GUEST BLOG: A Week in the Life…by Anna Romer, author of Lyrebird Hill

anna romer

Author: Anna Romer

Monday.
It’s 5 am, pitch black out here in the wilderness. Stars splash across the sky, and the river whispers in the dark. The scent of lilies floods the bungalow; it’s out of place, but I can’t bring myself to discard the flowers. I can’t even look at them.

I’m sitting at my desk. Usually at this hour I write in my notebook, but today I’m at the laptop. A blank page stares back at me. Ideas are simmering, the plot’s got bones – but there’s no spark. I hammer out a paragraph, then press delete. I try not to freak, but the page seems determined to remain blank.

Tuesday.
Just what I need … a bloody bushfire.
While checking the fences, I smell smoke. No visuals, but it seems to be drifting from the east. I rush back to the bungalow, pack the car and collar the dogs, ready to evacuate. Then I connect the Internet. A fire is raging on my neighbour’s property three miles away. Flames have cut across the track, blocking my escape.

I hunch at my desk and try to breathe. The smell of lilies engulfs me. I wish I could cry, but the tears are stuck. I wish Dad was here. He’d know what to do. The world isn’t the same without him.

‘Stay alert, love,’ I hear him say. ‘When the fire front comes, there’s always the river.’

Wednesday.lyrebird-hill
All night I sit at the window, gazing into the trees. I keep imagining I can see flames, but when I go out there’s just the dark starless tranquillity…

And an aftertaste of smoke.

Back inside, I stand before the lilies, forcing myself to look. Forcing myself to inhale their scent. That day flashes back: the cold room, and the stillness of my father’s body; the desolate cry my sister gave when she saw him. And the ache in my soul as I clung to his hand for the last time.

I stand there forever, breathing the lilies.

Then a sound distracts me. It’s faint at first, baby-fingers tapping the tin roof. It grows louder … and suddenly it’s drumming. I run outside and gaze at the sky. Rain.

Soon it’s streaming down my face like tears.

thornwood-houseThursday.
It’s 6 am. Raindrops patter the roof. The smoke-smell has gone; just the lilies linger.

The dogs are restless but I can’t leave the laptop. I’ve set myself an easy goal this morning, 500 words. I’ve been sitting here for hours, but the page is still blank. Panic grips me. I stare at the screen, willing the words to appear. Weaving stories brings me to life; it’s a glorious feeling when I nail it … but when I bomb, the disappointment feels fatal.

Friday.
The air’s clear today. A solitary heart-shaped cloud drifts over the bungalow. It feels like a sign. Taking advantage of my momentary optimism, I empty the lilies into the compost. Then I open all the windows and let in the sunshine.

Saturday.
A piping hot bath jump-starts my brain. Water always has that effect. One minute I’m towelling dry and climbing into soft pyjamas – the next, ideas are flowing. There’s a funeral, maybe two sisters. The scent of lilies. And heartache that finds resolution one rainy day by the river.

My pulse picks up. Suddenly I’m consumed by a magical rapture, as if the strands of my heart are finally unravelling. I hurry back to my desk. Smiling to myself, I boot the laptop, open the blank page…
And fall head over heels into my story.

Grab a copy of Anna Romer’s Lyrebird Hill here


Lyrebird Hill

by Anna Romer

From the bestselling author of Thornwood House

When all that you know comes crashing down, do you run? Or face the truth?

Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life – a loving boyfriend, a fulfilling career – but in one terrible moment, her life unravels. The discovery that the death of her sister, Jamie, was not an accident makes her question all she’s known about herself and her past.

Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been forever blocked in her memory . . . Snatches of her childhood with beautiful Jamie, and Ruby’s only friendship with the boy from the next property, a troubled foster kid.

Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol where she is imprisoned for murder. As she reads, Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence.

Slowly, the gaps in Ruby’s memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core – about what happened to Jamie that fateful day, and how she died.

