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Fiona Palmer, Awesome Aussie Author.

Posted on 13 March, 2012 at 18:42 Comments comments (7)
 
G’day! :)
 
I’m super excited to announce our Awesome Aussie Author this week, the fabulous Fiona Palmer. Fiona is a fellow rural Penguin author and her first novel, The Family Farm, was the inspiration behind me putting pen to paper. She has been there for me 110% and is one of the most genuine and down to earth writers I have had the pleasure of making friends with. Her camaraderie towards fellow authors is one to be moved by and she highly deserves her bestseller status.
 
 
Welcome, Fiona, it’s wonderful to have you with us today.
 
 
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did as a child?
 
I was born in Narrogin, WA and raised in Pingaring, south east of Perth by 350 odd kilometres. I went to the local primary school, there were two other kids in my year for the whole of Primary school and the school only had two class rooms, junior and senior.
(30-40 kids in the whole school)
The most mischievous thing I probably did was driving cars long before I had my licence. We used to drive along the firebreaks next to the railway lines or out on my uncles farm. And gravel pits were great fun to practice reverse spins in.
 
 
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I started writing The Family Farm in 2005 not long after the arrival of my second child. It took three years to write and it was published in 2009 after being picked up by Penguin from their slush pile. They were the first publishers I tried after I didn’t hear back from Allen & Unwin with their Friday pitch.
 
My publisher couldn’t contact me by phone so she sent me a long email of acceptance. Which is marvellous because I can re-read that whenever I want – If I’d had a phone call I’m sure through my excitement I wouldn’t have remember anything. For me it was a surreal feeling along with excitement. It took a long time to feel real! Until I was holding my book, I was scared maybe I’d dreamed the whole thing. (Actually, sometimes I still think it’s all a dream)
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and whered o you like to write?
 
I have my laptop set up in our computer room, on a desk which was originally set up for my sewing machine. (This has long been retired to the cupboard) I don’t know why I have one, I don’t use it anymore!! (bit like my iron) Both my kids are at school full time now so I try to write for a few hours three times a week as I still do two full days work at the local shop. Sometimes though I can go weeks without writing!! Stuff just seems to happen.
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
My third book is called The Road Home and it’s about Lara and her journey to find where she belongs. She chucks in her city job to head back to Erindale to save it from being sold, where she has to jump in feet first and figure out how to run it.
 
 It’s due for release March 21st.
 
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
My inspiration comes from my little town and community. I live in the wheatbelt of WA and it is an endless source of inspiration. I love everything about our way of life and the characters that are in it. And Mother Nature plays a huge part in rural living and therefore in my books. Simple things from piling on a bus to look at Christmas farm gate decorations to sitting under the huge gumtree with a beer on a hot afternoon.
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
Love hot chips! When I was pregnant, I couldn’t go past a roadhouse or Chicken Treat for chips. (Insert husband’s eye roll here!!)
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
Hugh Jackman. Great ambassador for Australia, handsome, and is a great hubby. (Not that I would really know, but from alla ccounts he is very family orientated.) And I loved his Aussie movie Paperback Hero!
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
Busier than a blue arse fly! (Which we shorten to ‘have you been blue arsing it?’ – had a busy day)   I have lots of faves. :)
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
Most of the time we head to the coastal town of Hopetoun for our holidays. The beach can be so relaxing. And I’ve been to a day spa in Denmark (the town) but I’m off overseas next year to Italy, so that kinda takes the cake.
 
 
 
Cheers, Fee, for inviting us into your world and allowing us a peak into your writes life. It’s been such a pleasure having you.
 
 
 
You can find out more about Fiona at her website
 
 
 
 
Thought for this week
 
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it  only empties today of its strength.”
 
 
 
Only 10 more weeks until the release of Jacaranda!
Wooohooo!
 
 
 
Until next week, keep smiling and dreaming.
 
Mandy :)
 
 
 
 
 

Tony Park, Awesome Aussie Author

Posted on 6 March, 2012 at 17:56 Comments comments (6)
 
G’day!
 
Welcome to Awesome Aussie Authors and this week I’m thrilled to be speaking with the extremely talented and all round wonderful bloke, Tony Park. The alluring untamed magic of Africa features strongly in Tony’s books and he captures the very essence with vigour, gripping you to the pages of his bestselling novels until the very last page. Tony spends most of his time in Africa with his wife, his office consisting of a camp chair parked up in the shade whilst the views encompass the local wildlife-elephants, cheetahs and rhinos. I must admit I’m more than a little jealous, considering my office is squished into the corner of my bedroom.
 
 
Welcome, Tony, it’s wonderful to have you here today.
 
 
 
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
I was born in New Zealand to an Aussie mum and Welsh dad, but only lived there until I was three. We moved to Australia and that’s where I grew up, in the western suburbs of Sydney. I went to St Gregs College. 
 
 
I once carved my initial in the wooden arm of the lounge suite.  I carved an ‘A’ for Anthony instead of ‘T’ for Tony so my parents wouldn’t know who did it. Smart, eh?
 
