All posts by Dionie

Riveting Reads Australia 2017

Riveting Reads Australia #RRA2017

Note: I am listed as Dionie McNair on the Attending Authors list.


Dionie McNair YA

Cassandra Hawke Romance (you’re already here)

Emily Tyler Fantasy with strong female protagonists

There’s More than Magic in Books


Like a magic carpet a book would spirit me away—away from the pain and relentless fear of the bully.

A quiet desk in the school library or behind a shady gum in a deserted corner of the school yard and a book were my refuge, my private place, my safe place.

Without books I honestly don’t think I would have survived.


So when I am asked why we read my instant response is escape, but the reasons we read whether consciously or unconsciously are far more complicated than a one word answer.

As a bit of an outcast I found companionship in books. Friends. Friends having adventures, experiencing joys and facing trials and reaching goals in their lives.  But book also opened up another world for me. The world of readers, book lovers like me. To find this circle of friends all you need to do to be recognized as kin is to open up your latest books and start reading. Someone will ask you about it, will have read it or desire to read it. Ice shattered.


All the time I was hiding in my books I never gave a thought to the other benefits I might be getting from the activity. I was unconsciously making me a better person, developing my ability to empathize with others, with experiences I had never been subject to.  I was finding out who I was in relation to the world and the characters in the books.  I could experience things, dangerous, exciting or stupid without having to suffer the consequences.

Books are a delightful important form of communication. Reading helps us develop language. Languages to explore and explain the world around us – books expand our language and our ability to interpret and understand different places and people.

History talks to us through books bringing a clearer perception of how things were and what shaped us as a society. We come to understand the other through books. Culture, race, language, grief and pain or joy and knowledge.

We fashion meaning for ourselves when we are touched by the attempts of others to find meaning in life. Our meaning is richer, our struggles more in depth and our answers clearer for having measured our attempts against others.

Our inner conversations are also deepened and enriched by our contact with books.  Imagination is unleashed and what we read shows us that we are not weird – not against the weirdness that others have written. New lands and creatures in a fantasy trilogy, science fiction way beyond our current time or urban fantasy, angels and demons, witches and vampires. Even some of the biographies and auto biographies send our minds wondering about the weirdness of the subject and some of the things they did.

But the gift from reading is not all about the intangible. Reading expands you language, vocabulary, understanding of words, spelling and grammar. This will be reflected in what you write or speak. You will be able to express yourself more succinctly about more subjects and with a deeper understanding. Your audience will also be able to better grasp your ideas and appreciate your knowledge.


 Not only does reading do all this but it also sharpens your focus increases your attention span, improves your smarts.

Exposure to many stories helps you formulate who you are, who you want to be and how you might get there. A deeper understanding of what it is to be different and that that is okay.  Books show you the way to a more fulfilled life a more social life.

On a social level having read books, fiction, nonfiction auto biographies, and memoirs of historical, self help builds social confidence. An ability and a readiness to partake in conversations.

Pick a book, any book or several books and reward, absorb and formulate an opinion – Oh what a conversation starter or filler. You won’t feel out of your depth.

The joy is there all you have to do is open a book–any book, any time, any place.

girl reading book beach

Reading Tricia Stringer: Dust on the Horizon


I make a point to read local writers whenever I can and I am rarely disappointed. I picked up this new novel by Tricia Stringer ‘Dust on the Horizon’ when I attended the Romance Writers of Australia conference. When I purchased the book I did not realize it was book two of a series.  My experience was it holds its own as a standalone. I think I will go back and get number 1.

Set in 1881 ‘Dust on the Horizon captures the beautiful, but unforgiving landscape of the Flinders Ranges, South Australia and the relentless hardships and heartbreak early settlers in the area faced.

The story chronicles the story of two families, the Baker’s and the Wiltshires’.  They share a dark history of greed and deceit, and stolen land and illegitimate children. As both families fight to survive in a harsh environment plagued by drought Joseph loses both his wife and his pastoral lease Smith’s Ridge at the hands of the unscrupulous and racist, Henry Whiltshire. But Henry has his own secrets and they come to haunt him in the form of half brother, Jack Aldridge. Born to an Aboriginal woman Jack is caught between two worlds. He is bitter and grasping, and seeks out his father’s family. He wants what Henry Wiltshire has and will stop at nothing to take it.

