Flying Pony

This is for spring and hail, that you may remember

a boy and a pony long ago who could fly

These lines from Les Murray’s poem Spring Hail are a perfect synthesis of my twin passions, writing and riding. Both of them are things I dreamed about doing more of when I was younger but never quite seemed to find the time for. Both require discipline and courage. And both have become essential elements of my life rather than just hobbies. 

Reading through Spring Hail again, I  remember the way it showed me how words can create a whole world for you to dive into and lose yourself. When I read this poem as a teenager in my high school English class, I sat on the log with the boy in the poem, listening with my skin to the secret feast of the sun and a few lines later charting the birdless winds with silver roads.

Now, through my writing I do what the boy did by the end of the poem – fly with my imagination to wherever the words want to take me. This blog is about writing and following your dreams. And connecting with others who are doing the same.

I Hope you Enjoy My Blog

Everyone’s A Winner: My Day At The Books By The Bridge Author Event

Have you ever been to a mass book signing? I’m guessing for most people reading this the answer would be no. It was for me, until last Saturday when I was an attending author at Books By The Bridge. Organised by the amazing Kat Massen, booklover extraordinaire, it was a totally virginal experience for me – and one I would be happy to repeat 🙂       The Event The event was held at the Crystal Palace in Sydney’s Luna Park. I hadn’t been to the theme park since I was a kid. When I walked in and spotted The Rotor my stomach started churning just thinking about the last time I rode it (I won’t go into details but it involved a lot of spinning followed by a lot of vomiting). My nausea disappeared when I rounded the corner and saw a queue of people waiting at the doors to the event, standing beside suitcases. And do you know what those suitcases were for? Books. People had brought massive suitcases to fill with books they planned to buy. I couldn’t believe it! I’d never seen such a passion for books. Readers came from all over the country to attend Books by The Bridge and a couple of people even travelled from overseas.           And it only got better.   The Readers Some of the attending readers had compiled souvenir coffee table books with photos of the covers from each author’s books and came around to each table to get them signed. The time, effort and cost that had gone into these projects blew... read more

Characters of The Crossroads Part 3: Family, Friends and Pigs!

This is the final post in my ‘characters of The Crossroads’ blog series. Last week you met the men and the week before, my three main characters, Rose, Stephanie and Faith. All good stories have a great support cast and The Crossroads is no exception. Rose, Stephanie and Faith all need a little help from their friends and family so I thought I’d introduce you to a few of the characters who help them along the way. Rose Since the death of her husband, Mick, and the loss of her parents Rose has been pretty much on her own – apart from daughter, Stephanie. There is her mother-in-law, Letty, but there’s no love lost between the two and Rose’s weekly visits to Letty are more than torture. Thankfully Rose does have Cleo. They’ve been friends for years and despite her own share of problems Cleo is always there for Rose, and vice versa. She lives with her son and ailing father on a remote property – along with a collection of four legged friends for extra company. There’s Tiddles (Cleo’s pet pig), Bob (a cheeky Shetland) and Suzie Q (her faithful old mare). Tiddles is ‘based on’ a real pig I met on my visit to Queensland and Bob is our very own Shetland.     Stephanie Rose and Letty are pretty much all Stephanie has in the way of extended family but she does have a soft spot for her brother-in-law Cameron, despite his estrangement from her husband. This makes for some tricky situations when Cam returns to Birralong. Steph’s bestie is Holly. The two of them have... read more

