Merry Christmas!

A big, happy festive fun times to you all! In precisely 11 minutes, it will be Christmas for Lucy and I. We wish you all a joyous day, however you choose to celebrate, and a safe and happy new year.

See you all in 2013!

– Cassandra and Lucy

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Bring on 2013!

Like a lot of people, we tend to have quite a few “Christmases”.  One of my sisters is heading interstate for the big day – to spend it with our other siblings and their families – so last week-end we celebrated Christmas on the 15th December… a few days early but by golly did we all have a wonderful time!  The food was… AMAZING.  Ham, turkey (with macadamia nut and cranberry stuffing) and loads of brilliant salads and I haven’t even MENTIONED the desserts!

IMG_7143

After eating, we all played “Bad Santa”.  This is a brilliant game where everyone brings a present (value $10-$15) and puts it in the middle. Then you take turns to take a present from the middle and open it… BUT… (there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there) when it’s your turn, you can either choose to take a present from the pile or… steal from someone else – hence the ‘bad’ in the game title.  If someone steals the present you’ve opened, that means you can either choose to take one from the pile or… steal from someone else.  You can’t, however, steal back what someone has immediately taken off you.  It might sound confusing but when you get into the swing of it, it’s a lot of fun.  We had 14 people playing (the more, the merrier) and the game lasted at good 40 minutes!  Loads of laughs, loads of fun and I ended up with a brilliant set of 20 blank cards (which I really wanted).  My son ended up with a glow in the dark cup (shiny), my daughter ended up with an enormous box of chocolates (and a LEGO figurine) and my husband ended up with gold, edible glitter – which means there will be some fantastic gold cakes for him to eat in the future.  As you can see, the diversity of presents was great.  There were also things like note pads, jigsaw puzzles, gourmet salad dressing (lemon grass and sage), beer shampoo, a hand-painted Chinese picture on leather and a leather knife holder from Mongolia!  There was also a dinosaur tail and an Angry Birds hat.  Diversity brings awesomeness (and a lot of stealing… especially of the Angry Birds hat).

josh angry bird

As I’ve said, an awesome day was had by all but now, for me, it’s like Christmas is over for 2012 and I’m gearing up for 2013.  I keep getting confused why there are still so many people at the shops, why the Christmas music is still blaring over the loud speakers and why the 2013 Calendars aren’t on sale yet! (always buy them AFTER Christmas)

I’m ready for the next Lucy Clark book to go on sale.  ‘Dare She Dream of Forever’ is on sale in January 2013.  This is the last book in the Goldmark Family Series.  If you’re coming to the series late – then check out Amazon or Mills&Book UK for e-books or backlists.  There are six books in the series:

The Boss She Can’t Resist

Taming the Lone Doc’s Heart

Diamond Ring for the Ice Queen

Falling for Doctor Fearless

A Socialite’s Christmas Wish

and the new one, Dare She Dream of Forever.

Dare she dream of forver

Dare she Dream of Forever

So I do hope you all have a fantastic Christmas (even though mine is all done and dusted for this year) and enjoy your New Year celebrations.  2013 is promising to be one cracker of a year!

Lucy

PS. Don’t forget, you can still snag your copy of A Socialite’s Christmas Wish, after all, Christmas hasn’t really happened yet.

A Socialite’s Christmas Wish

Cassandra and Lucy – F4Es!

Hi peeps! Today, I thought I’d enlighten you all as to exactly why Lucy and I are F4Es and why such a phrase is so important to us.

It all started many moons ago, when Lucy was off to Los Angeles for a screenwriting conference featuring Joss Whedon(!!!) I know, right? So jealous. Anyhoo, Lucy was off to America and so I asked if she wouldn’t mind if I purchased a few things through Amazon and have them delivered to her hotel for her to then bring home to me in her luggage. I also asked that if she happened to wander into a store like Walmart, she have a bit of squiz at some DVDs and books I wanted (I STILL haven’t been to a Walmart, even though I spent five weeks in New York on holidays. So disappointing I couldn’t make it to one. Oh well,  maybe next time!)

