Tag Archives: Jennifer Scoullar

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

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Greetings, food and book lovers, and welcome to another tasty edition of Friday Feast. This week we trip to the tantalising tropics and go a bit nutty with one of Australia’s favourite rural and environmental fiction authors. Plus there’s a giveaway!

But first, the disappointment that is Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Sigh. Deep, deep sigh. I was on form, dropping shots off my handicap with almost every round. But that was before, when the sun shone bright and autumn was far away. Now… Oh, it is ugly. So very, very ugly. The summer of my golfing content is over. The curse has returned with the shortening days and I am but a hacker once more.

Author Jennifer ScoullarEnough lamenting. It’s time for our guest.

Australian author Jennifer Scoullar blazed into our literary landscape with the best-selling rural romance Brumby’s Run, following that success up with Currawong Creek and Billabong Bend. What makes Jennifer’s novels different is their focus on environmental issues. Issues that are often complex and divisive, yet Jennifer handles with knowledge and empathy.

Her latest is Turtle Reef, which officially releases next week . Take a look…

TURTLE REEF

TurtleReef_cover2.0From the bestselling author of Billabong Bend, Brumby’s Run and Currawong Creek comes a wonderful new novel set against the spectacular beauty of Queensland’s rocky coral coast.

Unlucky-in-love zoologist Zoe King has given up on men. Moving from Sydney to take up an exciting new role in marine science in the small sugar town of Kiawa is a welcome fresh start. Zoe  is immediately charmed by the region’s beauty – by its rivers and rainforests, and by its vast cane fields, sweeping from the foothills down to the rocky coral coast.  And also by its people – its farmers and fishermen, unhurried and down to earth, proud of their traditions.

Her work at the Reef Centre provides all the passion she needs and Zoe finds a friend in Bridget, the centre’s director. The last thing she wants is to fall for her boss’s fiancé, cane king Quinn Cooper, so she refuses to acknowledge the attraction between them – even to herself. But things aren’t quite adding up at the Reef Centre and when animals on the reef begin to sicken and die, Zoe’s personal and professional worlds collide. She faces a terrible choice. Will protecting the reef mean betraying the man she loves?

Ooh, this sounds exciting. Nothing like a story featuring a heroine stuck between a rock and a hard place. Definitely one for the buy list. Turtle Reef releases officially on Wednesday, March 25th but you can secure your copy right now.  Simply  pre-order from those good people at Booktopia, or try Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Collins Booksellers, iBooks, Amazon.au, Google Play, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, eBooks.com or your favourite bookstore.

All set? Then come swimming in delicious waters with Jennifer.

Turning Turtle

Many thanks for having me on ‘Friday Feast’ Cathryn, and for helping me celebrate the macadamia orchardupcoming release of my new book, Turtle Reef. The story is set at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, where rainforests and cane fields sweep down from the foothills to meet the rocky, coral coast. Much more than sugar cane grows in these rich volcanic soils. Shady tropical orchards abound: avocados, custard apples, egg fruit, lychees, mangos – and of course macadamias, the king of nuts.

Macadamias aren’t really nuts at all, but the kernels of a hard, green fruit. I’m a bush tucker fan, and sometimes have trouble sourcing ingredients. But these are such popular international favourites, it’s easy to forget they’re indigenous.They macadamia fruitgrow on lovely rainforest trees that evolved not long after the death of the dinosaurs. For millions of years, they flourished along the east coast of Australia. However by the time Europeans discovered their commercial potential, they only persisted in a small number of rainforest remnants.

Today the macadamia tree is our only native commercial food crop. It can bear fruit for over 100 years. The oldest known tree was planted in 1858 at what is now Brisbane’s Botanical Gardens, and is still producing.

To celebrate the release of Turtle Reef, here is a simple macadamia recipe with a Queensland feel. I make this cake in a 30 cm cast iron skillet, however any oven-proof fry pan would do. An old-fashioned Aussie recipe, delicious but fattening!

Tropical Upside Down Cake

Tropical upside-down cake

Ingredients

½  cup butter

⅔ cup brown sugar

 1- 1 ½  cups unsalted roast macadamia nuts

Pineapple rings (fresh or canned)

1 cup plain flour

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ cup milk

1 egg

Pineapple juice or syrup

Method

Melt ¼ cup butter in pan.

Add ⅔ cup brown sugar until melted. Use more butter & brown sugar if needed so that the bottom of the pan is covered with mixture. Once melted, remove from heat.

Arrange pineapple rings on top of melted brown sugar. Fill each with a macadamia nut. Chop remaining nuts and sprinkle in spaces, keeping some aside.

Sift 1 cup flour with ¾ cup of sugar and baking powder.

Add ¼ cup butter and ½ cup milk. Mix until well blended.

