More Winning Announcements from Down Under

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Still more names coming, congratualtions to all, and thank you to our authors for their time and books:

Authors                                         Winners:

Christian Baines                           waxapplelover

Penny Brandon                             Julie Small

Pelaam                                          H. B.

Renae Kaye                                  Michael Thompson

N. R. Walker                                Lesi Koho

L. J. Harris                                   Serena

 

Down Under Author Giveaway Winner Announcements #2

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  G’Day!  Happily we have more winners for you!

More Winner Announcements!  Both winners and authors have been notified.  Congratulations and our thanks to these wonderful authors for their participation and contests!

Author/Giveaways                     Winner

Christian Baines                        Waxapplelover

N. J. Nielsen:                             Julie Small

Beany Sparks                            Denise Duchene

Toni Griffin                               Alaina

Down Under Winner Announcements!

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Winner Announcements for our Down Under Author Showcase Giveaways!

 

Yesterday, we announced the Down Under Scavenger Hunt Winners.  Today we are starting with the winners of our Author Contests:

 

John Wiltshire’s Contest:   Sula Holland

John Terry Moore:  3 books, 3 winners:   Suze, Sula, and Ardent eReader

A. B. Gayle:  Shirley Ann Speakman

Lisa Henry:  Amber A.

Meredith Shayne:  Jbst

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Congratulations to all!  They have been notified!  More tomorrow!

It’s February 1st, Winner Announcements, Acknowledgements and This Week’s Schedule!

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   It’s A Wrap!

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Our first Down Under Author Showcase ended yesterday and what a marvelous event it was.  We had the participation of 28 authors and 2 independent Down Under publishers and  gifts from the Embassy of Australia and the Embassy of New Zealand here in DC.  My thanks again to Bottom Drawer Publications, Wayward Ink Publications and all of the wonderful authors from Down Under!  It’s been grand!  Let’s do it again next year!  And if you need a refresher, our Down Under Author Showcase Page will remain up until its updated at the next Showcase!

I discovered many new authors myself and am still happily buried in John Wiltshire’s series “More Heat Than The Sun”, and then will move on to more discoveries from authors this month.  I hope everyone had a great time and made discoveries of their own, that extends not only to authors and books but facts they learned about Australia and New Zealand as well.

Some of my favorites?

wombat poop

glowwormstane-mahuta-223Kelpie walking across the backs of sheepWombat poop looks like cubes. -picture 1

There are caves in New Zealand where glow worms light the ceilings like stars -#2

An ancient tree so old it has its own name and looks like an elf should be standing  beside it.

Flightless parrots, mobs of camels and kelpies who cross the backs of sheep!

And so many places of incomparable beauty from the red dirt deserts of the Northern Territory to the beaches of the south, to the hills so green in New Zealand they remind you of emeralds and mountain lakes with water so clear it looks crystalline.  And don’t get me started on all those cities and towns I now wish to visit as well!  What were your favorite facts this month?

Over the next several days I will be  announcing winners of the various contests.  Today we will start with the winners of our Down Under Scavenger Hunt.  Here they are!

Down Under Author Scavenger Hunt Winners!

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The Winners of our Down Under Scavenger Hunt are, in the order that their entries were received:

 

First Place: Julie Small              $75.00 Amazon gift card

2nd Place:Vitajex                             First Choice of any of the following gifts listed below

3rd Place:Jennifer Florence       2nd choice of any of the following

4th PlaceShirley Speakman        3rd Choice

5th Place Antonia Aquilante        4th Choice

6th Place:H.B.                                   5th Choice

7th Place:  Hannah B                     6th Choice                 

   Prizes to Choose From: Choice of 1 box from Australia or New Zealand Gift Box (large), Choice of 1 of the Smaller AUS or NZ Gift Box* or

 Under the Southern Cross Anthology from Dreamspinner Press – a total of 5 e books*

How to Speak Kangaroo or your choice of any 2 books from our Down Under Authors*

Note: I will be posting some pictures of the boxes later today!

Now as the dust settles from our first big event, just a note that May will be Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Authors Across the Pond Showcase…all month long!  Just a little something to scribble on your calendars!

New Zealand Mountain

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Now here is This Week’s Schedule at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words…

Sunday, February 1:

  • Cover reveal – Jackie Nacht’s Venomous Mates ‘Strike of the Diamondback
  • In Our Book Spotlight:  The Bucket List by RJ Scott
  • Down Under Winner Announcements and this Week’s Schedule

Monday, February 2:

  • More Winner Announcements!
  • Release Day for John Inman’s Payback! (contest)
  • Chris Scully ‘Nights Like These’ Virtual Tour (contest)
  • A MelanieM Review: Infected: Epitaph by Andrea Speed
  • A Sammy Review: Night Like These by Chris Scully

Tuesday, February 3:

  • More Winner Announcements
  • Excerpt Tour for Sin City 2 by Morticia Knight (contest)
  • A Sammy Review: The Mechanical Chrysanthemums by Felicitas Ivey
  • A BJ Review: Second Act by Kaje Harper
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Tame A Wild Human by Kari Gregg

Wednesday, February 4:

  • More Winner Announcements from Down Under Author Showcase
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Shy by John Inman Audio book
  • Excerpt Tour with D. P. Denman’s Bare Threads (contest)
  • A Sammy Review: Dex in Blue by Amy Lane
  • A Stella Review: Backwoods Asylum by Megan Derr

Thursday, February 5:

  • More Winner Announcements
  • Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock’s The Merchant of Death (contest)
  • In Our Book Spotlight: RJ Scott’s Alpha, Delta
  • A Stella Review: Rabbit Season by Megan Derr
  • A Sammy Review: Ethan In Gold by Amy Lane
  • A MelanieM Review: A Wedding to Die For by Xavier Mayne

Friday, February 6:

  • More Winner Announcements , last author contests end!
  • A Sammy Review: An Infatuation by Joe Cosentino
  • A MelanieM Review: Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft
  • A BJ Review: Payback by John Inman
  • A MelanieM Review: The Bucket List by RJ Scott

Saturday, February 7:

  • Final Down Under Author Showcase Announcements!
  • A MelanieM Review: No Boundaries (Phoenix, Inc. #1) by S.E. Jakes

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Down Under Showcase Author – RJ Jones

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Meet R J  Jones!

