Behind the Story: Darry Fraser

x240Darry Fraser’s first novel, Daughter of the Murray, is set on her beloved River Murray where she spent part of her childhood. Where The Murray River Runs, her second novel, is set in Bendigo in the 1890s, and her third novel, The Widow of Ballarat, takes place on the Ballarat goldfields in the 1850s. Darry currently lives, works and writes on Kangaroo Island, an awe-inspiring place off the coast of South Australia.

Welcome to Behind the Story, Darry! Please tell us about your brand new release, Elsa Goody, Bushranger, and also about your give away!

You know me and historicals – how did we women really fare back in the day? Not too far back for me, I only go back to the late 19th century in Australia but still, how did things work for women then?

So many things were happening. Some big iconic events – Eureka Stockade, for one, trade on our rivers. Federation was around the corner, some colonies had the vote for women and – there were bushrangers. I’d already written The Widow of Ballarat set just after the Eureka incident (and there are many stories still to be told from those days), and set three books on the Murray, our beloved, beleaguered river – Daughter of the Murray, Where the Murray River Runs and The Good Woman of Renmark. Many stories there, too.

So, bushrangers. Australia loves them, hates them but they’re ours – Ned Kelly and co being probably the most famous. Ben Hall another. They definitely take a writer’s eye; some thought they were heroes of their day. Now the not-so-bad ones are legends we love to love (mostly) for all sorts of reasons. But there weren’t so many bushrangers after Ned’s demise in 1880, so how was I going to write about a bushranger, and a female one at that sixteen years after bushranging stopped being safe for one’s health?

My heroine came to her fame accidently. She was on a mission to find what she believed to be rightfully hers and ‘something’ happened on the way. Throw in a deadline to be back home for the first election in Australia in which as a woman she was entitled to vote, a snarky older sister with her own agenda, and a family of three brothers in another colony. What could stop her? What could go wrong?

Elsa Goody BushrangerI was also able to use a family legend of my own in the form of the tin of gold coins Elsa Goody is trying to retrieve. Gold sovereigns were hard to come by, much less thirty of them. And how would a dirt-poor farmer be able spend one, let alone more of them, without raising suspicions?

I found a wonderful line of country in which to set Elsa Goody, Bushranger: Robe through Penola in South Australia, across the border into Victoria and the town of Casterton, the home of another of our icons, the kelpie.

So I was set – great countryside, an icon, a quest for gold, a so-called lady bushranger – with a twist.

Hope you enjoy the read.

Thank for having me, Alli.

http://www.darryfraser.com

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON AUSTRALIA

GIVE AWAY!

Darry is kindly offering one lucky commenter a copy of her new release, Elsa Goody, Bushranger. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell us about your favourite historical female – real or fictional. Give away entries are open until 1 July, 2020 at 11.59 pm AEST. 

 

 

 

Behind the Story: Lucienne Diver

headshot by PeteI’m very excited to welcome the fabulous Lucienne Diver to the blog to find out about her new release, Disappeared. In addition to Disappeared, Lucienne Diver is the author of two other YA thrillers, Faultlines and The Countdown Club, as well as the Vamped YA series and the Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series. More information can be found on her website www.luciennediver.com.

Welcome, Lucienne! Please tell us about your inspiration behind your new release, Disappeared.

The jumping off point for DISAPPEARED was a Forensic Files episode that really caught my imagination. It told of a boy who heard something the night his mother went missing and pretended to be asleep when his father came to check on him. That much stayed the same in my novel. Almost everything else changed, but that stuck with me.

All I could think about was what it must be like to be that boy living in that house with his father, who he couldn’t trust, who he feared had done something to his mother, but who was the only parent he had left. And how much worse if he’d left things unsaid, maybe angry at his mother because she’d tried to get out, even while he understood that she absolutely needed to go, even if it meant leaving them behind, at least until she could come back for him and his sister. Because he had a sister. I knew that. Younger. Someone he had to protect, and that brought all the weight down on his shoulders when he was already struggling so hard with everything he knew or thought he did, and everything he had to discover.

At first I made the sister too young to have enough agency. Because she’s got a journey of her own. While Jared lashes out, much like his father (and fears becoming him), Emily turns her pain inward, sometimes even cutting to relieve it. It’s something she has to hide. Like her mother hid her bruises and covered for the abuse. Emily can’t believe her mother would truly leave them. Not for good. No matter what their father says.

The actual mystery of what happened to Jared and Emily’s mother was as important to me to develop as the dynamics of an abusive household, and the rippling repercussions. But it’s about more than that too, relationships that go beyond Jared and Emily and their father. Others who are involved for better or for worse.

And then the discovery of their mother’s car at the train station in what would look like a clean getaway…except for the blood.

There are layers to be peeled back. Layers of mystery. Of discovery.

