Jan 20, 2018

Girl Power by Clare Connelly

Mills & Boon Dare series is due to release in a week and while it promises the same high standard of fantastic, escapist romance that Mills & Boon is renowned for, it also brings a heap of heat, and features women who are super strong, sensual and confident. I've written four Mills & Boon Dares, and I can say that I absolutely love the series. 

High school besties
There's been a lot of interest in the powerful female characters, and so I've been thinking about 
women lately, and particularly, empowering women, strong women, how women can be confident and resilient, how owning our sensuality is a mark of triumph over old-fashioned ideals held by a patriarchal society... and what really resonates with me is the idea of strong friendships. The thought that part of being a strong woman is to be a woman who lifts other people up, who helps, motivates, inspires, says kind things, practices kind acts. 

I'm fortunate to still be really great mates with my high school besties. We all live in different states now but we are as close as ever. I have two sisters whom I adore, and a strong, awesome mum I really admire.

I have a lot of kind women in my life, and since I came into the RWA fold, and I've experienced some incredible acts of kindness too. Notably, after meeting Amy Andrews at the 2016 conference
At the Harlequin party 2017 RWA conference
 and giving her some of my books, unbeknownst to me, she contacted her editor at Mills & Boon to rave about me. How nice is that? It was unqualified, selfless support and championing, and I will never forget her willingness to speak up for me when we barely knew one another. 

Then, there are the LoveCats who invited me to be a part of this awesome blog, and who I have so enjoyed getting to know!

Jillian Jones & me
I joined our state romance writing group in January of last year and began to attend the monthly meetings. What a pleasure it's been to get to know these writers, women who sometimes share my passions and other times don't; to enjoy the lively conversations that centre around books we've read and loved, books we've hated, where our writing journey is at - and to share wisdom. We're all at different stages in our journey and the exchange of information is always lively and informative. We have our annual lunch tomorrow and I can't wait to see the gang! 

With my SARA sister Bronwyn
I could go on and on, listing all the beautiful souls I've connected with through my writing (readers who are just the loveliest and most supportive group) , but the common theme is the giving of time and thought. Whether it's a small message to touch base on a problematic manuscript, a tweet shared, a review of a book - and beyond that, sharing recipes and laughing about children, all the small little irrelevancies that form the background of our lives.

What about you? Got any kind acts you can share? Something a friend has done for you or that you go out of your way to do for a friend? 

Jan 15, 2018

Action Holiday or Leisurely One?

I’m an action holiday kind of gal. 

I’m currently in Whistler on a ski holiday with the family. I love flying down the slopes and getting a nice hot chocolate as a reward after a few hours of hard skiing. Then, out there again for more. I love being totally exhausted by the end of the day. Jumping in that nice long hot shower in the afternoon after a full day of skiing – heavenly.

I’ve tried to do ‘relaxing by the pool’ holidays. I pack great books to try to keep me on the sun lounger, but after about half an hour I’m itching to get moving. To do something active.

Image by Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane
Whilst being here in Canada, I’ve been thinking that a snowy backdrop would be wonderful for a romance. Log fires. Mulled wine. Snowed in in a log cabin with gorgeous views of the mountains. Icicles framing the windows (they are framing the one I’m looking out of now).

Anyway must away. Time to put on the ski suit and get back out there.

What type of holiday-maker are you – action or leisurely? I’d love to hear.

Jan 8, 2018

Word of the Year

New Years Resolutions have always made me twitchy.

I’ve tried them, of course. I mean, any chance to write a list, right?  #stationeryaddict

But I’ve never really bothered to follow through in a real way.

Partly because I’m hopelessly laid-back and partly because I’m a naturally contented person, so the idea of making wholesale changes has never really stuck.

Mostly because I’m not great with being told what to do. Tell me not to eat a Tim Tam.  Go on.  I dare you.  I’ll show you!  Watch me eat this whole packet, right in front of you.  Take that!

But, in the contrary nature of the human condition, I love the thought of a New Year.  It’s the ultimate Fresh Start.  The chance to shake off the cobwebs. To take a deep refreshing breath and do better.  Be better.

Which is why I have fallen in love with the concept of Word of the Year.

Rather than a list of ways to self-improve, for me my Word of the Year is a touchstone, a way to gently tug me back to something meaningful.

For example, last year my WotY was SIMPLIFY.

I decluttered like crazy. Oh the bliss of a tidy house!  I cut back – on worries, on endeavours that sapped my time. I let go. Having that word as my touchstone worked. It made my life lighter.

This year it’s MOMENTS.

For me that could mean a hundred different things all of which speak to me at this point in my life.

It can be a reminder to stop. To breathe. To notice.  To soak in a bright blue sky filled with fluffy white clouds. To take a moment to Shazam that song that made me dance in my seat. To see beauty in a wasp flittering over the pool. To spend a minute soaking in the first Jasmine flowers of the season. To look for accidental art in my coffee.

To put not only the big events in our family’s yearly Jar of Awesomeness, but those small moments, the forgotten joys – when my daughter tried to do a handstand in the pool, failed, and laughed at herself with the most gorgeous lack of self-consciousness. When my son made his Captain Underpants, fan–fiction comic book.  When I forced my mum to wear a huge pink ‘birthday girl’ badge the day we took her out for her 70th birthday.

These moments are my bliss.  My happy place.  My smiles.  My delight.

I'm pretty good at knowing what they are when I see them, but this year I intend to bask in them longer.  To bank those feelings.  To swim in the sparkles till I turn all pruney.  So that it will become habit.
And I can't wait.
So how about you? If you had a word of the year, what might it be?