I’ve finished, so here’s a treat for you!

Hi folks

I’m smiling and drinking pink bubbly tonight because I just finished the final read through of my October release OUTBACK DREAMS. The final read through actually included a LOT of tweaks – that’s just the way I roll – and it’s good to have finally pushed send. OUTBACK DREAMS is the first in at least three books about the people of Bunyip Bay (a fictional town in Western Australia). It is Faith Forrester and Daniel (Monty) Montgomery’s story and they’ve been best friends in like forever.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what the talented peeps at Harlequin Australia do for this cover but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a small extract with you. There’ll be more tasters nearer the release date I promise.

From chapter six OUTBACK DREAMS:

He sat at the bar, tapping his boots along to the country music belting out from the stereo and chatting to Liam the publican when he wasn’t serving his few customers. Currently the only people in the pub were a local family with three young kids having an early counter meal and two old men who spent more time here than they did at home.

A shadow fell behind him and then a hand clapped firmly against his back. ‘What are you having, mate?’ came Adam’s jovial voice. ‘The drinks are on me tonight, well at least the first few anyway.’

‘I thought farmers were supposed to be hard-up,’ Liam said, as he pulled a couple of pint glasses down from a shelf.

Adam laughed. ‘We are. But we know how to prioritise, right Monty?’

Monty managed to open his mouth but his throat was so clogged up with emotion, he almost couldn’t speak. He took a moment, and then let out a short, ‘yeah.’

A farmer. After all these years.

When their beers landed on the bar, Adam raised his for a toast. ‘Welcome to my world – dumb sheep, no rain and long hours on a tractor.’

As they drank to this the pub door swung open. Monty turned, hoping to see Ruby. He’d asked her to join them when he’d popped into The Ag Store for some supplies on Wednesday, but she hadn’t given him a definite answer. Nevertheless, her response, ‘I’ll try,’ had kept him on a high since. His shoulders slumped as a horde of guys he’d worked with on the crayfish boats spilled into the pub. He was happy to see them, and would probably miss them when they weren’t colleagues anymore, but they weren’t Ruby.

There was just something about Robert and Lyn Jones’ daughter that had captured his attention – okay, and the attentions of the other single blokes in Bunyip – the moment she’d moved to town. Although she had the looks of a supermodel, she kept pretty much to herself. He’d asked her out a few times before and she’d politely declined, but Monty wasn’t one to give up when he wanted something.

‘Monty, my main man!’ A lanky bloke who didn’t look like he could lift one crayfish – never mind a whole crate of them – slapped Monty on the back.

‘Hey Curtis,’ he said with a grin.

The other blokes offered their congratulations and voiced their disappointment that Monty wouldn’t be working with them anymore. Then Kyle, coming back from his first trip to the men’s room, froze. Staring ogle-eyed at the pub entrance he finally let out a wolf-whistle. Everyone swung round to see what, or rather who, had got Kyle’s balls in a twist. Monty’s mouth was the first to drop open.

Faith.

Her smile filled her whole face as his gaze met hers. His mouth went dry. Ryan came in behind her and they started towards the bar. She strode liked she’d been walking in knee-high eff-me boots her whole damn life. A titillating pink dress fell way above her knees, showcasing legs that usually only wore jeans or denim shorts. And her hair. What had she done with her hair?

It swished around her shoulders as she sashayed toward them. It looked so soft, silky, and golden blonde, a few shades lighter than her usual chocolate. His fingers twitched around his beer glass as the craziest thought of sliding them through Faith’s hair hit him like a sucker punch to the gut.

Before he could digest this thought and work out what the hell to do with it, Ryan and Faith were amongst them.

Adam lifted a hand in greeting and Faith grinned at her audience of open-mouthed men. ‘Evening boys.’

The look on his mates’ faces reminded Monty his own jaw was still scraping the ugly carpeted floor and he picked it up quick fast. While the guys fell all over each other trying to win the honour of buying Faith’s first drink, Monty sidled up beside her.

