The Anderson Sisters-Giveaway

In March last year, I’d barely begun my writer’s journey. I was feeling my way. I’m still feeling my way, but I’ve learnt a lot.

Things that have changed between then and now?

  • Taylor’s Law & Grace Under Fire (The Anderson Sisters) are published, available as e-books and paperbacks, and I’ve received some truly lovely reviews
  • I have publishing dates for four more of my books in 2023 (Planting Hope—July & Lela’s Choice—December) and in 2024 I start new series—Choosing Family (March & July)
  • I’m now on Instagram, and that’s a challenge when I’m more about what you see is what you get rather than glitz and glamour
  • juggling writing, promoting my work, working on covers, editing for contracted books, and simply living has become a more complicated enterprise. Just what is the right balance?

Things that haven’t changed?

  • I’m enriched and encouraged by the support of my loved ones, other writers and readers
  • I never get tired of hearing someone say they love one of my books, be it an editor, publisher, reader, or competition judge
  • I still need technical advice on the pitfalls of social media and Judy L Mohr remains a constant source of useful information. I started with Judy’s guide Hidden Traps: A Writer’s Guide to Protecting Your Online Platform, and continue to get useful information via  her blogs Black Wolf Editorial Services
  • I value V I Peace’s advice on content—for me that’s about improving the beginnings of my books, identifying if the internal/external conflicts are believable and will carry the story, consistency of characterisation and deeper POV. V provides feedback on shorter or longer excerpts depending on the content issue I’m seeking to resolve. I doubt if Masquerade (Inkspell Publishing, March 2023—Choosing Family, Book 1) would have made it to press, if it hadn’t been for V’s incisive, direct, but always constructive feedback. And I wanted that book to work. You can contact V by email or through her website

GIVEAWAY: To mark my first year I’m giving away a copy of Taylor’s Law & Grace Under Fire (The Anderson Sisters) to a new subscriber to my website before 20 April 2023.

Australia—paperback or e-book (winner’s choice); International—e-book.

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You can also send me a message via the contact link on this site. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Taylor’s Law—Postscript—22 months later

“How did you convince Tess to keep a secret? She usually blurts out everything she’s seen, heard or done during the day.” Ella’s marriage to Jake had given Tess the security to blossom.

“I was strategic. Took her for an ice-cream after pre-school yesterday. Figured she wouldn’t last twenty-four hours. I asked if she could look after Kit, while I took you away for a night. Said I wanted to give you a surprise.” Jake sent Ella a sideways grin, his voice a rumbling caress. “She said she’d need help. We negotiated, and agreed nana and grandpa could help.”

That mix of bass and desire and joy in his voice still gave Ella goose bumps. “Did you tell Kit?”

“He’s a good listener for a two-month old. I went over the details with him. Got his okay.”

“You’re crazy.” She giggled.

“Aren’t you going to admire my planning skills?” He waggled his eyebrows.

“I’m already a devotee of your attention to detail, your focus on a task, and your staying power.” She slid her hand up his thigh.

“I didn’t bring you here just to get you naked.”

“‘Just’? So naked’s in the mix.”

“I may have packed that negligee Grace gave you when Kit was born.” 

Ella had tucked it at the back of her drawer rather than get baby dribble on it. “I liked the silk drawer-string pyjama pants she got you.”

“They’re in the bag.” He reached for her hand, becoming serious. “I wasn’t sure if surprising you was a good idea?”

“I loved surprises as a kid. Until I discovered they weren’t all good. A night alone is bliss. The last time we were out of reach was—?”

“Never.” Jake squeezed her hand before releasing it. “We’re not now. I have plans, and they don’t include you worrying about the kids. The main house has internet and phone. Peter can reach us if needed. We can be back in an hour.”

Jake spotted the sign first. It was simple—cottages for rent—and some contact details. The road wound lazily through native bushland. Ella identified eucalypts, she-oaks and grass trees and smaller bushes she couldn’t name; the space closing in behind making the main road a distant memory.

“I remember you once said to me ‘it’s as if you’re holding your breath in the city and when you get to the farm, you let it go’.”

“I’m happier in the city these days.” She pressed a kiss to his upper arm.

