Happy Easter!


Wishing all my readers a happy and safe Easter!

Love and hugs,



A Letter from Margareta Osborn

Loretta’s Pen Pals: Letter 4

This week in my mail box I found a real fun letter from my fellow Random House author, Margareta Osborn. I almost feel like we went through this whole getting published process together. We write in the same genre, share the same wonderful editor/publisher and both our debut novels came out a couple of months apart last year. In book stores, we usually share exactly the same shelf. She’s like my evil twin. Or maybe I’m the evil one!  Whatever the case, I was very pleased to get confirmation that her new novel, Hope’s Road is now available… wherever you buy Hard Hat! Ha ha!

Dear Loretta,

Well, ‘I’ve been everywhere man …’ could now be my tagline rather than Random House’s  ‘The Voice of the Bush’. My feet have barely touched the back door step since the launch of my latest rural fiction novel HOPE’S ROAD.

Gippsland, Northern Victoria, Southern New South Wales – I’ve covered them all on my book tour and now my car is ready to jump into gear and drive itself out the gate. And the kids? Well, they think I’m their mother. I look like their mother, I smell like their mother, I just don’t seem to have been here for the last month to do the cooking, cleaning, homework, hair arranging, shopping, cat & dog feeding, ironing … and all those other things mum’s normally do.

Not to mention the irrigating that I can’t do at the moment as we have no water, the cattle work I can’t do because there is no water thus no feed, so the cattle had to be trucked out to the lease block. And then there’s the sheep who are irrationally put out because mum isn’t there dolling out the pellets, the dog who’s sulking as she’s not able to throw balls at my office window and frighten the bejesus out of me when I’m writing at 2am. And the cat? Well, he’s affronted no-one is here to open the laundry (& thus tucker) door when he wants it opened (I’m a sucker for a meow.)

HOPE'S ROAD FINAL FRONT COVERBut, I’ll have to say, aside from missing my amazing husband H (who does an incredible job holding the fort at home whilst I wander all over the place), and my beautiful kids something terrible, I’m loving being out on the road talking to all the wonderful, enthusiastic and interesting people who are buying my books! It’s been a fabulous few weeks. And HOPE’S ROAD is sitting right up there on the best seller charts near some other lovely authors like my great mate, Fiona Palmer.

As for writing my next novel, MOUNTAIN ASH? Well, I’m trying. I’m really, really trying amongst everything else that’s happening. It’s all just go, go, go around here.

The one thing I wish they’d told me when I got published was that life was about to go into over drive. Then again, maybe it was best that they didn’t.  I might have run into the scrub and never have been seen of again. Although the smell of chocolate would’ve lured me out after a while, as you well know. Remember those chocolate biscuits I served up to you for morning tea when you came to visit. The ones your little boy licked all over and sat back on the plate? To be honest I didn’t blame him one iota. Arnotts chocolate mint biscuits are criminally and insanely decadent. The boy obviously has great taste! And I’m now wondering if buying books instead of chocolate for Easter is ever going to catch on?!

I’m actually writing because I’m just so damned excited my latest rural fiction release HOPE’S ROAD is really on the shelves! (In some places it’s sitting right beside your Girl in the Hard Hat. So nice to see us being shelf buddies again ) HOPE’S ROAD is going into its forth reprint, you know? And I’m getting some great feedback from readers. That always makes me breathe a bit easier. Its nerve wracking each time you put a book out there, isn’t it? A bit like sending one of your kids off for a sleep-over for the first time and worrying whether they’ll remember their manners, eat what they’re given and not give away any wacky family idiosyncrasies/secrets.

You might be interested to know that the inspiration for HOPE’S ROAD came from a property only five minutes from my home that has the most incredible view of the Great Dividing Range. (I know how much you loved our mountains when you came to visit.) This where old Joe McCauley lives – a man who has turned his back on his family and their fifth generation farm, Montmorency Downs. He spends his days as a recluse spying upon the land – and the granddaughter – that should by rights have been his. For Tammy McCauley, Montmorency Downs is the last remaining tie to her family. But land can make you or break you – and with her husbands latest treachery, how long can she hold onto it? And then there’s wild dog trapper Travis Hunter. Struggling as a single dad, he’s unable to give his ten-year-old son Billy, the thing he craves most. A complete family. When, out of the blue, a terrible event forces the three neighbours to confront each other and the mistakes of their past, the tale takes a dramatic turn. This new book is more than just a romance. It’s an Australian rural family saga of love, faith, heritage and loss, set in the High Country. It’s a tale that shows no matter what life throws at you, there is always hope. That’s a nice thought for all of us, isn’t it?

I’m looking forward to seeing you in Fremantle in August at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference, Loretta! We’re going to have a ball. I’ll even bring the Choc mint biscuits, if you like? (Your son isn’t coming though, is he?)

