Four Things I Learned Writing a Rural Setting

By Eva Scott

Here are the four things that I learned while writing my new rural romance, Red Dust Dreaming

1. The importance of a subject-matter expert

It’s not enough to research the hell out of a subject/place, you also need to have a subject matter expert who can check over your work for any slips or mistakes you might inadvertently make. During the writing of Red Dust Dreaming I had a wonderful expert in the form of Dr Sally who is not only an expert on Aboriginal art, but visits Yuendumu regularly. She was invaluable in guiding me through the intricacies of interracial and intercultural exchanges. She saved me from making an innocent blunder and gave the story authenticity.

2. Google Earth rocks!

If you can’t physically get there, then Google Earth is your best friend. It can take you right down to street level and give you a sense of the place you’re writing about. It’s invaluable for checking the look and feel of a place. Combine this with your subject matter expert and you’re well on your way to writing something believable without leaving your desk.

3. Write about something that interests you

I was lucky enough to get a private tour of an Aboriginal art exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery which set fire to my imagination. This new-found fascination took me on a wonderful journey of discovery and introduced me to some amazing people. When those dog-days hit, the ones where the words just won’t come, the subject matter always managed to re-inspire me and get me back in the game.

4. Be careful of secondary characters!

They have a habit of rising up and taking over the lime light. In Red Dust Dreaming the offending character is Thelma, the housekeeper. She’s strong, sassy and sharp. Reviewers picked up on her straight away and she threatened to steal the show. Back into your box,Thelma!

23722In the battle of duty versus desire, only one can survive the hot Australian sunshine.

Elizabeth Langtree’s has her life in order – safe, organised, planned. Sure, she has her troubles, but they are nothing she can’t handle. Then everything is turned upside down when her family send her to Australia to collect her orphaned nephew.

It all seemed so simple in New York, but Australia is nothing like she expected, and she soon falls under the spell of the Outback – the station, the lifestyle, and the seriously sexy owner who has been caring for Luke since the death of his mother.

Elizabeth soon discovers that what seemed simple a world away is anything but, and her duty is at odds with the dictates of her heart. She must choose, knowing that a mistake will not only cost her everything, but destroy the future of a devastated little boy.

In Defence of the C-Word

This blog comes with a strong language warning!

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the Sydney Writer’s Festival’s first genre romance panel. With me were authors Avril Tremayne and Victoria Purman, and we were masterfully moderated by romance scholar Jodi McAlister. The panel covered romance from its roots, through feminism, heroism, sex (and sexism), and back around to a happy ending.

But an audience question raised an issue that I think has broader implications than the festival and the people we spoke with on Saturday.

That issue, gentle readers, is the word ‘cunt’.


The naming of female genitalia has a long and troubled history, particularly when it comes to describing it within a sexual context – not least of which because how women and their bodies felt (both emotionally and physically) in a sexual context wasn’t of import for a very very long time. Further, when it came to sexual descriptions, the woman was frequently equated with her sexual organs, that is the hero sunk into ‘her’, or ‘she clutched at him’, where the woman became only her sexual organs, where everything felt or done by her vagina and vulva are done by  her whole self.


So authors trying to first, distinguish a woman from her sex organs and second, describe her pleasure, arousal, feelings, and physicality, were fighting an uphill battle. They were also fighting a battle of modesty and culture and context, and from thence sprang the purple prose that so many critics like to drag out and expose to the harsh, cruel, contextually unforgiving light of modern critique. The moist caverns, the weeping grottos, the soft petals, and delicate flowers.


Flash forward to a time when (ostensibly) sexual equality has been achieved, and women are free to explore their own sexuality, desire, and pleasure. There’s still the ongoing, historically-laden issue of labels. And that’s where cunt comes in.

Everyone will have differing reactions to the word – after all, on a scale of one to vulgar, the c-bomb tops the list. There is nothing more offensive, and nothing more taboo. (The implications of that are for discussion at another time). But for me, as an editor, and a reader, and a woman – honestly, I quite like it. And I’m happy to tell you why.


