What EVERY author needs!

Today I’m massively excited to have one of my best writing buddies visiting my blog and she’s written such a feel good and funny post that I hope you’ll all enjoy as much as I did. 

Cathryn Hein Author Photo

Welcome Cathryn Hein! Cathryn’s next release the fabulous ROCKING HORSE HILL (don’t you just LOVE that title?) releases tomorrow and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll grab a copy ASAP! There might just be a giveaway on this post if you read to the end :)

Take it away, Cathryn…

Every Author Needs…

It’s often said that a writer’s life is a solitary one. We spend a lot of time with our computers or notebooks, having conversations in our heads with people that don’t exist. I have days, sometimes even a week – usually during structural edits with a deadline looming – where I don’t leave the house.

Which is why writing buddies are so important. They keep you sane when you’re too busy or too much of a stressed-out freak to get out in real life. They listen when you rant and rage, cheer when something brilliant happens, give sage advice or a calming word when needed, and share all the ups and downs of this strange but fascinating business. With a single email, text or phone call they can make the bad seem good and the good seem brilliant. They are, in other words, a must.

I met Rach at the 2007 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney. Fate had us sitting together in one of Valerie Parv’s sessions, a hands-on tutorial where we were asked to collaborate on creating a story premise with conflict. We came up with a completely over-the-top Cinderella type story set in a funeral parlour. It was great fun and we clicked in that indefinable way that people sometimes do, and been good friends ever since.

But Rach lives in WA and I live… well, we move around quite a lot but generally along Australia’s east coast. That means most of the time we only see each other at conferences. So we make up for it with phone calls, texts and emails. LOTS of emails.

At the risk of revealing how paranoid and self-doubting authors are, and exposing the embarrassing number of shouty capitals and exclamation marks we use in our correspondence, here are a couple of samples of the sort of chat that goes on…

From an exchange titled:


RACH: I need to write but can’t settle with Lach at home. Am letting him play on the iPad and telling myself it’s okay cos he’s sick but still hard to concentrate with him at home. But am out at talk all day tomorrow, so NEED words. Although my house also needs desperate attention and I feel like making a cake. Maybe I’ll aim for 1k and if I do that can make a cake!

CATHRYN: Make the cake and write while it’s baking. Have a sprint to see how many words you can get in that time. I’m writing but it’s awful, horrible crap and setting my teeth on edge.

RACH: Can’t be any more horrible and awful than mine! Seriously!

CATHRYN: Wanna bet???

From an exchange titled:

Send in the white jacket people

CATHRYN: It has taken me almost ALL MORNING to tweak one bloody chapter!!! The book is going to send me INSANE! It’s all so wrong. Wrong, wrong, WRONG! ARGH!

RACH: LOL! Just got home from school drop off to your message!! I bet it sells its bloody socks off!! I cannot imagine ANYTHING you write being poo. I consider you a MUCH better writer than me, so I take on your paranoia too and think it must mean GHOST is shite!!

CATHRYN: You, my dear, haven’t a thing to worry about. Ghost will sell its bum off like all your others!!! 

Ahem. Okay, so I admit we sound like a couple of teenagers, with the same level of self-absorption, but that’s not the point. The point is that we rally one another and joke around even when we might feel we’re the worst writers in the universe or about to melt from worry.

Terrible articulation or not, I wouldn’t miss these for the world.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what we’re like when we actually meet? Just add hugs and squeals!

Yup, we’re as noisy in person as in our emails. Which just might be another reason why writers tend not to get out much…

Aw Cathryn, I wouldn’t have our friendship any other way either. Now happy blog readers, check out the blurb of ROCKING HORSE HILL below and enter the contest!

RHH cover - resized


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

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

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

Rocking Horse Hill is a moving family drama and passionate love story from the author of Heartland.

Tell us your friendship stories. The quirky things, the way you celebrate them, even how you met. Share and you’ll be in with a chance to win a signed copy of Cathryn’s brand new rural romance Rocking Horse Hill.

Giveaway closes Wednesday 30th April. Australian postal addresses only.

If you’d like to learn more about Cathryn and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect via Facebook, Twitter as @CathrynHein and Google+



The most expensive zoo trip EVER!!!

