Aug 13, 2014 - Release Day    3 Comments

Release Day post – Fresh Beginnings by Iris Blobel

Last week saw the release of Iris Blobel’s latest book, Fresh Beginnings. Congratulations Iris!

iris_freshbeginnings

I’ll let Iris tell you about the story…

The small town of Hobart in Tasmania has witnessed many beginnings in recent years. At yet one more beginning, the wedding of a friend, Jared Fraser decides it’s time for some fresh beginnings to come his way… And he sets out for a holiday to the US to travel along the Route 66 in a motorhome.

Ivy Bennett thought leaving her boyfriend would be the hard part. It doesn’t take long to figure out how wrong she was. As she struggles with making a new start in her life, the last person she expects to lead her to happiness is a laid-back Australian on holiday.

Then the arrival of family friend Mia Levesque and her boyfriend, Josh, turns Jared’s holidays upside-down when he’s forced to play arbitrator between the two teenagers.

It sounds great. Iris has had a very interesting life herself!

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her dog. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

You can buy Fresh Beginnings at the following places:

Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1y0N4bo

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1s7xTiq

 

And you can find Iris in lots of places around the internet!

My Blog: www.iris-b.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/irisblobel

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4067254.Iris_Blobel

Twitter: @_iris_b

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/iblobel/

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/107759085454255573026/posts

 

Finally, here is an excerpt of Fresh Beginnings to tease you…

FreshBeginnings-IrisBlobel“G’day!” He stared at her and for some reason something tugged at his heart. Not that he wanted that. He had no room for women, let alone American ones. They all were on earth to make life complicated. Mark was constantly running around for Sophie or Hope, even though Mark’s wife was one in a million and little Hope was simply adorable, especially when she was asleep.

“Ya know it’s dangerous to hitch a ride,” he finally said when she was still quiet.

She stared at him for a moment, but then replied with the typical American twang in her voice. “I know you said something, but I have no idea what.”

He chuckled. “It is dangerous to hitchhike,” he repeated with exaggerated pronunciation.

The woman stepped a bit closer to the window. “Are you from Austria?”

He laughed aloud.

“Australia, I meant,” she added, seemingly embarrassed by the mistake.

“I am indeed.” He watched her looking ahead towards the horizon. “So you wanna hitch a ride?”

Jared had a feeling she didn’t want to, but her current situation didn’t give her many choices. There they were in the middle of nowhere, with the next place a fair few miles away.

“Name’s Jared,” he said and then he opened the door and walked around the motorhome. Leaning against the vehicle, he looked at her. She was pretty. Thin, but pretty. When her brown eyes met his, he experienced another one of those heart tugs and wasn’t impressed at all. He tried to look right past her. It wasn’t happening though. They were like magnets.

“Jared,” he repeated and held out his hand.

Her look went right past him into the distance, and he assumed she was fighting with herself, part of her wanting to get off the road, the other part being worried.

“Anybody else travelling with you?” she asked quietly.

He shook his head. “Nope.”

She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and, after a brief moment, reached for his hand. “Nice meeting you.”

Acknowledging that she wasn’t much into sharing details like her name, he opened the door for her. “Where are ya headin’?” he asked.

A smile started in her eyes and played with the corner of her lips. He felt himself smiling back. There was an appreciation in her smile.

“Could you drop me off at the next stop?” she asked hesitantly.

“Most certainly, but where are ya headin?”

She shrugged. “Kingman?”

“Is that on this road?”

Nodding, she said. “Yes, it is. It should be less than a hundred miles along this highway.”

“Then hop in.”

She turned to get into the motorhome, and he took in her small stature and the narrow shoulders which seemed even smaller in her tight, red T-shirt. Jared noticed her cargoes were just hanging onto her hips. A nice steak wouldn’t go astray on these hips. Suddenly she stopped and moved to look at him. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“No worries mate.”

Jared held her gaze and wasn’t sure what to say or do. She simply stood in front of him like frozen.

“My name is Ivy,” she said after a long moment.

“Hedera. An evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woody plant in the family Araliaceae.”

With a frown, she stared at him. “I really didn’t understand that one.”

He laughed. “Sorry, mate. I got carried away. I’m a landscaper. Ivy is a climbing plant.” Scratching the back of his head, he added, slightly self-conscious, “And, of course, a beautiful name.”

There was a small laugh as she stepped into the motorhome. He went around and slid behind the wheel before driving back onto the road. There was a long silence, and Jared wasn’t really sure what to do or say. Usually, he was good with silence. Actually, he loved it. But at that moment, the silence made him uncomfortable.

“So, what brings ya out into the middle of the sticks?”

When there was no reply, he turned and looked at her. There was a big frown on her face, and he sighed.

