Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New Year's Eve - one hundred years ago

New Year 1915, Cairo...

How did the Australian troops celebrate New Year's Eve in Egypt in 1914?  According to Bert Smythe, camped at Mena near Cairo, "seeing the New Year in was rather tame. Lights were not allowed in the tents. The [army] bands turned out & played various Australian airs."

What did everyone want?   
Just victory, as this enlistment poster showed?
I'm sure they wanted much more - most likely, time with their families and sweethearts. Later in the war, when Australian soldiers were serving in France, they sent silk embroidered postcards, like the ones here, to their loved ones.

source: Sydney War Memorial

New Year is the chance to start afresh.
For me, it's the beginning of a few weeks' holiday, which in recent years I've spent writing fiction, while also spending time with my teenagers. Isn't it wonderful how they sleep all morning, freeing one to write while ideas are fresh and energy is high? By the time they're up and doing, I'm well on my way to completion of the day's writing goal. ;)

If you're spending time with family, or working on writing projects like me, I hope you enjoy the time you have. Whatever you're planning, may this new year bring you happiness, health and prosperity.
Happy New Year!

'Letters from Bert, 1 Jan 1915', <>, accessed 29 November 14.
Enlistment Poster - eBay - for sale 30 December 2014.
Australian War Memorial, <>, accessed 30 December 2014.
World War I Silk Embroidered Postcards, <>, accessed 30 December 2014.
Sydney War Memorial. March 2014.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas 1914 for Australian troops

They thought they would be home for Christmas...

For most of Australia's troops, Christmas 1914 was spent in Egypt, New Guinea or in training camps in Australia. The first AIF arrived in Egypt in November 1914 and were camped near Cairo. Others were in German New Guinea, which had been captured in September.

Source: Australian War Memorial, Image PS0677
At home, concerned ladies put together "comfort packages" for troops in New Guinea. One soldier encamped at Fort Lytton near Brisbane requested that the ladies also send these care packages to the troops at that camp.
Overseas, Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, organised a Christmas gift for all members of the British, colonial and Indian Armed Forces for Christmas 1914. This initiative had strong financial support from the public and more than 2,620,000 were distributed.
The gift was a rectangular brass tin with a decorated hinged lid. It contained tobacco, lollies, spices, pencils, a Christmas card and a picture of the Princess. Once the goods were consumed, the troops used the tins for storing other items. Today, they are collectors items.
What would you have sent in a comfort package to the armed forces in World War I?

Source: Australian War Memorial

'First World War', Australian War Memorial, <>, accessed 29 Nov 2014.
 'Princess Mary's Gift', Nundah & Districts Historical Society Inc Bulletin, Dec 2014, p. 4
'Christmas Cheer for the Troops' The Brisbane Courier, 1 Dec 1914, p. 6.
'Princess Mary of England', The Queenslander, 19 Dec 1914, p. 21.
'Australian occupation of German New Guinea', <>, accessed 29 Nov 14.
'Letters from Bert, 27 Dec 1914', Australian War Memorial, <>, accessed 29 Nov 2014.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Susanne Bellamy introduces 'A Touch of Christmas'

Susanne Bellamy joins me to talk about her latest release 'A Touch of Christmas' - part of the anthology A Season to Remember - free to download from Smashwords from 17 November 2014.
Gifting at Christmas
Close to either the longest or the shortest day of the year (depending on which hemisphere you live in) Christmas is a day widely acknowledged as a holiday for family to come together and share time and, often, presents. It is a Judeo-Christian celebration, but in our global society, other cultures are picking up the spirit of the holiday. Shops fill with ‘gifts’ and a buying frenzy hits. Where did this idea of giving gifts come from?
It wasn’t a commercial boom when it began. The giving of gifts at Christmas has been part of our Yule celebrations since before the Birth in Bethlehem. Or so say a number of sources on the topic. Others declare we copied the three Wise Men who brought gifts to the baby as he lay in the manger.
Historical fact that the Birth was actually on 25 December is unlikely. Pope Julius the First appears to have fixed this date during the period when the Holy Church of Rome was busily incorporating existing pagan celebrations into the ecclesiastical calendar. Whether we are celebrating the birth of a sun god or the Son of God is now lost in the mists of antiquity.
‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ was written in 1780 about the tradition of gift-giving in the Middle Ages. Gifts at this time were more in tune with a harsher way of life; firewood, clothing, items of a practical nature. They were, however, about the spirit of sharing.
Britain in the Victorian era gave us most of the Christmas traditions still enjoyed today. The Dickensian spirit of giving a single, simple, and often home-made present is celebrated in “A Christmas Carol” in which the spirits of Christmas past, present and future awaken joy in a lonely, old man and give him the opportunity to find a family with whom to share this special time of year. 
In the spirit of Christmas, four writers have come together to gift you a set of Christmas stories we hope will give you pleasure and a break as you busy yourself for fun, food, and festivities with your loved ones. 
FREE from 17 November, you can download “A Season to Remember” from Smashwords. With thanks to three amazing and generous friends who joined me in this venture: Eva Scott, Noelle Clark, and Elizabeth Ellen Carter.

