2015 Conference – Handy Info for Delegates – Day Trips

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Day trips

Victoria is one of the few Australian states where you can drive a (comparatively) short distance and get somewhere interesting, plus it has scenery which varies from desert to mountains (where, yes, there is snow in winter) to amazing coast lines. Most but not all towns have good food and wine. Below are only a few suggestions.


Werribee Open Range Zoo (35 min. by car). African flavoured adventure www.zoo.org.au/Werribee.

Healesville Sanctuary www.zoo.org.au/healesville. (Approx. one hour by car) Natural bush. Lots of Australian animals, some of which you can pat (for a fee). Personal favourites: flight arena (where you see birds such as hawks flying free), dingoes (howling at dusk!), platypus (impossible to see properly in the wild). One hour by car. Recommend going on to Yarra Valley for wineries and good restaurants. Also to TarraWarra Museum of Art, 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville, Victoria, Australia Melway reference 277 B2  http://www.twma.com.au/ (IF you like modern art) Also a café and winery.

Fairy penguins at Port Phillip Island (2 hours along boring freeway) www.visitphillipisland.com/listing/penguin-parade .

Historical Attraction

Sovereign Hill in Ballarat http://www.sovereignhill.com.au/ Australia’s foremost outdoor museum, it recreates Ballarat’s first years after the discovery of gold when thousands of international adventurers rushed to the goldfields. Costumed ladies and gents parade their new-found wealth and you can pan for (& keep) real gold. There’s a nightly sound-and-light show, ‘Blood on the Southern Cross’, the story of the 1854 Eureka Uprising. About 1 hr 30 mins by car. The road is fairly boring, but Kryal Castle, a few kilometres this side of Ballarat might be fun. It is a fake medieval fortress with accompanying medieval events. http://kryalcastle.com.au/ Ballarat itself has lovely Victorian architecture and a charming art gallery. Also a nice walk round Lake Wendouree and the Botanical Gardens.

Echuca. Cute river town on the Murray with steam riverboats. 3.5 hour drive so not really a day trip. Stop at Heathcote for wines.

Lots of picturesque gold towns with classic Victorian era architecture: Bendigo (excellent art gallery), Castlemaine (excellent art deco art gallery and petite but picturesque Botanical Gardens with significant trees) etc.


Heide Museum of Modern Art  www.heide.com.au/ Great contemporary art, gorgeous kitchen garden and elegant Café Vue. 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen. (40 mins from CBD)

Montsalvat www.montsalvat.com.au  Eccentric and beautiful artists colony founded in 1934 and built in Gothic style. With exhibitions and various activities. Nice sounding restaurant.

7 Hillcrest Ave, Eltham VIC 3095

Melways Map: 22 A8

Bus 582 from Eltham Station (40 mins)


Hilly Daylesford/Hepburn Spa country /www.spacountry.com.au/ and mineralspa.com.au/ is a pleasant 1.5 hour drive through picturesque forests. Plenty of good restaurants, massage places, & walks (but chilly in August). Vintage train rides. Good accommodation.

Peninsula Hot Springs www.peninsulahotsprings.com/ 30 Springs Lane, Fingal. Luxurious hot (but open air!) spas, massages, etc. 90 mins. Shuttles on Tues & Saturday & various packages. See www.melbourneonthemove.com.au

Red Hill Spa http://redhillspa.com.au/ One hour from CBD. Located on Mornington Peninsula, which has loads of wineries, good cafes & foodie places


The Great Ocean Road. but that is a LOOOOONG drive to do in one day (3.5 hours minimum). You’d be better off taking a tour, which is well worth it as it’s a magnificent piece of coastline with glorious forests full of ancient tree ferns. But very cold at that time of year. www.visitvictoria.com/Things-to-do/Touring-routes/Great-Ocean-Road-touring-route Viator bus tours are well reviewed.

