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Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting to Know You...The Liebster Award

I've been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award Challenge by ANITA DAVISON (also writing as Anita Seymour), author of the Royalist Rebel and also by ANNIE SEATON, author of A Holiday Affair and other great books...and also a fabulous freelance editor. Rather than do two different blogs, I have joined them together!

The purpose of the challenge is to help bloggers increase their followers. I have to tell you eleven little known things about me and then answer eleven set questions and nominate eleven other bloggers to take the challenge after me.

For the nominees below:
Post on your own blog, linking back here, with eleven random facts, answer my eleven questions and nominate eleven new bloggers with eleven questions to ask them!  Don't forget to link back to me so I can read your answers :-)

OK here goes: 

Alison on the Camino Santiago de Compostela
Eleven little known facts about Alison Stuart:
  •  As a child I almost died of meningitis
  •  I am an Anglican Church lay reader
  •  I have walked the Camino Santiago de Compostela (or at least the last 115kms)
  •  I have visited a refugee camp on the Thai Burma Border to teach a group of amazing young women at the Karen Young Women’s Leadership School about the United Nations conventions on the rights of women.
  • I love needlework - cross stitch and patchwork/quilting
  • I am owned by 2 cats - the Kat brothers, Oliver and Toby
  • I am a Capricorn
  • I own very few "How to Write" books - hubris or fear?
  •  In my younger days I did a bit of amateur musical theatre...mostly Gilbert & Sullivan which probably accounts for the Ruddigore references in GATHER THE BONES.
  • My favourite thing to do on holidays is go on ghost tours. 
  • I only like dark chocolate...good dark chocolate. 
Alison (far left) at the Karen Young Womens' Leadership School in 2006

Annie's Questions:
  1. What sort of books do you like to read? Crime and mystery.
  2.  Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes
  3. When the coffee runs out, what do you like to drink? Gin and tonic
  4. Do you prefer sad or happy endings? Has to be a happy ending. Too many sad endings in real life.
  5. If you could meet anyone and spend an hour with them alive or dead, who and why? I would like to meet my great+ grandmother Helene deMestre and find out the real story behind her 3 husbands...
  6. What did you do all day before the internet was invented? I did a lot more sewing and needlework and I actually wrote books.
  7. What is your favourite movie?  Depends on my mood...but  LOVE ACTUALLY is a repeat viewing in my house.
  8. What is your ideal holiday destination?  My husband and I love getting out into the Australian outback...even if it takes 3 days driving!
  9. What's your favourite thing to do when you're not writing?  Needlework
  10. Do you have a book in your house that's just destroyed because you've read it so much?  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (the original edition I bought in Haworth when I was 11)
  11. Do you set yourself some strict rules while writing?  Rules are made for breaking...

Anita's Questions

  1. Belgian chocolate or Pino Grigio?  Belgian chocolate - purchased from the Corne Royale shop in Brussels just off the Grande Place...
  2. Ryan Reynolds or Matt Damon?  Those are my only choices...?
  3. Ben and Jerry’s [any flavour] or crème brulee?  Creme brulee...never tasted Ben & Jerrys (American icecream isn't it?)
  4. Orlando Bloom or Johnny Deppe?  Tough call...Loved Orlando in LOTR and Johnny in Chocolat,
  5. Roasted duck breast or grilled goat’s cheese?  Can't I have both?
  6. Gourmet dinner out or nachos and salsa in front of the TV?  See answer to 5 above...
  7. Jamie Oliver or Raymond Blanc? Jamie!
  8. Christmas turkey with cranberry sauce or goose with spiced orange sauce? See answer to 5 above...
  9. Jason Statham or Daniel Craig? Daniel.
  10. Who would you cast as the hero in a film made of your latest novel?  Only one actor could have played Paul Morrow in GATHER THE BONES - the young Nigel Havers
  11. Who would you cast as the heroine in a film made of your latest novel?  For Helen Morrow, the Australian heroine of GATHER THE BONES - Jessica Marais
Nigel Havers contemplating the role of Paul Morrow!
And now for my nominees:
And here's my questions for them:
  1. Gold or silver?
  2. Best book read in the last 12 months?
  3. Happiest memory of childhood?
  4. Favourite season?
  5. If you could travel anywhere in the world and money was no object...where would you go and why?
  6. Favourite TV show?
  7. What is the one skill you wished you possessed?
  8. What is your most favourite post from your own blog?
  9. What is a favourite post from someone else's blog?
  10. Any phobias?
  11. Two sentences to describe your latest (or just about to be released book)?
Hope you enjoy getting to know some "new to you" authors :-)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Calling fans of GATHER THE BONES - the RONE AWARD

