Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

australiadaybloghopTHE ORIGINAL AUSTRALIANS

Welcome to this Australia Day book giveaway blog hop. It’s the brainchild of Shelleyrae and Confessions from Romaholics. The aim is to connect aussie authors and readers. My post today is about the original Australians. I’m not talking about our indigenous people, who share a proud history with this continent dating back at least 50,000 years. No, I’m talking about the flora and fauna that evolved along with our land over millions of years.

Tasmanian TigersIn Australia we have an exceptionally high number of unique species, yet we also have the highest extinction rate in the world. 126 species of plants and animals have vanished in just 200 years. Another 182 species are classified as endangered, and 201 more are threatened. Many are locally extinct, only surviving precariously on offshore islands or in captivity.

Brush tailed BettongThankfully we have moved beyond the worst cruelties of the past. For example, in the early twentieth century, live Brush-tailed Bettongs were sold for ninepence a dozen to be chased and torn apart by greyhounds. Today’s flora and fauna face more modern threats. Habitat loss and feral animals, such as cats, foxes and cane toads, are contributing to a second wave of extinctions.

We all have a part to play in protecting our precious native plants and animals. Why not celebrate our national day by doing something to help these original Australians?

  • BilbyGrow native plants. They provide wildlife with food and shelter.
  • Keep your cat inside, at least at night. Most marsupials are nocturnal and birds are at their most vulnerable at night.
  • De-sex your cats and dogs.
  • Put in a birdbath.
  • Avoid using pesticides in the house and garden. Most are toxic to reptiles and insect eaters.
  • Look out for native animals when driving.
  • tasmanian devilInstall nest boxes in trees for hollow-dwellers.
  • If fishing, do not leave fish hooks, line, sinkers, plastic bags or any other litter behind.
  • Join as a volunteer or member of a wildlife or conservation group.
  • Donate to groups like Bush Heritage Australia and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

I’m giving away two signed books – one copy of Brumby’s Run and one copy of Wasp Season. Just comment on this post, naming an extinct or endangered Australian plant or animal. Entries close at midnight on January 28th. Winners announced Sunday Feb 3rd. Giveaway for Australian residents only.

Click these links back to Book’d Out and Confessions from Romaholics to visit other participants in the Blog Hop and Book Giveaway. A peaceful and happy Australia Day to everybody!

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Rachael Johns and Heroes

Rachael Johns 2In 2012 a fresh new voice burst onto the rural fiction scene. Rachael Johns (author of Jilted) writes heartwarming, contemporary romances with engaging characters and well crafted stories. She is proving to be one of Australia’s favourite rural romance novelists. (Rachael is also enviably prolific!) I’m very pleased to welcome her to Pilyara for a chat about her new releases, and her sexy small town heroes, including her husband …

Hi Jenny

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!! I’m really excited to have two books out in January – STAND-IN STAR with Carina Press and MAN DROUGHT with Harlequin Australia  – and today I’m talking my MAN DROUGHT hero.

Gibson Black is a rather grumpy and guarded character when he first arrives in the book. Personally, I’m rather partial to grumpy heroes but I knew I needed to give him something (and quickly) that would make him sympathetic to the readers.

In addition to giving him a gorgeous relationship with his grandfather, which showed he could be a nice and caring person, I also made him a volunteer ambulance officer. In my rural romance books I like to explore all aspects of small communities and since living in rural Australia myself, I have noticed that it is the volunteers that keep the towns going.

Probably at least half the adult population of small towns volunteers for some community group at some stage or another – whether it be a sports group, community daycare, clubs, fundraising events, the fire brigade, State Emergency Services or the (in WA) St Johns Ambulance.

My heroine’s best friend goes into premature labour in MAN DROUGHT and Gibson is called as an ambulance officer to attend her. I won’t give all away, but suffice to say both Gibson and Imogen (the heroine) see a different side of each other this night. Imogen realizes there is more to Gibson than meets the eye – that to give so much of his own time to a volunteer role and to be so tender with her friend, he must be a good bloke underneath. This insight piques her interest and she determines to find out more.

craig amboI’m lucky that when writing these ambulance scenes, I had my own hero at home to read what I’d written and make sure it was authentic. My hubby, Craig, has been a volunteer ambulance officer in two different rural towns for six years now. I love the ad on TV that shows these volunteers as heroes rather than some of the people given hero status in our community. Craig goes out in the night, he leaves our business sometimes for hours on end to attend to calls. He has spent four out of the last six Christmas’s always from our family for part of the day doing ambulance work. All unpaid, all because he knows this can be a life or death service in rural Australia. Craig is one of many men and women in rural Australia who gives hours, even years of their lives to helping their towns and the people in it.

I’m glad in MAN DROUGHT I got to pay small tribute to the work that these amazing volunteers do! And I hope that if you read MAN DROUGHT, you won’t judge Gibson’s grumpy exterior too quickly. He’s soft and gorgeous inside!