Add one egg and 2-3 tablespoons of pineapple juice or syrup. Mix well.

Pour batter over pineapple, spreading evenly to the edges. Sprinkle with remaining chopped nuts.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden.

Cool on rack for about 15 minutes. Place cake plate over pan, turn upside down and give a little shake. The cake should slide out easily.

For an indulgent tropical twist, serve warm, with Streets Blue Ribbon Coconut & Mango Ripple Ice Cream. Yum!

 

Doesn’t that sound divine? I was gone at the mention of caramel and macadamias. And don’t get me started on the sweet pineapple. Thanks for sharing this beautiful recipe, Jennifer. I’ll be testing this one out for sure.

Now, my luscious little Feasties, as you are probably already aware, Jennifer is not only an excellent writer but a generous soul. Which is why she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, you could win your very own copy of Turtle Reef. Rah! But as always, you must work for it. Not very hard though. We’re about making life easy here on Friday Feast.

To be in the draw to win a copy of Turtle Reef, simply share which dish or food reminds you of the tropics.

Perhaps it’s a big bowl of juicy prawns with tangy seafood sauce, or a perfect fillet of reef fish with its skin grilled crispy. Maybe mangos or lychees or another exotic fruit like durian makes you think of sandy beaches and warm water. Or even a spicy green papaya salad and aromatic satays on the barbie. Reveal all and you’ll go into the draw.

For me it’s Morton Bay bugs. I love those babies and have them every time we head to north Queensland to visit Jim’s family. Served with bowls of nuoc cham for dipping, they go down a treat. A quick trip to the fish co-op and greengrocer, a bottle of something white and zesty to wash them down, and a feast is on.

So what brings out the tropics for you?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, AEST, 24th March 2015. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Amanda B who has scored herself a copy of Turtle Reef. Lots of vicarious tropical living ahead for her. Thanks to everyone who joined in and shared their tropical delights. What fun!

 

Rural Romance Book Heaven Could Be Yours!

How would you like the chance to win a Valentine’s bouquet that lasts forever? Well, perhaps not forever, but a bloody long time.

Then you need the…

AustralianRuralRomance.com

Valentine’s Day Giveaway!

There are 6 book bouquets – yes, SIX! – up for grabs, with each bunch containing 5 of the best from our Australian rural romance stars. We’re talking the likes of Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Loretta Hill, Helene Young, Tricia Stringer, Barbara Hannay, Fleur McDonald, Fiona McArthur, Jenn J McLeod, Mandy Magro, Margareta Osborn, Bronwyn Parry, Jennifer Scoullar and many more. And all you have to do to be in the draw is sign up to the australianruralromance.com blog. Easy-peasy.

Lucky me is in two book bouquets, one featuring a signed copy of Promises, the other a copy of Heart of the Valley. Check out the amazing company I’m in…

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Promises

 

Australian rural romance book bouquet with Heart of the Valley

And there are another four fabulous book bouquets up for grabs. Wow!

So either click on one of the images above or hit australianruralromance.com to lodge your entry.

This is a fantastic opportunity to score books from some of Australia’s most popular writers, for yourself or to share. Don’t miss out!

Winners will be drawn on February 14th. Australian postal addresses only.

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

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Tra-la-la! Another excellent Friday is here and what fun we’ll have with it too. But first, one must gloat!

Did you see my darling Swannies? They were magnificent last week against Geelong. Magnificent! It’s taken a while but my boys have really hit their footy straps now. Which leads me nicely into Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news. Last week I didn’t just play to my Australian author Jennifer Scoullarnew handicap, I beat it. By TWO WHOLE STROKES. Imagine! ‘Tis a miracle, but for some very strange reason the Great Golfing God loves me at the moment. It will pass, of course. That is the Hein fate, but for now I’m loving it!

Speaking of loving (hee!), today’s Friday Feast guest has been receiving rave reviews for her latest release. Jennifer Scoullar broke into the rural romance genre with the hugely successful Brumby’s Run, followed by Currawong Creek. Now her latest, Billabong Bend, is out and it’s being praised by readers and bloggers everywhere.

Check it out…

BILLABONG BEND

Cover pf Billabong Bend by Jennifer ScoullarFor riverine farmer Nina Moore, the rare marshland flanking the beautiful Bunyip River is the most precious place on Earth. Her dream is to buy Billabong Bend and protect it forever, but she’s not the only one with designs on the land. When her childhood sweetheart Ric Bonelli returns home, old feelings are rekindled and Nina dares to hope of a future for them both on the river. But a tragic death divides loyalties, tears apart their fledgling romance and turns her dream into a nightmare. Will Nina win the battle for Billabong Bend? Or will the man she once loved destroy the wild wetlands she holds so close to her heart?