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R.J. Jones  is the new author of Out of the Blue and Black and Bluhe, both coming in 2015.

To get to know Australian author R.J. Jones a little better, she agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

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Author Bio 1

I started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men pop into my thoughts, insisting on telling me their story that I started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.

My initial thought was if I could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow me to concentrate on other aspects of my day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work.  But they didn’t shut up.  They told me their entire story and I didn’t sleep for days.  Sometimes I couldn’t keep up with what they were telling me and I had to keep a notebook by my bed.

Whilst I was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.

You see the problem? If I ever want to sleep again then I need to write.

I’m a wife and a mother to two boys. Even my dog is a boy.

I am surrounded by males.

Author Contacts

 

 

Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Novel Length:

Out Of The Blue – Release Feb 15

Out of the BlueLt Cameron Cooper has been with the San Francisco Fire Department for fifteen years. He’s seen and dealt with a lot of horrifying situations. He’s always considered himself mentally tough, but when he attends a multi-vehicle accident and sees a dead boy with features remarkably similar to his long-time boyfriend, his mental health takes a hit.

All Jake Montgomery wants is to propose to his boyfriend on their ten-year anniversary. He’s already bought the perfect rings, but when Cameron struggles to look at him after a tragic accident, he has doubts about their future. Cam is withdrawing, and Jake doesn’t know why.

With heated arguments and cold shoulders, Cam and Jake’s life starts to fall apart. Just when Cam thinks he can overcome his issues and finally talk to Jake, memories from Jake’s past threaten to push them apart forever.

 

  • Black and Bluhe – Release Mid 15 March!
  • The One That I Want – It’s based on the musical Grease.
    Publication date – 20 March.

Genres:

• Contemporary

 

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, RJ Jones) is an eBook copy of  Out Of The Blue’,  eBook copy emailed upon release. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

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2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “Word“. Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

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Author Qand A

Were you a reader as a child?  

Yes.  I read all the time. I remember being told off for reading a storybook during church on a Sunday morning.  My mum wasn’t impressed.

 Q• Title or characters or plot?  Which comes first?

Geez, that’s a hard one. My first novel, the characters came first, then the plot. The title went through a few changes until one stuck. I’ve just written a short story and the title didn’t come until about a week after I finished writing. And I’ve just had the premise for a new story based on the title of a song I heard on the radio. It’s been very random for me.

 Q• What inspired you to write your first book?

Would you believe porn? I’m serious… sort of. I saw a video with Jake Bass and at the same time I was thinking about a scene a friend of mine was having trouble with. I ended up with these two men in my head and I thought if I could just write it down they’d shut up. They didn’t, and now they have their own novel.  One of the MC’s is called Jake.

Q. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

There’s a town called Dunsborough in western Australia which is about 3 hrs drive south from where I live. It’s little and right on the ocean. We usually stay close to town and it’s a short walk to a sheltered bay. Even in winter it’s beautiful. The ocean is endless blue and the sand is pure white. I love the surrounding townships and it’s such a great place to rest and relax. I’d move there tomorrow if I could.

Q. What are your current projects?

 Currently editing my second novel, but I have three stories in some stage of writing. One is just started, one has stalled and one is about half way through.  I’m excited for all my books as each and every one one is different with different characters. It’s very exciting to see the people who live in your head come to life

Our Final Day of the Down Under Author Showcase-Welcome, RJ Jones and AUS/NZ Facts of the Day!

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January 31st – Down Under Authors Showcase Final Day

Welcome, R.J. Jones!

Today brings to a close the wonderful Down Under Authors Showcase at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. My thanks to all the great authors who participated, sharing their thoughts, stories, and giving away their precious books as well. All the reviewers here at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words, including myself, have found new authors and books to love and we hope that you have done the same.

We’ve gone from the Northern Territory of Australia to the beaches of the South, from the shores and cities like Christchurch of New Zealand into the pastures and mountainsides of that uniquely gorgeous and largely uninhabited country. We’ve had amazing and fun facts about both countries and had to look for some Down Under words and phrases for the Down Under Scavenger Hunt. What fact stuck with you? Was it the one about wombat poop? Or the world’s largest insect? Who has the most Scottish piping bands? And have you learned a little Aussie or Kiwi words to mingle in with your every day vocabulary? Send us an email and let us know which authors are new discoveries for you, new books you put on your TBR pile and any other comments you want to share! We’re going to do this again next year, so all suggestions are helpful.

R. J. Jones has a wonderful bio and new books about to be released! Check out her author’s page to follow along with her bio, books, and interview. Oh, and of course, her giveaway! The authors showcased this week will have extra time added to their contests so more can enter.

