My Year In Review Part 2: Close To Home Hits The Shelves

My Year In Review Part 2: Close To Home Hits The Shelves

April-July Easter saw me back at Little Forest, soaking up the serenity and trying to get a handle on a new book idea. The FINAL edits on Close to Home were done which at least cleared some head space. I’m not one of those writers who has a thousand new plotlines crowding my head. My stories filter into my brain one at a time and not always as rapidly as I would like. By this stage I had started a new novel, but only just and I wasn’t sure it was going to fly but it was fun playing around with a new idea. I spent time in Wagga with my eldest daughter and our youngest ‘boy’ Rio, and watch my other two girls compete at Pony Club State Equitation where they did brilliantly, one of them placing in a number of events on our eldest horse, the 23 year old, aptly named, Sprite.     At home I started fiddling around with the new storyline and spent time with my good buddy Kathie who was battling the hideous MND. Watching her deal with the effects of the disease is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but each time I saw her I was so inspired by her courage and strength and so proud to be her friend. By mid-year the launch of Close to Home was getting … well, closer. The lead up to release date is always such an exciting time and my third time around was no exception. I visited Booktopia and was amazed by the scale of the operation.     Within days...
Looking Back Before Moving Forward: My Year In Review

Looking Back Before Moving Forward: My Year In Review

It’s that time of year again, the time of year when we all get nostalgic and reflect back on the year that was before looking forward to the year ahead. So as I take a look back over 2015 I thought I’d share the stand out memories from each month. Some good, some amazing and some among the hardest of my life. I’ll be posting often between now and December 31 and because I’m late getting started (as always!) I’ll be grouping a few months together. Overall, the year started pretty much as usual, holidays with family, catching up with friends but as the months passed I have to say the word that sums up my year would be CHANGE. I’m someone who has always resisted change – happy to stay in my safe, secure little bubble and let the world roll on by, but the universe had another idea in mind and by the second half of the year, things were changing rapidly. But more about the later. Let’s start with January, February and March … My favourite time of the year, lazing at Little Forest, meeting friends, planning my writing year and enjoying the summer sunshine.     Seeing Sting and Paul Simon live perform together in the Hunter Valley was a definite musical highlight. More great music followed with Rod Stewart who might be heading for 70 but can still strut his stuff, and the talents of Lady Antebellum.         We welcomed a new four legged friend into the family – Moon – my daughter’s warm blood x Irish sport horse.    ...
A New Setting in Life & Literature

A New Setting in Life & Literature

I’m a big believer in fate and just recently a couple of things happened in my writing and in my life to deepen that belief even further.   I’ll start with the writing …   A few months back I was discussing new novel ideas with my publisher who was keen for me to try a new setting. All three of my books have been set in fictional locations on or near the south-eastern coast of New South Wales. Maybe my publisher was right? Maybe it was time for a change? She suggested something well away from the coast, something decidedly outback. But as someone who likes to get a good feel for a place before I use it as a setting this idea was problematic – I haven’t been anywhere remotely outback recently and had no ideas for any suitable storylines.   And this is where the fate part comes in.   A few weeks later, when I’d already started on a novel with no definite location in mind, I received an email from a lovely librarian in Hughenden (central Queensland) inviting me to visit and speak at a dinner as part of their drought relief community program. I googled the town and found images of red earth, dusty roads and plenty of windmills. A little more research and I discovered the area is badly affected by drought – farmers are destocking, businesses closing and locals are having a very hard time of it. Perhaps there was some material here for a new story?     Another week or so later I woke up in the middle of...
The Final Track In The Close To Home Playlist: My Favourite Song of 2015

The Final Track In The Close To Home Playlist: My Favourite Song of 2015

Well here we are at the end of the Close To Home playlist. I’ve really enjoyed compiling this soundtrack and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my choices and how they fit the narrative. And of course I hope you loved the music and videos too. Since Close To Home is a novel with romantic elements you might guess that the final song is going to have the same feel – and you’d be right. I’m not one to necessarily tie every thread of a storyline up in a neat bow but I do like to leave my characters with a sense of hope and optimism about the future. There are quite a few threads to be gathered at the end of the book and one of those is the relationship between Charlie and Joel. These two have been attracted to each other since they first met and after the events of the last few chapters have become very special to each other. I couldn’t go past Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud  to finish off the playlist. It’s one of those songs that makes me want to smile and cry simultaneously. It has a beautiful simplicity to its sound and the lyrics are romantic without being gushy – it captures perfectly the way Charlie is feeling towards Joel. The official video clip features Ed and a gorgeous ballerina and there’s a lovely acoustic clip too. I’ve included them both here for your listening and viewing pleasure. Thanks for following the Close to Home playlist. If you missed any just click on the Close To Home Soundtrack Category box to...
Writing A Novel With Romantic Elements

Writing A Novel With Romantic Elements

This Sunday I’m taking part in a panel at the inaugural Writers In The Park Festival and the topic for discussion is Love: From the Profane To Romance. As part of my preparation I got to thinking about how writing a novel with Romantic Elements has introduced me to a whole new part of the literary world. So I thought I’d share some thoughts with you today on what the phrase ‘romantic elements’ actually means and why I write novels with a romantic thread. A Romance novel is one in which the main storyline is all about the romantic relationship between a hero and heroine. Today’s romances though are not the old style Mills And Boons you might remember from the doctor’s surgery. The plots – and characters – are many and varied. There has been quiet a bit written lately about the evolution of the Romance genre so I won’t attempt to cover all of that again here. A novel with Romantic Elements is one in which the romance thread forms one part of the story and is combined with a number of other plot lines. This is the category my books fall into – the main character’s development or story arc is made up of a number of elements, a romantic relationship or love interest being one of them. Close To Home wasn’t deliberately written as a romance. It originated from  a conversation around a camp fire at a pony club event when the topic of hendra virus was raised. The discussion got quite heated as people debated the pros and cons of the vaccine even touching...
Close To Home Sound Track: Song 15, Feels Like Home

Close To Home Sound Track: Song 15, Feels Like Home

Well, we’re almost at the end of the playlist – only one song to go. This particular track might sound familiar – it’s the theme song for the most recent Qantas commercial. But don’t hold that against it! I first heard it in the movie How to Lose A Guy In Ten Days and it has also featured in My Sister’s Keeper. It’s hardly an original choice. But it captures perfectly how Charlie – and to some extent Emma – would be feeling at this point in the story so I couldn’t go past it. Without giving away any spoilers, if you listen closely to the words of this beautiful song you will get a fair idea that the worst is over for Charlie and she is starting to come to terms with her past – and her future. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a video clip for this song, only one with the words and original music by Chantal Kreviazuk, who has a lovely voice so I hope you enjoy it. See you next week for the final track. x...