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  • Writer's pictureJill Barry

Readers, Writers and other Creatives

Updated: Jul 28, 2019

When visiting Victoria earlier this year, I took advantage of any opportunity that arose, though most of these involved sightseeing or relaxing in the sunshine, which in the Aussie Autumn, wasn’t too harsh for my pallid British skin! But a writer away from home for a few weeks, misses connecting with other authors. Before travelling, I learnt the Australian Romance Readers' Association was holding a series of events. One of these ARRA Romantic Rendezvous happened to be on the 30th March, when I was due to be in Melbourne. I booked a ticket and wrote the venue’s address in my diary, unaware the hotel I’d be visiting was an almost door to door tram ride from my son’s house.

That Saturday, I’d planned to drift into the hotel like a summer breeze, but my much-loved Melbourne had other ideas. Out came the parka. The locals describe how their city can have four different seasons’ weather in one day and that’s what I experienced - but with no sunshine! I didn’t have far to walk from tram stop to hotel and vice versa but that day was the only one I remember as having dismal weather.

ARRA are already publicising their 2020 events

At the venue, I exchanged my ticket for a goody bag containing books, pencils, pens, etc and headed for the conference room where romantic fiction authors sat at tables piled with paperbacks. Heaven! It was lovely to chat to fellow romance writers and to hand over my Jill Barry card in exchange for new ones to take home.

It was a very great pleasure to meet and talk writing with the talented Alyssa James amongst the many authors delighting their readers that day.

But did I achieve any writing during my stay? I made plenty of notes and succeeded in editing a novella with a London setting, currently with my editor. My 2016 trip to Australia provided inspiration for a novella which was published by The People’s Friend and is due out as a large print Linford Romance on 1st January 2020. Home to Misty Mountain owes much to my experiences when staying in Dunkeld at the excellent Royal Mail Hotel. I love this photo showing Mount Sturgeon, my title inspiration, and backdrop for my heart-warming romance set in a country resort.

Mount Sturgeon in the Distance

Back to 2019 and a visit to Fitzroy’s public library where I received a warm welcome plus big smiles when I donated one of my books. This library is popular and I’m not surprised, given the spaciousness, comfortable seating and computers for library members’ use. I enjoyed browsing and spotting books written by authors I’ve either met or know on line.

I’ve mentioned Metung in a previous post. On my second visit, my hostess invited me to join her at a social evening in what we British would term a pub, but which the Australians call a hotel. I hadn’t packed any smart outfits, but did my best to scrub up and luckily most people were also dressed casually. I talked to several friendly, delightful women, one of whom was born in the same Welsh seaside town as I was. The clue's in my author name!

After a delicious meal, the organiser got to her feet, thanked everyone for attending, then threw me a wobbly by requesting me to talk about my writing career. Fortified (luckily) by two glasses of Prosecco I stood up and did my best to entertain those poor, unsuspecting women, all of whom listened and laughed in the right places. Some asked excellent questions and I think I found some new readers.

As my return trip loomed, my son drove me to the old spa town of Daylesford which has a variety of quirky shops and beautiful art galleries.

A peaceful moment

Daylesford's Old Convent remains a haven, though nowadays offering facilities for weddings and family gatherings as well as selling spectacular paintings, ceramics and hand-produced garments amongst other items.

Recreation of a nun's room back in the day

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this belated account as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Jill x

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