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Hello, Feasters! We’re getting swish this week on Friday Feast with a recipe that will really get your tastebuds tingling. It’s delicious, literally!

But first, this week’s instalment of Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf which is making an appearance despite the fact that it’s now footy season and I should be swapping to updates about my beloved Sydney Swans. Unfortunately, they were poo against GWS on Saturday and I have the sulks, whereas the golf news is good! Yes, I whacked a ball into the water on the 12th and 14th, and another rotten crow pinched my ball on the 13th but they were only minor issues. Overall, I played well! Still can’t quite believe it… could I be on the upswing???

Now, to today’s guest Tricia Stringer, best-selling author of Queen of the Road and 2013 winner of a prestigious Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year award (the Ruby) in the romantic elements category. And South Australian. Cos, you know, all the best writers come from SA. Ha!

Like the Ruby judges, I thoroughly enjoyed Queen of the Road and look forward to reading Tricia’s new one Right as Rain. Not only is it rural, it features food! How can a girl resist?

Take a look…

 

RIGHT AS RAIN

 

Right as Rain by Tricia StringerMack’s determined to do what’s right for her father…but will she choose what’s right for herself?

Mackenna Birch thinks she’s met the man of her dreams while on holiday in New Zealand. Adam Walker seems funny, kind and loving…until — to Mack’s disbelief — he walks out on her. Nursing a broken heart, Mack returns to the family farm in Australia to find her beloved father unwell and her scheming younger brother home from the city, showing a great interest in taking over the business. Also in her absence, a new worker has been hired, and Mack’s unsure of his motives.

Mack longs to make big changes to the farm — changes her father has approved. But with her dad’s ailing health, all her plans have been put on hold. Soon Mack finds herself turning to Hugh — her old friend and neighbour — as her confidant. As they support each other through family pressures, their friendship strengthens, leading them to question their true feelings for each other.

Then, out of the blue, Adam turns up from New Zealand, adding to the melting pot of emotions. Soon Mack’s juggling some tough decisions and trying to make those around her happy. But can she find the balance and have her own ever-after?

 

Ooh, doesn’t that sound intriguing? You want a copy, don’t you? Well, simply click away. For the paperback try Booktopia, Bookworld, Dymocks, QBD The Bookshop, direct from the publisher Harlequin or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Amazon for Kindle, Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, iTunes, Google Play, BigW ebooks, Harlequin or your favourite ebook retailer.

All set? Here’s Tricia!

 

The Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp Farm

 

I love food – but – when thinking about what to blog, I couldn’t decide.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

The library decked out as Woolly Swamp Farm.

My immediate thought was to tell you about the wonderful launch party for Right as Rain at Moonta Community Library. My daughter, Kelly, and fellow library staff went to great lengths to make sure there were many lamb nibbles for guests to try. Why the lamb? Right as Rain main character, Mackenna, is a farmer and also a qualified chef. Her father who works the farm with her is in failing health, her mother isn’t supportive and the love of her life has stood her up. Against the odds, Mackenna has a dream to bring people to the farm gate to taste the lamb produced on their property. Her grandparents little stone cottage is the perfect place. She calls it the Gatehouse and sets out to make her dream come true.

I had such a lot of fun researching and writing this story. It’s full of food. I grew up on a farm so lamb (or more often mutton) was always on the menu. People do so much more with it these days. While I was writing I discovered the best way to try out new recipes rather than cook it myself was to eat out. Yum! My youngest son, Jared is a chef and helped me out a lot with ideas.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

My husband and I at the Moonta launch.

There are so many great ways to cook with lamb.

Mackenna has a grand opening of her Gatehouse for her family where she serves assorted lamb dishes. Thus at the book launch we had nibbles including lamb and rosemary sausage rolls, Moroccan lamb tarts and lamb kofta balls.

To carry on with the food theme I was lucky enough to have two great foodies help me with my Adelaide launch at Dymocks in Rundle Mall. My son, Jared, who’d just flown home from Europe, was a fantastic Master of Ceremonies and Duncan Welgemoed, chef and owner of Bistro Dom in Waymouth St, Adelaide, did the official launch. Duncan had recently won South Australia’s Chef of the Year but the reason I asked him to do the honours was it was in his restaurant that I first got the idea for showcasing lamb from a particular property.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

A batch of my daughter’s sausage rolls just out of the oven.

In spite of all that, the recipe I’m going to share with you is not a lamb recipe, it’s an old family favourite dessert.

