Bulls, Bears, Barefoot, and Backhands

Winding down another school term, one week until school holidays in WA. It’s been a landmark kind of term. I’ve been busy, and today I’m feeling lazy.

I’ve finished writing Book 2 of my Chalk Hill Series. This is The Cafe By The Bridge, following Water Under The Bridge (both working titles), with Water Under The Bridge (Book 1)  due out in September 2018. (I’m now under a year till release day and counting!)

Book 2 is currently with three fabulous readers and friends, which puts me in that nail-biting time of waiting to see what they think.

I’m feeling lazy because it’s the most stunning spring day and I’ve just been on a 2.5 hour walk on the Cape to Cape track on the beautiful South West coast. There are wildflowers out, glorious yellow coastal wattle everywhere… and I really do think yellow is my favourite colour in nature’s garden.

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Cape to Cape track, south of Ellensbrook.

Every few metres or so along the track we heard a skittle or scuttle of a gecko or skink (I refuse to think snake)… and we saw donkey, cowslip and pink lady orchids. Plus, my lovely friend Carrie got her arse wet posing for photographs… and that always makes me smile!

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Seconds after this… Carrie got her arse wet 🙂

Aside from working hard to finish The Cafe By The Bridge I’ve been reading, a few different books to my usual suspects, plus beta reading for Juanita Kees. I’ve also rediscovered two long-dormant hobbies.

The first of these is tennis. I’ve been talked into donning the tennis whites to play a Thursday game with some local girls. The last couple of Thursdays we’ve gone up the court for a hit. OMG!! Major fail! Two weeks ago I tried four serves, none of which got over the net!

I took the plunge and bought a new racquet and this week the ball seemed to come off a little better, and I got some serves over the net. Perhaps this will not be a complete disaster.

So tennis and Lily. It’s a thing. (I even found proof in the dusty trophy cabinet of the tennis club, dating back to 1992-1993! My name engraved on a plaque for ladies singles! OMG I feel old 😉 )

51FdXQ7p-OLOne of the books I read in August was The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. The book was a Kindle Monthly Deal on Amazon which meant it cost me about $5. Really good book. If you’re interested in paying off your mortgage, saving money on things such as credit card and bank fees and private health insurance; if you’re keen to find out how much Life Insurance, TPD and Income Protection you might need, or want to know if the fees you’re paying in Superannuation are fair, middling, or over the top; or you want an intro to shares, or get a sense of how much you’ll need to fund wine purchases in your retirement… this is a great starting point. I’m convinced the Barefoot way makes good sense.

The interesting thing is, in the last week at my work (my admin work) I’ve seen two customers come in with debit cards that had ‘splurge’ written across one, and ‘direct expenses’ across another, and of course now that I’ve read the book I recognised these terms. I commented on the words on the cards, and then had a chat with these two ladies about The Barefoot Investor and the Barefoot methodology.

I like to think I’m reasonable with managing money, but it’s still good to get a practical sense that you’re doing the right thing, and you’re on the right path.

So… The Barefoot Investor brought me to my second long-ago passion, though this one isn’t really a ‘passion’ as such. Many many (many) moons ago… (although not quite so long ago as the tennis trophy), a much younger Lily dabbled in the sharemarket. She dabbled so-oooo much she got completely wrecked in the Tech Wreck… (those old enough will understand the exact Tech Wreck I mean!) I’ve never touched the sharemarket outside of super since, but now after my read of the Scott Pape book, I’m prepared to dabble again.

This will be a different sort of dabble because I’m at a different stage of life. This will be a bluechip dabble, not a speculative seat-of-my-pants dabble. This is supposed to be a middle-aged lady sort of dabble where I won’t stress myself out based on a 10 cent swing…

Tennis and the stockmarket, hey? Who knew it was a thing… hmmm… maybe I should just stick to the writing. Watching Amazon rankings is its own kind of sharemarket rollercoaster ride!

xx Lily

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So very lucky to live where I live… the ocean was stunning today 🙂

 

Words are a Flowin’

