Tag Archives: rural romance authors

Teaser Tuesday!

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Teaser Tuesday 2017 logoWelcome to the fun that is Teaser Tuesday, the blog series where I share snippets from upcoming and past releases, and works-in-progress and occasionally pass the reins on to writer buddies.

Today I’m delighted to welcome back best-selling rural romance and life lit author, and ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year winner Rachael Johns to the blog. Rachael’s rural romances are much loved and this month sees the release of her latest, Talk of the Town. The cover of this book is a story in itself. If you’d like to find out how it came to be made, check out all the behind the scenes videos and more here. It’s a hoot!

Anyway, here’s Rach to tell you more.

Author Rachael JohnsHI Cathryn – thanks so much for having me on your fab blog. I love reading your Tuesday Teasers, but it’s much harder to choose an excerpt than I thought. Despite this difficulty I’m excited to share some of TALK OF THE TOWN with you and your readers!

This book is the story of Lawson, a widow with a young son who is still in love with his dead wife and Meg, the intriguing young woman he meets who has moved into a local ghost town. Although both characters are grieving and trying to recover from terrible losses, I like to think there are a lot of fun and light moments in the book. Some of these involve a puppy that Lawson buys for Meg – but he keeps it a secret from his sister and friends. The below scene is when he’s discovered and they all start wondering if there’s more to the situation than him simply wanting to help a stranger!!


‘You bought a puppy?’ Ned asked, his mouth full of ice-cream.

Lawson didn’t have the chance to reprimand him before Tab perched her hand on her hip and demanded, ‘Well, if this is true, what on earth have you done with it?’

This felt like the bloody Spanish Inquisition. Adeline, Ned and Tabitha were all glaring at him as they waited for an answer. Ethan licked his ice-cream and looked on in obvious amusement.

‘It’s true.’ Lawson looked to Tab and then to Ned. ‘I did buy a puppy, but not for us.’ He swallowed, drew his suddenly sweaty hands out of his pockets and wiped them against his shorts. ‘I bought him for Meg, the woman Ned and I met in Rose Hill.’

Tab’s lips transformed from a thin line into a wide grin. ‘Oh, really?’

‘You dark horse!’ Ethan slapped him on the back in obvious approval. ‘I thought you said she wasn’t very keen on socialising. Hang on a minute, is she the girl who baked those cakes?’

Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns‘What cakes?’ asked Ned.

Lawson had shared the cakes Meg had given him with Ethan for smoko over the last couple of days, knowing that if he’d brought them into the house, Tab would have wanted to know where they’d come from. He’d led Ethan to believe one of the old dears in town had gifted them.

He nodded in confirmation at Ethan.

Ethan grinned. ‘That orange cake could give the CWA a run for their money.’

‘Sounds like you have a bit of talking to do, big brother,’ Tab said, not sounding cranky in the slightest.

The same could not be said for Adeline. ‘You never said you were taking a puppy for a … a woman.’ Hurt and surprise flashed in her eyes. Lawson felt a tiny pinprick of remorse—he didn’t want to hurt Adeline—but perhaps if she thought there was something going on with him and Meg, she’d finally get the message that the two of them were never going to be more than friends.

‘I didn’t say I wasn’t,’ he countered. ‘Is there a problem?’

‘That girl sure can cook,’ Ethan said, still stuck, as usual, on the food thing.

Adeline glared at him and then looked back to Lawson, her eyebrows raised expectantly. ‘Of course there’s a problem. I take great care finding good homes for my dogs and I don’t feel comfortable with one going to a stranger.’

‘Dad?’ Ned tugged at his shirt. ‘Can we go visit Meg and the puppy?’

Lawson ignored him. ‘She’s not a stranger. I’ve met her twice now and she fell in love with the puppy the moment she laid eyes on him. Relax, Adeline: she’s a young woman living on her own in Rose Hill. You know how isolated that makes her. Your dog will have all her attention. He’ll be fine, more than fine.’

‘Having met someone twice, you can hardly give her a character reference.’ Adeline sniffed and clutched the raffle tickets and tin close against her chest. ‘What else do you know about her? Why is she living all on her lonesome in such a place?’

Lawson bristled, feeling defensive on Meg’s part. ‘I don’t know. Not all of us waste so much time prying into other people’s business.’