Look for another post about the contests, notifications, and prizes on February 1st. My thanks also to the Embassy of Australia and the Embassy of New Zealand (in DC) for their contributions to our prize packages. Their media staff couldn’t have been lovelier. My thanks also to Bottom Drawer Publications and Wayward Ink Publications for their contests and giveaways as well. I’ve loved every bit of this month and hope you all have too!

Now onto our last Australia and New Zealand facts of the day, at least until next year!

Australia Facts of the Day – The Echidna and The Platypus

Some of Australia’s best-known animals are the kangaroo, koala, echidna, dingo, platypus, wallaby and wombat. We’ve shared facts about the dingo (see John Wiltshire’s page). We’ve talked about wombat poop! How about a little about the Platypus and Echidna, the world’s only egg-laying mammals?

The Echidna
Echidna’s lifespan is over 45 years, and grow up to 20″ in length
Their tongue is very long and sticky and is perfect for catching the hundreds of termites and ants that make up their staple diet.echidna2
An echidna can lift objects twice its weight, drink water and can swim.
Like the male Platypus, the male echidna has spurs, but has no venom glands attached to them
Echidna is slightly less intelligent than a cat
Mating takes place Belly-to-belly, which avoids the male spiking himself on the female’s spines-Echidna sex fact!
The echidna is best known not only as a mascot of Sydney Olympic Games 2000, but also for its amazing biology. Like the platypus, this unusual mammal lays eggs and suckles its young. The echidna and platypus are the only members of a primitive group of mammals known as monotremes.echidna5

Echidnas are widely distributed throughout Australia and Tasmania. Although not commonly seen, they are not considered threatened. They live in a wide variety of habitats, from cold mountainous peaks to deserts.

They usually found in places with a good supply of ants and termites, where it lies on an ant-mound, sticks out its tongue and lets ants walk onto it. Echidnas have no teeth. It crushes its insect food between horny plates on its tongue and the roof of its mouth.

The Platypus!

The platypus is among nature’s most unlikely animals. In fact, the first scientists to examine a specimen believed they were the victims of a hoax. The animal is best described as a hodgepodge of more familiar species: the duck (bill and webbed feet), beaver (tail), and otter (body and fur). Males are also venomous. They have sharp stingers on the heels of their rear feet and can use them to deliver a strong toxic blow to any foe.platypus_662_600x450

Platypuses hunt underwater, where they swim gracefully by paddling with their front webbed feet and steering with their hind feet and beaverlike tail. Folds of skin cover their eyes and ears to prevent water from entering, and the nostrils close with a watertight seal. In this posture, a platypus can remain submerged for a minute or two and employ its sensitive bill to find food.

These Australian mammals are bottom feeders. They scoop up insects and larvae, shellfish, and worms in their bill along with bits of gravel and mud from the bottom. All this material is stored in cheek pouches and, at the surface, mashed for consumption. Platypuses do not have teeth, so the bits of gravel help them to “chew” their meal.

map-platypus-160-20148-cb1273171934On land, platypuses move a bit more awkwardly. However, the webbing on their feet retracts to expose individual nails and allow the creatures to run. Platypuses use their nails and feet to construct dirt burrows at the water’s edge.

Platypus reproduction is nearly unique. It is one of only two mammals (the echidna is the other) that lay eggs.

Females seal themselves inside one of the burrow’s chambers to lay their eggs. A mother typically produces one or two eggs and keeps them warm by holding them between her body and her tail. The eggs hatch in about ten days, but platypus infants are the size of lima beans and totally helpless. Females nurse their young for three to four months until the babies can swim on their own.

New Zealand Fact and Unique Animal of the Day – The Tuatara!

 

The tuatara may look like a rather ordinary reptile, but it’s a highly unusual creature. This New Zealand native has a unique, ancient lineage that goes back to the time of the dinosaurs.Tuatara-4-660x495

There are two living species of tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus and the much rarerSphenodon guntheri, or Brothers Island tuatara, which is found only on North Brother Island in Cook Strait.

Mature tuataras usually measure between 12 and 30 inches long and weigh between 0.5 and two and a half pounds. Their skin is greenish gray and is sometimes speckled. Tuataras make their homes in coastal forest and low scrub, preferring areas with crumbly soil in which they can burrow.

1. The tuatara may look like a lizard, but it’s unique. The tuatara is not a lizard; it is the only living member of the order Rhynchocephalia, which flourished around 200 million years ago. All other members of the order became extinct 60 million years ago, in the late Cretaceous period.

2. The name “tuatara” comes from the Maori for “peaks on the back.” Tuataras have spiny crests along their backs made from soft, triangular folds of skin. These spines are more prominent in males, who can raise them during territorial or courtship displays.

3. They are surprisingly long-lived. Tuataras mature slowly and don’t stop growing until they reach about 30 years old. It is thought they can live up to 100 years in the wild. Part of the reason for their longevity may be their slow metabolism. Tuataras can tolerate much lower temperatures than most reptiles and they hibernate during the winter. The body temperature of tuataras can range from 41-52 °F over the course of a day, whereas most reptiles have body temperatures around 68 °F. This low body temperature results in a slower metabolism.

4. They have a third eye. The tuatara has a third eye on the top of its head called the parietal eye. This eye has a retina, lens, cornea, and nerve endings, but it is not used for vision. The parietal eye is only visible in hatchlings, as it becomes covered in scales and pigments after four to six months. Its function is a subject of ongoing research, but it is believed to be useful in absorbing ultraviolet rays and in setting circadian and seasonal cycles.

