It is my pleasure to welcome Lily Malone, one of my favourite West Australian romance writers to Mrs B’s Book Reviews for a Q & A session. This follows a glowing review I published last week of Lily’s new novel, Water Under The Bridge on the blog.
About the author…
Lily Malone might have been a painter, except her year-old son put a golf club through her canvas, so she wrote her first book His Brand of Beautiful instead. Lily writes realistic contemporary romance about places she knows. She loves her wine and many of her romances are set in the vineyards and wine regions of Australia, particularly in the tourism towns of Margaret River in West Australia (where she now lives) and in the Adelaide Hills near Hahndorf where she spent most of the 2000s.
Lily has worked as a journalist and editor of wine industry magazines, but discovered…
A question I get asked a lot is: “where do you get your ideas for stories?,” and “is your book based on real life?”
My answer to that is easy. “I wish my life was so interesting!”
But definitely some real life events prove as catalysts for my stories. A great example is in my new book, WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE, out now.
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE begins with the heroine, Ella, finding an escaped cockateil, and as it turns out, the very hunky man who owns said cockateil is the hero of the story, Jake Honeychurch.
On Boxing Day 2015, I was sitting on the deck of our house with my great mate, Carrie, watching our combined kids bounce on the trampoline. There was a ruckus in the bush nearby and all of a sudden a sweet little bird landed near the tramp on the ground. Other birds dove at it, but our kids and all the bouncing scared the other birds off. (4 kids on a trampoline scares me too, just quietly!)
The only one not scared by all the bouncing was the bird. He was obviously used to noise and young children, and he was more comfortable with little humans than those nasty other pecking things with wings. So my hubby, who knows a thing or two about
picking up birds, approached the little guy with big eyes and coo-ing sounds. Before I could blink the bird was on my hubby’s finger, then shoulder, making no signs he wanted to leave anytime soon.
We put a notice on the #Cowaramup Facebook page with a photo to find the bird’s owners. It turned out he belonged to a local family who was missing him dreadfully. Everyone was reunited and like a very good romance, we all lived happily ever after.
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is about ex-Olympic swimmer Ella, who has come to Chalk Hill in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia to restart her life. Chalk Hill is a long way from the water and that suits Ella just fine. She’s left the water behind for good. Oceans. Rivers. Lakes. Swimming Pools. Creeks.
Isn’t it lucky Jake Honeychurch has a very big dam 🙂
It’s also lucky he’s good at picking up birds…
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is available on all your favourite e-tailer platforms and in print at all good bookstores.
My Margaret River/South Australia vineyard romance, THE VINEYARD IN THE HILLS is one of a special selection of Bestselling ROMANCE books at a special price on iTunes, Kobo and Amazon for a limited time. Honestly – at only 99c, I’ve never felt so cheap!
If you haven’t bought any of my books before and you’d like to give a title a try, it’s the perfect time:
Winding down another school term, one week until school holidays in WA. It’s been a landmark kind of term. I’ve been busy, and today I’m feeling lazy.
I’ve finished writing Book 2 of my Chalk Hill Series. This is The Cafe By The Bridge, following Water Under The Bridge (both working titles), with Water Under The Bridge (Book 1) due out in September 2018. (I’m now under a year till release day and counting!)
Book 2 is currently with three fabulous readers and friends, which puts me in that nail-biting time of waiting to see what they think.
I’m feeling lazy because it’s the most stunning spring day and I’ve just been on a 2.5 hour walk on the Cape to Cape track on the beautiful South West coast. There are wildflowers out, glorious yellow coastal wattle everywhere… and I really do think yellow is my favourite colour in nature’s garden.
Every few metres or so along the track we heard a skittle or scuttle of a gecko or skink (I refuse to think snake)… and we saw donkey, cowslip and pink lady orchids. Plus, my lovely friend Carrie got her arse wet posing for photographs… and that always makes me smile!
Aside from working hard to finish The Cafe By The Bridge I’ve been reading, a few different books to my usual suspects, plus beta reading for Juanita Kees. I’ve also rediscovered two long-dormant hobbies.
