My Favourite Reads of November 2017

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My Favourite Reads image

I’m a little late with My Favourite Reads this month. We’re all so busy this time of the year, aren’t we? The Christmas silly season is well and truly upon us, but it’s fun, too, with all the parties and decorations. There are streets near me where I think there’s some sort of Christmas lights war happening between the neighbours. The effort some have gone to is eye-popping!

November was a bit lean for me reading-wise but as usual those I did read were terrific. Good friend Anna Campbell certainly helped put me in a festive mood with her new release The Christmas Stranger. But the title of favourite must go to…

The Pretty Delicious Café by Danielle Hawkins

The Pretty Delicious Cafe by Danielle HawkinsI am a huuuuuge fan of Hawkins, whose debut novel Dinner at Rose’s was an absolute joy of a book (my thoughts on that here). As was her second release, Chocolate Cake for Breakfast. The Pretty Delicious Café didn’t disappoint.

This book is funny, sweet, heart-warming, romantic, quirky and, as the title suggests, filled with delicious things. There are even bonus recipes at the back. The setting for this one was great too. An idyllic seaside town that makes me want to book a trip to New Zealand ASAP.

I adore Hawkins’s romances. They’re delightful and real and if you like Aussie rural romance then you need to try Danielle Hawkins too. I promise you’ll have a wonderful time and finish reading with a big smile.

 

The Christmas Stranger by Anna CampbellThe Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell

My second favourite read of the month. Yes, Anna and I are buddies and feel free to call me biased, but I honestly think her books are wonderful. The hero and heroine of The Christmas Stranger are so lovely, you can’t help cheering like mad for both as they struggle with their attraction.

Romances where the hero and heroine are trapped together are a blast, although I don’t think Josiah and Maggie see it quite the same way at the beginning of their story! Ooh, now that reminds me of one of my all-time favourite Anna Campbell’s – Her Christmas Earl. That’s a forced proximity romance too.

The Christmas Stranger is only 99 cents on Amazon. Get festive and romantic with a copy today!

 

The Magician's Diary by CJ ArcherThe Magician’s Diary by CJ Archer

I love this series. Love it. Matthew and India’s romance is fraught with conflict and twists. I know they’ll get together eventually, but it’s such frustrating fun to follow them as they struggle with their attraction and more and more obstacles are thrown in their way.

As with CJ’s Ministry of Curiosities series, the characters in the Glass and Steele books are great, and the stories made even richer thanks to some romantic subplots.

The Convent’s Secret is out in March. You can guarantee I’ll be reading it.

 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series is one of my absolute favourites. Her writing is vivid and lush, and she weaves beautiful fantasies.

Strange the Dreamer is very much in the same vein. It’s big and dense with expert world-building, and the character of Strange is very imaginative. I had no idea this was the first in a series and was a bit taken aback to have it end without resolution, but that’s my fault for not checking. Now the wait for book 2!

 

What were your favourite reads?

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally badger author buddies into joining me.

Well, my lovelies, this is our final Teaser Tuesday for the year. Next Monday is release day for THE COUNTRY GIRL and I’ll be sharing lots of fun things that week, including, as is now tradition with my new releases, a list of secret things about the book. Then it’ll be Christmas and New Year and my usual summer blog holiday.

I’m still undecided whether to continue Teaser Tuesday next year or think up a new series to entertain you. A good mull over the holiday period will help me decide. Whatever happens, be assured that the blog will go on!

A few exciting things are happening right now that I’d like to alert you to.

First, the 12 Days of Down Under Christmas promotion that I’m involved in, where you can enter lots of giveaways, score free books, and enter a major prize draw to win a $50 Amazon gift card, is on until December 13th.

Check out my blog post for all the details and a truly scrumptious recipe.

Secondly, HEART OF THE VALLEY, one of my most popular books and which features the truly delectable Lachie Cambridge (I still sigh at the mention of that man’s name), is in Kobo’s current 50% off Christmas promotion. Visit Kobo and use code GIFT50 at the checkout to claim your discount. The code can be used multiple times so go your hardest with it. Find the full list of included titles on the promo page.

BUT, the deal ends Dec 11th US time, which means you have minutes to claim this. So hurry!

Finally, another bargain. WAYWARD HEART is currently heavily discounted (more than half price) across all the major ebook platforms. Again, this offer is for a limited time only, so if you want to snap up this emotional and uplifting romance at a bargain price, you’d better do it today. Try: Amazon.comAmazon.auiBooks, Google Play

Righty-o, on to our teaser, which is, of course, from my upcoming release THE COUNTRY GIRL.

