Celebrating the release of Madeline House – Snapshots of Florence

To celebrate the release of Madeline House, book 3 in my Oregon Coast Series, I thought I’d share with you some of the locations which my characters visit. These are places which my husband and I have visited many times over the years when visiting my mother-in-law who relocated to Florence in her eighties and is the inspiration for the character of Maddy.

Old Town, Florence is a delightful spot. Its narrow streets are lined with many well-preserved historic buildings like these which are now home to restaurants, galleries and curio shops plus several bookshops, one of which provided the inspiration for Ellen’s shop, The Reading Nook. It’s a place where you can almost smell the history. Many of the buildings date back to the early twentieth century and have gone through several incarnations.

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The favourite haunts of many characters are Mo’s Seafood restaurant with it’s signature clam chowder…

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… and the coffee shop opposite Ellen’s store which is based on Coffee Roasters where my husband and I have often enjoyed coffee on the  deck just like Jenny, Ellen and Beth. In keeping with the changing face of the street, this cafe was originally a garage.
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I hope this helps bring Florence to life for you.

You can buy Madeline House at getBook.at/MadelineHouse

Madeline House Cover MEDIUM WEB


When Beth Carson flees her controlling husband, a  Sydney  surgeon, and begins a new life in Florence, Oregon, she  thinks he can’t hurt her anymore. She’s  wrong. Set on the beautiful Oregon Coast this is a tale of a  woman  who seeks to rise above the challenges life has thrown at her and establish a new life for herself.



Wishing you happy reading.




Dreamcatcher blueOn a recent trip back from Sydney I was fortunate to find this delightful dreamcatcher. I have hanging it above my desk in celebration of my next book – the second in my Oregon Coast Series.

The Dreamcatcher legend is an interesting one: It is believed to have originated with the Oneida Indians in the United States. The dreamcatcher allows good dreams to flow through the spirit  hole in the centre of the web, but bad dreams are trapped in the web and then disappear with the morning sun.

In my book The Dreamcatcher, both Ellen and Travis are troubled by bad dreams and have to work through their meaning in order to move forward with their lives.

Sand Dollars

In The Sand Dollar, Jenny finds a childhood memento – a sand dollar – which precipitates her trip to Oregon. Several people have asked me what a sand dollar is. Hopefully this will help answer that question.

Sand dollars are the skeletons from animals. They are part of the family which includes starfish, sea cucumbers, crinoids, and sea urchins.

Sand dollars are the skeletons from animals. They are part of the family which includes starfish, sea cucumbers, crinoids, and sea urchins.

sd1A sand dollar shell looks like a round white coin, which is where it gets its name. When you see one washed up on the beach, it appears to be a round, white circular disk, typically 2.5 cm to 10cm in diameter. These are the internal skeletons of the sea creature. When they’re alive, I understand they’re actually a dark colour, almost purple and are covered with short dark spines that look like fur. These spines can move, and the creature uses them to move around on sea bottom and to push small pieces of food to its mouth. Most sand dollars have a pattern of five sets of pores on them. Those are used to move sea water into the sand dollar’s body, which is then pumped to where it’s needed to aid in movement or other internal functions. Sand dollars like smooth sandy or muddy ocean bottoms. They mainly live in shallow water, near land. Sand dollars will burrow into the soft bottom of the ocean’s shallow water. They will also swallow sand grains to build up their weight so they don’t get washed away!

Those we find on the seashore have lost all of the surface material and have been bleached white by sunlight.

There’s an interesting myth about the Sand Dollar stated in this poem by an unknown author

The legend of the Sand dollar
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus Christ
Found in this lowly shell.
If you will examine closely,
You’ll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one Made by a Roman’s spear.
On one side the Easter Lily,
It’s center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.
The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday,
Our joyous Christmas tide.
Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.
This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me.
To help to spread His Message
Through all eternity.

With A Hip Hop Hippie To The Hip Hop

With A Hip Hop Hippie To The Hip Hop

I’ve been tagged by a fellow Sunshine Coast writer, Cassandra L Shaw, in an Author Blog Hop.


Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CassandraLShaw, or visit her website at http://www.cassandralshaw.com/

So here are the questions Cassandra sent through to me and my answers:

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing a book called The Dreamcatcher set on the Oregon Coast. It’s the second book in my Oregon Cost series. The first, The Sand dollar will be released in October/November. It tells the story of Jenny who, stunned by news of an impending redundancy, and impelled by the magic of a long forgotten sand dollar, retreats to her godmother in Oregon to consider her future. What she doesn’t bargain for is to uncover the secret of her birth. The revelation sees her embark on a journey of self-discovery such as she’d never envisaged. The Sand Dollar is a story of new beginnings, of a woman whose life is suddenly turned upside down and the reclusive man who helps her solve the puzzle of her past.
The Dreamcatcher follows Ellen, a minor character in The Sand Dollar. Ellen is a Native American bookshop owner who has the gift of being able to foretell the future, but is at a loss to explain her recent nightmares and the uncanny premonition she experiences one morning outside her shop when a dark cloud obscured the sun and she shivers with a sense of foreboding. When this is followed by the arrival in her life of an old friend of her brother, she links the two. However, there are other surprises in store and Ellen has a difficult journey ahead of her before all is resolved.

