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.
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 🙂
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.
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:
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:
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:
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!
It’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:
and I’m thinking, well, they sound marginally friendlier than the Butcher’s… and I saw this and this:
and finally, I saw this:
and then, this!
Hooray! 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.
Water 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.
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!
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.
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 😉
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
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.
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.
It is my pleasure to welcome Lily Malone, one of my favourite West Australian romance writers to Mrs B’s Book Reviews for a Q & A session. This follows a glowing review I published last week of Lily’s new novel, Water Under The Bridge on the blog.
About the author…
Lily Malone might have been a painter, except her year-old son put a golf club through her canvas, so she wrote her first book His Brand of Beautiful instead. Lily writes realistic contemporary romance about places she knows. She loves her wine and many of her romances are set in the vineyards and wine regions of Australia, particularly in the tourism towns of Margaret River in West Australia (where she now lives) and in the Adelaide Hills near Hahndorf where she spent most of the 2000s.
Lily has worked as a journalist and editor of wine industry magazines, but discovered…
A question I get asked a lot is: “where do you get your ideas for stories?,” and “is your book based on real life?”
My answer to that is easy. “I wish my life was so interesting!”
But definitely some real life events prove as catalysts for my stories. A great example is in my new book, WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE, out now.
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE begins with the heroine, Ella, finding an escaped cockateil, and as it turns out, the very hunky man who owns said cockateil is the hero of the story, Jake Honeychurch.
On Boxing Day 2015, I was sitting on the deck of our house with my great mate, Carrie, watching our combined kids bounce on the trampoline. There was a ruckus in the bush nearby and all of a sudden a sweet little bird landed near the tramp on the ground. Other birds dove at it, but our kids and all the bouncing scared the other birds off. (4 kids on a trampoline scares me too, just quietly!)
The only one not scared by all the bouncing was the bird. He was obviously used to noise and young children, and he was more comfortable with little humans than those nasty other pecking things with wings. So my hubby, who knows a thing or two about
picking up birds, approached the little guy with big eyes and coo-ing sounds. Before I could blink the bird was on my hubby’s finger, then shoulder, making no signs he wanted to leave anytime soon.
We put a notice on the #Cowaramup Facebook page with a photo to find the bird’s owners. It turned out he belonged to a local family who was missing him dreadfully. Everyone was reunited and like a very good romance, we all lived happily ever after.
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is about ex-Olympic swimmer Ella, who has come to Chalk Hill in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia to restart her life. Chalk Hill is a long way from the water and that suits Ella just fine. She’s left the water behind for good. Oceans. Rivers. Lakes. Swimming Pools. Creeks.
Isn’t it lucky Jake Honeychurch has a very big dam 🙂
It’s also lucky he’s good at picking up birds…
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is available on all your favourite e-tailer platforms and in print at all good bookstores.
My Margaret River/South Australia vineyard romance, THE VINEYARD IN THE HILLS is one of a special selection of Bestselling ROMANCE books at a special price on iTunes, Kobo and Amazon for a limited time. Honestly – at only 99c, I’ve never felt so cheap!
If you haven’t bought any of my books before and you’d like to give a title a try, it’s the perfect time:
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.
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!
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 😉 )
One 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!
It’s funny this writing game. One minute I’m on top of the world, the next I’m convinced if I wrote a note for the petty cash tin saying I owe it $5, not even the admin nazi would read it.
When I started trying to write a book the year my youngest child turned 1, (way back in 2010), my definition of success would have been as simple as getting that book published. Easy.
Funny what a few rejections do to that self-confidence and those goals. Fast forward a couple of years after slamming into closed doors, and my definition of success changed. In 2011 & 2012 success for me would have looked something like this:
Final in a writing competition (or fingers crossed, win a competition)
Have an agent or publisher request a full manuscript.
Things started to snowball. In 2011, a scene from His Brand Of Beautiful finalled in the RWA First Kiss Competition; and somewhere in 2012, I got the first request for a full manuscript.
After Harlequin offered me a Contract for His Brand Of Beautiful (as an e-book with digital-first publisher, Escape Publishing) and the book had been out long enough for my first royalty payment to come in, (we’re now talking midway through 2013), my definitions for success changed again.
To be successful, I now needed to:
Earn enough from my royalties to actually buy my hubby lunch at the pub!
Maybe win a reader award, like the Australian Romance Readers Association annual awards or an Aus Rom Today award; or final in a round of the Booktopia Australia’s Fave Author!!
Have a print book published (not just electronic).
So, in Summer 2015-2016, I got my first book in print. It was Fairway To Heaven and it was part of a 3-book anthology called More Time For The Beach. For the first time I earned a four-figure royalty and was actually able to sock some of that cash away for a rainy day (plus buy hubby a nice lunch, and myself a bottle of bloody nice bubbles)!!
My definitions of success changed again. Now I needed to see:
My own story in print – a Lily Malone title all to myself.
In September 2016, an e-book of mine with Escape Publishing (then called So Far Into You) was selected by Harlequin MIRA for print and given the new title of The Vineyard In The Hills. I had my first solo print book, you’d think all my dreams would have come true? I must be successful now, right?
No! The success goalposts moved again!
What is success to me now?
To be known for contemporary fiction writing as well as rural romance, and specifically to get my manuscript ‘Ashes’ published.
To publish at minimum, 2 books a year
To support myself financially through my writing.
To be a good friend, wife and mother, and good person while doing all this. (In other words, not turn into a raving psychotic author loony!)
That’s what success would mean to me right now (though I’m sure those goalposts will move). What about you?