Only SIX sleeps until release day on Monday 18th December. Sooooo close! If you haven’t already pre-ordered your copy, then there’s still time and you won’t have to suffer the stress of Christmas shopping chaos. Pre-order now from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Booktopia | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson Bookworld

Time for our teaser. Here’s a sample of Tash and Patrick shooting sparks off one another. Enjoy!

 

‘Don’t look at me like that. You know what that animal is capable of and, let’s face it, you were never in the same league as Maddy when it came to riding, and look what happened to her.’

The Country Girl by Cathryn Hein‘Maddy was galloping helmetless over makeshift jumps in thick scrub when Khan fell. All I plan on doing is pottering around Castlereagh. They are hardly the same circumstances. Besides,’ she said, her chin lifting, ‘you can’t stop me.’

‘I can and I will.’

Unafraid, she came to stand in front of him and looked up. The top of Tash’s head just reached the line of his shoulders and gave him a bird’s-eye view of her cleavage, along with the urge to bury his face between those soft, swollen mounds. An urge that only heightened his anger.

Tash’s smirk was as provocative as her voice. ‘I’d like to see you try.’

 

Discover how I came to write THE COUNTRY GIRL in The Magic Bullet, The Story Behind The Country Girl. You’ll also find another excerpt from the book on its book page.

For an even longer sample, the first two chapters are available for your reading pleasure at Harlequinbooks.com.au.

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Huge 12 Days of Down Under Christmas Giveaway!

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12 Days of Down Under Christmas 2017

Welcome to the 12 Days of Down Under Christmas super giveaway.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. What authors! What prizes! What fun you’re going to have!

The promotion runs from Saturday December 2nd (December 1st for US folk) until Tuesday 13th December, and hops from author to author. Each day a new post will go live, featuring something fun and Christmassy, and an individual giveaway.

Feel free to go your hardest and enter all the giveaways for more chances to win great prizes.

But wait, there’s more!

On top of the individual blog prizes, you’ll have the chance, via Rafflecopter, to enter the overall prize which is for a $50 Amazon gift card. How cool is that?

We’re at Day 7 already, but that doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on the previous posts and giveaways. They’re still open and will remain open for entries until December 13th.

You’ll find the list of participating authors and links, and the major Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post. Have fun reading and entering!

But first…

My 12 Days of Down Under Christmas Fun

I’ve decided on two special things for you, both with a suitably seasonal theme.

Santa and the Saddler by Cathryn HeinThe first is a beautiful recipe that will have friends and family oohing and ahhing over your cleverness. The second is a giveaway which, given it’s the season to be jolly, can only be for a paperback copy of my Christmas themed, Romantic Book of the Year finalist, Santa and the Saddler.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time might recognise this recipe from a 2011 episode of Friday Feast. I’ve decided to share it again because it’s truly delicious, one of my all-time favourite do-ahead desserts, not difficult, and looks stunning.

The kind of indulgent dessert that everyone should have on their Christmas party table.

WHITE CHOCOLATE DECADENCE

Begin this recipe one day ahead. The undecorated cake will keep for three or four days in the fridge (probably more if you can resist eating it for that long), which means you can make it well in advance. I don’t recommend freezing. I tried it once and it seemed to abnormally affect the texture.

Use full fat everything. This creamy cake is meant to be decadent!

White Chocolate Decadence

Ingredients

450g cream cheese, at room temperature

¼ cup (60 ml) caster sugar

3 teaspoons (15 ml) cornflour

3 eggs

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla bean paste

3 teaspoons (15 ml) finely grated lemon zest

2 cups (500 ml) sour cream

1 cup (250 ml) thickened cream

240g block of good quality white chocolate, melted then cooled to lukewarm. I use Lindt.

Fresh seasonal fruit and fruit puree to serve.

Method

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a 20cm springform cake pan and line base and sides with baking paper. Wrap the outside of the tin tightly in a few layers of foil. It is important that the tin is made waterproof or water will leak into the tin during cooking and spoil the cake.

Or you can use a well-lined, plain round cake tin and pray like crazy that the cake doesn’t crack when you invert it at the end!

Whiz cheese and sugar in a food processor or mixer until smooth. With the motor running, add cornflour, then eggs one at a time, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. Add vanilla, zest and creams, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and process until just combined, scraping down sides.

Add chocolate and pulse until smooth. Pour the mixture into the lined tin then set on a folded tea-towel in a large roasting dish (the tea-towel prevents the tin slipping around). Pour hot water into the dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the cake tin.

