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Posts Tagged ‘Fiona Palmer’

Welcome to Friday Feast! I’m very excited about today’s guest. Not only is she a fabulous writer and gorgeous person, she’s taking us on an armchair trip to my favourite country, Italy!

First, an update from Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf Weekly, because I know how much you hang on it during my beloved Sydney Swans off season. I’m beginning to believe that all the golf balls I buy are suicidal. Fiona Palmer author photoI can think of no other explanation for why they keep diving for eel ridden dams and blacksnake infested rough. Spookily, it only ever seems to happen to the brand new ones…

Enough of that. Time to say ciao bella to one of Australia’s favourite rural romance authors, Fiona Palmer!

Fiona is a born and bred country girl who shot to ru-ro (as we fondly call it) stardom with The Family Farm, following that huge success up with Heart of Gold, The Road Home and The Sunburnt Country. All best-sellers and complete heart-warmers. Now Fiona has another story for your rural library, and this is being touted as her best yet. Take a look at The Outback Heart.

 

THE OUTBACK HEART

 

The Outback Heart by Fiona PalmerIndianna Wilson is a country girl through and through. She’ll do anything she can to save her beloved home town from disappearing off the map – even if she has to die trying. She brings Troy Mitchell to her tiny outback town, with hopes that he can bring a breath of fresh air to the Saints football club and lift the wider farming community.

He’s just the spark they need in Hyden but it’s the fire that he ignites in Indi’s heart that takes her by surprise. She knows he’s feeling something too – why, then, does he insist on pushing her away? What is it from his dark past that’s preventing them from sharing a future?

As the town rallies together and their fighting spirit returns, Indi and Troy discover that sometimes life offers up a second chance – you just have to be brave enough to take it.

The most heartfelt and moving novel yet from favourite Australian rural romance writer and bestselling author of The Family Farm.

 

Footy, love and the outback, how can you resist? Hie thee down to your nearest bookstore or get that mouse a-clicking. Signed copies of all Fiona’s books are available now from her website, and between now and Christmas Fiona will throw in a stubbie holder with every purchase. Otherwise, for the paperback, try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, Angus & Robertson, direct from Penguin Australia, your local independent bookshop or nearest chainstore. For the ebook visit Kobo, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks or JB Hi-Fi.

Now enjoy your Italian holiday.

 

Pizza Passion

 

Thanks to my mate Cathryn for having me, I love her Friday Feasts. Today I thought I’d talk about Pizza. (An all time favourite of mine because its easy and my kids eat it!!) This is funny because I hadn’t eaten a Pizza Hut pizza until I was 18. We ate plenty of frozen McCain’s pizzas growing up but I’d never had a fresh made one. I was living in Perth and had part time work (while at College) at the Peppy Grove Pizza Hut and that was the first time I’d ever eaten one, especially hot out of the oven. Then I couldn’t understand why I’d never eaten one sooner.

Anyway the reason I’ve gone with Pizza for this Friday Feast is because I just recently went to Italy for 3 weeks on a ‘research’ tip for my next book. And I ate pizza. I didn’t go over board while there, I shared it around with the pastas and we cooked for ourselves for 11 nights while in Montone (a small village in Umbria) and we had lots of salads. (Must even up the carb/veg ratio)

But as I was looking back through my photo’s for a ‘Pizza’ pic I was quite shocked to see how many photo’s I had of me eating pizza! Crikey, it makes it look like that’s all I ate!

One thing I realised is that the pasta and pizza’s are really simple in Italy. They are not full of other ingredients. We make pizza’s or pasta at home and have heaps of vegies and herbs in them, in Italy its simple. In Pompeii we had a pasta dish which just looked like pasta with a tin of crushed tomatoes in it and a basil leaf on top.

But you know what? It was soooo tasty. We think it must be the delicious tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils. Maybe we put too much ‘stuff’ in our dishes? I do tend to load my homemade pizzas with every topping possible to make sure I’m getting plenty of vegies lol

Fiona Palmer aunt and cousin eating pizza in Florence

So here we are eating pizza in the street in Florence. We’d caught up with my cousin who just happened to be in Italy on her trip at the same time as us. My Aunty Lorna and I were the Pizza testers. I never pizza’ed alone. (We did wonder if we’d have to attend a Pizza Anonymous group when we got back!)

Fiona Palmer eating pizza in Gubbio

This is yours truly pigging out on a yum slice of pizza in Gubbio. (An amazing Medieval town not far from where we were staying in Montone. We actually found this place by accident. A wrong turn somewhere landed us here. Much to our delight!)

