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Meet Golden Heart Finalist Kylie Griffin

kylie picGoing for Gold

What was your reaction when you found out you were a Golden Heart finalist?

Friday, 26th March 2010 is a day I’ll always remember. It was the day I almost hung up on the woman from RWA who rang to tell me I was a Golden Heart finalist. Yep, I’d been milliseconds from regret, heartache and idiocy.

Let me backtrack a few hours. With the time zone differences, March 26th was actually March 27th here in Australia, and a friend had dropped in that morning to ask me if I’d heard anything yet. (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of finalling but, the odds weren’t in my favor – yep, the see-saw ride of hope and doubt was working overtime here – so I told her that if I hadn’t heard anything by now then I wasn’t likely to.

About 2 pm the phone rang and I discovered a lady with an American accent and immediately assumed it was a telemarketer (most tend to have accents of some sort). I was about to tell her ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and hang up when she introduced herself and said she was from RWAmerica. For half a milli-second I wondered why someone from there would be calling me and then I broke out in goosebumps and heated up, all at the same time, and I knew.

She congratulated me on being a Golden Heart finalist, went through a heap of instructions. By the end I was horrified to realize I’d taken nothing in – I apologised and asked if she could repeat everything again (felt like Maxwell Smart). She laughed, saying ringing finalists and getting their reactions was the best part of her job.

Then, with the phone call over, I sat at my desk and cried. Tears of disbelief, tears of excitement, tears of pride. I was a Golden Heart finalist!

Why did you enter the Golden Heart?

Every year I set myself writing goals. Up until this year, I’d only entered RWOz and RWNZ competitions, so one of my goals was to enter some RWA contests, mostly to get feedback, sort of like putting my toe in the water. Entering the Golden Heart was a step in the right direction, but finalling was something I fully expected to take a couple of years. Getting that phone call this year just floored me.

What genre do you write? Do you have any favorite authors in this genre?

Paranormal romance, but more specifically sci-fi and fantasy romance. Where the interest came from is anybody’s guess because I’m the only member of my family who has this obsession with all things in this genre. Sometimes they claim I’m a changeling because of my love for everything paranormal. I grew up watching movies and TV series like Dr.Who, V, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and I stripped the local libraries of books written by JRRTolkein, Frank Herbert, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings…the list could go on.

I loved the world-building, the idea of escaping into these worlds (yes, I was one of those who stuck their head in a book whenever I had spare time), and creating my own adventures in my imagination. Putting them on paper was a natural extension. I suppose the first author to influence me was Anne McCaffrey. She introduced me to romantic elements in the genre, her characters resonated with me, and I really loved the idea of combining romance with the paranormal genre. So, that’s what I wrote.

As for favorite authors in the paranormal romance genre…the list could be a mile long, but those I really enjoy reading and are automatically on my MUST BUY list include Nalini Singh, Joss Ware, JR Ward, Denise Rossetti, Lora Leigh, Larissa Ione, Marjorie M.Lui, Eve Kenin, Angela Knight, Pamela Palmer and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Can you tell us a little bit about BLOODBORN – Book 1 in the Light Blade series?

BLOODBORN is about a half-demon woman, despised by both demon and human alike for her mixed blood, who offers freedom to human leader held captive in her sire’s fortress in exchange for his protection once they escape. She uses her divine-gifted powers to kill her own kind and free him. When they reach human territory, their uneasy alliance unveils a 500-year old secret and a love that changes both their lives and the destiny of three races.

Here’s the back cover blurb version of the story:

SEARCHING FOR ACCEPTANCE – Annika, a half-blood demon and daughter of the Na’Reish King, gifted with rare powers from the human deity know as the Lady, longs for more than her tormented life among the Na’Reish. Bred as a tool of retribution, she suffers abuse and humiliation at the hands of her father and his people for her Na’Chi – half-blood – status.

