Category Archives: Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things To Do In The Spring

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Welcome again to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in
. Check out the site to see who else is playing along.

This week’s topic needs a bit of adjustment because it’s autumn here and spring for us is a whole winter away.

Favourite Things To Do In The Spring Autumn!

Where to start? Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year because the days are usually mild which makes it great for doing things I adore, like golfing and lunching and generally being out and about and soaking up those warm rays before the winter cold arrives. Activities that are a tad curtailed thanks to the world health crisis.

But there is one thing I love to do in autumn that hasn’t been affected (much) and that’s cooking. So many opportunities!

Autumn is fig time, one of my favourite fruits. Which means I can make fig, prosciutto and mozzarella salad or simple desserts like honey roasted figs Bake With Anna Olson by Anna Olsonor fig and hazelnut tart. And mandarins come into season too. They’re lovely to eat on their own or they’re great in this mandarin, pistachio and chickpea cake. Yes, chickpeas! It’s delicious, I promise.

Apples come into season too giving the perfect excuse to make crumble, tarte tatin and other goodies. I’ve been binge watching excellent television series “Bake with Anna Olson” and recently bought the companion cookbook and now have lots of new apple things and more to try. Rah!

Autumn is also the start of the Australian Rules Football season. The Hein house becomes veeeery noisy on Sydney Swans Sydney Swans on tellygame days. I love my boys and like to dress up in my fan gear and cheer loudly. I know they can’t hear or see me through the telly but that’s not the point. It’s the vibes. And I do my best to send plenty of good ones their way. Although last season my vibes must have been duds because we were a bit disappointing. That’s okay. I’ll just try harder this year. Assuming the competition continues. It’s uncertain at the moment. (It’s now on hold.)

I also like to cook footy food to enjoy with the game. Things like celebrity chef (and my crush as discussed here) Home made samosas and bhajisRick Stein’s delicious Cornish pasties or my own made up little beef pie recipe. Or spicy satays, barbecued ribs, hot and sticky chicken wings, and Indian inspired feasts with homemade samosas and vegetable bhajis (pictured left with raita). And Jim makes a mean barbecued steak sandwich, dripping with onions, egg and bacon. All completely bad for you but pffft. Who cares? It’s footy season!

March brings us St Patrick’s Day too. A perfect excuse to stock the fridge with cans of Guinness and Kilkenny, along with the occasional bottle of Australian sparkling shiraz – a lovely autumnal drink. The beers also remind us that it’s time to break out our favourite beef in beer recipe. Delia Smith’s, from her Winter Collection, is awesome.

Casseroles need homemade, slow-rise bread. I came across a recipe for a A slice of cheesy mustard breadno-knead version years ago and have been using it ever since. But if I’m in a hurry I make do with this soda bread recipe, which I shared on my now archived blog series Friday Feast. Or, with more time, I make this focaccia, although I’m very keen to try Anna Olson’s focaccia recipe to see how it compares. If it’s like any of her other stuff, it’ll compare very well. Total new-born Anna fangirl, that’s me.

Hooly-dooly, I nearly forgot to mention Easter! The traffic tends to be diabolical around here then, with everyone heading up the north coast, so we usually stay put and stuff ourselves with seafood, footy and multiple rounds of golf. Chocolate too, although not too much – I can’t remember the Secret France by Rick Steinlast time we bought Easter eggs – and hot-crossed buns. I’ve been making this recipe for years but this Easter I’m going to put Anna’s to the test. I can’t go around buying new cookbooks and not use them, can I?

Speaking of which, I have Rick Stein’s new Secret France cookbook to play with too. Squeee!

So that’s me and my autumn loves. It’s handy that the weather tends to be excellent for golf because if I cook all the things I’m hoping to, I’m going to need all those walky miles, swings and more to wear them off. Golf also gets me outdoors and I don’t know about you, but this self-isolation is starting to send me a bit kooky.

What are your favourite things to do in autumn?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: The Weirdest Thing I Learned Reading Fiction

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Welcome again to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who’s playing along or join in yourself? Check out the challenge here.

Oh gawd, I’m on deadline and running waaaay behind, so my response to this week’s topic is going to be short.

