Camping – the Cons

by Robyn Rychards

camping_fullsize_story1(1)Let’s talk camping! My father loved camping and our summer vacations were spent doing it the whole time I was growing up. We went to a lot of great places and I’m really grateful for the opportunity to see and do so many things. My latest release, Her Knight in Shining Armour, starts off with the Hero and Heroine camping in a national park. Not only do I have a lot of experience with camping, I know the park it’s set in quite well. But here’s the thing… While camping has elements that make it romantic in a story, the reality for me is, I don’t like it. Pretty much loathe it. Since I left home, my trips have been spent sleeping in a hotel. I’m sharing a list of five things I hate about camping. I could come up with a lot more than five, but we don’t have that kind of time!

  1. Scary AnimalsBears in tent

This is a picture of a bear in a tent, but there are more scary animals in the woods than just bears! Mountain lions, coyotes, moose, elk, etc. I have a bear and a buck do some damage in my story.

  1. Creepy crawliesspider tent

Or in other words, BUGS. On one of our camping trips as a child, the mayflies in Minnesota had just hatched and they were EVERYWHERE. I had nightmares about them that night and for years afterwards. Never mind scary stuff like spiders and ticks! Along with annoying ones like ants and mosquitoes. And of course, there’s the scene in Arachnophobia where the guy is sleeping in a tent and the spider… Well, enough said. Don’t want to think about that anymore.

  1. No bathroomsouthouse

Some people don’t really care about this, but I’m not one of them. I hate outhouses, I hate going to the bathroom in the woods (see reasons 1 and 2). One year, we were camping in a tent trailer and my mom had a portable toilet set up in the middle of the room for us kids to use during the night. Not only was I a little freaked out by the lack of privacy, when I was desperate enough to use it, it fell apart and you-know-what went all over the place. EW!

  1. It can get fricking cold!camping-outdoor-fire-bonfire

I don’t tolerate cold very well, so this is a bit of an issue for me. Freezing my butt of while trying to sleep is not my idea of a good time. Sorry!

  1. Cooking outsideBowron Lakes

I really should have been a princess. I don’t like cooking, I don’t like cleaning, I don’t like being uncomfortable. All these things go hand in hand with camping. So, having to cook outside on a campfire or camp stove. No thanks. I’m supposed to be on vacation, I don’t want to cook. And now I have to do it under more difficult circumstances? Outside? Where’s the closest restaurant?

Let me know what you think. How do you feel about camping? Yea or Nay and why?

20378She may not need a knight in shining armour to save her, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to look a gift knight in the visor…

Paisley doesn’t need a knight in shining armour to rescue her from her high-powered, abusive ex-husband. She’s got it covered on her own: she’s changed her name, liquidated her assets, and has a plan to disappear in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Psychiatrist Sterling James has absolutely no intention of being anyone’s saviour. The only woman he has any time for is his sister. But circumstances change when Sterling finds Paisley in an unexpected and life-threatening situation. Brought in to the drama of her escape, Sterling finds himself invested, and he can’t move on until he knows Paisley is going to be safe.

It should be a simple enough exercise to get Paisley out of the park and into her new life. But nothing is ever as simple as it should be, and Sterling soon discovers that even if her ex-husband buys the set-up, he might not be able to watch Paisley go…

Seven ways to smash action-adventure characters out of the ballpark

by Wendy L Curtis

Giveaway details found at the bottom of this post!

Giveaway details found at the bottom of this post!

I’m often asked what inspires me to develop my characters. Are they me? Are they my hubby? Are they anyone that I know personally? The fact is I draw my inspiration for my Action & Adventure heroes and heroines from everyone I’ve known. But especially I look to everyone doing the daily grind, keeping their heads above water, being a part of a family, and continuing the pioneering spirit of our people.