Billabong Bend is a star-crossed love story which sets Nina, a floodplains grazier, and Ric, a traditional cotton farmer, on a heart-rending collision course amid the beauty of New South Wales’ northern riverlands.

A star-crossed love story! Now, how could anyone refuse that? And you don’t have to because Billabong Bend is available right now from your favourite book shop or chainstore. Or you can order instantly online from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, Dymocks, Fishpond, Boomerang Books, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, iBooks, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Kobo or your favourite ebook retailer.

All stocked up? Fabulous. Now it’s time to get native with Jennifer!

Cooking With Native Mint

‘Two moons, one in the sky and its dimpled twin in the river, cast a soft glow over the bush. The velvet night was fragrant with eucalyptus and wild river mint.’ Billabong Bend

Thanks so much for asking me over for a Friday feast Cathryn. As you already know, I’m a fan of bush tucker. To celebrate the release of Billabong Bend I’m sharing a recipe using the rambling River Mint bush Mentha australisis – a subtle Australian native herb with the taste and aroma of spearmint. It thrives along waterways after flood, particularly in the beautiful Murray Darling riverlands. Indigenous people used River Mint to flavor food, and also medicinally for coughs and colds. Early settlers embraced this perennial herb, commonly teaming it with roast lamb. It can be easily grown and is great for boggy places. Although not as invasive as common mint it does spread, so may be best in pots for small gardens. Dry it, or use it fresh in savoury sauces, salads, fruit drinks and desserts. You can buy dried River Mint online very reasonably from The Bush Food Shop. They also sell River Mint and Pepperleaf Jelly and a delightfully refreshing Wild Spearmint Cordial!

Here’s a delicious no-bake slice that takes hardly any time at all to prepare, and will impress people with your bush tucker skills!

Native Mint and Macadamia Slice

Jennifer Scoullar's macadamia slice

200gm chocolate (I like dark best)

175gm Shortbread (Butterfingers shortbread made by the Old Colonial Cookie Company in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is yum and Aussie made. I’m not much of a shortbread cook!)

I/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

40gm butter

2 tablespoons of Australian honey

2 tablespoons dried River Mint

– Line a pan with baking paper

– Place the dried native mint in a saucer and add 2 tablespoons of hot water. Leave to cool.

– Combine 200gm chocolate with 40gm butter and 2 tablespoons of Australian honey in a

stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of boiling water until the chocolate just melts, and the

ingredients are combined.

– Remove from heat and stir in the native mint. Then fold in the packet of shortbread broken

into chunky pieces.

– Pour mixture into lined pan.

– Press macadamia halves on top and chill for 2 hours.

– Sprinkle icing sugar on top

– Slice and serve

 

Jenn, this sounds a lovely slice! And so easy. Like hedgehog slice but with a minty hint. I’ll have to give this one a try.

GIVEAWAY

We adore a good giveaway on Friday Feast and Jennifer has very generously offered one. This is your chance to win a paperback copy of her brand new, raved about release, Billabong Bend. Star-crossed lovers, Feasters! Star-crossed lovers! And yours to be had with just a teensy bit of effort.

To be in the draw, tell us your favourite slice. Maybe it’s lovely gooey caramel. Or perhaps you love nothing better than a savoury slice made with zucchini and fetta. Or even a bakery made apricot or apple slice that oozes luscious fruit the moment you bite into it.

Simply share your tastiest slice and we’ll pop you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 10th June 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Andrea, who has won a copy of Jennifer’s Billabong Bend. Great reading ahead. Thanks to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon!

THIS WRITING LIFE: Riding a Post RWA Conference High!

I’m home and back on the writing job after a week away in Western Australia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia Riding the Waves conference. What a ball was had! Romance writers are the kindest, friendliest and most generous people out there which makes conferences a hoot. They’re also hugely inspirational, loaded with wonderful craft and business information, and a fantastic way to connect with people who understand exactly how crazy this writing affliction can be. I always return from conferences more than a little bit excited and ready for action, which is just as well considering I have edits coming and a new book to write. This lark can’t all be flitting around Australia, hanging with glamorous authors…

I had hoped to share a pile of glossy, vibrant photos with you, but some numpty managed to upset the camera settings and half of them came out blurred. Sigh. Fortunately a few survived that I can present for your viewing pleasure.

Oh, and so you’re warned, this post is LONG!

Opening night on Thursday was Destiny Romance’s first birthday and, boy, was it loud. Plonk a hundred or so romance writers in a room, feed them cupcakes and bubbly, and you have a racket on your hands. But what a fun night, and what a delight to receive a fabulous Classic Penguin goodie bag at the end of it. Mine contained Anna Cowan’s much lauded Untamed and Peta Crake’s Harbinger, both of which I was thrilled to collect. Afterwards, Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia authors were treated to dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and more chatter.