5. They can regrow lost tails. The tuatara can break off its tail when caught by a predator and regenerate it later.

6. They have unusual teeth that can’t be replaced. Tuataras have a single row of teeth on the lower jaw and a double row of teeth on the upper jaw, with the bottom row fitting between the two upper rows when the mouth is closed. It’s a tooth arrangement not seen in any other reptile. And unlike all other living toothed reptiles, the tuatara’s teeth are not separate structures but sharp projections of the jaw bone. This means that worn down or broken teeth cannot be replaced. Older tuataras with worn-down teeth have to switch from eating hard insects to softer prey such as earthworms, larvae, and slugs.

7. Tuataras reproduce slowly. They take 10-20 years to reach sexual maturity. Males can mate every year, but females breed every two to five years. It takes the female between one and three years to provide eggs with yolk, and up to seven months to form the shell. Then it takes an additional 12 to 15 months from copulation to hatching, possibly the longest incubation rate of any reptile.

A male tuatara named Henry, living at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery, became a first-time father at the age of 111. He fathered 11 babies with a female named Mildred, believed to be in her seventies.

8. They’re diurnal when young, nocturnal as adults. Hatchling tuataras are believed to be active during the day to avoid the cannibalistic adult tuataras that come at out night.

9. They cohabitate with birds. Tuataras can dig their own burrows, but also use the burrows of seabirds for shelter when available. The seabirds’ guano provides an attractive environment for the invertebrates that tuataras prey upon, such as beetles, crickets, and spiders. Tuataras will also sometimes eat the eggs and young of the seabirds.

10. Tuataras’ worst enemies are rats. Tuataras once inhabited the New Zealand mainland as well as offshore islands. But when the first humans arrived from Polynesia, they brought rats and other animals that devoured tuatara eggs and hatchlings. The situation was so dire that the New Zealand government fully protected tuataras in 1895. Despite the protection, tuataras were extinct on the mainland and confined to around 30 offshore islands until the first mainland release of tuataras into a sanctuary in 2005. Three years later, a tuatara nest was uncovered, thought to be the first case of a tuatara successfully breeding on the New Zealand mainland in over 200 years. Along with captive breeding and release programs, attempts to eradicate rats from offshore islands have also met with success and allowed tuatara populations to rebound.

 

Now onto R. J. Jones and the rest of our Down Under Author Showcase!  G’day!

 

Down Under Showcase Author: Bette Browne

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Meet Bette Browne!

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Bette Browne is the author of Exposed, The Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology, Dirty Martini, among others listed below.

To get to know Bette Browne  a little better, the author agreed to write a guest post about Christmas in Australia. It’s a fascinating window into how much we differ and yet are so much alike. Look for that below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

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Author Bio 1

Bette Browne is wife to an extremely understanding husband and mother to two very tolerant children. In her mind they are the most accepting family in the world, allowing her the freedom to indulge her passion for fiction, whether it is reading or writing it.

 

She enjoys traditional male/female romances, but male/male is her passion. In her mind nothing is more erotic than two (or more) beautiful men finding love together.

 

For Bette, the fight for tolerance in all its guises is an important one, and hopefully her contribution, even if it is only in the form of the occasional love story, is one she will continue to happily find the time for.

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Author Contacts

Contact/Follow Bette Browne at:

Email: authorbettebrowne@gmail.com
Website (Blog): http://bettebrowne.blogspot.com.au
Facebook: https:www.facebook.com/bette.browne.1
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/bettebrowne
Goodreads: 12327021-bette-browne

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Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

✍Bette Browne Books:

Second Chances Anthology (Dirty Martini) Bottom Drawer Publications
Dirty Martini (published at Bottom Drawer Publications):Dirty Martini cover

Blurb:

This story was originally included in the SECOND CHANCES Anthology released in August 2012 and has been individually released to celebrate BDP’s anniversary.

Daniel Fletcher knocks back his third vodka of the night after running into his ex out with the same lover he had found him with in their bed two months before. He’d ended their relationship that night but coming face to face with them still together makes the pain of the breakup still very real.

Nathan Smith has seen more men than he count drowning their sorrows in a bottle at his bar. He understands – he’s been there himself. One night a handsome brunette with sad blue eyes makes Nate want to assure him that everything will be okay. The connection he feels from a fleeting touch, as he walks the man out of the bar, shakes and stirs him in ways that he never expected.

What starts out as a means to forget might just be what they both need.

The Candidates *M/M Romance “Love Has No Boundaries” Story
Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology (The Jacobite)
Exposed (Love’s Landscapes Story)

Coming soon:
Bared (Exposed Sequel)

 

Genres: contemporary fiction, M/M romance

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Bette Browne) is an eBook copy of the winner’s choice of  Dirty Martini, or even the anthology Second Chances (Dirty Martini is in it) . Enter using this Rafflecopter link here.

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Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green .

Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

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Christmas Down Under by Bette Browne

Christmas and summer, and why as an Australian the blend of the two is so incredibly important to me . . .

As you read this, you will most likely be trying to forget Christmas (or whichever holiday you might celebrate at this time of year). I know I do in the immediate days and weeks following it, happy to pack it away in neat boxes until next year. But as I write it is still looming in the very near future, barrelling down upon me so quickly that I feel if I blink I might miss it. As much as I love the holiday season, it makes me sweat big fat drops of perspiration (literally as well as figuratively—it is summer here right now after all) and causes my blood pressure to soar—but I really do love it, and all the crazy joy associated with it.