‘A Touch of Christmas’ by Susanne Bellamy
As Starship Bluefire settles into orbit around Earth, Captain Andra Veluthian anticipates meeting her favourite human, Colonel Nick Madigan. Have his efforts to save the planet succeeded? And if so, will she lose any chance to be with him?
Knowing Andra’s fascination with all things Terran, Nick has planned a surprise for her. After all, it is Christmas, the season of giving. But when Earth’s leader and the Gravlarian captain spend time planet side, the temperature soars.

Excerpts: A Touch of Christmas
Excerpt 1

Starship Bluefire – Log entry #1878 Orbit established around Planet Earth. Local time: 0715 - 22 December 2525 AD

“Reverse thruster off. Docking complete, Captain.”

Captain Andra Veluthian ordered her viewing screen to retract, rolled her shoulders then rested her head against the padded headrest of her Conforma-chair and looked at the view. Framed by a huge window on the bridge, planet Earth appeared close and surprisingly whiter than on her last stopover two years earlier. Through breaks in the dense cloud cover she could even discern the long coastline of what Earth dwellers used to call South America and, just appearing on the western edge across an expanse of ocean, was the island continent they called Australia. Home of the wombat, wallaroo and one handsome colonel.

Colonel Nicholas Madigan, political leader and guiding hand in Earth’s struggle against extinction.
Last visit, the fair-haired colonel had set more than a few hearts pounding among her crew. Including hers.

Excerpt 2

Beyond a set of double doors, a large, round, backlit table occupied the centre of the conference room. Patterned with galaxies and distant star systems, it was a thing of beauty in an otherwise utilitarian space. As a symbol, it was priceless. Gravlarian attitudes were rather like the Arthurian legends he’d read about. As in the fabled court of Camelot, their round table accorded all attendees the same right to speak as equals.

Light refreshments were served as a preliminary to the serious business ahead of them and his delegation intermingled with the Gravlarians. Diplomacy demanded he chatted with members of her staff but when they assembled at the round meeting table, Nick made sure he was beside Andra. She stopped beside two vacant seats. Was the starship captain’s inclination the same as his?

At the touch of his hands, a seat automatically unclamped from the table. He held it, knowing the gesture would not be lost on her. Her tawny eyes widened and their colour deepened, rivalling a desert sunset. Basking in the glow, he almost forgot the reason for their meeting today, the report cached in his wrist-corder.

Clearing his throat, he keyed in his guest access code on the reader embedded in the table, followed by his palm print. “I’m ready.” 
Susanne Bellamy

Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and suspense romances set in exciting and often exotic locations. Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to the real life one she married. He saved her life then married her. They live on the edge of bush land on a mountain in beautiful sunny Queensland, Australia with two children and their dog.

Paris will always be one of her top spots, and she fell in love with Scotland when they visited the west coast (nothing to do with fine single malts!), and recently had her first real trip to Italy--tick off one Bucket List item!  She has enjoyed New Year in Kathmandu and trekked in the Annapurnas, sailed in Ha Long Bay on a junk, and stayed on a floating hotel beside a tethered elephant in Thailand. The Peak in Hong Kong and Mt Faber cable car ride in Singapore are favourite spots. Susanne loves travelling to new places and exploring the culture and history, and meeting new people. These experiences are gradually being incorporated into her stories.

Her as yet unrealised dream is a trip into Earth’s orbit.

Susanne is a member of RWA and enjoys mentoring new authors. She is published with Escape Publishing, and will be a 2015 release author with Entangled Publishing.

A Season To Remember is an anthology of four short romance stories for Christmas by established romantic fiction authors Susanne Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Noelle Clark and Eva Scott. The tales are set in different periods, starting in the early 1800s and ending in the future of 2525, each with a theme of Christmas and a connection with the sea.
Free download from Smashwords:

Friday, 31 October 2014

Free copy of The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody

A free copy of my Regency novel, The Persuasion of Miss Jane Brody, for the first ten readers who sign up for my quarterly newsletter. Go to the newsletter sign-up page at:

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Susanne Bellamy - Engaging the Enemy

Queensland-based author Susanne Bellamy, with fellow writers Noelle Clark, Elizabeth Ellen Carter and Eva Scott, has an anthology of short stories, A Season to Remember, coming out next month. Before it arrives, I'm talking to her about latest novel - Engaging the Enemy.

