Thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for Julie Shackman’s upcoming book with One More Chapter, A Secret Scottish Escape! And look at this stunner!
Escape to the beautiful Scottish Highlands for a heartwarming and feel good cosy romance that will whisk you away!
As Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…
When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.
Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…
I created this meme several months ago and it turned out to be a perfect foil for the despondency I felt when the Premier of Victoria announced that we were going into the strictest pandemic lockdown in the world ― and not for a pre-determined amount of time, but (seemingly) indefinitely, until we reached zero cases for two solid weeks.
It seemed impossible ― impossible ― that we would ever achieve such a lofty goal, something no other city, region, state, or country had achieved after having such a proportionately high number of daily cases of COVID-19.
Like many others, I felt trapped, claustrophobic in my home, my city, even in the state of Victoria. I started house-hunting online, seeking a rental property in coastal and/or regional Australia ― for when they let us out.
But as we emerged from Winter, as the days started to get longer, and as we started to see results from our compliance with the newly-enacted laws, hope started to show its face again.
I had some saving graces during this time, aspects of my life for which I am extremely grateful, and I wanted to share those with you. I do want to say that I write this post knowing exactly how fortunate Ben and I are. Throughout 2020, we have remained healthy, our loved ones are (as I write this) safe and healthy, despite many of them living in hot zones, such as the UK and the US, and we retained our income and, subsequently, our home.
Our apartment is in an older building in downtown Melbourne (older meaning 15+ years) and that means an expansive floorplan and enough separate spaces for two people to cohabitate 24/7 for months on end without getting (too much) in each other’s way.
I have a super splodge work station for my day job and writing (I commandeered the guest room after realising we would have exactly zero guests for the rest of the year), and we have a stunning view (2 angles, 2 different times of the day).
I need to exercise ― it is critical to my mental wellbeing and with our gyms closed and time outside limited (or just super shitty weather in the dead of Winter), I relied on home workouts and riding my spin bike (so glad I bought it in March!). I’d tee up back seasons of The Great British Bake Off and ride and ride and ride ’til I was a sweaty mess. Pure escapism. And when I ran out out of British Bake Off I watched the Aussie version. When I ran out of that, onto the Canadians. Oddly, it’s highly motivating to cycle while watching people make cake. Don’t ask me why.
When the gym opened back up, I was there ― mask and all.
Once we realised we would be in lockdown for months, not weeks, we committed to a weekly date night. When you can’t leave the apartment, this means dressing in nice clothes (and makeup for me), putting on some music, cooking something special or ordering in from a local restaurant, opening a nice bottle of wine, and eating at the table (how novel!).
Date nights reminded us that although we saw each other all day every day, we are still each other’s person. He’s the love of my life, the man who makes me think and smile and laugh out loud, who thinks of me and cares for me and lets me do the same for him. I chose him and he chose me and that doesn’t go away, no matter how much time we spend together.
(I love you, babe)
Getting out and about
We were allowed out. We could walk together for up to an hour a day (with masks). We could bike ride (without masks!). And at one point, we could have a socially distanced picnic in the park with our besties. And we took those opportunities to get outside, breathe fresh air, get a different perspective, and just be out. And, I have to say, our ‘hood, Docklands, is just gorgeous, which is great food for the soul.
Consuming creative content
People are clever ― really clever ― and a massive saving grace for me this year has been watching, listening, and reading other people’s creations (and not just Bake Off). I’ve watched entire television series from the beginning ― new, new to me, and old faves. I’ve watched films, concerts, plays, documentaries, and cast reunions. I’ve listened to podcasts, concerts, pop, classical, rock, techno ― really, just name it. And I have read a few dozen books this year ― mostly chicklit, some histfic, and (my fave) crime thrillers.
Busy, busy, busy!
For me, this year was not a time for much introspection. Perhaps 2021 will bring me the mental and emotional space to look inwards, but as well as voraciously consuming content, I’ve been creating it. I’ve published 3 books since the start of lockdown (including all the editing, marketing, and social media that go along with publishing a book). I’ve finished a work-in-progress and have nearly finished a book I started in August (my 5th and 6th books).
For me, lockdown meant ‘head down’. I threw myself into my work ― the ultimate distraction from a world on fire. I know this was not the case for a lot of authors, but for someone unwilling to spend much time on proper introspection (something I tend towards when the world is not on fire), it was an excellent panacea. With my fulltime job in online learning (and didn’t our industry pick up exponentially this year?) and authoring, it was typical for me to be at my desk 12 hours a day and most of the day on weekends. Work was an excellent distraction.
Publication day celebrations:
I’m in WA now (Western Australia), where we’ve been fortunate enough to travel to for the holidays. Spending time with our family and friends in my home state has been our ultimate reward for what has been an unforgettable year.
And when they ask how we survived it, there is one simple answer: together.
It has been an incredible time over the past couple of months since I wrote the first ‘Catching my breath’ post. Here’s what I have been up to…
A collage from my office
Pub day bubbles & a romcom
My new desk setup
Pub day flowers from friends
Like many of you, we are in lockdown here in Australia. In my ‘day job’ I work in adult education, specifically online adult education and as you can imagine, we have been ridiculously busy these past six weeks.
In addition to working fulltime, I have been a busy little author too.
I planned, book, and cancelled a BIG trip to the UK in June and July. I was particularly excited about this trip, because I was going to attend the RNA conference in Shropshire, meet my agent and some close author friends in Scotland (also part research trip), meet my editor and publishing team in London, and spend at least a month of that time writing while holed up with my family in Rugby. Instead, the whole thing is postponed until 2021.
In February, sent across my first round of edits for book 3 (and 3rd in my series), A Sunset in Sydney, and I just sent back my structural/copy edits a couple of days ago. It comes out early July so we are on track!
At the end of March I sent across my 4th book, The Christmas Swap, which is a stand-alone book that comes out in October.
My 2nd book, That Night in Paris, was published a few days ago, so my time on publicity and social media ramped up considerably this past week, and in the lead up to publication, I prepared 4 guest pieces, and arranged announcements with 4 associations. I even had a giveaway with ARRA.
Annnd, I am about to dive back into my 5th book, the 4th in the Holiday Romance series, which I started writing around this time last year and had to put aside when I commenced fulltime work. I am about 50% the way through, and for those who have read That Night in Paris (or are about to) my sneak peek is that it is about Jaelee and is set in Bali and New Zealand!
I hope you are all staying safe and well. Happy reading!