(NB. The photo is of my hubby – but it’s a few years old, he won’t let me take a recent one! )

What about you? What qualities do you like to see in a hero? And what is something that immediately puts you off?

Blog – www.rachaeljohns.wordpress.com
Website – www.rachaeljohns.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns

Thanks for this great post Rachael. Nice to know you have your own real life hero at home! Best of luck with your new releases …

ManDrought_C2 (1)Man Drought – January 1st 2013, Harlequin Australia (currently only available in Aus/NZ territories)

Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival.

Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground…and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing.

Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too?

To buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Drought-ebook/dp/B00AB9VS0G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354267465&sr=1-1&keywords=man+drought

Harlequin Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781460892978

Also available on iBooks, Google Play and Kobo.

StandInStar_finalSTAND IN STAR – January 7thst 2013, Carina Press

As an anthropologist, Holly McCartney is more comfortable in a museum than shopping on Rodeo Drive. She isn’t prepared for the media frenzy on her arrival in L.A. to accept a posthumous acting award for her late sister….or for her sister’s gorgeous friend Nate Devlin to come to her rescue. Though he resents her for some reason, she can’t fight their irresistible chemistry—especially when the paparazzi force her to stay at his mansion.

Photographer Nate only agrees to help Holly survive Hollywood for her sister’s sake, but she soon gets under his skin in a way no other woman has. The more time he spends with her, the more his attraction grows and he finds himself opening up to her in ways he never expected. But will ghosts of the past stand in the way of their perfect Hollywood ending?

To-buy links:
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Stand-In-Star-ebook/dp/B00A22UVJQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1354516932&sr=1-1&keywords=stand-in+star

Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stand-in-star-rachael-johns/1113832187?ean=9781426894909

Carina Press – http://ebooks.carinapress.com/AE8854D0-A46D-4313-926A-F5A35553A6F9/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=1CF30CE0-647B-44D8-8A96-5EEF7044BB18

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Save the Cat!

Save the CatSave the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need (by the late Blake Snyder) is a simple, no-nonsense explanation of effective story structure. Ever since I attended Alexandra Sokoloff’s fabulous session at last year’s RWA Conference, I’ve been interested in how the movie world relates to novels. After reading Save the Cat! I’m more convinced than ever, that authors can learn a lot from screenwriters.

 

 

Blake SnyderLikeable protagonists, for example.This is where the title Save the Cat! comes in. Imagine a scene where the audience meets the hero of a movie for the first time. The hero does something nice—e.g. saving a cat—that makes the audience like him or her. It’s something very simple, that helps the audience invest themselves in the character and the story.

Similarly to Sokoloff, Snyder offers a sheet of necessary beats or movie plot points – essentially a blueprint for compelling screenplay structure. Making a story board with index cards is the next step. This approach is equally helpful for fiction, and particularly for popular fiction. Snyder breaks down narrative theory in a very straightforward way, and with a great sense of humor. He has a lot of tough things to say about elevator pitches and themes as well. Snyder says that if you can’t come up with a great single sentence log-line, you may not have a story.  And he says a movie’s thematic premise needs to be stated in the first five minutes. Yes, actually stated, in an offhand remark, or question that the main character doesn’t quite get yet. To do this, you need to know exactly what your story is about, right from the start. Honesty is the best policy perhaps, or Be careful what you wish for. Save the Cat 2Nailing theme and structure early on is great advice I think, for authors too.

As I work through my Currawong Creek edits, I’m keeping in mind all these screenwriting tricks. They’ll also guide the writing of my new book, helping to set the story on firm foundations.

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A Christmas Koala

koala 010This Christmas we had a delightful visitor at Pilyara – a very friendly and curious Koala in a pear tree (instead of a partridge!). After kindly posing for the camera, he soon moved on to a more appropriate gum tree. In the early days of settlement, Koalas were locally common in the surrounding Messmate and Mountain Ash forests. But in the early 1900s these iconic marsupials were heavily hunted for their fur, which was exported to Europe. Timber-cutting also became rampant. Consequently, Koala numbers crashed.

koala 002In the 1920’s, a man named Frederick Lewis was the Chief Inspector of Fisheries and Game in  Victoria. An early conservationist, Lewis began a large-scale program to remove vulnerable Koalas to ‘safe havens’, where they could breed up and be eventually restored to their former range. Since then, thousands of Koalas have been relocated to over 250 release sites across Victoria, in one of the most sustained and extensive wildlife reintroduction programs ever undertaken. The nearby Bunyip Forest is one of those release sites.

koala insideOur adorable visitor is a result of Frederick Lewis’ vision. His orange ear tag shows he was translocated from Snake Island in Western Port Bay. It’s very heartening to see Koalas reclaiming their former range after a century-long absence. A neighbour even found an adventurous young Koala hanging out on their back door! Let’s hope these pioneering Koalas will be the first of many, to call Pilyara home once again.

 

 

 

 

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