Drum Roll! Cover Reveal: The Reluctant Jillaroo! Prizes to be Won!

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Well, I’ve been waiting and waiting… Waiting to get the Hi-Res final copy of my cover so I could show you. And finally I’ve chased it down!  Do you know, have any idea, how hard it’s been to sit on this!!

My agent, Jacinta di Mase, summed it up when she said this cover is ‘simply delicious’. And she’s right. It just draws me back and back to it. So pretty. And it’s got horses inside! Well, not pictures, but the story certainly features horses. I hope you love it as much as we do.

Expect to see it around because – why not? It’s so gorgeous, I may not be able to stop myself flaunting it.

And so, without further ado…

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What do you think? I’d love to know.

My publisher, Allen & Unwin, intro:

Surf-loving Heidi impersonates her horse-mad twin to help Harper get a scholarship to attend the much sought-after agricultural school in this rural romance from Australia’s queen of teen, Kaz Delaney. Suitable for teen readers of Rachael Treasure.

The Blurb:

Harper Gage has won the opportunity of a lifetime – ten days at Winmaroo Jillaroo and Jackaroo school. The camp could give her the recommendation she needs to go to the exclusive Agricoll for years 11 and 12. But when an accident leaves Harper hospitalised, her twin sister, Heidi, goes in her place. The only problem is that Heidi is not much of a country girl – not like her sister. And to make life even more complicated, her sister’s biggest rival Trent is going to be there. Will she be able to fool him?

And then the reality of the school hits Heidi hard. It’s all dust, snakes and heat – a million miles away from the surf she loves. When she meets the fun and handsome Chaz, life at the school suddenly doesn’t seem so bad, although with Trent acting up and trouble brewing with the other students, Heidi’s not sure how long she can keep her identity secret. And if her secret is revealed, will Chaz ever be able to trust her again?

 To help me celebrate, I’m giving away two randomly drawn prizes. All you have to do to be one of those two winners is to comment – even just a couple of words –  on this particular blog over the next week or so. Okay, we’ll make it by the 23rd October.

The prize? A delicious Book Pack featuring mostly YA books by Aussie writers, plus a couple of books for younger readers and even the adult readers won’t be forgotten! And because it’s me – there HAS to be something sparkly in the mix, right? Such fun!  

So, come on in! Don’t be shy! Celebrate with me. It’s not much fun celebrating alone.

See you soon!

Big Smooches,

Kaz

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Feelin’ the Heat in Downtown Scone and looking for Agatha Christie

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The state was experiencing a heatwave but in the 150 year old church, now the home of the Scone Arts & Crafts, with its 60cm thick stone walls, there was barely a bead of sweat in sight.

Graeme Simsion, Moi, Anne Buist

Graeme Simsion, Moi, Anne Buist

The old church was almost to capacity as folk from the Upper Hunter & surrounds gathered to hear from guests and locals alike. I was privileged to be one of those invited guests  – along with Phillip Adams, Graeme Simsion, Samantha Turnbull, Ged Gillmore, Anne Buist & Nick Brasch.2015-10-03 11.53.38

Outside where we gathered for lunch we forgot the heat and just allowed ourselves to be swept up in the amazing garden setting. Honestly, I felt like I was in an Agatha Christie novel! The old English cottage garden, the sweeping trees that shaded us, the bees buzzing lazily, the jugs of lemon infused chilled water, the easy chairs and umbrellas … I was sure a ‘wasp’ was going to ‘sting’ me and I’d die, but Miss Marple would suspect foul play when she detected that faint aroma of crushed almonds in the blue foam spewing from my mouth. Hehe…2015-10-03 11.48.59

It was a wonderful three days.  We argued the merits of the book over the film with the panel below.

Also incklused, President of the Scone Literary Long Weekend Committee (in lemon) Anne Davies; and Leonie Rogers.

Also included, President of the Scone Literary Long Weekend Committee (in cream) Anne Davies; and Leonie Rogers.(red)

We discussed gender stereoptyping, we learned about Patrick White the (fascinating) man from Dr Judy White – a relative of Patrick whose family still live just out of Scone –  and we learned a lot about horses from Nick Brasch. And then we got inside the mind of those whose minds we usually run away from with professor Anne Buist. Scary but amazing. And those were just some of the events on offer.

Moderator extraordinaire, Leonie Rogers; Ged Gillmore; Kaz; Sam Turnbull; Anne Buist

Moderator extraordinaire, Leonie Rogers; Ged Gillmore; Kaz; Sam Turnbull; Anne Buist

We got to peruse and buy books from the eternally sweet Ian Millgate from Hunt a Book, and I got to hang out with my precious library mates Elizabeth and Sharon. It was a weekend to make you think and to learn, to absorb, to question – and yet encouraged you to relax and to enjoy.