Here are seven must-haves for my action & adventure characters to ensure they can handle all that I’ll throw at them:

  1. Working Class Values – every one of my heroines and heroes must work hard. They have to know what it’s like to do an unfair day’s work for too little pay, or at least they have learn along the way that sometimes you have to put in more than you seem to get out.
  2. Be Resourceful – when something needs to get done, I like to know that it will get done. It may not be the prettiest way, or neatest way, or even the logical way but it gets done. This comes from the wonderful attitude that there’s more than one way to do things. Sure some ways are more advisable, but when the chips are down and resources are limited, don’t give up; find another way.
  3. Be a Teacher – a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and breaking that link won’t help. Just because a person can’t do something doesn’t mean they are an idiot, they just need to learn, practice, get confidence. Teach, support, and build confidence. Never criticise, ridicule, or assume it’s a gender issue. This is where my support characters come in also. To break down barriers and stereotypes.
  4. Have passion – yes, okay, my books do have the detailed sexytimes, but we all know passion is about way more than that. My characters must have passion. They need something that they swoon over, something that makes them livid, something that tickles their funny-bone, something that breaks their heart every time. If they have a goal, they have it for a good reason, and even if it takes forever, they keep plugging away. Emotions people. Have them. Feel them.
  5. Cooking skills – I don’t care if it’s a sausage on a stick in the flames or a six course gourmet meal, but my characters will get some food on the table. I also don’t care who‘s cooking; male or female, as long as they both can do some kind of food then I know no one is going to starve or sit around wasting time waiting to be fed.
  6. Dream Big – if they don’t have a dream then they are going to get one. Just like in real life, my characters have to dream big, have to want more. There has to be a reason to get up in the mornings. Even by the end of the story, they still need to have things to aspire to.
  7. Sense of humour – if we don’t laugh we’ll cry. We do this, all the time. Humour can help diffuse a situation, it can help people find rapport. Looking at the funny side of things is an endearing quality, and can also be infuriating. There’s real skill in having and great sense of humour and knowing when it is appropriate and when it isn’t appropriate, and sometimes failing at both.

20833In the sticky, steamy jungles of Papua New Guinea, they fight for the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. They didn’t expect to have to fight for their own.

All investigative journalist Roxy Williams wanted was a hot one-night stand: quick, dirty, and completely one-off. A business transaction to ease stress, loosen tension, and allow her to get right back to her job — exposing the heart-breaking realities of people smuggling. So when all hell breaks loose in a small village on Papua New Guinea, the last person Roxy expects to see is her one-night-stand and male escort, Rob, with a boat, a beach, and an escape plan!

Rob is supposed to be long-gone from this assignment, but after their one night together, he can’t seem to let Roxy go. Using all his resources, Rob risks his job to keep track of her — and when a huge storm threatens, he goes after the sexy journalist. Now they’re together, in danger, and fighting for their lives. People smuggling is a big money industry, and the smugglers are playing for keeps.

We’re giving away a copy of Wendy’s Above and Beyond title. To be in the running, leave a comment, including your email address, telling us your favourite action hero/ine of all time.

An idiot’s guide to action & adventure romance

by Serenity Woods

Giveaway details found at the bottom of this post!

Giveaway details found at the bottom of this post!

One Hot Winter’s Night is an action/adventure, fun and sexy romance novel that follows two archaeologists as they travel around the globe on a treasure hunt for priceless artefacts. How easy is it to transfer action and adventure stories to novel form? Here’s an idiot’s guide to the top five things you need to write action/adventure romance:

1. A gorgeous gamma hero

What do I mean by this? Well, Harrison Ford has been labelled the ultimate gamma hero—that is, a blend between the arrogant alpha and the boy-next-door beta. Think Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Han Solo in Star Wars, or Michael Douglas’s Jack T. Colton in Romancing the Stone. Your gamma man takes all the best bits from the alpha—he’s tall, dark, and handsome (or a variation of), arrogant, or at least confident in his abilities, brave and adventurous, but he also wields the wicked sense of humour and down-to-earth qualities of the beta hero. Heath in One Hot Winter’s Night exemplifies my perfect man, and yes, there’s more than a little Harrison Ford about him!

Raiders of the Lost Ark2. A feisty, courageous heroine

Think Kathleen Turner in Romancing, Karen Allen in Raiders, Princess Leia, Lara Croft, and The Mummy’s Rachel Weiss. Heroines have to be independent, adventurous, gorgeous, funny, and determined to resist the hero (although of course they can’t.) Cat in One Hot Winter’s Night is classy, witty, and smart, but like all these heroines, she can also be amazingly clumsy and she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty!