‘Do I know you?’

Typical Faith style, she socked him in the arm.

He rubbed at the spot, pretending she’d bruised him. ‘Hey, just saying. You look different tonight.’

‘Different, huh? You sure know how to compliment a girl.’

Shaking the shocking thoughts that were really circling his head, he raised his eyebrows. ‘All right. You look amazing. Is that better? When did you get your hair done?’

‘This morning.’ Lifting fingers, which were covered in pink nail polish he’d previously thought alien to Faith, she ran them through the ends of her hair. ‘You like?’

‘Yes.’ He grinned, then leaned in close. ‘I think every bloke in the pub likes.’

‘Good. Then my mission is half-accomplished.’

‘What’s the rest of the mission?’

She wriggled her eyebrows at him and hissed in his ear, ‘To get one of them to ask me back to his place.’

A muscle at the side of his neck twinged as he thought about the prospect of one of the guys taking Faith home. Yes, they were all mates but were any of them good enough for her? Would they respect her, treat her right? Or would they simply take advantage of her current mental state?

‘You don’t know what to say, do you?’ Faith was clearly amused.

That wasn’t strictly true. He wanted to tell her to be careful. That the way she looked now made her a danger to herself in a room full of red-blooded males. ‘Sure I do. I was just thinking about which of these blokes could actually handle you.’

‘Don’t you worry your pretty little head.’ She waved her index finger in front of his nose. ‘I’ll be the judge of that.’

With that promise, she turned on her impressive heels and entered the circle of men waiting with drinks. Within seconds, someone had given her a glass of wine but it looked out of place in her grasp, considering her usual drink of choice was beer.

More closer to October 🙂

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My Secret Life with Fiona Lowe

Today I’m thrilled to welcome my good friend Fiona Lowe to my blog. I met Fiona online on the RWAus loop and then later at a conference. We immediately clicked and she’s been a huge support to my writing over the last few years. Not only is she a lovely person but she writes exactly my type of books. I was lucky enough to read her RITA Award winning BOOMERANG BRIDE before it sold to Carina Press and I’m so stoked she has a brand new bride series out now. I’m yet to read SAVED BY THE BRIDE  but it is very near the top of my ridiculous TBR pile and I can hardly wait! 

So, thanks for coming today Fiona to give readers a little insight into what you get up to when you’re not writing. Welcome!

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When I asked my 14 year-old what I should blog about outside of writing, he said, ‘there’s nothing’ to which I said, ‘Go clean your room.’  Recently, with a short deadline, it seems that my life is all work but that’s not strictly true. We, as a family, like to cycle.

Last year, I took this cycling caper to an extreme and went on the Great Victorian Bike Ride where not only did I ride 590 kilometres over nine days, I also did with a group of 14 year-olds. That made it even more of a challenge but we got every kid up every hill…and there were a LOT of hills. We also got through every type of weather from hail and sleet to scorching heat. Were there times when I asked myself, ‘Why?’ Hell, yes! Am I glad I did it? Absolutely? Would I do it again? Yes, but not with the school. I would do it with my husband or friends.

Later this year I’m off to France on a cycling trip with my husband. We’re cycling along the Canal du Midi where I believe there is a scarcity of hills 😉 although if after a couple of days of flattish riding and I am pining for hills, I can cycle up behind the glorious fortified French town of Carcassonne.   Apparently, we will be riding through an area filled with vineyards so that will involve some wine tasting and of course in France, one is never far from a patisserie with amazing coffee, bread and cakes. Hmm, maybe I better ride up those hills behind Carcassonne after all!

Do you have any cycling stories to share?

In my not so secret life, I write books and I’m thrilled to say that Saved By The Bride, the first book in my Wedding Fever trilogy is out now!

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Welcome to Whitetail, Wisconsin, future home of Weddings that WOW!