A thrilling tale about family secrets and trusting yourself

About the Author

Anna Romer spent her wayward youth travelling the globe, working as a graphic artist while she soaked up local histories and folklore from the Australian outback, then Asia, Europe, and America. On returning home to Australia, she began weaving stories of her own and was quickly hooked. A visit to her sister in north Queensland inspired her first novel, Thornwood House, a story that reflects her fascination with old diaries and letters, dark family secrets, rambling old houses, the persistence of the past, and our unique Australian landscape.

Grab a copy of Anna Romer’s Lyrebird Hill here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Why I chose the chef’s life… by Alistair Wise, co-author of Sweet Envy

alistairwiseWhy did I choose the chef’s life?

This is the question that curious onlookers ask me with gusto when they hear about the long, hard hours and miniscule pay. Some chefs say that cooking seethes through their veins, a passion passed on in childhood and set to dominate their life. For me, it was not quite like this … my early years were spent diligently packing preserving jars with apricots, squeezing muslin bags full of blackcurrants, ready to be made into this year’s batch of cordial or fizz. We’d scour the neighbours’ yards for fruit that we could trade or barter, feeding our insatiable bottling addiction.

But this early fruit-bottling obsession is not why I became a chef. As I got older, I found more foods to obsess over. Fortunately for me, cooking is a broad trade, so there is plenty to get obsessed about.

I love the drama of a commercial kitchen, full of buccaneers and pirates doing battle with waiters and waitresses whilst plating beautiful, delicious morsels, prizing gold coins from the patrons’ pockets. It’s a place where anyone can fit in if you learn to do your job well. Do the job and you will be embraced, no matter what your creed.

I love the pace – whether it be a long, unraveling mise en place list, or a board full of checks. There is electricity in the air and the energy is truly palpable.

I love the smell of food – my life would be so much less vivid without it. Pastries gently feuilletting in the oven and meat wafting in the pan; the summer smell of a fridge full of tomatoes or the delightful musty scent of a quince that tells you autumn is here.

I love the feel of food – cooking is tactile, a sensory overload. Whisking whites, standing ready to pour in the steaming hot sugar to pull together the meringue into a homogeneous mass. For some chefs, cooking is an exact science and whilst I agree there’s chemistry involved, I prefer to cook organically, embrace an inexact approach and rely upon instinct and practice to guide me.

I love the kit – last but not least, I must confess, it’s the toys. It starts small with fancy knives and water stones and moves on to thermal circulators and Paco jets and lately liquid nitrogen, followed by vintage ice cream trucks and delivery vehicles. It’s pretty awesome.

It’s true to say that in the beginning I started to cook because it was a job and it was familiar. But now it’s so much more. I am not just a chef but also a mad man who gets to live food fantasies every day.


Sweet Envy is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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sweet-envySweet Envy

by Alistair Wise & Teena Kearney-Wise

Tumble down the rabbit hole and into the wild and whimsical world of Fleur Wood, one of Australia’s leading fashion designers and an enthusiastic home cook.

Discover what inspires, motivates and sustains her, from flower-scented baths and tisanes to old-fashioned portraits, love-heart lockets and food with soul. Fleur shares her knowledge and passion for all things vintage and offers a window into the creative processes that drive her covetable collections.

Indulge your senses with fabulous fashion, cutting-edge style and plenty of mouth-watering recipes in this visual feast from the immensely creative and talented Fleur Wood.

Sweet Envy is a featured title in Murdoch Books’ Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: If you ever borrow a book from me, give it back! By Ellie O’Neill, author of Reluctantly Charmed

ellioneill

Author: Ellie O’Neill

If you ever borrow a book from me give it back to me. It’s probably a book that I’ve told you about. A book, that I’ve clasped my hands in excitement, and smiled and sighed dreamily trying to explain it to you. It might be a book that I ran my hand across the front cover like I was stroking a pet. It’s probably a book that I held to my chest when I finished reading, lovingly absorbing its’ truth.