‘Are you going to see her again? Are you going to check she’s taking proper care of my dog?’

‘I paid you for that dog, Adeline. It isn’t yours anymore. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to go buy some—’ he glanced up and across the car park ‘—candles. See you later.’

Lawson strode off before she could say another word and didn’t return to the ice-cream stall until she’d moved on.

‘Dad,’ Ned said the moment he arrived back, ‘can we please go visit Meg?’

‘No,’ Lawson snapped. Ned was just as persistent as Adeline when he wanted something, but at least he had the excuse of childhood. ‘Will you just stop asking?’ There were enough voices in his head telling him to take another drive to Rose Hill, and he didn’t like the way he felt not quite himself around Meg.


Doesn’t that sound fab? A copy of Talk of the Town can be yours in an instant by simply visiting Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Booktopia, Angus and Robertson Bookworld, Fishpond or your favourite retailer.

If you’d like to learn more about Rachael and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect of Facebook, Twitter using @RachaelJohns, Instagram and Goodreads.


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Teaser Tuesday!

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It’s Teaser Tuesday again, the series where I share snippets from my novels, upcoming releases and works-in-progress.

Teaser TuesdayThis week we’re venturing back in time to my second novel, Heart of the Valley. This book is a favourite of many, including me. The crush I had on the hero, Lachie, was agonising and lasted for months. He was so tender and understanding of the heroine, Brooke. Complete sighworthiness, but as I’ve said before when discussing my heroes, I’m shockingly biased!

Heart of the Valley is available now in paperback and ebook from Booktopia, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play or your favourite retailer. You can also discover more about the story and how I came to write it on my ‘The Story Behind’ page.

Now for a little taste of Lachie’s niceness. Enjoy!


Brooke is at the family property, Kingston Downs, attempting, yet again, to cure herself of the phobia she developed after a terrible accident…

Her stomach clenched as Venus’s annoyed whinny sounded through the car’s open window. Despite the cold, Brooke’s hands were sticky with sweat. No sound came from the Land Cruiser’s engine and unless she took hold of herself and turned the ignition key, none ever would.

Gritting her teeth, she closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the steering wheel, trying to channel the resolve that had seemed so intense on leaving Willowgrove. Andrew and Chloe had faith; why couldn’t she?

Heart of the Valley by Cathryn Hein‘You okay?’

She looked up to find Lachlan standing near the door, eyeing her with a worried expression, and quickly looked away again. ‘I’m fine.’

‘If you don’t mind me saying so, you don’t look it.’

‘I said I’m fine.’ She closed her eyes. ‘Oh God, I’m sorry. I’m just . . .’ She threw up her hands, hating her rudeness, this awkward, horrible situation.

‘Grieving,’ he said, tossing the word she’d used before back at her.

He took a step closer and curled his hand over the door. She stared at him. His eyes were doing that tortoiseshell thing, and his mouth held a gentle curve. Standing there, he seemed big and safe and strong and kind. Like Angus, except musclier and with much, much longer eyelashes.

‘It’s not grief,’ she said suddenly. ‘I’m scared, like you said. It’s Oddy’s screams. I can’t make him stop. He just gets louder and louder and then I can’t breathe . . .’ She slapped the wheel in frustration. ‘I need to beat this but he just won’t stop.’

‘Maybe I can help.’


He shrugged. ‘I don’t know. I don’t know anything about psychology but I can offer big shoulders to cry on. I could even be your punching bag if you’d think it’d help.’ He bent and picked up Billy, who greeted her with an excited doggy grin. ‘Or you can just borrow my dog. He doesn’t mind being cried on.’

‘How do you know?’

A shadow stole the brightness from his eyes. He glanced away. ‘Long story.’

©Cathryn Hein

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Meet My Character – Teagan Bliss from The Falls

Yikes! I’m up to my neck in THE FALLS edits right now and completely forgot that Rachael Johns tagged me to a Meet The Character blog chain.

You all know Rachael, of course. She’s the best-selling author of wonderful Australian rural romances like Jilted (just released in the US!), Man Drought, Outback Dreams, Outback Blaze and her latest, Outback Ghost. Plus more!

Anyway, as I said I’m going just a little stir crazy over edits for my next rural romance as the deadline creeps closer. So, seeing as this book is front and centre in my brain right now, let’s hear about a character from THE FALLS.

