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Saturday, 14 September 2013

New toys ... anticipation and frustration

Over the past few days, I’ve been in touch with some old feelings from childhood - those feelings of anticipation in the lead up to Christmas Day or your birthday - the feeling you have when you know what you’re getting and you can’t wait to play with it.

In this instance, my new ‘toy’ is a Samsung Galaxy tablet. I bought it as a tool for my upcoming trip to Europe, mainly as a means of keeping in touch with family while I’m away, and to back up my holiday photos. However, I’ve been inundated with friends telling me about the wonderful world of apps that will assist me on my trip - maps, tour guides and every wonderful thing you could possibly imagine. 

So I’ve been exploring and loading up the tablet with a lot of wonderful apps - an app to find an ATM, an app to find Wi-fi hotspots, an app to find public toilets, an app to turn my photos into postcards and send them on to family and friends. I can download apps to brush up my French and find my way from one end of the Seine to the other. I’ve even downloaded an app to lead me straight to the closest café. Of course there are also thousands of games, books and movies to download.  

Since buying the tablet, I’ve been on a bus trip to the city - 6 hours each way - and had a chance to give some of the apps a test run. I couldn’t test all of them as many needed an internet connection which I didn’t have way out in the middle of nowhere, but many apps worked without it. 

My favourite game, Freecell, was the most frequently used app on my trip, and I jumped in and out of my library a few times, just browsing the books - a page here and a page there. How wonderful now that I don’t have to worry about which books to take and which to leave behind. How wonderful that I don’t have to consider weight and space. I can actually take an entire library in my handbag. 

Today, the anticipation was high again, as I went into town to pick up another new ‘toy’ for my trip - a good quality ‘point and shoot’ camera. I’ve had fun this afternoon, becoming familiar with the buttons and various functions, and love the quality of the photos it takes, but the anticipation has been replaced with different familiar feelings from childhood… those feelings of frustration when you get the toy you wanted but can’t work out how to use it properly. If only I could get the Wifi thing happening...

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Cluedo as a peacemaking tool? Sometimes it just isn't enough.

I have been thinking a lot lately about peacemaking. I think I have been a peacemaker since I was born, with an innate desire to get between warring parties and assist them to find a resolution to their conflict. 

As a child, I remember putting myself between my parents when they were in conflict. Fortunately Mum and Dad had a happy marriage, and conflict was rare, but as any child will tell you, they generally remember any parental conflict clearly. Children have an internal radar, very sensitive to conflict, and, like sponges, they soak up and wear the atmosphere around them. 

My earliest memories of these conflicts date from when I was 5 years old. Although my parents didn’t argue frequently, I learned that these conflicts followed a predictable course. There would be a verbal row, and because Mum didn’t drive, Dad was always the one to storm out in a rage and take the car, driving down to the Murray River where he would park for hours until he was calm enough to come home again.

Sitting at home waiting for Dad to return was agonizing. A few times I wondered if he would come back at all. During these times, Mum often retreated to the bedroom to gather herself, and my siblings and I would keep things to a whisper, if we spoke at all. 

When we heard the sound of the car returning, my siblings scattered to their rooms and stayed out of the way, but I knew that this was my cue, and I’d stay put at the kitchen table … waiting. Mum also heard the car, of course, and came back into the kitchen to busy herself. 

I never intervened during the early heated stage of my parents’ conflict, when words and accusations were flying wildly. My childish interventions took place afterwards when Dad was back home again, during these long silences when the heat had gone out of the argument, and both of my parents were licking their wounds - too proud to be the first one to speak or make the first move to reconcile. 

Dad would come back into the house, sit down at the kitchen table and open the paper. Mum would continue attending to the house. Both were careful to avoid catching the other’s eye. I’d sit and observe them, waiting hopefully for someone to speak first, so that I wouldn’t have to dig deep for the courage I needed to speak up. Both would also completely ignore my presence - until I made my move. 

However, the conversation never started up again by itself. Maybe it would have in time, if I’d left things alone. I’m sure before I was born that they were able to sort things out without any help from me at all.  Anyway, somehow, I would determine the time to act and make my move to restore peace and order. 