Bake for 45 minutes, then leave the cake in switched off oven with the door closed for one hour. Remove tin from roasting dish, remove exterior foil and cool cake completely on a rack, leaving it in its tin. Cover and chill overnight.

Turn out onto a plate or cake stand. Remove baking paper, top with fruit then drizzle with fruit puree. Slice using a hot, dry knife.

Go on, make it. I dare you.

GIVEAWAY!

What’s your favourite Christmas dessert? Do you have something special that you make, like a pudding using an old family recipe, or perhaps you prefer to whip up a simple but colourful fruit platter (much easier and more refreshing when faced with a stinking Aussie summer’s day)?

Share your favourite Christmas dessert for parties or the traditional lunch and I’ll pop you into the draw to win a copy of my gorgeous Christmas themed Australian rural romance, Santa and the Saddler!

Open worldwide.

Giveaway closes midnight Australian time, Wednesday December 13th 2017.

As promised, here are the links to all the other giveaways and the major Rafflecopter draw to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Good luck!

12 Days of Down Under Christmas participants

(remember, these giveaways will remain open until the end of the promotion, so make sure enter them all for even more chances to win)

Day 1 – Kris Pearson

Day 2 – Joanne Dannon

Day 3 – Cassandra O’Leary 

Day 4 – Annie Seaton

Day 5 – Monique McDonell

Day 6 – Kate O’Keeffe

Day 7 – Cathryn Hein

Day 8 – Tracey Alvarez (live from  December 9th Australian time)

Day 9 – Leeanna Morgan (live from December 10th Australian time)

Day 10 – Wendy Vella (live from December 11th Australian time)

Day 11 – Charmaine Ross (live from December 12th Australian time)

Day 12 – Aislinn Kearns (live from December 13th Australian time)

Major $50 Amazon Gift Card Prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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WAYWARD HEART on sale!

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Wayward Heart on sale

Ooh, I love a good sale and there are plenty happening right now, but WAYWARD HEART’s is the one you need to know about!

For a short time only, WAYWARD HEART is heavily discounted across major ebook platforms. This emotional rural romance is perfect for relaxing with over the summer holidays (or winter if you’re not Down Under), so why not grab it cheap while you can?

Secure your bargain-priced copy today from:

Amazon.com | Amazon.au

Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

But get your skates on, this discount is for a limited time.

 

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Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally badger writing buddies into doing the same.

Only 13 sleeps until THE COUNTRY GIRL releases!

But more on that in a minute. First up, have you checked out the 12 Days of Down Under Christmas promotion? This baby is HUGE. 12 Australian and New Zealand authors, including myself, have banded together to offer 12 days of gorgeous giveaways and Christmassy fun stuff on our websites and blogs. Kris Pearson, Joanne Dannon, Cassandra O’Leary and Annie Seaton have already kicked off celebrations with their posts, with more authors to come.

I’m day 7, which will be this coming Friday (Aussie time), when you’ll not only have a chance to win a copy of my Christmas themed story Santa and the Saddler but salivate over a beautiful recipe.

Besides the individual author giveaways, there’s a grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift voucher that you can enter too.

Each day I’ll be posting the links to my Facebook page. Follow me there to make sure you don’t miss out on my, or anyone else’s, giveaway.

As mentioned in the intro, THE COUNTRY GIRL is now less than 2 weeks away from release. Are you excited? I can’t wait for you all to see and hold it. A couple of early author copies turned up last week and the book is BEAUTIFUL! There’s gorgeous chapter art that you could even colour in for a bit of mindfulness, should you wish, and the spine and back cover have a pretty, homespun country feel. A perfect representation of THE COUNTRY GIRL’s heroine Tash.

Now for what we’re here for – a little taste of THE COUNTRY GIRL. Another short one this week. I don’t want to spoil things for you.

Here’s a little bit of Tash in foodie mode. Enjoy!

 

Tash continued to explain the recipe, measuring out ingredients while she chatted. It was a simple recipe, old-fashioned, using basic pantry supplies and indulgent quantities of muscovado sugar and The Country Girl by Cathryn Heinbutter. The spin of adding Pa’s home brew would also make it perfect for her cookbook.

‘And now for the ale,’ she said, levering the lid off the bottle. The liquid foamed as she poured. Grinning, she lowered her nose to the bowl. ‘You should smell this. It’s amazing but that’s hardly a surprise. My pa knows how to make a good drop.’