A pizza meal Fiona Palmer enjoyed in Perugia

When we visited Perugia (another town south of Montone) we went to this little restaurant which was down a little alleyway. It was gorgeous with round exposed rock ceiling. And it seemed small but as you kept walking you came to other little eating areas. Just to note, my Aunty and I couldn’t finish these ones but took the rest home to eat later. 🙂

A pizza meal at Brancaleone, a bar and restaurant in Rome

When we were in Rome, we found a fantastic ristorante/pizzeria right behind our hotel. Sadly we wished we had found it two days earlier!! But we went there so often that we felt like locals and the managers were so lovely. Even their little girl was gorgeous.  They had a big pizza oven and the size of our pizza’s were huge. But the nice thin base made it possible to eat the whole lot! One night we had something different (see I didn’t always eat pizza) and they brought us one of the pizza bases which had been coated in oil, sea salt and sprinkled with rosemary. OMG it was delicious and perfect with our meal. They also served their own fresh cooked potato chips while we waited. Brancaleone the place was called. Loved it. I won’t mention the yummo choc cake we had too.

So that was a snippet of my time in Italy. I have since tried making a few of the things we had over there like the basic oil, sea salt & rosemary pizza base. Goes great as a side to salad. 🙂

 

Sigh. My jealousy of you right now, dear Fiona, is ENORMOUS! Italy is such a wonderful place. Gorgeous people, beautiful scenery and language, all that history and art, and the food! Simple and delicious.

Now, Feasters, we have a giveaway, Simply share your favourite pizza topping in the comments and you’ll go into the draw to win a signed paperback copy of The Outback Heart. Easy!

So… are you a traditionalist, and prefer a good old Margherita? Or maybe you’re a modernist and enjoy exotica like tandoori chicken or roast pumpkin, fetta and chorizo? I’ll admit to the youthful indiscretion of loving pineapple on my pizza but now I’m a Margherita girl through and through, although I did once have a wonderful pizza made with tiny slivers of potato, garlic and herbs that I’d be happy to scoff again. So what’s your preferred topping? Reveal and you could win!

Entries close midnight Tuesday, AEST, 19th November 2013. Australian postal addresses only please.

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Melissa who has won a signed copy of The Outback Heart. Thanks to all who took part. I hope you’ll join in the fun again.

 

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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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____

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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!

 

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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.

 

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.

 

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Yup, that’ where I’m off to this week. Can’t wait! It’s such fun to catch up with writer friends and talk shop. I’m also a guest on the Diamonds In The Dust Panel on Saturday with Rachel Treasure, Fiona Palmer, Barbara Hannay and Penguin editor Belinda Byrne, discussing all you need to know about rural romance.

For non-writers there is the wonderful  Australian Romance Readers Association Booksigning Event. So if you’re near the Gold Coast this coming Friday, why not pop on by? Sixty-six romance authors will be on standby to have a chat to and sign your books.

4-30–6.00 pm on Friday 17 August at the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast. For more information on the ARRA Booksigning Event please visit the ARRA Blog.

Interested in writing? Why not take a closer look at the Romance Writers of Australia. THE BEST writing organisation in the country. It is. I promise. Plus we have seriously fun conferences.

And finally, a heads-up that there will be no Friday Feast this week due to me swanning around the Gold Coast. But keep an eye out for Friday 24th when I’ll be sharing something special to celebrate the first birthday of my debut rural romance, Promises. There may be a special giveaway…

 

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Happy Friday, Feasters, and what a wonderful day it is, not least because this weekend means EUROVISION. Oh yes, well may you laugh, but you can take your Idols and The Voices and X’s Got Talent and all those other amateur productions, and plonk them right in the bin of television obscurity where they belong. Because there’s only one song contest which matters – the absolute kitschy glory of Eurovision.

SBS Television’s broadcast begins tonight at 7-30. Be there!

(Oh, and foodie sorts, if you check this month’s SBS Feast magazine, there’s even a feature on Eurovision party food. Rah!)

It’s also a wonderful day for another reason and that’s because my Friday Feast guest today is delightful rural romance author Mandy Magro. Mandy hails from north Queensland way, from the country town of Dimbulah, where she and her husband Drew run their tropical fruit farm.

Mandy’s debut release, Rosalee Station was a big hit, its cover tagged with an endorsement from Fiona Palmer no less, and fans have been eagerly awaiting her next book. Now it’s here! Yes, Jacaranda hit the shelves just a few days ago. Here’s a sample.

JACARANDA

 

At nineteen, Molly Jones has the world at her feet. Then one drunken night she falls into bed with Mark, a cowboy just passing through. By the time Molly realises she’s pregnant, Mark is long gone.

