Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

May the new year bring you health, happiness and peaceful hearts... and why not a little wealth...? (which you can enjoy so much more if you have the others...)

We celebrated our wedding anniversary last night and this morning we went for a walk before breakfast and then talked book ideas over a cuppa on the verandah. For me, there's no better way to start a new year. I hope you've had a good start to yours...

Friday, October 04, 2013

Baby bird happenings...

You might remember that I reported a few weeks ago that our mother turkey had hatched a turkey chick. We ended up with two chicks and... a duckling! (Yes, hatched by the turkey!)
Unfortunately, she wasn't the best mother, so we kept the babies in a box in the house under a light for their first couple of weeks, and then they were transferred to a "nursery cage" where she resumed her "mother role."
Meanwhile the duckling's biological mother and aunt looked on, somewhat bemused.

Today, was the babies' release day, into the wild (well our yard, anyway). The ducks pecked and harassed the poor duckling at first, but then calmed down, but he stuck close to his turkey mother. So far he hasn't discovered the duck pond. I can't wait for that.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A visitor flew in...

I was home alone, sitting in the lounge room the other night when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, this giant moth fly into my study. It was so big I thought it was a bat. With some trepidation, I set off to find it, but it seemed to have disappeared. I assumed it had left, but later, when I was in bed with all the lights out, I heard mad flapping coming from my study. 
I took a torch and finally tracked it down, trapped behind a box of magazines. I have since discovered that they're called the Hercules moth and they're the biggest moths in the world and can grow to 27 cm. This is a male. the females are bigger.
Anyway, I used bubble wrap to lift my moth out, hoping I wouldn't hurt it, and then I took it outside and set it free. Or so I thought.
 Yesterday I found it lying dead outside my bedroom. Sad. Vale giant Hercules moth.

Monday, August 05, 2013

We're looking after baby birds again...

This time it's a baby turkey that seemed to hatch ahead of the others. Mum's not interested, so we set up an emergency beanie ward with a light to keep it warm. Actually, we put the beanie into a box because we didn't want the little guy to wriggle off the table. It survived overnight and is very chirpy this morning. :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Excerpt from Miracle at Bellaroo Creek...

I’ve always had a fondness for ‘The Wrong Brother’ stories. They can be so rich with emotion and Miracle at Bellaroo Creek is the second book in a collaborative trilogy with Michelle Douglas (TheCattleman’s Ready-Made Family), Soraya Lane (PatchworkFamily in the Outback).
regret and all round awkwardness (aka conflict). I’ve written a few of these, including my next Harlequin Romance which will be released this week.
Our stories all revolve around the dying country town of Bellaroo Creek that desperately needs saving. In my book, Milla Brady runs from a series of disasters to her home town, where she hopes that reviving her family’s bakery business will also help her to regain her sense of dignity and self-worth. Of course she should have known she couldn’t hide forever, but the man who turns up on her doorstep is the last person she expected…

