by Anna Campbell
It's THAT time of year again!
The parrots are shrieking in the flowering gum tree (you can see how beautiful both the tree and the birds are in the photos). The bearded dragons come out to bask in the mornings but hide away in the shade in the hottest part of the day. The pavement is too hot to walk on after early morning. You're gasping for the tiniest hint of breeze before 7am!
Yes, it's summer in Australia. And that means it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
Even here, at this time of year, there's a lot of cards with snow and tinsel and robins and people curling up in front of fires. But that's not really what it's about down here. It's the hottest part of the year. It's when everybody who doesn't own a pool is flocking to the public pool or the beach or basking in air conditioning.
We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia - although I think it's a very nice idea and I'm about to start a campaign, LOL. Christmas is when we eat too much and get together as a family.
A lot of people still do the traditional English lunch at Christmas. You know, turkey and ham and roast vegetables and plum pudding and custard. A lot of (probably more sensible) people have a barbecue or seafood. I must say my family does the trad thing.
Does all that heavy food in the heat make us feel like dying? Absolutely! But that "I'll explode if I eat another roast potato - oh, all right, give me one" feeling is part of Christmas for us.
Christmas also coincides with our long summer holidays so the kids are out of school and enjoying those long, lazy days. I can remember as a teenager lying around for days on end just reading and reading and reading. And in my last summer holiday before I went to university, I got moving and wrote my first complete novel. A medieval called "Darkness Holds a Stranger", although as it was about French partisan fighters in the Hundred Years War, I fondly called it "Guerrillas in the Mist".
I still remember the absolute ecstasy of those words flooding out of me. Was it readable? I suspect not! (I haven't looked at it in years although I think it's in the garage somewhere.) Was it a special, wonderful, thrilling step on my way to becoming a writer. Definitely! I haven't written anything that left me so intoxicated with the sheer joy of putting words on paper since.
Mind you, these days, that could be because I know about point of view and emotional punch and how to construct a story!
A couple of other really hot, sweaty summers, I can remember lying in my grandmother's wooden colonial house on stilts and going through her boxes of old English Women's Weeklys. The EWW used to serialize Mills and Boons (Harlequins) so I read hundreds and hundreds of great romances by some of the classic names of the '60s and '70s.
My grandmother was a knitter (rather wasted in a place as warm as south-east Queensland, sadly) and she kept all the mags for the knitting patterns. So I had weeks and weeks of arrogant Spanish dukes and elegant English aristocrats and innocent young Englishwomen who reduced these powerful men to alpha mush. Bliss!
Summer is also storm season. Check out these two dramatic photos!
We're actually not just in the middle of a heatwave here on the Sunshine Coast right now. We're also in the middle of the longest dry spell I can remember here. When the rest of Queensland has been in drought over recent years, we've had plenty of rain. Not right now. My lawn is the color of dead straw!
But usually the sweltering heat is broken every afternoon by storms of various levels of violence. Sometimes, they can be terrifically destructive and sometimes they're just a wonderful show of thunder and lightning and heavy sheets of rain. And then it feels like the air has been washed, it's so cool and clean. Unfortunately, the whole suffocating heat saga starts up again the next day!
I spend a lot of summer in the pool just to escape the heat! And I think Santa changes into a bikini before he hits Aussie shores. All that red velvet and ermine makes him break out into a rash.
Most of these photos are courtesy of my friend Sharon Archer, who visited a couple of weeks ago with her new digital camera. Make sure you check out Sharon's Mills and Boon Medical Romances, they're fantastic! For Aussie readers, MARRIAGE REUNITED: BABY ON THE WAY is on the shelves right now. Run, don't walk to get it. It's a wonderful story!
Now, enough of my rambling - really just an excuse to share some of these photos with you! Over the next couple of weeks, there are a couple of things to look out for.
Firstly, for Australian and New Zealand readers, the beautiful trade paperback local edition of CAPTIVE OF SIN is out in the next week or so. It should be available at all good booksellers, including Target, Big W and KMart.
Secondly, my New Year Resolution contest is closing at the end of December. Two people will win a signed copy of CAPTIVE OF SIN plus a couple of other signed books out of my prize cupboard. Well worth entering and a very easy question! Check out the details on my website: http://www.annacampbell.info/contest.html
Thirdly, after last year's fun and mayhem, the Romance Bandits, where I regularly blog, are running our infamous 12 Bandita Days of Christmas again. There are prizes galore culminating in a huge hamper for one lucky commenter. The party starts on the 13th December so good luck! And no, in spite of rumors to the contrary, we're NOT giving Sven away. We might however wrap up a gladiator as a prize if we can catch one. They're devilish fast, those Roman scoundrels!
Finally, thank you to everyone who's visited this blog this year. And thank you to Leena for running such a great ship! Happy Holidays to you all!