Exploring Australia with Elizabeth Squire

My Country, by Dorothea Mackella

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land for me!

Elizabeth Squire photo

Elizabeth Squire

When you think of Australia, the first thing you think of is Sydney, with its glamorous lifestyle, iconic harbour and spectacular beaches. But I’m a girl from the bush and so I’m going to take you off the beaten track and introduce you to my top 10 things to do in outback Australia.

Leave the sparkling harbour of Sydney behind and take a trip out to visit the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains, and discover for yourself whether or not the mountains truly are blue!

Explore the Murray River (the world’s third longest navigable river after the Amazon and the Nile) by paddle-steamer.

Hire a convertible and drive Victoria’s scenic Great Ocean Road, stopping to explore the 12 Apostles along the way.

Visit South Australia’s, Australia’s premier wine region, and sample some of the exceptional wines—there are over 200 vineyards so I recommend a moderate approach!

Discover Western Australia’s world heritage Ningaloo Reef and take a swim with the Whale Sharks.

Visit the historic pearling town of Broome in Australia’s far north-west and take a sunset camel ride along Cable Beach.

Go bush in Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park to visit the ancient rock art and learn about Australian indigenous culture.

Leave it all behind and head out the red centre of Australia to see Uluru, the world’s largest monolith for yourself.

Sail the Great Barrier Reef in a tall ship, being sure to take time to snorkel some of the spectacular coral reef.

And my personal favourite – get back to nature in the Tasmania wilderness world heritage area and hike the Overland Track in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. Continue reading

My Review – The Catch on ABC

In case you haven’t catched it yet, The Catch on ABC airs Thursday nights 10/9c.

The Premise from ABC

Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) is LA’s top private investigator — and the one woman you don’t want to mess with. But when her fiancé (Peter Krause) cons her out of millions and disappears, Alice goes on a private mission for payback.  No matter where it leads or the secrets she must keep along the way, Alice will stop at nothing to catch her man. From the producers of “Scandal,” “Greys Anatomy” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” “The Catch” is a one-hour drama starring Mireille Enos, Peter Krause, Alimi Ballard, Jay Hayden, Jacky Ido, Rose Rollins, Elvy Yost and Sonya Walger.  The Catch is executive-produced by Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Allan Heinberg and Julie Anne Robinson.

The Premise from me

LA’s top private investigator, Alice Vaughan is conned by her fiance. Her mission is to find him and either kill him or hire him.

My Thoughts

I missed the pilot when it aired—The season finale of Shades of Blue was on. However, I was able to catch a repeat of it on ABC via the Roku. The commercials looked good, I thought it would have been kind of like Mr. and Mrs. Smith (the movie that ended Jennifer and Brad’s marriage), but was pleasantly surprised that it was not.

I have to say it was decent. It started off with Alice Vaughan (Mireille Enos) undercover, working at a museum. Her mission is to catch the person who trying to steal a priceless painting. The setup was a bit predictable but the takedown was satisfactory. Continue reading

Lori Wilde, Love of the Game

Lori Wilde iconLori, thanks for taking the time to chat with us today!

Your new release, Love Of The Game is the third in the Stardust, Texas Series, which features some very handsome baseball playing heroes.  What kind of research goes into writing a new series, especially a series with professional sports involved? 

Hi, thank you for having me. Whenever I start a new book, I do some preliminary research on the setting, the background, and the characters’ occupation. Then I dive into writing. If something comes up during the writing that I don’t know the answer to, I’ll stop and do some quick research. Then once I finish the first draft and jump into revisions, I’ll look for plot hole and missing pieces of research at that point too. Research can involve Internet searches, talking to people in the professions I’m researching, watching TV programs, going to the library, attending an event, or even hands on learning.

You are probably most well known for your Twilight Texas Series, along with the Jubilee Texas Series and the more recent, Cupid Texas Series. Do you have one series or set of characters that was your favorite to write? Even a couple?  Or one title that took the most out of you emotionally to write? 