This weekend past was all kinds of exhausting and all kinds of fun. Because I’ve been going away a bit for my writing lately and feeling guilty about leaving the family, I suggested (when I wanted to go to the Australia Romance Readers Association Awards dinner) that they come too. A long weekend in Sydney, in which we could catch up with my cousin and take the kids to Taronga Zoo sounded like a nice idea in theory, but honestly, I think I must have been on drugs when I decided to do it!


We took the midnight horror/red-eye flight out of Perth Thursday night and arrived in Sydney at 6am Friday morning. Thankfully the lovely lady at our hotel felt sorry for us and checked us in early so we were all able to have a lovely nap before heading out for lunch and a look around. As High Maintenance is studying the convicts in history, we went to The Rocks Discovery Museum and then had a lunch/breakfast/dinner (we weren’t really sure by then) at Pancakes On The Rocks. If you haven’t already worked it out already, I’m a HUGE pancake fan!


But the big highlight of the boys’ weekend (aka the title of this post) was a trip to Taronga Zoo where we met with my lovely cousin Mike and his gorgeous girlfriend Leila for a few hours. I hadn’t been to Taronga zoo in almost thirty years and it is just gorgeous. We didn’t have long enough unfortunately.

photo 3-4 photo 4-3

And we saw LOTS of eight-legged reasons why Sydney is okay to visit but not to live. There were MASSIVE spiders ALL over the zoo!! See pic below!


Then on Saturday night, I dolled up and left hubby with the three heroes in training to attend the Australian Romance Readers Association Awards Dinner. It was a splendid night and huge thanks must go to Debbie, Heather and the whole ARRA committee for their hard work in organising this awesome event. My only complaint is that the night wasn’t long enough!! A few pics below :)


Highlight of the night (aside from seeing fabulous friends) was Monty (Daniel Montgomery) from OUTBACK DREAMS winning Sexiest Hero!! Alas I didn’t win the other categories I was nominated in but huge congrats to Amy Andrews who won Favourite Contemporary for HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO and Anna Cowan who won Favourite Australian Romance Author. 1507004_10202276244960563_2004382424_n

A Harlequin Aus photo with Kendal Talbot, Victoria Purman, Christina Lee and Tina M Clark in the back row and Sue Brockhoff (my publisher) and myself in the front row!

Some of my favourite people – Janette Radevski, Lisa Ireland, Cathryn Hein and Amanda Knight.BjUXlmYCcAA3O13.jpg-large

Me with the tall, dark and handsome John Purcell from Booktopia (a fab place to buy books online)!BjUYEsnCQAAshFO.jpg-large

Me and Sue again :)

For the official blog about the Awards click here. And if you love romance and aren’t yet a member of ARRA, I suggest you fix that quick smart!

What do you wear? An interesting idea with Georgina Penney

Have you heard of Destiny Romance’s delicious new chick-lit line!? A lover of chick-lit from WAY back in Bridget Jones days, I was excited to hear the news that Destiny will be publishing a chick-lit line and I’m delighted to have one of Destiny’s own with me on the blog today – the lovely Georgina Penney.

Georgina’s new book IRREPRESSIBLE YOU sounds absolutely hilarious (and I can’t WAIT to read it):

Irrepressible You Cover

You don’t become a notorious British celebrity without rubbing a few people the wrong way, which is why writer and comedian Ben Martindale has decamped to Australia until the latest media frenzy dies down.

When he meets Amy Blaine, a perky blonde who dresses like a 1950s pin-up girl, he knows he’s hit the satirical jackpot. He begins to fill his weekly London column with snarky observations about her life, clothes, and even their most intimate moments. It doesn’t occur to him that Amy, who is letting her guard down for the first time in her adult life, might be upset – after all, it’s hilarious, and his readers love her!

It isn’t until Amy discovers the extent of his betrayal that Ben begins to realise just how badly he’s cocked up the best thing that ever happened to him. But is it too late?

And now over to Georgina to ponder something which really resonates with me (someone who spends most of my days in Bonds short or trackie pants depending on the weather). Welcome Georgina…

Last week I found myself up to my calves in water feeling the antithesis of glamorous. In fact, I was so saturated that the drowned rats swimming past were giving me their hairdressers’ business cards.