Let’s look at the options:

Vagina – well, this is clinically true, but vagina means ‘sheath’, and a definition of the female sex organ in relation to the male sex organ just seems counter-productive.

Pussy – this gets a bit of play, and it’s one of the words that comes out in porn and male-written sex scenes. There’s a bit of an allure to it, a soft, sibilant word, but it’s a child-like word, all susurrations. Pussy is an ingénue, delicate, gentle, waiting for something to happen to her.

Vulva – while certainly better than vagina (and more correct), this word struggles with a bit of a choking, throat clearing effect. Vulva is a quiet word, unassuming, hiding away in the mouth, not wanting to draw attention. Vulva is your naughty librarian – sure, she may be wearing dirty lingerie, but you’ll never know it behind the starch and the grammatical correctness.

Cunt – now this is a word of a different colour. Cunt is a lady who can hold her own. She’s all hard consonants and sharp endings. She knows what she wants, and she powers through to get it. She owns it. This is a red-blooded, pleasure-seeking, power-owning word. This is high heels, red lipstick, or track pants and a hoodie. She’s whatever she wants to be, and no one can get in her way.

Consider the euphemisms for ‘penis': dick, prick, cock. Who are you going to send in to meet them, on equal footing, a playmate, a lover, a foil? When faced with cock, who do you think is up for the job?


She’s not the word for every situation, but she’s the word to keep in your back pocket, your secret weapon, your power. Cunt. She doesn’t need you, but you might just need her.

May Titles Bloom Into Life

For your reading pleasure!

23731Six Feet Under meets Stephanie Plum in Amy Andrews’  fresh, funny, sexy urban-family noir about a country singer who almost made it, a private investigator who’s seen too much and a mother who will cross all barriers to save her child.

24128Revisit Swallow’s Fall in this beautiful short novel from Jennie Jones about an ex-military man, a single mother and the impossibility of dreams coming true.

24083From the author of the romantic horror debut Beckoning Blood comes the gripping sequel that mixes blood, sex, and magic.

Finally, all the Housewives are together at last – with four bonus stories…

24129Secrets Revealed! Bonus four epilogues, exclusive to this digital bind-up!

You’ve never met housewives as hot as these…They’re wealthy and glamorous. The elite of society. But appearances can be deceiving.

Freo – a rockin’ town

by Shona Husk

Welcome to Freo!

Aerial_view_of_FremantleI’ve lived in Western Australia for 19 years. I moved with my hubby when he got posted to HMAS Stirling for his submarine training (a few months later he got posted back to Sydney on a training billet and I was left in WA…but that is a different story).

While I have worked in a lot of different offices around Perth, one of my favourite places to work was Fremantle. This was back in the days when there was Angus and Robertson AND Dymocks in the same mall, and I worked above the library. Sounds like heaven already? Then there was the Italian ice-creamery…

You know how I spent my lunch breaks, don’t you?

When not eating ice cream and browsing for books there was the new age shops, boutiques with funky shoes, pizza places and there may have been the occasional Friday drafting meeting (I was a civil designer) held at the pub over the road (nachos and bourbon!).

fremantle docks

Fremantle has a certain vibe. It’s fun and friendly and there’s always something to see.


Fremantle (home of the Dockers for the football fans) is also known for nurturing its local musos.


There are pubs to play in, small venues galore. The Fly by Night has launched many an album (the old location was a real character building). Then there is the haunted Fremantle Arts Centre where lights and amps have been known to play up.


When choosing where the place my up and coming band, Selling the Sun, Fremantle was the place to be. Maybe they’ll outgrow it and move to L.A. when they get big…or maybe they’ll stay close to home. At the moment they are trying to get their second album written and working out where the rent is going to come from.

23728They might be one of the hottest up-and-coming bands in Australia, but the members of Selling the Sun have a lot to learn about life, love, sex, and each other.

Coming off a successful Australian tour and prestigious industry award nominations, Gemma Field’s life should be perfect. Instead her parents want her to get a real job, the second album isn’t coming together, and her best friend, Kirsten wants nothing to do with her.

