Friday, November 10, 2017

Traveling in Australia continued with Kate Loveday

We were continuing to wend our way slowly north along the Pacific Highway up the coast of New South Wales with our caravan and our two dogs, Mimi and Lucy. We were on our adventure to ‘drop out’ of the real world for a while. For just how long we didn’t know; we planned to wander as our fancy took us – heading always north but making byways from the main tracks whenever something off the main road caught our interest.

Coff’s Harbour is a town located between Sydney and Brisbane. It’s known as the home of bananas, but it’s much more than that for the visitor, including fishing, scuba diving and rainforest walks. The Big Banana is an original Australian 'Big Thing' and has been an icon on the Pacific Highway on your way to Coffs Harbour for more than 40 years. A kitschy tourist attraction, it’s one of Australia's famous landmarks.

It’s also home to Dolphin Marine and the Pet Porpoise Pool, where you can get up close and personal with seals and dolphins. The Butterfly House has an indoor rain forest teeming with butterflies where you can walk right among the butterflies.
We were here in Coff’s for two reasons. One was to enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and the surrounding countryside, which included some wonderful rain forests.

The other was to attend the wedding of our old friends Lorrie and her partner James.
First thing to do on arriving was to book in at the caravan park, find our site, and set up. We planned to stay a few days so Pete set about erecting the fully enclosed canvas annex on the side of the van, which was always a safe haven for the dogs when we needed to leave them alone.

The clear blue waters of the beach beckoned us, so as soon as the chores were finished it was time to change into our bathers and head down to the water for a swim. Mimi loved the water but Lucy was a bit more hesitant in those early days, especially if the waves at the edge were a bit stronger than usual. However, with a bit of coaxing she was soon enjoying the water as much as the more adventurous Mimi. And how they enjoyed racing around on the sand after their swim!

The next day, Saturday, was the day of the wedding. As we were traveling with limited space for formal clothes I had one outfit only that was suitable for the event, and as it was to be a formal church ceremony I had bought a hat especially for the occasion. It was a small confection made almost entirely from tiny white feathers. I’m not much of a hat person, but when I checked myself in the mirror I thought it looked quite chic, and I was glad that I’d bought it.

Like all weddings, the service was lovely, and it was moving to see our old friends taking the plunge into matrimony. Also like many services it was quite long, and we decided to stop by the caravan on the drive between the church and the reception venue in order to check that the dogs were okay.

All was well in the annex, and I went into the van to fill their water bowl again. While I was in there I caught sight of myself in the mirror and decided I didn’t need to wear the hat any longer, now that the church proceedings were over. I took it off and combed my hair out. Much more comfortable.

After seeing the dogs safely ensconced in the annex I hopped into the car and we headed to the reception. We spent a happy few hours with the bride and groom and their guests, and when it was all over we headed back to the caravan park.

When we unzipped the door to the annex we were surprised to see no dogs inside. The door to the van slightly open and I realized that in my hurry I had not closed it properly, and both dogs had taken themselves into the van,

When I stepped into the van it looked as if there had been a snowstorm. White flakes covered every bit of the floor.

I had left my hat on the bench, within reach of any determined dog! And now two dogs stared at me innocently from the seat where they lay.

I told you traveling with dogs is fun.
A Woman of Spirit

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Seven Little Words by Margaret Sutherland

Why dogs?
My latest novel, ‘Seven Little Words,’ releases on November 8th, 2017. That's when all the days, weeks and months of work come together. This is when the author offers his or her work to the world. In other words, this is it!

This time I've drawn on my training as a nurse and my interest in health issues to write a medical romance. Cathy Carruthers is a computer technician, but when her grandmother has an accident and is hospitalized, Cathy learns about the life of a busy hospital. This sparks her desire to follow a new career. Meanwhile, she is landed with her grandmother’s pets, including Pixel, a little dog with the heart of a lion.

‘Seven Little Words’ is not a doctor/nurse romance. The man who challenges Cathy’s romantic heart is a writer, constantly on the move as he researches material for his next novel. David prefers casual relationships. But he too has a change of course when he takes over the care of his father’s guide dog, Banquo. While the Labrador and the Chihuahua strike up an unlikely friendship, both Cathy and David find their emotions tugged in all directions as they learn about responsibility and caring. Banquo and Pixel charmed my heart and reminded me of the old stage adage, 'Never compete with children or dogs.’