What was my childish solution? How did I get myself between my parents and break down the walls of hostility that they didn’t seem to be able to do themselves? I’d get up from my seat at the table, go to my bedroom and return with the Cluedo game. Mum, Dad and I loved this game and we often played it together. The other children were still too young at this stage to enjoy and understand the game. I’d bring out the game, place it on the table and start to set it up.

‘Can we have a game of Cluedo?’ I’d ask innocently. 

Without fail, Dad would fold up his paper, and Mum would turn from the kitchen sink, and both would take their places opposite me at the table. Those of you who know Cluedo will know that it cannot be played effectively with fewer than 3 people.

By the end of the first game, Mum and Dad would be talking again. It worked every time. At the end of the second game, Dad would sometimes get up and put a romantic Engelbert Humperdinck record on. And by the end of the third game, my siblings had returned to the kitchen and were playing happily as if nothing had ever happened. Obviously a lot more went on behind the scenes later in terms of resolving their conflict, but I’d done ‘my bit’ towards restoring my parents’ peace.

Now as an adult many years later, where do I find myself working? I work for an organization that provides mediation for separating couples in conflict over the shared care of their children. I don’t work in the mediator/peacemaker role, but as a group facilitator and educator, teaching the impact of entrenched conflict on children during separation. I have however, been thinking of studying for a mediator’s qualifications in the next year or two, thinking that this might be the next career step for me. 

I love my work with a passion and sometimes wonder if my childhood experiences have anything to do with it. I work with these separated couples, helping them to learn the communication skills they need to have a successful mediation, but as I consider the deep rooted conflict in some of the families I work with, I know that it will take a lot more than a game of Cluedo to resolve things. If only it were that simple.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Reflections and second chances

It’s exactly a year to the day that I drove the 448ks from South Australia’s capital city, Adelaide, to Mt Gambier in the state’s south-east. It has been a return to the town where I completed my last two years of schooling, before leaving home as a 17 year old to make my life in the ‘Big Smoke’. I stayed in the ‘Big Smoke’ for the next 36 years, during which time I became a teacher, married and had three sons, and changed career directions several times, also working as a homeschooling mother, pastor and mental health worker. 

I had my share of ups and downs, including a marriage break-up, which was the beginning of a particularly steep downward spiral in many ways. Without going into all the gory details, I generally describe those years from 1999 as years of loss. I seemed to lose one important thing after another - my marriage, my father, my house, several jobs … just to name a few. 

I also knew a deep depression for the first time in my life - possibly triggered by all these losses, but exacerbated by that time of life more accurately termed the ‘mental-clause’. Three key things kept me going during this time … a strong Christian faith, solid, long-standing friendships and the love of and for my three beautiful sons. 

In 2011, things took an even deeper plunge with the losses continuing. I reluctantly resigned from a full time job, after an unforeseen dispute with my employers, and found I could no longer afford to stay in the rental home I was living in. I had been saving to add to a home deposit, but was suddenly without incoming funds, and found myself living in the back of a shed, (affectionately known as ‘The Dungeon’). It was warm, and snug and I had wonderful landlords, but I was still going backwards. I was in my early 50s by then - alone and with the dream of my own home seeming even further away than ever. 

It was during these sometimes dark years that I began to dust off some personal ambitions and turned to my writing and artistic pursuits in an effort to try to do something that might help to lift me out of my dark hole. I wrote ‘Mine to Avenge’ during this time and produced a wealth of calligraphy. 

I had been living in ‘The Dungeon’ for a few months when I managed to get a half time job in a call centre, with wonderfully supportive people but I wasn’t suited to the fast paced nature of the work and had little background knowledge to do the job well. I dreaded going to work each day, but I threw myself into completing ‘Mine to Avenge’ during my spare time. 

In that same period, the fourteen months between April 2011 and June 2012, I completed 60 job applications, and was interviewed for 54 of them, finishing in the top 3 for every single one, but always being ‘pipped at the post’ by someone else who had that slight edge over me. I also began to worry about ever finding employment again, being already in my early 50s.