The Weirdest Thing I Learned Reading Fiction

Um… probably how to kill someone painfully and inventively? God knows, I read enough horror novels to be a near expert on the subject. This is not an expertise I ever plan to use in my life. In case you were wondering.

I Ate the Sheriff by James Scott BellI also know far too much about the eating habits of zombies thanks to James Scott Bell’s Mallory Caine, Zombie-at-Law thriller series. Still gives me the shudders when I think about it. These books are hoot though. Totally over the top bonkers, which is just how I like them.

On a nicer note, and not particularly weird but I’m going to mention it anyway because this book is gorgeous, I recently discovered a lot about hand-lettering and calligraphy thanks to reading Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn.

What weird things have you learned from reading fiction?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: One Skill I Wish I Had But Don’t

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Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.

As you’ve probably determined from the title, this week’s topic is

One Skill I Wish I Had But Don’t

Hooly-dooly, these topics seem to be getting harder. I suppose it is meant to be a challenge though.

Hmm… what skill would I love to have?

I wish I knew how to design my own website. I like this one. The colours are bright and clean and suit my brand, but the site is getting a bit on now and the list of things I’d like to change and add keeps growing. A shop would be nice, for example, and I’d change the layout of the book pages and probably the home page too. I’d also put the subscription form for this blog at the top of the page, above the book covers, instead of below, and make my newsletter signup more prominent because I adore newsletter subscribers. They’re clever, darling book-lovin’ people and I do cherish them so.

Computer Rage pop art picKnowing how to do this stuff would also stop me hyperventilating every time I accidentally crash my website. Something that happens with horrible regularity and is made worse by not having a clue what it was I did wrong.

Doing it myself would also save money. Websites can be bloody expensive. This one was done as a favour by a friend and even then the cost made me wince. Yes, yes, I know there are platforms like Wix and Weebly out there but they’re not all beer and skittles. And call me precious, but I’d like one designed and tweaked just for me. Which I would be able to do, if I had the skill.

Except I don’t and I’m not about to learn because I’d much rather be writing kissing books.

Or playing golf.

Or cooking, restauranting, cheering from my beloved Sydney Swans, or any number of things that does not involve shudder-inducing technical computer stuff.

Best to leave that sort of thing to the experts.

What skill do you wish you had?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Characters Who Remind Me of Myself

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Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.

Oh yikes. This week’s topic is personal.

Characters Who Remind Me of Myself and Why

Well. *taps pencil against chin* I can certainly think of plenty I’d like to be, but remind me of myself? Tricky.

Very tricky.

Okay. Here’s one, and I feel like I should apologise for choosing a character from one of my own books but I’m not going to because the bottom line is he Horsemans Promise by Cathryn Heinthat Sophie from The Horseman’s Promise fits the brief.

And I do try to do as I’m told.

Mostly.

I should also probably apologise for sharing another horsey story (last week’s post was about the day I got my first horse) but… nah. Because HORSES!!

Eh hem.

The Horseman’s Promise was my debut novel, although back then it was simply titled Promises. Sophie is a once-troubled young lady who’s finding her strength, and who makes a deal with a neighbouring racehorse trainer to buy a steeplechaser of his that she’s seen jump and now has her heart set on.

Before I start, I want to make clear that despite some similarities, I’m not Sophie. She is, I hope, her own unique person. However, there is a scene in The Horseman’s Promise that I don’t mind claiming as ALL me.

I was quite young when I finished year twelve – only sixteen, which meant I’d be heading off to uni 400 kms away, having barely turned seventeen. No one was thrilled with that idea and it was decided I’d be better off taking a gap year. That was fine by me. I was more than happy to spend the year concentrating on my horses and growing up a bit. But a girl can’t flop about being a gap year lazy-Daisy all the time, she must work. At least, that’s what my parents insisted.

Cathryn Hein and her dad on horseback

Me and my dad at home. Dad is riding my ex-racehorse George and I’m on my other horse Dinks. With Milly the dog.

So I took a couple of jobs riding racehorses for local trainers. On my very first day at a yard not far from where I lived, I was plonked on the back of an old campaigner who was being brought back into work after a long paddock spell.

It should have been an easy ride and it was for most of the workout, but the circuit included a long uphill stretch before the home turn, where the horses were usually given free rein to enjoy an easy canter. Fine and dandy, you’d think. Except my horse didn’t feel like an easy canter. He wanted to go fast. Race fast. I was a skinny, just out of school seventeen-year-old and no match for a horse of this determination and though I tried, in this battle of strength I came out the loser.

