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Jenn J McLeod, House for all Seasons.

Posted on 11 March, 2013 at 19:56 Comments comments (13634)

G'day! :)

Today I have a wonderfully talented author with me, and an all round lovely soul, Jenn J McLeod. Jenn's debut novel, House for all Seasons, has now hit the shelves and is flying off them as fast as they can be re-stocked! I must say how envious I am of her gorgeous-to-die-for-grip-your-gaze cover. It's divine! 

Welcome, Jenn, it's so lovely to be chatting to you today...

Thanks for helping me promote my debut novel – House for all Seasons, Mandy. 

Having grown up surrounded by music, I’ve enjoyed your country music blog theme a lot. 

 You might have seen in a recent interview with Good Reading Magazine, I talked about having been influenced by my dad – a multi-disciplined musician who filled our house with tunes from jazz and blues greats. As a kid I was the all-dancing, all-singing brat who, when not being pushed into impromptu performances, was hiding in my bedroom singing into a hairbrush. But later in life, rather than music I chose to write – the computer my keyboard of choice – leaving the old upright piano to languish in the living room and the daddy longlegs to weave their web around the piano’s soundboard and strings while I weave my stories. 

On reflection, my earliest writing attempts were probably lyrics. I wrote poems that when combined with a tune (thanks to my bedroom mirror and trusty hairbrush) were like those ‘angsty’ country ballads that can tell an entire story of heartbreak and betrayal in a single song. (I’m sure you’ve heard the joke: if you play a country song backwards, the guy gets his girl and his job back, finds whatever he’s lost, quits crying and leaves the bar sober!) 

 Of course, you and I share another passion, Mandy – good Australian fiction. So while I’m here I might as well tell you about my debut release… 

          House for all Seasons 

Four women, 
      Four lives unravelled. 
           The truth will bind them forever. 

 Bequeathed a century-old house, four estranged friends return to their New South Wales hometown, Calingarry Crossing, where each must stay a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy. 

But coming home to the country stirs shameful memories of the past, including the tragic end-of-school muck up day accident twenty years earlier. 
Poppy, a tough, ambitions journo still craving her father’s approval; 
Sara, a breast cancer survivor afraid to fall in love;
Amber, a spoilt socialite addicted to painkillers and cosmetic procedures;
Caitlin, a third generation doctor frustrated by a controlling family and her flat-lining life. 

 At the Dandelion House, the women will discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house - forever. 
  Small towns can keep big secrets… 

 Thanks Mandy, and if any of your readers haven’t seen the fabulous Carli and Julie Kennedy - who helped launch House for all Seasons with their Small Town Stories video clip, they can come home to the country with me right now - - and prepare to fall in love. Gorgeous song. Gorgeous scenery. Gorgeous girls.  

Thanks for sharing your love of music and the the written word with us, Jenn. It's been wonderful chatting! I cannot wait to start reading your gorgeous novel, and I'm sure it's going to be one that keeps me up into the wee hours of the morning. 

Keep smiling and dreaming!
Mandy xoxo

Courtney Conway, Country Music Artist

Posted on 6 March, 2013 at 21:00 Comments comments (4196)

G'day! :)

I'm thrilled to welcome my guest today, the very talented Courtney Conway! 

Hi Courtney, let's get to it...

What inspired you to be a country music artist?
When I was growing up my parents listened to a lot of country music! Dad was one of those guys that would buy the box set off the TV and get one free! He listened to a lot of the older more traditional country music from America like Billie Jo Spears, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Mum listened to more modern Australian country like Lee Kernaghan and Gina Jeffreys. So together they had all kinds of different country covered! Every year on boxing day our family would drive from Bendigo to Adelaide for a holiday, with Dad testing out his new 10 disc country box set on the 8 hour drive! My mum used to sing and play guitar on stage with her best friend Jenny up in the Mallee. When she had us four kids she learnt the banjo to play for us and encouraged us to sing along to nursery rimes. My Nanna (Mum's Mum) was a music teacher and has always had a really old pianola piano in her lounge room. Whenever Nan's brother Bill would visit he'd sit down at the piano and play honky tonk style. I just loved it! Ever since I was tall enough to reach the keys on the piano I wanted to play. Although I was classically trained I just loved the way a country song would tell and story. I loved the sound, the twang guitar and the fiddle. Country music artists are real people who will stop for a chat and say G'day, always friendly and fun! I loved every aspect of the industry the more I became a part of it. Shania Twain was a big influence when I was growing up, I wanted to be just like her. My first 3 albums I was ever given were Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. I guess my parents were my biggest influence with Mum being a country singer earlier on and both parents loving country music. It's funny because my next sister down grew up on the same music and she plays the harp and sings classical! 

