Happy Release Day To Me

So if the subject of this blog didn’t give it away… today is the official release day of OUTBACK DREAMS, published by Harlequin Australia. I’m not sure why but it often seems the book actually releases a few days earlier than the official date, so yesterday my boys and I went to Perth and went visiting my books!!

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The above two pics are from Dymocks Midland!! I was too scared to ask if they wanted me to sign some books (yes, some of you will be surprised that I’m actually quite shy) but I did leave some bookmarks, so if you buy a book from here, be sure to make sure you get one!

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This photo is from Kmart Midland! My youngest (in the blue) always wants to move my books to a better spot whenever he sees them. Unfortunately they were already in a pretty good spot here and he wasn’t best pleased that his shelf rearranging skills weren’t needed!

We also checked out Big W and Target Midland and both of them seemed to have already sold out as there were spots for them but no actual books, so if you haven’t got a copy yet.. what are you waiting for!?

More details about OUTBACK DREAMS can be found on my website here, including an excerpt and to-buy links 🙂

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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 🙂

How To Bake The Perfect Cover

I’m actually making a cake tonight for a school function tomorrow, so the baking analogy sounded right, but the truth is, until recently I’ve never had much to do with ”baking” my Harlequin Australia covers.

The first time I saw the covers of MAN DROUGHT and JILTED, they were final! And you know what? That was absolutely fine with me.  I fell in love the moment I clicked open the emails, however I know that some authors haven’t been so pleased about their covers, so I consider myself lucky! The team at Harlequin Australia do fabulous covers if you ask me and I’m sure they’re are a zillion times better than anything I’d ever come up with.

For JILTED I’d imagined a woman in a wedding dress (Ellie) and a suitcase at her feet, with a country setting/farm house in the background.

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For MAN DROUGHT, I thought they might put the heroine in front of a country pub.

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And both guesses, I was WAY off the mark! So, imagine my surprise when last week, I got sent a cover brief to fill in for OUTBACK DREAMS (September 2013). I actually  panicked for a few moments because I didn’t want my ideas (whatever they were and I wasn’t sure at the time) to hinder the creative genius of the team at Harlequin. However, I took a breath and then tried to imagine how I envisage the cover of OUTBACK DREAMS.

Nothing came to me as visually as it had when I’d thought of my previous covers, but I thought I’d share with you (below) what I sent back. I can’t wait to see what they make of my notes 🙂

Sub-genre/themes: Rural; Friends to Lovers.

Synopsis:

OUTBACK DREAMS is a friends to lovers story about Daniel Montgomery and Faith Forrester. Faith is at a crossroads in her life – single, twenty-nine and living on the family farm in a small rural Western Australian town. Wanting more from her life than to be her father and brother’s kitchen slave, she embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart – Dogs for Autism.

Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend for as long as she can remember. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property (in Faith’s town) and moved to Perth to be closer to support services for his autistic brother Will. Ever since this day he has worked towards buying a property of his own (his dream) and returning to a life on the land.

Monty pursues this dream at the expense of all else, but when a drunken night with his best friend Faith, ends in them sleeping together, he’s suddenly faced with a whole load of other challenges.

Both Monty and Faith are ready to find a life partner and settle down but until now, have they both been looking in all the wrong places and missing what is right beneath their noses?

 Story setting:           Small rural town of 2,000 people; coastal Western Australia

Story locations:                   Bunyip Bay (fictional WA town), farms, small town,

Story time period:  3-4 months, present day

Featured holidays: none

Seasons:                    autumn to winter

Landmarks:              jetty, beach, farm houses

Character 1:             Daniel Montgomery

Age:               29

Occupation:             Farmer/handyman

Character theme:   Chasing dreams; realization family more important than possessions.

Character traits: hardworking, determined, sunny personality

Hair colour:              Dusty, dirty blonde. Slightly long and mussed up look.