 
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
My first book, Far Horizon, was published by the first publisher I sent it to, Pan Macmillan.  I beat the odds and was published first time, without an agent, because Macmillan just happened to be looking for a mass market novel set in Africa.
 
I was actually in Afghanistan, serving with the army, in 2002 (I am an army reservist) when I received the email confirming I was to be published. I was over the moon, but couldn’t have a drink to celebrate as we were alcohol free over there!
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
My wife, Nicola, and I spend six months of every year in Africa and this is where I write my African-based novels. We camp most of the time, in national parks.  We get up around dawn and go for a drive looking at animals and then I write when we get home, around 10am.
 
I sit under and awning or in the second room of my tent, and gaze out at the bush as I write. Often I see game, such as elephants or buffalo walking past.  One time, in Zimbabwe, I looked up from computer to see a pride of seven lions killing a buffalo. I wrote that experience straight into the manuscript I was working on.
 
 
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
My latest book, African Dawn, a family saga set in Zimbabwe from 1959 to the present, has just been released.  My next book is set in South Africa and Rwanda and will be out in time for Christmas, 2012.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
From all sorts of sources: conversations I’ve had with interesting people I’ve met in Africa, and also from unusual stories I’ve seen reported in the African media.
 
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
Beer can chicken – a South African specialty.  You pop an open can of beer up the chook’s rear end and stand him on the barbie under a cover for an hour. Also I’ve just been in Mozambique where they have fantastic lobsters and prawns – I love seafood.
 
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
My wife.
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
No worries. It sums up my life.
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
 Where I am right now – southern Africa.
 
 
 
Thank you, Tony. It’s been wonderful hearing about your amazing life. It sounds to me as if you're living your dreams and that is very inspirational in itself.
I love the sound of the Beer can chicken too! I will have to share this one with my hubby so he can try it out on our barbeque next time we have friends around for dinner. It would be a great talking point!  :)
 
 
 
You can find out more about Tony at his website
 
 
 
 
Thought for this week
 
“Don’t be afraid to give power to your intuition”
 
 
 
Next week our Awesome Aussie Author is one of my closest author friends, Fiona Palmer. Fiona is a wonderful lady and has been there endlessly to guide me through my journey into the publishing world. She is an absolute star! Besides her being a beautiful lady she is also highly gifted in the art of storytelling, her first two novels quickly becoming bestsellers. Pop on by next week to hear all about her life as an author. I love her and I’m sure you will too!
 
 
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling
 
Mandy :)
 
 
 
 
 

Margareta Osborn, Awesome Aussie Author.

Posted on 28 February, 2012 at 17:49 Comments comments (9)
 
G’day!
 
 Our Awesome Aussie Author for this week is the bona fide country girl, Margareta Osborn. I am eagerly awaiting Margareta’s debut novel, Bella’s Run, which is hitting the shelves as we speak in book shops all over Australia. Margareta writes Australian rural fiction that is steeped in love for life on the land and the reviews are speaking very highly of her ability to tell a beautiful heartfelt country story. Even Sara Storer has praised Bella’s Run! I’m mighty mpressed!  
 
 
 
Welcome, Margareta. I’m thrilled to have you here today
 
 
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did as a child?
 
I was born and raised on my family’s historic (and sometimes hysterical) dairy farm in the Macalister Valley of East Gippsland, Victoria. Primary schooling was under the stern eye of the nuns at our small local Catholic school. A secondary education at Our Lady of Sion, Sale, followed where lessons in speech, dancing, sewing and cooking plus four years of French were a highlight - not.
 
There are two houses on the farm. Our family lived at one end of the property, my darling grandmother at the other. We spent most of our childhood riding ponies and bikes between the two places, bringing up the cows for milking, swimming and exploring. This day my grandmother was looking after my sister and I, so whilst one stood guard, the other sat on the kitchen table and broke the wooden spoon. We were figuring then she couldn’t smack us if we were naughty. How wrong we were …
Oh,and then there was the ‘black paint instead of dirt’ for mud pies episode, followed by banging up Dad’s brand new ute (the first one he’d ever had), an hour after it arrived on the farm.
 
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I have been writing all my life, but it wasn’t until my youngest child went to kinder that I actually found ‘the space’ to sit down and start a full length novel. A published writing friend also advised me to ‘learn the craft of writing’; so I enrolled in a Year of the Novel with the Victorian Writers Centre in Melbourne and then went on to do the Advanced Year of the Novel with Andrea Goldsmith. It was an excellent investment (six hours travelling every second month for two years) because on the final day I was able to announce my writing contract with Random House.  Bella’s Run was completed over that time. I was in the supermarket when my agent phoned and told me I had the contract. I screamed into the nearest grocery stack, which just happened to be the toilet rolls.
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
I don’t have luxury of deciding when I write. With three children, a husband and a small farm to run, writing is squeezed in. From time to time, I also help my father on his property, so things are always hectic. My favourite place to write is at the homestead where my grandmother used to live. I find the historic serenity of the place allows words to flow. I also sometimes feel like I have four generations of Osborn’s peering over my shoulder commenting in shocked tones, ‘They did that?’ Read Bella’s Run and you’ll see why!
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
Bella Vermaelon and her best friend Patty are two fun loving country girls bonded in a sisterhood no blood tie could ever beat. They’re coming to the end of a road trip, which has taken them from their family farms in the rugged Victorian high country to the red dust of the Queensland outback. For almost a year they’ve mustered on cattle stations, played hard at rodeos and danced through life like a pair of wild tumbleweeds. And with the arrival of Patty’s brother Will and Bell’as cousin Macca, romance beckons …
 
Then tragedy strikes changing Bella’s world forever.
 