Can you tell us a bit about your most recently released album or song?
I released my first EP two years ago now, I recorded it in Sydney at Love Hz studios with Matt Fell and Sam Hawksley. I had the best time recording that little EP! It was the first time I had ever made a song I had co-written come to life. It's a really really exciting thing to do! My first single released from the EP was 'Girly Girl' which I co-wrote with Mike Carr and Adam Brand. The song was more successful than any of us had expected! I made a film clip with the very talented Glenn Wilson who also played drums on the EP. 'Girly Girl' reached the Top 30 on the Country Music Channel chart which was amazing! Especially for my very first release! I then released my second single called 'A Few Little Things' that was written in Nashville by two artists I haven't yet met. A Few Little Things reached the top 10 on the Country Music Channel chart, the top 30 on the Country Music Radio chart and gave me my first nomination for Best New Oz Artist of the Year in the Country Music Channel Awards this year. In 2011 I won Best New Talent at the National and Victorian Country Music Awards in Whittlesea. I've been so amazed at how well this little EP has gone! It won't be long before my new album will be complete which is exciting, it will be released early in the new year some time.

What are you working on now? 
Right now I am currently recording my debut album with Sam Hawksley in Nashville! I recorded for the first time in 2010 and released a 5 track EP so I'm well and truly ready to get this album out there! As soon as I get home at the end of March I'll be working on ways to promote the album once it's released later on in the year, releasing singles, film clips and hopefully playing lots of shows! 

Have you got a favourite song that you sing? If yes, what is it? 
I have a long list of favourite songs and I'm constantly adding to it because I'm constantly finding amazing new songs! I think at the moment my favourite song to perform is called 'The House That Built Me' by Miranda Lambert. I love the original recording of it but I also like to break it down to just myself and the piano at my own shows. I love the lyrics because it reminds me of the house I grew up in at Bendigo with my parents, two younger sisters and younger brother. I also love it because when I was in Nashville in 2010 I went to visit the team at Warner Music Nashville where Blake Shelton is signed. Scott Hendricks was telling me that he found this incredible song and wanted Blake to record it. Blake took a copy of the song for a listen and on a long drive home he played the song to Miranda to see what she thought. Miranda cried as she listened to the lyrics and Blake had to pull over! She was so in love with the song she asked both Blake and Scott Hendricks if she could record it. The song was a HUGE success and I love that Blake Shelton and Scott Hendricks were happy for her to have the song and all the success that followed.

Swag or room service for a romantic date? 
I like to mix it up with a bit of both! I've slept out under the stars in a swag many times - It's the most beautiful thing! Sitting by the nice warm, crackling fire with someone special, cooking marsh mellows and damper, enjoying the piece and quiet knowing that there's no one else around but yourself and your loved one. The stars are absolutely incredible when there's no street lights in the way! I reckon that is something everyone should do every now and then. But it's also nice to be spoilt once in a while with a beautiful meal cooked for you in a fancy room, 20 odd stories high overlooking the bright lights of the busy city. Then curling up in bed to watch a movie eating your favourite dessert! 

Holden Ford... or something else? 
My very first car was a 1981 WB white Holden ute. I loved that beast to pieces! Literally! When I get older I want to buy another one and restore it. Because of my music I have a lot of travelling to do and my ute was so old things were starting to wear out and cause trouble. My Dad got so sick of fixing things on it every time I came home that he sold it to a friend of his! I still really miss that ute. I then got a 2004 model BA Falcon ute in bright red. She's such a great reliable ute, she's been really wonderful to me. I've always had utes to fit my full length keyboard in the back until just recently... I still have the Ford and drive it regularly but I also have a little Mini Cooper Chilli out in the driveway. Boy can that thing GO!  So it's hard for me to pick! At the end of the day, Holden was my first love :)

Favourite food?
Everyone knows that when we go out to the pub for lunch I'll be ordering the chicken parma with veggies! I'm a bit of a plain Jane when it comes to food but I'm getting better and more adventurous as I get older! I'm a really big fan of veggies, but my favourite fast food is McDonald's and if I was allowed to I reckon I could live on chocolate alone! In the last 18 months I've become a huge fan of these soup dumplings! They're just like a regular dumpling only they have soup inside them as well. There's a place right in the heart of Sydney that makes them and my husband took me there when we first met. He had to teach me how to use chopsticks but I'm pretty good at them now! Every time we're in Sydney we make sure we go there as often as we can! 

Favourite movie? 
The movie I've loved for the longest amount of time is Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts is just stunning and who doesn't love Richard Gere! Total chick flick! My favourite TV show would have to be the Big Bang Theory! Doesn't matter how many times I've seen the same episode it still makes me laugh out loud!

Favourite Aussie saying? 
Crikeys! My friends tell me I say that a lot!

If you could have a kangaroo, koala, wombat, crocodile, galah or python as a pet which one would you choose and why?
I reckon the ones with fur are all pretty cute! I'm scared of crocodiles and I don't like snakes. The horse show I toured with used to have a pet Galah but he was pretty moody. One day he'd want to kiss you on the cheek and the next he'd be trying to bite your nose off! They can all be pretty vicious in the wild but I think it would be fun to have a pet Kangaroo! I've known people that have looked after little joey's and they're so gorgeous. I love how they hop around behind you, following you just like a dog would. I love the pet kangaroo Jayne Denham has in her latest film clip "Shelter".

