I'm the first in line for this Australia Day Blog Hop...
Australia Day Coastal Blog Hop
So here comes another great blog hop over the next three weeks from an all Aussie contingent... leading up to a celebration of Australia Day. Over the next three weeks you'll be reading about what being an Aussie author means to the crew below, or how they celebrate Australia Day, or maybe even a lamington or pavlova recipe. It will be full of surprises!
And you'll hear about new books to add to your TBR piles!
Don't forget to call in every day and visit the blogs, leave a comment, enter the raffle copter for the fabulous gift basket.
My Memories of Australia Day
I thought I'd think back on what Australia Day means to me. It's a funny thing because I have no memory of Australia Day as a child. In fact, the first memory I have of it is during the Australian Bicentenary and even that isn't my own memory as I was overseas at the time while images of Sydney Harbour replete with tall ships and ferry boat races were beamed around the world.
Even for the couple of years after I don't remember doing much for Australia Day. Maybe I did or more likely I was packing my bags and heading to the country to help with O-Week at the University I attended.
Then I got married and lived a block from the Dee Why beach where the local Council, in it's wisdom, decided to start a free breakfast picnic for the locals. (This event still runs every year and is no longer free and is generally so crowded I no longer attend). Still, I have always thought of this as a spectacularly Australian way to celebrate Australia Day. A bacon and egg roll on a picnic blanket, a quick swim, watch the surf boat races and listen to local musicians sing in the park. It's inclusive and it's egalitarian.
When we were first married we'd meet up with friends and sit in the sun, have a few adult beverages and let the day roll away. It was romantic to go home with a smile on your face and sand between your toes having shared the day with good friends. A couple of times we ended up back at our flat dancing on the coffee table as young people in love do.
Some times there was a new boyfriend or girlfriend for my husband and I to meet and the next year they might be gone, maybe replaced, maybe not. Australia Day, falling as early as it does in the year, was a day full of promise and opportunity. Resolutions hadn't yet been abandoned, summer felt like it still had lots of puff left and lots of people were just back from travels with tales to tell and enthusiasm.
As an adult now, and as the parent or a school age child Australia Day has a different feel. In my state it means the end of school holidays. It means school goes back, the routine resumes and reality takes hold again. Not so back then...back then it was a day of romance and hope and friendship.
(Dee Why Beach is located on Sydney's Northern beaches about ten minutes from Manly where much of Mr Right and Other Mongrels is set.) Mr Right and Other Mongrels is currently on sale for 99c.
Australia Day Coastal Blog Hop
You can enter via Rafflecopter below....also below is a list of all the talented Australian authors who are participating in this wonderful blog hop...where you win....(drum-roll!)
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$100 and 26 e-books (some print) from our generous authors
drawn Australia Day
a Rafflecopter giveaway
It is hard to grow up in Australia and not associate Christmas with the beach. Christmas means the start of the summer holidays. It means long lazy days by the sea. It means sunburn, barbeques and late nights sitting out under the stars. It means mosquito bites, sand in your swimmers and icy cold drinks.
When we were kids we were fascinated by the idea of a white Christmas. All the television shows and movies had snow and mountains. People drank egg nog (what was that), built snowmen and sat by the fire.
I suppose even now I think of a winter Christmas as romantic but seriously what can be more romantic than cocktails and prawns on the beach?
In fact I fantasise about taking my family to a gorgeous island in the Whitsundays for Christmas not unlike the one that Cassie visits in Hearts Afire. (Of course it would be inappropriate for me to flirt with a sexy fireman while on vacation with my husband and daughter I know that).
In reality my real Christmas looks an awful lot like one that Allegra from my first novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels might enjoy. I think it's probably equally romantic. We will spend the day bobbing on our boat on Sydney Harbour while children jump of the back and we feast on prawns and turkey and ham (and of course some champagne!)
I imagine if I lived in the Northern Helpisphere that would be a very exotic and romantic way to spend Christmas. In fact many young single visitors to Australia spend Christmas Day on Bondi Beach http://sunburntchristmas.com.au/
I kind of like to imagine that somewhere in that crowd of people are two people who will find each other and forge a beautiful relationship...or will find each other, get separated and spend a while finding their way back together in the spirit of a true epic romance.
Don't forget to enter for your chance to win 26 e-books and $100 Amazon GC.
If you leave a comment here and tell me about your most romantic Christmas or the destination you think would be most romantic you can win a copy of Hearts Afire and a $5 Amazon GC.
Well, not long now - one week to go!