When you read it you might find that some pages are close to falling out, that’s where you’ll see a passage I loved so much I had to revisit it again and again, to record it, to feel it, to lose myself once more. It might remind me of a time in my life, a love affair, a sandy beach, a cocktail with an umbrella in it.

When I give you one of my favorite books I’m letting you see a piece of me, a private piece of me. You thought you knew me but you don’t. This book gives me shivers.

This book makes me think.

This book makes me laugh.

This book hurts me.

And if you don’t feel the same way, I will briefly question why we are friends. Then I’ll remember it doesn’t matter, you will have your favorite books too. But please remember if you borrow a book from me give it back to me.


Ellie O’Neill’s Reluctantly Charmed is a featured title in Simon and Schuster’s Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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reluctantly-charmedReluctantly Charmed

by Ellie O’Neill

Witty, enchanting and utterly addictive, Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of life, love and its possibilities … and a little bit of magic

It’s Kate McDaid’s birthday and she’s hoping to kickstart her rather stagnant love-life and career when she gets some very strange news. To her surprise, she is the sole benefactor of a great-great-great-great aunt and self-proclaimed witch also called Kate McDaid, who died over 130 years ago. As if that isn’t strange enough, the will instructs that, in order to receive the inheritance, Kate must publish seven letters, one by one, week by week.

Burning with curiosity, Kate agrees and opens the first letter – and finds that it’s a passionate plea to reconnect with the long-forgotten fairies of Irish folklore. Instantly, Kate’s life is turned upside down. Her romantic life takes a surprising turn and she is catapulted into the public eye. As events become stranger and stranger – and she discovers things about herself she’s never known before – Kate must decide whether she can fulfil the final, devastating step of the request . . . or whether she can face the consequences if she doesn’t.

Reluctantly Charmed is about what happens when life in the fast lane collides with the legacy of family, love and its possibilities… and a little bit of magic.

Ellie O’Neill’s Reluctantly Charmed is a featured title in Simon and Schuster’s Booktoberfest Showcase, click here for more details

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Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Bolinda – you could win a prize pack worth over $800!

bolinda-prizeCelebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Bolinda and you could win this amazing prize pack worth over $800!!

Just buy any title in Bolinda’s Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter Bolinda’s showcase

Our Top Pick

amnesiaAmnesia

by Peter Carey

How does a young woman from suburban Melbourne become America’s public enemy number one?

When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia’s prison system, freeing hundreds of asylum seekers, she sets off a chain reaction. These prisons are run by US companies, and so the doors of some 5000 American institutions have also opened. And to some watching eyes, the secrets of both countries threaten to pour out.

Was this a mistake? Or has the elusive Gaby declared cyberwar on the US, as part of the longstanding covert conflict between the two countries that has as its most outrageous act the CIA-engineered coup of 1975 – a coup so brazen we immediately forgot it as part of our Great Amnesia.

Amnesia is Carey at his best: funny, sweeping, intimate, exhilarating. It is a novel that speaks powerfully about our history but most urgently about our present.

Click here to enter Bolinda’s showcase

Are you a Booktoberfest prize winner in Week 2?

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WEEKLY PRIZE DRAW WINNERS –
CONGRATULATIONS TO:

Booktopia Weekly Prize Draw :

$250 Booktopia Gift Voucher


Week 1 L.Pettit, Merewether, NSW


Week 2 M.Taylor, Marrickville, NSW


Booktoberfest is on right now, and you’re invited, so come and celebrate with us!

Booktopia’s Booktoberfest is a month-long celebration of books, authors, publishers and most importantly you, the readers! We’re running competitions, giveaways and lots of other goodies for you all October.

Australia’s biggest publishers have come to the Booktoberfest party with some incredible prizes, with over $13,000 worth of books up for grabs!

And don’t forget about our weekly prize draw! Simply place an order between during October to go in the running for our weekly draw – we have 4 x $250 Booktopia Gift Vouchers to give away!

