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Welcome to Friday Feast, where food and fiction unites in one mouth-watering place!

And we’re going to be getting very mouth-watery soon with a Feast first-timer. But I’m sure you’re anxious for the latest instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you. Last week I only lost one ball to a dam. A miracle! Next week I’m aiming for none. Can such a feat be achieved? Stay tuned!author JM Bray

Now on to my guest, a man set to break Feasty tradition. No, not because he’s a he – although this is unusual – but because he’s… American. Yes, today’s guest, J.M. Bray hails from Southern California.

I know, I know. Friday Feast is usually restricted to my enormously talented and glamorous Australian compatriots, but  J.M. asked nicely if he could and I said yes. ‘Tis good to have variety, plus J.M. is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia and is published by Australian publisher Escape. And he plays guitar and races a Porche, which, let’s face it, sounds pretty damn cool, so I think we can kind of claim him for today.

J.M.’s debut release is a new adult romantic fantasy novel called Tearing The Shroud and it looks a brilliant read. Take a peek.

 

TEARING THE SHROUD

 

Cover of Tearing The Shroud by JM BrayFall in love, be possessed, hunt a sorcerer and save the world — and Vincent thought calculus was tough.

1984 — Vincent expected college to be about freedom and girls, but then the nightmares of sorcery, monsters and other worlds began. Not even the surprising attention from his dream girl, Julie, could shake them.

Before he’s even nailed his second date with Julie, he’s possessed by Coleman, a warrior from another realm. Coleman is hell bent on defeating the monstrous Kafla who threatens to tear into Vincent’s reality, changing both his and Coleman’s worlds forever. They have one chance to stop them: Vincent must allow Coleman to share his body and wage war against the sorcerer.

Now it’s up to them, the women they love, and Vincent’s rag-tag bunch of role- playing and gaming friends to save the world, or see 1984 descend into the apocalypse.

 

See? Told you it sounded fantastic. It’s available now for immediate download to your e-reader, tablet, computer and phone.  Buy from Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, BigW ebooks, Google Play and JB Hi-Fi, or your favourite ebook retailer.

Loaded up? Excellent. Now enjoy this man-in-the-kitchen moment!

 

On Grandmother’s Stepstool

 

The earliest memory I have of a cooking is being on a stool next to my grandmother. We lived in a small house behind her home and every morning until I was five, I’d toddle down to her back porch where she waited for me. I can still here her say, “Come on, honey, help grandma cook.” Her heavy, white porcelain, gas stove with cast iron skillets and big pots bubbled and sizzled magically. I would watch as she fried bacon, then used the dripping to fry eggs, the centers soft and the edges a crispy dark brown from the bacon fat.

Photo of JM Bray Teaching his 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

Teaching my 2 year old grandson some kitchen skills

My very first experience as a “cook” was near that time, stirring the white, sausage gravy. Yes, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy biscuits (scones), coffee and juice was the normal breakfast. She was from the south, of Irish descent, born in 1898, five foot two inches tall and not a thin woman…which isn’t surprising given the food she made. Based on the time frame, I was about four. I’d stir the white gravy, with a spiraled whisk, careful to keep it from sticking as it thickened to a creamy consistency, later to be slathered over buttered biscuits.

Through years, she taught me how to bake bread (which she did twice a week until her death at age 81,) flip eggs without breaking them, make gravy and cook my favorite…potato soup. I once ate so much of it as a young teen that when I tried to stand afterward, I ended up on the kitchen floor. I learned my love for cooking at her side. I am the cook in our family and every time I lift a ladle or toss a spice in without measuring it, she is with me.

Today’s recipe is of that same soup…though I’ve made a slight improvement on her recipe. I think she’d approve. This soup, made by my protagonist for his girlfriend and her family, appears in Mending the Shroud, book two of the Shroud Trilogy. It will release mid-year through Escape Publishing. Consider this a preview.

In the Comments section post a fond memory of you have of a family recipe or cooking with grandma. We’ll roll the dice among the entrants and the winner will receive an ebook (.mobi or .epub) of my romantic fantasy novel, Tearing the Shroud.

 

 Potato Soup

 

Ingredients for potato soup

8 large-ish russet potatoes (about fist sized) peeled and cubed

1 medium onion chopped

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)

1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Water

Salt

Pepper.