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Gossip? I did promise didn’t I? Hmnnn…    Okay so gossip is never as much fun when names are deleted to protect the innocent – or guilty – but in the sense of ‘what happens in Scone stays in Scone’ that’s what I need to do.

So, I learned of one author who threw a Murder Mystery Party only to have a guest die on the night! Wow! Then I was reminded of someone who famously made a throw-away thoughtless social media comment as she flew out of Heathrow to a foreign destination (for work) and whose life had been completely destroyed by the time she arrived at that destination. Sacked from her job and the world hating her as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of pieces of hate mail posted at her.  Imagine… (Big reminder to think before posting, guys. There’s no room for naivety anymore)   And finally, I heard a reader admit quietly that she hadn’t liked a particular author’s work but then she met them and now she was going to go back and have another try at their work. Interesting…  Very interesting.

So, huge, huge thank you to Anne Davies and her amazing committee. Every person was so helpful and welcoming – Dorothy, Steve, Sarah – those are just three I remember, and to Leonie for being a brilliant moderator.  And to all those who prepared and served the delicious food. If I’d been able to stay for the soiree, my weekend would have been even more magical.

Scone Literary Long Weekend –  you’re very sophisticated for a two year old – and may you grow old and stay as vibrant and energizing as you were this year – 2015.

It’s Spring!

The sun is shining, the beans are popping their heads up out the soil, the strawberries 20150929_12090720150929_121145 (1)are flourishing, the fledgling tomatoes are standing strong and straight on their sturdy stems, the blueberries have burst into flower – and I have a newly organised and structured office which has cleared my head as well as the space around me. And as a result? I have come to life!

I won’t embarrass myself by telling you how many garbage bags of stuff I disposed of over the past couple of weeks – but if we played that guessing game, I’d hint that it might be more than twenty and less than thirty. W.O.W. This time I was ruthless. But really? Did I really need 18 copies of my first manuscript??? What I DID save,was the handwritten version which is pretty spesh. When ‘Cassie Who’  sold, I brought my first computer with the proceeds. That’ll give you an idea of how long ago that was. Sheesh!

The clearing out was hard work, but I loved it. It was inspiring and invigorating – and maybe that had a lot to do with the weather. I love spring and summer. I always figure I must be solar-powered because when most people are wilting with the steamy weather in summer, I am energised and raring to go!  I love it!

And I need to be energised! I have an amazing book coming out in January with Allen & Unwin – my first foray into rural romance for many a year. According to my publisher, The Reluctant Jillaroo is:

... genuinely sweet, romantic and a page turner. I'm not a country girl, 
but reading THE RELUCTANT JILLAROO made me feel all wistful for the open 
air, big skies, horse-riding and campfires. It's come together beautifully! So thank you for all your hard work. You've written a beauty!

Who could ask for better praise than that? After a torrid time with the edits, I was mightily relieved to hear that!

So what else do I have to be energised for? My first foray into self publishing! That’s what! This is for an ebook that will come as a freebie to anyone who buys the novel! And what an amazing journey that’s been! So much to learn! That said, I’m working with a great team at Book Café. Plus I have a very astute freelance proofreader/editor in Judith Worland, plus a great cover gal in Helen Katsini! Blessed!

And there’s way, way more – but I’ll feed that through slowly as the days move on and warm up even more. I always have too much to say at one time {wow – you’d never have guessed right? 😉 }

How has the season change affected you? Last night we celebrated the lovely weather with bourbon-laced sticky pork ribs, followed by pears in red wine. Maybe not the perfect pairing, but delish nonetheless. I hope you’re enjoying this amazing weather as much as I am.

Scone – here I come with bells and smiles.

Scone lit fest logoOh Scone  how I do love thee!  And if you’re free this long weekend – come and join me!

For those who are not aware, Scone is the Horse Capital of Australia. It’s in the Upper Hunter Valley, about 3 hours drive from Newcastle which probably makes it about 6-6.5 hours from Sydney.  Correct me if I’m wrong – it’s highly likely!

It’s home to 65 horse studs, an award winning racecourse, wineries and vineyards, the headquarters Image result for google images Scone NSWof the Australian Stock Horse Society, an amazing Horse Festival and the Scone Literary Festival.

Even more important that that? It’s the setting for my next novel, The Reluctant Jillaroo. I had several trips north to do my research and I found the people to be as warm and welcoming as the horses who brayed their greetings as we drove past. And I fell in love.