Finally I struck gold, or so I thought, with a full time job offer in Mt Gambier. It was a difficult decision to accept it, knowing I would be leaving behind friendships of over 30 years. There were only two people in Mt Gambier I still had contact with from my two years here - my sister and a high school friend. But I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, moved out of ‘The Dungeon’ and drove down here to start my new job - in my little red Toyota Corolla hatch that I had virtually written off in a crash a little less than a week before leaving. I knew I had no time to do anything about trying to fix it before I left, so I took a chance and drove it here uneventfully. I took it to a mechanic the day after arriving to be told it wasn’t roadworthy, so had to buy another car quickly in time to start the new job. 

Anyway, after a bad start at Mt Gambier, I thought things would pick up with the new job, but that also proved to be a mistake. I found I was unable to learn the work fast enough and was floundering. I was seriously doubting my competence by now, and within six weeks found myself on stress leave.

During this time, ‘Mine to Avenge’ was with the publisher. The day it finally arrived, packed neatly in cardboard boxes, I was full of mixed feelings - stranded without a job, and unable to pay the rent (I had committed to a year’s lease) and I was also far away from my closest friends and supports. It was very hard to celebrate the arrival of my books but I had a few new friends and invited them around to lift my spirits and sold my first few books as a published author.

However, I didn’t feel the need to pack up and go back to Adelaide at all. Besides I couldn’t really afford to move back without eating into my precious home deposit savings. Besides, if I was going to be poor and unemployed, it was cheaper to live in the country than the city, but I tried to remain hopeful and began applying for jobs again. 

On the Friday prior to the launch of ‘Mine to Avenge’ last November, I was on the way to the airport to fly back to Adelaide when I received a phone call offering me the position of Parenting After Separation Case Manager. It was a position based here in Mt Gambier, so I could stay and wouldn’t need to pack up to move again. So I attended the book launch, buoyed with hope that maybe this job would be the one. I had been given a chance to try again.

I can say now, having been in my new job for 8 months that of all my paid positions during my working life, this is the position I’m most suited to, and the one I’ve been most passionate about. I absolutely love my job, and love going to work, and never dreamed that such a thing was possible. Also being in a country town, my house deposit was sufficient for me to take the plunge into home ownership, as house prices are much cheaper here. So after a long and difficult road, things have turned a corner. I have a job I love, I’m finally paying off a house of my own, I’m going overseas at the end of the year, and I’m a published author too, with ‘Mine to Avenge’ doing well. However, I’m a realist and know that things can change anytime without warning, so I am prepared for any eventuality. In the meantime I’m thankful that at the moment, life is wonderful. Thanks for sharing some of the journey with me and supporting ‘Mine to Avenge.’ 

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Welcome .... coffee's on at the new house.

I've been in my new house for two weeks now and feel very settled, but have already experienced first hand some of the pitfalls of home ownership. I’ve already had a plumber in to

fix up a few minor issues with a grotty toilet, leaking taps and a shower door that can occasionally close on you like the doors of a prison cell, with great difficulty in getting yourself released. The mind boggles at the comedic potential of that situation.

I ordered a load of wood on the Friday I moved in - very keen to get my slow combustion heater working, to counter the cold, damp Mt Gambier winters. The man said I’d have my wood within the week. 

 After waiting in vain for a week and a half, spending the evenings in mittens, hat, ugg-boots and multiple layers, I finally ordered some wood from another supplier. This supplier had delivered and stacked my wood within two hours of ordering it, and I have had the fire burning almost constantly ever since. 

As I unpacked, I was a little worried that I might have made a mistake settling for two bedrooms instead of three. I always thought I’d need three bedrooms - one for my own bedroom, one to serve as my office/art area and the other permanently set up for guests - but after having no overnight guests at all for the previous year, I wondered whether a third room would really be necessary.

However, with ‘Murphy’s Law’ at play, I’ve had my first overnight guest within two weeks of moving in, and I was pleased to find several options to set up a temporary bed for a guest. And the second bedroom is set up with separate office area, calligraphy area and scrapbooking space.

A corner of the multi-purpose room - office and art room.

 I also still have room for at least 5 more storage units or bookshelves to store the remaining few items still in the shed - some of these being boxes of books I haven’t seen in a few years. I’m so looking forward to dusting them off and getting them out into the daylight again.

Some of my sons' favourite things
The table-less dining room.
I'm a sentimentalist at heart and have saved many of my sons' favourite books and toys for them. In the meantime, I can enjoy them myself - puzzles, games, badges, books, toy trains and Kinder Surprises, to name but a few.