It’s been a long time since I could say with any honesty that I’m making progress with some writing, but finally I’ve been getting some words down this week. Once again, I have my writing group, The Naughty Ninjas to thank for my word count. They helped me kick off the writer’s block blues with my contribution to our story about synchronised swimmer Stephen, and his experiences in his one-sided thong at the after-olympics party… If you want to read about Stephen you have to sign up to the ninja’s newsletter. You can do that here.
I’m working on something called Butterfly House Book 1. I’ve had feedback from my editor at Escape Publishing and she’s told me to kill a darling, and develop a bit more of the ‘romance’… so I’m working on that. On the whole, she likes the idea of the Butterfly House book(s) and that’s something. Because this story is a bit odd-ball 🙂
So that’s the good news.

Something else that works for me when I’m a bit blocked, is to read, and I’ve been doing a fair bit of that.

I read across a lot of genres and this week I think I’ve covered a fairly good gamut. First up, I finished the third book in Jenn J McLeod’s ‘Season’s’ trilogy, Season of Shadow and Light. I enjoyed this a whole heap. I’ve had it on Kindle for quite some time and Jenn’s new book, The Other Side Of The Season is out now so I felt a pressure to get book 3 read before I ordered book 4.51nfpZe24sL._AC_US160_
Tick to me!
Here’s my review of Season Of Shadow and Light.

After that, I got sidetracked thanks to one of my Naughty Ninja buddies, Roz Groves. I fell into the rabbit hole that is Sacrificed To The Dragon. Well, beam me up Scotty – this is paranormal erotic fantasy set in the modern-day UK, in a period when dragon-shifters are recognised by the UK Government and have their own clans and territories – although not everyone is happy to have dragon-shifters in Old Blighty.
I liked this a lot. A lot. Ok. I liked this more than is probably good for me.518ZJjYFa2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Which leads me to my literary quota for the week. I made myself a new years’ resolution to get more ‘literary’ this year and I’ve been making good use of Amazon deals when something I’ve dubbed suitably ‘literary’ has cropped up.

The Eye Of The Sheep by Sofie Laguna is one of these. I started the first three pages before work this morning and oh my holy heck, I am going to have to concentrate to get a good sense of what is going on. This book won the Miles Franklin award for 2015.

So this weekend it should be edits, edits, and some new words on Butterfly… and we’ll see how we go from there.

Are you reading anything interesting?

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It’s Good News Week

A shout out to my wonderful Beta reading and writing friends, Jennie Jones and Juanita Kees, both of whom have had wonderful book-related news this week.

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Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees & Lily Malone, before Christmas 2013.

Jennie, Juanita and I met on Facebook last year, and then in person at the RWA Conference in Fremantle. We are all Escape Artists (published by Escape Publishing), and we’re living in West Australia, although I’m a fair way south of these two. This, by the way, is a good thing. I’m sure if we lived closer, we’d talk books and drink wine and very little writing would get done! After Fremantle we chatted loosely about joining forces with joint promotions or other bookish things… and this eventuated in the gem of an idea, that we form a Beta reading team.

So far, I’m proud to say, our record is exemplary! We started with Under The Cover Of Dark, Juanita’s follow-up story to Under The Hood in her Tag Raider series, staring the hunky Detective Mark and the lovely (but scarred) widow, Lily Bennetti. How could I not fall in love with Detective Mark when every line I’m reading has ‘Lily’ swooning over his cop charms? (And cop arms, and those big guns, – please, somebody stop me.) We had a giggle on Facebook mid-way through last year when Juanita posted a line about the sexy things Lily had been doing with Detective Mark, and someone (I think it was Susanne Bellamy from memory – thought it was ME!) So I wrote a little story about me, Lily & Mark which I hope to post here one day when Juanita says it’s okay.

Anyhoo… while we waved goodbye to Under Cover Of Dark and wished it well on its journey through the submission straits, I think next cab off the rank was my book, Fairway To Heaven, closely followed by Jennie Jones’ next book in her Swallow’s Fall series. This is ‘The House At The Bottom Of The Hill’ (the follow-up to Jennie’s blockbuster, ball-busting Escape’s biggest-selling wonder-book: The House On Burra Burra Lane). Yes, I am trying VERY hard to get Jennie to cull her book titles… but she does love telling a story on her front cover! Me, Jennie & Juanita call it THATBOTH… it’s much easier!