Lots of Love

LBP_0058-1 CroppedMargareta


Why does Mark Crawford love Charlotte Templeton?

proposalI love movies. Actually, I like anything with a story in it. I’m just a big fan of “story” in any shape or form. In terms of films, I watch all genres from Sci-fi to Thriller, action to fantasy…. and of course the romantic comedy. For some genres I need to be in a certain mood for it or it needs to be a particular time of day. Eg. Period dramas – Sunday afternoon. Action flick- Friday night! But as for romantic comedies… I’m always in the mood for a romantic comedy. I mean, you can’t go wrong. Who doesn’t like a belly laugh, followed by a happily ever after.

Of course, some romantic comedies are better than others. Sadly, there are many out there that I have to wonder… which director picked this up and thought it was a winner? For me, these films fall apart when the characters just have no motivation to fall in love. You know the films I’m talking about. The hot guy finally tells the gorgeous girl that he loves her when she’s been nothing but a bitch to him the entire film. Yes, banter makes for great comedy.  But a quirky premise won’t create a relationship. If your hero and heroine do nothing but bicker and manipulate each other it’s a little unrealistic for them to suddenly say, “Oh I love you,” at the end. These stories literally beg the question of the hero, “Why? Why do you love this girl?” Unfortunately in some romantic comedies, this question is never answered. My favourite movies are those that spend time answering this exact question.  I guess it’s the same for books.

I’ll give you an example. In the romantic comedy, “The Proposal,” (one of my favourites, and that’s not just because Ryan Reynolds is such a hottie) the hero and heroine do have many arguments. These little spats are funny to watch, however, amongst all the fighting they also have a few non-confrontational moments where they are just getting to know one another. Ie. Discovering new things about the other person they didn’t know before that surprises them and makes them think. This pushes their relationship to the next level of emotion and trust. In the climatic wedding scene our heroine sacrifices her needs for the heroes benefit. Suddenly we move from deep understanding into love. It makes sense. My question is answered. Yes, I can see why he loves her.  It’s presented in a rather over the top fashion, but I get it. As oppose to other movies, which I won’t name, where the  couple disagree for most of the film and then suddenly, there’s a chase scene and they’re together. Hello! I need more.

This is exactly what I’m trying to achieve with the “The Girl in the Yellow Vest.” At the moment, I’ve got two people who don’t like each other, fight every time they meet and generally look upon each other with tolerant distaste. Mark, my long suffering hero, who hates the world because of what it has done to him, and Charlotte, a woman trying to make the best of bad situation. Somehow, I have to move their relationship into the next level of emotion and trust. The best way to do that is through exploring  their internal conflicts. So I’ve just been brainstorming and brainstorming and brainstorming….  Let’s hope I get this hook up right. Wouldn’t want to mess up the answer to this crucial question.

“Why does Mark Crawford love Charlotte Templeton?”

Have a great week!

A Letter from Fiona Palmer

Loretta’s Pen Pals : Letter 3

Today when I went to my mail box I received a very interesting update from bestselling rural romance author, Fiona Palmer whose new release, “A Sunburnt Country” is kicking up a storm. But who knew a trip to Italy and a YA novel was on the cards as well? I certainly didn’t and was suitably intrigued… here’s what she had to say….

Dear Loretta,

Just wanted to say congrats on another wonderful book. Have you started on the next one yet? Is it a follow on?

I’m rather busy. This week I have been to Perth to book our trip to Italy for the end of September. I’m very excited. This trip will also be a research one to tie in with my 6th book. Tonight I have our progress meeting at our community centre, which is our old primary school that closed in 1998. I’m the secretary so I need to have the agenda ready and take minutes. We will also discuss a grant I applied for on behalf of progress. And now I’m about to organise for my kids to go to some Tennis lessons which are held at a Tennis court 80k away. (Our Tennis Club folded last year.)

On the writing front, I’m currently working on my YA book, in between doing promo for my new book that’s out now. I have this YA book finished, I’m just going back over it doing edits.

I’m hoping to send off my YA manuscript to find a publisher soon, and in the meantime we will be working on the 5th book which is called The Outback Heart….but only until we come up with another name for it.

The best thing I love about writing is that it can take me away into another world. Not that I want to escape my life, as to me its perfect. But I’ve always had an over active imagination and writing really lets it become a useful trait. lol

TSCI’m also very excited because my latest release The Sunburnt Country is currently on the shelves.
It’s about a local mechanic Jonelle, who loves her town and its people. She is also a big fan of Torana’s and races speedway. But her lifestyle is in jeopardy with the area suffering the affects of drought and it’s hampered even more when the new city bank manager arrives into town. He’s the last person Jonny wants to be attracted to.