So, I wrote her a note with the details of what I wanted/ordered and then put at the bottom “If you do this for me, I’ll be your Friend For Ever and Ever.” Well, we just jumped on this like gangbusters. Everything from that moment on was “If you do this, friend for ever”, “if you do that, friend for ever” until it became abbreviated to F4E! Cool story, hey?

Total side note, back when Lucy was at the screenwriting conference in LA, I was walking down the street in Adelaide on my lunch break from The Day Job. I get a text message. It’s Lucy, telling me SHE JUST SAW JOSS WHEDON AND OHMYGOD HE WAS BRILLIANT AND HE’S CURRENTLY STANDING IN THE HALL BEING MOBBED BY PEOPLE AND I COULD TOTALLY TALK TO HIM IF I WANTED!!!

I replied with “Why are you telling me this? I’m walking down a street in Adelaide. It’s like you want me to be sad.”

Lucy’s response? OMG, AND HE WAS INTRODUCED BY YOUR MASSIVE ACTOR CRUSH NATHAN FILLION AND HUBBY COULD HAVE PEED NEXT TO NATHAN IF HE JUST CASUALLY FOLLOWED HIM TO THE BATHROOM*!

My response? “I hate you.”

So there you have it, peeps! The story of how Lucy and I became F4Es!

Do you have any tales of nicknames with your friends? Have you silly in-jokes? Has your friend bragged about something so awesome that you wanted to stab them in the eye, just a little bit??

– Cassandra

* Lucy’s hubby was not being creepy here, or stalkery. Promise.

Bublé, Koeksusters & Family Fun

Do you ever find that Christmas sometimes sneaks up on you?  That you have so much to get through that you’re frantically trying to tick things off your list and suddenly it’s the 24th December and you haven’t even started your Christmas shopping? The 25th December arrives and for you – because you’ve been so incredibly hectic – it just doesn’t “feel” like Christmas?

I’ve had these a lot over the years but as Christmas is one of my absolute favouritest times of year, I’ve realised I actually have to put some effort into the build up.  It’s the same as when we’re writing our brilliant masterpieces… we need to put ‘set-up’ time into our characters, into their goals, motivations and conflicts in order to get them through to their happily ever after.  Well, this year, I have started my “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” preparations.

We have a tradition in our family, that every year,we get together as a family and make koeksusters (pronounced ‘cook-sister’).  Now these are a pastry like delicacy that I remember making every year at Christmas with my siblings.  It’s a dough that is rolled out, cut into strips, plaited and then fried in hot oil and dunked (generously) in a syrup mixture.  I also like to eat mine cold – straight from the freezer (as the koeksusters don’t freeze all the way through).  So this tradition is something I have continued with my own children (yes, my son has had to learn how to plait) so on the 1st December this year, determined to get the Christmas excitement build-up underway, I put on the Michael Bublé Christmas CD, stood next to my mother and daughter at the kitchen bench and made koeksusters.

IMG_4998

Seriously, when I take the first bite of a koeksuster, it immediately feels like Christmas… and the excitement build-up begins.

Another exciting Christmas thing is that I have a book out.  Yes, a Christmas book with a Christmas cover.

clover and brandon

A Socialite’s Christmas Wish is in stores NOW.  So why not purchase a copy, either as an ebook or a hardcopy and even if it’s not your cup-of-tea, it will certainly make an excellent Christmas present… that way, you don’t have to worry about thrashing it out at the shops on the 24th December with all those other frantic people!  http://www.millsandboon.com.au/product/9781743064092  This is also the 5th Book in the ‘Goldmark Family Saga’ – book 6 will be out in early to wrap up the series.

Anyhoo… do you have any Christmas traditions?  Anything that makes you think – Yes.  It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

Lucy

 

Crashing Lucy’s workshop

Hi peeps,

Well, already we’re messing with our schedule! It’s taken less time than I thought 😉 This week, I’ll be posting instead of Lucy and I thought I’d talk a little something about The Thursday Night I Crashed Lucy’s Workshop.