So she runs – from the only life she has ever known. But can she really turn her back on the man she loves? Or on the land that runs deep in her blood?
 
BELLA’S RUN is released nationally on March 1, 2012.
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
Life, my surroundings - I just need to be in a place that strikes a certain creative chord and a story idea will come tumbling out of my head. My husband knows exactly when that happens because I must go into this semi-trance and he just looks at me and says in a resigned voice, ‘It’s the book isn’ t it?’
 
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
A roast, especially if it’s out of a camp oven. If the night was truly perfect, the roast would be followed by apple pie and cream or my grandmother’s steamed jam pudding, known as the ‘Margareta Pudding’.
 
 
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
The late Jane McGrath for her courage and inspiration.
 
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
‘No worries’ and ‘She’ll be right’.
 
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
I have already found it. Up on the high plains in the mountains of East Gippsland, surrounded by family and friends,spotting brumbies, riding motorbikes and horses, is one. Boating on the Gippsland Lakes with my wild and wonderful family is the other. I am so very, very lucky.
 
 
 
Cheers, Margareta, for being my guest today. It's been such a pleasure hearing all about your lovely country lifestyle.
 
 
 
You can find out more about Margareta at her website.
 
 
 
 
Thought for this week
 
“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves”
 
 
 
Next week my Awesome Aussie Author is a wonderful male writer, Tony Park. It will be lovely having a man about the blog :) Tony spends most of his life in Africa, living the life, loving the life and writing amazing novels based on his experiences there. He is a very talented man…with a wonderful office incorporating views of sweeping African plains, giraffes and elephants. So be sure to pop on by next week for my Awesome Aussie Author segment. It’s going to be very interesting.
 
 
Stay posted, over the next few weeks I will be revealing the front cover of Jacaranda. It's beautiful! Only 12 weeks to go until the release date :)
 
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling
 
Mandy :)
 

Fleur McDonald, Awesome Aussie Author

Posted on 21 February, 2012 at 17:47 Comments comments (20)
G’day!
I am thrilled to welcome our Awesome Aussie Author for this week, Fleur McDonald. Fleur writes enthralling rural mysteries that are steeped in the beauty of the Australian countryside, her characters three dimensional and authentic. Her next book, Purple Roads, assures to be another bestseller and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy. It will hit the shelves on April 2nd.
Welcome, Fleur. It’s wonderful to have you here today.
 
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
I was born at Booleroo Centre, which is a short drive from where I grew up in Orroroo. I spent primary school oat Orroroo Area School but headed to Adelaide to board at Annesley College from year eight. It was a huge change for me, having to report in and out to school mistresses and, feeling like I had lost my freedom, I really resented having to be at boarding school. I did settle down by about year ten but could never say I really loved my time there.
 
My dad was a trickster, so he was always getting me to play jokes on my mum, when I was little. The main one was, we would get to about Jamestown, on the way home from Adelaide, in the truck and stop at a telephone box to ring Mum and tell her where we were. Dad would say: ‘Tell her we’re just leaving and we’ll be home in about three and half hours,’ then he’d wink and grin. Dutifully I’d repeat it all to mum (I was about six or seven!) and then about three quarters of an hour later, we’d drive into the depot.
 
I was also known to wag school and catch the tram down to Glenelg and hangout at the beach when I should have been studying for exams.
 
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I am very much, one of the lucky ones. I never set out to become a published author, I just wanted to see if I could write a book.  
 
 I grew up in a family that told stories,wrote poetry and family history and my cousin, Brett Heaslip and his mate Troy Dann helped Lee Kernaghan write ‘The Boys From the Bush’. If we (and by we, I mean my mum, dad, brother and sister, AND my cousins and aunty and Uncle) we were playing guitars, writing songs or singing ones we’d already written.
 
 When I first left school, my parents gave me a Comprehensive Writing Course from The Writing School, which I had a lifetime to finish. I started it my first year out of school, but got too busy, with freedom, jobs and hanging out with my mates.
 
 My son was diagnosed with autism and some of his early intervention was trying to lengthen his attention span by writing stories about things he knew – like our sheep dogs and so on. I suddenly remembered how much I loved writing and started to study the craft of writing again, this time with a bit more of a serious attitude than I’d had earlier in the piece.
 
 I’d had a lot of encouragement from my writing mentor, Jeff Toghill and it was he who encouraged me to try and get a publishing house for my kid’s books and later, Red Dust.
 