The Dandenongs. Puffing Billy is a very cute century-old little steam train which winds through a beautiful fern tree forest (but note high number of screeching kids on weekends) in the Dandenong mountains. 1 Old Monbulk Rd Belgrave www.puffingbilly.com.au/  (1 hour) While you’re there, you might stroll through the Dandenong Ranges National Park & the William Ricketts Sanctuary http://visitdandenongranges.com.au/. Try beautiful Miss Marples Tea Rooms 382 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras; & gourmet The Piggery at Burnham Beeches, 382 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras www.piggerycafe.com.au/ next to picturesque Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Hanging Rock. www.visitmacedonranges.com/natural-attractions/hanging-rock/ Weirdly beautiful rock formation which forms the background for the film and book ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’. Nice healthy climb to the top. Good wineries nearby. (1.5 hours)

Written by Patsy Poppenbeek

The Big © and the Relationship between Creativity and Economic Prosperity

Writers work in isolation much of the time, and sometimes we wonder whether what we’re doing makes a difference out there in the big, wide world. Reader feedback affirms that what we do is important on an emotional level. Conferences provide us with the sense of community and support necessary to keep going. Now, a growing chorus of experts such as psychologists and teachers are increasingly saying that the skills people will need to succeed in the future are those that writers and authors possess in abundance – creativity, communication and relationship-building. And economic science is proving them right.

The Australian Copyright Council is an independent, non-profit organisation that aims to support a creative Australia by promoting the benefit of copyright for the common good. This month it released its fourth annual report on the contribution copyright industries make to the Australian economy. Based on 2014 data, the Council reported that copyright industries:

  • Contribute $111.4 billion to the economy (7.1% of GDP);
  • Generated $4.8 billion in exports (1.8% of total exports);
  • Employed just over one million people (or 8.7% of the workforce);
  • Generated more value-add than manufacturing and health care, making it the fourth biggest industry group, up from seventh in 2012.

A comparison of Australia’s results with those from other countries who make up the 188 member states of The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) indicates that our economy is more dependent on copyright industries. There is no doubt that we Aussies are an innovative bunch!

Not surprisingly, the greatest growth area in copyright is software and database related, but … it takes one hundred cents to make up every dollar. So next time you doubt that what you do makes a ripple in the pond of life, remember that you are contributing to your community at both a micro and a macro level.

First Kiss Finalists

The finalists have been decided for this year’s RWA First Kiss contest!  Our congratulations to:

Gayle Ash

J.C. Harroway

Emma Hoole

Rosie Miles

Annabelle Rose

Tamar Sloan

We had a big increase in entry numbers this year for the First Kiss, so well done to all who entered – and thanks to all our volunteer judges and the contest manager, Deb Cox.

The finalist entries will be judged by Kate Byrne, Editor at Headline Eternal.  Best of luck to all!


Friends or Foes

There are significant disparities in international ebook growth rates between English and non-English speaking markets according to Ruediger Wishenbart, compiler of The 2015 Global E-book Report.

Growth in US and UK ebook markets has been strong for several years, with digital sales now making up 30% of trade book markets. This is similar to the trend in Australia. However, ebook growth in non-English countries is slow or non-existent. Ebooks make up less than 10% of the market in European countries.

The 2015 Global E-book Report notes that in Germany and The Netherlands ebooks have become a standard feature and make up 4.3% and 4.7% of trade sales respectively. In France, there is cultural resistence to the concept of ebooks which means the uptake in the market is a miserly 1%.

It is interesting that Wishenbart considers 4% noteworthy. I would consider all of those numbers poor, not standard. Having worked for a small publishing company, I know how much time and effort goes into setting up an ebook list. If you’ve been involved, you’ll know all about exacting metadata standards and all the other technological expertise you have to take on board to get an ebook off the ground, let alone successfully marketed. If the return is 4.7%, I’d be inclined to focus on increasing print book sales instead.

The report concludes that ebook growth is flattening out across all markets and dismissed early growth projections around ebooks ‘to be more of a fancy of marketeers than a reality.’ It seems that the ‘old fashioned’ technology of ink and paper is destined to make it into at least the 25th century!


Initially reported in The Bookseller (UK) and Books+Publishing online (Australia).