“I thought you all speak English as well?”

“We do,” she said with a slight giggle. “But I’m not so sure about you Australians.”

With a grin he replied, “Now, don’t be cheeky, Ivy.”

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, my mom always said.” She laughed. “No way would I make fun of you.”

“So, you’re expectin’ a meal as well?”

There was a moment of silence again, and he glanced over. The smile was gone and panic was written all over her face.

“I… I didn’t—”

Quickly he reached out for her hand. “I’m pulling your leg.” And when she didn’t reply again, he muttered, “This thing with you Americans not understanding English is turning into a problem. I was kiddin’.”

“Pulling your leg?” She shook her head. “Never heard of it.”

A bark of laughter filled the small space. “Anyway. Talkin’ about food. There’s a small place ahead. Want some lunch?”

 

Good luck with Fresh Beginnings, Iris!

 

Jul 29, 2014 - Guest post    12 Comments

What’s Susanne Bellamy’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m excited to welcome Susanne Bellamy, Australian contemporary romance author.

Welcome to my blog, Susanne. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

2011 - headshotsI love travel—new places, new faces, different cultures and endless possibilities. I’ve cruised from Australia to Britain and back through the Suez Canal when I was a child, trekked in Nepal and Vietnam, lived briefly in Noumea, visited western Europe and west coast America among other places. Let me repeat—I love travel! And history.

People’s stories fascinate me. Past and present lives and relationships and the mysterious ways Fate works. Even how I met my husband—Fate. Wonderful and mysterious.

And so my stories explore people engaging with the mate that Fate created for them. And the wonderful and mysterious ways in which they meet. I should probably thank the flat-mate who locked me out of my new house years ago which led directly to meeting my husband. But that’s another story!

And one I’d love to hear someday :) Do you have a passion other than writing? 

If Music be the food of love

Musicals and all that goes with them have been a life-long passion. My love for dance in its many forms began at the age of four. For the next thirteen years until I went to uni, I pirouetted and arabesqued, bent and stretched my body. I darned pink ballet stockings and dabbed metho on toes sore from being en pointe. I didn’t end up becoming a proper ballerina in a company but my love of dancing led me to challenge myself to learn new skills of directing and stage choreography when I stepped into the world of school musicals.

How long have you been involved in your passion?

King and IAs far back as I can remember my family used to watch musicals on television. The earlier ones in black and white featured Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald but big, brilliant colours and fabulous dance numbers were my favourites—‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’, ‘An American in Paris’, ‘Gigi’; my list is very long. My father had a great voice and my mother could make costumes like a dream. (She used to work for a top London couturier). It seems natural that I followed a similar path, albeit as a passion rather than a career. Believe me, if I had a voice, I’d have chased the dream!

Wow, sounds like a talented family! What is it about musicals that brings a sparkle to your eye?

Wonderful stories, conflict that seems like it will never be resolved (but it almost always is) and music that stays with me long after the final notes die away. I think musicals have much in common with romance writing in their structure, especially the ability to take me away on a magical journey for two hours. Their protagonists, as with romance novels, must deal with conflicts and obstacles on the way to attaining their HEA, and they sing (and dance) some of the finest musical numbers written while on that journey. Of course, there are bittersweet moments for major and secondary characters too. Maria loses her love in the 1960’s New York set Romeo and Juliet tale, ‘West Side Story’. Often, though, it is the poor secondary characters who fail or fall along the way; Tuptim in ‘The King and I’, Liat in ‘South Pacific’. Their failure to hold onto love or their lover creates a poignant contrast to the main love story.

Do you have a funny story about something that’s happened to you while involved in your passion?

On the final night of our production of ‘The King and I’, we set the stage for the big death scene. Wives and children filled the stage and the atmosphere was poignant as the king’s big finale approached. Then the bed leg broke.

However, in true show biz tradition the show must go on. Several of  the young and enthusiastic backstage crew crawled underneath and held the bed up on their backs. I admire the young man who played the king of Siam for his steadfast playing of that scene while the bed beneath him rocked. He didn’t miss a beat.   

Ha! Classic! 

You have a new release out in a couple of days – would you like to tell us about it?

EngagingTheEnemy_FinalcoverMy next release is Engaging the Enemy which releases on 1 August.

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems.

 Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

You can purchase Engaging the Enemy at the following places:

Escape: http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9780857991768#popup

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com.au/Engaging-The-Enemy-Susanne-Bellamy-ebook/dp/B00LGDXHZA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404452861&sr=8-1&keywords=9780857991768

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/engaging-the-enemy/id895324558?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9780857991768

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/engaging-the-enemy-5

Thanks for being my guest today, Susanne and good luck with Engaging the Enemy!