So why would I write about a holiday that will be well and truly over by the time anyone reads my words? Because if the Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words team want to showcase the differences between Australia (and New Zealand) and much of the rest of the world, i.e. the Northern Hemisphere, then Christmas in summer is one of them as far as I am concerned.

Picture this, it’s Christmas Eve, those nearest and dearest to you are done with work for the day, excited that they’re about to have a few days off, and have converged on your house this year, Eskys in tow (that’s a cooler, btw) loaded with icy cold beers??????????????????????????????????????? and bottles of wine, and maybe a kilo or two of fresh trawler-caught prawns. The kids—nieces, nephews, friends, whoever—already dressed in their swimsuits, have towels slung over their shoulders, but not for long. As soon as they get the okay from their parents, those towels are re-slung over the pool fence, or straight onto the ground, and the splashing begins—they won’t get out until you drag them out later that evening with threats that Santa won’t come if they are not in bed and asleep by midnight (although it will actually be 10 p.m.—sanity does prevail!). Of course, after all that activity sleep will come easy, and their pool-red eyes will close fast. Thank you! The adults enjoy the balmy evening sitting under the twinkling fairy lights strung around, occasionally slapping away a mosquito as twilight descends (Where are those mosquito coils again?), discussing in quiet tones how many presents are still left to be wrapped after the kids are asleep and what’s on the menu at their house tomorrow. That conversation might move to whether Uncle Jim (or Tom or Fred or . . .) will be joining the festivities this year, and how many beers he’ll drink before he becomes argumentative and wants to fight.

It’s still 30°C at nine p.m., and the forecast for tomorrow says it will be another hot one, maybe even reaching 42°C. As a few of you wander the neighbourhood, glass of wine in hand, to look at the Christmas lights on the houses, you all discuss how to beat the heat on the most-loved-day-of-the-year. Envy abounds that you have a pool, but it will be too hot to be in it if the temperature reaches that high. What will actually happen is that you’ll huddle away inside until late in the afternoon, leaving Uncle Jim snoring on the couch, and you’ll all pile in the car to go to the beach to enjoy both a swim and the cool sea breeze that will break the heat, and calm everyone’s escalating (by then) nerves. And then you’ll mosey on home, tired and sated, able to now utilise the pool and the outside entertaining area and graze on leftovers and finally relax.

It’s Christmas Day. Everyone in your house is still asleep, for how long you have no idea, but you’re awake, so you’re going to make the most of the slightly cooler morning and get a start on things. You drink your first cup of coffee looking at the flashing lights on the Christmas tree, happy that wrapping any extra presents is not something that needs to be done this morning—you were organised this year. Then you go to the kitchen.

Everyone’s awake now. Presents have been opened, and the kids are enjoying the spoils of the day. It’s nice to have a moment to enjoy that—it’s maybe your favourite part of the whole silly season, even as they get older. But there is only so much time you can sit and relax.

The temperature is rising, and as you move around the kitchen and perspiration begins to cover your body, it is finally time to turn on the air-conditioner. It would be miserable today without it; besides, you need to try and fight the heat of the oven cooking the turkey and roasted vegetables you just can’t do without. That’s certainly a tradition you have never been able to let go of. Many have, because really who would cook a roast dinner during the hottest part of the year, choosing instead to feast on the magnificent seafood so plentiful in this part of the world. But you love it, Christmas just isn’t the same without it, and you have the air-conditioning to help stave the heat.

Again you look at the clock (such a shame that even a day like today can’t run without one) and notice the guests will be arriving soon. Time to go and change into the lovely soft summer dress you decided on for the occasion.