Who would you like to trade places with for a day, alive or dead and why? 
I'd like to swap places with Taylor Swift for a day! I'd be able to experience what it'd be like to perform in front of those enormous crowds she attracts at her shows! Her life would be flat out busy but I like being busy. I could cruise around in her fancy bus, suss out her songwriting techniques, say g'day to Keith Urban and Ellen DeGeneres, plus I could hang out with her gorgeous little cat for the day! I'd like to see how those major shows she puts on operates. The list is endless! 

If I looked in your fridge right now what would I find?
Haha funny you should ask that - Not much! I've been flying between Western Australia and Victoria almost every two weeks for the last 3 months! I find it better to buy food as I go along when I'm traveling a lot so nothing goes to waste. I landed in Perth from Melbourne last night and this time my husband stayed in Perth. When I got home I looked in the fridge and there's a half full bottle of mayonnaise and 5 eggs. We don't even have any butter! I don't know what he's been living on since I've been gone but all the chocolate has disappeared! 

Craziest thing you've ever done?
Growing up I had always wanted to go to Nashville. I promised myself that when I turned 21 I would go over to Nashville, because you have to be 21 to go into all the honky tonk bars over there and I wanted to see the music. When my 21st birthday finally rolled around I really wanted to go to Nashville but wasn't sure I could afford it. My parents said that when I was ready to go over to let them know so they could book the flights as that was their 21st birthday gift to me. I had always planned to go very soon after my birthday but when it came time I wasn't sure it was going to work. Four days after my birthday I decided that I was going to go anyway! Mum booked my flights and 3 days later I was on a plane to Nashville all by myself! I'd never been overseas before and had no idea what I was doing. I stayed in Nashville for 3 weeks and had the absolute time of my life!

If you were going on holiday tomorrow, where would it be?
Nashville. Ask me any day of the year and that's where I'd want to be every single time. 

Four words that describe you?
Friendly, fun, bling, country!

Thanks for popping by for a chat, Courtney. It's been fun! 

If you'd like to find out more about this amazing woman you can visit her here...

Next week I will have Shea Fisher calling in, make sure you swing on by for that one.

Until then, keep smiling and dreaming,
Mandy xoxo

Fiona Palmer, The Sunburnt Country

Posted on 4 March, 2013 at 18:48 Comments comments (1295)

G'day :)

Today I have the wonderful Fiona Palmer with us and she is talking about the inspiration behind her newest novel, The Sunburnt Country. 

Hi Mandy,  

Thanks so much for having me on your blog today.  I’m really excited to be talking about my new book, The Sunburnt Country.

Here is the blurb: Jonelle Baxter is a young woman in a man's world – a tough, hardworking motor mechanic from an idyllic country family. But lately things in her perfect life have been changing, and her workshop isn't the only local business that's struggling.   Daniel Tyler is new in town, posted from the city to manage the community bank. As he tries to rein in the spiraling debts of Bundara, he uncovers all sorts of personal dramas and challenges. The last thing Jonny and Dan need is an unwanted attraction to each other. She has enough problems just keeping her livelihood going and he's fighting pressures that stretch all the way to Perth. It's going to take more than a good drop of rain to break the drought and bring change in love and in life.   A moving and heartwarming story about the beauty that's found in the bush, especially in the most trying of times.  

The Sunburnt Country covers some really important issues on depression and suicide in the rural community. Statistically the rates of depression/suicide are much higher in rural men than their urban counterparts. It is a really sad fact. So I’ve tried to delve into the mind of a man on the land, the issues he’s dealing with, the pressures from a drought and the bank, along with the emotions associated with his connection to the land and the feeling of hopelessness.  
But it’s not all doom and gloom as I wanted to show there is a way out. That there is help out there and nobody is alone. At the moment I’m finding there is a lot of talk around my area on farming and what kind of future it has.  So many farms are up for sale, it seems like a new one every month.  Already farms have been up for sale for years and no one is buying them. (Except maybe the Chinese…but that’s another topic for later.) 

There is not much of a margin gain in farming so when you break even or have too many bad years it sends them backwards. We are witnessing shrinking communities, schools closing, businesses closing and people moving away from the country for an easier life.  Even things like our kids having to go away to high school in year seven are affecting our communities.  Wives are heading to the cities with their young kids, as it’s a scary prospect sending them to boarding school so young. This leaves the Husband at home, alone on the farm with his confidant miles away. It is something that worries me, as I love this way of life and it scares me to see it all fading away.  

Farmers are preferring their kids do trades instead of coming back to the farm. It is joked that by giving your children the farm you are inadvertently giving them a jail sentence.  But for some, this joke is almost a reality. It is a great way of life but it’s becoming so much harder to live. Less volunteers around for all the community events and associations puts more of a strain on others and it also means the collapse of clubs. Our tennis and cricket clubs are no more even though we have great facilities. We are struggling to keep our golf club with numbers dwindling.  We have to drive so far just to get our kids to tennis lessons or sporting events and a few are asking themselves what it will be like in another 5 to 10 years. Will we want this kinds of future for our kids?  