I like to think of Jennie as writing ‘Chardonnay Country’. You don’t find wheat fields, red dusty outback roads, sheep or cattle stations in Swallow’s Fall, instead it’s in the Snowy Mountains, all green and wildflower-filled, and the community and characters Jennie Jones has developed there never fail to make me giggle. I love visiting Swallow’s Fall, pet pigs and all.

page1Juanita’s writing is different. Her Tag Raiders series is romantic suspense… tackling all the tough issues like teenage gang culture, drugs, street kids, homelessness and the wonderful people who assist in the rehabilitation of these teens.

Is it any surprise that after the emotion she spent on the page writing Tag Raiders, she threw us a curve ball? Juanita needed a holiday. So off to a Greek beach she went, while we all chewed our nails waiting on news about Under The Cover Of Dark… and phwoar, have we enjoyed watching her Greek Gods in their speedos on Mykonos… my little heart be still.

Then Jennie, in the space of a few months, wrote my favourite story of everything she’s done so far: 12 Days At Silver Bells House. This is a Christmas novella set in Swallow’s Fall, and it is absolutely delightful. Talking about ‘Chardonnay Country’ I loved how her heroine crashes her car in a paddock near Swallow’s Fall and awaits her rescue more worried about how she’s going to get the box of wine out of the boot (trunk), than how she is going to get out of the aforesaid mud patch in her designer heels. This novella is magic!

And the huge news that’s had us all dancing: Under The Cover Of Dark has been accepted for publication by Escape Publishing this week! And Jennie Jones has news too… although I’ll let her tell it!

So huge congratulations to Jennie and Juanita. They are two of the most generous people you could meet in the Australian writing fraternity.

And while I’m dishing out the love: It’s also been a big week (month) for two other buddies, Jenn J McLeod and Kylie Kaden, both of whom have new books (Simmering Season for Jenn, and Losing Kate for Kylie) in print and e-book that have captured readers’ attention in Australia and beyond.

It sure has been a good news week! #girlwritersrock #australianwritersrock

Holiday reading

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We’re back…

After 10 days in South Australia catching up with friends, food and wine, we’re back in West Australia and life returns to normal. Well, as close to normal as my life ever gets.

It’s been hard to get back into writing again – I’d been going so hard on edits for Fairway To Heaven before we flew interstate – but good author friends are helping me find my writing mojo.

Very quickly, I wanted to talk about three books I read while on holiday. The first two are published by Escape Publishing (my publisher of His Brand Of Beautiful). These were Hearts on Hold by Gracie Macgregor and Hindsight by Sarah Belle.

Both these books were lovely. Hindsight really captured my attention. It is the first chic-lit book I’ve read in a very long time. From the minute Sarah Belle began, I loved her voice, and I loved her story about a dedicated career woman forced to make choices between business and family.

This is a paragraph I highlighted on my Kindle from Hindsight:9689

The smell of oldness is released upon opening the envelope; the musty smell of time that sits in the back of your throat, stains my fingers. I unfold the letter, and the perfect penmanship of yesteryear is revealed in neat rows of cursive script, slanting to the right in black ink. My heart races and a slight tremble overtakes me as it sits in my hands, willing me to read it. Suddenly, all strength escapes me and I move to fold it up and bury it back in the drawer, deeper this time so that its cries won’t be heard quite so loudly. But what would be the use of that? It will still be there, hanging over me like a noose.

How amazing is that?

Hearts On Hold is a beautiful story too. Lots of suspense, and given I like the archeological/mythical scenario (it takes me back to my early Indiana Jones crush), there was lots in the Maltese island of Gozo to keep me entertained. This book also has an absolutely be-jizzling sex scene slap bang in the middle that made me want these two to get over their various hang-ups and jump back in the sack!

And Alison Stuart’s Gather The Bones. What can I say on this one? Wow. Wow. Wow. I am not even halfway through, but I am completely hooked. I remember reading one of this author’s blog posts about how she mixes genre, and the pros and cons of this for an author. Gather The Bones is historical, with a paranormal twist, and it’s absolutely stunning.