Lunch is served. Well not really, it’s later than that. It’s been just too hot to eat—and you’ve been nibbling all morning. But you look at your beautiful table, proud of your achievement. The lovely place settings, the bon bons, the lovely centrepiece, and the food, so much food—turkey, potatoes, gravy, ham, pork, vegetables, some seafood, salads, and more . . .

~~~

As I read back over what I’ve just written, I wonder whether Christmas in Australia is actually any different at all to anywhere else in the world. Yes, the weather is hot, excruciatingly so at times, and that is a big difference, but in so many ways it’s the same: being overwhelmingly busy, threats that Santa won’t come if the kids aren’t asleep, the gifts, the food, Uncle Jim (and his drinking problem) . . .

I am fortunate enough to have experienced a Northern Christmas, and don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment of it, and would love to do it again one day, but would I trade? No. There was no riding of new Christmas bikes on the driveway, or beach swims at the end of the day, or even that leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood to view the Christmas lights. It just wasn’t he same. It didn’t herald the beginning of my children having their long summer break, or mark the end of yet another school year, or the precede the Boxing Day sales (similar to Black Friday in the USA).

I suppose what it boils down to is that Christmas, or anything else for that matter, is what you know along with memories forged over a lifetime. It’s what you have grown up with that makes something special, as well as the people you are able to spend it with.

Maybe one of the wonderful Down Under authors being showcased needs to write an appropriate Aussie/NZ Christmas tale. Now where is my notepad . . .?

Happy “belated” holidays!

Bette

[STRW Note: No, there are no misspellings, that’s the difference between US English and Down Under English (with differences still between NZ and AUS.}]

Down Under Showcase – Day 30! Welcome, Bette Browne and AUS/NZ Facts of the Day

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It’s Day 30  of our Down Under Author Showcase.

Welcome, Bette Browne!

 

I can’t believe the month has gone so quickly and our time Down Under is almost finished.  I have love making the acquaintance of every single author who has participated.  Through their interviews and guest posts, bios and books, each has given me a different way to look at things as well as so many new books to put on my reading list.  I hope that they have done the same for you!  Two more authors to go.  Today let’s welcome, Bette Browne who is talking about Christmas Down Under!

You still have time to enter Bottom Drawer Publications contest, just go to the Down Under Author Showcase page and look for the Rafflecopter link.   Don’t forget as well to enter Wayward Ink Publications contest too!

Am I running out of facts for you?  No, I’m not, so onto our facts of the day.

AUS flag over countryAustralia Facts of the Day

The largest Greek population in the world beside Athens in Greece can be found in Melbourne Victoria.

The only nation-continent of 20 million people in the world.

The wattle was adopted as the national floral emblem in 1912.  Does the US have a national floral symbol?the Golden Wattle

The first Australian Friendly Society with the motto of ‘Advance Australia’ was the Australian Natives’ Association (ANA) formed in Victoria in 1871.

More than 80 percent of Australians live within 100 kilometres of the coast making Australia one of the world’s most urbanised coastal dwelling populations.

 

kiwi and NZ country

 

New Zealand Facts of the Day

Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, is the world’s steepest street. The road has a gradient of 1 in 2.86 at its steepest section, a 38 per cent grade.  What is a certain street in San Francisco known for?

Baldwin Street NZ

From 1867 to 1927, the government planed ahead for shipwrecks by building supply-filled huts on remote islands.
There is a clock in Dunedin which has been running since 1864, despite never having been wound since it was made.
Gisborne airport has train tracks running across the middle of the runway. Quite often, trains and planes have to stop until one moves out of the way.

 

Memories of Down Under from Guest Blogger Jim Provenzano

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Reading Down Under: Scattered Thoughts’ Aussie Special!

from author Jim Provenzano

Longtime followers know that I got some great reviews for my last two books from independent reviewers. Their prolific blogs continue to amaze me by the sheer number of books they promote, and the reviews are often thorough and heartfelt. You can click on the “Reviews” links on this blog on the right column to read them all.

But one of the most outstanding sites is Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. Not only did I enjoy expansive praise-filled reviews for both Every Time I Think of You and its sequel Message of Love; I was also honored with a guest author spotlight, where I rambled on about why I decided to write the sequel. Every Time I Think of You was also among those chosen as one of the Best Books of 2014!

So it was without hesitation that I decided to help promote Melanie M.’s latest endeavor, a January special all about Australian and New Zealand authors!

OnWingsofSongAnne Barwell, one of the featured authors
Here’s the deal. More than two dozen Aussie and Kiwi authors will get a special post about their latest works. Look for the clues in the text, (it’s a web-based scavenger hunt) and you could win books and other Aussie and Kiwi-themed prizes. Look for posts about (and guest-written by) these Australian authors, each day in January. There are even a few New Zealand authors as well:

Christian Baines, N.R. Walker, Anne Barwell, Nic Starr, Meredith Shayne, Renae Kaye, John Wiltshire, John Terry Moore, Lily Veldon, Barry Rowe, L. J. LaBarthe, Beany Sparks, Nicki J. Markus, Michelle Rae, A. B. Gayle, Lisa Harris and Isabelle Rowan.

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American readers owe it to themselves to read Australian and kikiw authors. their slight differences in language and syntax are fascinating, and their perspectives on life are just a little bit different, but yet familiar.
My love for the Land Down Under extends beyond this fun promotion. Back in 2002, I had the thrill of attending the sixth quadrennial Gay Games. Since I didn’t compete that time, I had the freedom to travel to nearly every sporting event, from the rugby fields near downtown, to the Olympic stadiums for track and field, and across the campus to the volleyball and aquatics centers, or centres, as they spell it.

With more than 100 interviews conducted (including a few funny stilted ones in my limited French and Italian) on old-fashioned cassette tapes, and about 40 rolls of film – yes, film, my last pre-digital project- I put together dozens of articles about every sport, and the ceremonies and spectacles as well. You can enjoy the archived articles on my Sports Complex website. But please forgive the dated HTML formatting. I haven’t been there in a while.

Joel
Figure skating rocked!
My host was a generous fellow with a fabulous downtown apartment, who also was on one of Sydneys toughest basketball teams (they made it to the finals, as I recall). He welcomed my “frequent overnight guest” and even hosted a dinner party where (yes!) we enjoyed shrimp on the barbie!