How many of you don’t have your presents yet?
I am fortunate enough, because of the launch of The Christmas Spirit being on December 1st, to have done almost all my Christmas shopping in November. In recent years, I had adopted the practice of buying everything I could online, as I hate shopping at busy times and I loathe queues. For me there is nothing less Christmassy than feeling stressed, being jostled by fellow shoppers and being faced with weary looking shop assistants. But buying online doesn’t always go to plan and often involves driving miles to some courier depot to pick up the parcel (cue me on Christmas Eve a few years ago) as otherwise it won’t arrive in time.
Three years ago, we had terrible snow and deliveries were backed up so bad, that orders I placed on 20th Dec arrived on time but those placed on 6th didn’t! It was a logistical meltdown. Then there’s having to return items, which is just a pain in the backside.
This year I did still order some items online, but was surprised to find more than half was actually bought in person. OK, I took my then seven-month-old daughter shopping in October to Mothercare, just to see what toys she liked, and then bought them, so that’s how that trend started.
Our high street where we live isn’t much good (Mothercare was in the next town), but I managed to buy clothes for my nephews, although their toys were bought online. Quite a few members of the family have asked for vouchers (which I must remember to buy before the big day!) but we did have one proper shopping expedition as a family - to an out of town mall. We actually bought some things there this year - last year we went and returned empty-handed.
I saw a programme recently about supporting your local high street and I thought about what I had bought locally - clothes, cards, and well, not really a great deal else. Everything had been bought from retail parks, out of town malls or online. Sad, but true. To my knowledge there is no longer a toy store in my town, so where was I to buy gifts for children? We have no bookstore, only a newsagents doubling as one. And this in a town of 50,000 people...
Meredith in The Christmas Spirit, although initially coming across as a bit of a Bah Humbug, is very generous where gifts are involved and always manages to pick out the perfect present, with no expense spared. I like to pride myself in being the same - although since I am not massively rich like Meredith, I do have an upper price limit! This year Meredith needs some help with her present buying and her assistant Sophie does source a lot of it online.
Rebecca, whose finances have been somewhat constrained by having split from her boyfriend, and having to fund a property on her own, breathes a sigh of relief that she already bought one of the most expensive presents months ago, but still has to pare back on what she buys everyone else.
Stanley has never had to think about presents before, except for those for his darling wife, Edie; she always took care of the rest.
Strapped for cash, Jacob, imposes an upper limit on presents with his wealthy sister, which she duly ignores. My siblings and I have an unvoiced, agreed upon amount!
For me, the best thing about Christmas shopping, should I ever have to be out in actual shops at this time of year is the carol singers. They really do put me in the Christmas spirit - kids from primary schools in shopping centres across the country the last two weeks before Christmas. So, for all of you who still have a lot to do, or who are going to be zipping around on December 24th frantically buying last minute gifts, good luck and take heart from those carollers! Merry Christmas
Susan Buchanan lives in Central Scotland with her partner, Tony and baby daughter, Antonia. The Christmas Spirit is her third novel, published Dec 2013. Her fourth novel, What If, is expected to be released summer 2014.
Here is Susan Buchanan talking about The Christmas Spirit
I always wanted to write a Christmas novel - I just didn’t know it was this one! The Christmas Spirit took me by surprise, as I lay in bed one night trying to get to sleep. The title and the idea came at the same time and then I created the characters piece by piece. I love Christmas, but I started wondering how it would be for those who had little to look forward to this Christmas. And I figured they needed a helping hand!
Twitter - susan_buchanan Facebook - www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author
Blog - www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk
Buy The Christmas Spirit
http://amzn.to/1ewbuRY - Amazon UK
http://amzn.to/1dFw0TJ - Amazon US
Today I'm joined for a holiday themed Taste of Tuesday by the Karen E. Martin author of the newly released Modogomous.
Taste of Tuesday Q&A
Mary Ellen’s Hamburger Skillet Stew
For the meatballs:
Combine ingredients and shape into 16 meatballs. Brown in a deep skillet with the shortening.
For the skillet:
*Traditionally, we used Uncle Ray’s home-canned tomato soup for this recipe.
Modogomous by Karen E. Martin
Kate Adams has it all figured out. Five years out of college, she’s got a steady job, a home she loves in the big city, and good friends who always keep her laughing: her stylish but nosy roommate Evette, happily-married Cecie, and of course, good old Mitch, her seriously cute co-worker who’s been stuck in the Friend Zone since the day they met.
