“You’d never cheat. I know you.”

FairWayToHeavenFinal-harlequin 200_200x315The Amazon gods have put my April 8 release, Fairway To Heaven on sale for less than a dollar most of this week. I don’t know how long the sale will last. You can pre-order Fairway for 94 cents from Amazon in Australia, and from iTunes right now.

Amazon: Australia link here:

Amazon: US link here:

iTunes link here:

Here’s one of my favourite snippets from the book. It’s just after Jenn and Brayden have been reunited at the beach shack in Busselton, and they’re sitting on the beach at Geographe Bay watching Jenn’s son, Seb, play in the sand. They have a lot to catch up on.

“So, have you been playing any golf, Jenn?”

Now he’s kicked off on another topic destined to screw with my insides. Yesterday’s golf course visit is a blazing scar in my mind.

“Not since before Seb was born.”

He fixes me with a look. “You hook up with a golf pro and you’re not playing golf? That sucks.”

“Jack plays or coaches all day. The last thing he wants to do is play another nine holes with me. And anyway, we’ve got Seb. I’d just slow him down. Jack hates wasting practice time.”

“Bullshit,” Brayden scoffs. “Your golf game can keep up with anyone.”

“I haven’t hit a ball in two years.”

“You’d still run rings around me. You were a better golfer than most people I know, even when we were in school.” He’s doing it again, talking about the past, making ‘us’ sound natural as breathing. “Remember when your Dad made that driving range in the scrub at the back of your place? Emmy and I had bets on how far you could hit. We used to fetch buckets of balls for you.”

“Yeah.” I remember.

My life revolved around Brayden then. There wasn’t a minute of the day where I didn’t know where he was. When I came out of my science class on Tuesday afternoon, I knew that if I stopped for thirty seconds at the drink fountain, he’d come out of English and I’d see him on his way to Technical Drawing. Sometimes he’d sneak close, flick his hand in the water and make it spurt in my face and I’d squeal, like I never saw him coming.

On Fridays, I had piano lessons. I could walk halfway home with Emmy and Brayden before I’d turn at Swan Street to get to old Mrs Hampson’s. I got later and later for my lessons because I’d linger longer and longer with the Culhanes, and finally my parents said they wouldn’t waste their money if I couldn’t even get to the lessons on time.

“We should play at the weekend. It’ll be fun.” His voice jolts me from the Pilbara to Busselton.

I tip my nose at Seb—now burying the dozer up to its windows in sand. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Bring him with. He can run around. He’ll love it.”

“Most golfers I know don’t deal well with small children who run around while they’re trying to line up a putt.”

Brayden scoops a handful of dry sand and lobs it five metres from us, then another, making the grains scatter and roll. Then he turns to me and says,  “You gonna tell me the story with Jack?”

“There’s no story.” I can’t look at him. His question starts that prickle behind my eyes, same as when I peel onions. I hate peeling onions, and I refuse to cry here on this beautiful beach.

“Come on, Jenn. Something happened. You and Emmy cooked up this beach shack sabbatical, and Jack’s not invited. It’s not rocket science.”

I pick at something trapped behind the fingernail of my left hand, banana probably, while I debate over how much to say. It sounds so cheap to admit Jack’s affair—if a quickie in a bunker can even be called an affair—and I’m not sure it’s any of Brayden’s business. It’s crazy really, Jack’s the cheat and yet I’m the one who feels disloyal talking about it behind his back.

“Jenn?” He prompts.

Bloody pushy Culhanes. Eventually I settle for, “I’ve moved out.”

“Forever? For the weekend? What?”

I get a horrible flash of Marnie James’ knickers on the grass. “Forever.”

“When you two had Seb… I thought things were good. Emmy said—”

He stops, picks up another handful of sand.

Let it go, Jenn. But I can’t. I don’t care how many cats curiosity killed. “What did Emmy say?”

Throwing the sand at his feet, he turns to me. The breeze surfs through his hair and I want to reach out and smooth the tangle, test whether his beard is long enough to be soft.

“Em said she thought I’d pretty much blown my chance. She thought you and Jack were a done deal.”

Why does he choose now to talk about blown chances? Now when everything’s so complicated and I’ve got no easy answers.

God. I hug my knees to my chest. “I can’t do this… I can’t talk about Jack… with you.” I’ve got no hope of keeping any of my armour intact if Brayden can open my weak spots like this.

“It’s okay, Jenn.” His arms constrict around his knees, all the muscles outlined. “Just tell me this: he didn’t hurt you? Or Seb?”

“What? Like hit us? No. I’d have been out the door in a flash.”

Seb has had enough of pushing the bulldozer in the sand. He’s wandering toward the water. I don’t want him to get wet because it’s almost time to go home.

“He couldn’t keep his dick in his pants,” Jack says. It’s not a question.

“What?”

“Jack. He cheated, didn’t he? That’s what you won’t tell me. He’d be the one who strayed. You’d never cheat. I know you.”

My mouth works without making a sound, and the hesitation is all it takes. It’s written all over Brayden’s face: he knows he’s guessed right.

“It’s not your fault,” he says.

“I know it’s not my fault. I don’t need you to feel sorry for me.” Abruptly, I’m on my feet, shaking out the towel, sending sand flying. “Seb and I better get back. It’s getting late.”

He stands too, slings his towel over his shoulder. “Jenn…”

Please. Just leave it.” I bristle. I won’t cry if I bristle.

Seb doesn’t want to leave the beach. He kicks at me when I pick him up. Screams, and when that doesn’t work, goes limp, trying to slip through my hands like a wet fish.

Brayden appears beside us. “Do you think he’ll let me give him a lift home?”

