Author signing: Sydney 24 March

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I’m delighted to be involved in an author signing event, in Sydney, on Sunday, 24 March, from 10 - 4pm. The event is hosted by the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA), and will be held at the Bankstown Sports Club. Tickets are only $25 ($20 for ARRA members) and available via this link:

https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=433758&

The attending authors are listed below. All authors will be available for book signings (or just for a chat about books!). Readers are welcome to bring along books they have already purchased, but books will also be available for purchase at the event.

For more information about ARRA, and the event, the link is https://ireadromance.com.au

I’d love to see you there!

SYDNEY EVENT AUTHORS

  • Alyssa J Montgomery/Alyssa James

  • Amanda Knight

  • Ann B Harrison

  • Ash Hosking

  • Avril Tremayne

  • Bronwyn Parry

  • Catherine Evans/Cate Ellink

  • Cathleen Ross

  • Cathryn Hein

  • Celeste Bradley

  • Dani Kristoff / Donna Maree Hanson

  • Ebony Olson

  • Emilia Finn

  • Jasmina Siderovski

  • Jessica Gleave

  • JO Mantel

  • Jodi Perry/JL Perry

  • Kandy Shepherd

  • Karen Deen

  • Kelly Hunter

  • Khloe Wren

  • Laura Boon

  • Lee Christine

  • Lexxie Couper

  • Maddison Michaels

  • Maggie Nash

  • Michelle Montebello

  • Monique McDonell

  • MV Ellis

  • Penelope Janu

  • Renee Dahlia

  • SE Gilchrist

  • Shandi Boyes

  • Shannon Curtis

  • Sherrilyn Kenyon

  • Tea Cooper

ARRA Awards 23 February

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I was delighted to be nominated in the 2018 Australian Romance Readers Awards. In three categories! Firstly, for Favourite Australian Romance Author (with other writers I’ve worshiped from afar for too many years to mention!), Favourite Australian Romance, for On the Right Track, and Favourite Laugh Out Loud moment in a romance, for On the Right Track. The awards will be held on 23 February, and I’m really looking forward to catching up with many reader and writer friends.

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ARRA is a wonderful organisation for readers, with chapters in most capital cities. It’s very inexpensive to join, and provides a host of wonderful opportunities for readers to discuss books, on-line and in person, and meet many favourite authors at functions all over the country - from Australia and also overseas guests.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens at the awards!

Book launch: On the Same Page

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So… I love having parties for other people, but for myself? Not so much. But as On the Same Page was my third full length novel, and I’d recently also had a novella published as part of the Our Country Christmas anthology, I thought I’d give it a go!

Not playing football, but making a speech!

Not playing football, but making a speech!

The venue was Better Read Than Dead, a fabulous bookshop in the busy heart of Newtown. I love this shop, but being given the opportunity to have the launch here was particularly special because On the Same Page is set in Newtown, Redfern and Sydney city, a very busy bustling hub, just like the busy bustling pace of On the Same Page!

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All of my children attended the event which was wonderful. One daughter drove up from her workplace in Canberra, and another daughter juggled two toddlers and endured an hour of peak hour traffic to be there. There were lots of friends who came along too (and made comments like ‘I knew her before she was famous’ (ha!), and there were a number of writer friends as well. Some writers I had met while studying creative writing at UTS Sydney (also close by!), and some I have met as a published author. It was heartwarming to have their wonderful support. And, of course, there were readers I’d never met before, but they had enjoyed my books so came along to celebrate the publication of another. Wow! I often chat with readers by email and on social media, and at conferences and so on, but it was really nice to meet some new people, and even have the chance to introduce them to other writers they admired - and my family of course!

The venue space was wonderful - to be surrounded by books while launching my book upstairs, while shoppers were downstairs browsing the shelves, and buying books for Christmas, was great. The champagne flowed, the Lebanese dips were amazing, and I signed a lot of books.

Will I have another launch? I will seriously think about it!