DISAPPEARED was one of the most difficult books I’ve ever written, and, I hope, one of the most powerful. It’s a young adult suspense novel, because the characters are teenagers and struggling with their own issues, but I think anyone can identify.

If you think you might like to try, here’s a bit about the book:

Quotes:

“A fast-paced murder-mystery with relatable characters and a shocking twist.”—School Library Journal

 “DISAPPEARED is a wonderfully creepy read! Full of devious twists and filled with characters who are so real you genuinely care about them. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of ROT & RUIN and V-WARS

disappeared coverDISAPPEARED by Lucienne Diver is a gripping YA suspense with a twist that readers won’t see coming.

The story their father tells about their mother’s disappearance doesn’t add up for Jared and Emily Graham.

Foul play is suspected, intensifying their fears.

Their mom’s car is discovered, abandoned and covered in blood. No one will tell them what’s going on, so they’re going to find out for themselves. Their investigations into what really happened to their mother may have killer consequences for them both, especially if the truth hits close to home.

You can buy a copy by clicking on the links below:

AMAZON 

AMAZON AUSTRALIA 

BARNES & NOBLE

 

 

Story Behind the Story: Juliet M Sampson

Juliet's Author photo .jpgToday I’m delighted to introduce you to Juliet M. Sampson. Juliet is an award winning author. Dance Demons, her third novel won 2016 Book of the Year in the Reader’s Choice Awards in the AusRomToday competition. She was also one of ten finalists for 2016 Author of the Year in the same competition. Her other three books are Behind the Mask, Bon Voyage! and Outback Wonder. Grace’s Mystery Seed is her first picture book.

After several successful years as a primary teacher, Juliet made a commitment to full time writing and became a novelist. She wanted her stories to reach a wider audience. As well as writing five books, Juliet has written various articles for magazines and online blogs.

She loves to inspire others and her quote ‘spread sunshine and inspiration,’ has reached a global audience. Juliet lives in Melbourne near the bay where she is surrounded by family and friends. Her other passions are travelling, dancing and sketching.

Hello Juliet. Please tell us your story behind the story.

‘Spread seeds of kindness and watch them grow,’ this was how the story started. Let me introduce myself, I’m Juliet Sampson, the author of four young adult novels, Outback Wonder, Dance Demons, Bon Voyage!and Behind the Mask. I’ve had a passion for storytelling from a young age, enjoying my mother reading to me and attending Storytime at the library.Grace's Mystery Seed HB Cover-4.jpg

The world of the classroom and sharing books with children occupied my days, after I graduated from university. My room was filled with paper, books, pencils and an environment that embracedlearning. Being a primary teacher this is what I loved to do. My belief was and still is that learning is forever, no matter our age.

Years passed and my life was changing. My desire to write was growing.  Flash forward to today. I’m pinching myself, as my dream has become a reality. In March, my first picture book Grace’s Mystery Seedhit bookshops.

Grace’s Mystery Seed was inspired by my love of gardens. This fondness occurred when I was at a writing masterclass. The famous writer gifted his students with seedlings to care for and grow. I had never been a gardener before and wondered how I would manage this task.

I planted the seedling and watched it grow. It passed my knees, then my hips and reached my shoulder. One day, there was a bud and finally the mystery seed was revealed.

Bryce and JulietThe famous writer had made one final request to collect the seeds and distribute them to others. I have kept my promise. The seeds have been shared with people of all different ages and from various walks of life.

He was right this single thought of spreading seeds of kindness and watching them grow has created an abundance of connections, sense of community, friendships and happiness.

Grace’s Mystery Seed is about a garden but digging a bit deeper, the readers will not only discover what hides in the pages but how friendships are formed and community is built.

passing on the seedsBLURB:

‘Polly likes these stripy seeds,’ Grace said. ‘What are they from?’

‘Let’s find out,’ said Mrs Marino.

Grace and her neighbour plant a mystery seed. They wait and wait for ages. Then a little green shoot starts to grow . . . and grow . . . and grow . . . until, at last, Grace discovers the truth about her amazing mystery seed.

GIVE AWAY! 

Juliet has kindly offered to give away one copy to a lucky commenter. Entries close on April 17 at 11.59 pm AEST. We’d like to know what your favourite plant is and why. Good luck everyone!

Grace’s Mystery Seedis available in all good bookstores. To download the free teacher’s notes, visit the Ford Street Publishing website.