“Who knows? Give it a try.”

Brayden throws Seb in the air a couple of times and I don’t know if it’s shock at being tossed so high, or that instinctual little boy love of rough games that cuts through, but he stops screaming and lets Brayden swing him onto his shoulders. They start up the beach.

I pick up Seb’s hat, the bulldozer, my bag, and I follow the trail Brayden blazes, like I’ve done most of my life.

So Close To The End: Book 4

It’s been a big couple of weeks on the writing front. If everything goes to plan this weekend, I might even type the magical words: The End on my fourth completed book, by Sunday arvo.

I can’t tell you how exciting, and how relieving that is!

This is the book that I’ve often dubbed: “The Book That Will Never Be Written”. It’s actually the very first romance I ever tried to write. I submitted it too, and it was only after the rejections came in that I realised I knew nothing about writing, and it was complete and utter drivel! Sometimes a would-be author needs the hard lessons.

That crappy draft has sat around for about four years now, and between other books I’ve pulled it out, looked at it, sometimes edited a bit of it and thought: eeeeek, I can’t possibly fix that up.

But sometime during this year, I stopped trying to fix it up, and I just started re-writing. I kept all that draft, I had about 50,000 words, and if anything it served as a reminder of how far my writing has come, and gave me a loose template for a plot to follow. This time around I had a much better idea of how to get the story to unfold the way I wanted it to.

In four years, this book has had many names.

Initially, it was called Fringe Benefits.

Then it became variously HBOB2: Her Brand Of Business, and/or Her Brand Of Bargain, neither of which I particularly liked. I chose those names to tie in with my debut Escape Publishing title, His Brand Of Beautiful, because the books were very loosely linked through the wine industry setting, with a couple of other very minor characters showing up from my other books, including the journalist Jennie Gray who is in His Brand Of Beautiful, and who gets a mention in the excerpt below.

Anyway, as I was writing this excerpt (the close to Chapter 16) I had an “aha!” moment with the title, and I’ve now got a completely new title for the book that works so much better.

If you get so far as to read this small excerpt, see if you can pick what the new name might be. It’s something Seth says to Remy, and I’ll give you a clue: I haven’t called my new book “Find My Way Back With A Torch”.

Wish me luck for getting to ‘The End’ this weekend, I think you’ll hear my squuuuueeeee from wherever you might be if I make it.

Excerpt: (Lily’s Book 4)

They’re in Remy’s kitchen. Remy is cooking, and Seth says checking his phone:

 

“Ah. It’s that journalist from Channel 7. Jennie Gray. She’s been chasing us for an interview the last few days.”

Remy stopped spreading mozzarella over the second pizza. “Us?”

“She wants to come up here and take some photos of us at home and interview you.”

It hit the pit of her stomach like a lump of lead. “Interview me? The media?”

“Don’t worry, Rem. I’m putting her off.”

“Why would anyone want to interview me?” She grumbled. “You maybe, sure. But me? I’m nobody.”

“You’re not nobody, and don’t worry about it. I think she’s just looking for a different angle, and I’ve been in the papers a hundred times. Don’t worry. I’ll look after it.”

Remy sipped her champagne, glad the food wasn’t far away. She was starting to feel light-headed and that dizzy feeling wasn’t helped by thoughts of journalists and cameras.

“You know what I’ve really loved about living here?” She said.

“What?”

“I love that no one knows me. I love how anonymous I am here, especially how it was in the beginning. Do you know that in five years, I can only remember one time when I ran into someone I knew in the supermarket in Mount Barker? It’s not like living in Margaret River.”

“That might change now you’re with me.”

“Yeah. I’m kind of afraid of that.”

“Can you handle it, Rem? I mean, without freaking out. Because if it’s an issue we should probably stop right here.”

She wished her stomach didn’t give that awful lurch at the thought of stopping right here. The last thing she wanted to do was stop right here.

“Maybe stop after pizza, hey? I’m starving.” She tried for a tone that said she was good with it, she wasn’t about to fall to pieces, but her hand shook and mozzarella cheese missed the pizza base and skittered across the counter. Seth reached for her wrist, held firm enough that her gaze flicked to his.

“I don’t want to stop. I’m all in, Rem. I’m so far into you I wouldn’t know how to find my way back if you gave me a torch.”

Her arm jerked in his hand, she couldn’t help it. All of a sudden it was like the heat in his skin would burn her up. Hell and Tommy, what was she supposed to say to that?

The oven timer buzzed. So she said: “Pizza.”

Did you pick it? Let me know in the comments! Happy Weekend everybody, I’ll be writing!

First Encounters Of The Detective Mark Kind

page1Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? I have, with Juanita Kees’ character, Detective Mark Johnson from her Tag Raiders series. Detective Mark is a secondary character in Juanita’s first two books, Fly Away Peta and Under The Hood, but he gets his own story in the final Tag Raiders installment, Under Cover Of Dark, which was recently accepted by Escape Publishing.

About a year ago, when Juanita was drafting UCOD, she wrote something on Facebook about “Lily and Detective Mark”… it might go to show my frame of mind around Detective Mark and his impressive ‘guns’, that my attention was grabbed, and I had this instant thought that the ‘Lily’ Juanita referred to on Facebook was in fact, me! A few other writer friends who saw Juanita’s post, also commented that they thought ‘Lily’ was a reference to little old moi.

Ba-dooooiinnng!!! Juanita soon set me straight, pointing out ‘Lily’ is Lily Bennetti, not Lily Malone. (Sigh) Alas, Detective Mark’s romantic inclinations are for another… a sleek, glamorous blonde ‘Lily’  who wouldn’t wear a pink beanie in a purple fit.

