When ‘Casual’ Cuts Close To The Bone

A few weeks ago in Australia there was an outcry over an alleged comment made by a 13-year-old girl to one of our country’s star Australian Rules’ football players, Adam Goodes, during a game between Sydney Swans and Colllingwood. The girl was in the crowd. The news stories I’ve seen reported that she called Goodes an ‘Ape’…
Adam Goodes is an Indigenous (Aboriginal) player, and one of the most decorated footballers in the history of the game, winning two Brownlow medals. (For any international readers, it is the equivalent of being named MVP in the National Basketball League…)
This incident has been on my mind in recent weeks because of the term that arose out of it: ‘Casual Racism’, and because of a scene in my new novella, The Goodbye Ride.
My fellow RWA author, Iris Blobel, invited me to write about this issue on her blog. If you haven’t seen the post, please click over and pay us a visit.

The Lovely Bog oops, Blog Award

Historical romance author, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, thinks my blog is worthy of a nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award! Thank you Elizabeth!

Now, some time last year, there was a blog going around called The Next Big Thing, which I was part of with three other writing friends, Kerrie Paterson, Cate Ellink and Allison Tait, and we were invited by Jenn J McLeod. I had a great time with The Next Big Thing, but one of the main reasons I loved doing The Next Big Thing, is that for one swift moment in time, I was almost part of The Next Bog Thing. (You can read about it here – a lot of us had heaps of very dirty fun that day and this remains my most popular post in terms of hits on my blog. I’m not sure what that tells me about the motley crew of people who follow and visit my blog!).

So I couldn’t help but have a little chuckle to myself when I saw Elizabeth Ellen Carter’s invitation to the One Lovely Blog Award, because it could so very easily become, One Lovely BOG Award.

But first, a little bit about Elizabeth Ellen Carter. She has just had her debut historical romance, Moonstone Obsession, picked up by Etopia Press. Every Friday night, EEC blogs about movies, particularly, old movies, and this segment of her blog is called Friday Night Flicks. If you like your movies, I’d encourage you to visit. It’s amazing what a fount of knowledge EEC is. Quite frankly, she staggers me!

So, as part of this One Lovely Blog Award, Elizabeth has asked me to nominate 7 other outstanding bloggers and share 7 facts about myself. Because our writing community overlaps, I am sure many of the writers I might nominate will have been previously asked. So all I’d say is, if you want to pick up this invitation to become part of One Lovely Blog, please be my guest.

And for 7 interesting facts about myself? Well… here we go. These might be a bit ‘BOGanish’.

  1. I have always been a Shane Warne fan. I remember where I was the day he bowled the Ball Of The Century. I love Warnie. But I like the ‘old’ Warnie more than the new 2013 version. 
  2. My favourite line in a movie comes from Gladiator: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius… Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
  3. We named our dog Jarman, in honour of Darren Jarman. (Adelaide Crows footballer going back a few years). 
  4. I once cooked trout at a dinner party for four (including a man I was trying to impress). I had no idea what I was doing and all the trouts’ heads’ fell off. I served the headless fish with lightly steamed beans and a nice Chianti. (I made that last bit up).
  5. I named my bikes as a kid. They were called R1, and Gar2. R1 was fastest. I was actually quite reasonable at BMX at one stage of my life.
  6. My first car was a Datsun 200B. (The colour of… bog)
  7. The most memorable piece of writing I’ve read recently, was Cate Ellink’s ‘fish sex’ post, The Virgin Whiting at her blog.

LilyM_lowres

I hope you enjoyed my 7 facts.

On my Facebook page, I plan to share more ‘little known facts’ about Lily Malone in the weeks ahead. You’re welcome to like my page if you’d like more crazy bits such as these above! (Dear reader, you have been warned).

I also recently entered the Twittersphere… there’s a link at the side of the page if you’d like to see what I do there. 

Look for the author in the Boganish Pink Beanie!

Pruning time. An army of buzz cuts

My two favourite seasons in the vineyards are pruning, and budburst. There’s something special about a row of neatly pruned vines… a bit like neatly pruned roses in a rose garden. Order is restored!

P1020151Vines (like roses) get very straggly at the end of the growing season. The leaves die, which can be spectacular as they range through red, orange and yellow before they fall, and the canes are unwieldy and wild. Once they’re pruned, they remind of me a line of schoolchildren with lovely neat Number 5 hairdos… or perhaps you could make that a military image and think of rows of soldiers with buzz cuts. It’s a similar type of thing.

I have been lucky enough to live in wine regions all my life, in Margaret River, then the Adelaide Hills, and I’ve spent a lot of time in the Barossa in between. I picked grapes in Switzerland when I was 20, staying with a host family who were relatives of my landlady in London at the time. I worked for two weeks on the hills above Lausanne, looking out over Lake Geneva to the hills of France. It was absolutely scenic, and absolute hell on the butt, knees and back. Note to future self: Lily Malone will drink wines and eat grapes… she will not pick them! Life lesson learned!