We whipped around the tight turn toward home at a terrifying gallop and proceeded down the hill toward the yard at an out of control sprint, me clinging on for dear life and cursing that this just had to happen on my first day.

As we thundered toward the driveway, I could feel the wily old bugger lining it up. At the speed we were travelling there was no way we could safely make that turn. It would mean going from sandy loam to slippery compacted crushed limestone and I might have been young, with a teenager’s bulletproof mentality, but that didn’t mean I felt like taking a skid on half a tonne of horseflesh.

What to do though?

My dad as a jockey riding Beau Kudeen.

My dad as a jockey riding Beau Kudeen.

At some point during this mad dash I remembered my dad – an ex-jockey – telling me what he used to do when a racehorse bolted. He used to kick them on and on until they wore out. Admittedly it wasn’t much of a plan, but it was all I had.

And with that driveway seconds away, I was running out of time to do anything else.

So I pulled on the right rein with all my might to keep the horse’s head straight and kicked liked crazy, and drove him flat-out past the property entrance. There was a wobbly moment when we hit the crushed limestone but we crossed it without mishap and continued up the grass track until the horse worked out that unless he wanted to do another lap of the block, he’d have to slow down and turn around.

We arrived back in the yard panting and sweating as hard as each other to a welcome of teases about knocking the poor old horse about, and probably quite a bit of relief from the trainer. As for my biceps the next day… Ouch!

I was never put on that horse again. Which was a shame, because I would have liked another go. But maybe the trainer decided he didn’t need the heartburn.

I didn’t either, to be honest, but I’m bloody glad of the experience. Without it, my debut novel wouldn’t have had this memorable scene..

Okay, spill. What character reminds you of yourself?

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Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Favourite Memory and Why

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Welcome to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. Want to see who else is playing along? Visit here and click on the Miscellaneous Musings link near the top of the page.

This week’s topic is a hard one.

My Favourite Memory and Why

I mean, from all the brilliant memories I have, how am I meant to choose just one? It’s like choosing your favourite book or song. Nigh on impossible.

So this won’t be my favourite memory but it sure is one of them.

The day I got my first horse.

I was ten and I’d been nagging my parents for a horse since I learned to say the word. I wouldn’t be surprised if I hadn’t nagged them before I could speak by stretching out my arms in a ‘gimme’ gesture whenever I sighted anything even remotely equine.

I love horses. Luuuuuuurve. To get one of my own was a dream come true. A cliché, yeah, but having my own horse was my dream. Nothing else mattered more.

My horse’s name was Mysty (note the romantic spelling). She was a two-year-old bay filly whose sire was a well-known stud thoroughbred. Her dam? The stud owner’s daughter’s pony. In other words, Mysty was an “oops”.

A few weeks before, Mum and Dad had taken me down to a property near Drumborg, just across the Victorian border, to meet her and it was love at first sight. She was the most magnificent creature I’d ever seen. Enchanted didn’t even begin to describe my feelings.

Oh, the excitement that she’d be coming home!

Mysty, me and Dad on her first day home

Mysty, me and Dad on her first day home. My first ride!

As you can imagine, when she did arrive I was beside myself. My own horse! And she was beautiful. Beautiful! More beautiful than any other horse that ever existed anywhere. And best of all she was mine. No more begging pats and rides from friends who had horses. No more fretting that I’d never have a horse of my own. No more crying over The Black Stallion books because I would never have a relationship with a horse like Alec shared with the Black.

My own horse. A miracle.

At only two-years-old and just broken, Mysty might have been a miracle but she was also completely inappropriate for a ten-year-old learner rider. But my dad had been brought up around horses and been a jockey in his younger years, and Mum used the justification that Mysty and I would be able to grow up together. Not smart thinking when it comes to horses. Usually, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Cathryn Hein horsing around

Me (left) and a friend, horsing around.

We were lucky though. So very, very lucky. Mysty was exceptionally gentle and sweet natured and whoever broke her in did a brilliant job. What followed was not disaster but years of fun and adventure and friendship, both equine and human from the world she’d opened up.

