A Child of the Sixties

Back in the 60s when I was a child, it was a different world in the bush. Sometimes I think that era had more in common with my parents’ time, than it has with the present day.

It was an age of thirty-two-volt lighting plants, kerosene refrigerators, a diet of salt beef, home-grown vegetables, homemade butter and few luxuries. It took an hour and a half to drive forty-four miles to Capella, on a rough dirt road with a dozen gates to open. These trips to Capella or Clermont only happened about once every six weeks. We children did our schooling by correspondence, with our lessons arriving on the mail run. Sometimes in the wet the mailman didn’t get through for weeks, but unfortunately, from our point of view, we seldom ran out of lessons. Usually a pile was sent at the beginning of the year, just in case. We even had library books, which our teachers would choose for us, posted from the Allen Lending Library. They must have done a wonderful job of picking suitable titles, as I remember being fascinated by a selection of authors including Enid Blyton, whose Famous Five series was a favourite.

Some of my memories of those days include hot summer nights without a breath of air, sweltering beneath a dusty mosquito net. The first fan we owned ran on thirty-two volts, and was saved for times of dire need. Power was used in a frugal fashion, as the generator was normally only run to charge the batteries, which then powered a few dim lights – and a light was never left on when a person left the room! The exception was on washing day when I’d wake to the throb of the generator, as Mum needed it to run her old wringer washing machine. I used to love lying in bed, listening to the generator – but never for long. Sleeping in was another indulgence we weren’t allowed.

We were all as thin as rakes which isn’t surprising when I consider how plain our food was. There was no such thing as takeaway food, except for fish and chips when we were on holiday at the beach. A big treat when we went to town was an icecream, although Mum made our own at home. We always had desserts, mostly milk puddings as Dad milked two or three cows. Bread came from Clermont on the weekly mail run, and if we ran out, Mum made it herself.

Of course we loved helping with the mustering and chafed at being kept inside for lessons when Dad was doing something interesting. I remember one morning he planned to ride the bottom boundary fence, a distance of twenty-five to thirty miles. I was determined to go with him even though I was only five or six. Eventually Dad relented but Mum drove down the road to meet us that afternoon and collected me. By that time, I was very happy to see her.

We lived for the weekends, when my sister, two brothers and I would saddle our ponies and spend most of the time on horseback, playing cowboys and Indians and other adventurous games. On weekdays, before and after school, we’d play on our push bikes or with stick horses. My sister and I used to have our own pretend cattle stations marked out. When we rode our bikes, the sandy tracks made it a challenge and punctures were a frequent hazard.

Our games were inspired by our own imaginations and I do feel that is something modern children have lost, in an era when entertainment is laid on.

Heather GarsideHbranding

Feeding a poddy calf and branding calves at Booroondarra, circa 1969.

Meet my Character

I was tagged by the lovely Jennie Jones to participate in the Meet my Character blog hop. Thank you Jennie!

Born and brought up in Wales, Jennie Jones loved anything with a romantic element from an early age. At eighteen, she went to drama school in London then spent a number of years performing in British theatres, becoming someone else two hours, eight performances a week.

Jennie wrote her first romance story at the age of twenty five whilst ‘resting’ (a theatrical term for ‘out of work’). She wrote a western. But nobody wanted it. Before she got discouraged a musical theatre job came up and Jennie put writing to one side.

She now lives in Western Australia, a five minute walk to the beach that she loves to look at but hardly ever goes to – too much sand. Jennie returned to writing four years ago. She says writing keeps her artistic nature dancing and her imagination bubbling. Like acting, she can’t envisage a day when it will ever get boring.

Her latest book is 12 Days at Silver Bells House, now available for pre-order. Visit Jennie’s site here

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Now I want to introduce one of my characters from Breakaway Creek.

1.) What is the name of your character? Alex Baxter

2.) Is he a fictional or a historic person?  Entirely a figment of my imagination!

3.) When and where is the story set?  It is a dual timeline story set in both the present day and the 1890s, on a cattle property in Central Queensland. Alex is my hero from the 1890s.

4.) What should we know about him? Alex was adopted by the Baxter family and always believed himself to be their cousin who was orphaned at birth. Then, one day, he uncovers a shocking secret…

5.) What is the main conflict? What messes up his life? Alex falls in love with Emma, who is visiting his adoptive brother and sister-in-law. She feels the same way, but before they can marry, Alex knows he must tell her the truth about his ancestry.

6.) What is the personal goal of the character?  Alex must learn to trust and forgive before he can hope to find the happiness he craves with Emma.

7.) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

This is the blurb for Breakaway Creek:

Two city women, a century apart, find love and adventure in the Queensland outback.

Betrayed by her boyfriend, Shelley Blake escapes the city on a quest to unravel a century-old family mystery. Her search takes her to a remote cattle station run by Luke Sherman. Shelley and Luke try to resist their mutual attraction as he fights to reclaim his children from a broken marriage, and Shelley uncovers the truth about her ancestors, Alex and Emma.

Emma’s story of racial bigotry and a love that transcends all obstacles unfolds in the pioneering days of the 1890s. Shelley and Emma are separated by time but they’re bound by a dark secret to a place called Breakaway Creek.

8.) When can we expect the book to be published or when was it published?

It was published last year and is available from Clan Destine Press, Amazon, Kobo and iTunes.

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Now I would like to tag two other authors who both write fabulous romantic suspense with rural settings.

The first is fellow Clan Destine Press author, Sandi Wallace.

Sandi is a crime writing personal trainer. Her debut novel Tell Me Why was released in September 2014 and is the first book in her new Rural Crime Files series.

Tell Me Why is set mainly in Daylesford, part of Victoria’s spa district, and combines thriller and police procedural with a touch of romance. The sequel is already in-house with her publisher.

Sandi has been shortlisted in the 2014 Scarlet Stiletto Awards with results to be announced at the gala dinner on Friday 21 November. She won the ‘Best Investigative Prize’ in the 2013 Scarlet Stiletto Awards and has been a finalist in other short story competitions. She also regularly contributes articles on health and other topics.

Sandi has devoured crime fiction in film and print since an early age. For equally as long, she’s wanted to be a crime writer – although she still wonders if she could’ve been a police detective and writer. She is currently polishing the third book in her series, and plans to start the fourth in the new year. Sandi lives in the beautiful Melbourne hills with her hubby and furry family. Her new release is Tell Me Why.

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To purchase Tell Me Why, visit Sandi’s site here.

Next is Sandy Curtis, another Clan Destine Press author whom I have known for a number of years and who has been kind enough to share a room with me at several RWA conferences.

Sandy Curtis’s first five novels were published by Pan Macmillan in Australia and Bastei Luebbe in Germany. They were nominees in the Ned Kelly Crime Awards, and two were finalists in the mainstream section of the Romantic Book of the Year Award. They are all now available as e-books from Clan Destine Press. Her sixth thriller, Fatal Flaw, and seventh, Grievous Harm, are published by Clan Destine Press in print and as e-books.

Sandy was a magazine feature article writer for two years, a newspaper columnist, and has had short stories and serials published in leading Australian women’s magazines. She was a member of the Management Committee of the Queensland Writers Centre for four years and has organised WriteFest, the Bundaberg writers festival, since its inception in 2005. In December 2012 she was presented with the Johnno Award by the Queensland Writers Centre for her “outstanding contribution to writing in Queensland”.

Her new release is Grievous Harm.

Grievous Harm front cover

To find out how to buy her books, visit Sandy’s site here.