 While out shopping last week I came across a wonderful second hand dining table, while looking for other things of course. Unfortunately the delivery men are on holidays, so I have to wait a few more weeks for delivery. It has a gorgeous, dark wood finish. The challenge will be finding dining chairs to go with it, as the table was on its own.
Before the damage was done
After the backyard blitz
The garden has already had some significant work done in preparation for a vegie patch and perennial flower border, but I'm not sure how much will get done before I go overseas at the end of the year.
So, it’s early days yet, but I am enjoying ‘playing house’ and getting things in order. I’d love it if you’d come and join me for coffee by the fire, but that will have to wait until the cement is set around the base of the new toilet!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Thoughts on buying my own home

I’ve been very slack with this blog in the lead up to moving house, so I wanted to touch base again before the big move on Friday this week. I know that will keep me out of action for even longer as I unpack and get things organized, all while I’m also working full-time. 
The idea of owning my own home has always been a dream for me and it’s now a reality. In Australia, home ownership has always been described as ‘The Great Australian Dream’, and most people aspire to it. Home ownership usually comes with a degree of security that the rental market doesn’t have and the idea that it is much better to have your hard earned money going into something that will benefit you rather than someone else, and that you can do what you like to your own home without needing permission from someone else.
While I have achieved the dream in some degree, I still have a long way to go before it is truly mine. I am in co-ownership with the bank, who certainly won’t let me forget that for the next 20 years, or however long it takes me to pay it off.
And there are other things to bear in mind. While I was renting I used to just call the landlord when something went wrong and he paid for it and fixed it. All this is now my responsibility. I am now responsible for council rates as well. So ultimately a house is a ‘big-time’, long-term investment.
Also while the house is in my name, and people insist that ultimately it will pay off for me, life is just so uncertain. We don’t know what the future holds for us in the next few months or years, or indeed minutes and hours, that can change everything. Councils can re-zone land, and personally I could be struck with illness or worse.
All these thoughts have been tossing around in my mind over the past few months. I have read so many articles comparing the benefits of home ownership over rental and vice versa and there are valid arguments for each. But ultimately I wanted to make a decision rather than be always undecided.
So here I am - sitting in a hollow sounding house, with furniture stacked in corners ready for the removalists on Friday, and a mountain of boxes in the shed, ready to embark on this home ownership venture at a time of life where most people my age are already well past the finishing line of that part of their lives. And I’m truly happy and excited about it, but aware of how rapidly circumstances can change. This time last year, I would have laughed if someone had told me that within a year I’d own my own home and be writing a blog post  about it… but that’s another story. It's a story about the past 7 years of my life where I learned how uncertain everything is, and of the need to seize the blessings when they come.
So roll on, Friday, when I can move into my own realm and set up my own castle and be queen of my own domain for as long as it’s intended that I should be.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Coming to you from 'Carton Town'

I've been very busy these past few weeks with packing to move house, having recently taken the big step to move out of the rental market and sink my funds into something I can call my own. I've been living out of cartons for the past few weeks as I prepare for the big move, but I've moved so often over the past 7-8 years that I don't find the process too stressful. I'm an organised mover and have everything down to a fine art now.

As I'm down-sizing, it's also meant that I'm planning a garage sale for this weekend so I can get rid of some surplus items. This is something I haven't done before so the nerves are a little on edge hoping it goes well. I've read almost everything out there written by the experts and have picked out some tips that I like the sound of, including having some heating out in the garage (it's now winter here), having some background music on, and one I've invented myself. I'm going to have a slow cooker simmering with some wonderfully enticing aromatic concoction, like spiced tea, or this recipe I found yesterday for dried fruit compote on Robin Ellis's website.

I'll probably have to have another sale when I've moved to fit everything in because it's so hard to part with some things. I'm hanging on tenaciously to little knick - knacks that most people would pass over, but I'm hanging on to them because my sons gave them to me as birthday presents, Mothers Day presents and so on, when they were very young.

My busy-ness has meant that lots of things have been left behind for a while - reading, my work in progress, studying basic travel French for my trip at the end of the year, and also this blog. Apologies to my regular readers.

