Saturday, January 31, 2009

Aussie bargain...

The southern part of our country is suffering from a terrible heatwave that's caused bushfires and train stoppages and blackouts... and countless other problems...

Hah!! Isn't that clever? It's actually a sculpture by Orest Keywan. The artist won the $30,000 Sulpture by the Sea prize in 2006, but his sculpture captures exactly how our poor southernerns feel right now.

Meanwhile... up here in the tropical north, we still have constant rain and flooding. I tell you, it's a big country!

At school, we all learned a poem by Dorothea McKellar called "My Country" and the most famous lines are:-
I love a sunburnt country,
a land of sweeping plains,
of rugged mountain ranges,
of drought and flooding rains.

The poem was written early in the twentieth century, long before anyone had heard of global warming, but each year, those words seem to become more significant.

While I'm here... Aussie readers, if you missed the chance to read Adopted: Outback Baby, you can now buy it here at a bargain price in an Australia Day special 'sweet pack' with fellow Aussie authors. The pack includes The Boss's Unconventional Assistant by Jennie Adams (doesn't that one sound good?) and The Desert Prince's Proposal by Nicola Marsh (sure to whisk you away to a fab romantic fanatsy).
If you'd like to find out more about Adopted: Outback Baby and to read an excerpt, you can do so here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You know you're Australian if...

A bit late for Australia Day, (with the odd explanation for readers from overseas, who won't "get" some of these) but you know you're Australian if....

You know the meaning of 'girt' (In our national anthen we sing: "Our home is girt by sea")

You believe that stubbies can either be worn or drunk (worn as shorts)

You think it is normal to have a Prime Minister called Kevin

You waddle when you walk due to the 53 expired petrol discount vouchers stuffed in your wallet or purse

When you hear that an American 'roots for his team' you wonder how often and with whom

You understand that the phrase 'a group of women wearing black thongs'refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds

You pronounce Melbourne as 'Mel-bin'

You believe the 'L' in the word ' Australia ' is optional

You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highwayswith large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep

You think 'Woolloomooloo' is a perfectly reasonable name for a place

You believe is makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that's twice asbig as its $2 coin

You understand that 'Wagga Wagga' can be abbreviated to 'Wagga' but 'WoyWoy' can't be called 'Woy'

You believe that cooked-down axle grease makes a good breakfast spread

You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian, until they stuff up,at which point they again become Kiwis
You know, whatever the tourist books say, that no one says 'cobber'

You believe, as an article of faith, that the confectionary known as theWagon Wheel has become smaller with every passing year

You still don't get why the 'Labor' in 'Australian Labor Party' is not spelt with a 'U'

You believe that the more you shorten someone's name the more you like them

Whatever your linguistic skills, you find yourself able to order takeaway fluently in every Asian language

You understand that 'excuse me' can sound rude, while 'scuse me' is always polite

You know what it's like to swallow a fly, on occasions via your nose

You understand that 'you' has a plural and that it's 'youse'

You know it's not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle

Your biggest family argument over the summer concerned the rules of beach cricket

You shake your head in horror when companies try to market what they call'Anzac cookies

You still think of Kylie as 'that girl off 'Neighbours'

When returning home from overseas, you expect to be brutally strip-searchedby Customs - just in case you're trying to sneak in fruit

You believe the phrase 'smart casual' refers to a pair of blacktracky-daks, suitably laundered

You understand that all train timetables are works of fiction

When working at a bar, you understand male customers will feel the need tooffer an excuse whenever they order low-alcohol beer

You get choked up with emotion by the first verse of the national anthem and then have trouble remembering the second

You find yourself ignorant of nearly all the facts deemed essential in the government's new test for migrants

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer...

Tomorrow (January 26th.) is a public holiday here for Australia Day. I explained all about Australia Day on this blog in other years, so I won't go through it again, but after tomorrow it's back to school for most Australian students and it isn't always easy after their lovely long summer holiday.
Already, their happy memories of Christmas and holidays at the beach will be a fading memory. Families will be scrambling to buy all the books and pencils and uniforms necessary for the new school year. Dads could well be assembling new flatpack desks from Ikea or somewhere similar. Some kids will be nervous about a new school. Some will be excited about seeing all their friends again. Some could be trying to pretend it isn't happening.
Meanwhile, teachers (including many of my friends) will be enjoying one last weekend of summer freedom -- or possibly the conscientious will be planning lessons.
The back-to school busy rush always seems such a hassle when it's happening, but there's always an edge of excitement for everyone facing a new school year, isn't there? I can't believe my grandson Thomas is starting high school this year. He'll be doing a German immersion program -- v exciting.
But where have the years gone? It was only a moment ago he looked like this on the right.
There are many times, when we think back on those years, when E and I really miss our kids, as kids. So much. They grow up in a flash and then they're gone.
I can't say I've suffered from the empty nest problem, but there are times when I wish we were still all together. Just the same, I thank heavens that I have my writing job and that it keeps stretching me and keeping me fulfilled.
And when I hear from readers that one of my books has given a few hours of pleasure, I feel very grateful.
That said, I've been lazy, lazy, lazy lately -- at least lazy about writing. But I've planted lots of lovely things at Tarzali. And Elliot and I have wasted hours with tape measures and pen and paper, dreaming up a plan for a master bedroom that hangs off the edge of the hill (on poles). And I actually have a beaut idea for a new book, but I've dithered around and let it go stale.
But I know once I immerse myself in the new story (which I must do very soon) the characters will take me by the hand and show me the way.
They always do... and it's been nice to have a laid-back January.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The big day is almost here...