Falling for her best friend was never going to make life easy. After an almost accidental drunken kiss almost six months ago, they aren’t even talking. Gemma can’t even talk about it with anyone – not her family, not her bandmates, not even the one person she used to share everything with. Instead she lives in a space of indecision and pain, and it’s affecting all aspects of her life, including the band.

Kirsten Vincent missed Gemma like crazy, but did she miss her as a friend or as something more? She’s confused and Gemma is hurt, and the consequences of a bad decision will affect more than their personal lives. Will another kiss, a sober kiss, a kiss with intent, do more damage, or could it be the start of something more?

23732Every band is desperate for that first big break – but what happens after that?

Ed Vincent, front man of Selling the Sun, has a really bad case of second album jitters. Nothing he writes measures up to the expectations placed on him after the success of the first album. The tensions between band members are rising and everything seems to be falling apart just as they get started. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be: not every band gets to write their name on the pages of history. But the band has always been Ed’s dream, and if Ed gives up, will he have any dreams left?

Chasing dreams is something that other people do. Olivia Doyle put her life on hold after a car accident killed her fiancé and nearly claimed her life. Now with a three-year-old son and a part-time job, she knows she is stuck in a rut, but has no idea how to climb out. Then she meets Ed.

He can’t have the distraction of a relationship, and she has no time for anything casual. On the surface, they’re in completely different places, but love has a way of finding middle ground.

To Bare or Not To Bare: A Cover, A Question, and A Sneak Peek

They say never judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real: we all do it. It’s one of the first things that either attract – or repel! – us from a book, and, boy, can covers cause controversy.

One of the biggest divisions in cover decisions lies in the bare necessities: how much skin is in?

Take this cover, for example – the full-length novel kick-off for a new dystopian series that comes out in August:

HonorBound-Harlequin1920_1920x3022Now everyone is entitled to their opinion, but we think that this might be just the right amount of skin.

Do you agree?

Love dystopia? Get ready for August and the first full-length Lawmen of the Republic novel with the kick-off prequel, Lace and Lead, available now.

Or you can just stare at the Honour Bound cover until then. We won’t judge. 

19569Breathtaking action, startling originality and polished story-telling combine in this futuristic Sci-Fi novella about a rough mercenary, a pampered daughter, and the lies they both believe.

Blue-blood Emmaline Gregson survived one of the most brutal mining accidents ever recorded in the Republic, but she’s never been in a firefight. So when unknown assailants circle the family estate, the only man she can rely on is Peirce Taggart. A former Lawman turned mercenary, Peirce has a simple job: protect Emmaline until her father can collect her and sell her to sex trafficker Richard Stone to pay off his debts. But when Arthur Gregson tries to cheat his way out of the contract, Emmaline seizes the opportunity to hire Peirce for herself, regardless of how crude, dangerous, or appealing he may be. Given the chance for redemption, he promises to help her escape both her father and Stone. But Peirce soon realises that hiding her in his apartment until the storm has passed may be more dangerous than looking down the barrel of a gun…

Escape at SWF

The Sydney Writer’s Festival is next week. Here are the places to see Escape Managing Editor, Kate Cuthbert.

Thursday, 21 May, 2:30 – 3:30pm – Forest For The Trees
To Market, To Market
How do publishers identify the target audience for a book and how do they make sure books and readers find each other? Hear how decisions are made on everything from acquisition through to marketing, with Kate Cuthbert, Managing Editor, Escape Publishing, Anna Valdinger, Fiction Publisher, HarperCollins and Aviva Tuffield, Publisher, Affirm Press.

Saturday 23 May, 1:30 – 2:30pm – Beyond Dukes and Damsels
Girl is a sweet ingenue. Boy is a brooding rake. Girl meets boy. Boy seduces girl. Girl becomes less innocent. Boy becomes less rakish. This is the world-weary stereotype that romance novels constantly bump up against. In the real world (of fiction), romantic heroes and heroines have been evolving since the genre began. How exactly has the fantasy of sexiness changed over time? And what subversive tropes are emerging in the sub-genres? Jodi McAlister speaks with Harlequin’s Kate Cuthbert, and authors Victoria Purman and Avril Tremayne to discuss new models of romantic love.