The most taxing title for me to write was Christmas At Twilight, which features characters struggling with mental illness. Several members of my family have struggled with mental disorders. This book took an emotional as I had to put myself back into heart-wrenching situations I’d experienced. But, it was also very cathartic.

What many readers might not know about you is that you taught a romance course online, which was not only so informative but very personal when it came to feedback and critique. If you have ONE piece of advice for aspiring romance writers, what would that be?

Thanks for the compliment. I love to teach writing. I’m actually teaching a class like that again in October through Writers University. https://writeruniv.wordpress.com

My one piece of advice is to get the book done. Just write it. Then write another one and another one. That’s what it takes. Consistent production.

You are newly certified as a yoga instructor. What have you found to be the biggest benefit by doing yoga?  Do you think that it has helped with your creativity when it comes to writing? 

The benefits of yoga have been nothing short of life altering. Yoga has given me my health, sanity and creativity back. I’d lost myself in work and forgotten who I was. Yoga brought me back to me. I’m calmer, healthier, more balanced. It helps me lead a better life.

What are you working on next?

I’m going back to Cupid, Texas to write about four brothers from a ranching dynasty and the four Native American sisters they fall in love with.

Love of Game Title: Love of the Game Stardust, Texas #3 by Lori Wilde
Release date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis

A sexy sports superstar discovers his body isn’t the only thing that needs healing in this newest Stardust, Texas novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde…

With major league good looks and talent, Dallas Gunslingers relief pitcher Axel Richmond was living the good life. Even if the roar of the crowd could never distract him from the loss of his young son. But now with an injured shoulder and his career on the line, Axel is stuck recuperating at a ranch in Stardust, Texas . . . striking out only with his gorgeous physical therapist.

Kasha Carlyle has one week to get Axel back in action or she can kiss her much-needed job with the Gunslingers goodbye. And any chance to seek custody of the orphaned half-sister she never knew existed. She quickly learns that Axel’s guarded heart also needs healing . . . requiring all kinds of sneaky plays and sexy moves in extra innings.

Purchase on Amazon | B&NGoogle Play Books | Kobo

About Lori Wilde Lori Wilde author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde has sold seventy-eight works of fiction to four major New York Publishing houses.

Her first NYT bestseller, the third book in her Twilight, Texas series, The First Love Cookie Club has been optioned for a television movie. The town of Granbury, Texas, upon which her fictional town of Twilight, Texas is loosely based, honors Lori with an annual Twilight, Texas weekend each Christmas.

A popular writing instructor, Lori is a two time RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She’s won the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Wisconsin Write Touch Award, The Golden Quill, the Lories, and The More than Magic.

Connect with Lori: Website | Facebook | Twitter |  GoodReadsPinterest

Giveaway

Enter to win $25.00 e-Gift Card to Choice Book Seller and a Print Copy of Love Of The Game

Excerpt

It starts like this: an unexpected spark, instant attraction, the jolting jab of oh-so-you-feel-this-too? Flash fire in the belly. A corkscrew twist in the center of the chest. A physical ache that punches low and heavy and spreads out hard and fast through muscles and tendons, blood and bone.

            Heady.

            Erotic.

            Thrilling.

            Physical therapist Kasha Carlyle had felt it before, this hot flare, runaway-mine-train-express that stirred fear in the dark recesses of her mind. She’d resisted it then. Resisted it now.

            But this? This here? This was something more.

            Stronger.

            Bolder.

            Scarier.

            Coal black eyes melted her resistance, seared it to ash. In that stopwatch moment when her gaze struck, and stuck to the steely stare of the Dallas Gunslingers’ most valuable pitcher, Axel Richmond.

            He’d just completed a physical therapy session with his trainer, Paul Hernandez, and he was sitting on a bench wearing nothing but red workout pants, his bare chest on display. Every glistening muscle was finely etched. Not a drop of fat on him. He was a splendid specimen of adult male in top physical shape, life and passion oozing from his pores.

            The only thing that seemed out of place was the black tattoo over his heart that spelled out

            “Dylan.”