The Secret of the Old Clock 1930

The Secret of the Old Clock 1930

When I read my first Nancy Drew book in the 1970s, I didn’t know anything about title pages and checking the copyright date. All I knew was that I identified immediately with this smart brave teenage girl who didn’t wait around hoping other people would solve her problems. The story lines were so current that you’d have blown my mind if you had told me that Caroline Keene’s first Nancy Drew book, The Story of the Old Clock, was published in 1930.

The Clue of the Leaning Chimney 1949

The Clue of the Leaning Chimney 1949

Actually, Nancy Drew’s age still blows my mind, as does the fact that Caroline Keene never existed. The name is a pseudonym for all the authors who wrote Nancy Drew books at the instigation of Edward Stratemeyer, the James Patterson (or Barbara Cartland) story factory of his day. Isn’t it ironic that a man came up with the ‘counter-cultural’ concept of the girl hero who contradicted adults whilst squaring off against villains? Perhaps it was because he was a man that he had nothing to lose in helping create a bestselling series freed girls from Victorian ideas of what was right and proper?

The Secret of the Gold Pavilion 1959

The Secret of the Gold Pavilion 1959

Twenty two of the first 25 Nancy Drew titles were all written by Mildred Wirt Benson, who had Nancy getting into fights, driving a car, packing a gun and relying on herself to get out of tough situations. For all that, Nancy was a well-rounded character with a boyfriend, Ned, two besties, Bess and George and had a good relationship with her widowed father as well.

The Mystery of the 99 steps 1966

The Mystery of the 99 steps 1966

As Theordore Jefferson points out in his excellent article on TheMarySue about the influence Nancy Drew has had on women’s literature ever since, not everybody was ready for such a feisty character. The Hollywood movies of the 1940s gave Nancy just enough screen time to get into a fix and then sent her boyfriend in to rescue her. However, Mildred and Edward had set a trend that could not be denied and continues today in the form of feisty heroines like Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series.

The Clue of the Broken Locket is a Mildred Wirt Benson-penned Nancy Drew, but my other favourites all

The Mystery of the Glowing Eye 1974

The Mystery of the Glowing Eye 1974

seem to have been written by Harriet Adams: The Clue in the Old Stage Coach, The Mystery of the 99 Steps and The Clue in the Crossword Cipher– perhaps because they were written in the era I was reading them. When you think back, did you have a favourite Nancy Drew mystery?

The Secret in the Old Lace 1980

The Secret in the Old Lace 1980

PS: Edward Stratemeyer was a remarkably prolific author. If you would like to know what other old favourites of yours, he had a hand in, have a look at his Wikipedia biography.



May New Releases from our Members

There are 28 new titles available from our members this month. I don’t know where to start with so many good books to choose from …

New releases from members of Romance Writers of Australia

Top News Stories This Week: The Liar by Nora Roberts and MobileGeddon

New book from Nora Roberts

The Liar paperback cover

Romance on top! That’s the story with the release of Nielsen Bookscan’s latest information on Australian bestsellers. The Liar by Nora Roberts has leapt straight into the chart at #1 on both the Highest New Entry and Bestseller lists.

The Liar is available in Australia simultaneously in hard cover and paperback. The hardcover is an import from the US while the paperback is a British edition. It is interesting to note the completely different feel to the two covers.

It is the paperback that has bounced to the top of our charts. However, the hardback is the edition which is top of the pops in the US, heading both the Hardcover Fiction and Top 10 Overall lists with 89,282 copies sold in two weeks – and that excludes ebook sales.

Recent release by Nora Roberts

The Liar hardcover edition

From its description, The Liar might be more romantic suspense than contemporary romance, but there’s no mistaking the second chances romance line or the danger. If anyone has read it and wants to let us know what they think, please comment.

In other news of importance for romance writers, Google triggered ‘MobileGeddon’ when it officially changed its search algorithm on 21 April to favour websites that are mobile friendly. This means that websites that are mobile friendly will be given a preferential ranking. If your website is not mobile friendly, it will automatically drop down the list (and off the first page).