Now, at twenty-six, Molly’s life is almost perfect. She’s the devoted mother of Rose, and a renowned horse trainer. She lives amid the beauty of Jacaranda Farm, surrounded by family and friends – none closer than hunky stockman Heath. But she’s still looking for the love of her life, and a father for Rose.

When Mark stumbles back into her world, as charming as ever, Molly begins to hope for a future she’d long ago relinquished. But how will Mark react when he learns he’s a father? And could the man of Molly’s dreams be closer to home than she thinks?

 

How gorgeous is that cover? Mind you, I’m biased toward anything with a horse on it, but there’s no question Jacaranda is super pretty. I bet it flies off the shelves. If you want to score a copy right now, why not rush down to your local bookseller or, if you don’t feel like venturing outside, click your mouse right here. You can also download Jacaranda as an ebook from Amazon Kindle, Kobo and many other ebook retailers.

Anyway, enough of me, it’s Mandy you’ve come to read. So without further ado, here she is.

Food, Food, Glorious Food

Thank you for inviting me onto your yummy weekly blog, Cathryn. I am so thrilled to be here!

Can I begin by saying, Ahhhh food, glorious food! I love it, all of it, everything from Thai, Italian, Greek, Turkish and Indian through to melt in your mouth steak and chips down the local pub. I love travelling round the world for it, growing it, shopping for it, cooking it and eating it. I am an absolute foodie. I would much prefer to spend a day at food markets then in dress shops so that says it all – I can hear some women gasping from here.

Food brings people together, whether it’s in celebration of a wedding, a casual night out at your favourite restaurant, right down to the Aussie tradition of a backyard barbeque. It can even cross the boundaries of language, my experiences when travelling through parts of Asia perfect proof of that. I visited some remote villages where they didn’t speak a word of English but we could laugh and connect over meals. It was wonderful, food is wonderful. What would we do with all our spare time if we didn’t eat? I couldn’t imagine it!

I would like to share with you a recipe that has been passed onto me by my English mother-in-law. It is tradition for them to have this dessert every Christmas after devouring a lavish roast goose with all the trimmings, add in the crackling of the fire and the feathery snow falling outside and it is magical. Chocolate Orange Cheesecake is now one of my all time favourite desserts and there is certainly not a crumb left when I take it to family gatherings. It might be a little on the fattening side but who cares if it tastes good, right?

 Shazza’s Chocolate Orange Cheesecake

100g softened butter

250g digestive biscuits (UK brand but can get these from Coles)

50g Demerara sugar

500g of Philly cheese

2 oranges

250mls single cream

15g gelatine

50g dark chocolate

1. Leave the butter at room temperature (or melt it in the microwave slightly). Blend the biscuits until fine in a food processor then mix in the butter. Push this into a round spring form tin and place this in the fridge while you prepare the filling so it can harden a little.

2. In the food processor place the Philly cheese, cream, rind from 1 orange and juice from both. Turn processor on high and mix until the filling is looking creamy. Then, add the gelatine which has been mixed with a little water (according to the container’s instructions) and stir this through. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, making sure to stir it every 15 seconds so it doesn’t burn. Then, drizzle this over the top of the filling. Grab a fork and swirl the fork ever so lightly through the drizzled chocolate, just over the surface, to give it an artistic design.

4. Pop it in the fridge to set. It takes a few hours for this or preferably overnight.

5. Devour with oohs, mmmms and ahhs!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and it is one you are proud to share with loved ones.

All this talk about food is making me hungry so I must be off to the fridge. I wonder what deliciousness lies within its clutches today.

Thanks, Cathryn; it’s been so much fun talking with you about food – one of my favourite subjects.

Mandy x

 

Have a look at that cheesecake. Wow, is all I can say. Just…wow. It’s like a Jaffa except bigger, flatter and so, so much better. Mmm. Wonder if I should make this for the Eurovision final on Sunday?

Thanks so much, Mandy, for that lovely post and even lovelier recipe. And congratulations on the release of Jacaranda. May it fly off the shelves.

So Feasters, what’s the best recipe you’ve filched from someone? I still have the recipe for lemon butter my friend’s mum gave me when I was about 12. Delicious, especially mixed with mascarpone and cream to make lemon icecream. And then there’s my mother in law’s ANZAC biscuits, which are, quite simply, the best. Then there’s my Mum’s pav, my friend’s friend’s spring roll recipe… The list is huge! So what’s yours? We’d love to hear.

Although if you also want to chat about Eurovision party food I’m sure Mandy will be in that too. I certainly won’t object!

 

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

 

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