Monday, 20 August 2018

The Joy of Research

by Annie Seaton

Best-selling and award-winning author Annie Seaton believes in living and breathing her stories. Each winter Annie and her husband leave the beach to roam the remote areas of Australia for story ideas and research.

I love the research that takes place before I write a story. Travelling across and around this beautiful country that we live in, up close and personal. Over the past six years we have travelled the north of Australia to research my settings, and books have been set in the Kakadu, the Daintree, the east Kimberley, and most recently with my new release in the magnificent Whitsunday region. My next two books will be set in very different locations, one in a city and one in the desert, but again with the consideration of issues threatening the landscape, and stories that embed a sense of community and family.

One of my favourite destinations is the Whitsunday region where emerald-green islands sparkle in a sapphire ocean. Secluded beaches, coral reefs and towering hoop pines are all part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. It is a stunning and pristine landscape threatened by human activity and I thoroughly enjoyed the research here for Whitsunday Dawn.

For me as a storyteller, presenting the authentic settings that I have experienced personally is as important as the historical research of the time periods that I explore. I have been variously described recently by some of my reviewers as an 'eco-adventure author', and an 'activist eco-writer'. I am passionate about the preservation of our pristine landscapes and I enjoy raising a variety of environmental issues in my stories, as well as exploring community relationships and the importance of family.

The research for my current release Whitsunday Dawn was very special. We were fortunate to spend a total of three months (over different periods) in the region last year as I researched. Not only did I explore the setting in depth as we went to the islands, but back on the mainland I spoke to locals who had lived there in the war years when part of the story is set.

The locals described for me the war years in Cannon Valley and provided a rich tapestry of life in the region when it was only a tiny settlement of farms and fishermen. The historical research was deep, and I also used primary sources on the National Library Trove site. A recent review says:

"Seaton deserves much praise for her dedication to her research and for bringing these facts to our attention via a compelling narrative."

But so much credit must be given to those I interviewed during my visits to the Whitsundays.

Readers...tell me what is your absolutely favourite place in Australia...and why?

Annie Seaton lives near the beach on the east coast of Australia, fulfilling her lifelong dream of being an author. After majoring in history at university, her career and further study spanned the education sector with the completion of a Masters Degree in Education. Then working as an academic research librarian, a high school principal and a university tutor, until she took up her full-time writing career. Annie's Porter Sisters series is published in printed in Australia and New Zealand with Pan MacMillan, and Whitsunday Dawn with Harper Collins in the Harlequin MIRA imprint to be followed by Shadows of Undara next year. Annie also has many books published digitally internationally across many genres and they are listed on her website.

If you'd like to learn more about Annie Seaton and her stories, please visit her website and join her newsletter on the front page of the website. You can also connect with Annie via Facebook: and Twitter: and Instagram:

I love to love my beautiful family. They are my life and the love of family shines through my stories.

I love to laugh with my friends...and with my characters, laugh until I snort.

I love to learn about our beautiful country, the landscapes and the history. I love to travel in our caravan and learn about new places, and experience the beauty of sunrises in the outback, sunsets over the ocean, and every other beautiful location that our Australia offers.

Thank you, Breathless in the Bush, for having me.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Writing Through Illness - My Story.

By Cassandra Samuels

In 2014 my debut book A Scandalous Wager was accepted for publication.

My dream since I was fifteen was coming true. I thought the rest of my author life would just fall in line. I was wrong.

I never factored in illness.

In 2015 I started A Scandalous Secret, but was tired all the time and finding it hard to get into my creative space. Something wasn’t right. I already suffered from achilles tendonitis in both ankles, but now I had a pain in my toes that ached all day and kept me awake at night. I was a hot mess! I’d been diagnosed with seronegative arthritis eighteen months after my daughter was born but I had muddled through for over eighteen years and it had never stopped me from doing what I needed to do.

This was different.