Holidays brought back one of the great strengths and advantages of a Kindle – the ease of transporting multiple titles without breaking my luggage allowance. Unfortunately, with two children, I didn’t do much reading on the plane. But I made up for it on dry land, in between a game of golf (for research purposes on Fairway To Heaven you understand) and multiple glasses of wine!

Whatever you’re reading right now, I hope you’re enjoying it.

As for me? I’m back to the edit cave!

The Art Of Self Promotion

I suck at it! But I’m learning…P1010700

Here’s the scenario. Two weeks ago I’m sitting in a doctor’s surgery for a regular glucose tolerance test. (For anyone not in the know, these take two hours and in that time you have to sit still and do nothing for the duration). For a working mother, permission to sit still for two hours and do nothing is BLISS…

I opened my book (at the time, The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy), and I had my Kindle on stand-by. I chose an unobtrusive seat, fluffed my feathers, and made myself comfortable.

Ten minutes into my ‘alone time’ the surgery receptionist sat by me (the surgery was empty) and said:

“What are you reading?”

I showed her the cover of the Chimney Sweeper’s Boy. “This.”

“Is it good?”

“It’s okay.”

“I don’t know what’s struck me lately, but I’m in a book-reading mood. Do you know of any good books?”

My heart starts beating faster. His Brand Of Beautiful. Tell her, His Brand Of Beautiful. “Well… what do you like to read?”

“Oh. Anything. I don’t know.”

His Brand Of Beautiful. Tell her, His Brand Of Beautiful. Tell her House For All Seasons. Tell her Under The Hood. Tell her Fast Forward. “If I think of something, I’ll let you know.”

Now – there will be those out there (Jenn J Mcleod, Juliet Madison) who all cringe on my behalf and say: WHAT A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY!

I was way too shy to own up to having just written a book. Opportunity missed.

All this ‘promotion’ discussion reminds me of a line the real estate agent used when she was discussing the marketing program for selling our Hahndorf house. I wasn’t certain I wanted a sign out the front and she looked at me and said: “Lily… You can’t sell a secret.”

How those words have haunted me since my book launched in March. It’s hard to turn around a mind-set of not wanting anyone to know you’re writing… and turning that around to wanting everyone to know you’re writing.

Outside of Facebook friends, I’d hardly told anyone. Not friends. Not family.

And then of course, I suddenly want sales for my book. Because I’m serious about turning my writing into my second career. My 5 and 10-year goals are to increase the amount of income my writing can substitute from my ‘day job’… I’ll call my writing my own, personal, Self Managed Super Fund.

One month after my launch and my desire for sales is trumping any shyness I had.

Here’s some examples of my growth:

At the weekend, we had a family reunion. It would have been my granddad’s 100th birthday on Sunday (were he still alive) and my mother’s side of the family all got together at an Aunt’s farm for a big birthday shin-dig. Here, I actually ‘fessed up to having written a romance book, telling them my author name and the book title, and how they could buy it. (If they didn’t mind the heroine letting loose with the odd F-word and could handle steamy sex scenes and would still send me presents at Christmas.)

Yesterday, my boss told me she had asked the ladies in her bookclub if they’d be interested in me talking to them about e-publishing and my blog and my book… All these ladies know my family (particularly my father), and if you asked me a year ago whether I’d like this particular group to know I was writing, I would have said: “No Way Jose!!!”

This time around, I’m actually looking forward to it. Though they’re all on Pain Of Death not to breathe a word to my old man!

And finally.  I had a follow-up appointment at the Doctor’s surgery on Monday, getting the results of the tests from two weeks prior. This is how the conversation went:

“Hi Jane. Are you still in your book-reading phase?”

With a double-take that I’d remembered, Jane says: “Yes. Actually right now I’m reading Jim Stynes biography.”

“I have a couple of book names that I wrote down for you, if you’d like them?”

“Yes, please. That would be great.”