My novella, The Goodbye Ride, brings my hero, Owen, and heroine, Olivia, together as they set out to prune Owen’s aunt’s vineyard over a holiday weekend.

Here’s an excerpt where Liv is giving Owen instruction on how to prune a grapevine.

She switched the Felcotronic on and moved to the start of the vine row. As she talked, she demonstrated. “These vines are about twenty years old, I’d reckon. So they’re still teenagers, but they’ve been around a while and some need taking down a peg or two. See?” She indicated a spot near the end post where there was a cluster of crossed canes.

“It’s a bit like pruning a rose bush. We want to clean everything out to let air circulate. Cut out any dead wood and make lots of room for the new buds to grow. Grapevines fruit on new wood.”

Owen’s boot nudged hers as he leaned around her to watch and the contact sent butterflies cartwheeling through her stomach.

Focus, Liv.

“We want to pick the healthiest spurs and cut them back to two buds. Here,” Liv moved the electric pruners into place and touched the trigger. Shining blades sliced through the vine as if it were a stick of soft cheese. She moved to the next spur, squeezed: “And here.”

Canes swished to the ground.

“When do I get a go with that thing?” Owen asked.

“You don’t.” Liv moved down the row, snipping as she went. “If you come across knotty bits like this where there are no new spurs growing at all, you can cut that section back completely. That’s where those loppers come in to it.”

“Okay. It looks simple enough. I’ll give it a go.”

She pointed him to the row of vines behind her so that they would be working back to back. It was safer that way. He couldn’t accidentally chop her finger off, vest or no safety vest.

P1020158Have you ever noticed vineyard seasons? They can be very dramatic. There’s nothing like green vineyards in summer when all the paddocks around them are dry and brown.

Then this time of year, as you can see in the photos, it’s the vines that are brown, and the grass around them is green. The picture on the right is the first pruned vineyard I’ve seen in Margaret River this season.

Lily Malone Promo pic
The Goodbye Ride is available exclusively on Amazon, buy it here with one click. 

Book 3: Is there such a thing as third book syndrome?

I’ve heard of ‘second book syndrome’… but after His Brand Of Beautiful, I didn’t struggle with writing book two, which turned out to be The Goodbye Ride.

But I am struggling with Book 3, which is actually a return to Book 1. For the moment, I’m calling it Fringe Benefits, but I’m pretty sure that title will change.

Fringe Benefits was the first book I ever wrote. Shortly after I typed ‘The End’ I turned my attention to His Brand Of Beautiful, which some 14 months later, was picked up by Escape Publishing and went on to become my debut book in March 2013.

I am having a real struggle getting back into the swing of writing, after what feels like weeks of hard edits, soft edits, tweaks, publishing (self-publishing) and promotion for both His Brand Of Beautiful, and for The Goodbye Ride. Actually sitting back down into some routine of writing is proving elusive.

I’m hopeful that if I stick with it, it will all begin to flow again. I’m blaming some of my problem on my workspace. I love to write outdoors. We have a wonderful verandah here in our little rental home. I love the sun and I love finding a space with the sun on my back for my writing.

But it’s winter now. It gets dark early. I can’t write when I’m cold, and so for the most part, I’m writing in bed with my laptop on my err, lap. (Where else would it be, hey?)

I’m writing at night and I’m getting really tired before I seem to churn out many words. And are they good words? I don’t know. I think so. I liked my opening scene when I started writing 2 nights ago and I’m really glad I’ve got a first draft down so I don’t have to start it cold.

Fringe Benefits is a darker book than my first two. H&H are going to have some fairly ding-dong fights along the way. It’s a reunion story and the break-up is fierce… lots of unresolved issues at the core, lots of blame. Huge amounts of chemistry though! Of course.

So I think it’s time I put my head in the bat cave and don’t come out for a while… keep warm, and hope that enthusiasm and flow will come!

 

Eliza and Lily cook the perfect bloke

Thanks to our publisher, Escape Publishing, we were invited to take over the Escapades’ blog this week. This is what we cooked up! You can check the original post here – it’s got all sorts of cover shots & links.

Eliza and Lily bake the perfect bloke by Lily Malone & Eliza Redgold

“Once upon a time, two Escape Artists, Eliza Redgold and Lily Malone were sitting in… hold on, Eliza. Where were we sitting again?”

“Sitting beneath your verandah, Lily,” Eliza said, taking another fat green olive from a glazed pottery dish and popping it in her mouth.

“Do you think that’s exotic enough? My verandah?”

