Happy 2016

In 2016 I wish you all the joy and happiness in the world!

And I wish me, more of this:

(which would be camping with family and friends!)

More of this:

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(which would be card nights with the girls… although I must say this model’s hands don’t look particularly feminine!)

More of this:

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(which would be catch ups with my writing mates, Juanita Kees & Jennie Jones, aka: #thedirtydrafters)

More of this:

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(which would be walking the Cape To Cape track from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin with good friends).

And more of this!

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(Which would be print Bookish success! And all bookish success is of course, very welcome!)

I hope 2016 is wonderful for you and yours …

xx Lily

RELEASE DAY | So Far Into You

SO FAR INTO YOU - smallerOctober 22 is release day for my new contemporary rural romance
So Far Into You.

I’ve done release day a few times now and it is always special. It’s nice to see the culmination of so many months of writing, revising, submitting, editing, plus all the work that Escape Publishing do to prepare the book for the world.

I’d like to thank the people who helped me get Seth and Remy’s story to the page. They know who they are, but for the record, I’m blessed to have Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees and Kylie Kaden in my corner. Kate Cuthbert, managing editor of Escape Publishing had a lot to do with making this book better, as did its editor Belinda Holmes.

Four books down the track, it gets a bit tricky to think of new people to dedicate one’s book to… so this time, I didn’t choose any people.
I chose these dogs.

Jars & Breeze

Jarman and Breeze… this book is for you.

‘More than enough dog for anyone, and too much for most.’

Finally, to the people who read and enjoy my books: you keep me and so many other authors writing when we’re convinced we should chuck the whole messy industry in … Thank you for your encouragement, your comments, your Facebook ‘likes’ and smiles; your reviews and your wishes. We write for you.

BUY SO FAR INTO YOU on all e-book platforms

Click here to find the e-reader link for you!

The Power Of Positive People

12063559_10207763119061441_4575479100650142771_nI’ve come home refreshed after another lovely Saturday night in Perth catching up with my writing buddies and beta reading partners, Juanita Kees and Jennie Jones, at Juanita’s place. We dubbed it ‘Hotel Kees’ this morning because we get so incredibly well looked after by Juanita and her family when we take over (err, visit) for a weekend.

Juanita’s youngest son Daniel gives his bedroom over to one of us, and Gav always cooks a feast for the evening plus the most brilliant bacon and egg toasted sandwich you ever did see (which makes the perfect hangover cure for a Sunday morning).

I am so lucky to have found Juanita and Jennie. It is a tough road, this writing caper. Lots and lots of hard yards spent on your own, in your own imagination, typing words on a page that you will then delete by the bucketload later. It gets lonely, and having folk you can talk books and writing with (who don’t glaze over when you mention turning points and character arcs) are worth their weight in gold.

Positive people are worth their weight in gold, I’ve come to discover. So my motto from the weekend is, surround yourself with the people who give you wings, not with those who set out to clip them.

Love you ladies.

LAxxxxx

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. 😉

It’s Good News Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Much To Be Glad About – Merry Christmas

Gavin Kees - best Pizza boy in town
Gavin Kees’ pizza spread.
(Picture by Jennie Jones)
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L-R: Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees & Lily Malone.

I’m finding myself filled with the joy of Christmas – especially so as I’ve just returned from a weekend in Perth, where I caught up with my great writing buddies and beta readers, Jennie Jones & Juanita Kees.

2013 has been some kind of year for me, here’s a quick recap:

a) In January, my family moved from South Australia to the fabulous wine region of Margaret River in the south west corner of Western Australia. My kids will now grow up in the same place as I did, ride their bikes on the same trails, and skin their knees on the same BMX track!

b) Thanks to the incredible people at Escape Publishing, I published my debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful, in March.

c) I self-published my novella The Goodbye Ride in May.

d) Hubby and I bought a block of land, a half acre, in August, which settled in October, and upon which we now have the framework of our new house. (I wish those hard-working tradies didn’t stop for Christmas!)

e) I wrote and finally finished, my second full-length novel that will now release in January 2014, Fairway To Heaven.

e) I met so many wonderful people through this incredible writing and reading community I’ve found!

And in the end, it is the last point that has given me the most joy in 2013. I feel so blessed to have met and connected with some fabulous people on Facebook, and Twitter, at Goodreads and through my blog. I’ve met wonderful bloggers, reviewers, ninjas, authors, readers, editors and cover designers. And I would like to thank you all this Christmas for enriching my life the way you have. You are my greatest gift!

Thank you for supporting me in so many ways. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.

Love

Lily M

Juanita Kees: Left Field With Lily

Juanita Kees is about to release her second novel, Under The Hood, with Escape Publishing,
which makes thumbnail[2]Juanita an Escape Artist, just like me! It will be lovely to have
His Brand Of Beautiful published with Under The Hood at Escape in the same month.

Juanita is a writer, editor and wonderful volunteer at Romance Writers’ Australia where she pulls together the informative bit of weekly news,
Cruisin’ The Blogs.