Serves 6-8 as a full meal.

chopped onions

Chop the onions and put them in a large pot with the stick of butter on a low-medium heat to cook until transparent or slightly golden.

cooking the onions

While that’s cooking, peel the potatoes and cube them to about 3/4 inch.

chopped potatoes

When the onions are ready add the potatoes to the pot and stir carefully, coating them with the onion butter mixture. Add just enough water to come ¾ of the way up the potatoes.

Adding the potatoes to the pot

Bring to a light boil, cover and let cook until the potatoes break apart when poked with a fork. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water.

(This is the change from grandma. who boiled the potatoes and onion in a lot of water, poured it off, then added the butter. Which I think tosses away some of the potato-y-goodness)

Add the can of milk and mash with a hand potato masher…DO NOT MIX with a mixer or immersion blender. It breaks up the potato too much and makes it too starchy. You want the soup to have texture with little pieces of potato.

Potato soup 

If you need to thin the soup, use milk or half and half, not water.

Salt and pepper to taste. It takes much more salt than you’d think, so don’t be shy.

As you can see, this is not a health conscious recipe, but is it ever good! It is, however economical. For less than five dollars, you can serve a hearty meal for 6-8 people. This soup also works wonderfully as a starter for large dinners or banquets. When I’ve done this, I just multiply the ingredients for my crowd and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped chives just before bringing to the table.

Enjoy!

JM

 

I think we will enjoy, J.M. What a handy recipe. With that creamy, buttery spudly goodness I’m thinking it’ll taste awesome too.

So Feasters, we have another giveaway!

Share a fond memory of cooking with your grandma or a treasured family recipe and you’ll go into the draw to win an e-book copy of J.M.’s fab novel, Tearing The Shroud.

I have lots of wonderful memories of cooking with my Nanny. Mum used to go off to netball on Saturdays and I would spend the afternoon with my grandparents. During those hours Nanny taught me to bake and sew and do all sorts of house-wifely things. They were lovely times that I’ll always treasure.

What about you? Any sweet memories you can make us dewy-eyed with?

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 4th March 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

If you’d like to learn more about J.M. and his books, please visit his website. You can also connect via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, and also through his blog.

 

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Welcome to Friday Feast!

This week we’re getting magical. Not that we aren’t every week but this week we’re really magical… and ferrety. But more on that in a minute.

First, DID YOU SEE MY DARLING SYDNEY SWANS? Yes, footy is nearly here. My boys were magnificent in their NAB Challenge game last night against GWS which bodes well for the upcoming season, set to kick-off in just 21 sleeps. Not that I’m counting or anything…

Speaking of counting, in Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, apparently I can’t add up. It turns out that I didn’t lose the Great Murray River Golf Challenge but in fact won it by two strokes. Rah! I think this is my first holiday golfing challenge win ever. I feel a glass of fizz is required to celebrate this milestone.

As should we all raise a glass of fizz to celebrate the release of young adult author Ebony McKenna’s third Ondine novel. Like the author herself, the Ondine series is simply gorgeous. How can you go wrong with a talking ferret called Shambles? Reviews for Ebony’s series have been amazing, like this for The Summer of Shambles: “One of the best and funniest books I have ever read! Don’t be a bampot, give this absolutely fantastic book a read, you won’t regret it.”

This latest instalment in the Ondine series is a cracker. Check it out.

 

ONDINE: THE WINTER OF MAGIC

 

Cover of Ondine: The Winter of Magic by Ebony McKennaThis third enthralling instalment in the young adult fantasy romance series takes a dark turn, as the country of Brugel descends into anarchy. Mutating magic is spreading across Europe. ‘Normals’ are developing supernatural powers at a startling rate and 16-year-old Ondine appears to be at the heart of it.

To unravel the mystery, Ondine and her boyfriend (and part-time ferret) Hamish infiltrate CovenCon, a gathering of hundreds of witches presided over by wanna-be-witch-queen Mrs Howser. There, she tempts Ondine with an intriguing offer – but can Mrs Howser be trusted? It transpires the powerful witch has her claws in the arrogant royal heir Lord Vincent, in a covert bid to control all of Brugel.

As dark magic riots break out in the nation’s capital, Ondine is left with a heart-breaking choice that could tear her apart from her beloved Hamish. Forever.

