Tag Archives: The Family Farm

FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

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WHAT A FRIDAY! Can you feel the excitement, the buzz, the utter thrill of it? As you might guess I’m beyond excited. Not only is one of Australia’s most loved rural romance authors on Friday Feast today, with a great giveaway, my darling boys, the Sydney Swans, are into the AFL Grand Final. One sleep and it’ll be CHEER, CHEER, THE RED AND THE WHITE crazy time. Rah!

Author Fiona PalmerI really, really want to post an awesome video of them being magnificent but I’ll refrain and bore you with a paragraph of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news instead. Despite a very wobbly start and two balls torpedoed into dams, I managed to do some good things over the weekend and dropped a little bit off my handicap. No idea what caused this turnaround. Must have been the Swans excitement.

But now to our guest..

Fiona Palmer is one of the queens of rural romance, hitting best-sellerdom with her debut novel, The Family Farm, and never looking back. She’s also a golfer, which surely has to make her even more fabulous. There is a whole lot of buzz about Fiona’s new release, with good reason. Rachael Johns calls The Sunnyvale Girls a heart-warming tear-jerker, and the blurb sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to read it too.

THE SUNNYVALE GIRLS

Cover of The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona PalmerThree generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

Doesn’t that sound intriguing and with Italy in the equation how can anyone resist! You can buy The Sunnyvale Girls right now from Booktopia, Bookworld, QBD the Bookshop, Angus & Roberston, Collins Booksellers, your favourite bookshop or chain store. You can also buy direct from Fiona via her website. If ebooks are your go, try Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play,  JB Hi-Fi or your favourite outlet.

Now enjoy something buonissimo from Fiona!

Sunny Food!

Ah my good mate Cathryn, I’m back with you again for the awesome Friday Feast! Thanks for having me. Now I’m not the best of cooks, I leave my creativity for my stories and not the kitchen, but we still have to eat. And seeing as my characters travel to Italy in The Sunnyvale Girls I thought I’d share my simple pizza’s with you.

We aren’t big bread eaters in my house, I try not to eat it and prefer to use wraps. So this is what I use for my pizza bases. (I also like to put them in my toastie press and sandwich them together with all the yummy stuff inside)

After travelling to Italy myself I realised I was making my pizza’s all wrong. Actually all the Italian food I made was all wrong. They stick with less ingredients and less toppings. (Maybe it came from having fussy kids and making a spag bol with all the vegies I could find finely diced up was just how went.) But I also made my pizza’s the same, more topping just seemed to be the go. Maybe I thought it was healthier??

Pizza at Gubbio

I ate Pizza in Rome, Gubbio, Pisa and Florence and they all only had a few toppings, so that you could taste those flavours. Melt in your mouth divine pizza’s. Even the pasta we had in Pompeii looked like just pasta and a tin of crushed tomatoes on top but by crikey it was heaven.  (I think all those tomatoes grown in volcanic ash makes a hell of a difference!)

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, back home. My toppings are still on the more side of things but I use what I can from my garden. Tonight’s pizza was cheese, ham, onion, spinach, kale and sundried tomatoes. Yum. The good thing about having wraps as a base is that you’re not full on the thick base. You can also fold it over and eat it without having toppings falling off (great for those kids!).

Pizza ready for baking

Fiona's cooked pizza

Ah, pizza. It’s a food that makes everyone happy. I admit to doing the same as you, Fiona, and overloading my pizzas. Not anymore. We use very few ingredients and make sure they’re the best quality. Great idea with the wraps. That’s how to whip up a meal in a hurry!

Now, my dear Feasty lovelies, because Fiona is such a gorgeous person, she’s offering a…

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, this is your chance to win a signed copy of Fiona’s brand spanking new book The Sunnyvale Girls. And entering couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is share your favourite Italian dish. Simple!

