Hello lovely readers, and welcome to another scintillating edition of Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from upcoming and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally invite writing buddies to join in the fun.
Today I’m delighted to welcome Fiona McArthur to the blog. Fiona was a regular on tasty series Friday Feast (check out her outback cheese scone recipe here) but this is her first visit to Teaser Tuesday, and she’s debuting in style!
For those who don’t know Fiona, she’s the author of 34 Harlequin Mills and Boon medical romances, and has sold over 2 million copies in 12 languages. These days she’s a much-loved contemporary women’s author, with hit releases like The Homestead Girls and Red Sand Sunrise.
Now she has another hit on her hands with her latest book Heart of the Sky.
Here’s Fiona to tell you about it and share juicy snippet. Make sure you read to the bottom of the page because there could be an international giveaway, and we wouldn’t want you to miss that now, would we?
Thanks for having me, Cathryn, and wishing everyone a fabulous 2017. It seems so long since THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS spotlighted here and I’ll say, those women all noisily jostled for a voice in this new book. I had to be firm, ‘No! Just one of you, maybe two’, and of course Soretta won on determination – but HEART OF THE SKY is Tess’s book. It’s Tess’s journey from being a young city widow to finding a new life – and being inspired by those amazing women of the outback.
Breast Cancer has always been on my radar, especially after my mum’s many triumphs over it, and Tess, as the new fish-out-of-water Breast Care Nurse in Mica Ridge, has a story to tell. I hope you find as much inspiration and optimism reading her story as I had writing it. There’s a copy to give away as well. But Cathryn will sort that.
Warmest wishes xxFi
The red and white Mica Ridge Flying Doctor Service aircraft taxied past the window of her new office and Tess Daley recognised with gratitude the tiny wobble of excitement in her chest.
Ushered further into the room by the brisk young office clerk, Tess could see past the aircraft, over the shimmering tarmac to rugged red hills that rose craggily in the distance.
Across the road, the morning sun burnished the saltbush and rocky ground the colour of copper behind the nodding galahs on the wire fence. So different to the lushness of home.
The colour of the sky in far western NSW – goodness! She couldn’t believe the primary blue, like a child’s painting dabbed with undiluted colour. She could lose herself in it. That was the plan. She’d driven most of the daylight hours on the actual anniversary of Vic’s death, and now that she’d arrived, the twelve months worth of tension that sat in her shoulders didn’t miraculously leave, but it lightened. Even her heart lifted the way the pink galahs suddenly did as she watched through the window, because another red and white aircraft had taxied in.
Maybe everything could begin anew. After all, she’d driven the long way from Sydney via Adelaide to Mica Ridge, all on her own. Vic had always driven in the past while she’d usually slept. She pushed that thought away.
It had been worth the effort to touch base at the hospitals her patients would rely on for treatment. Any crannies left in her packed-to-the-roof-with-belongings car had been filled with the country music she’d decided to immerse herself in – skipping the sad songs. One needed to prepare when you moved to the outback.
She spared a thought for the new owners in their beautiful beach-suburb home. Wished them well as they soaked in the waves but she’d been glad to leave for the next twelve months.
She would be here in far western NSW and slowly build a new life like a broody chook. But with less brooding, hopefully. Work helped. Work and other people she could lose herself in. She glanced again at the sparse landscape. Not a tree change – more like an ochre sunrise on twelve months of adjustment.
Bringing herself back to the present her eyes skipped with interest she hadn’t felt for too long over the new desk, lilac chairs and empty bookshelves.
She caught the receptionist’s shrug. ‘Hope you don’t mind that I left the boxes unpacked. I thought you might want to arrange the shelves yourself.’
‘No. That’s great. Thanks. Perfect.’ She shut her mouth. Told herself, your gabbling, Tess.
Industry. Purpose. Vocation. She couldn’t wait. Pale cardboard boxes with pamphlets, office supplies, and reference material for women and the occasional man, were stacked neatly beside the window. On the other side of the room another window looked internally into the hanger, where industrious engineers maintained the FDS aircraft.
The young woman, Tess searched her memory and came up with Soretta – said, ‘The window pane is one way so while you can watch the activity in the maintenance workshop on your down time, your patients will still have privacy from the engineers.’ Soretta raised her thick brows. ‘There’s a couple of good-looking ones but I’ve only just started work here two days a week so I’m not sure who’s who.’
This girl obviously didn’t realise that Tess was a widow. Or that Tess’s interest lay more in the planes than the men who serviced them. She’d be flying over isolated homesteads and red creek beds in aircraft like that. Scenery that had tempted her by being the polar opposite to where she’d come from.
‘I won’t have time for men.’ Not for a long while anyway. The idea seemed inconceivable that she would replace Vic – ever.
Soretta didn’t seem to think that unusual. Which was good in itself. Tess had reached saturation point from being pitied and nudged and skirted around as if grief and loss were contagious.
‘I keep meaning to make time for a boyfriend but never seem to get around to it.’ Soretta pointed to the jug. ‘There’s a new electric kettle and some plain white mugs. Daphne said you’d need those for the hundreds of cups of calming tea you’d be making in the coming months.’
Tess thought of the obviously pregnant flight nurse upstairs in the control room. ‘I’ll be doing it all year.’ Tess said, looking around. Yes, a year away from all that reminded her of him. Then she would go home and try to start again.
This room could be made more welcoming. Her fingers itched to rearrange chairs and give homely touches – to ramp up the nurture factor. Dormant memories from those house and garden magazines she used to adore and hadn’t touched since…
Tess decided a pretty tea set and tablecloth were in order to celebrate. It had been a mammoth effort to leave the past and take on this contract. The fact that this was a one-year trial for the area hung over her, there was more at stake than Tess herself. Service for isolated families was being fought for and she vowed she’d give her best to see outreach breast care established permanently. Of course a successor would have to carry it on.
Up in the control room above her head, Daphne, the nurse, had raved about the farm stay homestead she’d been boarding in before her marriage.
‘Do you know the place Daphne was living in before her marriage?’
Soretta’s eyes sparkled and Tess decided the men around here must be a bit slow on the uptake if they weren’t chasing this young lady.
‘Know it very well.’ Her voice resonated with dry amusement. ‘It’s my grandfather’s station. Why? Thinking of living out of town.’
Told you Fiona was debuting in style. How about that for a delicious sneak peek at Heart of the Sky? I bet you’re itching to snap up a copy right now. Well, you can with just a clickety-click! Try Booktopia, Angus and Robertson Bookworld, Fishpond.com.au, Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play or skip on down to your local bookstore or favourite chain and raid the shelves.
And now for more excitement. Yes, my lovelies, we have a…
Fiona has generously offered a paperback copy of Heart of the Sky as a giveaway. But you’ll have to earn it!
As Fiona mentioned in her introduction, Tess is inspired by the amazing outback women she encounters. So, to go into the draw, tell us the woman or women you most admire. It could be anyone from Michelle Obama to Mother Theresa, a wonderful friend or maybe it’s your own mum. Share and we’ll pop you into to the giveaway.
Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEDT, 3rd February 2017. Open internationally. Rah!
If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her (many!) books, please visit her website.