Legal Beagle: Cruise ship dramas

Those following the Legal Beagle columns I post here ( I write these for the fabulous Romance Writers of Australia magazine, HeartsTalk), will know they aren’t written as legal advice, but tips that might be useful to writers dealing with similar issues. Because legal issues come up all the time! Here is an excerpt of an article I wrote on cruise ships. What happens if there is a death or crime on board?

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If you are planning to set a novel on a cruise ship, if your characters go overseas for work or pleasure, or if one of your characters dies while on a ship or on an overseas holiday, I hope you’ll find something to interest you in this month’s column.            

Many cruise ship companies operate in Australian waters, and carry thousands of Australian passengers each year, but they are overwhelmingly owned and operated by overseas interests, primarily based in the US and the UK. The ships, however, are highly unlikely to be registered in these countries. They will be registered in ‘flag States,’ or ‘flags of convenience,’ countries like Panama, Bermuda or Barbados, with little or no control over the cruise ship day-to-day operations. Why? Often because it’s cheaper to register in flag states, and the regulatory requirements are less onerous.

If a crime is committed on a cruise ship (given the number of people on board, this is not an irregular occurrence) it can be difficult to work out who is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crimes. And to add to the complexity, there are many possible laws that will apply to any crime. There is international law, in the form of The United Nations Convention on The Law of the Sea 1982, the law of the flag state, the law of the countries of the citizens involved, and often the law of the port the ship is either leaving, or sailing towards. Here is an example of what can occur:

Annabel, an Australian citizen, books a ten day cruise on The Princess Charming, a ship owned by a US company, and registered in Bermuda. Annabel boards at Circular Quay in Sydney. The ship is only a few nautical miles from New Caledonia when Sigrid, a citizen of Sweden, assaults Annabel (Sigrid claims she committed the act because Annabel spiked her drink the night before). Annabel sustains a broken arm. What law applies?

The law of Bermuda will apply because that is where the ship is registered. The law of New Caledonia will apply because, within the 12 nautical mile zone, the ship is in New Caledonian waters. Australian law would apply because Annabel is an Australian citizen. Swedish law could also be relevant, as the perpetrator of the offence is a Swedish citizen. The ship is owned and run by a UK company, so the laws of that country would also be relevant.

So… there will be a multitude of jurisdictions operating concurrently. A ship will always be subject to the domestic laws of the country in which it is flagged (there are no Australian flagged cruise ships), but while in territorial waters it may also be subject to the laws regulating those waters, and ports. If it is in international waters, those laws will come into play. And in the case of a crime being committed, the perpetrator and victim’s countries of citizenship will have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute. So there will be ‘competing jurisdictional claims.’ The countries themselves will have to work out who takes action, and which jurisdiction and laws will apply (often the flag state doesn’t want to get involved—it doesn’t have the resources, interest or will to do so).

On a side note, most people are familiar with the notion that if you commit a crime in another country, you will be liable under the laws of that country. The same concepts apply on a cruise ship, and ignorance of the law will never be an excuse. This means that, for example, some medications or recreational drugs allowable in one country might be prohibited substances in another country, and this will be relevant when the ship sails into that country’s territorial waters.

Felix, an Australian citizen, has planned a ‘trip of a lifetime,’ a cruise to Antarctica, for years. He boards a cruise ship (owned by a British company and registered in Malta) in Argentina. He has been on the ship for three days, and is in international waters, when he dies of a heart attack.

Death at sea from natural causes, particularly given the demographic of many cruise passengers, happens relatively frequently. All cruise ships are required to have a suitable storage area should a death occur on board.

What happens to a deceased person’s body will depend on the laws that apply on the ship, and in the next port of call.  That destination port might allow the body to be handed over. Or it might refuse to take the body (smaller countries without appropriate storage or repatriation facilities often reject a body). Should the body be unloaded (and, anecdotally, it appears that this will be the preference of the cruise ship company) the family will bear the full cost and responsibility to bring the body back to the home country. This is where travel insurance will be important!

The message from this month’s column is… should a crime be committed on a ship, or a death occurs on board, there are no simple answers to how things might turn out. The romance aspects of cruising are easy to see. But criminals and coroners, diplomats and detectives, could also be part of the mix! Romantic suspense, anyone?