Juliet’s Website: http://www.julietmsampson.com.au/

Juliet’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulietMSampsonAuthor/

Juliet’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/julietmsampsonauthor/

Juliet’s Twitter https://twitter.com/julietmsampson

Ford Street Publishing Teacher’s Notes for Grace’s Mystery Seed https://fordstreetpublishing.com/book/graces-mystery-seed/

Behind the Story: Cheryl Adnams

Author_CAdnams_smallfile.pngI am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Cheryl Adnams. Cheryl lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has published four Australian rural romance novels and a Christmas novella. Cheryl has a Diploma in Freelance Travel Writing and Photography and has lived and worked in the United States, Canada and spent two years with a tour company in Switzerland and Austria. Her passion for Italy, volcanology and cycling have made their way into her stories and her favourite writing retreats include Positano on the Amalfi Coast and Port Willunga Beach just south of Adelaide. When she’s not writing, Cheryl is still creating in her busy full time job as a trainer and learning designer.

The idea for “The Girl from Eureka” came originally from Clare Wright’s 2014 Stella Award winning novel “The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka”. Her in depth look at the women who were in Ballarat during the 1850s was probably the first non-fiction book I had read cover to cover in years. I couldn’t put it down. I latched on to the idea of a female gold miner and Indy Wallace was born.

Then came the hard work. I’d only ever written contemporary rural and while research was required for my Muller’s of McLaren Vale winery based novels, and also Common Ground which features a war journalist who is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, I hadn’t undertaken anything as daunting as an Australian historical romance. And to write a book based around a true event in history that featured real people and a real timeline, well, I’m not exactly sure I knew what I was in for.

CradleThe first forty thousand words came fast. I knew my characters, I knew my plot and, since the story was based on factual happenings, I had my climactic point already written for me, — the big battle at the Eureka Stockade. Right? Except, I wasn’t writing a non-fiction book and I had to figure out how to weave these real events into my story without it coming out as a regurgitated text book.

So many of the events that happened in the six months leading up to the battle of the Eureka Stockade were catalysts for the building of the barricades by disgruntled miners. I had to choose carefully which of those events to include. Which of those inciting moments would be interesting to readers? How would my fictional characters have been involved in them? Could I use some of the real people who actually played a part in this small moment of Australian history?

CampandmineThere are so many little things you have to be aware of when writing Australian historical, basic questions you have to ask yourself like: How much did a nobbler of whiskey cost? What was the British soldier’s uniform of the day? What food did they have access to in such a remote but rapidly growing region? Things were changing fast in the 1850s and 1860s because of the gold rush. There was sudden wealth and staggering poverty living side by side. Melbourne was the fastest growing city in the world on the back of the gold rush. I buried myself in the history of British military, women’s clothing, food, diseases, weaponry, a police force made up of convicts, bushrangers, carriages, mining equipment, dances of the time. Hours of research could be undertaken to ensure just one line of text was historically accurate.

I’ve never considered myself a patient person, let alone a researcher, but I found a new love for history in the course of writing this story. And as “The Girl from Eureka” is released, I have a second Australian story based in the 1860s and am currently working on an Australian World War 2 story. So it seems I’m having a romance with Australia’s history. I just hope my readers will too.

GirlfromEurekacoverOn the sun-drenched goldfields of Eureka, a wild colonial girl and an honour-bound soldier will break all the rules to claim a love worth more than gold …

Ballarat, Australia 1854

Gold miner Indy Wallace wants nothing more than to dig up enough gold to give her mother an easier life. Wild and reckless, and in trouble more often than not, Indy finds herself falling for handsome, chivalrous, British Army Lieutenant Will Marsh. But in the eyes of immigrant miners, soldiers are the enemy.

Will has been posted to Ballarat with a large contingent of Her Majesty’s Army to protect the Crown gold and keep the peace. But once he meets rebellious Indy, he doubt’s he’ll ever be at peace again. As Will and Indy’s attraction grows, their loyalties are tested when the unrest between miners and the military reaches breaking point.

On opposite sides of the escalating conflict, can their love survive their battle of ideals? And will any of them survive the battle of the Eureka Stockade?

Buy links:

AMAZON Australia

AMAZON

KOBO

iBOOKS

GOOGLE PLAY

 

Behind the Story: Michelle Montebello

Low_Res_File_Michelle_Montebello_032-3Today I’m very excited to introduce you to the lovely Michelle Montebello. Michelle is a writer from Sydney, Australia where she lives with her husband and two children. She is the author of the Belle Series which earned her 2018’s Best New Author in the AusRom Today Reader’s Choice Awards, as well as a finalist place for Book of the Year for Interwoven and Author of the Year. She loves to travel and has explored most continents, with more to go on her bucket list. She also has a keen passion for reading, tennis, spending time with her family and the dramatic arts.

Hello Michelle! Please tell us about your story behind the story.

Thank you, Alli, for having me on your blog today! I’m excited to talk about my latest novel, The Quarantine Station, which releases on March 6th2019. It’s a historical romance about forbidden love set in 1918 and the present day.

What inspired you to write The Quarantine Station?