As acting mayor, Annika will do anything to revive the economy of the town that’s been her refuge ever since her art career imploded and her fiancé walked out. Even if it means crashing an engagement party to talk business with the bride’s billionaire father. But the evening starts with a kiss from a gorgeous stranger—and ends with a night in jail.

Finn Callahan can’t believe his sister is getting married, not after their parents’ disastrous track record. And he’d rather be anywhere than working from his family’s vacation home. Until he catches a leggy blonde sneaking in the window, and suddenly telecommuting for the season is very appealing.

Unable to resist their mutual attraction, Annika and Finn are soon mixing business and pleasure—just for the summer. Too bad Annika’s heart missed the memo about not falling in love…

Book one of Wedding Fever. 99,000 words

Check out the fabulous Saved By The Bride trailer.

Saved By the Bride is available from Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Carina Press, Kobo  iBooks, and all other eBook retailers.

You can find Fiona on Facebook and Twitter as well as at her home on the web.

Thanks so much for stopping by Fiona! I must admit I RARELY ride my bike – last time was during a family holiday to Rottnest Island in 2010 but I also admit that when I DO get around to it, I really enjoy it! 

My Secret Life with Suzi Love

Today you are in for a treat! Don’t tell but this is one of my favourite secret life posts yet!!! Maybe because I LOVE old buildings! A huge welcome to Crimson Romance author Suzi Love who writes historical romance from Regency to Victoria and even has a romantic name 🙂

Welcome Suzi!

Oooh, do I really have to spill my secrets? I’m really rather boring. Shy, retiring, and quiet as I tell my friends.

*I have to butt in here and say from romance conferences I really don’t think any of you should believe that*

But in my secret life, I have an addiction. I’m obsessed with museums, big, small, and especially the obscure ones. And I love photographing all the weird and wonderful things I discover in museums. My obsession is so well known to my family that they run for the hills at the first hint of a photo viewing session.

After I went to a Romance Writers USA conference in New York, I decided a quick hop across the ocean to London and Bath and a hundred or so museums needed to be squeezed into the agenda. I came home with 10,000 photos. So I guess I can’t blame my family for running. Grin!

Do you want a taste of the best places I’ve visited in my secret life?

Pierpont Morgan Library.

No. 1 The Pierpont Morgan Library/Museum in New York. In the early 1900s, Pierpont Morgan used the multi-tiered library as his personal office. The library holds his priceless collections of rare books, gold leafed medieval works, literary and music manuscripts, including the ‘First’ works of practically every historical celebrity in the world. Visitors, especially me, stand in the middle, rotate slowly, and stare upwards, awe-struck at level upon level of priceless books.

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No.2. The Ragged Children Museum London. A rambling multistory old house that helped feed, clothe, and educate tens of thousands of poor children under Thomas Barnardo’s scheme. After a cholera epidemic swept through the East End, Barnado gave up his medical training to open his first “ragged school” in 1867 and for the next thirty-one years educated children. Now school groups dress in Victorian clothes and live a ragged school day.

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No.3   We can’t forget Australia, can we? How about a squatter’s house in outback Queensland?

My second secret life?

Is a fascination with Keanu Reeves and…..his secret life!

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Interviewers are always stunned by his intelligence, charm, and air of mystery. Yet he’s well known for having high-brow reading tastes despite having dyslexia, has written a book of poems, directs as well as acts, owns his own production company, and is extremely generous to his coworkers and charities. Apart from the fact that I’ve met him twice and he’s ten times sexier close up and his sultry voice and hand holding made me go weak at the knees.

Thanks so much for stopping by Suzi and sharing some of your passions! I’m curious readers – have you got a museum that Suzi needs to put on her must-see list?

You can find Suzi at her Web, on  FacebookTwitter and Pinterest!

Her two novels The Viscount’s Pleasure House and Embracing Scandal have both done well in RWAustralia contests and are now published with Crimson Romance.  

