SECOND-CHANCE FAMILY: Australia's Romantic Book of the Year finalist 2009; Gayle Wilson Award Finalist 2009; Romantic Times' TOP PICK.
MR IMPERFECT: Australia's 2007 Romantic Book of the Year Award (long); The Clendon Award's Readers' Choice Award.
VENUS RISING: 2005 Golden Heart winner in the short contemporary category. (I was delighted to be the first Australasian to win the award from Romance Writers of America).
NOTE: The Clendon Award is sponsored by Barbara and Peter Clendon of Barbaraís Books. The competition had an incredible success rate in bringing on unpublished writers.
The Writegals were four novice writers who hit it off at a writing retreat many years ago and formed a critique group. Depending what was required we acted as critique partners, cheerleaders, sympathy-givers, partners in crime, info exchangers and kickers-in-the-pantsers. All of us were eventually published by Harlequin - Abby Gaines, Tessa Radley, Sandra Hyatt - so we must have been doing some work in between all those good times. Sadly, we lost Sandra very suddenly in 2011 but her books live on.
Someone once told me that with a name like Bliss Iíd have to be a romance writer.
Most of my working life Iíve been a journalist - not the war correspondent, fashion magazine or even tabloid newspaper variety, (rated in my country just under politicians for trustworthiness), but a common variety trade journalist who wrote about travel for the New Zealand travel industry for close to a decade.
I did get to travel a lot (at least until I had a baby and was needed at home) but I didnít usually sit under a tropical sunset with a cocktail in my hand. Not unless I had a pen and paper in the other and was making notes about whether the mozzies were biting, whether the storm water drain exited on the beach, what the service was like and...well, you get the picture. I got to work in fabulous places, but it was still work.
But was it better than a proper job? Oh yeah.
Now I have another job that on the surface looks glamorous and exciting. Iím a romance writer. Unfortunately not one of the Ďwords pour out of meí romance writers, but the Ďstare at the screen until your forehead bleedsí variety. Like motherhood, I thought it would be easy and itís not. Like motherhood I wouldnít go back, even if I could.
Signing books in Anaheim at the Romance Writers of America conference in 2012
Iíve wanted to be a writer since I was twelve but then I forgot and did a lot of other things instead. These included getting an arts degree in English and Political Studies at Auckland University, a postgraduate degree in periodical journalism at the University of London, travelling, having my heart broken a couple of times, meeting the right guy, building a house, having a baby - the usual milestones. A significant birthday was the fright I needed to stop TALKING about writing romance at parties and actually DOING it. I pass this tip on to every aspiring novelist - sit down at the computer and put your hands on the keyboard.
As a writer, I like to push the envelope. Heroes in romance are not usually big criers - Mr Imperfect opens with the hero crying at a funeral. I canít help myself. Itís the strength (and probably weakness) of my fiction and fortunately in this case SuperRomance liked it and bought it.
In life I try and follow the rules...as the eldest of five girls I was once (and my sisters will say very briefly) in the heady position of setting the rules.