            One look and everything and everyone blended and blurred as white-hot need transported them into their own little world far from the sports medicine facility in North Dallas, where baseball coaches, managers, administrators, and sports medicine specialists surrounded them.

            For a split second.

            Then pure panic set it.

            It was Tuesday, May seventeenth, and the second week of Kasha’s three-month probationary period at her new job working with injured major league baseball players.

            And she was already falling in lust.

            No. No. This simply would not do. Keeping her job was essential.

            Now that she had Emma to consider, she urgently needed the bump in salary to pay off the student loans that had gotten her through her PhD. Not to mention the excellent health insurance coverage. Finding out about Emma had changed everything.

            Quickly, Kasha peeled her gaze from Axel’s and studied the insignia on the wall above his head—the blue and green Gunslingers crossed dueling pistols logo—but she didn’t see a darn thing. Purposefully, she slowed her breathing, and forced herself to listen to the conversation.

            “I wish we had better news,” Dr. Tad Harrison, the lead physician on the team, said to Axel.

            Dr. Harrison had been the one to hire Kasha, and the one to caution her that only thirty percent of probationary employees made it past the first three months. “It takes a special breed to work with these ballplayers. They’re long on arrogance and stubbornness and always think they know best.”

            “I have a lot of patience,” she’d said because it was true.

            “I heard they call you the Exorcist in your current job,” Dr. Harrison had said. “Why is that?”

            She couldn’t keep from smiling. “My colleagues say I have a talent for taming difficult clients.”

            “And do you?”

            “I consider physical therapy a calling.” She folded her hands in her lap, and said without a hint of ego. “I was born for this work.”

            Dr. Harrison stroked his chin. “That’s what Rowdy said too.”

Rowdy Blanton was the field manager for the Gunslingers. He was also Kasha’s brother-in-law, married to her younger adoptive sister, Breeanne, and he’d recommended her for the job.

            “If I hire you,” Dr. Harrison had continued. “It will be on your own merits, not your relationship to Rowdy. He got you this interview, but that’s as far as nepotism goes.”

            “As it should.” Kasha bobbed her head.

            The uncertainty of the job was why she hadn’t yet rented an apartment in Dallas. Every day, she made the one hundred and thirty-five mile, one-way trek to the stadium from her hometown of Stardust.

            While she was optimistic, she was also practical. She’d learned that fate could derail even the best intentions and you had to be ready to flow whichever way the current took you. For the next three months, until she solidified the job, she would keep making that drive.

            For Emma.

            Her thoughts took off in a hundred different directions at once. Stalled. Spun. Gathered momentum like an encroaching hurricane. Realizing her mind had wandered, she forcefully shut down the unproductive thoughts and directed her attention back to the patient.

            Axel Richmond.

            One more look and Kasha was on fire and she hated it. The last thing she wanted right now was to meet a guy, especially this guy. Whose stark dark hair was drenched in the heady sheen of sweat.

            He was as sexy as ten kinds of sin, and twice as handsome, and he was studying her through heavily lidded eyes as if she was the most fascinating creature he’d seen in years.

            Um . . . yes . . . that’s why her mind had wandered. To keep from dealing with the feelings his hot-to-trot gaze churned inside her.

            She let out such a long sigh that everyone in the room swiveled to stare. She kept her face blank and examined her fingernails, pretending she’d discovered a ragged cuticle.

            From the moment Axel had strolled into the therapy room with his pro-athlete swagger and princely sense of entitlement, she’d been mesmerized.

            Spellbound by the way his fitted T-shirt hugged his intricately muscled body. Then he’d stripped off the shirt, giving her an even more arresting view. A thick head of lush brown hair curled around his ears, and those powerful thighs strained at the seams of his workout pants.

            Whew.

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Painting Sky by Rita Branches

Painting Sky by Rita BranchesTitle: Painting Sky by Rita Branches
Publication date: April 25th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis:

Nobody ever said life was easy…

People pleaser, Jane Skylar wants nothing more than to earn her art degree, start her life, and bask in the bliss of living with her boyfriend.

