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Black Mountain

A few years ago my husband Peter I took an extended caravan holiday. We began by exploring the east coast of Australia, working our way up from the south to the north. When we reached far north Queensland we fell in love with the area, and spent much time there.

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We based ourselves at a little place called Flying Fish Point, a few kilometres east of Innisfail, bounded by the mouth of the Johnstone River on one side and the ocean on the other. A glorious place, where the forest is lush and deep green, the beach is long, and the azure sea and the sky seem almost to merge.

From here we visited the unique Daintree rainforest, beautiful in its wildness, hot and humid, criss-crossed with trails made by the many (usually!) unseen wildlife, and home to many primitive plants found nowhere else.

Daintree 2Q beach

We visited the huge plateau of the Tablelands, went up to Cairns, Port Douglas and as far north as Cooktown.  It was while we were returning from a visit to Cooktown via the Bloomfield track that we stumbled across Black Mountain. We planned to stop at the Lion’s Den, an old Australian pub, for lunch.

Lions den

But before we reached it we were startled by the appearance of a colossal, blackened mountain, strewn around with a jumble of enormous boulders that looked more like something that was dumped there by a giant, rather than a natural formation. Rising up from the wilderness, it was an eerie sight and stands in stark contrast to the green sea of forest around it.

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We left the vehicle and walked gingerly over the smaller boulders that fringe the side of the road.  It is a spooky place, and I felt sinister vibes all around as I stood gazing in awe.

I saw it would be a marvelous setting for a story.

My research has  revealed many tales of people who have ventured into its depths and never been seen again. Even a herd of cattle once strayed into its awesome depths and disappeared!  I knew then it was where Elly and Mitchell would be forced to go in their search for the rare plant they needed for Elly to fulfil her late father’s dream to produce the ‘fountain of youth’, the skin care every woman wants.

As they search together in the tropical heat of the rainforest, an attraction grows between them. But Elly is pining for her missing friend, Jackson – isn’t she? And Mitchell still loves his schooldays  sweetheart – doesn’t he?

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SUMMERTIME

It is hot. Blisteringly, scorchingly hot, with the mercury hovering just below the forty degree Celsius mark. The sun blazes in a clear, blue sky, and all I can think of is the ocean nearby. That wonderful cool, clear water.

I don my swimsuit, a tee, sandals. Splosh on sunscreen, pick up a hat, sunnies, towel, bottle of water, and toss it all into the beach bag.  Drive five minutes to the beach and find a park close by.

The water beckons enticingly. Aqua blue, calm, with just a gentle ripple. The sand at the edge of the water glistens in the sun as a wavelet surges gently up onto the shore, before receding lazily to recoup its spent energy. I am amazed to see so few people on the beach and in the water. Plenty of room for many more.

I tumble from the car and cross the hot pavement onto the sand. Trudge through the soft sand. The red-hot sand infiltrates my sandals and my feet burn. Now I know what it’s like to walk over hot coals.

Reaching the strip of hard, wet sand above the water line I shed the sandals and the damp sand cools my feet. I drop the bag. Off with the tee, I head into the water and wade in.

The cool water caresses my legs. Little fish swim only feet from the shore, where ridges in the sandy bottom dig into my feet. Ouch!  But they are soon left behind for the smooth, sandy ocean floor.

I’m in waist deep and the water feels cold. There’s only one thing to do. Dive under and swim. After the heat, the cold water is sheer bliss! I come up with a gasp, shake my head and push the hair back from my face.

I look around. There are a few other souls in the water nearby. Teenagers splashing, diving, and horsing around. A few children on paddle boards. A group of three women a little way off, chest deep, hats on, bobbing down deeper now and then as they hold an animated conversation.

A couple of serious swimmers further out are practising their strokes.

I look down. The water is so clear I can see the shape of my toenails, and the occasional pebble on the sandy bottom. A lone strand of seaweed drifts by. But mainly it’s just clear, rejuvenating water. I swim a bit, do a few stretches and kicks, float lazily. The heat is forgotten.

Ah! This is what I missed so much when I lived in other places – South Australia’s long stretches of sheltered, white, sandy beach. Not crowded. Usually calm enough to actually swim in.

What! No surf? you say. No, if you want surf, go further down the coast. For me, I like to swim, float, cool off. Forget the heat.

This is Adelaide in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration comes first

I always enjoy learning the history of places I visit, and while living on the beautiful mid-north coast of New South Wales, I researched the past of Bulahdelah, a picturesque village about 200kms north of Sydney on the Myall River.