These are scary and sad thoughts. Of which I hope stay just thoughts.  I can’t imagine ever moving.  I don’t want to trade my life of freedom, space, security and inspiring landscapes for a bigger town. I’m just thankful my kids are still able to enjoy this lifestyle while they are still young and carefree.  I know this post may sound a bit sad and gloomy, that was never my intention but I wanted to share what’s been on my mind a bit lately.  I find with the release of The Sunburnt Country and the talks that I’m going to, it’s becoming a very strong topic of conversation, the state of our agriculture.  

Just remember, without farmers, who will feed us?  In the meantime, I will continue to bring stories from the heart of the country, which celebrate the joyous but sometimes heartbreaking lifestyle mixed with all the weird and wonderful characters you’ve all grown to love. 
Fiona x

Thanks Fiona, for this deeply moving insight into real issues that are affecting our beautiful rural communities all across Australia. I, too, hold onto the hope that we will never lose our core...our farming communities. 

If you'd like to purchase The Sunburnt Country you can get it here...




And if you'd like to find out more about Fiona and her books you can visit her here...

On Thursday I have the fabulous country music singer, Courtney Conway, popping by for a chat. Should be fun!

Until then, keep smiling and dreaming!

Mandy xoxo

Adam Toms, Australian Country Music Artist

Posted on 27 February, 2013 at 20:22 Comments comments (1353)

G'day :)

This week I'm thrilled to be chatting to the Australian country music artist, Adam Toms. Adam has been nominated in the CMC New Oz Artist of the Year Awards alongside 14 other great acts. He's honoured to be in the mix and would love everyone to pop over to the website following the link below and flick him a vote. You can vote daily up until the end of February (that's today!) and just by voting you go into the draw to win two tickets to CMC Rocks the Hunter in March with all travel expenses also paid for. 
Remember it's the 'New Oz Artist' section.

Welcome, Adam, let's get to it mate...

What inspired you to become a country music artist? 

I’d tried the rock/pop/blues thing and I guess I always had the ‘country’ vibe in there. In the end once I stopped trying to be like other artists and focused on who I was or who I wanted to be the rest came naturally. 

Can you tell us a bit about your most recently released album, or song? 
The single ‘Rich Man’ is all about a couple who struggles with all the normal financial burdens that most of us do. But it’s their love for each other that makes them feel like the happiest people on earth. 

What are you working on now? 
Completing the album along with a reality documentary of the 9 month tour of Australia I did with my wife and two young boys. ‘Are We There Yet’ will be packaged with the new album as a bonus DVD. 

Have you got a favourite song that you sing? If yes, what is it? 
A song that I sing at nearly every gig is ‘Drift Away’. Originally sung by Dobie Gray but since covered by many artists. I just love the song. 

Swag or room service for a romantic date? 
We have had our fair share of roughing it so I think Mrs Tomsy would go for a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant anytime!!! 

Holden, Ford...or something else? 
Never really been a car person. However I’ll never forget my HQ panel van I had when I was younger. Fun times!!!! Still brings a tear to my eye!!! 

Favourite Food? 
I have to say Pizza – but home made pizza rocks!!! 

Favourite Movie? 
With an 18 month old and a 4 year old its been a while since I watched a ‘grown up’ flick. Can I say Toy Story 1, 2 or 3??? 

Favourite Aussie saying? 
She’ll be right.      

If you could have a kangaroo, koala, wombat, crocodile, galah or python as a pet which one would you choose, and why? 
Wombat – Mrs Tomsy might say they remind her of me. 

Who would you like to trade places with for a day, alive or dead, and why? 
Elvis - Who wouldn’t want to be the KING? 

If I looked in your fridge right now what would I find? 
Pickles, ham, Cheese, Chocolate, Coke Zero (for Mrs Tomsy) & Home Brew beer (for me) Nothing else needed really!!!! 

Craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
Become a recording artist!!!! 

If you were going on holiday tomorrow, where would it be? 
Hawaii….. or Bright in Vic – beautiful place. 

Four words that describe you...
Random, silly, funny, direct

Cheers for popping by, Adam, and good luck with everything! :) 

If you'd like to find out more about Adam please swing by his website...

Next week I will be chatting to the wonderful Courtney Conway so make sure you stay tuned for that.

Until next week, keep smiling and dreaming.

Mandy xoxo

Amber Joy Poulton, Country Music Artist

Posted on 20 February, 2013 at 18:27 Comments comments (1889)

                                                                       G'day :)

Today I have the wonderful Amber Joy Poulton popping by to have a natter with me about her exciting life as a country music artist. Amber Joy's debut original album, Taking Goodbye, is full of traditional Australian country music and has launched her career & reputation as a serious singer & song-writer.  Since its release, the album has received two song-writing awards for Best Traditional Song, four songs have entered the Top 30 of the Australian Country Music Charts and Amber Joy has just landed herself a TIARA Award in 2012 for Best Vocal Collaboration for duet, Close Enough, with Doug Bruce.  She has spent over 40 weeks in the charts with the album & her biggest hit yet, Break Even, spent over 18 weeks in the charts & made it all the way to Number 5 nation-wide!  She is now appearing on Foxtels CMC channel with her new film clip, Show Me.