Give the beginning on your WIP as an excerpt?

It was a typical spring day in Florence, Oregon. A fine mist covered the river, a sharp breeze was blowing up, and rain wasn’t far away. Ellen stood outside her bookshop, The Reading Nook, and examined the window setting with a critical eye. Weak sunlight sparkled on the cobweb-fine threads and feathers in the dreamcatcher hanging from the top of the window. She’d made it the focus of the display for the Native American fantasy books, much loved by the local youth. Ellen sighed and fingered her long plait of black hair streaked with grey, as a gust of wind blew the tails of her shirt. Gazing at the dreamcatcher, she wished she could catch her good dreams and dismiss the recent nightmares. The display would have to do. She didn’t have time to tweak it any further this morning. Turning away, she became conscious of a dark cloud obscuring the sun, and shivered with a sense of foreboding.
After walking back inside, Ellen lit the scented candle she always kept behind the counter, breathed in the calming aroma of bergamo and geranium, and set to unpacking and sorting a carton of books which had arrived the previous day. She’d hoped to lure the author featured in her display to a book signing, but his publisher had replied that Peter Travers wasn’t doing any signings in the foreseeable future. Ellen was in the process of setting up the inside display, when she heard the familiar clang of the door.
‘You Ellen?’
Ellen nodded and examined the man who had entered. Accustomed to meeting most men’s eyes, she had to raise her head to meet his steely blue ones. Tall and broad shouldered, wearing a soft dun coloured, fringed suede jacket, the man’s faded blonde hair was tied back in a shoulder length pony tail. A scruffy goatee and unkempt moustache completed the picture. He slouched in the entrance, filling the doorway. His neck was festooned with the turquoise jewellery usually only worn by members of her own Native American community, but his Nordic looks indicated he didn’t belong to one of the local tribes. His ancestry hailed from much farther away. All of this must have passed through her mind in an instant, because the man was speaking.
‘Ron’s sister?’ he asked.
Ellen nodded again. What had her brother been up to now? And who on earth was this guy pretending to be a Native American? She had come across a few wannabees in her life and had no time for them. They had no understanding of the profound history of her people. They were an insult to all she held dear.

How is your work different from others?

I write about the more mature woman – women in their prime. In Band of Gold. Anna is in her late forties, in The Sand Dollar, Jenny is in her late fifties and in The Dreamcatcher, Ellen is in her fifties too. I believe that older women and the events which impact on their lives are often ignored in literature. Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a HEA, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues.

And now I’m tagging my fellow Sunshine Coast Author, Sarah Belle, author of Hindsight, and Miss Spelled both of which combine Magic Realism with Romantic Comedy.

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You’ll find Sarah’s blog on Monday Sept 8th – don’t forget to pop in and say hi and see which author she’s tagged.

Magic Realism mixes with romantic comedy in this new novel from Sarah Belle about the dangers of internet shopping – and using magic to solve real world problems.

miss spelled2

Lou’s life is perfect. She loves her job, her renovated house, and most of all, her gorgeous fiancé, Aidan. But when her old flame and Aidan’s school yard nemesis turn out to be the same person, Hunter Wincott, Lou’s life is blown apart. She must divulge her secret past, or have Hunter give it away. Either way, she runs the real risk of losing Aidan.
In desperation, she turns to Google. A quick search turns up Majique, the Internet Witch, and a spell that will delete herself from Hunter’s memory. But something goes wrong in the casting process, and Lou deletes much much more than just a memory. She deletes herself from her life completely.
Luckily, there’s a one-week window for Lou to get back to the life she loved. One week to win back Aidan, before he walks down the aisle with the wrong woman, and damns everyone to a lifetime of misery. It would be easy, if only Aidan had any idea who Lou actually is.

Link http://sarahbell4.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/blog-tour-with-a-hip-hop-hippie-to-the-hip-hop/

Sarah’s’s Bio

Sarah Belle started her professional life in the hospitality industry, working in some of the roughest hotels in Melbourne in the late Eighties, surrounded by drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, and undercover police. Tiring of the inherent dangers of her working environment, Sarah completed a business degree and went on to work in the recruitment industry and the Department of Defence, where she met and married the man of her dreams: a dashing, Army Blackhawk pilot. They have four young sons and live on the beautiful Queensland coast, where Sarah’s days are spent being a frazzled mum, writer, Bikram Yoga devotee and the only woman in a house of five males.