Everything is going just fine—until the night Kate crosses the line with Mitch, and the boundaries between friendship and love begin to blur. Things get even more complicated when hunky JP enters the scene. What’s a girl to do? Add to the mix a spunky little pug Kate never expected to fall for, and her neatly-ordered life is starting to look more like a dog’s dinner. Maybe her roommate has the right idea after all: forget the men, and stick with a canine companion instead.
It’s time for Kate to figure out what she really wants in life. But can she dig her way out of the mess she’s created before she ends up permanently in the doghouse?
Author Contact Info:
You can contact the author on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GoodReads, and on her blogabout writing, publishing, and literature.
Karen E. Martin, M.Ed. is a full-time freelance writer/editor. She has been in the publishing business since 2004, working on books and publications for major and independent publishers, universities, businesses, and private individuals. Prior to entering the field of publishing, Ms. Martin worked as a Senior EFL Fellow (English as a Foreign Language) for the U.S. Department of State in Romania, a Junior EFL Fellow for the U.S. Department of State in Jordan, and a teacher-trainer for the U.S Peace Corps in Mauritania, Jordan, Romania, and Morocco. Ms. Martin served as a Peace Corps volunteer for two years, teaching English in the Errachidia Province of Morocco. This is Ms. Martin’s first novel.
Modogomous now available on Amazon or Smashwords
About the Giveaway:
Join the Modogamous Holiday Hop Giveaway to win a fabulous Swag Pack full of prizes! The Swag Pack winner will receive a signed copy of the paperback, tote bag, coffee mug, Christmas ornament, and more! Additional prizes include a copy of the e-book, a signed paperback, and a limited edition, signed art print of the book's cover art.
This musical Monday I thought I'd introduce you to some Australian Christmas music. It's all very well to sing about snowmen and white Christmases and fireplaces but here in the Southern Hemisphere we don't have Christmas like that.
It's hot. We go to the beach, do our Christmas carolling outside in parks and school playgrounds and we eat lunch outside swatting away flies and mosquitos. It's just a bit different from the Hallmark Channel version but no less lovely.
This first one is all about Santa and his sleigh except it's pulled by Kangaroo's, boomers to be exact and there is not a snowflake in sight.
This one is more a tale or dysfunction and regret and what happens when you yearn for family and friends because you can't get home for Christmas. It's also a song about how we long for tradition and familiarity.
How to Make Gravy by the wonderful Paul Kelly.
Hope these songs get your toes tapping and in the Christmas spirit this Monday.
Sometimes it has to be Christmas
I confess: I can be a bit of a Scrooge. When I was younger, I loved the idea of the magic of Christmas and the rest of the solstice holidays, but as I've gotten older it's become more of an indulgence in crass commercialism. "Buy this, and everyone will love you because they'll know how much you love them!" or "If you're a good citizen, you're going to buy a lot- the economy depends on you!"
But while I prefer to mark December 25th with the ancient traditions of my people (a movie and Chinese food), I'd have to be living in a hermetically sealed bubble without access to any other people not to notice that "the holidays" are an important part of everyone's lives, whether they like it or not. If nothing else, they focus the attention on people gathering together and making an effort to show their appreciation of those who are important to them. If that frequently takes the form of sweaters (worn with or without irony) and way too many baked goods, maybe that's not such a terrible thing.
Given that the first book in my series The New Pioneers is filled with college students in a famous college town, it would have been foolish not to have taken advantage of the drama that comes with Christmas. The break in classes, the scramble to travel, the young/new adults who are trying to establish new traditions, the return of important characters and, of course, the potential to meet friends of friends: it's pretty clear why many YA and NA writers would include at least one Christmas scene.
In The Smartest Girl in the Room, Christmas is a time that my heroine Emily feels unrooted after saying goodbye to both her best friend and her new boyfriend and not having a home of her own to return to. She enters into an unfamiliar situation even though she's positive she'll be outclassed. Instead, she's introduced to a very important character with a surprising connection to some of her new- and old- friends. But clarity is postponed by the return of a prodigal son (or in this case, cousin)- and the "gift" Emily receives is to be rushed out before she can meet him.
This is a pivotal moment in my story, and if Christmas hadn't been available I could have worked it into, maybe, Spring Break. But while I would have had a very good reason for getting people out of town, getting important people back into town would have been harder to explain (unless people usually have a good reason to return to Boston in March or Spring that I don't know about). It also would have meant moving the entire timeline of my story around; instead of beginning in autumn, I would have had to have started in winter, and then I would have had to have changed some of the catalysts for my story. Doable? Yes. But ask any writer what happens to a story you have to massage one too many times.