The first of these is tennis. I’ve been talked into donning the tennis whites to play a Thursday game with some local girls. The last couple of Thursdays we’ve gone up the court for a hit. OMG!! Major fail! Two weeks ago I tried four serves, none of which got over the net!
I took the plunge and bought a new racquet and this week the ball seemed to come off a little better, and I got some serves over the net. Perhaps this will not be a complete disaster.
So tennis and Lily. It’s a thing. (I even found proof in the dusty trophy cabinet of the tennis club, dating back to 1992-1993! My name engraved on a plaque for ladies singles! OMG I feel old 😉 )
One of the books I read in August was The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. The book was a Kindle Monthly Deal on Amazon which meant it cost me about $5. Really good book. If you’re interested in paying off your mortgage, saving money on things such as credit card and bank fees and private health insurance; if you’re keen to find out how much Life Insurance, TPD and Income Protection you might need, or want to know if the fees you’re paying in Superannuation are fair, middling, or over the top; or you want an intro to shares, or get a sense of how much you’ll need to fund wine purchases in your retirement… this is a great starting point. I’m convinced the Barefoot way makes good sense.
The interesting thing is, in the last week at my work (my admin work) I’ve seen two customers come in with debit cards that had ‘splurge’ written across one, and ‘direct expenses’ across another, and of course now that I’ve read the book I recognised these terms. I commented on the words on the cards, and then had a chat with these two ladies about The Barefoot Investor and the Barefoot methodology.
I like to think I’m reasonable with managing money, but it’s still good to get a practical sense that you’re doing the right thing, and you’re on the right path.
So… The Barefoot Investor brought me to my second long-ago passion, though this one isn’t really a ‘passion’ as such. Many many (many) moons ago… (although not quite so long ago as the tennis trophy), a much younger Lily dabbled in the sharemarket. She dabbled so-oooo much she got completely wrecked in the Tech Wreck… (those old enough will understand the exact Tech Wreck I mean!) I’ve never touched the sharemarket outside of super since, but now after my read of the Scott Pape book, I’m prepared to dabble again.
This will be a different sort of dabble because I’m at a different stage of life. This will be a bluechip dabble, not a speculative seat-of-my-pants dabble. This is supposed to be a middle-aged lady sort of dabble where I won’t stress myself out based on a 10 cent swing…
Tennis and the stockmarket, hey? Who knew it was a thing… hmmm… maybe I should just stick to the writing. Watching Amazon rankings is its own kind of sharemarket rollercoaster ride!
It’s funny this writing game. One minute I’m on top of the world, the next I’m convinced if I wrote a note for the petty cash tin saying I owe it $5, not even the admin nazi would read it.
When I started trying to write a book the year my youngest child turned 1, (way back in 2010), my definition of success would have been as simple as getting that book published. Easy.
Funny what a few rejections do to that self-confidence and those goals. Fast forward a couple of years after slamming into closed doors, and my definition of success changed. In 2011 & 2012 success for me would have looked something like this:
Final in a writing competition (or fingers crossed, win a competition)
Have an agent or publisher request a full manuscript.
Things started to snowball. In 2011, a scene from His Brand Of Beautiful finalled in the RWA First Kiss Competition; and somewhere in 2012, I got the first request for a full manuscript.
After Harlequin offered me a Contract for His Brand Of Beautiful (as an e-book with digital-first publisher, Escape Publishing) and the book had been out long enough for my first royalty payment to come in, (we’re now talking midway through 2013), my definitions for success changed again.
To be successful, I now needed to:
Earn enough from my royalties to actually buy my hubby lunch at the pub!
Maybe win a reader award, like the Australian Romance Readers Association annual awards or an Aus Rom Today award; or final in a round of the Booktopia Australia’s Fave Author!!
Have a print book published (not just electronic).
So, in Summer 2015-2016, I got my first book in print. It was Fairway To Heaven and it was part of a 3-book anthology called More Time For The Beach. For the first time I earned a four-figure royalty and was actually able to sock some of that cash away for a rainy day (plus buy hubby a nice lunch, and myself a bottle of bloody nice bubbles)!!
My definitions of success changed again. Now I needed to see:
My own story in print – a Lily Malone title all to myself.