No one came and Ed was about to knock again when Milla appeared at the back of the shop, wiping her hands her jeans. She looked pale and tired, but her delicate features and candle flame hair were as lovely as ever. And, as always, the sight of her sent a painful dart spearing through Ed.
Her face turned white when she saw him.
‘You?’ she said softly and her sea-green eyes looked stricken. Her lips trembled, parted and then shut again as if she couldn’t think of anything else to say.
Ed swallowed to ease the sharpness in his throat and Milla came forward carefully, almost fearfully.
            ‘Hello, Milla.’
‘What are you doing here?’
‘I –’ He was halted by her fragile air, suddenly afraid that his news would flatten her completely. ‘There’ve been… developments.’ Damn, how clumsy was that? ‘We need to talk.’
‘No thanks.’ Green fire flared in Milla’s eyes. ‘I’m finished with you lot.’ She shot him a tight, haughty glare. ‘I have nothing to discuss with you or with your brother.’
Turning away, she tossed her next words over her shoulder. ‘I know why you’re here, Ed. Harry sent you, because he didn’t have the guts to come and try to con me himself. But I don’t care if he wants me back. I’m done with him. It’s over.’
‘Harry didn’t ask me to come.’
Milla stiffened, half-turned towards him again. Her eyes were sharp, her arms crossed defensively over her chest. ‘How did you find me?’ Before Ed could answer, a knowing light crept into her eyes. ‘It was that weasel faced guy in the pub, wasn’t it? He’s watching me. He’s a private investigator.’
Ed shrugged.
‘Cavanaugh money,’ she scoffed bitterly. ‘It’ll buy anything.’
‘Milla, I’ve come a long way and we need to –’ 
            ‘You shouldn’t have bothered, Ed. I know your role in the family. Mr Fixit. The others are always getting you to clean up after them and to sort everyone’s problems.’
At least her voice wasn’t quite as harsh as she said this.
And Ed found himself fumbling to explain. ‘Well… listen… I had to find you. I knew you couldn’t know what’s happened.’
She frowned. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Milla, it’s bad news about Harry.’
‘Harry’s always bad news.’ Now she gave a theatrical eye-roll, as if she hadn’t heard the seriousness in his voice. ‘It took me four years to discover what you and your family probably knew all along.’
‘Milla, Harry’s dead.’
To Ed’s dismay Milla’s face turned whiter than ever. She clamped a hand to her mouth and she seemed to crumple and sway.
Instinctively, he stepped forward. The reaction was timely as Milla sagged against him as if her knees had given way.
Horrified, Ed remembered too late that she was pregnant. He should have delivered the news more gently, instead of oafishly blurting it out.
Scooping her into his arms, he scanned the empty shop, but there wasn’t so much as a chair. He
carried her, trying, unsuccessfully, to ignore her soft curves and the flowery fragrance of her hair. Through the doorway, and at the back of the shop he found a huge cleaned space with, among other things, a scrubbed table and chairs. But already, Milla was stirring.

And here are the three different covers. Only one (UK) shows Milla looking close to how I pictured her. Which cover do you prefer?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July already??

It's hard to believe we're already into the second half of 2013. I have this terrible feeling that I should be taking more notice of every day and not letting each one slide quite so easily into the next.
Now it's only a week away from the release of  Home Before Sundown. I'm getting emails from the Penguin Publicity team and from my editor, who will tell me soon how the B format sales of Zoe's Muster are going. I can't just be a locked-away writer. I have to deal with the realities of sending a book out into the world.

Meanwhile it's almost time for the release of my next M&B Miracle in Bellaroo Creek. I wanted to call it The Tycoon and the Hometown Girl, so the combined titles may give you a slightly more accurate idea of what it's about. -:) I'm not too fond of the American or Australian covers, but I received my hardbacks yesterday and the UK cover is much closer to how I pictured Milla and Ed.

Now, I'm working on my third Penguin book, which wraps up my stories about the Fairburn family. This is Luke's story and I'm combining it with his grandmother's story, so I'm taking tiny steps, bridging rural romance with a historical romance. Wish me luck!
On top of all this, I've been away on a little holiday, staying first in Brisbane for our eldest daughter's birthday (a significant one with a zero). She decided on a Game of thrones theme and lots of people actually dressed up.
Daughter Vicki even made a dragon egg which was hatched on the fire later in the night.

 If you haven't watched G of T you won't know what that's about and it will just seem like an awful waste of Vicki's handiwork. :) But it was fun!

This was followed by a week at Noosa, which is always lovely, and where I wrote precisely 500 words, so now I have my head down again, back on track.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Support Australian Romance Writers

This month (July) Booktopia is showcasing Australian authors, and there's a chance for both readers and writers to win.
Vote by buying our books through Booktopia for July and in doing so you go in the draw for a chance to win a book pack. (They are all discounted too!) Find out all about it here.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Home Before Sundown

The big reveal... cover and blurb...
Coming home can be heart breaking if you haven’t faced up to why you ran away in the first place...