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I was also honoured to be asked to give the International Women’s Day address for the Upper Hunter  back in March – which was also held in Scone. So you can see that this place is becoming more and more special to me.

Amazingly, when the Upper Hunter Council organisers asked me to speak for IWD, they had no idea that my next novel was in fact set in their own backyard! (And they were thrilled! So thrilled that they offered to help launch this book, ‘The Reluctant Jillaroo’ next February (2016) right there In Scone. I can’t wait! Watch this space for details).Image result for google images Scone NSW

Nor that my daughter once taught in Scone on her first appointment out of uni or that in the past couple of years, we’d attended two of our nephew’s weddings there as well.

Six degrees of separation I hear you say? Believe it!

So, this weekend, I trek back up there again to be a part of their Literary Festival. It’s over three days and begins on Saturday. I’m on a panel on Saturday which examines the portrayal of gender in literature. And on Sunday I’m giving an afternoon workshop on structure entitled: Ditch the support undies. How to structure your novel so that it doesn’t fall down.  (Or something like that – 😉

It’s going to be great! There are some great literary names there. Fellow A&U stablemate, Samantha Turnbull, as well as The Rosie Project’s Graeme Simsion and his wife Dr Anne Buist, who is also on my panel, Nic Brash and Phillip Adams to name a few.

Oh heck – why name a few!

Full list: Dr Judy White AM, Phillip Adams, Graeme Simsion, Nic Brasch, Anne Buist, Emma Allen, Samantha Turnbull, Kaz Delaney, Michael Stanford, Ged Gillmore, Jacqueline Bell, Di Gillett

More info:  www.sconewritersfestival.com.au 

Hopefully some gossip and photos when I get back!

CYA turns 10!

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I was very honoured to be invited to speak at CYA’s (Children & Young Adult) tenth anniversary conference in Brisbane  last weekend.

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Me, during my 90 min preso, offering words of wisdom – or maybe asking directions to the loo…

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Tina Clarke – convenor extraordinaire – and that cake! Happy 10th CYA 2015.

While there, I attended a great workshop with the ever vivacious Jacqui Honeywood ( www.b-brand.com.au) on blogging and social media, and someone in the audience mentioned that she’d checked someone’s blog recently and they hadn’t added anything for over a year and I suddenly had a massive guilt attack. I barely restrained myself from diving to the floor and begging forgiveness – even though it probably wasn’t even my blog she was talking about! Or maybe it was…

Whether it was or wasn’t – I’m back and bringing a new resolve with me. I’m not going to explain. It’s been a tough couple of years for me – as anyone who’s close to me knows. But I’m coping well now and trying to get myself back into gear.

And what better way to do that than with wishing CYA a very happy birthday!

It was brilliant! And there was cake!

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Tina with Peter Allert and Ally. Ally is Tina’s CYA offsider and Peter is the official photographer – and all the shots here are his work. Well done Pete! And thank you!

And there was also the inimitable Maurice Gleitzman!

CYA2015Maurice Gleitzman

There was also a whole babble of friends old and new – and some I knew from afar but got to meet first time face to face.  There was also my brilliant agent Jacinta di Mase (JDM Management www.jacintadimase.com.au  and we got to chat about direction and that was fun and reassuring.  There was my other agent mate, Alex Adsett and whole slurry of editors from just about every major publishing house.

There are tonne of other photos on the CYA site and hopefully we might see some notes up there (from the other workshops) as well. I spoke about ‘Ditching your Control Briefs’ – which was of course, about the structure of your story and holding up that sagging middle (without pain).

CYA2015 success wallAbove: CYA Success Wall:  if anything good happened to you as a result of CYA – publishing etc – then you get to go on their Success Wall. I met and signed with my lovely Lit Agent there a few years back – so I’m on the wall. And those of us in attendance each received a very groovy gold pin as well this year! And got a photey!

I have to say that CYA is one of my fave events each year and I aways make sure I don’t book myself out for anything else for that first weekend in July. If you haven’t made that trip yet, and you write for kids or YAs or you’d like to start – or if you’d just like to rub shoulders with some of the best kids and YA authors in the country – then give yourself a gift and head on up to Brissie next July!  (the 2nd to be exact!) I’ll certainly see you there! www.cyaconference.com

Right now, I’m knee deep in edits  for my next novel, due out in January 2016, but in the coming weeks, I hope to share some of the lovely events I’ve been fortunate to attend so far this year.

Until then happy Birthday CYA and hey, it’s good to be back! xxx

Singleton Library Rocks!

St Val's image 2Valentine’s Day is a time to remember why we fell in love, to relive those delish moments and generally get all gooey.