You can find Susanne through these links:

  1.  Facebook        https://www.facebook.com/susanne.bellamy.7
  2. Twitter            https://twitter.com/SusanneBellamy
  3. Website           http://www.susannebellamy.com/
  4. Pinterest          http://www.pinterest.com/susannebellamy/

 

Jul 22, 2014 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Bubble baths and time out…

bubblebath

 

I LOVE a good bubble bath. I used to have baths fairly regularly BC (before child). Then while I was pregnant, it was too hard to get in and out of the bath, so I stopped. When my son was small, he was an horrendous sleeper and our bathroom is right near his room. Once I finally got him asleep, there was no way on earth I was going to do anything – ANYTHING – that might wake him! (And anyone who has had a small child knows they can’t have a bath in peace while said child is awake!) So regular bubble baths were put off even longer until eventually they became a once in a blue moon thing.

A few months ago, I started working through The Artist’s Way with a few friends, and one of the main tenets of Julia Cameron’s system is to have a weekly Artist’s Date – spending time doing something for yourself that feeds your soul. I’ve done things like taking an hour to myself to go somewhere nice, wander around and take photos, or spending time browsing a second-hand bookstore or library, or going to the beach and sitting. But I’ve also added in Sunday night bubble baths.

I fill the bath with hot water, bubble bath and / or bath salts, (never a shortage in my house with relatives who love to buy me “smelly stuff”), light a scented candle, turn off the lights and just lie there, letting my thoughts drift.

In those drifting times, I have blog post ideas pop into my mind (like this one!), plot twists and tangles unravel themselves, characters arrive and talk to me. I let go of the stresses of my week and prepare my mind for the week to come. I reflect.

By taking time out, I’ve improved my state of mind and increased my productivity.

Coincidentally, while I was writing this, a TED talk came to my attention. This guy closes his studio every 7 years and takes a year long sabbatical, and talks about how worthwhile that has been for him. Definitely worth thinking about, even on a smaller scale like taking off one month every year.

 

 

Do you take regular time out? What’s your favourite way to feed your soul? Are you a bubble bath lover like me?

Jul 15, 2014 - Uncategorized    21 Comments

What’s Suzi Love’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m excited to welcome Suzi Love, Australian author of historical romance, sexy to erotic!

Welcome to my blog, Suzi. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?

After spending many years in developing countries in the South Pacific, I now live in the city I was born in – Brisbane.

My greatest loves are traveling, anywhere and everywhere, meeting crazy characters, and visiting the Australian outback.

Suzi Love blending in with the locals in an Australian mining town.

Suzi Love blending in with the locals in an Australian mining town.

I adore history and my aim is to make history fun for my readers so I create heroes and heroines who challenge traditional manners, morals, and occupations, either through necessity or desire. I write about roguish heroes and feisty heroines, and I love setting my books in the many-layered societies of the Regency and early Victorian eras.

If you want to see what I get up to each day, take a look at my Rebel Mouse Magazine or my Suzi Love Daily Paper.

Suzi Love Magazine - Suzi Love’s Daily Gossip Newspaper

A daily paper? I’m impressed! Tell us, Suzi, do you have a passion other than writing? 

Yes, as my family and friends will tell you, I have an addiction. I’m addicted to history and museums and I indulge my passion wherever, and whenever, possible.

That sounds like a healthy addiction to me :) How long have you had a history addiction?  

My passion for learning about other eras and how people lived during them started in high school history classes when I decided that being an archeologist and flitting around the world and digging up history in exotic locations sounded like an idyllic life. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone to fund my expensive dream.  So I learned to indulge my passion in a much cheaper fashion e.g. via books, photos, and TV. And with visits to museums and historic places whenever the bank manager says it’s possible.

I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid too! What is it about history and museums that brings a sparkle to your eye? 

Testing the water at the Roman Baths, Bath, UK.

Suzi testing the water temperature at the Roman Baths in Bath

There is nothing like the feeling of standing in the foyer of a huge museum and deciding which themed wing to visit first. Will I visit Egypt and oooh and aah over the gold and jewels from a pharaoh’s tomb? Or lace myself into a Regency corset and add the requisite layers of petticoats and gown and see if I can still walk?

And visiting historic places in person changes your view of the world. Perhaps testing the water temperature in England’s Roman Baths, or climbing past row upon row of open ‘graves’ dug into a Papua New Guinea hillside, or peering into Vanuatu’s deep blue water where millions of dollars of used military equipment was ‘dumped’ after WW II, or panning for gold on Australia’s historic goldfields.     

Oh I want to go to the Roman baths! And don’t get me started on Egypt :) Do you have a funny story about something that’s happened to you while involved in your passion? 