We did pony club, hunt club, trail riding club, dressage club, show-jumping club. We did horse shows, gymkhanas, and eventing across South Australia and Victoria. I even won champion rider in my age class riding Mysty at the Pony Club State Championships in 1986 (? – could have been ’85, I can’t quite remember). I also whispered all my secrets into her swivelling ears, cried into her silky neck, laughed at her funny behaviours (she once walked through the front door of our house), and dreamed a thousand daydreams while stretched out across her back.

She made my childhood exciting and special and magical. Mysty, my dream horse. A star.

What’s your favourite memory?

PS. If you’re curious about my top 5 horse stories, you can check out my list here.

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: Books I re-read or want to re-read

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Welcome again to the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, a year-long challenge set by the good folk at Long and Short Reviews that anyone can participate in. It’s not too late for you to play along either. Interested? You can learn more about the blogging challenge here.

This week’s topic is another beauty.

Books I re-read or want to re-read

It used to be normal for me to re-read books. My copy of Jilly Cooper’s Riders is so wrecked from being read so many times it’s creased and grubby and has a cover held together with packing tape, and my copy of Well Groomed by Fiona Walker isn’t much better. My collection of Wilbur Smiths was the same (I could not get enough oRiders by Jilly Cooperf those Courtneys!).

Re-reading was normal because one, I couldn’t afford to buy new books all the time and two, other than the library, my only source of books were local bookshops. Now, bookshops are marvellous places but they can’t stock every book, and nor should they. Which meant that whenever I ran out of money or books that turned me on, it was back to the ones already on my shelf.

In the early 90s I had a brilliant local bookshop that I would visit every few weeks, sometimes more. I travelled a lot back then and spent many weeknights in boring hotel rooms and needed books to keep me sane. It was a small bookshop with limited shelf space, but a highly curated fiction selection. Thanks to their recommendations I read some extraordinary stories during that period. Many remained on my keeper shelves for years and were enjoyed again and again.

In the early 2000s we moved to Aix-en-Provence in France and my book collection went into storage in Australia. Aix had several fabulous bookshops but only one that stocked English titles. I became a frequent visitor to Book-in-Bar (yep, it was a bookshop with a bar – heaven – and I still have booksmarks from there). The selection was great and compared to Australia the books were incredibly cheap, which meant lots of stocking up on new goodies. Then along came Amazon UK and an even greater book selection, and a period where I really got into romance novels and couldn’t buy enough of them. When I was banned from buying more books (it was getting a bit silly and we couldn’t ship them all home), it was back to re-reading.

Fast forward to my first e-reader, a Sony PRS that I bought in 2010 and that pretty much ended my re-reading days. Unless it’s a cookbook (I re-read those babies all the time) or a writing craft book (ditto), it’s now quite rare for me to re-read. I’m simply too spoiled for choice.

Rare, but not unheard of. Which brings me to my list.

Here are some of the books that I plan to re-read.

Watchers by Dean KoontzWatchers by Dean Koontz

I read this book years ago, in the early 90s, and loved it. It stars a dog and I’m a dog person. Not just any dog, mind, but the dog we’d all adore to have.

I gave my print copy to charity during a clean-out in one of our many house moves and recently purchased it again in ebook, which means I can read it with lovely big print. An important consideration when you have crappy eyesight like me.

It by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King

Scariest book I ever read (or re-read). It’s about time I had the pants scared off me again.

Again, another book I’ll read in ebook because my print copy went the high-jump donkeys ago.

I’ll probably have nightmares and Jim will get cranky but it’ll be worth it.

A Place in the Hills by Michelle PaverA Place in the Hills by Michelle Paver

One of the few print copies that I’ve managed to hold on to. This is the book that cemented my love for the romance genre. It’s amazing. You should read it.

Even though she no longer writes romance, Paver remains an auto-buy author for me. Wakenhyrst and Dark Matter were brilliant and I adored her Daughters of Eden trilogy. So romantic. Sigh.

The Gargoyle by Andrew DavidsonThe Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Fantastic book. Read the opening scene and prepare to be gobsmacked.

I read this when it first released and was mesmerised by both the story and the way it was structured. I’ve had a story premise in my mind for about eight years that I’d like to structure the same… when I get around to writing it. No idea when that’ll be, but when I do I’ll re-read The Gargoyle for inspiration.