She sobered and stirred. ‘He also knows a thing or two about life. I’ve been mulling over what he said in his last video, about relationships and how you can’t grow them on stony ground. I’m a farm girl, and I know how important it is to look after our soils, to keep them healthy and fertile. If we don’t, nothing flourishes, and Pa’s right—it’s the same with friendships, or any relationship. You need to keep them nurtured. So today I’m going to nurture mine with indulgent food. Although it’s not really the food, but the thought and effort that matters. I want to show my friends that I care and that I’m thinking of them.’

 

Pre-order your copy of THE COUNTRY GIRL today from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Booktopia | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson Bookworld

Curious about how I came to write THE COUNTRY GIRL? Check out The Magic Bullet, The Story Behind The Country Girl. You’ll also find another excerpt from the book on its book page.

Tune back in this coming Friday when you’ll have a chance to win a paperback copy of Santa and the Saddler in our 12 Days of Down Under Christmas promotion. Not to be missed!

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This Writing Life: Scone Literary Festival

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The Hunter Valley in New South Wales is one of my favourite places (and the setting for one of my most popular rural romances, Heart of the Valley), so I was thrilled to bits to when Scone Literary Festival invited me to appear on a panel.

Books in the heart of wine and horse country? How could I possibly say no?

The festival was held on the weekend of the 10th -12th November and the weather couldn’t have been more gorgeous. Not only the weather, but also the venue – Scone’s pretty Arts and Crafts Hall which has a lovely outside area and was the perfect place for al fresco lunching and the festival’s “Soiree in the gardens” on Saturday night.

Scone Arts and Crafts Hall

Scone Arts and Crafts Hall

The line-up of speakers was even more impressive, with broadcaster and columnist Phillip Adams, journalist and hugely popular non-fiction author Peter FitzSimons, acclaimed author Don Watson, Gold Walkley award-winning journalist Joanne McCarthy, and The Dressmaker author Rosalie Ham and the film’s producer Sue Maslin, along with many other excellent writers.

I was delighted to be on a panel with fellow author Kim Kelly, who read aloud the most beautiful piece of writing from her book Wild Chicory, and artist, photographer and author David Darcy. Check out David’s website for a look at his work. It’s amazing. Paula Stevenson did a stellar job facilitating our session, during which we discussed rural and regional stories from around Australia and how we develop our characters and settings. It was terrific fun.

The entire program was filled thought-provoking, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes funny talks and panels, and the Festival’s atmosphere hugely amiable. Bookseller Ian from Hunt A Book (how cool is that bookshop name!) was a joy, and the catering excellent (country cooking… my mouth waters just thinking those words).

If you love ideas and stories and talking books, a bucolic setting and country hospitality, then this festival is for you.

Keep an eye on the website, or the Festival’s Facebook or Twitter feed for updates about next year’s event.

Thanks to Jan Sinclair and her team for a truly memorable weekend.

Here are a few piccies for you to enjoy!

Scone’s gorgeous mare and foal statue

Scone’s gorgeous mare and foal statue. Naturally I had to pat it.

Peter FitzSimons was hugely entertaining, and his chat with Phillip Adams covered everything from his new release Burke and Wills to republicanism, to the way Australia celebrates its failures, along with many other topics in between.

Peter FitzSimons and Phillip Adams

Peter FitzSimons and Phillip Adams

As a fun interlude between sessions, the festival featured “pop-up poets” who charmed us by reading their own or other’s works.

Pop up Poet Richard (Rick) Wright.

Pop up Poet Richard (Rick) Wright.

Above is Rick Wright whose aunt was the distinguished Australian poet Judith Wright, and who is a talented poet and author himself. I was honoured and delighted when Rick gave me two of his books: Poemotion, which is filled with terrific bush-style poetry, and the beautiful hardcover Hold Fast: History, heritage and the challenges of life for a primary producer heading into the 21st Century.

Poemation and Hold Fast by Richard Wright

Poemotion and Hold Fast by Richard Wright

Hold Fast is fascinating!

I’ve had the notion to set a book in the New England area for quite some time (20+ years, in fact, from when I used the travel the area in my pasture seed selling days). Hold Fast makes me want to do it even more. It’s also a must-read for anyone interested in the agricultural history of this rich and stunning region, and with the trials and joys of rural life.

Hold Fast and Rick’s poetry books can be purchased direct from Rick via his Hold Fast website.

Don Watson and Phillip Adams

Don Watson and Phillip Adams

Don Watson in conversation with Phillip Adams was another excellent session. It was interesting to hear about his relationship with former Prime Minister Paul Keating, for whom he was speech writer, and also about growing up in Gippsland. I really need to read his book The Bush, although the book I’m most curious about is Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language.

