Seeing With Fresh Eyes – Using Equine Therapy In Writing And Life

Seeing With Fresh Eyes – Using Equine Therapy In Writing And Life

Equine Therapy is the practice of using horses as sources of healing. You may have seen on the news recently that horses are being used to help flood victims deal with their trauma. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend a workshop called Seeing With Fresh Eyes run by the lovely people at Horsanity. I’ll have more photos from the day posted soon but I wanted to write about it while it was still fresh in my mind. This was a clinic based on  the principles of equine assisted therapy. Now that The Crossroads is out in the big, wide world I’m working on a new novel and I attended the clinic for research purposes. In the yet-to-be-named story my skeptical main character, desperate to help her grieving foster daughter, takes her to a neighbouring horse property only to find that spending time with the horses helps her deal with her own unresolved issues. While I certainly didn’t go along to the workshop with any level of skepticism – I’d read up on the topic and have been around horses long enough to know how therapeutic they can be – I did end up getting more out of the day on a personal level than I did for my research. It’s hard to put into words what I experienced at the workshop, but since I’m a writer I’d better give it a try … The day started with members of the small group introducing themselves and saying what we were hoping to get from the day. We’d been sent a series of questions to ponder...
Everyone’s A Winner: My Day At The Books By The Bridge Author Event

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...
Strong Women – In Reality And Fiction

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

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...
Book Launch Celebration For The Crossroads

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...
Escape To The Outback: A New Setting In The Crossroads

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...