The Mummy3. An exotic setting

Raiders went from jungle to desert to cities like Berlin. Romancing delves deep into the heart of the Columbian jungle. The Mummy moves from London to Egypt. One Hot Winter’s Night starts in an ice hotel in Sweden under the Aurora Borealis, travels to the Pyramids in Cairo, to Xi’an in China, the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand, and finally to London. Want to write an adventure story but never been to that country? That’s what’s the internet’s for!

Romancing the Stone4. A priceless treasure

Your hero and heroine have to be hunting for some kind of ancient artefact. In Raiders it was the Ark of the Covenant, in Romancing it’s a gemstone, in The Mummy it’s…well…a mummy. Often the artefact has religious or historical significance. In One Hot Winter’s Night they begin by fighting over the necklace of an ancient Swedish princess, then an Egyptian cat statue, then the Terracotta warriors. If the artefact has some kind of supernatural power, so much the better.

5. Romance

Ultimately, the novel has to have romance. What would Raiders or Romancing or The Mummy be without the love story? Your hero and heroine’s relationship has to be packed full of chemistry, and although these are ultimately romances, they’re not soppy stories but fun-packed adventures often full of sex ‘n’ sizzle. Cat in One Hot Winter’s Night seduces Heath so she can steal the priceless necklace from under his nose. Little does she know it’ll start a chase around the globe!

9505Indiana Jones meets Lara Croft in a hot, desperate treasure hunt that spans the globe and captures the imagination.

Dr. Cat Livingstone works for the British Museum, and she’s frustrated as hell when the mysterious man she knows only as the Silver Fox snatches yet another artefact from under her nose. Determined to steal the priceless necklace back, she tracks him to the Swedish Ice Hotel, but she doesn’t bank on him being the most gorgeous guy she’s ever laid eyes on.

Heath has no idea that the hot blonde in the ice cold hotel has ulterior motives. But when a night between the sheets ends with both Cat and the necklace gone in the morning, Heath jumps into action.

Unfortunately for Cat, Heath lives for the thrill of the chase. And the chase is on.

We’re giving away a copy of One Hot Winter’s Night! To be in the running, leave a comment, including your email address, telling us your favourite Action movie pairing!

Action and Adventure are in my bones

by Kendall Talbot

Banner_v02(1)White water rafting, hang gliding, snow skiing, scuba diving are my adrenalin-rush drugs of choice. I write action adventure stories. I love the ‘set your heart racing’ scenes where exciting, danger-fuelled journeys take my characters from one cliff hanger moment to another. And I’m an action adventure movie junkie.

I grew up watching Indiana Jones. I confess to watching it so often I can almost recite the dialogue word for word. “Indiana, we are simply passing through history. This… this is history.” Or how about this one… “It’s not the years, honey. It’s the mileage.” I may have fallen in love with Harrison Ford a couple of times too. How could you not? He’s the epitome of an action adventure hero if you ask me: sexy, suave, flawed, brave and reckless. He can throw me over his shoulder any day.

Indiana Jones

Another favourite is Romancing the Stone. In fact I watched it again the other day. I love a good treasure hunt. I love them so much I’ve written a whole series. Treasured Secrets is due for release in April and it’s a modern day hunt for a 13th century treasure. It was so much fun to write. Romancing the StoneBlurring the lines between fact and fiction offers unlimited creative potential. How about Jurassic Park for blurring the lines between fact and fiction. This is another series I’ve devoured over and over. Actually anything to do with dinosaurs has me hooked. If only I’d been an archeologist. Jurrasic ParkI’m hooked on survival themed action adventure too: Cliffhanger, Hunger Games, Poseidon, Titanic are a few of my favourites. Maybe that’s why I wrote Lost in Kakadu. Crashing my characters into Kakadu National Park offered many opportunities for action and adventure. It was important for me to keep the survival aspect very real. From wild animals, to wild weather and near starvation, every day my characters had a new aspect of living hell to get through. Fate brought them together but they needed more than luck to escape Kakadu alive.

So I say, bring on the big action adventure block buster movies any day. Poseidon

What are your favourite action adventure movies? And do you watch them over and over like me?

Lost In Kakadu with Ruby award smallWinner of the 2014 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY (Romantic Book of the Year) Award.

