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Monday, January 28, 2013


Thirteen years ago we moved to Singapore. Like most of our possessions our books were packed away and put into storage. When we returned we found our bookshelf space had become more restricted, so several boxes of paperbacks were consigned to the loft where they have remained.

It was only because I was looking for one particular book (True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey) that I knew was in a box in the loft, that I pulled them all down this afternoon. Of course the book I sought was in the bottom of the last box and by the time I had unpacked all three boxes I knew I didn't have the heart to return them to the loft so here they are stacked willy nilly on to my recently re-ordered book shelves.

As I picked each one up, a thousand memories came flooding back...

  • The complete set of Thomas Hardy that I read in a binge during my second year exams at university.
  • The Mists of Avalon, read on my honeymoon
  • The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr read on a particularly lovely beachside holiday with my children and their cousin.
  •  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, read by torchlight on a trek in Nepal.
  • Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, studied at school in Year 12
  • My grandmother's much battered original Penguin Books edition of The Edwardians by Vita Sackville West (1937)
  • A Passage to India, E.M. Forster, another Year 12 book
  • John Irving's Hotel New Hampshire and A Prayer for Owen Meany which everybody was reading at the time (early 80s).
  • My grandmother's 1937 edition
  • Elspeth Huxley's The Mottled Lizard, continuing her story of life in colonial Kenya
Of course there are my husband's early Tom Clancys, Chris Ryans and a large number of Leon Uris.

I love my Kindle and now buy nearly all my "ephemeral" books as ebooks, but as I turned the dusty pages of these old friends, books I have held on to through my lifetime, it made me realise how many memories are tied up in the yellowing, brittle pages of these old books. Just seeing them back on the shelf, albeit in a haphazard order, makes me smile. Like dear ones, they are home where they belong.

What books are your keepers?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Anita Seymour and her Royalist Rebel

It is my great pleasure this week to announce the release of fellow Hoyden, Anita Seymour's wonderful new book, ROYALIST REBEL

I can't quite remember how Anita and I "met" but our mutual passion for all things seventeenth century led to us co-founding Hoydens and Firebrands, a blog devoted just to the seventeenth century. 

Like me, Anita, has struggled to find a place for her seventeenth century stories (writing as Anita Davison - Duking Days and Duking Days Rebellion) so I was thrilled to learn that Pen and Sword had contracted her fictionalised story of the real life Elizabeth Murray. The English Civil War spawned amazing stories of resilient women, left alone to defend their homes against the "enemy", who quite possibly, had been until recently good friends and neighbours. 

..but I'll let the official blurb do the talking. 

Royalist Rebel by Anita Seymour

Intelligent, witty and beautiful, Elizabeth Murray wasn’t born noble; her family’s fortunes came from her Scottish father’s boyhood friendship with King Charles. As the heir to Ham House, their mansion on the Thames near Richmond,
Elizabeth was always destined for greater things.

Royalist Rebel is the story of Elizabeth’s youth during the English Civil War, of a determined and passionate young woman dedicated to Ham House, the Royalist cause and the three men in her life; her father William Murray, son of a minister who rose to become King Charles’ friend and confidant, the rich baronet Lionel Tollemache, her husband of twenty years who adored her and John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, Charles II’s favourite.

With William Murray at King Charles’ exiled court in Oxford, the five Murray women have to cope alone. Crippled by fines for their Royalist sympathies, and besieged by the Surrey Sequestration Committee, Elizabeth must find a wealthy, non-political husband to save herself, her sisters, and their inheritance.
Royalist Rebel by Claymore Books, an imprint of Pen and Sword, is released on 31st January 2013. Visit the Pen and Sword Website or Amazon to purchase the book. It is available on pre-order.

For a little background on the novel, see:

Here's cheers to a successful book, Anita :-)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Australian Romance Reader Awards

GATHER THE BONES has been nominated as a finalist in the Historical category of the Australian Romance Readers Awards.

“A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it.” 
 - Samuel Johnson

The Australian Romance Readers Awards is a completely reader nominated contest. It's not a contest where I paid an entry fee and sent off my books with my fingers crossed. To be nominated as a finalist in this award means that readers went online and nominated my book to be considered as a finalist and the same readers will go online and vote. That's why it means so much!

Without readers I could not be a writer. Oh yes, I would probably still be scribbling away in notebooks (of the physical and digital variety) but without someone to read what I wrote, I could not possibly call myself a writer.

We put ourselves on the line when we release a book. How will it be received? Will anyone read it?...Will they like it? A writer is a writhing mixture of self doubt and fear.

What this nomination means for me as a writer is that I have touched readers and that is the greatest thrill a writer can have.

On Goodreads, GATHER THE BONES has 26 ratings and 14 reviews - some are from reviewers but most are from readers. Some of the comments that have touched me include: 

"The story... well that just blew me away."

"Oh, my goodness. What a wonderful read, I loved this. It had everything I want in a good book. An historical setting, a paranormal theme, attractive if slightly flawed characters."

"I was so sad to finish this book. This book took me 1 night to finish as I couldn't put it down. "

So, from me to you...Thank you, readers...! 

And if you would like to know more about GATHER THE BONES and read an excerpt, click HERE

“Readers, not critics, are the people who determine a book's eventual fate.” 
― Edward Abbey, Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year Downunder

It hits the day after Christmas...a complete change of pace. Here in the great south land, we go from a frenetic December filled with Christmas preparations and end of year work commitments, culminating in the great day, to holiday mode.

It's as if everyone heaves a collective sigh of relief and just switches into relaxation with a summer of cricket, tennis and holidays looming. The world will not resume in earnest until February.

This year I have had the pleasure of DH's company (that's Darling Husband) for the two weeks of Christmas and New Year. We...or should I say, I...started with a long to do list but as the days have slipped past with lazy mornings and long evenings, the temptation to do very little has kicked in. We've lingered over the paper, done the summer quiz and pottered in the garden. I have knocked down the worst of the spider's webs in an instinctive hark back to my northern English heritage and the importance of a clean house for new year, scanned a few negatives, done a bit of editing but otherwise accomplished nothing on that long to do list!

Which brings me to the vexed question of New Year's Resolutions. 

Kimberley Turner wrote an excellent post on 13 Resolutions to Make you a More Productive Writer in 2013 which I highly recommend. The point she makes is that setting year long goals sets you up to fail, breaking the tasks down into manageable chunks may be far more productive.

And let's call them "Goals" not "Resolutions".

I also think we need to distinguish between personal and professional goals for the year. 

My perennial personal goal is "to lose weight" and "get fitter".  To make that achievable:

  • My goal is to lose 500g per month.
  • My goal is to exercise a minimum of 5 days per week and to add incentive I will enter  Run Melbourne in July (5kms)
My professional goals:
  • Write a minimum of 10,000 words per week, acknowledging that writing every day is not achievable (sorry, but it's just not!).
  • Cut down on my social media addiction. Balance and moderation in everything!
  • My  specific writing goals will be shared regularly with my writing group, who keep me honest.
These are small, but, I think, achievable goals for the year and now I have set them down in a public forum, I better aim to achieve them. 

A very happy new year to everyone.