I’ve often become an ‘unofficial tour guide’ when visiting an historic place or a museum with family or friends. If it’s an era I love and know about, they ask me lots of questions. But then I notice that our group has doubled, or tripled, in size because other tourists have come to listen and sometimes even ask me questions.  I explain that I’m not really a tour guide, but maybe I should just hold out the tip jar instead.

Yes, I think you should hold out the tip jar! 

 

Thanks for being my guest today Suzi!

You can find Suzi at one of her many web places and say hello!

Web

Face Book

Face Book Page

Twitter

Pinterest

Google +

Fun Fact Friday – what is cute?

Warning – this blog post contains videos of cute puppies and kittens…

OK, don’t say I didn’t warn you :)

First of all, watch this gorgeous video of puppies and kittens squeezing themselves into some unusual spaces:

 

And here’s the fun fact part: why do we find puppies & kittens cute? Watch this vSauce video to find out why and how to make even a hammer cute!

Jul 8, 2014 - General    No Comments

Celebrate your achievements

awesome

You know how sometimes the universe decides you need to learn a lesson, and everywhere you turn, you seem to be slapped across with that information? Like when you decide to buy a yellow swimsuit (no, not me!) and suddenly you see yellow swimsuits and ads for yellow swimsuits and even interviews about yellow swimsuits everywhere. Apparently its fancy name is “Frequency Illusion”.

So when things like that happen to me, I sit up and take note.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of articles and listening to a lot of podcasts which all seem to be telling me the same thing.

Celebrate your achievements.

I know I get so focused on achieving the next goal that I’m guilty of crossing an item off my to-do list without really taking notice that I’ve achieved something. Even if that item was something I’d been working towards finishing for weeks or months. Its like my brain says “Great, I’m done…What’s next?”

And sometimes I’ll look back through my diary or journal and think “wow, I’ve done all that in the last x weeks?!”

In an online course I’m doing at the moment with “inspiration catalyst” Christine Arylo, she calls it “achiever’s amnesia“. Forgetting what we’ve achieved because we don’t take the time to celebrate it and remember how awesome we are and how far we’ve already come.

So this is my reminder to you – and to myself – to take the time to celebrate your awesomeness. Celebrate how far you’ve come. Celebrate the minor victories as well as the major ones.

You are awesome!

 

 

Jul 1, 2014 - Guest post    6 Comments

What’s Téa Cooper’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m delighted to welcome Australian historical author and fellow Hunter Romance Writer, Téa Cooper.

Téa Cooper lives in a stone cottage on one hundred acres of bushland, just outside the nineteenth century village of Wollombi, NSW Australia. When she isn’t writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who offer a never-ending source of inspiration. Both Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom are set in and around Wollombi.

In October, Jazz Baby, a 1920s rags to riches story set in Sydney will be released and in February, Forgotten Fragrance, Book I of a family saga entitled From the Ocean to the Outback. At the moment she is working on a parallel time-line series called The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter. She has also written three contemporary romances.

Hi Téa, Welcome to my blog. Your latest release, Lily’s Leap, is out today. Congratulations!

Please tell us, do you have a passion other than writing?

I do … it’s a little bit random, but probably understandable – anything old, but most especially anything old and unloved. I don’t collect anything specific – furniture, old books, random bits of jewelry, anything I think I can restore and use, not necessarily for what it was intended. I may well have been a bowerbird in a previous life!

It does sound like fun! What is it about it that brings a sparkle to your eye?

teacabinetJunk stalls at markets are my idea of heaven, or vintage shops. And I have been known to come to a skidding halt if there is a pile of rubbish outside a house waiting for a council collection.

My latest acquisition is this old cupboard. I use it as a bedside table. The top is fantastic – it has the remains of an old newspaper stuck to it. I’ve left it and covered it with lacquer. And the lamp? Well that was a by-the-side-of-the-road job – it needed a bit of cleaning up and some very basic electrical work.

The newspaper on top is fascinating!  How long have you been a bowerbird?

On and off forever, really. I’ve still got the old wooden chest I used to ship all my belongings out to Australia a million years ago and I have my “lucky penny” that I found on the beach in Cornwall the summer I discovered boys – that was a long, long time ago!

I’ll refrain from asking the question about how “lucky” you got with the help of the penny :)  

You have a new release out today – Lily’s Leap. Could you tell us about it?

Blurb:

From Escape’s Queen of Australian historical romance comes a story about a privileged member of Australian’s squattocracy, a bushranger, and a very special horse.

Born into the rough, but privileged society of the Australian colonial landowners, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and, much to her distress, back under her father’s thumb, all before her twenty-first birthday. Determined not to forgo her dream of breeding the perfect racehorse, Lilibeth ignores propriety and sets out to restotealilysleapre the family’s flagging fortunes.

When Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven horse stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. All they have to do is hold her for seven days. How hard can it be to control the pampered daughter of a colonial upstart?

ISBN: 9780857991713 Publication Date: July 1, 2014

You can buy Lily’s Leap at:

Harlequin Escape

Amazon

Amazon.aus

iTunes

 Kobo

Amazon and Goodreads Reviews:

Forget work, forget all your responsibilities and slide into this delicious story … a well-written book by a talented writer … since I doubt I’ll be visiting Australia, it was a treat to feel like I was there, herding horses to market across the Australian Outback. The landscape assumes the position of a character in this exciting romance; playing a pivotal role in Lily’s adventure. A fabulous read by a very talented Aussie author … I have no hesitation in HIGHLY recommending Lily’s Leap.”

http://mywrittenromance.com/2014/06/06/lilys-leap-by-tea-cooper-review

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/946141614?book_show_action=false&page=1

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/961167774?book_show_action=true&page=1

 

Excerpt:

Hunter Valley, Australia 1848

Lilibeth Dungarven’s cry of pure pleasure soared skywards as the massive black stallion rose to clear the fallen tree, sending the horrors of the last four years scuttling into the dirt of the ancient land.

Clenching her knees against Nero’s heaving flanks she bent low, ducking the overhanging branches framing the bush track, her cheek pressed to the warmth of his muscular neck. When the erratic pounding in her chest settled she drew Nero to a shuddering halt and pushed the damp curls back from her forehead.

A pair of black cockatoos, disturbed by her madcap gallop, shrieked their annoyance and resettled in the whispering casuarina trees. The crack of their beaks as they threw the mangled nuts to the ground filled the silence. Below her the ribbon of sandstone road weaved its way towards Payne’s Crossing and she shielded her eyes from the sun, searching for her mob of horses.

A glint of reflected sunlight drew her eye to a mounted figure in the middle of the road. Despite the hat pulled low shadowing his face, the stockwhip crack of his words registered deep in her belly.

‘Bail up! Guns down and off the horses.’

‘What do you think you…?’ Constricted by the tension in her throat her words petered out. No one would dare steal such a valuable mob of horses. They were branded. Everyone in the colony knew the Dungarven brand. To lose them was unthinkable. Years of breeding — the first pure Dungarven bloodlines. Months proving herself capable of managing the sale and the trip to Sydney. And now a hold up! It would not happen. Not if Lilibeth Dungarven had any say in the matter.

 

Thanks for being on my blog! Good luck with Lily’s Leap, Téa – it’s a wonderful story and Captain Tom is a real honey :)

You can find Téa at the following places:

Website: www.teacooperauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeaCooper

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TeaCooper1

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/teacooperauthor

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/teacooperauthor/

 

 

 

Jun 24, 2014 - General    3 Comments

In which I find myself unexpectedly writing a novella

weetbixslice

A couple of days ago, I finished writing a small town romance novella. This was a pretty radical departure for me -1) romance not women’s fiction, 2) 25,000 words rather than 80,000 and 3) only 2 points of view, not 4 or more :)

So it was challenging. But I have to say I loved it. I came up with the (vague) concept on the 21st May, and wrote THE END on the 22nd June. Being able to storm through a book like that was amazing to me and the process has taught me a lot about myself and my writing. I have to credit participating in RWA’s 50Kin30days challenge for much of the speed – I’m aiming for a word count of 30K this month, so averaging 1K/day. I’m now starting on novella number 2 to meet the rest of my goal.

One of my CPs has seen an early draft – when I got to about halfway, threw my hands up in the air and ‘Help, what do you think can happen next?’ She said she loved it at that point so I’m hoping the new and improved version still meets with her approval, and that of my other CPs.

My novella’s heroine is a pastry chef and when she gets upset, she bakes. Preferably something chocolately.

I’m not a pastry chef and while I do love chocolate, I’m not going to share with you her specialty mud cake recipe. Mainly because she hasn’t trusted me with it!

But I will share with you a super simple, cheap and yummy slice that’s been filling up my goody tin lately. For as long as it lasts before the hungry hordes devour it.

Weetbix Slice

125g butter, melted
3 crushed weetbix (or generic brand – even stale is fine if you need to use up leftover boxes that you bought on special and then the family decided they didn’t want to eat Weetbix anymore. Or is that just my family?!)
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp milk

Mix it all together and press into a greased slice tin. Cook in moderate oven (about 175 deg C in my temperamental oven) til golden – about 20-25 minutes.

When cold, ice with chocolate icing. Use your favourite recipe. I just wing it with a couple of dabs of softened butter, icing sugar, cocoa and enough water til it spreads well. I’m one of those cooks, sorry :) You can see why my heroine won’t entrust me with her mud cake recipe!

