WINNERS are GRINNERS!

Last week was a pretty AMAZING week for me, so before I announce the winner of my Australia Day Blog  Hop giveaway, I just wanted to share with anyone who missed out, Booktopia’s Australia’a Favourite Novelist Top Ten.

I’d been watching the countdown since the first heats and the competition was stiff. Not only was I up against some hugely popular big name Australian authors, there was also a fabulous showing of Aussie romance peeps – many of whom I know and love. So, imagine my surprise – read SERIOUSLY GOBSMACKING SURPRISE – when I clicked on the blog on Friday morning to find out I had ranked NUMBER 10!! I’d been so certain when I wasn’t in 41-50, that I must have been in the 51 – 75 they weren’t announcing. My hubby had patted me on the back and said, “Never mind wifey. You do only have a few books out.”

I want to take this quick moment to thank anyone who voted for me. And thanks also to my publisher Harlequin Australia for getting behind me and posting about the voting on Facebook. I’m sure that helped.

Still on a high, I really wish that I could give every single person who entered my Australia Day Blog Hop giveaway a book, unfortunately I’m not that well off 😦 Thankfully, Random.org is a fabulous site that takes the pressure off me choosing a winner. I had a whopping EIGHTY entries, which is just fabulous!

So without further ado, the winner is:

Drumroll please….

JESS 🙂 

Unfortunately Jess didn’t leave an email address, so Jess, if you’re reading this, please email me at Rachaeljohns077 @ gmail dot com and we’ll work out getting your prize pack to you! If I don’t hear from Jess by Thursday midnight, I’ll draw again.

Hope everyone else had a great Australia Day. I do run other contests from time to time, so feel free to like me on Facebook or register for my newsletter on my website to keep in the loop.

Thanks to Book’d Out and Confessions from Romaholics for organising the fantastic Australia Day Blog Hop. I hope we’ll do it all again next year 🙂

Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop

Welcome to the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop

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To celebrate Australia Day on January 26th, the fabulous Shellyrae of Book’d Out organised an awesome Aussie author, reader and reviewer blog hop. I love Australia Day – especially the fact our shop closes and I can get in some extra reading time – and so was excited about taking part.

If you’re one of my overseas readers and want to know what this crazy thing called Australia Day is, you can read more here!

Basically most of the people I know, use it as a day to relax off work, get together with family and friends, which often involves a good old Aussie bbq and a few drinks. In Perth we have an awesome Skyworks show on the Swan River foreshore with music and fireworks and I can’t wait till the day I get up the guts to face the crowds and take my kids.

To celebrate all things Aussie, I’m giving away a Rachael Johns book pack and bag (including signed copies of MAN DROUGHT and JILTED) to a random commenter who will be chosen via Random.org My contest is open to comments all over the globe! If you can leave your email address that would be fab, otherwise be sure to check back here next week when I’ll announce the winner 🙂

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After you’ve left a comment to my giveaway, be sure to follow the link at the bottom back to Book’d Out and a list of all the other blogs participating. It might take you all day but if you click on all the links and enter all the contests, you could be up for some cracker prizes. 🙂

Entries close midnight on Monday 28th January 2013 and winners will be announced that week.

So, wishing all a fabulous Australia Day and don’t forget to enter my contest and then click here to follow the links to loads more fabulous Australia Day contests: http://bookdout.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/australia-day-book-giveaway-blog-hop/

From The Pilbara to Gibson’s Find

Many of you may have read Loretta Hill’s blog post last week, where she shared our very first collaboration efforts. In celebration of being shelf-buddies with our January new releases we decided to introduce our hero and heroines to each other and see how they got along. We had so much fun doing this and it was surprisingly easier than we first imagined. Today I’m stoked to be sharing with you our heros’ meeting in The Majestic at Gibson’s Find.

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The scene below takes place just before both our books begin so there’s no spoilers from The Girl in the Hard Hat or Man Drought. I hope you enjoy our men!