If any Americans are dropping by here today, I want to wish you all the very best for the historic occasion of your new president’s inauguration.
Wow! What a man.
What an incredible moment in history.
In 2003, I visited Washington DC and I stood on those impressive steps in front of the Lincoln memorial. At the time, workmen were embedding a plaque into the concrete to commemorate the very spot where Martin Luther King stood to deliver his famous “I have a dream” speech.
Then I looked up at the other famous words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, inscribed in the south wall of the memorial, and I couldn’t help but be moved…
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
It seems so fitting that Obama stood there this week. I think we all feel the connection all around the world between, Abraham Lincoln, JF Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama.
A huge burden rests on this man’s shoulders. I don't suppose he's perfect. I guess he can’t possibly get it all right, but I applaud his social conscience and his earnest intention (and his handsome looks!) and I’m thrilled that he’s filled so many, many of his people with hope. Good luck, America! I’ll be getting up at 3.25 a.m. to watch the inauguration on television. I can't wait till midday tomorrow, because I’ll be on the highway again, going back to Tarzali.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now, girlfriends, here's something to aim for...

Britain's Oldest Romantic Novelist
Posted at 7:58AM Wednesday 14 Jan 2009 Britain's oldest romantic novelist to spend 101st birthday working on her 130th Mills & Boon book.
An author is to celebrate turning 101 by starting her 130th book for Mills & Boon.
Jean MacLeod has been working for the publisher of romantic fiction since 1938 when it brought out her first novel, Life For Two.

Meanwhile, in 2009 I'm celebrating ten years of being a Mills and Boon author. My first book, Outback Wife and Mother, (Gosh that title was a shock to me at the time) was released in May 1999.
And in other news, my RITA winning book, Claiming His Family, has been published in France. It was a bit of a bit of a shock to see my Outback cattleman, Luke Manning, looking like a Frenchman, but if that's how the women in France prefer to see him, I'm not complaining.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Despite the deluge dumped by Cyclone Charlotte and extensive flooding in Townsville (including the lower part of their home) the baby twins are now putting on weight and are safely home and here are the proud grandparents with one each.

How blessed are we? What a wonderful way to start the new year.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A few days away...

We had to get away for a maintenance trip to Tarzali -- and for a little bit of a holiday after missing out at Christmas. There's nothing quite like spending lazy hours staring at our view and talking, talking... even brainstorming a new book. Many of my stories have started right here, chatting with E...
While we were there, we were visited by guinea fowl, which we love, not only because they look so cute and keep in flocks, but because they eat ticks and chase snakes.

And then, on the way home, we came via Paronella Park, which is a fascinating structure (folly?) built by a Spanish immigrant many years ago. His story is very romantic and I'm amazed the film makers haven't done something with it. This waterfall is on Mena Creek, right next to Paronella and down below you can see an amazing little stone balcony. With the creek swollen with wet season rains and the Spanish architecture, you could almost think you weren't in Australia at all, but somewhere in South America.

I find our country endlessly fascinating.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Blind Date in Australia

For me, 2009 begins with the realease of Blind Date with the Boss in Australia.

This is the book Romantic Times described as "a Cinderella-style fantasy; Sally’s delightful and Logan is completely irresistible. Pure magic, beginning to end."

So while you're out chasing those January sales why not grab a copy and add a little magic to the start of your year?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009... the year to be decisive?

Happy New Year!

2009 – Year of the wine? Year of the handbag? Year of the Ox? Of living frugally? Of living vicariously through good books?

Actually... it's the International Year of Astronomy!! Yay! More stargazing at Tarzali. Now that's something E and I do want to learn more about.

I do hope your year has started well and that it continues wonderfully. Are you organised? Ready? Have you already given 2009 a great deal of thought?
I have to confess I’ve been so busy lately I can’t answer “yes” to any of the above.
I’ve been deep in the revision cave – yes, all through the lead in to and after Christmas, right up to New Year, I’ve spent long days at my computer rewriting. Holiday plans with family down south were abandoned – such is my dedication to my art. :)

But now I’m surfacing to discover I have a whole brand new year ahead of me. I haven’t reflected on 2008. I haven’t made a “best of” list. I haven’t made any new year's resolutions – although there’s always (every year) the vague but hopeful plan to get thinner and fitter and to seek inner wisdom. I’ve started this year with a stomach bug, so that was, at least, different.

Apart from that, my mind is already humming with the buzz of a new book idea. Can’t help it, you see. It’s an addiction. (Do you read Susan Miller? Yes, I know astrology is not the same as astronomy, but it's close. And Susan's writing is always fascinating.) Anyway, my stars tell me that this is a good year to give up an addiction, but I’m not sure that telling stories is the addiction I’m meant to relinquish. And I’m not giving up reading. So where does that leave me? Will I have to give up wine? Tea? Could I promise to tidy my office instead?

Another vague plan is to give up starting work at 5 a.m. and to go back to having early morning walks.

I can see a pattern of vagueness here.

When I become less vague, and more decisive I’ll let you know. But in the meantime, I'm looking forward to becoming a more informed stargazer. What are your plans? I hope they're inspirational.