But things don’t always go as planned…

Struggling with her creative side, Jane finds herself in turmoil, often confiding in her roommate – another, more talented art student, Keith Hale. Keith just so happens to be her boyfriend’s older, brooding brother. After a devastating breakup, Jane turns to Keith for comfort. But when the lines blur between roommate and lover, Jane’s life becomes more complicated than ever before.

When Keith’s past comes back to haunt him, their lives all get turned upside down, forcing the truth to surface. Now Jane must fight for what she wants–even if it hurts everyone she loves.

Add Painting Sky to your Goodreads shelf.

Purchase Painting Sky on Amazon.

Giveaway

Enter to win 2 digital copies of Painting Sky.

Rita Branches is an independent YA (young adult) author who enjoys spending every free moment (when she’s not reading) writing emotional stories. You can connect with her on her website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Excerpt

“I’m sorry about your hand,” I said. He threw his jacket over one of the couches and sat on the other. His eyes dropped to my arm, which I was subconsciously rubbing.

“Did he hurt you?” He wasn’t mad, this time—he was worried.

I tried to hide my smile and shook my head. “Not really. I bruise easily.”

He jumped to get closer. “Bruise?” He pulled my wrist and turned my arm to check the damage. It was red. Maybe I wouldn’t get a bruise, but his face made me smile.

“I’m not dying, Keith. He was just an ass.”

“I told you to go with your brother.” He sat again. “Did you have fun, at least?”

“Not really. I guess I didn’t drink enough.” I shrugged, not feeling drunk anymore.

“You really shouldn’t have told me that.” He jumped from the couch and disappeared into the kitchen. I heard a couple of cabinet doors opening and closing and then glasses clinking.

Keith came back with a bottle under his arm, two glasses in one hand, and a lime cut in two and salt in the other.

I wasn’t experienced, but I knew what that meant. “Tequila? Do you think it’s wise?”

“This night wasn’t supposed to be about being wise. It’s just the two of us: you won’t get in trouble.” He paused for a second, staring at the walls in deep thought. He then placed the ingredients on the coffee table. “We won’t get too drunk. Do you know how to drink this?”

I nodded. I’d never tasted it, but I saw it in the movies. The first one burned, and the second did, too. I stopped, while Keith kept pouring shots for himself.

After the first shot, Keith had turned the TV to a music channel. He had turned it up a couple of times, since. We were laughing at each other’s faces. Of course, he was used to it, but I saw the glimmer in his eyes. We were both drunk. The first time I had ever gotten drunk was with Keith Hale. Who would have guessed?

“You should go to sleep,” he slurred, pushing me to the stairs. “Your brother would kill me if he showed up right now.”

“Really?” I stumbled on almost every step. Keith grabbed my waist every time and released me after I steadied myself, only to stumble again. I repeated the word because it was funny in my tongue. “Really?” He laughed behind me.

“Yeah…” He was also dragging his words. “Thanks.”

“For what?” I had reached my door and turned to say good night.

He struggled for the words. His smile disappeared and he took so long to say anything that I was considering forgetting the question and going to my room. Then he grabbed my face with his hands.

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6 Authors share what keeps them motivated

6-authors-collaboration

Author collaboration continues with 6 authors answering 2 questions. Today we talk about motivation and reading habits. Enjoy!

Motivation

What keeps you motivated and why?

When it comes to motivation, I’m a little like I am about writers’ block. There is always something I want to do that hits me on the head when I wake up in the morning! – Carolyn Howard-Johnson – Author of The Frugal Book Promoter |Imperfect Echos

Motivation seems to change. With the Rain Trilogy, one of my biggest motivations was to help shed some awareness on abuse and human trafficking. With Ash to Steele and Feel, the motivation was entirely different – just as personal, but in other ways. One constant motivation for me, is how writing is a form of therapy. If the day has been really trying, throwing myself into my characters is the best stress reliever. – Karen -Anne Stewart – Author of The Rain Trilogies | Ash to Steele  Continue reading

Write chat with Ashley Farley

Ashley Farley authorAshley Farley first visited Plain Talk as part of her Breaking the Story blog tour, where she shared her thoughts on self-publishing.