 I’m very much known for my ‘bull-at-a-gate’ attitude and impatience, so when I decided that I was going to submit to the Allen and Unwin Friday Pitch Day, I did it with a half completed manuscript. When Louise came back to me, she said it was not quite what she was looking for at the time, but my writing was strong and commercial. She encouraged me to look elsewhere. I decided I didn’t want to do that, so I re-jigged the first three chapters, waited about three months and then resent it. That time, I only had to wait two weeks and I was given a contract.
 
 I can still remember the phone call I had, from Louise, to tell me that she wanted to offer me a contract. I’d been flat out on the farm and it was my first day home for about two weeks. When she rang, she said ‘Hi, it’s Louise.’ I wasn’t expecting her call and started to think, ‘who the hell is Louise!’
 
 She then went on to tell me who she was and why she was calling... I started to shake, couldn’t speak and then decided I needed to be very professional whilst talking to her. She said later that I was one of the most unexcited authors she had ever spoken to – she couldn’t see me jumping on my bed and laughing, when she hung up the phone!
 
 
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
I really love early mornings. Starting at about 4am and still being there as the sun creeps over the horizon. It’s a very special part of the day.
 
 
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
Purple Roads will be released on the 2nd of April 2012.
 
It’s about a couple who have to fight for everything they hold dear, but as they do, they find themselves in the middle of something much bigger and more dangerous than they could have ever imagined.
 
 
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
Everywhere! Inspiration is everywhere you look. Coupled with an overactive imagination, I can be a very dangerous piece of gear, when I get on a roll!
 
 
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
I love good food and good wine so I can’t claim to have a favourite meal. Actually, yes I can! It’s the one I don’t have to cook, since I feed workmen and family every day.
 
I love a good risotto, pasta, steak, lamb chops, salad… do I need go on?
 
 
 
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
There really are too many of them – I’m in awe of the work people like Fiona Wood do,but I love Jack Thompson and Geoffrey Rush as actors.
 
My parents are pretty incredible too.
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
G’day
 
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
I would love to visit Yorkshire and see where James Herriot’s books were based – he was my favourite childhood author.
 
 A friend of mine and I have made a pact to go to Italy for our fortieths, but since I haven’t discussed that with my husband, it’s unlikely to happen!
 
 I’d also love to spend some of winter in The Man from Snowy River country.
 
 
Cheers, Fleur, for being my guest today. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you.
 
You can find out more about Fleur at her website.
 
Next week ourAwesome Aussie Author is another fellow rural writer, Margareta Osborne. Her soon-to-be released debut novel, Bella’s Run, is high on my list of books to get my hot little hands on. If you love rural romance, you going to love Margareta Osborne so be sure to pop on by next week for my Awesome Aussie Author segment.  
 
Thought for this week
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling.
 

Mandy :)
 
 
 
 

Ally Blake, Awesome Aussie Author.

Posted on 14 February, 2012 at 17:24 Comments comments (4)
G’day!
 
 Our Awesome Aussie Author today is the highly spirited
Ally Blake, bestselling author of fun, fresh, flirty romance novels. In her previous life Ally was at times a cheerleader, a math tutor, a dental assistant, and a shop assistant.  In this life Ally is a best-selling, multi award-winning novelist who has been published in over twenty languages with more than two million books sold world-wide.  When not writing she makes coffees that never get drunk, eats too many M&Ms, attempts yoga, devours The West Wing reruns, reads every spare minute she can, and barracks ardently for the Collingwood Magpies footy team. 
 
Welcome, Ally. I’m so thrilled to have you here today. 
  
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
I was born in a country town called Millmerran a few hours west of Brisbane, but I moved back to Brisbane when I was two.  When I married my husband we moved to Melbourne for a year, stayed ten, bought a house, had kids, and only just moved back home!  We spent every possible day of spring and summer in the pool or at the beach which would have been unheard of down south.  Yay for sunny Queensland!
 
I was a dramatic kid.  I ran away once, packed myself a swag which included my Choose 1985 tape, and nothing else, and made it to the corner of the street.  I remember sitting there for hours waiting for my mum to come running to find me.  In the end I went home (probably after more like 5 minutes) and she hadn't even noticed I was gone!
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I've written all my life.  My big grade five one page story assignment ran five pages ;).  But once I started writing a book with the intention of sending it out into the big wide world, the first one I submitted sold to Harlequin.  I know, I know, just mean right???  I look back on that book really fondly, I still think it's a really fun story,but I truly believe it had as much to do with luck of landing on the right editor's desk and the timing involved in the writing of that kind of tale that allowed me to slide into my place in the Harlequin family so fast.
 I was so excited when I found out I'd sold my first book I jumped so high I smacked my hand into the ceiling ;).
 
 What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
With three kids four years old and under, my writing time is scarce.  I have one full day of writing when my husband plays house dad and I write a couple of nights a week, all at local cafes.  One is beneath the mini-Eiffel Tower on Brisbane's Park Road which feels very cosmopolitan.  The waiters see me coming and make my usual order without even asking.  They're terribly handsome, know my tastes, and accommodate them - what romance writer could ask for more!
  
