‘The day I met Jane Harper’s best friend’… and other stories of the West Coast Fiction Festival

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’!!

45253361_1515271765283374_8833620659734052864_oI 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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

xx

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!

 

Everyone is Awesome, you are Too!

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.

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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!

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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!

xx Lily

Ahh, holidays!

Family Malone is just returned from 10 days at Kalbarri on the stunning mid-North coast of West Australia. It’s time off from work for hubby, and it’s time away from screens for me with my writing, (and for our boys with their darn addictions to Fortnite et al,) in our campervan, with lots of long walks through stunning coast and country.

We missed the major bloom of the spring wildflower season, but there were still patches of colour here and there. The real action for us was going on in the ocean, with whales heading south for cooler waters. I love seeing the spouts of whales out in the ocean, and knowing these huge mammals are out there, doing their thing. I’m so very glad they’re now protected species in our Aussie waters. They make me feel happy just knowing they’re there.

We did a heap of walking on this trip with our two boys. 8km was the longest walk, on The Loop at Z-Bend in the Kalbarri National Park. We got a cool day with very light rain and it made for excellent walking conditions.

Last year we did the same trip at the same time of year. I remember clearly going for a walk on the ‘Bigurda’ Trail – running 8kms from the Natural Bridge to Eagle Gorge along the coast. Last year I saw whales very close to the clifftop walk, breaching, carrying-on and just exuberant as they slapped the water. I couldn’t see another person north or south of me, and it felt like these whales were showing off just for me! (Do I have a big ego or what?)

So this year I did the Bigurda trail again, late afternoon. I did see whales, but they weren’t so close in as last year, nor did they put on such a display. Not that it mattered to me. I walked an hour north from Natural Bridge and then sat on my butt on a flat rock and watched the ocean for another half-hour before walking back.

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Typical for me, my eye gets caught by wildflowers every bit as much as by whales… I have to be very careful that I don’t do this…

 

So thank you for having us, lovely Kalbarri. We hope to see you again next year 🙂

xx Lily

Walking in a Wilyabrup Wonderland…

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know I’m a big fan of our South West Western Australia orchids in spring time… and it’s orchid season now. It’s actually just a little bit early for the ones that I know best, but thanks to a local friend, Belinda, I’m learning more about orchids that come in late winter, early spring.

I had some time to kill today before my team play a big footy final tonight, so I figured a bushwalk would be just the thing, and I’d see if I could find some of these new varieties I’ve been hearing so much about.P1010571

I parked at a place where I could get my car off the road and go exploring.

And explore I did!

I didn’t worry about getting lost, or about snakes, or anything like that. I have a reasonable sense of direction in the bush, but the good part is I was walking in a place where I could always hear the sound of cars at the nearby road. Even if I’d got terribly lost I would have known which way to walk.

So, there I am, wandering through the bush… and lo and behold I came across this sign:

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Now I know this family well… in fact, I really should have called ’em up and asked ’em to put the kettle on! So along Jolliffe’s Track I strolled, getting further from my car… till I started to think, you know, I really have been away from home for a while now, and I (stupidly) didn’t tell anyone where I was going. Actually, I told them I was going somewhere else entirely and then changed my mind as I was driving. So if I’d never returned home, not only would the Jolliffe’s have had a guest for dinner… my family would have been sending out the search party on Juniper Road…

I ventured off into the bush, happy that I could find Jolliffe’s Track again any time I liked, and it would lead me back to the car.

About then, I found this:

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Now I thought it was a duck orchid because to me, it looks like a duck bill… but I’ve since learned from my friend Belinda that it’s more rare than a duck orchid and it’s called a ‘warty hammer’ orchid. Okay, so not quite as glamorous by name, but I have never seen a duck orchid OR a warty hammer orchid before (and I still haven’t seen a duck orchid apparently)! I spent some time flat on my stomach taking photographs and this one has come up well.

Eventually, I brushed myself off and headed back toward Jolliffe’s Track… lo and behold, I came across this sign instead:

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Butcher’s Track!! Whatever happened to Jolliffe’s Track???

Never fear. I’m sure it’s a great sign of civilisation if I just keep walking. I can’t be far from my car…

About then, I found this!