Welcome, Amber, lets get to it...

What inspired you to become a country music artist?
Is there any other kind?  Just joking.  It's the music.  The songs.  The stories.  There's so much more to country music than other genres.  You can connect and get more involved with the songs.  I did dabble in other genres in the past in various corporate cover bands but just didn't enjoy it.  I quit a few times and it wasn't till I returned to country music that I realised where I belonged.  From there it was just a natural progression.

Can you tell us a bit about your most recently released album, or song?
I've been promoting my debut original album, Taking Goodbye for 4 years and it's been such a hit with some chart success and a few songwriting awards and now it's time for a new album.  Most of the songs have been written and developed now I'm hoping to get overseas in the new year to record them.  I have one more song off the Taking Goodbye album to release and that will also have a film clip.  

What are you working on now?
Even though I have enough songs for the new album, I am still writing.  Once you push the button, it's hard to turn it off.  So by the time 2013 comes around I'll be able to choose my favourite songs.  Other than that, I'm gearing up for Tamworth, a few trips to VIC next year, Norfolk Island and a NSW trip.  Busy times.

Have you got a favourite song that you sing? If yes, what it is?
My "favourite song" changes all the time.  Patsy Cline's Why Can't He Be You was a favourite for about a year but it's been replaced recently with Tanya Tuckers - Dancing The Night Away.

Swag or room service for a romantic date?
Gosh, have we met?  Room service all the way.

Holden, Ford...or something else?
I'm not really a car fanatic but if I like my Subaru. 

Favourite Food? 

Favourite Movie?
I'm terrible.  I love ALL movies.  The first one that comes to mind is Australia with Hugh Jackman and that other woman........what was her name?  All I remember is Hugh.

Favourite Aussie saying?

If you could have a kangaroo, koala, wombat, crocodile, galah or python as a pet which one would you choose, and why?
Probably a Koala cause they're cute and they can feed themselves.

Who would you like to trade places with for a day, alive or dead, and why?
Wow, great question.  Ummmm, Dusty Springfield just so I could sing like her for 24 hours.

If I looked in your fridge right now what would I find?
Chocolate, Bacardi.....well that's all I see anyway.

Craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
Entering the Toyota Starmaker in 2009 was pretty crazy.  A good crazy, just a bit out of character for me to enter a competition.

If you were going on holiday tomorrow, where would it be?
Oh take me to Bali any day.

Four words that describe you...
Eccentric, mad, determined & hungry :)  

It's been great chatting with you today, Amber! Thanks for popping by.

If you'd like to find out more about Amber please swing by her website...

Next week I am interviewing the one and only Adam Toms. Make sure you stop by for that one!

Until then, keep smiling and dreaming!

                                              Mandy xoxo

Jasmine Rae, Country Music Artist.

Posted on 13 February, 2013 at 17:27 Comments comments (1182)

G'day! :)

I'm thrilled to be announcing my guest today, the mighty-talented-great-things-come-in-small-packages country gal, Jasmine Rae. Jasmine was the 2012 CMC Oz Artist of the Year, as voted by country music fans across Australia and has earned the endorsement of some of the world's biggest country acts, having toured with the likes of Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Joe Nichols, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Adam Harvey and Lee Kernaghan. What a lucky woman...I'm more than a little jealous!

So without further ado, here she is, Jasmine Rae...

What inspired you to become a country music artist?
I started listening to Dolly Parton as a kid, but when I discovered Foxtel’s TV channel dedicated 24/7 to Country Music, I was hooked. I loved the depth in the lyrics, the instrumentation, the harmonies, and the soul!   

Can you tell us a bit about your most recently released album, or song?
Santa Man is the first single released from my Christmas EP, Santa’s Little Helper. I wrote it with a friend of mine, Robyn Payne, in my home town of Melbourne. Sometimes, especially at Christmas, money can get tight. This is a song about asking Santa for a job at the North Pole.  

What are you working on now?
I’m now writing new songs for album number 3! 

Have you got a favourite song that you sing? If yes, what is it?
It changes often - Hunky Country Boys or Sure Thing are two of my own songs I love to sing. My band’s live cover of The Rolling Stones classic, Honky Tonk Women, is pretty fun too! 

Swag or room service for a romantic date?
Room service … while listening to country music. 

Holden, Ford ... or something else?
Tour Bus.

Favourite Food?

Favourite Movie?
“Pretty Woman” 

Favourite Aussie saying?
“She’s as rough as guts.” 

If you could have a kangaroo, koala, wombat, crocodile, galah or python as a pet which one would you choose, and why?
A kangaroo - it would be pretty interesting to take for a walk! 

Who would you like to trade places with for a day, alive or dead, and why?
Julia Gillard - just to mix it up a bit. 