So I handed her my handwritten (because I’m not yet organised enough to get bookmarks or business cards or that sort of thing), notes with the names of: “His Brand Of Beautiful by Lily Malone”; “House For All Seasons by Jenn J McLeod”; “Under The Hood by Juanita Kees”; Fast Forward by Juliet Madison; “White Ginger by Susanne Bellamy” and “Fractured by Dawn Barker.”

You can’t sell a secret… It just took me a heck of a long time to realise this!

Books I’m reading: Man Drought, Rachael Johns

Man Drought is the first Rachael Johns book that I’ve read and I have to be honest – I won it in a reader blog giveaway promotion.

That said, Rachael has a great name in Australian rural romance writing and I was very keen to see how she plots a book and pulls it all together from a craft perspective, as much as from that of a reader.

I enjoyed Man Drought. I particularly liked the concept and the start, about a woman’s change of direction after the death of her husband, to purchase a classic old Aussie pub in a remote rural town that is slowly dying as people move away for more opportunities in the city. This is a common problem right across Australia as drought (as in lack of rain, not men), jobs, education and services all pull younger people away from the country.

Imogen is a likeable heroine. Gibson isn’t so likeable (he’s so stubborn I wanted to slap him around a bit) but he’s hot and that works for me. There are some classic scenes that made me laugh, (usually to do with a vibrator), and it’s all good fun.

There was one line in particular that really resonated with me in this book, the first time Imogen and Gibson do the deed.

“Steady there,” he said into her ear before starting things
that didn’t steady her at all.

I thought this was a beautiful way of summing a mood in a love scene without getting into gory details…

Thanks Rachael, for choosing my entry to win your book!

Jenn J McLeod: Left Field with Lily

Jenn J McLeod is about to release her debut novel, House For All Seasons, with Simon & Schuster.
Jenn J McLeod is about to release her debut novel, House For All Seasons, with Simon & Schuster.

Drum roll please!
I have been buried since Saturday in revisions for my book and that process alone has given me so many ideas for posts!
I will get to them. I promise.

But in the meantime, I am so thrilled to introduce the
WOMAN of the moment! Jenn J Mcleod who has her debut
novel, House For All Seasons, coming out with Simon & Schuster
in March. Thank you so much Jenn for being part of:
From Left Field…

The name of the game here is bravery! My blog has been about my path to publication, and while a writer can read any number of articles on writing craft, one of the most valuable things to me was reading excerpts, and well, just reading, to see how good writers put all that craft together.

So the first question I’ll ask is:

Lily M: Share with us the opening paragraph of your book as it began and how it is now. 

Jenn J: Okay, on 13/03/10

Prologue    

‘I’m not going back there. Not for three months, not for three weeks, not even for three days.’ Thirty-eight year old Poppy Hamilton, once powerful playground prima donna, still knew how to command a crowd. ‘As lovely as it is to catch up with you ladies after all this time, I can’t do it – I won’t. Sorry. Besides, it makes no sense.’

‘Didn’t you understand?’ Sara tried to project her voice. ‘The Will is conditional on us all doing it – starting with you in spring.’

On 01/03/12 (final edits and I ditched the prologue way back, as advised, changing it to Chapter One)

‘I’m not going back there. Not for three months, three weeks, not even three days.’

Two decades on and Poppy, once powerful playground prima donna, could still command a crowd. ‘As lovely as it is to catch up with you ladies after all this time, I can’t do this. I won’t. Sorry. Besides, it makes no sense.’

Time pressured—as usual—Poppy stood apart from her three companions, alone and restless on the window side of the conference room. She eyed the wall clock hanging at one end of it, then her friends.

Former friends.

Strangers.

Lily M: Share with us 8 lines from the top of page 88
(yes, I stole this idea—did I mention I was head down in edits and time-poor—sorry!)

Jenn J: This is from House Of All Seasons: Part One – Surviving Summer (characters Sara and Will.)

Breathless by the time she’d reached the car, her disquiet turning to exasperation, Sara said, ‘Don’t be angry, Will.’

‘Why not?’

‘Because it’s not like you to be angry.’

