The Full List of 100 Books to WIN, supporting Townsville and surrounds with funds for flooding relief

Thrillers, romance, suspense, fantasy, contemporary, rural, memoir, historical and kids…. whatever you read, you’re sure to find something in this list, with plenty left over to fill your gift buying needs for a long time to come!

Here it is, the full list of 100 books up for grabs in the giant book raffle, raising much needed funds for flooding relief support for residents of Townsville and beyond. A huge thank you to all the Aussie authors who have donated their books to this cause and another round of applause to everyone who has already bought tickets in this competition. Your ticket money will be going straight to GIVIT, the charity coordinating the distribution of donations. You still have time to buy tickets, with 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes being drawn on Friday 29th March at 9am.

Without further ado… here they are.

Josephine Moon Three Gold Coins + The Gift of Life + The Beekeeper’s Secret +

The Chooclate Promise + The Tea Chest

Monica McInerney The Trip of a Lifetime
Lia Weston Those Pleasant Girls
Rachael Johns Lost Without You
Michelle Johnston Dustfall
Michaela Daphne Purlieu
Rachel Bailey The Finn Factor
Liz Byrski A Month of Sundays
Karen Viggers The Orchardist’s Daughter
Michael Trant Ridgeview Station
Christian White The Nowhere Child
Annie Seaton Diamond Sky
Lisa Ireland The Shape of Us
Anna Campbell A Scoundrel By Moonlight
Wendy J Dunn Falling Pomegranate Seeds
Barbara Hannay The Summer of Secrets
Kirsty Manning The Jade Lily
Darry Fraser The Widow of Ballarat
Tess Woods Love and Other Battles
Anna Daniels Girl In Between
Jane Gillespie Journey to Me
S.D. Wasley Downfall
Fiona Palmer Sisters and Brothers
Vanessa Carnevale The Florentine Bridge + The Memories that Make Us
Christine Wells The Juliet Code
Helene Young Return to Roseglen
Kali Napier The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge
Michelle Endersby Awakening Around Roses
Louise Guy A Life Worth Living
Emily Madden The Lost Pearl
Jodi L Perry Nineteen Letters
Louise Allen The Sister’s Song
Charlotte Nash Saving You + The Paris Wedding + The Horseman
Donna Cameron Beneath the Mother Tree
Kylie Ladd The Way Back
Fiona Lowe Home Fires
Sally Hepworth The Family Next Door + The Mother-in-law
Jay Ludowyke Carpathia
Lauren Charter The Lace Weaver
Nene Davis Whitethorne
Esther Campion The House of Second Chances
Beth Prentice Dangerous Deeds
Phillipa Nefri Clark The Stationmaster’s Cottage
Eliza Henry Jones P is for Pearl + Ache + In The Quiet
Rhonda Forest Two Heartbeats
Lisa Ireland The Shape of Us
Kelly Rimmer The Things We Cannot Say + Before I Let You Go
Pamela Cook The Crossroads
JoanneTracey Happy Ever After
T.M. Clarke Nature of the Lion +

(Child of Africa; and Slowly! Slowly!) (to go together)

Cass Moriarty Parting Words + The Promise Seed
Maggie Christensen A Model Wife
Joanna Nell The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village
Sandie Docker The Cottage at Rosella Cove
Lynne Leonhardt Finding Jasper
Sara Foster The Hidden Hours
Lily Malone Butterfly House: Who Killed the Bride?
Di Morrisey Arcadia
Robyn Cadwallader Book of Colours + The Anchoress
Amanda Hampson Sixty Summers
Jenn J McLeod A Place to Remember
Katherin Johnson Matryoshka
Kristine Charles Love Sabre
Alicia Tuckerman If I Tell You
Torre DeRoche The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World
Terry L Probert Kundela + Voss: The Price of Innocence
John Purcell The Girl on the Page
Judy Nunn Sanctuary
Amanda Curtin Elemental
Cassie Hamer After the Party
Michelle Dalton (via Sarah Williams) Epona
Sarah Williams The Outback Governess
Rashida Murphy The Historian’s Daughter
Stephanie Parkyn Into the World11
Alissa Callen The Round Yard
Kerri Turner The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers
Candice Fox Hades + Gone By Midnight
JP Pomare Call Me Evie
Christopher Raja The Burning Elephant
Kirsten Alexander Half Moon Lake
Catherine Evans, Kim Petersen, Beth Prentice Untamed Destinies
Lea Davey Silworm Secrets + The Shack by the Bay

1st prize: 70 books

2nd prize: 20 books

3rd prize: 10 books

Researching The Gift of Life: Watching a Heart Transplant to Finding the Silent Story

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Research is my happy place. I do extensive research for every book I write and it’s where I learn not just technical information but also start to find my character development, settings and plot points too. I get to travel within Australian and overseas for location research, which is a great gift. I interview people, spend hours on the internet, watch loads of YouTube videos and, inevitably, buy a lot of reference books. It is the phase where anything is still possible, ideas are still forming and excitement takes me back again and again for more.