Now you’ll really think I’ve lost the plot. What’s that got to do with Mackenna and her Gatehouse? Well she did have to serve dessert but that’s not the reason. When I asked my son which lamb recipe he would suggest for this blog he said, “Even though we’re spread far and wide we always come home for special occasions/dinners. They now include our extended family with our partners etc. Family gatherings are the best. We always have great dinners with good wine and good conversation. The recipe should be your lemon delicious pudding. It always reminds me of our family dinners, right back when we were only small, we would still have a properly set dining table, no TV, just conversation. Something I treasured and still look forward to when I come home.”

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

Table loaded with the wonderful lamb nibbles.

So there you have it – a message that went straight to this mother’s heart. Even more so as my mother, who died many years ago, used to make this for our family. The original recipe came from the South Australian Country Women’s Association Calendar of Puddings. It’s called Baked Lemon Delicious (Swiss). My copy of this book is falling apart but is special as my mother was once State President of the CWA and her Foreword is in the front of the book. It reads in part – The recipes were freely given by members to be compiled into a calendar… The recipes have stood the test of time and may all who use this book find the same satisfaction and delight in the recipes as those who first tried them so long ago. Patricia Phillis.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

Here I am with Jared and Duncan.

I hope that while we strive to find new ways with food we will still share the old recipes and serve them with love and laughter just like at the family

gathering. At three my grandson knows the importance of the family dinner table. “Let’s sit at the table together and tell each other our adventures,” he said recently then added. “I’ll go first.”

Perhaps I was influenced by our family dinners when I wrote about Mackenna’s Gatehouse at Woolly Swamp farm.

Here’s my version of the recipe.

I call it…

 

Lemon Swish Delish

 

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Ingredients

2 tbspns butter

¾ cup sugar

4 tbspns plain flour

juice and rind of 1 large lemon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method

It’s important to add ingredients in the following order.

Cream the butter and sugar then add the sifted flour.

Stir in the rind and juice of the lemon.

Beat egg yolks then stir into mixture along with the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into a greased dish and stand in another dish of water. *(Very important)

Bake in a moderate oven approx. 40 mins.

It’s a nice light dessert which serves six to eight. You can eat it hot or cold but I love it hot with cream or ice-cream or both!

 

Oh, I just ADORE lemon delicious, Tricia! It’s one of those wonderful old-fashioned desserts that everyone loves. And you can play around with it too, adding lime juice or blood orange or whatever citrus takes your fancy.

Thanks so much for a hugely entertaining post. What fun you had with your book launches. Those sausage rolls look perfect. And Right as Rain sounds wonderful.

Now, my lovely Feasters, Tricia is very generously offering a signed paperback copy of Right as Rain as a giveaway prize. But as usual you have to work for it. Don’t worry, it’s easy! All you have to do is reveal your favourite family recipe in the comments and the one that tickles Tricia’s fancy the most will win.

Does your family adore pavlova? Perhaps a good old roast (lamb, of course) gets them running to the table? Maybe it’s your Gran’s favourite recipe for tomato soup that does the job. Simply share and you’ll have a chance to win this excellent book.

Giveaway closes midnight Tuesday, 25th March 2014. Australian and New Zealand entries only.

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

 

This giveaway has now closed. Congratulations to Jodi who has won a copy of Tricia’s Right As Rain. Thanks to everyone who took part. You made this Friday Feast a blast. Hope to see you again soon!

 

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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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Ahh, Brissy, what a warm and friendly city. And made even better by the staging a few weekends ago of GenreCon, the conference designed for that most excellent of authorly species, Genre Writers. I’ve been a quite a few Romance Writers of Australia conferences now and GenreCon was a lot like one of those, except it had men. A lively, lovely lot of them too. It also had, thanks to the irrepressible Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services, karaoke, an event from which my voice didn’t recover for a week. A week of gravel-throat and I didn’t even get to sing Dancing Queen or Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Although I did get hear editor and writer Patrick O’Duffy do the most amazing deep-voiced version of Total Eclipse of the Heart imaginable.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

 

Friday: The Start of Sleep Deprivation

 

Before karaoke and the conference proper, there was lunch on Friday at GOMA Restaurant with romance authors Amy Andrews, Anna Campbell, Keziah Hill, Rachael Johns, Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young and myself where much prosecco was drunk, rabbit terrines savoured, desserts drooled over, and happy birthday and Frocktober ditties sung. There may have also been unsubtle mention of the Penis Beaker Debate and He of the Mighty Wang (Amy Andrews’s fault). Personally, I think we added a nice splash of colour and noise to the restaurant although I’m not sure the staff would agree, but at least they were good sports about our rowdiness.