I have also put aside Mine to Avenge promotion - though that was deliberate in some regard. I'm trying to see how well it stands alone now, as I want to put more of my time and energy into the work in progress. In just having a brief check though, I've been pleasantly surprised to find that the book is still doing fine and readers are still interested, with slow but steady sales. I have two promotional opportunities coming up that I had forgotten about. I organised these some time ago, and the dates are almost upon me. I've been also pleasantly surprised to see that Mine to Avenge is climbing steadily in the AUTHORSdB cover contest, and so is my listing in their directory. Thank you to those who have been visiting and tweeting and liking.

Anyway, this note is just to let you know that I haven't forgotten you all. I will be back on deck more regularly in the social media sphere once I've moved and settled in, but it will be sporadic until then. Meanwhile, thank you all for your wonderful support and faith in Mine to Avenge. Don't forget to pass on the word to any of your reader friends who love a good suspense/part historical fiction combination.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Book fair invitation

This morning I toddled off bright and early to one of the local markets here in town where I have an occasional book-stall for selling and promoting ‘Mine to Avenge.’ I was there regularly for a month around Christmas time, and have been there for the past two weeks, meeting and greeting the locals. 

It’s a wonderful atmosphere, and everyone there is very friendly. Overall, it hasn’t resulted in major sales - I’ve sold far more books online - but it has generated some great exposure and I’ve had some wonderful conversations with people about the book. 

Some people have bought it, read it and passed it on. Others have won signed copies in a ‘Guess the number of words’ competition. Others have stopped and chatted as they have recognized me from the local newspaper articles or heard a local radio interview. 

Although it is sometimes easy to become discouraged with slow sales, every little bit of exposure counts. The small things will move into bigger things in time, if you patiently wait, and a ‘bigger’ opportunity has finally opened up for me this morning, with an invitation to be a guest at a local inaugural book-fair later in the year. 

The nature of the appearance has yet to be decided. It may simply involve being present and selling my book, rather than something like a speaking engagement that better known authors will be offered, but it is a wonderful opportunity that I will embrace nonetheless. I feel privileged and honoured to be included.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Time for Mine to Avenge to stand alone

Authors really love, appreciate and need our readers. Without them our work remains only a labour of love - a product of our own personal drive and motivation. 

I have very much appreciated the readers who have read Mine to Avenge and posted reviews, as this is what gets the word out to other readers, and turns our work into so much more than that labour of love. 

I am currently seeking more reviewers willing to review my book, and am willing to forward a free version for Kindle to any reader willing to read and review my book on places such as Amazon and Goodreads. I am prepared to give away one copy per week to readers willing to put up their hands to help out. The first three weeks are already covered. Please let me know whether or not you are interested, but please be genuine in your request and don't ask to be included on my list if you are not able to review or don't plan to. If I get a lot of responses, I will keep everyone on a standby list, and offer you a spot on the list if someone drops off or changes their mind about wanting to do the review. 

I am now at a stage where I am wanting to devote more energy to the sequel, and it is time for Mine to Avenge to start standing alone. As a self-publisher I will still be promoting my book now and again, but I hope to do this mainly via reader reviews, so I can concentrate more on my writing again.

Please let me know if you'd like to be on my reviewer list either by contacting me by one of the following ways - 

1. Fill in the Review Copies form on my website -  here
2. Message me on my Facebook Page

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Diary of a writing retreat

Many authors struggle with the discipline of writing regularly. It can be difficult to fit it in and make it a daily priority, particularly when you also work full time in a regular day job, and also have to keep up with such things as cleaning, washing, cooking and shopping. How does an author manage to fit writing into such a schedule?
The thing that works best for me is to plan a writing retreat - a time to devote exclusively to writing. But for this to work properly, I have to plan it well. While writing Mine to Avenge, I occasionally went away for the weekend, or for a longer period to a completely different environment well away from any usual distractions.
While I can and do schedule writing retreats at home, as I have done this weekend, I am not always disciplined enough to avoid the distraction of the familiar environment. It’s easier to stay focused if the writing is flowing and the ideas are spilling over, but if I’m at an inspirational standstill, it’s easy to lose my focus. This is what has happened to me this weekend.
Today was the first day of a planned weekend writing retreat at home. Just for a bit of fun, I’ve written a diary of how things went today to show you what I mean - and the fact that I’ve even written a blog post shows that my focus wandered from my novel in a big way. But I still have a few hours left to work after tea …

6.15am - Wake up. Get up as planned to spend the day working on my novel. This is a great start. Didn’t even need the alarm. Drag computer back to my bed while rubbing sleep from my eyes. Make coffee.