But I also participated in a reading at an art gallery, and Graeme at Bookshop Darlinghurst bought some copies of my first novel, PINS. That later led to a nice consignment deal with an Australian wholesaler. It all gave me a fun thrill to know that more than 100 folks got print copies of that novel, without the middleman of Amazon.com (or Amazon.au).

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Aussie and Samoan ruggers

This was at the the peak of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and while I longed to spend more time on the other side of the planet, I did not get a chance to see the New Zealand hobbit houses or the beautiful expanse of either country. I did get a few Lord of the Rings souvenirs, however!

But the pleasures of Australia were often more subtle than a blockbuster movie. The wildlife was just different enough to beguile. Odd geese with long bills puttered about in downtown public parks, and by night, across from my scenic guest room balcony, the brightly lit spires of a skyscraper were surrounded by a massive flock of bats. My host told me the bats scooped up thousands of moths attracted to the lights.
hockMontreal ice hockey
But what really charmed me were the people. Their musical accents, their way of turning a phrase with an upward lilt, and their enthusiasm in welcoming guests from around the world was amazing. I met Samoan rugby players, French cyclists, Croatian volleyball players, and got to soak in the shared joy of being in that wonderful land.

Some highlights:poloflowers

Los Angeles water polo team
SydneyVolleyGals– singing “Happy Birthday” to performer k.d. lang along with thousands of others at Opening Ceremonies,

– frolicking in the kids’ rec pool with two water polo teams at the official Olympic aquatics centre,

– hoisting beers in a large gay bar with three softball teams while singing along to an ABBA medley,

– getting directions to the ice hockey arena from a friendly shopkeeper in the far off suburbs, who asked, as easy as “Bob’s your uncle,” “Oh, you here for the Gay Games?”
Sydney volleyball team
Anyway, certainly you can read more diverse perspectives from the array of LGBT authors in Scattered Thoughts’ January author showcase. So check out the website and get reading!

 

Jim Provenzano

You can find/follow Jim at his website:  http://www.myrmidude.org  and his Goodreads page.  Don’t forget to check out Jim’s marvelous books, Every  Time I Think of You and Message of Love.

Down Under Author Showcase: Ellen Cross

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Meet Ellen Cross!

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Ellen Cross is the author of  Delta Blues and other books listed below.

To get to know Ellen Cross a little better, the author agreed to an interview. Look for the interview below and the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word found somewhere within.

✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍✍Author Bio 1

I love the underdog in a fight. Always have, always will. My books reflect that love, and you will always find someone who thinks they are either unworthy, or undeserving of love in my stories. I soon prove them wrong.

I live in a little beachside slice of paradise on the north-eastern coast of NSW, Australia, and along with my passion of writing is my passion for my family. I have five boys, a hubby, and a completely loopy dog. With all these males under one roof—apart from our dog who is the only other female in the house—writing gives me a chance to channel all that daily frustration into something I love doing. Instead of shaking my head for the hundredth time when someone forgets to pick up their dirty socks or neglects to replace the empty toilet roll (a long lasting argument in my household hehe) I pour it all out into my books.

Author Contacts
Contacts/Follow at :

Twitter  https://twitter.com/Ellen__Cross
Pinterest  http://www.pinterest.com/ellencrossbooks/
Goodreads   https://www.goodreads.com/Ellen_Cross
Website  http://ellen-cross.webs.com/
Blog  http://ellencross.blogspot.com.au/
Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/EllenCrossAuthor
********************Author Books Stories Down Under1 copy

Cole in his Stocking coverControlling His Illusion coverDelta Blues coverFractured Cover

 

 

 

Books:

Last Chances – MF contemporary romance
Holly’s Healing – MFM contemporary romance
Cupid’s Revenge – MM paranormal romance
Wolf Sanctuary – MM paranormal romance
Paws, Claws, and their Triple-F – MMM paranormal romance

Preternatural Rescue Center series:
Delta Blues(Preternatural Rescue Centre #1) – MM paranormal romance at eXtasy Press

In a World where the Alpha are the law, Beta the order, and Omega the knowledge…the Delta have become the oppressed.

The night of Samhain is fast approaching, and for that one night a year, Gray and the last remaining Dire Wolves—amongst others—are entrusted with the protection of the veil between worlds, while it’s at its thinnest. Add in the threat of a new drug on the market, and they’ll have to work twice as hard to keep everyone safe. The last thing he needs is a sexy little Delta to save.

As a lowly Delta, Red Wolf shifter Ryan has never known peace. Cast away and unwanted, he is quickly taken captive and trained as a dancer at The Howling, a strip club in the worst part of Praeter. Hungry, abused, and kept in a drug-induced fog, his life is nothing. He is nothing but the orders and twisted demands of his captor. All that changes when he catches the scent of a wolf in the crowd.

Long ebony hair, eyes that can’t decide if they’re green or blue as they follow him on stage. Unable to stop himself, Ryan does the one thing guaranteed to earn him punishment. He touches the other wolf. Peace. For those few brief moments, the hunger, the pain, the torment…all gone. The price to feel that respite again, though, could very well be his life.

Cole in his Stocking (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #2) – MM paranormal romance at eXtasy Press

It doesn’t matter if he’s been naughty or nice all year. Adam’s stocking is still getting stuffed full of Cole, this Christmas.

The coming of age for any vampire is cause for celebration, a time when they first taste blood. For Cole, however, his twenty-fifth birthday brings a terrible choice from his father—either he takes the life of another to prove his worth, or he forfeits his own life. Cole chooses the only way his heart will allow, and pays the price with both his fangs and the rapidly mounting blood starvation that will slowly end his life, now that his body needs to feed, but cannot. He escapes, bleeding, barefoot, and wearing nothing more than a simple cotton sleep-shirt. With his father’s sentinels in pursuit, Cole soon finds himself half-frozen and unable to run anymore. The last thing he expects when he crawls into a dumpster to hide away for the last few hours of his life is to be rescued by a temperamental black cat and…aww hell…his cherished one, Adam. How is Cole meant to blood-bond to the wolf hybrid when his time is fast running out, and he has no fangs to even try? He quickly learns his cherished is far more than he appears, though, and Adam’s friends at the Delta Rehabilitation Centre have even higher friends, with a score to settle with his father, of their own. It’s just a shame he won’t be around long enough to witness their payback.

Fractured (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #3)  – MM paranormal romance
