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I have a most excellent Goodreads giveaway running. You could win one of FIVE paperback copies of my new rural romance Rocking Horse Hill which releases April 23rd.

 

Simply click the image below to be taken to the Goodreads entry page.

Goodreads giveaway image - orange border

 

Go get ’em!

 

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The Romance Writers of Australia conference is over for another year, and what a brilliant time was had by all. There is nothing quite so inspiring and warming as hanging with your tribe, and Fremantle was a fantastic location, well worth the trip to the west. I’ll be blogging about our fun and games later, so keep your eye out for that.

But first, to the task at hand and another Australian debut author. Leisl Leighton is a tall redhead with a big imagination, a double major in English Literature and Drama, a former career as an actor, singer and dancer, as well as script writer, stage manager, and musical director for cabaret and theatre restaurants. She also has a hubby, two boys and a dog named Buffy, and now she’s a published author of romantic suspense. Yup, this is one full-on life liver!

Leisl’s debut novel is the wonderfully titled Killing Me Softly. Take a look…

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY

 

Killing Me Softly by Leisl Leighton coverReclusive record producer, Alexia Deningham, guards her privacy fiercely. When she agrees to work with superstar Daemon Flagherty, and his band, it is only on the condition that they stay with her at her isolated country estate.

Fresh from a messy divorce, Daemon is determined to focus on his music. He wants to work with the best and that means Lexi. He certainly isn’t looking for romance, but he finds himself intrigued by Lexi’s secretive behavior.

Despite Lexi’s reservations, their attraction grows.  But someone is watching Lexi. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the woman who has ruined his life. When his campaign of terror ratchets out of control, Lexi must fight for survival but who can she really trust?

 

How cool does that sound? I got all shivery just reading that blurb. Killing Me Softly can be yours now with just a few clickety-clicks. You can buy the ebook direct from the publisher Destiny Romance or try Kobo, iTunes, JB Hi-Fi Books, Google Play, Amazon Kindle or Angus and Robertson.

Please welcome Leisl to Friday Feast!

 

WINTER IS A SOUPADOUPASOUPFEST

 

Unlike most of the sun loving country, I love winter. And this is the reason why:

When I was growing up, whenever winter rocked around, it meant two things in my house – hoping it would snow up at the mountains in time for our annual ski trip to Mt Buller and lots and lots of soup for lunch and dinner. My whole family loved our ski trip and we loved warming soup. And when the two were combined – sublime! For me, these two things are still something I look forward to every year.

My mum loves soup. She did then and she still does, and that has kind of rubbed off on me. She used to regularly make a huge pot of some kind of soup, some of which we would have for dinner and lunches over the next few days and some of which was put into the freezer for those nights she didn’t feel like cooking anything (something I can hugely relate to now I’m a working mum). Pea and ham, tomato, cauliflower and ham, broccoli, pumpkin with sweet potato and a hint of curry, potato and leak and the perennial favourite – minestrone. There were others she tried that weren’t so successful, but these were the ones we ate most often. I can still close my eyes and remember the smell of the hamhock cooking in the pot with the split peas, the rich, salty aroma that would pervade the house and make my stomach rumble and the satisfaction of finishing my bowl with a hunk of bread and butter to scoop up the dregs.

Yum!Spinach and rice soup in a bowl

My little family (husband, two sons) favourites are a bit different -: vegetable wonton soup, pumpkin, sweet potato and curry soup, chicken soup (my husband makes this with matzo balls just like his grandma used to make), a version of my mother’s minestrone and a fabulous soup I found a recipe to in a great Mediterranean cookbook  I have, spinach and rice soup.

While I love all of the above, the one that warms the cockles of my heart and fills my belly with yummy, warming goodness is my minestrone soup. Like much of my cooking, it’s based on what my mum used to do, but seeing I’m not a follow a recipe kind of girl (I like throwing things I feel like eating in a pot and adding stuff to taste), it has changed to something far more chunky.

 

MINESTRONE SOUP

Minestrone soup in the pot

The minestrone is something I make in a 10 litre pot like my mum used to do and freeze what isn’t eaten in the first few days. I don’t have a fixed recipe for it, because like traditional minestrone, it is made out of things I mostly have in the house. However, the things I mostly throw into it are:

½ celery (chopped roughly, leaves and all)

2 zucchini (grated)

1 parsnip (diced)

2 swede (diced)

4 carrots (grated)

Tin of red kidney beans (washed)

Tin of chick peas (washed)

1 ½ cups pearl barley (washed)

Diced beef (it’s better if it still has a little fat on it)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

Bag of spinach (or box of frozen spinach is fine)

4 litres vegetable stock

Basil (chopped)

Chili (chopped – or 1 tbls sambal oelek)

2 pinches of ginger

2 pinches of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

I have also used onion, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potato, capsicum, mushrooms – pretty much any veg I’ve had in the fridge that I need to use and would go in a soup together well. You can also use any Italian herbs you like and add garlic too. I add garam masala spice instead (because, as I said, garlic doesn’t like me). I like different textures in the soup, which is why I grate some of the veg and chop or dice the rest.