An action adventure novel set in the Australian jungle where two unlikely people prove just how attractive opposites can be…

It’s pretentious socialite Abigail Mulholland’s worst nightmare when her plane crashes into an ancient Australian wilderness. Things go from bad to downright hellish when rescuers never come. As she battles to survive in an environment that’s as brutal as it is beautiful, Abigail finds herself also fighting her unlikely attraction to Mackenzie — another survivor, and a much younger man.

Mackenzie Steel is devastated by his partner’s death in the crash, the only person with whom he shared his painful past. Now, as he confronts his own demons, he finds he has a new battle on his hands: his growing feelings for Abigail, a woman who’s as frustratingly naïve as she is funny.

Fate brought them together, but they’ll need more than luck to escape Kakadu alive. Could the letters of a dead man hold the key to their survival?

To celebrate Action & Adventure Romance, we’re pleased to offer Lost in Kakadu, the award-winning novel FREE for this week only. Get in now!

Five Places to Bring a Date in Hermanus, South Africa

By Elsa Winckler

Caitlin, the heroine of Touched to the Heart, lives and works in Hermanus, South Africa. Don inherited a house from an uncle and he visits Caitlin’s physiotherapy rooms there.

Way back when, Hermanus used to be a small fishing village, but over the last few of decades, it has morphed into a bustling town, bursting at the seams over weekends and holidays.

Fortunately, some things haven’t been changed and when I thought of possible dates Don could take Caitlin on, I came up with these few things I think any heroine would enjoy:

  1. Take her to see the Old HarbourOld Harbour Hermanus
  2. Dating in September? Take her to meet the whales!
    Whale Hermanus
  3. Go for a leisurely lunch to one of the many wine farms in the Hemel and Aarde Valley (Heaven and Earth).
    Hemel and Aarde Valley
  4. For the more active date, take her hiking in the Fernkloof Mountains – a magical place
    Fernkloof Hermanus
  5. Take her to watch the waves at Kwaaiwater (angry water), but don’t expect much conversation – the waves are enormous and the sound deafening.
    Kwaaiwater Hermanus

Want to see where Don and Caitlin go? Check out Touched to the Heart, available now!

21470Discover beautiful South Africa in this sweet, heart-warming Cinderella story about a blogger, a billionaire, and one chance meeting.

When it comes to men, if physiotherapist Caitlin Sutherland didn’t have bad luck, she would have no luck at all. To help cope, Caitlin starts blogging in her spare time, about the types of men she meets and the bad dates she goes on.

While on duty during the annual Wines to Whales bicycle race, a gorgeous, sweaty cyclist walks in and sets her hormones dancing. But he is Don Cavallo; one of the four Cavallo brothers — hotel tycoons, famous as much for their business skills as for the number of beauties regularly seen on their arms.

Don Cavallo has his own issues with the other sex. He has yet to find one who is interested in him and not in his money or hotels. But when this sexy physio puts her hands on his back she not only touches his body, but also his heart.

They’ve both been burned before, but neither of them can stop themselves from playing with fire.

7 Reasons to include Rugby League in your Romance Reading

by Cate Ellink

You don’t need to know anything about rugby league to read Deep Diving even though it features a rugby league playing hero. He’s on holidays, so not a football to be seen! But I love rugby league and here are a few reasons why a little rugby in your romance can be a good thing:

7.  A rugby league team needs men with brute strength, sneaky men with brains, speedy men fleet of foot and super agile, and every one of them are built with muscles upon muscles. A man-type for everyone!


6. It’s an extremely physical game with no helmets and generally no padding. When you’re at the game, close to the field, you can hear the whooof as air is expelled when two men hit each other in a tackle. There’s the thud of hard-packed muscle against hard-packed muscle. Sometimes the hits are so big, you jump in your seat. It’s EXCITING!


5. The National Rugby League (NRL) competition that has 16 teams competing. The teams come from the Sydney area (9 teams), Newcastle, Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast, North Queensland, Melbourne and New Zealand. The competition begins in March and finishes in October each year. Each year they take a few games to grounds far and wide—interstate and regional. As well as this, there’s rugby league played in suburbs and towns right across NSW and Qld and scattered through other states too. You can always find a game to watch and they’re always exciting – even the kids!