While wading my way to my car, trying to remember exactly why I’d needed desperately needed to buy a jar of nutella, two other thoughts occurred to me. One was that I was bloody insane for thinking skinny jeans were a smart idea in this kind of weather and the second was that I hadn’t worn any shoes other than a daggy pair of thongs for a month.

A bit of thought on the subject had me wondering if the shoe situation wasn’t maybe the reason for why I’d been wearing pretty much the same pair of jeans paired with random T-shirts for months as well. My reasoning had been that anything else would just make me feel like I was trying to impersonate a peacock with pigeon legs.

But looking down at my flooded tooties, I came to a decision. Weather be damned! If I wanted to totter about in impractical footwear, I’d bloody well do it. There are just some moments where a lady has to take the plunge and force herself to have a goddamn sexy day, even if it does only involve a trip to buy milk and fill up the car with petrol.

So, decision made, I made a detour on the way home and brought a pair of nice cheap-I-don’t-care-if-they-die-from-drowning heels and put them on. That felt good. Really good. (If not a bit squelchy.) The minute I got home, I surveyed my wardrobe realizing just how many skirts, dresses and pants I hadn’t worn for months because I’d told myself I didn’t need to dress up because of the weather, the fact that I’m not going anywhere special, the heat, pms… you name it!

So the past two days I’ve started an experiment. I’ve put on makeup before starting my writing day, I’ve frocked up to go to the shops, I’ve swanned around the local open air fruit and vege market in a skirt and pretty shirt and wow, I’ve felt a million bucks. It feels like the romance is back, which is a bit handy if that’s a lady’s genre of choice.

It’s still raining. In fact, the flood water around our house is so high I’ve got fish swimming through my garage but there’s a benefit I’ve worked out about wearing nice shoes in the rain. I can always justify buying another pair if these ones die;)

Thanks Georgina! That was fun and I’m curious blog readers, what’s the most extravagant fashion item you’ve bought lately and have you worn it yet?! 

You can find Georgina on Facebook, Twitter and at her website!





The Writing Process Blog Chain

My gorgeous friend Alissa Callen recently tagged my in The Writing Process Blog Chian – much better than the old kind of chain mail – in which writers answer four questions on their writing process and then tag three friends!

Thanks to Alissa for tagging me. You can check out Alissa’s Writing Process blog here. When Alissa Callen isn’t writing she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who really does believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Her books are characteristically heart-warming, emotional and character driven. Beneath Outback Skies, published by Random House Australia, is available now as an eBook and from May 2014 in print. Down Outback Roads, also published by Random House Australia, will be out in May as an eBook. Alissa loves to connect with readers and can be found online at her website or Facebook.

Now here are my answers to the tough questions:

1) What am I working on?

Currently I’m 35k into a sequel or linked book to my first rural romance, which was JILTED. This is Lauren the nurse’s story and it will be called THE ROAD TO HOPE and published in early 2015. The challenge for this book is that when I wrote Lauren in JILTED, she was simply a plot device – someone who is in love with that book’s hero and a nemesis to the heroine Ellie – and therefore I didn’t give much thought to her motivations or goals/dreams. I have learnt from that in that whenever I’m writing a story ALL the characters must be fully-developed with their own backstories. It’s fun though, so now I’m having to make up a background for Lauren that fits with her personality in JILTED. However she wasn’t the nicest person in JILTED so I’m having to show her reasons and motivation for this and make her sympathetic enough in this book that she is a likeable heroine!


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

Rural romance is currently a hot genre in Australia and I’m one of many authors writing it. I think my point-of-difference is that I’m at the romance end of the spectrum. This spectrum is quite large from some authors who write books very rural focused and farm based, in which they highlight agricultural issues, to others who set their books in a small rural town but focus more on the relationships. My focus is the community and how the people interact in these close-knit communities and although some of my stories are set on farms or feature farmers, the rural comes second to the relationships for me.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do because Fiona Palmer and Cathryn Hein told me to! LOL, that is not actually far from the truth. For about four years I worked hard targeting my writing at Mills & Boon and although I got VERY close to publication with M&B, I kept falling in between their stringent lines. When I was at a point where I was almost ready to give up writing – or so I said, doing so might have been harder – rural romance was booming and I happened to be living in a small rural community called Kojonup in Western Australia. Fiona and Cathryn told me not to lose heart but rather change tack and try write a rural romance, using my knowledge of living in a small town. This book was JILTED and although the hero is a farmer, the main plot point of that book was the return of an old resident to the town and the revival of their theatrical society.

