am pretty sure that one of our panellists wanted JR Rowling to be cleaning her bathroom, but I am not going to tell you which one!

I came away from the session definitely wanting to read more from most of these authors, and having thoroughly enjoyed the interaction between the panellists and the audience.

Concurrent Session 4 - Historical Romance

Anne Gracie
The final concurrent session that I attended was a conversation between Anne Gracie and Anna Campbell introduced by Jenny Brassel, and this was a very entertaining and fun session. You can tell that Anne and Anna are good friends and they just bounced off each other throughout the session. They started the session talking about how they met at a cocktail party where there was no food.

Anne and Anna both talked about the difficulties of getting published. For example, Anna had submitted her books as Regencies and been told that they were no longer being published. What she should have called them in her queries was Regency historicals. One of the most surprising things about being published for the first time was how much promo there was to do, but conversely it is lovely to hear from readers, especially when a story can reach people across the world.

Anne Gracie is a teacher, and she admitted that before she started writing it, she used to dismiss the genre, and even after writing it, she only stopped calling it fluff because she had a letter which showed her that it can touch people in ways you can't imagine when you write it.

As I mentioned in last week's post, Anna Campbell is a very funny speaker, and even in this more intimate setting this proved to be the case, as the audience was left laughing several times

Anna and Anne both talked about where ideas for certain books came from. For Untouched (Anna Campbell) the idea came in the bathroom when she was picturing a Sleeping Beauty in reverse, where the prince was the captive, and for Unclaimed Courtesan she had been reading another book where something happened that just wouldn't happen. She was going through King's Cross (which is an area notorious for gangs, prostitution etc in Sydney) the morning after the night before and seeing the people there had the idea playing in the back of her mind.  Anna thought she was writing romantic comedy (which if you read any Anna Campbell books is definitely not the case).

There is obviously a lot of mutual admiration between these two authors. One thing that made me need to pick up an Anne Gracie book is that she cries at her own writing! I am such a sook myself that this endeared her to me a lot!

Anna Campbell said that she loves that Anne's books are funny, but that they turn on a sixpence emotionally. They are not all funny or all emotional.

Something that struck me as very true is when Anne was talking about the combination of voice and world. She rightly pointed out that even that both Anna and Anne write novels set in the Regency, there is no way you could ever confuse an Anne Gracie novel with an Anna Campbell one.

At this point, the two authors moved on to talking a little bit about the craft of writing. Anna talked about using music to get into the mood for writing, and that each book quite often has just one song (always instrumental) that takes her to that world. Anne said that she generally doesn't have song but for Midnight's Wild Passion there was a Muse song called Undisclosed Desires that she equated to a romance novel in 3 minutes.

Anne does use collage as a tool, and she handed around pictures of some of the collages she has done. The pictures don't necessarily reflect the way the characters look but will definitely reflect their attitudes. She also wrote the novelisation of the Tudors series and so had a collage for that one too.

There was a bit of discussion about titles and covers, and about how they are often changed during the creative process, often to include current buzz words. Some times publishers get covers right, and some times they don't. We did get to see a few international covers, some of which were very surprising!

Towards the end of the session, there was a chance for the audience to ask questions. One that was asked was about historical accuracy in romance. Anne Gracie responded saying that she writes historically plausible rather than historically accurate. One comment from Anna was that our view of the past is sometimes much narrower than actual history, but she has had to change scenes which were accurate but wouldn't fit reader expectations. People like to catch authors out, and some times it does happen. Anne talked about one such example where she got something that she thought that she knew incorrect. She had researched what she didn't know, but it turned out that she didn't know something she thought she did.

Anne Gracie makes jewellery to match up with her books, and as part of the closing of the session some of these were given out, as well as lots of other prizes!

