There’s a storm coming . . .

The copy edits are done, the cover is (almost) finished, and in mid-January – just in time for summer reading in Australia – Storm Clouds will be in the bookshops!

Cover of Storm Clouds by Bronwyn Parry

Isn’t it a gorgeous cover?

Here’s the blurb:

He can make you believe in the ultimate lie… 

National Parks ranger Erin Taylor loves her job, is falling for her colleague, Simon, and is finally leaving her past behind . . .

Until a woman is murdered. But the victim is not just any woman – she’s Simon’s wife, Hayley. The wife he’s never mentioned. The wife he’s not seen in fourteen years. On the edge of the national park the alternative lifestyle ‘Community of Bliss’ denies knowledge of Hayley, but Simon and Erin suspect otherwise. Erin will have to draw on all her old skills – deception, lying, cheating – to gain the trust of its members and discover their secrets.

As Simon uncovers shocking details about the reclusive group, Erin is drawn further into their midst and finds a web of lies, decades old – and comes face-to-face with the charismatic, manipulative, dangerous leader who will let nothing and no-one stand in his way. On the wrong side of a river in flood that has become a lethal torrent, Erin and Simon must race to expose the truth and prevent a tragedy . . .

Keen readers may recognise Simon and Erin, who were secondary characters in Dead Heat – yes, Storm Clouds is loosely linked, but the crimes are quite separate and the books stand alone. Those of you anxiously awaiting another Dungirri book will probably be pleased to know that, although this one isn’t set in Dungirri, Detective Sergeant Steve Fraser is called to Goodabri for this investigation – and refused to stay in the background!

Storm Clouds is now available for pre-order at most online booksellers, or pop in to your local book shop (if you have one!) and let them know you’d like to see it in January.

Preorder at Amazon.com

 
Add Storm Clouds to your Goodreads bookshelf:

Storm Clouds


Little Miss Disruption

How can one cute little puppy disrupt our settled lives (and my blogging) so thoroughly?

Way back in January I introduced our new border collie puppy, Pippin:

Pippin the puppy curled up in toy basket

Pippin at nine weeks old in the toy basket.

Way back in February was the last time I updated this blog. These two things are connected :)

Pippin is the most gorgeous, loving, full of energy and never-stopping puppy we’ve had – and we’ve raised three other border collies! She’s now seven months old, and she has more energy and get-up-and-go than the others ever did – I not-so-jokingly say, possibly enough energy to power the state.

20140425PippinRope

Not long after we brought her home, we discovered that she had a congenital deformity, an ectopic ureter. In February I took her to a specialist vet in Tamworth for scans. Basically, one ureter leading from the kidney to the bladder was embedded in the bladder wall, and through the wall of the urethra, so that it didn’t empty into her bladder at all but instead just dripped fairly continually. She really did try to keep her pees for outside, but physically it was impossible. Thankfully, we have a polished cement floor rather than carpet, but it did keep us busy cleaning up when she was inside. In March, we went back to Tamworth again for the surgery, and our little Pipsqueak spent a week in hospital.

Now, if you’ve ever had a dog who’s had major surgery, you know that the vet says to ‘keep them quiet’ for some time afterwards. And if you’ve ever had an active dog, you can imagine the challenges of keeping a super-energetic border collie puppy ‘quiet’ for two weeks! The additional instruction from the vet was ‘no running’ for four weeks post surgery – yes, you may fall about laughing now! We couldn’t put her out with the other two dogs in the dog yard for the first week or two, because she and Skye would just have chased each other at full speed around and around. So, we had a lot of time with her inside, trying to keep her entertained. Giving her bones outside on a chain worked at times, too. I gradually put her out for a while in the yard with the other two in the middle of the day – sleepy time for dogs. We did fail on the ‘no running for four weeks’ but did manage to limit it.

20140425PippinSitting

The surgery was successful, although it has taken a while for her bladder to stretch, and for her to get used to the new internal ‘arrangements’. All three are inside in the evenings, but because we don’t have a fence around the house, and there are so many kangaroos, wallabies and bunnies, we can’t just let them outside to pee, we have to take them out on the lead. And Pippin needs to go out every half hour or so…

She’s so active and wants to play All. The. Time. Chasing ropes or balls, playing with Skye – in the evenings we have to put her in the crate for a few short breaks, just so we can all have some quiet time. Fortunately she usually quickly drops off to sleep and we have half an hour of quiet before she wakes up and is raring to go again.