Long before I started writing this novel, I’d been visiting the site on Sydney’s North Head, now known as The Q Station. It has always been a place of intrigue for me. I’d been on the ghost tours (quite scary), walked through the heritage buildings and strolled along the wharf where the boats once came ashore with the sick. It’s richly historic, much like slipping down the rabbit hole to another time.

But the idea of writing The Quarantine Station didn’t come to me until late 2017.

How did the idea develop?

I was on a history tour at The Q Station and it occurred to me that there was more to that wonderful place than just stories of sickness and sadness. Lots of people came and went during the course of quarantine. Some lived and worked there for many years, from the early nineteenth century.

And there I saw it, in that hot pot of isolated society, the potential for love. Beautiful, enduring, captivating love!

Once the idea came to me, I was hooked. I was wrapping up the final book in my Belle Series and got started immediately on The Quarantine Station. I had the place and time period decided. I had research underway! My characters and storyline had come together. I was staring down a plot filled with mysterious love, a century-old scandal, lost diaries and plenty of secrets!

How did the Quarantine Station challenge you as a writer?

The Quarantine Station was my first foray into historical romance. I loved researching for my Belle books, but writing a historical novel took my research to a new level. The challenge was in staying true to the station and its character, to the period in which I was writing in and to the medical knowledge of the time.

It was important to find the correct balance between fact and fiction, to ensure that amongst the facts, I could still weave a beautiful love story of hope and endurance that would transport readers from their lounge to another place and time.

The-Quarantine-Station-EBOOK (final)The rules were crystal clear. She broke them all…

1918 … When Rose Porter arrives on the shores of Sydney with little more than her suitcase, she must take a job as a parlourmaid at the mysterious North Head Quarantine Station. It’s a place of turmoil, segregated classes and strict rules concerning employee relationships.

But as Rose learns, some rules were made to be broken.

2019… Over a century later, Emma Wilcott lives a secluded life in Sydney where her one-hundred-year-old grandmother, Gwendoline, is all she has. Gwendoline is suffering dementia and her long-term memories take her wandering at night. Emma realises she is searching for someone from her past.

Emma’s investigation leads her to the Quarantine Station where she meets Matt, the station carpenter, and together they unravel a mystery so compelling it has the power to change lives, the power to change everything Emma ever knew about herself.

Buy Links:

PRINT EDITIONS

AMAZON

iBOOKS

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE

To find out more about Michelle, you can visit her website: www.michellemontebello.com.au

GIVE AWAY:

Michelle has kindly offered to give away three e-books of The Quarantine Station. All you need to do is answer Michelle’s question in the comment section below and you will go into the draw. Competition closes 13th March, 2019 at 11.59 pm (AEST).

Michelle’s question: If you could step into a time machine and travel back in time, which period would you choose and why?

UPDATE – WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Congratulations to Jaykky, Kim and Ellise McCune – please get in contact with us through my contact page so Michelle can send you the link for your e-book. Thanks to everyone who commented and stay tuned for more give aways!

 

 

Behind the Story: Tracy Brenton

Author Tracy brenton.jpgI’m delighted to introduce you to Tracy Brenton, whose favourite books to read are “kissing books” (full credit to ‘The Princess Bride’) and if there isn’t at least a little bit of romance in a story then she’ll probably lose interest. So it won’t come as a surprise to learn that all of the stories she writes have a romance at their core. Even the zombie ones!

Tracy love all things creative and take way too many pictures of sunsets and all the pretty flowers around her home on the Mid North Coast of NSW. She’s currently working hard on developing a taste for coffee and writing the next book in the Tempest Beach series.

Tracy, we’d love to hear your story behind the story. Take it away!

I’m an accountant by day and a writer by night (& morning, and weekends, and any spare 5 minutes). I started writing about five years ago when I realised I wasn’t doing anything just for me.

I tried a bunch of different things:

  • Dragon Boat racing, which was awesome, but then I injured my shoulder
  • Yoga, which I still do intermittently
  • I joined Rotary, and have been President of my club the last two years
  • And, I did a writing course with the Australian Writers Centre (AWC)

That course was the start of my writing journey. I joined an AWC writing group and wrote a short story for an Anthology we put together, just to see if I could. That story was High Tide and when I released it on its own recently it made number one in it’s Amazon category – short Romance stories – and stayed in the top three for over a week!

After High Tide, I decided to see if I could write a full length novel. After a great start, I got lost and couldn’t figure out what happened next (that book’s still sitting half complete on my cloud drive). So I set out to learn more about story structure, and plotting. When I felt ready for my second attempt at a full length book I gave myself a deadline, my birthday.

Deadlines are awesome. I finished it by my deadline, got feedback, got it edited and started submitting to publishers. It wasn’t quite what they were looking for, so that book’s sitting on the cloud drive too, waiting for its time.