1.) What is the name of your character?

Teagan Bliss. Some of you may remember her from Rocking Horse Hill as the close friend of Emily Wallace-Jones.

2.) Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

She’s pure fiction.

3.) When and where is the story set?

THE FALLS is a contemporary rural romance set in a (fictional) New South Wales village called The Falls, very close to the beautiful Blue Mountains. It’s gorgeously rolling countryside that once was farmed but is now heavily populated with hobby farms and horse properties, and rural retreats for wealthy city-dwellers. The village is tight-knit, gossipy and fat with quirky characters.

4.) What should we know about him/her?

Teagan has fled her home in Levenham in South Australia after her father gambles away Pinehaven, the family farm that Teagan had put her heart, soul and life savings into.

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Teagan is in a pretty bad way after the loss of the family farm. She’s desperate to escape the past but it has a rotten habit of following her around. After being betrayed by her own father, a man who was supposed to love and protect her, she finds it impossible to trust anyone. Especially sexy local farrier Lucas Knight, a man who seems to have taken serious interest in the new redhead in town…

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?

To find sanctuary, both physically and mentally, where she can come to terms with the loss of her dream and, with the help of her kindhearted aunt, start a new life.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

It’s called THE FALLS. Keep an eye on the Books page of my website for more info or, better still, sign up to my newsletter at the bottom of the Home page. Subscribers get all sorts of special things, including all the news, regular giveaways and more.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

THE FALLS will hit shelves at the end of April 2015. Very exciting!

I’m now meant to tag three other authors to carry on the blog chain but as I’m running horrendously late and haven’t contacted anyone to ask if they want to play along, I’ll leave this bit blank. But if you want to continue, please feel free. I tag thee!

STOP PRESS! DB Tait will carry on the chain. Check out her blog on Thursday 30th Oct to meet her character.

THIS WRITING LIFE: My preshussssss…

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Look what arrived for me! Rocking Horse Hill in all its printed glory.

Isn’t it pretty? Not something that can be said for my desk!

Cathryn holding Rocking Horse Hill

Rocking Horse Hill will be hitting the shelves in just three weeks on April 23rd but you can pre-order now from Booktopia, Bookworld, Angus & Robertson, QBD The Bookshop or your local book store.

The ebooks are also up for pre-order on Amazon, iBooks, and Google Play.

Go get ‘em!


FRIDAY FEAST with S.E. Gilchrist

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Phew! What a week. Despite having been home from the RWA conference and our mini holiday for a while now I still feel like I’m catching up. But that’s okay. It was worth every minute.S.E. Gilchrist author photo

Speaking of worth every minute (oh, what a segue!), I have a fabulous guest for you today, who’ll be sharing the perfect recipe for warm weather lovers and the time poor. After several years travelling around Australia, S.E. Gilchrist now resides in one of my favourite places, the NSW Hunter Valley, and writes across a range of genres, including fantasy, sci-fi/futuristic, ancient history and post-apocalyptic. I also hear she has a most excellent rural romance in the works – as she should coming from the Hunter! – so keep your eye out for Dance In The Outback.

S.E.’s single title release is a full length sci-fi Legend Beyond The Stars. Check it out…




Legend Beyond The Stars by S.E. Gilchrist coverSeeking redemption from a mission gone terribly wrong, Captain Alana Knight volunteers to aid a dangerous operation to transport colonists between Earth and alien traders. But on board the spaceship, she learns of a galactic war raging for power. A power that can be transformed into a terrible weapon.

When the colonists are betrayed and sold, Alana’s mission is re-defined. Nothing will stop her from keeping those in her care safe and finding a passage home. But her new captor is nothing like she expects…

Commander Tarak El Rajan is human, male and equally determined to retain his payload. With his race on the brink of extinction he is under strict orders to transport all females to the planet Isla for research purposes.

In a world of uncertainty, where the wrong decision could mean the death of an entire race, the last thing either of these two soldiers expects or needs is to fall in love.


Doesn’t that sound fun? With so much at stake this is guaranteed to be a rollicking read and you can own your copy now with just a few clickety-clicks. You can buy direct from Escape Publishing or try Kobo, iTunes, Amazon (Kindle), Amazon UK, Google Play, JB Hi-Fi, All Romance eBooks, Nook, or most excellent Aussie bookseller Booktopia. In other words, from all you favourite booksellers.