20140525PippinBallCrate

If she’s not in the crate, this can go on for ages:

All three dogs get along pretty fine:

Three Girls

But Pippin’s so active that sometimes Skye decides she needs a break – and she goes into the crate of her own volition for some quiet time!

20140309SkyeCrate

So, all in all, my quiet evenings in which I used to do lots of writing, blogging etc, are now mostly taken up with dog playing and supervising. And since we’re all up at 6am to take dogs for long walks, I’m not getting much done after 10pm-ish, when the girls go outside to the dog yard for the night. It’s wonderful, it’s fun, and we wouldn’t give up our lovable little girl for anything… but I’m looking forward to her getting a little older, and learning to entertain herself more often! It’s starting to happen gradually, so all paws fingers crossed she’ll settle a bit more soon. And yes, I can see agility classes in our future!

20140518PippinGordon

 

Valentine’s Day

Tomorrow is the day that florists, chocolate manufacturers, and restaurants love: Saint Valentine’s Day.

I’m excited that I’ll be flying to Melbourne first thing in the morning to participate in Sisters in Crime’s celebration of the day – a panel discussion tomorrow night, titled ‘She Always Gets Her Man’ with fellow romantic suspense authors Helene Young and Cheryl Wright, chaired by crime writer Leigh Redhead. If you’re in Melbourne, come along and join in the fun – details are on my events page.

And yes, I’m leaving my beloved at home on Valentine’s Day and heading off for a weekend in Melbourne without him. But don’t worry – we’ve been together for 20 years now and there are plenty of ways we express our feelings on many more days a year than just one, so he won’t be feeling neglected! (And there’s a box of chocolates in the fridge and double-choc chip muffins in the freezer, so if he suddenly has any chocolate cravings he’ll be fine…)

Romance writers are often expected to have something to say on Saint Valentine’s Day – and why not, since we write about love? Now I confess that I’m not overly fond of all the hype and marketing of the day; don’t get me wrong, I love chocolates and flowers and intimate dinners for two and celebrating a loving relationship and if you’re doing that tomorrow, have a wonderful, joyful time! But love, and building a loving, committed, lasting relationship is much more than the marketers tell us; it would be wonderful to see more emphasis and discussion on love itself, rather than the pressure to buy things to ‘prove’ your love.

So, in honour of Saint Valentine’s Day, I’m posting in my Articles section an article I wrote a few years ago for the Romance Writers of Australia magazine, Hearts Talk – The Heart of the Matter: Elements of a lasting love. It was written for romance writers, but maybe there’s something in there for readers, and lovers, too. I’d love to know what you think of it!

Australia Day Giveaway Winners

I’ve finally drawn the winners of my Australia Day giveaway! My apologies that it took so long; things have been extra-busy with an unexpected trip to Tamworth, and it seemed every time I sat down to do it our internet connection went to go-slow. (The joys of rural living…)

But this evening I’ve counted up the entries in each draw, and have been over to random.org, to ask it to draw the winners.

For the Australian draw, random.org said the winner is entry number:
Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 9.04.33 PM

Congratulations, Sally (sallyfromoz)- you’ve won your choice of either Helene Young’s Half Moon Bay, or Jenn J McLeod’s House for All Seasons. I’ll email you soon to find out your choice and your address.

For the international draw, random.org said the winner is entry number:
random.org screenshot

(Yes, I know – two number 1s! But in true random, that can happen, and there were only 4 numbers in the second draw…)

Congratulations, Laura! You’ve won your choice of either Helene Young’s Half Moon Bay, or my Darkening Skies. I’ll email you soon to find out your choice and your address.

Thank you, everyone, for participating and for your lovely comments.

Australia Day Book Giveaway!

The wonderful Shelley-Rae at Book’d Out is hosting the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop again this year, and I’m joining in a little late! After you’ve been here, click over to Book’d Out to find other wonderful opportunities to win Australian books.

Today is the day we celebrate our pride in our nation and its people. I count myself as incredibly fortunate to have been born here, because it is an amazing country, with a wide diversity of resilient, courageous people.