For Bella Fairburn, a girl from the bush, her new life in Europe is a dream come true. Each day brings fresh experiences, including a cute French ski instructor boyfriend. But news of her beloved father’s second heart attack brings Bella rushing home, accompanied by her aunt Liz, who’s lived and worked in London for the past thirty years.
 Bella’s father has never considered her a suitable candidate to run Mullinjim, their family cattle property in Far North Queensland. Bella seizes this chance to finally prove to him that she’s perfectly capable of taking over until he recovers.  

 But coming home to Mullinjim is fraught with emotional danger for both Bella and Liz.  While Bella is confident she can deal with drought, the threat of bushfires, and cattle bogged in muddy dams, she fears facing her neighbour Gabe Mitchell. Gabe is the man she once hoped to marry, but he’s also the man who broke her heart. For Liz, Mullinjim holds a painful secret from her past that must never be revealed… 

Friday, May 31, 2013

A lovely surprise came in the mail...

I like to think of it as Zoe's RITA pin. :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Another book, another cover...

My next Mills and Boon is part of an exciting collaboration -- a trilogy with two other authors, Michelle Douglas and Soraya Lane.
The series is called Bellaroo Creek! and it's about the rescue of a dying country town in rural New South Wales.

  Three brave women, three strong men, and one town on the brink

The three of us had so much fun planning our books and I can't wait to read Michelle's and Soraya's stories. The release dates in North America and Australia are...

July: The Cattleman's ready Made Family by Michelle Douglas..
August: Miracle in Bellaroo Creek by Barbara Hannay
September: Patchwork Family in the Outback by Soraya Lane.

I tried to bring you all the story lines, but blogger had conniptions, so here's my cover and story line story line...
One small town... 
Whoever said a broken heart was the end of the world had never met Milla Brady! In desperate need of a distraction, she sets her sights on reviving her parents' bakery. But when a tall, handsome blast from the past turns up, Milla's calm feathers are distinctly ruffled! 

One big miracle! 

Ed Cavanaugh could only watch when his brother walked all over Milla's dreams—he always knew she deserved better. So, seeing her looking beautiful and content, he promises not to leave Bellaroo Creek until he tells her what he wanted to say all those years ago….

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

How's this for a cover?

My Southern Cross Secrets trilogy was never really released as a trilogy in Australia. I don't even think there was a tag line on the cover connecting the 3 stories... The Cattleman's English Rose, The Blind Date Surprise and The Mirrabrook Marriage. Now, coming in July, all three stories will be released in one volume. I'm just a tad excited.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Post book...

So I handed my latest M&B in on Friday. I really enjoyed writing the story of a soldier returning from Afghanistan and I had worked steadily but surely until I got to the end, and then my mind went blank. I spent Thursday and Friday reading through the manuscript, adding and fixing and layering... and on Friday night I reached the end again...
And still my mind was blank. Would you believe I spent three hours on one paragraph?
Eventually I gave up -- ( I'd missed Dr Blake's Mysteries by then). :( I sent the book off anyhow.
Of course, on Saturday morning I was giving my kitchen a much needed cleaning and I knew in a flash exactly where I'd been going wrong with the ending.
Brains are funny things.
This morning I had a lovely time lying in bed and dreaming up my next Penguin, which will be Luke's story. I've had a few thoughts simmering away for some time, but I read an interesting article in the weekend Australian that really set ideas firing.
First... on my fridge there's a long list of post book jobs I need to do, including sending links to 54 of my books on a Piracy site. Grrr.
Meanwhile, I did enjoy watching Last Tango in Halifax (Love, love, love it!!!) and Lilyhammer last night. We had a friend over for dinner and E cooked the most amazing Moreton Bay bugs skewered with fresh figs, prosciutto and haloumi  cheese. Yum! Then we settled down to a little companionable TV gazing.

Oh, and it's Week 4 in the vegie patch, and at last we're seeing progress after a disappointing start. We discovered the secret... TRACE ELEMENTS and we could see a difference in just a few days.
And to top off the week, the Cowboys beat the Panthers 30-0 last night. Woohoo!!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Week 3 in the vegie patch...