The story behind On the Same Page

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On the Same Page has been a long time coming, but is a story I've always had faith in - and I'm absolutely delighted that it's not long now until it will be out in the world. I started writing On the Same Page (working title Lars from Iconic) when I was a student at UTS studying creative writing. This was my 'break away' from academic and legal work and (together with a weekend course I did with Lisa Heidke at the Australian Writers Centre, where the concept was created) has led to years of new challenges. I've been taken out of my comfort zone many times - but have been rewarded with countless opportunities along the way. And one of the most exciting of these? To see characters and situations I've thought up in my head, transferred to the page, and ultimately to readers (and hopefully into a special place in their hearts and minds as well).

On the Same Page won the 2017 XO Romance Prize. But that wasn't its earliest prize .... I wrote the first draft of the manuscript in 2014 and I think my poor kids suffered with me every time I had to workshop snippets of it in class. There were many groans of Mummmmm. But so much encouragement as well. 'Yay Lars!' was a common refrain. Lars Kristensen is the hero of On the Same Page (yes another Norwegian - though he was brought up in England) but the book is set in Australia, and Miles Franklin, a twenty-eight year old lawyer, is the heroine. But back to the prize ... for my birthday in 2014, one of my daughters, Gabriella, gave me this card. I am so glad I photographed it - but regret not hanging onto the original! You will note that I am already dubbed a 'best selling author' with a golden sticker to prove it - and this happened before I wrote In at the Deep End or On the Right Track (as I mentioned, On the Same Page took a while to finish off!) Thanks for your faith in me, Gabi - and also in the book. 

Artwork: Gabriella

On the Right Track release

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The launch of a new book is always an exciting time, and it's been wonderful to see On the Right Track on the bookshelves in the past few days! I think my children might be relieved to see the book out on the shelves - because it signifies that the story is now out of my hands, and into the hands of readers! Thank you to those who have purchased the book already, and do let me know if you have enjoyed it. Thanks to those who have left reviews on Goodreads or Amazon already - these mean so much to a writer personally, and are useful to other readers as well. I hope you have a wonderful reading month!

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The winner is...

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Thank you to all my newsletter subscribers who were eligible to win the penguin bookmark and soap gift. I've drawn a name out of the hat and will email the lucky reader very soon. Then I'll send out the gift! And as soon as On the Right Track arrives on my doorstep (I'll get a few early copies before it is out on the shelves), I'll be announcing another give-away to win a signed copy! So if you have any reading friends who might like to be on my newsletter list so they will be in that draw, please send them a link and let them know they are welcome.

Here is the link  http://www.penelopejanu.com/newsletter/

And just to confirm, I'm not selling anything and I won't be inundating readers with emails. I also don't share your email addresses or any other details with anyone. And of course you can unsubscribe at any time!

Happy reading as we move into winter. A nice warm fire and putting my feet up is my idea of a perfect evening's entertainment!

Our Country Christmas Anthology

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I'm delighted to be part of Our Country Christmas (Harlequin Mira/ HarperCollins) a combination of five stories by favourite Australian authors (all set in rural Australia). I loved writing The Six Rules of Christmas. It is set in the fictional town of Warrandale - which is a based on a few real life towns in the beautiful Upper Hunter region of New South Wales.

This is the blurb:

The Six Rules of Christmas
Picking up the reins of her father's law practice, Ariella Blake has made a place for herself in small–town Warrandale. But when stand–in farrier Jack Adamson blows in for the holidays, with his good looks and infuriating evasiveness, he challenges her to embrace the rules of Christmas. Step by step, will Christmas – and Jack – get under her skin? 

Jack in the story is a farrier, and I was so privileged to spend time recently with Michael Fruin of Fruin Forge and his team. Michael has worked all around the world as a farrier, his expertise and the stories he had to tell were wonderful, and I hope to catch up with him again for another farrier story that's in the pipeline.

I do hope you love the stories in Our Country Christmas. The book will be available in September - in paperback in bookstores and Discount Department stores in Australia and New Zealand, and on-line all around the world!