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Margareta Osborn, me and Kathryn Ledson at the Destiny Party

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny's fabulous first year

Carol George, Destiny Romance editor, welcoming and thanking everyone, and toasting Destiny’s fabulous first year

Fab bag and even more fab reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Gorgeous bag and even more gorgeous reads thanks to Destiny Romance and Penguin Australia.

Friday saw dedicated delegates attend either the Venus On The Half Shell workshop presented by Kim Hudson, or the Elizabeth Jolley Conference – Reading and Writing Romance in the 21st Century. Me? I snuck off and played golf at Joondalup Resort. What can I say? A girl has to wear off cupcakes, fizz and spaghetti vongole somehow, and the course was brilliant!

But I was back in time for the all-important Harlequin Nautical or Nice cocktail party. At my first RWA conference, back in 2007(?), hardly anyone dressed up. A feather boa here, a quirky outfit there, but mostly normal cocktail-conference dress. Now everyone’s into it and the atmosphere is fantastically silly.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

Rural romance authors Fiona Palmer and Jennifer Scoullar.

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Ondine series author Ebony McKenna. You can show me to my berth anytime, Ebs!

Paula Roe as the world's most glittery desert island!

Paula Roe as the world’s most glittery desert island!

Rural romance author and good buddy looking super cute in her onesie!

Rural romance author and good buddy Rachael Johns looking super cute in her onesie!

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Glam pirate Fiona Palmer

Saturday morning saw the conference proper begin. Julia Quinn’s keynote address of her top 4 list of top 4 lists was wonderful and if there’s one thing I’ll forever remember from Riding the Waves it’s her saying: You will never hurt your career by helping another author. Yeah.

Harlequin’s sponsor address followed with Margaret Marbury (Vice President, Harlequin Single Title – HQN, Mira, Luna) and Sheila Hodgson (Harlequin Mills and Boon, London) talking enthusiastically about eHarlequin, their range of imprints, and what Harlequin can offer authors.

Paths to Third Party Publication saw Abby Zidle (Simon & Schuster, New York), Nina Bruhns (Entangled Publishing), Sheila Hodgson, Bernadette Foley (Hachette Australia), Kate Cuthbert (Escape Publishing), Alisa Krasnostein (Twelfth Planet Press), and moderator Alex Adsett (Alex Adsett Publishing Services) take the stage to discuss how to submit to publishers and what they’re looking for. My impression was that they were all hungry for your work. Really hungry, and throughout the panel I kept thinking what a great time it was to be an author. We are wanted, no longer beholden and we have options. A lot of options.

Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

L to R: Alex Adsett (moderating), Shelia Hodgson, Alex Zidle, Nina Bruhns, Alisa Kradnostein, Bernadette Foley and Kate Cuthbert

Morning tea: bacon and egg muffins and pastries. Enough said!

For my first breakout session I did Nina Bruhns’s session on Save the Cat! which I loved. She talked about the 10 types of movies (fascinating stuff), loglines and why you need them, and Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheets for plotting. Really useful stuff and some of the worksheets are available on Blake’s website under the Tools tab. Quite a few writers I know swear by his Save the Cat! book and after the amount I got out of this session I’ve decided to join the crowd and have just ordered it.

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

Nina Bruhns presenting her Save the Cat! workshop

I loved Nina’s “when you’re stuck” tip, which I’ve heard a few times before but it never hurts to hear these things again. If you’ve come to a standstill, make a list of 10, 20 or more different things that could happen in your book. Be outrageous, take the editor off your shoulder and just brainstorm. It doesn’t matter if they’re clichéd or unrealistic, write them down. The more you list the more likely you are to come up with something fresh and unexpected to brighten and intrigue your reader. I’m testing this right now as I broaden the plot outline of my next rural romance and have already come up with a couple of good ideas.

For breakout session two I moderated the Shark In Your Story panel (which for some daft reason I couldn’t stop thinking of as the Jump The Shark panel) with Helene Young, Shannon Curtis and Bronwyn Parry. As you’d expect from ladies so highly acclaimed for their romantic suspense novels, the panel was full of fascinating titbits, especially when it came to crafting great villains (Shannon likes to get her freak on; Bronwyn tends to get her ideas for villains from the news). I wish it had gone on longer but there was lunch and more chattering to be had!

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

The Shark in Your Story panel L to R: Shannon Curtis, Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry

For breakout three, I joined best-selling historical romance author Anne Gracie and a round table of published authors to discuss business. Again, I wish we had longer because I feel like we barely skimmed the surface, especially when it came to rights and contracts. These are issues authors can never know enough about. Maybe next year in Sydney, when author day returns, we’ll get to talk about the business side of writing a bit more.