Welcome back Ashley. Today Ashley talks about her writing process.

Do you write or type?

I type! There are plenty of authors who still sit down and put pen to paper. But that is definitely not for me. Being able to move sentences and paragraphs around on the screen saves an enormous amount of time. I would be lost without spellcheck and my dictionary apps.

Do you begin planning your novel with a plot line or a character?

A character. I imagine my character, and once I blow life into her, she shows me the way.

Do your characters resemble people you know?

Not intentionally, but it’s innate. As I get inside my character’s heads, I can’t help but portray a little bit of myself in each of them. I’m always on the lookout for interesting characteristics in the people I encounter everyday.

Do you use your experiences in real life for your novels?

Not the big picture events, but I often use an anecdote from my real life to add humor or to make a situation feel more genuine, more legit.

What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a panster?

For the most part I’d have to say I’m a panster, but there are definitely times when I need to use outlines to keep my facts straight and verify that my story flows. I’m fortunate to belong to a club that has an outdoor heated pool. I swim laps every day, all year long, even when it’s snowing. This peace and quite time allows me the opportunity to mentally plot what I’m going to write that day, to make up scenes and devise sentences. Then, when I sit down at my computer later in the morning, the words flow much quicker and easier.

Free flow writing, on the other hand, helps when I’m suffering from writer’s block. Good material comes from these sessions, from just typing out whatever comes to mind.

What is your main objective in your writing?

I write the types of novels I like to read. Readers are attracted to my books because of the fast pace. My goal is to create interesting characters with the right amount of description and lots of action. If my readers keep turning the pages well into the night, then I have done my job. Continue reading

Cece Robson Giveaway + Promo

Shattered giveawayTitle: Let Me (An O’Brien Family Novel, O’Brien Family) by Cecy Robson
Publication date: April 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Synopsis

Once he was broken beyond repair. Now this MMA contender is fighting to be a better man—for her.

RT Book Reviews proclaims that the O’Brien Family series from award-winning author Cecy Robson “has the hottest brothers ever!” And in Let Me, it is Finn’s turn to discover how love can heal the deepest wounds.

A mixed martial arts star on the rise, Finn O’Brien dismantles his opponents with brutal precision. And yet beneath his fierce persona, Finn is raw from a trauma he’s buried for years . . . until the day his deep-rooted rage erupts and lands him in court-mandated therapy. Finn’s not one to bare his soul, but if talking it out means meeting beautiful women like Sol Marieles, he’ll give it a shot.

Sol is working toward her master’s degree in psychology, and already she feels like she’s in over her head. With an important internship on the line and a scary family situation demanding her attention, the last thing Sol needs is Finn around to distract her. The man is ripped and seriously sexy yet it’s his troubled side that warns her to keep her distance. But their attraction is intense, and he clearly has the heat to see how far and fast their passion takes them.

Alone, Finn and Sol have been fighting to find happiness in their lives. Together, there’s no stopping them as they face their greatest challenges—not in the ring, but in their hearts. Continue reading

Beth Ciotta on how Marry Poppins came about

Beth-Ciotta-iconAuthor Beth Ciotta stops by today and shares how she came up with the story for her novel Marry Poppins.

Ideas for stories, I have learned, come from anywhere and everywhere. The especially promising ones burrow in my mind (sometimes for years) until I finally give them life. Such was the case with Marry Poppins.

Although I spend the bulk of my time spinning stories, I also have another job where my primary goal is to promote literacy. By day, (not all, but some) I’m a senior library assistant at the local branch of my county library system. Yes, it is as glorious as it sounds because I’m surrounded by books. I talk books, shelve books, order books, and circulate books. All. Day. Long.

As an avid reader and impassioned writer, you can’t beat a nine-to-five where you’re swimming in stories.  I often find myself skimming descriptions and wondering how the author came up with that idea. I wonder if their concepts come to them as willy-nilly as mine come to me.