4. There’s a State of Origin series where three games are played between the best NRL players chosen to represent NSW and Qld. These games have become the most physical and a showcase of Rugby League. Many of these players go on to represent Australia.

image via

image via

3. 13 men take the field, plus 6 on the interchange bench. With 16 teams, that’s 304 very muscly men to watch each weekend…not to mention linesmen and referees.

image via

image via

2. I have family ties to rugby league. It developed and split from Rugby Union back in 1908 (my great grandfather was involved). Rugby Union was the amateur game (i.e. not paid) whereas Rugby League was professional (i.e. paid). Although they’re both paid now, don’t be mixing up your Rugby League and your Rugby Union; they’re very different games. Rugby Union is the one called ‘rugby’. Rugby League is abbreviated to ‘league’.

And the Number 1 reason…

…is unfathomable. Two of those sneaky men with brains snuck their way into my affections – one when I was a teenager and one more recently when I should know better. Put them side by side and there’s little similarity. So, it’s not their looks that captivate me. It’s something about them, their attitude, their brain, how they play footy. I think they both play similar style games and they’ve had similar career achievements. My infatuation is some abstract thing I can’t understand or explain but my heart beats strong for both my sporting heroes.



22034From Cate Ellink comes a sun-soaked, sandy, seaside erotic novel about a tropical paradise, two athletes used to getting physical, and a sex-filled, no-strings holiday fling. 

Samantha is celebrating her newly retired status from competitive triathlons with a diving holiday in her favourite place in the world: Australia’s Lord Howe Island. But all divers need a buddy, and Sam can’t dive solo. A chance meeting with rugby league superstar Cooper Sterling in the dive shop seems serendipitous. Sam can’t wait to have a partner who might be able to keep up with her.

It soon becomes evident that Cooper and Sam are compatible both in and out of the water, and things gets seriously sexy. But Sam is disinclined to be another football groupie, and Cooper has been burned before. So the rules are clear: a holiday fling, no strings attached, and they part as friends at the end.

But as the final days of their time together come to a close and a life apart becomes a reality, Sam and Cooper start to question their decision. Is this holiday fling really the finish line or can Sam and Cooper turn their friendly competition into more than sizzling sex?

Deep Diving is available for pre-order now from all good e-book stores.

Lost but not Forgotten – How Fromelles Inspired my Story

by Jacquie Underdown

To look at the pretty village of Fromelles, France, you wouldn’t be able see its devastating past hiding behind the abundance of ripe greenery and charm. You wouldn’t be able to tell that this village was once a torn-up wasteland littered with the murderous fragments of war and soaked in the blood of 5553 Australian soldiers either killed or wounded in a single day. And for nearly a century as the small community of Fromelles went about its daily life, they couldn’t see that buried within the fertile soil were 250 remnants of this gruesome past waiting to resurface. History wasn’t going to be laid to rest just yet.

On July 19-20, 1916, Fromelles was host to one of the bloodiest battles in Australian history. A battle, despite its gore and immense number of casualties, has stood in the shadows of its more famous World War I brothers, maybe because some have called this battle a disaster for the Allies, or because it goes down as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history.

250 Allied soldiers (173 were Australian) killed on that fateful day were buried by the Germans shortly after the battle in mass graves. These pits remained untouched, their whereabouts unknown, and their content lost to all until nearly a century later.

Guided by an amateur Australian historian, the Australian Government instigated geological surveys in 2007 to find the lost soldiers. By 2009 exhumations were taking place to recover the bodies and DNA samples were extracted from their bones in an attempt to identify each. The soldiers were then finally laid to rest, with full honours, in a new memorial cemetery located 120 metres from the original mass grave site.

So why did I want to write about this tragic slice of history? Reflecting on it now, I don’t believe I had a choice. When I first heard the reports about the discovery of the mass graves, I realised that despite the decades the soldiers were lost, their voices were still strong enough to demand we acknowledge them and demand we remember them. No author hearing these whispers from the past would be able to ignore them — myself included.

Though I anticipated many tears during the research of this aptly titled novel (and I’ll admit, I cried a river for these brave men and their families), I didn’t anticipate the coincidences that would occur.

My fictional character, Fredrick, reappears as a ghost 90 years after his death on the battlefield of Fromelles. He wants a name on his headstone so he will not be forgotten, and he needs Lucy to help him achieve this final wish by searching for his descendants.