Two Country Blokes
By Loretta Hill and Rachael Johns

With seeding over for another year, Gibson couldn’t wipe the grin off his face and he couldn’t think of one place he’d rather be than down at The Majestic celebrating with the other farmers and chatting to Charlie. As he drove down the open highway towards town he could already taste the cold bitter beer on his tongue. If you blinked while driving you might miss the small Western Australian town of Gibson’s Find and the old pub mightn’t be much to look at from the outside, but inside it was full of character and good will.

He parked across the street from the old girl, left his Akubra on the passenger seat, slammed the door of his ute and made his way across the dusty road. His stomach rumbled as he approached the open front door and got a whiff of one of Trevor’s famous hamburgers. Yes, that and a cold beer would hit the spot perfectly.

There wasn’t yet a crowd inside and he knew many of his mates were still hard at work on tractors, but he waved at a couple of locals playing pool in the corner and made his way towards the bar to his Granddad.

“Hey Charlie.”

As usual, Charlie beamed when he laid sight on Gibson and immediately crossed the bar to him. “All done, sonny?” he asked.

Gibson nodded.

“In that case you’ll be needing a cold one in celebration.”

“Damn straight,” Gibson replied and gestured to the specials blackboard. “Can you also order me a Majestic burger with the lot?”

While Charlie turned away to yell the order through to Trevor and fetch the beer, Gibson relaxed on the stool. It felt good to have no pressing chores for once.

A shadow appeared beside him and he looked up to see an unfamiliar face taking the bar stool behind him. He nodded at the bloke who smiled back.

“Do you know if there’s a pay phone in here?” The man looked around at the seen-better-days interior.

Gibson’s brow wrinkled. “Sorry mate, I don’t think there is.”

The stranger frowned, muttering, “Damn” under his breath.  Gibson wouldn’t normally have made the offer but there seemed to be a kind of desperation in the other man’s eyes.

“Is it urgent? Do you want to borrow my mobile?”

The man looked up in surprise as Gibson fished it out of his jean’s pocket. “Er… okay. Thanks.”

He took the phone and typed in a number he obviously knew by heart. He sat down on the bar stool so Gibson couldn’t help but eavesdrop.

“Kate,” the stranger said as the recipient picked up. “Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. False alarm. Nothing to be concerned about. Just thought you’d want to hear from me, that’s all. Yeah. Yeah. I know but I couldn’t call any sooner. “ He glanced at Gibson. “Look, can’t really talk for too long. I’m using someone else’s phone. Sure. Bye.” He rang off, handing the phone back to Gibson. “Thanks for that.” He held out his hand. “Gavin, by the way.”

“Gibson.”

They shook hands.

Gavin indicated the kitchens with a flick of his chin. “So what’s the food like here?”

“Looks can be deceiving,” Gibson told him. “You’ll be lucky to get a better meal anywhere. I recommend the burgers.”

“Really?” Gavin nodded at Charlie who came over. “ I’ll have what he’s having.” He pulled a few notes from his wallet and placed them on the counter. “And I’m paying for both of us.” He glanced at Gibson with a grin. “I owe you for the phone call.”

Gibson shrugged. “Thanks.” In the absence of anyone he knew to talk to, he might as well show a bit of kindness to an out of towner. “You just passing through?” he asked.

Gavin scratched his stubble and drawled. “Something like that. I’m heading back to work.”

“Where do you work?”

Gavin hesitated. “Er…up north.”

“So the wife tugging you back then?”

“The wife?” Gavin repeated.

“The woman you were talking to on the phone.”

“Oh no, she’s not my wife.”

“Girlfriend then?”

“Nah,” Gavin grinned. “I don’t do commitment if you what I mean. Speaking of which,” he added glancing around. “Not much talent in here.”

Gibson chuckled. “If you’re looking for eye candy you’ve come to the wrong place. This town has very few female residents.” Personally, he thought that part of its appeal.

“How few is few?” Gavin asked.

“Hardly any.”