Ereader loaded up? Excellent. Now you can play with S.E. Gilchrist!


My Kitchen Disasters


Where do I start? If you ask my three children (now in their twenties) they could probably write a book on the disasters that occur in my kitchen. Thankfully, none of them are into writing, so I’m safe. Until now that is, as the talented writer Cathryn Hein has hit me with an invitation to her blog post Friday Feast.

Since I’m such a hit and miss cook and often stick a pile of food stuff on the stove and wander back to my desk and keyboard, the list of meals I bring to the table in an edible state is pitifully small. I’m lucky in that I can eat just about anything and don’t really care what the meal looks like ie a dog’s dinner or cordon bleu is all the same to me. Alas, my family is a bit more picky. And this (thank the stars) has culminated in everyone cooking for themselves except on the rare occasions when I stir myself to visit the stove. I excuse myself with: (a) I’ve been doing the house-mum thing for too long and it’s your turn and (b) I need to squeeze in my writing time after doing the full time work thing all day.

When I do cook, there will be a book propped up on the sink which I will read will pretending to supervise the cooking process.

In the spirit of bearing all, I’ll like to share with you a few of my disasters:

  • the usual burnt offerings which have been reduced to blobs of carbon and the baking dish has to be thrown out since it was impossible to scrape the mess off the bottom. Needless to say this also includes the copious times when the smoke detector blares into life which sends the dogs into a frenzy of barking.S.E. Gilchrist's dog Rex looking innocent
  • a dozen raw eggs dropped onto the kitchen tiles. Seriously, has anyone tried to mop up raw egg from the floor? Slimy and slippery it makes my skin crawl to remember.
  • the substitution of plain flour for self-raising floor in the mistaken belief that the sponge would still rise and be fluffy. Think leather boots and an insane dash to the shops to buy a last minute birthday cake.
  • the tray of frozen meat shoved out the kitchen window onto the carport roof to defrost. In Summer. And totally forgotten about until the next day. The steak had cooked and provided a pretty decent meals for the flies.
  • the day the dog made off with the chicken (again defrosting but this time on the kitchen bench) and the humans ate vegetables for dinner.

Really I could continue but in case you’re thinking I’m a total loss in the kitchen, I can cook a mean roast dinner, a hearty and tasty green pea and bacon hock soup, fluffy quiches and wow, you should see me toss up a salad. The last two are favourites in summer. Oh, and I can really lay out a cheese platter.



A delicious looking quiche

1 sheet ready made short-crust pastry

3 eggs (beaten)

1 cup cheese (I usually use light tasty cheese)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach (if I have any)

One layer of thinly sliced tomatoes over the base or

1/2 to 1 cup chopped cooked BBQ chicken.

1 tablespoon french mustard (which gives it a nice tang)

1 chopped cooked onion

1/2 cup light milk (or soy milk)

Method: Throw everything in a bowl and mix together (after you’ve cooked the onion that is). Lightly grease quiche dish and place one sheet of the pastry over. Cook pastry in hot oven for about 10 or 15 minutes then pile the ingredients on top and bake for about another 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

Serve with salad of your choice.

That’s enough baring of souls for me. I had hoped to have my next indie published book up and out there but alas it’s been delayed. But please look out for my forthcoming Aussie rural contemporary romance, Dance in the Outback.

Thank you so much, Cathryn, for hosting me here today. It’s been a blast.


My pleasure, S.E. and thanks so much for that quiche recipe. Delicious, easy, portable and a definite crowd pleaser. There aren’t too many people who’ll say no to a piece of quiche and, as you say, it makes a perfect meal for warmer weather.

Okay, lovely Feasters, what’s your favourite spring recipe? Besides lots of seafood I can’t wait to get into my repertoire of hot, sour and spicy Asian salads. All those fresh ingredients are perfect for warm evenings and lazy weekends, and they’re super easy to whip up. But perhaps you love a good old barbeque, or maybe lightly grilled Mediterranean inspired dishes? Share away and make our mouths water!

If you’d like to learn more about S.E. and her books please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter and the Hunter Romance Writers blog.


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.


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!



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?





