Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Fellow author and blogger Lord David Prosser (http://barsetshirediaries.wordpress.com/ ) has kindly nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! After a little online snooping I discovered that he is actually a Lord. He’s the Lord of Bouldnor, an hereditary Manorial title lost in the mists of time, well the 1400′s anyway. I wonder how his Lordship feels about me being a staunch Aussie republican? Anyway, thank you for the nomination.

As an award winner, I’m asked to:

  1. Display the award certificate on my website and include a link to my sponsor.
  2. List five unusual facts about myself.
  3. Present 5 awards to deserving bloggers and drop them a comment to tip them off.

I’ve fulfilled the first condition which is to thank my sponsor and link back to his blog. Secondly I must post the award badge to my blog – done. By the way, I’ve changed the rules a bit to suit myself. Us colonials aren’t good at taking orders, my Lord. Okay, now for five unusual things about me.

  1. I once drove a tractor for a living.
  2. I have a great interest, affection and admiration for insects, particularly the social insects – wasps, ants and bees. Many insects display curiosity, learning ability and parental devotion (as you’ll discover if you read my first novel, Wasp Season) They are fascinating and highly underrated creatures.
  3. At one stage I gave up my job as a lawyer to become a full-time foster carer.
  4. I love to buy spent hens from battery farms. There is nothing quite so heart-warming as rehabilitating such birds, watching them learn to scratch, nest and dust-bathe etc. In return I get their friendship and lovely fresh eggs for many years.
  5. I am a member of a little writing group called the Little Lonsdale Group. Since its formation just a few years ago, four of our members (including me) have become published by major publishers – Random House, Penguin and Simon & Schuster. Pretty good going, huh?

Now for the part where I nominate five other bloggers. Drum roll please …

  1. Storie – Diane Simonelli
    http://dianesimonelli.wordpress.com/
  2. Margareta Osborn – The Voice Of The Bush http://www.margaretaosborn.com.au/blog-listing
  3. Jenn J Mcleod – Come Home to the Country
    http://www.jennjmcleod.com/blog/
  4. Whitney K E – Aspiring Romance Author
    http://whitneyk-e.blogspot.com.au/
  5. The Ecstacy Files – Kate Belle – (Over 18 only!)
    http://ecstasyfiles.com/blog/

And nominees, don’t feel obliged. I know how busy you all are!

BB2013_Nominee

Best Australian Blogs Competition

BB2013_NomineeI’m pleased and excited to announce that this blog has been nominated for the Best Australian Blogs Competition! Thank you to whoever nominated me. The competition is an initiative of the Australian Writers’ Centre. It’s designed to celebrate, showcase and support the power and diversity of the writing that’s happening in the Australian blogosphere. You can follow the centre and the competition on Twitter. The hashtag is #bestblogs13.

The 2013 competition launched on Thursday 28 February, with prizes including cash, writing courses and books to be won. This year the national competition has received more than a thousand entries. Coordinator Rose Powell says: “We’re looking forward to another big competition as the Australian blogosphere has grown and strengthened considerably in the last year.” The 2012 winner, Eden Riley, is now a full time blogger and regularly speaks about blogging at conferences, and with marketers and media.

So, if you feel like voting for me, or for one of the other nominees, now’s the time! Just click on this People’s Choice link.  Readers, followers, friends and family can vote in the competition until 5pm on Tuesday 30 April 2013. Although entrants need to be Australian, people from any country can vote. Okay, I’m off to do a bit of blog housekeeping …
 

The 2013 competition features:

  • Five category winners each with an excellent judge
  • A People’s Choice Award round
  • Five special awards for outstanding posts or potential.
  • The five categories are:
    • Commentary to be judged by Greg Jericho, author and social commentator
    • Personal/parenting to judged by author and blogger Kerri Sackville
    • Lifestyle/hobby to be judged by veteran editor and publisher Marina Go;
    • Words/writing to be judged by Brandon Van Over, managing editor and Random House; and
    • Business to be judged by Flying Solo founder Robert Gerrish

The 2013 winner  will receive:

  • $1500 worth of writing courses at the Australian Writers’ Centre
  • $1000 in cash
  • A one-hour mentoring session with Brandon Van Over, managing editor at Random House, to discuss publishing a book based on their blog or any other writing projects the blogger wishes to discuss.
  • $500 worth of books from Random House.

A Bush Christmas

MargaretaToday I have friend and fellow rural author Margareta Osborn as a guest here at Pilyara. She has just released A Bush Christmas, a festive novella and fantastic holiday read. I’m thrilled to announce that, following in the footsteps of her debut, Bella’s Run, A Bush Christmas has just hit number 1 on the ITunes charts!!! Congratulations Margareta! I’m hugely excited for you, and proud to be able to host you on this very special Sunday. And now, it’s over to Margareta …

‘And a lovely Sunday to you too, Jen. Thanks for inviting me to visit Pilyara. I’m delighted to be here to chat about Christmas. Specifically ‘A Bush Christmas’. When my publisher Beverly Cousins at Random House, Australia, rang to ask me could I write a novella about Christmas, I was absolutely chuffed because I LOVE Christmas. Well, I love anything to do with celebrations that involve presents. Christmas, Easter, birthdays … I adore them all. I’m a presentaholic. Seriously! And I don’t mind if I’m giving the gift or receiving it, I still get that same fission of pleasure.