Yes, yes, I know it’s also a time for some to reload the shotgun and or smack themselves up the side of the head for some past (or present) hormone induced stupidity… But for the moment we’re going to let those people sit in the corner and mutter obscenities while they wait till all the red hearts and streamers have left the shop buildings and people like me stop talking about (I’ve dropped my voice to a whisper) “St, Val’s Day.

This year, on St Val’s Eve, my husband took me to the country. It was a beautiful balmy evening, and after some reasonably frenzied and heated activity and nice wine, we shared an al fresco meal before heading home.  Romantic?St Val's image 1

Yeah, well that’s the romance writer’s version. The truth is in there, but perhaps not quite as it was portrayed.

TRUTH ONE: My husband DID drive me to the country, with author mate Michelle Douglas hitching a ride in the back seat.  We travelled an hour and a half north west(ish) to beautiful uptown Singleton so we could meet up with another  author mate, S.E Gilchrist to speak to Singleton Library patrons about all things romance.

S.E Gilchrist, Kaz, Michelle Douglas - and our driver my wonderful hub in the background!

S.E Gilchrist, Kaz, Michelle Douglas – and our driver, my wonderful hub, in the background!

TRUTH TWO:It was indeed a balmy evening. Gorgeous in fact. And two local vineyards, Catherine Vale and Hope Estate, supplied wine for the library event. So, yes, there was wine and it was yummy! 

TRUTH THREE:  Hot and frenzied activity did sort of happen. It was warmish  in the library  – or was that the wine(?) – and the discussion was quite lively! 😉 

TRUTH FOUR: Al fresco dining? Does Macca’s  on the run count? 😉  It was too late to find anything else and would be even later by the time we got back home, so we shared a quick meal before heading back down the highway.

TRUTH FIVE and the only one that counts: We had a wonderful evening. Rob Stewart and the staff at the library were so welcoming, and the patrons and guests were just a delight.  It was a truly special evening – fit for St Valentine’s eve. We made some new friends, caught with some old ones (writers from the Hunter Romance Writers ), sipped wine and talked books for ages and ages. We all write different types of books  which made it even more fun. 

S.E., Kaz and Michelle with some of the Hunter Romance Writers. Thank you Sandie James I(back right) for the photo.

S.E., Kaz and Michelle with some of the Hunter Romance Writers. Thank you Sandie James I(back right) for the photo.

  Thank you Singleton! Hope to see you again soon!  And a very happy (belated) St Valentine’s Day – and remember you don’t need a special day to show someone you care about them and that you appreciate them being in your life. 

Till later! Kaz

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Let’s play Author Tag!

dalenoflowerBig bone-crushing Kaz hugs to Dale Harcombe for inviting me to be part of this Author Chain. It was as much fun being tagged as it was tagging other – what a cool game! (And I didn’t even break a sweat! Now, that’s my kind of game…)
 Dale is such an interesting person – not only an author of books, she’s authored and created all kinds of fascinating works including articles, puppet plays (mega cool!), skits, finger plays, songs for little people and a radio play which was broadcast in 2005!  And she’s an owl-aholic! She adores and collects owls – well, images and recreations of them anyway.
Her latest book  Streets on a Map is a poignantly beautiful book that will keep you turning the pages right to the very last one.StreetsOnAMapCOVER
As Dee White said: ‘The action just keeps coming in Streets On A  Map, and keeps the reader turning the pages wondering what’s going to happen next to the characters they have come to know’.
Dale is also the queen of titles. I’ve always loved the title Streets On A Map, and her work in progress has another wonderfully evocative title: Sandstone Madonna. Good or what?
Thank you for tagging me Dale! And good luck with your WIP!

So, now to play the game. Every author tagged has to answer these same four questions – so here I go…

Q1: What am I working on?

Okay, don’t judge me but I have two works on the go. I’m not revealing titles as I never do that publicly until I know they’re in the bag. I work hard to find interesting titles, they don’t come naturally to me, so I like to keep them close until I’m sure. However, one is a fun – but tricky   – work for boys 7-10.My issues with this are huge.I have a character I love – who’s a bit extraordinary but not extremely so, therefore do I make him more extraordinary in the real world, or make his world so wild that he Almost Deadappears to be the sane centre? Decisions, decisions. This story is a diversion that’s eating at me as I write the next YA which is a follow on to Almost Dead. 