A mysterious smile curved Gavin’s mouth. “Must make things very… quiet.”

Gibson wasn’t concerned. “Just how I like it.”

Their burgers and beers arrived but just as they were both about to tuck in somebody’s phone started ringing. Gibson looked around the pub and then to his surprise, Gavin reached into his pocket and pulled out a mobile.

“Think I’ll take this one outside.” Gavin said quietly as he glanced at the caller ID. “Hi Janet.”  Gibson heard him say into the phone on the way to the door.

Gibson shook his head quietly as he refocused on his meal.

He’d heard about guys who used different phones to keep all their girlfriends from knowing about each other but he never thought he’d be involved in aiding and abetting one.  After half an hour the man from out of town had not come back in and having finished his meal, Gibson stepped outside. He wasn’t surprised to see no one in sight.

Women.

One was trouble enough. To juggle two or three, you’d have to be bloody crazy.

And that, thank God, he was definitely not.

The Girl in the Hard Hat By Loretta Hill and Man Drought By Rachael Johns.

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In Stores Nowrachaeljohns2

Poetic License

Today I’m contemplating how much poetic license is available to writers when creating realistic plots and characters. I don’t write fantasy, therefore I believe my characters and stories have to be believable. Saying that, often things need to be stretched to fit in fiction. I’m wondering how far you think novelists can stretch the truth or manipulate certain things to the benefit of their story world.

I’ll try to explain a little better. I’m currently about to start writing the second in a series of three linked books. In the first I introduced an American cop – blame my muse – who I knew would be the hero of the second book. I’m already in total lust with Noah Tucker but now I’m starting to research I’m wondering if the position I’ve put him in is possible and if it’s not, if it actually matters.

He’s only in Australia on a transfer for a short time. While not giving too much of the plot away, he didn’t want to go into witness protection in the US and therefore someone high up in the American police force, who is friends with someone high up in the Australian police force, suggested he go work in Oz for a while until the criminal who wants him dead is behind bars. While this fits my story perfectly, I’m not sure it would be possible in real life.

My research shows while cops can transfer to Australia from overseas they need to go through police training again in Australia and therefore am guessing a direct transfer would cause a few problems. This is the only part of my plot, I’m not sure legally/technically works.

What I’m asking YOU, is am I allowed a little poetic license to make this story work?

Would LOVE your thoughts!

Books I’ve read week one!

So, part of my goals for 2013 was reading two books a week. So far (but let’s face it it hasn’t been long), I’ve managed to keep up. Like Helene Young said in a recent blog post, many of the books I read are by writers I know (and love) personally, so I no longer rate on Goodreads and I don’t really plan to review what I read as such. Saying that, I thought I’d let you know every Tuesday, what books I’ve been reading the past week and I’d love it if you share your book finds with me too 🙂

So, here’s my list for the beginning of January till now:

  • Rough Diamond by Kathryn Ledson – I loved this book. It’s been dubbed as an Aussie Stephanie Plum meets Bridget Jones and as I love both these characters, I was eagerly anticipating it’s release. It was such fun and I fell in total lust with the hero Jack. It’s the start of a series and I can’t wait for MORE!
  • Ghost Child by Caroline Overington – I read Matilda Is Missing also by this author last year and really loved it. Overington’s books are different to anything else I read. So far the ones I’ve read have dealt with how a long-ago crime affects the victims years later. A realistic, and very enjoyable read.
  • Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich – while not my favourite of the Stephanie Plum books it was still a fun and easy read. But I do think it’s time to wrap this series up. I don’t know if I want Stephanie to end up with Ranger or Morelli though. In this story, she seems very undecided but is in a committed relationship with Morelli. That annoyed me.

So that’s my first reading wrap-up! What did you read this week? Anything I MUST get my mitts on?

My Secret Life with Alissa Callen!