Arriving at a typical farm gate, Ella climbed out to open it, then closed it behind the car, stopping to inhale the pure scents of Australian bush on a hot summer’s day—the sharp antiseptic of eucalyptus with its hint of citrus, the curry smell of sifton bush, and wood smoke from someone’s distant stove. The silence was broken by the buzz of cicadas, but the peace and serenity of being in a bush setting invaded her entire being. Being in a new place was surprise enough—joy enough.

“I already know I’m going to love this place.” Pulling the car door shut behind her, Ella lowered the window.

A few minutes later, Jake turned onto a side track. “Nearly there.”

“Want me to shut my eyes?”

“Nuh. I want all your senses engaged.” Another curve and Jake brought the car to a halt about fifty metres from a small stone cottage. A veranda stretched across the front with two rough-hewn planks forming steps. Yellow and red flowering grevillea spilled over the ground in front; a superb blue wren hovered.

“It’s gorgeous.”

“I’ll park up the side. So I don’t block the view.” He gestured to the water glinting at the end of a short track and an escarpment rising on the other side of a slow moving, shallow river.

“I might spend all my time on that veranda.”

“Wait until you see inside.”

“Show me.” Ella waited at the foot of the steps until Jake took her hand.

“Door should be unlocked.”

Ella pressed her free hand to her chest. “Can I say, ‘thank you’, now?”

He tugged her up the few steps and pushed open the door. “After you.”

Standing in the middle of the single room, Ella turned a slow circle. “It’s got everything. A big bed, armchairs in front of an open fire.”

“We won’t be needing the fire.”

“Maybe some other time,” she winked, continuing her inspection. “A kitchen with all the basics.”

“The banquet’s in the ice-box. Bathroom’s out the back. The place is completely off-grid.”

“It’s perfect.”

“Look up, Eleanor.” Jake pointed towards the roof. Above the large bed was a huge, clear window with an expansive view of the sky. “Shutters slide across in bad weather. We’re not expecting bad weather tonight.”

“You remembered.” Ella kicked off her sandals, climbed onto the bed and settled with her head on the pillow. Still looking up, she patted the spot beside her.

“I always promised you we’d make love under the stars.” Jake left his loafers at the foot of the bed, and crawled towards her, until his head blocked the view. “We’ve got the night sky and a comfy bed. The stuff of fantasies.”

“Have I told you lately that I love you?” Ella stroked his cheek.

“Every day. In a million ways. Tonight’s for you, Eleanor.”

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You can also subscribe to my monthly blog or send me a message via the contact link on this site. Looking forward to hearing from you.

2023 is here

Not everyone celebrates the new year on 1 January. In 2023 Chinese New Year falls on 22 January, Islamic New Year in mid-July, Jewish in mid-September, while other religions and states celebrate the new year on other dates. Not everyone is looking forward to what’s ahead. The world is beset by war, exploitation, inequality and climate disasters impacting unevenly on populations—things I find impossible to ignore.

But on some days I also need to draw breath and take a few hours away from the real world—even optimists need a little escapism from time to time, need to give ourselves a happy ending, even if it’s fleeting. That’s why I read and write romance.

In 2023 Inkspell Publishing will release three of my books (available for pre-order or purchase on My Books page):

  • Grace Under Fire—the second Anderson sister’s story (7 February 2023) e-book and paperback
  • Planting Hope–a standalone novel (July 2023)
  • Lela’s Choice—a standalone novel (December 2023)

2024 will bring a new series. At this stage it’s tentatively a five-book series looking for a name. I’ll be seeking suggestions when I’m further along. But I like single titles as well. So there will be a few of those in the ongoing mix.

And it’s hard to tell if it’s more or less stressful with each book. Will my readers like this one? Hate this one? Abandon me? Stress and excitement are intimately intertwined in the publication of a book.

A book, written by me, which I can hold in my hands. Wow! That’s a dream come true.

I’m also branching out in 2023, trying to get a bit more brand recognition. It sounds weird for those words to come out of my mouth. But to keep publishing I need an audience. You can find me on:

Join me in 2023.