The base is reminiscent of soft, chewy Anzac biscuits, covered in chocolate icing.

Enjoy!

 

Jun 18, 2014 - Release Day    4 Comments

Release Day post – The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin

It’s Release day for The Bookshop on the Corner by Rebecca Raisin - and I’d pick it up simply for that title! (And that gorgeous cover).

bookshoponthecorner

Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?

Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.

Ever since her close friend Lil, from The Gingerbread Café, had become engaged she had been yearning for a little love to turn up in her life. Except Sarah knew a good man was hard to find – especially in a tiny town like Ashford. That was until New York journalist, Ridge Warner stepped into her bookshop…

Love could be just around the corner for Sarah, but will she be able to truly believe that happy-ever-after can happen in real-life too!

 

Praise from Mia March, author of The Meryl Streep Movie Club, and Finding Colin Firth.

“How I wish this magical little bookshop was around the corner from my house! Brimming with heart, hope, and wisdom, THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER is a wonderful novel about love, life, friendship, romance, books galore, and finding that happy ending.” –Mia March.

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Snuggled in the cozy bay window of the bookshop, I looked up from my novel as the first golden rays of sunshine brightened the sky. Resting my head against the cool glass, I watched the light spill, as though it had leaked, like the yellows of a watercolor painting. Almost dawn, it would soon be time to switch on, and get organized for another day at The Bookshop on the Corner.

Every day I arrived at work a few hours prior to opening to read in the quiet, before customers would trickle in. I loved these magical mornings, time stolen from slumber, where I’d curl up with a book and get lost inside someone else’s world before dog-earing the page and getting lost in mine. Sure, I could have stayed in bed at home and read, but the bookshop had a dream-like quality about it before dawn that was hard to resist.

I turned back to the inside of the shop to watch shards of muted sunlight settle on piles of books, as if it were slowly waking them. The haphazard stacks seemed straighter, as if they’d decided when I wasn’t looking to neaten themselves up, dust their jackets off, and stand to attention. Maybe a customer would stumble across one of them today, run a hand lovingly across their covers, before selecting a book that caught their attention. Though my theory was books chose us, and not the other way around.

The bookshop was silent, bar a faint hum — were the books muttering to each other about what today would bring? Smiling to myself, I went back to my novel, promising myself just one more chapter.

When I looked up again the sun was high in the sky, and I’d read a much bigger chunk than I’d meant to. Some stories consumed you, they made time stop, your worries float into the ether, and when it came to my reading habits I chose romance over any other genre. The appeal of the happy ever after, the winsome heroine being adored for who she was, and the devastatingly handsome hero with more to him than met the eye tugged at my heart. And I’d read about them all: from dashing dukes, to cocksure cowboys, I never met one I didn’t fall for.

The sounds of the street coming alive filtered in, roller shutters retreating upwards, cheery shop owners whistling as they swept their front stoops. Lil, the owner of the Gingerbread Café across the road, arrived, hand in hand with her fiancé, Damon. They stood on the pavement in front of her café, and kissed goodbye, spending an age whispering and canoodling.

I tried to focus on my book, but couldn’t help darting a glance their way every now and then. Each morning they embraced almost as though they’d never see each other again, yet they worked only a few short steps away. It was as if they were magnetically drawn to each other; one step backwards would draw the other person forwards. I bet they couldn’t hear the sound of shops opening or cars tooting hello. They had their own kind of sweet music that swirled around them as if they were in some kind of love bubble.

Feeling as though I was intruding on a private moment, I swiveled away from the window and padded bare foot down to the back of the bookshop to make more coffee. My feet found the familiar groove in the wood; the path was so well trodden it was bowed. The feel of the polished oak underfoot with its labyrinth-type trails exposed around stacks of books was comforting. It’d weathered traffic for so long it was indelibly changed by it.

Taking the pot of coffee to the counter, I poured a cup, and sipped gingerly. Lately, I’d felt a little as though I was at a crossroads. You know that frustrating feeling of losing the page in your book? You didn’t want to go too far forward and spoil the surprise, and you didn’t want to go too far back, so you kind of stagnated and started from a page that didn’t seem quite right, but you read it a few times just to convince yourself…that was how I felt about my life. A little lost, I guess you could say.

Ashford was buzzing with good news recently, love affairs, weddings, babies, but I was still the same old Sarah, nose pressed in a book, living out fictional relationships as if they were my own. I was waiting for something to find me. But what if that something never came?