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
For me the ideas are the easy part!  I'm a panster, which means I fly by the seat of my pants as I write, having not a clue where it will take me on anygiven day.  All I need at the beginning of a new book is a moment, a cute-meet, a feeling that tugs me towards two particular characters who are mere shadows inside my head when I begin and the muse takes care of the rest.
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
Steak!  A juicy thick slab of steak dripping in garlic butter.  It's one of the things I miss most about Melbourne,the $16 dollar steaks at the Noting Hill pub.  Perfection!  Add a glass of red wine and some decadent dessert and I'm yours ;).
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
I'm sure it'll sound corny, but honestly my family are the beesknees. There's no-one I'd rather share a crazy messy noisy boisterous dinner party with than my hilarious ever-patient husband and my bright fantastical mischievous kids.  I could go any place with my little family unit and be happy.
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
She'll be right.  I'm a big believer in "it is what it is" and that "worry is imagination misused".  Not that I follow that advice all the time, but when I do it calms the mind of a crazy busy full-time writing mum which is a good thing.
 
 
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
What with young kids its been so long since I've had a real holiday so anywhere for a night with just my husband and I would be fabulous.  Why?  Are you offering to babysit ;).
That said I adore New York to absolute pieces.  Everytime I've been its felt like I'd never been away.  The energy is amazing, the sights awesome, the accents to die for.  It's a million worlds on one small island.
 
 
 
Cheers, Ally, for being my guest today. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you.
 
 You can find out more about Ally at her website.
 
 Thought for this week is devoted to Ally as I loved her quote!
“Worry is imagination misused”
 
Next week our Awesome Aussie Author is a fellow rural writer, Fleur McDonald. Her soon-to-be released third novel, Purple Roads, is high on my list of books to buy out my next shopping spree. Pop on by to learn more about Fleur and her life as a farmer and bestselling author.
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling.
 
Mandy :)

Nicole Alexander, Awesome Aussie Author.

Posted on 7 February, 2012 at 19:33 Comments comments (4)
 
G’day!
 
Today I am thrilled to have Nicole Alexander, a fellow rural fiction author, here to answer a few questions about herself and her life as a bestselling author and farmer. Her two books, The Bark Cutters and A Changing Land have pride of place on my book shelf. I admire Nicole’s work as an author. She is extemely gifted in the art of telling captivating Australian stories.
 
 
Welcome Nicole and thanks for being my guest today on Awesome Aussie Authors.
 
 
Where were you born,raised, schooled?
 
I was actually born in Sydney (my mother was still in her street clothes I was in that much of a rush) although home, a mixed agricultural property is 100 kmwest of Goondiwindi in northern NSW; 750km from Sydney. Isolation has a bearing on everything out here whether it be medical or otherwise. My family have been on our property since 1893 so every generation has had a governess of some sort followed by boarding school. I was taught Correspondence School (lessons via the mail), followed by a couple of years at a local primary school, then boarding school in Sydney. My degrees include a Master of Letters from Central Queensland University.
 
 
 
How long did it takeyou to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I’ve been writing for about twenty years with my publishing credits including; newspaper / travel / short stories/genealogy and poetry. It’s always fabulous when you have a piece published and with two non-fiction works behind me and two novels the thrill never lessens.I’ve been extremely fortunate in that my work regardless of genre has alwaysbeen taken up pretty quickly. Fingers crossed that continues!
 
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write?
 
I’m a morning person however I do work full time on the station which makes ordered writing time impossible. I definitely don’t have a 9-5 job.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
My third rural novel is titled Absolution Creek and will be released around spring 2012. This work has an interweaving narrative spanning two timelines 1923 and 1965. I like using this narrative technique as I feel it’s a great tool when it comes to emphasising the sense of continuity and attachment that is associated with generational properties. AbsolutionCreek is based on a story my grandfather told my father in the 1950s; a child fell from theback of a wagon at the turn of the century on the Garah Plains (an area 50 km to the south east of our property) and was never found. Such events were quite common apparently.
 
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
My environment plays a significant part in my current writing however I am also fortunate in having a large amount of archival material to draw from. In Absolution Creek apart from the actual concept (see above) I used an Anthony Hordern’s Mail Order catalogue dated 1923 to research period detail. My own family ordered everything from monthly groceries, to saddlery to furniture from it. There are also paddock and stock books and weather and supply records going back to the 1880s.
 
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
Hmm; as a Hereford producer I have to say steak would be number one however I’ve always been a huge pasta fiend.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
Everyone brings a unique flavour to our fabulous country!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
Anywhere! Some years I get a holiday, others I don’t. This January (2012) I went to Hawaii for a wedding which was fun while in 2008 I went to Greece for a month. Now that was great.
 
 
 
Thank you, Nicole, for giving us an insight into your writer’s life. It's been a pleasure having you as my guest today and I'm really looking forward to the release of Absolution Creek. As with your last two books, I know I won’t be able to put it down.
 
 
 
You can visit Nicole Alexander at her website
 
 
 
 
Next week our Awesome Aussie Author is Ally Blake, whose novels are fun, fresh and flirty. Ally's twenty novels have been published in over 30 international markets with over 2 million books sold worldwide! She is a very interesting lady so make sure you pop on by to find out about her novels and her life as a bestselling author.
 
