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At Home With Jenn J McLeod [Interview & Aussie Giveaway!]

To celebrate my new releases THE JANUARY WISH and FEBRUARY OR FOREVER, the first two books in my small town series set in Tarrin’s Bay; The Town of New Beginnings, I’m running a special interview segment called ‘At Home With…’

Today, we’re paying a visit to fellow small town storyteller, Jenn J McLeod… And just as her stories have lots of secrets, today she has a secret of her own to share! Read on…

 

Jenn1. Hi Jenn, where are you from and how long have you lived there?

I’m from a real life Calingarry Crossing. Locals in my hometown of Bonville/Sawtell certainly recognise a few landmarks in both House for all Seasons and my 2014 release, Simmering Season. A city girl by birth, I did the big sea/tree change in 2004. Lot’s of firsts followed: running a café, setting up a B&B for people who travel with their fur kids, and writing a book a year for Simon & Schuster. It’s said a rolling stone gathers no moss, so soon I will be on the move – literally – and my “new home” (“Hint”) has me feeling a little on edge, like a small pebble perched precariously on a precipice. (Like that?)

[Juliet ~ Isn’t it great to write stories set in a town based on our own? 🙂 ]

 

2. What do you love about the place you call home?

Right now home is a small acreage, nestled in a rural hamlet south of Coffs Harbour, at the base of the Great Dividing Range, but only a ten minute drive to the beach. Apart from the stars at night, the birds all day, the peace and privacy (should I go on?) my place is like fruit salad – crammed with a dozen different fruit varieties of citrus, custard apple, lychee, mango and persimmon.  Then there’s the vegie surprise patch! I love it when a surprise sprouts out of the compost our vegie scraps produce. It all makes for a very ‘informal’ vegie garden with the most recent sprouting of pumpkin, plus the usual cherry tomato surprise plants and sweet potato!

I love harvest time. Kind of a shame I’ll be in a “new home” and not here to enjoy the winter feast. (“Another hint!” Yes, I have a secret and those who have read my books know I love secrets.)

 

3. Do you have a favourite local cafe, restaurant, bar, club, business, or store? Give them a plug here!

Our old café, Shimmers in Sawtell, is now called Tree-O, and it is still lovely. Recently, a bunch of local-ish authors and I met at The Old Butter Factory in Bellingen. We may have to do that again.

 

IMG_16074. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names?

Strawberry & Daiquiri are little white fluffy rescue dogs of unknown age and origin. They are old, very naughty and spoilt rotten. But you can teach an old dog new tricks. I discovered this when my little muse, Daiquiri, lost an eye to cancer recently. So adaptable – and even more beautiful, don’t you think? [Juliet ~ Definitely. And yellow is the new black.]

I also had two budgies called Sunshine & Blue Skies. I don’t like caged birds really, but Sunshine was a tiny baby, found in the paddock next door. Too young to fly, I brought her home. Not expecting her to live, she gobbled down seed while sitting on my palm and was quite lively the next morning. When I couldn’t track down where she escaped from I had to get a mate because there’s one thing worse than a caged bird … That’s a lonely caged bird. With a loving relocation to a brand new aviary in the nursing home where my mum lived for a while, Sunshine and Blue Skies can now spread their wings – so I can spread mine soon. (“Hint”)

[Juliet ~ Any ideas yet, readers, about Jenn’s secret?]

 

5. What is your favourite room in the house and why?

My sunroom. I could eat, work and sleep in here. I’ve always said I don’t need a big house. One room to eat, write and sleep would be fine. Guess I’m going to get it after all. (“Hint”)

 

6. If you had to evacuate your house, what three items (apart from people and pets!) would you take?

My computer (and associated bits),

My mother’s memory box,

Oh wait! Soon I won’t have to limit myself to three. I’ll just take the whole house and get out of town. (“Hint”)

[Juliet ~ These hints are very cleverly inserted into your answers!]

 

7. If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would change about your home or your town?

Maybe I’ll come back in six months from now and answer that question again, Juliet.

🙂 

 

8. Imagine you have the luxury of a chef for a night and you’ve invited people over for a dinner party, what would you have the chef cook?

I would NEVER have a chef in my kitchen. I’ve seen what they do to appliances and equipment and how they treat food. Sorry, folks, but owning a food business (because I LOVED eating out) has stopped me eating out! Next time you are deciding where to eat, don’t look at the menu, look at the floor!

[Juliet ~ I’ll keep believing that ignorance is bliss 😉 ]

 

9. Name three books on your To Be Read bookshelf or e-reader:

1. Safe Harbour by Helene Young

2. Losing Kate by Kylie Kaden

3. Season of Shadow and Light – yep! That’s mine. I just received the edits for book three so reading for pleasure must give way to reading to deadline.

And I want to see a book on my TBR pile by a new yet-to-be-pubbed author Louise Allan. You can check her blog out here. Sounds like my kind of story telling. http://louise-allan.com

 

10. Name something unique or uncommon that you have in your pantry or fridge:

Too many to mention as I clear out and downsize my pantry (among other things) discovering blasts from the past like a jar of Wild Hibiscus Flowers! All the rage about a decade ago with the champagne set. Who remembers them?

[Juliet ~ Though I have never used them, I do recall seeing the odd recipe with Hibiscus Flowers!]

 

11. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you go?

We are about to find out! So I’d better clear up those “hints”. While my small towns can keep big secrets, I cannot. Time to reveal.

[Juliet ~ DRUMROLL…]

Check out the new home below:

1913247_479561268812378_2070147548_o

[Juliet ~ Congrats! Looks like you are going to have one hell of an adventure! It might inspire a new story… The Travelling Season? 😉 ]

 

12. You’ve just received a phone call from a friend or relative, and they’ll be arriving in five minutes for a visit. What do you do?

a) Relax on the couch until they arrive.

b) Put the kettle on; place some (probably homemade) snacks onto a tray; set the table; put flowers into a vase; and light a candle (and maybe even make some place cards with your super calligraphy skills).

c) Put the kettle on; tip out a few cookies onto a plate; check your reflection in the mirror, and wait.

d) Freak out; shove excess household clutter under beds, in cupboards, drawers, and the garage; trip over something in the process; hold an ice pack to your bruised forehead while swearing profusely; check the mirror to see if you’re still in pyjamas; frantically change into suitable clothing whilst simultaneously holding ice pack to your head; fall over again; alternate ice pack between head and location of new injury; then shove ice pack under bed and greet visitors with the fakest smile of pure calm you can muster.

My answer: Depending on the friend or relative I might choose: e) hitch up the home and hit the road!

 

Thanks for sharing all about your home life with us, Jenn! And looking forward to hearing how your new home turns out. 🙂

 

> Even though Jenn J McLeod would probably love you to pay a visit, why not visit her online right now?

Website/blog : Facebook : Twitter

Or better still, everyone, tell Jenn where in this big brown land you live, especially if you have a flat block that will accommodate a caravan – at the right price! 😉 She could be coming to a town near you in the near future.