As a small press published author, I try very hard not to be too 'needy' but if you read (and liked) GATHER THE BONES,  I hope you don't mind if I put out a special request for your support.

GATHER THE BONES has been nominated for the RONE Award. The RONE awards are organised by InD'tale Magazine, a huge supporter of indie and small press published books. They reviewed GATHER THE BONES late last year, giving it a 4.5 star review. To read the review click HERE. As a consequence of this review, the book qualified for the RONE awards and is up for voting by fans. If it is successful in this round it will be read by industry professionals.

"The finalists in this round will then be read and judged by a group of professionals in the industry to determine the very best in indie and small published books of 2012. They will then be awarded the prestigious RONE award, itself, at the formal ceremonies, August 9th, at the Golden Nugget Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

As you can tell, we at InD’Tale magazine went to extensive labor to create and present the most credible and prestigious award in the industry today. Our three round system of elimination covers every facet - highly reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges. No other award system today begins to compare, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a book in the publishing industry."

So if you have read and loved GATHER THE BONES, please visit the InD'tale website and cast a vote for GATHER THE BONES.  

For a direct link to the InDtale website please click HERE

Monday, April 22, 2013


April 25th is ANZAC Day here in Australia and, knowing I have readers who are not Australian or New Zealanders I thought I would talk a little bit about ANZAC Day and what it means to us.

I think every country in the world has its own day of remembrance and commemoration for those who have fought and died in the conflicts of the world.  Americans have Veterans Day, the British have Remembrance Day and in Australia we have ANZAC day, commemorated on April 25th every year.

ANZAC literally means the “Australian and New Zealand Army Corps”… the young men gathered from this far flung corner of the British Empire who sailed off in 1914 to help defend “the mother country”. The young men who boarded the troop transports at Princes Pier here in Melbourne, probably didn’t even understand quite what it was they were going to defend the mother country from. All they knew was that England had called and it was a good excuse for an adventure.

 Although, I have no direct Australian connection to ANZAC day (my own grandfather fought in the British army as a medic in Mesopotamia and in an earlier blog I have written of my search for the grave of my father’s cousin on the western front - Tears on the Western Front), I served in the Australian Defence Forces for nearly twenty years  and  I have followed my husband’s researches of his own grandfather, EAB,  who went to war in 1915, was wounded in the arm and returned home in 1919.

In 1914 Australia as a country was only 13 years old, having achieved its independence from Britain in 1901. The total population was only 4 million but the ties with England were still strong and in England’s hour of need a generation of young Australian men answered the call. Over 400,000 thousand enlisted to serve in the AIF (the Australian Imperial Force) - 10% of its entire population. Back to statistics later but remember that number.

Australian soldiers in Egypt

The big adventure started in Egypt. Wearing their distinctive slouch hats, the young soldiers explored the souks, had their photographs taken, visited the pyramids and rode camels. Anything further from Australia they could not have imagined. The British officers were heard to complain about their disrespectful attitude and their larrikin ways.

In far off London, the secretary for the navy, Winston Churchill was planning a campaign to seize the Dardanelles (the narrow entrance to the Black Sea) by attacking the Gallipoli peninsular, firmly held by the Turks under Mustafa Kemal (later known as Ataturk). Having failed to take the Gallipoli Peninsula with a naval attack, he decided to send in land troops. Key to this invasion were the ANZACs and on 25 April 1915 they landed at ANZAC cove and Suvla Bay. Confronting them were cliffs and the heavily dug in and armed Turkish forces. They came under heavy fire even as they struggled ashore. The campaign was doomed for failure even before it began.