Zucchinis are flowering. Lovely Easter yellow. Whoops forgot to upload that photo.
And in the farmyard... two new little pigs have joined Thunder. (how she's grown!) This pic was taken only minutes after they arrived. Pigs are very social animals. She could smell these little guys as we drove in and she was capering about her pen in such a state. She was so excited that she was (almost) happy to share her food. The cup on a rope is one of their toys.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter tales...

I hope everyone's starting Easter in good spirits.
E has been away in Townsville and got back on Thursday afternoon -- too late for me to go to the PO, so my lovely editor is going to express courier my RITA books to get them to America on time for the second round of judging. But at least E got up that dreadful highway in one piece, even though he was held up for one and a half hours by accidents. Shudder.
He brought wine and prawns, so I couldn't complain.
And lovely tales from Townsville... including the fact that  Miss 6 is reading Zoe's Muster. She has a photo of herself as a bookmark and she insists that she's reading it -- she's even packed it in her bag to take to the island for Easter. We wouldn't dare to doubt her. (But don't worry about me corrupting a young mind. We know we have another story teller in the family -- the same little girl who blamed a witch when one side of her hair became mysteriously shorter.)
Anyway... I'm on another deadline, so I had to stay at my desk, but I sent Lindt bunnies for the girls, and after school Miss 6 brought hers over to E and asked: 'Is this from Nan or the Easter bunny?'
E, suspecting this was a trick question, hedged with some comment about the Easter bunny making all the eggs and delivering them to shops. 'Nan bought this one at the chocolate shop in Malanda.'
Little big girl gives a knowing grin and turns the bunny over to show the barcode on the bottom. But then she gives a nod of approval -- he got the answer right.
 E took also took this little miss out to dinner at their favourite Chinese restaurant -- just the two of them -- as her parents were busy and the twins had already left for the island. She chose her own outfit -- boots, skirt, nice top, headband -- and approved of E's clothes. At the restaurant, she knew exactly what she wanted -- a big bowl of chicken noodle soup. E was v impressed -- she ate with chopsticks, a spoon and... her hands.
When a friend of his walked in, he got up for a chat ... then E realised the friend was looking over his shoulder and grinning.  Our elegant young heroine had one boot off and her foot propped up on the table, examining an itch. :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Exciting RITA news


Zoe's Muster is a finalist in the contemporary single title section of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award.

And while I'm here, I can also tell you that my next Penguin, Home Before Sundown will be released on July 24th. I've seen previews of the cover and it's gorgeous. Can't wait to show you.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

What are you reading?

I've become an impulse buyer, which is pretty amazing for someone who lives almost two hours away from the nearest big city. It's all thanks to the internet, of course. And my impulses are restricted to books. I HEART The Book Depository. With cheap prices, free shipping worldwide, and with an easy peasy two click buying setup, this place is a dream to shop.
I mean... I do love physical bookshops and I know they're struggling... and I support them when I'm in town, but for my current lifestyle, online shopping is a wonderful lifeline to my favourite activity -- reading.
It's addictive though. Being a regular online, I'm often hearing or reading about great books -- so I trot over to TBD to take a look, and next thing I know it's ordered. :) and about ten days later, I get a lovely surprise at the Post Office.
So what have I been reading and plan to read?
Most of February was taken up with the seven books I had to read and judge for the RITA award. But apart from those books (some of which were great) these have been my favourite reads this year so far.
I loved Anne Gracie's The Autumn Bride, the first book in her new Chance Sisters series. The world Anne creates with Lady Bea and the girls is enchanting. All the characters are unique, strong and engaging. It made me think of Louisa May Alcott meets Georgette Heyer.
I read about Mhairi McFarlane's  You Had Me at Hello on amazon.co.uk... it was selling super fast and I wanted to know why. I discovered it's the most delightful book from a debut author with an incredibly distinctive and wonderful voice. Mhairi had me from Line One.
I've met Kristin Hannah at Romance Writers of America conferences. When we go to the Literary signings, we sit next to each other (it's alphabetical) and I've seen the long line of readers who want to talk to Kristin, so every so often I reward myself with one of her books. Home Front is about a wife and mother posted to Afghanistan and the implications of this for her marriage and her family (and it's currently a terrific price). I wasn't disappointed.It's a very powerful story.
My editor at Penguin sent me Monica McInerney's The House of Memories and I enjoyed it SO much. It's a very emotional premise, but while this is treated with due depth and sincerity, there's also a lovely lightness about this book, which the author arrived at, no doubt, via the quirky secondary characters. It's my favourite MM so far.
And now, with the judging of other books out of the way, I'm looking forward to this little cache.