 

> And help her pay for that in-house chef (or housekeeper) by buying a copy of her new book, Simmering Season, here:

Forget the chef, Jenn says. Petrol money appreciated, though, so she can discover new small towns to inspire more small town stories.

[Juliet ~ You’ll have to pay a visit to my small town down south! I am four minutes walk from a caravan park and beach. Not five minutes, four. Though it’s downhill so it could become three. 😉 ]

*BUY NOW from all good Australian bookstores, or there are lots of options here for purchasing: http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/Simmering-Season/Jenn-J-McLeod/9781922052070

 

Simmering Season Jenn J McLeod lgeSIMMERING SEASON

It’s summer storm season and Calingarry Crossing is sweltering.

Devoted mother, sole breadwinner, and now local publican, Maggie Lindeman is back in Calingarry Crossing with her teenage son to sell the family pub, hoping to turn their lives and finances around. The trouble is, the girl people once called Magpie is so busy protecting everyone else she has no idea the perfect storm is heading her way, until her past and present collide with the unexpected to blow the lid off a lifetime of secrets.

BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/218LziN4Ank

 

House for all Seasons Jenn J McLeod>> GIVEAWAY! Australian postal addresses only (or perhaps Jenn might deliver the prize in person!)

Prize: A copy of Jenn’s first Calingarry Crossing novel, House for all Seasons, or if you already have it, a copy of Simmering Season.

How to enter: Leave a comment and tell Jenn where you would spend a week in a caravan and why. (Can’t be 4WD-only access and no National Parks as they don’t allow dogs).

*Competition drawn on Wed 16th April and winner notified by email. You’ll have one week to confirm your prize and provide an Australian delivery address or an alternate winner will be chosen. Good luck!

 

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At Home With… Margareta Osborn [Author Interview & Giveaway]

To celebrate my new releases THE JANUARY WISH and FEBRUARY OR FOREVER, the first two books in my small town series set in Tarrin’s Bay; The Town of New Beginnings, I’m running a special interview segment called ‘At Home With…’

Today, we’re paying a visit to Australian rural romance author Margareta Osborn! She’s also giving away an ebook copy of her new release, Mountain Ash, to someone in Aus or NZ – read on for details…

 

Author photo1. Hi Margareta, where are you from and how long have you lived there?

Hi Juliet. I’m a fifth generation farmer from East Gippsland in Victoria. My family have called the Macalister Valley home since the mid 1800’s so you could say the Osborn’s are a tad entrenched in our neck of the woods. In my twenties and early thirties I moved away on occasions, spending time on other properties both here in Gippsland and up north, but I kept coming back over that cattlegrid leading to home, which I’m sure must’ve driven my father nuts 🙂

My husband and I, along with our three children, now have a beef property in the foothills.

 

2. What do you love about the place you call home?

Beautiful property picI love the evocative, yet solid, sense of place, of belonging, of being part of a community where our history goes back so many generations. It gives us strong roots, a very real and grounded place to call home.

Also, the mountains and the sea are all within an hour of us so it doesn’t matter whether you prefer the high country or the ocean, just make a selection and you can be there without driving all day. We have the best of all worlds here in the eastern part of Victoria.

 

3. Do you have a favourite local cafe, restaurant, bar, club, business, or store? Give them a plug here!

Oh golly. That’s tough. I don’t do restaurants, cafe’s and such. Ummm … probably the Newry pub for a good old-fashioned family meal or the Tinamba Hotel for more upmarket dining. There’s also a fabulous winery just down the road from our farm called ‘Blue Gables’. They make the most fabulous wood fired pizzas!

 

JM Blog - Me with Echo4. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names?

Lucy, my dog. She’s a Jack Russell, Papillion Cross and she’s one of my best mates. You’ll find her about a foot from my work boot all day long. I also have a beautiful, old ex-buck-jumping mare called Echo. She is my sanity. When the world of books, kids, cattle and life in general gets too much, Echo is my ‘ride out of town.’

 

5. What is your favourite room in the house and why?

As we have just moved farms it’s a little hard for me to answer that one. I haven’t decided yet. Can I say that the hill just 20 metres from the homestead is currently my favourite place? Why you ask? Because this is where my writing shack will be built. It has 360 degree views of rolling hills, Lake Glenmaggie and out across the irrigation flats, depending on which direction you look. It is stunning and my husband’s working out how he can make me a writing hut that rotates. That’ll be something to see!

[Juliet ~ a rotating writing hut? Wow! Though I hope you won’t get dizzy 😉 ]

 

6. If you had to evacuate your house, what three items (apart from people and pets!) would you take?

My hearing aids (worn them since I was seven and can hear pretty much zip without them :)), photo’s and the jewellery box my Dad gave me. In that order.

 

JM Blog - photo of Glenmaggie weir7. If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would change about your home or your town?

Blow the garden (which is a dust bowl at the minute), the house (it’ll survive), the area where I live (they’ll survive too), I’d pack the family in the Landcruiser and head north with that wand and wave it over the drought affected parts of NSW and QLD. Those poor people are in diabolical trouble.

[Juliet ~ Good idea.]

 

8. It’s movie night at your place, the popcorn’s out, and everyone’s nabbed their favourite couch corner or armchair… what movie/s will we watch?

The Man from Snowy River (because I LOVE it) or 27 Dresses because everyone tells me its great but be damned if I can find it to hire.

[Juliet ~ 27 Dresses IS a lot of fun!]

 

9. Imagine you have the luxury of a chef for a night and you’ve invited people over for a dinner party, what would you have the chef cook?

Lol. If a fancy chef managed drive all the way out to our farm, he can cook ANYTHING he likes!

 

JM Blog - Me & Lucy10. Name three books on your To Be Read bookshelf or e-reader:

Cicada – Moira McKinnon

A Savage Garden – Chris Muir

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles – Katherine Pancol

 

11. Name something unique or uncommon that you have in your pantry or fridge:

Cattle vaccine

[Juliet ~ you have something in common with Alissa Callen 😉 ]

 

12. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you go?

Northern Territory or Northern outback QLD in the wet.

or

Canada or Montana – I’d love to see the differences in farming here to farming there.

 

13. You’ve just received a phone call from a friend or relative, and they’ll be arriving in five minutes for a visit. What do you do?

a) Relax on the couch until they arrive.

b) Put the kettle on; place some (probably homemade) snacks onto a tray; set the table; put flowers into a vase; and light a candle (and maybe even make some place cards with your super calligraphy skills).

c) Put the kettle on; tip out a few cookies onto a plate; check your reflection in the mirror, and wait.

d) Freak out; shove excess household clutter under beds, in cupboards, drawers, and the garage; trip over something in the process; hold an ice pack to your bruised forehead while swearing profusely; check the mirror to see if you’re still in pyjamas; frantically change into suitable clothing whilst simultaneously holding ice pack to your head; fall over again; alternate ice pack between head and location of new injury; then shove ice pack under bed and greet visitors with the fakest smile of pure calm you can muster.

 

Well first up they don’t usually ring, they just arrive. But If Lucy barks her ‘someone’s here bark’ as distinct from ‘there’s a rabbit/wombat/roo and I’m gunna chase it’ bark, you have time to do C) minus checking the reflection in the mirror. It’s best not to do that. I’d frighten myself on a normal workday!