At the time I joked with Juanita on Facebook that I’d write a scene with myself as ‘Lily’ and Detective Mark, just for fun… and so I did, and for your reading pleasure, you can find it below. Please enjoy it for what it’s worth… it was always just meant to be a night’s writing for fun a year ago. That said, writing this little scene got me writing in first person POV for the first time and within weeks, I was deep into drafting Fairway To Heaven which is a first person POV book. So I owe ‘Lily’ and Detective Mark for helping me find my voice for Fairway. Thanks Juanita for writing such a wonderful character. I know you meant him especially for me! xx


Lily, Lily, and Detective Mark

Do you ever get sick of being called ‘Lovely’?

I tell you. If you hang out with a bunch of writers long enough and your name is ‘Lily’… sure as shit everyone wants to call you the “lovely Lily Malone,” cos writers love that alliteration stuff. It’s why you get books called, Gone Girl; Dixie Divas; Billionaire Bachelors… give an author a common letter to play with and they give out the kind of ear-splitting squee that would split six sausages.

I’m not lovely. I’m not even nice. I have a mean streak, and it’s a mile long. A green mile.

I’m jealous of another Lily, because she has everything I want. She has Detective Mark Johnson’s complete, utter, undivided, attention.

But I’ve got ahead of myself. Let me explain.

You see, I’ve been watching Detective Mark Johnson for a while. Ever since he was the big kahuna policeman in the little West Australian town of Williams. You should have seen the girls fall over him there. Girls in the club. Girls on the street. But Detective Mark never had time for any of them. He was too busy saving his sister, Peta, from her psycho ex.

And there I was, masquerading behind the counter of the drive-thru at the Williams pub, making truly great recommendations about which wine went best with what. “You’re cooking steak tonight, sir? You need a big, gutsy red.”

Most men, if I look them square in the eye and mouth “big, gutsy red” … well, they melt like a Tim Tam in a two-year-old’s fist.

Not Detective Mark. He was all business. Oh don’t get me wrong, he was never rude. But he looked through me, I don’t think he ever properly saw me. He was a man on a mission, and that mission was never me.

Williams didn’t have enough to hold Detective Mark. Not once his sister found the man of her dreams and the psycho ex got his just desserts. Detective Mark headed for Perth HQ and got himself promoted. Got himself a shiny new blue and white car and a shirt with more stripes.

I didn’t stay after Detective Mark left. There’s only so many times you can tell someone: “white with seafood”, “red with meat”… “sparkling anytime”… “Lambrusco… never.” And something about Williams without Detective Mark smothered my words. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t breathe.

So I quit.

I found a flat near Cottesloe Beach where I can hear the surf and the seagulls. I walk on the beach here and get sand in my toes. I’m writing again. The words aren’t flowing; they come in splatters and dabs. But it’s progress. It’s more than I had.

I waitress nights at the Perth Convention Centre. Tonight there’s a big Awards ceremony, Apprentice Of The Year, but the Awards have been run and won already, speeches have been spoken. Me? I ducked outside for a smoke when the DJ struck up the Macarena. That song makes my head hurt, it’s too damn happy.

And that’s when I see him, talking into his phone. Detective Mark. He still has that same way of standing, like he’s already moving, legs slightly spread, right hip cocked, as if he’s about to hurdle a fence and catch the bad guy. It’s his Daniel Craig thing.

I suck in an extra chunk of oxygen with my smoke. It makes the cigarette flare orange, and he sees me. He screws up his eyes and steps closer to where I hog the shadows.

“Lily?” He takes the phone from his ear, “Lily Marlene?”

“Malone,” I sigh on the inside. “Lily Malone.”

He hits his forehead with the palm of his hand, which is the first time I notice the gun. “Lily Malone. Shit. I’m sorry. I remember the hat. How are you?”

I can’t help the way my stomach does its own Macarena at the knowledge he’s remembered me. Well, he’s remembered my hat.

Trust me, I rock my work uniform—short black skirt, buttoned-up white shirt, and I grabbed my trademark pink beanie before I snuck outside—but already, Mark has his phone to his ear and his other hand comes out to me, like he’s telling me to be quiet. Does he know he’s just waved his big ugly gun in my face.

The writer in me gasps at the same time as she takes a mental snapshot. What am I thinking? What is he thinking? Who’s the protagonist here? What do I smell? What can I hear. God, this plastered brick scrapes my shoulders…gonna snag my shirt.

That’s when I see the woman running through the shadows at the edge of the walkway around the Convention Centre.

I know her. How can I not know her? We share the same name. Lily Bennetti and her lawyer husband, Gino, hold the deed to every social page in every newspaper in this city.

A shiver sneaks down my spine. Gino Bennetti makes a better mafioso, than a mafioso. A better Squizzy, than Squizzy.

“Detective?” She’s out of breath, scared. Silver-blonde hair has broken out of what probably started the night as classic bun. Somewhere in her flight, she’s broken a heel because her knees aren’t working right, she’s running all stooped over, and yet when she reaches him, she manages to make his name sound like a purr. “Detective Johnson?”

Mark steadies her with a strong hand on her elbow. “Mrs Bennetti. It’s okay. I’ve got you.”

What does it say about me that as I watch his fingers curl about her arm, I wish she’d snap the other heel? She’s wearing shoes that cost more than I’ve made from selling my books in a year. I bet Lily Bennetti played Rapunzel in the school play. When she was born, Tinkerbell must have been right there sprinkling fairy dust on the crib.

Then someone opens a door on the balcony above us and there’s a splash of light. In it, I see her bruises. I see her tears. I see pain etched in a face so beautiful, it makes my throat hurt.