 
 
Thought for this week
 
“When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care one bit!”
 
 
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling
 
Mandy :)
 
 
 
 
 

Jaye Ford, Awesome Aussie Author

Posted on 31 January, 2012 at 18:24 Comments comments (6)
 
G’day!
 
I hope life is floating along nicely for you. Can you believe it is February already! Where does the time go?
 
I have received the first pages of my next novel, Jacaranda, so not long now and it will go to print. So exciting!
 
This week our AwesomeAussie Author is the fabulous Jaye FordI found myself gripped tight within the pages of her last book Beyond Fearand I’m eagerly awaiting her soon to be released Scared yet? For those of you that love chilling suspense novels that will keep you up until all hours  of the night Jaye Ford delivers with an almighty punch.
 
 
 
Welcome, Jaye, it is great having you here with us today.
 
 
 
Where were you born,raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
I was born in Sydney and grew up on the northern beaches, spending most of my teenage years at the surf around Manly and catching the ferry across Sydney Harbour into the city. I went to one of the last remaining public girls’ schools in Sydney then left the coast for college in Bathurst, in the NSW Central West and met people who’d never been to a beach! As a kid, I had a reputation at home for jumping out of unexpected places and hollering ‘blaaarhg!!’ My son has given me heart attacks doing the same thing and my sister reckons its payback.
 
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I’ve been making up stories all of my life and made my first attempts at writing a book in my twenties. I was looking at forty when I decided if I didn’t get serious about it, I’d be on my death bed still wishing I’d had a go. It took ten years to finally get published – and it felt fantastic! Actually, it was the most satisfying moment of my life, confirmation that hard work could make dreams come true.
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
I ran a business from home for a few years and got into the good habit of working in office hours. Before I was published, I wrote from a desk in the corner of our family room that was only big enough for my laptop and a cup of coffee! One of the first things I did after being paid as a writer was to knock a wall out under our house and build an office. It’s cold in winter and I have to have a light on during the day but I love my writing space.
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book?  And what date it will be released?
 
Ever had that eerie feeling you’re being watched? In Scared Yet?, Livia Prescott knows she is and has the creepy notes to prove it. They start arriving after she is assaulted in a car park but when the stalking becomes more menacing and thepolice widen their search for her attacker, Liv is left wondering if there’s anyone in her life she can trust. ScaredYet?  is released on March 1, 2012.
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
Everywhere. Anywhere. Like most writers I know, my storytelling antenna is always up! Sometimes it’s a throw away line from someone or something I read or a sudden ‘what if’ moment. And of course, a book isn’t just one idea, it’s lots and lots of ideas strung together – the set-up, the backstory, the dialogue, the friends. And for me, the crime, how it plays out and how ordinary people might deal with it. I tend to store ideas in my head like a library and pull them out when I need them. In my first book, Beyond Fear, the backstory of the heroine was inspired by a newspaper article I’d read and kept in mind for thirty years.
 
 
 
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
I love any meal my son or daughter cook for me. After years of trying hard to produce healthy, tasty meals for a family – and not always maintaining the enthusiasm for it – it’s great to see the effort has paid off. Not just that they’re cooking for me instead but that they’ve learnt to be interested in food and flavours and sharing the mealtime experience.
 
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
I have to say that I don’t have a favourite person based on nationality. Without a doubt, there are some impressive Australians but my husband is my favourite (at least he is today!). He’s a good father, generous to his family and mine, works hard, loves life and appreciates what he has. He’s also his wife’s biggest supporter.
 
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
Bloody hell! It’s a perfect, all-purpose exclamation.
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
I’ve always dreamed of spending six months in Italy and I’d love to be in Paris for my 50 birthday (so not for ages yet!) and my husband and I havebeen trying to get to New York for about a year but the trip keeps getting cancelled so … when it comes down to it, when you just need some time out to recharge the batteries – anywhere on an Aussie beach when its warm and the surfs not too rough and there’s fresh prawns nearby and you never need to get in a car. (Man, I need one of those holidays!)
 
 
 
Thank you, Jaye, for giving us an insight into your writer’s life. It has been a pleasure having you as our guest today.
 
 
 
You can visit Jaye at her website
 
 
 
 
Thought for the week
 
“There cannot be a rainbow unless it has rained”
 
 
 
Next week our Awesome Aussie Author is NicoleAlexander. Nicole is a wonderful country lady gifted in the art of telling a riveting Australian story.  I am a huge fan so it will be thrilling to have her visit my blog. Make sure you pop on by to find out loads of interesting facts about Nicole and learn all about her upcoming book, Absolution Creek.
 
 
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling
 
Mandy  :)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Lisa Heidke, Awesome Aussie Author.

Posted on 24 January, 2012 at 20:43 Comments comments (4)
G’day!
 
This week our Awesome Aussie Author is the bubbly, side-splittingly funny and extremely gifted, Lisa Heidke. I am a huge fan of Lisa’s books and her most recently released-Stella Makes Good is next on my list of reads. I can’t wait to be taken away with her characters on their next outrageously fun adventure! 
 
 Welcome, Lisa, I’m thrilled to have you here today.
 