Q2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I began answering this in so many different ways. Do I act all coy and pretend that I don’t think my work is different? Or do I let my ego reign? Okay, ego wins: Maybe if I had to seriously pinpoint a difference it might be humour?  Mixing humour and horror/mystery? I do also have habit of creating characters that are, initially, hard to love. Almost Dead and Princesses Don’t Sweat are two  that fall into that category. As an author it’s a huge risk – what if the reader gives up too soon? But if they stay with it, the payoff is worth it. At least that’s what I think…  Macey  the protagonist and star of Almost Dead was such a tough character to write. To make her likeable – even loveable – and not lose her in the process was one of my toughest writing journeys. But I think we pulled it off and for me, that’s the payoff.

Q3: Why do I write what I write?

You know, I doubt that many serious authors would differ in their answers to this question. Not much anyway. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here – I believe authors are born, not made. I don’t think we have a choice. It’s a fire that burns hard inside us and doesn’t ever let up.  After that, it’s finding where you fit. I started my career writing for adults and I suspect I may end up there again because a part of me still wants to write for grown ups as well, but when I first discovered YA fiction it felt like I’d come home.  I haven’t lost that wonder yet. Writing for kids is similar.  If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say the success I’ve had in these genres is largely due to the fact that I haven’t grown up yet. It helps… 😉

Q4: How does my writing process work?

Um seriously,  I think it changes with every book.  Sometimes a character will come to me who is so compelling, so much fun, that it’s simply a matter of finding his or her story. Sometimes it’s even easier than that. Like a story for young readers I wrote recently called Penelope Plotter. As soon as her name drifted into my head her story appeared.  It pretty well wrote itself.

The idea for this last series of YA books, those I affectionately refer to as my Dead Books: Dead, Actually and Almost Dead ( and no, I don’t have a fascination with death. Much), came from three words emblazoned diagonally across a teen mag: It’s a Bitchfest.  Those words resonated; grabbed me.  But I wanted more than just the usual Mean Girl scenario. I like ‘story’ and plenty of it – and I liked the idea of the dead

It's Live!

communicating with the living. And I LOOOOOVE a good mystery – a good ‘whodunnit’.   And what teen story would be worth its salt if it didn’t have a few romantic sparks tossed in to keep the poor heroine off balance just when she needs a cool head more than ever?

I guess that kind of sums up both Dead ActuallyAllen & Unwin March 2012,  and Almost Dead, Allen & Unwin, Jan 2014.

Would you agree? Am I brave enough to cope with the answers? of course I am (she says grabbing the family-sized bag of Smarties and chewing furiously, manically even… Her eyes twitch, her lip quivers.) “Of course I’m brave enough,” she repeats to anyone who’ll listen. “I think…”

Almost Dead is available at all good bookstores – if they don’t have it maybe they’re not so good <g> so ask them to order it.

Or online at Booktopia

It’s also available as an e-book. Check out  http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=94&book=9781743313268. for all the deets! 

 On that note I’m handing over to three amazing, wonderful authors and friends whose work I so admire – and ruthlessly tagged.    Two belong in the crazy bin with me, and the other is here to give us much needed class. And that’s all I’m saying. Mwahaha. (Now they’re all preening, each imagining she is the classy one. Snigger...) 

Cue the drumroll: Here they are in alphabetical order because I’m like that and  because I don’t want any of them to cry themselves to sleep because they think I love one more than the other:

Amanda Ashby. 

Amanda Ashby writes young adult and middle grade books for Puffin inAmanda Ashby photo 2 the US. She was born in Australia and after spending the last sixteen years dividing her time between England and New Zealand, she’s finally moved back and now lives on the Sunshine Coast. When she’s not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let’s just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?)

http://www.amandaashby.com
https://twitter.com/amandaashby
https://facebook.com/amandaashby

 

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Ebony McKenna

Ebony McKenna writes about ferrets that talk in a countrybrugelswimsuit stuck in a ‘post-soviet, but pre functioning internet’  time warp.
Her Ondine series began in 2010 with The Summer of Shambles, and was followed up with the sequel, The Autumn Palace. It is now joined by the trequel, The Winter of Magic, which is available where all good ebooks are sold.
She loves trivia nights, train sets and the Eurovision Song Contest.
When not writing, she can be found on the following social media outlets:
Ondine # 3 The Winter of Magic
Sally Murphy
Sally Murphy has written over 30 books and still IMG_2277has time to study, teach and run a review site, Aussie Reviews!  Oh and look after her six children… Her wonderful picture book (That’s me, Kaz saying that!)  –Do Not Forget Australia – was evocative  and heart-warming despite dealing with the tragedy of war. A definite keeper for every bookshelf.
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These three gals will be answering the same four q’s next Monday, 17th Feb, so don’t forget to look out for them and what they have to say! This is indeed a feast of authors!
Till next time!
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