The Winter of Magic is the third novel in Ebony McKenna’s comedic and wonderfully weird four-part ONDINE series. Fans will devour this spellbinding adventure, which will have readers gasping in shock and laughing with delight. Occasionally at the same time.

 

What a hoot! The Ondine series is truly delightful for young and not-so-young readers alike. And you can own it right now with just a few clickety-clicks! Buy from Amazon for your Kindle, iTunes, Kobo and Nook. Go on. You’ll love this series I promise.

Now that you’re all bookified, come dipping with Ebony…

 

Do You Fondue?

 

I’m so happy to be sharing more foodie goodness with everyone on Friday Feast.

There’s something a bit nerdy about having a fondue kit. It can be one of those ‘great idea at the time’ gadgets that ends up hibernating in the back of the cupboard for years before throwing it out.

Being the proud nerd that I am, I have a fondue kit at home and it gets a fair bit of use.

Not an original from the 70s (I have to wait to inherit that heirloom), but a little ripper all the same. And while fondue is supposed to be about dipping bread into melted cheese during cold European winters, my version is all about dredging fruit into warm coconut-chocolate sauce during summer.

Healthy AND naughty. Because chocolate.

And coconut.

It’s quick, easy to make and only requires three basic ingredients (plus whatever fruit you like to dip).

The best bit is the compliments you’ll get from everyone as the fruit and choc fondue disappear!

As an added bonus, this recipe is dairy free, gluten free and suitable for vegans and celiacs.

 

Coconut Chocolate Fondue

You will need:

Coconut milk or coconut cream.

Cocoa powder

Coconut sugar (or any sugar really, but I’m hooked on Coconut sugar at the moment, and it’s low GI)

Fruits for dipping

Ingredients for Ebony's fondue

Method:

Put a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in a microwave safe bowl.

Pour in enough coconut milk to stir it into a thick paste.

Add a couple of teaspoons of coconut sugar.

Mixing Ebony's fondue

Bung it in the microwave for about a minute. The edges will bubble up but that’s OK.

Stir it all together and. Have a taste. Add more coconut milk and sugar so it’s just how you like it. You can microwave it again if the cocoa doesn’t taste “cooked”.

The finished fondue

Pour into a fondue bowl, sprinkle more coconut sugar on the top for decoration.

Light a candle underneath and get ready to dip your favourite fruits in.

The mix will become runnier the longer it sits over the fondue candle, but that’s part of the fun.

Add desiccated coconut to the fondue for more texture if you like.

Perfect for entertaining at a BBQ, date night or Eurovision Song Contest parties.

I’m having some right now as I celebrate the release of the third novel in my ONDINE series, The Winter of Magic.

In a nutshell, it’s about a teenage girl whose pet ferret talks with a Scottish accent. He’s not a real ferret, but a man living in reduced circumstances. Shambles offended a witch and she cursed him a good one!

Thank you once again Cathryn for the opportunity to share the recipe and some weird romance with your readers.

As a special treat, I’m giving away an ebook copy of ALL THREE BOOKS to one lucky commenter.

In the comments, share what fruit you would dunk in that lovely chocky fondue, or share a cheesy fondue story.

Love Ebony

 

Did you hear that, Feasters? A THREE BOOK GIVEAWAY! I’m wriggling in excitement here. How’s that for generosity? But I’d expect that from Ebony. She’s that kind of person.

So, what’s your fondue story? I had a wonderful fondue experience in Lyon, France. Outside it was snowing but we were snuggled up tight in a cosy restaurant with chunks of bread, a bottle of red and an artery-clogging cheese fondue, dipping and laughing. We nearly didn’t feel the cold walking back to our hotel afterwards… nearly.

Have you fondued? Dipped a few strawbs into caramel perhaps? Dribbled chocolate down your front after dipping with too much enthusiasm? Maybe you’ve never fondued but long to? That’s okay. Share your desire (or non-desire) anyway and we’ll put you in the draw to win the first three ebooks in Ebony’s wonderful Ondine series.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 25th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have an e-reader? That’s okay, you can easily read ebooks on your computer, phone or tablet via downloadable apps. It’s easy!

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Heidi who has won the first 3 books in Ebony’s Ondine series. What a great lot of reading! Thanks to everyone who joined in the fun. What wonderful fondue memories we all have!