Eye Colour:               Brown

Character 2:             Faith Forrester

Age:                           29

Occupation:             farm hand/ domestic duties

Character theme:   Finding true self and love; mending family rifts.

Character traits:     Tom boy, feels like a Plain Jane, sporty, feisty.

Hair colour:              Golden blonde

Eye Colour:               Blue

General cover direction/notes – do you envisage anything in particular?

I’d really like the same sort of fresh, young feel as was on the MAN DROUGHT cover. I think the rural readers like sexy farmer heros, so having the hero or at least a glimpse of the hero (like there was on MAN DROUGHT’s cover) would be awesome. Maybe an old but well looked after traditional homestead-type farmhouse in the back ground and the hero and heroine at the forefront. I’d love to show real spark, fiest between them, but deep underlying passion only just realized (if you know what I mean). Basically – do your stuff! Whoever, you are, you’re awesome at it!!

And then, because I’m nice like that, I included the below photo of how I envisage Monty (the hero):

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I cannot WAIT to see what Harlequin Australia come up with for this one!!!

THE END!

There might be no sweeter words for a writer than THE END. I don’t actually type them anymore because my eds always delete them but today I typed the last word in the first draft of OUTBACK DREAMS. The hard work is really only just beginning because to make this book really shine, it’ll require another few rounds of attention, but getting the bare bones down on paper feels AMAZINGLY good.

I have sent it off to my beta readers and will put it to the back of my mind for a week or so while I await feedback.

The future is full of possibilities! I want to write a Christmas novella by March, so plan to do lots of reading of Christmas books over the next few weeks and hope what is currently only a tiny idea in my mind will grow into something big and fabulous! I also want to write the outline (loose because I’m not a massive plotter) for my next book in the Outback series – this follows on from OUTBACK DREAMS and is currently titled OUTBACK BLAZE. I’m looking forward to giving a couple of characters from DREAMS their own HEA in BLAZE!

In addition to the above fun, there are many blogs to write for my two releases in January and I also have a talk with Fiona Palmer coming up and much Christmas shopping to do.

Life is busy… but that’s the way I like it 🙂

Avon Valley Writers Festival and other fun stuff!

And the busy-ness that is my life continues. Last week we had school sport’s carnivals, 100 year celebrations and the circus coming to our home town of Goomalling. We’d actually already seen this particular circus but of course you can’t not go when it’s practically on your doorstep. It was lots of fun though and I think even better than the first time we saw it. Below is a pic of my boys waiting to go into The Big Top:

Then on Saturday night, I had the great pleasure of attending the dinner for the first ever Avon Valley Writer’s festival. I sat at the table with some lovely writers, including Janette Smith (who writes children’s books and is a fab writer) and Rob Kaay, an indie author of sci-fi fiction. Bought both his books for my hubby after hearing his inspirational talk on Sunday about why he could to self-publish his books and the process of how he actually does it. Was also lovely to catch up with Frances Macauley Forde, who writes screen-plays, poetry and children’s books. Unfortunately I missed her talk as it was on the Saturday!

On Sunday I presented a workshop: Plotting Romance Via Characters, in which I talked about the fact I don’t really plot my novels but rather think of a premise and two characters and go from there. I used much that I’d learnt from my good friend Fiona Lowe as I presented to the group the things I think made the difference for me between wanting to be published and finally getting there. The key components of that talk were truly getting to know your characters before your start – most importantly knowing what their self-belief is and how it will colour their every action and every thought.

I came home too tired to write, but have kicked off the writing week with over three thousand words added to Outback Dreams today. In many ways this story has been a breeze to write (touch wood), however because it is linked to two more books, I’m having to think carefully about how I portray and what I give away of the secondary characters that will be stars of the subsequent books. It’s lots of fun really.

With only four days left till school holidays, I’m hoping for a very productive week. Would love to finish this book by the end of October, but might be pushing things slightly! Until next time folks… xo