4) How does my writing process work?

It’s all over the place, much like the rest of my life. I start with a tiny seed of an idea – in THE ROAD TO HOPE for instance this was Nurse Lauren, because lots of people had told me they wanted a sequel. I then searched my mind for other things I’d thought might be good to write about and remembered that I thought a locum doctor travelling around Australia might make a good hero. Seemed the perfect hero for a nurse because they would automatically be thrown together but then I needed to work out the backstory for Lauren and work out WHY Tom was travelling around Australia.

Then I come up with goals, motivations and conflicts for each character and if possible the turning points and the black moment of the book. And then, the fun begins… I sit down at the computer and let my fingers do the talking. Mostly this works well for me but because I don’t plan in too much detail or outline the whole book, sometimes I get stuck! But hey, working out how to get myself out of a fix is all part of the fun!

I’ve tagged three very good writing friends (see below) and you can read their posts next Monday 3rd of Feb.

Cathryn Hein:

Cathryn Hein was born in South Australia’s rural south-east. With three generations of jockeys in the family it was little wonder she grew up horse mad, finally obtaining her first horse at age 10. So began years of pony club, eventing, dressage and showjumping until university beckoned.

Armed with a shiny Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture) from Roseworthy College she moved to Melbourne and later Newcastle, working in the agricultural and turf seeds industry. Her partner’s posting to France took Cathryn overseas for three years in Provence where she finally gave in to her life-long desire to write.
You can find Cathryn at http://www.cathrynhein.com or chat with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Leah Ashton:

An unashamed fan of all things happily ever after, Leah Ashton has been a lifelong reader of romance.  Writing came a little bit later, although in hindsight, she’d been dreaming up stories for as long as she can remember. Sadly, the most popular boy in school never did suddenly fall head over heels in love with her…

Now she lives in Perth, Western Australia with her own real life hero, two gorgeous dogs and the world’s smartest cat. By day, she works in IT, and by night she considers herself incredibly lucky to be writing the type of books she loves to read, and to have the opportunity to share her own characters’ happy ever afters with readers.

You can find Leah at http://www.leah-ashton.com and chat with her on Twitter or Facebook.

Jackie Ashenden:

Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax, two kids, two cats and some guppies (possibly dead guppies by the time you read this). When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

You can find Jackie at www.jackieashenden.com or follow her on Twitter.

Book’d Out Australia Day Blog Hop

australiadaybloghop (1)

The Australia Day weekend always coincides with my birthday – how lucky am I to usually have a long weekend? While we don’t have any particular traditions for the day in our family, it’s about relaxing and hanging out together. Because we own an IGA X-Press supermarket in a small country town, we rarely get more than a day off at a time – luckily we’re only open six days a week. So a public holiday means two days in which we (or rather my husband) doesn’t have to get up early to set-up the shop.

This long weekend we’re spending it at a house we recently purchased in the Perth hills. It has a swimming pool – owning one was a childhood dream of mine – and I plan to spend much of Australia Day lounging by the pool with a book and my lovely Diet Coke. Maybe I’ll even splurge and buy myself one of those blow-up pool loungers, so I can read IN the pool?! Who wants to predict how long I’ll stay on top of it with three young boys splashing round me?

Whatever you do, wherever you are this Australia Day, I hope you are relaxing and doing something you enjoy with someone or people you love!

Kissing Season final cover

Tell me what you’re up to this Australia Day to go in the draw to win a rare (it’s not actually available in print to buy) print copy of my recently released novella THE KISSING SEASON. Leave your answer in the comment section by Tuesday midnight (EST) and I’ll announce the winner Wednesday. Contest only open to Australian and New Zealand residents.