Detective Mark has forgotten me. Lily Bennetti doesn’t know I exist. They’re caught in a moment I don’t want to watch, and yet I can’t tear my eyes away. I’m such a sucker like that.

And that’s when I see the car beyond Mark’s broad shoulder. It’s long, and black and sleek, and it’s cruising silent as a shark.

“Um. Detective?” I mumble, pushing off the wall.

He tilts his head without looking at me, his eyes are locked on Lily’s milky skin.

I try again. “Detective. I know that car.”

My namesake turns, her knees give and she stumbles, just enough to make Detective Mark pull her close.

I’ve seen enough. If they want to mess with Squizzy, they’re on their own. The night air has calmed the ache in my head, and inside they’ve killed the Macarena. Someone’s playing Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run. 

That’s enough of a message for me. I’m outta here.

####

p.s.: If you see this, Jenn J Mcleod: Lily Marlene is for you. 😉

Fairway To Heaven: You Read It Here First!

Hello blog, I’ve been busy!

I am SO close to calling my new contemporary romance, my golf story, Fairway To Heaven, finished. So very close. I had hoped to get to The End before family Malone went on holiday… but I haven’t quite made it.

I am, however, way ahead of schedule. I didn’t think I’d be finished till February.

In the last week, the book has been in the hand of fellow authors, Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees, and the very soon to be published with Losing Kate (Random House), Kylie Kaden. They’re Beta reading for me, and they’re enjoying Fairway thus far.

With their suggestions, I’m almost halfway through edits. Chapter 13. It’s so tempting to take the laptop with me on holiday, however, I think this way also may lie divorce… (joking).

So I’ll be away for a few weeks, but I’d like to leave you with the first 1000 words of Fairway To Heaven—my golf romance about lust in the bunkers and love on the greens.

Enjoy. Stay safe and happy, and I’ll be back in touch soon.

Cheers, Lily M

xxx

Fairway To Heaven – Chapter 1.
By Lily Malone

Jack Bannerman likes the way my butt fills a pair of skinny jeans. I wish he didn’t. There’s a denim seam stuck in vaginal purgatory and no matter which way I squirm, it doesn’t want to budge. I’m getting squeezed in places no woman should ever be squeezed.

If Jack says I don’t make an effort, after today… I’ll. I’ll. I don’t know what I’ll do, but it won’t be pretty.

Spying a gap in the traffic, I gun the Corolla across the dual lanes. The car splutters, hops a bit, and shoots between the polished black gates of Sea Breeze Golf Club, into the shade of a solemn line of sheoaks.

They’ve changed the layout since I was here last, but that was months ago, no, longer than that. I haven’t hit a golf ball here since I was pregnant with Seb and swinging a club around my stomach was like swinging round a basketball.

There are speed bumps on the driveway now, humps big as whales, and I reduce speed. Who would have thought an exclusive golf course would attract your average hoon? They’re a conservative bunch here.

The Pro’s parking space—Jack’s designated space—used to be under the spreading branches of a London Plane Tree. Now his Subaru WRX is in a different spot, parked nearer the Pro Shop, divided from the bitumen and the billiard-table lawn by a low white-painted post and rail fence. Afternoon sun glints off the WRX’s metallic blue paint.

All the office-bearers have reserved places. Secretary. Treasurer. Captain. The only slot, other than Jack’s that’s currently filled, is President.

I’m not surprised the course isn’t busy. Jack says Thursday afternoon is dead. It’s late-night shopping in Perth and most of the members are under instruction to hurry home so their wives or girlfriends can hit the malls. That’s why Jack chose Thursdays for lessons, because the course is quiet.

The dashboard clock says five-thirty and a thrill rushes through me. I’ve got so much planned for tonight. Champagne on ice, Jack’s favourite dinner in the oven, and Sebastian is at Emmy’s for a sleepover.

If he wants to, Jack and I might hit a few balls down the twelfth, for old time’s sake. Though I’m hardly dressed for golf.

I cruise past a SAAB, then a Mercedes, turn the corner and double back, pass a couple of four-wheel-drives, one with the personalised license plate screaming HOLE IN 1. Who would buy a number plate like that?

Aiming the Corolla at a spot under the plane tree, I come in a little too fast. The tyres bump the kerb and recoil, and I wonder if that’s enough to get me kicked out for hoon behaviour.

I clamber out into the scent of cut grass, hot bitumen, and bore water from ticking sprinklers now splashing the greens, and as I shove the key in my pocket, I take a subtle second to ease denim from the centre of my butt.

The Pro Shop nestles under the right-hand wing of the club house. Unlike the more expansive glass and brick building, it’s got a skillion roof, and it’s only single story. The main path continues straight but I detour right, wobbling a little in Emmy’s Lady Janes as I circle a bed of bright red geraniums, orange pokers, and yellow daisies.

From the Pro Shop, I know Jack can see the carpark. Has he seen me? He could hear me—these heels would wake the dead.

I glance toward the Pro Shop door, half expecting Jack to be there, all lean and gorgeous, ready with a smart comment and a sexy smile.

The sign on the front door is flipped to Closed. 

Huh.

Shoving my sunglasses to the top of my head, I walk up to the Pro Shop door until my nose touches the glass. Nothing moves inside. I grab the door handle and push, then pull, and it doesn’t budge. Only then do I agree with what the sign already told me.

Pro Shop’s closed.

Two or three strands of blonde hair get yanked out as I lift the sunglasses from my head and put them back on my face.