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The Viscount’s Pleasure House – An erotic story set in England in the risqué early Victorian era. In exchange for information about his mother and sisters, London’s most notorious Viscount is coerced into allowing three respectable women to visit his Pleasure Houses. The goal of the ladies is to learn how to hold men’s attention by giving them exquisite pleasure. Each lady comes to the pleasure gardens a little naïve, but leaves as knowledgeable as a well schooled courtesan. Though the world-weary viscount falls in head over heels in love with one of the ladies, he struggles to find reasons to convince her to trust him, and to marry him, after their visit to the country Pleasure House is over.

Buy links –  Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes  All Romance

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Embracing Scandal – Lady Rebecca Jamison, a mathematical genius, saves her siblings from financial ruin by dabbling in the London stock exchange. When a greedy syndicate kills her friend and threatens her family, Becca begs assistance from Cayle, Duke of Sherwyn, her nemesis and previous friend. As Cayle and Becca rekindle old passions, the duke uses old skills as a spy to protect his lady. He successfully defeats the illegal consortium, but can Cayle persuade a self-sufficient spinster to become his duchess?

Buy Links – Amazon  Barnes and Noble  iTunes

My Secret Life with Margaret Lynette Sharp

Today I have a lovely lady I met through Twitter and my blog, talking about what she does when she’s not writing – short story writer Margaret Lynette Sharp! I have not managed to master the art of writing short and I have a lot of respect for those who have, so welcome Margaret.

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MY SECRET LIFE

Anyone who has skimmed through my blog will have more than an inkling of my ‘secret life’. Who can resist the burning temptation of writing about such things?

Many things I love: ranging from those at home, such as my hubby Ron, our young white Maltese cross, Chicki Rose, and our two blue budgies (Albert and Victoria), to activities such as swimming, dancing, playing the piano and accordion, painting in watercolour, and photography. Does this make me a dilettante? Who knows? I enjoy creating, and I enjoy beauty in its many forms.

I could talk at length about each of these, but now is not the time. For today, I’ve chosen a couple of my pet topics.

A Turning Point.

The wedding of my niece Kathy marked a turning point in more lives than hers and her partner’s, for it unstintingly helped to trigger two big changes in my life, too.

Firstly, it egged me on to start writing. Suddenly, I had realized with breathtaking: clarity: that life moves on.

Secondly, it introduced me to modern dancing: something I had never attempted, despite reaching middle age. In the beginning, I was more than reluctant to try: and horribly self-aware. But nowadays, as readers of my blog may know, Ron and I are regulars, and love dancing to the awesome band tunes of the 60’s to 80’s.

There’s a moral, here: you never know what you’re missing!

The Arrival of Chicki.

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Those of you who have lost a beloved pet will know the heartbreak. Our sixteen year old Maltese, Trixie, had left us. Six weeks later, the void was just as deep.

Our vet, Ben, had schooled us on the virtues of choosing a rescue dog, and so the hunt began.

I spotted Chicki (under a different name) on the web-page of a fairly close RSPCA  animal shelter. She was thirteen months old, and had been there for weeks. I first saw her image on a Wednesday, but several days slipped by before we made the call. Yes, she was still available: yes, we could see her: no, they couldn’t put a hold on her. The latter piece of information gave us mounting cause for anxiety as we made that fateful half-hour drive. But, YES, she was still there: rather shy, very pretty, and like so many, in need. And we could adopt her! Our decision was made.

On the drive home, she showed such an intelligent interest in her surroundings: a characteristic that Ron found particularly endearing. We had, he believed, chosen well.

Ben had been right: he said that rescue dogs ‘know’. The degree of devotion she shows to us every day bears this out.

So, there you have it: a snippet of my ‘secret life’.

Most of my Short Story collections contain at least one or two stories that involve animals: and of these, it’s often the ownership of a dog that brings folks together who ultimately fell in love. Is it kindred spirits?