In September 2016, an e-book of mine with Escape Publishing (then called So Far Into You) was selected by Harlequin MIRA for print and given the new title of The Vineyard In The Hills. I had my first solo print book, you’d think all my dreams would have come true? I must be successful now, right?
No! The success goalposts moved again!
What is success to me now?
To be known for contemporary fiction writing as well as rural romance, and specifically to get my manuscript ‘Ashes’ published.
To publish at minimum, 2 books a year
To support myself financially through my writing.
To be a good friend, wife and mother, and good person while doing all this. (In other words, not turn into a raving psychotic author loony!)
That’s what success would mean to me right now (though I’m sure those goalposts will move). What about you?
About Contracts Today my new three-book Contract for the Chalk Hill series arrived from Harlequin head office. Book 1 of the Chalk Hill Series is Water Under The Bridge, the book I was working on at the start of this year.
Luckily for me, (and hopefully for readers), Harlequin MIRA’s editors loved Water Under The Bridge and on the strength of Book 1, they’ve signed two additional titles set in fictional Chalk Hill. Book 1 will be out in spring of 2018, with books 2 and 3 following in 2019 and 2020.
You won’t find Chalk Hill on a map. It’s the first fictional town I’ve created in my writing journey and if you did have to pin Chalk Hill on a map of West Australia, you’d aim about halfway between Manjimup and Mount Barker on the Muir highway, slightly east of Rocky Gully.
The idea for the book came after a camping trip I did with hubby and our two boys in spring last year to the Porongurups and Albany… little did my travelling companions know how much I was plotting stories at the time, as we climbed the Granite Skywalk and visited the Natural Bridge and the Blowholes, and saw whales in Lucky Bay!
This coming Thursday July 6, I”m thrilled to join rural romance West Australian author, Sasha Wasley, at Dymocks bookstore in Busselton. Sasha has a new book, Dear Banjo, out now – getting rave reviews. The ‘In Conversation’ is Sasha’s gig, but I’ve got myself invited along by lovely Beth Herbert of Dymocks to gatecrash the party…
Cow Fairs Mooooo! Saturday is the big legendary festival of my hometown of #Cowaramup. Not long ago Cowaramup won the accolade of being the ‘Legendairy capital of West Australia’ and later this year we will be judged alongside other legendary state capital finalists, to find the ‘legendairy’ capital of Australia. I’ll keep you posted!
This Saturday marks the birthday for the Cowaramup cows – the life-size herd of fibreglass cows you’ll find in and around Cowaramup’s main street and its parks… Have you visited our cows? It’s great to see the joy the cows have brought so many visitors to our town, and to see that businesses in the town are enjoying the benefits of having people stop and stay a while in the town, rather than dash through…
Saturday’s fair is called Deja-Moo – the Legendary Country Fair.
It kicks off at 9am on Saturday. Apart from a whole heap of family fun, there are many stall-holders and exhibitions. If you’re planning to come to Deja-Moo – please come and find me with my books in the Cowaramup Hall. You can check out my Cowaramup-set Butterfly House book, Who Killed The Bride?, which I always think of as: ‘Bridget Jones meets the Cowtown Cows…’
I’d love to have a chat! If I was any good at baking or craft, I’d have cow cupcakes and butterfly cookies… but I don’t have any of those (because I’m crap at baking and craft). I do, however, have lolly snakes!
Today is one of those writerly days I’ve dreamed about for, oh, say the last six and a half years…
Today, I signed with The Nash Agency, and I finally can say I have a literary agent.
The Nash Agency is owned and operated by Haylee Nash. I was lucky enough to have something to do with Haylee when she worked for Harlequin Australia when my debut book His Brand Of Beautiful was published by Harlequin Escape.
Haylee has published some of Australia’s highest-selling books from authors such as Rachael Johns, Fiona McCallum, Sally Hepworth and Kylie Scott, and has worked for Pan Macmillan Australia, Harlequin Enterprises Australia and Booktopia.
The Nash Agency will represent my contemporary fiction with a book called ASHES, and also my future rural and contemporary romance books, including the Chalk Hill series I’m working on now.