 
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
Born in Melbourne, went to Elwood and Kalorama primary schools before moving to Brisbane when I was ten. Finished primary school at Ormiston Public and then high school at Loreto Convent, Coorparoo.
The most mischievous thing I did at primary school was to sneak into the craft store room and steal pink wool. I was beside myself with guilt and definitely thought I’d go straight to hell...when I look back, it doesn’t seem like that biga crime!
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
It took me seven years of serious writing and endless rejections before I got a contract. When Louise Thurtell (Allen & Unwin) rang and offered me a contract, I skipped around the house, screamed. I was beyond excited! It took a further eighteen months before Lucy Springer Gets Even was published.
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
I prefer to write in the morning as I have more energy. By the end of the day I’m dragging my heels and agonising over how little food there is in the house and what I’m going to feed the kids for dinner.
Because I work from a laptop, I tend to follow the sun. I think a more disciplined writer would work from one spot – and I do have an office. It’s just that I tend to move around so as not to get bored.
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
Stella Makes Good – January 3, 2012
Stella Makes Good is about the games we play, the secrets we keep and the unpredictable nature of life because no-one ever really knows what lies ahead.
Newly separated Stella is after the simple life and is definitely not looking for love. Carly’s oldest son has left for his gap year overseas and she’s feeling restless and bored. Jesse wants another baby but her husband isn’t keen.
And then there’s Louisa, Jesse’s sister, who left Sydney six years ago under a cloud of mystery.
Told from four points of view, Stella Makes Good spans one tumultuous week of these women’s lives after Stella, Carly and Jesse meet for drinks, and unwittingly stumble upon a sex party.
What they see that night will alter the course of their lives and shatter long held beliefs, forcing them to re-evaluate the things that are truly important to them.
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
Eavesdropping in cafes, at the gym and hanging around the school gates! The initial idea for Stella Makes Good grew from a small news article in the local paper.
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
Seafood centred – prawns, lobster, oysters, salt and pepper calamari and spaghetti vongole.
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
This is an impossible question ...I don’t have a favourite Australian, however I really admire the attitude and ethics of Tim Costello, current CEO of World Vision Australia.
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
‘G’day’ – not that I say it. But when I’m overseas, it’s what I hear most often from people when they find out I’m Australian. It always makes me smile.
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
Somewhere warm! I love the Amalfi Coast (Positano), Santorini and Tahiti. The Great Barrier Reef’s not too shabby either!
 
 
Thank you, Lisa, for giving us an insight into your writer’s life. It has been a pleasure having you as our guest today.
 
 
You can visit Lisa at her website
 
 
 
Jaye Ford is our Awesome Aussie Author next week. Her first book, Beyond Fear gripped me to it's pages and I'm certain her soon to be released Scared Yet?  will do the same. Jaye is brilliant at writing stories filled with nail- biting suspense. Make sure you pop by to learn all about her writer's life.
 
 
Thought for this week
“Expect nothing and be prepared for anything for life is full of suprises.”
 
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling
Mandy :)
 

Helene Young, Awesome Aussie Author

Posted on 17 January, 2012 at 17:16 Comments comments (17)
G’day!
 
 
Our Awesome Aussie Author today is the very inspiring and multi-talented Helene Young.
Helene is a fellow North Queensland author and her third novel, Burning Lies, is being published by Penguin in July. She is constantly reaching out to other authors, encouraging their craft and showing wonderful camaraderie. I have had the pleasure of meeting Helene in person and she is a genuinely warm and wonderful lady.
 
 
Welcome, Helene, and thanks for joining us today.
 
 
 Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
I was born in Vancouver, Canada, but left there when I was six months old – clearly with some help from my Australian parents! I grew up in Brisbane and had an eclectic education starting at St. Joseph’s Catholic primary school at Kangaroo Point and finishing at Somerville House, a private girl’s school at South Brisbane, run by the Methodist and Presbyterian Schools Association. The varied religious education is very handy for weddings and funerals as I know hymns in both denominations. I just need to work on my singing voice a little more… :)
Mischievous? Who me? I was the model of good behaviour as a child. As a teenager? Well that’s another matter, but you didn’t ask me that so my lips are sealed! (My mum might read this and then there’d be trouble…)
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
It was almost ten years from starting my first manuscript to getting ‘the call’ from Bernadette Foley at Hachette. I think I will always remember the breathless ‘floating on air’ feeling as I pressed the phone to my ear not sure I was hearing her correctly. Champagne never tasted so good.
My husband took a photo of me while I was taking the call – it was our first night of holidays on a yacht in the Whitsundays. I’m not exactly looking my most glamourous, but those smile lines were suntanned into my face. :)
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
 I’d love to write from about 8 am to 3 pm sitting at home at the dining table. The reality is I write when I can and wherever I find space. With a hectic full-time job that takes me away from home I can’t afford to be picky… Doesn’t stop me dreaming though of my own little corner and routine…
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
 
 Burning Lies, (and fingers crossed for me we keep its working title) is due for release in July 2012 with Penguin Australia. It’s the final in the loosely linked Border Watch Series and picks up Kaitlyn’s story, a secondary character in Shattered Sky. It’s a story of redemption, of rediscovering identity and of forgiveness, set on the stunning Atherton Tablelands in the middle of bush-fire season.
 