Courtesy of Sage Friedman - upsplash

After a few tests my specialist said I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. Okay, I thought, just get some new medication and get on with things, but it wasn’t to be for me. The next two years were filled with multiple medications, with debilitating pain and disappointment, and with side effects that left me wondering if I was ever going to feel like a functioning person again. I had brain fog, I lost a lot of my hair and there were times when certain parts of my body just didn’t want to cooperate or move at all. My stomach was a war zone with constant cannon fire audible to everyone. The worst was the fatigue, both mental and physical.

I couldn’t write.

courtesy of Max Van Den Oetelaar - upsplash

In fact, at times I struggled to make a decision as simple as which pair of black pants to wear to work. I had over 200 sick days built up before my diagnosis. Now I struggled to get through a week without needing a day or more off. I started injections that were supposed to suppress my immune system and stop my body from fighting itself, plus strong anti-inflammatories. Nothing worked.

Somehow through all this I managed to re-write, not once but twice, my current book, Collector of Hearts. It has taken me four years to get another book on the digital shelves. That it’s finally out there is testament to my determination and the support of my family, friends and critique partners, not to mention the understanding and patience of my editor.

Today, I am still struggling. I am on a new weekly injection that is, indeed, suppressing my immune system. The downside of it is, though, that I am more likely to pick up an illness – a cold or infection – and that I will most likely get it worse than someone who has an immune system to fight it. It will also take longer to recover. Fatigue is a constant battle, making it extra challenging to find time to write around a full-time job.

This takes a toll on my mental health as well. Stress is particularly bad for me and I am always trying to keep it together – not always successfully. I constantly feel like I am letting people down — my readers, my family, my work colleagues and myself.

There is one constant – I want to write.

I want to keep creating stories for people to enjoy. I may not be churning out the books as fast as I want to, but my will is strong and I will keep at it until the next book is written, and the next one and the next one. Why? Because I love it.

For me completing a book is not just a mission completed or a job well done, it is a triumph over my illness.

If you want to know more about Rheumatoid Arthritis click on this link.

Have you every had to fight through illness to do the thing you love?

Love to love: Younger - tv show on Stan Australia.

Love to laugh: At my funny little grandsons, Ryan, Finn and Eli

Love to learn: New things I can do on my laptop.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Romance Around The World: Spain

By Sharon Bryant
The Rich History and Culture of Spain
Spain has a diverse and fascinating history. The largest country in Southern Europe, in the early modern period, it was the first global empire in the world leaving a huge cultural heritage. Its art, traditions, music and food have been influenced over the centuries by a series of invaders, and by its location in the Western Mediterranean. The rich history and culture of Spain make it the perfect setting for a romance novel.


Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding is set in 1950, in post-war Spain. Alexandra de Falla, a romance novelist, travels to Andalusia in search of her estranged family on her father’s side. There she falls in love with a proud, passionate and intense Spanish count who disturbs and excites her. The cultural divide between her English home and her newfound Spanish one lead Alexandra on a tumultuous journey of love, intrigue and personal growth.

The Summer House By The Sea

The Summer House By The Sea by Jenny Oliver is set in modern-day Spain. When Ava’s elderly grandmother dies, just after she herself survives a bus accident, she decides to journey from England to her grandmother’s Spanish villa for a fresh start. She meets and falls in love with Tom, a retired actor. Ava’s brother Rory’s career is virtually destroyed after he makes one very foolish decision. His marriage was already on the rocks. Rory journeys to Spain with his young son, Max, and tries to mend things with his wife who is still back home in the U.K.

Billionaire M.D. by Olivia Gates 

When Cybele awakens in hospital, she has lost all memory of her past life. Her husband Mel is dead and she learns she is pregnant. Cybele is being cared by Rodrigo Valderrama, M.D. When she is well enough to leave hospital, Rodrigo takes Cybele to his villa to convalesce. Cybele is attracted to Rodrigo, but cannot fathom how he is connected to her past. Her memories are slowly returning.

Have you read and loved any romance novels set in Spain? What was your favourite?

I love to love: We’re travelling to country NSW to see our eldest daughter soon. I can’t wait.

I love to laugh: We saw Unqualified at the Ensemble Theatre last weekend. The comedy was infectious. I couldn’t stop laughing.

I love to learn: My husband and I just spend the most marvellous few hours doing a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House.