🙂

 

> Even though Margareta would probably love you to pay a visit, why not visit her online right now?

Website : Blog : FacebookTwitterGoodreads

> And help her pay for that in-house chef (or housekeeper) by buying a copy of her new book, Mountain Ash, here.

 

MAcoverMountain Ash 

From bestselling author Margareta Osborn comes another scintillating rural romance with a devastating love triangle twist.

After years of struggling as a single mother, Jodie Ashton has given up on love and passion. What she craves now is security for herself and her beloved daughter Milly. And marriage to widower Alex McGregor, the owner of the prosperous Glenevelyn cattle station in East Gippsland, will certainly offer that. If only he wasn’t so much older and so controlling.

Needing space to decide her future, Jodie reluctantly agrees to a girls-only weekend at the Riverton rodeo …

Meanwhile, cowboy Nate McGregor vows off women, after his latest one-night stand costs him his job in the Northern Territory. Perhaps it’s time to head back to his family home, Glenevelyn, to check out for himself the ‘gold-digger’ his father seems determined to marry.

But first, on his way through Riverton, he plans to stop off at a rodeo.

Two lives are about to collide in one passionate moment – with devastating results…

…See more here.

 

> MOUNTAIN ASH is also Random House’s MARCH BOOK OF THE MONTH. You can access reading questions here.  

> Should your book group decide to read and review MOUNTAIN ASH, check out this offer!

 

>> WIN! an ebook copy of MOUNTAIN ASH (available to Aus/NZ readers only): Simply comment below for a chance to win. Winner drawn and notified on Friday 14th March. 🙂 

MObooks

At Home With… Pamela Cook [Author Interview]

To celebrate my new releases THE JANUARY WISH and FEBRUARY OR FOREVER, the first two books in my small town series set in Tarrin’s Bay; The Town of New Beginnings, I’m running a special interview segment called ‘At Home With…’

Today, we’re paying a visit to Pamela Cook, author of Australian rural fiction…

 

PamelaCook1. Hi Pamela, where are you from and how long have you lived there?

Hi Juliet, thanks for having me on your blog and congrats on your new release! I live in the southern suburbs of Sydney where I have lived all my life (in a few different locations) apart from a two-year stint overseas in my twenties. I’m also lucky to have a ‘home away from home’ at Little Forest, near Milton, on the gorgeous south coast. Not too far from where you are 🙂

[Juliet ~ The south coast is a beautiful place! 😉 ]

 

2. What do you love about the place you call home?

My house in Sydney is about as country style as a city place can get. It’s actually an old poultry farm and a few of the rooms still have the original timber panelling and ceilings. It also has a gorgeous carved timber fireplace. Being a country girl at heart I’ve tried to keep it close to the original style. Sadly that includes all the horse gear and feed that clutters the front veranda. No matter how I try I just can’t seem to keep it clear for more than a few days at a time.

 

3. Do you have a favourite local cafe, restaurant, bar, club, business, or store? Give them a plug here!

Since I spend so much time in Milton I’m going to give a plug to a couple of my favourite locals down there. First of all there’s the fabulous Pilgrims – a vegetarian burger place and café that does THE best milkshakes on the south coast. Their Bliss Burgers are to die for. Great Mexican food too. And I have to give a shout out to my friends Gary and Michelle at the Harbour Bookstore in Ulladulla. Such a great selection of books combined with friendly service. Definitely pay them a visit if you’re in the area.

[Juliet ~ I will have to pay them a visit!]

 

photo-384. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? (Feel free to share a photo)

That makes me laugh. We have a menagerie that includes a dog (we used to have two but that’s another story) Bridie, Kiara the cat, Harley and Pepper our two rabbits, Charlie the  ringneck parrot that meows and a tankful of fish. We also have 6 horses but sadly they don’t live with us. My handsome boy is Morocco, a quarter horse gelding.

[Juliet ~ Wow. So just a small few then. 😉 ]

 

5. What is your favourite room in the house and why?

I have two. One is our lounge room with the fireplace. There’s no TV in there so it’s a great place to chill out or tinkle around on the piano. I also love my study. It has grape coloured panelled walls, floor to ceiling bookshelves, all my favourite knick-knacks and a giant gold framed Moulin Rouge poster bought in Paris. Unfortunately at the moment it’s full of clutter but writing this has inspired me to go tidy it up!

 

6. If you had to evacuate your house, what three items (apart from people and pets!) would you take?

Now that’s a tough question. Definitely my laptop with my writing on it. As many photo albums as I could carry. And maybe the crystal horse work colleagues gave me when I finished teaching to write full time. It’s a great symbol to me of following my dreams and continually looking for inspiration.

 

7. If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would change about your home or your town?

Definitely the constant clutter. With three not very tidy girls that magic wand would come in very handy!

 

8. It’s movie night at your place, the popcorn’s out, and everyone’s nabbed their favourite couch corner or armchair… what movie/s will we watch?

I love the old rom coms like Sleepless in Seattle, Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail. Never get sick of watching them. We’re also big fans of animations like Ice Age and Toy Story.

[Juliet ~ Love those movies!]

 

9. Imagine you have the luxury of a chef for a night and you’ve invited people over for a dinner party, what would you have the chef cook?

A sumptuous Indian banquet would go down a treat.

 

10. Name three books on your To Be Read bookshelf or e-reader:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Eyrie by Tim Winton and Ember island by Kimberley Freeman. If only there were more hours in the day.

 

11. Name something unique or uncommon that you have in your pantry or fridge:

Nothing exotic I’m afraid although I do like to keep a bottle of champagne on ice.

 

12. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you go?

Definitely Paris. I was just there for a week over the Christmas break and didn’t want to leave. I’ve been there a few times now and never tire of the buildings, the light…etc.

 

13. You’ve just received a phone call from a friend or relative, and they’ll be arriving in five minutes for a visit. What do you do?

a) Relax on the couch until they arrive.

b) Put the kettle on; place some (probably homemade) snacks onto a tray; set the table; put flowers into a vase; and light a candle (and maybe even make some place cards with your super calligraphy skills).

c) Put the kettle on; tip out a few cookies onto a plate; check your reflection in the mirror, and wait.

d) Freak out; shove excess household clutter under beds, in cupboards, drawers, and the garage; trip over something in the process; hold an ice pack to your bruised forehead while swearing profusely; check the mirror to see if you’re still in pyjamas; frantically change into suitable clothing whilst simultaneously holding ice pack to your head; fall over again; alternate ice pack between head and location of new injury; then shove ice pack under bed and greet visitors with the fakest smile of pure calm you can muster.

I’d like to say C but I know it would be B!

 

 

>> Even though Pamela would probably love you to pay a visit, why not visit her online right now?

Website : Blog : Twitter : Goodreads : Pinterest

>> And help her pay for that in-house chef (or housekeeper) by buying a copy of her book here:

Booktopia / Amazon Aus / Or Australian bookstores!