Tell us about yourself, Susanne.
I love travel—new places, new faces, different cultures and endless possibilities. I’ve cruised from Australia to Britain and back through the Suez Canal when I was a child, trekked in Nepal and Vietnam, lived briefly in Noumea, visited western Europe and west coast America among other places. Let me repeat—I love travel! And history.

People’s stories fascinate me. Past and present lives and relationships and the mysterious ways Fate works. Even how I met my husband—Fate. Wonderful and mysterious.

And so my stories explore people engaging with the mate that Fate created for them. And the wonderful and mysterious ways in which they meet. I should probably thank the flat-mate who locked me out of my new house years ago which led directly to
meeting my husband. But that’s another story!

Check out my story boards on Pinterest for White Ginger, One Night in Sorrento and Engaging the Enemy as well as works in progress, including the Emerald Quest for Entangled Publishing. See what else you can find!

What's your latest book Engaging the Enemy about?
Andie and Matt both need the same building in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Matt wants it to atone for his past and Andie’s future is tied up with the fate of the old pink granite home. Their differences should keep them apart but the building brings them together in ways neither could have foreseen.

What do you think reader will enjoy most about it?  
It’s a Romeo and Juliet story but with a happy ending. Bright passion wars with conflicting needs and serious chemistry. I hope readers enjoy the tension and the sizzle!

Who/what was the inspiration for this book?  
An abandoned red-brick building I spotted during my first tram ride in Melbourne. It looked like it needed some TLC and what better than to have not one, but two people itching to renovate it! Perhaps there was also a touch of the ugly swan story in the building. My protagonists were able to look beneath the city grime surface to discover the beauty within. I love that idea of what’s on the inside counting for more than the façade we present to the world.

What qualities do you instil in your heroes and heroines? 
I adore heroes and heroines with sense of humour, intelligence, passion and a sense of social justice.  Engaging the Enemy’s hero Matt is Irish with ideas about justice  shaped by his Irish background. Family is paramount to him; he would do anything for those he loves, as would Andie. These qualities are responsible for their choices and contribute to the central

 Our personal histories shape who we are but our choices determine who we become. Willingness to change and grow as a person is essential, as is accepting challenges in life and forging our own path. We have the luxury of a peaceful country that allows us scope to set our own challenges. Within this broader context, Andie and Matt do learn to love and to live.

What was the hardest part about writing this novel?Funnily enough, it was not getting caught up in a secondary character’s love life! Lexie Hamilton-Smythe is Andie’s best friend and has two men interested in her. There were times when I wanted to explore her story, even while loving writing Andie and Matt’s story.

Where to next? 
A Season to Remember is a Christmas anthology of four short stories written by four south-east Queensland authors. We write in a variety of genres and this free gift collection will reflect our diversity. There is a sea theme running through each story but I can’t give too much away just yet. However, it will be available in late November. Check out my Facebook page and website then to receive your gift!

And 2015 will see the release of the Emerald Quest series through Entangled Publishing. Five authors and a two hundred year search for a fabulous emerald and diamond necklace. Mine is the fourth book in the series. Set in Hawaii in 1960, it is the story of Evangeline Abbott, English heiress, and Lucien Martineau, an Island plantation owner. It’s a delicious story. After White Ginger, my debut novel, I absolutely loved revisiting Hawaii for this one.

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems. 
Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD,  she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart.
She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what  was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer? 

You can find Susanne at the following sites: 

Twitter: Website:    
Pinterest:  Goodreads:

Buy links:
Google Play:

Excerpt From Engaging the Enemy:
Andrea de Villiers couldn’t have orchestrated the accident better if she’d planned for a year  instead of just one night.
  Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were almost finished as she edged closer to the group of Melbourne’s wealthy charity patrons and supporters and lined up her tray of drinks with Matt Mahoney’s chest.
  One second to launch.
  She took a deep, steadying breath and stepped forward.
  His blonde companion’s arms drew a giant circle in the air, collided with the edge of her tray and Mr. Mahoney, corporate developer and all round jerk, was instantly wearing expensive champagne as an accessory to his Armani dinner jacket.
  Round one to Andie.
  Served him right for refusing to meet her. He brushed futilely at his shiny lapels and a thrill raced through her.
  I did it
  Andie-never-puts-a-foot-wrong-de Villiers had done the unthinkable. If only she could tell him who she was, her triumph would have been complete.

Thanks for joining me Susanne to talk about Engaging the Enemy.  I'm looking forward to reading A Season to Remember when it comes out in November.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

New blog spot for Isabella Hargreaves

Rather belatedly, I'm setting up a blog separate from my web page.
I'm hoping that the change-over will be simple and barely noticeable for my followers.
Wish me luck!
I can still be found at, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.
Isabella H.