Thanks to the Australian Romance Readers Association we had another authorfest on Saturday afternoon with an ARRA booksigning event. 50+ authors seated in the one room with their books for sale and pens poised for signings.  Not quite as loud as the Destiny Party, but close! I sat between paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin and best-selling author of The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots (and others) Loretta Hill. Kylie’s books sold like crazy which was delightful to see, and I was seriously chuffed to do a few signings myself. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that thrill. It’s something very special.

All action at the ARRA booksigning

All action at the ARRA booksigning

Amy Andrews came prepared...

Amy Andrews came prepared…

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona MacArthur only needed her charming self.

Ebony McKenna brought her ferret, Fiona McArthur only needed her charming self.

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Eleni Konstantine wearing her conference team hat. Sweet!

Me!

Me!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Elise Ackers. An author to watch!

Oof, those romantic suspense types... Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Oof, those romantic suspense types… Helene Young with Bronwyn Parry.

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Jennifer Kloester with Juanita Kees

Paranormal and fantasy romance author Kylie Griffin.

Kylie Griffin. There weren’t many of those books left by the end.

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener

Harlequin Romance author Michelle Douglas with historical author Michelle Diener. I was thrilled to score Michelle Diener’s kindly donated raffle prize, complete with pretty bookmarks, and look forward to sinking my nose into her stories.

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Visiting US author Maisey Yates with Rachael Johns

Then it was out for dinner and a frock up before returning to the Esplanade Hotel for dessert and the RWA’s Awards Gala, where there was much applauding and cheering for our contest and RuBY winners, and where I was delighted to see Bronwyn Jameson awarded life membership of the RWA. So well deserved. Then we had… dancing! I tell you, these romance girls (and boys) know how to rock on.

A glamorous night awaits!

A glamorous night awaits…

...with desserts. Lots of desserts!

…with desserts. Lots of desserts!

The rural romance girls!

The rural romance girls.

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Amanda Knight with Bronwyn Parry

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Rachael Johns and Beck Nicholas

Harlequin Sexy author and hot sheik expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Harlequin Sexy and Presents author and hot sheikh expert Annie West with best-selling historical romance author Christina Brooke

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Kat Mayo with Alex Adsett

Me and Fiona McArthur

Me and Fiona McArthur

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Those romance gals sure know how to boogie!

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel's bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews

Found resting their dancing feet in the Esplanade Hotel’s bar afterward: Jennifer St George and Amy Andrews…

...Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

…Christina Brooke and many others. Glam ladies with stamina!

Sunday morning. Ahh, yes, a few bleary eyes can be seen, but all in good cause: ie fun. Harlequin’s second sponsor address followed and my heart was all a-flutter at Kate Cuthbert’s news that Escape’s Australian-set rural romances are doing well in the US. Could this be the start of an Aussie invasion? I hope so!

Then the scary Submission Island panel with Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford (Bradford Literary Agency), Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum (PanMacmillan/Momentum) and Alex Adsett. Manuscript openings were read out and the panel held up STOP signs when they’d heard enough. Wow. Just… wow. If you ever needed a show of how hard it is to hook an editor or agent then this is it. But what also sank in for me was how subjective opinions are when it comes to manuscripts. Some panellists dropped out early, others hung on to the last. Sometimes there was a point where a few would be put off by the same sentence or paragraph and cards would flip up all at once. Overall, it was a insightful demonstration of how authors not only have to have thick skins, but tenacity too. Keep trying. Just because one or two agents or editors don’t like your work, that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who’d love it.

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

Survivor: Submission Island with L to R: Margaret Marbury, Abby Zidle, Laura Bradford, Nina Bruhns, Joel Naoum and Alex Adsett

I did Anne Gracie’s The Power of Detail for my first Sunday breakout session and enjoyed it immensely. Anne is a passionate speaker, with a real knack for getting information across in a way that resonates, and I walked away with excellent tips on how to bring the particular and every person together in my writing.

For the post lunch breakout I attended the self publishing panel with Cathleen Ross, Nina Bruhns and Kandy Shepherd. As with all the other panels, this contained more gems of insight from highly experienced authors, from the importance of meta-data, to advertising, to making sure that your books look as professional as traditionally published editions, and beyond. Given the attendance and range of questions, I suspect there’ll be even more on self-publishing at next year’s conference.

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

Self publishing panel with L to R: Kandy Shepherd, Cathleen Ross and Nina Bruhns

My last session was a free-for-all chat with Julia Quinn where delegates could ask her anything. I was so pleased to hear she was an edit-as-you-go writer too, because that’s how I work and I can’t help feeling that it somehow lets me down productivity wise. Doesn’t look like it’s hurt Julia!

Those that attended the Navigating the Choppy Waters of Online Reviews panel with Sarah Wendell (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books), Kat Mayo (Bookthingo and Booktopia) and Kate Cuthbert said that was worth attending too, offering plenty of cautionary advice about social networking and online communities.