Book Launch Celebration For The Crossroads

The Crossroads arrived on bookstore shelves yesterday but the party started two days earlier when we officially launched the book at The Coal Coast Emporium. My last launch was for Close To Home was 18 months ago and so much has happened since then that it felt fitting to celebrate once more. Each book is its own entity and there’s never a guarantee that there will be another one so it was great to share the excitement with family and friends as my fourth book baby readied itself to arrive in the world. This time I decided to do a local launch. It’s been twelve months since we moved into the Illawarra area, south of Sydney, and I’ve developed a great relationship with the owners of the bookstore where I teach writing classes. It was lovely to see familiar faces popping in to join the festivities.   My gorgeous publicist, Laura Boon,  from Hachette did the introductions and – in the absence of a formally written one – I managed an off-the-cuff speech and only cried once. Not that I’d intended crying at all, but despite my resolve, emotions were running a little high. I can’t tell you how humbled I was to have so many people there and how grateful I am to all those who bought books on the day.   Loads of pics were taken and I’ll be adding a slideshow to my Facebook page. There was plenty of partying afterwards and quite a few champagne corks popped. I’ll never get over the buzz of having one of my books out there and I hope readers... read more

A Little Romance: Writing A Novel With Romantic Elements

As my readers know, all my novels feature a little bit of romance. Not a lot, but a little. In the publishing world this is known as ‘romantic elements’. So, since today is Valentine’s Day I thought I’d tell you why I include these elements in my stories, and why I go for a little bit or romance rather than a lot. Conflict My main characters are always conflicted. In all four of my published novels the main characters are women who are dealing with quite a bit of family drama. Some of them have issues from the past surfacing and all of them have present day conflicts that take up most of their time. Untangling their personal problems is, for me, the main point of the story. Whether that be dealing with grief, uncovering a family mystery, learning to forgive in order to move on or making a life-changing decision, all ‘my women’ have enough to keep them busy. Tension So, of course, that’s where the romance comes in: when they’re not looking, love creeps up on them. There’s no better way to complicate a character’s story than by adding a romance into the mix. Whether it’s the man of her dreams, an ‘unwanted’ former lover or someone who makes her heart sing even if she’s in denial, its absolutely guaranteed that the protagonist’s life is going to get a lot tougher. The Crossroads has three very different ‘romantic’ set ups for its three main characters. For Rose it’s the appearance of old flame David Ryan that complicates her story right from the start. Her daughter, Stephanie is... read more

The Men Of The Crossroads: Sweet, Silent And Sexy

Last week I introduced you to the three female protagonists of The Crossroads – this week it’s the men’s turn. While they aren’t as prominent in the storyline they are crucial to the plot. And where would a Rural romance be without the love interests?  Sweet – Dave When David Ryan walks into The Crossroads Hotel, Rosemary O’Shea’s jaw drops. It’s been over thirty years since she last saw him and his arrival is definitely not a welcome one. Recently widowed, Dave has returned to Birralong to house-sit but has a yearning to make his stay more permanent. Reliable, down to earth and genuinely happy to see his old friend Rose, he is completely oblivious to the unease she feels at their meeting. There are more than a few surprises in store as Rose and Dave get to know each other again Silent – Bryce Life on the land has never been tougher for Bryce Bailey and his wife Stephanie. The drought has forced them to sell off most of their cattle and the stock that remain are getting thinner by the day. Desperate to live up to the legacy left to him by his father, Bryce has become withdrawn and sullen. Stephanie is at her wit’s end and misses the fun, romantic guy she fell in love with as a teenager. To make things worse Bryce’s estranged brother Cameron has just arrived back in town with a proposition about the property he still partly owns. How will Bryce react to his brother’s plans and what will Stephanie do to try and get him to see sense?   Sexy... read more

Escape To The Outback: A New Setting In The Crossroads

One of the things I love about writing rural fiction is the opportunity escape to idyllic settings – both physically during the research phase and in my imagination during the writing of the book. Taking readers along for the ride is an added bonus. My first three novels were all set on or near the south coast of NSW. This is an area I know well, having spent lazy summer holidays there for almost twenty years as I grew up, and then being lucky enough to have my own holiday house there for the last seventeen years. There’s something a little wild and untamed about the south coast that appeals to my love of solitude. But there are also rolling green hills, cows, horses and long, stretches of sand strung along a coast line of cool, clear ocean. When it came time to write novel number four, my publisher suggested I opt for a different location: the outback. The idea set my teeth on edge – not because I had an aversion to going west but because it was a landscape I’d never spent much time in. As a writer I need to familiarize myself with a setting before I can try and capture it on the page. That opportunity came when I headed off to do an author talk in Hughenden in central Queensland. While I was there I was lucky enough to visit a number of outlying properties. Seeing the dusty, red stretches of soil, the sparse, dry vegetation and the ragged looking cattle – suffering greatly from the effects of the drought – was a truly... read more