If I looked in your fridge right now what would I find?
Nothing delicious, I just checked. 

Craziest things you’ve ever done?
I grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne and became a country music singer/songwriter.I eat Tim Tams for breakfast on a regular basis. I adopted a crazy border collie/kelpie cross - just because. I look back at my some of my ex-boyfriends and think, yes - I must have been out of my mind.   

If you were going on holiday tomorrow, where would it be?

Four words that describe you ...
Dreamer, thinker, lover, crazy.   

It been wonderful chatting with you today, Jasmine. Thanks for popping by.

If you'd like to find out more about Jasmine please swing by her website...

Next week I will be chatting to the lovely Amber Joy, looking forward to hearing all about her country singer lifestyle.

Until then, keep smiling and dreaming,

Mandy xoxo

Loretta Hill

Posted on 12 February, 2013 at 22:45 Comments comments (1149)
                                                                G'day! :)

Today I am going to share a letter with you all from a fellow author buddy of mine, Loretta Hill. 
Loretta is a bestselling author, a woman gifted in making you laugh until your cheeks ache, and a super-mum of four children under 5! Yes, four of them, and under 5!!! How she finds time to brush her hair, shower and even eat is beyond me, and on top of all this how in the heck does she find find time to write such brilliant novels? 
Loretta, your superhero cape is in the mail...because your old one has probably got food, ink and "OMG...what is that?" stains all over it :) 

Dear Mandy, 

Thanks for having me on your blog today to talk about my latest release, “One Little White Lie.” This romantic comedy novella is a little different to my other rural romance stories.  Unlike “The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots” and “The Girl in the Hard Hat” which are both set in the Pilbara on a rough and ready engineering site, this little escapade takes place in Sydney and is very cosmopolitan.  

To tell you the truth I’m very excited because this story has been a long time coming. And by that I mean,  eight years.  I first started writing this book back in 2005. But it wasn’t working.  The story just seemed to lose it’s guts in the middle and I just couldn’t seem to fix it no matter how hard I tried. In the end I just gave up and put the book aside.

Last year, when my agent told me about Random Romance, the new digital first romance line RHA planned on launching in February my first thought was, “Nah, I just don’t have time for this. I’m having a baby!” And I did by the way. He’s six months now and as round as a ball - no neck, his head just kind of sits on top of his chubby little shoulders .  But I’ve drifted from the point. My fear was, to start another novel from scratch and have it ready before Feb was just too much for me. 

Then I remembered about that novel I had written all those years ago. On a whim, I got it out and could immediately see what was wrong with it. It was too long!  The reason the middle of the book sagged was because it didn’t need it.  If I just cut that and stitched the beginning to the end, I might have a great, pacey read. It’s amazing what a fresh set of eyes can do. So I sent a note back to my agent saying that I might have a novella, I could submit. 

She pitched the idea to Random and that’s how “One Little White Lie” finally got it’s day. So what’s this book about?

Kate Dreson has an over eager, over helpful, matching making best friend who won’t stop setting up her up with every Tom, Dick and Harry.  Lisa thinks that getting Kate a new man will help her get over ex and put a swing back in her step.  But her campaign is driving Kate crazy. So to halt the madness she tells Lisa that she’s met someone. 

In walks gorgeous, fun loving Henry, who takes full advantage of Kate’s one little white lie by turning it into red blooded reality.  Trapped by her own fib, Kate is powerless to stop him. But as she launches into her own mission to discover what he’s really up to, she can’t helping wishing that her fake boyfriend wasn’t fake at all. 

Here’s hoping my readers get a kick out of this one.

Loretta xo

It's been fabulous reading about your newest addition to the shelves, Loretta. One Little White Lie sounds fabulous. I cant wait to read it!

If you'd like to discover more about Loretta please pop over to her website...

I'll be back with my Country Music Artists blog tomorrow and I'm very excited to announce I will be chatting to the one and only Jasmine Rae! So watch this space! :)

Until then, Keep smiling and dreaming,

Mandy xoxo

Clancy, Country Music Artist

Posted on 6 February, 2013 at 23:09 Comments comments (1869)

G'day! :)

Today I'm thrilled to be chatting to Clancy about about his life as a country music artist. Clancy is a relative newcomer to the country music scene, having recorded his debut album “ Drive “ in Jan 2012. He has spent his life living and working in the bush, his experience extensive, from a drover to an interstate truck driver and most things in between, as well as a few short stints living and working in the city. This wealth of experience soon shows when you listen to his music. “ Drive “ is a top shelf production, and with musicians such as Charley Boyter, Lawrie Minson, Hugh Curtis, Mark Rigney, Tony Wagner, Lindsay Waddington, Jamie Davis and Clancy himself, as well as backing vocals from Tyson Coleman, this is one album that will not disappoint!   

This is my personal favourite of Clancy's, A Walk in the Rain...
I've always been a big music lover, all genres, but country music is the one that I can relate to the most, and i'm a born and bred bushy, so I've been surrounded by it. Watching the way people can connect through music, and the emotions it can evoke in people is a great thing, and the world would be a dull place without it! Being able to get up and sing and connect with people in this way is what inspired me. Am I rambling on already...?