In the meantime I had started writing the next book which turned out to be Spark. Again, I gave myself a deadline. I wanted to see if I could write it in twelve weeks. In the process I became a morning person (that was short lived) and hit my deadline. Mind you, it took another four months to get feedback, a professional editor, and to do all the edits.

I’d pitched Spark to a publisher at a writing conference and they said to send it through once it was finished. So, when it was finished I had to decide – submit or self publish.

I’m a business woman at heart, so have gone down the self publishing route. It’s been a huge learning curve, but my book went live on my birthday.

Spark Cover smallTo make time to write I completely rearranged my life, selling my business and getting a part-time job. My part-time job turned into two part time jobs so I’m actually working full-time hours, but I still have more time than when I was working for myself and it’s made all the difference to getting my book finished.

Fun fact: I can only write first person. I tried third person at first and it wasn’t working. Then I rewrote it in first person and it just clicked. My story suddenly worked and it was easy, it flowed.

So that’s the story behind the story – my first full length book – Spark (Tempest Beach Book One).

I’m about to start writing the second book in the series – Sing. And I’ve set myself a challenge to write it, get it professionally edited, and have it ready to publish in six months. Just to see if I can.

Watch this space in December to see if I made it!

Here’s some more about Spark:

I might be inexperienced, but that’s not going to stop me from saving my brothers business. Even if HE gets in my way.

He might be a black belt mechanic, but that doesn’t make him the boss.

The only problem is, I can’t seem to stop KISSING him.

I won’t let him distract me. I won’t, dammit.

Sparks fly between a sassy business graduate and a black belt mechanic when they join forces to save her brother’s business while he’s in an induced coma after rescuing their parents from a fire.

But the fire was deliberate, and a shadowy underworld threatens not only the business, but their lives.

Throw in a kick-ass crew of sexy martial artists and you’ve got yourself a delicious mix of adventure, mystery and mayhem, complete with a gorgeous beachside location and love at first sight.

2S connectionIf you’d like to purchase a copy:

Amazon Australia –https://amzn.to/2HUEOat

Amazon US –http://a.co/apkoE5w

iBooks –https://apple.co/2rzjGPX

Google Play –http://bit.ly/2jPjPKD

Universal –https://books2read.com/spark-tb1

If you’d like to keep in touch with Tracy:

19S this kiss

 

Behind the Story: Sarah Williams

Retouched 1.jpgToday I’m excited to introduce you to Sarah Williams. Sarah spent her childhood chasing sheep, riding horses and picking Kiwi fruit on the family orchard in rural New Zealand. After a decade travelling, Sarah moved to Queensland to raise a family and follow her passion for writing. She currently resides in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. 

When she’s not absorbed in her fictional writing world, Sarah is running after her family of four kids, one husband, two dogs and a cat. If that’s not enough, she also mentors and teaches writing workshops and hosts Write with Love- a weekly writers and readers podcast.

Sarah, please tell us your story behind the story!

The Brigadier Station Series is a family saga about three sons who each have their own love story. They are very family and small-town community focused.

The Sky over Brigadier Station is the second in the Brigadier Station series which is set near Julia Creek in the isolated Queensland Outback of Australia.

In this novel I reversed the gender stereotype. Riley, my heroine is very Alpha and dominates the relationship while Noah is the one who gets left behind on the station, so she can go fly Helis!

The Sky over Brigadier Station also touches on Domestic Violence and PTSD. These are both big issues I wanted to draw attention to.

The-Sky-Over-Brigadeer-Station-Kindle-FINALMore about Sarah’s book: 

Noah McGuire stayed away from Brigadier Station for a reason. He’s spent almost a decade in New Zealand’s South Island, trying to forget his past. But the memories still haunt him and the last thing he wants to do is see his estranged family and attend his brother’s wedding. 

However, the only way he can collect his inheritance is if he returns to his family’s property and faces the demons he’s been hiding from. 

When it comes to rounding up hundreds of cattle in a day, doing so by horseback doesn’t do the trick quite like a helicopter does and Riley Sinclair is one of the best pilots in the country. It’s a dangerous job, but she has nothing to lose. Until she meets Noah and her bravery is finally tested.

Can they make a life together or is the pull of the sky too strong? 

To connect with Sarah or purchase her book: 

Print and digital through all the usual online retails. Here’s a link: http://www.books2read.com/TheSkyoverBrigadierStation

Sarah is regularly checking social media when she really should be cleaning. 
You can find her online at:
http://www.sarahwilliamsauthor.com
http://www.facebook.com/sarahwilliamswriter 
http://www.twitter.com/SarahW_Writer

Behind the Story: Jen J. Danna (aka Sara Driscoll)

Jen J Danna.jpgToday it is my pleasure to welcome the lovely Jen J. Danna to Behind the Story. A scientist specializing in infectious diseases, Jen works as part of a dynamic research group at a cutting-edge Canadian university. However, her true passion lies in indulging her love of the mysterious through her writing. Together with her partner Ann Vanderlaan, they write both the Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries and the FBI K-9s (as Sara Driscoll). Jen lives near Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.