And I also have more coming in the mail, of course. One is Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier which was highly recommended by a friend. She says the Juliet Marillier is her favourite Australian author. The other book I've ordered is ML Stedman's The Light Between Oceans. After reading raves about this debut book on Goodreads, (something like 27,000 reviews) I couldn't resist.

So what are you reading? Any really strong recommendations?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quote for the week...

From literary icon Jack Kerouac... born March 12 1922

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

It's March... and we've planted vegies...

We've planted cherry tomatoes, big red tomatoes, mini eggplants, rainbow silverbeet, sweet corn,  capsicums, peas, beans, shallots and zucchini. The black stuff is weed mat, which we'll cover with pavers. And there's a new pumpkin crop growing near the compost heap.
Meanwhile, our herb garden is going gangbusters. It also includes a chili plant that keeps us very well supplied.

Now... we're keeping our fingers crossed that we don't get hit by too many other things that want to eat our plants.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Drama and dilemma in our garden...

This week we've butcher bird and magpie parents with hungry babies, and we've also had sunbird parents (a seventh their size) who've woven a beautiful nest near out front door and who also have babies. Nature being the way it is, the butcher bird parents want to feed the baby sunbirds to their offspring.
So...the poor little sunbird parents have been bravely trying to frighten the big birds away and we've been beside ourselves with nervousness.

Meanwhile the baby sunbirds have been oblivious to their danger and quite happily sitting in the doorway of their nest waiting to be fed, and trying to catch passing flies. (Can you see them there?)

Yesterday morning, we woke to find that they had gone and we hoped madly that they were safe. The nest was still intact, so we didn't think it had been robbed.

Then this morning E made a new exciting discovery. The clever parents have staged a halfway house for their youngsters, in this dense shubbery. From here, the babies can forage for their own food and test their wings while their parents bravely fight off any bombing raids.

Such devotion and ingenuity. I'm in awe...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Getting a little too close to Nature...

Look what a hornet has done to my Fra Angelico.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Follow up...

To find out more about my discovery that a room full of frail oldies can be a true treasure trove, check out my post at Chocolate Box writers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Meeting a precious reader...

This was Phyllis, at the local Nursing Home yesterday... such a joy to meet a loyal reader and her friends.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Three sisters...

My sister, Marg, has already posted this on Facebook, so I thought I may as well add it here. Ahh... those days of innocence. Barb (10) Marg (6) Liz (8). And we were all wearing dresses our mum made. She sewed all our clothes.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Special Valentine's Day Launch!

The Chocolate Box Writers is a brand new blog launching today for all lovers of Harlequin Romance. This is a blog run by a group of authors who met while writing for Harlequin and who have remained friends while expanding their writing repertoire.
At today's launch, there'll be masses of giveaways and prizes, so come on over and see what it's all about.
I'll be blogging there every second Monday, but I'll still be here for my old friends...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our little flock is growing...

We now have four hens and three ducks... two white Sussex hens called Yellow Legs and Darling (Darling was the first to lay, but she's since gone broody in the heat) and two smoky (one grey, one black) hens called Dark and Stormy, who haven't started laying yet.

With the arrival of the ducks, we decided we needed to fence all the birds in, so they're in the orchard and there's a wild woodsy corner with plenty of shade and shelter for them, as well as their coops. I miss having the hens around the house where they felt more like pets. I saw a book last week on keeping hens with photos of people hugging and nursing their birds and I totally get that. But the mess on the verandah was not so sweet. We didn't want to have to fence in our verandah, so we've fenced in the birds, and the fruit trees will now have the added benefit of manure.