Controlling His Illusion (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #4) – MM paranormal romance
Beyond the Scars (Preternatural Rescue Centre #5) – MMM paranormal romance
Silent Secrets, #6 – MM paranormal romance
Stealing Enchantments (Preternatural Rescue Centre, #7)  – MM paranormal romance
Soothing his Tempest, #8 – MM paranormal romance
Shifting the Veil, #9 – MMM paranormal romance
Wings of Exile, #10 – MM paranormal romance
Sacrificing it All – MM paranormal romance
Genre(s):  Contemporary, paranormal, fantasy

Paws Claws and the Triple F coverWolf Sanctuary coverCupid's Revenge cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contests and Giveaways:

1. Today’s Giveaway (thank you, Ellen Cross) is an eBook copy of Copy of Delta Blues. Enter using this Rafflecopter link here. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Down Under Scavenger Hunt – find the Hunt “word or phrase” in bold green . Collect all the words from each author and submit the list in writing no later than midnight on February 1st. Make sure you include an email address where you can be reached. Prizes will be given to 5 people selected, from 1st place to 5th! Happy Hunting.

**********************Author Qand A

When did you start writing?

I have always been writing it seems, ever since I could. Having much older brothers, there wasn’t much to do to occupy my spare time while growing up on our family’s farm, so I wrote, or read.

• Were you a reader as a child?

Very much so. I would save all my birthday and pocket money to buy books, instead of sweets. By the age of seven there was very little I could not read by myself.

• What books as a child has the most impact on you?

I adored Enyd Blyton’s books. The tales of the Faraway Tree and My Pennywhistle were among my fictional childhood companions.

• Did that impression carry over into adulthood when you started writing?

In a way. I have always loved the fantastic, finding anything realistic too boring to hold my interest. Even as an adult, I cannot sit through a true story. I would much rather live my life with my head in the clouds 🙂

• Where do you draw inspiration from?

Anything. It could be a song lyric, a picture, or even just a feeling that sparks a rush of inspiration, and I have learned to quickly write everything about that rush down, before time and real life demands make the details fade away. My phone has so many notes for scene ideas it has become my invaluable writing companion.

• Favorite genres to write in and why?

I simply adore paranormal gay romance. It is what I read, so it is only natural that it is what I also write. Why write about stuffy businessmen and their boring days, when vampires, wolves, warlocks and elementals are begging to have their stories heard?

• Title or characters or plot?  Which comes first?

Plot, or more specifically, a scene will come to me first. The characters work themselves into that scene, and gradually the whole book will unfold. The title is the last thing I come up with.

• Do you have a favorite character that you have written?

I have no favourites. I adore them all. They are all as individual as their race/breed, and for that, I cannot favour one over another, as they all have their quirks, their habits, and personalities.

• Favorite quote (doesn’t matter the source)?

“If it doesn’t kill you, it only makes you stronger”.

• Favorite book/story you have read as an adult:

The New Species series by Laurann Dohner. I absolutely love her series.

• Do you have a certain regimen that you follow as a writer?

No. I try to write at least an hour a day, but with five boys and a husband I am a carer for, that is not always possible. In fact, I usually find myself getting very little sleep in the week leading up to a deadline hehe.

• What inspired you to write your first book?

I had read one too many books from Amazon that were filled with so many editing mistakes it was obvious they hadn’t even had a basic spell check performed on them, and as with many other authors, I thought that if they could publish a book this poorly, I could do better.

• Do you have a specific writing style?

I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when I write. I might know a basic structure of the plot, but even I don’t know the details until they are on the page.

• What’s the hardest part of writing your books?

Arguing with my muse when I need to write for a deadline, and he is nowhere in sight hehe

• If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your first book?

I would. I think most authors who have written a few would look back, knowing what they do now, and know of a few changes they would make.

• If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor or has the biggest influence on you?

I have a few MM writers who have influenced me, as they were my starting points in reading gay romance, and gave me the courage to take the step into writing it myself. RJ.Scott’s Christmas Throwaway was the very first MM book I read, and after her, I found Amber Kell, Stephani Hecht, Jackie Nacht, and Lynn Hagen.

• What book are you reading now?

Actually, I haven’t had time to read for a little while now, with deadlines, but the book I am reading between writing is the print galley of the first half of my own Preternatural Rescue Centre series.

• How do you think books written from authors in Australia or New Zealand differ in style, language, and culture?

We seem to get straight to the point over English or American writers. Our more laid back language shines through. There are times when I am reminded by my editor that a saying or word I have used won’t be recognised the way it was written to be, and I need to make changes. When I find myself reading a book by an Australian author, I can usually tell without being told what their nationality is.

• What is your favorite AUS/NZ stories and favourite Australian/New Zealand movies?

I still have memories of snuggling into the front bench seat of my cousin’s car while watching The Man from Snowy River, at the drive-in movies theatre. I think for that memory, as it was my only experience with the drive-in’s before they closed, it will always be my favourite.

• If you were a tour guide, what would you like a visitor to see and what impression would you want them to take away with them when they leave?

I would like them to see the extremes Australia has to offer, from the snow-topped mountains, crystal blue waters of the barrier reef, to the blistering red heart, and tropical paradise of the north-eastern top end. Australia has it all.

• What are your current projects?

I am currently working on the final instalment of the Preternatural Rescue Centre. It has been an eleven book long series, taken over a year, and is now ending. It has been a wonderful year bringing all the guardians and their stories to life.

• What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country?And what makes it so special to you?

The most special place is home. I haven’t travelled much, but home is where my family is, and that makes it the most special place in the world to me.

• What’s next up for you?

After I finish this book, I have a Valentine’s Day book to finish, before I take a few weeks to relax and enjoy a break, before bringing out my folder of ideas and lightening it a little.

• Are you going to any events that we can see you at?

I will be attending the ARRA2015 conference in Canberra in March.