Eliza spat the pip delicately into her palm and swallowed. Lime and chilli-marinated olive scorched a salt aftertaste down the back of her throat. “You have to write what you know.”

“Good point. Where was I? Eliza and Lily were sitting under the verandah, co-authoring a blog post about what inspires them to write romance chock-full of food and wine.” Lily’s fingers clattered across the keyboard. She looked up at Eliza expectantly: “Then what happens?”

Eliza reached for another olive. “God those are good. Did you try one?”

Lily glanced at the growing mountain of pips surrounding the olive dish, like an army of climbers planning an Everest summit. “Yeah. I had one. Now focus, Eliza. What else can we say? Our pacing is off. Our plot is crap. Kate Cuthbert will reject it for sure.” She reached for her wine. Times like these, Eliza noticed, Lily always reached for her wine.

“I’ve got it!” Eliza slapped the table, hard enough to make Lily jump. There was a shallow bowl of extra virgin olive oil near the prosciutto-wrapped melon balls, and it vibrated deliciously. Oil ripples.

“Shit. I got wine up my nose,” Lily grumbled, wiping her face with the back of her hand. “You’ve got what?”

“I’ve got the answer to our plot problem. We bring in a man!”

Lily almost choked on her Chardonnay. “A man? Now? It’s the first bloody paragraph. What happened to structure?” Lily put her wineglass back on the table, fiddling slightly so it covered an already-existing wet circle. “How exactly, Eliza, do we get a man into our blog post?”

Eliza swiped a cracker into Lily’s homemade hummus. The cracker broke mid-serve, leaving a spike of jagged edge.

“Hey. No double-dipping,” Lily muttered, one eye on the wreck Eliza had made of the dip, the other on the screen. “It’s not fair. I’m doing all the work. You’re eating all the good stuff. Here. It’s your turn. Pass the prosciutto.”

Eliza leaned across the table and swapped the proscuitto platter for the laptop.

Lily topped-up her chardonnay and took a long, slow, sip. The wine tasted lightly of oak, and something else. Peaches. Or maybe that was the melon on her tongue. She lifted the glass up to the afternoon light.

“Here’s what we’re missing, Lily. You’re being too obvious. What we need is subtlety, nuance, hint, suggestion, a little … je ne sais quoi…”

Lily took a swig of wine.  When Eliza started speaking French, she knew she was in for a long afternoon.

“Like truffles,” Eliza continued, fingers flying over the keyboard, “they’re for connoisseurs, for gourmets. They’re about mystery and luxury.” As she spoke she gave each key an extra click. When she stopped, she reached for the olives.

If there was one thing Lily couldn’t stand it was sticky fingers on her keyboard. Just in time she offered Eliza the crackers instead. “So what does mystery and luxury mean, exactly?”

Eliza crunched the cracker and grinned. “Let’s cook Kate Cuthbert a recipe for the perfect man.”

“Genius, sweetie,” Lily squealed, reclaiming the laptop. It was only a matter of time before Eliza smeared it in hummus. “You talk, I’ll type.”

“We-ll,” Eliza spun out the word like soft toffee on a spoon. “He’d have a chest like that guy on that hot cover. You know? The June release. That soldier guy…”

“You mean Jason in The Virginity Mission?”

Eliza snapped her fingers. “That’s the one.”

“Mmm.” Lily typed Jason’s chest and then sat watching the cursor blink. It blinked and blinked and in the end she had to prompt her co-writer. “And?”

Eliza shook her head. “Sorry. I was thinking about that cover.”

“Easy enough to do,” Lily conceded, crossing her legs under the table. “What about the perfect eyes?”

“That would be Xavier Antoine in my book, Black Diamonds. He has eyes like truffles: the darkest, deepest, blackest ones… the ones that are hardest to find.”

Lily typed Xavier’s eyes and prayed Eliza would shut up about truffles. To distract her, she asked a new question: “What about his buns?”

“Buns?” Eliza gave her a blank look. “Baguettes? Flat bread? Sourdough? Rye?”

“Buns. Butt. Arse. Backside.”

“Oh. Who’s got the perfect butt?” Eliza asked.

“Scott in Under The Hood was pretty hot in that department, from memory,” Lily said, fanning her face with one hand as she thought about it.

“Whack him in.”

Eliza reached for a chorizo stick and Lily typed, Scott’s butt.

“It’s not just looks that make the man, Eliza. He should have a soft side too. Be good with kids, for example.”

A Man Like Mike.”

Lily typed, then added: “And nice to elderly people and animals.”

Eliza barely drew breath. “Ethan in House on Burra Burra Lane. He’s a vet.”

“He needs a way with words,” Lily mused.

“The guy in your book, Tate in His Brand Of Beautiful. He’s great with words.”