The Glittering Hour by Iona GreyThe Glittering Hour and Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

I think Iona Grey’s books are beautiful and emotional and deserve multiple re-reads. Total fangirl.

If you’re interested in my rave comments about them, you’ll find my comments on My Favourite Reads here (for The Glittering Hour) and here (for Letters to the Lost).

This is only a small selection of the books I’d like to re-read. There are a bazillion others, but you know what it’s like. Too many books and not enough reading time!

What book(s) would you dearly love to re-read?

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Wednesday Blogging Challenge: My Goals for 2020

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“Ooh,” I hear you ask, “what is this?”

It’s a blogging challenge!

Let me explain

I was tooling around the internet the other day, as you do, and came across this page on popular romance reviewing website Long and Short Reviews. The page outlined a blog hop that would run for the entire year and had a graphic showing the weekly topics.

How serendipitous, I thought. I’d been wondering what else I could blog about in addition to my regular Teaser Tuesday (returning toward the end of the month) and My Favourite Reads series and these topics not only looked a lot of fun, they’d be easy to do and I could schedule them well ahead of time.

Wednesday Blogging Challenge - topics

Even better, I’d get to share the posts on the Long and Short Reviews site and join in its vibrant community.

Too many wins!

This challenge isn’t only for authors. It’s for anyone bookish. The idea is to share something each Wednesday, gain new friends, and encourage visitors to the Long and Short Reviews blog. And if once a week feels too much, that’s not a problem. You can post as much or as little as you want.

Cool, yes?

If you’d like to play along, you’ll find more information and the blogging challenge schedule here at Long and Short Reviews.

Right. Today is day one and we have a lovely topic to start the year with. It’s brief and pertinent, and something I can revisit at the end of the year to see how I went. All good.

Here we go with week one of the blogging challenge. Enjoy!

My Goals for 2020

1/. Edit and publish Scarlett and the Model Man.

Oh, you are going to adore this book! Scarlett and Sam are so sighworthy. These two are a complete delight and, as with many in the Levenham Love Story series, Audrey Wallace (aka Granny B) gets to poke in her aristocratic nose. Not that I blame her. Surfing dairy farmer Sam is well worth an ogle or ten.

If you want to be among the first to hear about its release, join my newsletter lovelies. Doing so will also give you access to a chain of short stories to savour over a cuppa and other exclusives (the gang absolutely ADORED my free Christmas story Belle and the Perfect Present last month), and it means you’ll never miss a new release. Like this blog challenge, too many wins!

2/. Write Serenity’s Song, the sequel to my Outback Brides book, Elsa’s Stand.

Many of you have asked for Serenity’s story and I’m finally going to deliver. Elsa's Stand memeFor those of you familiar with Elsa’s Stand, the hero of Serenity’s Song (working title) will be Jesse Hargreaves, naughty younger brother of Elsa’s utterly delectable man-of-few-words hero Jack.

Serenity’s Song is going to be my first ‘forced proximity’ story. I bet your mind is boggling over that one. Forced proximity in Wirralong? It can be done, trust me. I make up stuff for a living.

3/. Write a full-length novel.

Something that was on last year’s agenda, too but about which Madame Universe had other thoughts. She can be mean like that.

I have a few ideas I’m mulling over, so I can’t share anything yet. One premise is in the lead but one of the characters needs more nutting out and I’m not sure he’ll/she’ll be ready by the time it comes to write the story. Over the years I’ve learned that it’s better to wait until I have everything properly lined up rather than jumping in.

What I do promise is to share my progress and the occasional snippet on my Teaser Tuesday series. Keen to stay in the loop? Keep your eyes on this blog.

4/. Be healthy and happy!

2018 and 2019 were not the best of years. A couple of annus horribilis, as the Queen would say. But they’re behind us and from where I’m sitting right now, 2020 is looking very bright and shiny. I just KNOW it’s going to be a cracker. My positive vibes are so charged they’re bouncing around like spring bunnies.

So no horribilis-ing here. I’m firm on that. We’re going to have an annus mirabilis instead, loaded with love and laughter.

Which, you must agree, is the most important goal of all.

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Okay, my lovelies, what are your goals for 2020?

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