 Bulahdelah Mountain  Looking out from Bulahdelah Mountain

 In the early days of colonisation  Bulahdelah was well-known as a timber-cutting area, home to magnificent cedar trees. The local Historical Society is active, and they made their information freely available to me, and I searched records and pored over photos. Then an artist friend loaned me a book of ‘Rachel Henning’s Letters’- letters that had been written by the English wife of a Bulahdelah timber-mill manager in the mid-nineteenth century to her various family members. In them she described her daily life, which she found very agreeable.

 This made me curious about the lifestyle and conditions for all women in the nineteenth century

What my research found was that women then had few rights and were dominated by the men of the time, and not all women led the pleasant life enjoyed by Rachel Henning.

The law in that era stated that when a woman married, all her assets became her husband’s property, and the law gave him the right to force her to obey him in every area of her life.  This meant she was totally dependent on him for everything, both financially and emotionally. If he turned out to be heartless, violent or miserly, she had little or no recourse.

So, under the laws of the day a woman had few rights; prior to her marriage, she must obey her father, and when she married all her property became her husband’s on the day of their marriage. She became virtually his chattel, to treat as he wished. No matter how badly he chose to treat her, she had to bear it.

Women were considered to be physically, emotionally and intellectually inferior to men, and the entrenched and patronising attitudes of the time meant that the judiciary, all male, took the view that whatever the man did was right and a woman was meant to be an obedient homemaker and bedwarmer for her husband, while not expecting sexual pleasure herself!

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Throughout history there have been many influential women

 But on investigation it becomes obvious that they were either rulers, like Elizabeth 1, in England, or Catherine of Russia, or else they were wives, mistresses or concubines of influential men. Many of them had great power.

Strong, powerful women. 1237405994_top-10-hottest-historical-women_flash

But what of the ordinary, everyday women…

Women who had the spirit to rebel against this injustice – women who refused to be browbeaten by the men?  And if they defied custom – could they face the results of going against the conventions of the day?

Happiness – and love – could not have been easy!

It was these findings that incensed me and provoked me into writing the Redwoods  series.

AN INDEPENDENT WOMAN  is the first novel in the series. This book focuses on life in Australia in the latter part of the nineteenth century, and to make the story authentic meant researching many details in Sydney in that era. Which hotels, pubs, churches etc had been built by then? Where would Kitty and her mother have shopped? How far had the suburbs spread by then? What transport was available?  It also looks at the attitudes that caused Kitty much unhappiness in her marriage.

Independant Woman final

 After I finished ‘An Independent Woman’ I started to think seriously of my  next book ,which  continues Kitty’s story and begin that of her young daughter Joy. However, I found that writing in a series throws up a whole new set of problems for an author. I have covered this topic in  my blog on writing a series  (Sept 7)

 A Liberated Woman finalBy the time I came to write ‘A LIBERATED WOMAN’ I had already done a lot of research into Sydney in the late 1800’s for ‘An Independent Woman’. However by 1893, the starting date of this book, the political climate had changed. There was hot debate over the looming prospect of Federation.  Some colonies were for Federation, some against, and I needed to research the political figures of the day and their opinions. Also, Australia was in the grip of an economic depression – did this affect my characters?

Then there was a whole new world to portray when Joy went to England, to meet her English family, to be presented to Queen Victoria, and to have a London Season. The relatively free and easy lifestyle of Australia gave way to the strict social codes of Victorian England, where life was highly regulated.

My research for this included learning the protocol of presentation at Court, and what activities happened where and when during the Season – from garden parties and coming-out balls…

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 to a week at Royal Ascot for the thoroughbred racing….

 Ascot,-Royal-Enclosur[1]  Royal enclosure at Ascot, 1800’s

‘A MODERN WOMAN’, the last book in the trilogy, begins with the commencement of the new century, a time of hope and new beginnings, and focuses on Joy’s life now she has becomes a woman – on her relationships, and on her burning ambition to make Redwoods into a successful thoroughbred horse stud, an ambition that was born back in England when she visited Royal Ascot with her grandfather.

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 As I had already done a great deal of research into women’s roles in those early years for the previous two books I had no need to delve further there, but I knew little of horse breeding.  So my research focused on that. I investigated some of the ailments that can afflict horses, watched the birth of a foal on ‘You Tube’ video and ‘picked the brains’ of a horse breeder. All very interesting.

 For the racetrack scenes I drew on my own experiences, having been a lover of thoroughbred racing and a frequent visitor to the races for many years. I have always loved the thrill of watching those magnificent animals stretching towards the winning post, every fibre in their bodies striving to win, and then to see how they relish the cheers of the crowd when they beat the rest of the field!                       