So this year, instead of channeling my usual "Bah Humbug!", I'm going to wink just a little bit when December 25th rolls around- right after I leave a movie theater and head to my favorite Chinese restaurant.
About Deb and her writing.
Deborah Nam-Krane came up with the kernel of The New Pioneers series when she was barely a teenager. It only took 27 years, but she’s finally ready to let the world read it. The Smartest Girl in the Room was released in late March of 2013 and The Family You Choose was released exactly six months later in September of 2013. The China Doll will be released (fingers crossed) by the end of December.
The Smartest Girl in the Room
Nineteen year old Emily wants her college diploma fast, and she's going to get it. But when the perfect night with perfect Mitch leads her to a broken heart, Emily is blind to her vulnerability. When the person she cares about the most is hurt as a result, Emily's ambition gives way to more than a little ruthlessness. She's going to use her smarts to take care of herself and protect the people she loves, and everyone else had better stay out of her way. But shouldn't the smartest girl everyone knows realize that the ones she'd cross the line for would do the same for her?
The Family You Choose
Miranda Harel has been in love with her guardian Alex Sheldon since she was five years old, and Michael Abbot has despised them both for just as long. When Miranda finds out why she wants both men out of her life for good and questions everything she believed about where and who she came from. Finding out the truth will break her heart. Without family or true love, will her friends be enough to bring her back?
Please connect with Deborah Nam-Krane on any of the following sites:
Join her mail list to find out first about new releases
Written By Deb
Amazon Author Page
Smashwords Author Page
This is an amazing give-away for American readers who love chick lit and REAL PAPERBACKS.
You have a chance to win 29 wonderful books delivered to your very own front door. How exciting is that?? I would be beyond excited.(Of course I am not able to enter being one of the authors and living in Australia).
It's pretty simple to participate just follow these Rafflecopter instructions and you can have loads of chances to enter!!
You have to be in it to win it!
Just think what a wonderful Christmas present this would be for you (or if you have friends who loves to read you could always give the books away!)
It's funny how, when you sit down to ponder your own holiday experiences, you can be so overwhelmed by memories it becomes hard to decide what to write.
I consider myself a pretty lucky person because I have celebrated Christmas in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, I've celebrated Thanksgiving (Although 'm not American), I've been invited to Hanukah celebrations and I've even celebrated several Muslim holidays.
We all think the way we celebrate is "normal". Doesn't everyone have a White Christmas or Christmas on the beach, for example. We think our normal is the normal. Celebrating different holidays with different people shows you there is no such thing as normal.
Even better it shows you there are many, many ways to celebrate.
When I was a child Christmas looked like this. Wake up in the stinking heat (about 5am if you were me) and do presents with my immediate family, then head to Mass. Next stop family friends for drinks. By noon we were at my father's family for a long, lovely lunch with pudding, Christmas crackers with the bad paper hats, cheap toys and jokes and lots and lots of cousins. Back in the car and off to the next place for dinner, that was my mum's side. Repeat the lunch part fo the day, right down to the menu just add different relatives. Finally load into the car again and drive south from Sydney, through the Royal National Park to my grandparents beach house. Anyone exhausted yet?
One of my favourite Christmas memories as a kid is that my mother would let us have whatever we wanted for breakfast. My sister would choose chocolate custard. I varied my choice a bit - one year it was strawberries and another bacon and eggs. You have to admire someone who did that before the epic day laid out above.
As an adult my husband and I replicated this huge day trip model until our daughter was three. That was about ten years of married life. Our "best effort" included waking up at our beachside flat, driving to my parent's house in Sydney's North, lunch back in the Eastern Suburbs and dessert at my in-laws in a coastal town over four hours north of Sydney. (That was actually a really great Christmas even it might not sound like it!)
No wonder we ran out of steam! No wonder my favourite day of the year is Boxing Day. My Boxing Day looks like this. Wake up late and eat leftovers all day. Lay in the hammock, drink the leftover alcohol and read a book (My husband always gives me a new book for Christmas). Heaven!
Once we decided to do my family one year and the in-laws the next our Christmas has developed it's own rhythm. One Christmas, we were home for lunch because we had family dinner, I asked my daughter what she wanted for lunch. Her answer was party pies. So we had a platter that consisted of prawns, smoked salmon, cherries and party pies - it's still her favourite Christmas meal.
As a writer I love reading about how other people celebrate holidays and create their traditions which become their stories. That becomes their normal.