6.30am - Prop myself up in bed spilling chocolate coated coffee beans all over the quilt. Mug of hot coffee nearby and laptop ready. Plan to start by re-reading my WIP to immerse myself into the storyline, which I haven’t looked at since November.

7.30am - Realise I have been surfing the internet for an hour. Stop surfing internet and start reading my story.

7.15am - Realise it’s breakfast time, so get up to make breakfast.

10.00am - Finish reading story. Find myself tying to think of an inspirational status update for Facebook, rather than inspiration for my novel. Move from bed to sunny back patio, hoping vitamin D intake will inspire creativity, but stay in PJ’s. Notice yesterday’s washing is still outside, so I take a load of washing inside. Check the mobile phone which rang earlier - after vowing that I wouldn’t - to see who the call was from. Turn phone onto silent after deciding the message wasn’t urgent. Resist impulse to go out to front lawn and stare across the road at the roof of the house I just recently bought - being in PJ’s makes this an easy decision.

10.15am - Finally start writing with no idea where the story is going.

10.30am - My stomach thinks of the cappuccino yogurt in the fridge. Go get it hoping it might work where the Vitamin D doesn’t seem to be.

11.00am - Word count: 794. Take in  a second load of dry clothes, fold them and put them away - grab 2 biscuits. Start writing again.

12.00 noon - Word count: 1544. Certain it’s all rubbish, but I do a little dance on the patio. It’s 1544 more words than I had this morning. Start thinking it might be lunch-time soon, but try to dismiss the thought, hoping that if I push on I might find myself on a roll - decide to keep at it for another hour before rewarding myself with lunch.

1.30pm - Lunch - salad, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. While eating, I notice my brand new Les Miserables DVD, still inside its cellophane packet. Voice of temptation says, ‘Watch it now! Watch it now!’ Resolve to leave the cellophane packet on it all weekend.
Surf internet while eating to distract myself from Les Miserables. Get distracted looking at home décor ideas for my new house. Then get distracted by new review of my book on Amazon and tweet about it. Get side-tracked with research for novel that isn’t needed yet.

2.00pm - Return to writing

2.30pm - Overwhelming wave of fatigue sends me to kitchen to make coffee. Make coffee. Notice Les Miserables DVD again. Hide DVD in drawer where I can’t see it.

3.00pm - Word count: 2916. Go on Facebook to celebrate - manage to keep it to ten minutes and get back to writing.

3.45 - Get distracted by internet again - find recipe for homemade Greek yogurt. When I realize I have all the ingredients, I go and make a batch.

4.00pm Writing again

4.30pm - I suddenly remember that 'Midsomer Murders' is on in half an hour. A voice in my head justifies watching it, as there might be something in the plot I can use to advance my story. Check TV guide to see if anything else worth watching.

5.00pm - Word count: 4205 words. Give in to voice in head and watch 'Midsomer Murders'. Another voice in my head starts telling me that I have no will power, for not sticking with my resolve to write all day. Try to deal with consequent guilt by writing this blog post while watching TV - after all, it’s still writing, I tell myself.

6.30pm - Distracted by watching 'Gardening Australia', which happens to be about small gardens. This is very useful I think, as my new house has a small garden. I ignore the voice in my head telling me that I can watch this show in iView later on.

7.00pm - Starving: time for tea. Panic a moment or two realizing that the day is almost over and the idea for a critically important scene has suddenly come to me. Run back and forth between computer and stove while cooking tea, hoping to bolster my word count a bit more. Manage to add another 128 words while doing this.

8.00pm - Post this blog post and resolve to write non-stop until 10.00pm, and do better tomorrow for day 2.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Mine to Avenge Giveaway

I can't believe that the Mine to Avenge Blog Tour is almost over. Only three more days to go. You can still catch up on the posts by clicking here.