Jen/Sara, please tell us about your story behind the story!

Finding out what inspired an author to write a certain book or series of books is always an interesting peek inside that author’s mind. Sometimes it’s practical. Sometimes it’s a passion. The FBI K-9s series started as a combination of the two.

Ann's 5 Pitt Bulls

Ann’s five pit bulls

Both my writing partner Ann and I are animal rescuers. She has a current roster of five rescued pit bulls she has saved from shelters. I have four cats—one adopted from a rescue, one rescued off the streets after it had been abandoned when its owners moved away, and two kittens live-trapped in our backyard last month because they were slowly starving to death. So, to say we’re animal lovers is a small understatement.

Milo and Autumn

Milo and Autumn

The idea for the FBI K-9s series actually came out a lunch our agent extraordinaire, Nicole Resciniti, had with Peter Senftleben, then an editor at Kensington Publishing. He was looking for a procedural with a service dog theme. At that time, Ann and I had published our first three Abbott and Lowell Forensic Mysteries, with a fourth in progress, and were looking to stretch our wings a bit. Nicole meets with a lot of editors and sends their requests to her authors. When we saw Peter’s idea, we knew it was a great fit. And where I hadn’t owned a dog since I was a child, Ann more than made up for my lack of knowledge at the time.

Launching into a new series also gave us a chance to open our horizons. I love writing Abbott and Lowell, but police jurisdiction can be a little constricting—every case had to take place in Essex county around Salem, Massachusetts. Any other city or county would have the same restrictions around jurisdiction.  But we had the perfect solution, getting around this issue by setting our K-9 team within the FBI. Now the entire United States was our playground, as well as beyond under the right circumstances.

Luna and Nala

Luna and Nala

Within the FBI there are several different K-9 groups: criminal apprehension, explosives detection, and forensic applications. It was the last group that really caught our eye. The Forensic Canine Program consists of the Victim Recovery and Human Scent Evidence Teams. The Victim Recovery Team is made up of cadaver dogs who search for human remains. This is a crucial function, but it ran too close to the forensics of Abbott and Lowell. However, the Human Scent Evidence Team consists of handler and dog teams who search for live humans. We saw the possibilities of this team right from the start—from suspect tracking, to natural disaster rescues, to recovering the missing and lost, there were lots of realistic options for cases and stories. We were also excited to write not just the main K-9 team, but also a number of other handler and dog teams who feature prominently throughout the series. With a black Labrador, a German shepherd, a border collie, and a hound dog, this team has the dogs best suited to this type of rewarding and sometimes heartbreaking work.

Enter Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue black Lab, Hawk. Meg was a K-9 patrol officer with the Richmond, Virginia PD until her German shepherd, Deuce, was shot and killed while apprehending a suspect. Meg returns to her parent’s animal rescue to grieve, and ends up bonding with a recently abandoned and extremely ill puppy. Nursing Hawk back to health gives her time to grieve and also allows for a steadfast bond to form between woman and dog. It is this bond that makes them such a great team. They intuitively understand each other and each would die for the other (and has come close, on occasion).

In this second book in the FBI K-9s series, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, Meg, Hawk and the rest of the Human Scent Evidence Team become entangled in a case where a serial killer plays a deadly game with them with victims’ lives at stake:

Before it's Too Late HCIn this powerful K-9 crime thriller, FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her trusted search-and-rescue Labrador, Hawk, must race against the clock before a diabolical killer strikes again…
 
Somewhere in the Washington, D.C., area, a woman lies helpless in a box. Beneath the earth. Barely breathing. Buried alive. In Quantico, the FBI receives a coded message from the woman’s abductor. He wants to play a game with them: decipher the clues, find the grave, save the girl. The FBI’s top cryptanalysts crack the code, and Special Agent Meg Jennings and her K-9 partner, Hawk, scramble to follow a trail of false leads to the scene of the crime. By the time they solve the puzzle, it’s too late. But the killer’s game is far from over . . .

Soon another message arrives. Another victim is taken, and the deadly pattern is repeated—again and again. Each kidnapping triggers another desperate race against time, each with the possibility of another senseless death. That’s when Meg decides to try something drastic. Break the Bureau’s protocol. Bring in her brilliant sister, Cara, a genius at word games, to decipher the kidnapper’s twisted clues. Meg knows she’s risking her career to do it, but she’s determined not to let one more person die under her and Hawk’s watch. If the plan fails, it could bite them in the end. And if it leads to the killer, it could bury them forever . . .