GOMA lunch ladies, left to right: Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Rachael Johns, me, Bronwyn Parry, Keziah Hill and Amy Andrews

L to R: Anna Campbell, Helene Young, Rachael Johns, me,  birthday girl Bronwyn Parry, Keziah Hill and Amy Andrews

Friday night was the opening night reception on the State Library of Queensland’s aptly named Queensland Terrace. Fantastic venue, partially open to the sub-tropical air and a great area in which to mingle, sip wine and eat naughty things.

Anne Gracie and Alex Adsett

Best-selling Regency romance author Anne Gracie and Alex Adsett

Anna Campbell, Lea Scott and Sandy Curtis

Regency romance superstar Anna Campbell with crime and thriller authors Lea Scott and Sandy Curtis

Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock

Good buddy and fellow rural romance author Rachael Johns with women’s fiction author and lovely lady Dianne Blacklock. Best-selling babes!

Amy Andrews and Sandy Curtis

Romance author Amy Andrews (and Penis Beaker Debate enabler) with Sandy Curtis

This was followed by a trek back to the bar at Rydges South Bank, the official conference hotel, then cabs into town to Fat Louie’s for some karaoke where so much silliness was had that this may become tradition. I hope so, although if next time anyone tries to make me sing Summer of ’69 again there will be reckoning…

Chuck Wendig in full karaoke throttle

Author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig in full karaoke throttle. I have no idea what he was singing but by that time of night I’m not sure anyone did!

Saturday: Brain Awakenings

 

Saturday opened with the Power of Genre Fiction, featuring speeches by Anne Gracie, Kathryn Fox and John Birmingham to well and truly put us in the mood. I then attended Rule of Knowledge author Scott Baker’s Worth A Thousand Words workshop which I found brilliant. Scott has spent the last year working with Peter Jackson on the Hobbit films and was also a consultant in the film industry as well as lecturing at the Australian National University in digital video. How well he knows his stuff was shown in the booktrailers he made which are nothing like I’ve ever seen and, quite frankly, amazing.

Scott Baker

Rule of Knowledge author and booktrailer guru Scott Baker

In fact, this was such an interesting session that I’m considering writing a separate post on it, so stay tuned! After lunch I attended the Writing Fast workshop with Anne Gracie, Charlotte Nash and Anita Heiss, hosted by Denise Rossetti. Thank goodness for Anne making me feel semi-normal over my painful writing process, because Charlotte Nash’s super speedy production levels just left me feeling completely inadequate and even more depressed about my output. But you know what? We all have our processes. I’m slow and horribly pedantic, but I get there in the end. Time to stop beating myself up about it.

Denise Rossetti and Charlotte Nash

Award winning erotic romance author Denise Rossetti and Ryders Ridge author Charlotte Nash

Writing Fast was followed by What Writers Get Wrong with Helene Young, Kathryn Fox and Deborah Burrows. My take away from this was that if you don’t know something, then ask. People tend to be fascinated by this strange writing business and are usually delighted to help.

Helene Young

Award-winning romantic suspense author Helene Young, looking lovely as usual.

John Connolly In Conversation was the last Saturday session and it was funny and fascinating, with the auditorium completely charmed and engaged. One point John made that struck me enough to write down was: In genre fiction, it’s the characters the readers care about, and authors can and do make a living off this affection and investment in character. An important thing to remember when writing.

John Connolly in conversation

Internationally best-selling Irish author John Connolly in conversation

Dinner at Rydges was a great night with crackup author and Terrible Minds blogger Chuck Wendig entertaining the crowd with his 25 Reasons Why I F**king Love Genre Fiction followed by a Q&A with Escape Publishing’s Kate Cuthbert. And then, surprise-surprise, another, even later night gasbagging in the bar.

Listening to Chuck Wendig

Some of the rapt dinner crowd listening to Chuck Wendig

 

Sunday: Can We Do It Again?

 

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services and karaoke organiser

Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services and karaoke organiser

Sunday’s Plenery Session was The Future of Genre Fiction, featuring agent and contract lawyer Alex Adsett, Leanpub’s Peter Armstrong, and author and academic Anita Heiss. Alex, seemingly unharmed and in good voice despite Friday night’s  karaoke-ing, gave a great overview of industry changes (including a handy tip about reversion clauses on print rights with digital deals), while Anita’s discussion about targetting her audience was equally thought-provoking.