Thanks to the fabulous Shellyrae at Book’d Out Blog there’s a whole host of other people offering prizes on their blogs for the Australia Day blog hop. Click here and you can see the whole list of other blogs and how to enter more contests!!

In which I ask Jennifer St George the tricky questions!

I’m delighted to welcome the gorgeous Jennifer St George back to my blog today. I had a lovely dinner with Jennifer at the last Romance Writers of Australia conf but it just wasn’t long enough, so today I’m happy to be chatting to her about a variety of things, including her latest book from Destiny Romance, THE BILLIONAIRE’S PURSUIT OF LOVE (which happens to have a VERY dreamy cover).

jenn st george Thanks for having me back, Rach. Always lovely to chat with you.

  • Aw shucks. Same to you m’dear. So for the questions: What is a book you will NEVER read? Why?

Wow, that’s a really great question. I don’t think I’ll be able to read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. There’s no hope, everyone is dying, a father is desperately trying to keep his son alive by keeping him out of the hands of cannibals and he’s trying to keep his humanity in the face of certain death – for him and his son. I know The Road is a modern classic and I don’t mind a challenging novel but this one might be just a step too far.

  • If your partner granted you a Hall Pass with one celebrity, who would you choose? (N.B. Hall Pass is the chance to spend one intimate night with a specific person and not get into trouble from your partner)

You’ve got some real kickers today, Rach. Hmmm, let me think. I’ll just ask my husband. Ooops – that didn’t go well. I reckon it would have to be Bradley Cooper but let’s just keep that between us.

  • Where is one place you would like to travel one day?

I’ve been to France a number of times but I’ve never been to Versailles. I have a hankering to wander around those magnificent gardens, stroll though the ornate halls and imagine what life would have been like with the incredible clothes, fabulous food and ridiculous overindulgence before it was all brought to a close by the guillotine.

  • Top five things on your bucket list?

Not sure if these are my top five but they are the first that popped into my mind:

  1. Buy a French châteaux and sit at my antique desk by a huge window staring over my park-like ground at my lake which has a fountain while I write best-selling novels
  2. Try my hand at writing single-title romantic suspense
  3. Live overseas again – somewhere in Europe
  4. Learn French
  5. Complete an MA in Creative Writing
  • I hear you’ve just got a Thermomix? Are you in love yet? What’s the best thing you’ve made?

I’m so in love with my Thermy. I’ve made soup, coleslaw, stock and custard. Last night I tried to make spaghetti bolognaise. I read various reports on the internet that this was not a good idea, but I was determined. It is a family staple. But it was a disaster. I made bolognaise goo. It tasted okay but it looked awful. The dog will be eating it for the next few days. Won’t be doing that again.  Would gratefully receive tried and true recipes.

  • I know you are a runner… can you tell me how and why you got into running?

When I was at high school I was a good country-country runner. Even came 3rd in the Brisbane regional cross-country one year. Then life took over and I didn’t run consistently for about twenty-five years! But running was such an efficient way to stay fit and I remember really enjoying it. Also my daughter is showing incredible aptitude (she made it to the NSW State finals at aged 8 and we didn’t even know she could run!) so I now need to keep up with her. I joined the Michelle Bridges run 10km program and voila, I can now run 10km. I run three times a week – 2 x 5km and 1 x 10km (well sometimes its only 7-8km – that’s another secret we might have to keep).

  • Now for the nitty gritty – what’s your latest book and why should we read it?!

The Billionaire's Pursuit of Love cover

My latest book is The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love. I love this book. I bawled my eyes out in the black moment every time I revisited the scene. So embarrassing when tears are pouring down your face in a café. So I hope that some of that emotion actually made it onto the page.  The story’s premise is:

When Sarah Walker’s beloved wildlife sanctuary is threatened with closure, she heads for London and goes straight to the top to find out why. But the man responsible is the one man she’s never forgotten, and the only person who can destroy all her happiness.

Billionaire CEO Blake Huntington-Fiennes can’t believe that the girl he’s spent years searching for has just marched into his boardroom. And this time, he’s willing to resort to any means necessary to keep her. But Sarah has a secret she must protect at all costs or risk losing something even more precious than the sanctuary…

You should read it because it is chock full of my usual luxurious settings (from high-class London to the sweaty jungles of Brunei), hot sexy romance and killer conflict.