Around this time of year though, as Australia Day approaches, I always find myself pondering what it means to me. And to be honest, sometimes I’m not always comfortable. I want to acknowledge that for many first Australians, the Indigenous people of this country, today marks an anniversary of a devastating event for their cultures – the first European Settlement of this vast continent, and the ‘claiming’ of it for the British Empire.

I also feel uncomfortable occasionally with some of the jingoism and the ‘pride’ that is loudly expressed, because ‘pride’ is a word we often use lightly and without thinking. In the media sometimes it seems it’s a ‘pride’ that excludes others, that places ‘us’ above ‘them’, that says that no-one is as good as ‘us’. And at those times I’m reminded of a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s amazing book, The Left Hand of Darkness :

And I wondered, not for the first time, what patriotism is, what the love of country truly consists of, how that yearning loyalty that had shaken my friend’s voice arises: and how so real a love can become, too often, so foolish and vile a bigotry. Where does it go wrong?

Ursula le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (p. 235)

Now, please don’t get me wrong – I love my country, and I love that my fellow Australians are so passionate about it. I love the landscapes, the people, the places we’ve built, and the long history of struggle and achievement. But it was pure luck that I was born here. And that’s often made me think – can I be proud of that, when it wasn’t something I chose to do? What can I be proud of? What have I personally done, of my own choice and effort, to contribute to this country?

It’s a big question. I hope I uphold many of the ideals that my forebears who came to this country in the nineteenth and early twentieth century lived their lives by. My ancestors were all ‘ordinary’ folk – they weren’t famous or wealthy; they’re not mentioned in history text books. But they worked and raised families and contributed to their communities; they educated their children and volunteered their time to community groups; they took part in the lives of their towns and suburbs and took an interest in politics and had their say. Even my convict great-great-grandfather (transported for theft in 1837), respected the lives of others, rescued people from a shipwreck at great risk to himself, and eventually settled to become a respected family man and community member.

My forebears, right through to my parents and my immediate family, have all served their communities and through them their country in a multitude of ways. I could say that I am proud of that – but what they have done is not my doing. I can only truly be proud of what I have done, of how I contribute to my country, of how I uphold the traditions and ideals that have helped to make this country what it is and what it should continue to be – a wonderful, diverse, welcoming country, made up of peoples of many cultures, a safe haven for those fleeing persecution for a century or more, a nation that believes in a ‘fair go’ for all, and works to enable that.

I’ve worked in service industries (education and health) much of my career, I’ve volunteered in community organisations, I’ve served on committees, I’ve on numerous occasions written to politicians to express my view, and I’ve accepted and taken seriously my responsibilities to vote at all elections. I’ve always tried to treat others with respect, and have sought to understand the complexities of culture and history and to recognise similarities rather than emphasising differences.

I’ve tried to write my love of this country into my books; to write with respect for my readers, and to create with my fictional characters and communities a reflection of the diversity, the resilience, and the courage, that I see around me in rural Australia.

So yes, I’m proud to be Australian, and to be a part of this country. I could do more; I probably should do more. Perhaps this year I will volunteer my time again for a community organisation – I haven’t done enough in recent years, and our country relies so much on volunteers.

But enough of my rambling thoughts! Let’s get on to the book give aways! To be in the draw, just leave a comment on this post by midnight on Monday Tuesday, 28th January, about what you’re proud of – whether you’re Australian or from somewhere else. (Because while we know that Australia is great, we also know it’s not the only great place in the world!)

For Australian residents: I’ll draw one winner who can choose between two wonderful books by Australian authors: Half Moon Bay, a thrilling romantic suspense set on the north coast of New South Wales, by Helene Young; and House for All Seasons, set just a little inland in northern New South Wales, by Jenn J McLeod.

Cover - Half Moon Bay by Helene Young House-for-all-Seasons-Jenn-J-McLeod-194x300

For International residents: I’ll draw one winner who can choose between the ebook version of Helene’s Half Moon Bay, or an ebook version of my book, Darkening Skies – assuming those are available in the country where you live. Otherwise, I’ll send a paper version of my book Dead Heat.

Cover - Half Moon Bay by Helene Young Cover of Darkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry

When you comment, please mention which draw you’re entering.

For my fellow Australians, I hope you enjoy Australia Day, however you’re celebrating it!