Sometimes when he isn’t busy, Jack will take a bucket of balls up on the driving range. There is two-hundred metres of fairway lined with thick bush, not far from the Pro Shop. He takes a radio, and if a customer comes there’s a button on the door that says ‘press for the Pro’.

I don’t want to press his button. Today, surprise is the key.

The course opens before me, green, fresh, undulating like sheets in a breeze. It makes a wet sponge beneath my feet and in five steps, cut grass glues to Emmy’s shoes.

Kicking them off, I hook a finger under the heels.

The crack of someone teeing-off the fifteenth makes me look that way, but it’s not Jack. Two older men, silver-haired and bent, tuck their drivers in their golf bags and trudge away, pushing buggies up the hill.

Jack isn’t on the practice range. He isn’t anywhere and he’s hard to miss. Jack is six-foot-four. He hits a golf ball further than I can sprint without having a heart attack.

Maybe he’s helping a student hunt for balls in the bush. That happens. But I can’t hear any crunching of sticks or leaves, and there are no ‘found it’ shouts from the trees.

Then, in the shadows draped across the twelfth green I see the golf bag—Jack’s bag—complete with blazing Nike tick. He’s dropped a glove or a cleaning rag on the grass at the bunker’s edge. It shines lemony against the grass.

I open my mouth to call out, but years of ingrained etiquette stop me. So, veering from the practice range, I head diagonally for the bunker on the twelfth. There’s a visible line not far ahead marking the end of the sprinklers’ reach, and as I step from wet grass to dry, I look up to get my bearings.

That’s when my tummy does this flip-splat. Like an omelette tossed wrong.

Thanks for reading the start of Fairway To Heaven. I’d love to hear what you think. If you’d like to keep in touch with Fairway as it gets closer to publication, feel free to ‘like’ my Facebook page.

The nose, knows – or does it?

I have always had a lousy sense of smell, and no, before you ask, I’ve never smoked cigarettes in my life.

I’m not one of those people who scent something, and are plunged back into another time or day, or memory of a loved one, or a place. Music does that to me. Music puts me right back to what I was doing the first time I heard, say, ‘Royals’ by Lourdes (current favourite). I was driving home from Mandurah after a lovely lunch with blogger/reviewer extraordinaire Monique Mulligan, coming home from the Romance Writers Australia conference in Fremantle this year.

Madonna’s Express Yourself, and Black Box Ride On Time, and the Lambada, are songs that all remind me of a certain nightclub in Crete, and a certain Queensland cane cutter who could move like Jagger on the dance floor.

I love trying to describe scents and smells in my writing, and I always notice how other authors describe them, and whether I think those descriptions are done well. I mean, aren’t there only so many ways to describe the scent of a beach? And how about all those romance heroes who  smell of ‘clean, warm, male’…?

Wine helps a lot. No! Not drinking wine as I come up with whackier and whackier ways to describe how my hero smells! 😉 Seriously, wine labels are wonderful founts for description of texture, colour and scent. My love of gardening and nature helps too. But how many people know what I mean if I try to describe my heroine’s skin as ‘pale cream, tinged with pink, like a White Wedding fuschia?’

I found this article in The Weekend Australian magazine:

Opulent, muscular, reminiscent of cigar boxes: sommeliers are famously loquacious when describing the nose of a good vintage. But now scientists claim all smells can be broken down into 10 basic scents and described precisely as percentage scores of each of eight categories (fragrant, woody, fruity, chemical, minty, sweet, popcorn, lemon) and two kinds of “sickening” odours (pungent and decayed).

Neuroscientist Jason Castro of Bates College in Maine, who led the study, says until now it has been an open question how many fundamental types of scent there are. It’s not clear how the results, published in the journal Plos One, relate to the workings of the nose, which contains 1000-plus chemical-sensor neurons; a unique pattern of neuronal firing is then translated by the brain into a smell.

It doesn’t help much, does it. I can hardly start describing my hero’s aftershave as 80% woodsy, 18% chemical, with 2% fruity now, can I?

I’ve been working on my golf romance, Fairway To Heaven. Here’s a little taste of how my hero smells.

I rise on tiptoes so I can put a hand against his incredible face. His whiskers brush my palm—silky smooth—not quite a beard, too long to prickle.

My breasts press his shirt, all the muscles of his chest beneath the fabric, hard and ripped. He smells of summer and salt, and as I shape my lips to his, that’s how he tastes. There’s a millisecond there where I think I smell tequila.

The Golf Pro clears his throat again, then studies his computer screen. “What can I say? Those clubs are perfect for you. I wouldn’t recommend we modify a thing.”

Brayden lifts his head from mine: “This guy has worse timing than me.”

It’s eight years since I felt those lips on mine and I don’t want to stop now. I could kiss him forever.

How important is the sense of smell to you? Do you notice description of scents in the books you’re reading, or writing? Are you one of those people who can sniff a rose and discern the components of a perfume factory? Or are you like me, lucky if you can make out ‘floral’ or ‘bouquet’ or ‘peaches’?

If there’s a description of scent in the book you’re reading now that you think works – I’d love if you’d share it in the comments.

Happy sniffing!

The Mother Of All Selfies

To Whom It May Concern:

It’s the first sunny day in Margaret River in weeks, and our owner has just taken us walking. P1020205Cruel, cruel woman, she didn’t even slather us in moisturiser. We went out in public unshaven. We are two shades short of lily white. We bought traffic to a stand-still for all the wrong reasons (apologies to the truck driver we blinded). And SHE called it research for her new book.We are officially on strike, and if she posts our photo, we will sue.

Yours sincerely,
Lily Malone’s legs.