 Today I’d like to give a warm welcome to my long-time writing buddy Alissa Callen. We’ve been crit partners and just general encouragers for a fair few years now, so much so that I’ve totally forgotten how we actually “met” in the first place! Anyway, Alissa is not only an all-round lovely person but a fabulous writer and I’m so excited to read her new books, of which I’ve read snippets over the last few years. 

Congrats again Alissa and welcome to My Secret Life!

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I have a confession to make … I need to get a life… a non-writing one that is.

In a perfect world there would be no hip-high piles of washing to do, no grumpy cow to shoo out of the orchard again and definitely no such thing as meals to be cooked. But luckily it isn’t a perfect world and have a family to take care of as well as a menagerie of animals to look after. Because can get slightly attached to the keyboard and lose track of time as well as which child is going to which afternoon sport, this year I must ensure that life retains a little more balance. So cue a belated to-do New Year’s resolution list.

So in 2013, when am not writing, I aim to do the following things:

Take Mini Farmer, Little Farmer, Farmer Boy, Farmer Girl (and especially Big Farmer) off the farm to remind them there is a world beyond the front gate. We are very fortunate to have a host of national parks within a two hour radius. Coolah Tops is a favourite as well as the Warrumbungles.  You can never have enough fire-roasted marshmallows or fun family photos.

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(Rach: I absolutely LOVE this pic Alissa!)

To tackle the garden, even in snake season.  My garden is like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge – when you eventually arrive back at the place you started, it is in need of TLC again.

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To read more. My TBR pile resembles the leaning Tower of Pisa.

To cook more. All those recipes I rip out of magazines or copy from friends need to make it into the oven and not onto another teetering pile.

And finally to take more time to sit on the veranda, pat the dogs and enjoy the smiles on my children’s faces.

Thanks so much Rach for having me 🙂 Am off to see what recipe is on the top of my ‘to-cook-before-next-millennium’ pile – have a feeling it is your yummy White Christmas Crackle recipe that never got to at Christmas!

It was my absolute pleasure to have you Melissa and I really recommend that everyone download your books. Blurbs below 🙂

What Love Sounds Like out January 10 with Escape Publishing:

Outback speech pathologist, Mia Windsor, believes her morning from hell is over. Then suited-up, city-boy Kade Reid strides into her office and announces he and his wide-eyed niece are the clients that she will be living with for the fortnight.

Kade Reid adheres to a single edict — money is as important as breathing. But when he becomes an instant father to four-year-old Tilly, he escapes to the only place he was allowed to be a child…the family property of Berrilea. 

As Mia and Kade work together to help Tilly overcome her speech delay, can they face their fears in order to give Tilly the family she so desperately needs?

 Beneath Outback Skies will be a launch title for the new digital-first Random Romance list of Random House on February 1st: 

A captivating rural romance featuring an indomitable young woman determined to save her family farm, and the city-boy who is not all he seems…

Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her crippled father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile. 

Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…

It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…

You can find Alissa at her website and also on Facebook.

Release Day – Stand-In Star

Happy release day to ME!!

I’m excited to announce that today is the release of STAND-IN STAR – the first of my Hollywood set books released by Carina Press.

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This story was one of those dreams to write – in fact I think so far it has been my only dream. The characters Nate and Holly were so real to me and I couldn’t wait to give them their Happily Ever After!

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?

And if you absolutely MUST have a copy after reading THAT, you can click on any of the following links:

OR if you’d rather win a copy 🙂 keep an eye on my Facebook page for updates about blog where I’m giveaway a copy! There’ll be a few over the next few days!!

Books read in 2012

For the last few years, I’ve kept a list of books I read each year. This year I transferred the list to my Facebook page – if you haven’t already liked this page, I’m love some New Year likes here! I read 44 books in 2011 and 54 in 2012 so was actually more than the previous year, which surprised me when I checked.