On Sale April 23rd 2014

 

Cover of Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you feeling the luuuurve? Or are you suffering a touch of the bah humbugs over the day?

I’m on holidays so I’m most definitely feeling loved up. Er…*cough*… I’m not sure that came out quite right. I meant I’m feeling relaxed and happy with the world. Not the… um… you know, which is not something I want to talk about or you want to hear!

Okay, let’s start again.

Welcome to this Valentine’s Day version of Friday Feast featuring a lady who knows all about heart flutters, in more ways than one!Photo of Amy Andrews, author

But first, because I just know you are fascinated, this week’s edition of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf. Despite one day of brilliance, I’m losing the Great Murray River Challenge miserably. I swear my other half is cheating on his scorecard. Either that or he has snuck death-seeking balls into my bag. On the other hand, I’m having fun so not all is lost.

Now back to my guest. Amy Andrews has published forty books. Yes, FORTY. And if that isn’t enough, she’s been nominated for FIVE Australian Romance Readers Awards this year. Fortunately Amy is also a most excellent lady and we love her, despite her clear penchant for overachievement and making the rest of us look bad.

Amy’s latest release (and ARR Award nominee in both the Favourite Contemporary Romance and Sexiest Hero categories) is Holding Out For A Hero. Take a lookie…

 

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

 

Cover of Holding Out For A Hero by Amy AndrewsWhen sensible schoolteacher Ella Lucas rides into her home town on a Harley and seduces the resident football hero, Jake Prince, she figures she can be forgiven and move on. After all, she’s just buried her mother.

Two years later, back in the city, their paths cross again but this time Jake is in the process of destroying her favourite dive bar. With her home facing a wrecker’s ball, her school being closed down and her 15-year-old brother hell bent on self-destruction, it’s the last straw. Throw in a dominatrix best friend who is dating a blue ribbon guy so straight he still lives at home with his mother, it’s no wonder the sanest person in Ella’s life is a dog.

With all this to contend with, the last thing Ella needs is Jake back in her life. But, as fate would have it, Jake is the only chance she has to save her school.

As the school football season heats up, old secrets threaten to surface and Ella takes on greedy developers, school boards and national tabloids. But can she save not just her home, her school and her brother, but also the reputation of the man she’s never been able to forget? And, more importantly, does she want to?

Holding Out for a Hero is a quirky, heartwarming tale of unlikely romance, friendship and family.

 

Now that sounds seriously sexy! And Jake and Ella can be all yours with just a clickety-click from Amazon (for your Kindle or Kindle reading app), iTunes, Google Play and Kobo. It’s on my e-reader. Go and put it on yours!

Now come blow kisses at Amy. She has chooocooolate!

 

Claytons Cooking Part 2 – The Valentine’s Day chapter

Or

My Cheating Heart

 

So, we’ve already established I’m not a cook. That I cheat in the kitchen – often. That I construct dishes from pre-made ingredients and kind of smash it all up to make something new and exciting.

Yep, that’s the way we rock in my house. And everyone’s still alive and adequately nourished.

Yes, I’m a fraud who does not belong on such a magnificent blog with people who make their own spaghetti sauce. From scratch…

But Cathryn likes to indulge me so I thought I’d treat you to another easy-peasy food construction tip for Valentine’s Day!

Now…Valentine’s Day means chocolate right? Well, you know, it means love and romance and all that good stuff too but let’s face it, we’re women, right?

So….back to chocolate.

How about this Valentine’s Day you surprise your lover with some home-made chocolates? Well, you know, home-made in the loosest sense of the word….

The first thing you need is some chocolate moulds. Now, I used to have a stack of plastic moulds that I bought from Robin’s Kitchen years ago when I did this kind of stuff with the kids. I’m sure I had hundreds of them. No, I do have hundreds of them. I just couldn’t find any today when I came to do this recipe…. We food constructors are also bad at keeping track of our kitchen stuff… So I popped out and bought a proper you-beaut sturdy petit four tin. Impressive right?

Amy Andrews's petit fours tin

Next you need chocolate. What? You didn’t think I was actually going to make the chocolate did you? Perish the thought! But I do advise you to buy the most expensive cooking chocolate you can find – might as well dazzle your significant other with the taste of it, right? I used Cadbury. It’s more expensive than most but worth it.