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
Inspiration comes in unusual places from finding a body on the beach, to news stories, to random conversations with people that spark ‘what if’ moments. A setting can also grab me, or a philosophical discussion can prompt my imagination. Looking down from an aircraft every day at work gives me a different perspective on this wonderful land and flying features heavily in my current series.
 
 
 
 What is your favourite meal?
 
 Roast Lamb! I’ve had that for my birthday for many years!
 
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
 That’s a tough one… My husband! (But he did have to have some remodeling to turn him from a Pom into an Australian!)
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
‘No worries, mate.’ It’s so quintessentially Australian.
 
 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
Right now I’d love a holiday on a quiet resort island or a yacht in the Whitsundays. I’m still searching for the pause button on life so some quiet time and a stack of books with Graham beside me would be heaven. But ask me next week and I’d probably say something different!!
 
 
Thank you, Helene, for giving us an insight into your amazing life. It has been a pleasure having you as my guest today. I look forward to the release of Burning Lies and I'm sure, like your previous books, it will have me reading well into the wee hours or whilst running on my treadmill- not an easy feat!
 
 
You can visit Helen at her website.
 
 
 
Thought for this week
“When you come to a roadblock on life’s journey be clever and take a detour.”
 
 
Next week’s Awesome Aussie Author is the bubbly, hilariously funny and extremely gifted author, Lisa Heidke. I am a huge fan of Lisa’s books and her most recently released-Stella Makes Good is next on my list of reads.   
 
 
Until next week, keep smiling and dreaming
Mandy :)
 

Fiona McCallum, Awesome Aussie Author

Posted on 10 January, 2012 at 16:16 Comments comments (8)
 
 
 
G’day!
 
Welcome to this week’s Awesome Aussie Author feature and our guest today is the extremely talented rural fiction author, Fiona McCallum. Her first novel, Paycheque, is a brilliant read and I’m a few chapters into her second novel, Nowhere Else, and I must say I’m hooked! I love a good rural read and Fiona McCallum hits the mark with her zesty style of writing and her loveable Australian characters.
 
 
Welcome, Fiona, and thanks for joining us today.
 
 
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
 
I was born in small town of Cleve (around 950 people) on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula and raised on a cereal and wool farm. I went to the local area school except for my final two years being spent at a private boarding school in Adelaide. I can’t remember getting up to anything mischievous as a child - must have been too busy reading!
 
 
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
 
I spent nine years trying to get published. I had all but given up, and I think when it did finally happen I experienced a sense of shock, disbelief, and then huge relief.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write and where do you like to write?
 
I’m very much a morning person - I think it comes from being raised on a farm - so I prefer to write in the mornings, propped up in bed. I’m very much a routine-oriented person. A perfect writing day for me is to write (I actually hand write) in the morning, have lunch, and then retreat to my office in the afternoons to type everything up.
 
 
 
Can you tell us a little bit about your recently released book?
 
My new book is called Nowhere Else, released on Dec 1 (2011). It’s the story of hotshot television journalist, Nicola Harvey, whose life seems pretty perfect on the surface. She’s at the top of her career thanks to a story she’s just done on a plane crash that killed her adoptive parents, has a rich fiancé, huge diamond ring, Mercedes in the garage. When she agrees to go out bush to the tiny town of Nowhere Else to do a story on the effects of drought, she thinks she’s going to be indulging in day spas and wandering quaint designer boutiques. Boy is she in for a rude awakening! Slowly she discovers the truth about her own past and that there is more to true happiness than money and material possessions.
 
 
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
 
Mainly from my own life experiences. I’ve been really lucky to have had some interesting things happen and lived some great contrasts, such as life on the land in rural South Australia and corporate life in inner-city Melbourne and Sydney.
 
 
What is your favourite meal?
 
Grilled lamb chops, mashed potatoes, steamed peas and carrots - made even better when cooked by someone else!
 
 
Who is your favourite Australian?
 
Senator Nick Xenophon - famous for being the ‘no pokies MP’. Yummy and with great political ideals.
 
 
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
 
“Better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick.” (I think it’s ‘burnt stick’ elsewhere else, but that’s South Australia for you!) 
 
 
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
 
In front of the fire in a cottage overlooking a deserted Australian beach in the middle of winter with huge waves crashing and black skies overhead. Although, having said that, I’m very much a homebody, so I’d probably rather just be at home!
 
 
Thank you, Fiona, for giving us a sneak peak into your writer’s life. It has been such a pleasure having you as our guest today. Keep the great stories coming. We love them!
 
 
You can visit Fiona McCallum at her website.
 
 
Thought for this week
“A year from now you may wish you had started today. So, grab your life with both hands and make what you will of it.”
 
 
Our guest next week is a fellow North Queensland writer, Helene Young. She has the gift of writing enthralling novels, is extremely supportive of each and every author she comes in contact with and is an all round lovely lady. I’m looking forward to chatting with her.
 
 
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling
 
Mandy :)