Can you tell us a bit about your most recently released album, or song?
My most recent album is my debut album, " Drive ". I penned 8 of the 11 tracks , it has a mix of traditional country, bush ballads, contemporary, love songs, something for everyone!


What are you working on now?
Currently working on my next album.
Have you got a favourite song that you sing? If yes, what it is?
Favourite song? That's way too hard! Depends on the audience I suppose. One of the favourite's with the more fair dinkum bush people seems to be my song " Old mates " , about the dogs I've seen come and go through my life. I've had alot of good working dogs, who were, and still are, my best mates. When I sing this song, it seems to really touch people. I've even seen some pretty hard men really get into it, and although they'd never admit it , I reckon they were choking back a few tears!

Swag or room service for a romantic date?
Too easy, swag :) 

Holden, Ford...or something else?
I've owned just about every make of car, but I've always been a Holden man. To be quiet honest, I'd rather go back to horse and sulky!

Favourite Food?
Anything that comes out of a camp oven!

Favourite Movie?
The Castle

Favourite Aussie saying?

If you could have a kangaroo, koala, wombat, crocodile, galah or python 
as a pet which one would you choose, and why?
When I was a kid, my Mum used to be one of those people who would rescue any sort of animal that needed it. So I would have to say the croc, cause I reckon that's about the only thing we haven't had!

Who would you like to trade places with for a day, alive or dead, and why?
No one. I'd get them in too much trouble!

If I looked in your fridge right now what would I find?
Beer, and all sorts of different kinds of food. You never know what you might find in there really. Did I mention Beer?

Craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
Ummm, yeah , might just leave that one...

(A mysterious man...hmmmm...intriguing! :)

If you were going on holiday tomorrow, where would it be?
Holiday tomorrow ? There's a thousand places I'd like to go, but Kakadu was the first thing that sprung to mind so I'll go with that.

Four words that describe you...
Four words that describe me : I can't count. :)

No matter what walk of life you are from, there is a fair chance you'll be able to relate to Clancy’s music, and there is no doubt the name “ Clancy” will be heard throughout country music circles for many years to come! 

Good luck with everything, Clancy! You're a top bloke, and funny too!!

If you'd like to connect with Clancy on Facebook here is the link...

Next week I have the fabulous Jasmine Rae popping in for a chat. I'm looking forward to it! Hope you are too! :)

Until then, keep smiling and dreaming
Mandy xx


Venero Armanno, Awesome Aussie Author

Posted on 30 January, 2013 at 19:27 Comments comments (2426)

                                            G'day! :)

First and foremost I must express my deep sadness with what people are going through in these terrible floods, in both Queensland and New South Wales. It breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes to hear of the terrible and devastating loss of life, and also the loss of homes and treasured possessions. My heart goes out to you all. 

Today my wonderful guest is the fabulous author, Venero Armanno. I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of his most recent novel, Black Mountain, and found myself glued to every page, every word, every twist and turn. Christos Tsiolkas said it well...‘Black Mountain is an eerie and compelling read … Like the best of fiction, it remains with you long after you have finished.’ 

Welcome, Veny, it's fabulous 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 Brisbane and we lived in a little suburb called New Farm. It was quite a migrant enclave, a real "Little Sicily" around where we lived. My parents had both immigrated in the fifties. So I went to a Catholic primary school in the suburb, run by nuns, then when I was older I went to an all-boys Christian Brothers school. Hell on earth! Luckily I failed my year 11 and had to repeat - I got sent to a state school and that place was like heaven, at least to me. So I ended my schooling with two years of absolute happiness.

The most mischievous thing I even did as a kid, I think, was to ring random people on the telephone and tell them I was a DJ from a local radio station. I'd make them listen to a single I played on a portable record player and get them to guess the name of the song. When they did I told them they would soon receive a prize. I stopped doing this when one day I saw a very small article in the newspaper about people complaining to the radio station in question about prizes never received. I think I was about eight years old.

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 a long time given that I wrote my first book when I was about nineteen and didn't get published until I was in my early thirties. In that time I wrote about a book a year - I've got at least ten unpublished novels squirelled away. And they are unpublishable. I did get close a few times: I was runner-up in the Vogel/Australian Literary Award for an unpublished novel in about 1984 or 1985, then a publisher was interested in a book of mine that we worked on together for about three years - before they finally decided not to go ahead. So when a first book was finally contracted I was really walking on air. I'd made a deal with myself that if this ever happened I would quit my job (I spent all of the 1980s working for a major IT company) so that week I did. Talk about a loss of security! But it was my dream and still is - to be a writer. 

What time of the day/night do you prefer to write 
and where do you like to write?
I'm better in the mornings, as early as possible, though that's hard to work out now that there's breakfast for my boy to get ready and the school run - not to mention I now have a full-time job as an academic at University of Queensland. So these days it's a matter of fitting the writing in around the demands of everything else. But that's okay, you can always make time. Sleep is so over-rated.