Closing Session

The closing session was one where the delegates got to choose who was on the panel. The lucky authors answering audience questions were:

Anna Campbell
Cindy Gerard
Keri Arthur
Nalini Singh
Lexxie Couper
Helene Young

Questions from the floor were asked including

  • If you weren't a writer what would you do, which had Cindy Gerard bursting into song (and she was very good!)
  • Dealing with deadlines (Nalini - warn editor that might be late and work with them. Don't leave it to the last minute) Cindy did suggest that her excuse this time might be her trip to Australia
  • What couldn't you write? (Keri Arthur couldn't write straight romance - she needs dead bodies)
  • Do they read the last page of a book when they are reading (otherwise known as killing fairies)
  • Do they have a 50 pages rule before putting down a book they are not enjoying?
  • What's the secret to becoming a NY bestseller (CG - luck, timing, fairy dust and need the publisher to step up to the mat. KA - luck and a good story. NS - regular output to build momentum. CG - have to be a consummate professional.)
  • Lexie was then asked about pros and cons of epublishing - really close connections with your readers, but this is time heavy.
  • Social Networking (NS - use intelligently as can be a huge timesuck.
  • What do they like to read, and how many books at a time.

And after a few formalities, that was the end. Certainly most of the delegates that I spoke to were looking forward to the next one, which is a good sign. Here's hoping that there will be ARRC 2013 to look forward to, and well done to the organisers of ARRC 2011.

P.S I am also claiming this post for Aussie Author Month, as with the exception of Nalini Singh and Cindy Gerard, all the authors mentioned in this post are Aussies!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Damfine pie

Weekend Cooking is one of my favourite posts of the week. One thing that I love to do is look back through my posts and look at the previous posts I have done and revisit them - the memories, the recipes etc. The other thing is that when I am reading a book as soon as there is a passage about food I find myself wondering if that is potential Weekend Cooking fodder, or perhaps I should refer to it as inspiration rather than fodder! Doesn't matter what kind of book it is! In this week's case it was an epic fantasy novel that is nearly 1000 pages long, but I still found something!

This quote comes from page 333 of The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss:

"Anything left for the stragglers?" Graham asked as he sank onto his stool.

Before he could reply, a bull-shouldered man clattered an empty plate onto the bar and set a fork down gently beside it. "That," he said in a booming voice," was a damn fine pie."

A thin woman with a pinched face stood next to him. "Don't you cuss, Elias," she said sharply. "There's no call for that."

"Oh honey," the big man said. "Don't get yourself in a twit. Damfine is a kind of apple, innit?" He grinned around at the folks sitting at the bar. "Sort of foreign apple from off in Atur? They named it after Baron Damfine if I remember correct."

Graham grinned back at him. "I think I heard that."

The woman glared at all of them.

"I got these from the Bentons," the innkeeper said meekly.

"Oh," the big farmer said with a smile. "That's my mistake then." He picked up a crumb of crust from the plate and chewed it speculatively. "I'd swear it was a Damfine pie for all that. Maybe the Bentons got them some Damfine apples and don't know it!

Last weekend when before I went to the Keith Urban concert (where my son fell asleep), we went out for dinner. For dessert I had an apple, rhubarb and berry crumble,which was delicious. It has however left me wanting to have more apple and rhubarb type dishes, especially as the nights are starting to turn cold and I am starting to think of comforting and warming winter foods.

I like this recipe because the pie is really a pastry lid, and so it should be pretty easy to use store bought pastry if I can't be bothered with actually making the pastry. I also really like the idea of a rustic open pie type thing where the pastry is folded up over the filling, but I couldn't find a recipe that sounded good for that.

Image credit
Rhubarb and Apple Pie

30g unsalted butter
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
150g caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
1 bunch rhubarb, washed, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs milk
Thick cream or custard, to serve

300g plain flour
150g unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg


To make the pastry, place the flour and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and 1-2 tablespoons chilled water and process until it comes together to form a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the apples and sugar and cook for 2-3 minutes over low heat. Add the rhubarb and cinnamon and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the fruits are just starting to soften. Transfer into a 3-litre (6-cup capacity) pie dish and set aside to cool.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut a 1 1/2cm-wide strip of pastry. Press it around the rim of the pie dish and brush with a little water. Cover with remaining pastry, then trim the edges. (This method helps stop the pastry lid shrinking.) Pinch the pastry together to seal, brush with milk and scatter with the extra caster sugar.

Bake the pie for 35-40 minutes until the pastry is golden. Serve hot or warm with thick cream or custard.

Now I just need to get my oven fixed so that I can actually cook this!

 Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


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