The lives of Henry, Jack and Joseph and the women they love become entwined in a ruthless battle for money, property and prosperity that will cost one of them their life.

I enjoyed Tricia’s writing and love the way she creates characters that jump off the page, make you care for them and stay with you long after the last page has been turned. I would highly recommend this book and look forward to book 3.



Beyond the Last Page of the Romance Novel

Love is complicated and powerful. We all seek it and what to hold onto it for a lifetime

demo kiss

But it can be found and then lost in a blink of an eye.

kathleen and Hugh Mackenzie

Why do some unions last and others—like a falling star, burning bright then are gone. Fizzled without a whimper or a final protest or blown to smithereens with a painful explosion that destroy all including good memories that leaves all involved bruised, heartbroken, bitter and afraid to try again.

Recently I read an article titled ‘Is Love Written in the Stars’ and a book called ‘The 5 Love Languages ‘and as a writer of romances and a believer in love at first sight, soul mates and enduring love I pondered the concepts presented and decided to find out what else was being toted about love.

The information pool is huge. So many have so much to say—experts, participants in relationships, the lovelorn and the brokenhearted.  And yet relationships crash and burn regularly.

Have these ‘gurus’ got it so wrong or are we just not taking any notice of what these people are saying, advising us, counseling us and writing books for us.

I ponder this—as a statistic, divorced after almost 20 years of marriage and still single after 20 more. I still believe in love—love at first sight, enduring lifetime love and exquisite lusty love.  One day it may come my way again. I have had plenty of time to reflect on my failure to have an enduring marriage, to hold onto that hope, that love, and that potential for the future.

With a daughter about to get married I muse on the subject and I am filled with hope that my daughter has found her true love and will be able to treasure it, grow it and enrich it for the rest of her life. It won’t be luck, or wishing or expecting, it will be hard work, giving 100%, sharing, and compromising to mention just a few.


Watch for my next post as I explore this very human condition of what our hero and heroine have to do after the last page of the romance novel has been turned.


Matching Heroes and Heroines




demo kiss

During the development stage of a new project In my writing I feel it is essential to fully know ones characters. Who they are; their culture, values, principles and where they would draw the line in the sand if forced to?  I also like to give each one little quirks and at least one trait that is easily recognizable to the reader.


I have often used a book on baby names with a short analysis of the zodiac signs in the back to shape my characters personalities.  It explains to parents what to expect of their child’s personality by what star sign they are born under. While it is not necessarily totally accurate (on assessing myself an Aries, I find both accurate and way off) but it is an interesting way to find personality traits for a character. It helps me keep it consistent and often offers traits that I might not think of.

The traits can be used as a source of conflict within the story, matching the characters to an occupation, giving them a temper or a natural sense of adventure. I enjoy the way I can drill down into each star sign and deepen my character’s personality so the reader can truly get to know them.

zodiac signs

Of course there is much written about star signs and their love/relationship compatibility with other signs? Some say opposites attract and there’s probably plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to support this. Does this opposition make it harder to maintain a relationship or does it just make it an interesting match.  Are people just naturally quiet, laidback or fiery or can it be attributed to their star sign?

The star signs of the zodiac are divided into four element categories. Fire, earth, water and air. Do these elements mix—what about fire and water? Personality wise would one extinguish the other?




Not according to one article I read. They propose that Aries (fire) and Pisces (water) are a perfect match, but suggest Virgo’s (earth) and Pisces (water) will make mud so romance is out. Mmmmm.  Aries with an Aries—loops an ego clash or Aries and Gemini (air) a delightful match, then there is Cancer (water), and Scorpio (water) also touted to be great matches. I would suggest if water and earth make mud, then fire and water would be a total disaster. But then that’s only my thoughts.  In my case Aries and Taurus—considered challenging.

There is much much more to be taken into account with astrology that I have little or no knowledge of but it is fun to match or mismatch my characters personalities according to the star signs.