ON THE BRINK OF WARWith the Na’Reish outnumbering them two to one, Kalan, Chosen-leader of the humans and a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind is under threat and that their survival depends on him. Incursions into human territory and the raids for blood-slaves by the Horde have increased. As leader, he faces the difficult task of stopping them and convincing an inflexible Council of aging warriors to support his actions.

THE UNKNOWN FUTUREThe opportunity for escape comes when Annika learns that Kalan resides in her father’s dungeon. Striking a bargain with the Light Blade warrior, she agrees to help him escape in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory.

Together they discover a love that changes both their lives and the destiny of three races…

How long did it take you to write BLOODBORN?

Originally I only wrote three chapters of this book before putting it aside to finish another. I returned to it in January 2009 (in Australia, the summer school holidays are only 5 weeks long), and that was the same month my grandfather died. It wasn’t until the last week of January (the week before I had to go back to teaching) before time became available to work on it.

I was a wreck emotionally, but I needed an escape and this gave me it. As the school term resumed, and over the next few weeks, before school and in the evenings, I churned out nearly 70 000 words and finished the first draft. It wiped me out and was an experience I don’t think I’d like to repeat. I have to say though, the emotion on the pages, especially in the heroine’s POV, is the strongest I’ve written. It’s amazing what you can take from real life and use in your writing.

Of course since then BLOODBORN’s been through some major edits and serious polishing. So, all up the book took about six weeks from start to finish.

And lastly, are you coming to the RWA conference in Orlando, Florida?

Yes. I made myself the promise to go if I finaled in the Golden Heart (just never thought it would be this year *lol*). It’s my first conference and I’ve been told it’s huge compared to RWOz and RWNZ conferences. It sounds a little daunting (considering I’m not really used to huge crowds – I live in a small rural village of about 200 people) but I’m really looking forward to the experience.

I’m also excited to have the chance to meet some of my fellow-Unsinkables (2010 GH finalists). It’ll be great to put some faces to the names and personalities I’ve seen on our GH e-loop. 

I’ve been to the USA twice before but never had the chance to visit Florida. If I have time, I’m going to sneak in a visit to DisneyWorld and see how it compares to Disneyland 🙂 ! 

 

 

BIO: Kylie Griffin lives in a small, rural village in the northwest of NSW, Australia, with three fuzzy, feline friends. She’s an aspiring author disguised as a primary school teacher who writes sf/f/paranormal romance. She writes articles and interviews for RWNZ’s Heart to Heart magazine and has three short stories in the RWA Little Gems Emerald and Pearl Anthologies under her given name of Kylie Short. In her spare time, she’s a volunteer with the NSW Rural Firefighter, the SES and Community First Responder program. She loves to travel the world, camera in hand, and these experiences spark her imagination and contribute details for her books.

Kylie’s a multiple finalist in RWAustralia, RWNZ and RWAmerica competitions and has won or placed in the RWAmerica Emily, Sheila and Yellow Rose, RWOz Emma Darcy, RWOz Emerald:Single Title and Valerie Parv Award, the RWNZ Clendon Award, and been a dual recipient of the Clendon Readers’ Choice Award. She’s ecstatic to be an RWA 2010 Golden Heart finalist.

65 responses to “Meet Golden Heart Finalist Kylie Griffin”

  1. 2010 Golden Heart Finalist says:

    Welcome, Kylie! Thanks so much for joining us! It’s just now striking me that it’ll be nighttime for you when most of us in the U.S. are leaving comments…the conversation today may feel like a bit of a tape delay!

    I was really moved by what you said in your post about how your grief over losing your grandfather was translated into your writing.

    If you ever get a chance to listen to Eloisa James’ Awards Luncheon speech from the 2009 Nationals, definitely do (I know it’s available as a recording…somewhere). She spoke about how real experiences of fear and loss in her life found their way into her novels, and how the fictional moments that got created are the ones readers always report to her as having moved them, made them cry.

    When people who don’t actually read romance dismiss it as cookie-cutter, I don’t think they realize how the best romances emerge out of real feeling, and engage real feelings.