LONE WOLF finalBEFORE IT’S TOO LATE releases September 26, 2017 in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook formats. The first book in the series, LONE WOLF, is available now in hardcover, mass market, e-book, and audio.

Buy Links for BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE:

Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Chapters/Indigo, B&N, BAM, IndieBound, Target, Walmart, Hudson Booksellers

Website:  https://jenjdanna.com/ and http://saradriscollauthor.com/

 

 

 

 

Behind the Story: Cathryn Hein

Cathryn Hein author photoI’m super excited to have Cathryn Hein on the blog today. Cathryn is the best-selling author of ten rural romance and romantic adventure novels, and a regular Australian Romance Reader Awards finalist. A South Australian country girl by birth, she loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who’s as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don’t flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful.

Cathryn currently lives at the base of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales with her partner of many years, Jim. When she’s not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.

Welcome, Cathryn. Please tell us your story behind the story!

I come from a land of volcanoes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not what you think about when you think of Australia, is it? But it’s true. Australia has one of the best volcanic fields in the world. The Newer Volcanic Province stretches from Melbourne through to Mt Burr, north-west of my home town of Mt Gambier, and contains a whopping 400+ volcanoes. There are at least 20 eruptive sites around Mt Gambier alone.

Volcanoes are what I grew up with. As a kid, a great day out was climbing to the top of Mt Schank crater, south of Mt Gambier, and sliding to the bottom again on your bum. We also did it around Mt Gambier, from the Potter’s Point lookout to the Valley Lake far below. We’d get filthy, tear clothing, occasionally hurt ourselves and have the best fun imaginable.

Mount Elephant in western VictoriaThere’s a kind of romance about volcanoes too. They’re ancient, majestic and the view from the top is spectacular. I love them – their crooked forms and cratered bellies, their eroded slopes and stony ridges. And I’m particularly pleased that my favourite, Mt Schank, is only dormant. That it’s like a hibernating bear, snoring softly as it waits for the right moment to reawaken.

It seems inevitable then that I would one day write about a volcano. Not only write about one but develop a whole series of stories set in the shadow of my fictional Mt Schank, Rocking Horse Hill.

Rocking Horse HillRocking Horse Hill is the first in my Levenham Love Story series, and features an old money rural family with an historic property at the base of a volcano. The hill plays a pivotal role in the story, as a place of beauty and passion, as well as great drama and heartache for both its heroine Emily Wallace-Jones and sexy hero Josh Sinclair. At its heart, Rocking Horse Hill is a lover’s reunited story, but it’s also a story about friendship and family, and its lush southeast South Australia setting is stunning.

My latest release Wayward Heart continues the story. It’s a friends-to-lovers romance, a much-favoured trope. And in the Jasmine and Digby’s case, these friends are also two very broken people—Digby from tragedy and grief, Jasmine from heartbreak and humiliation. When circumstances bring them close, they discover unexpected strengths and wonders in each another. What happens next is deeply emotional and passionate, but it’s a relationship tangled with family drama and the wreckage of Digby and Jasmine’s past, and their happily ever after isn’t going to be easy.

Summer and the Groomsman 800x1200Other books so far in the Levenham Love Story series are Summer and the Groomsman – set around Josh and Em’s wedding – and RomantiSanta and the Saddler - 400x600c Book of the Year finalist Santa and the Saddler, which introduces two new characters and their families. Its follow-on story, Chrissy and the Burroughs Boy will release this year and there are plenty more to come. I think at last count I had at least 5 more in the pipeline.

I can’t keep away from the place but there’s a reason for that. I feel passionately about the setting, it’s in my memories and in my heart and I want my characters to find as much happiness in this land of volcanoes as I had growing up.

Wayward Heart by Cathryn HeinCathryn’s latest release is WAYWARD HEART, available in all good bookstores and online now.

Blurb for Wayward Heart:

Jasmine Thomas should feel safe in her cosy cottage at Admella Beach after finally putting an end to an ill-advised romance. But her perfect sanctuary is shattered with the arrival of hand-delivered threatening notes. Someone has discovered her secret.

When the notes escalate to vandalism, Jasmine’s anxiety rises. But in such a small place, telling the police would mean the whole town finding out.

Digby Wallace-Jones is stumbling through the motions of life, wrapped in a fog of grief since his fiancée Felicity died. Withdrawn from his family, Digby doesn’t care about anything beyond his loss. But in a chance meeting with Jasmine, his sister’s best friend who he’s known forever, even he can see the tension she carries. Worried and feeling protective, he continues to drop by, but it’s more than that. Jasmine soothes him; and, unlike the rest of his family, he can talk to her about his pain without fear of judgement. But as much as he likes Jasmine, Digby’s enduring love for Felicity means he has nothing left to give and he pushes Jasmine away.