This is also a second-chance at love story. I love this romance trope. This is a favourite romance story-line for me. I love to know other reader’s favourites. Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love.

Second chance at love stories are one of my favourite tropes too. Can’t wait to read it. 

You can grab a copy through Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and all other e-retailers

And don’t forget Jennifer is generously offering one lucky blog commenter the chance to win a copy of THE BILLIONAIRE’S PURSUIT of love. To go in the draw let us know your favourite romance trope :)

Best job in the world with Vanessa Garden!

Today I welcome the gorgeous Vanessa Garden – fellow sandgroper and all round lovely person – to my blog. I recently read Vanessa’s debut YA novel CAPTIVATE and it most certainly did CAPTIVATE. Check out the blurb below – it’s a fab read!

I believe there are three best jobs in the world – being a writer (well, obviously), working in a library and working in a bookshop. Vanessa Garden is lucky enough to have two of these jobs and I asked her to share a little bit about her experiences working in a  bookshop.

Welcome Vanessa!

5 Great Things About Being a Writer and a Bookseller:

1. Finding inspiration in your workplace.
Working at Collins Booksellers Gateway, I’m lucky to be surrounded by books, books and more books during my day job, so business and pleasure are rolled into one. I come home each day, pockets crammed with little scribbled notes, because I get so inspired by the many amazing books that arrive at the store each day.

2. Taking note of what sells and what doesn’t. 
I get to be a fly on the wall to people’s reactions to covers, book blurbs and the books themselves. I take great pleasure in discussing books with our regular customers and at the same time I’m always taking mental notes on what they’ve liked about a book and what they’ve disliked. Currently, in our store, I’d say that Young Adult and Crime/Thrillers are our biggest sellers.

3. Working in a bookstore gives me a good dose of reality.
I nearly cried the first time I saw books being loaded into boxes for the dreaded ‘Return’. These were huge names in writing and I was saddened that sometimes  even they don’t sell as well as expected. In a way, it was a nice reality check and has prepared me for the life of an author (though my boss had better not return any of my books ;))

4. I get to predict the next ‘big thing’ with my co-workers. 
Our latest prediction is ‘Fifty Shades of a Wimpy, Angry Cat’ (in diary format of course)

LOL – I can’t wait to see that :)

5. Best of all, I get to promote my own book at the store where I work! 
My freshly printed books happened to arrive on the day I was working so I was lucky enough to unpack, enter, sticker and shelve my own books. This was such a special moment for me and I’ll never forget it.

002Hands up if you want Vanessa’s day job? 

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing that insight into the life of a bookshop employee and writer. I hope CAPTIVATE sells squillions of copies and there are barely ANY returns. Check out the blurb of Vanessa’s fab book below:


In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. But before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a dazzling underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation!

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem: Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

Grab your copy of Captivate from Amazon, iBooks, Booktopia or your nearest bookshop!

You can find Vanessa online at her blog and on Twitter.

A letter from Loretta!

A few months ago, I sent a letter to the lovely rural author Loretta Hill and recently I got one back. As us authors are sharing-caring types, I thought I’d share it with you :) (Btw, I read Loretta’s new book THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW VEST last week and it is fabulous. You’ll be wanting to add it to your TBR pile right about NOW!)


Hi Rachael,

How are you?  I’m good.

Thanks for having me on your blog this month. In November and December, I took a break from writing to just read and rest. While I didn’t finish as many books as I wanted to, I did get into Man Drought and just loved it.  I can see why you have so many fans!

Unfortunately, Christmas is over and it’s back into a structured writing schedule. I don’t know whether to be sad or relieved. I do miss writing when I’m not doing it – a bit like smoker misses nicotine actually. But I really needed that break and enjoyed it also – ate far too much, but that’s Christmas for you.

While I’m planning my next novel, my new one is coming out this month. It’s called, The Girl in the Yellow Vest and is in the same series as my other FIFO girl novels. I’m pretty excited about this book because it’s quite different to the other two. While readers will still get to catch up with some of the characters from the previous books, The Girl in the Yellow Vest is set in a whole new world – Queensland.