Tom Thompson telling us about the photos in ‘To Beersheba 1917’

Tom Thompson telling us about the photos in ‘To Beersheba 1917’

October 31st marked the 100th anniversary of the Australian Light Horse Charge of Beersheba, during World War I. With perfect timing, Tom Thompson launched his new book To Beersheba 1917 at the festival. To Beersheba 1917 contains 100 previously unpublished photographs from the Haydon Family archive at ‘Bloomfield’, Blandford. Check out their website for more about this historic property and some excellent photos. It’s well worth a visit.

Guy Haydon famously rode his horse Midnight in the charge, during which poor Midnight was killed (a story in itself, and which you can discover more about on the website). The photos Tom showed were incredible. Although many were heartbreaking too.

Horsing around on the Hunt A Book bookstall.

Horsing around on the Hunt A Book bookstall. If you’re ever in Scone, drop in and say hi to Ian.

The “Soiree in the gardens” on Saturday evening was a sublime event, with music, local wine and nibbles, and Jan entertaining us with a song.

Soiree in the gardens

Soiree in the gardens

Soiree in the gardens, Scone Literary Festival 2017

Committee president Jan Sinclair singing for us.

The Dark Art of Writing Domestic Drama panel featured (L-R) Paul Mitchell (We. Are. Family.), Melissa Lucashenko (Mullumbimby – longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award) and Mel Jacob, and was facilitated by Joanne McCarthy.

The Dark Art of Writing Domestic Drama panel

The Dark Art of Writing Domestic Drama panel

I was lucky enough to enjoy a good chat with Mel whose book In Sickness, In Health and Jail:  What Happened When My Husband Unexpectedly Went to Prison for Two Years sounds a great read.

Scone's lovely The Thoroughbred hotel.

Scone’s lovely The Thoroughbred hotel.

That’s me done for the year with writing events. Which is just as well, because I’m veeeery behind with my writing and we have a big few months coming up with a relocation and a few other changes.

And, of course, the release of The Country Girl on December 18th. Can’t forget that!!

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Teaser Tuesday!

Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally relentlessly nag author buddies into joining me.

With less than a month to go until the release of THE COUNTRY GIRL, I’m fairly bouncing with excitement. I wish it was out already so you could enjoy Tash and Patrick’s sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes funny girl/boy-next-door romance, but it’ll hit shelves soon enough on December 18th.

Just in time to fill your Christmas stockings!

Now, newsletter subscribers are already privy to this link, but here’s your chance to also dive into the first two chapters of THE COUNTRY GIRL. Simply tap, swipe or click the button below and start reading.

Read THE COUNTRY GIRL sample chapters button

Feedback has been amazing already which makes me even more impatient for everyone to read the rest of the book.

As I mentioned, THE COUNTRY GIRL hits ebook and paperback store shelves on December 18th, but you can order your copy right now and have it in your hot little hand release day. All you need to do then is kick back with a cuppa and indulge in a little ner, ner, ner, ner, nerr-ing to everyone else who’s been forced to brave the madness that is the Christmas shops while you’re home, smiling, sighing and perhaps even sniffling a little with Tash and Patrick’s gorgeous story.

Pre-order from:

amazon.com | amazon.com.au | amazon.co.uk

iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Booktopia | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson Bookworld

 

Watch out for more fun THE COUNTRY GIRL promos over coming weeks and an upcoming 12 Days of Christmas celebration that I’m involved in, featuring LOTS of cool giveaways from DownUnder authors.

Now for a brief snippet from THE COUNTRY GIRL.

Tash’s grandpa plays a lovely role in the story. Here’s a taste of him. Just a morsel, mind. We don’t want to spoil that main course!

 

The front door opened revealing the tall figure of her pa in a stockman’s shirt, a pair of faded shorts and bare feet. Despite the daggy outfit, his full head of thick wavy silver hair was slicked back with Brylcreem, his jaw was clean-shaven and he wafted the comforting scent of freshly applied Old Spice cologne. Tash immediately wondered if he was entertaining, or expecting to.

The Country Girl by Cathryn Hein‘Flossie!’ Pa exclaimed, using the nickname he’d had for her since childhood. ‘What brings you here?’

Tash held up the tea-towel bundle.

Pa’s eyes widened, his nose twitching like a rabbit. ‘Are they …?’ He regarded her hopefully.

She nodded. ‘They are.’

He slapped his hands together with glee. ‘I was about to move Munch but that calls for a cuppa.’