We closed the conference with plenary addresses from Kim Hudson and Sarah Wendell, more raffles (I won something, rah!), the announcement of next year’s conference venue (Romance Rocks at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, double rah!) and Anne Gracie’s now traditional stand-ups where we celebrate all our achievements for the year (rah, rah, rah!).

After that, it was back to the bar for more chatter, a few drinks and farewells.

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

L to R: Fiona McArthur, Anne Gracie, Kaz Delaney, Bronwyn Jameson, Alison Stuart and Melanie Milburne

To the Riding the Waves conference committee and the RWA, I say thank you and bravo. Wonderful, wonderful conference and I can’t wait to do it again next year. So much so I’ve even put my hand up to help.

So now I’m home, furiously plotting when all I really want to do is soak up the glorious weather we’re having and snuggle down on the patio with a book from my RWA haul. But where-oh-where is a girl to start when she has all these beauties on offer?

Books

 

 

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

Is it me, or has 2013 seen some amazing books hit our shelves, especially with Australian fiction? Half way through the year and they’re still coming. July has some beauties, one of them from my Friday Feast guest today.

It’s my great pleasure to once again host Jennifer Scoullar, whose debut novel Brumby’s Run was a *ahem* runaway success. As in Brumby’s Run, Jennifer’s love for the natural environment is explored deeply in her new release Currawong Creek. I have this book loaded on my e-reader already and I’m looking forward to diving into its pages. I know that not only will I have a cracking story to entertain me, I’ll also learn about a wonderful new part of the Australian landscape. Double bonus!

Take a look at Currawong Creek

 

CURRAWONG CREEK

 

Cover of Currawong Creek by Jennifer ScoullarHeartfelt and passionate rural romance from the bestselling author of Brumby’s Run.

When Brisbane lawyer Clare Mitchell finds herself the unlikely guardian of a small troubled boy, her ordered life is turned upside down. In desperation, she takes Jack to stay at Currawong Creek, her grandfather’s horse stud in the foothills of the beautiful Bunya Mountains.

Being at Currawong takes some getting used to, but it also feels like coming home. Her grandad adores having them there. Jack falls in love with the animals, his misery banished and Clare finds herself falling hard for the kind, handsome local vet.

But trouble is coming, in the form of the Pyramid Mining Company. Trouble that threatens to destroy not only Clare’s newfound happiness, but also the livelihoods of her new neighbours, and the peace and beauty of the land she loves.

 

Tempted? Of course you are! Currawong Creek is available now from from your local book or chain store. You can also purchase online from most excellent 2013 Australian Romance Readers Convention Platinum Sponsor, Booktopia. For ebook lovers, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi Books, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle) or iTunes.

And now here’s Jennifer.

 

Eat Your Greens!

 

Thanks so much for having me on Friday Feast again, Cathryn. Your new posts each Friday are a terrible distraction to my writing routine. They always make me feel hungry and I wind up in the kitchen!

Continuing the bush food theme of my last visit, I’d like to talk about a wonderful native spinach substitute. Warrigal Greens. (Botanical Name: Tetragonia tetragonoides) It occurs right along the east coast of Australia and is ridiculously easy to grow, either from seed or cuttings. Just imagine, a delicious drought-proof vegetable that’s high in vitamin C. Once you plant it, you’ll always have it in the garden, and it lives without watering or any Warrigal Greensother care, except for pruning when it escapes its bed. Slugs and snails don’t touch it, and it doesn’t seem to suffer from disease or frost. It’s also a pioneer of bare ground, works well as a ground cover and can be dug in as a green manure. Talk about versatile! You can’t eat it raw though, because of oxalates in the leaves. Blanch the leaves first by  immersing them in boiling water for a few minutes and then refresh in cold water. They’re tasty when steamed lightly and chopped with a little butter, or used in salad. It can be substituted for spinach in all dishes, added to casseroles for example, and vegetable slices.

Captain Cook was the first European to realise the value of Warrigal Greens. He used it as a protection against scurvy in his crew, even pickling the leaves to preserve them for long sea voyages. His famous botanist Joseph Banks took the plant to England where it became briefly popular as a vegetable. Strangely, I can’t find any reports that Warrigal Greens was used as bush tucker by indigenous communities. I’d love to know whether it was ever used as a traditional food. Maybe one of your readers might hold the answer?

Warrigal Greens seeds are available for purchase from Rangeview Seeds.

Recipe for a simple Warrigal Greens and Fetta Filo Pie, that only takes ten minutes to prepare.