October Long Weekend

Today as I enjoy a relaxing October long weekend Monday on the Sunshine Coast, I remember my fist October long weekend in Australia. It was 1970 and I’d only been in the country for a few weeks. I was living in Kirribilli with a girl I’d met in a migrant hostel. We were both teachers who had come to Australia enticed by ads showing a bare chested tanned male wearing swimmers, an academic gown and cap, which urged us to come Teach in the Sun.
With visions of teaching on or close to the beach and meeting one of these gorgeous hunks, we had left the dismal Scottish weather to brave the long trip to Australia. A group of us attended an orientation held in Sydney Museum, while living in the hostel for single migrants in Dulwich Hill and eating in the local Chinese by virtue of free food vouchers. After two weeks of living in a cramped little room with three others we were all glad to be assigned schools and to find our own accommodation.
My Teach in the Sun experience was certainly that but, instead of the beach, I was located in the western suburbs of Sydney entailing a long train journey from my chosen place of residence.
On that October day, we decided to brave the beach. After all, that was the attraction of Australia in general and Sydney in particular. Clutching our beach towels and swimmers, we caught the ferry to Manly where, on disembarking, we immediately turned left to the beach. The small patch of sand and the calm water wasn’t quite what we’d been led to believe, but this was Australia, it was the beach and the sun was shining. We spent the whole day there, leaving the sand only to find some lunch.
It wasn’t till it was time for the return ferry trip that, walking around, we found the real beach, a long stretch of white sand with surf. This was what we’d come to see, but it was too late to do anything about it that day. Chiding ourselves for our foolishness we returned home, vowing to return to the proper beach another time.

Manly beach

Travelling around Scotland

I’m reading Ian Rankin’s A Stranger in Another Man’s Grave, and Rebus’ journey up the A9 and across the north of Scotland took me back through the years. During the sixties, every school holidays, I and one or more of my friends would strap on our rucksacks (backpacks) and set off to hitchhike ‘up north’. We’d start off by taking a train to Luss, then hiking to Loch Lomond youth hostel.

Loch Lomond youth hostel

Then on to Crainlarich,


up to Fort William youth hostel at the foot of Ben Nevis,

Fort William youth hostel
Ben Nevis

across the Caledonian Canal with all of its lochs – including the mysterious Loch Ness, and as far north as we could make it in the time we had available.

Caledonian Canal
Loch Ness

Back then it was safe for young girls to hike and even to hitch hike around the country. We never gave a thought to any potential dangers, though we never told our parents about the hitching. As far as they were concerned we were on walking holidays. We loved the freedom of the road where we would sing along with each other our favourite Scottish folk songs, stopping to spend the night at a youth hostel where we made new friends then, after our morning chores, set off on the road again.

Some memories from these times:
Tearing apart fresh hot bread from a bakery and slathering it with strawberry jam.
Trying to work out which of the hills was Black Mountain only to see it written on a sign (bringing truth to a favourite joke).
Visiting the youth hostel in Glen Affric after walking for what seemed miles over hills, to discover a gate, but no fence and that the hostel wardens were two university students spending their summer there. They seemed to us like gods with their bronzed torsos and kilts.

Glen Affric youth hostel 2

Glen Affric youth hostel 1

Boomer Lit

I enjoy writing about mature women, so imagine my delight to find a reference to an emerging genre called Baby Boomer Lit on the blog of Mary Keeley from Books and Such Literary agency. I followed her link to Claude Nougat’s blog at http://claudenougat.blogspot.com.au/ and was delighted to find reference to over 70 million baby boomers – my target readers. Claude has also set up a Good Reads group dedicated to this genre – http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/81261-baby-boomer-novels-a-new-genre.

It is interesting to look at the number of movies which have been produced lately featuring older characters. Nougat notes About Schmidt (maybe not so recent), The Marigold Hotel,and The Descendants. There has also been The Quartet, The Performance, the beautiful French movie And If We All Lived Together and, more recently Amor.

Authors I love who have taken up the challenge to write about more mature protagonists are Liz Byrski (who has also written an excellent non-fiction book called Women and Aging), Joanne Trollope, Hilary Boyd, Marcia Willis and Sandra Antonelli who has completed her PhD on exactly this topic (would love to read it, Sandra) to name but a few.

Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a HEA, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues. The author can also explore those issues which only emerge with years. Issues such as aging and death of parents, retrenchment, retirement, downsizing, grown children, grandchildren, widowhood and the empty nest syndrome.