Bronwyn Jameson, still Spellbound on Southbank

Last weekend six of the DU Desirabelles–myself, Yvonne Lindsay, Paula Roe, Maxine Sullivan, Rachel Robinson and Robyn Grady–attended the 17th annual Romance Writers of Australia conference.
For the past 12 or so years the conferences have alternated between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane or the Gold Coast. This year was Melbourne’s turn and saw a return to the Langham Hotel which had provided a stunning venue in 2005. Picture: Bron Jameson, Lilian Darcy, Yvonne Lindsay at the Awards Dinner .

The hotel boasts of blissful beds – they even sell the beds, pillows and bedding in their hotel shop, along with their signature ginger lily room spray. I wanted the pillows but they’d sold out. The scent, however, puts me right back in that special spellbound place.

The conference theme, BTW, was Spellbound on Southbank…that being the hotel site, on the south bank of the Yarra River (see picture.) And everything from the venue to the speakers to the enchanted cocktail party to the awards night supported that theme. We’ve all dug deep into our store of memories to share a favourite spellbound moment.

Mine was the keynote address by Barbara Samuel, “What Do You Believe In?” Enriching, empowering, engrossing, it challenged me to consider what is important in living, in writing, in life. Although spawned from one of my all-time favourite movie quotes (Kevin Coster’s notorious “I believe in…” speech from Bull Durham) it was delivered straight from the soul with Barbara’s trademark lyricism and insight. She held me spellbound for the entire forty minutes. I did not take one note. (Aside: I’ve linked to her blog where her insights of Melbourne illustrate this perfectly.)

Yvonne: my favourite ‘spellbound’ moment was truly when I stepped into the lobby of the hotel for the very first time. The chandeliers, the marble fountains, the majestic curving staircases—all so beautiful they just took my breath away…and will definitely be appearing in my next manuscript.

Paula: There were a few, from seeing my favorite authors and friends again, to chatting non-stop about writing and life. But I think my major moment came during Jo Beverley’s “conflict” workshop. She not only provided an excellent list but said they could also be used to avoid the dreaded sagging middle. Brilliant! Because as we know, life isn’t about solving our one major conflict, it involves varying degrees of stress and source of tension from family, friends, work, past relationships, etc.

Maxine: The Mills and Boon centenary segment entranced me from the moment they showed a picture of their very first published romance novel. As they went through the decades showing various covers, it was like looking back through a photo album that for a while left me with a lingering sense of the past. Then I realised that I’m now one of Harlequin’s authors and that I am honoured to be a share of such a wonderful kinship. It’s spellbinding!

Rachel: Being so brand new to Desire at this conference, I was spellbound by actually being a Desirabelle and joining such an incredible bunch of authors, some of whom I’d never met in the flesh before (though I was certainly acquainted with their heroines and heroes!). Their willingness to welcome me into the fold so warmly and openly really touched me.

Robyn: The official part of Awards Night was over. Everyone was celebrating and a lady I’d met at Melbourne’s last conference – Christine Darcas – came over and re-introduced herself. She’d been published this year with Hachette in women’s fiction, her dream. I stopped, looked around and recognised so many of my tenacious talented writer friends who’d been rewarded with contracts over the years. A truly magical, memorable moment. Pic: me with Anna Cleary, Kelly Hunter, Anne Oliver with Ally Blake and Nicola Marsh whose workshop I attended at the 2005 Melbourne conference.

There you have it, some special moments from our weekend conference. How about you — has anything captured you in a spellbound moment recently? Tell and you will be entered in the draw to win a three-pack of books by “Down Under” authors. Prize drawn Aug 31.


28 Responses to “Bronwyn Jameson, still Spellbound on Southbank”

  1. 1 LJ
    August 27, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful time Bron. I also saw two of my other favourite authors Nicola Marsh & Ally Blake in the pic, how cool to mix with other authors. One time I was at this conference where a photographer was displaying some of his work, and there was this one photo of a sunset in summer. The way the actual colours was captured it was breath taking.

  2. 2 azteclady
    August 28, 2008 at 1:03 am

    (where is Avi?)


    I was wondering where you all were (check your blog, Bron). It’s fun to see what you ladies have been up to!

    Over here in water logged central Florida, I’ve been held in thrall by the weather.

    Tropical Storm Fay managed to wander and meander around the state for a full week, dropping some 28″ of rain in my area during that time. Add some thunderstorms, gusts of strong wind… and you find your avocado tree laying on your lawn as if it were napping. The good news is that, with the ground so soggy, it didn’t seem to break any roots–looks like it simply shifted.

    So now I’m contemplating how to prop it vertical again–and in the next couple of days, before it does die!

  3. 3 Avi J
    August 28, 2008 at 1:51 am

    What a topic. I was spellbound when I held my nephew for the first time. There is just something about a new baby so tiny and perfect that really make you breathless and in awe.