Anita Heiss

Author and academic Anita Heiss

Peter Armstrong of Leanpub

Peter Armstrong of Leanpub

But it was Peter’s rundown of the history of genre fiction and serialisation which had my mind a-spinning and triggered an excellent discussion with good buddy and GenreCon roomie Rachael Johns as we headed back to the hotel to check out, and which so caught us up that we missed the next workshop. A bummer because by all accounts Beyond Rippling Muscles and Uzi 9mms was a hoot.

Amy Andrews, Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock looking mighty fine for a Sunday lunchtime.

Amy Andrews, Rachael Johns and Dianne Blacklock looking mighty fine for a Sunday lunchtime.

Post another excellent lunch (the food was fabulous at GenreCon!) I attended the Thinking Like A Pro workshop with John Connolly, Valerie Parv and Keri Arthur, followed by Know Thine Enemy with Chuck Wendig, PM Newton and Kathryn Fox. The fact that I stayed awake throughout both after an extremely late night proves how entertaining they were.

Thinking Like A Pro Workshop. L to R: Aimee Lindorff (Chair), Keri Arthur. John Connolly and Valerie Parv

Thinking Like A Pro Workshop. L to R: Aimee Lindorff (Chair), New York Times best-selling paranormal and urban fantasy author Keri Arthur, John Connolly and romance queen Valerie Parv

The Great Debate: Genre Just Wants To Have Fun was a blast. John Birmingham opened strongly with a story about a certain literary author’s pillow problems that had everyone laughing, only to be neatly countered by Anne Gracie with her “Paris” jibe.

And a new nickname is born: Anne Gracie giving John Birmingham her "Paris" dig

And a new nickname is born: Anne Gracie giving John Birmingham her “Paris” dig

Lindy Cameron and Dianne Blacklock (gorgeous lady!) put in sterling efforts but the negative side, with their brilliant goblin story and Scott Baker’s clever revisioning of The Raven, were just too strong. And so it was proven that genre doesn’t just want to have fun. Which could be said for all GenreCon attendees, I think. We had fling your arms in the air and sing it out, loud and proud fun, certainly. We had karaoke, great food, met lovely old friends and made gorgeous new ones, but thanks to a fantastic program, excellent speakers and plenty of opportunity to network, we also learned an enormous amount. And for that I can’t thank Peter Ball, Meg Vann and their team of ninjas enough.

A wonderful conference. I’ll be back in 2015 with bells on.

 

 

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And so our favourite day of the week comes around again. What have you planned for the weekend? I’m feeling a tad bereft because there’s no more footy. Fortunately, I have boxed sets of my beloved Sydney Swans Premiership seasons to see me through the dark times. And lots of books. Lots and lots of books, including the debut release of this week’s Friday Feast guest, Victoria Purman. Austrlalian author Victoria PurmanAnd I tell you, if there was ever a story to put you in the mood for a long Aussie summer it’ll be Nobody But Him.

I met Victoria recently at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle and was immediately struck by her professionalism and easy going nature. Then again, she does hail from South Australia, my home state, so these things are to be expected.

Nobody But Him is the first in Victoria’s Boys of Summer trilogy (earworm anyone? Since I typed that all I can hear is Don Henley) and has just hit the shelves. Take a gander at this bronzed Aussie!

 

NOBODY BUT HIM

 

Nobody But Him by Victoria Purman coverShe didn’t expect to run into her first love… or to fall back in love with him!

At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her hometown of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn.

But fifteen years – and a lifetime later – she’s forced to put her big city life on hold when she heads home to finalise her mother’s estate. Which is where she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion… the same Ryan Blackburn.

The sensible thing to do? Stay the hell away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling.

What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

 

You can own your own copy of Nobody But Him with just a couple of clickety-clicks. Buy direct from the publisher Harlequin or try most excellent Australian bookseller and ARRC sponsor Booktopia. There’s also Bookworld, QBD The Bookshop, Boomerang Books, or your local independent or chain store. For the ebook, try Kobo, JB Hi-Fi, Google Play, Amazon (for Kindle), iTunes and the new BigW ebook store.

Seriously, it makes me proud to see so all the Australian stories dominating our bricks and mortar stores and virtual shelves at the moment. Anyway, enough of me, here’s Victoria!

 

 

Lock, stock and barrel

 

Has anyone else ever wandered the supermarket aisles and become increasingly concerned about the growing profusion of packet mixes and insta-meals?

