The origins of romance: courtly (‘chivalric’) love

(and, no, Courtly Love was not married to Curt Cobain… ) Modern romance (and modern romance readers) owe a debt of gratitude to the dark ages for the development of the practise of ‘courtly love’ (or ‘chivalric love’ with which it was closely allied). Marriage, back then, was a dry affair, usually connected to strategic […]

Why good writers aren’t automatically good authors

Being an author is only partly about being a writer. Lots of people who write well, don’t necessarily write well across-the-board. Someone proficient in government report writing may have style-guide perfect grammar but might struggle to write a compelling science fiction novel. An advertising copywriter may have the gift of expression but could struggle to […]

Why time is like sex

Time is like sex. We all think everyone else has more of it and that it’s somehow better quality than the sex we have. Well, just like sex, they’re not. Ultimately, everyone has the same number of hours in the day to work with and everyone has conflicting uses for that time. Some people are fantastic time-managers […]

Remembrance Day (Lest we forget)

The Power of Words Eleventh hour | Eleventh day | Eleventh month Today, member countries of the Commonwealth (particularly) recall those who lost their lives during the many engagements of World War 1. Hostilities famously ended at 11am on the 11th November 1918 when the Armistice was signed. It is a day when the dying […]

Find & Replace: a writer’s best friend

First published in HeartsTalk Magazine (Romance Writers of Australia) in 2010 A few years back, on the eve of a competition and when I was super new to this whole writing gig, I went through my MS line-by-line manually finding and adjusting every single instance of a double-space after a full stop. Thousands of them. I vowed then to find […]

In defence of the cliche

When has a word concept ever been such an anathema as the dreaded cliche? Writers fear it, readers bristle at it. Yet it’s often confused with its cousin, stereotype, and generally misused and misunderstood. The word itself has come to mean something that is overused and trite. Written, visual, aural. Shutters banging against a house wall […]

What’s in a name

I was intrigued to see a recent social network thread in which readers and some writers indicated that they won’t read a book where a character has an apostrophe in their given name. Surely you jest, Twitter? Apparently not. It had something to do with not being able to pronounce the name of the character in […]

Genre knockers (popular/commercial fiction)

The question was asked by someone new on a commercial writer’s loop “what is ‘literary fiction’?” and the best answer (by far) was “What the rest of us support.” Literary fiction is the top point of the fiction pyramid where fewer authors dwell amongst fewer publishers and even fewer sales (comparably). But it is somewhat […]

To comp or not to comp

Writing competitions can be enormously useful if you approach them with balance and detachment and don’t give them too much importance in the greater scheme of your writing. They are just another tool at your disposal. A means to an end. They aren’t the world. You’re going to do well from time to time and […]

The importance of payoff

Recently I had cause to contemplate the value of romantic fulfilment in a romance novel. It seems obvious to say a romance novel should contain romance, but it appears that not all romances are created equal. Two books could have a similar romantic approach, similar intensity, similar execution…yet one will seem vastly more romantic than […]