Photo of the chocolate Amy used

Lastly you need stuff to mix in to the chocolate. I’ve used pistachios, coconut, peppermint essence, sprinkles and cranberries. Also Cointreau and rum. Because alcohol. But you can use whatever you want – chilli anyone?

Ingredients for flavouring the chocolates

Now all you do is melt the chocolate. You can get really authentic and do it in a double bowl over a boiling saucepan of water but why? Throw it in the microwave and it’s melted in like 1 minute! Plus, no saucepan to wash up!  Pour the melted chocolate into the individual moulds about half way up. Add whatever bits and pieces you’d like to each one, give it a gentle stir then fill the rest of the way with more chocolate.

Petit fours tin filled with chocolates

Refrigerate!

The end.

And here’s what they look like after they’ve been chilled a while.

The finished chocolates on a plate

Now, if you want to make it really special you can find a cute box or some cellophane and present them nicely. Knowing my hubby he’d prefer me to line them up on his naked body and lick them off after they’ve oozed a little but, you know, whatever works for you! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day!

For a chance to win a digital copy of my Aussie romcom Holding Out For A Hero tell me – do you like chocolate? Got a favourite brand? Or do you prefer something non-edible for the big-day-of-lurve?

 

And a big chocolate-flavoured Valentine’s Day right back at you, Amy! I now have a fair idea of what you’re doing today. Don’t wear out your tongue!

*cough*

Oh, dear. We really are having one of those days on the Feast, aren’t we? Never mind. Valentine’s Day is but once a year. Next week we shall return to normal innuendo free programming.

But only after we’ve given away a Kindle copy of Holding Out For A Hero!

You heard Amy. Share your favourite chocolate or whatever turns you on for Valentine’s Day and you’ll go into the draw. Me, I have a deep, deep affection for Jeff de Bruge chocolates, a brand I fell for when we lived in France. Luscious little babies. My mouth waters just thinking of those truffles. Otherwise, feed me red wine.

What about you? Maybe you like to suck on a Lindt ball? Perhaps pink champagne is more your go? Or maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift you could receive is a promise to babysit and 12 hours uninterrupted sleep. Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST 18th February 2014. Open internationally. Rah!

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Ingrid who has won herself a copy of Amy’s Holding Out For A Hero. What fun she’ll have! Thanks to Amy and to all who joined in the Friday Feast fun. Hope to see you again soon.

 

 

Love, Lust & Dust!

I’m thrilled to be in the Sunraysia district this week. It’s a fascinating area with a wonderful history, friendly people and loaded with beautiful produce. Foodie heaven! Oh, and there’s great golf too. Hmm. I may have to move here…

If you’re in the area, I’m talking at Red Cliff’s Library this afternoon and Mildura Library this evening. Would love to see you. There’ll be lucky door prizes too.

Poster for Cathryn Hein library talk 13th February 2014

We’re baaaaaack!

Welcome to the first instalment of Friday Feast for 2014. And what a cracking year it’s going to be. Already slots are filling up fast, with a fantastic line-up of authors for your delectation.

How has your summer been so far? Stinking hot no doubt. It’s been a blistery one, that’s for sure. Never fear. You can be super cool with Friday Feast.

And now, because I just know you’re hanging out for Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news, here’s a quick update: After three-putting 8 out of 18 holes the week before last and too many again last week, I fear my putter has developed yet another fault. Or my brain has. I suspect the latter. Sigh. But at least my new bright purple golfing outfit looks totally groovin’, even if it does make me resemble a grape-flavoured jube.Austrlalian author Victoria Purman

Speaking of groovin’, my guest today hails from my home state of South Australia, which naturally means she’s super talented as well as nice. Victoria Purman hit the charts with her debut novel Nobody But Him. Now she has a new romance on the shelves with the second in her Boys of Summer series.

Take a look at the utterly gorgeous Someone Like You.

 

SOMEONE LIKE YOU

 

Cover of Someone Like You by Victoria PurmanWhen Lizzie Blake knocks on the door of Dan McSwaine’s beach house at Middle Point, she barely recognises the man who answers. What ever happened to the guy who swaggered into her home town with a grin and left wither heart in his back pocket? Lizzie wonders if he’ll ever be that man again – and if she should risk everything she’s built her life on to help him.