What did heroines do when they felt like that? Broaden their horizons? I imagined myself swapping Ashford for Paris, because of the bookshops and the rich literary history. But really, I’d never ventured far from my small town, and probably never would. My bookshop was a living, breathing thing to me, and there was no one to look after it even if I did want to do something spontaneous. Should I take up a hobby? I’d be the girl stuck line dancing with the octogenarian. Instead of dreaming of the impossible, I set about opening the shop, and shelved that line of thought for another time.

I’m off to buy it NOW – you can too!

Find The Bookshop on the Corner here:

US Amazon http://amzn.to/1jMmIWA
UK Amazon http://amzn.to/1lGBvED
AUST Amazon http://bit.ly/1fTDwWW

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/bookshop-on-corner-gingerbread/id850630026?mt=11

Kobo http://goo.gl/PjVtr1

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/rebeccaraisin/the-bookshop-on-the-corner-by-rebecca-raisin/

Find Rebecca here:

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

http://rebeccaraisin.wordpress.com

www.twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

The Bookshop on The Corner blog: http://thecornerbookshop.wordpress.com/

 

 Good luck with The Bookshop on the Corner, Rebecca!

 

Jun 17, 2014 - Guest post    14 Comments

What’s Kate Belle’s passion? Guest post

Today I’m excited to welcome author Kate Belle to my blog to talk about her passion.

katebelle_smlKate is a multi-published author of dark, sensual love stories that will mess with your head. Her interests include talking to strangers, collecting unread books, and standing on her soapbox. She writes regularly about women, relationships, sexuality and books on her blog, The Ecstasy Files. She is also the creator of the Eros in Action writing sex workshop.

Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne with her small family and very annoying pets. The Yearning was released in 2013 to rave reviews. Being Jade is her second novel.

Hi Kate, welcome to my blog. Congratulations on your release of Being Jade. I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy of this and it is an amazing book.

So tell me – you’re obviously a passionate writer – but do you have a passion other than writing? 

Of my many passions, which include brewed coffee, the environment, foreign films, baking, feasting, hot baths, talking with Miss 9 and wine (did I mention coffee?) there is one that is a standout.

Story.

Kate's BookshelfI know you said ‘passion other than writing’ – but I’m not talking about writing here. Story is different.

Our preoccupation with story making sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom (aside from extra brain bits and opposable thumbs). From our earliest beginnings, human beings have created story through language, image, dance and music.

A human being is nothing but a story with a skin around it.- Fred Allen

In any form story holds wisdom, learning, revelation and it seems we can’t live without it. We talk in stories all the time, tell each other our dreams, share what has captured our attention on TV or the internet. Social media has become a global platform for story making, telling and sharing.

One of the places this interest in story has led me to is the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage of Australia. I feel so very lucky to have been born in a country where story is embedded into the landscape. Our Aboriginal people, the First People of this land, have always understood the value of story. Their entire culture is centred around it. For 50,000 years they have been telling, dancing, singing complex layered stories.

‘Songlines’ (an attributed English term) are complex ceremonial stories/songs/dances that combine mythology with practical knowledge of the natural environment. Their use is too complicated to describe here, but they can contain instructions on where it is safe to travel and what you can find to eat along the way; explain the seasons and local native flora and fauna; instruct people on the right way to behave and how to be a respectful of the land you’re on and its peoples; and how the ‘gods’ made the landscape in dreaming, including its sacred places.

Those who tell the stories rule society. - Plato

My discovery of this incredibly rich story telling history has led to a modest collection of books by Aboriginal people telling not only their own cultural stories, but the story of our shared history from their perspective (as opposed to whitefella interpretations). It is both enlightening and humbling and I wish more non-Indigenous Australians understood it.

Wow, that really sounds fascinating. And you’re right,  story is definitely different to writing.  How long have you been interested in stories?

world talesMy interest in story began when I began reading. It gave me a way of understanding the world and the people in it. Over the years I’ve collected old story books and books on Greek mythology. I always had an innate sense that story was part of my identity as an Australian, so I guess my interest in Aboriginal understandings of story probably evolved from that.

In 2007 the public service offered me an opportunity to work alongside Aboriginal organisations. On the path to improving my cultural competency, I discovered so much about Aboriginal Australia I had been ignorant of. I read voraciously and watched many films and documentaries in an effort to better understand what it means to be Aboriginal in this country. I became aware of story running like rivers under my feet, through the landscape. Everywhere I walked, the roads I travelled, the place where I lived and played, came alive in a whole new way.

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.- Maya Angelou – American poet

Sadly we have lost so much of this history through colonisation. I will probably never know if my house or the places I work are built over a line of story. I will never know the stories that rest in my back yard or local park or the shopping centre down the road.

I can tell that you feel this deeply. Most of  us are largely ignorant of this side of our history. I have read some of the myths but now you make me want to delve into it more deeply.

What is it about it that brings a sparkle to your eye / motivates you?