 

 

EssiesWayESSIE’S WAY

A captivating story of family, love and following your heart, from the author of Blackwattle Lake.

Miranda McIntyre thinks she has it all sorted. A successful lawyer, she s planning her wedding and ticking off all the right boxes. When searching for something old to go with her wedding dress she remembers an antique necklace from her childhood, but her mother denies any knowledge of it. Miranda is sure it exists. Trying to find the necklace, she discovers evidence that perhaps the grandmother she thought was dead is still alive.

Ignoring the creeping uncertainty about her impending marriage, and the worry that she is not living the life she really wants, Miranda takes off on a road trip in search of answers to the family mystery but also in search of herself.

Ultimately, she will find that looking back can lead you home.

 

At Home With… Whitney KE [Author Interview]

To celebrate my new releases THE JANUARY WISH and FEBRUARY OR FOREVER, the first two books in my small town series set in Tarrin’s Bay; The Town of New Beginnings, I’m running a special interview segment called ‘At Home With…’

Today, we’re paying a visit to author of rural romance and books set in Ireland, Whitney KE!

 

DeceiveMeInIreland_LRG1. Hi Whitney where are you from and how long have you lived there?

I’m from Newcastle, NSW, and I have lived here for fourteen years. 🙂

 

2. What do you love about the place you call home?

I love the beaches. And I also love that I don’t have to go far to be in the country.

 

3. Do you have a favourite local cafe, restaurant, bar, club, business, or store? Give them a plug here!

I have two. Goldbergs and Zinc on Darby. Love them both.  Good coffee and great food.

 

7559_10202372589250275_779079237_n4. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names? (Feel free to share a photo)

I have a mini foxie (who also has a coffee addiction) and a 18 year old Thoroughbred Gelding who keeps me on my toes.

[Juliet ~ cute, and beautiful!]

 

5. What is your favourite room in the house and why?

My bedroom. I do all my thinking and creating there. Most of my writing is done there and I love to read in bed.

[Juliet ~ me too!]

1501760_10202343376199967_6686965_n

6. If you had to evacuate your house, what three items (apart from people and pets!) would you take?

My USB (has all my writing on it, photos from my trip overseas), my pop’s medals and maybe the signed copies of my favourite books (which would make that more than three…)

 

7. If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would change about your home or your town?

The distance from my house to the beach and Darby Street hehe!

 

8. It’s movie night at your place, the popcorn’s out, and everyone’s nabbed their favourite couch corner or armchair… what movie/s will we watch?

Bridget Jones’ Diary. Or anything with Meryl Streep in it. I love Meryl!

[Juliet ~ sounds good to me! Have you heard of The Meryl Streep Movie Club book?]

 

9. Imagine you have the luxury of a chef for a night and you’ve invited people over for a dinner party, what would you have the chef cook?

God… I’m terribly boring with food. I love a good steak! But I have no idea. I’m not a cook. I’d tell them to surprise me.

 

10. Name a book on your To Be Read bookshelf or e-reader:

The Girl in the Hard Hat by Loretta Hill.

 

11. Name something unique or uncommon that you have in your pantry or fridge:

Nothing? Like literally nothing hehe. I need to go shopping.

 

12. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you go?

Dublin, Ireland. Of course.

 

13. You’ve just received a phone call from a friend or relative, and they’ll be arriving in five minutes for a visit. What do you do?

a) Relax on the couch until they arrive.

b) Put the kettle on; place some (probably homemade) snacks onto a tray; set the table; put flowers into a vase; and light a candle (and maybe even make some place cards with your super calligraphy skills).

c) Put the kettle on; tip out a few cookies onto a plate; check your reflection in the mirror, and wait.

d) Freak out; shove excess household clutter under beds, in cupboards, drawers, and the garage; trip over something in the process; hold an ice pack to your bruised forehead while swearing profusely; check the mirror to see if you’re still in pyjamas; frantically change into suitable clothing whilst simultaneously holding ice pack to your head; fall over again; alternate ice pack between head and location of new injury; then shove ice pack under bed and greet visitors with the fakest smile of pure calm you can muster.

 My friends know me. I’ll boil the kettle when they are here as good company is always a great excuse for coffee.

 

>> Even though Whitney would probably love you to pay a visit, why not visit her online right now?

Website/blog : Facebook : Twitter : Goodreads

>> And help her pay for that in-house chef by buying a copy of her book, DECEIVE ME IN IRELAND, here:

Deceive Me in Ireland is available in ebook on  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Itunes, Smashwords and All Romance Ebooks, published by Secret Cravings Publishing.

DeceiveMeInIreland_LRG“Never call a Kerry man a fool until you’re sure he’s not a rogue.”
Her cousin, Kate had warned her about the Irish charm. And Cara had been foolish enough to ignore her. In Ireland to be Maid of Honor in Kate’s wedding, Cara hasn’t a clue that the handsome Irishman who is seated next to her is the infamous brother of her cousin’s fiancé. And William O’Reilly doesn’t plan on telling her. Not yet, anyway.

Silver-tongued and devilishly handsome, William had Cara wondering if he is the same man she met on the plane. Should she give him a chance or heed her cousin’s warning and keep him at a distance? 

The same unique and quirky characters from What Happens in Ireland come together again to celebrate the wedding of Kate and Jack in the fresh and humorous sequel, Deceive Me in Ireland. 

Like Kate Barrow, her cousin Cara discovers that resisting the charms of an Irishman isn’t as easy as it seems. William O’Reilly is as silver-tongued as his brother, Jack and determined to make the woman realize his worth. And her own.

At Home With… Alissa Callen

To celebrate the upcoming January 1st release of THE JANUARY WISH, the first book in my small town series set in Tarrin’s Bay; The Town of New Beginnings, I’ve started a new interview segment called ‘At Home With…’

Today, we’re paying a visit to rural romance author Alissa Callen!

 

Alissa Callen x1. Hi Alissa, where are you from and how long have you lived there?

I live in the red earth country of central western NSW near Dubbo. We used to live two hours further west but have been in Dubbo for the past sixteen years. Where does the time go?

2. What do you love about the place you call home?

We live on a small slice of rural Australia and I love everything associated with life on a farm. I have four children so really appreciate the unlimited space, the local sense of community and the chance for my kids to grow up away from a computer screen.

3. Do you have a favourite local cafe, restaurant, bar, club, business, or store? Give them a plug here!

My favourite café actually comes from a neighbouring country town called Orange. The toasted BLT’s are sublime along with the home made gingerbread biscuits that arrive with your coffee. http://byngstreet.com.au/

IMGP34184. Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names?

We have two dogs, Dusty, a red-heeler cross, and Milly, a Jack Russell who has a rap sheet at the local vets an arm long. She’s been bitten by a brown snake, electrocuted, had a grass seed in her eye and eaten rat bait from the feed shed. We also have a thoroughbred called Big Bad Banjo and the obligatory small grey pony, called Gidget. All our pets are much loved and spoilt rotten.

[Juliet ~ Milly, what a trooper!]

5. What is your favourite room in the house and why?

Can I say an outdoor room? I love my rose garden. I have over 100 roses and a trellis of Pierre de Ronsards that creates a beautiful living wall every summer.