 

Warrigal Greens and Fetta Filo Pie

Warrigal Greens and Filo Pie

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked and drained Warragul Greens
  • 3-4 spring onions, chopped
  • 4 free range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 120 g cottage cheese
  • 120 g feta cheese, crumbled or chopped
  • Shake of salt, pepper and nutmeg
  • A little fresh or dried dill
  • Sesame seeds
  • 10 sheets of thawed filo
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Spray a baking dish with the cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together everything except the filo.

3. Lay one sheet of filo in the baking dish, allowing the edges to hang over the sides of the dish. Spray with cooking spray. Repeat with 4 more sheets of filo, spraying and alternating the direction of each sheet.

4. Spoon mixture on top of the prepared phyllo in the pan.

5. Spray and layer remaining 5 sheets just the same as you did before.

6. Roll edges of dough to form a rim.

7. Spray the top and sprinkle on a few sesame seeds.

8. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

9. Let stand 5-15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Why eat English spinach when you can eat Aussie?

 
Why indeed! And you can bet we taste a whole lot better too.

Thanks, Jennifer, for another fascinating post and delicious sounding recipe. I think the futherest I’ve come with using Australian native ingredients in my cooking, besides macadamia nuts, is using lemon myrtle and wattle seeds. It seems such a shame to not use more when we have such wonderful foods to choose from.

What about all you clever Feasters? Have you used or eaten any of our native ingredients? Crocodile pie, perhaps with bush tomato chutney? Quondong jelly? Wallaby stew? (the mention of which always makes me think of Spur, from the film The Man From Snowy River, and his infamous wallaby stew). For overseas visitors to the blog, do you have your own favourite native food?

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

 

Hot News & Events!

Keep your eyes out for some fantastic events happening now and soon…

Heartland Review Fun

A wonderful review of my latest rural romance Heartland on the Australian Romance Readers Association blog.

“I’m missing the people in this story. I didn’t realise until I read the last page and shut the book. When I walked away, from it, I realised I felt bereft.” Rosalie for the ARRA blog.

Isn’t that a lovely thing to say? I’m so delighted.

If you’re an ARRA member, leave a comment and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Heartland. Giveaway closes 17th July.

You can read more about Heartland, including an excerpt and the story of how the book came into being, on my website.

 

Booktopia’s Australian Romance Month, Featuring Fabulous Giveaways

Join most excellent Australian online bookseller Booktopia for their Australian Romance month, where I, and a fine line-up of Australian romance authors, will be entertaining you with our witty answers to questions like: Who do you swoon over? and Tell us something very few people know about you, and the ever so tricky, Finish this sentence: I would do anything for love, but I won’t do  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____

Newsletter_Banner(1)

You can read my answers to those questions and more on July 12th.

There are plenty of other rural-set fiction authors joining me across the month, including Rachael Johns, Fiona Palmer, Rachael Treasure, Barbara Hannay, Jennifer Scoullar, Loretta Hill, Mandy Magro, Bronwyn Parry, Margareta Osborn, Helene Young, Nicole Alexander, Jenn J McLeod and others!

Plus all month there’ll be competitions to win great books, and if you order an Aussie Romance Author book from Booktopia in July, you’ll go into the draw to win a fantastic book pack. For more details, click on the banner above or visit Booktopia.

 

Romance Writers of Australia Conference, August 16th-18th 2013

It’s only 6 weeks until the RWA Conference in Fremantle, W.A. and I can’t wait. This is THE event of the year for romance authors, published and aspiring. A chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, plus learn more about our business and craft. There are also opportunities for authors to pitch their work to leading Australian and international editors and agents.

I have a great deal to thank the RWA for and can’t recommend the organisation and its conference highly enough.

For more information on the RWA and the conference, visit the website.

 

Australian Romance Readers Association Booksigning Event, Saturday 17th August 2013

I’m signing and so are 55 others local and international authors. These events are a hoot! Register now at the ARRA blog.

BSE3 I'll be signing 500

 

 

J’aimee Brooker’s Spotlight On Aussie Rural Novelists

Last week I answered a series of fun questions on contemporary romance author J’aimee Brooker’s blog as part of her week-long spotlight on Aussie Rural Novelists. Find out the one author I’d spend my last $20 on, who I’d be if I was a character from a novel and more!

Also featured were Rachael Johns, Karly Lane, and Jennie Jones. Check it out!

 

FRIDAY FEAST with Jennifer Scoullar

Good morning, Feasters. Today I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Jennifer Scoullar to the blog. Why? Because not only is Jennifer a fellow Penguin Australia rural lit author, she’s a fellow horsey girl which naturally makes her a mighty fiiiiine person!

Jennifer ‘s world sounds wonderfully romantic and Man From Snowy River-ish. She lives with her family on a property in the gorgeous southern Victorian ranges. Her house is on a hill-top, overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash, and all her life she’s ridden and bred horses, in particular Australian Stock Horses.

Which means she knows what she’s writing about in her debut rural romance, Brumby’s Run.