I get the heebie-jeebies every time I read the back of the label and barely recognize anything that seems like real food.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a working mother of three teenagers and I’m certainly not averse to doing whatever it takes to feed the Hungry Horde.

And I’m not what you might call a health nut, either. Those who know about my consumption of wine and chocolate know this to be true. (To those who don’t know me, I consume a lot of wine and chocolate.)

But I don’t want my kids to be loaded down with salt and preservatives and chemicals when I can make the real thing at home – salt and preservative free – for much less.

Hence my recipe for my weekly, reliable standby: Chicken Stock.

I approach cooking as I do writing a book.

On the surface, it’s all exciting – doing the shopping, looking at the labels and the recipe books, making everything look beautifully plated up and Master Chef-y.

The writing equivalent is spending lots of time online with search engine terms that include “shirtless” and “man”; thinking about your cover; and how famous you’re going to be when it sells squillions.

But when you get down to it, there are some basic you shouldn’t ignore.

No matter what genre you write in, every book needs a solid story at its heart.

I think of my Chicken Stock that way – a solid base of flavour for a zillion meals.

I’m not kidding when I say Chicken Stock is easy. The Hungry Horde doesn’t have time for complicated.

I cook up a batch on the weekend and have it sitting in the fridge so I can scoop out what I need during the week for meals in the slow cooker, casserole dishes, stir-fries or soups.

It’s especially handy for those dreaded days when all you have left in the fridge is a couple of near-dead zucchinis, a floret or two of broccoli and a cauliflower (you know, the one you bought in the vain hope that your kids would actually eat it).

Gather the veggies, chop finely, cook them all up in the stock until tender, give it a whizz and voila – vegetable soup. My kids love it. Even when I tell Boy13 there’s zucchini in it.

 

Victoria’s Chicken Stock

 

  • Chicken carcasses (I use two because they come that way in the supermarket). Don’t worry about trimming off the fat – while important, that comes later.Stock pot with chicken carcases
  • Veggies – celery, carrots, onion, minced garlic
  • Pepper (and salt if you wish)
  • Water

Use a big stock saucepan and place the chicken bones in it.

Raid the fridge for whatever veggies you have. I always keep a few celery leaves and stalks in the freezer (did I mention I hate wasting food?) and pop them in to the saucepan with an onion chopped in half (you don’t even need to peel it), and a roughly chopped carrot. Add some minced garlic (from the jar I have in the fridge), a little pepper, and add water until the chicken bones are covered.

Bring to the boil.

Chicken and vegetables in the stock pot ready for boilingWhen it’s boiling, turn down to simmer and let the magnificent aromas fill the house. I usually leave it for about an hour, so the flavours really intensify.

Let the stock cool, and then strain out all the chicken and the veggies. Pour into a container and chill overnight. This step is really important, as the fat congeals at the top and can be easily scooped off the next day.

Your stock is ready, totally delicious and made from real food.

Make soup! Add to day-old rice in a wok and it will taste delicious! Use a cupful any time a recipe calls for stock cubes or stock powder!

Here’s stir-fry rice I made with the stock. The Hungry Horde loved it.

 Stir fried rice made with Victoria's chicken stock

 

Ahh, Victoria, you’re a woman after my own heart. Actually, can a girl say that or is that a man to woman thing? Hmm. Dunno, but you’re definitely a kindred spirit with all that wine, chocolate and home-made stock. Must be our South Australian genes!

Now, my darling Feasters, don those bikinis and budgie smugglers and channel your favourite summer past-time because Victoria has generously offered a most fabulous giveaway. Reveal what you like to get up to over summer and you could win yourself a copy of Nobody But Him. Perfect relaxation material.

Me? Over summer I play golf and eat lots of seafood washed down with wine, which is probably why my golf game is terrible…

What do you get up to for summer fun? Share and you could win!

Giveaway closes midnight AEST, Tuesday 8th October 2013. Australian postal addresses only.

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 Kerrie who is in for a whole lot of reading fun with Nobody But Him. Thanks to everyone who joined in. 

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

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

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

 

LEGEND BEYOND THE STARS

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

My Kitchen Disasters

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Quiche

A delicious looking quiche

1 sheet ready made short-crust pastry

3 eggs (beaten)

1 cup cheese (I usually use light tasty cheese)

1 cup chopped fresh spinach (if I have any)

One layer of thinly sliced tomatoes over the base or

1/2 to 1 cup chopped cooked BBQ chicken.

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

1 chopped cooked onion

1/2 cup light milk (or soy milk)

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

Serve with salad of your choice.

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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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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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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