  4. 4 Jane
    August 28, 2008 at 5:04 am

    My most recent spellbound moment was when I went to Vegas for a wedding. I’m from a big city with big lights, but Vegas was so bright and flashy it caught me by surprise to see it in person. I was in awe of the beautiful architecture of the hotels and casinos.

  5. 5 Dina
    August 28, 2008 at 6:19 am

    I am so glad I discovered this blog with so much of my favourite authors. I was spellbound when I had a class trip to paris and seeing the eiffel tower in person for the first time. It was magnificant.

  6. August 28, 2008 at 6:42 am

    LJ, you’re a gem 🙂

    The conference was fabulous and it was great catching up with the Desirabelles!

  7. 7 Gina
    August 28, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I was spellbound when my boyfriend took me to dinner to the most expensive restaurant in the city for valentine’s day, and he had this private dining room decorated in only red and white roses all over the room, it was a breathtaking sight. Just before dessert he bent down on one knee and proposed. I was so shocked I could only nod yes no words would come out. Twice in one night I was spellbound. LJ I agree Nicola and Ally are fantastic authors. So are the desireables authors (cute name for you guys) 😀

  8. August 28, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    yep, we’re baaaack! Now that conference season is over for another year, it’s back to the grindstone .

    Azteclady – OMG, you guys just keep getting hit, don’t you?

    Avi J – babies are amazing 🙂 Just teeeny, tiny versions of grown ups. My brother and dad were completely spellbound by my boy for simply ages (that was, until he started to randomly poo and vomit LOL)

    Jane – aaah, Vegas. On my last trip I got a beautiful panorama poster of Vegas at night, complete with lightning. I had it framed and it now sits in my hallway. Everytime I walk past I grin 😀

    ooooh, Gina! What a fab story! And welcome everyone to our guest drop-inners!

  9. 9 RobynL
    August 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Last weekend I was spellbound. We were visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Calgary, Ab. They went camping and we tagged along for one day and night. We went to Mount Kidd out at Kananaskis. The beauty of nature there overwhelmed me. The majestic mountains, the rippling brooks, the trees and the quiet stillness the night we were there. We star gazed sitting around a camp fire and the kids had Sparklers which uncle gave them. The quiet solitude was breath taking.

  10. 10 Fiona Brand
    August 28, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    What a wonderful write up of the Melbourne conference. Looks like a much better option than the one I took–staying in NZ with a head cold and a deadline! I love the pics, Melbourne, and the Langham look gorgeous, and I wish I could have been there to hear Barbara Samuels. The last time Barbara came to NZ she called in and visited me in what I call my ‘Enchanted Cottage.’ I rented that while I built the big, new, life-sucking-mortgage, house.
    We had tea and scones, she admired my grandmother’s bone china, and the view from my French doors, and then I had to release her. (Only kidding.) Bron, the pillow and the ginger lily spray sound just down my alley, too.
    My last spellbound moment happened today–the hero in my latest book finally lost his temper and finally I ‘get’ him. That might not sound like much, but to a writer, after 188 pages, it’s BIG. After weeks of unconvincing, boring behaviour, weak decisions, and frankly ‘girly’ behaviour, finally he’s a hero…

  11. August 29, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Oh wow, I love reading everyone’s spellbound moments. I find myself nodding and going ‘yeah’ and ‘aha!’–especially yours, Fiona! LOL on ‘releasing’ Barbara.

    Gina, that was one very romantic proposal. He sounds like a real keeper.

  12. 12 limecello
    August 29, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Awe – it sounds like everyone had a great time at the conference. And what great moments! I… have nothing to contribute. Last week was orientation for the 1Ls and with my new job I had to be there, and it’s been a trying fortnight. I feel like my brain is about to melt.
    But! There’s just… a different feeling with my third year. Maybe that’s a collective melt-ey thing?

  13. August 29, 2008 at 9:25 am

    LJ, many spellbound moments during my outback trip a couple years back were sunset related. That flat horizon, the richness of colour, the changes and the breadth and the silence. A photographer who can capture that…a magician.

    AL, oh noes. I can’t wrap my head around that much rain (lately it takes a couple years to get that much wetness in my part of the world.) During the Barbara Samuel voice workshop, one of the exercises was a list of things we love. Trees and avocados both appear on my list. :-/ I sure do hope your tree can be saved.

    Avi, awe. I haven’t had the pleasure–and it is an intense, spellbinding pleasure–of holding a newborn for quite a few years. But my niece has just shared the happy news. There will be happy new baby hugs next year. Happy sigh.

    Jane, when I visited Vegas we did the helicopter tour and the lights and crazy crazy structures…definitely spellbinding. The water fountain show as well.


  14. August 29, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Dina, isn’t the Eiffel Tower magical at night? Even in the day being there, seeing it for the first time, spellbinding.