Are you a pizza fiend, or do you prefer a simple dish of pasta or gnocchi? Maybe risotto is your go, or perhaps you have a favourite Italian soup or dessert? Maybe it’s plain grilled swordfish with salmoriglio, or barbecued sardines? Italian cuisine is so rich the choice must be endless. Whatever you adore from the land of amore, share and we’ll pop you into the draw!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 30th September 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Silvana who has won a copy of Fiona’s gorgeous new release, The Sunnyvale Girls.
Thanks to everyone who joined in the Friday Feast fun and shared your favourite Italian meals. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of lasagne lovers out there!

THIS WRITING LIFE: Sex and the Rural Romance Author

Got your attention? Good, because this is serious stuff!

There was an interesting article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers recently about ‘heat’ ratings in romance novels, which prompted me to ponder sex in our home-grown rural romances and what reader expectations might be on that front.

Heartland by Cathryn Hein coverI have no idea, and that bothers me because I’m all for fulfilling my readers’ expectations, but I’ve had no feedback or seen any comment about the sex in my books at all. The explicitness has varied with each release, so what then do readers prefer?

For me it all depends on the characters. Callie and Matt in Heartland, being the people that they are, seemed to suit spontaneous, rompy sex and I had a hell lot of fun writing those scenes.

Matt stumbled his way to the single bed until they fell in a tangle of sweaty arms and legs amid creaking springs and laughter. Callie’s shorts winged across the room, following his cargo pants, the last of her underwear sling-shotting after them. Callie laughed as Matt’s jocks caught on his springy cock, enjoying his hungry, almost pained expression as she levered him out and tugged them over his hips and down his legs. Grinning, she twirled the jocks around her finger before flinging them toward the wardrobe.

I would have felt awkward doing the same for Sophie and Aaron in Promises because they were quite sweet characters, while describing the bedroom antics of my 2014 release Rocking Horse Hill’s privileged heroine would have made me feel like a dirty perv. She’s definitely not the sort of person who would appreciate others being privy to her private life (although, given Rocking Horse Hill’s sexpot hero, I bet she has an amazing time in the bedroom).

So I asked a couple of rural romance buddies how they decide how explicit to be with their sex scenes…

 

Fiona Palmer, best-selling author of The Family Farm, The Sunburnt Country and other great rural reads is of similar opinion to me:

Cathryn, I agree that it is up to the characters. In one of my books it happens on the back of a ute and in another book the sex scene called for a more soft gentle approach.  The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerSo I go with what I feel, what I think the characters would do and see where it leads. I do love good sexual tension in books and so I like a little sneak peek of when they get to finally act on this tension. I personally enjoy the hot parts, but it doesn’t sway my like or dislike of a book if it has hot sex or not. Just like in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes just the touch of a hand can mean so much more.

I haven’t heard back from any readers saying they didn’t enjoy the sex scenes in my books. (In fact I have the blokes asking for more!) So I will just keep going based on what I think the characters need and want.  Here is a snippet from my latest book The Outback Heart and this paragraph is the raunchiest of the whole sex scene.

‘Amazing.’ Troy’s gaze swept across her breasts as she arched her back, waiting for his touch. A shaky hand caressed her soft skin, his thumb flicking over an already hard nipple. Indi tightened her legs around his waist as he bent to taste one bud, before moving to the next, his tongue flicking and teasing. His hand went down to where she was hot and moist. Indi dug her fingers into his shoulders as a moan fell from her lips.

 

Rachael Johns, best-seller and Australian Romance Reader Award winner expands on the sex depends on character theme:

I consider my rural books very much romance books and therefore exploring the chemistry between the main characters is a must for me. But how heated and graphic that exploration is really does depend on the hero and heroine in each book.

Outback Dreams by Rachael JohnsThings such as whether the characters have just met play a factor and also their previous relationship experiences. In my first book Jilted, Ellie and Flynn were high school sweethearts and the attraction between them was always spicy but at the beginning of the book they are trying to fight it because of the hurt they both carry.  In Man Drought, Imogen and Gibson experience instant attraction but they both have reasons to steer clear of the opposite sex, however each interaction between them gets hotter and hotter till it blows up in his ute on the side of the road. That might be my sauciest rural romance scene.