Cover Reveal: On the Right Track

On the Right Track

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A traumatic past, a charismatic stranger and a family legacy … Golden’s quiet country life is about to get messy …

When the diminutive but fiery Golden Saunders falls from her horse and smashes her leg irreparably, and her racing family is disgraced by a corruption scandal, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

Then the enigmatic Tor Amundsen, United Nations diplomat (read: spy), arrives on the scene and proves her wrong. His investigation into her family pulls her back into a world she had escaped, and the branch of the family she has tried to avoid at all costs. Tor is infuriated and frustrated by the impossible mixture of fragility and fierceness that is Golden, true, but he is also strangely protective of her.

Golden wants no part of it. Men have pushed her around her whole life. The last thing she needs is an arrogant, irritatingly handsome man telling her what to do. But it turns out Tor has a way with animals, children and, well, Golden…

Before too long, she finds their overwhelming attraction is overriding her good sense, and as they are both pulled deeper into the murky world of dirty money, things are about to get messy, and Golden’s small, quietly ordered life will change beyond recognition…

Can Golden overcome her fears and the shadows of the past and reach for a new kind of future? Will she ever be able to get her life back on the right track?

On the Right Track will be available on 18 June. See pre-order links on the home page. I LOVED writing this book, and hope you will enjoy reading it!

XO Romance Prize

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I'm delighted to have won the XO Romance 2017 prize, particularly as I was selected from an amazing bunch of authors (details in the shortlist below). 

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The prize means that I will have another novel in the bookshops this year! XO is an imprint of Brio, a wonderful publisher of Australian voices, and I am very happy that I will be added to their list of authors. On the Same Page is a novel very close to my heart, because it was my first lengthy creative project, and I worked on it with a number of fabulous fellow students, and amazing teachers, when I was studying for a MA a few years ago. I've never been able to let this novel go ... and it is wonderful that it will now be published. For the details, please see http://www.xoromance.com.au/

I couldn't be happier that On the Right Track will be published mid year (the cover will be coming soon!), and I'll have a follow up novel later in the year! 

New Year 2018

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I'm notoriously late with my Christmas cards, New Years wishes, and other festive things this year. I blame finishing a manuscript in November, editing a new release for 2018, and plotting next years books! But this is more or less what Christmas looked like in the Janu household. Daphne misbehaving, Bella tolerant, and too many decorations! I hope you and your friends and family enjoyed a wonderful break.

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New Years Resolutions so far. Ride more often. Attempt to plot more regularly (I love to write organically but I think it slows down the process of producing a book). Write Christmas cards in time for them to arrive before Christmas.

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The Writing Life

Fudge

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I've had a number of queries lately about about the book I have coming up next. I've enjoyed seeing In at the Deep End on the shelves so much, it's exciting to think another book is on the way. But ... it is quite a process having a book published! My second novel (as yet untitled) will be published by my wonderful publisher Harlequin Mira in July 2018. I finished this novel at the end of last year, and now the editing stage is about to begin, it is exciting to be getting into the book again. This book is one that I loved writing, and I hope readers will love it as well. It is, like much of In at the Deep End, set in Australia, but the protagonist lives in a rural area on the outskirts of Sydney. It was wonderful returning to (in a fictional sense!) some of my early experiences with horses for this book. So this post is somewhat of a teaser.

Many people ask whether the characters I write are based on real people. The answer to that is generally no, although the people I know, and my reading, often informs what I create in terms of character and personality traits. But the photo of the pony in this post is of a real life 'character' in my next novel, a pony I had for many years when I was growing up. His name was Fudge, and he was a palomino pony who stood about 13 hands high. Fudge could, on occasion, be very ill mannered! He only has a small role in the book, but he has quite a back story in real life. Maybe I'll post about that some day!

I'll be posting on what is happening with the editing process with book number two, and hopefully filling you in on a title and cover, as soon as I can!