Sauté the vegetables in some oil and the herbs and spices in the large pot, add the beef, let it cook through a little, throw in the tinned tomatoes, chick peas and kidney beans and stir, then add the vegetable stock and bring to boil. Minestrone soup in the bowlWhen it’s boiling, add the pearl barley and stir then drop to a simmer. The longer you can leave it on to simmer and cook, the better – 3-4 hours is good, occasionally stirring. My husband likes it thick, almost like a stew, but if you want it to be more soup-like, you could add more water or stock. You can even add some wine (red wine is best).

It’s best served with some parmesan and a hunk of fresh bread.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed sharing my love of soup with you on the Friday Feast. Thanks so much for having me here.

 

My pleasure to host you, Leisl, and thanks for that wonderfully soupy post! Soupadouping it up is one of things that makes winter tolerable (that and open fires, AFL footy, Guinness and red wine). Such a lovely comforting feeling to sit down with a steaming bowl of soup when it’s filthy outside.

Now sit up, my fine Feasters. Most generous person that she is, Leisl has offered give away to one lucky commenter a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Simply reveal which soup warms the cockles of your heart and you’ll go into the draw. Are you a hearty vegetable sort or maybe a traditional style chicken noodle? Perhaps you’re a hot n spicy type and crave a big bowl of blow-your-nostrils-out tom yum soup? Come along. Reveal all. We’re nosy buggers on the Feast and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday AEST, 27th August 2013. Ebook giveaway prize available in Kindle format only. Open internationally. Rah!

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

You can also watch this video of Leisl being interviewed by Carol George of Destiny Romance, where she talks about Killing Me Softly and how she came to write it.

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Paula who has won a Kindle ebook copy of Killing Me Softly. Thanks to everyone who took part. Hope to see you again soon!

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It’s here! And I came very, very close to popping the champagne before 8am this morning. Why? Because Heartland received the most gobsmacking review from Bree, at 1 Girl, 2 Many Books.

This is just a little of what she had to say…

“It’s easy to overhype books in your mind sometimes, which can lead to them not living up to expectation. That was definitely not the case with this one – it was everything I thought it would be and more. It’s a beautiful story of finding courage to be happy and letting go of the past but without forgetting it. Callie had such a touching vulnerability and Matt such a gentle strength but that didn’t stop it from being plenty saucy either! Another fabulous rural romance release that just proves why this genre continues to grow in popularity.”

9/10

Isn’t that the loveliest thing? Read Bree’s full review of Heartland here.

But wait, there’s more! Bree also has an in-depth Q&A with me, covering everything from how I choose my settings, to my love for the Sydney Swans, to what was the most difficult part of Heartland to write. Plus a teensy bit about my next book. Check it out!

Also around the net, I’m on the Australian Romance Readers Association’s blog, talking about what made Heartland special to write. All ARRA members who comment will go into the draw to win a copy.

Tomorrow, ANZAC Day, I’m at Book Muster Down Under with an author Q&A (including some seriously tricky questions) and with THREE copies of Heartland up for grabs courtesy of my publisher, Penguin Australia.

Friday will see me flopping about with exhaustion… or perhaps not. No rest for the bookish! I’m hosting myself here on Friday Feast and revealing some of the onerous research I had to undertake for Heartland. I’m talking winery visiting onerous. Terrible, but we authors are selfless creatures and don’t mind suffering for our craft. Oh, and there’ll be a Heartland giveaway too. But you’ll have to work for it with a wine-y story!

Also on Friday, I’ll be at Jenn J McLeod’s Author Harvest, discussing garden gnomes, what my protagonists think about me, and the current lust of my life, Inspector Davide Rivera from Rex in Rome…among other equally serious and important things!

Then on Sunday, 28th April, it’s back to ARRA for a guest post titled The Heart of Rural Romance. Find out what makes this genre so great.

Oh, and before I go, three things.

1/. Heartland is in this week’s BigW catalogue. Wheeeeee!

2/. The ebook price promo will run out soon. Get in quick if you want to score Heartland at a discount. Try Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Google Play or iTunes. There’s also special pricing for Heart of the Valley and Promises.

3/. My Goodreads giveaway closes May 1st. Simply visit Heartland’s page and clickety-click the Enter to Win button.

To finish off , thank you to everyone for your amazing support. I’ve been overwhelmed with congratulations this morning and made to feel really special. I can’t express how much that means to me.

Nearly forgot! I have another Heartland quote for you.

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Mustn’t let all my photo fiddling go to waste!

 

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Would you like to win a copy of my upcoming rural romance release, Heartland? For the month of April I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads. Simply visit Heartland’s Goodreads page and click the Enter To Win button (you’ll need to be a Goodreads member).

Giveaway runs until May 1st.

And now, something to make you smile…

 

 

It must be the child in me but I never seem to tire of those martians!

 

 

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