Dan can’t normally bear to be more than ten minutes from a hip bar, an imported beer and a group of hot women. So what is he doing holed up in a falling down beach shack at Middle Point? All he knows is that he’s made some crazy decisions since the night a truck slammed into his care and almost killed him. The first one was to think that buying a crumbling piece of coastal real estate was a good idea. The second crazy decision was to try to hide away from the world when a woman like Lizzie Blake is determined to drag him right back into it.

 

Doesn’t that sound delicious? The perfect summer read. And it can be yours with a quick trip to your local independent bookseller or a trip to your nearest chain store. Or you can just click away at these retailers: For the print and ebook, try direct from the publisher, Harlequin, or Booktopia, Bookworld, and QBD The Bookshop. For the ebook, try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW or your favourite store.

All bookied up? Excellent. Now get cool with Victoria!

 

Summer Love Is Like No Other Love…

Neither Is The Food

 

It’s hot where I live.

In South Australia, we’re in the middle of our second heat wave of the summer, during which we’ll have temperatures of 40 degrees and above for ten days or more.  It’s been so hot that we consider 35 a cool change.

Victoria and her mum Emma

Victoria & her mum Emma

When it’s this hot, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking.

Funny that the heat doesn’t seem to dull my hunger, however.

This recipe is one of my summer standbys – handed down to me by my Hungarian mother, Emma.

You might by thinking that this is just a plain and simple potato salad. But the secret of its Hungarian deliciousness is the eggs – lots of eggs – and those delicious Euro-style gherkins.

My Mum serves it with her special-recipe crumbed chicken – which my three teenage boys aka The Hungry Horde – devour like it’s their last day on earth.

I cook up a huge batch of this salad and have it on hand on the fridge to fill the stomachs of The Hungry Horde with a cold chicken or some snags.

Oh, and it’s delicious with a cold beer.

Oma’s European-Style Potato Salad

European style potato salad

2kg potatoes

8 hard-boiled eggs

1 onion, very finely chopped

Finely chopped gherkins (the European kind)

Lovely mayonnaise – I use the whole egg kind

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil your potatoes and let them get cold. Peel them and slice them into a huge bowl.

Wait for your eggs to cool and break them up with a fork. I actually use one of this ginchy egg slicer doohickeys, which is fun as well as fast. Add the eggs to your potatoes, along with the finely chopped onion and gherkins.

Add your mayo a tablespoon at a time so you don’t over-mayo.

Stir. Voila! You have your wonderful, eggy deliciousness!

 

Oh, yumptious! Thanks, Victoria. I’m a complete sucker for potato salad at the best of times but add some eggs and we’re talking heaven! Perfect for this time of year, when we’re entertaining outdoors, picnicking and barbecuing.

Would you like to win a Kindle copy of Someone Like You? Well, here’s your chance. Reveal your favourite summer salad and you’ll go into the draw. I have a new one I’m rather enamoured of, made with baby spinach, chick peas, red onion, roasted sweet potato and other goodies, and dressed with a yoghurt and pomegranate molasses dressing. It is beautiful!

So what about you? Are you a traditionalist who loves nothing better than a crunchy coleslaw? Maybe you prefer a touch of exotica with some hot and sour Asian noodles to spice things up. Share away and you’ll go into the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Tuesday 11th February. Open to Australian addresses only.

Don’t have a Kindle e-reader? That’s okay. You can download the reading app to your phone, tablet, laptop or computer and read where you like. It’s easy!

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

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Iris who has won a Kindle copy of Victoria’s latest release Someone Like You. Thanks to everyone for playing along.

Are you old enough to remember chain letters? They were all the rage when I was a kid. Someone would come up with a daft pretence about creating good fortune or happiness or some other such thing, and write a (usually) naff letter to ten friends advising them they’re a recipient of all this good fortune and joy, but only if they send this letter on to ten of their acquaintances.Shocked person exclaiming: You're going to reveal what? How, in those pre-internet days, Australia Post must have loved these! Think of all those stamps that were needed, with demand growing exponentially as long as everyone kept the chain going.

I was never much of a participant. Probably sheer laziness on my part but I also thought they were pretty ridiculous.

NOT something that can be said about today’s post, which is why I’m taking part!

This is a writing process chain letter – or the modern, internet based equivalent – where writers reveal all.

Okay, so not all. But you get the picture.