Lily typed: Tate’s tongue, and recrossed her legs, trying not to blush.

“He should have a talent, too,” said Eliza. “Nick Gordon, that sculptor in Drawing Closer. He’s good with his hands.”

Talented hands. Lily typed it in.

“So read me what we’ve got so far.” Eliza had her university lecturer’s face on.

Dutifully, Lily read out the list and when she’d finished, Eliza said: “All we need now is his face.”

They both stared at the food spread on the table. Plump olives. Salty proscuitto. Thick, creamy hummus. Sweet balls of melon.

“Brad Pitt,” announced Lily, at the same time as Eliza squealed: “Ryan Gosling.”

They both laughed and reached for their wines.

Eliza clinked her glass playfully with Lily’s. “Let Kate Cuthbert choose.”

(To anyone who doesn’t know Kate, she’s the managing editor of Escape Publishing. Aka: she’s our boss and we do what she says!)

What do you think are the essential ingredients for the perfect man? Let us know in the comments. 

Find out more about His Brand Of Beautiful with one click here; and Black Diamonds, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lily everywhere

It’s been a busy few weeks in the Malone household, and this is going to be one busy weekend! Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend in eastern Australia (not here in WA where I’ve now moved. No holiday for us but we had ‘WA Day’ last weekend and a Monday off work.)

I have way too much news at the moment and way too much to say, which isn’t unusual for me. In no particular order, here’s a little list of what’s going on for me, and for my characters:

  • WordPress sent me a little note yesterday that it was one year since I opened the account to start this blog. My first post was on June 12, 2012. It was called “Hello world” and if you’d like to see what was in my brain when I started blogging, take a look here. Next week I think I’ll have to have a recap of what’s happened for me in 12 months!
  • My second  published work, The Goodbye Ride novella is set on the Queen’s Birthday Holiday Long Weekend in the Adelaide Hills in the tourist mecca of the town that is Hahndorf. This means, in real time, this morning Olivia and Owen are currently steaming up the vine rows of Owen’s aunt’s vineyard.
  • Later this weekend, I’m a guest at the website www.justcontemporaryromance.com where I’m writing about the pieces of ourselves that we share in our books. The idea came from a post and discussion at Cate Ellink’s website recently, after author of The Yearning, Kate Belle, was asked whether the sex scenes in her novel were based on her own experiences. (I am sure erotica authors want to slap  interviewers who ask that question!)
  • Escape Publishing’s managing editor, Kate Cuthbert, sent me a lovely note during the week with an introduction to another West Aussie author, Eliza Redgold (author of Black Diamonds) to invite Eliza and I to write an article about how we use wine and food as inspiration for our books. This is for the Escape blog, sometime soon. (As soon as we can finish it!).
  • It’s pruning time in the vineyards. My favourite time of the year. I went for a walk yesterday on a track that goes past some of the Margaret River vineyards. They’re almost bare – all straggling and crazy trailing canes just crying out for a good haircut. Very few leaves remain and those that do are golden, so close to falling. Another few weeks here and the pruning gangs and mechanical machines will be out in force.

And meantime, The Goodbye Ride and His Brand Of Beautiful keep on keeping on. The Goodbye Ride is hovering between the 20,000 and 40,000 mark on Kindle Paid on Amazon, and His Brand Of Beautiful seems to be getting a little sales spike to, under the 100,000 this morning. Both books have had some lovely reviews and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world, doing what I do.

Life is good.

Snip. Snip. Snip.

My new contemporary romance novella, The Goodbye Ride, is a story about a boy with a secret, a bike with a past, and a birthday. The Queen’s Birthday no less.

Cover design by Wendy Johnston of Bright Eyed Owl.
Cover design by Wendy Johnston of Bright Eyed Owl.

If you’re in south-east Australia – I hope your ears prick up and you think something like: “But wait. The Queen’s Birthday holiday is THIS weekend!”

Dead right. If you’d like to read about Olivia and Owen and how much trouble they get in while pruning a vineyard over two short little days, grab your secateurs! (Or, well… grab the book).

The action starts today, Thursday June 6.

32,000 words may not take you the entire weekend, but it will be a lovely start!

The Goodbye Ride has had some fabulous reviews:

Musing Maddie:

Cate Ellink

Brenda (Goodreads Prolific Reader)

Kylie Kaden

Soggie

Say ‘Hello’ to Liv and Owen and the beautiful Adelaide Hills town of Hahndorf this weekend in The Goodbye Ride. Settle back with a glass of wine close to hand and let Liv and Owen do all the hard vineyard work while you enjoy the vino.

Buy the e-book with a search on Amazon, or I’ll make it super easy: click here. It’s only 99 cents this weekend, so you don’t need to sell your crown jewels to snare it.