Thank you for your faith, Haylee! I’ll be doing everything I can to do you proud.
I had the huge pleasure last night to join two talented Cowaramup artists, painter Kerry Sibly and sculptor Alan Meyburgh, at the launch of Kerry and Alan’s exhibition for this year’s Open Studios.
My connection to this clever and versatile pair is that Kerry illustrated and designed my Butterfly House ‘Who Killed The Bride‘ book cover… plus he lives in the same street as me, and in our street we’re always up for a party. 🙂
About 80 people came along to the launch, held at Kerry and Wendy Sibly’s house. The house itself made an amazing frame for an art exhibition. At different times Kerry and Wendy’s home has been in the lens of programs such as ‘Grand Design’; and on the radars of some of Australia’s house and lifestyle magazines. It’s an incredibly special place, filled with personal traits, tricks and treats.
Kerry and Alan made a combined sculpture that they offered as a prize on their launch night. Alan sculpted the heart, and Kerry (in his words) “added the rusty barbed wire to it”.
We were thrilled to have the sponsorship of Stella Bella Wines and the Margaret River Dairy Company for our launch. There’s nothing like viewing art, sculpture, and books whilst enjoying classic Margaret River wine and cheese!
The Margaret River Region Open Studios (MRROS) is now in its fourth year, involving artists of all pursuits from Busselton to Augusta who open their studio/shop/shed or workplace to visitors where people can peruse and buy artworks, but also talk to the artist and see them at work.
Over the next few weeks, I’m relocating my ‘writing room’ across to the Sibly’s house for several mornings a week, and I’d love to see you for a cuppa and perhaps to chat all things books, writing, and reading…
If you are in or around the Margaret River region, please look for the Open Studio signs everywhere, or visit www.mrros.com.au to see what’s on offer.
Kerry and Alan’s exhibition is No. 51 in the Guide. They’re open every day from 10am to 4pm, including ANZAC day.
Guess what folks? New Year’s Eve has suddenly ended up at my place. Holy cow, I’d better start cleaning the house!
Before I do – wanted to pop in and wish everyone a Happy New Year!
I’m very excited about what lies ahead in 2017. The number one thing for me is more writing time! I’m cutting my 5 days of administration work down to 2 per week, and I’m very excited about it. It means lots more of the ‘good’ hours (which for me are hours in the daytime when the house is quiet because kids are at school and hubby is working) where I can hopefully get lots more words down than I managed in 2016.
I’m finishing the year with a WIP (work in progress) sitting at about 35,000 words, mostly due to NaNoWriMo in November when about 30k of those words got done. That book is called Water Under The Bridge, set in my first ‘fictional’ town in West Australia. I have a sneaky suspicion this might also be my first ‘series’ as I’ve thought of two further books while I’m writing this one.
I’m also finishing the year with a great reader email about my Who Killed The Bride, Butterfly House story that I’d like to share with you. This is what makes writing books worth it!
‘Loved it. Great Sunday read, plus I loved the cow theme, having seen the Cowaramup cows in WA. When is the next book out?
Love the fridge magnet, I grew up on a dairy farm, then we had beef cattle. Love cows. I had a pet one called Penny who was black and white, part Jersey part Aberdeen Angus. Was so sad when she had to be sold. But that’s life on the land.’ Julia Reynolds
What will your New Year’s Eve look like? Mine is very low key – on our deck as long as the weather stays nice, with some neighbours who (like us) have ended up at a bit of a new year’s eve loose end.
And there will be cricket! (Yes, I warned the unsuspecting neighbours… well, I warned a few of them anyway)
Christmas is always exciting, but the lead-in to Christmas 2016 has been even more exciting for me because there are such big things ahead in 2017 🙂
Next year is the year I’m dedicating towards producing more words and more stories, and so I’ve given notice at my ‘day’ job and from January 1st, I’ll be job-sharing with this wonderful lady in the photo – Sue.
I intend to spend much more time at the beach, (NO! I was just trying to check if you were paying attention) of course I mean, writing.
First though, there are presents to wrap, food to prepare and eat, champagne to uncork and drink… and cricket to watch!
Whatever you are doing for Christmas, I hope it brings you smiles and joy.