Can you tell us a bit about Black Mountain?

It's the story of a small boy who, in the early twentieth century, works as a slave in a Sicilian sulphur field and who has no memory of any life beyond this. Like the other boys around him he dreams of escape and of becoming the person he knows he wants to be. Or could be. His journey takes him from these hellish fields into the lives of the Sicilian landed aristocracy, then the heady days of Paris in the 1920s (where he meets his great love, a courtesan named Celeste). But there's more to this boy than meets the eye, and as he discovers who he really is, and what he is, he has to learn what it means to "be who you are".

Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Everywhere and nowhere. This story came to me while I was researching something else entirely - I'd never even heard of real slavery in Sicily, or that sulphur mines existed. I never really go looking for a story - I always seem to have a few ideas bubbling away. Right now I'm working on a new book but I've already got another one completed. I think if you're interested in people and the world, stories really offer themselves to you. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A friend of mine says you write like you travel. So if you're good with itineraries and plans, you're a plotter. If you just like to arrive somewhere and wander around, you tend to be a pantser. That's me, and that's how I approach writing. I find a start and wander around until the story becomes clearer 

What are you writing now?
I don't like to talk about things that are on the way, but it's a novel about two older men who discover a young woman who looks exactly like the teenage girlfriend they lost many, many years back. It could be great; it could be garbage! I just hope it doesn't fall into the middling field called "mediocre". I prefer to fail on the grand scale, if need be.  

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The writing is always fun. So is the researching. Revising, multiple drafts, edit - I like all of that. So really the only hard part is finding the time I really need to give an idea its best expression and exploration.

And what is the most enjoyable part?
Writing the book of course, and signing published copies for people!

Who is your favourite Australian?
My wife Nic.

What is your favourite Aussie saying?
He or she is "a sandwich short of a cut lunch".

Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
Probably any place that involves a beach and surf. We're blessed in this country, that's for sure.

It's been wonderful chatting with you today, Veny. 
Looking forward to the next novel!

If you'd like to find out more about Veny here are some links….

Until next week, keep smiling and dreaming :)
Mandy xx

Larry Cann, Australian Country Music Artist

Posted on 23 January, 2013 at 20:04 Comments comments (507)

G'day! :)

This week my guest is the multi-talented Larry Cann, award winning KIX Country radio DJ, country music singer, songwriter and former pro rodeo cowboy. Larry has a passion for country music which is fuelled by a life rich in experiences, from the farm in Chinchilla, Qld to an international career as a professional bull rider and bareback rider. 

Welcome, Larry, it's great to have you here today....  

What inspired you to become a country music artist? 
It was a basic progression from growing up in the country and around the rodeos when my parents competed. To sing and write about the life I have always lived just felt right. 

Can you tell us a bit about your most recently released album, or song? My brand new 6 track release RODEO READY is an extension of the original RODEO ROAD which was released back in 2009. These new songs are possibly more me as I have only collaborated on one track and that’s a new recorded version of the classic country song “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” 
This is performed with, Gord Bamford, who was born here in Australia but grew up in Canada where he resides. We are touring together in early 2013 all the way from Tamworth to Townsville.    

What are you working on now? 
Just finalising the tour promotions and working through the set list of both myself and Gord with the players.    

Have you got a favourite song that you sing? If yes, what it is? 
One of my new ones I’m really proud of and would actually like to write a book based on the title. It's definitely a statement a lot of us who have had a rough experience with relationships can relate to..”Badly Bruised But Not Broken” 

Swag or room service for a romantic date? 
Either, depends on the meeting place. 

Holden, Ford...or something else? 
A dream Dodge Ram pickup truck. 

Favourite Food? 
Reef n Beef 

Favourite Movie? 

Favourite Aussie saying? 
“Flat out like a lizard drinkin’” 

If you could have a kangaroo, koala, wombat, crocodile, galah or python as a pet which one would you choose, and why? 
Kangaroo I guess ..I had a joey once but unfortunately we couldn’t keep him. 

Who would you like to trade places with for a day, 
alive or dead, and why? 
George Strait the king of the cowboy singers! 

If I looked in your fridge right now what would I find? 
Cold drinks. 

Craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
Used to imagine I was a trick rider with my pony when I was about 12 and try different tricks. 

If you were going on holiday tomorrow, where would it be? 
Nashville Tennessee USA as I would like to network my music and song write a lot more. 

Four words that describe you... 
Family, Fun, Cowboy, Perform

Thanks for swinging by today, Larry. It's been mighty interesting chatting with you. Good luck on the tour!

If you'd like to catch up with Larry on Facebook here's the link...

Next week I  am changing pace and having author Venero Armanno chatting with me about his brilliant novel, Black Mountain. The following week I will be back to the Country Music Artists feature with plenty more fabulous country music singers popping in for a chat...including The Sunny Cowgirls, so stay tuned :)

Until then, keep smiling and dreaming!

Mandy xx