Tash glanced at the aptly named sheep, head down, stuffing herself. ‘I think she’ll survive.’

 

Here are those pre-order links again.

Paperback: Booktopia, Dymocks, Angus & Robertson Bookworld

Ebook: amazon.comamazon.com.au, amazon.co.ukiBooks, Kobo, Google Play

Want to read the story behind how I came to write THE COUNTRY GIRL? Check out The Magic Bullet, The Story Behind The Country Girl. You’ll also find another excerpt from the book on its book page.

Watch out for Friday and my latest This Writing Life post where I’ll be sharing some pics from Scone Literary Festival.

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This Writing Life: 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering

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It’s been a while since I’ve managed a This Writing Life post. The last one was back in July (yikes!) when I shared piccies from Taronga Zoo.

It’s not that I haven’t been doing things. I’ve been out and about quite a bit this year. It’s more a matter of squeezing in the time to do up the posts. My number one priority is writing books and that sometimes means that the blog must miss out.

But not this week!

In a better-late-than-never post, today I’m sharing photos from the 2017 New South Wales Rural Women’s Gathering held in Narrandera, Friday October 27th to 29th.

What a brilliant weekend.

I have fellow rural romance author Jane Carter (new release: Prodigal Daughter) to thank for my attendance at this event. Jane is a Narrandera local and suggested at the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia conference that we could present a writing workshop at the Gathering, and I jumped at the chance. I am so, so glad I did because I had a BALL.

Me and Jane Carter at our trade stall.

Me and Jane Carter at our trade stall.

The women I met and heard talk were amazing. There was Jane, of course, but also Narrandera’s newly elected local NSW Member of Parliament Steph Cooke, who gave a very funny opening speech (and gave me an excellent idea for a character). Plus Kate O’Callaghan, general manager of Southern Cotton, Dame Marie Bashir, former Narrandera local and second longest serving Governor of NSW (among other achievements).

Betina Walker of Whispering Pines Organics related her incredible and inspirational story at the gala dinner, and who you can learn more about in a video here. We were also entertained with talks from Rosalie Ham, author of The Dressmaker, and Sue Maslin, the producer of its hit film.

There was also Fran McLaughlin from Big River Herbs at Narrandera, Jane Sibley from Hilltops Honey at Young, and winemaker Belinda Morandin from Morandin Family Wines at Griffith, Jane’s friend Tracey Boschetti, and that’s just to name a few of the rural women at the event who demonstrated the success that can be achieved with a bit of grit and self-belief. Wonderful, wonderful.

Besides the keynote speeches and trade stalls, there were also plenty of workshops covering everything from getting friendly with your chainsaw, to estate planning, how to be fire wise, secrets to community engagement, flamenco, making mead, rural mental health and much, much more. The full program can be found here.

Next year’s gathering is at Merimbula, on NSW’s beautiful, southern Sapphire Coast, on 19th – 21st October. I’m marking my diary. For more info, check out the 2018 Gathering website.

Now here’s a few happy snaps from the weekend. Enjoy!

Nothing like a road trip, especially when there’s sweet things involved, and Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory hit the spot. But it was the truck artwork outside Gasworks Garage opposite that really put a smile on my face.

Gasworks Garage's cute truck and animal sculpure, Junee

Opening night of the Gathering was at the Fisheries Travelling Stock Reserve where we shared a variety of “bush food” prepared by local Wiradjuri Elder Michael Lyons, including kangaroo curry and witchetty grubs, along with lovely local wine.

Dame Marie Bashir at the 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering,

Dame Marie Bashir. Couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous evening for the opening.

Me, Jane Carter and Tracey Boschetti enjoyed some local wine.

Me, Jane Carter and Tracey Boschetti enjoyed some local wine.

Once darkness fell, we were treated to the Cad Factory’s open-air video, sound, light and textile artwork, Shadow Places. Sadly, the photos don’t do it justice, but it was certainly intriguing and a lovely way to end the evening.

One of the Shadowlands art installation.

This was an ever changing video projected on to large square haybales. Visually stunning.

A Shadowlands art installation.

This one was very Blair Witch Project. Remember the scary film from the late 90s?

Shadowlands art installation

This one was pretty but also a little alien. I kept thinking something was about to hatch from it.

Gathering 'ear tag' lanyard

Loved our Gathering lanyards made of cattle ear tags. And having the program attached proved a veeeeery handy thing!

2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Celebratory cake cutting on the Saturday of 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

gala dinner 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Gala dinner yumminess!