So put on your party hat, grab your dancing shoes and let’s have some fun. Get your Christmas shopping done now and you could win!

Click here to check out Booktoberfest 2014

Booktoberfest Partners

Click here to check out Booktoberfest 2014

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and HarperCollins- you could win a prize pack worth $999!

harper-collins-prizeCelebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and HarperCollins and you could win this amazing prize pack worth over $999!!

Just buy any title in HarperCollins’ Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter HarperCollins’ showcase

Our Top Pick

kerry-stokes-the-boy-from-nowhereKerry Stokes : The Boy from Nowhere

by Andrew Rule

The compelling and inspirational story of the rags to riches life of Kerry Stokes, a remarkable Australian.

Kerry Stokes is a remarkable Australian. Not because he is one of Australia’s wealthiest and most powerful people, but because of what he overcame to get there and because he has endured when others didn’t. His success and his rise have intrigued the business world for decades but there is so much more to him than multi-million dollar deals or mergers.

Behind the laconic front is a human story as tough and touching as a Dickens tale: Oliver Twist with great self-expectations. It is the story of a poor boy who stared down poverty, ignorance and the stigma of his illegitimate birth to achieve great wealth and fulfilment. He’s a backstreets battler who has become a power player. It’s a compelling and inspiring story that, until now, he has not told.

Now he oversees a multi-billion dollar media, machinery and property empire. He is renowned for his art collection and for philanthropy, spending millions of dollars to buy – among other things – Victoria Crosses from soldiers’ families to donate to the Australian War Memorial.

But he’s a private man. A man apart. He made his name in the West but kept his distance from the buccaneering band of entrepreneurs who forged fabulous fortunes in Perth from the 1960s until the 1987 crash. Bond went to jail, Holmes a Court died; Connell did both. Lesser lights flickered and faded but Stokes grew stronger, becoming a player alongside Murdoch, Packer and Lowy. His story fascinates all the more because he has spent most of his life guarding it. But now he’s telling it, to one of Australia’s great storytellers.

He is the boy who came from nothing, who had nothing to lose. And now he has everything. It’s a great Australian journey.

Click here to enter HarperCollins’ showcase

Celebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Simon & Schuster – you could win a prize pack worth over $700!

simon-and-schuster-prizeCelebrate Booktoberfest with Booktopia and Simon & Schuster and you could win this amazing prize pack worth over $700!!

Just buy any title in Simon & Schuster’s Booktoberfest Showcase and you could win!

Click here to enter Simon & Schuster’s showcase

Our Top Pick

billBill, The Life of William Dobell

by Scott Bevan

By 1945, William Dobell had become what so many artists desire but few in Australia had achieved. He was a household name. But the most famous artist in the land was a broken man.

His Archibald Prize-winning portrait of Joshua Smith became the subject of a sensational legal case, challenging not just Dobell’s right to the prize, but the very idea of art itself. Dobell won the legal battle but lost so much else. His health was shattered, his desire to paint was wiped out, and his zest for life had been dulled. He had to get away.

Only 120 kilometres north of Sydney, Wangi Wangi is far removed from big city life. Dobell had come to Wangi to escape fame, but he found community and friendship. In this beguiling little place, William Dobell rediscovered the passion to paint, and the joy of life.

Through years of research and interviews with Dobell’s friends and long-time locals, acclaimed author and former Wangi resident Scott Bevan discovered how the village protected the artist, cared and posed for him, drank and partied with him. Wangi loved him as one of their own. To the world, he was Sir William Dobell, acclaimed artist. To Wangi, he was simply Bill.

Bill is the story of one of Australia’s greatest artists and the times he lived through. It explores how ambition and talent took a working class boy a long way in the world, and how the reaction to one painting almost destroyed him. It is a celebration of community, and how one man finally discovers where he belongs – in the unlikeliest of places.

Click here to enter Simon & Schuster’s showcase

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