 Thanks for sharing that Margaret! There are a LOT of animal lovers amongst us I know 🙂 In fact pets seem to be a bit of a secret life theme around here!

Margaret can be found on Twitter, Goodreads and she also regularly updates her blog.

Margaret’s latest short story collection is Encore: In common with Margaret’s previous works, ‘Encore‘ contains a selection of mainly romantic tales, overwhelmingly positive in theme. The author’s favourites include ‘At Sixteen: Annie’s Story’,’To the Beautiful Brigitte’, and ‘The Locket’. Comprising twenty-five stories, this is a highly readable, attractively presented volume. 

Encore is available on Amazon and at other stores if requested. As a special treat one of Margaret’s other collections – A Taste of Life and Love in Australia is currently discounted on Amazon for Kindle at only 99c.

My Secret Life with Ros Baxter

Today I have the delightful Ros Baxter, whose book FISH OUT OF WATER just released with Escape Publishing. I have got this book on my Kindle and I must admit, it sounds like a hoot!! I’m so intrigued to read a book written about a mermaid!!! And the fact that it’s a romance is just so much better!

I met Ros (don’t know if she remembers) at the RWA conference on the Gold Coast last year – she had recently had her fourth child (I KNOW – I thought three was full-on) baby and the delightful little cherub was making lots of people smile all over the conference. 

Anyway… I’ll stop rambling and let Ros give you a little insight into what she gets up to when she’s not writing. Don’t forget to read the blurb for FISH OUT OF WATER at the end!

Welcome Ros…

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Secrets. Even the word conjures up dark and spicy things, hidden in the lush places of our hearts.

And I remember when I used to have them.

Children have a way of changing all that. Not only do they leave little room for tantalising other lives, they transform you into a semi-public figure through their insatiable curiosity.

I find myself telling my children things I wouldn’t tell a friend, a lover or even a therapist.  And I’m not sure why.  Maybe just because they ask (all the time) and I’m caught off-guard (and without a convenient cover story). Things about what I just did in the toilet. The meanest name anyone ever called me. Whatever happened to that pre-Daddy boyfriend they saw in that old photograph.

And in return, they take these secret things and broadcast them to the world.

Mummy did a number two.  It’s okay, she flushed.

Mummy’s ears stick out.  But don’t call her wing-nut.  It’s unkind.

That boy had a bad temper. Mummy says it’s okay to feel angry; it’s what you do about it.

The only secrets I have left are kind of vanilla.  And the kids aren’t so interested.  So let me share three of them with you.

1) I spent a looooonnnng time studying serious things and have a serious day job.

I studied a PhD in law at the University of Sydney and sometimes I make my family call me Dr Ros just to remind them that I do know some stuff.  Okay, I don’t really do that, but let me tell you – when an eight year old looks at you dubiously after you tell him the capital of Iceand, it’s really tempting. When I’m not doing my favourite thing (writing fiction) I work for the Australian Government (more specifically, I work in the area of Indigenous policy, which I’m completely passionate about – just ask anyone I’ve ever cornered for a chat on the issue).  While I like to think I bring my writing skills to the table in my day job, occasionally I will get told my brief is just a little too sexy. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

2) I’m a worrier (actually that’s maybe not so secret).  But specifically, I often wake up in the night worrying about whether I’m doing good.

I grew up with parents who told us ALL THE TIME that no-one was just a drop in the ocean, and that you should use your talents for good (whatever that is).  At the moment, I’m really excited about a short story competition I’ve developed for Indigenous high school girls in remote Australia: tomorrowgirl. I’m a huge believer in the transformative power of stories and I’m blown away by the talent I’m discovering among young women in remote Australia

3) And my biggest, dirtiest secret?  I have a salacious fantasy that obsesses me most days.  It  involves a bed, chocolate, a dark, rainy night and a stack of unread books.  *sigh*

Thanks for having me Rachael.  I hope readers will find my mermaid’s secrets far more exciting!