                                           !How they love to race!      371128-race-horses

 Having once been the part-owner of a racehorse I understand the nervous excitement  Joy felt  before and during each race, and the euphoria when her horse came first past the post – a feeling that’s hard to beat! And I understand too the affection and attachment you feel for your horse, win or lose!

As for the relationships and emotions of the characters, in all the books– well, allowing for the difference in the conventions of the time they’re not all that different from those of people today. Times change, but people don’t.

Over the centuries we have all had similar needs and desires – for a good life, security, a loving partner. A wish for romance is strong in many of us. And we all experience similar emotions at times. Love, hate, fear, anger, frustration. We all have different ways of dealing with them, and so it is for the people of Redwoods.

I had a lot fun doing this research, and putting the characters into the situations in these books. I hope you will enjoy reading about them as much as I have enjoyed telling their stories.

‘A MODERN WOMAN’ is due to be released on March 1st, when it will be available on Amazon and can now be pre-ordered on SmashwordsApple iBooks, Barnes &Noble , and Kobo

 

 www.kateloveday.com

Research before Writing

I am re-blogging this from an Eescapades post

When I decided to write my first novel, ‘Inheritance’ I had been up in far north Queensland for several months, and had come to love the area.

We were based at a little place called Flying Fish Point, a few kilometres east of Innisfail, bounded by the mouth of the Johnstone River on one side and the ocean on another. A glorious place, where the forest is lush and deep green, the golden beach is long, and the cerulean sea and sky almost seem to merge.

From here we made trips to the Daintree rainforest, to the huge plateau of the Tablelands, up to Cairns, Port Douglas and as far north as Cooktown. All wonderful places. And wonder of them all, we went snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.

But there was a downside to this paradise, for we were all aware that in the waters of the Johnstone River and the myriad creeks and rivers nearby lived that most fearsome of creatures, the saltwater crocodile.

I knew my book had to be set in this superb place, and that my main character would be a spirited young woman. In such a place the story needed to have elements of adventure, and mystery, and to reveal something of the soul of the place. It should also include some of the lore of the aboriginal people who were the original inhabitants of the land.

I set the story on Yallandoo, a cattle station (ranch). But I was born and bred a city girl, with little knowledge of cattle stations, or rodeos, or aboriginal culture and spiritual beliefs, and their burial rites. Or the habits of crocodiles.

What I do know a lot about is life, people, and human nature. The rest I had to research.

That included how to brand a steer, how points are allotted at a rodeo, the Aboriginal Dreamtime, how immigrants to the Snowy River scheme were housed on arrival, how a fire is fought without piped water, and just how dangerous is the ‘saltie’?, as the local crocs are called, (very dangerous!), to name a few.

Ihad the most wonderful time for weeks and months, delving into all these fascinating subjects – in books and papers, in libraries, and on the internet. I love research, but I am so easily led from my subject into interesting by-ways, which runs away with the time!

I have tried to keep things authentic, and if you pick up any irregularities in the facts of the story, you must blame it on the fact I’m really just a city girl!

Inheritance is now available as an Ebook in all formats on Harlequin’s Ecscape Publishing.

 

 

 

Nothing new under the sun

There’s nothing new under the sun. How many times have you heard that? A dozen? A hundred?  When it comes to fiction it’s true – no matter what idea you come up with it’s been done before. But as a writer it’s your responsibility to make it all seem fresh and alive, as if it’s being told for the first time. This applies to all genres – mystery, romance, dramas of human endeavour, in fact all fiction.

Take all the great love stories – Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Gone with the Wind, Pride and Prejudice, Casablanca. Add a few of your own favourites if you like, and think about them. They’re all about love, about boy meets girl, man meets woman, and about the obstacles that come between them and their true love. Same idea, different problems, different resolutions, different writing. Those authors took an old idea and, using their own special magic, wove stories that have been loved by generations of readers. They haven’t all been joyful stories, many of them haven’t had happy endings.

But they have all touched our hearts.

And how have they done it? The authors have taken the idea, and they’ve created their characters and situations and woven their stories around them. But it’s the characters that are the pivot. If the characters are real people, people that come alive, people that we can love or hate, then we care about them, and we care what happens to them.  And that keeps us turning the pages to the very end and then, perhaps, we’re sorry that it is the end.

As a writer how can you do this? First, your characters must be real to you – you must know them intimately. As you write you must be able to get inside their heads, to know how they feel. If you don’t know, then how can you make your reader know? Your reader wants to feel their emotions, to share in them. Emotions are mankind’s common language, we all have the same emotions – love, hate, anger, sorrow, joy – and we never lose them.  And as well as the emotions, you need to know how your characters will react to any situation. For this point in time you must become your character. And of course you must create situations that will put them through the wringer, so we can see how they’ll come out on the other side, see how much they’ve changed.