In the meantime, there is a giveaway happening with today's post at The Never Ending Bookshelf, hosted by the wonderful Jess Fitzpatrick, so hop on over and pay her a visit, and enter one of the easiest giveaways you'll ever come across.

There is also an opportunity to win an Amazon gift voucher on this blog as part of the blog tour. Just check out the previous post.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

I thought I would add a fun competition to the Mine to Avenge blog tour, which is currently at Day 6 (schedule here). On the final day of the tour (Friday April 26th) I will be choosing one of the wonderful host bloggers to win a $25 Amazon gift voucher and was wondering how to choose them.

This is where you come in. Help me choose the winning host by nominating them. I will count up all the nominations next Friday (26th) and award the voucher to the winning host blogger. Then I will do a random draw from among those who have nominated a blogger to win a $20 Amazon gift voucher.

So there are two vouchers on offer - one for the host bloggers, and one for those who would like to nominate.

Here are a few simple rules to make it easy to participate:

1. Nominate the host blogger you would like to win. Get your nominations to me by either commenting at the bottom of this post, or messaging me on my Facebook Page or contacting me via my Website. Please DON'T post directly on my Facebook Page but use the message button.

2. Nominate as many authors as you wish, but only nominate each author once. So please don't send multiple entries for the same blogger. As there are 12 hosts, it means you are eligible to send through 12 separate nominations.
Note: If you nominate all 12 authors, this will help their numbers for the host blogging part of the competition and show your support, but it doesn't count as multiple entries for the random draw part of the competition. You will only be included once in this draw.

3. Host bloggers are eligible to nominate other bloggers with the following exclusions -
  • Please don't nominate yourself.
  • You will also be excluded from winning this particular part of the competition, as you are in the running for the host blogger prize.
So check out the schedule each day and nominate the bloggers you would like to win. When you check the schedule, all links to the host bloggers are active, but of course, the blog tour is only up to day 6 - April 20th - so there are no Tour posts beyond that date at this time, but don't let that stop you from checking out the other bloggers and getting to know them and what they do.

Have fun. Competition closes 5pm Friday 26th April (South Australian time).

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mine to Avenge Blog Tour begins tomorrow

Just a reminder that the blog tour to celebrate and promote Mine to Avenge launches bright and early tomorrow morning, South Australian time. I hope you will be able to follow along with the 12 days of posts, and meet some wonderful host bloggers along the way, as well as find out more about me and my book.
Please post comments and interact on the host blogs, and I'll do my best to respond to them around the hours of my full time work. Thanks, everyone, in anticipation of your wonderful support. Looking forward to 'meeting' as many of you as I can as I tour along with you.
Here is the link to the blog tour schedule if you haven't yet seen it. You can also access it on my website, which can be reached via the tab at the top of the page.

Link to the Mine to Avenge Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, 12 April 2013

Liebster Blog Award - Mark 2

Today I'm thrilled to be responding to my second nomination for the Liebster Blog Award. I only recently responded to a nomination I received last year for the same award, as I overlooked it in a period of busy-ness at the time the nomination originally came through. 

However, I am very excited to have been nominated a second time for my blog, A Novel Journey, this time by Red Nomad OZ of Amazing Australian Adventures. Red’s blog is well worth a visit if you want to find out more about Australia. I can almost guarantee that if you live outside of Australia, you’ll want to book a ticket after being to her blog, and if you already live here, well, you’ll be tempted to throw in your day job and get on the road to visit the wonderful places she talks about.

At the risk of some repetition for those who read this blog regularly, I will reiterate what the Liebster Blog Award is about for the visitors to this post. The Liebster Blog Award is an award bestowed upon bloggers by bloggers, the word Liebster being German, meaning ‘sweetest’, ‘kindest’, ‘dearest,’ ‘beloved’, ‘lovely’, ‘kind’, ‘pleasant’, ‘valued’, ‘cute’ and  ‘endearing’. The award encourages bloggers to continue on with their work in the blogging world, acknowledges them as gifted bloggers in their own right, and by nominating bloggers, you indicate that they are some of your personal favourites.