My participation in this is all thanks to good buddy Rachael Johns who tagged me in her post to play along. Rachael is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a supermarket owner by day, a chronic arachnophobic, and a superstar of the rural romance genre. Her best-selling novels include Jilted, Man Drought, Outback Dreams and her Christmas novella, The Kissing Season. Keep an eye out for the second release in her Bunyip Bay series, Outback Blaze, coming May 2014!

And now onto my answers to the chain questions…

1) What am I working on?

My next rural romance The Falls. This one is set in a lush New South Wales valley whose idyllic facade hides a community simmering with tension. Some of it rather naughty! Lots of fun animals in this tale, including an evil cat, a couple of guinea pigs named Betty and Wilma, a dog named Goldi and an oversexed ram called Merlin. Oh, and we mustn’t forget the sexy farrier hero who bares more than a passing resemblance to a certain hunky Australian actor (makes for excellent research fun) and an emotionally battered heroine trying to find her heart again.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m a sucker for an emotionally charged romance and try to bring that to all my books. I also can’t help including animals that are characters in their own right. I know I shouldn’t anthropomorphise, but I can’t help it. It’s such a blast to have the animals getting up to all sorts of mischief and I think they also act as a great foil to the romance story.

3) Why do I write what I do?

The answer to that is pretty simple: Because I love these stories and want to read them myself.

4) How does my writing process work?

Messily.

Actually, that’s not quite true. It’s messy at the moment because I’m allowing it to be. My goal is to get basic story of The Falls written as fast as possible and then go back and fix it up. That’s not how I’ve operated for the last few books, though. When I first started out I was a complete fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants author, aka “a pantser”. But as I developed I learned to plot a lot more and concentrate very hard on the quality of writing. Unfortunately, as time went on, this search for perfection left me with an awful lot of hang-ups and my output became slower and slower. I went from taking 3 months to write a 100,000 word novel to 7 months. Finally, at the end of last year, I decided I’d had enough.

In December, while I was waiting for Rocking Horse Hill’s line and copy edits, I thought I’d try a new, just-get-the-words-down process. Thirteen days later I had a 40,000 plus word novella. I’ve NEVER had that level of output before. To be fair, I’d been brewing that story – April’s Rainbow – for a long time. Years, in fact. But the exercise proved I could write fast when I wanted. Most of all it gave me back my passion.

The experiment worked. Since January 6th I’ve polished April’s Rainbow and sent it to my agent, and written nearly 65,000 words on The Falls. Most of them pretty ugly but they’re there and editable, and that’s what matters. Because as (I believe) Nora Roberts once said, you can’t edit a blank page.

So at present, I’d call my process that of a born-again pantser. Long may it reign!

In the manner of all good chains, I’ve tagged the following excellent authors to keep the chain going. Check out their blogs on February 10th to read how they’ve answered the same questions.

Karly Lane

Cover of Poppy's Dilemma by Karly LaneKarly Lane lives on the beautiful Mid North Coast of NSW in Australia. A certified small town girl, she is most happy in a little town where everyone knows who your grandparents were. She writes women’s fiction – everything from romantic suspense to family sagas and life in rural Australia. Find out more about Karly and her excellent books (I’m a massive fan), including her latest release Poppy’s Dilemma, on her website.

Victoria Purman

Cover of Someone Like You by Victoria PurmanWhen Victoria Purman woke up one day and realised she’d spent most of her working life writing for other people, she decided it was finally time to tell stories of her own. Victoria is published by Harlequin Australia and is now thrilled to spend her days creating dialogue and happy-ever-afters for her imaginary characters. Her Boys of Summer series is set on the south coast of her home state of South Australia, somewhere she feels compelled to do a lot of research. Nobody But Him was released in October last year, and Someone Like You is out now. When she’s not writing, Victoria spends time with her husband, three sons, a disobedient dog, her loving, extended family and dear friends. She keeps promising to buy herself surfing lessons. Visit Victoria’s website for more.

Kris Pearson

Cover of Christmas Holiday Husband by Kris PearsonKris lives in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. She’s used this lovely city as the setting for six of her novels.  She writes hot, passionate, contemporary romances full of love and laughter. She has an advertising background and is the current membership secretary for Romance Writers of New Zealand. She writes and gardens, and these days is in business with her husband in the decor field. Check out Kris’s books and much, much more on her website.