Yesterday, the ducks discovered their water tank for the first time and the ecstatic diving and swimming and splashing that went on was a wonderful thing to watch.

Oh, and on the weekend a new little pig arrived, a little black heriloom variety, and six year old Lilly, who was visiting, named her Thunder.

Elliot has also prepared two vegetable plots that we plan to plant up in March, so we're taking another step towards a measure of self sufficiency. Can you guess what our favourite TV shows might be? River Cottage and Gourmet farmer anyone?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Eat local... low food miles etc...

Our son Richard and his little family came for the weekend. Lunch on Saturday for the grownups was simply divine -- these crabs that Rich caught in the creek at the end of his street, with a range of dipping sauces (have you tried wasabi mayo?) and ciabatta bread from Mareeba. Oh, and champagne, of course...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Best laid plans...

I was going to start blogging regularly and then it fell off the rails. I could try to blame Cyclone Oswald. When the roads were cut, we were stuck "camping" in our empty Townsville apartment (we'd been getting it ready for fresh renters). But it was lovely to reconnect with our Townsville view.

I could also blame the disgustingly hot weather we had after the cyclone, which left me lying around useless most afternoons. Or I could blame revisions deadlines, but I think the truth is, I got out of the habit, so I'm really planning to address that.
The good news is, Home Before Sundownmy second single title for Penguin Australia and a sequel to Zoe's Muster, has the editorial thumbs up and will be released in late July. This was the MS after a final read-through...

 I'm now wondering what the cover might be like. Ooh, the suspense.
Also, I don't think I've mentioned here that Zoe's Muster is now available globally on amazon. here are links to US and UK and France and Italy.
In more domestic news, we've added three ducks to our flock, and all the birds are now fenced off in the orchard. They were a little too fond of our verandah. One hen, Darling, has gone off the lay in the hot weather, but with three little visitors this weekend, there should still be eggs to collect.
Back soon. Promise.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A good start to the year...

Two exciting pieces of news from the Australian Romance Readers Association...

Zoe's Muster has been nominated for Favourite Contemporary Romance, and The Cattleman's Special Delivery is up for Favourite Short Category romance. Yes, I'm grinning.

Voting for ARRA members is open until February 13th.

ARRA is a growing force in the Australian romance world and they'll be holding another convention this year in Brisbane in March, with fabulous guest speakers, a book signing event and an awards dinner. And of course, a hotel full of women who love reading romance and are out and proud. And super savvy!!! All the details are on their website.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

A problem solved, sort of...

Seems I've worked out how to get photos onto blogger again (with only a few minor annoying sideways steps). So here's that Christmas cat... (mentioned in previous blog)  and soon I'll be back with more.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Happy New Year!!

I hope you greeted the New Year with hope and optimism and I truly hope that 2013 brings your deepest felt wishes. If my dear blog followers have not given up on me, I'm hoping to have less time writing this year and a little more time to attend to my blog and my website and my garden and my poor, long suffering DH.
I wrote right up until we left for Christmas, learning, sadly, as I wrote the last page of my single title follow up, that my dear Aunty Dorothy (who featured here in September) had died. The book is called Home Before Sundown, and her timing seemed somehow perfectly apt. We all knew she was ready and waiting...
So my week's holiday at Noosa involved a trip to Sydney with my mum and my sister... but we also squeezed in visits at Noosa from all four of our children, so our holidays began busily but very nicely.
Then, in Brisbane we stayed with Emma, where I fell completely in love with her naughty but beautiful black Labrador puppy named Rufus. I didn't take my camera cables with me, hence no photos till now, and sadly, the photo of took re Rufus was actually of Emma's chewn up credit card. (his naughtiness)
I was also intrigued by her cat Sascha, who spent long hours on this windowsill, guarding the Christmas tree.
I had a photo I really wanted to show you, but blogger is causing problems again (I'm allergic to Google +) and I can't show photos at the mo. Sorry.
Nevertheless, here's wishing you a truly happy new year with peace and love, good health and happiness.