Thank YOU for coming!!! I cannot WAIT to read about your mermaid’s secrets. Speaking of which, here’s the blurb for FISH OUT OF WATER (I dare you to read it and not want to read the whole thing):

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Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum meets Splash in a sexy, smart-talking debut about a mermaid in a desert, a city under water, and the secret that no one is supposed to uncover.Dirtwater’s straight-talking Deputy Sheriff Rania Aqualina has a lot on her plate: a nicotine addiction that’s a serious liability for a mermaid, a soldier-of-fortune ex who’s hooked on her Mum’s brownies, a gorgeous, naked stranger in her shower, and a mysterious dead blonde with a fish tattoo on Main Street. Heading home to Aegira for a family wedding, Rania has a sinking feeling that’s got nothing to do with hydroporting seven miles under the sea and everything to do with the crazy situation. Now, if she can just steal a corpse, get a crazy Aegiran priest off her case, work out who the hell’s trying to kill her, and stop sleeping with the fishes, she might be able to unravel the mysteries. And maybe even save her own ass while she’s at it.Fish out of Water is the first book in a trilogy about Aegira, an underwater kingdom based on the historical Norse legend of Aegir.

You can email Ros at rosbaxterink@gmail.com or find her at www.facebook.com/RosBaxterInk, on twitter @RosBaxter, or www.rosbaxterink.com

But MOST importantly, you can buy FISH OUT OF WATER from Amazon, iBooks and Escape Publishing.

A Fools’ Day Anniversary!

Two years ago today, I woke up at my Aunty’s place ready to take Trouble to a doctor’s appn in Perth. As you do when you’re addicted to email and Internet, I checked my email on my phone and almost rolled out of bed in shock! I had an email from Angela James at Carina Press telling me they wanted to BUY MY BOOK!!!!

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As I jumped wildly around the room and my bemused child looked on not quite knowing WHAT to think, I totally forgot the fact it was April Fools Day. I called my family and emailed all my friends. One of my good writing friends said, ‘Are you sure it’s not an April Fools’ Day!?’

Oh MY!

I hadn’t even contemplated that! But it wasn’t. Turns out editors might be scary and (between you and I) they sometimes seem to operate on a TOTALLY different calendar to us mere mortals, they are not cruel! And it WAS true!!

Angela James and my fabulous Carina editor Charlotte Herscher loved my story about a girl dressed up as a Christmas Fairy and her grumpy boss. ONE PERFECT NIGHT came out eight months later, but in that time, I sold my second book – JILTED – to the lovely Haylee Nash at Harlequin Australia.

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Since then I have published two more books, have a fifth coming out in October this year (OUTBACK DREAMS) and am contracted for two more books. There have been so many highs during this time:

One the other side of the published fence, it is not all chocolates and roses. My dream has come true in that writing is now not merely a hobby but one of my three full-times jobs (yeah, work that out). But this means that I have to write even when I’m not at all in the mood. I constantly deal with doubt crows and demons telling me I can’t do this and that my successes thus far have been a fluke.

Okay… I can’t think of many more downsides – it IS mostly chocolates and roses! And my dream/goal now is to keep it up. To keep improving my craft and developing my story telling skills. To keep writing books that readers email thanking me for! Oh, I’m getting a little teary thinking about what an honour it is have a reader trust me enough to give up a few hours of their life with my book!

So… two years on from getting THE EMAIL that changed my life in many ways, I want to THANK everyone who has been on some of the journey with me – my family, my friends, my publishers, my editors, my agent, RWAus and most of all my readers!

Books are written to be READ!

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NB. Currently a number of online stores have the ebooks of MAN DROUGHT and JILTED at reduced prices:

Google Play – Man Drought at $1.01

Google Play – Jilted at $2.50

Kobo Books – Jilted at $4.99

Amazon – Man Drought at $5.21