    There are a million other things I’d like to ask you about (like have you ever had to actually FIGHT a fire???) But I’ll save the rest for Orlando!

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      LOL – yes, the time delay thing could prove a little dodgy but I shall do my best (BTW it’s now 7.45pm here if you’re wondering).

      Yes, I’ve been to quite a few fires as a volunteer RFS member – a lot of lightning struck grass-fires, a couple of major bushfires and a several house fires (the closest being right next door. It was so hot it melted the solder out of my aluminium water-tank, and some of the nails in the tank stand. Almost lost my house – the only thing that saved it was my colourbond fence. It reflected a lot of the radiant heat so our firefighters could get in close enough to keep water on the walls and roof of my house and stop it combusting).

      I’m looking forward to coming over to Orlando and meeting everyone! 🙂

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      • Elise Hayes says:

        Wow, the fire sounds like an amazing story–thank goodness for that fence! For a number of years I lived in Southern California, which has its own wildfire season, so I have a huge respect for folks who fight brushfires.

        Congrats on the GH final, Kylie–and enjoy every minute of the conference!

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      • 2010 Golden Heart Finalist says:

        Melting nails and solder–yikes!!!

        Yes, that had better make it into a book somewhere!!

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  2. Welcome, Kylie! You’re one of those people I think about often and go, “Will someone publish this girl’s incredible stories already?!” Truly, Kylie, you’ve paid your dues and I would dearly love to see your books alongside those of Nalini Singh and the rest of your idols.

    You’ll have a ball at Nationals! See you there!

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hey Vanessa,

      Man, this date is creeping up fast. Being absorbed in a WIP helps, but the hours seem to fly too fast! 🙁

      I’d LOVE to be just like Nalini when I grow up – there’s a bumper sticker in that somewhere, I’m sure 🙂 .

      I’ve been following the “Genre” topic on the 2010GH loop with interest and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before someone likes my work enough to take it on. Meanwhile I’ll continue cultivating patience.

      And yes, I’ll catch up with you in Orlando, Vanessa!

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      • Kylie Griffin says:

        I forgot to share one of my favourite quotes that I have tacked to my office wall! Your comment, V., reminded me of it.

        “Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have no choice but to believe in you.” (Cynthia Kersey)

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  3. Welcome, Unsinkable sister!

    Ah, David Eddings. An all time favorite of mine. Loved that he showed up on your list. Your book sounds fascinating. Just based on the blurb, it’s clear you have a solid handle on world building. I always thought that was the toughest part of doing really excellent sci-fi and fantasy. I’m looking forward to reading it one day!

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hi Elisabeth,

      The Belgariad series by DE was my absolute favourite of his works. I still have those books on my shelf some twenty–(mumble)–years after I bought them. I don’t know how many times I’ve read them but they’re among my “keepers”.

      Ahh, world-building – conveying the things you imagine in your head is a challenge but one I relish whenever I start a WIP.

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      • Belgariad!

        I adored that series. I didn’t begin reading high fantasy and sci-fi until after college, when my husband introduced me to Dune. I had grown bored with everything in the general fiction aisle, and was shocked and delighted to discover a whole new category of novels to devour.

        I’m reading Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series right now and enjoying it.

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        • Kylie Griffin says:

          I devoured the Dune series. I hope they do a remake of the 80’s movie some day.

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  4. Helene Young says:

    Hi Kylie, congrats on being a GH finalist! Love your quote from Cynthia – I might have to borrow that one!

    Enjoy the conference and I’ll have fingers and toes crossed for you!!

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hey Helene! It’s great to see you here! CK’s quote IS a good one and worth pinning on your wall, so pilfer away!

      Just cross your toes and legs for me – keep your fingers free to type on your keyboard! 🙂 It’s great to have so much support from everyone – there’s such a contingent of “coming in-spirit’s” heading to Orlando with me I’ll have to request a spare table! *lol*

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  5. Michelle de Rooy says:

    Hello, Kylie!!