On a Thursday every fortnight for five fortnights, Lucy is holding a workshop on The Craft of Writing a the SA Writers Centre. Last Thursday, I totally rode her coattails all the way into the Centre, laughing manically all the way. Well, maybe not manically, but there was definitely a chortle or two.

That fortnight, the class were discussing Dialogue. Lucy had some great things to say on the subject, starting with her breakdown of what influences dialogue:

GOALS, MOTIVATION, CONFLICT will influence everything you write, and in this case, will influence what dialogue you choose for your characters. The plot should always be moving forward, and your dialogue should reflect this.

leads to

SENSES using the senses will help you ‘show’ rather than tell. The example Lucy gave: Rather than using description to alert a reader to a sound, such as a bell, have your character say “Did you hear that?”

leads to

PUNCTUATION will change how a reader interprets your intent. Lucy used the example of the word ‘yes’. Yes. is different from Yes… from Yes? from Yes!

leads to

EMOTION will influence everything, but the other steps will help you show rather than tell the emotion your characters are feeling.

Lucy also discussed the use of tags and adverbs in regards to dialogue. Myself, I try to avoid tags whenever possible. Dialogue is always stronger if an action is attached rather than a tag, ie,

“You’re a dick,” she said angrily.

vs

“You’re a dick.” Shaking off his hand, she crossed her arms and glared.

There were lots of other bits and bobs, including the portrayal of accents, the use of exposition and a description/dialogue ratio. Twas definitely a fun night out and, just quietly, I’m looking to crash the next workshop too! Don’t tell Lucy, ‘kay? 😉

– Cassandra

All Skewif

Hi peeps,

Well, I just feel all over the place at the moment. It’s a Monday and I’m posting. Next thing I know, it’ll be raining cats, dogs, squirrles, there’ll be anarchy and some kind of cheese…

Hmm. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Weird, posting on a Monday. Also, last week Lucy and I couldn’t catch up on our regularly scheduled coffee fun times due to Reasons. Oh Reasons, you do like to mess with me.

So what have I been up to without *sniff* Lucy’s company? Well, I’ve been joining Writers Associations! Left, right and centre! Well, maybe not left, right and centre. Maybe not even left and right. Possibly centre. Anyhoo, I thought I’d list them for you lovely peeps, in case you might like to investigate and perhaps join yourselves:

SA WRITERS CENTRE

ROMANCE WRITERS OF NEW ZEALAND

And, just for spits and giggles, I’m already a member of:

ROMANCE WRITERS OF AUSTRALIA

ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA

AUSTRALIAN ROMANCE READERS ASSOCIATION

So that’s about it from me, peeps! I’m sorry it’s a bit light on this post, but I blame my Lucy-less week. This week, we’re looking to get together at SA Writers Centre and chat and stuff and some good shizz will come out of it, I’m certain!

Until next time

– Cassandra

Giant Drops and Restrooms?

Well if Cassandra dropped the ball the other week, I’ve clearly lost mine! Sorry the blog is so late. I could offer a mountain of excuses but I won’t insult your intelligence.

There’s always the big question of ‘what to write’ when it’s your turn to blog and this week, I guess I’ve really struggled with exactly what it was I wanted to say. I did think of telling you about my week-end. They’re usually not that exciting, dealing with washing the clothes and writing words of some kind in my latest WIP but on Sunday afternoon, we went out to an adventure camp and after a lovely BBQ (or salad focaccia, in my case), we headed up an enormous hill to where there were climbing and abseiling frames set up and also a ‘giant swing’. Now I’d love to be able to put a picture right in here —- but the truth is that whilst we did take photos and video, they’re presently stuck on my phone and I can’t find the cord to hook the phone to my computer. (always the way)  However, it did look a little something like this:

It was great to be in an abseiling harness again (last time was when I was a teenager), with hard hat on, being winched up via a rope and then, when you pull the release string, you definitely swing to and fro. But… before I could write this blog, something else happened to me which, thanks to today’s technological society, actually embarrassed me.

My sister called me on my mobile phone while I was on the toilet!