Case in point. One evening, while working the circulation desk, a patron plopped down a stack of children’s books. “I’d like to check these out for my daughter,” she said.

The second book in that stack was a worn (and obviously much loved) hard cover of P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins. “I love this story,” I said.

Truth.

I’m a longtime fan of Travers’s book as well as the Disney movie. I even saw a musical rendition live on the stage during a trip to London. Poppins made her entrance flying over the seated audience (with her umbrella, of course) suspended by invisible wires. How magical, I thought as tears of joy rolled down my cheeks.

I share that semi-embarrassing moment as proof of my obsession deep love of happily-ever-afters and all things magical.

Back to the book (and the moment of inspiration). While handling the novel, a word-play on the title blew through my mind.

MARRY Poppins.

There’s a story in that, I thought.  A story about a man who needs a wife—or rather a mother for his children. About a woman—last name Poppins—who yearns for a family to call her own. A story based on a marriage of convenience.

Long after the patron left, my mind still whirled with thoughts of Marry Poppins. I knew the heroine would be resourceful and resilient. I knew she’d bounce from job to job, never quite fitting in…until the day she blew in on a storm and tripped upon a nanny position.

Suddenly my thoughts turned to additional spin-offs and a new series of modern-day fairy tales. I was dying to dig in, but I was in the middle of writing another contacted series—The Cupcake Lovers.

Two years later that series ended and I was in the position to start something new. I found the scant notes I’d jotted on Marry Poppins and the series I’d dubbed Impossible Dream. My imagination soared.

By nature of the series arc, Beauty & The Biker launched first, followed by the holiday novella, Enchanting Christmas. Marry Poppins ended up being the third tale even though it was the inciting tale. As it turns out—in my heart and mind—resilient and resourceful Georgie Poppins was well worth the wait!

Award-winning author Beth Ciotta presents Marry Poppins, the third book in the contemporary fairy tale series—Impossible Dream—celebrating hope, love, and the magic of the human spirit! Continue reading

Trust the Process – Book Review

Stack of booksTitle: Trust the Process by Leanne Jones

Synopsis

Women everywhere struggle with the multiple tasks that come with our everyday lives. We’re told that we can “have it all” but all too often we find ourselves uninspired and unmotivated to keep going.

Trust the Process was written to inspire women to create a better present and future for themselves. Within this book, you will discover the inner strength to grow in ways that will inspire positive changes in every area of your life.

Arranged into 30 daily segments, this daily inspirational tool helps define powerful ways for women to:

Design a high quality life;
Make each day a productive masterpiece;
Get clarity in your life;
Set your priorities; and
Keep the faith while keeping everything else together!

Have you been looking for positive ways to improve your life and permanently keep you on the right path?

Trust the Process is a 30-day motivational guide that will empower you to live a life of purpose and fulfillment through: Continue reading

Introducing Segilola Salami

Who is Segilola Salami?

I am mom to a very beautiful little girl and that’s the only job that matters to me. When I am not making memories with my girl, so in the early hours of the morning, I write. I (or better still ‘we’) host a podcast show called The Segilola Salami Show. I think of it as a nice twist to a sex and the city cafe meetup. The guests on the show are like our virtual friends that we meet up with for coffee to chat about books.

Why do you write children’s novels and how did you get started?

I didn’t plan to start writing. It sort of just fell into my lap. I write children’s books because it all started with me looking for books on African folktales for my little girl.

What has been your biggest obstacle while writing and how have you overcome it?

Writing itself has been pretty much straightforward. It’s the marketing that has proven a tad difficult. I am on a steep learning curve.

What is your writing process?

Even before I put ‘pen to paper’ the bulk of the story has played out in my head several times, almost scene by scene. So when I do get around to it, it takes me a good few hours to type it all out.

Describe your journey as an author so far.

It has been very educative and interesting. I have learnt things that never even crossed my mind. I have met people I never imagined I would meet.

How do you stay motivated?

I plan to make the creative process a career, so when I look at my little girl, I know that giving up is not an option.

What do you know now that you wish you knew as a teenager? Continue reading