6. If you had to evacuate your house, what three items (apart from people and pets!) would you take?

We very nearly had to this last summer when we had a grassfire in our front paddock. My top three things to grab were the kids photo albums, the filing cabinet draw with birth certificates etc and the usb containing my latest rural.

IMG_0307 a

7. If you had a magic wand, what’s one thing you would change about your home or your town?

In a perfect world I’d love there to be more local employment opportunities for country kids so they didn’t have to head to the city or to the mines for work.

horse 1 a8. It’s movie night at your place, the popcorn’s out, and everyone’s nabbed their favourite couch corner or armchair… what movie/s will we watch?

My youngest calls our family favourite movie the Mr Darcy Show, but it actually is the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.

[Juliet ~ Lol, the Mr Darcy show. Now there’s an idea!]

9. Imagine you have the luxury of a chef for a night and you’ve invited people over for a dinner party, what would you have the chef cook?

I’d forgo the dinner party for a month’s worth of dinners that could be put into the freezer!!

[Juliet ~ ahh, very practical!]

10. Name three books on your To Be Read bookshelf or e-reader:

Both my husband and my kids have worked out how good it is to read on an ipad so at the moment the three books at the top of the ipad list are:  The Booger Book: Pick It. Lick it. Roll it. Flick it. (for the 12 year old Little Farmer), The Silver Brumby (for Miss Mini Farmer) and Blood Secret – Jaye Ford (for Big Farmer).

[Juliet ~ LOL again! Can’t say The Booger Book is on my TBR pile but Blood Secret definitely is.]

11. Name something unique or uncommon that you have in your pantry or fridge:

Cattle vaccine.

[Juliet ~ Loving this interview. Can’t say I’ve ever had cattle vaccine in my fridge either. ;)]

12. If you could live anywhere for one year, where would you go?

There are too many fabulous destinations to choose from – have been lucky enough live overseas and every country has their own unique culture, cuisine, history, natural beauty and attractions.

13. You’ve just received a phone call from a friend or relative, and they’ll be arriving in five minutes for a visit. What do you do?

a) Relax on the couch until they arrive.

b) Put the kettle on; place some (probably homemade) snacks onto a tray; set the table; put flowers into a vase; and light a candle (and maybe even make some place cards with your super calligraphy skills).

c) Put the kettle on; tip out a few cookies onto a plate; check your reflection in the mirror, and wait.

d) Freak out; shove excess household clutter under beds, in cupboards, drawers, and the garage; trip over something in the process; hold an ice pack to your bruised forehead while swearing profusely; check the mirror to see if you’re still in pyjamas; frantically change into suitable clothing whilst simultaneously holding ice pack to your head; fall over again; alternate ice pack between head and location of new injury; then shove ice pack under bed and greet visitors with the fakest smile of pure calm you can muster.

LOL – me: d)

Laid back Big Farmer: a)

 

Thanks Alissa!

>> Even though Alissa Callen would probably love you to pay a visit, why not visit her online right now?

Website : Blog : Facebook : Goodreads 

 

>> And help her pay for that in-house chef (or housekeeper) by buying a copy of her books here:

 

Book cover RHBeneath Outback Skies – Buy here.

Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile.

Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…

It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…

 

What Love_cvr smallWhat Love Sounds Like – Buy here.

Outback speech pathologist, Mia Windsor, believes her morning from hell is over. Then suited-up, city-boy Kade Reid strides into her office and announces he and his wide-eyed niece are the clients that she will be living with for the fortnight.

Kade Reid adheres to a single edict — money is as important as breathing. But when he becomes an instant father to four-year-old Tilly, he escapes to the only place he was allowed to be a child…the family property of Berrilea.

As Mia and Kade work together to help Tilly overcome her speech delay, can they face their fears in order to give Tilly the family she so desperately needs?

Ten Awkward Author Questions with Pamela Cook

In this segment, authors will be subjected to a list of awkward questions that may reveal more about themselves than they really wish to share, and they will receive a score on the ‘Braveometer’. If they choose to answer only five questions, they are a ‘Brave Author’, if they answer 6 to 9 questions they are a ‘Mega-Brave Author’, and if they answer all 10 questions they are an ‘Ultra-Brave Author’!

Please welcome Australian rural fiction author, Pamela Cook!

PC1. If only one of your books could have been / could be published, which one would you choose? (C’mon, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, I love them all, there’s no way I could choose.’ Time to be ruthless, these are the Ten Awkward Questions after all!)

As I’ve only had one book published so far that’s a tricky question but … in an ideal world I would have chosen the first book I wrote. It’s Literary rather than Genre fiction and closer to my heart, probably because it’s the first one and I spent so long on it. The same reasons why it hasn’t been published to date – it’s easier to be ruthless with writing you’re not so attached to. Having said all that I am over the moon about having Blackwattle Lake out there on the bookstore shelves. And to be working on my next book.

2. Okay, now which one of your children/family members would you… nah, just kidding! Which of the following words most accurately describes your best personality trait (you must pick only one!):

Punctual. Good listener. Neat.  Graceful. Generous. Cheerful.

You certainly make it hard Juliet! I’m rarely punctual (just ask my friends), I’m certainly not neat. I’d like to think I’m graceful, generous and cheerful (at least most of the time) but if I have to pick one it would be that I’m a good listener.

3. Which of the following words most accurately describes your worst most challenging personality trait (even if you’re perfect, you must pick one):

Always late. Blabbermouth. Slob. Complete klutz. Scrooge. Grumpy pants.

Definitely the first – I’m always late. For pretty much everything!

BLACKWATTLE_LAKE_Cover4. Have you ever had a romantic crush on one of your characters? Who and why?

Absolutely. I adore Jack from Blackwattle Lake. He’s handsome, down to earth, has a great body and a killer smile. But he’s also scarred by his past which makes him vulnerable and in need of a hug. Although I have to say that Vincent, a character from my current wip could soon take Jack’s place in my heart.

5. When writing an important scene, do you act it out to allow you to better describe what’s happening?

I definitely act it out in my head but I often sit at my computer making crazy arm gestures and pulling bizarre faces to try to get the movements and expressions of the characters right.

6. Do you talk to yourself when writing or coming up with plot ideas?

I certainly do! Thankfully my study, where I write most of the time, is tucked away in a corner away from the main living areas of the house. My family already think I’m a nut case – they don’t need any more ammunition.

7. Who would be ideal to play YOU in a movie of your life?

The toughest question yet. I have to say a movie about my life would be very dull so whoever played me would have to be expert at making the mundane seem extraordinary. Based on that criteria I’d go with Nicole Kidman. Not that we look alike (I wish) but she’s an amazing actor, I know she can ride horses and is a city girl who loves the country. Like me!

8. If you could be any book character for one day, who would you be and why?

I would be Elizabeth Bennet, after her marriage to Mr Darcy. Do I really need to explain why?