Now, in the past, if I was in the ‘room where legends die’, and the phone rang, I had instructed my family to always say “she’s unavailable at the moment, can she call you back?” thus, preserving the my dignity and also the belief that I am perfect. (which, let’s face it, I am)

These days, with our mobile/cellphones glued to our sides, instructing our every waking moment as we use them for alarms, calendars, diaries, reminders, phone contacts etc, when you’re on a toilet – especially a public one, how utterly embarrassing is it when you get a call? Do you start to wonder, as I do, exactly what the other person can hear? Is the echo of the small cubicle evident? Do they hear the flushing sounds of the other toilets (if you’re in a public restroom)? You also know that everyone else in that restroom is listening in to your conversation.

Has this ever happened to you? Are you embarrassed or do you not particularly care? Have you ever read of character’s being in such a situation in any books?

When we write our stories, there are usually parts of normal human life that we tend to leave out – such as certain bodily functions. I do remember years ago, accepting the challenge to have one of my characters vomiting. She had food poisoning and I’d entwined the food poisoning into the plot specifically so I could have the scene of the hero holding back the heroine’s hair, rubbing her back and generally being supportive as she “hoiked up her guts” and oddly enough, my editors changed the scene to having him “being supportive” and then tucking her into bed. The vomiting was deleted.  Instead, the heroine had “felt ill”.

What books have you read where ‘bodily functions’ are more readily acceptable? Were they fiction? Non-fiction? Romance? Horror?  Enquiring minds want to know (especially mine).

From now on, though, whenever I enter a public restroom, I will definitely be turning my phone to silent!

Lucy

Pub culture

So, Lucy and I have a Super! Secret! Project! that we’re working on and we’ve been discussing bits and pieces of it. One such bit was discussed at coffee today, and that’s the Local Pub culture that seems to permeate English boroughs and towns.

Lucy was telling me about the Christian O’Connell breakfast show airing on Absolute Radio in the UK. Thanks the wonders of the internets, we can download a podcast here in dear old Oz. They were chatting about hanging out at their local, and Lucy realised this was something that seemed entrenched in English culture.

A lot of social activity revolves around the pub. Perhaps it’s a call back to the days of the village market, and the social interaction the trip to a common meeting place signified. Anyhoo, it seems ‘the local’ is the place to be, where you go after a hard day’s work to hang out with your mates and watch the football with a pint or two.

Further to this, it seems the pub is segregated into various bits. The older ladies might sit in one corner, the young blokes in another, the older gents at the bar and the young lasses on the tiny dance floor.

This is such an interesting phenomenan, and one that warrants further investigation…Anyone want finance a trip to England for me so I can, ahem, study this?? ;p

– Cassandra

Syntax, Sex and Soy Lattés

If you were a fly on the pillar next to where Cassandra and I were sitting today at The Coffee Club (and big shout-out to all the staff there who always greet us with a smile and the words “the usual?”), then you probably would have been gobsmacked and flabbergasted at the road our topic of conversation took. No, we actually weren’t talking about sex – I just threw that into the title because I knew it would get your attention. We were actually sitting there, talking about ‘syntax’ (and vernacular – but that doesn’t begin with an “s” so I left it out).

Due to our super-secret project (shhh), we were talking about how, although those of us who live in Australia, North America and the United Kingdom all speak “English” we still have different syntax for the same thing.

Eg: In America, if your character was lighting a candle, you would write: “Helena lighted the candle.”

In Australia, you would write: “Helena lit the candle.”

In the UK, if your character was standing right next to another character, you would write: “John was stood next to Agatha.”

In Australia, you would write: “John was standing next to Agatha.”

Even if we just take a quick look at the humble bathing suit, it can be known as: Bathers; Swimmers; Trunks; Cozzie – and those are just from the different States in Australia!

Hand-me-down cozzie

enjoying a little… garden bathing – 1970.

The point we were chatting about today over our coffees, was that if you’re writing a story set in a different country, or where your characters come from a different country, then their speech patterns should reflect this. That means research… and if research means that Cassandra and I must go and live in another country in order to accurately complete our “super secret project” (shhh) – then so be it!

I won’t say “good-bye” because in Australia, we prefer – “see ya later”.

Lucy– the soy latté drinker.

(lactose intolerance is not fun)