A Bush Christmas Front CoverChristmas in the bush for the Osborn family always involves mountains of food, many presents (of course), everyone (who can be convinced) doing the Chicken Dance, the Hokey Pokey and Here Comes The Bluebird followed by someone (nowadays my brother) having to dash off to milk the cows in a half inebriated state from the ‘cocktail of the day’. My sister, who lives in the Northern Territory, instigated this tradition. She arrives every second year having spent the entire previous two years deciding which cocktail will do the honours. We’ve had Fruit Tingles (lethal no. 1), Midouri Splice (it was a hot day), Blue Lagoon (shouldn’t have worn white), Jelly shots (lethal no. 2) and, my favourite, cowboy shots (refer to my novel, BELLA’S RUN!)

And that’s just the adults.

The children on the other hand, wake up to Santa’s white ‘snowy’ footsteps tromped through the house, upturned furniture, sleigh marks out on the gravel driveway and presents in all sorts of places including – one year – the oven. (I mean where else does Santa hide motorbike boots?!) The day continues with visits from a bicycle riding, lolly distributing Ms Santa Claus (wearing black gumboots and a red fluffy dressing gown). Great uncles and Grandfathers duly checking out the billy-lids bounty, followed by the scramble to get everyone (and their favourite haul for the morning) jammed in the Land Cruiser while mum (me) stresses over potato bakes, pavlovas and salads surviving the trip across the river to my father’s farm so we can continue the party. (My husband is usually to be found still in the paddock playing with the remote controlled car No. 2 son got as part of his loot.)

I should mention we do attend church the night before, sing carols and actually remember why we are celebrating Christmas. (ie. It’s actually not all about presents?!) After Mass we drive around the district taking in the spectacular Christmas lights adorning houses, gum trees, gateways, windmills, massive TV and radio antenna’s, dairies, and even the odd stack of hay bales. The occasional nativity scene appears in the headlights as well which all helps to remind us of the wonder and beauty Christmas (and indeed God) brings to our lives and reminds us of the true meaning of it all.

The week before we also have partaken in our local Christmas Tree, a custom that has been running here in our part of the bush for a century or so. My grandmother, mother and now my sister-in-law and I, have all taken our turn at welcoming Santa to the local hall to sing carols, hand out lollies and icy-poles to the districts kids. It’s a great yearly get-together for our community.

No 1 ITunesBut back to my novella, A BUSH CHRISTMAS

I had so much fun writing this little book, available to download from your e-book distributor for a couple of dollars. And you just might recognise the odd Christmas tradition from your own community, bush or otherwise. Give it a try and I hope you feel the spirit of the coming festive season brighten your life.’

From the author of Bella’s Run, a gloriously rural and hopelessly romantic Christmas novella.


Jaime Hanrahan does not want anything to do with Christmas this year.

 She’s just been retrenched, and if that wasn’t bad enough, this is her first Christmas without her beloved father Jack, who died last Boxing Day. 

Determined not to spend it with her mother, who has already remarried, and her friends, who still have six-figure jobs, she jumps at the chance to house-sit a mansion in rural Burdekin’s Gap.

 Two problems. 

Number one, the property comes with a handsome station manager, Stirling McEvoy, who doesn’t take kindly to a city chick destroying his peace. Especially when she needs rescuing from stampeding cattle, falling Christmas trees and town ladies wielding catering lists and tablecloths.

 And two, in Burdekin’s Gap there’s no chance of escaping the festive season. For the town has its own unique way of celebrating Christmas – big time, BUSH style!

Includes an extract from Margareta’s upcoming novel, Hope’s Road.

Link to download A BUSH CHRISTMAS (in a variety of formats) http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/margareta-osborn/a-bush-christmas-9781742758237.aspx

Many thanks for sharing your family Christmas traditions with us, Margareta. Thanks also for telling us about A Bush Christmas. Wishing a very merry Christmas to you and yours. xx

(3) Plan B – The Conference Pitch

Last week I told the story of how I found my dream agent. Problem was, I still didn’t have my dream contract with a major publisher. Maybe my agent could use a little help? A writer friend of mine, fellow rural author Margareta Osborn, had asked me to go with her to the Romance Writer’s Conference in Melbourne.

‘I don’t write category romance,’ I said.

‘You don’t have to,’ said Margareta. ‘All sorts of writers go. It’ll be fun … and you get to pitch face to face to editors. Not just any editors, but key industry professionals like Beverley Cousins of Random House, Annette Barlow of Allen & Unwin and Belinda Byrne, a commissioning editor at Penguin’.

‘Really?’ I said, my ears pricking right up.  ‘Editors?’ Now, all I needed was a novel to knock their socks off. I already had two manuscripts with Curtis Brown. Maybe I needed something fresh, something that fused my passion for the land with an equally passionate love story. It was January, and the conference was in August – eight months. I could only try. Thus Brumby’s Run was born. I wrote and wrote, revising as I went, and had a polished first draft just in time for the conference.

Belinda ByrneI scored pitch sessions with Bernadette Foley of Hachette and Belinda Byrne. I agonised over my pitch, practised ad nauseum and was sick with nerves. The five minute pitches were reduced to three minute pitches. Not much time to impress anybody. Then the moment arrived for that long walk into the room, and I was the one who wound up being  impressed. Both editors were so friendly and natural, and did everything they could to put me at ease. And best of all, both of them took my three chapters and synopsis.

Ten days passed without word, so I sent out polite reminders. Far from being annoyed, they both asked for the full manuscript. Then, after several encouraging emails from Belinda, she asked to meet me, and in October I received an email headed Penguin Letter of Offer for Brumby’s Run. At last!. I printed that letter out and carried it with me for weeks, looking at it occasionally to check it was real. My agent was happy too, cheerfully returning emails once again and launching into contract negotiations with great gusto. And the rocky road to publication was suddenly an easy, downhill run.

 

Heading for Ireland on Monday, to take up a month-long residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. Soooo … my next post will be from the Emerald Isle. Pretty amazing, huh? (I’m almost jealous of myself!)