My inspiration for this novel came about when our area went through a drought. I wanted to show how it not only affects the farmers, but the people who work for farmers and the businesses in the local towns. It’s a community as a whole that feels it. It also gave me a chance to write about a female character close to my heart. Jonny is probably the one character whose most like myself with the love of cars and speedway racing and she’s doing a job I would have loved. If I could do high school over again I would have done workshop. Mind you, the old cars are a lot easier to work on not like these modern ones with computers. It kind of takes the fun out of it.

Anyway, I hope you’re having a great week Loretta and that all your lovely children are letting you have some writing time.

twitter: @fiona_palmer

A Letter From Jenn J McLeod

post boxLoretta’s Pen Pals : Letter No. 2

There are so many good books coming out this March. My publisher reckons the first half of the year is the best time for an author to debut because for some reason that’s when everyone buys books. Personally, I buy books all year round but who am I to argue with the numbers. 🙂 Anyway, there’s one book I’ve been particularly watching out for this year. It’s called “House for All Seasons.” It sounds like just the sort of story I’d like to curl up with one Sunday afternoon. That’s why I was very excited to get news from my good friend and fellow author, Jenn, this week. That’s right, she’s the writer behind this brilliant new book. Check out what she said…

Dear Loretta,
I’m still raving to all my friends about your wonderful stories, but I thought I’d drop you a good old-fashioned letter because I have BIG news—and I mean REALLY BIG! After almost five years of trying, I am finally published. Yep! Because the wonderful people at Simon & Schuster loved my story, House for all Seasons—my first ridgey-didge novel—is actually sitting on the shelves (online and in bookstores and department stores) as of this week.

Like you, I am following up with a second novel; The Simmering Season which will be out this time next year. I’m currently working on that right now and …
Who am I kidding? What I’m doing now is hardly what you’d call work—unless you call jumping about like a Skip Jack ant working! I should be writing, but instead I’m being very social and madly shouting out to everyone about House for all Seasons. Who knew that I’d turn out to be a Linkedin, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, fifty-*mumble* year-old and starting a new career—my dream career.

As well as loving my job now, I am hoping to inspire others (just as your publishing journey has inspired me) so I’m spreading the message: it is never too late to follow your dreams and extraordinary things can happen to ordinary people. (In fact, I am part of a group of authors running a blog series (one a month from each of us, including the amazing Helene Young, Alison Booth and Lia Weston and more). The first one is here.

I suppose I should tell you about the book. Readers of women’s fiction (including romance, chicklit, rural lit) will find characters to love in House for all Seasons. It’s the story of four very different women and four journeys of the heart: Surviving Summer, Tall Poppy, Autumn Leaves and Wynter’s Way. A story of unravelling friendships, the tightening of family ties, and the unsettling after-effects of choices made. But mostly it’s about coming home to find your place in the world and discovering country roots can run very deep and that small towns can keep big secrets.

House for all Seasons Jenn J McLeodI knew you’d want to know about my inspiration for this novel, so I’ll tell you. I remember it was early spring 2009 and I was preparing for my first NaNoWriMo writing challenge. I was sitting outside relishing the warmth on my face after a cold, cold winter and appreciating the different seasons we get to experience here in Australia. I mean, just look at what we’ve been through. You’ve had heatwaves and cyclones in the west, while floodwaters have devastated some of our picturesque small country towns, including Ulmarra (the inspiration for my fictional town of Calingarry Crossing). Still, the changing seasons inspire me. I love the contrast – and contrast makes for great characters and conflict. So I wanted to create four female characters as different as the seasons.
Sara, a breast cancer survivor afraid to fall in love;
Poppy, a tough, ambitions journo still craving her father’s approval;
Amber, a spoilt socialite addicted to painkillers and cosmetic procedures;
Caitlin, a doctor frustrated by a controlling family and her flat-lining life.

The four estranged friends are bequeathed a century-old house, forcing them to return to their hometown where each must stay for a season at the Dandelion House to fulfil the wishes of their benefactor, Gypsy. But coming home to the country stirs shameful memories of the past, including the tragic end-of-school muck up day accident twenty years earlier. At the Dandelion House, the women will discover something about themselves and a secret that ties all four to each other and to the house – forever.

I need to sign off now. Time to head back home to the country, where I’m still getting over my House for all Seasons release party with its magical, musical treat.

I must have you over to my place again soon. Maybe when you’ve finished reading House for all Seasons we can get together in my Reading Parlour and chat.

Cheers for now (and get that next book out, will you!)


Jenn J McLeod_54A1139 t

Come home to the country – www.jennjmcleod.com

“In a country house, surrounded by the past, four friends will discover that small towns can keep big secrets.”