‘Everyone’s funny guy, eh? Yeah, that’s good old Will Travelli. The guy who gives you all a good laugh. The guy who reminds you how lucky you all are. Well, newsflash, Sara, that’s not who I am twenty-four/seven, and not without a lot of bloody encouragement. And by that I mean my kids. Without them I wouldn’t even be here. They were the only thing that made me put up with the frigging pain and humiliation. Can we just go?’

LIly M: (Love those 8 lines Jenn). What is your greatest ‘lightbulb moment’
in terms of Writing Craft? images

Jenn J: Only one?  Then I’ll go with ‘voice’. I was trying to write stuff that wasn’t me and … well, it wasn’t working. Then I read a Lisa Heidke novel (What Kate Did Next) and bingo! I even blogged about my bingo moment. (The link is easier than me explaining).  http://www.jennjmcleod.com/2010/07/12/so-thats-what-a-fresh-voice-means/

Lily M: What keeps you awake at night?

Jenn J: At this moment in time? The idea that reviewers are reading my book and that my life’s work, my impossible dream that somehow came true, now depends on five little stars or the words they choose to write. (Okay, possibly a little over-dramatic. But you did ask.)

Lily M: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which three would you pick? There are magic batteries for anything electrical!

  • ipod
  • kindle/e-reader
  • my favourite paperback
  • my significant other
  • food I don’t have to kill or catch
  • wine
  • battery-powered Nespresso & endless supply of Pods
  • a torch
  • moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush
  • change of clothes
  • mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB

Jenn J: Hello, my name is Jenn and I am an addict!  Yes, I picked:

  1. mobile phone/internet connection for twitter & FB. How pathetic is THAT! I do love my iPad.
  2. my significant other (to keep me fed and watered while I write, Twitter and Facebook.)
  3. Dilemma. I don’t need a torch. The iPad will double as that and I don’t need moisturiser/cosmetics/hairbrush as there is no mirror so who cares? Hmm, tough one. Fresh clothes are a must, but so are wine and (to a lesser degree) food.

(Indecisive, isn’t she our Jenn! And not particularly practical. I’d like to see some of those Tweets written on a tummy filled with wine and no food! I think I have to take Answer 3 as ‘fresh clothes’. This is probably just as well for any lost bushwalkers who happen upon this campsite.)

Lily M: My book (being released by Escape Publishing in March) is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’?

The dogs. Jenn's brand of beautiful, bad breath and all!
The dogs. Jenn’s brand of beautiful, bad breath and all!

Jenn J: Hairy, bad breath, annoying at times, but a happy tail and unconditional love. My muse, Strawberry & Daiquiri.

Lily M: Can you tell me the best thing about House For All Seasons? 

Jenn J: The best thing about my book?
The cover.

Oh, you mean inside…story like…?
Hmm, the four characters, based on the four seasons, written in four parts. It’s like four stories in one all tied up with a whopping big secret. I’m inspired by the changing seasons. I love the contrast – and contrast makes for great characters and conflict. So I wanted to create four female characters as different as the seasons.

So, House for all Seasons is four separate journeys of the heart set in a small town with heart: Surviving Summer, Tall Poppy, Autumn Leaves and Wynter’s Way, in which readers witness both the unravelling of friendships and a tightening of family ties.

Jenn front cover

Lily M: Who would absolutely love it?

Jenn J: I once heard Jodi Picoult say:

“The best books straddle genres and attract a
variety of readers.”

That influences my writing, and with intricate themes that deal with family ties and friendship there is definitely broad appeal. The four-part approach has something for everyone.

I write what the business calls ‘commercial’ fiction. This means stories with broad themes and appealing to a broader audience (making the distinction from what is referred to as more ‘literary’ works). But a broader audience means more people reading my work and that, after all, is why I write. I believe my novels can comfortably sit on a shelf alongside more literary works, general fiction and contemporary romances.

So I’m not sure who would love it. But what I’d hope is that they remember the story, or a particular scene, and talk about it in much the same way people talk about a favourite movie.

Lily M: Can you share with us your favourite 250 words from the novel and tell us what makes it your favourite?

Jenn J: One Favourite Part?! I have lots! But for different reasons. One that makes me cry. One that makes me laugh out loud. One where I sit back and say “Did I really write that?”