People sometimes ask me why dogs play an important role in my romances. It’s not so hard to understand. A romance is about love—the finding, the losing, the eventual coming together of two people who are ready to commit, whatever the future may bring. What better symbol of attachment, devotion and unconditional love can you find than a faithful dog?

The dogs I have known over several decades have given me immeasurable pleasure. Big or small, pedigree or lucky dip, sweet or assertive, all have been my friends and companions. They have filled my life with laughter and love. No wonder I like to write about them!

Available today! 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

An Interview with Annalisa Russo

Welcome Annalisa Russo to the spot in the garden where we get to know the authors. She has a new book coming soon. All Hearts Come Home for Christmas

Tell us about your writing...

Do you plot or let the story unfold as you write? 
I started out using an outline, but quickly switched to plotting cards. I use 3x5 index cards: using 120 cards for my regular historical romances, divided into 3 acts, 20%, 60%, 20%. I’ve been tempted to buy Scrivener software, a project management tool for authors, but the tech knowledge required might be above my pay grade. Of course, I can also purchase “Scrivener for Dummies” along with the software if I decide to give it a try!

Do you have trouble saying goodbye to characters? 
Yes. For my Cavelli Angel Saga, I got so tied up in the characters that I couldn’t let gooooo. What started out as a trilogy became a quartet. Seth Truitt and Meg Cavelli, both children in the first three books, come back as adults in the last book of the series: Angel Boy. My fans are clamoring for more Cavelli family books. I’m considering a spin off featuring Meg Cavelli and her husband Seth in a female sleuth series since Meg got her ticket as a “lady dick” (i.e. female detective) in Angel Boy.

Do you have set times during the day that you write? 
I’m an early riser. My body clock was set from all the years of teaching in an intermediate school. My students arrived promptly at 7:25 am, so my alarm clock was always set for 5:00. My body clock hasn’t gotten the message that I can sleep later now.

How do you get to know your story characters better? 
I spend a lot of time on the external and internal profiles of the two main characters (sometimes for days). I never skip this step. I feel you must get to know your characters as real people before you know how they think and will act in any given situation. If you know what motivates them, your plot moves along briskly because plot is intertwined with characterization.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
Growing up in a large Italian family, my message practically wrote itself: love of family, the defining factor in a person’s development. The Cavellis are a close-knit family with loyalty and love for one another, an important element in today’s world as well as a hundred years ago.
Now we want to know more about you...

Who do you see as a hero in your life? My mother would fill that spot. My father died at forty-two leaving a wife and five kids the youngest at five years old and the oldest (me) at seventeen. Being a stay-at-home-mother all her life, my mother struggled to make enough money to support us. She did that very well, kept a clean house, food on the table, and was a wonderful role model. How she managed to keep it together and raise all five of us on her own is an inspirational story.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Hands down, no question, a teacher. I wanted to teach from the time I could read a book. But when I found I couldn’t support myself and three children on a teacher’s salary, I switched to another field, only to come back to teaching, my first love, years later. During those years, I wrote. Anything that struck my fancy: children’s books, short stories, etc. I call them my “under-the-bed-books.” Maybe someday I’ll take them out and see if anything is worth salvaging.

Has the dog ever eaten your manuscript? No, but my cat, Buster, featured in my new Christmas book: All Hearts Come Home for Christmas, has used my writing space as a bed a time or two. He lays all over any papers I might have left there and kicks them off the desk. There is always a mess to clean up before I attack the computer for the day.

What is your favorite comfort food? Anything Italian, or from a diner, like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and green beans. My favorite Italian meal is polenta and Italian sausage. When I make it, my kitchen smells like my grandmother’s.

What is your favorite time of year and why? 
From Thanksgiving to Christmas. I LOVE the holidays and had so much fun writing my Christmas book, I plan to do one every year! Our large family has expanded significantly over the years—34 members now and one in the oven. Traditionally, we always spend Christmas Eve together for good food, comradery, and joy in the season.

      And where can we find out more about you

To purchase All Hearts Come Home for Christmas