    Hi Nic. Waving.

    Gina, what a guy! He definitely sounds as though he’ll deliver some spectacular special moments to your life together.

    Paula, I’ve been thinking the same way. Conference season is over, the grand final played and won, and now we get to sink back into our “normal” lives and put everything we’ve soaked up this past month into practice on the page. Lovely.


  15. August 29, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Robyn, I LOVE that part of the world. The Rockies truly are magical. I visited on my first trip to America in 2001. My sister-in-law who lives in Alberta took me camping after picking me up at Calgary airport. Many, many spellbinding moments but one I still remember clearly is coming across an elk. The first I’d see and he was a beauty, proud and regal. I swear he was thinking “what are you lookin’ at?!”

    Fiona, I am ever so jazzed to hear about your spellbinding moment because we all get to share. A classic Fiona Brand alpha hero. 🙂 Yippee!!!

    Limecello, hope things settle down and you get a chance to breathe and just be in the moment (a Barbara Samuel thing) sometime soon. Can I ask about “1Ls”? I’m guessing this is a college term but I may be way wrong.


  16. 16 Mia
    August 29, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Wow, so many lovely stories, A spellbound moment for me was when I went snorkling on a reef and the beauty of the exotic fishes and corals was amazing.

  17. 17 lisa
    August 29, 2008 at 10:59 am

    For me a spellbound moment was when I got to meet my favourite footballer locally at a charity dinner my best friend took me too. I was so shocked and excited , I was speechless. I never thought I would ever get the chance, but I was glad I was lucky.

  18. 18 azteclady
    August 30, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Paula and Bron, yes, Fay was like that dreaded houseguest from hell, the one who never leaves 😀 but it’s finally over.

    I managed to prop up the tree, after trimming the top third off (which is good, it was getting too top heavy, and the avocados were difficult to reach). So far, so good, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed until I see some budding and new leaves.

    I’m glad you guys had such a good time during conference season–even if it’s winter down there 😉

  19. 19 limecello
    August 30, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Bron – something like that! 1L’s = first year law students. We were sitting around talking about how it’s different internationally… and how most places give law degrees as an undergrad degree – but require an apprenticeship. Here in the states, you do the undergrad thing [4 yrs] and then law school [generally 3 yrs].
    This weekend is unfortunately just as busy as the previous, but I’m ever hopeful. My alarm went off this morning, and I was so out of it I almost turned it off. I literally thought “why is this happening?” – I’d completely forgotten I had class :X. Good thing I figured it out.

  20. August 30, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Hmm, that’s weird, I had a comment up on here yesterday and now it’s ka-poof! Gone :-(. Ah well, suffice to say, ladies, that I’m in awe of your spellbound moments. Particularly Gina’s romantic proposal.

    Azteclady, so glad things are looking good for the avocado tree.

    LImecello, I hear you on the alarm clock confusion. I’ve got to a stage now where, when I wake in the morning, I say in my mind “Today is Saturday the 30th of August” or whatever date it is. Otherwise one day just melds into the next and I lose track of time.

  21. August 30, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Mia, would you believe I have never snorkled? Scuba diving, yes, simple snorkling no. And that dive off Fiji was absolutely spellbinding.

    Lisa, meeting an icon like that can literally steal your breath and your sense and your ability to form coherent words. Hope you managed better than I do in that situation!

    AL, glad you’ve finally slammed the door on that unwanted houseguest and seen her on her way. And I love that you’ve seen the silver lining and grabbed those previously inaccessible avocados. Mmm, avocados…

    My #1 son is seriously considering returning to uni to study law next year. Guess that will make him a 1L. LOL.

    Yvonne, must have been a magical disappearing post. 🙂


  22. 22 kh
    August 30, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    gald u had a good time.

  23. 23 Mia
    August 31, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Bron, I would say you are much braver than me to go scuba diving. I always have this fear that the tank will run out of air while deep in the ocean. Add that to sharks unexpectedly showing up, its a no no for me 😀

  24. August 31, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Thanks, Kim. We sure did!

    Mia, not so brave with anything ABOVE ground. Skydiving, for example, you could not get enough people in one of those planes to push me out. Even those tall-building EDGE type “experiences” bring me out in a cold sweat thinking about them.

    Now, must draw my prizewinner…

  25. August 31, 2008 at 8:21 am

    The winner of this weeks three-pack by Down Under Authors is…


    Congratulations. And thanks everyone for finding us and sticking around while we were all away having fun. We’re back now and blog posts will be more regular.


  26. 26 azteclady
    August 31, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Congrats, Dina!

    Thank you, Bronwyn!

    (the tree seems to be doing well–let’s hope we manage to dodge the next few storms, so it strengthens it’s roots a bit)

  27. 28 Jane
    September 1, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Congrats, Dina.

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