    I can’t believe the RWA conference is so close! Im seriously envying you your trip, lol. No need for me to say how much I enjoy your writing – you’ve heard it many times; and no, it won’t be long before someone says, “Hang on, how did we miss this?”

    Just remember, I want signed hardcovers… 🙂

    I look at your list of authors who influenced you, and have a laugh, then look up at my bookshelves above me. Yup. There they are…

    Once my world building reaches the right heights, I’m hoping mine will be right there alongside yours in the bookstore!

    Good luck! Knock ’em dead, girl.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Chelle, my kindred spirit in book reading, thanks for dropping in. 😀

      I glanced at the calendar today and realised the RWA conference is only 24 sleeps away! That’s going to fly so quickly and I’ve so much to do before I go.

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  6. Theresa from RWAustralia and the Paranormal Group says:

    Hi Kylie!

    You go girl! I am so excited that you are one of the finalists.

    Your story about your writing journey brought tears to my eyes.

    I love how you almost hung up on the lady from America.

    Go and wow the yanks!

    Theresa

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hi Theresa – you must have been up late! You’re the first from our RWOzParanormal group to come calling.

      I’m mortified to think I almost hung up on the RWA caller! I was soooo engrossed in what I was doing – you know how it is when you get tied up with something and hate being interrupted until you’re done? – well that’s how I was when the phone rang. Of course, my attitude soon changed…LMAO 😀

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    • I’ve got to say, it’s always strange when I hear Americans referred to as Yanks!

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  7. Hope Ramsay says:

    Hey Kylie,

    Welcome, Unsinkable Sister, to the Ruby’s blog. I’m looking forward to meeting you in Florida.

    Your book sounds wonderful. I would buy it. I may write small town sweet romances, but I read SF and fantasy probably more than anything else. David Eddings and JRR Tolkein sit on my shelf of keepers — along with every one of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth saga.

    I was surprised not to see fellow Australians Sara Douglass and Juliet Marillier on your list of faves. I have to say both of these ladies have made my MUST BUY list. And the way Women Australian authors have been cracking the U.S. fantasy market, I would say it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be putting you on my Must Buy list, too.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      It’s going to be a pleasure to meet you too, Hope, and thanks for your encouraging words – here and as a judge (in another comp. *grin*). My greatest pleasure is hearing that you’ve enjoyed reading my work – task accomplished!

      I have to admit reading straight SF or fantasy takes a back-seat to SRF or FR but I do go back and read my old favourites sitting on my bookshelf every so often.

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  8. Gillian says:

    Congratulations on the GH final, Kylie, and your story sounds amazing. Can’t wait for some publisher to snatch it up! 🙂

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  9. MaryC says:

    Congrats on your final, Kylie. It’s always so much fun to read GH call stories. Hope you have a fabulous time in Orlando. Best of luck to you.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Mary, you’re not coming to Orlando? Darn!

      It’s going to be an exciting week – I’m glad there’s 2 weeks in between RWA and the RWOz conference – I think I’m going to need it to recover! 🙂

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  10. Kylie, your reaction to your phone call was priceless. I still remember my first call, followed immediately by a second call. My response to the second was “NO WAY!” This year is my sixth time as a finalist, and I was still over the moon when I got a call. I can’t imagine how excited I’ll be WHEN (note, I didn’t say IF) I get a call for an offer on one of my manuscripts.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Laurie, what a thrill that would have been getting two calls in one year! And for this to be your 6th final! Congrats! Did you do something special to celebrate that achievement?

      Being a GH finalist I went window shopping at a jewellers and bought a golden heart necklace as a memento, which you’ll see me wearing on THE night. 😀

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      • Tamara Hogan says:

        I bought…shoes. A pair of ruby red ankle boots, to be exact. 😉

        Congrats on your GH final! Your book sounds fabulous, and I can’t wait to read it. Looking forward to meeting you and all the Unsinkables in Orlando! (Look for the sparkly Ruby Slipper pins.)