P1010566It’s another newish one for me – a jug orchid. Isn’t it cool!

Hmm… you know what? It’s a while since I heard the sound of a car… I wonder which direction my car is? And as the sky gets a bit grey and a few drops of rain fall… I can’t help the little voice in my head that says: “I hope the Butcher’s of the Butcher’s Track are nice people… and not like ‘The Butcher of Wolf Creek’…

Then I saw this:

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and I’m thinking, well, they sound marginally friendlier than the Butcher’s… and I saw this and this:

and finally, I saw this:

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and then, this!

P1010570Hooray! It’s that very rare thing known as a ‘car orchid!’

And I was home… with a lovely story to tell of my wandering day. And it was almost time for the footy.

Go Eagles!

xx

Three Months Of Firsts

water under the bridge smallWater Under The Bridge has been out in bookstores and cyberspace for three months now, and I figure as she’s a little more mature, it’s a good time to reflect. It’s been 3 months of firsts for me, with lots of positive news.

  1. For the first time, I had a print book receive a ‘top up’ print, ie, a second print run. This means that there was enough demand for the book from bookstores to encourage my publisher to print additional copies to make sure those orders could be met. Super news!
  2. I made a list! Water Under The Bridge was the 7th highest-selling romance in Australia for the month of March, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. I made a hashtag… what began as a bit of fun with a writing mate, Holden Sheppard, has turned into one of my favourite things to check on Amazon rankings. I give you, the #AbSandwich (meaning Ella is sandwiched between a couple of hefty bookish chests)… Amazon in its wisdom put my ex-nearly-olympic swimmer lady Ella in Water Under The Bridge in the category of ‘sports romance’, as well as ‘small towns and rural’, and this has led to many photo opps with err, ripped torso book covers like these below 😉DYO-dE1X0AAA2Hy.jpg-large
  4. I made the Beauty & Lace online Bookclub… with 20 of the B&L readers reviewing Ella and Jake’s story. I’ve never had a book in an online bookclub discussion before
  5. Water Under The Bridge was published the same day as two other Harlequin MIRA stablemates Fiona Lowe with Birthright, and Vanessa Carnevale with The Memories The Make Us. The three of us have enjoyed several Facebook conversations since release day, talking about book tours and speaking gigs, and it’s been lovely to share Ella and Jake’s release launch with these ladies. I think it’s fitting that, as our book babies turn 3 months old (which means we’re now too darn old for what Amazon deems a ‘New Release’), I managed to snap this screenshot of our 3 books all in a row in the Amazon Australia ‘small towns and rural’ category.Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 7.41.52 PM

From a branding perspective, I’d describe myself in the ‘emerging author’ category so I need to keep making leaps and bounds if I’m to graduate to ‘established author’ status. Quite where these two lines blur is a bit of a mystery, but I think for me it might be when the second of the Chalk Hill books comes out next year (February 2019).

The Cafe By The Bridge: Chalk Hill Book 2 will bring me to 3 traditionally published print works (The Vineyard In The Hills; Water Under The Bridge; and The Café By The Bridge); 1 trad-published anthology (Fairway To Heaven), 6 ebooks (adding my first two stories His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride to the list); and 2 self-published novellas Butterfly House Books 1 and 2.

But on the purely personal front, I’ve absolutely loved the surge of support I’ve had for Ella and Jake’s story in its first three months of publication. There have been lovely reviews on Goodreads and Amazon; I’ve had emails from readers and Facebook photos and messages; I’ve had wonderful support from family and friends who’ve bought, read, gifted, and recommended the story, and I have a happy agent and publisher, which from a business and career perspective, is a truly important thing.

Thanks to everyone who has been on this ride with me… here’s to many more years of firsts ahead.

xx Lily

West Coast Fiction Festival pre-order form

Use this link to go to Lily’s pre-order form for the indie-published Butterfly House series:
Book 1: Who Killed The Bride?                                         Book 2: Who Killed The Movie Star?
Normal retail $19.99 per book.
At West Coast Fiction Festival, each book is $15 and while stocks last, includes a special gift from my hometown – the ‘Be Nice To Udders’ fridge magnet.