Stepping outside your comfort zone!

I should probably set up this post with a little bit of background about myself.

I was NEVER good at team sports. I am SCARED of balls being hurtled at me. I dabbled with tennis for about a term when I was seven, played netball (unhappily) for one season when I was twelve and ended up breaking up with my high school sweetheart, cos I was too pathetic to play basketball with him! Fast forward almost ten years and we were living in Kojonup, a small town in the Great Southern of Western Australia. As with most country towns this was a sporty place. Many of the friends I made played tennis and hockey, but I was always too chicken to give it a shot.

I was scared that all my years of NOT playing would show and I’d be totally dismal. So I avoided the sporting circuit. However, it is a fact of life in country towns that to get involved in the community, it helps to get involved in sport. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not too unfit – I love running (or attempting too) and going to the gym and aerobics – but team sport gives me the heebie jeebies.

When we moved to Goomalling some of the lovely ladies of social tennis asked me and the family along. I made some pathetic excuses and told them how dismal I was at tennis. I admit I was a bit shy as well as scared of sport – it’s always daunting to start something new in a group of people who have known each other for year. So imagine my surprise when this week I agreed to go along to social tennis.

Poor hubby and the heroes-in-training had no choice but to accompany and we all went along on Sunday arvo, petrified that we would be the laughing stock of town. Well, we may well be, but the bottom line is we DID it (badly maybe) and we had FUN!! So much fun that we actually WANT to go back – hopefully the town will have us – and today I bought us all tennis racquets! Of course I got a nice pink one and I happened to splurge on some gorgeous pink running shoes as well.

So, what have you don’t out of your comfort zone lately?

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Miss Golden Sausage 2012!!!

Well, I know many of you are eagerly awaiting news from my exciting night at the Elders Merriden ANNUAL Golden Sausage Awards yesterday!

I guess the first thing is to put you all out of your misery and explain exactly WHAT the Golden Sausage Awards are, because like you, until yesterday evening I had no clue at all. Maybe a bit crazy to agree to going along to an event I had no idea about, but I’m glad I did, it was lots of fun AND I came home with a TITLE (aside from Mum, Mrs, Author, etc)!

So, the Golden Sausage Awards are a contest and a fundraiser. Due to lots of people with Italian heritage in the Merriden region, they run a contest to find out who can make the best sausage (you know, like the Chorizo types) and be crowned Golden Sausage Winner of the Year. Now I must admit, although I liked fried chorizo in pasta, these types of sausages don’t do much for my taste buds, so I was a little worried when I was asked to be one of the judges of the Top Five that I might gag. But I didn’t. My fave sausage (and it was really hard to pick – once I’d tasted one, I felt like I’d tasted them all… yep, not a sausage fan me) didn’t win unfortunately 😦 But I’m so happy to have been a part of it.

As with all good rural events there was something for everyone. Sausage and beer for the men, jumping castle and Lion’s train for and ME for the women. I had a lovely crowd who listened to me babble of for half an hour about the popularity of rural romance (I dropped a lot of names) and how I came to write it. I talked about my writing journey (the whole long 17 years of it) and a bit about JILTED and MAN DROUGHT. Luckily my new bookmarks, featuring MAN DROUGHT arrived just in time for the event and they garnered lots of excitement.

One question one delightful lady asked was what had been the BEST thing about my writing career thus far. The immediate answer was seeing a cover and holding a book for the first time – that really is an undescribable (is that even a word?) joy. But my thought out answer was the people that I have met through writing – members of Romance Writers of Australian and other writers and readers who I have met online, many of whom have become some of my greatest friends. I might have got a little teary!!

And then, when it was all over I was absolutely GOBSMACKED to be called to the front given a beautiful bouquet of flowers and crowed with a SASH mind you (I’m no Miss Universe and never entertained the possibility of ever winning such a thing) – Miss Golden Sausage 2012. It was all in the name of fun really – there were no other contestants – but it made my night and I will treasure that title aways.

Here’s a few pics from the night:

A couple of the keen samplers tasting the sausages before casting their votes!

A close-up of some of the “contestants”.

The score board with only a few minutes left to go!

Me with Wayne, the manager at Elders Merriden, just after being crowned Miss Golden Sausage 2012 – you can SEE my glee!!

STAND-IN STAR COVER REVEAL

The day I got my MAN DROUGHT cover I ALSO got the cover for my Carina Press January release STAND-IN STAR and I was equally as stoked. It is such a beautiful cover and I love this story of an Aussie girl WAY out of her comfort zone in Hollywood.

What do you think?

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And here’s the blurb:

As an anthropologist, Holly McCartney is more comfortable in a museum than shopping on Rodeo Drive. She isn’t prepared for the media frenzy on her arrival in L.A. to accept a posthumous acting award for her late sister….or for her sister’s gorgeous friend Nate Devlin to come to her rescue. Though he resents her for some reason, she can’t fight their irresistible chemistry—especially when the paparazzi force her to stay at his mansion.