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        • Kylie Griffin says:

          I like the idea of marking special occasions with something nice. Doesn’t have to be jewellery.
          When I won my first writing competition I bought a new laptop.
          When I graduated as a Level 1 ambulance officer I purchased a decent watch (with a second hand to use on call outs when taking patient’s pulses and respiratory rates).
          Has anybody else bought some sort of memento?

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  11. Hey Kylie! You’re having an awesome year with your writing! Congratulations on being an Unsinkable! My fingers and toes are crossed for you in Orlando!

    🙂
    Sharon

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Oh, Sharon, the same advice I gave Helene – don’t cross your fingers! You’ll need them to keep writing your HM&B books! Thanks for popping in to say g’day!

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  12. Kylie Griffin says:

    I’m off to bed now (it’s 11.15pm). Be back on deck in about 7 hours. ‘Night all! 🙂

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  13. Congrats! Enjoy the ride!

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  14. Liz Talley says:

    Welcome, Kylie (Love your name btw)

    Loved hearing your GH cal story – your personality shines through the words. It had a lilting, charming tone, so I was surprised to see your story had half-demons in it. 🙂

    And just remember when you get to Nationals – you’re in a huge room with people just like you. So plop down into a empty chair and don’t worry that you feel out of place. Chances are the lady next to you feels the same way 🙂

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hi, Liz, thank you for the welcome.

      Had a laugh at the opposing impressions comment – light & charming vs. demon characters – I’ve had other people comment on the same thing. I just tell them it’s my split personalities coming out in me *lol* 😛

      Kylie is actually an Australian Aboriginal word (from a tribe in Western Australia) – it means ‘little boomerang’. An Aboriginal man told me that during a school excursion when I was a child.

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  15. Kylie, I love the depth and breadth of the tale you describe, and have little doubt that you’ll soon find your home at Tor! Best of luck to you in July.

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  16. Vivi Andrews says:

    Pern! Valdemar! The Belgariad! You just named the authors that first got me hooked on reading. 😀 And your MUST BUY list is like the paranormal page of mine. Have you read Eileen Wilks, Kresley Cole, Patricia Briggs or Gena Showalter?

    Best wishes with the Golden Heart, Kylie, and a long, prolific career.

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    • …and they’re the books that got me re-hooked on reading in my post-college years. I honestly, truly, completely had no idea that those silly-looking sword-and-sorcery books would be so darned good.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      G’day Vivi,

      I wish some movie studio would buy the rights to the Pern series and make them – they’d be spectacular!

      I’ve only just ‘discovered’ Gena Showalter and haven’t read any of the other authors you mentioned – so many books, so little time. My To Be Read pile is groaning! 🙁

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  17. Lee Lopez says:

    Congrats…This is only the beginning.

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  18. Shea Berkley says:

    Hey Kylie. Welcome to the Ruby Blog. I love learning more about the Unsinkables.

    From your book description, I can tell you love world building. Most of us who like Sci-fi/Fantasy are drawn to that feeling of a different place and time aspect. My daughter is a huge, huge, huge sci-fi reader and since she works at a bookstore, I get plugged into great authors. It’s my wish to see your book on the shelves soon. All the best to you, and I’ll see you in Orlando.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hi, Shea, it’s great to be visiting the RSS blog!

      Oh, your daughter works at a bookstore – sigh – how wonderful, and what an excuse to go visit your children??? 🙂 I love walking into a bookstore – can’t leave one in under half an hour and with at least one (or four) books in my hands!

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  19. Congrats on being a GH finalist and good luck!!! Really truly can’t wait until your books are on the shelves.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Hey, Eleni! (another Aussie drops in!) Thanks for your well wishes – see you at conference.

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  20. Kim Law says:

    Welcome Kylie!!!! Your GH story brought tears to my eyes!!! It’s so exciting getting that call.

    I hope the trip and conference are fabulous for you, and of course, good luck at the awards ceremony! May you hear your name called out as the winner 🙂 Walking up on that stage is the greatest!!