I’ve never had to find descendants before, so some of my research for this novel was in this area. At first I didn’t even know where to start. So I began where most of my searches do and that was with Google. I entered the name of my soldier (whose name I plucked from thin air, a complete fabrication) and didn’t anticipate that the name I chose was the exact name of an actual Australian soldier of the Great War (though the real soldier was fortunate enough to make it home and live to a ripe old age). Through him alone, I learned the exact path to trace descendants of soldiers.

This was the first of many coincidences that occurred while writing Beyond Coincidence and it may merely be that — a coincidence. But I like to think it’s more. I like to think that if we listen closely enough, we just may hear whispers from the past, in our present, guiding us, teaching us, and making sure we remember those who should not be forgotten.

He … was numbered amongst those who, at the call of the King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of sight of men by path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others may live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name not be forgotten.  (King George V)

He … was numbered amongst those who, at the call of the King and Country,
left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally
passed out of sight of men by path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up
their own lives that others may live in freedom. Let those who come after
see to it that his name not be forgotten. (King George V)

22036Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.

In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing wounds of war so deep it scarred his soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.

When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.

This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.

Beyond Coincidence is available for pre-order now.

Inspiration Behind the Story: Louise Forster

Inspiration for Finding Elizabeth.

8879A friend took us to a ballet performance, and while sitting in the middle somewhere up in dress circle, I wondered how many guys to my left, right and below in the stalls, were enjoying Giselle, or how many would rather be watching footy.

Then I wondered, was I guilty of holding a prejudiced view against men? Not good and not fair. But I kept going: were some here to please a girlfriend? Was there a hot guy watching one of the dancers – let’s say the starring ballerina – and did he want to meet her?

This led to other questions. Was the hot guy visiting from out of state, another country, was he just out of prison, or did he finally surface from a coma to be dazzled by a dancer wearing a red frou-frou thing?

Pretty soon my ideas were spinning out of control. The concert-hall, the people, posters, sights, and sounds inspired me to write about a ballet dancer.

tumblr_lk79669Tya1qgxwpyWhile researching, I discovered the kinds of injuries they would have to deal with. I made life harder on my ballerina and gave her hyperextension, which can be an asset, because their legs can flex more and give the dancer, in some positions, extraordinary beautiful lines. But if a dancer had to deal with hyperextension, would it shorten her career?

To give my romance even more atmosphere, I set my story in Canada during their snowy, freezing Christmas and put the Australian hero there, straight out of a hot Australian summer. Instead of Giselle I chose The Fire Bird where my heroine has to perform a very lively dance.

There’s nothing better than torturing your characters to get the best out of them!

21188Louise’s next book is set much closer to home. Check out Home Truths, available this month!

London-based chef Jennifer Dove loves her exciting, fast-paced life and she has every intention of returning to it ASAP. This trip to Tumble Creek — middle-of-nowhere Australia — is just a blip, a trip out of time, to visit her sister and niece and farewell her beloved Uncle.

But much as she tries not to, Jennifer is sucked in to the small town and the mystery surrounding her uncle. Who is his girlfriend Veronica, and why is she not here? What are the locals hiding? And why can she not get sexy local Calum McGregor out of her mind?

All is not what it seems in this sleepy, small town, and as Jennifer unravels its mysteries, she might just be tying herself to Tumble Creek forever.


RT Post 2 – New Orleans at night

In which beignets are (finally) consumed…

After the incredibly stressful beginning to my trip, I thought the best thing to do was to go ahead and relax on a ‘Ghosts stories and Haunted Tales of New Orleans’ tour. So I headed out to meet my friend Lila Dubois, and happened to run into the lovely Rachael Johns, Caitlyn Crewes, and Maisey Yates along the way.

The tour ran out of a pub called ‘Flanagan’s’ on St Phillip Street, and it was run by a company called French Quarter Phantoms. They were great, and I highly recommend them to anyone travelling to the area, looking for the tour. On top of the ghosts and vampires one that we did, they also do a Treme tour, a True Crimes tour, and a daytime  graveyard tour (which I’m thinking of trying to get into this weekend).

New Orleans really brought out the atmosphere for us, as we walked along the streets and learned about charming families such as the LaLauries, who were well-known aristocrats with a dark penchant for performing medical experiments and torture on slaves, the street with three chillingly similar murders, decades apart (bottom line: women on this street – do not marry butchers!), and the mischievous child poltergeists that haunt the Andrew Jackson hotel.