The Gallipoli Campaign...the Australians landed in the north
The Australians and New Zealanders showed incredible bravery and forced their way up the cliffs establishing positions along the front but the Turks were too well dug in and for 8 long months a stalemate ensued. Attacks on Lone Pine and the Nek were repulsed with heavy casualties on the Australians side. In December 1915 the most successful manouevre of the whole campaign was conducted with minimal casualties...the withdrawal from the Gallipoli peninsular. 

In 1934 Atatürk wrote a tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli:
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well."
(This inscription appears on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Canberra)

The Australians at Anzac Cove
The irony that one of the most seminal moments in Australian history was technically a massive defeat is not lost on the Australians.  What is remembered is that Gallipoli had been a bitter blooding, a hard coming of age. 8,709 young Australians never left the Gallipoli peninsula and lie interred in the Commonwealth Cemetery at ANZAC cove. But if Gallipoli had been hard, worse was yet to come. The Australians were sent to the Western Front where for another 3 long years they fought and died for the “mother country”.  As the only battle seasoned troops on the Western Front they tended to be used as “shock troops” and suffered commensurate casualty rates, amongst the highest of all the allies.

My husband’s grandfather was among the second wave to land at Gallipoli and he talked quite freely about his time there so much so that the family assumed he had been wounded there. It was only when my husband started his researches that he discovered that EAB had survived Gallipoli and had sustained his wound on the Somme in November 1916 (only a few months and  a few miles from where Richard Conway-Lowe, my own forebear, died in August of that year). He never spoke about the Western Front. In 1919 he returned to Australia with an arm held together with twitching wire, cleared a soldier settlement block in the Riverland of South Australia, married and raised a family. He died of a heart attack on an ANZAC day march in the 1960s.

Remember the 400,000 men who went to war?  According to historian Patsy Adam Smith:
    • died            58,961
    • wounded   166,811
    • missing or prisoners of war 4,098
    • suffered from sickness  87,865

"At almost 65%, the Australian casualty rate (proportionate to total embarkations) was the highest of the war."

As a percentage of the Australian population, nearly an entire generation of young men had been wiped out or were in some way left impaired by the War (part of the story behind my own novel, GATHER THE BONES).

ANZAC day itself was formally gazetted as a public holiday in 1921 , although its observance had begun as early as 1916. As a child growing up in Australia in the 1960s and 70s, in the midst of another unpopular war being fought in Vietnam, ANZAC day became almost reviled. Protesters would line the streets, hurling abuse at the old soldiers as they marched past.  It was thought as the last of those who served in the Great War died and the ranks of those who fought in the second grew thinner, that ANZAC day would lose its meaning  and like the old soldiers just “fade away”.

I don’t know what happened, what changed but in the 1990s, a new generation discovered  ANZAC day--whether it was being taught in schools or it was part of a wave of national pride or a real understanding about what the lives of those young men who died in that terrible war really meant. The crowds at the ANZAC day marches and dawn services began to grow, a new generation wearing their grandfather’s campaign medals started to march behind the battalion colours. Today the dawn service at Gallipoli in Turkey is the site of a mass pilgrimage of young Australians every year.

The Dawn Service at Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance 
The traditions of ANZAC day are part of our genetic make up. The dawn service, the playing of the last post, the words “Lest we Forget”, followed by marches, wreath laying, the gunfire breakfasts and the games of  "two up" and the baking of home made Anzac biscuits.

To me, as a soldier, ANZAC day was an important part of the year, beginning as a private soldier in a hastily cobbled together drum corps  (as I have no sense of rhythm my career as a drummer was shortlived!), to a young officer helping the parade marshalls. My husband, an infantry company commander, frequently marched with his soldiers. We enjoyed many a “gunfire” breakfast – tea and whiskey and avoided losing our money at two up. I have worn the slouch hat with its distinctive "rising sun" hat badge with incredible pride, conscious of the men and women who went before me.