If I know my characters well, I find the sex scenes almost write themselves. In Outback Dreams, my latest release, Faith and Monty have been best friends forever but have only just realized they also find each other attractive, so their first sex scene had a different tone again.

Her smile gave her consent and within seconds they were tumbling backwards, pausing only to tear up the zip on the tent, before collapsing on top of their waiting swags. She couldn’t tell who hit the ground first but they both reached for each other, tearing at each other’s clothing like hungry beasts. In complete darkness and with no method to their madness they didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so Faith pulled back and took care of her own clothes. Monty did the same and when he reached for her again, she felt his warm, naked flesh against hers.

A moan of approval slipped from her lips.

Damn the dark. She willed her eyes to adjust so she could look her fill at the specimen beside her.

And then he was touching her. He pulled her towards him, tugged a blanket over the top of them and smoothed her hair. ‘You okay?’

Okay? Words could not do justice to her level of okay-ness. Why had they never gone here before? ‘Yes.’

I like reading about the sex between two people who are in love or at least on the road to falling in love, and so I like to give a glimpse of this to my readers as well. However, I don’t get too graphic with my sex scenes as I believe it is the emotional not the physical side of a love scene that is most important.

 

Karly Lane, best-selling author of North Star, Morgan’s Law and Bridie’s Choice is also mindful of her readers:

I’ve noticed a steady increase in what my editor and publisher expect in my books. In North Star I was asked to trim a lot of the scenes, but in Morgan’s Law I was asked to show the readers more!Bridie's Choice by Karly Lane I think publishers are aware of the whole Fifty Shades of Grey epidemic and that women’s fiction is undergoing a shake up at the moment, and so they’re willing to stretch the boundaries a little more than they may once have.

I personally, write what suits my plot and characters. I won’t write an explicit love scene just to keep up with a current trend. I had a reader who told me she allowed her young teenage daughter to read my books because she knew they weren’t too overly explicit. I’m very conscious of what my readers like which is why I won’t be jumping on the mommy porn band wagon just for the sake of it.

This quote from Bridie’s Choice gives a good example of Karly’s boundaries.

She heard him groan softly next to her ear, and she urged him onto his back, following him down until she straddled him. His surprised chuckle soon faded and was replaced with an intense look as he cupped her face in his hands, holding her gaze silently for a long moment. The depth of feeling in that one shared look made Bridie quiver with a mixture of emotion and lust. Leaning forward, she kissed him, pouring into the kiss the feelings she knew she couldn’t voice.

His hands slipped to her waist, holding her firmly as she began to move slowly against him. The gentle moans of their mutual need drifted away on the breeze above them.

 

Mandy Magro, best-selling author of Rosalee Station, Jacaranda and Flame Tree Hill has a different take:

I like to leave the bedroom door wide open, in ALL my novels. Driftwood 3Actually, I love to take my characters out of the bedroom to make it even steamier 🙂 When two people fall in love, the most intimate way to show this is through love making, be it slow and sensual or hungry, hot and steamy. I love writing these scenes and will endeavour to include them in each and every one of my future novels.

Mandy demonstrates just how steamy with this excerpt from her November 1st release, Driftwood.

Taylor panted as she reached out and gripped the sides of the rock, her hips arching into Jay’s lusciously warm mouth, his tongue and lips seducing her into seventh heaven. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as she teetered on the edge, her entire body quivering. How could a man send her into a sexual trance so beyond the normal realm she felt as though she was floating into an abyss? Finally, succumbing to his enchanting mouth, she toppled over the edge of self-control and screamed out his name, pulsating against his ravishing tongue as she climaxed to the point of breathlessness, every centimetre of her shuddering.

So, dear readers, what do you prefer? Well described sex or more teasing hints? The door open or closed? Do you need sex to complete the romance side of the story? Or does it depend on the characters or plot?

Comment away! Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and I would love to hear your thoughts.

If you’d like to know more about Fiona, Rachael, Karly, Mandy and their books, or wish to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you’ll find all the links on their websites. Just click a name below to discover more.

Fiona Palmer

Rachael Johns

Karly Lane

Mandy Magro

Cathryn Hein