Legal Beagle: Marriage

I really enjoyed writing the Legal Beagle column on marriage. Plenty of books, movies and television shows came to mind! This post was first published in the Romance Writer's of Australia newsletter. If you are a romance writer (or a writer generally) I recommend the RWA. It is a wonderfully informative and supportive organisation. And I'm not just saying this because I'm the Secretary - RWA was so important to me when I started on my writing journey.

Anyway, here it is ... marriage! 

Gretna Green, Las Vegas or Brisbane anyone? I happily re-read two great novels and watched a reality dating show before writing this month’s column.

Gretna Green is a location just north of the Scottish border and has been, since the mid 1700s, a popular marriage destination. In Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter (Wallflowers # 3), Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, marries Evie Jenner at Gretna Green. Why Gretna? Evie was under 21 (a minor). Under English law she needed the consent of a parent or guardian to marry. This wasn’t a requirement under Scottish law (where a marriage could take place by declaration before two witnesses). In Devil in Winter it was Evie who proposed marriage to Sebastian. She said:

‘I need a h-husband. You need a rich wife. And we are both equally desperate, which leads me to believe that you will agree to my pr-proposition. If so, then I should like to leave for Gretna Green tonight.’

This novel (one of my all time favourites) can be summarised in one word … swoon.

My second example is a contemporary one, from Kylie Scott’s novel Lick (Stage Dive #1). Evelyn wakes up with David in Las Vegas. She’s wearing a diamond ring, but has no recollection of the night before. David starts the conversation:

‘Let me get this straight, you don’t remember anything?’

‘No,’ I said, swallowing hard. ‘What did we do last night?’

‘We got f****** married,’ he growled.

To comply with the State law of Nevada, the prospective bride and groom go to a Marriage License Bureau with relevant identifying documents—such as a driver’s license or passport. Both parties have to be unrelated, unmarried and at least 18 years old. There are few legal requirements, but in order to consent the parties should be aware they got married!

In Australia, the law on marriage is consistent because Commonwealth law, rather than State and Territory law, governs it. In fact, marriage is specifically provided for in section 51(xxi) of the Commonwealth Constitution 1900 (see http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution.aspx)

In the reality television series Married at First Sight, the couples can’t meet (and marry!) immediately, because the Marriage Act, 1961 (see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma196185/) prohibits this. Under the Act, it is a legal requirement that the bride and groom complete a Notice of Intended Marriage at least 30 days prior to getting married. A celebrant or other authorised person will lodge this document with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages following the marriage ceremony. On Married at First Sight, participants fill out the Notice, but the 30-day period hasn’t elapsed when the ‘wedding’ takes place. If the couples wish to marry for real, they can do so 30 days after completing the Notice.

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In Australia, marriage requires consent. Legally, consent gained by force or intimidation is not ‘consent.’ The age of consent for marriage is 18 unless, with parental approval, a court specifically allows it.

If you are writing about marriage, I hope this information helps your characters with their wedding plans!

RWAustralia Conference 2017

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I had a wonderful time at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in August. This is a fabulous conference for craft, business tips in the writing trade, meeting up with old friends, and finding new. Highlights this year for me were Kate Forsyth's one day workshop, and Marion Lennox's keynote address. Marion, the author of over a hundred novels, gave everyone in the audience a gumnut from a Western Australian tree, and asked us to reflect on what gave us joy as writers. I brought my gumnut home (as did many other writers) and put it in a seashell bowl. It looks at home there too - and I've looked at it many times while writing over the past week. Writing can be lonely and difficult, but ultimately gives so much joy - the process of writing itself, and also hearing about what it is about your words that touches readers.

On the Keeper's Shelf

In at the Deep End was recently featured on author Jennie Jones's blog as a book she would hang onto. You can read Jennie's On the Keeper's Shelf post here - and while you're over at her website, you might like to check out some of her stories. I've admired Jennie's books for years (which is why I'm particularly chuffed that In at the Deep End made it onto her shelf!

The link is 

http://www.jenniejonesromance.com/jennie-jones-blog/on-the-keepers-shelf-in-at-the-deep-end

Legal Beagle: Marriage

This month, a few facts on marriage ...

Gretna Green, Las Vegas or Brisbane? I happily re-read two great novels and watched a reality dating show before writing this column. The topic? Marriage!

Who wouldn't want to marry Mr Darcy?

Who wouldn't want to marry Mr Darcy?

Gretna Green is a location just north of the Scottish border and has been, since the mid 1700s, a popular marriage destination. In Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter (Wallflowers # 3), Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent, marries Evie Jenner at Gretna Green. Why Gretna? Evie was under 21 (a minor). Under English law she needed the consent of a parent or guardian to marry. This wasn’t a requirement under Scottish law (where a marriage could take place by declaration before two witnesses). In Devil in Winter it was Evie who proposed marriage to Sebastian. She said:

‘I need a h-husband. You need a rich wife. And we are both equally desperate, which leads me to believe that you will agree to my pr-proposition. If so, then I should like to leave for Gretna Green tonight.’

This novel (one of my all time favourites) can be summarised in one word … swoon.

My second example is a contemporary one, from Kylie Scott’s novel Lick (Stage Dive #1). Evelyn wakes up with David in Las Vegas. She’s wearing a diamond ring, but has no recollection of getting married the night before. David starts the conversation:

‘Let me get this straight, you don’t remember anything?’

‘No,’ I said, swallowing hard. ‘What did we do last night?’

To comply with the State law of Nevada, the prospective bride and groom go to a Marriage License Bureau with relevant identifying documents—such as a driver’s license or passport. Both parties have to be unrelated, unmarried and at least 18 years old. There are few legal requirements, but in order to consent the parties should be aware they got married!

In Australia, the law on marriage is consistent because Commonwealth law, rather than State and Territory law, governs it. In fact, marriage is specifically provided for in section 51(xxi) of the Commonwealth Constitution 1900 (see http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution.aspx)

In the reality television series Married at First Sight, the couples can’t meet (and marry!) immediately, because the Marriage Act, 1961 (see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma196185/) prohibits this. Under the Act, it is a legal requirement that the bride and groom complete a Notice of Intended Marriage at least 30 days prior to getting married. A celebrant or other authorised person will lodge this document with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages following the marriage ceremony. On Married at First Sight, participants fill out the Notice, but the 30-day period hasn’t elapsed when the ‘wedding’ takes place. If the couples wish to marry for real, they can do so 30 days after completing the Notice.

In Australia, marriage requires consent. Legally, consent gained by force or intimidation is not ‘consent.’ The age of consent for marriage is 18 unless, with parental approval, a court specifically allows it.

If you are writing about a marriage (or contemplating one!) I hope this helps your characters with their wedding plans!

World Oceans Day 8 June

On 8 June the UN celebrates World Oceans Day, which raises global awareness of the environmental challenges faced by our oceans. Because oceans aren’t only important sources of food and medicines, they provide much of the oxygen we breathe and are a crucial part of the biosphere.

For a great resource about World Oceans Day, and the type of activities organised all around the world, go to the World Oceans Day website HERE.

And for a short UN video, Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet, click HERE.

For my fellow ARRA members. Do you prefer to swim in wild oceans or sea pools? Or would you rather view the ocean from a sun lounge on the deck of a cruise liner (while reading a book)? Comment below to go in the draw to win a copy of In at the Deep End!

 

Bookshops and Libraries

One of the joys of being on book shelves in book shops and libraries is receiving photos (by email, text and Facebook) of In at the Deep End. My feelings have nothing to do with fame and fortune, and everything to do with the excitement of sharing shelf space with authors I admire and love to read. And shelf companions differ depending on placement!  Sometimes In at the Deep End is shelved in the romance section, sometimes in the Australian Fiction section, and sometimes just thrown 'in at the deep end' with the rest of the alphabet. But where ever it ends up, I always search for its shelf buddies!

Legal Beagle: Family violence

For the April edition of the RWA HeartsTalk magazine, I wrote about family, or domestic violence. 

Family violence is known legally, and in the community, by many different names—domestic violence, relationship violence, intimate partner violence, and child abuse. Let’s look at a scenario that might come up in our writing lives, and consider the legal definitions.

