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I’m incredibly excited about the launch of the River Bend series. The three main stories are strong women’s fiction novels with some complex themes and layers. At roughly 90,000 words each, these books all have a strong romance at their center, but there’s a lot more going on as well. The first story, Late Last Night is novella length, at 30,000 words. It takes place in 1996, and gives you the romance between high school English teacher Kate MacCreadie (Jamie MacCreadie’s aunt from Marry Me, Cowboy) and county sheriff Harrison Pearce, as well as the challenging backstories to the characters you’ll meet in the longer novels. The 1996 Marietta High School Senior Prom changed so many lives, and before you can find out how it all resolves, you need to know exactly what happened that night.
The first of the longer novels, The Sweetest Thing, is launching at the same time, so you won’t have to wait long to get started on it.
This is a free short story, which you can download to your favorite ebook reading platform. Rob and Melinda MacCreadie have been married for nearly thirty years, but there’s a secret that shadows their lives and Rob thinks it’s time everyone knew the truth, even if Melinda doesn’t agree. You’ll meet Rob and Melinda and their family again in the future, so why not get to know them now?
Marry Me, Cowboy
After an amazing research and brainstorming trip to Montana with fellow authors Jane Porter, C J Carmichael and Megan Crane, this short novel was so much fun to write. I also watched an excellent Canadian documentary about life on the rodeo circuit, which gave a really gritty and vivid insight into what these brave… and possibly crazy… competitors go through. Jamie MacCreadie and Tegan Ash are both pro rodeo riders, and it shows in their relationship. They’re stubborn and strong and passionate, and they’re not going to start out just by holding hands.
Here’s an excerpt.
It Began With a Crush
It often seems as if the final story in a trilogy ends up being my favorite. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s happened again with the Cherry Sisters. Mary Jane spent so long on the sidelines and I felt I knew her so well by the time I put her at center stage. Add an especially luscious and wonderful hero, some cute kids and ponies, and the book was a joy to write.
The Baby Made at Christmas
Middle Cherry sister Lee and good-looking mountain management man Mac Wheeler never meant their Christmas fling to get serious, but with a baby on the way, they’re forced to take a fresh look at all their feelings and plans.
I've had this book and its characters clamoring in my head for more than fifteen years. It's the first book in a trilogy that sweeps between Germany just before World War Two, Italy and Antwerp in the Sixteenth Century, and New York in the 1980s. You probably wouldn't know it was a trilogy if I hadn't said so, as Saving Gerda stands up completely on its own. I know these characters as well as I know myself - privileged, beautiful, good-hearted Kitty; twelve-year-old Gerda who doesn't yet know who she really is or who she wants to be; dutiful Sophie, hemmed in by life and desperate to take action; awkward Johannes, whose shyness masks his good looks and acute perception.
Read an excerpt here
Buy it on Amazon, on Smashwords, or via BacklistEbooks.
ALL DRESSED UP
Why would Emma dump the groom and walk out of her wedding rehearsal when she loves him so much? Her sister Sarah knows, but doesn’t know how to help. It takes a huge family upheaval before Emma and Charlie even have a chance at getting back on track. I love writing about sibling relationships and have explored this area many times in my books. Emma and Sarah have that push and pull of love and conflict that so many siblings experience. This time, it’s sourced in something that happened eleven years ago, something that changed the whole balance of the family and still hasn’t been worked out right.
Read an excerpt here
CAFÉ DU JOUR
Well, I’ve talked about this book so much. What more can I say? Maybe talk a little about where the research for the hospital, workshop and restaurant scenes came from?
I used to live in Sydney, in a shared house set-up very similar to Susie’s in the book. During that period, I worked as a volunteer French interpreter at one of Sydney’s major hospitals. French-speaking patients would be flown there for medical treatment from various Pacific islands, most notably New Caledonia, which is still a French colonial outpost. As you can imagine, it wasn’t the routine cases that were flown so far, it was the really serious ones, and it was up to me to make sure that the communication between patients and medical staff was clear. I saw some dramatic things during my time there, including a woman who was recovering after being shot in the head by her father, and a woman who’d had a stroke at home on her tiny Pacific Island, fallen unconscious and then woken a day or two later to find herself in a hospital hundreds of miles from home. This woman had never seen a telephone before. She didn’t even speak much French, because she used a local Melanesian dialect, but we shared a few laughs as we struggled with the three-way communication. Although none of the cases I saw as an interpreter appears directly in the book, the atmosphere of my fictional hospital is very much steeped in that experience.
For the restaurant scenes, I also drew on personal experience with a French flavour. In my early twenties, I worked as a nanny for a lovely family in the French Alps. The father of the family managed a large hotel there, and I used to have to go into the huge restaurant kitchen twice a day to pick up meals to bring to the apartment for the children to eat. It was great fun talking to the cooks, who came from all over France and elsewhere, and as a budding writer I found the whole flavor of the experience fascinating on every level – the sounds and smells and conversation, the quirky detail of the way the kitchen worked, the tensions and flare-ups and jokes. I took heaps of notes, even though back then I didn’t have the slightest idea how I’d ever use them, and loved the opportunity to peek into a world I would be unlikely to experience at any other time.
Jody’s workshop draws on my acting experience, which began when I joined a local youth theatre company at the age of 14 and continued through involvement in an experimental theatre company on a semi-professional level. Many acting exercises can be re-badged as personal growth exercises, which is exactly what Jody does in the book, although we’re not quite convinced he’s right to do so. I would never say that you can’t learn about yourself from these exercises, but I’m skeptical of Jody’s tendency to claim life-changing status for them. As Susie eventually learns, real change isn’t easy.
Read an excerpt here