9. You’re about to be left on a deserted island for a year, and while your basic food and water needs will be met, you can only bring one extra thing from the following. Which would you choose?

a) A pen and notepad that never runs out

b) An unlimited supply of books

c) An unlimited supply of chocolate, coffee, or alcohol (your choice)

d) A gorgeous man/woman depending on your preference

As much as c and d are appealing it’s definitely between the first two. And although I’d love a whole year to read as many books as possible without being disturbed the thought of having total solitude and an exotic location to write in is irresistible.

10. If you had the attention of the whole world for two minutes what would you say?

I know I’d be tongue tied so I’d read one of my favourite poems, something by Robert Frost or Mary Oliver. Perhaps even Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. You can hear Mary Oliver reading it herself right here:

 

Thanks for having me Juliet. The questions were a lot of fun. 🙂

You’re welcome, Pamela… and you have been awarded Ultra-Brave Author status on the Braveometer!

Ultra-BraveAuthor

You can visit Pamela on the web:

website  blog  facebook  twitter

image002

Past, Present, & Future with Jenn J McLeod

In celebration of the release of my debut novel, Fast Forward, I’m doing a series of interviews with authors about their past, present & future. Today, please welcome another debut author, the fabulous Jenn J McLeod!

PAST:

Jenn%20-%20the%20young%20author[3]1. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was supposed to be a multi-disciplined musician (like my Dad), study at The Conservatorium (like my Aunt), be a famous opera singer like my cousin (whose sons – Ben and Alexander Lewis – (think Phantom!) are now making their own musical mark internationally). Instead I wrote, my keyboard of choice a computer, leaving the old upright piano to languish in the living room as I followed my labyrinthine road and wrote my own story. (Excuse me while I sing my theme song…“I did it myyyyyyy way!”)

So as the daddy longlegs weave their webs around the piano’s soundboard and strings, I weave stories that give my characters a life and a voice. My stage is country NSW, my tree change many years ago like coming home. I guess it must have been all those hours I spent in my room as a child, riding my bed-end rather than practicing piano! Yep, that’s right: a pillow for a saddle, a dressing gown tie as a bridle and voila! I was National Velvet.

 

2. What did you do before you became a writer?

You mean besides being National Velvet? That answer is a novel in itself. Let’s see (in order): Hairdressing, cosmetic sales, retail security (nabbing shoplifters), hotel security at Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel (where I met celebrities and heard stories I can never tell), Event Management, Road Safety Education, Corporate PR & Communications, Intranet Producer, Cafe owner, B&B Operator and finally… Author.

[Juliet – what a wealth of experience to add to your stories!]

 

pam%20and%20me%20001[2]3. What is one of your most treasured memories from the past?

Besides pretending to be National Velvet, you mean? 🙂 Hmm, that would be winning a national road safety award for a young driver education initiative. Here I am accepting the award with my colleague, Pam Leicester. As friends and colleagues we were a formidable team; Pam inspiring me then and more recently. (My House For All Seasons character, Sara, was inspired by Pam who is sadly no longer with us. Creating Sara allowed me to give Pam her happy ever after.)

[ Juliet – Congrats on the award! And what a nice gesture for Pam]

 

PRESENT:

4. What’s your latest release about and/or what are you currently working on?

HFAS front cover workingHouse For All Seasons is now available. It is the story of four estranged school friends forced to return the NSW country town of their youth to claim an unexpected inheritance – the century-old Dandelion House.

As restless teenagers, desperate to forget a tragic end-of-school muck-up day accident, they escape the confines of small town life and never speak to each other again.

Twenty years on, coming home to the country triggers mixed emotions and the women must face their shame and self-doubt if they are to reconcile their past with their present.

Only after spending a season each in the old place – a condition of the will – do they discover the reason for the inheritance and how they are forever tied to the house and to each other.

[Juliet – what are you waiting for readers? Dash to the bookstore now! Well, after you read this interview of course ;)]

 

5. What’s a typical day like for you? (If there is such a thing!)

A mess! I have no fixed agenda and I need to change that. I need to fit in the networking side of this business without losing entire days! I must write – not Facebook. I must write – not tweet. I must write – not blog. Oops!

[Juliet – sorry about that!]

 

Jenn%20J%20McLeod_fence_web[3]6. Name three things you are grateful for in your life right now:

Right now? As in today?  As in 8 March 2013? Forgive my preoccupation, but as my debut novel has just released (with a couple five-star ratings already) I am a little dizzy (and I feel a Gwyneth Paltrow Oscars acceptance speech coming on, so we’d best move on.)

 

FUTURE:

7. If you could fast forward in time to any age or year for just one day, what would you choose & why?

Fast forward! Crikey, I so wish I could go back. I would love to be doing what I am doing now as a 40 year old!

But, okay, to fast forward it would have to be to the day a book is an interactive hologram. Remember those pop-up storybooks? I loved them. I used to walk my fingers through the pages. Imagine the future: holograms that let you wander through scenes—touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing, feeling… ooh la la!

[Juliet – You’re in luck, there just might be a hologram or two in Fast Forward! Great minds huh?]

 

8. If you could have any new technology or invention in the future that would make your life a whole lot easier (or more fun), what would it be?

A George Jetson Winnebago (ie it folds into a briefcase for easy parking).

[Juliet – Patent it NOW!]

 

9. What are your hopes & dreams for the future?

That people love my books and want more (so I can keep writing while travelling in that Winnebago.)

 

Thanks for visiting, Jenn, and all the best for HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS!

>>You can visit Jenn at her website/blog, facebook, and twitter. You can buy her book from all good bookstores in Australia or you can order online here at Dymocks, or as an ebook at Amazon.

 

Rachael Johns Answers Juliet’s Ten Awkward Author Questions!

In this segment, authors will be subjected to a list of awkward questions that may reveal more about themselves than they really wish to share, and they will receive a score on the ‘Braveometer’. If they choose to answer only five questions, they are a ‘Brave Author’, if they answer 6 to 9 questions they are a ‘Mega-Brave Author’, and if they answer all 10 questions they are an ‘Ultra-Brave Author’!

Today I’d like to welcome Rachael Johns, who has a new book out called JILTED! She is also giving away a copy of this book to one lucky commentor (Australia/NZ only).

1. If only one of your books could have been / could be published, which one would you choose? (C’mon, I don’t want to hear ‘Oh, I love them all, there’s no way I could choose.’ Time to be ruthless, these are the Ten Awkward Questions after all!)

JILTED without a doubt. I love ONE PERFECT NIGHT but JILTED is a bigger book and was my fairy dust book in many ways. I can honestly say it almost wrote itself. Wish another one would do that.

2. Okay, now which one of your children/family members would you… nah, just kidding! Which of the following words most accurately describes your best personality trait (you must pick only one!):

Punctual. Good listener. Neat.  Graceful. Generous. Cheerful.

Cheerful! Definitely. I’ve even been told I smile TOO much 🙂

3. Which of the following words most accurately describes your worst most challenging personality trait (even if you’re perfect, you must pick one):

Always late. Blabbermouth. Slob. Complete klutz. Scrooge. Grumpy pants.

Oh dear… I think I’m gonna have to go with SLOB! Not because I want to be this way but between kids, writing and the shop, my house and housework severely suffer.