Short Reads – Take Some Me Time

In a waiting room? Got a short commute? Only half an hour before the kids come home? Desperately need an escape but can only hang out in the bathroom for so long?

Short reads. The busy reader’s best friend. And we’ve got a great collection of Australia-set, coastal romances that we think you’ll love. They’re flirty, they’re fun, they’re from superstar author Jenny Schwartz – and they’re available now.

Take some me time – get your romance fix quick. Short reads. They’ll change your world.

23987Travel coast to coast with five romantic tales from Jenny Schwartz, the master of Coastal Romance, now available as one digital volume.

In Mistaken Engagement, after a disastrous fake engagement, the Australia Day long weekend down at Grace’s family beach house is the perfect time to show everyone that Grace and Saul are friends, with not a broken heart between them. But can a fake engagement become life-changingly real?

In Memories of Love, when her family home burns down, it’s the final heartbreak for Rita Jorden. Her boss, Ivan Novak, steps in, offering her his home and his help. But Ivan has his own demons, and although he’s interested in Rita, there’s darkness in his past that could cause her harm.

In Second Chance Island, Laura Robertson is working at a tropical resort on the Great Barrier Reef, biding her time and nursing her wounds when her ex-lover Phil Cooper arrives on Topaz Island. She’s spent her whole life fighting to save the reef, and her time on Topaz Island fighting for her self-respect. Does she have enough left to fight for a second chance?

In Ice-Breaker, Kiara and Selwyn’s first encounter is dramatic, and their attraction instantaneous. But Kiara has commitments, dreams, and plans – and Selwyn doesn’t fit into any of it. But he’s not willing to give up on the chance at love, so he plans a second encounter just as dramatic. Maybe all they need for a chance at real love is a break from real life.

In No Rescue, after a tragic incident, Miri Blair has escaped to Sydney, and the anonymity of a friend’s apartment. Then, one day, she finds herself acting out a Romeo-and-Juliet balcony style scene with Sergeant Tad Robertson of the Water Police, who dares her to risk living again. Will she have the strength to move away from her past and towards a future with Tad?

Cover Reveal – Rayessa gets a Make-Over!

Sometimes a makeover is just what the doctor ordered. When we published the second book in Donna Maree Hanson’s fun, flirty YA/NA cross-over speculative fiction series, Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures, we noticed the book 1, Rayessa and the Space Pirates, wasn’t looking as fresh and cool as her sister. So we gave her a hot new cover, and now we think they both look great.

What do you think?


Interested in the series?

8866Sixteen-year-old Rae Stroder lives in a hollow asteroid, a defunct refuelling station, with only a brain-damaged adult, Gris, to keep her company. Low on supplies, they’ve been eking out an existence for years. Everything changes when Alwin Anton, ultra-clean, smart and handsome AllEarth Corp company auditor, arrives to find disarray. Full of suspicion, he interrogates Rae, threatening her with prosecution for theft. He uncovers the fact that she is not Rae Stroder at all, when space pirates attack.

During the attack, Rae is taken prisoner and Alwin Anton escapes in his space ship. Rae is earmarked for sale into slavery, and it looks like it’s all over when she is purchased by a mysterious Ridallian.

Meanwhile, the space pirates are out to kill Alwin Anton, who holds the secret to Rae’s true identity. It’s a race against time to unravel the intrigue of Rae’s past to secure her future.

23988In Rayessa and the Space Pirates, Rae made a startling discovery about her past. Now her twin sister Essa has her own adventures to pursue.

Essa Gayens is starting to accept her sister Rae into her life, sharing a dorm room in their swanky private school on Earth. Smarter, savvier and more in touch with the world than Rae, Essa’s feelings of superiority and advantage are shaken when their mother goes missing, along with Rae’s boyfriend, Alwin.