For the three years we lived in Singapore, we attended the dawn service held at Kranji War Cemetery, where another generation of young Australian lie buried – those who fell in the defence of Singapore in 1942. A lone piper stood high above us on the roof of the memorial as the day broke through the humidity over the peaceful green sward, peppered with its simple white gravestones.

I have been to the dawn service in Paris, stood on the battlefields of France where Richard Conway-Lowe died and where my husband’s grandfather was wounded, attended the ANZAC Day commemorations on the Somme and sung the Australian national anthem and the Marseilles so many times I became hoarse. I have shared breakfast at the little school in Villers Brettoneux, paid for by fundraising from Victorian school children after the war. This little village had been liberated by the Australian troops on Anzac Day 1918. Around the walls of the school hall with its carved Australian animals are the words. “Nous n’oublions pas l’Australie”. We will never forget Australia.


Excerpt from GATHER THE BONES by Alison Stuart. In this excerpt Helen Morrow reflects on the moment when her husband and brother decided to join up. Her husband, Charlie, did not return.

"The photograph showed two young men in the uniform of infantry officers, one seated and the other standing, a photograph like thousands of others that were now the last link with the dead. Helen had a single portrait of Charlie, taken at the same photographic session, sporting an elegant, unfamiliar moustache and grinning from ear to ear, like an over-anxious school boy, keen to join the ‘stoush’, kill the ‘bloody Bosch’. She felt a keen sense of pain that reverberated as strongly as it had on the day he told her he would have to return to England.

“I can’t leave them to fight the Huns, Helen,” he said. “Damn it, I have a duty to England.” 

The drunken words came back to her and she could see Charlie in the kitchen of Terrala with his arm across her brother Henry’s shoulders, as they celebrated their mutual decision to join the war.

Henry had already enlisted in the Australian Light Horse and Charlie told her a few days later that he intended to return to England to join his cousin’s regiment.

“Do you think I would leave Paul to uphold the family honor?” he said. And he’d gone.

Even as she had stood on the dock at Port Melbourne, the cold winter wind whipping at her ankles, she had known he would not return. She wondered if his decision to go would have been any different if they had known she was carrying his child. Probably not."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Exciting news - GATHER THE BONES

I was thrilled to get an email last night advising me that GATHER THE BONES was a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writers AWARD OF EXCELLENCE (mainstream w/romantic elements category).  To be a finalist in any American contest is an honour but to be in such illustrious company is mindblowing.

Mainstream with Romantic Elements

Gather the Bones ~ Alison Stuart
Lyrical Press ~ Anne-Marie Smith, editor

Sea Change ~ Karen White
NAL/Accent ~ Cindy Hwang, editor

Just Down the Road ~ Jodi Thomas
Berkley ~ Wendy McCurdy, editor

Dancing at the Chance ~ DeAnna Cameron
Berkley ~ Jackie Cantor, editor

The Anatomist’s Wife ~ Anna Lee Huber

Berkley ~ Michelle Vega, editor

Winners will be announced June 8.

A huge thank you to the Colorado Romance Writers - judges and co-ordinators for the work involved.

This is GATHER THE BONES second award nomination :-)

Monday, April 15, 2013


Like my hero in SECRETS IN TIME, the ability to transcend time and space is to be treasured. Fortunately I don't need witchcraft to help me navigate our new digital world.

Thanks to the wonderful people at Goddess Fish Promotions, I am going on a SECRETS IN TIME world book tour without having to leave the comfort of my own home. The ability to reach out to people across the globe through the internet still amazes me...and yes, I am of that generation who remembers when the first fax machine arrived in the office. We thought that was smoke and mirrors.

So here is my hectic blog schedule... I can tell you now, every post is different and there is a chance to go in the draw for a tour giveaway if you stop by and leave a comment. 