Yellowvest final

Just off the coast of Hay Point in Northern Queensland is one of the largest coal exportation ports in the world. I’ve set my novel on there on a brand new wharf, with a brand new expansion team stirring up trouble for the locals.

One of the challenges I had writing this novel was that I couldn’t decide who was the main character. I was really drawn to two females in the story and couldn’t get either one of them to take a back seat. So in the end, it had to be a double heroine novel. Two heroines also meant two heroes, so readers will be pleased to hear that they’re getting two love stories instead of one.  This was heaps of fun to do.

I love both my heroes equally but the most amusing one to write was, Mark, the Project Manager at Hay Point Wharf.  He’s a cross between Mr Darcy (Pride and Predjudice), Miranda Priestly (Devil Wears Prada) and Gru (Despicable Me).  He’s clever, obnoxious and witty with a mean streak but also drop dead gorgeous, of course. His past is seriously, tarnished, so you have to forgive him for some of the things he does, even though you really don’t want to. Writing him allowed the little devil that sits on my right shoulder free reign. It was fabulous for a few months there.

He’s also the first gamma hero I’ve ever written. Have you ever written a gamma hero before? They’re a cross between alpha and beta, a kind of split personality if you will. They are different around different people depending on what influence that person has in their life.

Mark is very, very alpha around one of my heroines, Charlotte but to her little sister, he’s like a big teddy bear. I loved writing him because he was just such a paradoxical character. Both caring and sweet yet abrasive and down right evil at times. It’s kind of weird to think that a person can be all these things at once but given his history and what he is going through throughout the novel, it was perfectly understandable.

This book has quite a few funny moments. But otherwise, I do delve into a few deeper issues. Particularly, dealing with the loss of a loved one and parenting your sibling. I hope you and your readers will be tempted to check it out.

When The Kissing Season came out last month, (great read btw), you asked me how my novella was coming along. It’s all done and dusted now and out in February. It has a lovely Valentine’s day theme to put everyone in the mood. So look out for that one too.


 Happy New Year Rach!



You can find Loretta online at her website www.lorettahill.com.au or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Loretta-Hill-Author/263559140330214

Belated goals for 2014!

I’m going to be ambitious with my goals for 2014 (even though they’re a few days late) because something monumental is happening. For the first time ever all three of my children will be in full time school. While I’ll be helping occasionally in our family business, mostly five days a week I’ll be working on my writing business. Because of this massive change, I’ve decided 2014 will be the year I push myself that little bit more.

First up: I’m aiming to complete (90k to go) THE ROAD TO HOPE by the beginning of April even though my deadline isn’t until June 1st. When I work out how many words this is per day, it isn’t actually that scary.

Second: Write a novella to follow up THE KISSING SEASON or write a novella as part of a charity anthology I’m trying to organise.

Third: Write a sexy novella or fun project, different to my rurals.

Four: Write two more single titles or if the second is an idea I have that requires more research, write one more single title and make a dent in the second.

Five: Read two books a week. This was my goal last week and I didn’t quite make it. Might throw more novellas into the mix next year so I have a better chance.

Six: (only vaguely writing related) Get back into exercising and eat better so I have a hope in hell of fitting into the dress I just bought for the ARRA dinner in March!! Or if that fails, at least be slim enough to wear it during RT in New Orleans in May! See picture below :)


Creating small town settings with Juliet Madison

Today I welcome the HUGELY prolific Juliet Madison who writes gorgeous romagic stories (is that the term Juliet) and also small town women’s fiction. Her newest release is The January Wish wish is the start of a series. Today Juliet discusses how she went about creating her town.

Welcome Juliet!


Creating the Perfect Small Town Setting

Just as the fabulous Rachael Johns writes stories set in small towns, so do I. I just love the dynamics of a small community and the connection to the landscape. My new Tarrin’s Bay series is set in a small Australian coastal town that has the best of both worlds – beautiful sandy beaches and a village atmosphere, along with lush green pastures and farms. I based it on the town I live in on the South Coast of NSW, Australia, and also a few other neighbouring towns. I wanted to grab bits from each that I liked to form my own unique town, and Tarrin’s Bay was born. I call it the Town of New Beginnings, as people often come to the town and never want to leave, so it’s a place where people can start fresh and begin a new chapter in their lives.