Gosh, this is so hard to articulate, but I will try.

Story gives us another way to communicate. It’s a vehicle into which we pour all the things we can’t express. I believe the complexity of where Australian history has led us is best explained through story. In today’s world of instant communication we are used to speaking in 3 second grabs. Everything is captured by short pithy quips which are entertaining but disposable. It’s not very satisfying or meaningful.

 The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say. – Anais Nin

By contrast, can you imagine what it is to live in a place where every rock, old tree, waterway, piece of land has story captured within it? It’s like living in a land of secrets – if only I spoke the language I might be able to unlock them. As a writer I could think of no better place to live than a landscape soaked through with story. Knowing that I am living among stories that are thousands of years old lends so much meaning and depth to my life. In a strange way it gives me hope that meaning and depth are not lost and the better parts of humanity may, in the end, prevail.

You have an incredible way with words, Kate. 

Do you have a funny story about something that’s happened to you while involved in your passion?

This is not so much a funny story, but a serendipitous one.

Every year our local Oxfam group host a HUGE second hand book sale as a fundraiser. From 7am people line up in front of the Senior Citizens Centre holding canvas bags, boxes and sometimes even suitcases. All books, save for a handful set aside as worthy of a higher price, are two dollars. This, my friends, is Book Buyers ParaAboriginal authorsdise. (I’m drooling now!)

The mood as the doors open is intensely competitive. Silently book lovers and dealers scan the spines, hoping to be the first to spot the hard-to-find bargain. We shuffle in close lines, eyes on what our neighbour is picking up and putting back, terrified someone else will get our books, the ones meant for us. In that first hour there is very little talk, so urgent is our need to make sure we don’t miss out. By the time I leave my wallet is usually $70 lighter and my bookshelves 30 books heavier.

Pic 5A couple of years ago a local closed up his second hand bookshop and donated all his remaining books to the sale. As I flicked through the non-fiction titles I happened upon a copy of ‘Wild Cat Falling’ by Mudrooroo, a trail blazing Indigenous writer. Naturally I grabbed it and on further inspection discovered an entire collection of books by Aboriginal writers, some of them signed.

My eyelids fell to slits and, looking left and right like a gangster about to do a heist, I dropped one book after another into my canvas bag. Most of these books are out of print. Signed copies are even rarer. I could not believe my luck in finding them. Whoever had put them out on the two-dollar non-fiction table clearly had no idea how important these books were.

I can’t describe the satisfaction I felt as I handed over my cash that day. I’m so proud to be the caretaker of these wonderful books. I’m hoping one day to find descendents of the authors who might be interested in reclaiming them, but in the meantime, I can enjoy and savour them for myself.

I have goosebumps reading that! Those books were obviously there ready for you to be caretaker.

Would you like to tell us about your latest release, Being Jade?

 

being_jade_COVER_HI_res smallBEING JADE

A tragic death. A family divided. One truth can set them free.

Banjo Murphy is killed on the night he finally musters the courage to walk away from his wife Jade after twenty five years of repeated infidelities. In the aftermath, Banjo is bewildered to discover he still exists, but death has placed an invisible wall between him and his beloved family. In despair he watches Jade collapse into deep depression and his daughters, Lissy and Cassandra, struggle with their unexpected loss.

Lissy is tortured by guilt and the mysteries surrounding her father’s death. What compelled Banjo to leave the night he died? Why won’t Jade speak about what happened? In spite of their volatile relationship, Lissy believes her parents’ love to be enduring, but sensible Cassandra sees things differently. When Cassy discovers a sketch book chronicling Jade’s extra-marital affairs, the truth of their parents’ relationship begins to unfold and Lissy’s loyalties are divided.

Searching for answers, Lissy contacts Jade’s ex-lovers, unaware her father’s spirit watches as they visit. Unable to let go of his one true love, he aches to know that Jade loved him above all others. Banjo is taken on a journey of discovery through Jade’s memories as the lovers unveil long hidden secrets about her affairs. But the mystery remains, frustrating Banjo and Lissy, until Lissy’s questioning leads her to an explosive truth. One that will finally set her family free.

You can buy Being Jade at the following places – (and I thoroughly recommend you do!)

iTunes

Amazon

Booktopia

Bookworld

Simon & Schuster Australia:

READ FIRST CHAPTER FOR FREE HERE.

 

Kate, Thank you so much for being my guest today. Good luck with Being Jade!

You can contact Kate at:

Blog/website: http://www.ecstasyfiles.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/katebelle.x

Twitter: @ecstasyfiles https://twitter.com/ecstasyfiles

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6572571.Kate_Belle

The Reading Room: http://www.thereadingroom.com/kate-belle/ap/2394119

 

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