4. Have you ever had a romantic crush on one of your characters? Who and why?

I LOVE a tortured hero and I think all my heroes have a little bit of torture in them. So, I have to be really naff and say I love them all. I’m jealous of the heroines and hopefully that comes across on the page!

5. When writing an important scene, do you act it out to allow you to better describe what’s happening?

Nope – which is bizarre, cos I’m an English teacher with a minor in DRAMA. I am very guilty of talking to myself though and have been known to talk through scenes or at least the dialogue.

6. Do you talk to yourself when writing or coming up with plot ideas?

Whoops – I think I just answered that above. YES!!!

7. Who would be ideal to play YOU in a movie of your life?

Renee Zellweger but possibly only her character from Bridget Jones 🙂

8. If you could be any book character for one day, who would you be and why?

I’d be Hermione from Harry Potter because a) I’d really impress my sons and b) I could do magic spells!

9. You’re about to be left on a deserted island for a year, and while your basic food and water needs will be met, you can only bring one extra thing from the following. Which would you choose?

a) A pen and notepad that never runs out

b) An unlimited supply of books

c) An unlimited supply of chocolate, coffee, or alcohol (your choice)

d) A gorgeous man/woman depending on your preference

An unlimited supply of Diet Coke (runs for cover from Juliet)!

10. If you had the attention of the whole world for two minutes what would you say?

Live life like there’s no tomorrow and also like you’ve still got forever. Take the time to listen and always smile 🙂

Thanks for participating, Rachael. You have been awarded ‘Ultra Brave Author’ status on the Braveometer!

You can visit Rachael online at her website, blog, facebook, and twitter.

>>To WIN a copy of JILTED, leave a comment below (Australia/NZ only)!

*Winner will be drawn Tues 12th June and has one week to respond to the email notification or another winner will be chosen. Good luck!

Sunday Lunch with Jenn J McLeod…

 Please give a warm welcome to author Jenn J McLeod as she joins me for Sunday Lunch…

1. Can you tell us about a happy memory from your life that revolved around food?

At 22, travelling around Australia in a Ford F100, my girlfriend and I were ‘rescued’ by four Sth Aust. farmers (on their annual pilgrimage). We dropped our exhaust on the (then corrugated dirt) Stuart highway, miles from anywhere. We met up with them again at Coober Pedy pub and they suggested we camp out of town. We did! (Had not heard of Wolf Creek then obviously.) What an experience. In the middle of nowhere – 100 clicks from Coober Pedy – they cooked us kangaroo tail soup, kangaroo steak, damper and baked vegies – all from a campfire (see picture below!). My love of a life in the country was born.

2. Do you have any food-related rituals or routines in your household, such as a specific meal for certain days of the week?

Very regimented at breakkie time  – need it to wake up. After that, who knows! As long as I get my two soy lattes every day I’m a happy girl.

3. What is your favourite

Drink: alcohol – full stop. Only don’t stop. Pls don’t stop. Barman! Another one pls…and one for my friends. (I shout cyber drinks these days since deciding too much of the real thing is bad for my health and my waistline. Although I will be lashing out come Conference. Try and stop me!)

Indulgence: brie cheese & crackers with homemade persimmon paste, pretzels and red wine under a setting summer sun.

Meal: Home made pasta or pizza with home grown spices and herbs.

4. What’s the most revolting thing you’ve ever eaten?

Oysters or smoked cod in white sauce. Brrrrrrrrr!!!!!

5. If you have children, have you discovered any ingenious ways to hide vegetables in meals?

I hide the dogs’ tick prevention pills in yoghurt (a dollop in each bowl of biccies). Does that count?

6. Is eating out at cafes and restaurants a regular part of your life? Do you have any favourite places you’d like to mention?

Eating out was my all-time fav thing to do…until I bought a café. If you want to stop eating out (save money and lose weight) buy a food business and see what some chefs do in the kitchen, learn what the 10 second rule is, or discover how cheap and easy that $30 masterpiece is to make! I promise you will never eat out again.

7. Do you eat while you write? Are there any particular foods or drinks you always have on hand while writing?

Who can eat and write at the same time? I need every finger to hunt and peck my way around the keyboard. Besides, I can’t afford slippery food fingers if I want to keep the letters from fading away.

8. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

Kylie Minogue or Tina Arena. Two different and very successful women who found success their own way. I admire their tenacity and the ability to reinvent themselves to broaden their audience and grow with the changing music scene. I’m not sure writers can ever do this. Both these ladies have endured set backs (in different ways) and stayed focused and positive.

9. Which one of the following types of cooks are you?

  • Cooking? What’s that?
  • I cook only when I absolutely have to
  • I’m an average cook, and stick to my regular meals
  • I like to experiment with new recipes regularly, or create my own
  • Next season of MasterChef – lookout!

None of the above. I now use my new status of soon-to-be-published-author, milking it wherever possible (usually at dinner and dishes time), except when I can’t because my B&B – purpose built for pups and people  – visit us on facebook here. (shameless plug) — offers evening meals. Typically:
Char-grilled Atlantic salmon fillet on Moroccan cous cous, with homemade mango chutney, cucumber yoghurt and salad with preserved lemon dressing

Our Mediterranean Table – Spaghetti Bolognaise with hand-made fettuccini, Mediterranean salad, olives, shaved parmesan & crusty sourdough bruschetta

Hungry yet?

10. Do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share?

The Calingarry Crossing CWA ladies (from my first novel) have THE best / easiest no peeling required pumpkin soup. They posted it on my blog a while back! Here it is.

Thank you, Juliet, for my very first invitation to blog as a ridgy-didge author, having signed up with Simon & Schuster for my two contemporary Australian novels earlier this year.

House For All Seasons (due May next year)
The Simmering Season (due May 2014)

In the meantime, come on over…

Come home to the country…
www.jennjmcleod.com

Jenn J McLeod

Small town stories. Discover them. Love them.

Thanks for visiting, Jenn, and I can’t wait for your books. Consider them pre-ordered!

Leave a comment for Jenn below, and you will go in the draw for prizes at the end of the month (Just make sure you also subscribe to the blog posts ;))

Sunday Lunch with… Margareta Osborn

Today I’d like to welcome Margareta Osborn to Sunday Lunch. Margareta writes Australian rural fiction, and her debut novel, BELLA’S RUN, was released this year.

1. Can you tell us about a happy memory from your life that revolved around food?

Throughout my childhood and teenage years, mum would serve a roast lunch every Sunday and you were expected to be there. As kids (there are three of us and I’m the middle ‘problem’ child) we’d go to Mass either the previous night or Sunday morning. Come 10.30am, Mum would crank up the oven, the vegies would be organised and then boiled to within an inch of their wilted lives. The roast was invariably beef, seeing my parents were dairy farmers and ran a few head of beef cattle as well. Lunch would be ready by 1pm, the boxing would be on the telly (have no idea why because none of us had the slightest interest in it), Dad would make us all a lime spider; he’d have a shandy. (It was the only time, as a child, I ever saw him drink alcohol.) We’d all sit around the table and eat, talk, argue, laugh, yell (that was me – ‘Mum, it’s MY turn to talk!’) and generally be rowdy. Now I look back, I realise just how special that was.