Where did I come up with the name of the town? I have no idea! It literally popped into my head, it was the first name I thought of. I Googled it and couldn’t find anything with the same name (unless I didn’t look hard enough!). But I did find out that the name Tarrin means ‘Earth Man’, which I thought was perfect. I decided to make a focal point of the town a rock formation near the beach that looks somewhat like a man’s face. In the series, the rock formation is known as ‘Tarrin’ and is how the town got its name.

The first book in this series which has just been released, THE JANUARY WISH, is special to me because I started writing it right after I moved house for a seachange. I tried to capture the beauty and wonder of the seaside environment seen with fresh eyes, especially as two of my main characters were new to the town. I discovered the town along with my characters, so writing the story and setting was a journey for me too.

What I love about writing a fictional town is that I can be creative and flexible. I can put things where I want to put them, come up with cool business names, street names, landmarks, and unique locations that add to the appeal of the story.

Some of the places I created in the town that feature in The January Wish (apart from the Tarrin ‘earth man’ formation) include:

- Miracle Park:

The main park in the centre of town where people meet and kids come to play. It’s also where the town holds its monthly markets and regular festivals.

- The Wishing Fountain:

An historic four-metre tall fountain in Miracle Park, which legend says can help make wishes come true each year on the 4th January, the day of its completed construction in the early 1900s. This is where the story of The January Wish starts, when Dr Sylvia Greene makes a wish at the town’s annual Wishing Festival.

- Cafe Lagoon:

The most popular cafe in town, in the main street opposite Miracle Park. Its interior has the atmosphere of a lagoon and has fantastic service, mostly by the young and gorgeous barista, Jonah, whose parents own the cafe (you’ll meet him in the story!).

- Lookout Point:

Situated on a headland a short walk away from the main street, Lookout Point is where people go to admire the beautiful coastal views, eat fish and chips while watching the sunset, and have late night romantic picnics. J

I’ll be revealing and exploring more great places in the Town of New Beginnings in future books (which although a series, don’t necessarily have to be read in order as each is a stand-alone story, though some characters reappear). The second book, FEBRUARY OR FOREVER is releasing very soon, on 1st Feb! Locations that feature prominently in this one include the beach and a beachfront health retreat, and a large rural property up in the Tarrin’s Bay Hills area. I hope when people read a ‘Tarrin’s Bay book’ that they’ll feel like they’re escaping into a beautiful natural world that they’d love to call home.

What do you think makes a perfect small town setting?

>> WIN! Enter via Rafflecopter below to win a $25 Amazon gift voucher and a coastal photographic print of the setting of the Tarrin’s Bay series. Competition is open worldwide and the winner will be drawn at the beginning of February.

Prize-blogtoura Rafflecopter giveaway

Perfect for fans of Susan Wiggs and Sherryl Woods, THE JANUARY WISH was a finalist in the Choc Lit Search for an Australian Star contest:


When Dr Sylvia Greene makes an impromptu wish at the Tarrin’s Bay Wishing Festival, it’s the most out of character action she can think of. Hers is not a life of wishes. Hers is a controlled life of order, plans and preparation…of science and research and diagnosis and treatment. But her past has been weighing on her mind, and decisions made long ago have far-reaching consequences.

A week later, the daughter she secretly gave up for adoption at sixteen arrives in Sylvia’s small coastal town with secrets that can’t be shared. Between feelings of guilt, gossip, and a growing attraction to an emotionally unavailable colleague, Sylvia’s well-ordered life is soon thrown into chaos. She is no longer alone, and for the first time she feels as if her world is open to possibilities.

They say be careful what you wish for, but, for Sylvia, the unexpected consequences may be just what the doctor ordered.

Buy THE JANUARY WISH from all good ebook retailers:

Amazon - Amazon UK - Amazon Aus - iTunes/iBookstore - Kobo - B&N/Nook - GooglePlay - BigW ebooks - Booktopia - JB HiFi - ebooks.com - All Romance ebooks

Visit Juliet online at her website, blog, facebook, Goodreads, and twitter.