Full moon, eerie sky, spires. What more do you need on a ghost tour?

Full moon, eerie sky, spires. What more do you need on a ghost tour?

We also saw where Richard Simmons went to school. That was perhaps the most terrifying vision of all.

High five for New Orleans!

The tour ended up at an old church, with a very large statue, which cast an even larger shadow, and a tale from New Orleans historic rivalry between the French and the Spanish.

Very large shadow. Breathtaking and unsettling, all at once.

Very large shadow. Breathtaking and unsettling, all at once.

After learning about gruesome experiments, grisly murders, and ghastly people, what’s left to do but go get a bite to eat?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present Cafe du Monde:

unassuming on the outside, life-altering on the inside.

unassuming on the outside, life-altering on the inside.

And these, my friends, are beignets. Or, as we like to call them, OMGNOMNOMNOMNOMs.



Fried sweet dough, tossed in mountains of powdered sugar. What on Earth could possibly be bad? If served with hot chocolate at all diplomatic meetings, I’m sure these little babies could save the world.

Finally, after a very long day, I returned to my hotel to this:

IMG_20140513_234631I’m not going to lie – I may have wept tears of joy.

Next up: RT Officially begins!

The Initial RT Post!

wherein Kate has an adventure that will probably be funny in three months or so when she gets over the trauma over the whole thing.

So the trip from Australia to North America is long. I mean, everyone knows that, but it’s very different from knowing to experiencing, and it’s been 7 or so years since I last experienced it.

Guys, it is long.

I went a different route this time, choosing the Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth trip, which is 15 hours, in lieu of Melbourne to LA which is 12. Dallas, I reasoned is closer to New Orleans, so it just made sense.

And here, the horror begins.

We flew in to Dallas in the first few drops of a rain shower. No big deal, right? Well, then the rain shower turned into thunder storms. And the delays began. First my first flight was delayed, then delayed, then delayed, and then moved to a different gate, and then cancelled. I was one of the very few lucky ones that got a standby ticket on one of the remaining flights out of New Orleans. Gate change. The other two flights to New Orleans are cancelled, and now my gate lounge was absolutely packed with everyone wanting to get to New Orleans, and waiting for standby tickets (the list for standby was 100+ by that time).

Moving from lounge to lounge and lining up in multiple lines together can make friends, and by the time we were waiting in the lounge of the final New Orleans flight, I had met up with fellow Aussie conference go-ers Margaret and Marion, Marion’s friend Deb, and an American man named Mark, who was already 1 day late for work after being held up in San Francisco for most of the day.

The flight was pushed back half an hour, than another 10 minutes, then another, and then finally – you guessed it – cancelled. The harried attendants did all they could, but the bottom line was that everything was booked until Friday. We could fly standby, but nothing could be guaranteed.

What’s a stranded RT Conference go-er to do? Why, become a plucky, intrepid RT Conference go-er, of course!

Our merry little band of five decided not to take our chances. There were three people in our group with experience driving on the right-hand side of the road, and that was enough to swap shifts with. We rented a car, and began the long drive from Dallas to New Orleans.

Dallas to New Orleans

We got ourselves a mini-van, some water, not our luggage (more on that later), and headed off.

The drive normally takes about 7 hours, but with the thunderstorms in the area, we had to go very slowly. We left Dallas around 10pm, and headed out. It was bucketing down, and lightening would light up the whole sky about every 15 minutes or so. Eighteen-wheelers didn’t worry so much about the greasy roads and would speed by at 75 mph. Most of us had been travelling already for 20+ hours on very little sleep. In short, the situation was fraught.

We passed the time swapping stories and teaching Mark Aussie-isms, and trying out all the new and interesting junk food we picked up at petrol (oops sorry – gas) stations along the way.

I’m pleased to say that somewhere before Baton Rouge, the storm finally broke, and we drove into New Orleans in the dawning light just after 6am.

Our luggage wouldn’t arrive until midnight that night. That’s a long time to be without fresh underwear.

But we all arrived safely, we made new friends, and we have a story to tell when people ask how our trip was.

Next up: RT preview day, and a bit from New Orleans!