All this means that as you create your story you must write from your heart. However, once you’ve finished the story you must begin to use your head, for this is when you must take your rough diamond and polish it.

You owe it to your readers to make sure your words flow in a manner as close to perfect as you can make it. It’s not just a matter of ensuring there are no errors in spelling or grammar, you must also think about the sounds of the words. Are they pleasing to the ear? If in doubt, read your work aloud.  Do the words sing? Do they convey your idea as you wish? Or are they stilted and banal? Simple words, beautifully expressed, should be your aim.

So there it is. WRITE from the heart – EDIT with the head. Take an old idea and make it new.

And perhaps your story will touch hearts!

http://www.kateloveday.com

Health and Beauty Tips

I thought some of you might be interested in some of the tips I used to pass on to my clients back inmy professional days when i was a beauty/ natural therapist.

So here goes with Tip #1

#1. Sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of freshly made LSA over some of your  food each day. I make mine fresh and keep it in the refrigerator.  The recipe is 3 parts flax seeds (Linseed), 2 parts sunflower seeds, and 1 part almonds. Mix together and blend to a coarse powder. Sprinkle over breakfast cereal, yoghourt etc , add to a shake, or to your cooking.

Flax seeds are rich in fibre, vitamins, phytochemicals and omega-fatty acids. They are also very low in carbohydrates, so are excellent for people who are limiting their intake of starches and sugars. And the combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance.  Flax seeds must be ground to make the nutrients available (otherwise they just “pass through”) and flax seed oil alone contains neither the fiber nor the phytochemicals of whole flax seed meal. Once processed they also deteriorate quickly and must be refrigerated or frozen.

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, the fat soluble vitamin that  travels through  the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes and  brain cells.They have also been found to reduce blood levels of cholesterol,  and give  anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role.

Almonds are one of the most nutritious of all the nuts, containing a whole host of nutrients. For example, a small handful (20 nuts or so) of almonds contains twelve percent of your daily allowance of protein, and 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin E. As well as lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood, almonds may also help to block the body’s absorption of fat and carbohydrates, which can be be significant in helping to control your weight. This “blocking” effect may be due to the fibre structure of the almond, which reduces the calories available from the almond and also slows the absorption of carbohydrates. They also help you to feel fuller faster because of their fibre content. Studies have shown that eating one or two servings of almonds a day does not lead to a gain in weight or body fat levels, but rather causes people to decrease the amount of calories they gain from other food sources.

Many dieters have found that LSA has been a big help to keeping them feeling satisfied.

So you can see that this mix is incredibly beneficial to your overall health, and is one I’ve been using myself for the last thirty years.  It only takes a few moments to make and its health benefit is great.

#1. Sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of freshly made LSA over some of your  food each day. I make mine fresh and keep it in the refrigerator.  The recipe is 3 parts flax seeds (Linseed), 2 parts sunflower seeds, and 1 part almonds. Mix together and blend to a coarse powder. Sprinkle over breakfast cereal, yoghourt etc , add to a shake, or to your cooking.

Flax seeds are rich in fibre, vitamins, phytochemicals and omega-fatty acids. They are also very low in carbohydrates, so are excellent for people who are limiting their intake of starches and sugars. And the combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance.  Flax seeds must be ground to make the nutrients available (otherwise they just “pass through”) and flax seed oil alone contains neither the fiber nor the phytochemicals of whole flax seed meal. Once processed they also deteriorate quickly and must be refrigerated or frozen.

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of Vitamin E, the fat soluble vitamin that  travels through  the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes and  brain cells.They have also been found to reduce blood levels of cholesterol,  and give  anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role.

Almonds are one of the most nutritious of all the nuts, containing a whole host of nutrients. For example, a small handful (20 nuts or so) of almonds contains twelve percent of your daily allowance of protein, and 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin E. As well as lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood, almonds may also help to block the body’s absorption of fat and carbohydrates, which can be be significant in helping to control your weight. This “blocking” effect may be due to the fibre structure of the almond, which reduces the calories available from the almond and also slows the absorption of carbohydrates. They also help you to feel fuller faster because of their fibre content. Studies have shown that eating one or two servings of almonds a day does not lead to a gain in weight or body fat levels, but rather causes people to decrease the amount of calories they gain from other food sources.

Many dieters have found that LSA has been a big help to keeping them feeling satisfied.

So you can see that this mix is incredibly beneficial to your overall health, and is one I’ve been using myself for the last thirty years.  It only takes a few moments to make and its health benefit is great.