Rosalie Ham at the 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Rosalie Ham entertaining us with how she came to write The Dressmaker.

Table decoration, 2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

The tables at the gala dinner were cleverly decorated with a dressmaker theme. We were even given cute little pin cushions to take home.

2017 NSW Rural Women’s Gathering, Narrandera.

Raffle draw and thank yous at the dinner. Followed by dancing. Such fun!

I hope you enjoyed this small insight into the terrific event that is the NSW Rural Women’s Gathering. If you get the chance, come along to the next one in Merimbula. I promise you’ll leave it feeling truly inspired.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share snippets from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally twist the arms of author buddies to do the same.

So much happening!

Yesterday was the official release day of the smaller (cheaper – yay) ‘B’ paperback format of Wayward Heart, complete with its gorgeous new cover.

I’ll always treasure the original version with its breathtaking lovers’ embrace, but I do love this new one. I like the way the designer has Wayward Heart’s heroine Jas looking up and out into her future. It suits the book perfectly because the story is all about two damaged people finding their way forward. And finding love too, of course. It’s a romance, after all.

The second thing that’s happening is that it’s now LESS THAN ONE MONTH until the release of The Country Girl. Oooooooh, I can’t wait. So ridiculously excited about this book. Stay tuned for lots of upcoming goodies, including more snippets, sample chapters and possibly even some recipes from Tash’s kitchen.

Release day is December 18th in paperback and ebook, but you can avoid the Christmas rush with a pre-order. Try: amazon.comamazon.com.auamazon.co.ukiBooksKoboGoogle PlayBooktopia, Dymocks, or Angus & Robertson Bookworld.

But today it’s all about Wayward Heart and the release of the ‘B’ format paperback. Watch out for it in stores.

Enjoy this bit of sexual attraction between Digby and Jas.

 

Jas was in the garage when Digby arrived back, tins of paint and some ratty bristled paintbrushes lined up on the concrete. The way she grinned on seeing him killed any lingering trace of the bad Wayward Heart by Cathryn Heinmood brought on by the scene with his mother at Camrick. Jas was sexy, exciting and real. His blood, so long sluggish and viscous with sorrow, surged life once more through his veins.

She sauntered towards him in a pair of well-fitting faded jeans and a purple polo shirt that was either ancient or had shrunk in the wash. The hem skimmed the waistband of her jeans, revealing a tiny sliver of pale skin with each sway of her hips. The neck gaped from the strain over her breasts. Eyes on his, Jas stopped right in front of him and placed her hand over his heart, before standing on tiptoe to kiss him.

A kiss that had him dumping the plastic bags he was carrying to lean her against the rear of her car and shove his hands up her shirt.

Wayward Heart is available in print and ebook from these stores. Grab your copy today!

Dymocks

Booktopia

Angus & Robertson Bookworld

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Kobo

iBooks

Google Play

Barnes & Noble Nook

Learn the story behind how I came to write Wayward Heart in Of Beaches And Brothers, And Friends to Lovers. You can also discover its theme song and more in 6 Secret Things About Wayward Heart.

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Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to Teaser Tuesday, the series where I share tasty teasers from new and past releases, and works-in-progress, and occasionally con good author buddies into doing the same.

Did you know there are only six weeks left until Christmas? You’re probably more than already aware given how much Christmassy stuff is already adorning the shops. They don’t like to let us forget the silly season’s arrival, do they?

I don’t mind so much this year. Why? Well, The Country Girl is scheduled to release on December 18th and that means there’ll be at least six days’ worth of Christmas shopping time for all you lovelies to grab a copy and stuff it into your, and all your bookaholic friends and families’ stockings. Woohoo!

Yeah, I know, I know. It’s all about me. But I LOVE this book and am so excited that you’ll soon be able to read it, and better still, be able grab a copy before you trek off on lazy summer holidays. The perfect book to make you even warmer and fuzzier, but without the sunburn (or frostbite for those in northern climes).

What you won’t have to wait for is our regular and hugely popular guest Anna Campbell’s new novella The Christmas Stranger because it’s coming out on Amazon this week. Rah!

Here’s Anna to tell you all about it. Make sure you read right to the end, because there could be a giveaway on offer.

Who says Christmas doesn’t come early?

Author Anna CampbellHi Cathryn!

Thank you for having me as your guest. I do so love to visit you – and what better time of year to swing by than in the run-up to Christmas?

I must be feeling particularly Christmassy this year because I’ve got two novellas out, and I’ve also put a previously published story into a great Christmas anthology called Romance Under the Mistletoe (check it out – great value!).