FRIDAY FEAST with Fiona Palmer

Friday Feast covers some diverse foodie topics and thanks to best-selling Australian rural romance author Fiona Palmer this week is no exception.Fiona Palmer - Author pic

It’s always a delight to deal with Fiona. She’s not only a fantastic author, whose stories are adored across the nation, she’s a genuinely warm and friendly country person and I’m very much looking forward to reading her new book, The Sunburnt Country.




TSCJonelle Baxter is a young woman in a man’s world – a tough, hardworking motor mechanic from an idyllic country family. But lately things in her perfect life have been changing, and her workshop isn’t the only local business that’s struggling.

Daniel Tyler is new in town, posted from the city to manage the community bank. As he tries to rein in the spiralling debts of Bundara, he uncovers all sorts of personal dramas and challenges.

The last thing Jonny and Dan need is an unwanted attraction to each other. She has enough problems just keeping her livelihood going and he’s fighting pressures that stretch all the way to Perth. It’s going to take more than a good drop of rain to break the drought and bring change in love and in life.

A moving and heartwarming story about the beauty that’s found in the bush, especially in the most trying of times.


Doesn’t that sound fabulous? How cool to have a mechanic heroine, and one who races too. The Sunburnt Country released last week, and you can buy a copy right now from your local bookshop or chainstore, or, if you like delivered to your door (or ebook reader!) convenience, try home-grown online bookstore BOOKTOPIA. They’re hugely supportive of Australian authors, have competitive pricing and run an easy to use website. Plus they were Platinum Sponsor of last weekend’s Australian Romance Readers Convention, so I’m feeling the luuuurve. Perhaps you should too!

Ooh, Fiona has a booktrailer. A good one. Wanna watch? Just click play. Then, once you’ve been all relaxed by that lovely music, let Fiona reveal a tasty favourite.


A feed fresh from the dam

I’m not the greatest cook and therefore don’t have many favourite dishes.  But today I thought I’d tell you about a meal that comes up in my new book The Sunburnt Country. Actually this dish probably features in a few of myCooked Yabbies books because it is something I did lots as a kid and even to this day we still walk to the dam with our kids to catch them.  I’m talking about Gilgies or Yabbies. We have always grown up calling them Gilgies.

‘Freshwater crayfish are an important part of ecosystems in south-west rivers and dams and are also one of Western Australia’s great delicacies. There are more than 100 species of crayfish native to Australia, and at least seven species are commonly caught by recreational fishers in the streams and dams of southern WA.’

Identifying Freshwater Crayfish, Fisheries Fact Sheet, Department of Fisheries, Government of Western Australia.

Fiona Palmer and family at the damAt the moment we are trying to feed up the Gilgies in the dam just on the edge of town. The kids love walking through the bush to get to the dam when we throw in some nets. Then a few hours later we pull them in and take our yummy freshwater crayfish home to cook.

We have a pot outside on a gas burner, which we fill with water and get it to boiling temp. Chuck in some garlic and chilli to flavour the water and then drop in the Gilgies. The next is pulling the headsYabbies off and peeling the tails.  My 8 year old son loves the Gilgie meat and if you don’t get in and eat some then chances are you’ll miss out. We also keep the big claws are these are delish also.

We eat ours just on their own dipped into a simple sauce. (Hubby loves a Gilgie sandwich!) The sauce is mayonnaise, with a bit of Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce.  Each time I make it, it’s slightly different as I just add the sauces until I like the taste.  But if you want to get more creative with your yabbie meat check out these yabbie recipes from Cambinata Yabbies. It is a family run business on a farm not far from us.


Thanks so much, Fiona. That was fabulous, especially those photos. Sigh. I LOVE yabbies. They’re one of my favourite things and I really don’t understand why we don’t see more of them on menus. The Crown Hotel in Wentworth, NSW, has the right idea. You can buy yabbies by the bucket (when available) and they serve a delicious yabbie chowder. Wentworth has a lot of Australian history but I swear it’s worth a visit just for that chowder!

So, special Feasty Folk, what’s your favourite crustacean dipping sauce? I’m a huge fan of Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce. The freshness and heat seem to work perfectly, but I can just as easily munch prawn tails dipped in old-fashioned thousand island dressing, and I recently tried a delicious paprika and lemon baste for grilled prawns that became an instant keeper recipe. One can never have enough ideas though, so share away!

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