Dear legs,
Perhaps if you’d responded once to the zillion leg-lifts I’d done in my youth, I’d be more inclined to sympathise. However, you have always been ahem, top-heavy in the thighs, despite my every effort, and I have yet to find any exercise that can cure knobbly knees.
Therefore: Suck it up!
Lily Malone.

A few weeks ago, one of those “give us 7 lines from page 7, or 77, of your latest release or work in progress games” went around my friends on Facebook. I was tagged a couple of times but at the time, I had nothing to put out on display that I felt proud of.
In the last few weeks (as readers of my blog will know) I feel like I’ve got my writing mojo back, and except for time out on the RWA Conference, I’ve been steadily working away on my new book.
So please be my guest, and take a world-first-exclusive look at a few paragraphs from Fairway To Heaven – it’s my contemporary golf story about lust in the bunkers and love on the greens. (Although for this particular bit of the story, they happen to be on the beach, and Jennifer Gates (my heroine) is lamenting the state of her legs.) See? Research. The things we do!

Excerpt:
Fairway To Heaven

Then, the beach unfurls before us, mile on mile of hard-packed sand the colour of white pepper, strewn with drying strands of brown seaweed, as if the mermaids cut their hair.

Busselton Jetty straddles the water far to the right. Where the famous landmark meets the coast, pines jut from the foreshore.

“There’s a train that runs out the jetty now,” Brayden says, setting Seb’s feet on the sand. “You’ll have to take him out there.”

“Maybe. We’ll see.” I struggle with forking out cash on tourist things Seb won’t remember. Call me killjoy.

My city brain struggles to comprehend all this space. Geographe Bay curls gently, like a soft scarf cupping a shallow wine glass. We’re in prime school holiday time, yet it isn’t packed. I know that near the jetty—with its funparks and cafes—there’ll be crowds. Here, no one is in your pocket. I like that.

“This looks like a good spot,” I say, heading left, kicking off my sandals so I can enjoy the warm sand on my feet.

Brayden spreads the towels to mark our territory and I rummage in my bag for sunscreen to squirt over Seb’s arms and legs.

“Here.” I hand Seb’s Thomas Tank Engine cap to Brayden. “You see if you have the knack. He won’t keep it on for me.”

He picks the orange bulldozer from my bag and carries it to where last night’s high tide has left a signature on the sand.

Brayden gives the dozer to Seb, who squats on the beach. As he starts ploughing, Brayden stoops and pops the cap on my son’s head. I wait for those little hands to send it cartwheeling toward the sea, and of course, he leaves it perfectly in place. My sun-smart little angel.

I sit on the towel and lean back on my outstretched hands. The sand is incredibly fine, and I bury my feet, then lift them, and let the grains pour between my toes. If I balance my feet just right, I figure I can cover my unpainted toenails, but there’s nothing short of a sheet that can hide my lily white legs.

I really am a disgrace to the female race.

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. 

Reading In Real Time – Monday

Visiting for The Romance Reviews November splash? Big welcome! You’ll find the answer here. Like me on Facebook to keep up with news of my new book, Fairway To Heaven (it’s almost finished!) I’m on Twitter too @lily_lilymalone

If you’re in the mood for winning books – please shoot me an email to lilymalone@mail.com because everyone who visits my blog as part of The Romance Reviews November ‘splash’ can get a free e-copy of my novella, The Goodbye Ride (17 reviews on Amazon, 4 or 5 star). Just send me an email with ‘Splash’ in the subject line. Happy ‘splash’ month!

If you’ve read my last few posts, you’ll know that His Brand Of Beautiful began with a meeting of Tate Newell and Christina Clay on May 24; then a wedding on Saturday June 1. Yesterday, my H&H flew north to Binara, Tate’s family’s cattle station and today, Christina wakes to find herself deep in the South Australian outback with the prospect of a horse-riding station adventure in the days to come.

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‘Binara’ is a fictional cattle station located east of the Oodnadatta Track, south of the Northern Territory border and west of very beginnings of the Simpson Desert. I modelled it loosely on Todmarden Cattle Station in South Australia’s vast arid north.

Hubby and I travelled through this area in 1999, during our Around Oz trip. We camped for a week down the length of the Oodnadatta Track, making a few forays inland off the track, along the way. I remember the wedge-tailed eagles; the different browns and golds of the landscape back then, all with the backdrop of red rock and sand. It must be so different now. Flooding rains through central Australia have filled Lake Eyre in recent seasons, sparking a whole inland sea ecosystem up there and an ocean of green.

For my ‘Reading in Real Time’ post today, here’s an excerpt from the start of their horse-riding sojourn.

“You’ll hold him steady, won’t you, Tate?” Christina had one boot wedged in the near stirrup. The other hopped on the mounting block at the side of a honey-coloured horse.

“He’s a ‘her’, a mare,” Tate said. She could hear the smile in his voice.

“You’ll be okay, Christina,” Shasta called from the verandah where he and Bree had stopped to see them off. “Sunshine is about as scary as a rocking-chair and even more comfy.”

“I’ll remember you said that.” Grabbing a handful of white mane in her left hand, Christina got ready to impersonate a flying sack of potatoes.

Then adrenalin alone almost propelled her into the saddle.

Tate’s palm cushioned the plumpest part of her left thigh. She felt each finger outlined through the thin skin of the borrowed jodhpurs, five rods of warmth, the longest two trespassed onto the swell of her bottom.

“On three okay?” Tate said. “One. Two.” She felt his muscles bunch. “Three.”

Please God, don’t let the pants split.

The earth moved. There was a chestnut gelding tied on a lead rope to the back of Sunshine’s saddle and Christina narrowly avoided collecting its nose with her boot. She landed across the mare’s back, straightened then tugged at the teal-coloured shirt that had got caught beneath her.

Her left boot slipped from the stirrup.

“This side has to go up too, mate,” Shasta called.

Tate tightened the stirrup leather on the near side, the broad brim of his hat floating near her hip. He cupped his hand around her calf and helped slot her boot into the stirrup to check its length. She hoped Shasta and Bree and anyone else watching would mark the pink stain in her cheeks to excitement over the ride ahead and nothing to do with the way Tate’s fingers made her pulse fly.

Sunshine shifted weight. Tate walked around the mare and Christina felt his fingers close around her right calf. He moved her leg out of his way, hauled the leathers higher then slid her foot back into the stirrup.

“How’s that feel?”

Fantastic. “Fine.”

“Here.” He passed up a helmet. Their fingers touched. “Do you need help with it?”

The thought of his knuckles brushing her throat made her squeeze the saddle between her thighs. Sunshine’s ears twitched.

Christina cleared her throat. “Thanks. I’ll manage.” She clicked the catch into place and picked up the reins.

“Heels down, Christina,” Bree encouraged from the second step. “Hands down, too. And keep your hands together. Good. That’s better.”

“Hey. No coaching,” Shasta said.

Shasta, Bree and Tate have made a bet that Christina will last two hours tops on this horse-ride before an aching butt and the dust and flies have her pleading with Tate to return to the station. But this city girl has a few tricks up her sleeve.
To read more of His Brand Of Beautiful and to buy the book, please visit the publisher, Escape Publishing.
It’s been fun re-visiting His Brand Of Beautiful in real time… My new novella, The Goodbye Ride also opens this week. On the East Coast of Australia, this coming weekend is the Queen’s Birthday holiday long weekend – the time and setting for The Goodbye Ride. So I will have more ‘reading in real time’ for you later in the week.

Reading in Real Time – Saturday

I’m having fun with my ‘reading in real time’ meme this week for both my books, His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride. Both begin with events in late May/early June. 978085799030311.jpg

Today is the first Saturday in June, and that’s the day of Lacy and Michael’s wedding in His Brand Of Beautiful. Lacy is my heroine Christina’s, best friend, and Michael is Christina’s brother. It was at Lacy’s Hen’s Night where Christina first laid eyes on my hero, the very wonderful branding strategist, Tate. (You can see an excerpt from that opening scene in the previous post on my blog). Since that explosive encounter, Tate and Christina have defiantly tried to avoid being the first person “to call” the other. Fed-up with all this dallying about, Lacy plays matchmaker and invites Tate to her wedding.

The wedding scene is one of my favourites in the book because it gave me opportunity to trap my hero and heroine together for a few hours as wedding guests and make them talk. Did I mention I like writing dialogue?

Christina doesn’t like weddings. Prior to this excerpt beginning, she has just sat through a conversation with a sympathetic Aunt who believes she’s been stood-up because Tate is running late. Then she runs into a smarmy Politician ex-boyfriend who remains a friend of the family and delights in knowing Christina’s business.

I hope you enjoy this extract.

Near the stage, the three-piece band—shiny shoed, Beatles’ haircuts—began two, one-two sound-checks and strummed guitars. Waiters moved through the tables, collecting plates, pouring wine. The room hummed with conversations far more conventional than her own.

“How did you break your nose?” It was the first thing that popped into her head that wasn’t please take me home.

He looked away. “A horse bucked me into a fence post when I was fifteen.”

“What did you do to piss it off?”

“It wasn’t what I did. It was the five-foot King Brown who didn’t like hooves.”

She shuddered, no fan of snakes, and asked the second question that popped into her head. “Do you have children?”

“No.”

“But you want kids?”

“What is this? Twenty questions?” He swished swordfish in coriander and lime sauce, but the light in his eyes softened the answer: “One day, sure. You?”

For a simple syllable, the question stung. “I hope so, one day. Yes.”

She waited until he brought his fork to his mouth. “So how come you’re still single?”

He almost choked. “Jesus. Don’t we have weeks to sort all this stuff out?”

“I’m too old for small-talk. If you have huge spooky skeletons in your closet, I’d rather just know.”

He reached for a bottle of Handcrafted Sauvignon Blanc and tilted it towards her. She put her hand over her glass. “I’m running tomorrow.”

“Running?”

“Don’t say it like that. Running. Jogging. Millions of people do it every day.”

“You don’t mention running on your blog.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You’ve done your homework. Lacy has me on a fourteen-week training plan. She’s like a greyhound, I take about three steps to her one. There’s a breast cancer fundraiser being held with the City to Bay in August. We’re raising money for that.”

He paused with the fork halfway to his mouth. “You get on well with your sister-in-law, why aren’t you bridesmaid?”

She tore her gaze from his lips. “Me? God, no. I hate weddings.”

“You don’t want to get married?” His eyes crinkled with amusement.

“Aren’t we supposed to spend weeks sorting all this stuff out?”

“Touché.” He downed the fish, eyed her beef. “Aren’t you hungry?”

“I ate your entree.”

He swapped his empty plate for her steak. Ice chinked as he filled two water glasses. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I wouldn’t have picked you for the type of woman who goes running.”

“A little less padding wouldn’t hurt.”

“Your view. Not mine.” His gaze dipped to her collarbone, grazed the cleft between her breasts. If Abraham Lewis MP had looked at her like that she would have kicked his shin.

“Lacy said the endorphins will hit me at some stage and I’ll start to crave the exercise but I don’t think that happens until about week ten.”

“And what week is this?”

“Week two. Stop laughing!” She kicked his shin.