April 15:  Flirting With Romance
April 16:  Books Amour
April 17:  Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
April 18:  Book 'Em North Carolina
April 18:  Review Teena in Toronto
April 19:  Writers and Authors
April 22:  Romancing Rakes For The Love of Romance
April 29:  Andi's Book Reviews
April 29:  Review  I Heart Romance
May 6:  Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess
May 13:  Deal Sharing Aunt
May 13:  STOP 2 Long and Short Reviews
May 20:  All I Want and More
May 27:  Welcome to My World of Dreams 
June 3:  The Muse Unleashed
June 10:  Just Reading for Fun

So join me on my world discovery tour (Oh...and I will be here as well!).


Friday, April 12, 2013


They are lining up for a book fair for readers who like stepping back in time...and in the case of SECRETS IN TIME, literally!

When you were a child did you dream of waking up and finding yourself magically transported back in time? I did...I would squeeze my eyes tight shut and wish and wish and wish. Of course I woke up still firmly in the twentieth century and with the benefit of hindsight, I can't imagine anything worse than finding myself in the seventeenth century without a flushing loo or a toothbrush!

Or what if you come forward in time...what would you make of the flushing loo, a toothbrush, television, cars...and cricket. These are the dilemmas facing my hero, Nathaniel Preston in SECRETS IN TIME, a dashing seventeenth century cavalier who, with a healthy dose of witchcraft to help, finds himself in 1995...

When a seventeenth-century cavalier hurls himself over her garden wall, Doctor Jessica Shepherd is more angry than surprised. Although she ís no stranger to military re-enactors, there ís something different about Nathaniel Preston. If he ís to be believed, something…or someone…has sent him forward in time from the midst of a civil war to the quiet English countryside of the twentieth century.

With time working against them, Nathaniel has to convince Jessica why fate brought them together before he ís forced to return to his own era and certain death in battle.

Can the strength of love overcome all obstacles, even time itself?

Of course, Nat has a very good reason for his time travelling...he just didn't reckon on falling in love...or the dangers of foreknowledge. Can you imagine knowing the exact time and method of your death or the cause you will die for is doomed?

In the following excerpt, Nat wrestles with these questions:

I cannot sleep.

Every time I close my eyes I see this new world and all its wonders. The noise overwhelms me. Even now in the dead of night, I hear the carriages racing past and see the bright lights illuminate the curtains over the windows. Light. There is so much light.

I try to order things in my understanding, relate them to my own time, but I fail. My own ignorance fails me. I am a savage in this land. Jessica the Witch must think me a veritable fool, and that concerns me. I think of her warm, sun-touched skin on that day I first saw her, and the courage with which she faced me. I want to touch her. I need that touch of a warm, living being to remind me that I am still a man and not an object of pity.

The knowledge of my death tugs at my mind. I keep pushing the memory of that cold stone in the chapel away. I don’t believe I am to die. I am only thirty years old. I have two small sons. Who will care for them? Who will protect my sister and my grandmother?

Alice. Help me. I can’t live with this knowledge.

I hear her voice coming through the mist of my mind. “You must find the strength. Remember why you are there. Learn as much as you can of this new world Nathaniel,
and you will have a chance to set things in order.”

I close my eyes and remember all we talked about, Alice and I. She is right, I have to acquire the knowledge needed to set my world in order. But to do that I will return to my time. To do that, I must die.

To read a longer excerpt and for buy links, click HERE. Available in eformat only at Lyrical Press (all formats), Barnes & Noble and Amazon 

If you, like me, love the seventeenth century, then don't miss my two full length novels set in the English Civil War, THE KING'S MAN and the award winning BY THE SWORD or if you like a ghost story with a bit of a mystery, history and romance, then GATHER THE BONES is the book for you (set in the 1920s world of Downton Abbey)

Whether it is Spring (and you are looking for great reading for your summer holidays) or autumn, as it is here in Australia (and you are looking for a good novel to curl up with on a cold winter afternoon), then don't miss the HISTORICAL NOVELISTS BOOK FAIR (12-15 April). To find more fabulous authors market stalls, see the list below

And for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Voucher, enter the SECRETS IN TIME CONTEST by clicking  HERE

Come and visit the wonderful historical authors hyperlinked below!