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Kim, thank you for your lovely words. I really believe all the Unsinkables are winners already (no matter what happens on the night) – there’s nothing more satisfying than discovering readers like your book, unpublished or published.

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  21. Hi, Kylie and welcome to the RSS blog. Congrats on your GH final. I love your call story. It gave me goosebumps,recalling my own call story. I too thought the RWA lady wa a telemarketer.

    I wouldn’t be Orlando to meet you, but many of my darling RS sisters will be. Enjoy. You’re in for the time of your life.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      G’day, Autumn. Had a giggle at your mistaking the RWA lady as a telemarketer too – I wonder how many finalists have actually had this happen AND who actually hung up on them? ;-D

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  22. rita says:

    Your book sounds great. Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando. Disney Word is a whole different ball of wax. Huge against it’s California sister.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Rita, I’ve been surfing the WDW resort site and my jaw keeps hitting the ground – the place is HUGE! When will I have time to fit in a trip to see the Magic Kingdom???? I’ve just got to get there!

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  23. Kris Pearson says:

    Woken up yet Kylie? It’s 9.15 here in New Zealand, so maybe you’re still asleep.
    I’m enjoying the comments, and thought I’d add personal best wishes for a fantastic trip to Florida. See you in Sydney and Auckland (sadly not Florida!)

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Kris! My Bi50D loopie buddy! Great to see you here! 🙂

      Umm, 9.15am – yep, I’d have still been in bed at 6.15am, with my hot water bottle tucked between my feet, three cats piled on top of my feet, hiding from the cold, icy wind howling around outside! But the good news is that the sun is now shining, even if the wind remains.

      Looking forward to catching up with you in Sydney and Auckland!

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  24. Great interview, Kylie. Have a fun flight and I’ll look for you in Florida.

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Clarissa, if you do spot me, please wander up and say hi – I’ll be the one looking bewildered and bemused by the huge crowd. :-O Would love to meet you!

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  25. Congratulations Kylie, and thanks for sharing your GH call story. Your writing looks so interesting. Hope to meet you in Orlando.

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  26. Addison Fox says:

    Kylie:

    Congratulations on your final!!! SO glad you’re here visiting with us today.

    I hope to see you in Orlando and I look forward to cheering you on!!!

    Addison

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Thanks, Addison, it’s great to be on the RSS blog – there’s been some excellent posts since I started visiting here. It’s been really useful to read about what every one’s been through, note your advice and learn from your knowledge.

      Look forward to meeting you, too.

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  27. Elisa Beatty says:

    Thanks for being here today, Kylie!

    And I’m glad to know you’ll be there with your firefighting skills if the resort has an outbreak of wildfires!

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Good grief! A fire at WDWS&D resort!
      I’d hate to see any of the cabana’s go up in flames – but at least there’s plenty of water close by in the pools. *lol* Don’t think I’d be fighting them though – too busy making sure everyone evacuated safely! 🙂

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  28. Kylie,

    Your book sounds amazing! I devoured the Pern books in high school, and I can’t wait until my oldest is ready for them as well (she’s nine, and can probably wait a few years).

    SOOOO glad you didn’t hang up on the RWA lady, because I’m really looking forward to meeting you in Orlando. And while I hope there’s absolutely no need to do any fire-fighting at Disney, thanks for doing it on your side of the world. I have read about how fast-moving and intense fires are during your summer, and it’s a dangerous and noble thing you’re doing (not to mention the teaching. Equally dangerous, I suspect, in a different way…)

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    • Kylie Griffin says:

      Erica, one of the greatest things you can do is pass on a fantastic book to another person. I love addicting others to a good author, and Anne McCaffrey is GOOD. I hope your daughter enjoys reading her work when she’s a little older.

      Thank you for your comments on volunteer work. It certainly has its rewards. Living in a small community where services are non-existent (or over 80kms/50miles away), this is something I believe is important (hence the wearing of many hats as mentioned in my bio).

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