For you, I have this one. I hope you enjoy it (and it’s not too long).

(Lily here: AHEM! Did you not see me say 250 words!)

House For All Seasons – Surviving Summer

‘Will said you were back in town,’ Jennifer continued. ‘He mentioned it in passing last night after picking me up and giving me the most beautiful bunch of flowers, then taking me out to dinner at, of all places, La Mystique restaurant in Saddleton, where we drank champagne and he made a toast, to me, of course. It was my birthday, you know.’

Was the woman still breathing? Sara began to wonder, having listened to the longest sentence in history. Maybe Jenny was cheerleader for the verbal Olympics these days. Despite the long-windedness of her monologue, the message could not have been any clearer if she’d tattooed it on that tummy next to the navel stud: Back off, Will’s mine.

‘Well in that case, happy birthday, Jennifer,’ Sara said, trying not to smile.

She should put the woman out of her misery, tell Jennifer she was here to close doors, not bang her head against them by chasing after a twenty-year-old attraction that was never reciprocated in the first place. Sara had moved on from Will a long time ago. She was interested to know how he was doing despite her unforgivable lack of contact and concern, but after fulfilling her obligation with the house, Sara would go back to Sydney. Staying permanently in Calingarry Crossing had never been a consideration. Never again would the town tie Sara down. By summer’s end she would be ready to face the world as a new woman, get a job and get used to how life was for her now. Telling Jennifer she need not worry about any competition from her was the right thing to do, but the devil in Sara decided to let the woman make her own assumptions. Jennifer was probably quite skilled at it.

‘Morning, boss,’ Jennifer chirped as she sashayed past Will on his way back over to Sara.

‘I think my arrival may have upset Jenny … I mean, Jennifer.’

‘Not sure I follow.’ Will wrinkled his nose the way he always used to, except for the time a Saddleton team bully broke it in a high tackle.

‘Jennifer? Your date last night? Wildly romantic dinner? La Mystique? Ringing any bells?’

‘Is that what she just told you?’ He chuckled in a sweet, sympathetic way. ‘Poor Jen. Her husband left her last year. Ran off with a backpacker working at the Saddleton pub. Yesterday was her first birthday alone and I thought a night out would be nice, cheer her up a bit. Besides, she’s a good worker and hangs around to help me close up. She never claims overtime.’

‘Oh, I’m sure she feels amply rewarded, though.’

Sara was teasing, but the pangs of jealousy jabbed a little too seriously hard. Why had there been no Will and no knight in shining armour to rescue Sara when her husband had run out, dumping her at the worst possible point in her life?

Don’t go there.

‘So, speaking of dinner, Ms Sara Fraser, how about you have it with me tonight?’

‘Oh my, La Mystique two nights in one week?’

‘Ah, actually, I was thinking more Le Café, as in here. It’s wages night so I’m slaving over pays after I lock up, but I can have Dom knock us up a meal before he finishes. When I’m done with the wages I can just bung the plates of whatever in the microwave.’

Bung whatever in the microwave!

Sara laughed so hard, the lack of control over her normally tightly controlled emotions surprised her.

‘What’s so funny?’ Will asked, doing a lousy job of keeping a straight face.

‘You—and you know it.’ She buckled her helmet and unhooked her sunnies from the neck of her shirt, preparing to leave. ‘I guess it’s microwaved whatever around six. I’ll be here.’

****

Lily M: Microwaved whatever at six sounds great to me! What a guy is Will. I’m lucky to have two Will excerpts. Thanks Jenn.

Jenn J: Thank you for having me, Lily.

Lily M: Hmm. You’re being nice now after getting 650 words by me hey? Okay then. You’re welcome!

To find out more about House For All Seasons, and about Jenn J McLeod,
visit: www.jennjmcleod.com

or

http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/House-for-All-Seasons/Jenn-J-McLeod/9781922052049

And you can pre-order it here:

http://www.dymocks.com.au/ProductDetails/ProductDetail.aspx?R=9781922052049#.UP5vUEsUVZc

Plus it will be available in bookshops and wherever books are sold
(incl Big W, Kmart and Target) from March 1. Also e-book, Kindle & Kobo.