My forthcoming novel, The Gift of Life, is based around organ donation, specifically, heart transplants. I love anatomy (I studied it for two semesters) and Biology was also my strongest subject at school and I then did another semester of it at uni. As a result, I loved brushing up on all my anatomy and physiology and researching the many causes and treatments of heart failure, some of which lead to the need for an organ donation. I even ended up at the cardiologist myself, as I have a long history of arrhythmias and, as I found out in my research, these can lead to heart failure! (Fortunately for me, the type I have appear to be uncomplicated.) My husband, too, also ended up at the cardiologist, then my mum went… It seemed like every time I turned around, ‘hearts’ were the theme of the day.  One thing I learned through all this research was that we are all vulnerable to heart issues, which can come with a long list of complications, which can also lead to a need for a transplant. I really had no idea how common it was.

The amount of personal testimony I came across (both from the point of view of a heart transplant recipient and also from the family of those who had consented to the donation of their loved one’s organs) is significantly higher coming from the USA than it is Australia. This was both tricky–because the USA medical and legal systems are very different to ours–and also an opportunity to hear different experiences and voices from those who’ve gone through the process.

There is a wealth of videos on YouTube and I even came across one that showed a heart transplant operation. That one was a little tough to stomach, to be honest!

I interviewed two Australian heart transplant recipients, which was a fabulous opportunity to hear their stories firsthand. They were both very different people–he a middle-aged man with a wife, children and career–and she a young woman in her twenties with a long life ahead if only she could get the chance. Their experience of the process was vastly different too. The organ transplant process is a gamble at every stage: the illness, the waiting period, the operation, the recovery, the chances of rejection and ongoing complications.

In the end, I had way more information than I could use in the book, which is normal. The Gift of Life starts two years after Gabby McPhee had her heart transplant; therefore much of what I learned about the difficult, emotional waiting stage (and the ongoing physical rehabilitation and care through that period) had to be cut and left out; however, it’s all there in my mind, forming the basis to the background of Gabby’s psyche.

I also became really interested in the more silent half of the story–the experiences of the family members who make the decision to donate. These stories are harder to find, and understandably so, as their experience is rooted in trauma, shock and grief. But as a writer, that ‘silent space’ is the most interesting to me. The possibility of a new, untold story is the one I want to follow. The wealth of information I found on the other side (the recipient’s stories) served to highlight a gap in the narrative that, when voiced through the character of Krystal Arthur, fleshed out the full circle of life.

I loved researching this book. It was utterly fascinating from beginning to end.

 

#1 Thoughts on Writing: Swear Words

I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately on my thoughts on lots of writing topics so it only seems fair that I should share them here with you as well. Today’s topic is about swear words–how to use them, when to use them, how many of them to use, their validity etc.

'I'm telling you, that Darcy is a $%*!@! and he can go and $#*&*&! himself!'

‘I’m telling you, that Darcy is a $%*!@! and he can go and $#*&*&! himself!’

Here are my thoughts on this.

The first time I read a Jane Austen novel, I was utterly blown away by the depth of disgust, contempt, jealousy, rage and hatred she could portray and never a swear word was spoken. I always keep that in the back of my mind when writing and I try to hold myself to higher standards than I set in my real life.

In my life, I swear. But every year I try to stop (clearly, it’s a work in progress) because my feeling is that, basically, it’s lazy and unnecessary. And, also, any moment now my toddler will begin saying the same words back to me. Which is interesting, isn’t it? We all know we shouldn’t swear around children and we’re alarmed when we hear a five-year-old spouting off a litany of words that make us blush. But somehow the rules change as adults?

As I get older, fewer swear words appear in my writing. I will use them sparingly for impact where I feel it’s validated. But I think there are so many more ways to show character other than via swear words. The way they act and, of course, what they think, is arguably more important. As a writer, I feel it’s my job to dig deeper. If I’m relying on lots of swear words then maybe I haven’t gotten down to the true crux of what I’m trying to say. If I see a swear word in my manuscript, then I ask myself if that is really what’s necessary there or whether I just haven’t worked hard enough.

Books as Prescription Medicine

This is precisely why I write books: to make people feel good.

Books like (legal) brownies for all!

Books like (legal) brownies for all!

I love this story.  From May this year, ‘Books on Prescription’ will begin in the UK, with doctors able to ‘prescribe’ a book to assist a patient and improve their mood. The books include both non-fiction and fiction, as well as poetry. It’s also hoped the scheme could help the struggling libraries. Win-win. How wonderful!

In the first couple of months after my baby was born, life was pretty insane in our house. Something I missed the most was reading and it was only when I began to learn how to get the reading time back into my life that I started to feel normal again. I always read before going to sleep, something that’s a very powerful mood producing activity for me. I literally feel stressed if I don’t have a good book nearby to delve into.

But it has to be the right kind of book. For me, there’s no point in reading something angst-ridden, violent, negative, sarcastic or miserable in order to feel better. Uplifting, comforting, engaging and fun–that’s what I want to read and that’s what I want to write.

My contemporary fiction novel, The Tea Chest, about three Australian women thrust together in a bid to sell tea to the English, will be out in 2014. And if you’re looking for something to make you feel good (a book that reads like a chocolate brownie tastes) then it might just be the book for you.

Read a book to feel better. Hooray!