2014 ARR Awards: finalists announced

Sandy Curtis finalist in Romantic Suspense Category. Cross fingers Grievous Harm gets up.

Australian Romance Readers Association

Voting has opened today for the 2014 Australian Romance Readers Awards. Below are the finalists in each of the nine categories, as well as finalists in our three special Members’ Choice categories. ARRA members can now vote for their favourite in each category. (The voting link has been sent to all members via email.) Voting will close on 14 February.

Winners will be announced at the Awards Dinner to be held on 7 March 2015 as part of the Australian Romance Readers Convention.

Here are the finalists. Congratulations everyone!

Favourite Paranormal Romance

  • 12 Daves of Christmas by Juliet Madison
  • Called by Fire by Delwyn Jenkins
  • Dark Moon by Leisl Leighton
  • Haunted Ever After by Juliet Madison
  • Shadow Hunter by Mel Teshco
  • Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh
  • Smash by Susan Child
  • The Curse by Jennifer Brassel
  • This is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld
  • To Love a King by…

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Grievous Harm is doing really well. Back orders piling up. Reprinting to cover the gap.
Mind you, she’s hardly in town these days. Promoting like crazy.


Author Spotlight: Sandy Curtis

Describe yourself in one word:

What is your background with regard to writing?
I always loved writing, dabbled in my youth but marriage and kids intervened, then 20 years ago I started to follow my dream again and entered and won short story competitions, wrote feature articles for magazines, a newspaper column, short stories for women’s magazines, then jumped into the full-length novel pool and swam like crazy. My second attempt came second out of 80 entries in the Emma Darcy Award for unpublished romance manuscripts from Australia and New Zealand. New Concepts Publishing published this, along with my next two books, then Pan Macmillan Australia picked up my first romantic suspense novel and published this and the next four in the loosely-linked series. The GCF hit publishers hard and it was a few years before book six was published, this time with Melbourne-based Clan…

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Writing Competition – Lyrics

A reminder that, closing the Club’s musical participation in this CRUSH Festival, the lyrics writing competition closes October 17.

And a reminder that you do not have to have attended the workshop to enter the competition.

CARL’S SCrushFestivalLyricWritingInfoPECIAL  TIPS

The good thing about workshops are they cut straight to the chase – no time for casual trawling through the net for conflicting ideas on how to write lyrics.

 Our workshop presenter, Carl Wockner, has been nominated for an ARIA – which is impressive enough – and will know the result before the end of OCTOBER. Since Carl is also judging the comp, it’s worthwhile knowing his views when you’re tweaking your words. Also, since Carl wants you to identify in your entry the VERSE, CHORUS, BRIDGE, PRE-CHORUS AND CHANNEL – should your words have them, that it might be a good idea to share his views with you below.
  1. listen to the songs you love. Look up their lyrics on the web and notice how they’re built.
  2. The chorus is the most important part of the song. It’s the part people remember and hum along with. Chorus contains the narrative hook. It stays very much the same if not exactly the same throughout the song.
  3. Verses ‘tell’ the story, sometimes in very abstract ways. From a novelists POV, they are like scenes. Verses rely on the chorus to remind people what the story’s all about. Verses change, and are hard to remember.
  4. Bridges turn the story.  It seemed to me that a bridge was similar to a dramatic turning point in a novel, where you come into a scene believing one thing and exit believing another or heading in another direction. Bridges transition the narrative from scene to scene.
  5. Pre-chorus – leads into each chorus (as it sounds like it should). It’s a couple of lines of very chorus like words, ie they don’t change substantially, but they’re harder to remember because (from the lyricist’s POV) they’ve not got the narrative hook. And generally when the muso gets to them, the music it self might be transitional – a key change or something similar.
  6. Channel – a pre-chorus that is repeated but which evolves, grows and changes, each time it’s used.
  7. Not all songs have Bridges, Pre-choruses or Channels. 
  8. You might also find an introduction useful.
  9. Write for yourself but never forget the audience.
  10. Choose a style/genre of music you like and consider writing for that style. You’ll know what subjects are common, and can think of ways to make old subjects fresh.
We also learned on the weekend that three lines in a verse seems to trouble people with guitars and is generally thought to be not a good idea, and that few singers/songwriters get away with songs that go on for more that 90secs. People like Paul Simon are special in good ways. My own thought is they end up being both singer and songwriter (and producer!).
Special tip: look at your lyrics and try them out as first person, second person and third person Points of view.
All in all, many pointers echoed what we’ve already seen applied to novel/short story writing. It’s possible that writing lyrics might actively help develop a longer prose narrative.
Sweet Home Alabama  was mentioned. If you check out the lyrics you see it features an Intro, pre-chorus, 3 choruses, and 2 Verses.  That’s right, three separate sections before the verse kicks in – immediately after the first chorus.  So a useful piece to demonstrate song structure possibilities.
FYI Taylor Swift’s latest pop offering is filled with choruses, pre-choruses, refrains, and interludes. And verses, of course.
A glance at experimentalist group Radiohead shows the chorus is often a two liner that can pop up anywhere, and that they seldom do intros – though instrumentally they favour an introductory piece.
Nickleback’s (metal)  newest has two choruses of eight lines each, a pre-chorus of two lines and three verses of four lines each, I think. Possibly.

Words+Music @ Alowishus



This year we thought, we wondered, we bounced ideas around – and they were bounced back a couple of times (ouch) I’ll tell you – but an idea solidified at last.

Our CRUSH contribution this year would be music based. Why? Cos musos need words, don’t they. And we writers do words, don’t we.