Strong Women – In Reality And Fiction

This week I’ve been inspired by women standing up for themselves and for others in the face of what seems to be a bad B grade movie. Scenes of women marching in cities all over the world flooded the internet (see pics here) after Trump’s inauguration along with a myriad of articles, posts, tweets and images promoting sisterhood and unity. Influential women around the world have addressed the issue in person and in print. In Washington Gloria Steinhem applauded those who protested and urged women to follow their instincts. And in Sydney, writer Jane Caro urged marchers to ‘keep fighting’. On almost every continent women banded together to express their outrage and unity. In recent times the word feminism has been much maligned. Like every political or social movement there are certainly extreme versions of it, but historically it’s been the more extreme individuals among us who have most successfully effected change. And let’s face it, where would we all be today if the suffragettes hadn’t stood up for their rights and votes, or if no bras had been burnt in the 60’s? Personally, I’ve never had a problem with the word or the idea. Surely feminism is all about championing women’s rights and I’m not sure why anyone would have a problem with that. Women standing up for themselves is one of the main themes in my writing, and while I might only write commercial fiction and my books aren’t going to change the world, I’d like to think that the strength of my female characters is one the main features of my writing … In Blackwattle Lake, Eve... read more

Meet The Remarkable Women Of The Crossroads

I’m a great believer in creating strong female characters. Not the kick-ass action hero kind but women who stand up for themselves and what they believe in. They may not all start out as emotional warriors but by the end of the story they have developed new strengths as a result of their experiences. The Crossroads has three protagonists so I had the challenge of making them different from each other in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, and having each of them overcome their particular flaws in order to come together as a family. Rosie O’Shea is the eldest of the women. She is the solo owner of The Crossroads Hotel, carrying on the mantle passed to her by her late husband Mick, one that is increasingly becoming both a financial and personal burden. Rosie is the kind of woman you can rely on – tough as nails on the outside but buttery soft underneath – and once she makes a promise she’s determined to keep it, even if it’s to her own detriment. Rose hasn’t been in a romantic relationship since Mick died five years ago but when David Ryan walks into the hotel it dredges up a whole lot of memories for her – ones that she had long since buried.     Stephanie Bailey, is Rose’s daughter and along with her husband Bryce runs an enormous cattle station that has been seriously affected by the drought. Stephanie faces challenges of a different kind to her mother. She too is more than capable but is feeling more and more constrained by her husband’s chauvinistic attitude. Dealing... read more

Cover Love: How A Book Cover Like The Crossroads Is Created

Have you ever wondered how a book cover is created? Readers often ask, so in this post I’ll explain how The Crossroads came to have what I think is my favourite of my four published novels. While a (very) few publishers do photoshoots for their book covers most spend hours trawling image libraries for the perfect cover shot. Photographers add their images to these libraries – places like istock, gettyimages, Ozimages – and anyone can log in and buy the photos. The images aren’t free – there is a fee that allows the buyer to use the picture for their own purpose, effectively taking ownership of the image. Many publishers – both traditional and independent – use these libraries to find their cover images. This is why you might sometimes see the same person or setting on the covers of a number of books in the same genre. Rural Romance is the perfect example. You’ll see very similar looking cottages on a number of the covers. And in the case of myself, Jennie Jones and Alissa Callen, you’ll actually find the same girl on the front cover.   While these covers differ in many ways it’s obvious that the same girl has been used on all three. This is because a photographer will upload a whole variety of images to the photo library using the same model in various poses. The publisher purchases just the one image – hence the similarities and variations. When a genre becomes popular it’s inevitable that some of the books are going to have the same cover girls (and men). A big part of the marketing... read more

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