The change to the algorythm may not have much of an impact if someone searches for you specifically, especially if you have an unusual name, but if your name is similar to someone else’s, or they search by title or broad category (romance, romantic suspense, erotica etc), it will definitely impact negatively on your discoverability if you are not mobile friendly. The best is to grit your teeth, speak to your website designer or Internet service provider and budget for the extra dollars required to upgrade. According to a number of services I have spoken to, it’s not that expensive.

If you wish to read the official Google announcement, you can do so here.


10 Surprising Facts About Romance Novels


This post talks about an upcoming doco on the romance industry, Love Between the Covers by filmmaker Laurie Kahn. Let’s hope it makes it to Australia!

Originally posted on kiltsandswords's Blog:

Madeline Martin tweeted this great post on The Huffington Post’s blog.  It was from film maker Laurie Kahn who has a new movie coming out called Love Between the Covers.  I really enjoyed the post and then I realized that the world premiere is happening this weekend in Toronto as part of the Hot Docs festival.  So I booked a babysitter and bought myself a ticket!

I am so excited to see this documentary and I will be sure to post a full review when I get back on Saturday night!

Here is the link to the article, but you can read it here:

10 Surprising Facts About Romance Novels

by Laurie Kahn

Four years ago, when I began making my documentary film Love Between the Covers, I stepped into a community I knew nothing about: the global network of women who write, read, and love romance novels. What…

View original 1,083 more words

Emerald Finalists

We are delighted to announce the finalists in this year’s Emerald Award.  Their manuscripts are now winging their way to our final judge, Malle Vallik, Director, Harlequin Digital (Toronto).

Congratulations and best of luck to:

Kerrie Paterson
Joanne Robertson
PJ Vye

and thanks, as always, to the army of volunteers without whom our contest season could not run.



This week, Emily Bitto was announced as the winner of the $50,000 Stella Prize for her debut novel The Strays while Murray Middleton won the Vogel Literary Award, a publication prize from Allen & Unwin worth $20,000, for his short story collection When There Is Nowhere Else To Run.

These two wins cap a ten-day flurry of award announcements, including the Aurealis Awards for Australian speculative fiction, and the shortlists for the ABIAS (Australian Book Industry Awards), the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards shortlist and Bailey Prize for Women’s Fiction.

Women dominated in the Aurealis Awards winning seven of the eight Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marilliermajor prizes on offer:

  • Juliet Marillier for Dreamer’s Pool (Best Fantasy Novel)
  • Marianne de Pierres for Peacemaker (Best Science Fiction Novel)
  • Justine Larbalestier for Razorhurst (Best Horror Novel)
  • Jaclyn Moriarty for The Cracks in the Kingdom (Best Young Adult Novel)
  • Carole Wilkinson for Shadow Sister, Dragon Keeper #5 (Best Children’s Fiction)
  • Lisa L Hannett and Angela Slatter for The Female Factory (Best Collection)
  • Editors Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios for Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Fiction and Fantasy Stories (Best Anthology), and
  • Tim Molloy for Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye (Best Graphic Novel).

I am hoping that Mr Unpronounceable and the Sect of the Bleeding Eye is also up for a Best Book Title award somewhere! Isn’t it great?!

The Rosie Effect by Graeme SimpsionIt is wonderful to see a novel with romantic elements get a nod in the ABIAS. Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Effect is shortlisted for Best General Fiction Book of the Year.

Two Australians are shortlisted for the IMPAC – Hannah Kent for Burial Rites and Richard Flanagan for The Deep Road to the North. Both books are brilliant if you’re looking for a compelling and challenging read.

I have a particular fondness for the IMPAC prize because it’s an award voted on by librarians around the world that makes it more real and inclusive to me. The Irish have always punched above their weight in the world of letters and the creation and administration of this award for novels written or translated into English- by a city council with global vision – only emphasises their contribution. The prize is worth €100,000 euro – now there’s a reason to put butt in chair and keep those fingers flying over the keyboard.

Five women are shortlisted for the Bailey Prize for Women’s Fiction: Rachel Cusk (Outline), Laline Paull (The Bees), Kamila Shamsie (A God in Every Stone), Ali Smith (How To Be Both), Anne Tyler (A Spool of Blue Thread) and Sarah Waters (The Paying Guests).

Bailey Prize shortlist 2014


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