Jasmine knew they were supposed to stay friends ‘with excellent benefits’ but she can’t help her wayward heart from falling for this tortured, kind and sexy man. How can she ever loosen the grip Felicity’s memory has on Digby’s soul and remind him he still has a life ahead of him?

If you’d like to see Cathryn climbing Mount Schank click here!

A SPECIAL GIVEAWAY!

Cathryn has kindly offered to send one lucky commenter on the blog a book of their choice from the volcano/Levenham stories: Rocking Horse Hill, Wayward Heart, Summer and the Groomsman, or Santa and the Saddler. 

What we’d like to know is: what’s your favourite landmark and why? It can be from your childhood or now.

Good luck everyone! Comment by June 30 for your chance to win!

Discover more about Cathryn and her stories at cathrynhein.com or email Cathryn at cathryn@cathrynhein.com

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Behind the Story: Renee Conoulty

profile 2.jpgI’m super excited to have Renee Conoulty on the blog today. Renee is an Australian Air Force wife and mother of two. Her debut chick lit novel, Don’t Mean a Thing, is available through Kindred Ink Press. She has also published Catching Onix, a short story which is available for free here. https://www.instafreebie.com/free/OSTdp

When she’s not devouring books, reviewing and blogging on HeySaidRenee, or writing her own stories, Renee can be found swing dancing. Or possibly napping. She tweets about reading and reviewing @HeySaidRenee and about writing, military life and dancing @ReneeConoulty, but hasn’t created a handle for nap talk yet.

Tell us about your story behind the story, Renee!

Ever since I took up swing dancing many, many years ago, I’ve been looking for novels with swing dancing in them. The closest I’d come was finding a couple of swing dance scenes scattered amongst the 850 pages of a Stephen King tome.

When my husband joined the military, I looked for military stories I could relate to. I found plenty of alpha male hot romance stories, historical military books and novels dealing with PTSD but there was a lack of fun contemporary Australian military stories and very few women in the military.

When I found out our family was being posted to Darwin, I wanted to get a feel for the area we were moving to so looked for contemporary Darwin stories. I found plenty of outback stories and some historical but not much set in the city.

profile 1I couldn’t find the books I wanted to read so I decided to write one that combined all three ideas. I’d never contemplated writing a novel before I started Don’t Mean a Thing. Writing novels were something amazingly talented, creative people did, not ordinary people like me. I’d been living in Darwin for three years when it occurred to me that, maybe, I could write a book. I was an avid reader (I’d joined a reading challenge group in Goodreads when I first moved to Darwin and was treating reading like a competitive sport). My love of reading led to writing reviews and sharing them on a blog. My blogging led to meeting authors online where I discovered that, yes, they are amazingly talented and creative but authors are also ordinary people like me. I made lots of friends, like Alli, and became immersed in the world of books but still had no aspirations to write one. Where would I start? I didn’t know how to plot. And books had so many words – I struggled to write a blog post, how could I ever write a novel?

It was this blog post I read in the middle of 2015 that inspired me to give it a go.

http://www.natashalester.com.au/2015/06/24/the-two-things-you-need-to-get-started-writing-a-book-time-and-one-idea/

Natasha Lester told me (she wrote that post specifically for me, I’m sure) that I didn’t need a plan and an outline, I just needed some time and one idea.

My husband was going away for a few weeks with the military, so I had time to fill after the kids went to bed. I even had three ideas, not just one. A girl in the military who moves to Darwin and takes up swing dancing to make friends. Scene by scene, I wrote a book. 


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Website

http://heysaidrenee.blogspot.com.au

coverBlurb:

What if you finally took the lead, but life refused to follow?

Thirty-year-old introvert, Macie Harman, has finally found a career she is passionate about, and after months of training, she’s begun her new job in the Royal Australian Air Force. Leaving behind her family, friends, and the life she knew, Macie has travelled to the other side of the country where the only person she knows is Rachael, the extroverted girl she went through basic training with. Everywhere Macie goes, Rachael is there too.

While looking for a way to widen her circle of friends in her new town, Macie discovers a local swing dancing class. The jazz music captures her heart, and Matt, the sexy swing dancer, sweeps her off her feet. Matt has claimed the tropical Northern Territory as home and has no plans to leave. He loves his teaching career with its predictable routine and has a great bunch of friends. All he wants now is the right girl to make his house a home.

Military life is tougher than Macie expected, and not everyone can deal with the inevitable separations and last minute changes. Is this exciting but unpredictable life something Macie wants to fight for, or could she give it up and put down roots with Matt? 

Universal purchase link – http://books2read.com/DMAT