When Rae takes off after them into outer space, Essa is spurred into action. Very soon, Essa is hot on her trail, sneaking out of school, bribing officials and begging Captain Thorn Hanover to take her on his ship.

Thorn is a hunk, and Essa is thrilled with the prospect of an interesting trip, but Thorn has no interest in a spoiled rich girl. Not only does he reject her advances, he sets her up on the chore roster and expects her to work for her passage.

Essa has never been anything but a pampered princess, but both Rae and Thorn are challenging her to dig deeper, to be more. But to aspire is to risk failure, and Essa has never really risked anything before. Can she start with her heart?

Fish Out of Water Stories – Four Reasons to Sink or Swim

crocFish-out-of-water (FOOW) stories are a main staple of romance novels. I love writing FOOW stories, probably a reflection of how I’ve lived my life. In Red Dust Dreaming, our heroine, Elizabeth Langtree, hails from New York City so when she finds herself in the middle of the Australian desert on a cattle station with a super-hot man and an orphaned little boy she is well and truly a FOOW.  Nothing is like home at all: the food, the people, the environment, the romance – everything is different and challenging.

While being a fish-out-of-water is uncomfortable, confronting, and exhausting, it is also the time when magic can happen. When you crack open the boundaries of your life and let new experiences, places, and people enter, anything can happen.

Here’s 4 ways you can get a little change happening in your own life:

  1. Travel – I was bored with my job/life/romance to the point I didn’t think I could stand it one more day so I took off on a do-it-yourself tour of Papua New Guinea. Everyone told me terrible things would happen to me travelling there by myself, but the truth is I met the love of my life while visiting the Royal Papua Yacht Club. Now I have the relationship I always dreamed of.  You don’t have to go somewhere quite so remote. A good adventure to somewhere you’ve never been or to do something you’ve never done before might just yield you a fabulous connection you might not have found at home.
  2. A New Job – I’ve had lots of jobs completely unrelated to one another. Who needs a career path, right? Egg Candler, roof tiler, fruit picker, project manager, business analyst, training manager, superannuation advisor, nanny, bakers assistant, dishwasher at a curry house – writer. So many of our friendships occur through work. Change your job and widen the circle of your acquaintances. You never know who you might meet.
  3. Move to the country/small community  – The really great thing about moving to the country is the novelty you present to a new town. You’re new blood and everyone will be interested in who you are and how you’re going to fit in. The disadvantages are small towns are pretty insular and before long the novelty will wear off and everyone will know your business. But by then you’ll be having so much fun you won’t care.
  4. Be true to yourself – You remember that old dream you had? The one you nursed through your younger years before career/family/obligations took over and it became a distant memory? The one everybody said was a pipe dream? Yeah, that one. Time to reignite it and connect with that part of yourself that got trampled in the rush of Life. You never know where it will take you.

23722In the battle of duty versus desire, only one can survive the hot Australian sunshine.

Elizabeth Langtree’s has her life in order – safe, organised, planned. Sure, she has her troubles, but they are nothing she can’t handle. Then everything is turned upside down when her family send her to Australia to collect her orphaned nephew.

It all seemed so simple in New York, but Australia is nothing like she expected, and she soon falls under the spell of the Outback – the station, the lifestyle, and the seriously sexy owner who has been caring for Luke since the death of his mother.

Elizabeth soon discovers that what seemed simple a world away is anything but, and her duty is at odds with the dictates of her heart. She must choose, knowing that a mistake will not only cost her everything, but destroy the future of a devastated little boy.

May Showers the First New Releases!

24084From Allison Butler, bestselling author of The Healer, comes a sexy new Scottish romance about a man in search of a bride, a woman in search of a home and an inconvenient attraction that can’t be denied.

23732Have you fallen for the members of Selling the Sun yet? New from Shona Husk comes a hot, fresh quartet about an emerging rock band: every musician is desperate for that first big break—but what happens after that?

23988In Rayessa and the Space Pirates, Rae made a startling discovery about her past. Now her twin sister Essa has her own adventures to pursue.