Don’t you love it when that creativity kicks in?  Especially creativity spurred on by a little healthy chaos.

Part one of our musical connection was a night of education and entertainment at Alowishus Delicious with Undercover Experience. We wanted to know a little about the inner workings of the musician’s mind.


  • great crowd of non-writers.
  • great crowd of frustrated lyricists.
  • lots of gelato eaten (it was free) , and dinners enjoyed.
  • Some dancing.
  • lyricists got to chat with musos.
  • writers shared their lyrics.
  • connections were made.
  • Our band decided to come to the Workshop, on Sunday 5.

The experience was loud. Then it was bluesy. Then it was improv around some poems clutched in hot sweaty trepidatious hands of writers club members.

To Tracey (who opened Alowishus up to us and got behind the idea), to Undercover Experience (who really caught onto the idea of being playful) and to our President, Jen (who did a great job of shepherding) a great big sloppy thanks from us all.

More about the Workshop on Sunday soon, but of course the Lyrics  Competition doesn’t close until Oct 17.  Register your entry now.

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Book Launch


What a great way to close September and crack on into October.

Our book Finding Strength in Words was launched at Oodies Cafe (103 Gavin St), in the company of the Mayor, no less (en route to a meeting I gather was flood related), Rotary reps, Ross P from the ABC and Sue Gammon (Bundaberg Library),  Uniting Care reps Anne McWhirter, Angela Wilson and Margaret Wass, Creative Regions Shelley and Wendy and Ainsley and … well, you get the picture.

A whole lot of people went into the mix to produce this book.

Pushed-to-the-wall is where creatives do their best work [Tweet this!]

And everybody thinks it couldn’t have happened without them, and everybody could be right (except, of course, that we know it couldn’t have happened without us!!)

However, the book is a jolly good looker, and the stories inside seem to have pleased people. Lorraine’s heartfelt story about the forgotten and overlooked losses was voiced by Ross, and Sharon’s ‘last words’ closed the night and ushered in the food.

Dr David Denborough is an Australian leader in creating this sort of collective narrative. Our book had already found its way to him, hand delivered, so he too sent a message to the opening. He congratulated us all, naturally, but then he gave us this one important word: Respect.

The cream-and-jam filled scones went down a treat after that.

QWC was thanked for their support. Individual writers were thanked.

It remains only for the club should to do our own thanks: To all the members who gave us a hand in producing the book; from those who attended the early discussions with the project admin and thought we might be able to co-ordinate it, to workshop attendees and to writers (especially those who bowed to the editor’s will disgracefully), not forgetting the committee who agreed that it could be done… but most of all a thank you to Creative Regions, who not only thought of BWC in the first place, but who (through no fault of their own – it was Christmas) also left everything up in the air so long we were left with almost no time to pull it all together, and so were taught yet again that pushed to the wall is where creatives do their best work.

CRUSH Cycle – words and music

As the scent of cane sugar rises rich and redolent in the October air and the chuff of cane trains rattle their way through our psyche it’s that time of the year  when Bundaberg celebrates.

Yes, The CRUSH festival is here again.

And this year the club will be doing a little cross-pollination of  creatives when music and words come together.

AlowishusWednesday1To start it all off with a bang, on Wednesday October 1, there will be the GREAT GELATO GROOVE at Alowishus Delicious. Register to get a free Gelato on the night.

Undercover Experience will be sharing their music, but also offering a chance to chat about music: about what makes them do what they do; what  they love (and hate) about music and, specially for writers, a little bit of insight into the wizardry that happens when words meet music in a brightly lit arcade in Bundaberg.

Good food. Good company. Good music.

Great Gelato.


PS. Our main show is a lyrics writing workshop followed by a Jam session with Musos to the max guided by Carl and the guys from Bundy Live.
Sunday October 5, hosted by Carl Wockner, local lad and Scope Magazine’s Male solo Artist of the Year Acoustic and Vocals. Cost is $12.50. Register and pay on CRUSH Festival site. You’ll find more info there too.

Author’s Spring Murder Launch = Double Trouble

It’s Double Trouble, isn’t it, when two Sandys… err… Sandis err….  when two authors collaborate to launch their newest novels.

Joining our own Sandy Curtis and Sandi Wallace at Ballarat’s spring launch is Jane Clifton.  The authors are all part of the Clan Destine Press (Indie Publishing House with murder on its mind) stable.

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Who’s Who

2014-2015 Committee


President: Jen Li

Secretary: Diane

Treasurer: Kristy

Vice Pres: Laree

Committee Members : Jenny A, Dean A.

News/Minutes Secretary: Jan

WriteFest Co-ordinator: Sandy

CRUSH event Co-ordinator: Sammy

Kez Salaün

As Writefest rolls around for yet another year it becomes impossible not to face up to something I would like to pretend hadn’t happened. Not yet.

Our dear friend, companion in writing, colleague, fellow seeker of truth, wisdom, and a damn good time, Kez Salaün has passed away.

I met her at WriteFest 2013. Like many others she met that day, we became facebook buddies.

Kez joined the club. She was travelling back to help out at this year’s festival, but more than a once a year helper she became a constant in our online lives (she lived in Ettrick, NSW). We couldn’t often share physical space but, as a Bundaberg Club member,  she became part of the group invading (fairly literally) GenreCon 2013. There remain unfinished arguments about who exactly exhausted whom that weekend.

She was generous, empathetic, vivacious, curious, energising and enervating; a tiny spark in a universe made much emptier by her unexpected passing.