Reading and books

Recently, I heard a senior Australian politician talking about the place of books in his childhood. You only owned a book if you received it as a Christmas or birthday present. If you wanted to read at any other time of year, you relied on the library. He was lucky enough to live in a big regional town with a range of books to satisfy both his intellectual curiosity and his imagination.

I’ve spent a large part of my life teaching literacy—literacy in your first language, literacy in your second language. Both can be a challenge—sometimes insurmountable.

I’ve taught adolescents and adults. I’ve visited households with no books and limited access to libraries, homes where reading to live is a chore and reading for pleasure is an unaffordable luxury.

If you can’t read, many doors are shut in your face. With adults, jobs or promotions can be denied, and at every age you can be humiliated by your peers.

One of the hardest questions I had to answer was when a single mother, who couldn’t read and write in English and whose skills were poor in her first language, asked me why her primary school son couldn’t read. She’d sat beside him every day and watched him do his homework. She couldn’t understand what he was doing, but assumed he was making progress because he put something on paper. Plus, she made sure he went to school every day. She vowed his future would be different to her own. Books and reading would make the difference. When his end of year report detailed his failure, her helpless distress was a living thing.

For family reasons, I lived in a children’s home from my sixth birthday until I was almost nine. I can remember lying in my dormitory bed and reading by the street lights. Robin Hood—I loved the idea of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, and life seemed that simple to a child. I remember finding my books missing one day and being inconsolable until the mischief-maker owned up and returned them. But, someone had made sure I could read at an early age, and so the joy of words and stories and ideas was open to me.

I read to learn and to teach and that reading is different to reading for sheer pleasure. If I’m tired or frustrated or sad or angry at the end of the day, I want a break from my routine world. Books have always provided that escape and a happy place for me.

I have to confess I wanted a happily-ever-after when I was a child. I still do.

If you’re looking for a present for someone you love, or someone who’s in love, you might like my happily-ever-after. Taylor’s Law, Inkspell Publishing, available as ebook and in paperback through Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and Kobo. The sequel, Grace Under Fire will be released on 7 February 2023.

Weeding and editing can be creative

Recently, I’ve been helping to clean a house that provided a home for an older single man for fifteen years. He was an active and engaged resident, who carefully tended his home, loved his garden, and connected with his neighbours.

COVID-19 shook him, making him anxious about himself and others, so he hunkered down, and his mental and physical health declined over the long period of lockdowns and restrictions. He was adamant he didn’t want to go to a nursing home, but after a fall and becoming unsteady on his feet, that appeared to be his only option. Before arrangements could be made to transfer him to a nursing home, he died. Perhaps he decided  his time was up? His death was peaceful. The loss of dignity and individuality which too often follow admission to a nursing home would have distressed him enormously.

My cleaning chore was his garden. In the last few years he’d allowed it to become an impenetrable jungle. Birds, encouraged by the feeding trays he left out, had dropped seeds and there were dozens of small and medium sized trees in a tiny suburban yard. The owner brought in landscapers to clear fell and remove most of the unwanted growth. I arrived to five fully grown trees—a very old, cream frangipani, a large spreading camellia, a Silver Sheen pittosporum with its trunk black and thick, an arrow like pine and something which I can’t identify, but which the local possums love—and bare dirt between them.

The dirt is alive.

Each day another green shoot springs up, valiant and determined and unaware it’s not wanted. I’ve crawled across every square inch of space to individually excavate those green shoots—some of which could become huge trees—and untangle the root mat criss-crossing the yard just below the surface.

I’ve planted some hardy flowering plants, some sturdy ground creepers and mulched and watered to create a welcoming, but not overwhelming, green space. I’ve worked through dappled sun, high winds, spitting rain and body-drenching humidity, and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

It’s not dissimilar to writing and editing. Painstaking, cross-checking details, returning multiple times to weed out unnecessary words and elements that distract from the story you want to tell.

The house is ready to welcome new residents. It won’t be a home again until the rooms ring with conversation, tears and laughter, until there’s movement through spaces, jostling to be first in the shower, food prepared and shared, and hugs exchanged.

I hope Grace Under Fire (due March 2023) when I finish weeding—or rather editing—offers the same welcome and respite from the uncertainty of the outside world. Reading a good book can be like coming home.