Check it out…

BRUMBY’S RUN

 

A blissful, carefree summer beckons for Samantha Carmichael. But her world is turned on its head when she learns she’s adopted – and that she has a twin sister, Charlie, who is critically ill.

While Charlie recovers in hospital, Sam offers to look after Brumby’s Run, her sister’s home high in the Victorian alps. Within days, city girl Sam finds herself breaking brumbies and running cattle with the help of neighbour Drew Chandler, her sister’s erstwhile boyfriend.

A daunting challenge soon becomes a wholehearted tree change, as Sam begins to fall in love with Brumby’s Run – and with Drew. But what will happen when Charlie returns to claim what is rightfully hers?

Set among the hauntingly beautiful ghost gums and wild horses of the high country, Brumby’s Run is a heartfelt, romantic novel about families and secrets, love and envy, and most especially, the bonds of sisterhood.

 

 

I am so, so excited about this book and can’t wait to score a copy. The official release day is July 2nd but there are reports of Brumby’s Run already in the shops. So keep your eyes peeled!

And now I hand you over to Jennifer.

 

BUSHFOODS

Recently I’ve become interested in Australian native foods, commonly known as bush tucker or bushfood. I think it’s a natural extension of my passion for our environment. Bushfood ingredients were initially harvested from the wild, but cultivated sources have become increasingly important to provide sustainable supplies for a growing market

The fledgling bushfood industry is helping to conserve wild resources and protect bio- diversity. It is creating incomes and jobs for rural communities, and I like that it values and utilises indigenous knowledge.  It encourages farmers to branch out from traditional crops, and has had some unexpected advantages.  For example, salinity is being reduced in some areas by introducing native perennials, and waterways once polluted by fertiliser runoff are returning to health.

Once I discovered the pleasures of cooking with bushfood, I couldn’t get enough of it. Everybody knows about Macadamia nuts, but there is another far more ancient native nut that has been considered a delicacy for thousands of years. My new novel is set in the Bunya Mountains of Queensland, famous for their Bunya nuts. The nuts come from a magnificent pine tree which dates back to the Jurassic era 180 million years ago. When Gondwana separated into different land masses 45 million years ago, the Bunya pine survived in a few areas of  Australia. It is a cousin to the Monkey Puzzle tree of South America. Nuts from both trees were a prized food for indigenous tribes, and the Monkey Puzzle nut is an important food source in Chile to the present day.

The football-sized Bunya cones weighs 5-10 kilograms and hold between 30 and 100 nuts.  Each nut contains about 130 kilojoules (32 calories) with more starch and protein than the average nut. They taste similar to chestnuts with overtones of pine, and are great in both sweet and savoury dishes.  Bunya nuts are a bit hard to come by, outside of Queensland. But you can buy them online from the Australian Produce Company, and store them in the freezer.

Flourless Bunya Nut  Cake  (gluten free)

Ingredients:

  • 750g of Bunya nut kernels  
  • Half a litre of milk
  • 75g butter
  • 300g sugar
  • 6 free-range egg yolks
  • 6 free-range egg whites
  • 100g almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond essence

Method:

  • Boil nuts in large saucepan for half an hour and remove from shells. (This can    involve hammers and shouting. I find it’s a great job for teenage boys!)
  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Place kernels in food processor and reduce to a smooth paste, slowly adding the milk to soften mixture.
  • Mix softened butter with egg yolks and sugar until smooth and fluffy, then hand-   blend with the Bunya nut paste.
  • Beat egg whites to a firm consistency and again hand-blend with the Bunya nut, mix in one cup at a time, alternating with the almond meal and almond essence until all ingredients are fully mixed.
  • Pour mix into a 28cm spring form, lined with grease-proof baking paper.
  • Bake for 50min in centre of oven. Turn heat off and leave for a further 20 minutes before removing from oven to cool naturally.
  • Shake sifted icing sugar on top. Best eaten same day.

This delicious and unusual cake is also suitable for those with a gluten intolerance.

 

What a fascinating post! Thanks, Jennifer. I really enjoyed that and will definitely be on the hunt for some Bunya nuts now. I’ve cooked with wattle seed and finger limes and a few other bushfoods but not these. Must try!

Now, Feasters, lovely Jennifer has offered one super-lucky reader the chance to win a signed copy of Brumby’s Run. Rah! But as usual you have to work for it. Jennifer and I want to hear all about your best Australian bush experience. Don’t have a best one? Then share your worst. After all, everyone loves a good python in the sleeping bag story as much as they love a romantic campfire dinner/cute furry animal one.

Get in fast because the giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 3rd July 2012. Australian addresses only, sorry.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to JindivickWildlifeShelter who has won a copy of Jennifer’s wonderful debut rural romance Brumby’s Run. Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun!