I got the Lego bug during Covid-19 when my family, like everyone to varying degrees around the world, was in lockdown. It started from my publisher’s challenge to its authors to have a go at #RecreateABookCover
Well, just to make things next-level, for Mother’s Day this year hubby and the boys made me a frame for my Lego cover creations, and now it’s finished (belatedly, but that’s okay) and I can hang it in my writing room for inspiration!
Not that long ago, given all the book events that have had to be cancelled due to Covid-19, Harlequin Australia gave its authors the challenge to create their own book cover just to keep us all out of trouble. #RecreateABookCover
All sorts of covers came out in the wash, and it really doesn’t surprise me. Authors are a creative lot! You can check out lots more at romance.com.au or click here.
Last weekend, my boys and I decided to recreate the cover of my latest release, LAST BRIDGE BEFORE HOME in LEGO. We had a heap of fun! You should try it for one of your favourites. Knit the cover. Crochet it. Bake it (ice it). Felt it. Paint it. Take a photo of your effort and send it to the author – I think he or she would get a real kick out of it.
The final story in the Chalk Hill series, Last Bridge Before Home will be out on December 16 in print and ebook, just in time for Christmas.
This is Jaydah and Brix’s story and it’s a cracker. It’s quite a bit darker than the earlier books because Jaydah comes from a very different place to either Ella (Book 1) or Taylor (Book 2). The one shining light in Jaydah’s life has been Brix (Braxton) the middle of the Honeychurch boys. Yes, this is a couple with history. This isn’t a book in which they fight each other (enemies to lovers), it’s a book in which they fight for a common goal. Safety.
About the book:
For Jaydah Tully, the country town of Chalk Hill has never felt like home. Home is a place to feel loved. Home is a place to feel safe. Jaydah’s home life is dark in ways the close-knit community could never imagine.
Jaydah knows that the man she loves has never understood her need for secrets. Brix is a Honeychurch, she’s a Tully – her family are Chalk Hill’s black sheep. It’s better for everyone if Brix stays away.
But Brix is a one-woman man, and when he returns to his home town to help his brother, the first person he sees is Jaydah. Independent. Private. Proud. When things are good between them they are really really good but all too soon they’re back in the old patterns, caught in the same argument: Her father. Her family. Her life that doesn’t include him.
Underneath her tough exterior, Jaydah is drowning. She has one chance to change everything. Is she brave enough to take the risk and let Brix in? Or will her father keep them apart forever?
One of my very favourite people in this writing world wrote a great post about Keeping Mother’s Day Real… and so, inspired by Kylie Kaden I present you the story of my Mother’s Day …
My hubby is visiting his mum interstate for mother’s day this year, and that left my two boys to their own devices, and so… despite my instructions about a cup of tea in bed (to be honest, I’d rather the sleep-in), the cup of tea didn’t arrive and eventually I got up and made it myself. In their defence, I DID get that sleep-in…
Then, Mr 11 told me that the gift he’d been making at school was a #fail … but not to fear, he made me a card instead 🙂 (Check it out – West Coast Eagles! Yay!)
And Mr 9 told me that unfortunately he hadn’t finished his gift at school… and he also hadn’t remembered to bring any part of the unfinished gift, or the card, home. #fail
Not to be deterred, I made my own breakfast and it rocked. Bacon and egg sandwich!
Then I announced that what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day was go fishing 🎣🎣🎣 … there were grumbles (we don’t often catch anything), but eventually I got the rods rigged up, including replacing a broken reel (💪), and off we trooped to Gracetown to catch a herring 🐟 (or, you know, lots of herring). 🐟🐟🐟
Mission accomplished! After about 3 hours, we returned home with 3 fish.
Mr 9 also found a packet of bait that someone must have decided to hang off a fence post on the off chance an intrepid fisherwoman and her two boys might have such a fantastic day on the line, they needed extra bait.
When we got home I discovered it was in actual fact, a bag of dog poo. #baitfail
In the bin it went!
The boys went for a shower and made their own lunch, and I scaled and gutted the fish… and ate baked potatoes with sardines…
The afternoon included football, a go on screens (for the boys), and the promise of me having a glass of wine while the boys cooked dinner… Mr 9s famous tacos!
Mr 9 was in charge of mince. Mr 11 was in charge of everything else (guacamole, grating)… all I had to do was slice the onion.
AND the tacos were awesome! #NoFail
Yes, I cleaned up the mess. Small price to pay for a night out of the kitchen – plus I got all the fun of watching the carnage, and the craft!
Tonight I think we will watch an Avengers movie together…
We have a new addition to the household and I (along with the entire family) am in love!
Meet Mango the Bearded Dragon… I now count myself officially amongst those who can use #MotherOfDragons 🙂
We’ve had Mango about a month, after much debate about what type of pet we might get. All the usual suspects were way too tricky for us. There could be a dog, of course, but we aren’t fenced for a pooch nor could we decide what type of dog we want. My youngest son wanted a Pug, the eldest wanted something like a labrador or retriever. Hubby was thinking ‘Boxer’ and I was keen on a Beagle. We also wanted a rescue dog preferably, rather than a puppy…
That brought us to getting a cat… I’ve never wanted a cat until I moved into our new house about 5 years ago in a part of town where we are close to the bushland and there is a rule that you cannot have cats. Well, the minute we moved in the house, guess who wished she had a cat??
We thought about turtles, or fish… but that seemed a little bland. I’m not sure you get much back from a fish and you can’t pick it up or cuddle it.
My youngest son (Mr 9) then decided he’d really like a gecko. So we looked into it. You need a licence for reptiles in WA, and the people we spoke to said: “Do you really want a gecko? You won’t get much out of a gecko? All he’ll ever want to do is run away from you. What about a bearded dragon?”
A bearded dragon!!?? Well, that sounded far more adventurous and awesome than a gecko (no offence geckos). So we started looking at ‘beardies’ and we found Mango. Mango is a WA native – a Western Bearded Dragon (Pogona minor minima). I think if you have both minor and minima amongst your scientific name, well, you wouldn’t want to have small-dragon-syndrome if you get what I mean!
He’s about 13 or so centimetres in his body with a much longer tail… and he tolerates us most adorably! We can hold him and while he’s not much of one for returning a cuddle, we still think he is very cute!
As a #MotherOfDragons at my ripe old age I’m discovering that I need to get involved in the feeding of Mango, and our little mate likes live crawly things… like crickets, grasshoppers, moths, and all manner of flying things that don’t sting… and cockroaches. Cockroaches!!
The other day, I went out into our garden looking for some grasshoppers for Mango and yes, I was THAT crazy woman, terribly undignified, doing a kind of jump-squat-grab motion out on the verge, chasing grasshoppers. It’s worse than fishing. I never caught a thing…
But luckily, we can buy Mango’s food in a plastic container… then my job is to keep the food alive. I’ve discovered I can pick up crickets in my bare hands. I even today touched a cockroach! They’re called ‘woodies’ so they’re not those yucky big cockroaches I routinely do my best to eradicate in the house. If a cockroach can be cute, I guess these guys are kind of cute.
They are however, still food for dragons.
So as always, it’s fun and games at our place… I’m not sure my mates will visit for a while now I’ve put crickets, cockroaches and ‘bare hands’ into a sentence. For now when there is cockroach wrangling to be done, I take my plastic cockroach container outside in case there is a mass exodus of cockroaches IN THE HOUSE. At which point, I think it will be me giving the place over to the dragon and the pests… and I’ll go find a nice dry spot somewhere out of the way till all the beetles are gone!
The Cafe By The Bridge book signing calendar of events:
Thursday January 17 Books In Bars with Rachael Johns
Hosted by Dymocks Busselton
The Firestation Bar, Queens St
Saturday January 19 : Perth
(with Perth author, Juanita Kees)
I’m thrilled to be doing joint signings in Perth with another fabulous West Aussie author, Juanita Kees. Juanita is part of a three-in-one book bind-up called Country Suspense.
Big W Armadale: 10am
Big W Belmont: noon
Big W Riverton: 1.30pm
Wednesday January 30 from 6pm
Books in Bars : with Collins Booksellers Bunbury (at Common Ground, formerly SALA Wine Lounge)
Tickets are $8 each and include a delicious selection of finger food. They can be purchased via trybooking.com/458992 and go on sale at 9am on Monday 7th January 2019.
Sunday March 31
Australian Romance Readers Association book signing at Lathlain Function Centre, Perth, 1.30pm-5pm. Tickets $15. A full list of signing authors and all information is available here:
Do you read the Dedication and Acknowledgement pages in the books you buy? I’m not sure I ever used to, but I do now. Since I was lucky enough to get my own book on a shop shelf, I now love reading the little bits about the people involved in helping that author type The End on their story.
Jules and Belinda are who I dedicated my newest book, The Cafe By The Bridge, to.
Julesy is a childhood friend, who just recently got married to her childhood sweetheart. She’s inspired a few of my heroines in books: Christina from my debut story His Brand Of Beautiful had a fair bit of Jules about her, and Taylor from The Cafe By The Bridge has a fair whack of Jules in her too.
Mostly, it’s the clothes that does it. Christina could sew all sorts of things: clothes, cushion covers, patchwork over a hole in a tent. Taylor is an op-shop queen who puts all combinations of clothes together to make personal and individual works of art. That’s my mate Julie-ann to a ‘T’.
Miss Belinda is a more recent friend. Bel is a former work colleague, and as our work friendship grew we each discovered the other shares a mutual love of orchid hunting. But Bel’s status as ‘orchid-hunter-extraordinaire’ took the next step a year or so ago when she posted a picture of The Queen Of Sheba orchid on Facebook.
Bel in orchid photography pose!
The Queen Of Sheba orchid. Photo by Belinda.
I actually thought this orchid didn’t exist anymore. I was pretty sure it had been crowded out by forest and habitat clearing, and by collectors (or thieves) trying to transplant it to grow elsewhere.
Little did I know the Queen does still exist in small hidden pockets in the wild and even near to my own backyard (the South West of West Australia). When Belinda posted this photo, (coincidentally at a time when I’d been writing an orchid scene into The Cafe By The Bridge) I actually changed the dialogue in the story to make sure I had my information right.
The Dedication is different to the Acknowledgements. Acknowledgements are where you can write a long list of ‘thank yous’. It’s kind of your moment where you can (on paper at least) step up to the stage to accept your Oscar for Best Actress and thank everyone who has helped you get the book together, including your Mum, your first teacher, your swimming teacher, your neighbour, the person who once offered you their seat on a bus…and of course for an author, it’s a chance to thank the many wonderful READERS who like your stuff!
I love writing Acknowledgements. Acknowledgements rock. Here’s a little taste of mine in The Cafe By The Bridge.
Not long to go now for The Cafe By The Bridge, Book 2 in the Chalk Hill Series. Can’t wait to see it out and about. I love Abe’s story, and I hope you will too!
It’s been about two years in the planning by an amazing team of WA authors and an equally amazing team of volunteers, but the inaugural West Coast Fiction Festival has now been run and won during an incredible weekend in Perth. And I am so very stoked to say ‘I Was There’!!
I almost wasn’t there… because I nearly got lost on the way to the Rendezvous Hotel in Scarborough, driving up at night and relying on my trusty print-outs of various road maps (because me and my phone don’t talk to Google. We barely talk to each other). I didn’t get to put my feet up until about 22.19 (yes I like to be specific about these things but the photograph helps!)
The goal of the WCFF, apart from connecting readers and writers, was to raise money for the awesome Australian charity, Share The Dignity. And so we did! $18,000 to be exact which is enough to buy two vending machines for women’s sanitary hygiene products for Perth.
For me, the WCFF was always about the chance to catch up with authors and friends who I don’t get see much of, living 3 hours south of Perth and on the West Coast of this awesome country of ours. Authors and Readers from across Australia made a weekend of this event and flew across – and it was awesome to meet them. Particularly for me, Len and Carolyn Klumpp, and Janine Kimberley, who have all been long-time Facebook friends.
On the writing side of things, I got to meet Josephine Moon and Clare Connelly, along with Lisa Ireland and Perth local, Holden Sheppard. We’re all ‘agency mates’ with Haylee Nash at The Nash Agency, and this photograph of us having a beer after the festival cracks us all up each time we see it.
Amid highlights, I have to mention how great it was to meet Len and Carolyn Klumpp. Len is a wonderful supporter of Australian authors, and we share a love of two lots of Eagles footy teams. West Coast Eagles in AFL for me, and the Manly Sea Eagles (NRL) for Len. You know in those crazy Facebook quizzes that pop up now and then? I always remember somewhere years ago one of these said which of Len’s friends would he be most likely to share a jail cell with… and Len’s answer was Lily Malone – which I think is hysterical. Having met Len, I reckon we’d have an awesome time in a jail cell!
Another highlight (there were many)… I got to sign a book for Jane Harper’s best friend, aka Tracey G. These three ladies, Jacie (on the left), Tracey (blondie in the back of the photo) and Sarah (on the right) were so much fun to chat books with, and to sign books for.
Amanda Barrett runs the fabulous Mrs B’s Book Reviews. We’ve never met – so it was great to meet Amanda (on the right below) and her friend and fellow reviewer, Nicole.
With the WCFF wrapping up Saturday afternoon, it was time for lipstick & dancing… so we all frocked up (well, not Len, Phil or Craig … but everyone else) and had a blast with The Velvet Amps. AND I met a new best friend (no, not Jane Harper although I am sure she is lovely!) I met Erica Tonkin from Collins Booksellers in Bunbury… but none of our photos came out because there was obviously too much dancing going on with waaaay to much camera shake!
I also met Pamela Cook and Alissa Callen and Helene Young – who are every kind of lovely 🙂 And it was both another hello and a farewell to Jenn J McLeod and Jeannette McAnderson – which is a bit bittersweet as it may well be a long time till we catch up again.
And so I’m home, feeling inspired by my ‘tribe’ and ready for a busy November with wonderful things to come… the wedding of my most lovely friend Julie-Ann; a combined 50th birthday for two old mates (literally, ha ha, I crack myself up); a work catch-up/Christmas do for my ‘former’ workplace; and another chance to talk books at the Cowaramup Christmas Fair at the end of November (25th)… and don’t get me started on December when, OMG, I’ll have a new Chalk Hill story out, The Cafe By The Bridge!
p.s. Just in case Jane Harper’s *real* best friends think they’ve been dumped… I’d better explain. Tracey and Jacie and Sarah went to an author talk the night before (or during the week of WCFF) with Jane Harper and they all thought she was lovely, and they all got books signed and the private joke from Jacie was that Tracey was now Jane Harper’s best friend… 😉 That’s okay, because Jacie is now MY best friend… so everyone’s a winner!
I’m surrounded by people who amaze me regularly and it got me to thinking: we can’t all be good at everything, but I think for every person on the planet, there is something they ARE good at. The trick is to find that thing that makes you shine!
One of my boys made a comment yesterday about being crap at a computer game. He lost his shit when someone shot him in the game, and then launched into a meltdown about how he should be better than that person because he’s been playing longer… and you know, he probably just needed a hug and he definitely needed dinner; but my line of reasoning was that he couldn’t be good at everything, and that if the game was making him sad he should stop doing it. Basically, I told him: ‘if it’s not fun, fuck it’.
Yes, I whispered the swear word and told him he wasn’t allowed to say it to anyone else and especially not his brother, but the cut-through of the word had the desired effect. He smiled and his eyes went wide (ooh, Mum you swore!), but he chilled out about the game, had his dinner, and was a different kid.
This happened on the type of day where I felt enormously lucky to be surrounded by people who are truly great at things. Different things. And on several occasions recently I’ve become aware of hidden talents in my friends, things I’d really never known about because they don’t shout about them…
I’m good at writing books. I’m shit at baking. I can’t wrap Christmas presents (or any present, let’s face it); I will never be organised and I will always run late.
I have friends whose talents are out in the open… Nigel Lullfitz and Kerry Sibly for example. Both are awesome artists: Nigel with sculpture, and Kerry, well he’s incredible at lots of things, but particularly painting cows, sheep, dogs, & VWs on corrugated iron…
I have an old school friend, Sarah. She always had an amazing singing voice, and was the fastest girl in school. What I didn’t know until we reconnected on Facebook was that she can bake and decorate the most amazing cakes.
There is Kylie – who is incredible in the garden and grows vegies like you wouldn’t believe.
There’s Carrie – pilates queen, sailor, awesome cook, and she can back her own camper-trailer! (Wonder Woman). There’s Jules who can sew, and who puts clothes together with a flair I could never match. Tanja who teaches karate and if she isn’t a black-belt, she’s all but! Bel who can spot an orchid at 50 paces and tell you its name; Dayna who works in the ER and could save your life (plus makes an awesome quiche); Beauticians Thea & Tash who spend their working days making people look good and feel better about themselves.
There’s Anita, Amy, Carol, all expressing themselves through art.
Jo and Lee who can put together incredible mosaics, outdoor furniture and home decor.
Tamara who plays in a band!
And there are those whose talents are harder to see. They’re the ones working on studying toward a new (or the same) dream; and those who volunteer their time and skills to help others (such as Meals on Wheels or hospital visits) or animals: RSPCA and placing rescue dogs or cats; or helping injured animals, kids or adults.
Empathy, sympathy, any ability to make people about you feel good: those are skills to be proud of!
So to my amazing friends – you are all awesome! We can’t all be great at everything, but I think everyone is great at something. Thanks for giving me something to ponder this afternoon, and please keep on being you, and being brilliant!