Jane and John have been married for 12 years. They have a mortgaged home and two young children. Over a three-year period, the following events occur:

·      Jane is keen to return to work. When she tells John she has a casual job, he states she already has a job—caring for the children. Not wanting to argue with him, she resigns.

·      John locks Jane out of the house for an hour to ‘teach her a lesson’ because she forgot to lock the front door when she took the children to school.

·      John refuses to speak to Jane for two days after she forgets to pay the gas bill.

·      John tells Jane they are on a tight budget, so she has to give him receipts for all household expenditure. When he doesn’t approve of something she’s spent money on, he mocks her in front of the children.

·      John initiates sex and Jane says no. John gets out of bed, gathers together Jane’s makeup and perfumes, and throws them away.

An important point to note is that family violence isn’t limited to physical violence. It is a pattern of abusive behaviour used within a family to control and dominate. This includes coercion and intimidation. It is ongoing behaviour that can undermine the victim’s confidence, and ability to leave the perpetrator. There is often an escalation of violence over time.

Each State and Territory has legislation relating to family violence (with different names and terminology—if you need help with the jurisdiction you are writing about, send me an email and I’ll give you a link). I’ll use the Victorian Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to illustrate my points. You can find this Act at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/fvpa2008283/s11.html.

The Family Violence Protection Act recognises emotional, financial, sexual or social abuse as family violence. It also includes, as family violence, behaviour that forces a child to hear, witness or otherwise be exposed to violence after the violence has occurred (for example, seeing broken crockery, or hearing a mother crying).

Jane has been subjected to various forms of family violence, and would be entitled to protection by the law, and support agencies.

 

Here is another scenario. Mike and Mary have lived together for over two years. The following events occur:

·      Mike and Mary are drinking heavily, and argue. Mike pushes Mary and she falls, bruising her hip. Neighbours hear Mary crying and alert police, but Mary sends them away.

·      On a weekend away with a group of friends, Mike hugs Mary and tells her if she ever leaves him, he’ll track her down because they’re meant to be together.

·      During an argument, Mike shuts Mary’s fingers in a drawer. Neighbours hear screams and call the police again.

Threats of violence, physical violence, sexual assault, and stalking, are illegal. Every person has a right to live free from abuse, and a right to legal protection. Under the Family Violence Protection Act there are various courses of action the police can take.

·      Criminal options. If the police conclude a crime has been committed, they can investigate and charge Mike (even if Mary refuses to make a statement). Mike could be arrested and held by police.

·      Civil options. Police can issue a Family Violence Safety Notice to protect Mary. The notice would prevent Mike from contacting Mary for a set period of time (usually 2 – 4 days) but the notice could be extended. Another civil option, which can be initiated by the police or Mary (and would be the most likely option for Jane in the first example), is an intervention order. This order can apply if violent incidents have happened in the past, and are likely to happen again. The order could prevent Mike from contacting Mary, or allow contact but without violence. If Mike breaches a notice or order, this would be a criminal offence and the police could charge him.

There are organisations in each State and Territory that support vulnerable people (usually women) suffering physical and emotional abuse. These organisations are often an excellent starting point for information and assistance.

Writers at Dural Author Series

As part of the Writers at Dural author series, eleven writers will be appearing over three weeks at Dural library - on 4, 11 and 18 May from 10.30-12. Please save the dates. We'd love to see you there!

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4 May: Lisa Chaplin, Isolde Martyn, Cathryn Hein and Lizzy Chandler

Book: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/writers-at-dural-4th-may-panel-tickets-33517042376

11 May: TJ Hamilton, Sarah Barrie, Téa Cooper and Emily Madden

Book: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/writers-at-dural-11th-may-panel-tickets-33517119607

18 May: Mary-Anne McGregor, Shannon Curtis and Penelope Janu

Book: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/writers-at-dural-18th-may-panel-tickets-33517142676

You can book (just $5 to cover the cost of tea and biscuits) directly through the library website as well.

Books will be available for purchase (cash only) on the day, or the writers will be happy to sign copies of books you've already purchased!