 And what about the Chinese Zodiac—for example taking my year

charlotte July 07

Year of the Dog (1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030)

Dog people are noteworthy for their loyalty and honesty in any relationship. They also focus their interest in a specialty subject, giving their whole heart and soul into it, be it a hobby or a career. They stick strongly to their principles of fairness and justice, and they also have great creative problem-solving skills. Dog individuals are challenged most by their need to criticize and their innate nature of having “sharp tongues.” As friends and lovers, they can be very trustworthy, but with special someone’s, they can be quite unforgiving because they tend to hold grudges till they feel they have been appeased. They have a profound need for a good, long-lasting relationship, making them loyal for life especially when feel they have found their perfect mate.

I can only apply it to me—some fits some does not, But then again my ex-husband was also a Year of the Dog again some fits and some does not.

So what do you think?

lightning demo

I think perhaps we should be looking for that chemistry in the first instance then finding out if we have shared explicit or implicit fundamental beliefs, concepts, and principles that underlie and guide the decisions and behavior of each of us.  Some of the things that will hold us together when the first passion of being ‘in love’ fades. They say it lasts about 2 years. Of course reading the stars is an interesting side exploration into our potential life mate, I think it might be precarious to rely too much on what the stars predict even if it works for my heroines and heroes.


See how the chemistry unfolds in my books

Demolition of the Heart

red carpet award

Blood Ties a Broken Heart

Or for something different by Cassandra

Young Adult Novels written as Dionie McNair

The Abrasaxon’s Daughter Book 1 The Scorpion’s Heart (fantasy)

Finding the Upside of Down (realistic fiction about bullying, teenage suicide and finding a way through the pain)

Is there a measurement for true love?




mary and freerik

Last night I sat and watched TV. It is something I rarely do but the movie title caught my attention. ‘Making of a Princess’.  It was the story (dramatized, of course) of the romance between the Danish Prince Frederik and the commoner from Tasmania, (Australia) Mary Donaldson.

I’m an Aussie and fact or fiction or a combination of both, as I watched the drama unfold I began to realize just what this woman gave up to marry the man she loved. Her country, her family, her friends, her language, her privacy, in the event of divorce the right to take her children back to live in Australia.

There are so many things I love about Australia; the climate, the lifestyle, the beaches. It is my home.

I only speak English and I believe I would struggle to learn another language. I was married to a non Australian and the memories of trying to negotiate the cultural difference make me shudder even today, 20 years on.

And to marry into a royal family with its age old protocols, rules and expectations must have been daunting to the extreme. Never mind about the constant eye of the media and the need to be ‘groomed’ in the appropriate manner to behave. To have the weight of all the Danish citizens expectations upon your shoulders; their constant judgment, and the need to always present the royals in a favorable light.


Her love for Frederik must have been huge, her faith in him and in herself to maintain her love for a lifetime.  When she walked down that aisle there was no going back.


For most of us we believe we love our partners, but how big is that love.

I look at my romances and I ponder how big is the love my heroines have for the heroes. None of them has made an enormous sacrifice to be with the heroes. Yes they have gone and changed, but none of them have actually turned their back on their life as they know it and walked away hand in hand with the man they love.

As I write this I search my own heart. Could I do that, would I do that?  And to my shame I cannot say with certainty that I could. Perhaps then I have never been truly in love.


Is Mary Donaldson’s sacrifice (yes I know she was going to be a Princess) something I could emulate. Is it so huge it is out of reach of most of us? Do any of us love so deeply, so unwaveringly?


Would the sacrifice unbalance the relationship? Does Frederik feel he owes Mary? Does Mary feel she has given more than he? Ten years on they appear (for what it is worth) and are shown in the media to be still in love and a contented couple and happy family with their four children.

Did Mary have any regrets? Does she have them today? Does she ever ponder on the life she missed out on here in Australia because of her love for a prince or does her love for him still sustain her even today. Does their love enrich her, reward her and compensate her for what she left behind.

And as to my heroines – could I write one willing to make such sacrifices. Or my hero. Is the love I create in my pages equal to Federik and Mary’s?  I’m not sure and I would like to be.

BTS Red Carpet Awards

BTS logo finalist

I am delighted to announce my novel Demolition of the Heart has been chosen as a finalist in the mystery category. thank you to all my wonderful readers for voting for me.

demolitionoftheheart_800 (1)


If you enjoy Demolition then try my other two

Deathly Embrace



Blood Ties a Broken Heart