The microphone burped. Lacy’s father, red-faced and stiff, tapped it. Christina groaned and sliced her finger across her neck.

“Let me guess. You don’t like speeches?”

“I hate wedding speeches.”

Someone hushed them then like they were noisy spectators at a tennis match.

 

There are reasons why Christina doesn’t like weddings, and hates wedding speeches. My sister hates wedding speeches. You can almost count on the fact that once the speeches start, you won’t find her anywhere in the room. What about you? I will admit to being a Twilight fan, but the wedding speech scene in Breaking Dawn Part I has to be the worst wedding scene I’ve ever watched (let’s face it, the entire movie wasn’t much better) 🙂

If you’d like to read more of my debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful, or buy the book please click here.

In The Middle Of The Week That Was

Do you remember the day you first laid eyes on the love of your life? For Tate Newell and Christina Clay, hero & heroine of my debut book with Escape Publishing His Brand Of Beautiful, it was this week.

Actually, it was last Friday, May 24th. It was supposed to be this Friday, May 31st. And because Christina mucked the dates up in her diary, all hell broke loose.

If she looks back now, I don’t think she’d mind the consequences.978085799030311.jpg

It might surprise you to know that I am really not a winter girl. I love summer. I love the heat. I even like humidity, and one day, I’d love to have a tropical garden in which to potter. But for now, both my novels have been set in a Southern Hemisphere winter. His Brand Of Beautiful in May; and The Goodbye Ride novella is set over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. (Which by the way, happens to be Saturday week in Australia – June 8, 9 and 10).

So you can read both my stories in ‘real time’ if you’d like to, over the next couple of weeks.

But this week is about Christina & Tate.

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of His Brand Of Beautiful. Christina is hosting her sister-in-law’s Hen’s Party and she’s waiting for the evening’s entertainment (the stripper) to show up. When he does, he isn’t being particularly enthusiastic about getting the party started.

 

His Brand Of Beautiful 

“Miss Clay, there’s been a mistake.”

“I beg your pardon?” She smoked him with her best glare. No way was he wriggling out of this now, she’d paid her deposit.

“Do I really look like a stripper to you?”

“Actually, yes. We ordered the Billionaire Businessman.” She crossed her arms over her chest and a caterpillar-row of bracelets clanked on her wrist.

He held her gaze for a long moment, slipped a hand in his shirt pocket — a beautiful blue Italian silk a shade brighter than his eyes — and extracted his business card. “Christina, I’m Tate Newell. Outback Brands. Tate, not Nate, I thought I misheard you earlier. We have an appointment.”

Something rolled in the pit of her stomach. “Yes we do. Next Friday.”

He fished in his suit pocket, found his mobile and scrolled. “Here. Christina Clay. 5.30pm, May 24. Initial consultation re: Clay Wines’ brand.” He held up the screen. “I thought those balloons on the gate were your idea of a joke.”

“A joke?”

The corner of his lip curved. “I thought you were celebrating that you’d finally got me out here, Christina. That the five hundred phone calls worked.”

Two thoughts flashed through her mind: Dear God. This party’s going to hell in a handbasket and Dear God. My new brand. What she said was: “It wasn’t five hundred.”

With that, her brain started working again, only it couldn’t decide whether the best thing she should do was say shit or sorry and it was still trying to work that out when a voice hollered from the kitchen: “Don’t start without us, CC.”

“Just a minute,” Christina yelled back down the hall and her hand shot to her temple. “Shit.”

Tate chuckled.

Her gaze snapped to the suit-clad body making her hall feel small.

Male.

On the premises.

It was a short list.

“Blind Freddie could see what you’re thinking. N.O.” He shoved his briefcase into his opposite hand and leaned his weight toward the door.

“Wait! Tate? Please? I’m trying to think outside the square here. Could you help a girl out?”

“You’re not thinking outside the square. You’re outside the damn hemisphere.”

“You don’t have to get your clothes off. It’s just a paint party. It’s my step-mother’s idea—she lent me all the stuff. There’s just an itty-bitty room full of easels and amateur painters, very low key. You’re a graphic art guru. I bet you’re a dab hand with a paint brush.” The words tumbled from her lips.

“CC! While we’re young, hey?” Marlene’s voice foghorned up the hall and Christina knew she wouldn’t sip champagne and wait. Marlene would come and investigate.

There was an echo of cheers. The girls getting restless.

“Please? It’s my best friend’s Hen’s Night. It’s the only one she’ll ever get.” She ignored the small voice in her head that wanted to add: I hope.

Tate exhaled. “I can’t believe you’re playing the guilt card.”

“You should feel guilty. I’ve been trying to meet with you since February. Every time I called, your receptionist fobbed me off. I don’t think you want my business at all.” She stabbed her finger at his chest. It felt good to be on the offensive. “If you hadn’t been avoiding me, we would have had this appointment weeks ago—months ago—and no way could it have got mixed up with tonight.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. “You can’t keep a diary straight and that’s my fault?”

She stomped hard on her temper. Tonight, as everybody kept saying, wasn’t about her, and if Tate Newell walked out she was up the creek, sans paddle, in more ways than one. She could kiss Lacy’s party and her new wine brand goodbye, because right now the odds of a follow-up appointment with Tate were slim.

“Ready or not, CC, I’m counting to ten…” Marlene’s voice boomed up the corridor.

How far Christina is prepared to go to get Tate to fill-in for the no-show Stripper takes up much of Chapter 1, and in Chapter 2, things get steamy. If you’d like to read more about His Brand Of Beautiful, you can browse the book and buy it by clicking here.
And if you do remember when you first laid eyes on Mr Right… feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.