1. francine howarth    19. maggi andersen     37. elizabeth hopkinson

2. fenella j miller        20. suzi love             38. michael wills

3. paula lofting        21. jeanne treat           39. dm denton

4. helen hollick       22. chris longmuir      40. richard abbott

5. martin lake         23. kiru taye             41. sue millard

6. jane godman       24. betty cloer wallace     42. margaret skea

7. j.g. harlond        25. christina phillips        43. wendy j. dunn

8. melanie robertson-king  26. suzy witten      44. bryn hammond

9. nicole hurley-moore    27. kim rendfeld      45. sarah waldock

10. anne gallagher     28. kevin john grote     46. hilda reilly

11. deborah swift       29. ginger myrick      47. roy e stolworthy

12. derek birks         30. linda root          48. patricia o’sullivan

13. katherine pym      31. prue batten          49. glen craney

14. michael wills        32. pauline montagna      50. suzan tisdale

15. sandra ramos o’briant    33. sophie schiller      51. jo ann butler

16. elizabeth caulfield felt    34. judith arnopp     52. charles degelman

17. j l oakley              35. anna belfrage            53. gates of eden

18. alison stuart           36. jean fullerton            54. elizabeth keysian

55. marie macpherson     56. tim vicary           57. evan ostryzniuk

Monday, April 8, 2013

Writer's Life: In the Waiting Room...with Godot

“Let's go." "We can't." "Why not?" "We're waiting for Godot.” 

Did anyone else study Beckett's Waiting for Godot at school? I know I did...and I've seen it done as a play. Do I understand it? Thought I did at the I'm not so sure!

Over the Easter break I went bushwalking...there is nothing like a tramp (no Godot puns intended!) through the Australian bush, crackling dry after the end of a hot summer with scent of eucalyptus hanging in the air, to get yourself thinking.

As I pondered the work in progress (or works in progress...there are a couple), the conclusion I came to is that too much of my life is spent mantra seems to have become, "When X happens, I will be able to do Y." Hmmm...other people might call this Writers Block perhaps?

At the moment I have 3 submissions and several contest entries out there in the big wide world. Every morning I leap for my iPad on the off chance there might be an email with some fabulous news...every morning it is the usual round of emails from the wives of ex dictators wanting me to help them squirrel away their fabulous wealth or (lucky me) $1million wins in lotteries I didn't know I had entered. These are not the lottery results I am waiting for!

The upshot of this waiting is I stop doing anything else. As I twiddle the feathers on my quill, my thought process goes down this road... "When I get that offer from X publisher, I will get on with writing Y".  Ah ha I hear you say, Why don't I get on with writing Y anyway? Because, I reply, my quill towards my guttering candle to see if burning feathers really do revive fainting women,  if I don't get that offer from X publisher then there's no point pouring my heart and soul into Y because nobody wants X.... Get the picture?

But to make it even worse, even if I do get published, I still drop into "waiting" mode. First there is "waiting for edits", then "waiting for the cover", "waiting for the release date" and on on it goes. Paralysing me into a complete standstill. My daily routine is subsumed into mini waiting periods...I will finish writing this blog before I do any writing...oh wait, what am I going to write? I'm waiting to hear from publisher X about book A and publisher Z about book B...should I be working on the sequel to Book B or should I be working on a series set up for Book A...

...and on the circular argument in my head goes.

A few years a go I did Margie Lawson's Beating Self Defeating Behaviours Course...obviously I need to go back for a refresher. If this isn't a self defeating behaviour then I don't know what is!

So I need to shake myself out of the doldrums and I think the answer is to get back to work on something I really want to do and let the submissions/the contests and the new release take care of themselves. Better to wait in hope or wait and dream up fabulous new characters and plots for the next book...just in case Publisher X really does want Book A...STOP right now!