Here is how the award works:
  • The nominated blogger must post 11 facts about themselves.
  • They must then answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated them.
  • Then nominate 11 bloggers and give them 11 questions to answer.
  • Link to your chosen 11 bloggers in your blog post. 
  • Let them know you have nominated them.
  • Don't nominate the blogger who nominated you.
11 Facts about me:
  1. I founded a Horse and Pony Club in my home town when I was 13 years old. We didn't have one, and I wanted one. I was a bit of a 'make it happen' kind of girl from a very young age.
  2. As a child I liked to breed guinea pigs - actually they did that themselves without any help from me, other than the matchmaking and the introductions. 
  3. My first job was a regular summertime job - cutting apricots when a teenager. I did this every summer.
  4. My favourite comfort food is my Mum's creamed rice.
  5. I was an adventurous child and sometimes had my five sisters and brothers racing around the local township following treasure hunts I set up.
  6. Autumn is my favourite time of the year.
  7. I love to read historical fiction.
  8. I love going to live theater, but don't go often enough.
  9. I kept a diary for many years after reading The Diary of Anne Frank.
  10. The first story I ever wrote (that I can actually remember) was a story about going on a holiday to Fiji. I think it was for a newspaper competition.
  11. I still own a VCR and use it regularly to watch old movies that I haven't yet replaced with DVDs.
Answer's to Red's questions to me:

Question 1: What's your favourite colour?
Answer: Green - definitely green.
Question 2: What is the absolute BEST thing to eat?
Answer: Always and forever - smoked salmon. Just writing about it means that it's highly likely I'll go out and buy some later today.

Question 3: You're on a desert island and you can choose one person to join you. Who is it? 
Answer:  This doesn't specify real or fictional, so I will choose a fictional character because their character is largely confined to what is written about them - you know what you're going to get - no surprises. I'd choose Captain Wilton Parmenter from the 60s TV comedy, F-Troop. He is so cheerful and accommodating and always makes me laugh. He's always so gullible too, so I'd always get my own way, without trying too hard.

Question 4: What scares you rigid?
Answer: Having to do role-plays whenever I do work training of any sort.

Question 5: What's your favourite way to pass the time on a long journey.
Answer: I'll be able to answer that better after my trip from Australia to Europe later this year, but I think reading and crossword puzzles are pretty good. 

Question 6: Where are you going for your next holiday"
Answer: See previous question - EUROPE!!! Especially Paris.

Question 7: If you were to visit and/or travel in Australia, what would you most like to see?
Answer: I'd like to spend some time in Perth, in Western Australia, but not in the summer, if their last one can be used as a guide. 

Question 8: What's your favourite book?
Answer: Random Harvest by James Hilton.

Question 9: What's your most popular blog post (define that however you like!)?
Answer: Probably a couple of posts that haven't been posted yet - scheduled for the upcoming Mine to Avenge blog tour. I have written two character interviews with two of the main characters from the novel. they were such fun to do.

Question 10: What was your mo st embarrassing moment?
Answer: This was easy to decide. I was about 17 or 18 when the movie 'Grease' first came out, and at the time I was living in a tertiary accommodation hostel. I had a crush on the spunky Italian guy living in the room next door to mine, and he took me to see the movie. I dressed up to look the part in a gold full-skirted sixties style dress, but while we were standing around in the foyer waiting for the movie to start, my half-slip elastic broke, and the slip ended up in a silken heap around my ankles, with the full golden skirt essentially transparent. I somehow managed to fix it to sit through the movie, but I know I didn't remember it much at the time. I didn't leave my room for about a week after that, having my friends bring meals to my room instead. 

Question 11: What's your favourite quote?
Answer: At the moment, it's the Winston Churchill quote I use at the front of my novel - 'Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance.'

Here are the questions for the bloggers at the blogs I've tagged:
  1. Who knows you best in life?
  2. If you could spend your life doing anything you like, what would it be?
  3. What is your earliest memory?
  4. What lifts you up when you are feeling down?
  5. What are you most thankful for in life?
  6. If you were given $1000, what would you spend it on?
  7. Are you a hot weather person or a cold weather person?
  8. Name one thing on your bucket list.
  9. What is your favourite movie?
  10. What is your favourite 'get away from it all place'?
  11. What piece of advice do you hand out most often?
Here are the 11 blogs I've tagged:

Have fun responding to this, bloggers, and keep up the good work with your very entertaining blogs.