Today, I’m here to talk to you about The Christmas Stranger: A Regency Novella which touches on so many themes pertinent to the Season of Goodwill. Love at first sight. Finding a family. Taking a chance. Moving from darkness into light. Plus there’s a definite fairytale element to this romance!

Maggie Carr has been the housekeeper at isolated Thorncroft Hall for five years, and she’s convinced life is passing her by. But everything changes when architect Josiah Hale stumbles across her doorstep in the middle of a snowstorm. Joss brings the spirit of Christmas back into Maggie’s life, as you’ll see in this excerpt when our seemingly mismatched couple go in search of holly and ivy to decorate the rambling Jacobean mansion.

 

Thorncroft Hall, Yorkshire, 22nd December, 1821

Maggie laughed. And found herself laughing again and again, as she and Mr. Hale wandered the snowy woods behind the house in search of greenery. She’d thought they’d cut a few sprigs of holly before they headed home, but the cart was soon laden with boughs of pine and holly, enough to make the whole house bright.

The weather held while they were outside. Now and again, there was a glimmer of pale sunlight through the thick clouds. But as they turned back to the manor, the snow started again.

She turned her face up to the flakes and out of childish habit, stuck her tongue out to catch a couple. When she realized Mr. Hale was watching her, she blushed at her nonsense.

The Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell“It’s supposed to be lucky,” she said defensively.

“I hadn’t heard that.” He stared at her as if he’d never seen a woman before.

“Mamma and I used to play games in the snow. I don’t know if it’s a real superstition or not, but we always did it.” Her eyes flickered down, then up again. “You must think I’m silly.”

He smiled at her, and her foolish heart stuttered, although surely only the fading light lent such tenderness to his expression. “It’s nice to see you being a bit silly. You mostly seem to take life very earnestly.”

She should tell him to mind his own business. But she found herself responding honestly. “In recent years, I haven’t had much fun. We used to. Papa was a very jolly vicar. Everyone loved him, and his parishioners were devastated when he died. They wanted us to stay in the village, but they were so poor themselves, we couldn’t take their charity. Mamma and I continued to celebrate Christmas after we came here. I just…I just seem to have got out of the habit.” She smiled at Joss. “Thank you for reminding me that it’s the season of goodwill, not the season for sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.”

“You’re such a sparkling girl.” Her gratitude didn’t seem to please him. Instead he looked troubled. “You should have the world at your feet.”

She fought to keep her smile in place, although she cringed at the poor figure she cut with her lack of sophistication and drab clothes. When she’d give anything to dazzle him with her wit and beauty.

And all was not lost. He’d called her sparkling.

“Well, I do have the king of Christmas in my thrall,” she said lightly.

To her surprise, he touched her cheek with one leather-gloved hand. The contact was over in an instant. Surely she must imagine the blast of heat sizzling through her, heat that made a mockery of the freezing air.

“You do at that,” he said softly.

 

You can read a longer excerpt and the blurb on my website.

The Christmas Stranger is only 99 cents on Amazon.com

Here are the buy links: AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboiBooks.

The Christmas Stranger meme

So let’s talk Christmas decorations. Are you a pile it on everywhere, the more the merrier type? Or are you a decorations minimalist? Do you put up the tree the minute you hear the first Christmas carol at Coles? Or are you someone who waits until Christmas Eve to stick up one string of tinsel?

GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got a Kindle download of A Christmas Stranger: A Regency Novella for someone who comments today. No geographical restrictions.

Good luck in the draw! And wishing you all the best of the Season!

Please note: Giveaway closes midnight Friday AEST, 17th November 2017. Open internationally.

Great question, Anna. We’re hopeless with Christmas here in the Hein house, mostly because we tend to head interstate for Christmas to spend Christmas with family. But even when we do stay home – as will be the case this year – half the time we end up forgetting to put up the tree. Then a few days before the big day we look sheepishly at each other and go ‘oops’.

Anyway, Christmas isn’t about decorations and trees. It’s about being with or thinking about the ones you love.

And drinking fizz.

And eating naughty food.

And squealing over all the awesome books you’ve received in your stocking, like The Country Girl (ooh, I am SHAMELESS!!)

Are you forgetful like us, minimalist or get totally in the decorating spirit the moment the calendar flips over to December (or earlier)? Share and you’ll go into the draw for a Kindle copy of Anna’s gorgeous new book The Christmas Stranger.

If you’d like to learn more about Anna and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook and Twitter using @AnnaCampbelloz.

 

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