Somehow, it seems rather apt to me that a lady known for Cruisin, would come up with a title called Under The Hood. But could Juanita change her own tyre in a crisis? That’s the ten thousand dollar question! And no, I didn’t ask it!

Thank you so much Juanita for being part of:
From Left Field…

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

So the first question I’ll ask is:

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

Juanita K: Today I’m sharing from my debut release, Fly Away Peta. The funny thing: not much changed in the opening paragraph. The only change was it originally opened with the line of dialogue.

Peta tossed the cushion she’d been clutching back onto the sofa, irritated. ““No! Absolutely not! How can you even ask, Mark? My daughter is missing! This is not the right time for me to be out there pretending everything’s normal.”

Lily M: Man am I wildly jealous. I don’t know HOW many times I rewrote the first paragraph of His Brand Of Beautiful. It changed and it changed and it reverted and it changed and… need I say more! (Nightmare!)

Lily M: Share with us 8 lines from the top of page 88 (yes, I stole this idea, sorry!)

Juanita K: Peta’s heart felt as if it was being torn apart as she watched him absorb her question. Threatening tears burned at the back of her throat.

A shadow passed over Jaime’s face. What was she trying to say? That she didn’t want him around? “Peta, we need to talk. We need to sort this thing through. Now that this business with Paul is settled…” He broke off as Mark came into the room.

Mark’s expression was dark as he drew nearer the bedside. He placed an arm around Peta’s shoulder and hugged her quickly before releasing her again. “I’m afraid it’s not over yet,” he informed them.

Lily M: Mark is my favourite character in Fly Away Peta. I love how he looks after his sister.

Lily M: What is your greatest “lightbulb moment” in terms of Writing Craft?

Juanita K: Now there’s a tough one! Where should I start? Probably random POV switches that sneaked in when I wasn’t looking. I had to train my brain to spot them. I’m sure a few slipped through the cracks.

Lily M: What keeps you awake at night?

Juanita K: Ideas and scene planning in my head. I have to get up and write them down because I never remember them in the morning!

Lily M: If you could choose three items on the list below to take for a week camping in the Australian outback, which would you pick? (You can assume there are magical batteries for anything electrical).

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

Juanita K: I’d choose the Kindle and I’d have: Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed (Anna Campbell), Cottage by the Lake (Karly Blakemore-Mowle) and The Viscount’s Pleasure House (Suzi Love) loaded ready to go. And I’d pick the battery-powered Nespresso and endless supply of Pods and George Clooney to make coffee for me and look like… George Clooney.

Lily M: Coffee before alcohol. That tells me much! And what’s this about George? From what I’ve picked up along the traps, I think you’re battling Jennie Brumley for prize-winning hubby in romance circles! I’ve been meaning to ask what Gavin got you for Valentine’s day? I know Ms Brumley got a bunch of (you guessed it) Lillies!

Lily M: My book is called His Brand Of Beautiful. Can you tell me what you would describe as ‘your brand of beautiful’ – in terms of your current partner?

Juanita K: My husband can cook, clean and do laundry! I chose well.

Lily M: (I repeat: who needs George!)

Lily M: Can you tell me the best thing about Fly Away Peta? Who would absolutely love it?

Juanita K: I like to think Fly Away Peta has a little bit of everything. It has romance, intrigue, suspense and ‘real’ issues people deal with every day. The absolute best thing is the cover! I loved it from the moment I saw it.

People who are looking for a story that might not follow all the rules of category romance, will enjoy this story, I’m sure. It might also appeal to lovers of Australian rural romance being set in the small rural West Australian town of Williams.

Lily M: Can you share your favourite 250 words from your book (or WIP?) and tell us why they’re your favourite part?

Juanita K: One of my favourite scenes from Fly Away Peta is when Jaime sees Peta for the first time in ten years:

Dear God, he’d never thought it possible she could be more beautiful than he remembered. Tightness gripped his heart painfully. He swallowed around the lump in his throat. 

As he stood at the base of the stage staring up at her, she looked down at him and their eyes met and held. He heard her voice falter slightly as shock registered on her face.  She tore her eyes from his and moved away across the stage. Jaime felt his heart plummet from his chest down into his stomach. He didn’t want to feel this way! He should’ve stopped feeling this way about her after all this time. His lips tightened as he took one last look at her and strode from the hall.

* * * *

Peta stared down at Jaime’s departing back, her heart pounding. For a fleeting moment she’d thought her mind was playing tricks on her. Conjured him up as she sang the song she’d written for him. Panic seized her and she heard her voice falter. Desperately she tried to regain her concentration and banish him from her thoughts. She could not get caught up in the magic he weaved again! With difficulty, she fought off the waves of dizziness. She’d known it was a mistake to come back to this town. She’d avoided the place for ten years both dreading and anticipating this moment. 

As Jaime slammed through the rear door of the hall, she felt her heart shatter. Part of her wanted to leap off the stage and run after him, but she knew she wouldn’t.

Thanks so much Juanita for being part of Left Field with Lily.

To buy Flthumbnail[1]y Away Peta at Amazon, click here.

Or from the Publisher, Eternal Press, click here.

For more information or to connect with Juanita Kees, visit:

http://www.kees2create.com.au/