I also keep a record of the books I read on Goodreads – however this year I stopped rating these books. Half the books I read are written by friends now and I feel uncomfortable rating these because I’d just give them all 5 stars cos I love them as people. Anyway without further ado, my list for 2013 is below:

NB) I’ve marked my fave books with an asterix at the end and I’m SURE I’ve missed some off here the overall list 😦

Sizzling Seventeen – Janet Evanovich

The Girl In Steel-Capped Boots – Loretta Hill

Stella Makes Good – Lisa Heidke*

Melt – Natalie Anderson

The Next Always – Nora Roberts

29 – Adena Halpern

Matilda is Missing – Caroline Overington*

Putting Alice Back Together – Carol Marinelli

Bella’s Run – Margareta Osborn 

Any Man of Mine – Rachel Gibson

Trading Christmas – Debbie Macomber

Scared Yet – Jaye Ford*

Rosalee Station – Mandy Magro

Wattle Creek – Fiona McCallum

Mr Perfect – Linda Howard*

Too Good To Be True – Kristan Higgins*

About Last Night – Ruthie Knox

Rosalee Station – Mandy Magro

Purple Roads – Fleur McDonald

Morgan’s Law – Karly Lane*

Open Season – Linda Howard

The Road Home – Fiona Pamer

I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella

The Witness – Nora Roberts

Fools Rush In – Kirstan Higgins

Jacaranda – Mandy Magro

Wildflower Hill – Kimberley Freeman*

Burning Lies – Helene Young

House Rules – Jodi Picoult

Brumby’s Run – Jennifer Scouller

This Charming Man – Marian Keyes

Zoe’s Muster – Barbara Hannay

Dancing Backwards – Sally Vickers

The Keeper of the Light – Diane Chamberlain*

The Good Father – Diane Chamberlain

Lighthouse Bay – Kimberley Freeman

The Mystery of Mercy Close – Marian Keyes

Ice Cold – Tess Gerritson

The Brightest Star in the Sky – Marian Keyes

The House of Memories – Marian Keyes

The Winter Lodge – Susan Wiggs

Catch of the Day – Kristan Higgins

The Lies We Told – Diane Chamberlain

It’s Not Christmas Without You – Helenkay Dimon

Holiday Sparks – Shannon Stacey

Flesh – Kylie Scott

No Mistletoe Required – Jeanette Murray

Bridie’s Choice – Karly Lane

Blue Smoke – Nora Roberts

Newborn Baby For Christmas – Fiona Lowe

The Danger Game – Caitlyn Nicholas

A Bush Christmas – Margareta Osborn

The Girl in the Hard Hat – Loretta Hill

Rough Diamond – Kathryn Ledson*

So what was YOUR favourite book/s for 2012! I’d love some recommendations of what you believe should be on my must-read list in 2013!

Goals for 2013

As I mentioned on the last day of 2012, I like to write down my writing goals each year. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and it amazes me what happens when I actually set concrete goals. Last year, I achieved all bar one of my goals, which was to read more.

This year I’ve got a shorter goal list but no doubt things will crop up along the year. So, here’s my list for 2013 – will check back again at the end of the year to see how I’ve done:

1) Finish the next book in my “Outback” series and begin the third book. Submit the first book.

2) Write another novella or short romance and/or the second in my Carina Press Hollywood series. Submit.

3) Read at least two books a week!

So, what are your goals for 2013? If you’ve blogged about them, link in comments and I’ll check them out, otherwise feel free to hijack my comments section to list your goals.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY NEW BOOKS!

I’d like to wish all my readers a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2013 has some wonderful things in store for you all. I’m hoping to have some good news to share here soon but until then, I just wanted to let you all know that…

MAN DROUGHT officially releases today! It’s been in shops for a bit but for all of you who are waiting to read it on Kindle, iPhones, etc, you should be able to download today! (unfortunately so far this book is only available in Australia and New Zealand territories!

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Here’s the blurb in case you need a refresher:

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 poured 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.

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?

You can read a sample chapter here!

And if you’d really like your own copy, here are some online to-buy links:

Booktopia

Harlequin

Fishpond

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

Without further ado, I hope you all have a VERY Happy New Year and get lots of reading time in 2013!!