Another time, I was relief station cook for the weekend on a property in outback-western Queensland. I decided I’d give the stockmen a treat and make a pavlova. If you’ve read my book BELLA’S RUN, a snippet of this experience was included in the first chapter. Beating sixteen egg whites to froth in one mix master bowl can cause all sorts of problems. Let’s just say the clean up afterwards ensured a mate and I needed to drive the hour to town to find a drink (and to pickup two bottles of fresh cream and some punnets of strawberries to decorate the pav). The pavlova was sublime albeit a tad weird looking. My mate and I, well, we kind-of rolled home.

2. Do you have any food-related rituals or routines in your household, such as a specific meal for certain days of the week?

We sit down to tea together as a family. It is a given and not negotiable. There is a spare chair at our table at all times for anyone who happens to call in. (It’s got the honorary name of ‘Graeme’s Chair’ after our uncle who is a regular.) Visitors are served up a plate of tea too, as I usually cook enough to feed multitudes. (And do you notice I say tea? Should I say ‘dinner’? Dinner when I was a child was lunch. It’s a bit confusing, isn’t it!)

We rarely have take-away. An easy meal tea (eg. on a weekend) is usually something like a spaghetti casserole (refer BELLA’S RUN again), homemade hamburgers, quiche or a sausage in bread (with salad or creamy potato bake).

I also have a food ritual with one of my best friends. When both of us are having a difficult few weeks we catch up for lunch at either’s home. Menu: Heinz tomato soup made with hot milk (not water), crusty fresh bread, a can of cola and chocolate.

Dreadful on the waist. Fabulous for the spirit.

3. What is your favourite…

Drink: Bailey’s Irish Cream and Butterscotch Snaps…ice-cold glass of sparkling Moscato … Lemon Squash made with lemon cordial and freezing lemonade… shall I go on?

Indulgence: Arnotts chocolate mint biscuits.

Meal: Roast with rich gravy, crispy potatoes & vegies, apple pie with cream or my grandmother’s steamed jam pudding.

4. What’s the most revolting thing you’ve ever eaten?

Peas. Even the thought makes me turn ‘green’. Mum used to make me eat them and if I didn’t I’d be locked in the bathroom until I did. I learnt very quickly peas fit down the bath plughole if you push, until the day I was caught. I was hauled out of the bathroom and Mum stood over me with the threat of a spanking to make me eat them. I vomited everywhere. From then on I was never made to eat another pea. Mission accomplished 🙂

5. If you have children, have you discovered any ingenious ways to hide vegetables in meals?

The bamix. A wonderful invention. ‘Vegies? You’ve got to be kidding me. Does it look like there are vegies in that beautiful pie/casserole?!’. Although, in saying this, my nine year old can pick the slightest hint of yellow (sweet corn), red (capsicum) or white/clear (onion) discrepancy in any food placed before him from three feet away, regardless of the food processor. *Sigh*

P.S. I NEVER serve peas to my kids.

6. Is eating out at cafes and restaurants a regular part of your life? Do you have any favourite places you’d like to mention?

Eat out? What’s that? So rare an occurrence around here it’s nearly extinct.

The closest thing to a café/restaurant we usually get is my husband cooking us a camp oven roast over a fire. And I’ll have to say it would rival any five star restaurant meal. He’s an extremely good camp cook. Which is why, if there is a camp oven roast on offer, you will usually find me tramping around the bush a w-ayyyyy over some hill looking for brumbies and my husband, a beer in one hand, a shovel in the other (for moving around the hot coals) cooking tea. I love that man 🙂

Building up the fire to get hot coals for the camp oven:

7. Do you eat while you write? Are there any particular foods or drinks you always have on hand while writing?

M & M’s. My downfall. I started with the chocolate ones and then moved onto the crispy ones. They help me out when the muse goes to lunch.

8. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

My mum.

We lost her fourteen years ago and damn it all I am crying as I write this.

When she died I was still in that young ‘it’s all about me’ phase of my life. I just wish I could have known her as a person – a friend – as well as a mother. I look around at girlfriends and women at the school where my children go, and how their mother’s are a huge part of their and their kid’s lives. How I wish we had that. But life goes on and you can’t change what God decrees.

9. Which one of the following types of cooks are you?

  • Cooking? What’s that?
  • I cook only when I absolutely have to
  • I’m an average cook, and stick to my regular meals
  • I like to experiment with new recipes regularly, or create my own
  • Next season of MasterChef – lookout!

I LOVE to cook, but I am none of the above. I do what my grandmother fostered in me, that old fashioned thing called ‘baking’. My children think their throats are cut, if they haven’t got homemade biscuits, cakes or slices in the cupboard/fridge for smoko/lunch/or ‘afters’. And then there are the friends at school whom I have to send a piece of jelly slice or ANZAC bickie coated in milk chocolate for as well. My oldest son reckoned he could have made a fortune selling his play lunch everyday.

I do like to experiment with meal cooking but only so much. If you want a good, old fashioned, hearty country meal visit my place. If you want a newfangled ooh la la dish that people like me can’t pronounce, I suggest you visit someone else.

10. Do you have a favourite recipe you’d like to share?

Oh golly. Which one is the question?!

Raspberry Jelly Slice (a yummy one)

Base

1 pkt Arnotts Milk Arrowroot biscuits (they tend to crush finer than the traditional Marie Biscuits)

250 gms butter (melted)

Middle

1 can Condensed Milk

4 teaspoons of gelatine dissolved in ½ cup of boiling water

Juice of two lemons

Topping

Raspberry Jelly made with 1 cup boiling water and ½ cup cool water. Note: Add 1 dessertspoon of gelatine to the jelly crystals BEFORE adding water. This makes the jelly firmer and stops it from sliding off the slice when you serve.

Method:

Make up jelly as described above and place in fridge to cool but not set. (ie. Don’t forget the jelly like I do sometimes!)

Crush biscuits using a bamix, food processor or put into plastic bag and smash with rolling pin. (Or you could do what one of my best mates does and bag up biscuits really well and run over with your four-wheel-drive 🙂 ) Tip crushed biscuits into a bowl.

Pour melted butter into biscuits. Mix until combined. Pour into slice tray and press down firmly. Place in fridge for five minutes or so to set.

Pour condensed milk into bowl. Add boiling water (with dissolved gelatine as described above) and stir. Add lemon juice. Stir some more until mixture thickens. Take biscuit base from fridge and pour milk mixture into tray. Spread until milk mixture is level. Place back in fridge to set.

Once milk mixture is set, pour jelly onto top of slice. I find it easier to leave slice tray in fridge as I pour the jelly on. This means a lot less mess if you happen to spill it 😉  Leave slice in fridge until jelly is set.

Enjoy!

Thanks for being on the blog, Margareta, it was an absolute pleasure! Oh, and happy Mother’s day to you and all the mothers out there!

Find out more about Margareta at her website.

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