Photographer Nate only agrees to help Holly survive Hollywood for her sister’s sake, but she soon gets under his skin in a way no other woman has. The more time he spends with her, the more his attraction grows and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never expected. But will ghosts of the past stand in the way of their perfect Hollywood ending?

MAN DROUGHT COVER REVEAL

Once again, I’ve been blessed by those lovely little cover fairies. I have TWO books coming out on New Year’s Day and have recently received the cover for both. So not to overload you, I thought I’d reveal one cover at a time.

Without further ado, I give you MAN DROUGHT (Harlequin Australia, Jan 2013):

Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival. 

Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground…and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing.

Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too?

I’ll be popping an extract up on my website soon but in the meantime I’d love your thoughts on MAN DROUGHT’S cover. It was not what I was expecting but I fell hard and fast for it. I love it because it’s a bit different from most of the other rural romances out there, which I think is a good thing because this is definitely a romance first and foremost! What do you think?

I’m on a postcard!!!

This afternoon when I picked the heroes-in-training up from school, I got the most fabulous surprise. One of the other mums came up and showed me a postcard her daughter had made for a school project. They had to make a postcard showcasing Goomalling (where we live) and I could hardly believe it when she showed me her daughter’s efforts.

 

In case you can’t read the small font, I’ll type it out here.

“This is a wonderful town and the locals are very nice. Some of the nicest people in the world. This just one of the entrances into Goomalling. It is home to the only dome-shaped wheat bins in the southern hemisphere. It is also the home of many orchids, such as the ant, blood spider, cowslip, sun, donkey and vanilla orchids. This lovely persom from Goomalling by the name of Rachael Johns wrote this lovely book Jilted. It is a splendid book.”

I have NEVER been on a postcard before and I’m honoured to be on one as special as this. Thanks so much Remi Anderson!!!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend and just a quick reminder about my newsletter contest. If you haven’t already, sign-up to win a limited edition print copy of my debut novel ONE PERFECT NIGHT. The sign-up form is on the bottom of the home page on my website. Contest closes this Thursday!!

 

An evening with Monica McInerney!!

First things first I want to TOTALLY apologise for forgetting to get a photo taken with the lovely Monica, I was too busy talking to her about the time she came on my blog last Dec 🙂

So, yes, last night, I made the 1.5 hour trek to Perth for the sole purpose of hearing Monica McInerney talk about her new book The House of Memories. I went as a reader (because I’ve loved all of her books, especially Lola’s Secret) and as a writer (because I’m always interested to hear about another author’s process – writing, research, ideas, etc). I wasn’t disappointed on either front!

Monica is just delightful – she was very warm and very real as she introduced herself. I wasn’t planning on taking notes but couldn’t help taking down a few snippets from the evening, which I’d love to share with you. In no particular order:

  • When dreaming up The House of Memories Monica thought about what her greatest fear was in life and then wrote about that.
  • She always asks What If questions when she’s writing.
  • A quote that could be at the beginning of all her books is ”No family can hang out the sign – Nothing Is The Matter Here.” Love that! She says that’s why she’ll always find writing about families (and researching them) fascinating.
  • Her characters become her work-collegues and she mourns them when the book is finished 🙂
  • She likes to keep her books balanced – in The House of Memories (which she says is a sad book), for every sad chapter there was a fun chapter. She needed the respite!
  • Writing a book is like being a film director.
  • Reading books is how she learnt about the world.
  • Margaret River and Antarctica are the only two places she’s written about but never been to!
  • For Monica, writing a book is all about day-dreaming.
  • She cried while writing The House of Memories and loves hearing from readers who cried reading it!
  • Writing & reading is SO intertwined.
  • Writer = walking compost bins.

I had a fabulous evening and was brave enough to give Monica a copy of JILTED at the end of it. I hope she enjoys my book as much as I’ve enjoyed hers.

In short, she is a lovely person and a fabulous writer and when I grow up I want to be Monica McInerney!!

Reneging on my own promises!

I’ve been known to do a few writing courses in my time and I’m not talking about my useless uni degree, I’m talking about online workshops! The blurbs always sound so incredible – like they’re going to fix all my writing woes overnight – but often I find I either don’t have the time to give them the attention they need or it’s not really new territory and I feel like I’ve wasted time when I could have actually been writing the next book!

So a while back I SWORE to myself that I would not do ANY writing courses this year. I promised, crossed-my-heart, the usual! And THEN, Angela James put out a call out on the Carina Press blog for holiday novellas for their 2013 collections. Well, I have been contemplating writing  a novella for quite some time and this seemed like the perfect motivator. A deadline!

So I decided I was going to do this and THEN I happened to stumble upon a Savvy Authors course entitled  Not All Holidays Have Glittering Trees: Writing Holiday Themed Stories Year Round!! And ignoring my promise to myself I enrolled. So, while I’m desperately writing away trying to finish OUTBACK DREAMS in time for my December deadline, I’m also starting this course today and contemplating the next idea!

Hopefully the course and the Carina call-out will be enough motivation for me to achieve my goal of writing a novella! As soon as I finish OUTBACK DREAMS That is 🙂

Have you broken any promises to yourself lately?